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Thursday, 02 March 2017


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I'd argue that Nikon's D810 is the camera to beat, but that's a nit.

Another -- I'm not sure about that $50/year Adobe "tax". It costs me $120/year for the Photography Bundle, and I'd still prefer to just buy a perpetually licensed upgrade and not have to worry about my internet connection.

Oh, I thought it was going to be an post about camera vests.

I have been teaching myself how to use non-ttl flashes and bought a Sekonic L-478DR-U
lightmeter that can trigger Pocketwizard wireless triggers. The meter was well worth the cost as it makes setting up the lights very easy as there is no guess work required.

Spare batteries for everything.
MacBookPro for on the road editing.
DC/AC inverter for in the car charging and or laptop work.
Rugged outboard SSD based backup.
Clothing in layers incl rain gear. Good shoes.
App like The Photographer's Ephemeris.
G4 Wifi router. Or contract that allows phone as hotspot.

Whew - good thing I am only a hobbyist and don't need or want most of those things!

Mike, all good thoughts...but where can I subscribe to Adobe CC, even just the two Photo apps, for $50 per year? That's the price per month for the whole CC shebang. Just LR and Photoshop would be $120 a year. I'd love to be wrong, so do tell.

[Very sorry! I got the link wrong. Should be fixed now. My apologies. --Mike]

Hi Mike;

Ideal camera for what?

Like most things, your equipment depends on what you're doing. I've seen Matt Blacks work on your site. I'm not at all surprised by the cameras he's using in the linked YouTube. Looks like an M digital and a Sony RX100x? something.

Aside from work gear, I like film cameras and smaller digital stuff. In my case, the less gear I pack, the more I get done.

Film is scanned and printed pigment.


I am one of those who is moving on from Adobe due to adding Lightroom to its subscription model. Part of it is my irritation with Adobe, and part of it is that, as an enthusiast, I do not need all of the features of Photoshop. I spent last week evaluating a number of alternatives, and here's what I concluded.

DXO Optics Pro 11: great program, reads my NEF files better than Lightroom, amazing noise control, and amazing perspective control with an add-on package. However, too expensive for me and it does not read my old D2H files.

Alien Exposure X2: also a good program, but no local adjustments.

Corel AfterShot Pro (Lightroom equivalent) with Core Paint Shop Pro X9. Very attractive price. Gives me file cataloging with layered adjustments in both Aftershot Pro and PaintShop Pro. But neither can export an NEF file to an external RAW editor (e.g., Nikon Capture) as an NEF file. They export them as TIFFs. There is also the curious anomaly that AfterShot Pro will not read some older Samsung RAW files, but PaintShop Pro's RAW editor does.

ACDSee Ultimate 10: Neither too hot nor too cold, but just right. The cataloging of Lightroom with the layered adjustments of Photoshop, and all at a sale price right now of $79.00. It also reads my NEF files as well as DXO Optics Pro and gives me the ability to export RAW files to the RAW editor of my choice if I so desire.

Jeez. Now I have to buy a damn printer.

Stop already!


There's one very important item missing from the list - source(s) of financing.

Good grief! I can't afford all that! Please just point me to the one piece of gear that will make my photographs look better.;)

Interestingly, this is the first time I both fully agree with you, and, fully understand the topic (I'm not stupid, but some non-technical topics just fly over my head). In fact, I have the 'previous version' of this kit: Canon 5DIII, Sony RX100II, older model Sigma 24-70mm and 70-200mm f2.8s, nifty fifty (and a rarely used converted Nikkor 55mm f1.2), Canon L series 100mm macro, Epson 1430 A3+ printer, Epson UPPPL paper, Manfrotto tripod with video head, a plethora of 64GB SD and CF cards, pelican case and a cheap backpack.

If I ever win the lottery, I would upgrade to exactly the kit you have listed above. Plus a gold-plated Tesla to tool around in.

Having just bought a Canon 80D, the CRII RAW files are an issue. I need a software upgrade to see them. Since my computer is not online I need stand-alone software. When I downloaded Adobe's DNG converter that was supposed to be able to see the files--it could not. So I could not create DNG files to use on Photoshop CS5.

So I am considering the Phase One software, the Affinity software, and have downloaded the current RawTherapee software for testing.

How about reviewing the different softwares that are not Adobe related?

I view the need for a photo printer and paper much the way I would the need to rebuild my old darkroom. Totally unnecessary for the enjoyment of photography. As a devoted follower of David Hobby, however, flashes, triggers, and light modifiers are mandatory.

"...Well not any more", as you silently replied to Jay. I heartily endorse most of the items in your list, Mike, especially the Canon 5D IV which I own and consider to be the best all-arounder camera today.

But you must recognize that this extremely intimidating list of costly paraphernalia represents a perspective on participation with photography that's becoming as increasingly marginal as Jay's perspective was. Sure, people still want to make pictures of their lives. That won't change. But all they really need is a good smartphone or a good WiFi-capable pocketable travel camera to fully participate with photography today. That enables nearly anyone to instantly share their images or to more carefully edit and curate them. They can order nearly any kind of prints directly from their phone, including whole photo books.

Exotic specialized paraphernalia is the way in which "boomers" like us have learned to enjoy photography. And it's still a requirement for precision work. But it is certainly a model that's quickly evaporating from the popular culture. Photography is no longer a trophy chase for young people; it's a currency of language.

I use Canon for my sports work and for zoom lenses on concerts for my personal work either Lieca M and my lesnes are 24 35 50 and a 75 summiluxes on an M or my Sony kit a7r mk11 and a a7 mk 11 with the three f 4 zooms 16-35 24-70 and the 70-200 of coarse hAve a sigma adapter for the canon lenses and I ahve the 25 35 55 and 85 sony lenses for high speed af the 25 is the batis. But I am a pro of 30 plus years. printing large printer a Hp z 3200 and just got a epson _P 800 after two years of hating a canon Pixma Pro 1 BUT JSUT ONE CAMERA AND LENS LEICA M WITH THE 35 LUX.

I shot with Canon gear for a long time...well over 12 years. I've only used the pro-level cameras and lenses, and from extensive real-world experience, I can attest to the fact that they are very well-made, impressively rugged and durable products that do what they are designed to do exceptionally well.

They've also left me literally with a ruined back and a photographic soul that was jaded and uninspired.

Thank God for Fujifilm. This wonderful company's beautifully-realized cameras completely reignited my passion for photography and took me back to the joy of discovery that I have not experienced since I first picked an Olympus OM-1.

The Canon gear is going up for sale, and it cannot go a day too soon.

Anyone need a really nice Canon 300/2.8L Series 1? ;-)

An ideally-equipped photographer would surely have amongst their equipment a camera with a decent EVF, and for many a printer might well be utterly unnecessary.
(And you list would be pretty well crippling for a professional photographer in the mode of Kirk Tuck - who has played with as large a variety of kit over the years as anyone.)

In truth, I don't think there is such a thing as an ideal photographer, but rather many varieties of photographer, and no one set of equipment will satisfy them all.

'Best universally acceptable compromise' might be a more interesting question... ?

Yes, and I think this is precisely what turns today's youth off photography. A kit like this is simply not affordable for most young people. Another barrier is mastering the technology - today's cameras are complicated to operate, one has to learn how image editing software works and has to come to terms with computer hardware. A high barrier in front of the goal of taking pictures and learning *actual* photography!

When I started off into photography in 1982, my Olympus OM-1n with a 50mm f/1.8 was 349 Deutsche Mark - within reach for a teenager. My school had a darkroom we could use, and there were more experienced senior students who teached us how to use it. So the barrier of entry was much lower!

For the reasons given above, I seriously doubt that I would try photography if I were 16 years old today.

Best, Thomas

I agree with Kenneth Tanaka, the real mass participation in digital photography is the way that people use smartphones and social media together. This is a model that has never before existed and is a purely digital phenomenon. Partaking in photography for the great mass of people today doesn't involve cameras or printers or dedicated software, just their phone and an internet connection. People with big DSLRs are the oddity.

And what on earth would I do with my old C-mount Cine Ektars on a 5D ?

The absolutely best Canon raw converter is Digital Photo Professional. It comes free with every new Canon camera. Or it can be downloaded here (also free) http://cpn.canon-europe.com/content/news/digital_photo_professional_software_update.do

Also supplied is Picture Style Editor http://cpn.canon-europe.com/content/product/canon_software/colour_your_way.do and EOS Utility http://cpn.canon-europe.com/content/product/canon_software/eos_utility.do

. . . most of the TOP Commentariat . . . (would) rather argue!

Almost sounds like an invitation. :)

. . . to maximize both versatility and very high quality at the same time, this equipment would be tough to beat.

But not impossible.

The equipment and software you prescribe here is so ubiquitous among DSLR-based pros and would-be pros that it forms a near-monopoly. The combination of Canon 5D, Adobe CC subscription, Apple 27' iMac, X-Rite i1Display Pro, and Epson pigment printer is the rote suite nearly everyone either has or desires. It's almost like a strait-jacket of corporate conformity. You could easily make the case for the X-Rite and Epson recommendations, based solely on their class-leading quality; but not so the camera, software, or computer recommendation.

First, why are we wedded to full frame? For the printer you've selected (and that I too would select) APS-C is more than sufficient. Full frame obviously confers more imaging real estate, but at what cost, and to what purpose? In any cost/benefit analysis, we must be looking for a return on investment, so what is our return on the substantial weight and size gain, as well as significant added expenditure, of full frame?

If we take sensor size out of the discussion for a moment, the D500 is by almost any measure, and nearly every metric, a far better camera. More AF points (153 vs. 61); more cross-type AF points (99 vs. 41); better low-light focus acquisition (-4 EV vs. -3 EV); higher frame-rate (10.2 vs. 7 FPS); bigger Raw buffer (200 shots vs. 19 shots); class-leading 3D focus-tracking; more accurate and more reliable metering; better dynamic range and high-ISO performance; significantly better screen (articulated 2,359,000 pixel LCD vs. fixed 1,620,000 pixel LCD); unlimited uncompressed 4K video HDMI output vs. 30 mins uncompressed 4K video recorded to card on-board (albeit the D500 has a much higher crop factor for video).

Obviously, both are highly capable cameras; but then we look at price. D500: $2000; 5D Mk IV: $3500. Add $500 to the cost of the latter, then, and you can have two of the former. In terms of cost, versatility, performance, and general utility, the D500 is demonstrably the superior choice if we are willing to forego the fetish for full-frame.

Many people greatly resent Adobe's move to a cloud subscription model. The complete loss of privacy inherent in this is no small issue, but, more concretely, you soon become virtually locked in to a perpetual subscription. Unless I'm mistaken, should you ever decide to leave the cloud, or even go off-grid for a few months at a time, you lose access to all but 2 GB of your work, unless you arrange ahead of time to pay Adobe for storage. And for as long as you're there, it's Adobe's way or the highway. And not everyone finds the Adobe way intuitive, or their software entirely pleasing.

Far better, in my view, to retain a modicum of autonomy and independence by buying a software license. The best option for this that I've found is Phase One Capture One Pro. Capture One has arguably a more intuitive interface, doesn't require the use of Photoshop - and in the bargain does a much better job with Raw files from the Fujifilm X-Trans sensor (if you have an X-camera on the side). And you only have to buy it once - or until you get the latest camera, whichever comes first :).

An iMac is a quick and easy out-of-the-box solution, but for value and capability it's worth the trouble to build, or have built, a Hackintosh. (Or, better still and for reasons I won't go into here, put Linux Mint on the computer of your choice and run Mac OS (or Windows OS) not connected to the internet, inside a Virtual Machine.) Given that digital photography is purely computer-centric, serious professionals really no longer have the option of not being familiar with them. Byte the bullet and learn, it's not that hard and the benefits are many. (Of course, I write this from my Windows laptop, but that's a different story, haha.)

Great post, Mike, maybe I woke up today insensitive to pedantic things. I agree with nearly everything you suggest (well, I'd prefer a Nikon D810) but am a little surprised by your chosen paper. I use and love Platine Fibre Rag but cannot see it as a "take all" paper. Within Canson's range, Baryta Photographique seems more all-terrain to me, although I hate its hard-to-write-on back and prefer the quite similar Ilford Gold Fibre Silk.

And... Billingham for the bag!!!

Interestingly, that is pretty much what I use. I bought the 6D new on a great Black Friday deal plus Canon cashback a few months ago, to use with the 24mm TSE and 100mm macro. I like it so much that this year I shall buy a Mark II version if it comes out, or failing that, a 5DSR or 5D IV, probably the former.

Camera: Canon 6D, Sony Nex/A6xx (travel), Ricoh GR (pocket)
Image editor: Adobe CC
Computer and monitor (display): Win 10 PC, 6 core i3930K/32 GB with an Asus P279Q monitor and 2016 MacBook Pro (retina)
Monitor calibration: Datacolor Spyder 5 Pro
Lenses: 24mmTSEII, 100mm macro, plus other Canon primes and Zeiss/Sony for the Sony
Printer: Epson P800
Paper: Innova Exhibition Cotton Gloss 335gsm (IFA45)
Print boxes: Archival Portfolio Boxes from Silverprint

I must disagree.

The casual photographer doesn't need, and often can't afford, a 3K body with 5K worth of lenses on top. A calibrated monitor and home printer are on the bottom of his wish list.

Then there's the batch of semi-pro's; their income feeds their hobby more than it feeds their stomachs. Because they aren't specialized, they must cover many ground and resort to full frame bodies with f2.8 zooms and some exotic primes. They work 'quick & dirty' and don't care for calibrated monitors and home printing.

Then there's the fully professional photographer, one of the few who can make a good living out of photography. He specializes by necessity and doesn't necessarily own the combination you present. He might invest in lighting or location and rents specialist gear or hires people for the bigger projects. He does calibrate monitors and hand picks his prints, unless he outsources post-processing and printing.

And finally there's the leisurely 'artist' who makes the most out of a minimalist kit. He doesn't necessarily care for big bodies, unless he still works with medium or large format film. But he does care for printing and calibration.

Not really surprising younger folks use a smartphone - or an old film DSLR - if the modern alternative means putting $15-20K on the table and then having to refresh it with another $5K or so every few years. Ye gods. Where I live, that's a large chunk of a college degree or the kind of long-term trip overseas which will change the direction of the rest of your life.

Because this isn't germane to the topic at hand, I intended to attach it to the bottom of my post, but nelected to. A wonderful young photographer, Ren Hang, has died, aged 29.

I first discovered his work five years ago, when he put some of it up on Flickr. At the time he was completely unknown in the west, but his photography was clearly a breath of fresh air, indicative of the newly developed vitality coming out of China at the time. His work gave me hope for the future of photography, and new appreciation of its power. Apparently, it gave the authorities in his country cause for consternation, as it resulted in his being arrested several times, and harassed. China isn't the first country to treat its artists this way, and it certainly won't be the last, but the country has lost a great asset with the death of Ren Hang.

Perhaps, Mike, you are turning into David Alan Jay..

Outdoors, it doesn't matter how much mirror-slap and shutter noise I make with a 5DMkIV, or similar SLR. But I take many pictures indoors, and at weddings, or intimate music venues, etc, and I want a completely silent modern shutter, which doesn't disturb who or what I'm shooting. So I use an Olympus E-M1/PEN-F, and/or Sony A7S/A7RMkII ..because these - and some other interchangeable-lens cameras - can shoot with a completely silent 'electronic shutter'.

Another advantage of the 'full-frame' A7 series, especially the A7RMkII, besides small size and low weight, is that they can use a Techart Leica-to-FE adaptor, for autofocus with those little lightweight, low-light lenses much more accurately than with a glass viewfinder. And they also have image magnification in the finder - which those glass finders don't have - for really accurate focus checking, if needed.

To quote you, Mike "..its versatility is nearly endless. It can be used for virtually anything.." which definitely applies to mirrorless cameras with their short lens-mount-to-sensor distances: I have adaptors to use Canon tilt-shift lenses, Leica lenses, almost anybody's lenses.

I do use a 6D, for the Canon 85mm f1.2, but find that big, heavy, bulky SLRs have had their day, and now it's time for small, lighter, electronic-finder "mirrorless" cameras, with built-in stabilisation, focus 'peaking', a silent shutter, often-times smaller, lighter lenses, and their magnify-able finders.

I've been taking photos since 1954 and I don't think that "..you couldn't do better than a Canon 5D Mark IV.." ..you can do far better than a Canon 5D Mark IV.

Interesting post, equally interesting responses. As many others have said, I agree with the spirit of what you've stated if not the specific hardware. On the budget of a parent of two, my FF fix is the often overlooked Nikon D610, which can be had for ridiculously low prices today (along with carefully considered budget lens choices like the excellent Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G).

For the smaller camera I enjoy the Oly E-P5 with 17 f/1.8; it is a delightful combination that still offers the flexibility of lens choice. colorMunki for calibrating my early 2015 Retina MacBook Pro, along with the $9.99 a month CC combo for cataloging and editing. But printing, ouch, even the budget approach to a pigment printer is excessively pricey. Casual prints from a couple of HP dye printers, serious prints from Robert's Camera here in Carmel IN.

One should havea back-up camera body.

Every time I see a 24x32" print of one of my photos hanging close to the same 17x22" version, it tells me not to part from my outdated Epson 7800 in favor of a P800. The difference is quite substantial, and I use Micro 4/3.

Personally, I'm lusting for new gear, as my trusty old GH2 is now six years old. But I can't help but feel the one piece of photographic equipment I'm lacking isn't a piece of photographic equipment at all... It's a car. Any car, as long as it runs. I live in a mid-sized city, so I don't need it in day-to-day life, but living as I do, I'm not very mobile. Walking the same paths every day is like slowly mining out the place's photographic potential. Living in a rather sparsely populated country, if you're making documentary work you're not very versatile with 10k in cameras and lenses and nowhere to go.

I forgot to add that, with today's technology, is it possible to get a bad picture if you know what you're doing? The Fujis are rightly well-regarded (I shot with an X100 for a time and it produced the best OOC jpegs I have ever seen), the micro four thirds cameras have come into their own, Pentax has given us a worthy full-frame camera, and, despite their numerous missteps with regard to the modern market, Canon and Nikon still produce excellent DSLRs.

And for all of this, there are photographers like George DeWolfe (http://reddognews.com/tool-reviews/the-nikon-1-v3-the-greatest-small-camera-in-the-world/) and Thomas Stirr ()http://tomstirrphotography.com/why-i-love-shooting-with-nikon-1 who are quite satisfied with their much-reviled Nikon 1 systems. I have the Nikon 1 V1 and V3, and I like them very much as well.

Many photographers have a similar but simpler kit. One of the most popular photographers in our city, a friend, shoots with a first generation pawn shop 7D, a couple kit lenses, and a 70-200 2.8. She has an older iMac at home for reviewing images, and when putting on a show (which she does frequently) she has local printers make large canvases. Some of her images have been on local billboards.

This post reminds and reinforces for me that Digital photography is not cheaper than film. With film (which was mass produced), all I did was purchase a few rolls of slide film, decided how I was going to allocate its use and judicially photograph keeping in mind I only had so much film. I would shoot slides and submit them like a pro to a photobank or slide competition, and once in while have it developed when needed. And the bonus: Slide film is great teacher and disciplinarian, because, what you see is what you get.

Regarding John Camp's featured comment, the P800 has a roll paper feed option, so 22" is not a limitation.

I like the way you established perspective at the start of your post Mike.
My system starting with an Olympus M4/3 kit and ending with an Epson 3800 is brilliantly capable of capturing the shot and yielding wonderful color output. But my greatest photographic satisfaction comes from using a view camera (employing also a spot meter and densitometer). Second in satisfaction is using my Mamiya C220 TLR. As capable as the digital kit is there is something missing that leaves it following in distant third place.

@ Mark: I know you were speaking tongue in cheek but I think the one thing that would improve most photographer's photographs isn't more equipment but more courage. Well, it's the case for me anyway.

Outfit aside, "The Ideal Photographer" works at his art every day and is happy to make 10 or 12 really good pictures a year.

Adams said 12, Avadon said he would be happy with 10.

You, being a wordsmith, I thought there was word play going on... I couldn't resist.

It's all in the phone now days, that's where the photography revolution is taking place! AI is processing your camera files to make them all look great. The phone is also your digital display wallet, always with you. And you can bring your phone to Walgreens and get prints made to put on your wall, cheaper and better than you could yourself!

A photographer from a Dutch paper works with a Canon 1200D. I asked him why no FF 5D, his answer was why should I need one? His business was local news stories most of which were background stories anyway. So he could more or less could choose what he needed. And if it rains, I asked, I have an umbrella he answered......and a few splaters don't harm my camera and if they do, I'll buy a new one for next te nothing. Why spend 5000 euro on equipment if 500 does the job as well?

Greets, Ed.

Great and thorough post, Mike. I have spent too much time obsessing over gear... researching, buying, carrying around gear and not enough time photographing, selecting and printing pictures, and just enjoying that part of it. I have found that owning less gear makes me more happy, creative and a better photographer. The answer for me has been to sell my Nikon gear and move to Fuji.

My main gear now is the Fuji X-pro2 and lenses 23/2, 35/2 and 50/2. I still do own a lot of Nikon gear, but I only use it on assignments. My intention is to move to only one system.

I also agree on the calibrated monitor, descent software, I use Lightroom and love/hate it and sufficient backups(!) is important. The Epson P800 is terrific. I always save all images in raw with sidecar files, tiff (16-bit) jpeg large for prints and smaller for web and store them separate for all pictures I deliver to clients. That way I can always go back to my edits and reproduce the same results time after time. I print most of what I deliver on Canson infinity Baryta photographique and Ilford galerie prestige smooth pearl.

"...I shot with Canon gear for a long time...Thank God for Fujifilm. This wonderful company's beautifully-realized cameras completely reignited my passion for photography and took me back to the joy of discovery that I have not experienced since I first picked an Olympus OM-1."

I agree with Stephen. My own experience mirrors his from my Olympus OM1 in college, thru the first Canon EOS film cameras and 5DmkII. The weight of L glass and FF bodies has worn my back out. Today a FF is just another format, no longer required to produce high quality work.
We are in the "good enough" stage of digital photography for most applications. While your suggestions are valid, there are options to suit any budget today , from new to used cameras.

Your image editor selection mentions image organization in passing, but it needs equal weight, or perhaps its own category. I cannot image a digital photo library without a DAM solution.

I thought this was going to be about clothes! You should write about that for the next article.

On top I wear a lightweight all-black hooded waterproof jacket. It's essential that it has good pockets, ideally four that are zipped. My current jacket was made by Nike, but any good outdoor store has them.

On bottom, a pair of dark jeans, or in bad weather, a pair of dark waterproof pants from Columbia, Patagonia, North Face, REI, etc. Modern waterproof fabrics are not noisy and breathe well.

The most important part is a pair comfortable and understated shoes. My long-time favorites are the classic Nike Pegasus running shoes, in a black or grey color. I keep two pairs - all-weather model (usually can be found in stores during the winter), and one more breathable pair for the summer.

If I'm going somewhere nice, like a wedding or corporate event, then naturally I wear a dark suit, light shirt, and a solid navy blue or black necktie. It is very hard to find comfortable all-day dress shoes, but I've found some Cole Haan models that look like classic dress shoes on the outside but feel like modern shoes on the inside.

Folks that rag on about how Adobe's "cloud" subscription requires constant Internet access and force one to keep their pictures in the cloud, are clearly talking out of their hat, and have never actually USED an Adobe cloud subscription.

First of all, let's get the "cloud" moniker out of the way. It is strictly a marketing term used by Adobe to get the attention of their investors, to make them sound trendy and with the times.

Make no mistake about it, when you get a cloud subscription to PS and LR for $10/month (our the whole CC bunch for $50/month), EVERY SINGLE ONE of the programs you are leasing are downloaded and installed on your computer (up to two at a time), and RUN ON YOUR COMPUTER. The only Internet connection required is once every few weeks to verify your subscription status. Period. You are NOT required to keep your photos online. You can store terabytes of photos on your own drives, and never use any of the online publishing/sharing aspects of the suite. You can even manage more than two computers, by installing the suite on as many machines as you desire, but only activate the subscription on two at a time. You can turn the subscription on and off at will on any particular machine.

If you ever decide to not keep the subscription up, you are free to keep the latest version (at that time) of software on your computer(s) and can continue to view, export, and print your images. The develop module is disabled in LR, and other programs will be similarly disabled from saving changes to files.

But YOU DO NOT LOSE ACCESS TO YOUR FILES. You can continue to enjoy your photos. You just can't keep editing them.

And for those that keep saying that they will never need to update their PS/LR or whatever, consider that operating system upgrades and hardware replacements over the years will make your decade-old PS and LR non-functional. To future-proof your images, export your final edits in TIFF format, instead of PSD.

As long as I'm an active user of PS, LR and some of the rest of the CC family (Acrobat, Dreamweaver, etc), I consider the paltry $50/month to have constantly updated, supported software that used to cost $2500 a real deal.

For those that use only PS and LR, $10/month is a real steal.

I've mostly talked here about pros and near-pros, but for the dedicated avocational photographer, among camera options there is a comparative multitude of possibilities. Chief among these, in my opinion, are the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 and X-T2, the Panasonic GX8, the Sony a6500 . . . and shooting film with your choice of camera, perhaps with the help of such exciting new things as the dual-format Lab-Box, and with or without use of a scanner.

No matter where you come down on all this, though, the brand specificity, expense, and implications of what's been mentioned make "a view camera, a spot meter, and a densitometer" simple pretty straightforward and affordable, do they not?

I'm probably most excited by the commentor who recommended Affinity. I've been looking for an alternative to LR and PS for people just starting out.

Most are younger and on a limited budget. Unsure of what to expect and without much background in photography, they're not clear on why software might be included as part of the "gear" required to advance their skills.

$50 is a great price point for what seems like a powerful app (Affinity). I'm downloading it now to give it a try. So this column has indeed been very helpful. Thanks!

I've used a lot of camera equipment for a lot of purposes. I have to say that FF Canon ( in my case 5D series ) coupled with all the usual lenses, flashes and accessories was always the most dependable in almost all situations/tasks. Maybe not street photography where other criteria apply, but if your life had to depnd on getting a shot....

But I no longer use this system, because my photography has become more personal and less dependent on getting the job done, and the Canon gear was just a bit too bulky to cart around all the time.

However I'd go back to it in an instant if my livelihood depended on it

I have to agree with John Camp that given the size of prints you can make on a P800, there is no need to look beyond a m43s camera kit. I did a little experiment the other day and photographed one of my favourite old growth trees with three different cameras with equivalent focal length lenses from a tripod. One with a gx80, a medium format Pentax 645D, and a 4x5 film camera. Although on a computer screen there is a big difference when zoomed in at full resolution, when I made 16x20 prints of all three on the P800 and I could not tell the difference. Quite shocking to me, considering the expense of my medium format kit, but true. So if you do not print large, or only post to the Internet, anything other than m43s is only for bragging rights.

The Photographers Ideal Outfit?

I'm not a clotheshorse like my father was but I cringe whenever I see a photographer out in public dressed sloppily, especially if they are stretching or bending themselves for a unique angle and as a result pieces of flesh that were not meant for public consumption are momentarily exposed to the light of day.

So I try to dress discretely but neatly, with a comfortable set of shoes, my shirt (or undershirt, at least) tucked in, and sometimes a cap with a short brim that won't get in the way when I bring the camera up to my eye.

In urban or urban-light settings, the camera bag should be discrete and not yell, "I'm a photographer!" And never never never do I use my belt to hang a lens bag or some fancy camera quick release thingamajig that turns my camera into a Sig-Sauer and me into Jason Bourne, photographer. Leave those accouterments to the khaki vest wearing, Tilley hat adorning photo poseur or, as I like to say, "phoseur."

Oh...wait...(reads other comments)...nevermind.

I don't like your recommendations, but I agree with them. The comments, by and large, have been from people who don't understand what you did.

I'm currently on the Adobe Photography Plan and not really using it much. I get the impression that a standalone, non-Cloud program is now missing in action, after Google's decision to sunset Picasa, which is by far the most popular organizer/light editor among real people I know. Is this not a niche worth exploring any longer? I think a standalone program that could integrate Apple Photos with camera files intelligently would be at least a minor hit.

Adobe is pretty bad. Last week I had to buy a font to match some previous artwork. $200 and 100% non-transferable; my designer bought it, thinking it could be added to my Creative Cloud account. Nope. Once the font was in her account, no flexibility at all. This is a gotcha model that Adobe's own customer service people seem embarrassed by.

The Ideal [TOP] Photographer's Outfit == Fedora and a camera. Everything else is optional.

Too many young people are saddled with student loan debt. I've witnessed it too often. $1000 for a camera is a strain on their finances. However they are producing some great photos with smart phones. I admire that sort of determination.

Gawd, Mike, you're a provocative b*gger!

First -- replacement for P/Shop in the cloud. I use PhotoLine http://www.PL32.com produced by two amazing German bros, <$100 to buy and about $50 to upgrade every two years. Runs like lightning on Mac and PC, is the skinniest app with the most power you ever saw (download is about 40MB, installed app on Mac is 70MB). Now at v.20 so you can judge for yourself whether it is here to stay. To install on your Mac, you just drop the folder into the Apps. To uninstall, you just drop the folder into the rubbish. 30 day fully functional trial.

Super processing and type and vectors too -- but no storage of pix. I use multiple iPhoto libraries managed by iPhoto Library Manager for that. Works well for me.

But regarding cameras -- what a load of tosh, Mike, really! FF indeed, $5000 for the camera? Not happening! The Panasonic Lumix G80/85 m43 costs under $1,000. A suite of excellent lenses costs about $4,000-$5000. Printing from just half the frame, you can turn out a very nice A3/tabloid picture.

The P800? And paper and supplies -- mate, they are 1stworld +++! Here in paradise, the best printer on offer was the HP Officejet 6000 in A4 size. Paper? I take whatever glossy (only glossy is offered) photo paper is on offer at Tropicana store on the day, Kodak (made in China), Fuji, whatever Chinese paper. Quality? My clients love it. As an old school photographer, I am constantly amazed at the ease with which I turn out what to me seem to be amazingly good color prints (I keep thinking back to the disappointments produced by leading labs back in the day from my slides and color negs) and while I understand what you are doing and aiming to do in printing, and I cut my printing teeth in the blacked out bathroom in this very town with some no name enlarger then a Durst printer with a Nikkor lens, it is not for me.

Cheers, Geoff

Three perspectives ...
First - Mike certainly has the commentariat doing so here ... suspect this will be a well read and well commented post. It is about gear after all.
Second - I've been trialling MacPhun's Luminar software - somewhere between Lightroom and Photoshop and a reasonable one-time licence fee. No affiliation/benefit ... just saying. Have some acceptable (well to me anyway) results.
Third - two weeks ago I had the amazing experience of spending the fastest 2.5 hours of my life with Dr Les Walkling (http://www.leswalkling.com/) on a print workshop. We brought our own images and using Macs/Eizo calibrated monitors and Epson P800's got to try 9 different Canson papers under Les's guidance. Having been rusted onto Ilford Gold Fibre Silk for quite a while, boy did I get my eyes opened. Completely agree with some of the comments above that the Rag Platine is ok but the Baryta Photographique is simply outstanding. My aging 3880 doesn't need replacing, but the paper stock is likely to change now. And current object of lust is absolutely the Eizo monitor.

Already have the Canon body & lenses (tick), Mac (tick), Adobe subscription (tick), calibration tools (tick), an older Epson 3880 (tick), and too many bags (tick). Must be a conformist!

Surely you jest.

[Stop calling me Shirley. --Mike]

Dave New: Thank you for clarifying the details of Adobe Creative Cloud. I think the cloud aspect is similar to iOS cloud, where your image edits go into a default folder (the Camera Roll, in Apple's case) and are automatically uploaded to the cloud, so that whichever device you are on - desktop, laptop, or mobile - the latest version of everything is there. And I'm guessing that, just as with Apple, if you wish your images to not be uploaded to the cloud, you either turn this off, if there is such an option, or put your images in a different folder.

I appreciate that what you describe seems to you like a good deal, but Adobe does not have a monopoly on image editing software, even though they behave, arguably, as though they do, and having to pay Adobe $120 a year in perpetuity is not my idea of reasonable.

More than three years ago, I bought a license to Phase One Capture One Pro. I can install it on three computers simultaneously, and deactivate it on one or more of them, in case I want to install it on something new. I think I paid about $250, and I've been using it ever since. Upgrades have been made available since then, but I haven't needed them. Capture One offers an intuitive interface, does everything I want, and gives me options I don't get with Lightroom. It works the way I want it to, rather than forcing me to work the way it thinks I should. And it does a far better job with my X-Trans files than Adobe could be bothered to do. It doesn't reach into my computer, or try to extract anything from my computer. When I buy a Fuji X-T2, later this year, I will need to upgrade, but I think the upgrade price will be in the $100 range. If ever I think I'm missing something in not having a monthly cloud subscription, Phase One Capture One offers this, too. Note that it's an option, not a requirement.

All in all, then, a welcome and superior alternative to Adobe prison.

"My files" include the intermediates I generate when preparing for printing (and I rarely save the final print version). While I would maintain access to those PSD files if I let my Adobe subscription access in one basic sense (the bits remain on my computer and I can peruse them at my will), it's not very useful in the absence of software that understands their content. So no, I lose access to a huge amount of my work if I let the Adobe subscription lapse.

And on another matter, no Walgreens can NOT make big prints from phone pictures better than I can. Trust me on this. I've used Walgreens for proof printing and they're perfectly competent, and they'd even make a competent print from a prepared file I gave them at larger sizes, but they won't do anything like the quality work in preparing a raw file for printing than I routinely do.

Agree on most. Switched to Canon F-1s when my Leicas (21-35-50-90) were stolen 1978, but for monitor: EIZO Coloredge. Extra cost totally worth it. And 5 year warranty. Most of my work is for offset printing and have never had to re-do the color of files for the several printers I use in China. With the Eizo, WYS (is really) WYG. Have a CG242W and will upgrade when I sell a few more prints. I calibrate with the Eizo Colormonitor and a x-rite I1. I use my 20" mac cinema display for word processing, mail, internet, bridge and menus. I calibrate it with the x-rite but even after that, the color difference is dramatic when dragging pix that pop up when pshop opens on the mac display.

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