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Tuesday, 07 September 2021


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You made me realize that I'm on my fourth Nikon, so far as "real shooting cameras". In, uh, 50-ish years? Ftn for many years, N8008, F100 when they got cheap, and now a D800 that was a retirement present from me. I just reset my filenames to start "BB2" for my third 10,000... I buy good stuff and use it up. Obviously I trust high-end Nikon and my fingers know the way around. The Z7 did feel good BUT I have 5-6 lenses to feed already. Luckily, it's still hard to beat a D800. Spend wisely and very infrequently.

Trust, as it is with cameras is so with humans.

I can remember when I wanted a Plaubel Makina so bad. I think I saw it in a Montgomery Ward Photo catalog. It was all silver, and sort of looked like the front of my Crown Graphic 2 1/4 x 3 1/4" film camera, but without the drop down focusing rack. I think that was right after WWII ended, and items were becoming available again. It might have been around $500 at that time, out of my range.

The flip side of trust is reliability, no? And that at least seemed to be on just about every camera feature list in the old film days. Makers made a big deal about shutters, especially (still do, I guess), and I suppose it was the most intricate, specialized and critical moving part (system, really), and they could fail in a number of different ways. Personally, though, I always had more trouble with film advances than with shutters.

I have to admit that cameras these days seem far more reliable than their all-mechanical ancestors were. Neglect of the maintenance those old cameras required had a little to do with that, and much of today's junk got flushed out in the market contraction. But I think it's something fundamental to design and technology, not unlike the way quartz watches by their nature are better at keeping time than mechanical ones.

Anyway, while I never thought about it like this, not having to worry about the film advance slipping, jamming or chewing my film is kind of nice!

I've had cameras that gave me that same kind of mistrust experience. I never realized how much that affected me until I would upgrade to a new camera and feel such a sense of relief.

I had a similar experience when I moved up from the early digital cameras that were unpleasantly noisy at ISO 800. The day I moved up to Nikon's D700, with its much improved ISO performance, I left behind that constant juggling of the shutter-speed/ISO balance. (Current noise-reduction software also helps make this issue almost completely disappear.) These days I think nothing of shooting at ISO 3200.

I shoot expensive ALPA medium format camera bodies with an innovated V lens adapter (hacked from a Hasselblad V lens bellows adapter mated to an ALPA lens board) because my trusted set of lenses for decades has been a select group of V lenses. The Hasselblad V system is a well designed system that consistently performs well with film or digital.

Fuji is my go to for smaller format and hands-down they won me over after other camera manufacturers either fell short in quality or did that irritating over-engineering thing. K.I.S.S.

Trust is vital with any technical equipment. Which is why you should never buy an inkjet printer - not only don't they work consistently, they can't work consistently. Sure, get a laserjet if you must, (though it won't do justice to your photographs), but avoid inkjets like the plague.

Those who used Makina 67 or 670 cameras (an expensive cult camera in the early '80s) probably moved on to the later Mamiya 6 or 7 roll-film cameras.
For being a film camera, the Mamiya 7 has a great reputation (and prices for used ones are still quite high).
But yes, trust in your tools is important.

I remember having the hots for a Plaubel Makina W67 a good while ago before you set me straight- thanks again!

Two of my fave photobooks were made with it:
Beyond Caring and Troubled Land (Paul Graham).

So don't call it Pixel Peeping!
I'm Testing to see what the camera actually DOES.

I know I can trust a Nikon D610 DSLR and a 50mm f1.4D (or 20mm f2.8D, 28mm f1.8G or 35mm f1.8DX lens--it works on FX!) with back button focus to get anything in an instant. It's what I trust to get the shot.

Exposure is preset. On the street or even out the car window, 1/4000 at f8 at ISO 800, focus set for 15 feet--with the lens gaffer taped so as not to move off that focus mark--guarantees me everything is sharp and in focus.

Leicas are fine for composing and making portraits and taking my time. When I need the shot on the quick, at the flick of a wrist like Robert Frank or Henri Cartier-Bresson did with their Leicas, for me it's the Nikon.

For film, it's the F100, same setup.

On his FAQ page, Martin Parr says "For the 35mm it is a Nikon 60mm macro lens combined with a SB29 ring flash. This gives a shadow on both sides of the lens and is like a portable studio light. For the early black and white work it was a Leica M3 with a 35mm lens. When I moved to 6/7cm in The Last Resort it was a Makina Plaubel with a 55mm lens. I later bought a standard lens Plaubel and more recently Mamiya 7’s"

I feel so at home to read that others here wanted a Plaubel -

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