PhotoPlus Gear - Follow Up

My little rant yesterday on the state of affairs at PhotoPlus may have been a little over the top and a little too anti-gear. Let me clarify just a bit of my thoughts briefly. As photographers we all share a special relationships with the tools that allow us to make images. I admit this freely. If your camera doesn't feel good you will not be at your best when using it. If you don't get along with it very well, it is not going to be a productive relationship. Using different cameras causes you to make different images. It really does. You have no choice in many many cases. In other cases this might be a bit more subliminal but there none the less.

In this context I was not at all critisizing the denizens of the show. I was just amazed that the conversation always went towards gear. Gear that in my mind did nothing to help me in 99% of the images that I desire to make. There was nobody talking about how anything at the show related at all to their endeavors as a photographer. They were talking about the gear in isolation. As something to be discussed as an ends in and of itself, without context.

Does everyone else really shoot 5, 8, 10, 12 frames per second a lot? Do they need more speed in order to be capable of dealing with their chosen subject matter? Is image quality only measured by the degree of magnification you get when you hit Option+1 or the "Z" key? Does the degree of noise when you shoot images in really really dim crappy light matter that much? Do people really care that much about dim crappy light?

Maybe I am the odd man out here but I have a really good idea about how I want images that I actually care to make look. I have a reasonable idea of what makes me comfortable when I shoot. I have some parameters as to the image aesthetics I desire. I don't think my chosen subject matter is that far off from a large portion of photographers out there. I don't shoot sports, wildlife, or anything really far away. I don't have any reason to shoot in the dark. I like to shoot things relatively close - usually people. I like window light and a few other situations. I know what the exposure equation is. I like small very large aperture lenses. I like solid, small cameras with simple controls. I like big viewfinders. I can take or leave autofocus becuase in my 3-9 foot range (vast majority of the time) autofocus at wide apertures is really not that useful and in most cases counter productive.

I feel really let down by camera makers. They make no digital products anywhere near a reasonable price that I am interested in. Almost without fail they all make the same camera over and over and over and over again. They look the same, they act the same. They are too too big, the sensors are too small to render images the way I like to see them unless I want an even bigger camera. Noise at crazy ISO,s has gone down and image magnification ability has gone up but generally speaking the image quality that I care about in terms of aesthetics is wholely lacking with the exception of crazy big and crazy expensive products.

Where a camera similar to a digital FM/FE? Where are small light reasonibly priced large aperture lenses? Either crazy expensive or boutique crazy expensive. I can honestly say that I have own not one digital camera that I liked in any way better than most of my film gear. Not one. Too big, too ugly, too heavy, and with minor exceptions (which do not apply to subjects I am interested in) not one helped me in any way to make images that I couldn't make before. Not one produced images that I found as aestetically pleasing without a lot of messing around in post let alone "better". We are all a decade into "product maturity" and the glow and hope has worn off for me. I am convinced we will get less diversity in design and features rather than more. I am convinced anything that remotely interests me will be priced so far into the stratusphere if they are available that they will make no sense for me to persue.

My reaction to PhotoPlus was to immediately purchase these as soon as I got home. One of them was actually purchased while I was still in NYC.

A silver OM-1, a silver OM-1n, a black OM-1, two black OM-2's - on an "n" the other a bit older. All of them work fine, the 28mm, 50mm f1.8, 50mm f1.4, and 135mm all came with the cameras and included the little Olympus lens cases as a bonus. I spent about $150 for the lot of them. Why Olympus? Well I already have enough Nikon gear to last me 3 lifetimes, same goes for Hasselblad and I have always love the OM system for it's tiny dimensions and giant (not so much with the OM3/4) uncluttered viewfinders and figured I would corner the market before everyone else figured out the digital tread mill blows and the promised land sucks.

I am seriously thinking on doing an available light workshop - I know it sounds kind of lame but have been surprised by how little experience people have at using available light. I put up a post on window light a year ago and joked about a workshop. A half dozen folks have contacted me about participating.

Of course I would not make film a requirement but I am thinking about having a bunch of film cameras available with giant aperture lenses and springing for a roll of portra for anyone that would like to try it during the workshop.

Anyone else interested in a workshop focusing on the subject and using available light creatively? Would it be cool to try out some film in a simple vintage camera while you were there or is that just dumb?


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