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Thursday, 03 January 2019


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I can't help with V-logging but I can chime in about cameras. I owned the A7ii and the kit lens and also the G9 (with many lenses). I sold the A7ii and ALL the Sony stuff. I added a second G9, a GH5S and a slew of Panasonic and Panasonic/Leica lenses.

If you are going to jump into Sony you'll like the newer A7iii with its much larger battery much better than the A7ii. The A7ii just felt kludgy.

The G9 with the Panasonic/Leica 12-60mm does dual I.S. and does it so well you'd think you were on a tripod.

Sensor size? Who cares?

Please keep thinking, contemplating and writing. I can watch videos somewhere else. I typically don't, but I could. I'm 47.


"Let's let the people who are good at vlogging be the vloggers."

And often, those who are not that good at it...

Talking of school plays, I am sure I once shared a stage with Colin Firth ('The King's Speech', 'Kingsman', any British RomCom of the last twenty years you care to mention). I say 'I am sure' because a) it's a long time ago and b) I only discovered we were exact contemporaries at the same school fairly recently. I think the production was 'Sweeney Todd' and he was the lead. I 'corpsed' then totally fluffed my line. He was not amused.

He went on to become an Oscar-winning actor and I, ermm, didn't.

Send it back and start shooting some film with your Exakta. That money will pay for a lot of professional developing and scanning. You aren't shooting fashion, so just buy yourself a small carbon fiber travel tripod and at the rate you are going you will be well ahead of the depreciation curve of any digital camera. The G9 won't take photographs by itself either. Whenever I don't take the time to do photography, I talk myself into buying new gear.

I like reading things. Watching YouTube videos, not so much.

More power to them vloggers. I’m glad it works for them. Personally, if a video comes up on a page, I move on. I’ll rarely watch it. Many like it. I like to read that information. It’s what works for me, which is one of the many reasons I’m here.

RE:vlogging. Don't!

I'm a twelve-year blogger. That's what I am, a blogger. I know all the cool kids are moving to podcasts and vlogs. I might be able to eke out a podcast; thirty years ago I was a radio disc jockey, part time. I'm considering it, actually. Video is a mystery to me.

But when I started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing. I had been a writer earlier in my career and liked and missed it.

So I got a free WordPress blog and just started. I figured it out as I went.

I suppose anyone could do the same with podcasting or vlogging -- if they wanted to.

Save the $1,200 and send it back. Based on your earlier post, it sounds like you need the money more than a new camera.

I think you're wise to follow the advice you espoused here. There are lots of vloggers out there (TOO many vloggers) to compete with and even a lot of the enthusiastic ones are pretty painful to watch. It's good to try new things, but also good to know your strengths and weaknesses. Life is short and I'd rather spend more of it doing things I'm good at and enjoy, than forcing myself to do things that don't suit me for the sake of a "challenge".
I also wish that more "content providers" would write rather than vlog - video is a lousy medium for a lot of the content people are using it for.

Vlog is a time-sink, as is audio. There are some exceptions, of course, where the medium is essential. But mostly a transcription would suffice.

I read you daily. If you did video or audio I’d save it for later when I had more time. Later rarely comes.

And don’t waste your time doing video unless it is for something that requires video that can’t be provided by a link to what someone else has done.

Do what you need to do. Do what you want to do. I’ve seen that “Three Blind Men...” vlog. Shrug. Certainly different than the farmers cap/tattooed variety but not more substantial. Seems to be a camera vlog produced by The Actors’ Studio. (And I found his interview with Elliott Erwitt to be uncomfortable (to put it politely).). But I agree, knowing you in-person, that “vlogging” probably isn’t for you.

Keep your new G9? You claimed to be devoted to the camera’s “look” [That was the GX8. The G9 turns out to have a different look. But forgive me for interrupting. —MJ] and were delighted with its heft, didn’t you? Is the Sony A7 series a better camera all-around? Unquestionably. After all, The Online Photographer named the A7III the “Camera of the Year”!

Look, Micro Four-Thirds is not the future. It will be in the market for a while but only the packaging will really change (as has been its history). It’s a format best suited for smaller bodies, such as the GX9, in my opinion and experience. The G9 is, indeed, a “big camera with a little sensor”, as another reader remarked. But all that is for naught unless you photograph professionally. If you like the G9 and feel you’ve found a soul mate just keep it, stop shopping, and move on to make the images you want to make!

But in frankness I think we also both know you’ll be shopping for a new camera by fall and be unhappy until you actually have an A7 of some flavor. So you now have a good deal in front of you. You can always get that G9 later, and even cheaper, if your fling with the A7II doesn’t work out. Slut-out.

Thank God you don't plan a video! I would depart the ranks immediately. Video introduces distractions that have little to do with your kind of work, so good on ye.

My two cents: There is a significant difference between making changes due to declining customer base versus periodic reminders that TOP is a donation dependent. Reminders in regards to donations here at TOP are no different than other such web sites such as Brain Pickings: https://www.brainpickings.org/

In my estimation the donations aspect should be more prominent on the main TOP page and side-bars of all pages. And in any event I think periodic communication regarding the importance of donations to sustain the web site is highly appropriate, and I for one appreciate it.

And well, even if changes were made to the delivery of content at TOP, the donations would be no less necessary.

Full disclosure: I doubled my donation from $5 per month to $10 per month effective February 1st. Worth every penny.

Even if the producers of these shows mean well, which is questionable, the only thing worse than a vlog about still photography is a radio show about still photography.

Keep writing! It's why I come every day and, fwiw, I almost never watch vlogs...

Happy New Year!


Yeah, I’m one of those Mike, that seeing on YouTube would be great. But I totally understand what your saying and what you know about yourself and your limitations.
Regarding the G9, vs. the Sony, I’d say stick with the Pany, and let’s face it, theres always going to be something down the road that will make you “gassy”. That’s one thing about being in my position, retired on a fixed income and paying healthcare bills not covered by Medicare. I can’t afford gas!

The fact that the current big thing might be vlogging doesn't mean it's the only way to reach people. Streaming media is slow to consume compared to text; lots of people don't like to be held down to the speaking rate of the presenter, or to lose the ability to backtrack briefly if they missed something, or to stop and think. Sometimes there's added value in being able to show a process in motion -- but not that often in what you write about.

And while Twitter is frustrating as all get-out, it's still pretty central and it's still essentially text-based; as evidence that people haven't moved entirely away from reading text. Also there are still bookstores, and the sales figures are going up again.

Add this to the fact that you're not interested in video production, and what Kirk Tuck says about hitting the higher levels of production values (which is all true), and I would say that at this point in time it's clearly not a direction you should take. However wonderful the work produced by others in that area may be.

I'll chime in to say that I'm interested in reading what you have to write as I have been for the last decade (that long?). Even if you were a masterful vlogger of the same content, I wold not be interested in watching. The medium counts, and video isn't the evolution of writing, it's something altogether different.

I fully agree with your premise - but it seems as if the advice was well-intentioned and prompted by your previous comments about keeping the lights on.

If I might might offer something, it would be stick with the writing but improve the platform for delivering it. Although it hasn't driven me away, the poor experience given by the website might do that one day. Also I wonder that some of your commenters, who spend a lot of effort producing excellent content for the blog, might feel a little bit under-appreciated because of the time it takes comments to appear. I know, and understand why you don't want conversations to be spawned, but as well as your own writing, I consider these to be of similar importance.

All this said with appreciation and best wishes for the future

Whatever came of that microphone you got? I was really looking forward to you starting a podcast. If the photography podcasts out there suffer from anything it’s endless chit-chat, mostly about the news. A more scripted and well-edited photography podcast, even if it incorporated bits of interviews, would be very much appreciated. Something like the “99% Invisible” of photography.

I really should keep up with the comments more, but I agree 100% with the post. I'd only add that we're talking about a considerable gift as well as passion on one side of that equation. On a selfish consumerist level, I'm thinking also about the seemingly increasing rarity of good writing in general vs. the deluge of video, both on and off line.

I'm guessing you won't enjoy the ergonomics of the A7II system as much as the G9 system's, nor the size, cost and selection when it comes to better native lenses. But of course we're hoping you'll try it out to make sure, and blog about it!

Stay in your lane. My family has been in broadcasting since the 1920's, but I didn't go past college radio myself. Just as some people have face that's made for radio, I have a voice that's made for still photography.

a) keep on doing what you know and enjoy.

(support here: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/happy-new-year-your-resolutions-wont-bring-you-joy/ ) especially about mid-way, "Researchers talk about an idea called “intrinsic motivation” — that is, changes you choose to make because you just plain enjoy them. If you make a resolution to do something that you like doing, not only is it more likely to make you happier over the long haul — you’re also more likely to keep the resolution."

b)That can't be a room in your home, can it? It's so different from the rather "spare" style I've seen in all your other home shots.

c) there's a reason NPR has periodic membership campaigns. Maybe multiple reasons: remind people that you need them; replace those that have fallen away; grow your income base.

d) Keep the G9. A competent machine with a good lineage. (I'm personally more rangefinder style. Considering whether to upgrade from my GX7 to either GX8 or GX9. AFTER I rationalize my other cameras, formats, lenses.)

Dear Mike, you can as far as I am conserned to vlogging - especially if it generates dollars - but please, please, please continue with the writing. More text - Yes! It keeps the tempo down and the sane and dense content up. I love your text-blog!

Anders. H.

With respect to vlogging - just a heads up that I enjoy visiting this blog every day - to read, digest and follow it's various trails at my own pace. I know I wouldn't enjoy trying to keep up with a video assault on my senses no matter who was presenting. Hope you keep up the good work.

"Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom" (Aristotle)

I hate watching videos. What can be digested in writing in two minutes will take fifteen minutes in a video that has to include two minutes of title animation and "Hi there! Welcome back!" etc. etc. etc. introduction alone. You can't skim a video for the good parts, you can't easily go back and reread, you can't cut and paste into a reply -- etc. etc. etc.

Don't go there, I beg you.

“*Bad pun: Hugh be Hugh and I'll be me.”

That’s easy for you to say.

I agree with David Dyer-Bennet. I am a relatively fast reader and the pace of many if not most You-Tube videos makes me crazy. I have a sense of when text is irrelevant and can read even more quickly over these parts. I watch videos only when they have essential information not available in text. An example is Mark Galer's videos on settings for the Sony A7RIII.

Podcasters are making lots of ad money these days (mostly from mattress companies it seems). There aren't that many good and thoughtful photo podcasts out there, and you have already demonstrated that you have a pleasant sounding voice and interesting thoughts.


Elvis' corpsing the "worst example"? I always get a laugh out of it. Especially when the background singers continue and Elvis says, "Sing it, baby!" I thought he took a "snafu" and made it something terrific.

About the vlogs; if you don't have a real ambition, why bother with it? As you mentioned, it would just be a chore and who needs that? (Besides the excellent reasons Kirk gave.)

I'm a newspaper reader and hate to have to jump around on the newspaper's website just to find what I want to read. It's much easier the "old-fashioned" way. So, I can't see myself following a vlog, even though I poke around on youtube now and then. I'd rather read words and backtrack over a paragraph if I didn't "get it" the first time, rather than rewind a video to the correct place.

I still use keyboard shortcuts to save files, search for a term in a document, etc. Aiming the mouse is still an annoyance to me. So, I probably wouldn't bother to watch a vlog. I'll stay with (the written) TOP on the web.

Completely agree. And because of that, I doubled my Patreon contribution yesterday. I want to keep you writing...

Please don't change your style. TOP is exactly right, as it is. As readers, we all must back you via Patreon etc, and perhaps there are additiohal revenue channels that could be explored, but don't change what you actually do on your site. Because you have got it right.

It's a problem that comes to almost all self-employed people.

Would I be self-employed again? Long retired as a pro photog (I thought that such a thing could never happen), I am not so sure. I had some great experiences, went on shoots to almost all of the countries that I wanted to go to as well as a couple I would have avoided except for client decisions; essentially, I guess that I made that pact, not with the devil, but with my own ego and youthful ambitions. Today, it often feels that those who stayed at home, got a professional job in law or whatever, have the secure lifestyle and the retirement in great comfort, the silver Mercedes always an AMG version.

We don't know what lies ahead, and my "pension" was going to be found in my stock photographs. Thank God I didn't waste more money on that, though until digital came along it did make a nice contribution to life. Post digital, it became junk.

I think the future is going to be ever less that of the self-employed person; consolidation and block-building seems to be the model for survival: join forces and marry the competition and above all, don't confuse earning a good living with enjoying yourself: that's what holidays and retirement are both intended to provide. Enjoy your work too much, and it makes you blind to reality.

Is that depressing? Damned right it is. And the moral was always so self-evident: don't be the little guy in the playground.

Buying more cameras? What will they let you do that you can't do already, and, in the grander scheme of things, does it make the slightest difference to your operational position? That they will let you lose more money, that's a given.

If you found the G9 to be a rocket ship or a hot rod in operation, the A7 II is more like a battleship or tractor trailer by comparison.

Even the A7 III that you tried is much quicker subjectively than the old model.

Whether any of this is an actual priority for you, only you can answer.

Personally, I'm sick of vlogs. Rarely do I sit through one without skipping ahead to the finish. I'm not a fan of podcasts either.

I'm a reader.

If you're interested in expanding TOP's reach, why not encourage readers to submit articles and/or invite writers/photographers to contribute content?

I will join the choir. Your strength is writing. Mine is reading. Don't take up video.

I would add that I have watched a few videos on line, some on photography, and a few very good. Most aren't, and worse, slow you down to the pace of spoken speech. It is tedious to go back and replay something that was unclear, confusing, or even very good. In any case, videos take longer to process (except when showing you something).

So bottom line: I generally prefer text over video.

Just one more vote from a non-random sample.

Don't switch to vlogs. I don't care if you are good at it or not, just don't, please? Videos are great for guitar reviews because you kind of need to hear the instrument. They might be OK for camera reviews. But I don't read TOP for guitar reviews or camera reviews: I read it for the carefully-considered (if often wrong :-) words on still photography.

Stay with the written word, that which you know best. Often, I like to read a portion and come back to read more, something that doesn’t work well with video. Besides, being hearing impaired makes the content easier to digest without suffering the captioning adventures by various vloggers elsewhere. You and I may never meet, but I have a pretty good picture in my head to what you sound like and stand for. Keep up the good work. As far as the G9, I’d wait for the Olympus Pen F II with weather sealing, or similar. If one wants to experience the MFT size, just stay small with great lenses. Otherwise, get the largest sensor you can with the stabilization you need.

Forget Video, your written word is why we visit everyday. Having spent a fair amount of time exploring YouTube over the last 2 years, I’ve found it to be over saturated with too many photography related channels that have too little good content.

I struggle to see what you could do on YouTube that could add to what you do here. Critiquing photos maybe but that’s all. I can see the value in having a presence on YouTube if it drives traffic from there to here but then if it’s not an end in itself it would be a bit superficial.
Possibly you could do more on Twitter at least to give updates when you load new comments rather than just the original posts. Maybe Instagram?
As SteveW suggests put more emphasis on a Patreon particularly in the body of the posts as in the site he links to.
Oh, and send back the G9 ;-)


Please, Please, I beg of you, read what Kirk Tuck wrote. Don't go with vlogging!

Our society has almost completed the full circle. Cave men communicated with grunts, as society evolved, a basic language grew. Then, as the cave men took time from dragging women by the hair into their caves, the started drawing things on the cave walls. That evolved into a written language. Written language developed a large vocabulary and allowed communication between total strangers.

Then came the vlog. Written word, formed into great English prose sentences, was thrown by the wayside. Vlogs are apparently ad-libbed, so careful editing and organization are gone, and they are delivered by people with no public speaking skills or experience, and the most common words are ummm and ahhhh. Thoughts are thrown against the wall randomly.

The worst example is the vlog called Camera Conspiracies. The apparently unidentified person, who seems to be either really drunk or on drugs, delivers a stream of semi-conscientiousness filled with misinformation and semi comedy. I suspect he's trying to be funny, but most of us gave that up in high school.

Don't become that man. Treasure the written word. Contribute to its survival.

Mike, I purchased a G9 at almost exactly the same time as your first comment on the subject. I also have the A7II which I purchased way back when it came out. I vote for the G9 even though you really aren't asking.

While I love the A7II it's just not as generally responsive in my opinion as the G9. I've been having a blast discovering the various new ways of capturing images that the G9 presents one with, it's just a fun camera! I also love the IQ out of camera so I know once I begin delving into the RAW files it will be even more interesting yet.

That's saying nothing about the near perfect ergonomics of the body (for my hand) which never really seemed quite right with the Sony.

In no way is that bashing them. In fact, Sony allowed me to use my beloved Contax G lenses especially the 45mm Planar so I'm eternally grateful. However, this G9 is a whole new level of fun. Looking through the viewfinder is simply amazing. So many things on this camera just feel right and being on the other side of 55 I'm looking forward to scaling back from the full frame glass. Anytime I pick up a camera and it makes me smile as much as this one does, I think it's a keeper.

Keep up the great work! Love your writing style and honesty. It's a great place to stop by and I look forward to it on a daily basis.

Dan S.

Would it be possible to send you a check and bypass your
current payment procedures? P.O. Box? I'd like to make
a contribution for 2019.

[That works fine for me--my address is 740 East Lake Rd, Penn Yan NY 14527. Thanks very much for your kindness. --Mike]

No need for video, Mike, well-phrased words will never go out of style. And recordings of people talking to themselves often sit on the internet unlistened to.

But truly, your great strength is editing - and bringing together several photographers' voices with different thoughts to add to a discussion.

Good luck for a luminous 2019 on this blog, and many more productive years of good thinking and your steady eye for photographic quality to come.

Jeff Clevenger

Stick with writing Mike. I follow zero vloggers. I also do not subscribe to any podcasts. There are two reasons, the first pragmatic, I have severe hearing loss in my left ear and profound loss in my right ear. OTOH Both my eyes work very well thank you so I can read and comprehend it all.

Which brings me to the second reason. The written word exists. Sound and video are ephemeral. They exist only in time. If I don't quite follow what an author is saying I can go back and reread sections. If something doesn't make sense to me in a podcast or video, the recording goes merrily on while I am puzzling over the part that didn't quite register. Yes, I can back up a recording but that is a nuisance. I usually back it up too far or not enough and it takes multiple tries to find the point I want. I can read at my own pace. I don't enjoy being forced to follow at the pace set by a vlogger/podcaster. IMO The written word rules.

Unfortunately, vlogging is too often all about people seeing and hearing themselves talk. And usually, what they say and how they say it is not worth looking at 'em...

PS- For that price- SONY.

I can't remember the words to the song exactly but "do what you do, do well son" is rattling around in my head. I like the written word because I can consume it at MY pace. I, like many others refuse to watch videos because I'm not in control of the pace. I read you daily, sometimes I visit your site several times a day to reread, or clarify something. Another thing that I absolutely love about TOP is the commentariat, so wonderful, so diverse.Often so erudite. I've not seen a video with a comments section. Keep going on your present course.
P.S. I have just doubled my Patreon subscription as encouragement.

You ARE a good writer and that's what keeps me tuned in. I reckon that most vloggers do it because they can't write. In any case most of them are boring.

I'm with Dave Jenkins

What happened re the Fuji X-H1? I would have thought that it is the ideal compromise for you. Smaller lenses than for full frame, IBIS, apsc so IMHO a better chance of a future, better low light performance than the G9, better ergonomics than the Sony.


I am reflecting on your shot of the interior space.

Then the inclined windows remind me of the days when they used PC (perspective control) lenses to verticalize (if I may express as such) the verticals. I don't see PC lenses anymore. What happened to them?

Dan K

I saw only one reference in the above comments to podcasts. Podcasts lend themselves well to long-form interviews or discussions. Not many videos can hold my attention for very long. Podcasts might be a new way for you to go if you can dream the appropriate material for one. Writing has a major advantage over video. You can go back and re-read some sections or all sections of a piece when/if you want to. It's pretty rare that I'll watch a video more than once. If there are 3 interesting bits in a 13 min video, I don't have the patience to find them again. I can skim text far faster than I can fast forward through a video.

I come here to read, not watch/listen.
Video seems such an imposition on the viewer, I'll often not watch a video review of something I'm interested in, but will generally read everything I can find on it.
'Stick to your knitting' as they say.
And thank you for all the writing, it's well appreciated.

I like Keith B's: "the only thing worse than a vlog about still photography is a radio show about still photography"

Please don't vlog. As many others have said in various ways, writing has a lot more information per kB than video. I also notice that my auto spellcheck won't even let me write 'vlog' without protest.

In my professional photography career I was sometimes forced into producing 'movies' and later 'video', and especially since I wasn't good at it, spent a lot of time and effort on something that I wasn't very happy presenting to the client. I know photography; I'm good at it and video isn't photography and it isn't for me. So I did it as little as possible.

Again, as has been said before: if this site goes to vlogging, I'm outta here. I love reading what you write and that's why I'm here.

On the G9 thing; decide whether you like the Fuji system or the Panasonic system and dump the other. I love the G9, so I know where I stand. Unfortunately I also have an A7rII, which produces files I love but don't care for the process (gorgeous files, clunkiest body), so it never gets used unless I truly feel I NEED those files. Hardly ever happens, so its frame counter is dismally low. Going by the advice at the top of the paragraph, I should dump it. Just as I'm unlikely to do so, I know that you're unlikely to completely sever all ownership with either Fuji APS-C or m43. Ce la vie. Happy New Year.

One Kai W. is plenty ... more than plenty, in fact!

So please stick with your keyboard and continue to pretend the video functions of the (your?) G9 don't exist!

+1 on your wise choice to stay away from vlogging. Or to quote Clint Eastwood from one of his Dirty Harry movies: "A man's got to know his limitations".

Most vloggers should heed that advice as well!

I have and continue to read this blog because you are an excellent writer and provide many insights on photography and photographers.

Well, after a couple weeks with the G9, if you're still "waffling", then I wouldn't buy it.

Personally, I think its a great camera, and could and would happily use it to get productive and professional work done.

As for the Sony, while its a good price, like Dennis Mook, even if I wanted to, I can't use these cameras because my knuckles get pinched and rubbed raw from the very small space between the grip and the lens barrel. And the overall user experience and menus are so bad they drive me to distraction. I know Sonys have an impressive set of features, but for me, the physical and user experience are a "no-go".

I admit to be as mystified as others as to why you just don't get an X-H1. You've stuck with Fuji X-cams more consistently and longer than any other brand I can recall, so clearly the X-system works for you overall, you've stated the X-H1 is one of the top 5 digital cameras you've ever used, you love the files, the look of B&W conversion, the feel, size, haptics, and now with Firmware version 2.00, you have even more stabilization functionality.

So, my question is: "Are ya gonna fish or cut bait?" Just get the G9 or the X-H1. You'll be happy as you can't go wrong with either, so just get on with it. Make a commitment and a project to use your choice for the next 3 years....and see what happens.

Its much more important to get out and take compelling and engaging photographs than second-guessing decisions about gear.

Vlogging: arg. such a poor ratio of time to information. Stick with the written word, on principle.

If you don’t want to make videos that’s entirely your call (though I dispute the notion that someone with your history and perspective on photography and cameras wouldn’t be able to make a valuable contribution in an emerging medium). But you might want to put the question to someone beyond the demographics of this blog to get a wider perspective. Getting advice about video from folks who proudly profess to never watching it while also deriding its practitioners as the “farm hat/tattoo” crowd is maybe not the best choice unless you where only seeking validation. The notion that there are no good photography youtube channels is wrong. Go watch Craig Roberts’ e6 Vlog or David Thorpe just as an example. They’re not contributing? That’s BS.

I've met you personally, so I know it doesn't apply to you, but most vloggers, I'm afraid, are somewhat unsightly. I know that because I've been researching a number of fairly expensive home products lately -- I'm building a new house -- and there are a lot of vloggers on these subjects, and after a while, you ask, "Why are so many of them totally unkempt?" And why are their houses such junk heaps? Why am I taking advice from this guy on a potential $33,000 purchase (a solar electric grid/storage system) when he can't seem to wash his dishes?

Also, vlogs are best when they have a physical subject to discuss (a camera would qualify.) But *photography* isn't physical. To have you up there droning on about bokeh would not make a compelling vlog, but it might well make a pretty interesting post -- posts are much more informationally dense.

And listen carefully to Kirk. He's a smart guy.

Stick to the written word. ( & stop buying cameras if you're skint ).
Sorry to hear about the problem with your eye. Best wishes for a speedy & full recovery.

I've been reading you since Camera and Darkroom. You are my portal to the sane side of photography. Don't change. Don't be shy asking for support to keep you and this site healthy. I vote for you keeping the G9.

I'm relatively young, and gods, I hate this vlogging thing. It's essentially made by people who are too lazy to write watched by people too lazy to read.

PS. Keep the G9. :P

Nothing new to add, but I support three positions already stated:

You are a writer, and I vastly prefer writing to staged video.

Hugh Brownstone is not a person to whose output I will devote more than a few minutes a year.

Finally, it is time to double my Patreon contribution for 2018.

My mother told me decades ago, “Advice is the gift of the giver.” Meaning “advice” is all a one-sided experience, the giver’s.

One thing I’ve noticed over my 6+ decades is people just love to tell others how to live their lives (i.e., “advice”). What to do, how to do it, when to do it, with whom to do it, and so on. And the “it” can be any subject one can imagine. Of course, how is it another person has the knowledge/experience/dreams/etc of the one they’re “advising” well enough to have the chutzpah to say, “I know exactly what you need to do...”? Hell, most (all, actually) of the “advisors” are living just as flawed lives as those they’re trying to manipulate. Um, “advise” I mean.

It's still a rare pleasure to read well constructed prose, and so much less exhausting than getting to the end of a 25 minute Vlog to find out what the message is.

A picture may paint a thousand words, but a well considered paragraph with the odd illustration can convey an idea far more succinctly than the most erudite Vlogger.

Vlogs have their place, and can be instructive and amusing, but they are only one way to communicate, and not always the most effective.

If I want a camera review, I will read it on DPReview or ImagingResource. I can't abide someone talking and waving a camera around for 20 minutes.

Similarly, in college I found it much easier to study from books and ask my tutors for clarification rather than falling asleep in lectures.

I do not think you will ever use one real camera for more than 3 years ... it's becoming pathetic!

[Three years seems about right. I've used three or four cameras for 4–5 years, but they were all film cameras. Digital moves a little faster. --Mike]

Mike, I was writing my opinion on vlogging but Mr. Eric Brody did it before and with better English than mine...

As for returning the G9... I think you're gonna hate the A7II. I've got an A7RII and couldn't be happier with the image quality but the user experience is hideous. Its controls and interface seem designed with the only purpose of discomforting and irritating me. And I'm a little guy with small hands, so its size shouldn't be a problem! But it is.

Vlogging is a very different set of skills to writing blog posts. Even writing for a vlog is different to writing for a blog post.

Mike, you definitely have a talent for writing blog posts and I like reading your posts + reading the comments.

But I also like a number of vloggers - photography and other subjects.

But I have to say I'm confused about your thought processes on the G9 vs Sony A72. Are you interested in the A72 as a photographic tool or only because it's on sale?

Perhaps draw up a matrix: each row lists a feature you need / want. Each column is a candidate camera. Each cell is how well a camera does a feature. The first column should be the camera you want to upgrade.

BTW, having gone from the A7R2 to A7R3, I'd be hanging out for the "3". That's when Sony got their act together wrt ergonomics. Things can be better, but at least with the "3" it's good.

Your face adds NOTHING to your story. Aim the camera at your subject, not yourself. If you have nothing to show us, let us READ.

And, Hugh:
Your glasses, sitting cockeyed on your face with one eye peering through the top rim of the frame, are extremely distracting.

Mike, I enjoy reading (and sometimes re-reading) your log fully and carefully. I don't think I have ever watched an entire V-log without fast-forwarding.

I agree with the anti-vlog contingent wholeheartedly. It isn't you and you probably would hate it. However, a short daily podcast would not be as much of a stretch. On car commutes, I like to hear people read me stories and I bet you'd be comfortable reading out your prose and posting it as a podcast for photographers with day jobs.

The only photo vlogger whom I can watch repeatedly is Kai W. He gets how comical photographers' obsessions are and how to interpret our dramas entertainingly without malice. I mean, GAS is not as important as we pretend it is. Wait, that might be wrong.

Still, if you can imagine being a character in the streaming show "Detectorists," but with a camera in place of a metal detector, just perhaps.

I’m never sure if you post these camera “what should I do” questions because it results in high “reader engagement” or you are simply unsure and ruminating in your “second mind” i.e. TOP. I know when I’m in a GAS attack the last thing I’d want is to ask 50 strangers with no idea of their pedigree or style what I should do.

It sounds like you’re not totally thrilled with the G9 though there are things you like about it (IBIS). It also sounds like the your attraction to the A7ii is partially based on price, not lust. Not good.

Several new cameras are coming this January, I know that might feel like a long way off when you’re in a GAS attack but if you sit quietly with a straight back in a comfortable chair and focus on watching the rising and falling of your abdomen, time will fly and those new cameras will be announced and you can jump back on the wheel of camera samsara and see if you get that c’est ca feeling. Good luck.

I'm not sure young people read blogs. If you want reach a younger audience you may want to dip your toe into the vlogger waters.

I personally very much enjoy your writing style, whether you’re writing about cameras, billiards, diet, cars, HiFi, coffee, depression, alcoholism, Apple, etc. I find your writing has no artifice or conceit, it feels to me like a real, sensitive human being with a subtle sense of humour who is not afraid to look at the world as it is, is behind those words.

I find it a bit strange when people are telling you what they think you should be doing. I know, given you have a loyal following, that these comments are made with good intentions but I cringe a bit every time a comment begins with “Mike, I think you should do x”

What about the book? Think you outlined it a while ago. Custody battle. Sounded great. Just get on writing this!

Don't count yourself out, Mike, on the YouTube thing. Who says you'd have to do it sober?

Camera / lens collecting is fun, isn't it? But if (a BIG if) I were in your shoes I'd sell almost all of the stuff except the Fuji lenses and get an X-H1.That should hold you for a year or two. OTOH, if you're keen on BIFs @ 60 fps, photograph polar bears, need focus stacking or take pictures (with a silent shutter using touch-to-focus) in churches and museums, maybe the G9 will suit you better. It'll even cover red chairs, sycamores, portraits, indoor shoots and tea/coffee machines. The A7ii is FFM--what more could a writer-photographer want?!
Re:vLogging, leave it to the Northrups. You're a writer with an engaging style, seemingly endless things to write about and a devoted following. Why dilute your USP?

Almost all writers write short stories in preparation for writing novels. Alice Munro didn’t. She realized early on that the short story is what she was best at and stuck with it eventually winning a Noble Prize for literature in 2013.

Whether or not you’d be a good vlogger is immaterial to me. I prefer reading to watching. Something about video commentary on gear and technique bores me silly. And there are so many things you write about that would probably not make a successful transition to video. Rumination works better in print.

So, please, keep up the good work, just the way you are.

Mike, I've just doubled my very modest Patreon contribution in the hope that this will not be the place where I am finally forced to learn what a "vlog" is!

Cameras: Whenever I find myself doing excessive hand wringing over "which camera?", my go-to cure is to pick up my copy of Jim Alinder's excellent book, Picture America. (Words by Wright Morris.) Jim made these evocative photos with a 126 cartridge-load Instamatic.

Hope yours is a happy and prosperous 2019!


Stick with words. How well you write and the stories you tell are why I show up here mostly every day.

As for the G9, send it back. It breaks the mFT requirement for me: it's too big and heavy. A while back, I was one of those who suggested you get a GX8. You did, good; you sold it after a few months, not so good. I still have mine and it is likely to remain key to my air travel kit with the Pany 14-140, the PL25, and the 100-300ii until it meets the same fate as the Wonderful One Horse Shay.

As for for the a7ii, just before the ongoing great retail deal, I picked up a used for a reasonable price that included a few extras, including an adapter for EF lenses. After a same lens shootout between it and my 6D, the latter was sold. Yesterday a $20 adapter arrived to use a7ii with my small Pextax MX SMC-M lens kit from the 1970s. Focus peaking now makes the old glass sing again as I return some of the fun I had using those lenses years ago. True, it's menu and battery life sucks, but extra third party juice is cheap. Should you add the a7ii to your collection? Don't know. Depends on how much old glass you might want to again expose to the light of day ... and night too. I know that my a7ii is getting regular use and it currently has greatly reduced my GAS problem for less than retail.

In the case of making a choice betwen a written or videod TOP, my vote would be for the written for all of the reasons others have given.

I have not come across many people in photography gifted with both attractive physical presence and wonderful voices; without those lucky attributes, one ends up victim of the faults, unable to look away: those bad teeth; that mouth, open constantly even in repose... what did they just say? No idea - better rerun that bit - goodness me, and I thought my hair was deserting me! Look! No earlobes!

Best left alone unless you are Brad Pitt and have memorised a really great script.

None of that's to say that I don't enjoy videos: give me a "making of" of a Peter Lindbergh shoot or a Sarah Moon self-interview (with better sound than I can find so far) and I'm in heaven. There are lots of photographers out there whose shoots would probably be a delight to watch taking place. That's one thing, but what you do is another and those videos allow no response; one-way traffic can come to a bit of a dead end, too.

People pushing you to do vlogging are urging you to jump on a bandwagon that departed the station long ago.

The "selling point" of vlogging is that it increases one metric of measuring success - time spent on page - which, in turn, can lead to higher ad rates and page rankings.

That's why it's common now to click on a link in blogs that go to some video clip. Have you ever noticed how the "video" aspect is often downplayed? As in "New Review of Leica Wunderkind 11" that turns out to be a video of some guy fumbling around with the camera for 8 minutes? That's because that sites have already recognized that many readers HATE video reviews.

What draws me to this site is your writing. It's usually straight and to the point and when you go off on digressions, it's usually interesting, too and that's fine. You're very careful with words and it shows.But the idea of you standing in some forlorn meadow holding a camera trying to describe your thoughts about a lens while the wind noise whips up makes me shudder. No offense.

Maybe off topic, but the room in the picture is warm and inviting. Kinda like TOP

I think you need to try vlogging. But do it in your style. If you think you will be terrible then call your self the terrible photography vlogger.
There is a Canadian whom is terrible at video games. He said so but was curious why people wanted him to play. So he has YouTube videos of him self playing video games baddly and calls him self the worst gammer. People love it and want to see him mess up in all there favorite games.
Give it a try, could start a revolution. Or just record your self typing up the writen articles. Could be funny to see your errors or out loud thought process.

I used to sing in church, until I was about 13 years old. Then, one Sunday, an elderly lady turned around and shot me the dirtiest look. She thought I was screwing around and being disrespectful. So, now I only sing to my dog.

Not sure if this is the same Elvis performance you're referencing, but on his podcast Malcolm Gladwell had an interesting piece on this: http://revisionisthistory.com/episodes/30-analysis-parapraxis-elvis
It goes a lot deeper psychologically than you might think.

I can usually never make it through a vlogger or video camera review; however, I always enjoy David Thorpe's videos. A different approach with him not being in front of the camera.



Stick with writing, forget about video, writing (and reading) the well-written word these days is your calling card, a real differentiator, and refreshingly in depth compared to most of the video reviews and commentary posted online. Frankly I don’t need to watch someone’s face when the quality of the words and commentary should suffice.

Be the NYTimes of the online photography community please (I know they post video and do some interactive stories now, but you know what I mean in terms of the quality and the depth of the writing).


Remember what Oscar Wilde wrote/ "Be yourself, everyone else is taken."

One of the things I like about coming here is the lack of vlogs. I'm not against it in principle - it can be well done - but it rarely is. The over-exaggerated personas of about 90% of vloggers just seems desperate to me, and off-putting. If I do watch a vlog, the vlogger has to come over as a mature, considered, thinking human being with a modest, quiet, but witty, well-informed and self-effacing personality. Both you and the now seemingly off-line Photo Fundamentalist, Tom Stanworth, have often managed that through writing, but offhand I can't think of anyone who does it on a vlog. Mr Brownstone only gets a third of the way there. perhaps, I am temperamentally not the audience for it.

Like you, I consider the A7ii to be very good value. I am not sure of any other camera body that had this level of features/quality for the money. Seems like a fantastic value.

I purchased one while in Toronto for the holidays, December 26. I was surprised that no retailer had any adapters for m42 or F mount to Sony. My plan is/was to use my vintage lenses on that camera body because they were designed for FF. Unfortunately, I had to wait until the adapters arrived from Amazon yesterday.

Today is the first day (a damp, wet Saturday) I could shoot it. I only took a few test pictures with the Takumar 55/1.8. I never knew a corner of a coffee table with a notepad on it could look so good.

No verdict yet, I am hoping to get out Sunday morning if the weather cooperates. I am nervous about how it will stack up with my Fuji gear for over-all picture quality as I am heavily invested in Fuji!

For anyone who likes to shoot with old manual focus lenses, mirror-less has opened a door to a lot of possibilities.

Please dont do video.
All these idiots, all that music that one can not hear because the vlogger is talking.
Be a writer.
In my mind you excell if the subject is NOT about photography.

Happt new year from Vleuten, the Netherlands

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