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Sunday, 06 January 2019


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I'm glad to see one of my favorite bloggers will continue shooting with one of my favorite camera systems. Go Mike/four thirds!
BTW, how about OC/OL/OM (month)?


I tried the OC/OL/OY which you suggested some time back but broke the resolution a few months after.

I don't include the iPhone camera in this disciplined exercise. The iPhone camera is a lazy man "Swiss Army knife" tool but effective at that in its own right.

But I am modifying the idea of OC/OL/OY a little bit. I would like to try out OC/TF/TL/OY. This works out to "One Camera - Two Films - Two Lens (35mm+50mm)- One Year".

The 35mm is the pre-ASPH Summilux-M which when used at f1.4 produces a Leica glow like none other and a 1940 lens effect.

Why two films? I have some soon expiring 4-5 rolls of Kodak Tri-X which will last a few more months then I am going to try out some fresh amateur grade Ilford 400 Pan films which are cheaper.

Dan K.

Well, you got me wanting a G9 now. It is an overdue upgrade from my GX7.

Always wanted to do that myself. I'll start by trying to pick out which camera and lens from my collection of cameras and lenses. The temptation is to select a fixed lens 35mm RF so the lens choice is made for you. After an hour of fighting with myself I set down with a beer and forget the whole thing.

Next January I'll go through the whole ritual again.

Congrats on the new camera, Mike! Please add a photo with the lens of your choice connected to the camera. Btw. no 14/2.5?

[The picture of the camera and lens is here:


Is the 14/2.5 one you particularly like? --Mike]

Here is a nice example. The Austrian photographer Alfred Seiland shoots with one camera, one lens, one project for many many years already. Entertaining stuff. If you haven't got the time for all episodes, choose the last one.

IMO a zoom lens is more than one lens!

Maybe one of the nice 25mm 1.8-ish primes? Quite affordable, and modern performance.

That’s a zoom. I think this is what you mean:

The iPhone would be an interesting OC/OL/OY item IMHO.


[Yes I think so too, and I think a number of people have done that...there are several books out by such people. Can't give you the names off the top of my head, but one is by David Hume Kennerly IIRC. --Mike]

I am using an Olympus 17mm f1.8. I mostly use it at f4 and if I need it really sharp into the edges then f5.6.

Its the lens I use almost all of the time for personal work. If I really need a different view I use the Oly 45mm f1.8 and the Oly 12mm f2 - in that order.

For some reason I thought you would be a 25mm guy.

That is my preference, and have started collecting them.

For you I would go with the Panny / Leica 25mm f 1.4

I absolutely love the Olympus 25mm f1.2 for the way it renders. It has definite magic in there. The focusing manual / auto clutch is great system, though in fast paced shooting it catches me out occasionally. Unfortunately it is pretty large.

But, my personal favourite is the Voigtlander 25mm F0.95. I love manual focusing and prefer it to the electronic focusing unless I am shooting portraits when the eye detect makes me lazy. It gets me a lot closer to subjects so I don’t need a macro. I have used it so much I have worn off the markings.

I must say, you keep your books in excellent condition.

The OC/OL/OY concept was discussed in the Fred Miranda Sony forum recently—and generated comments like this: “If one thinks they are a better photographer by limiting themselves to one lens . . . go for it. It's like some feel they are better photographers because they shoot manual focus. . . . Personally I don't buy this psycho garbage that limiting oneself makes themselves more creative.”

Apparently the OY bit was considered rather limiting—but some indicated that they could manage with one camera and one lens for a week or more

BTW, by “Contax 159Q” I suppose that you mean the excellent little 139Q that you've mentioned previously. I enjoyed that camera during too many years in grad school with the only lens that I could afford.

[It's a strong human tendency to read about an exercise, imagine its effects, and then judge it based on one's imaginings--whether that judgement is positive or negative (both are common). This judging in advance is the literal meaning of "prejudice," which is considered a pejorative term. Another such term is "ignorance," which is where the fellow on FM is coming from. But I mean that in the literal sense as well, not the pejorative one.

I'm well aware of this kind of ignorance, and yet I still fall prey to it! But usually I can remember that if I haven't actually done the exercise then I shouldn't pontificate about what I will or won't learn from it.

Also, negative prejudice is often self-fulfilling, because one approaches the experience with a closed mind.

The anecdotal results were that a lot of people who actually did it had positive experiences with it. Of course, that's not scientific--we could just be hearing from the people who had good experiences.

Of course, the bottom line is that any exercise suggested by one adult to another is only ever a suggestion. If you don't like the sound of it, then don't do it. Pretty simple. --Mike]

Through 2017 I did a sort of OC/OL/OM, as Benjamin Marks suggests, but just for my daily journal. Added the restriction that the focal lengths (equivalent values) were all between 35 and 45mm. Five months of film usage (35mm and 6x6), and digital for the rest (m4/3, APS-C, and 35mm). Since no additional gear was required to achieve the challenge, I'd obviously amassed far too much stuff.

For 2018, I sold lots of gear...

2019 has started with a teeny Voigtlander 20mm manual focus lens on a Nikon F100, loaded with Ilford XP2-Super film. May increase the focal length as the days lengthen, but stay with manual focus. This is partly as an attempt to distract from the unnecessary temptations of the Z6... for now.

Why don't you go back to your roots and shoot with a 25mm (50mm FOV) lens? There are a number of good ones available from Oly, Panasonic, and others.

Mike, why not a little group exercise and do a OC/OL/OQ/OG (that’s One Quarter and One Genre) as a group. Less of a time commitment but enough time to work out a new camera and style. I’m curious to see where your thought exercise from the “Little game” post goes but I assume it will lead to a focused genre. I’d join that exercise. Figure people will cheat on the Genre for opportunistic reasons but it makes the whole exercise less gear focused and brings consistent vision into the game.

Okay; call me crazy, but I decided to accept the challenge with this difference - I'll be using ONLY the new iPhone XR as my camera/lens combo.
For me, it's "good enough" for my type of photography and I'm also changing my workflow to:
NEW 2018 iPad Pro 12.9" w/ 512GB of storage, dropping Adobe ("HORRORS!") and going to Affinity Photo for the iPad. Stay tuned! It will be an interesting year!

Well, I'm not a betting man, but in this case I'll make an exception. I have $20.00 that says you won't finish. Just sayin' as others have said in this space.

[At first I though you wrote "$20,000" and I was thinking hmm, that would be worth it.... lol --Mike]

This is funny to me.

I only had OC/OL/20Y, beginning in 1963.
Then a second OC/OL/18Y, beginning in 1983.
Then a third OC/OL/3Y, beginning in 2001. That one was digital. It broke, leading to a second, a Canon P&S, which broke, leading to yet another, which broke, but by this time there were all sorts of geeky things to do with digital, so I exploded into my current 7C/nnL/6Y and counting.

Funny, because my intention, (not resolution, since it occurred before New Years Day), is to "rationalize" my stockpile down to something I can live with. eBay!

"renewal, re-engagement"

There is something to that. I did not do the OC/OL/OY, but I picked up an Oly 25mm f/1.8 and once I put that on my camera it stayed on for a long time. I had a lot of fun and felt re-energized.

Congratulations on the new camera. Based on what you have written over time, it seems a better choice for you than the Sony.

I do think the OC/OL/OY project is for the young 'uns who have little experience of what they want and get dazzled too much by gear. As I've gotten older I've more or less know what I want and what I need for different projects, so GAS only strikes when the upgrade cycle comes (now it's at about once every 4-5 years). As someone who has FAR more experience than me I'm not sure why you have to box yourself in this way!

I was hoping you would do the A7II with the Pentax 43mm f1.9 (adapted, manual focus). Or the X-H1 with the 23mm f2...
I'm thinking it would have to be the Panny 20mm.
A zoom, ofcourse, defeats the purpose of the exercise... Unless the author of the exercise says otherwise :)

On instagram for musicians (I believe there are other equivalents for other arts) there is a tag #100daysofpractice (and now #1000daysofpractice). I believe the violinist Hillary Hahn started it. Basically practice your instrument every day for 100 days. Generally post a video of yourself doing such every day (the last requirement is sort of loose).

I’m on day 312 or thereabouts. About 740 hours of practice which very well might be more practicing than I’ve ever done in my life. I’ve gone from an inconsistent 1-2 hours a few times a week to 16-20 hours weekly. It’s been mostly very enjoyable.

For me the most important thing has been getting offline. I lock my phone in a thing called a kitchen safe for large periods of the day and don’t have other internet access at home. I have another phone I use to make calls. It’s just the damn internet that screws up my brain.

The other thing is a large wall calendar (now datebook planner for the new year) where I marked down my practicing hour by hour. This made a huge difference in feeling like I was keeping my streak up.

It’s been life changing. I have come to just love practicing in a way that as a lifelong musician I never have before. Just consistently sitting with my instrument and exploring, mostly the same stuff day after day and really digging in. Also totally owning being able to record something that’s pretty awful and put it up there knowing it will be better in 6 months.

Lately I’m pondering returning to photography a bit with a similar mindset although it’s hard to serve multiple masters.


I wonder if painters ever do one brush, one year? I bet they don't. I can't see why an experienced photographer like you, who knows what lens he needs to make the best of any subject, would want to stunt his creativity for the want of the right tool. Sorry Mike.

Hi Mike, I meant the 20/1.7. I remembered you had a special place in you heart for that lens. But as your article points out, it can be improved on. I did own a 14/2.5 at one point, that is probably why I mixed up. Thank you for the link to the camera-body/lens combo.

My favourite is clearly the Fuji XF 56/1.2. Like the Panasonic 20/1.7, it has it's flaws, no WR and less than stellar AF. But the images have a special magic to them. I prefer mounting it on the X-T2, with the bigger viewfinder, if manual focussing is necessary.

My go-to lens now is the 23/2, today I could live most of the time with just one focal length, the 23mm. And the favourite body, with the 23mm at least is the X-Pro2. To be restricted helps me be more creative. Of course that is one great thing about UC/OL/OY.

If a camera/lens is my go-to on a daily basis, that is as close to UC/OL/OY as I will get. Doing photographic work means that I use the lenses required to do the job. To keep returning to the same lens/body combination let's me get a deeper understanding for what I can really achieve with that gear. Too much gear can easily get in the way of photography.

I have actually gone to the brick-and-mortar shop just to hold a GX9, so I could get a feel of what you are up to, Mike:) I am happy you have found a kit that you enjoy using. I completely understand the IBIS advantage, and miss it sometimes. The X-H1 has been tempting from time to time, so thanks for reviewing it.

Slightly irrelevant.

Calling Panasonic cameras 'Pannys' gets me. After all we don't talk about Nikkys or Cannys.
And while I'm on this line I hate BMWs being called Beamers and Mercedes called Merks.
Par for my age I suppose but to me it smacks of disrespect.

After following, white-knuckled, your latest dash through the tunnel of GAS, and seeing you emerge with the G9 despite the temptations of the M1.2 and the H1 and perhaps even the T3, and reading Kirk Tuck's new love affair with his several January bargain H1's, I am exhausted.

And convinced that I can wait for an H2 in a relatively short time.

If you need a challenge to use a camera for more than one year, ... and a really good camera that is, Mike, you must see a dokter right away, it is/you are insane ...

I'm doing a different, but similar version of this and have decided I will list for sale or auction at least five different pieces of camera gear each week. My goal isn't to achieve true OC/OL status by the end of the year, but it's not too far off that, either, as I'm certain I can happily get by with far less gear than I have now.

At this point, I haven't counted everything, but don't think I have quite a full year's worth of gear to deaccession. I will bet it comes scarily close to that, though, if I include the batteries and battery chargers and collection of misc. doo-dads for all the cameras and lenses I've loved before ... wish me luck!

I can personally recommend OCOLONWTF (One Camera, One Lens, Or Not, you can guess the rest), just because it's all season. YMMV.

Mike replies: Excellent question. I will ponder that, but I think the goal is re-commitment, renewal, re-engagement—a restoration of your involvement; putting gear, GAS, and technical fussing on the back burner, getting out with the camera more, and concentrating on seeing. Sound about right?

Sounds like the classic post-GAS-purchase rationalisation that marks the beginning of a brand new GAS cycle. I regularly tell myself the same thing :)

OC/OL/OY = a whole year of going around with my hands tied behind my back, while the other lenses gather dust in the closet? This kind of masochism never did make much sense to me. We all have different lenses and cameras for different tasks,in different situations and varying light conditions. Lots of people rave about the Fuji X100 series; I wouldn't buy one even if you pointed Big Bertha at my head.
My Epl5 is supported by a small collection of modestly priced primes and a couple of zooms; I usually get the shot I want.
As for an iPhone, I can't afford one. No issues; there's my little RX100 nestling in my shirt pocket.

I beg to differ on one small point. You say you could use the 12-35mm Panasonic lens for the year even though the Olympus equivalent has a bit of an edge. I have owned both lenses on both Lumix and Oly bodies. If there is a superior one of the pair I sure can't see it. I sold the Olympus (12-40) as it was a bit larger and the Panasonic is as close to perfect as any lens I have ever owned. It ties with the Olympus 12-100, which is too big for daily use for me, but a stunner of a lens.

The one camera thing only works if you take it with you—everyday (or nearly). If it just sits on the shelf in all of its lonesome "oneness", it doesn't make a heck of a lot of difference.

I know in your heart you want to use that 20mm. You've written so much about 40mm-e over the years. That's the true "OL" for you if you're going to do this.

I don't see limiting oneself to a zoom that goes from wide to short-tele as much of a restriction or achievement. In prime lens terms, that's already a decent kit.

Why not a OCOY instead?
One Canon, One Year. :)

Between yourself and the other great photography blogger of our time, the two of you appear to have tried every other system on the market. If I remember correctly, the last time you used a Canon was the EOS RT, and the last time he used one was the 5D2.....

I did the OC/OL/OY exercise in 2015: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alex_virt/sets/72157647724962094 and don't think it affected my mediocre photographic skills in any way.

I got much better results shooting medium format film through the year 2008, but don't think I'll ever do it again – too expensive and time-consuming.

I agree with those that think OCOLOY (makes a nice acronym, methinks) is a a good exercise for newer photographers. But for more experienced photographers, it's akin to saying, "I'm going to write songs using this one note."

Instead, I endeavor to work on projects where I pick a subject or topic and make that the focus of my intentional photography for a period of time. These projects give me an excuse to get out there and photograph, give me time to study a subject in more depth, and at the end give me a collection of images that are tied together.

I have not selected a subject for this year yet, but I've got some ideas that I'm working on...

I spent 3 years only shooting with a Leica M9 and a Zeiss 35 f2.8. I learned how to see the world through 35mm eyes with a 63º angle of view.

What I found was that while I became rather adept at seeing in 35mm, there was a kind of sameness that crept in to my shots. These days I prefer a zoom lens. I find I’m more experimental in my work and produce more challenging images. Of course each of us has their own experience.

In any case I believe the important thing is to take photographs as often as possible. Arbitrary rules and challlenges can provide insight but it seem to me that’s less important than pushing oneself to make interesting images.

Best wishes for the latent photographs to come from your new camera!!

One of those items on my "someday" list that I still find myself casting longing looks to often enough that I really should do something about it is the original "Leica Year" exercise. Unfortunately, it never seems like it's something that I can adapt to for a full year. Whenever I start thinking about it, there's often something that I find that will make it too tough to accomplish. I shoot the formal pictures for the annual gala at a local arts center, for instance. I don't think that I could get away shooting a B&W film camera that doesn't do artificial lighting very well for that gig, for instance. I suppose I could allow myself a pass on events like that, but I think doing so would make it too easy to start doing that too often. There's also the fact that I really enjoy using my 8x10 camera, though I don't do so nearly as often as I'd like to. It would still be tough to set that aside for a year.

But, dang. The idea of simplifying everything down to one very uncomplicated camera with a nice lens and taking that everywhere I go is seductive, indeed. I look at how I currently operate with my full Nikon DSLR kit and I find that I spend as much or more time thinking about what lens to use (and without fail, it's always one that isn't on the camera) and similar concerns as I do actually looking at the scene I want to photograph. That doesn't seem especially productive for end results. And I have to admit that since I've never owned or used a Leica, it has a certain appeal to it.

So here it sits, still on the "someday" list. One of these "somedays," I should just pull the trigger on the M6 and 50 'cron that winds up in my KEH basket from time to time and see where it goes.

At any rate, good luck with your OC/OL/Ox (where x=year/month/or whatever you finally decide). As with most items on TOP, it will be fun to see where it takes you.

For me, it happened mostly all by itself: Nikon D200 with Nikkor 1.8/50mm which works out at around 75mm in FF terminology when on the cropped format of the D200.

I still own a better camera - the D700 - but it just seems that I use the earlier mentioned setup more than anything else, and I own quite a nice set of Nikkors and so the choice is not forced. It just matches my interests and style better than anything else. Had Santa brought me a Nikkor 85mm, things could have changed, but he didn't so they won't either.

I'd never have another zoom, on any camera format.

I think if was doing this I would take Fuji X100F

Job done.

I hope this will be an encouragement to you Mike. When you wrote your “Digital Variant” post in November 2014, I grabbed on and started shooting with a Panasonic G5 with their 20mm pancake lens. At the time, you also suggested a print per day. So I used the moniker OCOLOPOY.
Here’s the encouraging part: It changed the way I shoot. I live in the city of Chicago and if one is going to shoot every day, one cannot travel to Lake Geneva, or Galena, or even the Botanic Gardens in the suburbs every day. So my practice was to eat breakfast at home and then with my Panasonic walk to one of 6 or 7 nearby coffeehouses, shooting along the way there and on the way home and, of course, in and around the coffeehouses themselves. I became much more interested in including people in my photographs and more adept at it too.
At the end of one year, I had enjoyed it so much that I decided to “enroll” again. I kept going November 2015 to November 2016. Then again through November 2017. And again through November 2018. But after four years, I’ve ended my devotion. Perhaps the subject matter has become a little stale. And I did keep changing gear. Replaced my Panasonic G5 with an Olympus M5 MkII. And now I have bought a Panasonic G9. I change lenses with some frequency. I even changed the acronym to OCALMEDOY. That would be One Camera, Any Lens, Most Every Day, One Year. I use the acronyms as keywords in my Lightroom Library.
But I THANK YOU for your original advocacy of this idea over four years ago. It really did improve my skills in and devotion to photography. I am a retired guy, 69 years old, who started making photographs in March 1968. In retirement, some guys play golf. I create photographs. I don’t know what I would do without this wonderful creative pursuit.
Just do it Mike!

One thing I've never understood about OC/OL/OY is exactly what it does for you, except teach you about the machinery? As opposed to photography? I suppose making awkward photos with lenses not adequate for the job would teach you something, but I've done that often enough when I was *caught* with one camera and the wrong lens, that I'm not sure I need it anymore, and probably not repeatedly for a whole year. I certainly wouldn't want to be caught with a 24mm-equiv when either Bigfoot or a UFO showed up. Would it be cheating to work with a Sony RX10 IV, with the fixed 24-600 lens?

I second the guy who suggests OC/OG/OY -- one camera/one genre/one year. If I could do that, it might even turn out that I'm a street-shooting genius. (There's inadequate evidence of that, so far.)
I'm thinking about it, especially since I have not been able to get out shooting since Jan. 1 because of illness, work and snowfall, and so it would be exactly a calendar-year experiment.

A lens you might look at is the Sigma 19mm for micro 4/3. Punches way above it's weight/price.

OC/OL was my natural way of doing things for most of my photgraphic life. My first camera was a Rollei 35, with a fixed 40mm Sonnar, and my most creative period in photography was with the Fuji GW690, with its fixed 90mm (40mm eq) lens. OC/OL/OF: One camera, one lens, and ONE FILM too: Agfa Scala B&W transparency film. Boy, those 6-by-9 cm transparencies looked good on the lightbox!

After a decade-long sulk about the digital disruption, I have just returned to active photography, now digital with Fuji X, and currently I feel the need to challenge myself in the other direction, exploring a wider range of fields of view. But in due course no doubt I will return to one of the standard lenses as my main or only lens, very likely the 23mm or the 35mm, but only time will tell. These things come in natural cycles.

Your reader s.wolters has given us a really exciting link to a lengthy TV documentary about Austrian photographer Alfred Seidel, here is the link again:

Wow, what a find! Alfred Seidel pursues very long-term projects, Stephen Shore style, travelling the world with his technical camera, his standard lens, his tripod, and his assistant. Watching him work is awe inspiring: for a sample, go to the scenes from 03:45 or 15:50. He walks about the scene, using his hands as a preview frame, ultimately decides on a position, sets up his tripod, takes a couple of Polaroids for exposure testing, then takes one or two shots (on 4-by-5 colour negative film), then packs up. Complete command of technique resulting in extreme simplicity of the process, Dao-like. Really impressive. In an interview
(https://tinyurl.com/y8fmxq9h), he mentions that he may take as few as 15 shots in ten days. Thank you to your reader s.wolters for sharing this truly inspiring documentary.

I woke up yesterday with the decision made to dump 'almost' everything I have for a G85 (or is that a G7 mark ii?!) with the base 12-60. The G9/v/G85 sites make a good case, but for my 'needs' the 85 will be sufficient.

I can see the appeal of the G9 though, hope it's your one-camera for a long time. The S1 worries me with its potential, so my decision in that regard is to visit forum sites less often in '19 (present company excepted.. I think!).

Mike, If you don't want to buy any other lenses than what you already have, I would go for the 20mm.

The equivalent of 40mm is just about right, you have said so yourself, well through Sally Mann, anyway.

". . . my bread-and-butter 12–35mm ƒ/2.8 II. Again, the Oly version might have a bit of an edge, but I like my Panasonic lens."

I too would choose that over the Oly for the G9. Turn on the OIS on the lens body, IBIS in the body and enjoy the even greater IS of what Panny calls "Dual IS".

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