6.29.2017

The old song and dance. Another morning wasted shooting an old lens on a new camera.


10:15 a.m. Weds. June 28, 2017. Photographer re-acquires relatively new Panasonic G85 from top of desk (as opposed to "desktop") and pauses to contemplate a shooting scenario that might entail a walk and a revisiting of a barely used; but nearly ancient lens. Rises from desk chair and walks across the foam padded floor of his office/studio to an old, gray, Craftsman rolling tool cabinet. Wide shot of photographer in khaki shorts, white t-shirt and hiking shoes crossing the faux deck plate. Close up shot of him opening middle drawer. Extreme close up of his hand hovering over a collection of tiny, retro-looking lenses. Close up of him deciding and then pulling one small, silver and black lens from the drawer. The lens comes into sharp focus and is revealed as a 25mm, f2.8 Zuiko G, Pen-FT lens made for half frame film cameras long since discontinued. 

A similar lens with a focal length of 40mm and an f-stop of 1.4 is removed from the G85 body and placed on the top of the desk. The 25mm takes it's place on the front of the camera. 

The photographer checks pocket and then pulls out a battery for a Sony camera. He puts the battery in the second drawer from the bottom in the Craftsman cabinet and pulls out, from the same drawer, two blocky looking Panasonic batteries. He exchanges one of the batteries with the battery currently occupying the G85. He places the used battery from the camera on a small charger. He sticks the other battery in the left pocket of his short pants. He pauses to check and make sure an SD card is loaded in the camera. It is. 

He finds his keys and his sunglasses on the desktop and exits the studio. We cut to the photographer opening the front door of a house positioned just across a walkway from the studio. He pauses at the door and calls out to someone not seen by the audience, "Hey, Belin! I'm going to head downtown and go for a walk. I'll be back in a couple hours. By the way, I have a lunch with Paul at 12:45. See you guys soon."

He heads to his thrifty car, gets in and puts the camera on the passenger seat. Then he remembers that time he had to stop suddenly and the camera was launched, hard, into the dashboard and subsequently fell to the floor. He decides to cut out the middle steps and put the camera in the footwell of the passenger's side. 

Ten minutes later he is parked in a tree-lined lot near Zach Theatre, using his parking hangtag to skirt having to pay for metered parking. He leaves a small gap at the top of each window to prevent the car mimicking an oven on his return. 

The camera is set to expose manually. The ISO is set to 200. The aperture is set to f5.6. The shutter will be the wild card. During the course of his walk the photographer adjusts the shutter speed for optimum exposures. The camera offers focus peaking, and it is nicely accurate, but every once in a while the photographer uses the magnification feature to verify that the focus is accurately set. Over the course of the walk he comes to trust the focus peaking. 

His first series of shots are self-portraits in the window of an empty restaurant that at one time housed one of his favorite restaurants; Garridos. It now awaits a new tenant and the photographer seems to remember that it will be a popular Mexican restaurant called Pulvo's. He rationalizes that the self portrait will visually introduce the camera and lens to anyone who might later read his musings on a blog. 

The photographer is of two minds about his morning adventure. He would love to find many interesting and beautiful people to photograph. He would love to get in a brisk walk as cross-training for the energetic two miles he swam earlier in the morning. He realizes that every day involves luck and chance. 

The 25mm has the same basic angle of view as a 50mm lens on one of his full frame cameras. The view through the finder is familiar and the focal length is easy for him to compose with. There are few people walking through the city on this particular morning. He decides to make photographs of interesting (to him) new buildings while he hunts for more interesting subjects. 

At the far end of his "out and back" walk he detours through the convention center to see what sort of event is being held there. From there he heads into the Hilton where he intends to get coffee at the Starbuck outlet on the northwest corner of the hotel. He is distracted by activity that seems to be flowing toward the ballrooms and conferences on the second floor. He rides up the escalator to find about 200 people milling around on a break from some "informative" session. Most are dressed as informally as the photographer. He mixes with the crowd and helps himself to a cup of coffee from one of the tables that runs down the middle of the wide hallway. He chats with a forensic software specialist for a bit before heading back downstairs and out of the hotel with his cup of coffee in hand. Thank goodness there is nearly always an option during breaks to have coffee in either a ceramic mug or a to-go cup. 

The walk remains visually non-eventful and the photographer trudges back to his car and heads home. A day later he brings up the images from his walk into Lightroom and goes through his take, one image at a time. He thinks some of the people who read his blog might be interested to see how effective such an old lens is on such a new camera. That readers might be surprised to see how sharp and modern the images that lens creates can be. 

He chooses nine images to show and then sits down at the same computer to write a blog. He is feeling playful and so writes it all in the third person. Almost like a movie script. When he finishes he worries that no one will find what he's written to be the least bit interesting or amusing. He becomes depressed and vows never to blog again. But he knows that blogging is addictive and he enjoys the process even if he gets very little feedback from a diverse group of readers, most of whom he has never met in person. 

He hopes that someone, somewhere will take the time to comment on the script or the images in the comments just below the actual blog. It would make him feel as though he is not tossing words out into a black hole of futile nothingness. He wonders if it would be better for his ego to just write endless "reviews" about Canon and Nikon cameras, interspersed with lofty sounding articles playing one maker against another. People always seem to visit his blog for that and they often leave emotion laden comments as well.

Then he decides that would be petty and a waste of time. He would't want to sully his impeccable reputation for this, the 3300th blog post he's written for his site. He finishes typing and goes off to watch an episode of "The Big Bang Theory" on the television in his living room. 









Canon launches a sensible camera for everyone who doesn't like mirror-free cameras: The 6Dii.

Canon 6Diii. A Daily User. 

Canon just introduced the camera for all the users out in the world who don't want to use mirror-free cameras, don't want to abandon their Canon lenses and who just want a traditional, 26 megapixel, full frame serious shooting camera. I've always liked the "idea" of the original 6D; a no frills, but highly competent, picture taker that doesn't cost a fortune to acquire but, as everyone who reads VSL is probably aware, I do prefer cameras with EVFs. Still, if I had to choose a full frame, traditional DSLR this is exactly what I'd probably go out and buy in August 2017.

Here's what it doesn't have: Super fast frame rates. Continuous AF points spread all across the frame. Any 4K video capability (only 1080p at 60 fps, max.). An EVF. Too much weight.

Here's what will appeal to people who think differently than me: The camera has --- wi-fi and GPS. The camera has a touchscreen.  The camera has a traditional, optical viewfinder (albeit with a slight crop in the viewfinder -- it only shows about 98% of the actual frame).  Did I mention that it has a touchscreen and GPS? You'll know exactly where you were when you initiated "dirty baby diaper hold" on your camera so you could hold it at arm's length and shoot via the rear screen. Touching the shaking camera's rear screen as the sun glances off the surface of said screen and obliterates your view of the subject....

And here's the stuff I think everyone would agree is cool: It's priced (slightly) under $2,000 USD. The battery will last for many, many exposures. The body is very straightforward and anyone who has shot with a traditional DSLR will feel right at home. The 26 megapixel sensor is big enough for 99% of the work anybody does and the frame rate of about 6 fps is plenty fast for anyone who isn't desperately into shooting fast and erratic moving sports. (You would be fine shooting swimming with this because most swimmers are good enough at their sport to swim in straight lines....).  There are plenty of Canon lenses so you'll be able to find the lens you need for just about anything. 

An extra bonus in these times of fear, distrust and declining camera sales might also be that Canon is financially strong and currently leads the entire marketplace for cameras and lenses which means you probably won't have to worry about Canon getting cold feet....like Samsung....and exiting the market. You won't have to worry about the possible dissolution of your camera maker of choice, as Nikon and Pentax users have recently begun to grapple with. You can be more than reasonably certain that Canon will be there to honor your warranty and provide replacement batteries, etc. down the road.

What will you lose and gain by getting this instead of one of the many mirror-free choices? Well, obviously you lose the ability to use optimal, current viewing technologies in the form of the almighty EVF. You also lose the ability to adapt a lot of different third party lenses to your camera (if that appeals to you). You also gain stuff. You get nice, full frame acreage on your sensor which gives you the ability to create a specific look and to control depth of field in a certain way; with fast lenses. You get good battery life. From my experience with Canon you do get very nice handling. You get access to a big catalog of lenses and, more importantly, those lenses are designed to work perfectly with Canon camera bodies. You also get Canon's color science; which many people really like. 

If you don't want mirror-free cameras, or you have an irrational hatred of Sony products, I can think that you'd be able to do a lot worse than putting together a workable system for day to day photography using the 6Dii, the 24-105mm lens, and a couple of accessory lenses (I'd recommend the 70-200mm f4.0 I.S. for starters.....). Who knows, I may get all nostalgic for the old form factor and pick up one myself. It's a tug at the heartstrings of familiarity. And tradition.

Of all the stuff coming out these days, in a very conservative way, this camera makes a lot of good sense. 

Should be available around August 15th. Let's see if Sony can get their A7iii out around the same time...


The top panel looks a lot like every Canon I've ever owned. Maybe the grip is deeper.