8.18.2017

I'm bored with Summer. That's dangerous. Too much time means bad equipment decisions.


Self portrait.

I think everyone has a few screws loose, if you look hard enough, or long enough. I know what one of my main hiccups is; I love change. Even if it doesn't make sense I still love change. Every once in a while I catch myself. About a week and a half ago I bought a Panasonic GH5 and the Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 Pro lens. I immediately used the combo for a paying gig and loved it. The camera feels pretty perfect in my hands and those crafty engineers seem to have put all the buttons exactly where they thought I'd go looking for them. But the real shot of espresso shot in my experience with the camera and lens combo was just how nearly perfect the lens turned out to be. This of course whetted my appetite for more Olympus Pro lenses. Many more Olympus lenses. 

I wasn't nearly busy enough last week to stave off boredom of the most pernicious kind. Sure, I had another Philip Kerr novel languishing next to my reading chair, and I had a few lunches with clients lined up but it's August in Austin and that means everyone is doing everything in their power to avoid dealing with the relentless heat. Everything slows down. Business slows down. Socializing slows down. Naps get longer....

Like many of you I gravitate toward a path of least resistance. For me, last week, it meant cruising all over the web looking for anecdotal evidence to support my contention that owning as many of the Pro series Olympus lenses as I could gather up would irrevocably result in me becoming the world's greatest photographer and videographer. Then yesterday I went to the Blanton Museum and saw an amazing three screen, video/multi-media exhibit called, "GIANT" by Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler. The video presentation and the accompanying audio was amazing (if you're in Austin you MUST go). I walked out of the museum after seeing the presentation three times, newly convinced that I would spend the rest of my life trying to do video art like the work I'd just seen. 

By the time I got home I (and boredom) had convinced myself that the way forward, at least for now, would be to buy a second GH5 (the two camera angle set-up) along with the 7-14mm 2.8 Pro lens, the 25mm f1.2 Pro lens and maybe also the 42.5 Nocticron --- just for good measure. An easy way to finesse the whole deal in less than 24 hours would be to take my Sony gear to my local camera store and trade it in on the whole ball of Panasonic/Olympus wax. 

After swim practice this morning I came home and packed every vestige of Sony product up in a big hold all and headed to the camera store. I had previously arranged to meet my friend and video mentor, Frank, for coffee on the way to my own private Shop-A-maggedon. So I joined him and filled him in on my new plan for personal photo and video domination. He asked a few pointed questions and then smiled and laughed and said something along the lines that this would be the 8th big system switch I'd undertaken since he's known me and it hasn't changed my style much at all, anywhere along the line....

In my gear-addled state I took that all to mean that he massively approved of my basic camera logic and wished me godspeed to the camera shop. But a funny thing happened as I drove away and the coffee kicked in; I started thinking with some basic logic for the first time this week, about the whole idea of yet another massive equipment turnover.

If I thought about it rationally my reason for buying the GH5 and the 12-100mm was to make better video. When I drilled down into the lode of logic so recently surfaced I realized that the 12-100mm was enticing specifically because it held the promise of being an "everything" lens (and a damn good one). From the widest focal length I am normally comfortable using to the longest. All in one package. With great performance at every stop and every focal length. All the other "Pro" lenses I was considering were desires motivated by that hoary hold over from the film days: covering all the focal lengths. They weren't lenses that would necessarily get much use...

When I looked into the bag full of Sony stuff I started matching up memories of past successful jobs and stellar shots done with the individual cameras and lenses and I realized I'd be decreasing my shooting and creative options, not increasing usefulness. 

The two lenses that punched me in the face and stopped me in my tracks were the Sony 70-200mm f4.0 (which ends up being my default headshot lens) and my very recently added 85mm f1.8 FE lens which has quickly endeared itself to me as one of the fabulous portrait lenses whose eloquent performance I've had the pleasure of knowing. I had less regard for the 28mm f2.0 FE but mostly because I'm indifferent to the actual focal length. I'm stone cold neutral about the 24-70mm f4.0 Zeiss lens but mostly because I see it a very utilitarian tool. Not a glamorous formulation. A workhorse but not a diva.

I was halfway to the store by the time I realized that my impulsiveness had nearly cost me one really good and useful system while trying to hypnotize me into believing (once again) that new gear would yield entirely new outcomes for my engagement with my craft. I took a deep breath and realized that I liked my Sony stuff. A lot. And I've had two years in which to get used to it. That's almost a record for me in the realm of digital camera systems and I thought to extend the record instead of crashing and burning. 

So, Frank, if you are out there reading this: I got halfway there and turned around. I might add a few bits and pieces to the Panasonic stuff I've recently acquired but you were right when you (pointedly) asked if I might not miss having the full frame stuff. I know my rationale was glib but, HEY! I used to be an advertising copywriter. If I can't figure out a sellable rationale for buying something then I will have totally lost my advertising touch.

So, this afternoon I pulled out the Sony A7Rii, pried the battery grip off the bottom and stuck in a freshly charged battery. I put the 28mm f2.0 on the front and tasked myself with the responsibility of getting to at least know that much maligned and ignored focal length. It was hot and humid in Austin this afternoon but the camera and lens were balanced, trim and almost dainty. Much less of a burden than the GH5 and the 12/100mm lens. 

I didn't shoot much but I did come to understand (yet again) that it's okay not to do everything in an "all or nothing" manner. 

Now I have the luxury of two groovy systems. What a nice problem.


Not a literal self portrait.

20 comments:

  1. Very surprising outcome. I saw that look in your eye and was sure that you were committed. In a good way! No reason not to do the Tuck video art project.The graffiti wall beckons.

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  2. Kirk
    What is wrong with the Sony 24 to 240 as a all exerting lens

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  3. kenneth voigt, san antonioAugust 18, 2017 at 8:29 PM

    sanity at last; or shall we wait and see ?

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  4. Nothing wrong with having two great systems.

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  5. Kirk,
    I am still hopeing, you pick up a $20 micro 43rds to sony E mount adapter and see what that 12-100mm can do on the A7rii.

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  6. As has been told over and over by sages for time immemorial (maybe perhaps a time tad shorter than that) there is no one single perfect camera. Mostly good ergonomics overall but the gear has a few things that can irritate you at the wrong time and question your purchase rationale. 80%, 90% spot on but why can't it do this? There's no shortcut for that? Sheesh...

    Photography and video, photography and film making have been mostly separate in the past (or thought of that way) but now found often intertwined today. Film or digital, colour or black and white, full frame or smaller sensors etc. Professional, commercial results and important personal projects require the right tools for the right job. And we have a plethora of tools today in both hardware and software. Use one system or two? One for work, one for play. One to air freight, one to carry effortlessly. One for this job, one for that. One that's noticeable, one that's not.

    Sometimes it comes down to a different mindset or how you're looking at the problem, and/or the toolset needed for the capturing of light, motion and emotion.

    We have more than one lens or light in our bag right?...

    Yep. I thought so... : )


    Cheers

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  7. The short range of 28-30 mm is my home range, mostly because I had a 20 f2.8 lens on my aps-c system when I started photography. I suppose that makes me odd, but that is something I have long been accused of.

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  8. Nice piece of writing Kirk, I'm sure a large percentage of your readers can admit to similar impulses at some stage. There is something about this crazy gear acquisition syndrome that makes us make the most irrational of decisions from time to time, I not for the 1st time find myself the proud owner or three systems having heretofore promised myself to stick to one system and concentrate on learning to use it well.

    Anyone interested in buying a FF system or maybe a APS-C or M/43 anyone!!!

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  9. Sometimes the most direct route involves a U-turn. Well done.

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  10. David said: Kirk,
    I am still hoping, you pick up a $20 micro 43rds to sony E mount adapter and see what that 12-100mm can do on the A7rii.

    I never realized that worked. Wouldn't there be wicked vignetting? Not to mention loss of auto-focus and auto-exposure. As a shooter of both M43 and Sony E, I have been disappointed that it seems there is no way to put the Sony lenses on the M43 camera. I do have some Contax Zeiss glass that will fit on either system.

    Kirk,
    Check out the new Panasonic/Leica 8-18 lens before you buy the Oly Pro 7-14. While I shoot with the 12-40/2.8 and 35-150/2.8, I rounded out the Trinity with the 8-18 and I love it.

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  11. @Phil,
    I have been looking, but haven't seen anyone test the sony with 12-100. I assume the 12 end will have wicked vignette, but where it clears is unknown until tested. Also it will be full manual, so you will be limited to only manual focus, which the lens has, and f4. Unless you set the lens to something else and pop it off the GH5.
    I don't own a Sony, but have seen some sites using other manual 43rds lenses on Sonys. Mainly the f0.95 series of lenses.

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  12. I am surprised you were seriously considering doing another complete switch, especially given the post you made a few days ago about a client's need and the realization you should keep Sony A7RII. It might make more sense to look at what equipment you are not using much (G85? A6300? RX10II?) and put the proceeds from those into a second GH5, etc. I don't think GAS is necessarily a bad thing if you can afford purchases and know you will really use the new gear. I agree with the idea of basing the system around one or two versatile lenses. I too seem to do almost all of my shooting with only one or two very-good and versatile lenses. Knowing this has put me off of acquiring lenses that have good reputations but I would likely have seldom use for.

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  13. Sold my Sony A7 model2 and went MFT and never looked back. I have EM10 model2, EP5 and Panasonic G85 with eight zooms and primes. All in a bag, love it.

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  14. Close call! You escaped with your sanity intact.

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  15. Kirk
    I have both a 4/3 and Sony system. Currently looking at the Olympus 12 to 100mm vs. Sony. 24 to 240mm. On paper they look the same except I can push the ISO more on the full frame. However the Olympus Pro lens are really top draw and fun to use. What am I missing? I shot stills,

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  16. I think what you really need is one good friend. One that will whisper in your ear to go ahead and buy that system that you feel you can't justify. He'll sit there and argue that life is short, that you work hard and deserve some rewards. He'll point out that you can always find someone to buy it if (when) you decide to find some other shiny thing to buy. He'll be there to take the blame. "You talked me into that, I can't believe I let you talk me into that...again" you can cry. And like the good friend he is, he'll accept it, knowing full well he will be able to do it again. That's what friends are for.

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  17. Screenplay:

    Dodged a Bullett this time. Soon a shiny new device will rise mysteriously out of the mists. Who knows for certain where these things come from. It will have buttons, emit light, have wheels to turn, smooth glass surfaces on the part of the object. Long protuberances that move and can change will hang from it.the mythical marketing gods will spin their wheel and the message will float through the ether and the message will come lofting through the ether once again. at first in a small voice then loader till it roars through your senses...you gotta have it...you gotta have it.....you gotta have it....

    Fade to black

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  18. You should try the 12-100 Oly with an Olympus EM1 mk2 body.

    You think the image stabilisation with the GH5 is good? Be prepared to be amazed.

    The Olympus EM1 mk2 and 12-100 combo can shoot hand held for seconds.. I have 2 second exposures which are pin sharp - HAND HELD. This thing is like a gimbal when shooting video. It is freaky good. Mind alteringly weird. I do not know how it is done. Give it a try.

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  19. Funny how extreme heat can cause an extreme GAS bill ! :-)
    Almost this time...
    Enjoy both, the mind is linear, life is not.
    I'm still in my honeymoon thing with the G80 (G85), oh that seductive shuttersound it makes!
    Cheers
    Kejas

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