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Tuesday, 20 December 2022


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I proactively took your advice and just (last week) bought a Q2. It's a wonderful camera. Now looking at the Monochrom... It never stops...

Sorry about the ellipses.

It is absolutely true that good guitars are easier to play than poor ones, and therefore especially useful for beginners. One of the key reasons is the “action”, which is the space between the strings and the neck. Too large, and it’s very difficult to press the strings properly to make clean sounding notes; too low and the string will contact unintended frets (the metal bars that go across the neck and delineate specific notes) and make an annoying buzz. An experienced player will have developed calluses on their fingertips making it easier to press down the strings as well as the finger strength to push them forward; a beginner has neither of these.

It’s much harder to make a guitar where the strings are positioned just right. But modern manufacturing technology including CNC milling equipment has made the price point of an easy-to-play and good sounding guitar relatively lower than many years ago.

I believe that many people start with mediocre equipment because they’re not sure they will continue with the activity and are afraid of investing too much for something that will shortly be relegated to the back of a closet.

In the case of guitars, once you pass a certain quality level, it becomes increasingly difficult to detect the operational advantages of a more expensive instrument. An experienced player is more likely to notice these subtleties. And unlike digital cameras, a good guitar is likely to be useful for your lifetime with no loss of quality.

The only thing that improves your photography is taking photos.
The only thing that keeps you interested is (imho) printing the photos.
I hated inkjet printing and all its problems - inks, printer, paper, colour profiling and so I always used a lab to print.
This Xmas my wife has bought me a EPSON P700 and I bought myself Imageprint and some Fineart Baryta paper and a complete set of inks.

Regarding cameras my first professional qualification had a 12 image portfolio and the president of the association asked me what camera I used (it was a canon 10D when everyone else was medium format and hassleblads etc), I took it badly and as he reeled back from me and apologised. Another member of the judges quickly added he should have told you you passed first. I later won the national photographer of the year and my portfolio included some images from my wife's tiny point and shoot. Professionally you need top quality equipment as you cannot afford to have equipment problems.

Totally different but does anyone else start laughing when they see a film which a has a pack of photographers jostling to take someone's photo and their cameras/flashes are basically anything that could be found.

I never used film professionally. My kit started with Canon 10D (the one the president asked about), Canon 20D, Canon 5D,5D mkII, Canon 1DsMKII. Currently Fuji H1 and an xt1.

Can we have the link to the T-shirt Please!!

I'm not sure the golf club comment is applicable to acoustic guitars, at least insofar as good ones are 'easier to play'. There are a number of adjustments one can make to an acoustic guitar to change the way it feels, plays and sounds: string gauge, nut and saddle height, and neck relief. The acoustic guitar analogy could be better suited to cameras; people might do well to stretch to a 'good' one when starting out to avoid later 'gearheadism' over quality of sound / image, construction, materials etc, (rather than any sense of ease in the hands). In any case, I would think it rare to find anyone with hobbies such as these with a single camera, guitar or set of clubs that they master and use for life!

My objective has always been to own a camera that is slightly better than I am. That's how I learn -- I grow into it.

Sort of like buying a sweater for a 12 year old.

I guess that’s one of the benefits of film, and why I got a Leica M6 + 28/2.8 asph early on, and don’t skimp on the film stock (Portra400, Tri-X). There will never be anything better than that, ever. Any disappointment is on me. So just go out and make art.

However, you do need to know that that’s the kind of photography you want to do. If you want to do slow, considered landscape photography from a tripod and print really big… you need a different tool. So I believe that’s why beginners don’t shell out for the good tools, because if it turns out you don’t like golf after one season, custom fitted clubs don’t sell on very well.

Open your browser and click on Ctrl-H to get the history. Search for Youtube or Vimeo (or whatever you were watching it on) and it should reduce the history list to something manageable so that you can find the video.

Apropos professional gear for beginners I once knew a guy who made violin bows. He said the best bows were used only by the best players as they were the ones experienced enough to get the best out of it. An average player or beginner wouldn't be able to.

I have two friends that provide something of a counterpoint when learning a new skill or hobby. One buys the absolute best tools she can afford (often more than she can afford) but then finds she doesn't care for the craft and gives up for lack of interest despite the investment she's made. Another friend who buys the cheapest tools he can to get started but finds them frustrating to use which ends up encouraging him to abandon a craft he would otherwise enjoy. Then there's me who buys cheap, sticks with it, and eventually ends up on a constant upgrade path that ultimately costs much more than if I had just bought good tools in the first place. I'm not sure who's worse off in this scenario, honestly.

I agree with your comments about it being easier to learn skills on better equipment. I am a keyboard player, piano, ‘classical’ organ and was very fortunate to spend my formative years practicing on Steinway pianos and three or four manual organs.

Once you have played the best musical instruments, it’s easy to play pretty much any keyboard, (although I draw the line at ‘baby grand’ pianos, which I find uniformly awful).

I am reacting to the post and a comment re progression of cameras.

My list (excluding misc P & S along the way) is Canon A1 (film),10D,20D,skipped 30D,40D,5d,5d2,Sony a7,a7R3,Fuji 100v (a mistake) and currently a7RV.

The Canon 5d and 5d2 were ergonomically, for me, close to perfection. I am glad to say that the Sony A7RV is close to 99% perfect. Seriously happy. The only little tweak I would like is a synch speed of 1/400 and/or faster sensor read speed.

I totally agree that the 'tool' needs to feel comfortable in your mind and in your hand. I am so pleased I can now configure my main camera to match my needs, can avoid the menu system after the initial setup and can enjoy manual focus or superb autofocus, with a small pancake lens or a serious telephoto.

I never mind spending money on good tools. There is satisfaction in their use and in the results they produce.

This summer I was at a large flea market in the countyside in northern Sweden, with pretty much everything I had never wanted to own brought together under one roof; cracked teapots, scratched records by the most forgotten artists, old magazines that nobody wanted to read. You know. But suddenly I could feel a stare in the back of my head from a shelf full of dysfunctional Kodak Brownies and Instamatics. I turned around and there it was, my first SLR-camera from when I was 14 back in 1980. A well kept Chinon CE 4S with possibly the sharpest 50 mm lens I have ever used. To buy or not to buy? Well, I didn,t need another 35 mm camera, but this was number 1! So, before anybody changed my mind, I grabbed the Chinon and rushed to the checkout. 40 swedish money or about 4 dollars. How could I not buy it? As it showed, all that was needed was a set of batteries to get it going again. And photographing is more fun and satisfying after than before. The results are equal to those from my Nikons, maybe a bit sharper though. 4 dollars well spent.

I would put the Fujifilm X100V almost in the same segment as the Q2.

"It's got a fixed 28mm lens, same as the basic focal length on many smartphones so it will be familiar,"

I have mentioned this before, but I don't have a smartphone, never have had, so the only reason I would be familiar with a 28mm lens is that I have been shooting with the Ricoh GR etc series for years. Grin

(We are not all the same),


[True, but pretty close. 97% of American adults own cellphones of some kind and 85% own smartphones. Respective percentages for adults who earn $75k+ are 100% and 96%. Smartphone ownership surpasses ownership of all other computing devices. Adults 18–29 and 30–49 are also 100% for cellphones. The only other group who score 100% for cellphone ownership are Hispanics. (Pew Research figures, 2021.) Plus, not all phones have 28mm-e main lenses, but lots do. --Mike]

Your argument makes sense to a certain point, but we've both seen too many tests of indistinguishable results from Leica and 'lesser' cameras. In the analog days, one could definitely argue that Leica made cameras to last your entire journey, their digital counterparts... not so much.

I finally bought a used Exc Cond Leica Q at half price- only because Fujifilm's 28mm equivalents were either underperforming or overly large for my tastes (and sometimes you do need a proper viewfinder that the optically excellent GR does not provide). The Q (naturally) produces excellent quality images, although to be honest, only marginally better than the crop sensor 16 megapixel GR- it is one sexy beast however, something the GR can't ever aspire to (its anonymity also one of its strengths).

It's always good to research possible purchases as much as possible, when you're a newbie though, it's harder to foresee what you'll need and use most. It's a marriage that you grow and learn with, sometimes for a lifetime and sometimes...

I’d sure be happy to find one under the tree.

If I had the $$ this is the one I would buy. (Side note. Only Leica could charge $285 for a spare battery and $115 for the strap.)

Regarding T-Shirts, I own and wear this one: https://a.co/d/7p9qGL7

As for buying good gear (cameras, guitars, etc) for learning the skills, this practice precludes the student from rationalizing his slow progress or failure to get good results: blaming the tool.

"Adults 18–29 and 30–49 are also 100% for cellphones."
They must have missed me. I'm in the middle of the older age bracket and have never owned a cellphone. I can afford one, and I am not generally tech-avoidant (although I also don't use social media), but I have zero desire to get a cellphone. I will say that it gets harder over time to not have one (e.g., online banking), and speaking the words "I don't have a cellphone" in public causes folks to look at me the same way my dog looks at me when I try to hold a conversation with her.

Regarding the purchase of quality tools, there is another option in the introductory/trial phase and that is renting. At the beginning of the pandemic my wife decided to fulfill her long-term desire to learn to play the cello. She started by renting a decent cello for six or nine months to make sure that she actually enjoyed the lessons and practice involved, after which she found an independent luthier in our region from whom she bought a decent quality used cello. Lets call it a Nikon D700-level cello; pretty good, not the newest or flashiest, but better in some ways than the cello she had been renting. We found the process quite interesting as he was an older (70s?) fellow who seemed to enjoy talking about his work and the dozens of instruments under repair in his shop. We ended up spending over an hour with him and he asked lots of questions about her experience and goals with the cello and used that information to help her select from his stock. She recently returned for a tune-up, new strings, and a better quality bow.

@ George W: I certainly don’t have a single guitar; I have many, some of which are well suited to specific types of music and others that I just happen to like to look or feel of. However, every guitar I have bought since I started buying quality instruments around 1980 is still “current” in its it’s ability to produce quality and professional results (limited only by the skills of the guitarist), and is likely to do so long after I am gone.

The same cannot be said of digital cameras from that era (there were none). I can’t say much about golf clubs, as I’ve never owned any.

But even if they should not buy a "starter" camera, should they really buy a Leica? A Leica is just another camera maker. Sure, they only make the top end model, but why shouldn't one buy a top-end Nikon?

Plus for cameras, it is not as if fit is correlated with expense. Last I checked, you couldn't spend extra to have a camera with a custom molded grip. If you buy a camera without a grip, sure you can 3d print one and glue it on.

I can see not buying a plastic fantastic Olympus PEN on deep sale, or a Nikon D3100. But then the answer is an Olympus e-m5 or a Nikon D7600. (Assuming that the size and lens options are right for the user). They should spend maybe 3-4x more. Not 12x!

Is this the lovely camera that Kirk Tuck reported does not let you set various aspect ratios? That is an odd oversight.

My journey, under the tutelage of some great photographers-from my analog Pentax at age 13, to a Nikon F2 at age 24, with a slow acquisition of beautiful lenses; my Nikon D-700, first DSLR, followed by fantastic prime lenses. And, seven years ago, as I got tired of hefting all those lenses, the wonderful Fuji X-100T. “If only I had THIS camera with a full frame sensor and some weather proofing!” And that’s how I came to my Leica Q2, two months ago. I grew into it, sharpened my skills, learned what worked and what I needed. It seems a bit crazy to START with the Q2; but I have counseled someone to try the Fuji X-100 series on for size as a budding photographer-high quality, easy to use, one GREAT lens.

I think good tools always help. But I am going to play the contrarian and say that I think "good enough" is the beginners' standard, and I'd be hard pressed to name any interchangeable lens camera these days that isn't good enough with which to start taking pictures. In fact some of the top-o-the-line cameras these days have menu systems that are so bafflingly detailed that their design reads more like an act of cruelty than an engineering triumph. But I digress. . .

I started out photographing with a Pentax K1000 and a 50/1.7 lens. It was fine. At the time (mid-1980's), more money spent meant more automated exposure and the possibility of an add-on motor drive. So you could have spent a lot more at the time (like 7x, if I had had the scratch, which I definitely did not) on a Pentax LX or a Canon F1 or a Nikon F3, but it isn't clear to me, even with hindsight, that my early photographic efforts would have been better with any of those cameras.

Ironically, the LUX choice at the time (at 10x the Pentax K1000 price) was the Leica M6, which had exactly the same controls and shutter speeds available as the Pentax K1000. Where the K1000 and the M6 differed was in the durability and handling of the basic design (and the all-powerful rangefinder . . . although for a beginner? It is a pretty abstract advantage, although one I eventually came to believe in).

Bottom line: the K1000 was relatively inexpensive, robust enough, simple enough in its design that it was a suburb learning tool, despite the fact that it wasn't the most expensive, most durable, or even the most flexible tool that the capital "P" Photography Industry was producing at the time.

I did become something of a gear-head, although I'll chalk that down to gender and temperament and not being led down that path by the lowly K1000 per se. I wound up after five years using the K1000 with a good working knowledge of light metering and the basics of exposure -- at least enough to coach my current techno-wonders into the performance I expect today.

Would I have liked a Contax or a Leica at 18? Sure, but in retrospect (and having owned a LOT of cameras over the past 40 years) I am not sure that isn't the current gear-head talking (Chicken? Meet Egg.)

Post-Script: I wound up trading in the K1000 and buying an LX in 1989 and heading off to a country that had no Pentax distributorship to work for a small newspaper. The LX's rewind crank fell off somewhere, and all of its Lux-y features were swamped by having to find a series of closets and dark bathrooms in which to change my film. There is no question that the LX was a better tool than the K1000 in many, many ways. But due to a minor manufacturing defect (or perhaps fate) that wonderful electronic shutter, the superb automatic metering, the interchangeable finders and so on (all the things that made it a better tool than its humble predecessor) really didn't amount to much.

Just two cents from left field.


Maybe if it had a 40mm lens, but 28mm? Even if it did, Veblen Goods are to be shunned on principle. :-)

Elaborating on what @Koen and @Benjamin commented above, most photographic tools are good enough, and ones that are better are often adapted to a specific purpose.

Like Benjamin, I learned on a fully manual SLR film camera, and I never thought it was the camera's or lens' fault that my photographic vision was or wasn't realized. I tried using nicer medium and larger format cameras, and found them harder to use and harder to get results I wanted.

Leica's were 35mm film cameras that were relatively small and used a rangefinder with a leaf shutter. 35mm film and pocketable cameras was their contribution to photography. The "rangefinder" was a military development that was used to estimate the distance to targets, but also worked for a kind of rough focus. Leicas were good for street photography where a Pentax 67's thunderous clack might startle people.

If you liked this design, the Japanese and even the Russians could have supplied you with rangefinders that were anywhere between 80%-105% as good. The Minolta CLE was arguably the best Leica of its time.

You didn't need the attention to detail and the artisanal and hand-crafted aspect that Leica brought to enjoy your photography. These were high-end flourishes for people who could afford them, and were in no way essential for the enjoyment of photography.

After all, there were better solutions for just about any sort of specialized photography. For example, you would never see a Leica in a studio and Ansel Adams didn't take his famous national parks series with them.

Now, Leica is one of the only if not the only manufacturer that still makes digital rangefinders preserving the historical design they made famous. But is it really advantageous if you haven't grown up using the film versions? I don't think so.

The Leica Q is not necessarily the best camera. It depends on the situation and what you're trying to photograph. Moreover it's not necessary to own any kind of Leica to enjoy photography. There are very capable cameras from Sigma, Fujifilm and Ricoh that are good alternatives.

If I were recommending a camera for a beginner it would be a used Canon M or Canon 5D Mk3 with Magic Lantern software https://magiclantern.fm/. The money saved could be used for lighting equipment, specialized lenses, or travel to interesting places. After all, the camera body is arguably the least important part of photography.

The benefit of nice starter gear also applies to children's bikes in my opinion.

A better quality, smoother running, significantly lighter and better geometry bike makes a huge difference in a child's speed of riding a bike competently, as well as keeping the enjoyment of cycling going.

An Islabike for example will be maybe 3kg less than an equivalent supermarket bike of the same size, and for a 3/4 year old weighing 15kg, thats a large percentage of their bodyweight. An 8kg bike thats over 50% of their bodyweight is likely to be a struggle to pick up and a bigger barrier and frustration to learn to use.

I had to de use to buy my last camera - m10 or 907x as my retirement gift to myself. Finally Hassey won because it is more versatile. Guess this is the exact opposite. Not sure it Ks right or not.

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