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Friday, 18 March 2022


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I wasn't going to buy any more lenses this year but I had an excellent "gently used" 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 M mount lens fall into my lap for even cheaper than usual for that lens. It's a Chinese made lens that is based on a Sonnar variation much like the Zunow 50/1.1 from the 50's. The focus wide open is very thin, as you well know, and the look is rather soft and dreamy. By the time you get down to even 2.8, though, it sharpens up considerably and at f/16 it's a thoroughly modern 50mm lens, if with the typical curved focal plane of the Sonnar.

In other words, this faux Noctilux is going to take some learning to get the best use out of it and I was considering the best way to do that.

I have done the OC/OL/OY in the past and found it rewarding. I don't know that I'd want to stay with it for a whole year again but think that I will mount the 7A lens on my M 240 for at least the next three months to really get a feel for it.

Thanks for the reminder of this practice!

Life is too short for endeavours like this one. Even HCB used more than just one lens.

I heard the guy who sent you the Leica M10 Reporter sent two lenses with it. I also heard you already had a 35mm M lens. So he really screwed you up one the one lens concept.

Do you accept a smartphone as the camera? That would be rather different from the original concept, taking a daily mono image with a Leica film camera, processing the film once a month or so and printing the images using traditional monochrome chemistry and equipment. But still….

Actually, I imagine that a lot of people already take at least one picture a day with their phones (although very few print them).

So when will we see your comments on the M10?

[As soon as I get some decent photos taken with it. I have been very preoccupied with writing recently and have done very little shooting. I have a full card, and I do have one good shot I think, but I need a few more. I would have shot more with the camera but quite honestly, I am afraid to take it too far from the house. Not entirely, but I certainly won't leave it in the car or take it to lunch where it could get soup splashed on it or something. --Mike]

Like Arch, I’m eager to see your thoughts and results from your time with the M10, a (the ONLY) contemporary digital rangefinder.

Re: OC/OL: I don’t believe it to be nearly the useful instructive regimen that you believe it may once have been. Today -every- component of a camera is an active participant in recording an image. Using a single fixed-lens camera most of the time is fine. But, given the active nature of every component in every camera today, what you’re really doing is one-camera-system-with-one lens…which is good. Mastering one camera system offers great potential. But handicapping yourself using only a single (prime?) lens for everything? Nah. Way too artificially limiting and not productively instructive. I’ve never seen a compelling body of work created with such a techie limitation as a guiding principle.

But how about one-project-one-week/month/year? Use any camera or lenses you need to pursue a single contiguous project for a set amount of time? Now we’re talking about potentially productive limitations! Good photography is all about communication of thoughts.

After reading Mike's article circa 2009 late last year, the idea continues to pull at me. Discovering an interest in the photographic process well into my 5th decade, I missed out on ease of using film when it was the only option. Thus, the entire process (as Mike pointed out to me when I emailed him) is cost prohibitive for the sake of an "exercise". I would certainly agree and would have to modify the endeavors sheer volume.

I read Patrick's article. He seems unsure as to how much he actually learned over that time frame. I am starting from practically zero and while I have messed a bit with digital, I find that process to be rather sterile. I have a borrowed M4 with three lenses. I should probably just start shooting as see what happens.

I have a "take at least two rolls of film with every camera you own -or sell it" project going.
I have accumulated 22 film cameras, 12 of those during Covid lockdown boredom.
It is a lot but I don't really mind if I actually put them to use.
Besides justifying hanging on to them, I hope to see if I have a photographic identity or style that transcends through camera types and formats.

The OC/OL/OY exercise is well worth doing. I was doing it at about the same time that you, our Senior Editor, were doing the learning-and-engagement exercise called OP/OP/OP*. The camera and lens I used was a Kodak Brownie Holiday Flash and the film was Verichrome Pan.

I benefited greatly from this exercise and I hope your exercise benefited you as well.

*One Potty/One Poop/One Pee.

I’ve toyed with the idea of completing a OC/OL/OY project since you wrote about it in 2014. I first tried with my Nikon D810 and Sigma 50mm Art, but made it only a few weeks in before realizing it was just too big and unwieldy for me to continue the project with. I’ve considered many other camera/lens combinations since then, and have found that just evaluating a camera’s potential as an OC/OL/OY candidate has been a really useful exercise. Asking myself, “Could I use this exclusively for a year?”, has made me consider the handling and shooting experience of a camera much more seriously than the specs or theoretical “image quality”. So after seven years of dabbling, I think I’ve found a combination that I’m really happy with: I’m six months in to a OC/OL/OY project with a Fuji X-Pro2 and 35mm f/2 WR.

Back in the days of wet photography, I always thought sticking to one film / developer / paper was at least as important as the camera ( not so important ) lens ( pretty important ) flash ( oh boy ).

I have the opposite exercise. I'm trying to see just how many different lenses, camera bodies and even systems I can use in one year and then, as a second exercise, see if I can remember the menus and function button settings for each...

Was a great idea when you were young, and necessarily could only afford one lens!

I went from a 58mm Helios on a Zenit B, to a 35 mm f2.8 Soligor, on a Spotmatic 500. From age 15 to 18.

But given the demographic of your readership, maybe a little too late........

All I could afford during my college years was a Minolta Himatic 7s. I couldn’t change the lens as it was fixed to the camera. But quite a few rolls of TriX taught me some good lessons on seeing and composition. It did have auto-exposure but I learned the sunny f/16 rule as a backup. Some of those photos hold up quite well, although the nostalgia factor helps them quite a bit.

Photographing products in the studio is where I spend much of my time with a camera. I stay with a 100mm (MF digital 44x33) for a similar reason. I am always looking for ways to challenge myself out of boredom.

I recently bought a Hasselblad SWC (older 1978 version with black T* lens). It is a remarkable camera and a unique Biogon lens. I have put three rolls through in less than a month.
If I want to use one film camera, one lens (you cannot change the fixed Biogon lens anyway) for one year, this could be it.

I’ve always admired people with the self discipline to carry out such a project. My scatter brained life is the typical ‘to many irons in the fire’ to complete any one thing. Closest I ever came to such an endeavor was more accidental than planned. In my early 20’s became completely enamored with a neat little half frame Olympus Pen viewfinder camera bought used about 1972. This was the real deal, the original Pen with completely independent manual selection of shutter speed, aperture and focus by scale. For months it was always with me loaded with Tri-X developed in Diafine. My poor lumpy old Miranda D just couldn’t compete with it’s slim seductiveness.

Most photographers have done OCOLOY for multiple years. That was when phones came with one lens. Zooming was just cropping for those cameras.

Back when Instagram was mostly a way to put cutesy filters on square crops of phone photos, I only used a single filter. You can call that learning a single film.

Now the flagship phones and even midrange phones have multiple lenses.


I attempted the Leica year. I had a double stroke M3 I got off eBay and a Zeiss 50mm f2 (Even used Leica lenses were too much money). It didn't change all that much for me since I learned how to see with a Nikon FM2 and 50mm.

If I could do it again, the only camera I'm really interested in doing it with is a Sigma DP2. But I really can't, since I need to document my kid's childhood. And boy howdy I am not good enough at that camera to keep up with a kid.

I try to do a LENTEN version every year, shooting during lent with the older CCD Ricoh GRD4, 28mme, in B&W only. I have to cheat for a week this year, to shoot the bulls in Castellon. Maybe I will take a page from Islam, and tack on a week after Easter. grin

All will the Q2 user stick to only one "focal length" though??? :-)

That was supposed to say "Ah, will the user of the Q2 only use one "focal length thought? :-)"

I have done this three times so far, though I cheated.
The first time was in 1980-81. I used a Pentax SV (no exposure meter..I didn't have one) and a Super Takumar 55mm f/1.8, on Tri-X rolls cut in the darkroom, and printed them myself. That was the most faithful, but I was only able to shoot over weekends.
The second time was in 2006, using a M6 and a 50mm f/2, on mostly Tri-X but sometimes on HP5 Plus or Tmax 3200. I did print most of them, but again, I took them as frequently as I could.
The last time was in 2013, using M9 and a 35mm f/2. This time I never printed, just converted them to bw and looked. I link a haphazard selection of these from 2013.

I wish someone had told me that back in 1979.

Mike, you have unwittingly outlined one of the better reasons for not buying terribly expensive (to mere mortals) equipment: it makes one feel uncomfortable, worried even, with a sense of responsibility towards it that does little to promote any love affair with creativity.

Perhaps Rambo would enjoy a slightly different perspective on this.

I spent one year shooting black and white film with a Rolleicord Vb. The pictures were used as backdrops for ersatz UFO sighting documentation. https://www.bobrosinsky.com/midcentury-ufos

Right from the start, I have been inspired by your OCOLOY series. Not that I have ever tried it for a year! My interests are too wide to never pick up a macro or telephoto lens for a year.

But over the years I have 'lived with': a nifty fifty on Canon 7D; a PanaLeica 25/1.4 on a Panny GX7; a pancake 14/2.5 Panny on an Oly E-M5 II; and most recently a very sweet 45/1.8 Samyang on my A7R III. Even a month of 'the practice' has yielded results for me, in my head and in my photos.

But I just want you to know that I'm sure I'm not the only one who draws inspiration from it without the full year of commitment, who has been influenced by it, and who wants to thank you for it because of the spirit of it not just the discipline. I might only have gained 10% of what a Full Committer would, but that is still a positive thing.


I started this project after reading your initial post and pretty much never stopped. I did eventually change bodies (M6 to M9 to M-P 240)

Good lord Mike, take that Reporter out there! It wants to be out there! It was made to be out there. I have a nearly ten year old M-P 240 that goes everywhere with me and has never skipped a beat. Soup be damned!

Has anyone seen the price of a Leica M6 recently they have gone crazy so if anyone had taken up your challenge and then left the camera in the cupboard it would have been a good investment as well as a great learning experience. Back you you proposed this I could have picked up a used Leica M6 for £800/900 now they are over £1600 here in the UK.

The miminalism and simplicity of OC/OL has always had an appeal for me but I've not felt able to commit to it in the past.

Now, with the desire to return to making simple photos for my own enjoyment - using film, as I used to do - I think this is a way to re-engage with the experience of stopping to look. I mean *really* look.

Some years ago I would carry an Olympus mju-II (Stylus Epic) with me everywhere and it was great fun; the only issue I had was not being able to control the aperture and therefore DoF. I eventually gave up and sold it. I've now dug out my OM2n, the 40mm f2 and a handheld light meter. I've taken far longer than I hoped to get through a 24-exposure roll of Ilford Delta 100 but I'm taking the camera with me more often now and enjoying the process, which is the most important part of it for me once again.

I'm surprised that Kenneth Tanaka either does not know the work of Henry Wessel or disregards his excellent, cohesive body of work. Almost all done with a Leica M4 with a 28mm lens.

Does OPOFLOY qualify as OCOLOY?
(1 phone 1 focal length 1 year)


One might find a glance at this ongoing eight-plus years project to be interesting, using a little Rollei and (mostly) cheap black-and-white film . . . https://rollei-35.tumblr.com/archive

Also mentioned on the Inspired-Eye site . . .

The Rollei 35 is one of the great cameras. :o)

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