So I made one big mistake in the last two days. I had a Pentax 31mm Limited lens here that I listed for sale. Turns out that was a loan from a reader, Yoshi C. Yes, years ago, and I had lost track of where it had come from...and just assumed that it was mine to do with what I pleased. Fortunately, Yoshi contacted me before I made the mistake of selling his lens to someone else! It's now slated to go home again, so all is well.
Whew. Dodged that bullet. (Don't worry, John, I know the Leica M7 and 35mm Apo-Summilux belong to you.)
People aren't supposed to admit it when they do stupid things like that. But, to quote David Vestal, "I'm in the disclosure business." (That's what he would tell manufacturers as he refused to sign non-disclosure agreements. I miss David.)
End of another era
The fabled and fabulous Single Use Device sold this morning, to Tim B. in Devon, Blessed Plot/Sceptered Isle. (Closer to Ilford.) Godspeed, and I hope Tim exercises it properly. And with all this stuff going out the door, I feel my "camera accumulator" period is drawing to an end. No more happy imagining that I'm going to become a film photographer once again; no more indulging of gearhead fancies. From now on, I'm thinking I will just own the tools I need to do the work I want to do, as I used to do. (I always sensed that camera accumulation—I can't glorify myself with the term "collecting"—would be dangerous for me, not to mention hazardous for my bank account.)
But speaking of working tools, I need a little advice. Bridge cameras and small-sensor cameras are a blind spot for me, because I haven't had much use for them and don't keep up with that parish of the camera world. But I think I need some buying advice. I'm looking for a small-sensor camera that I can do product shots and closeups of small objects with, for web publishing only. Note, for instance...
...that the end of the 135mm ƒ/4 Super-Multi-Coated Takumar (this big beauty now belongs to Ned B.) is a bit out of the d-o-f. A tiny sensor would make it that much easier to get everything in focus in shots like this.
Anybody have any advice? It should have a 1/2.3", 1/1.7", or 2/3" sensor, IS, and hopefully not too slow a lens. I was looking at something like the Olympus Stylus 1. Or some flavor of Nikon 1? If anybody knows what macro and web-product shooters like, I'd be happy to get some pointers.
Re a camera reviewer not knowing about cameras, I'm reminded of a professional studio advertising photographer I once worked for. He told an amusing story about being asked, at a party, for advice about a flash. Meaning, of course, what Nikon calls "Speedlights"—a Strobist strobe, an on-camera flash unit that attaches to the hot shoe. And he had to admit to his social acquaintance that he didn't own one and had no idea how they worked, much less what to buy. His interlocutor was astonished that a professional photographer of his caliber wouldn't know about something so simple and common as an on-camera flash unit. What Peter didn't bother to explain was that he worked with flash every day and was a master of artificial light, but his tools of choice consisted of $70,000 worth of Speedotron Black Line pack-and-head equipment—what were at that time (this was the mid-'80s) known as "studio strobes"—and hundreds of pieces of light-shaping equipment, from an enormous softbox for the Quad Head to stacks of Mathews C-stands.
One day not too long from now my camera arsenal will consist of my Fuji X-T1 and three or four lenses, the iPhone for visual note-taking, and some camera as yet unnamed that stays in the basement to do TOP tabletop shots with.
My favorite camera for such product shots? You won't believe it: the Nikon D800 and 28mm ƒ/1.8G! I'd just take a picture standing way back, and crop to a tiny center section to get the subject. Even cropping radically there were still enough pixels there for the Web. But it's a little too expensive to keep a D800 around just for that!
(Thanks to Yoshi)
ADDENDUM: Thanks for all the excellent suggestions, which I will start posting soon. I really should have mentioned that I don't want to use the Fuji XT-1 for tabletop because I don't want to be changing settings and lenses back and forth all the time. The "real" camera needs to be upstairs and ready to go outside; the "Web" camera needs to live downstairs and be set up to do that at a moment's notice. Of course I could use the same camera for everything if pressed, but it would be kind of a hassle just given the way I tend to work.
UPDATE: I ended up buying a used Panasonic LX7 compact, for $150, from the same reader who just bought the Konica 35mm ƒ/2 M-Hexanon from me. I'll use that for some tabletop shots and let you know how it does.
Thanks again for all the help!
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Featured Comments from:
Mike replies: Very impressive samples. Thanks.
Jock Elliott: "Panasonic FZ200 is astonishingly versatile. Constant ƒ/2.8 from 24mm-e to 600mm-e. I have used it professionally for both web and magazine work. The pix in this article and this article were taken with its cousin, the FZ150. If you want a bigger sensor, the Panasonic Lumix LX100 works very well and sees in the dark. I carry both the FZ200 and LX100 in a shoulder bag, and I never have to change lenses."
Dana Thomas: "...Hilarious on the Pentax 31mm lens. A friend...still is...tried to sell a Nikon FM and a 50mm lens to me that he had borrowed a year earlier. 'Dude...I gave you this while yours was in repair.' 'OH!...well I guess I will have to sell it to someone else.' What are friends for if not a bit of fun?"
Dan MacDonald: "I do eBay sales of camera gear at a shop here in Seattle and we use an older Canon G10 and I've been impressed by the image quality it achieves with our small tabletop studio, as well as the small 1/1.7" sensor allowing for the kind of depth of field you're looking for. The newest version of this camera also has an ƒ/1.8–2.8 lens which is nice.
"Most of the images on this blog I shot with the G10."