2.03.2016

Red Head in front of Gallleries Lafayette in Berlin.

 click on the image to see it bigger. The reflections are really pretty...

When I visit a new city the first thing I do, after checking into my hotel, is to get a good street map and memorize (in a very general way) where everything is. I won't know exact street names and such but I will understand just where the cool stuff is located. Once I've spent an hour or so with a real map I grab one camera, and the lens I think will make me happiest, shove an extra battery in my pocket and head for the front door.

I think the best way to see almost any city is to invest some shoe leather and walk the streets. The city will reveal itself to you, if you are open to it.

The image above was shot with a Samsung Galaxy NX camera. It was an infuriating camera and yet, an endearing camera. Infuriating in that it operated like an overgrown phone and was prone to, well, freezing up or shutting itself off at the least advantageous times. Endearing because when it did work the files could be quite beautiful in a way that was visually different from the usual Canon and Nikon files.

I was always a little surprised that the folks at Samsung dropped that camera so
quickly. What it needed was a number of fixes and tweaks along with a judicious price adjustment. The essential selling points of a huge freaking screen on the back and total connectivity might have done very well with a broader cross section of consumers if the powers that were in the Samsung camera division didn't have the hubris-laced impulse to position it as an expensive, professional tool. At a $1699 price point there were so many proven enthusiast's darling cameras (and their deeply embedded eco-systems) to compete with. At $1099, with a surprisingly good kit lens, and all the foibles fixed, it would have (my opinion) sold well to all the folks who wanted a techie/selfie/share-y/connected camera that played really well in the smartphone-information-transfer-sharing space. Even the video was essentially decent (though somewhat crippled for power users by the absence of a headphone jack...) enough for anything web.

The camera got on my nerves because I was the wrong person to be testing it. I basically look at most hyper-sharing apparatus with contempt. Especially when it's in my camera. I love simplicity and hate most menus. I'd love to be wealthy enough to shoot with the new Leicas, not because I think they are great cameras (they might be) or because they have great, great lenses (I know they do) but because they have the most simplified menus in all of camera land.

If the brains at Samsung had wanted to sell their cameras based on their connectivity features then their big public relations mistake was to give out samples mostly to photographers over 50 years old. If they had given this camera to someone in my son's generation (20), and given him an incentive to blog about it, the results might have been in line with what was needed. As long as the price got fixed.

At any rate, during my Aperture application house cleaning I came across a lot of files from the Galaxy NX. I was really enjoying using Aperture until Apple apple'd it into oblivion. In retrospect some of the images from the camera were really very good. Nothing challenging was shot and lots of the images were low ISO stuff with ample light everywhere. But it goes along with my theme of today which seems to be that the camera in your hand is probably not your best, most expensive unit. It's the ones you don't particularly care about that are most likely with you when opportunity tends to strike.

I rarely walk around town with a D810 and the big Sigma by my side. On paper I guess I should since then I could make images that were as close to technically perfect as one can currently expect from hand holdable systems. But, you know, you also have to enjoy yourself and have fun. The system we end up carrying is nearly always one that is least obtrusive. One that doesn't come with its own set of concerns. And once we use an insouciant and neutral little package and realize it takes quite good images it launches a virtuous cycle of willful disregard for perfection.

Seriously guys, sometimes it's just all about having fun and having the camera along for the ride. Not the other way around....

6 comments:

Wolfgang Lonien said...

Very nice photo of the red hat and reflections, Kirk. And I totally agree about the shoe leather part of exploring as well, even if I don't walk that easy anymore.

I was reading John Free lately who was featured on Imaging Resource. And like you and him, I also agree about simplicity regarding the tools we use. He's doing street shooting with an old Nikon F3 and the 55 micro Nikkor, which lead to a long hard look to my OM-2N, and got me thinking...

Anonymous said...

off topic but...What's your take on the Sony A6300?

Kirk Tuck said...

Do you mean the Sony 6000? I can't find anything on a "6300." I'm sure the 6000 is a great. Not sure where that system is headed....

Kirk Tuck said...

Okay. I see the announcement on DPR. What can I say? I'm sure it's incrementally better than the 6000 but not nearly as beautifully designed as the Nex-7.

Pat said...

There's some good apps that will track your walk so you can then backtrack to the hotel. Another trick is take a picture of your hotel (and address). If you get lost, show it to a cab driver.

Kirk Tuck said...

Pat, don't take this the wrong way but.....Why would you want to retrace your steps to the hotel instead of wending your way back on some new and unexplored path? At to an app that would do that.....I tend to leave my phone at the hotel. Re: getting lost = that's half the fun. (Take a business card with you from the front desk).