The Photographer's Hand
By PF Staff in Influential Photo Gear on Dec 26, 2012
A photo of the Photographer's Hand
When I first thought about what piece of equipment makes the most positive impact on my shooting, I was not sure what piece I should write about. My first digital camera? My first DSLR? My first film camera? Any of my lenses? Something different? And then I realized that what has the highest impact on my photography (and I am sure on everyone else's) is my hand (or everyone else's, respectively). Well, you may be thinking I am being a little impudent right now and that this kind of joke does not belong to a serious competition, and guess what... you may be right. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that it is true. My other equipment is just a pile of plastic, metal and glass and cannot take a single picture without the most important part of the photography: The Photographer's Hand. After all, one of my college teachers, a well recognised professor of archaeology, states that "Any artifact is only an extension of the human body". And I must hand it to him.
I have had the mentioned hand since the day I was born. I got it for free, so it did not cost me an arm and a leg as photographic equipment sometimes tends to cost. It took me a while to figure out for which activities it is best suited. Since the day I have discovered pressing a shutter, I use it mostly for that. And of course, for any other activity that leads to taking a picture (adjusting the camera, changing accessory... you name it). Of course, it is a universal tool and reducing its functions only to pointing the camera and triggering the shutter would be misleading. In the meantime (that means between shooting) it can substitute for other, even non-photographic, tools (like a head-scratcher) and even substitute for another person: for example... to slap you when you are looking on a too costly lens in a shop).
But a true purpose of a true Photographer's Hand lies in taking pictures. Everything else is nothing more than a welcomed bonus.
So what am I to tell you about my own Photographer's Hand? First I know it is not the best hand around. As well as I know my camera is not the best one around. Neither my pictures are. Not being the best means you can get better, and progress is important. I know I cannot simply buy a new hand (I am no Skywalker) and I would not do it anyway. At first I must highlight its great value. Its price/performance ratio simply cannot be beaten (even if the rest of your equipment is Pentax gear). To get the most important part of your kit for free is priceless. Secondly I must admire its temperature resistance and weather sealing (it is a pentaxian hand, after all). I have been using it in heavy rain, in dusty enviroment, in freezing cold winter, in a hot desert and even underwater and it has never let me down. It got quite a few bumps and scratches, but never needed service. I would not say it is built like a tank, but its build quality in not bad nonetheless. Even its reach is not bad. It has longer fingers in comparison to many other hands, which makes holding a camera easy as well as reaching all the controls.
The hand holding a (Pentax) camera
But still there are things I would upgrade if I could (and luckily some of them really are enhanceable).
- Firstly, I would welcome a better shake reduction. Motion blur is sometimes visible in my pictures. When I am looking at the hand with its fingers outstretched, I can clearly see why. Unlike the camera's SR, the hand's SR can be made more efficient by learning how to hold your camera, limiting your caffeine doses or going at the doctor's in more serious cases.
- Next thing to improve is its manual focus speed. You can rarely upgrade focusing speed of your camera or lens, because it fully depends on the manufacturer's good will. If he is willing to kindly release new firmware with AF update. Improving your hand's focusing speed is easy – it just takes is a bit of training. That is why I purchased an old manual film body for my hand. It works.
- Furthermore I am not satisfied with its strength. After a day with a heavier lens and my hand on the grip, I am starting to feel its limitations. I think it is not necessary to emphasize that this is just the matter of training, but my laziness is a big restriction.
- The last thing that often makes me mad is its constant habit of leaving fingerprints. Not that I am being prosecuted or something, I am a decent person, but everytime it leaves its greasy signature on any of my lens, I lose my temper.
But I love my hand (please do not get the wrong idea)!
So what is the conclusion? I know this brief article may seem off topic, but think about it, it really is not. What I was trying to say is this: It is not just about your gear, it is about you. The holder of the camera and his Photographer's Hand is what really matters.
May the good light be with you!
Taken using the mentioned hand