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Friday, 27 January 2017


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That's funny, Mike, I have never caught a whiff of whatever that commenter alludes to on this site. I have learned a lot here, and always appreciated your writing and the tone of the comments. I have learned a lot from reading the comment fields, frankly. I think perhaps many people are very sensitive about the brands they choose, for whatever reason. I'm with you: whatever you got, grip it & rip it.

Seriously? In my experience, TOP is among the most agnostic and eclectic photography publications ever, print or digital. Offhand, I can't think of any that could match its breadth of respectful treatment across formats, mediums, genres, styles, arts, sciences, history, commitment levels, etc. (leaving out the off topic stuff). (Maybe huge communities like photo.net in its heydey, but I doubt even that.)

If there seem to be more "[fill in the blank] users" hanging out here it's far more likely a reflection of other sites' biases and limitations than TOP's. Where else would they go?

More accurate and telling would be to note the disproportionately large number of equipment-agnostic, pragmatic and empirical photographers around here.

Just my opinion, of course.

Perhaps what I love the most of your blog is that it is a celebration of why we use and choose certain cameras. I find this much more enjoyable than a celebration of particular camera breed.

If your camera gets in the way of the photographs you are trying to make, it might not be the right one.

Is this a guy thing?

I cannot imagine women being so hung up on such matters.

I don't hang out on Top because I'm a Micro 4/3 user, I'm a Micro 4/3 user because I hang out on Top.

Two things:
1. I never really thought about your site that way and I didn't imagine that would be a problem but now I realize that that might be because I mostly shoot with an E-M1 and a PanaLeica 25mm, but that leads to...

2. A while ago a friend handed me a very used 5D that didn't work so I got it fixed, bought two adaptors and have been looking at things through that viewfinder with either Oly OM or Mamiya RB67 lenses attached. Now I find myself happily standing around in the cold waiting for clouds to line up with trees (or what-have-you) and as well as the fun I'm having with that, I think I'm also taking better pictures with the E-M1 as a result!

So, to all those folks who say "why would I want to know about shooting with a [brand x]", you might be surprised.

Thanks for the excellent site, by the way. Hope you can keep doing what you're doing.

No harm no foul Mike, I love my micro 4/3 mirrorless. I love my Canon 5D III. I love my Nikon FM2s sitting in a box in the basement !! But: I never use the latter; I mostly use the mirrorless (several times a week); When I want the best possible file to work from, I tote the Canon (several times a month). But every day, often more than once a day, I click on TOP. In fact I use my iPhone to check for TOP postings more often than I use it to take photos !!

For me it has always been 90% head work and 10% camera. Any camera will do when all I have is one. Thank goodness for the one though.

I have a lot of cameras, but my current favorite is a champagne Nikon F3T (snob factor regarding the champagne and T, but the memories unfold!) and a Lensbaby. The Phase One is collecting dust and I just let my students take my Fuji x100t for a spin. Love to share the excitement of discovery with gear. One student said he prefers his T5 because the Fuji did not capture the egret in the canal close enough. And so it goes ...

If it'll make you feel any better, I hang around TOP quite alot, and I
1. Wouldn't touch a micro 4/3 camera with a ten feet long pole. I mean, come on, the sensors on these are just ridiculously tiny. Not serious at all.
2. Would't touch a digital Fuji camera with the aforementioned staff. Because they killed the last type 100 instant filmpack on the planet. And I took it very personally.

It really DOES NOT matter.

For anyone who cares, I started out with Nikons and used them professionally for more than 17 years. I then switched to Canons and I still own a lot of Canon equipment although it doesn't get much use these days. Twice I've used Leicas for several years each time, both professionally and personally. I've used Olympus equipment for a few years, however, I mostly favored the standard 4/3 E system over micro 4/3. Within the past 12 months I've pretty much switched 100% to Fuji equipment except for the times I use a Ricoh GRII. At the time I was using it, I considered each brand to be the best for my purposes. At no time did I feel any of these cameras was so much better than the other brands that I needed to reshoot my older photos.

Even a Leica R8?

[All right, I did once refer to the R8 as "The Hunchback of Solms." But if YOU like it, I'm still fine with that. :-) --Mike]

I just think a lot of people use M43rds cameras. More than the sales numbers imply. I look for used lenses on ebay every once and a while and I always see a huge number available for 43rds. Not so much for fuji.
I still shoot:
Kodak slr/n
Sigma sd14
Pentacon 6 6x6 film
And 43rds cameras, E3 and now GM5.

Oddly though for 43rds Olympus did an excellent job with cameras and lenses.
Now in M43rds, I think Panasonic lenses and cameras are better than the Olympus offerings.
My 43rds lenses actually focus not too bad on the GM5.

Some people will take umbrage simply because you don't specifically praise the camera they use. In which case, you will never please them.

This site has mostly been about photography, not gear, which is why I read it.

I think that MFT and Fuji have hit the mark with a particular demographic that largely represents TOP readers, which is that of mature enthusiasts. In other words, it doesn't surprise me that many of your members arrived at the same place you did.

Mike, reading your opening comment in the post reminds me that this is Photo Friday (????). That's a group I started a few years ago of like minded photographers tired of the "club think scene" where the kind of gear think you allude to is far from uncommon. We meet the last Friday of the month to share our prints, hang out, talk "photography" and share each others company. There's no moderator (just adults). You put your prints up, say what you want to about them and everyone can get up close and personal with them and offer their comments and critiques. We don't always agree, but when we do we do so RESPECTFULLY and COLLEGIALLY. Though I may not comment all that frequently, I keep coming back because TOP is like a daily Photo Friday - Respectful and Collegial. Thank You Mike.

[No, thank YOU, John...I should learn to put up posts like today's more often. The comments I get make me feel good! --Mike]

I like Steve Jacobs comment about "mature enthusiasts." As I "mature" I look back at my life in photography and am amazed at how hard it was to make a technically superb image in the day, regardless of camera, size or brand, and how easy it is now. Some might argue that that has cheapened things but the more people exercise their photographic muscles, be it with an iPhone, or an 11x14 view camera, the more they and all of us benefit. I also like Darlene's comment about 90% head work, 10% camera. Like many, perhaps even most, my cameras have always been better than me. Keep up the good work, it's a pleasure to read TOP. All that having been said, insult my Fuji and you're going to get it :-)

TOP is, bar none, my favorite stop on the 'net. A large part of that is that it's so free from the usual gear-centric talk that dominates so many other photocentric sites. When gear is referenced, it's almost as if it's an aside. There are plenty of sites that cover the brand new Canikolypanafujpentasony XD-3000 with it's sensor that can shoot at an amazing ISO 13,107,200! TOP is far more thoughtful when gear is rarely discussed.

The two lens exercise from the other day was a beautiful example of that. The gear discussed was really kind of an afterthought. Much more deeply embedded were the thoughts about the artistic side of photography. The equipment was just a means of getting there. As always, I was really impressed by the insight available from the TOP community.

After reading through a lot of those responses and reviewing my answer, I was reminded that the late Galen Rowell once said that a high percentage of his best shots could have been taken with a 24mm prime and an 80-200mm zoom. That statement had more to do with about how he saw the world than with the spec sheet of whatever lenses he was discussing. A similar style of thinking about gear is precisely what separates TOP from everyone else and why I'll be a devoted reader and contributor as long as it remains so.

Don't worry. My most used and cherished camera is the Nikon V1, and the only photography site I regularly visit is TOP. I'm glad for TOP that you attract a wider audience than just users of unsuccesful cameras ;)

Do you know what I find here I don't elsewhere? Good commentary about the importance of taste rather than sterile technique, about real reds or the beauty of greys, about how different images different sensors produce, and so on... That's why I've been here for nearly all of my digital photography life and why I'm always back.

Camera brands, sensor sizes? Never noticed any bias neither cared... And who doesn't have a personal taste? It's your blog, not ours.

>> David Bateman said: I look for used lenses on eBay every once in a while and I always see a huge number available for 4/3. Not so much for Fuji.

That might mean that people are selling m4/3 (and perhaps buying Fuji).

Another DB
(shoots m43)

Living in northern Arizona I often find myself shooting on the South Rim of Grand Canyon—especially when the weather is interesting. Invariably, someone will amble over and ask "What camera are you using?" I politely tell them the make of the camera and lens. But what I really want to say is "It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter."

The second question is "What settings are you using?"

It seems like my choice of cameras grows smaller as my age and back issues advance. When you look at Ansel Adams, he made a similar progression. In my 20s, 30s, and part of my 40s, my personal camera work was mostly 4x5 with a smattering of 8x10. When I switched to digital in my mid-40s, I went with Canon and used a variety of bodies. I still use those for commercial work, but for personal work and travel, I have gone with M4/3s (Panasonic GX7 with a few lenses). Last fall I turned 60, so 95% of my personal work is now done with M4/3s, although I recently picked up a Canon 7 rangefinder with a Canon 35mm f/1.8 and am having fun with it. IMO, people get too hung up on brands and formats, and don't pay enough attention to the practice of photographing.

Well Mike, yes you tend to give cameras a lot of personality in your remarks, nothing bad about that, but it does tend to start taking on a "fanboy" type club.

I have a D800E, which I use professionally for copying art, and commercial photography. Works great. Good image quality. Can't see replacing it until something really compelling comes along. The D810 refined the body, no compelling IQ features.

My other camera is my MotoxPure, with 21 MP sensor, that really does rival the D800E in IQ, under good lighting conditions. Pixel peepers can readily see difference, but when it comes down to a print, your would be hard pressed to see a difference. The phone is always at hand, and a lot easier to carry. But I'll use which ever I have at hand.

So what if the perception is even a little bit true? I confess, I've noticed what seems to be a lean towards Fuji, Pentax, Oly, etc.

In a certain way, that's informative and interesting. Clearly, there's a lot of good camera systems out there and I'll admit that I've even been tempted once or twice to consider a camera from a company that doesn't begin with "N".

Apparently lots of folks like them (see companies above). That's very cool. Hence, you are very cool. Although, I think even you would have to admit, Pentax was never one of the cool kids.

Nevertheless, a segment is a segment. If that's you, accept it and own it. It's impossible to make everybody love you.

"[...] won't shoot [anything serious] with anything but a Foveon sensor" -- c'est moi. Still here.

You talk about cameras??? I thought this was a site about pool and snooker...

And toasters.

Without wanting to sound like a fan boy as I honestly don't care who makes what as long as they make it good enough MFT appeals to me because bulk and weight wise it's like the old film SLR and other cameras I had years ago but MFT gives better results.

Actually my A7 and a compact prime is film like in bulk and weight too.

I think that part of the problem on forums is that viewing pictures at very high magnification is easy these days and many people insists that they simply must be able to track a black cat on a motorbike at midnight and produce files that stand up to 100% pixel peeping at ISO 50K.

Stay in the real world and assess your needs and the gear fairly and MFT or maybe 1" and anything on up is possibly easily good enough for many. Many wont admit that though.

"It doesn't matter" sums it up so succinctly.

Over the last three decades, I've used many brands, many formats and both film and digital gear. I like the gear mostly (I'm only human) for what it helps me do.

But the gear's not the goal; it's just a means to an image.

Two great quotes by you Mike which prove this site isn't only about Micro 4/3 cameras or in fact about any brand:

"Note to impecunious but ambitious youngsters who can't afford the digital camera of their dreams: get yourself an F100 off Ebay, a 28/2.8 or 35/2 prime, and a brick or two of Tri-X to get started, and spend a thousand or 2,000 hours shooting with it. You'll be well on your way to mastery and a personal style."
Tuesday, 02 December 2008

"I'll tell you a little secret, though, if you promise not to say it was me who told. Photography isn't about cameras and lenses. Technique is a lot more important than what camera and lenses you use, and your taste is a lot more important than technique, and having something to say is a lot more important than having good taste, and working hard and following through is more important than having something to say. Believe me, great work has been done with worse cameras and lenses than you're using now, and absolutely sh***y work has been done with the most highfalutin' expensive collector cameras on the planet. It ain't the cameras."
September 01 2010

Cheers Paul

Even an Epson R-D1?
(I have one, and it still works.)

Kennerly is using the iPhone 7Plus a lot these days.

Well I've pretty much gotten over the slurs you periodically toss in the direction of the 4x5 RB Graflex , queen of all cameras.

Speaking of gendered cameras, I often notice that there are some cameras that fall into the category of out of the mainstream "old man cameras" that seem to also be popular with young women. I speculate that there is some sort of "I know what I want to do, so what would be an appropriate tool for that purpose" vs. "I don't know what I want to do so I'll buy something that does most things well just in case"

Could it be that Fuji is going after the Miata demographic?

A comment foe Wes: I think a lot of people care more about their photo gear than the pictures they make. As for what pros use..they usually go with the co that will repair their gear the fastest and has good loaners. The sports guys live by autofocus speed. The fastest company wins.

As for Leica gear, when asked, Leica and Nikon user Ernst Haas said "Leica shmika.. it doesn't matter" Haas was a great photographer who's been forgotten I'm afraid.

This site has a blatant bias toward Labrador mixes. Weather-resistance isn't everything.

I found a quote. Not the one I quoted but similar and much better I think:

"The camera doesn’t make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE.” – Ernst Haas

I was surprised but agnostic when I saw the stats to that post as you. But it just reminded me of what I have been wondering for a while-"How many of us use multiple types of camera's all the time and aren't brand or format centric?"

From a Brownie Hawkeye, to a Nikon F, to a Hasselblad 500C, to a wretchedly bad early Mamiya 645, then back to an excellent Mamiya 7, and ending with a Leica M6, I have "wandered" about the film world, dabbling in what turned me on and could afford.

Then came digital and my travels have taken me to Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Fuji. I've enjoyed each stop on the way to new features or lenses or finally a camera that, once again, seems as easy to use as that first brownie - my Fuji X-Pro 1. But out of the corner of my eye, I see an XT-20!

Oops, forgot to mention that now riding on my hip like a 6-gun is an iPhone 7S. Is the journey near its end?

Damn, now I have to get one of those fixed 10X zooms.

I suspect that one reason so many people suggested MFT and Fujifilm X lenses is that the original post asked for recommendations for two most-liked prime lenses, which translates realistically into two most-often-used lenses.

In my case, at least, that's why I mentioned the Panasonic 20/1.7 and 42.5/1.7 MFT lenses rather than anything for Pentax, Sony and 4x5/5x7/11x14 view cameras that spend most of their time in the dark rather than seeing the light daily.

Perhaps a follow-up question might be "which two lenses do you use most often?"

I think folks here use a wide range of equipment. The comments section doesn't often reflect this diversity because the people most likely to comment on a particular post are going to be people whose thoughts are "in kind". Nothing wrong with any of that.

That's interesting because I thought you purchased your Fuji because I went with Fuji.


I find that having certain lenses directs my purchases. My Canon 10D 6.3 megapixels is/was my infrared shooter. I just ordered a refurbished Canon 80D which will be converted to IR. I will use the same lenses but now have 24 megapixels resolution of details. Plus I finally can do IR movies. This IS my first camera that does movies. It kinda revives my interest in photography again. :-)

Mike, I visit TOP two or three times a day, (to see if you've posted anything new), and I have never purchased a camera based on anything you've written.

Now books ... that's another story. I should just say, No, No, No and go over to VSL right away. And prints ... I'm making that "No" stick.

I read TOP for insights about aesthetics, creativity, excellence, practice, your OT posts, and because I like the way you think and write.

Well shoot, I'm an amateur photographer, a guy who has taken up digital photography in retirement after having enjoyed it in my youth with Nikon F and FG film cameras. I have moved along over the years from a Nikon D40 and kit lens in 2010 to a Nikon D750 and 24/35/85 1.8G primes in the past year. I learned I'm a prime guy from shooting, but in no short part went with the wide/normal/short-tele combo based on my reading here at TOP, and I have no regrets at all and am extremely happy, and as Mike says, that's really the main thing. I have never felt the reading here at TOP was gear-oriented, but rather was photography-oriented. I never got the feeling that being recommended to shoot a wide/normal/short-tele prime ever had any relation at all to the gear. It was more about advice in relation to photography. In any event, I read this site daily and enjoy it a lot because it is a photography web site, and not a gear web site, if that makes sense. Yeah, gear is involved, but the passion is for photography here, not the gear being used. There is passion however, for talking about gear that makes us happy, and provides comfort and fun for when we are out shooting, but I have always found the tone inclusive rather than exclusive. Mike, don't change a thing, stay true to what you're doing ,we all enjoy your web site just the way it is.

I agree with the people (I think it's plural; certainly it's plural beyond this one set of comments) who have said it's a lot easier to produce a technically excellent image now than it was in the film era.

Probably some people couple that with some kind of claim that it "devalues" photography (though I don't really recall anybody doing that here), but I think that's exactly backwards. What I think it does is raise the bar.

And, despite the annoyance I occasionally experience running my face into the bar unexpectedly, that's a GOOD THING. Certainly a good thing for photography!

Hmmm and I thought I was the only one getting a bit cheesed off with all the micro 4/3 talk, glad to hear that Mike has some positive feedback for the future.

I have micro 3/4 camera - gm5
But thats not the reason to visit your site.
I'Am even not so interested in photographing - but painting.
Still i visit your site!
There must be something...

It's male fear. We're scared to death that someone might come along one day with a measuring tape and say, "Drop your pants."

We're a sedentary consumer society that maybe spends more time looking at it's gear than looking thru it. The most biased passions in people seem to focus on stuff that's removed from vital daily necessity.

Perhaps what you're describing is brand pluralism -i.e. recognising there are many possible 'right' solutions to problems of camera equipment- rather than brand agnosticism. After all, I know why I like Panasonic and Fuji cameras -the former for their feel, responsiveness and 'user interface', the latter for the knobs and dials, and JPEG colour- but, like you, am relaxed about others' preferences.

That said, the I appreciate TOP mainly because your moderation, and the format, screens out the immaturity that's hard to avoid elsewhere online.

There have been rather a lot of 'gear' posts lately though, so could we please have some more discussions of images, bodies of work, books, canine companions, etc. :)

To prolong and amplify what Dave Miller says:

Jane Bown is a great exception, producing masterpieces with an Olympus. Incredible indeed.

Okay.....but I reserve the right to be emotional about some lenses.

Mike, I rarely comment but I do read often. You are erudite and funny, a rare combo.. but I must take slight umbrage to your statement that equates owning a very expensive car and being antisocial. You are entitled to your opinions obviously. I just happen to subscribe to if one works hard they have a right to play hard and it in no way makes them anti anything. I go to various firms in NYC as a freelancer. I pass homeless all over the streets. It's very sad. I feel badly for every one of them and thank a higher power it's not me. I also go into delis, etc, and buy them food and occasionally hand them money. I drive an expensive Porsche. My wife does very well in the business world also and gives a large portion of her earnings to charity. She also drives high end automobiles. Antisocial? Hardly.

Concerning David Hume Kennerly's "It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter."

There is a thriller by Gavin Lyall (I forget which one) in which the central character asks his new associate why he uses a particular weapon. The associate explains his reasons, several of them. The central character has got what he wanted. Not the reasons, he doesn’t care about those, but the knowledge that his associate has actually put thought into what he uses, has chosen the weapon because it is the one he considers is the right one for him and will be able to use it effectively if necessary.

I think this principle applies to cameras too. It’s why, after a lot of thought, I got rid of my DSLRs and now just have the one camera, my E-M10.

And, I would guess, Mr Kennerly did the same thing. The camera does matter. It’s a tool and a decent craftsman will know which tool to use for a job and how to use it well – I doubt Mr Kennerly would have turned up to an official function carrying a 127 Brownie!

Yes, I know “it’s not the camera, it’s the photographer”, but like so many clever, pithy statements, it is only correct up to a point. If you haven’t put thought into why you use a particular piece of equipment, then you will probably have difficulty producing the best work you are capable of. If you have any talent at all, you will be able to produce good pictures, but you will have to work harder to get around your camera’s ‘failings’.

And I love getting the last word.


Spanking of brand agnosticism. A few years back, I attended a lecture by Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison. They identify as artists, though they did take photographs on film and produced photogravures as the final prints. Their images are mostly surrealist in nature and use sets, costumes and props they acquire or make. I like their work. Anyway, at the lecture someone asked them what kind of camera they use and Robert and Shana looked at each other and said, and this is paraphrased, "It's some kind of 6x7 camera, but we don't remember the name." It's hard to imagine someone not knowing the brand of camera they use on a regular basis, but then again during an interview, Bernie Sanders was asked what kind of car he drives and all he could come up with was it was the smallest Chevy he could find. He couldn't remember the model at all. In both cases, it seems like deliberate disinterest, but for different reasons.

Fascinating examples of disinterest in places that seem weird to me! I know the brands of most of the knives and pans in my kitchen, too. But I haven't a clue to the brands of the plates or silverware, even though I picked them out myself and rather like them.

How many of you don't know what brand processor is in your computer? What brand graphics card? Probably lots, and the rest of us find it strange.

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