7.22.2013

Why architects put reflective glass in the windows of big buildings...

Self portrait.

I thought we'd get right down to best practices and stunning technique in this particular post. As you may know I've been auditioning the Samsung NX300 at the request of their U.S. public relations agency and while this is certainly not intended as a review or even mini-review of the camera itself I will say that the jpegs files I get from the camera are exemplary. Sharpest in their class and also very good (though understated) in contrast and overall tonality. When I add contrast in post the files smile, and when I add a little saturation to the same files I smile even more.

But what I'd like to call attention to today is my stance and the way I am holding the camera. I have tried ATMTX's suggestion to "Use the Force.." and just stick my arms out in front of me with the camera at the end of a long set of shaky levers but it's really a non-starting solution; an attempt to make a bad ergonomic situation just a little better. I'm talking about the fact that the camera has no EVF nor any potential to add an EVF and one finds oneself falling back on what we call, "The Stinky Baby Diaper Hold" and all of the missteps that entails....from a physics point of view. Why the arm extension? Chalk that up to being over 40 and needing the almost universal reading glasses...

Classic "stinky baby diaper hold" but without the little hipster hat...

But I am using the camera with, for me, great success. I basically take along my Hoodman Loupe and press it against the back of the camera in order to compose. The loupe blocks out extraneous light which means that I can really evaluate an image or preview under bright sun, in the field. And more importantly it allows me to press the whole package to my face with my arms in a much more physiologically stable posture which presumably gives me more consistent and controlled compositions with much less camera movement.

Here's how I do it....



Unless you have the eyes of a fifteen year old and have never known the sybaritic pleasures of well made coffee there is no way that the SBDH can hold a candle (or much of anything else) to the correct hold on your camera.

But if you must do the stinky baby diaper hold, or the radioactive cellphone offset hold, you might want to complete the ruse by adding another prop/accessory, the SBDH utility gloves. Available in most sizes and ready to hold steady any non-EVF imaging toy or tool. Or use in the changing of stinky diapers.  (See below).


Seriously, I like the NX300. I really do. But why Samsung chose to go with a camera that doesn't have the option of an Electronic Viewfinder mystifies me.  Thank goodness for the Hoodman Loupe. I guess since the camera is mine I could super glue the loupe to the back but that would defeat the whole idea of the touch screen. Another first world concern...


21 comments:

Lanthus Clark said...

I have these new multifocal glasses and it took some time for me to work out how to see anything at all through a normal viewfinder. I would have to start from scratch with a loupe... maybe I'll steer clear of this camera then. Thanks for the warning Kirk, great public service you provide!
:-)

Frank Grygier said...

The Samsung needs a nifty Hoodman mount. Something like this would do:http://www.idcphotovideo.com/store/the-fauer-finder-sony-nex-5

Paul Wegemann said...

I find my Hoodman loupe invaluable in many situations, but I frequently forget to bring it along. Since I already have a strap on the camera though, I simply put the strap around my neck, then pull the camera forward against it. This provides much needed stabilization and counteracts the effect of all the coffee I drink!

Arthur Locke said...

This company seems to specialise in this sort of accessory: http://www.kinotehnik.com/products/lcdvf/overview

Much less expensive models are available on the web, mainly from Hong Kong, but all of these options detract from the concept of a pocketable camera.

Dave Jenkins said...

There are too many other good cameras around. Using the Samsung is just not worth the trouble.

Joe Gilbert said...

All you're missing with the Hoodman is a pirate hat! Fun read..

Claire said...

Kirk, seriously ? There is a middle ground between "at arm's length" and "to the face" !! Whenever I either shoot a camera without an EVF, OR chose to shoot my NEX 7 from the LCD, I just tuck (no pun intended) both elbows firmly to my sidesand steady the camera this way. Works wonders, gives a clear shakeless view of what your doing and results in non blurry pictures. Try it ;)

soulnibbler said...

but but there is the nx25 and maybe a nx35 by now that have a very similar sensor and an EVF.

Anonymous said...

Since i have a NEX 6 I would never buy a Cam without VF - missing VF changes a good cam into a stupid one :-(

James Pilcher said...

Kirk: Do you put the loupe up to the camera each time you consider a photo? Have you looked into the Cinema Strap accessory that attaches the loupe to the camera? Hoodman's product photo shows it on a DSLR, but it might work with your Samsung. It makes the camera bigger, costs an extra $25, but eliminates the fiddly-ness of the unattached loupe.

Then again, a properly designed camera seems like a better idea from Samsung.

Now I'm waiting for your E-P5 impressions!

Anonymous said...

Well, I might use the Samsung as-is indoors if someone gave it to me, but never outdoors without a Hoodman loupe. Serious cameras should have viewfinders. Tom Barry

Anonymous said...

I think it's the "over forty" part he mentioned that means either having a viewfinder with proper diopter setting, or sticking that camera out far enough that our old eyes can actually focus on the monitor. I'm in the same spot Kirk is--even with reading glasses just about surgically implanted to my head, they're never where I want 'em when I need 'em, and it's a pain to try to use a monitor at "non-reading" distance. Oh, to be 20 again--or even 35! So, loving that X100.

dd-b said...

I really need to work up a proper rant about people who are wedded to the miniature-camera habit of trying to hold the flat back of the camera up to their curved, bumpy, faces, and hope to get any kind of stable hold that way. As we know, users of serious cameras, including medium format and large format, generally do NOT hold the camera up to their eye to focus or compose (yes, you can get prism viewfinders for some medium-format cameras).

And now I see, perhaps, part of your problem: you're not taking advantage of the tools you have for holding the camera stably with the LCD visible. Instead of leaving the strap dangling (and serving as a swinging pendulum to disrupt stability), keep it around your neck. Pull your elbows into your gut, and push the camera out against the strap. You now have a series of tension triangles in several dimensions, holding the camera quite stably (in my tests, more stably than I can hold a camera by trying to pull it into my face--and I've been doing low-light photography for 40 years).

Kirk Tuck said...

Sadly, dd-b, you are wrong. All small cameras should have built in or add on viewfinders. If we were shooting large format today, as my friends at various museums do, we would have them tethered to big screens and locked down on tripods. The whole benefit of the small, hand camera should be in the handling. And that requires a finder. Besides, if you pull your elbows into your gut there's no way most seasoned practitioners can focus on the screen....

Anonymous said...

Oh, dd-b, don't start him up on this one again. He's a luddite when it comes to using rear LCD screens on small cameras. Just unbudging. But the sad truth is that he's right. To paraphrase a commenter on an older blog, "The baby Jesus cries bitter tears when we hold our cameras out at arm's length."

John Kupersmith said...

I wear SuperFocus glasses (wonderful!!! but that's another story), and frequently use a Hoodman Loupe in the way that Kirk describes here. I set the SuperFocus lenses to infinity, then fine tune my view of the camera's LCD with the diopter adjustment control on the loupe.

Everyone's eyesight is different, but this works pretty well for me. It's much like looking through a regular viewfinder, except there's a additional piece of gear involved. I've tried strapping the loupe to the camera, but find it easier to just wear the loupe around my neck.

dd-b said...

I started shooting with SLRs a bit over 40 years ago now, so I have some sympathy with the older crowd. I had to get reading glasses back in 1999; but now, with the progressive bifocals I use when shooting, I can see the back of the camera well enough at that distance, or anything close to it.

One of the handling benefits of a small camera is being able to shoot from different heights and angles easily -- without necessarily having to get my face up or down to those levels! It also lets me shoot without interposing the camera between my face and the subject, which can help me keep human interaction going better.

On the rare occasions I go out into the Big Room, I've encountered (rarely) situations where the lighting washes out the LCD screen badly enough to be a problem, but there are lots of ways to work around that.

(I do still shoot a camera with optical viewfinder, too; the D700 does pretty well for Roller Derby, hugely better than my EPL-2, and of course is also much better in low light situations.)

Kirk Tuck said...

Aha. I knew it. Just as I said....out in the sun the viewfinder less pretense is rent asunder!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, there is an entire generation of photographers that have never used a camera without a viewfinder. They think the SBDH is the normal and correct way to hold a camera. Just spend a little time on a mirrorless camera forum and see how many people say they'll NEVER own a camera with an EVF, because composing on the screen is so much better!

They don't understand (and refuse to understand -- witness some of the comments above) the physics of hanging a camera out at the end of a moveable lever (their arms).

The buyers Samsung is aiming this camera at don't know any better, so why spend money building in the circuitry necessary to drive an EVF?

Anonymous said...

For myself the stability isn't much of an issue... but I don't hold any camera at arms length. LCD backs work fine for me around 4-5 inches from my face and I find it slightly more stable than an OVF or EVF because the angle of my arms doesn't come back in towards my body, so it is a triangle shape with my arms perpendicular to the ground, whereas it is tilted back towards me with and OVF or EVF. I've never seen anyone shoot arms length for a normal angle shot (not trying to get really high or low angle)... almost sounds like a straw man argument or that the lcd crowd isn't doing a good job of communicating how they are actually shooting? But then again... they probably are dumb people that shoot that way, I just don't know them. Maybe for some people their vision won't let them focus that close? My eyes are both -6.5 but with glasses or contacts I do fine with the lcd, also the ovf or evf is a pain with glasses on... I think it would still be nice to have an evf on the nx300 though, because I agree that bright light can be a problem and an evf would have been much more compact than a loupe.

Anonymous said...

To clarify my other comment a bit further (yeah, same anon). I hold lcd screens pretty much how Kirk is in the picture with the loupe, only without the loupe. I should get one though, maybe in Spring, there aren't that many sunny days left this year where I am.