The Shitty Camera Challenge is the antidote to photography competitions. Instead of celebrating the best that cameras have to offer it celebrates the worst. You have a Leica, forget about joining in. A Hasselblad? No chance. In 2018, Adam James, or PapaShittyCams as he is known on social media, challenged photographers to use thrift store cameras, the crappiest cameras they could find, and the Shitty Camera Challenge was born. Over the years the Challenge has covered all types of photography from film, to digital, to instant, and each time photographers have surprised themselves, and others, with the creativity and images they have produced.
Me and my family recently spent a week driving around North Wales in my wife’s van. Me being me, I wanted to take a lot of photos. I also took a lot of cameras. 3 more than I actually used – which is unusual for me. The ones I did use were a Hasselblad SWC and a Pentax 110 auto film cameras, and the subject of this article, a Sony ZV-1 compact digital.
The Sony ZV-1 is punted by the brand as a “vloggers camera” – as such, it is supposedly designed more for video blogging, or in simple terms selfie-video. In fact, shooting video is what I bought it for, though not for me, but for work, and not for pointing at myself. As a creative agency producing a lot of video content our team has greatly expanded in the last year. We’ve bought some new kit too. A couple of new lenses, a drone and this ZV-1 have increased our capabilities. The Sony ZV-1 was specifically bought to capture little off the cuff mini-interviews at events. It’s small size makes for a camera that isn’t as threatening to people we point it at, meaning we can get little snippets and sound bites out of more nervous people as well as capturing people who have less time etc. We also bought it because unlike our bigger cameras which top out at 100fps for 1/4 speed slow motion, the Sony ZV-1 does 1000fps for when we want to capture something much more fast moving etc.
Of course, before I could give it to the team, I felt I needed to try it first. In short, I decided to take it on holiday. Not for video, I should add – though I did take a few slow-mo clips that I’ll never likely do anything with – but for snaps.
The digital camera industry is as fast paced as any other digital manufacturing industry. We are now on the 10th iteration of the iPhone, after its debut in 2007; similarly since the Nex-7 in 2011 we have gone moved through the A6k and A7 series several times over, with no indication that the A9 or A7RIII will be their definitive/iconic models in the same way that the Nikon F3 was more or less The Nikon from 1980 to 2001.
The Sony A5100 is by many accounts a great little camera. It’s very small, it does pretty decent quality video, it has very fast autofocus, a flippy-uppy screen and is compatible with an increasingly excellent selection of lenses from Sony and the likes of Zeiss and Sigma. If all this is what you’re looking for, it has a lot to offer. Which worked out quite well for me, since these are the attributes I was looking for. That being said, what I also expected – especially since this is a Sony – was to also find considerable compromises. Quite surprisingly, what I’ve actually found is a digital camera that pretty much perfectly fits a few of my specific needs.