I remember how good an older camera can be when I look at this image from "A Midsummer's Night Dream" performed by the Austin Shakespeare Company outdoors at the Zilker Hillside Theater.

I was deep into my first micro four thirds romance when I took dress rehearsal images for this play. The lighting was primitive compared to the stage lighting we had at Zach Theatre and the light levels were uniformly low. My camera of choice at the time was the EP-3 and it was "backed up" by an EP-2. But what made it work was the lens, or the lenses. At the time I had adapters for all of my older Pen FT half frame lenses and was determined to make them shine.

This shot was done at 1/30th of a second, at f2.0 or f2.5 with the ancient 60mm f1.5 lens. I focused carefully and held my breath while caressing the shutter button. The old sensor in that camera did its job very well and, it seems, twelve megapixels was more than enough for the marketing people who were helping to sell the play.

It's really not the camera but what you get to point it at. Opportunities abound but you have to stop reading the camera and lens reviews long enough to show up and shoot.

What makes this shot special for me? You already know the answer... It's the awesome, third order, nano acuity of this special lens. I couldn't have expressed this with a lens possessed of lesser nano acuity. I would have known every time I looked at it that it wouldn't measure up to my critical eye....


Mike Rosiak said...

One of your Austin boys just finished his set, here at the Philadelphia Folk Festival. A maestro of electronic noise. Next up, Arlo Guthrie. Life is good.

Anonymous said...

That is a fabulous portrait and one of the best theatre shots you've posted.


Mike said...

Ahh, in the end, the camera and lens you use in irrelevant. The only thing that matters is the final image. I've made photos over the years with cameras from Hasselblad, Rollei, Mamiya, Nikon, Canon, Leica M & R, Contax, Seagull, Cambo, Toyo, Deardoff, Linhof, and Panasonic.

When I look back at them, I don't think of the camera or lens that made them, I think about how that image makes me feel, and about the journey I made to make the image, and how that image relates to what I do now. I've made images I love with each of these cameras, and images that leave me cold and indifferent.

To have a camera that disappears in your hands and becomes an extension of your eye, your heart and your brain, whatever that camera is, so you can express yourself with as little distraction as possible, is the best camera of all. When you find something that works, and is sufficient for the task at hand, it is like finding the holy grail.

Lenya Ryzhik said...

I have just spent a week long family vacation with a D90 because I gave D600 to a local
shop for sensor cleaning and in the hassle of the preparations I simply forgot to pick it up
before the store closed (it was ready the day before the departure). In the end, after the initial
cursing and beating of the head against the wall, I realized i still have D90 somewhere,
and it was actually fun to go with the older camera. Its automatic white balance was off
more often than on D600 but in RAW it is not a big deal, and the shutter noise can wake up a teenager.
Otherwise, at least half the fun of D600 and infinitely less responsibility.

Charles "Rain" Black said...

I'm using an E520 and E600 as house photographer for a non-profit venue. Sure, I have to put on extra effort at the time of capture in regards to exposure. It takes some extra steps to get noise in some photos under control. Yet neither the directors of the venue nor the artists complain about the final images.

One reason is through experience I know how to produce the most favorable images. The other is I'm using lenses that offer about the best quality possible with my bodies: the 14-54 and 50-200 Zuikos (both Mk1). It's the performance of these lenses that help keep my photos "competitive" against images from newer bodies. They are also the reason why my first choice of upgrade is the OMD EM1, to keep using these excellent optics on a more recent body.

It can be argued that other lenses are comparable or even superior, and that said lenses combined with bodies such as the D750, 5D3 or A7r2 would give deminstably superior results. I won't contest that. However, I know these lenses so well they offer no unfortunate surprises. It's kind of like the cop who still carries a .45 ACP even though higher capacity 9mm or .40 cal pistols offer advantages.

In an age when many people fret over whether their gear is up to the standard of the latest technology, sometimes the familiarity of older gear can make up for any lack of technological currency.