Compact Photographers

35mm Compact Camera Photographer #21 – Luis Diaz

I put down my medium format cameras and large 35mm SLR’s, and picked up a single lensed, single range compact point and shoot. With minimalistic in features and options, it was a squared, not so good looking 35mm compact point and shoot camera known as the Konica Big Mini 302.

When I first purchased the Big Mini I still owned all of my Nikon and medium format cameras such as the Mamiya C330 and RB67. I didn’t use it as much as I was skeptical of the results being far less ‘flashy’ and ‘pro-like’ than my Nikon F100’s. I always thought I couldn’t trust the tiny Big Mini.

Then came the day. I was getting ready as I was about to go on a first date with a girl I had just met. Prior to this I had always carried my F100 everywhere. To school, to work, to bathrooms…literally everywhere. So me being me, I decided that my Nikon F100 along with 3 lenses would do the job. After a few minutes of deciding what lenses and film to choose I realized, “this is not going to be comfortable”. The sudden thought of me hauling a 10 pound bag around L.A. all evening seemed utterly horrific. Dining with a huge bag by my side, and my date wondering what the heck I was doing with a huge camera and bag on a first date.

I panicked. I wanted to carry a camera with me, as I knew there was always interesting things happening in L.A., but I didn’t want to seem like a weirdo also. As the time for our date came closer and closer I must have loaded and unloaded every camera system into the bag, I couldn’t decide. After about 25 minutes of panicked psycho frustration as I like to call it, I remembered I had just bought the Big Mini. I loaded a roll of Kodak Portra into it, and on we went.

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First shot I ever took with the Big Mini 302, Kodak Portra 800.

As my date went on, I kept enjoying the Konica more and more. It was more exciting than my date. I had a lot of fun with my F100 and my Mamiyas, but there was something so carefree I loved about the Konica. The Point and shoot factor of the camera was overwhelmingly addictive. I realized, people are more timid and feel a lot more intruded when you’re pointing a professional looking camera at them.

Nobody cares if you’re snapping away with something that looks as odd and unprofessional as the Big Mini. I captured people, buildings and moving scenes. The Konica surprised me with its quick enough auto focus. And its capability to restrain itself from using flash every single shot. I was in love with the camera. I still believe some of the images I’ve captured with it are some of my best. In fact I believe the reason why I’ve grown in my photography is because of this camera.

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Nice structure in downtown L.A., Konica Big Mini 302 Kodak Portra 800

After having the negatives developed, I gathered my other photography enthusiast buddy. We scanned the negatives, and we both ‘wowed’ at the photographs. The images were sharp, well exposed. Colors were nice and bright. I was more than happy with the camera.

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“Can I take your picture?”, “….sure…” Konica Big Mini 302, Portra 800

As time went on, I kept reaching for my Konica more and more. I could do whatever with it, hike, run, even go to the beach. the amount of things I could do and do comfortably with the camera on my neck were endless. After about 5 months of never picking up the Mamiya, I decided to let them go. I sold my C330 and RB67 along with a few of the Nikon lenses I owned. I just had no need for them. Every trip, everything I wanted to photograph, the Konica would do just fine. It was good enough for me. For my day to day regular shooting, the konica was surpassing my every expectation.

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From portraits to nature, the big mini does it all, Konica Big Mini 302, Kodak Portra 800

The camera also taught me a lot. The auto exposure let me focus more on composition. More and more of my photographs returned to me better composed than before. The camera is so small, it’s a joy manoeuvring it around your hand to go from landscape to portrait in a sudden movement. it made shooting easier, more enjoyable and gave it a subtle carefree feel. Not to mention the stealthiness of it. I was hooked.

I later went on to try different point and shoots, Nikon AF600, Nikon 35ti, even a Hexar AF. I decided to keep the AF600, but the tiny viewfinder always bugged me. I later Purchased a Ricoh R1. The viewfinder was much better, and the camera itself as well. I was excited to have a 24mm panoramic lens on the Ricoh, it was tons of fun to use. Compositions were also interesting. I decided to take the Ricoh on a trip to Sequoia, and again, I was astonished with the small point and shoot.

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Seqouia, panorama with the R1, Ricoh R1, Portra 800

It has been about a year now since I’ve been shooting with point and shoot cameras. Although for the most part, I’ve got 28mm-35mm covered, there is some range I need to fill. That’s where my Nikon F100 comes in. And now Ive found this set up to be my personal favorite. I use my point and shoot cameras every single time I got out. Whether I’am on a date or simply out for a walk. I’ve found a special place for my Nikon as well.

The beauty of point and shoot cameras to me is, that no matter how worried you are about the shot, the camera itself is so simplistic and minimal that it makes shooting just like it. It lets you focus a bit more, compose a bit longer. Now that I have learned a bit more of composition with my Konica, every picture I take on my Nikon is far better than it was before. Every picture I take with the Konica makes me want to pick up the camera and keep shooting, even more than the last time.

You can see more of my photographs on my Instagram, @Sunkenrats.
Or through flickr

Thank you.


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