Q & A: The Camera

A week before I set out on the ride, my beloved Canon A2 camera body broke after seven faithful years of hard use. One of the dials lost its traction and spun freely, rendering the camera useless.

I really didn't have money lying around for a new camera. I had just bought some spendy leather pants, and the details of the trip ahead were all unknowns, including the financials. So, instead of buying a camera equivalent to the A2, I decided to throw down $99 for a cheap, discontinued Rebel body - my logic being that, essentially, a camera body is just a little box that keeps the film dark. I shoot strictly manually and never use the programmed settings.

However, the body is only half the camera; there is the lense, as well, and though I like shooting with a more basic body, I never compromise on a lense. I only took one lense on the trip, my delectable 28-70 f2.8 Canon L Series lense, a lense that still makes me swoon every time I hold it. It is gorgeous; heavy; worthy of being the centerpiece on a dining room table - if I had a dining room table...if I had a dining room.

Anyway, along with being cheap, the Rebel body is extremely light, and with my lense attached, it was totally unbalanced - it felt like I was holding a lense with a growth on the back of it rather than a camera with a lense on it, and it made shooting with one hand impossible. None of this was the end of the world, but it was definitely a nuisance.

It should be noted that everything I have said about camera bodies here pertains to film cameras. I shot film on the trip, not digital. I love film, with a deep, romantic love that will never die. The names alone - Portra VC, TMAX 3200 - make my heart flutter, as does the smell of processing chemicals, the time alone under a dim red light bringing images to life.

But, these things are as foreign in Wyoming as palm trees, and so when I moved here, I began shooting digital. Charlie's early photos were shot with a borrowed Nikon D70, which was a great camera, but I yearned for my sexy Canon lense and recently bought a Canon EOS 30D. It reminds me of my A2 - fewer bells or whistles than the other models, but savvy enough for one to be confident in, and it has a nice heft, creating the perfect balance.