4.26.2012

Everything has changed. Including the way we interface with our gear.

Sony a57.  85mm 2.8.  ISO 100 Jpeg. AWB

(warning: content may be too long for some readers).


As unbelievable as it may seem to readers of my blog and my friends here in Austin, there was a time when I would buy a camera system and hold on to it for years and years.  I’d squeeze every ounce of value from every body and lens and the only time we’d upgrade is when a camera or lens had given its all.  Or paid the “ultimate price” in the pursuit of getting an elusive image.  I still remember losing a Leica M lens in the first intake tank of a wastewater treatment plant.  We were on a gantry, high above the swirling tank and something jiggled the gantry just a bit re-triggering my thinly managed fear of heights.  I made the unconscious decision to grab a railing and the lens, caught mid lens change, flew out of my shaking hands and hit the “water” fifty feet below with a plop.  I grudgingly replaced the lens.  My assistant had been unwilling to dive in after it...

When it came to medium format cameras we might dip a toe in the rangefinder waters by getting a Mamiya Six or one of the Fuji “Texas Rangefinders”  but we wouldn’t think of getting rid of the standard,  our Hasselblad system.  That was the system that formed the imaging infrastructure of our business.  The 35mm cameras were for events.  The big ticket items were done with the top grade stuff.  After all, that gear was time tested and proven. We’d mastered it.

From an accounting point of view we’d always depreciated the gear because our accountants had a realistic expectation that we’d keep it and use it for five to seven years.  Getting it “on the schedule” was absolutely routine.  If we had free time to think about the nuts and bolts of photography that was generally a sign that we needed to get busy marketing or get into the darkroom to print up more candy for the portfolio.

What I’m getting at is understanding the historic mindset of trying to find the “ultimate” equipment for our photography and then working within the paradigm of using that carefully selected gear for a long time.  We anticipated many happy years of companionship.  And most gear did seem to have a useful life as long as that of a well cared for dog.

But the entropy of digital has shifted the way we think about every tool and workflow methodology now.  Accomplished artists move (by necessity)  from dye transfer to inkjet prints.  From big camera film to micro four thirds.  Adobe upends the production universe by pricing “to own” software, resident on your machine, sky high while offering to rent it to you at a lower price, in the “cloud.”

We’re moving from the 19th century concept that owning the tools of production is paramount to creating value and wealth.  We’re moving from a craft mentality which demanded a long and detailed mastery of all areas of a discipline into a post-craft world where the latest apps and styles take cultural precedence over perfectionism.  Witness “Instagram and be there!”

“You do not have to depend on any material possessions, they depend on you, you create them, you own the one and only tool of production.” — Dagny Taggart  (Atlas Shrugged).

When we first embraced digital cameras and digital processing we kept our ideas of long term ownership of our tools, and meticulous mastery of our craft as defined by the tools, because that was the paradigm we knew.  When Nikon came out with the first really useful professional digital camera, the D1X, we had no way of knowing that we’d be moving from a ten year or five year product cycle into and 18 to 24 month product cycle.  But we’ve made that transition.

Marketing pushed us to revere professional tools like Canon’s One Series of Cameras or Nikon’s “Single Digit D’s.”  The argument being that these tools were physically sturdy enough to stand the test of time.  But why should we care now if the shutter will click a quarter of a million times?  We’ll be on to the next great camera long before the little rivets shear loose and bang around inside those hallowed alloy interiors...

Instead, consciously or unconsciously, we’ve progressed to the point where I think each of us, hobbyist or professional, has come to grips with the idea that we’re on a continuous upgrade path.  It’s a path that looks a lot like ownership of computers.  To some extent we have to “keep up” or we’ll be shut out of the game entirely.  And it’s all interrelated. 
The willingness to upgrade almost certainly follows some sort of curve.  There are artists who crave more and more performance and who are chomping at the bit to buy the next piece of gear because they think it will move their art forward.  I think of my friends who shoot landscape.  Last year they were happy with their Nikon D3x’s.  This year they can’t wait to get their hands on a D800.  The extra pixels and the increased dynamic range are the lure.

Somewhere on that end of the curve are people like me who work for the fickle advertising markets.  Whether it’s driven by our clients or our own imaginations we’re always interested in the “next great thing.” Because, in part, we can use that in our marketing to our clients.  We can show them samples with higher resolution and better color.  If the awarding of a job comes down to a “flip of a coin” we might rationalize that having the more recent, and more able gear will give us some sort of advantage.  Even if it is realistically just the psychological advantage we accrue knowing we have at least one quantifiable base covered.

At the other end of the rampant acquisition curve you have the practical, rational, linear people who are still using Windows XP on a machine with a Pentium  microprocessor hooked up to a cathode ray tube monitor who are happy to use their original Nikon D100 because it “does what they want it to do.”  And who can logically argue with that?

I’m on a tangent of the curve.  I’ve given up caring much about raw performance.  I don’t have my name on a waiting list for a Nikon D800.  I’m not waiting for the Canon 1DX or wringing my hands because the D800 seems to pound on the Canon 5Dmk3 in all the “important” metrics.  I’m embracing the idea that all of this stuff is changing all the time and that there is no “ultimate” right or wrong choice among the 35mm style cameras.  The right choice is “whatever is really cool right now.”
We’ve often made allusion to our camera’s “just being tools.”  But I think we were looking at them like power saws or dremels.  I think they are more like paint brushes.  Where you might have one power saw for slicing through boards, and you would use different blades for different kinds of materials, the camera is getting to be more like the blades or paint brushes.  Each job really requires a different choice.

This has given rise to the multiple system ownership syndrome wherein a photographer, hobbyist, pro or dilettante now owns his “Serious Camera System” (SCS) which might be a big Canon or Nikon and a carefully selected collection of premium optics, as well as a smaller system and, at the third tier,  a compact, all purpose, small camera.

The smaller system will probably be one of the new mirrorless systems from Sony, Panasonic or Olympus, along with a secondary collection of fun new optics.  The rationale is that these cameras are for use where the bigger cameras might be too heavy or cumbersome; say when you are out for coffee and you’d like to carry a camera.  Almost every shooter I know, pro or not, is building two systems as fast as their credit cards will let them.  And overall sales numbers point to these cameras as the fastest growing niche of cameras outside of the cellphone camera world.

And finally, there’s the mini-mini’s.  The Canon S95 and S100.  The Panasonic LX-5 and  an ample sample of similar offerings.  The rationale here is that all of these (with some shoving and wrestling) will fit in a pocket and therefore be available for near instantaneous use at any time.  
But no matter which cameras we get we’re still trying to work in that paradigm of owning and mastering the tools for the long term.  I’m done with that.  I think our society is done with that.  Our willingness to work with apps in the cloud instead of applications on a hot rod machine is helping to fracture the paradigm.

I am accepting that all digital cameras are a nasty melange of processing chips and confusing technologies that seem at odds with anything lasting.  Three years ago the quality engineering logic was that fewer pixels on a given slab of sensor space would yield the least amount of noise and give us the most visual pleasure.  That’s now been turned on its head and DXO, and other experts, tell us that everything we thought was wrong and now the pursuit is maximum pixel density in order to get low noise.  But weren’t we just decrying how the marketers were duping the masses by selling cameras based on how many megapixels they had?  What will be next?  The admission that the chips haven’t really gotten much better but that the microprocessors and the software has gotten fast enough so that good processing in camera is no longer highly compromised by image/data throughput?

If you can process an image four times faster you could also process it four times better instead.  At least in theory.

It’s my assessment that we have moved from being imaging owners to becoming imaging renters.  We still buy  the cameras and lenses but, in the back of our minds we are at least entertaining the idea that the new camera in our hands will be transitory.  There’s a good chance that we’ll be attracted to something prettier and with more promise within a year.  And, we’ll push our old camera into a maturing reselling/recycling  pipeline and use the proceeds to welcome the new camera into our stash.

We’re in the middle of a very interesting sales cycle for cameras.  Canon, Olympus, Nikon and Sony have all launched new cameras very recently.  And now more than ever I hear the fever to migrate and “upgrade.”  People who told me just a few months ago that the D3x would last them, happily, for many years are now eager to tell me how wretched is was to have a camera with no sensor cleaner!  They are trying to move them out quickly, before the values drop.  Canon users have been given just about everything they asked in the refresh of the Canon 5Dmk3.  A more solid body.  Much, much better autofocusing.  Better and easier video.  A more robust construction.  And yet they seem unhappy because the grass looks greener, today, on the Nikon side of the fence.  Now they’re starting to grouse about not having enough megapixels.
The many, many micro four thirds fans seemed almost rabid to get their hands on an OM-D (EM-5), even though the EP3 is still fresh and fun.

And I had the Sony a77’s in my hands for less than a month before I started craving a new model that would deliver less noisy high ISO files.

And I’m hearing the same stuff I heard at the last round of camera purchasing, “The D800 will keep my happy for years!”  “The OM-D is finally everything I ever wanted in a m4:3 camera.
Given that we are never quite happy with our purchases how can we ever effectively sift through the calculus of defining our “ultimate” camera?

I wish we could just head down to the neighborhood camera store and rent the camera we want in the moment, and use it until the spirit moves us to try something else.  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to walk into a store and say, “I’d like a Leica S2 and the following lenses for the weekend.”  And have the clerk bring up a box with your requested camera gear, complete with batteries and charger. You’d use it and bring it back when you finished.  The next weekend you might be feeling sporty and you might want to rent a Nikon D4 and a few long, fast lenses to shoot Formula One from your Sky Box seat.  And so on.

We’d still have our every day cameras for our everyday photos but maybe we wouldn’t be so focused on finding the ultimate camera, capable of  doing everything, because we know rationally that such a beast doesn’t really exist.

I am now shooting with Sony SLT cameras.  You know, the funny looking ones with the pellicle mirrors inside.  Why?  Just for something different.  You’ve heard the saying, “Evolve or die.” ? I’m not so binary.  I like to say “Try new stuff.  You might find something you like better.”  I’m resigned to the fact that we’ll never be happy with our cameras for any length of time.  We’ll be anxiously wondering when that D900 or OM-Dx will hit the markets, just a few months from now.
  
Then again, maybe all the crazy people are right.  Maybe all we need is an iPhone and an internet full of filters.

48 comments:

Wally Brooks said...

Kirk:

Thanks for another great article. You are the only commentator i have read who even brought up the issues of low noise = fewer pixels and now that now is on its head. I find myself lusting after the D800e but is it worth it? my d 7000 works fine for the action shots and my 4X5 film camera still excels for B&W. ahhh if its shiny and has buttons i want one, don't need one, just want one!

Dave Jenkins said...

Whatever. Count me among the Luddites. (But I am going to get an OM-D because I'm nostalgic for my much-loved and long-gone OM system.)

Vu Le, DDS said...

My wife finally understands that there isn't one perfect camera, one perfect lens, and one perfect tripod that serves every conceivable need. Or maybe she has just given up.

No camera will ever be perfect, at least not for every situation. It takes as little as a minute or two to decide we want a new body. Then we go through the research, acquisition, discovery, euphoria, disappointment, resignation, and finally the upgrade phase. As long as there are things that must be compromised, and new permutations of compromise, the cycle will go on. And if our needs or situations change, the G.A.S. cycle accelerates.

Frank Grygier said...

I scored a new lens today. I needed a fix. How could I resist something called a summilux.I am now waiting on the news of another shipment. I hold my breath every time gmail pops up hoping for some sign the OM-D from Mt Olympus will fall in my lap. At this rate I will pre-order the OM-D X before I receive the OM-D. The OM-D has four more megapixels than my PEN. I fell for that one too!

kirk tuck said...

The Summilux has a week siren call that's hard for even the most resolute to resist. I couldn't do it. But it's wonderful lens. I have my fingers crossed that your camera lands tomorrow because I want to play with it before it is obsoleted next month by the "latest" announcement from Olympus.

kirk tuck said...

Vu, It's much more fun if you can trick your mind into thinking all the cameras are just rental equipment. Then it makes sense to turn it over for new stuff once the new stuff hits the market....

ovamode said...

Being a programmer I'm used to that constant selling/buying computers cycle. Now I only own a glorified P&S, a Ricoh GX200. When I'm curious about a camera or I'm traveling, I rent it - Fuji X100, Sony Nex-7 were the last ones. This weekend I'll have a Sony A65 with the 16-50mm f/2.8. No ownership now (although I'm craving to buy that X100, for a lot of illogical reasons).

Clay Olmstead said...

That's great: the seven stages of new camera fever.

kirk tuck said...

Embracing the OM-D instead of yet another big-ass Canon or Nikon body proves that your are NOT a Luddite in terms of technological acceptance. You are actually ahead of the cultural curve...

kirk tuck said...

ovamode, that's exactly the paradigm I was trying to describe. Be sure and let me know how you like the A-65 and the 16-50mm. Love your approach. You own the brain, all the rest is ephemeral.

Frank Grygier said...

Yes. The rumbling sounds from Mt Olympus are an omen. The hordes of Zuiko are preparing to unleash something that surpasses even the E-5.

Brad C said...

In a kind of opposite approach to the rental idea, I'm going with the idea I read in 'Paradigm of Choice': people are happier with a choice that they can't go back on. The trick is convincing myself that THIS TIME really will be the last time I buy a new camera :) I'm going from three systems to one - the one in the middle (MFT). Been just using MFT for a few months now. I just can't justify having two systems anymore. Sure they are pluses and minuses, but they ALL have pluses and minuses. Might as well settle for the one that works for me most of the time... We'll see how long I last!

Brad C said...

Whoops - 'Paradox of choice', not paradigm...

Bruce Rubenstein said...

My E-M5 showed up yesterday. For me the important thing is that the E-M5 is sort of a mutant DSLR, instead of a mutant P&S camera like the Pens. I configured the top dials to be like Nikon's where the front one is the main and the rear one is the sub. In Av mode the top front controls the aperture and the rear exposure compensation. I set the "video button" to go into ISO setting. So now I can adjust the ISO by holding down the button with my thumb and rotating the front dial. No menu, similar to Nikon. The 4-way buttons by default directly control the location of the AF sensor. Having direct control of the primary camera functions is huge for me.

The controls are much better than on my E-PL2. The IQ is better in enough ways to make it a worthwhile upgrade. If Olympus never came out with a camera that was substantially better than than this one, I wouldn't be upset.

Dave Jenkins said...

Don't really care much about the cultural curve. As my books demonstrate, I'm much more into the nostalgia curve. :-)

kirk tuck said...

Respectfully.....wanna bet?

Ken Hurst said...

More than once I've started to add comments in reply to your blog articles and then realized I've written an article that I should put on my own photography blog. Of course I never do though. Except until now maybe.

You bring up good points about the fleeting nature of the equipment we're using but I'm not as concerned about that as I am about archiving our digital images in the future. Multiple backups or not I always feel like I'm only a step away from years of work disappearing forever.

JGR said...

I'm still sticking to what I own. They work for me. Sure I would like the latest and greatest, but I worked too hard to lose my money invested in my current kit if I traded up. I would rather wait till the resale values drop, and then buy used. I still am amazed by the great color jpegs I get from my Olympus E-1, E-300 and even my E-10 (which I recently purchased for less than 10 percent of what it was new!)

organicdev said...

Something tells me this post was a bit inspired by my comment yesterday... You made the idea into a really deep and thoughtful piece. Great insights on the changing nature of tools and I fully agree, ideally we want to use things, we don't want to own them. Ownership is just a proxy for 'complete freedom to use it anytime'. Once this freedom is established by other means (instant rental access, the cloud etc), the need for ownership also disappears. The only, important, exception I can think of, is ownership for purpose of signaling status. You mentioned that and it's legitimate - you _have to_ impress clients.

I myself still have a mental yearning for a good enough all round tool though, and ownership for ease of access. I'd like simplicity, and I don't like re-adapting to new interfaces and other learning curves. I also intensely dislike buying things. Yes, it's true. I see cameras and watches in shop windows and I think 'This looks great! Thanks goodness I don't need it'. I am holding on to my G1 although I really would like something that can do the occasional ISO800 and that has better colors. I'd love a 5DMk3 - I crave the colors, I don't crave the resolution - but not the bulk or price. The GH2 isn't far enough ahead of the G1 IMO. So I wait and wait and wait for maybe a GH3 and I am getting annoyed at waiting. But I don't want to buy an OM-D or GH2 and re-sell it in 6 months. Weird, isn't it? I'm still too stuck up.

On renting: at least in Singapore, where I live, there's renting galore because Singaporeans for a long time have practiced what you wrote about: rapid fire buying and selling, usually hardly used gear, and now renting too. So now there's rental places to fill that need for novelty, and you can rent not just pro gear but any conceivable gear, NEXes, m4/3, you name it.

hugo solo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cidereye said...

Great post Kirk, we live in such fickle times right now sadly.

When I think back in time to the 1970's when the Nikon F, then F2 was *THE* 35mm SLR camera to get or lust after (I know I lusted longingly for one!)it was so much simpler.

Think back of how long a lifespan that body had? 1959-1980 (with really just a few modifications with the launch of the F2 in 1971), 21 years!!! Not the 1 year or 18 months cycles we see today. Why, even when Nikon launched the F3 back in 1980 so many pros just refused to upgrade as they trusted their old mechanical F2 and it did what they wanted it to do.

What a sad contrast to the throwaway society we seem to live in today?

Unknown said...

I'm a great believer in "Always use the right tool for the job." I think if I don't use it regularly, it makes more sense to rent it as needed. YMMV.

I don't own any Adobe software, but the PhotoShop pro I use has it all. I do my own video editing, a skill I learned on an upright Moviola, so I do own FCP.

I'm not particularly acquisitive, so I have no obsessive need for the latest-and-greatest. I'm sure your mileage does vary ;-)

I worked on a VW Rabbit TV commercial, where the spokesman was Reggie "Mr October" Jackson. He hit's the ball out-of-the-park, and turns to the camera and says: "I drive a Rabbit, because the only person I have to impress is me." I can identify with that.

Things I plan to buy this year include a Kapture Group adapter to put a (rented as need) digital back on my 4x5 Toyo and Reaper (a sound editing program).

So far this year I haven't seen any cameras that I really need, want maybe, but need no. BTW I rented a 5D3 awhile back, a great camera, but about 8 Oz heavier than I want to carry around all day.

c.d.embrey

Unknown said...

Yeah, we live in a Dixie Cup society, use it once and throw it away.

Ain't progress wonderful?

Dmitry said...

Thank you. A very clever and thoughtful article.

The Reluctant Rebel said...

Thanks for a great article Kirk .In spite of all of this new gear, a nice 8X10 still remains outside my reach.

tomt said...

I wish that instead of test charts some site like dpreview would compare the output of today's gear with gallery prints that have moved us. I'm guessing that a cell phone might be enough to capture Decisive Moments and that something less than a Phase One back could take on Half Dome. I'm completely ignoring talent, of course.

Dave Jenkins said...

Personally, I like to own things.

Don Schulte said...

Not even in 12 months time will the OM-D E-M5 (which I too am anxiously watching my email for a shipment notice) start to seem stale. It will show it's age against a competitor that provides less noise at a higher ISO, faster AF, a new shiny magic button, etc... the E-M5 we are lusting after will be... old. Not dinosaur old but just old and stale. It will take 18 months and then it will be dinosaur old. And in 24 months it will be quaint and "artsy". And I will be watching my emails for the wonderful new E-M9.

Bold Photography said...

I think I'm the single photographer that as you qualify the "almost" up there... as I'm not currently building that backup or #2 system. I just have no interest in maxing out any credit cards (especially the one I have that has no limit... yikes...). Yes, I do get tempted into thinking that I might need another camera body ... and I can certainly rationalize more lenses... but for what I end up actually doing, it's all I need. Do I want more/lighter/better? Of course....

I have been bothering the Precision Camera guys to team up with Lens Rentals to offer a better selection of stuff. They said that they've considered it, but have no room to put stuff in and nobody to help man it. I mentioned that staffing is easy to solve, and that the hire would pay for him/herself. But - they (Lensrentals) have an awesome selection of high end cameras, lenses, and other stuff that I'd LOVE to play with more regularly (and return) but do not because the shipping costs make the costs beyond the "like to play with" range. Yes, it's that high. Plus, I always rent high end stuff with insurance for the 'just in case' ... maybe they'll solve the space issue and do this. Something to bother Jerry about more...

FotoEdge said...

I am still awaiting my OM-D - On May 8th it will be 3 months since I preordered the camera. I do crave the built in EVF, although the VF2 has lived on my E-P3 since I bought the camera and works fine, It always is falling off in my camera bag and seems to want to slide off while I am walking and shooting. If only Olympus had just built it into the the first Pen Cameras, they would have more value to me. Also, the low noise at higher ISO abilities of the OM-D and the new Stabilizer are what have pushed my Button to move upward. I want a little more rugged body. I feel like we all have gotten stuck in the "Shopper's Channel on a Cable Station"!

Bruce Rubenstein said...

My satisfaction with what I have depends on how well it performs and my bank account. I'm at an age and point in my photography that I pretty much know what I need to shoot. I also shoot with the intention of making prints that are 12x16.

Digital has reached the point of diminishing returns (we both agree on that), so new gear will mostly be driven by funds and boredom.

Dogman said...

I still have the first Nikon F2 I ever bought new. I would still have the first Nikon F I bought prior to that except someone stole it. Lately I've been on a camera buying binge but it's not due to a race to obtain the newest technology. When a website brings up various camera models I'm sorta lost--I don't really keep up with all the scoop on the newest/best/most highly rated cameras. I've just been trying to replace my much-loved but no-longer-used Leica M6s. That got me into micro 4/3 Olympus E-Pens and that swung me toward the wonderful quality of the standard 4/3 Zuiko lenses made for the Oly DSLRs (that apparently are being abandoned by the company). So I'm taking a bit of a step backwards in technology just to buy a camera body or two so I can use the Zuikos on their native bodies. The new OM-D? Does nothing for me. Seems like a G1 with updated wiring. Canon 5D Mk(?)? I still have a 30D that produces good results and a newer T2i with more megapixels. I only use the Canons for the long lenses and high speed lenses anyway.

Upon looking at the bewildering array of gear other photographers were carrying, a photographer said, "You don't need all that s*** to take good pictures." It might have been Eddie Adams. Or not. I might just have been me.

RubyT said...

More than a year later my K-5 is still perfect. When I want something different I shoot with my MX or my PZ-1, because I like the way film slows me down. I don't even have LBA right now, but you have gotten me interested in looking into a small LED unit, for when the weather doesn't cooperate with me.

Totally agree with your point about renting. I have rented several lenses now and discovered that I didn't actually want to buy them after all.

John Krumm said...

Of course, word is from "reliable" sources than the GH3 is coming late summer, with weather sealing and other changes, so there's something else to wait for...

Unknown said...

"Upon looking at the bewildering array of gear other photographers were carrying, a photographer said, "You don't need all that s*** to take good pictures." It might have been Eddie Adams. Or not. I might just have been me."

I agree. I like primes and I don't like to change lenses, plus I won't carry a camera bag/backpack. So one camera and one prime works for me -- different prime on different days.

Here's a shot of Eddie Adams with four Leicas, one slung over each shoulder and two around his neck http://www.eddieadamsworkshop.com/who-is-eddie-adams/ and his total kit weighs less than one pro body and a 24-70mm f/2.8 ;-)

c.d.embrey

Unknown said...

c.d. - Actually I believe Eddie had Nikon and Leica rangefinders with 35 and 50 lenses, a reflex Nikon with a mild telephoto and I'm not sure about the fourth. I'm an old guy - actually ran behind Eddie here in Santa Monica as he was shooting the '84 Olympics street marathon. Wanting to imitate I wandered around with 2 Leica CLs and the standard 40mm and 90mm lenses. Those were indeed wonderful little SLOW SHOOTING, SLOW FOCUSING, SLOW METERING cameras - and a modern "pro body and 24-70 2.8 lens" outshoots the hell out of all four cameras and does NOT weigh more than four heavy metal Leicas. I love my old Leica, and I treasure all my film cams - thay just don't get much use. I'd never give up rapid autofocus and rapid shooting (remember winders and attachable motor drives?)and the ability to chimp.
Cheers!
Gabe

gaianautes said...

Hi Kirk, regular reading lurker here, compelled to comment for the first time. Beautiful article, it addresses all my concerns but solves nothing for me, unfortunately. I am a hobbyist, never finding enough time to use all the cams I have. I am so confused about what to do in terms of finding the one main digital camera for me, so I resort to buying another film camera instead although I hate buying stuff. My digital progress is slow and I am "young middle age". I hate post-processing and my digicam career is the sequence of Fujifilm F30-Canon S90-Ricoh GRD III. And thats it. Plenty of film SLRs and compacts, an old Rolleiflex and lastly a Hasselblad which after six months has yet to see its first roll by me. I deeply dislike the planned obsolence of digital products and yet, I really would like to settle on the one main digital camera that would last me for years. And you say this is old think. Which makes me want to opt out of digital photography for ever. Selling all my fun cams and and buying one film Leica and one 50mm lens is more tempting than ever.

Frank Grygier said...

Olympus has never announced that they are abandoning 4/3. These are sentiments of Olympus users propagated on forums. All camera manufacturers have been hit pretty hard by natural disasters and "not so natural" set backs. Olympus has been in the camera business for a very long time and I believe they will continue to offer cameras that make use of their wonderful 4/3 lenses.

kirk tuck said...

If you did buy a Leica Rangefinder and one of the 50's and sold everything else I imagine you would be happier. If I weren't shooting for clients I probably would have stayed with the Leica film gear I've owned never ventured into digital in the first place. And, the 50mm lens is my personal gold standard....

Ian said...

An insightful theory, Mr Tuck. The 'purchase as rental' paradigm is a logical progression of consumerism and may be a profitable business model. Marketing to wants rather than providing for needs, as is the nature of the enterprise.
Beyond that, the constant cycle of new models and upgrades, camera sales and new photographers, points to an all pervasive visual culture driven by photography. While it is probably easy to figure out where most of these photos end up, and what immediate purpose they serve, I wonder what it all means?
When we look back on this age (of photography) what will we say about how it has influenced human life generally? Will 'how we see' become all pervasive, beyond the written word, how we think about things.
Who can argue with a photograph? Whatever meaning it has is in the mind of the viewer, however the photographer has tried to make it mean something.

cidereye said...

Solid advice, I know it worked for me and has made me far happier using mainly an M6 + 50mm.

Trouble is once you become a 50mm addict you can then end up being such a fanatic you can't stop buying them. Still regret selling an Elmar a few years back as they are almost twice the price now. Mind, even el cheapo 50's like the Russian Jupiter 8 can give some really nice results on a Leica M. Yes for someone who once despised & under valued the 50mm perspective I admit I now fully understand and I am now addicted! :-)

Frank Grygier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
atmtx said...

Kirk, fantastic article. I'm certainly in the midst of building out that second level camera. Trying my darndest not to go to a third tier, point and shoot. I played with a Olympus OM-D yesterday. Will do my best to resist getting that one too, at least right now. It has the funky EVF thingy that I don't need or use.

Virtual Garrett said...

In the old days, you didn't need to replace your SLR to get improvements in ISO or color - you would simply switch to new filmstock. The following equation applies:

SLR + Filmstock = DSLR

SLRs were more flexible, and hence had a longer product life because improvements to existing gear could be had by simply switch film. And remember, the filmstock came from a highly competitive marketplace. No wonder DSLRs are perceived to age so quickly - it is a closed system that is no upgradable where it matter most, the sensor. (Ricoh owners insert comments here)

kirk tuck said...

I get the analogy, of course, but if it's just a film "look" or a "sensor" look you are after there are tons of aftermarket programs and apps that can overlay nearly every style you'd ever want. I think the comparison is apt only in terms of resolution and possibly (but only possibly) dynamic range. For everything else there's Nik products, SilverFX, DXO film Pack, etc. We love to rationalize that we "need" to upgrade and maybe we do but now it's all in the context of "renting" the cameras.

ovamode said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ovamode said...

Kirk,
FOA, thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience in your blog.
About the A65 with the 16-50mm - It's simply a great combo. I rented the Nex-7 2 months ago, so I was ready to expect great files, and I had the preconception the Nex-7 would please me more, but it's been otherwise.
The A65 is zippier, and the 16-50mm is superior to the Nex-7 kit, a bit on the heavy side, but so smooth to operate. Because I've been using only mirrorless cameras during the last 2 years, I found the A65 size and bulbous form surprisingly ergonomic, easy to memorize the buttons positions, forgetting about the camera and concentrate on shooting. It made me reconsider what is really the best camera size.
As you say, the EVF is the game changer, to me there is no going back to OVF, prechimping is really it (Being a Basque expatriate in South Florida I had to look in urbandictionary the meaning of chimping, hilarious).
You get used to the EVF so quickly that going back to a OVF feels like using a cell phone with no touch screen.

kirk tuck said...

ovamode, can you drop me an e-mail? My wife's family are Basque descendants and I thought I'd ask a question of two. If you prefer your anonymity I understand.