1.12.2016

Swimmer. USMS Short Course Nationals. 2008.



While it is nice to have a state of the art lens and camera I'm thinking that standing in the right spot is at least as important.



I'm slow to think things through. But I think I've figured out why dedicated sports shooters get the best shots and make shooting sports look easy, but feel damn hard for the rest of us. It's the same reason the best architectural photographs seem to have a magic touch in doing their work. We may buy the same tilt/shift lenses and the same cameras but there's something a bit better, a bit more pleasing about the way their work always seems to turn out. Same thing with landscape photographers. There are legions of retired businessmen and engineers, accountings and certainly doctors and dentists, who can afford gear that's even better than the stuff a full time landscape artist might be able to afford but for some reason the committed artists always seem to get the shot everyone else wishes they'd gotten.

After 25 years of shooting theater I think I understand the missing link! It's not the gear, it's knowing where to stand with the gear, that makes all the difference in the world. Work in sports photography long enough and you learn the stuff you cover forward and backward. The intimate knowledge, coupled with years and years of trial and error, eventually lead you to anticipate where the action will end up. This means you can get ready with the right focal length and settings. You can line up the right background and the wait for all the moving pieces to pull themselves into position. You get it because you've tried it all before and you were smart enough to

There is a lot of talk on the web about the new Phase One camera. 100 megabytes sounds good...



Nearly eight years ago I used to write articles and reviews for Studio Photography Magazine (another casualty of the digital transition) and in my role as a freelance technology writer I got asked to review some pretty cool stuff. Sometimes interesting boxes would appear at my doorstep. One day I was shocked and amazed when I got a box from Leica containing the brand new M8.2 and four brand new lenses. The Fedex or UPS driver left the box, unsigned for, right at the front door. I thought that was crazy and risky until I had a similar thing happen with a box from Phase One that contained their latest 40 megapixel, medium format camera and a trio of really nice lenses. $40,000 worth of cool camera gear just hanging out in front of my studio and thunderclouds looming in the northwestern sky....

But, as usual, I digress. What I really wanted to talk about today is the announcement of the latest Phase One camera, with 100 megapixels. The underlying question: Is this camera at all relevant to working photographers or enthusiasts today? I know there is a market for it but for photographers who are not employees of large corporations or museums; does this camera make any sense at all?

When I reviewed the 40 megapixel Phase One camera (based on a Mamiya body) the one thing I really liked about it was somewhat independent from the pixel count. I like the way the larger sensor emulated the look for medium format film cameras by allowing the use of longer lenses for the same angle of view as shorter lenses would give on smaller format cameras. Even a fast 80mm lens gave a different look when coupled with the larger sensor. One could say the benefit of the system was the way it drew images. 

While I understand the benefits of higher megapixel counts coupled with low noise CMOS sensors I think that the designers of medium format cameras (and sensors) have been going in the wrong direction. They should have moderated the pursuit