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Monday, 29 January 2018


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1. Is the battery charged?
2. Is the memory card filled?

Lens? Viewfinder? Meh. As long as I can see what I’m tryin’ to shoot I’m good. My mileage varies.

No no, the most important thing is the *color* of the camera. I never got as good pics as when I used that bright pink camera you posted once. Of course I also got to talk a lot to young men with bleached hair for some reason.

I want to simplify it.

The two most important things about photo equipment: How the lens sees, and how well you see through it.

My version does require some flex in the definition of "see."

I would suggest that third most important thing is getting inside the brain of your camera's meter. That allows you to know if it's probably measuring a particular scene correctly or if you need to overrule it. (I'm assuming that not many people these days are using Sunny 16.)

That’s certainly true, and I would extend it to your “system “ the better you ‘know’ it, the more confidence you have that ‘What you saw is what you’ll get ‘( and what you saw is what you want) the more satisfying your results will be.
Maybe the best camera buying advice is to look for WYSIWYW- ‘what you see is what you want’
I think it amounts to including the photographer’s vision in the definition of picture taking system.
It’s why oc/ol/oy works so well and also why we see many photographers settle on one lens or a small kit
When you find a kit that matches the way you see everything seems clearer.

My two "musts"?
The camera must be reliable
Its capabilities must support the kind of photo taking you do.
No unreliable camera is worth a damn.And the camera best supporting portriat, landscape, night scene and macro photographers will be very differet. Pity the poor "little bit of everything" photographer who can never get one camera that's perfect for everything!

Well, that's why, for the 2nd point here, EVF are IMO better one than OVF.

In the early weeks of my photo glasses I deal frequently with distinctions about our limited perception of reality, the effects of our internal process on what we see, and how the camera looks at reality.

As such, the camera looks, we see.

So the problem is how do we get the camera to capture what we see?

For a guy with aging eyes I'm seriously astonished at how well I've adapted to: switching from left eyed to right eyed dominance, using a near postage stamp sized screen on the back of one camera (size up the corners) and using an EVF (go for the highlights). As recent as a couple of years ago, I would have swore any of the above an absolute impossibility...

I've always loved the following advice you gave us all many years ago. I think it's still perfectly valid.

"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."

Your recent articles about "2 lens kits" caused me to reflect on how my "carry habits" have changed, at least in part due to age and all the good things that come with the aging process. In short, I have gone from a multi lens DSLR kit with another medium format film kit in the car to now venturing out with a Fuji X100T. A problematic back, weak knees and aging eyesight cause one to have to rethink the logistics of photography. This might be an interesting subject for an article.

YMMV of course but for my petrol money I've never understood how people can take photos by holding the camera at arms length and looking at the rear screen. Horrible! I need a view-finder and a camera that fits my face comfortably.

Yes, Michael, MMDV (my mileage does vary). I think the resultant, finished image is often dictated to by the camera's internal software. Which in turn can make the contribution of the lens and viewfinder combination rather moot.

Sincerest regards, JR

Oh, Mike, you missed all the important characteristics, such as the number of megapixels, if the camera is "full-frame" (which it must be to be considered by a serious photographer), the number of photons, the well-depth, the maximum ISO of 12,500, the dynamic range, the Bluetooth, and the overwhelming importance of the "workflow." The lens and viewfinder - nah, that's artsy-fartsy stuff.

I couldn't agree more, especially re: lens behavior and character. Learning to the use the knowledge of how your camera/lens "sees" is an important stepping stone on the path toward better craftsmanship and self-expression.

I grew up with rangefinders--my father's Agfa Isolette and Canon Canonet. When I got my first slr, I was thrilled at the prospect of seeing what the camera sees. But my images deteriorated...I could no longer see what the lens really saw. Many years later I got back to rangefinders, and rediscovered a lost synergy. These days I shoot about half the time with a dslr through a 20mm lens, but I rarely look through the viewfinder. I guess the distance, hold the camera by my cheek and press the shutter without looking. It appears to have the same kind of result as that by a rangefinder. I suppose it is how one sees in childhood tends to shape one's vision.

Yes, I agree very strongly with this Mike!

It ruins some of the elegance, but I think the sensor is an essential part of the mix as well. Knowing how your film (in particular, but this applies to digital as well I guess) will respond to colour and contrast you expose it to matters an awful lot — particularly if you're looking to make nuanced colour compositions or you're working with a monochrom sensor. A friend of mine is fond of reminding people that the time to shoot is just after the light looks amazing to the naked eye and the contrast dies down a bit.

Nice! I find, that for me it is impossible to leave myself out of the equation. My take of the second half would be: 'How well I am able to imagine what & how the lens sees.' Typical of someone who prefers an optical viewfinder about half of the time?
On second thoughts, when the 'you see' in the second half is also taken figuratively, the 'me' operating the camera is already included. I like that interpretation.

Viewfinders are crucially important! For me anyway, but what others want in a VF is a different story. The mirrorless types want information, heads-up displays with zebra stripes, levels and shooting parameters shown. But does that leave room for the image? Between that and the blissful, open and empty simplicity of the OVF of a Fuji x100, which just shows you the subject, I'm looking for the rational middle ground. Just a simple groundglass screen on a DSLR, please, with grid lines and a level and basic exposure settings, that'll do fine. Add switchable crop marks for APS-C and you have my favorite camera, the K-1.

I wish I could get behind the mirrorless experience, but so far, I just see the limitations. Even in the best EVFs I've seen, the contrast washes out at both extremes, and the colors look artificial. For me, using one remains, at best a means to an end. It's not a realistic, immersive experience to be enjoyed, like a good OVF. It's just a Target Acquisition Device, better suited to a Predator drone than an artistic device.

My attitude, I know is, obsolete. But it's sparing me from almost all varieties of camera GAS these days, since almost all new models are aimed at the EVF crowd.

I don't know, I've used cameras with no viewfinder whatsoever to good effect , but now that I think of it my Hasselblad 500c has a Rolleiflex microprism screen in it which is way superior to the Hasselblad screen,. I bought the camera used and didn't figure out that the screen had been swapped until Marty Forscher pointed it out to me when I was getting it tuned up. I had known that there was something about the camera that was different when I rented it and bugged Ken Hanson to sell it to me but didn't figure out what until Marty told me.

That's one of the things I hate about DSLRs. Since they are autofocus the manufacturers don't see the need to put actual focusing screens in them.

This idea seems very film era specific to me, however. Back then a "camera" was just the little box that enclosed the empty space between the lens and the film, maybe with a shutter. In the digital age with this possible exception https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1041269-REG/horseman_21413_sw612d_camera_body.html it is not so much the case anymore.

I would agree that the viewfinder is of critical importance. Being able to see what one is shooting is a key element of photography, I would assume.

However, it seems that many modern camera makers don't share that view as they fill the viewfinder with all kinds of unnecessary, view-obstructing, distracting "information.", especially on electronic viewfinders. Inaccurate DoF guides, tilt-o-meter-like nonsense, and histograms. Replace histograms with blinkies, dump the DoF guides (learn for ones lenses if needed) and put a bubble level on your camera. Or make all these entirely optional and easily, forever locked out. Preferably, forever locked out.

I wholeheartedly agree. Like some people can distinguish a great wine from a good one I have become a lens snob (connoisseur). I choose lenses on how they draw and I can "see" the result before I push the big button. The downside is owning more than one lens in some focal lengths because they have certain looks.

But for my personal use I MUST add two more.

In a world where even cheap lenses are good and great lenses are a matter of taste, I have become increasingly and stubbornly selective on two things. Handling and balance.

I will no longer accept any camera/lens combination if it doesn't balance well. And unbalanced or badly laid out kit just kills the urge to take photos at all, for me.


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