Thinking about how much more complicated photography has become.

The actual act of taking images has become easier and more complex. On one hand we've got digital cameras that interpret the scenes in front of them instantly. But getting to that point means making choices about how your camera is set. If you have a camera with a complex menu, like the Olympus OMD EM-1 you may have hundreds of possible settings that you can make ranging from noise reduction to color characteristics, the method of focusing, the method of dealing with tonal slopes and so much more. Will you use art filters? Are you looking ahead to making HDRs? How will you set the camera to bracket? Then you have the standard issues of color profiles, color temperature, contrast, saturation and basic exposure. Will you save the images as Jpegs? If so, at what compression and how large? Will you save them as raw files? If so which program will give you the best conversions? Have you tried all the raw converters that are out there? Are you sure you selected the right one? Just because Capture One worked best for your Nikon D800 doesn't mean it's the right one for, say, your new Canon 5Dmk3....

Oh, but wait! What lens will you use? Or more precisely, what focal length will you use? And will it be with a prime lens or a zoom?  And which aperture clearly expresses what you had in mind vis-a-vis the foreground and background sharpness relations? And, if you select a certain aperture and you are working at your camera's optimum ISO will you need to introduce a tripod to assist you in creating the sharpness your original vision required? If so, how big a tripod will you need in order to carry it around with you for those moments when it seems crucial to the quality of the image? But what if subject motion pushes your exposure predilections outside your comfort zone? What if you have to go to a higher ISO to get a higher shutter speed. Will the smooth, grainless quality you lusted after leave you in the lurch in the pursuit of the crispy sharp subject? If you choose to use a more sensitive ISO will you need to use noise reduction in post processing? Which method works best for your overall system?

Presuming the sheer momentum of choice didn't paralyze you have you taken all the steps you need to in order to post process successfully? Is your monitor of sufficient gamut to even show you what you have wrought in the shooting and editing processes? Has it been methodically and recently calibrated? Have you neutralized any color cast in your post processing area? Are the walls really neutral white? Do they have a subtle coloration that may impinge on the accuracy of your viewing system? Are you wearing a lime green golf shirt while you process your work? Will you switch to a black or neutral gray shirt? Can you really find an actual, neutral gray shirt?

And when you've created your masterpiece of photography where will you go from the computer file? Will you share it on the web? Are all the people you are sharing with sitting in front of color corrected screens? Is the infrastructure of the web and the bandwidth limits of your sharing supplier compressing the image you worked so hard on? Did they shift your colors and tonalities to wedge your image into a tighter and tighter box? Or maybe you'll print the image....

Is your printer profiled to your post processing software? Can your printer's gamut match your original vision? Do the inks have different responses to different lighting spectra? Will the viewing area undo your careful color corrections by introducing color casts and glare? Will you frame the work? If so will the glass be neutral or will it have (as most glass does) a greenish UV filtration meant to keep furniture from fading when used in buildings? Will you place a mark on the floor in front of your print so people can see it from the point of view that you intended? Will they wear a black shirt or smock so their own clothes don't minimize the "enjoyment" of your art by introducing reflections?

And once your work through all the above do you have a plan for archival keeping of the digital image? Will it be placed on some magnetic media or will you use optical media? How often will you migrate the images to new media in order to offset the perils of degradation over time? Will you have multiple racks of hard drives that you rotate? Will you spend months each year re-burning new DVDs? Will you make prints of the frames you like in a series of sizes that you might want to use in the future as a hedge against the ravages of time?

And none of the above presupposes that you've come to grips with finding visually interesting stuff to immortalize...

Oh well. It's all become more complicated. I should have tried for an easier career, like brain surgeon or president. A few quick cuts, a few grand decisions and a ribbon cutting and then I'd be on easy street.

Must be monday again. Sorry. 

Michael Reichmann at Luminous Landscape posts first review of the Panasonic GH4...


I've followed Michael Reichmann's website, the Luminous Landscape, for many years. I've read as he's waxed euphoric over ever more powerful cameras. Starting with Canon's first full framer right on through to his Phase One Phascination--- with enormous numbers of megapixels and all things medium format. But I have to give it to him. The man is mentally flexible and willing to change with the times. And the introduction of new and useful technology.

He wrote a couple of years ago about the Sony Nex-7 (which he liked very much) and recently he's been writing about his video love affair with the Panasonic GH3. Only a few months ago he got himself an Olympus OMD EM-1 and found lovely things to say about that camera as well. But now it looks like there is some sort of camera harmonic convergence going on and the mantra I keep hearing (from myself and others who taste and expertise I trust) is GH4. GH4. GH4.

Michael has one in his hands and it's got the final firmware so no weasel words or beating around the bush need take place in his first, preliminary assessment. And the word is: Good. "As good as anything out there..."

He goes on to say that if you can work with the limitations of 16 megapixels (and he says he can!) then this camera is as good as it gets. Not just from a video point of view but from a still photography point of view as well.

I'm saving up for my GH4. I'm not often accused of being "strategic" but I started selling off other camera systems and other lenses months ago. Around the time I first heard solid rumors of the GH4 specs. I've pretty much exited the Sony system (both Nex and Alpha) and I'm not overly nostalgic about the transition. I've winnowed down other systems and I've been preemptively buying up lenses I know I'll want for use with the GH4 and, for now, the GH3.

I figured that the reviews would start coming out before the end of April and there would be a mad rush on all the surrounding eco-system for the new camera. Maybe shortages or Amazon's famous ever changing (upward) pricing algorithm for stuff like the 12-35mm X lens and the 35-100mm X lens. A run on the 7-14mm and even a shortage of the two wonderfully cheap and happy Sigma lenses, the 30mm and the 60mm.  When I found out that the GH4 shared the same battery with the current GH3 I was overjoyed. But I cut the celebration short to go and buy an extra pair of batteries before the run on essentials built up steam.

The GH4s are starting to ship. MR has his. Samy's is shipping a quantity and Amazon counsels us that it will ship end of month but I expect waiting list cameras to start out the doors of the warehouses this week.

Why am I so happy about all of this? Well, this is the first camera that is equally good at both disciplines in which I am currently interested (stills and video), as well as being the most affordable professional system I've ever bought into. You can actually buy this company's top of the line camera without busting the bank. Amazing. To add some icing to the cake the GH series is actually quite fun to shoot...

And with the kind of enthusiasm Mr. Reichmann is expressing I expect that this particular offering will go over well without the recent caveats we've heard in conjunction with half-baked Sony products recently. No lens adapter required. Plenty of good lenses in the market. No tiny battery syndrome. No Bang-Bang-Pow shutter noise, Etc.

Ah. A nice, happy, productive camera launch. Just what we all needed after the doldrums of the recent lackluster product unveils.....

While I am saving up for my GH4 I am painfully, keenly, aware that my child just got accepted at his first choice of college. A private university in the Northeastern U.S. Much to the amazement of my European readers we parents will be required to scrape up the equivalent, in cash, of a nice, average American three bedroom house and send it to this fine institution over the course of the next four years. Will this slow down my thirst for new cameras? I guess we're about to find out....