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Tuesday, 11 November 2014


Mike, I did this for 30 days once. Didn't print the images but used a prime lens and one camera every day. I used a nikon d7000 and a 35, approximately the same as a 50. It was very hard, especially around the holidays. I needed to take some group shots so I had to switch the lenes and put a wide angle lens on the front to get everyone in the frame?
I am not sure you want to use this philosophy if you are on a once in a lifetime trip? You want to make sure you come back with some keepers, some of which may require a wider lens while others may need a longer lens.
I will say even for the 30 days a picture a day is both hard and rewarding. It requires a lot of thought about what the subject of the image will be. Many of my images we're perfect shots of crappy subjects or conversely bad shots of great subjects. I put some of the images in my zenfolio site under the name of project 35 what I called the project.
Generally it was a good exercise. Good luck to those who undertake the challenge.

Nice digital modification of the Leica 1 year project.

Obvious camera recommendation: leica M8 with 35 (50 FOV) or M9 or M with 50.

At the risk of escalating viewfinder costs, I'll suggest lower cost option: small point and shoot with a 50 mm viewfinder.
I'd use (and do use) a ricoh GR in 50 mm (47)cropped mode with a Leica 1:1 50 mm viewfinder, LCD off, and the green focus light or focus confirmation beep at low volume. The files are about 6 MP. Good enough Good enough size and the set up is wonderfully small and quick and the view is gorgeous.

Mike, you write above:

"I have a superb visual example of this, but the prints are in boxes I know not where."

To avoid this exact problem with a daily printing project like this, why not, at the end of the year, print a photo book, or make an album of the original prints, with all 365 images in chronological order?

Otherwise... "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."


May I suggest this tag for participants wanting to go social (e.g. on Flickr)?!

I was right with you until the first requirement. Then I gave up.

This is probably a worthwhile exercise, albeit modified to fit circumstances. I did the OC/OL, B&W bit for well over a decade - nearly two, out of fiscal limits. It was all I could afford, and I could process the film and prints in my bathroom when everyone else had gone to bed for the night. For many reasons I generally wasn't able to shoot every day. I found it terribly frustrating in some ways. Especially in that I often couldn't get close enough to frame the shot as I wanted with a 55mm lens, and had to crop it in the darkroom. Film grain was my enemy much of the time. I did get a few accessories: close up lenses and Spiratone bellows, so I could do macro, and some filters. When I was able to get a Nikon FM to replace my Argus C3 that made a big difference. And by then I could afford to get color processed.
No doubt I learned a lot, especially about the technical side of photography. Did I learn a lot about my aesthetics or subject selection or picture framing, etc.? Its hard to say. I do know that having the ability to frame my shots better (e.g. the way I wanted) with the right lens was a great relief. I still also do a lot of B&W, and in over 65 years of photography I still use things I learned early on. Of course the technology of digital and photohop is very different in many ways from the old film era, and I wouldn't go back. This is much more effective and productive. But the basics still hold.

I assume no cropping?

Here´s the link to Flickr:

I've done the single camera/lens thing for shorter time frames (1 - 3 months), and would like to do the longer version, but my brain keeps throwing up roadblocks/distractions:
- I don't have a printer, and don't know how printing through a service/shop on a daily basis would work
- I am hesitant about not being able to use a different camera over the 13 months (in addition to the OC/OL). Am I misunderstanding or overstating that requirement?
- I've got an Olympus EM-5 which has been very serviceable over the time I've owned it (a couple of years now) but has never felt quite right in hand/in photographing. This exercise tempts me to upgrade to the EM-1 or go in a very different direction and get a DP2 Merrill.

Any input on these mental games and how to address them?

I'm a big fan of the OC/OL plan, but I know I can't fit it in with my semi-irregular earning jobs (often equestrian). Would it be cheating to go OC/OL for 'personal' work only?

I did acquire an M2 and voigtlander 35mm a few years ago with this is mind, but you're quite right that development was too much of a hassle/cost. I do think though that your focal length range should stretch to 35mm to accomodate the otherwise-perfect-for-this-challenge X100.

Have you considered display options other than printing? You've updated your plan with the times (shoot digital) but even printing is relatively niche still. I like to print A4/A3, but 365xA4 prints will make the cost several $thousand over the year in paper and ink. It would be a lot more economical even to purchase a second monitor and have the week's shots rotating fullscreen on the desktop all week.

Even with development removed as a barrier to entry, the printing effort is still significant, and not relevant to many people.

And I was >this close< to splurging on a Sony RX1 . . . alas.

I couldn't have done this, I don't think, even in 1970. It would have cut me off from too much of my already-existing photographic life.

Well why not? My poison will be a light and quiet XE-1 fuji with 27mm (40) and the camera all,be set to mono Jpeg. It's really good at those.
My exercise will have one more restriction. I work with mini lab access, so my print will be pinted every day at work (2 on Monday). Always wanted to do this exercise with film, but whimped out. Cheers for keeping it thought provoking.

Actually, you are a teacher. Like me, you'd like to be a practitioner (of a different craft) or, failing that, a philosopher / commentator, but you're a teacher, and this is a fine thing to be, I think. It's taken me a long time to realise this about myself, but it is easy to spot in others: your teaching articles are by far your best (and are, therefore, very good indeed).

I did a variant of this variant, without the printing, back in 2009/2010. Camera was a cheapo Nikon D40, and the lens, a Sigma 30mm f/1.4. Mainly taken with me when I cycled the seven miles to/from work.

As I've oft mentioned before, folk could also vary their own take on this by using a free Blipfoto journal (http://www.blipfoto.com/ or other website). From having being 'Blipping' nearly every day since early 2011, I can relate to the highs and lows of finding something every darned day! Especially as I don't have a pet or offspring to harass with the camera, for a BoD - Blip of desperation.

Had a bit of a love hate relationship with that Sigma. Corners were oft problematic. Used it less after the year, and the much cheaper Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 was used now and again in its place, but just isn't the same. Half tempted by the new version of the Sigma, though it's about three times the price of the Nikkor in the UK. I'd fit it to a D5100 these days.

Mike, I want to try this. I've been stagnant in my photography for a few months now. In fact, I'm 90% decided...except for one thing: part of what I love to shoot is landscape photography. For day to day and travel I have my camera and lens in mind, but what to do when I visit Yosemite National Park next summer (or all of the parks up here in the Norhtwest any time)? Any ideas?

Already into the 1C/1L routine when traveling- iPhone 5

Inspired by necessity, as well as your One Camera/One Lens project, I've been using an E-Pl1 and the 20mm f/1.7 for well over a year, perhaps two.

As you might expect, printing is my downfall - I don't have a decent printer, and the local, cheap, photo lab doesn't have any meaningful color controls. Too much bother. The closest I've come is looking at my best stuff on the ipad - it really looks quite a bit better than I thought. I am getting a printer for Christmas, and filling it with inexpensive third party ink. We shall see how that goes. (I'm also expecting a new camera, and a return to the very good kit zoom, so I'll have to think that over carefully.)

In any case, I've learned a great deal, the camera is an extension of my mind now, and I know what a 4:3 ratio 40mm-ish field of view looks like, before even picking up the camera. I also understand your letter to George much better now: a moderate wide is like the width of my field of perception, and a moderate tele is like the area of close attention. A 50mm field of view can look like either only if you have control over where you stand. Great for making compositions, compromised for showing what my mind sees.

Keep up the teaching essays, Mike, and I'll keep trying to learn from them.

I'm tempted but the only thing close to a normal lens I have on digital is a Cosina branded 28/2.8 manual focus in Canon FD mount. That will adapt and work on my little E-PL1 but at about 56mm effective. Close enough?

Where is my 4x5 travel wide?

With a break in rule (90mm), I would use that to take 6 pictures over 5 working days per week and develop in weekend (or two weekends if lazy).

One 4x5, 3 holders as you said somewhere else.

Just need a travelwide!

I have a problem with your requirement to print often in my standard print size since my standard print size is 20"x30". I really don't want that many big prints.

I have a proposal for for you. I loan you my Leica for six weeks and see what you do. You can print your size rather than mine.

Hey, the best part of your idea is to get people to PRINT.

Reminds me of my first year of serious interest in photography. As a student in 1966 my camera had a fixed 50mm lens and I only shot black and white because color was too expensive. Maybe everything old is new again.

Like the idea. Almost been doing it already the past month, since I acquired the Leica X I've not used anything else but for an occasional Polaroid snap. The Leica X will be my camera if I decide to jump in ... 35mm FoV rather than 50, otherwise just what the doctor ordered.

This project can be done cheaply. One of two options is with a cellphone. Get a camera app which sets a fixed zoom factor. 1.4x, black and white. Doe post on the cellphone and print or post. Other options would be something like a nikon v1 with a prime or panasonic lf1 (using 1 focal). Both have no shallow dof. Meaning it is all about the story, composition and light. In factone could argue that the default equivalent focal of a cellphone, 28mm, is a good teacher for composition. Teaching people inadvertently to use a camera better...

I doubt I have the stamina.

Why don't you do this, Mike - if you can keep the same camera for so long :) - and post your best everyday?

I would buy a GF1 with a 12-45 kitlens, best camera I ever used. Have fun.

I must say I own a EM-5 and I that will lead to a crossgrade to a Canon (Nikon seems to work like a well oiled business these days) and Magic Lantern......probably a humble 550D or 650D series for a buck or few with the plastic kit lens (and DxO, Photomatix, AutopanoPro, David 3D, Agisoft as pipeline for fun and games). I will be happy!

This is definitely not for everyone, and I am one of the ones that will not do it. However, it would be an interesting collection of comments to read if those who find their way with it, post an essay on their experience with some shots.

It's probably assign of the times that this needs to be suggested as an exercise. When I got my first camera I only had one (50mm) lens for over three years because that was how it came and I couldn't afford another one. Then I had two lenses for the next ten years or so.

Thirty odd years on I have a stack of lenses but feel I can manage with the same two focal lengths I used to use - 50mm and 28mm. Maybe I conditioned myself to see that way?

thanks for your great blog. I read it almost every day, and today I'd like to share my take on your exercise.
I've done your exercise during the last year. My wife and I had a whole year off (sabbatical), and I used a Panasonic G5 and the Olympus 17/1.8, because I'm just more of the 35mm guy. I tried the 25/1.8 for the last two weeks in New York, it's a great lens, but the 35mm angle of view is something I really like.
I couldn't do the printing while we were travelling, but instead I edited my pictures every week when we had Wifi access and posted them on my blog. I think I learned a lot from this whole process.
Feel free to look at my blog if you have the time, especially the pictures from the Appalachian Trail, Australia and New Zealand. My wife wrote the text in German, but there is always the pictures and a Google translation.
Any feedback appreciated.
I'd suggest you start here:

I feel deep inside that it's fundamentally missing the point of creating art that there's particular exercises I should do to get 'better' at it.

Could be wrong though!

I really want to do this, but can see wanting to use different lenses/cameras occasionally for travel, architecture, etc. Will I lose the benefits of this exercise if I sometimes do photography with a different combination?

I am tempted. Leica T with 35 eq lens. Or maybe with my 2/35 that would make it about 50. Optical viewfinder. After that year I should know whether I still want that camera or not. Or I might give up after couple of months in frustration. I suppose I could start again if that really happens. Life is too short to be disappointed for a year.

One thing to add for the folks without a printer. Not having one doesn't mean you want one, but the Canon rebates right now mean you can get a Pixma Pro-100 13x19" printer plus a 50-pack of paper for $150 (Was $50 a while back with the Photo Plus deals). I actually ordered a 2nd one because the one I already had was out of ink and the $50 for the whole package is cheaper than just buying new ink. At $150, you're basically paying for ink and paper and the printer is free. Just a thought.

Since September, I am implicitly in this perspective: Nikon V3 / 18.5mm. Only one serious question still remains: the choice of sensitivity. ISO 400 seems the sole consistent option. 100/800 is too easy isn't it Mike?

Another option though: drastically disable the LCD and only use the EVF without any real-time feedback.

For me, taking on this project would have a couple of added benefits:
1) It would pull me away from the crippling G.A.S. caused by today's camera manufacturers' continuous stream of new toys. This project would give me a year to side-step the not insignificant distraction caused by all the marketing of new bells-and-whistles. Maybe by the end of the year I'd be able to see more clearly what I NEED, rather than what I want.
2) Many years ago I started off with B&W photography, including all those wonderful years in a B&W darkroom. But I've been making digital color photographs exclusively for at least a half dozen years. Lately I've been wondering if I left something behind by not trying to make digital B&W images. So if I decide to go with the project, it'll be B&W... to see if I've been missing something.

Question: Why is it that we consider things like this more seriously when someone else suggests it?? :-)

I've had a Panasonic GF1 & 1.7/20mm lens forever. These days you could get that combo for around $300US ! Set it on Dynamic B&W jpg+raw.
Perfect inexpensive tool for this exercise. This camera+lens combo is indestructible ;-)

Mike, do you still think it's worthwhile going with optical viewfinder and shooting/processing in B&W?
Or is this irrelevant to the point of exercise?

I think I am going to tackle this as soon as I can buy a new camera. Maybe get one for Xmas. I almost pulled the trigger on the Leica challenge a while back but the digital revolution had me tied down. I need a lightweight camera I can carry with me around at work. Either a fixed focal length Fuji or a micro 4/3 with one lens. For snapshots, I'll still use my cell phone and other cameras for snaps. Printing everyday will be the hardest part. Can I print 2 or 3 pictures a day and not print for a couple of days? I think I need to think through that...

"- I've got an Olympus EM-5 which has been very serviceable over the time I've owned it (a couple of years now) but has never felt quite right in hand/in photographing."

-- Kusandha Hertrich

Have you tried an accessory grip? My Oly grip lives on my EM5 and makes far more easy to handle, but if I had to buy it again, I'd try the the EM5 plate/grip set from Really Right Stuff.

Hmmm, trying to use a printer on a regular basis? I'm pretty certain I'd rather shoot myself.

[You're allowed to shoot yourself. As long as you make one print a day. --Mike]

Mike, one part of the original "Leica" post which hasn't been applied to this excersize and it is one that is almost invisible. " Back in the day" (1970's) film limited you to one film speed at all times. I like many I cut my teeth on tri-x 400, but I really started to improve when I started shooting kodachrome (original asa 25) and was of necessity forced to really polish my technique to maximize my skill in lower light situations. After switching to kodachrome 75 it seemed my available pics skyrocketed. For those not from film days, kodachrome could be only by processed by labs. There was no choice of "pushing or pulling" to expand your exposure latitude. You either got it or you didn't. By todays standard those low speeds must seemly absurd, but they did force me to think about the picture more before pressing the button. In short, I think limiting yourself to one speed somewhere between 100 and 400 would also make your progress even faster, although more frustrating in the beginning.

"Have you tried an accessory grip? My Oly grip lives on my EM5 and makes far more easy to handle, but if I had to buy it again, I'd try the the EM5 plate/grip set from Really Right Stuff."
- Auntipode

It's actually not the grip that is the issue for me. I bought the Oly grip but ended up selling it as I actually didn't need it. I don't have small hands but have gotten used to not having much to grip as I use my left hand for support more than my right. My issue is with the placement of the rear control dial, just off enough for me for it to be a nagging issue. With the E-P5 and E-M1 they fixed that placement to my tastes.

I'm not a fan of this sort of idea, at least not when taken to this extreme. I am a fan of knowing equipment so well that its use becomes second nature, allowing the photographer to focus on photographs rather than on equipment, and I'm alternately amused and aggravated by folks for whom photography is more about photography gear and photographs.

I also do like to shoot a simple camera with a single prime lens for some purposes, especially street photography, where this allows me to work very quickly and with less conscious thought. In addition, I'm old enough to have started out in the manner you describe, with one camera and its built in lens.

I can see this as a fine exercise for someone at a certain novice stage, and perhaps for a week or even a month. But beyond that I have to wonder how the benefits will outweigh the disadvantages. And, in some ways, isn't it potentially yet another way of imaging that the gear is the important thing, expressed here not as "all the gear I might need so as to get my photographs" but "using minimal gear as to get my photographs?"

Take care,


Is anyone going to commit?

I'll be using a Ricoh GXR with the A12 50mm F2.5 starting Jan 1. Solid GR lens, but it doesn't allow for easy compositional tricks or novelties.

Viewfinding will be done using the Ricoh VF-2 EVF.

Printing 1 out-of-the-camera JPEG per day. No cropping, no camera applied effects, no post.

Any takers?

Okay, just a quick note to let you know that I'm on day two of this. I previously had been trying a one camera/one lens thing, but this variant with the waiting to print for the first 30 days just might keep me more consistent and motivated. It also helps that I know I'm not the only one since this was trumpeted from Mount TOP. I'll probably post jpegs of the prints as I make them once I get to that stage.

Went with my EM1 for the grip and viewfinder, and the Panasonic 20mm for the slightly wider normal look.

"When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" Sorry I will carry on with my bag of lenses. Back in the dark old days I indeed got by with one lens. Panning shots at the Sebring 12 hr. race was really tough with that Yashica A. No I don't want to go back.


I'm way late to comment on this and you're probably travelling, but I've been busy. Do you have any recommendations for used digital cameras and lenses for this project. I'd like to do it when things slow down but I haven't followed cameras enough to know what's good and reliable in cameras or lenses. If I don't ever take on a project like this, I'll just resign myself to always being a crappy photographer. That's me being crappy, not photographers! Plus, I need something to get me going rather than just sitting around all the time hoping for the magic bullet to fix my problems. Thanks.

Mike, Ok, I'm in. One year, shooting each day with a single digital camera and prime lens in the 40-60mm equivalent Focal length range... and printing more or less daily on a sweet little Canon Pixma Pro-100 printer here in my studio. I assume it's Ok if I use other cameras and printers for other activities from time to time, just as long as I keep the one camera, one lens plus print rules going steady over the course of the year.

It was an alignment of various events that caused me to buy into your challenge. Mostly, it's because I turn 60 years old this tuesday. 40 years old didn't phase me. 50 years old...no mid life crisis... 60? It's freaking me out, so I decided to double down on my life long passion of photography and restart with a fresh point of view. That's where your challenge comes into my horizon line. Before reading your post I had alrready ordered a Nikon Df from Bhphoto to "taste it all over again for the first time" in the immortal advertising words of a recent Kellogg's Corn Flakes commercial appeailng to aging baby boomers like me. I wanted to mount some of my old pre-AI glass on a modern dSLR, particularly the 105 f2.5 Nikkor that my father gave me as a graduation present from high school. The Nikon Df makes that possible. I Love the old Nikon F mount glass for it's staying power in a world where 2 or 3 year old stuff typically becomes ready for the trash bin.

The Df arrived yesterday and as luck would have it, it's defective. It recognizes "G" type lenses and non CPU lenses, but returns an "fEE" error message when mounting "D" type lenses. Go figure! I doubt the replacement from BHphoto is going to arrive in time for my birthday, but its a minor setback in the plan, and when it does arrive, I will start this grand adventure. Not sure whether to thank you or curse you, but let's see how it all plays out in the coming year!


This will be interesting, way wider than I normally shoot, usually I only shoot macro stuff. Sony A6000 with an old Asahi 28 mm lens.

I enjoyed your post very much, Actually i am not a photographer a designer. But want to follow some blog about photography related that this. Seeking some important tips about how to be a photographer.

Which Leica digital and lens would you recommend for this project. Assume that the goal is to maximize learning and the effort will be the same and money is not a concern. Would it be the M 240 P with a 50mm summicron or the summilux or any of the other leica 50mms? Or even the APO summicron 50mm?

[Hi Lals, I think any of those would do splendidly. Choose the lens you most would like to bond with, because you will get to know it well and it will become a friend. --Mike]

Hi Mike

I'm going to try this, if only to try to instil the habit to shoot often. The Leica challenge almost seduced me but my shooting style makes even you look profligate. But the first challenge was to find a camera (with viewfinder) small enough to carry in my briefcase. Challenge answered by an EOS 100D/SL 1 I found on the web for a song (cheaper than most fixed lens compacts I was also considering). It will be paired with an EF 28/1.8 I own from my days as a regular Canon shooter which will deliver an effective focal length of 45mm.

For prints, a cheap Canon Pixma I bought years ago to print the odd 6x4.

I can't promise I'll be faithful to this combo for the whole year (as family christenings etc will demand added variety) but I'll certainly try to pursue the project in parallel.

Ok, I’ve made a start on this. Shooting every day is a great disciplinarian. Haven’t decided on B&W or colour yet. Can’t wait to get printing. By one month in there’ll be a pretty big pile of photos to select from.

For my setup, I’ve gone with a Panasonic G1 and the PanaLeica 25mm f/1.4. I’ve got several G cameras, but the G1, my first, seemed like the best choice. It’s already looking retro in these days of swift digital evolution. It has ample external controls, including a very useful focus mode dial. In the spirit of the challenge I’m going to aspire to manual focus and exposure where possible, but AF is a useful crutch at this stage. The focus mode dial encourages me back to manual focus as often as possible.

The biggest caveat being: I can’t shoot all year with just one camera and lens for every job. Some projects will require different equipment - but the G1 will be with me as well. For personal work where I have free choice of axe, the G1 and 25mm it will exclusively be. That in itself is a liberating thought.

To more closely simulate the film ethos, I’m using ISO 125 and 800 only. And only one setting per day. That matches what’s (just about) possible with film using two bodies, or perhaps changing film mid-spool, so I’m happy that it’s not a compromise too far.

I’m looking forward to seeing the results from other participants.

Finally, I’d like to echo a comment from further up the thread. Why do I only take things like this seriously when someone else suggests them?

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