What chimp? Where?

Some random words on things photographic because I haven’t got any ‘projects’ at the moment.

People talking about “chimping” – the practice of previewing damn near every shot you take – often say it’s something “old film photographers frown on”. Well, I am that guy.

It is, I suppose, another aspect of the modern digital photographer not learning photography the right way. *Old man voice – ’cause it’s the only one I’ve got* “In my day we couldn’t preview any shot! We had to wait ’til the film was developed!” Now in the digital age we can, and frankly it’s a godsend. You see, it’s not that you should never look to see if you just got the shot, it’s learning when to.

Some personal, anecdotal examples:

The Canon is my experimental camera. So far it’s done over 2000 shots and I don’t think there’s even one I haven’t previewed. Some of them I couldn’t see (night shots), but I had to look and see I couldn’t see them. Er, yes.

The Nikon has the wonderful ability to keep its LCD to itself, turned flat against the back of the camera protected and off. Yet it’s best for self-portraits because you can flip it out and turn it all the way around and see yourself staring back at yourself. This doesn’t count as ‘chimping’, really. The point is I hardly ever preview with the Nikon.

The Kodak P850 has its preview function turned off so it doesn’t waste battery. I did that when I was using it with the old battery to judge if it was worth buying a new one for. Haven’t turned it back on yet. Don’t miss it a bit.

The Kodak V1003 … ah, well. No point, really. Can hardly make out the screen to see what I’m shooting, never mind review it.

The displays are fine for showing you camera setting, although I’d prefer that info indicated by a line pointing at a number on the respective, dedicated control for the function. In all honesty, how much can you see of the image on your screen? They tend to be small and cramped and lacking in resolution. Can you really judge if you got the shot by ‘chimping’? Only in the most minimal of ways. You can see if the framing was good enough or there’s approximately the right exposure, but it isn’t going to look the same when you bring it up on a computer screen.

A cell phone photo is another matter. Since that likely is the final medium of display, you will see what you will be looking at. It’s kind of amazing that many of them have far better screen resolution than most computers, albeit considerably smaller in overall size.

Before you go previewing everything I would suggest you ask yourself one question: what am I looking for? If you think it’s “the final result” don’t bother pushing that button ’cause you’re not going to see it. If you honestly need to check that everything is in the frame or check focus and/or exposure (especially for manual shots) then do it. But don’t get obsessed. In fact I recommend you train yourself to take pictures without checking any of the views. Go through the equivalent of a full roll of film (24 exposures) without looking at any until you’re done. It will require some willpower, but it will make you a better, more confident photographer.

And now here’s my cat Hannibal (aka “Puff-Puff”) being warm and fuzzy:


Today I have a couple of “test shots” to make involving some different lens configurations on the Canon. No doubt I will preview them all. Also I want to test a couple of objet d’image shots for a future project. Those I won’t look at until they’re on the computer because that’s the only place where it will matter what they come out like.

Also, a certain company has put a camera I do not need but kind of like on sale at a significant discount and I might buy it. Trouble is, it’s not the really nice one I want which is much more expensive (6X the price). I probably wouldn’t use either enough to justify the expense, with or without ‘chimping’. I’m just bored and looking for some inspiration.

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