3.02.2018

A quiet exercise in old camera appreciation.


I worked late on a video last night. Got home around 10:30pm and still had a couple hours of post production to wade through. The video shoot went like clockwork. It was tiring though because I had to pay attention to everything all the way through the run of the play. Monitoring two cameras and following the main actor with one of the cameras means never pausing to actually enjoy the performance. 

At any rate I survived and delivered files this morning after swim practice. I returned e-mails and calls and made myself a lunch and then prepared for my one p.m. call. I was on the line for an hour with a wealth advisor taking care of the boring part of being an adult and owning my own business. I had a weird feeling about the markets recently and decided to move sufficient money into CDs to allow me to sleep through the night. We also fine-tuned some diversification/asset allocation. After that I had to dutifully give full details to the CFO of my company and family. (Literal readers, by CFO I really mean my spouse who is, literally, much more adept at money and numbers than me...).

When we finally wrapped up I was shot, spent, tired, and felt like I'd just spent a week working overtime in a cubicle (apologies to any reader who works in a cubicle. It was a metaphor...).  What better antidote to maturity and responsibility is there than a nice, late afternoon walk through the downtown areas of my favorite city? It was 68 degrees and the skies were central Texas blue. 

I've felt a bit sheepish all week long about having wasted good money on the used Nikon D2XS so, of course, that's the camera I grabbed to take along with me. I'll tell you right off the bat that it's at least twice the weight of a GH5 with a similar optic on the front. My lens of choice this afternoon was the cheap 50mm f1.8 Nikon AF lens I picked up last week (adding financial insult to injury). It's a very decent lens from f2.8 to f8.0 or f11 but then what lens isn't?

As you can see from the image above I've been playing around with the black and white mode which was one of the features I think was added in the upgrade from the X to the XS. It's nice. The screen on the back doesn't do the files justice but they looks pretty in Lightroom, especially if you lean on the contrast slider a bit. Don't bother adding sharpness; they already have sufficient bite...

My goal was 10% about getting a decent little handful of photos and 90% about walking around without a schedule, a deadline, an assignment or a self-imposed goal. It's been a tough year for me as far as family goes and after losing my mom and getting my father situated in memory care it's been all I can do to get business done and then drop myself on the couch at the end of the day where I sometimes just fall asleep curled up with Studio Dog. This walk was the first one done in nice, sunny weather in weeks and the combination of bustling sidewalk traffic, clean, clear sunlight and 60 degree temperatures worked miracles on my recently re-acquired stress and anxiety. 

But what about that darn camera? Deja Vu. It's big and heavy. The rear screen sucks hard. But it focuses like a bat out of hell and the files are rich and satisfying. I remember why it was I had such fond memories of my first ownership of this camera model. In it's time the handling was state of the art. And, at ISO 100 and 200 its image quality might still give current cameras a run for their money. While its 12 megapixels might not give you the micro detail of the new generation of 40+ megapixel cameras I remember an article about "shot discipline" written by Ming Thein wherein he made the point that if you are using a camera handheld, in the street, you'll probably never exceed the image resolution that one gets at 12 megapixels and, that at higher megapixel densities shot discipline (technique) becomes ever more important. Perhaps 12 megapixels won't satisfy every situation but he made a good case for the many, many times that 12 megapixels is optimal. 

Here are a few shots I made shooting the camera at ISO 400, straight to Jpeg. I think it's a marvelous camera as far as images go and I'm trying right now to figure out how to integrate it into our shoot at a radiology clinic tomorrow, along with our GH5's. Maybe I'll bring it along as a "behind the scenes" black and white documentary camera. I've done crazier things.....

Hope your week was as productive as mine --- but a lot less stressful. Hope Mike Johnston can dig himself out of the snow banks! Hope Ben is staying warm in Saratoga Springs. 

I'll end by saying "I'm just an average intelligence, working photographer but I'm happy I've re-allocated some of my meager assets to cash (literally: CDs)". It will be interesting to see what the markets do in the next few weeks. I guess we've never touched on the topic of personal finance here on the blog before. I've always assumed that most of my readers are much more adept at finance than am I. But maybe this will open up some discussion. I'll admit that I vacillate between having a medium to low risk tolerance. Your mileage probably varies. Where do you think the market is going?

Will we be happily buying medium format digital cameras next month or boiling our leather camera straps to make soup? 


The famous electrical pole. With old fashion dust spots in the sky. (Left in for nostalgia. Yes literal readers I do know how to remove them with the cloning tool or the spot healing tool in PhotoShop.....and, no, this image is not intended as a marketing tool aimed a paying clients).






19 comments:

scott said...

No one knows where the market is going. Invest in target-date retirement funds from a low-fee fund company (Vanguard is likely the best) and worry about something else.

Anthony Bridges said...

I have a Canon 5D in the closet I haven't shot in a while. It is ~ 13 megapixel. On a tripod at ISO 100 with the 40mm f/2.8 lens the files are crisp and inviting.

My walkabout camera nowadays is an Olympus OMD EM5 II. The main reason I bought it is for image stabilization, something the 5D lacks.

Paul Mc Cann said...

RE your last shot. You competing with Mike Johnstons red chair shots ?

EdPledger said...

First about the dalliance with the moldy oldies. Been doing some of the same, and I have found I am intolerant of tiny dim EVFs, marginal to terrible lcds, or lcds that don’t flip or fold/twist. Absence of IBIS, too, is soooo noticeable. Not much mooola in them, save for tripod use I guess. Second, probably wise to have higher % in cash, the ride up for a while has added to a lot of portfolios, but you know, pigs are slaughtered. Some executive decisions from the WH are not what I like to see to put it mildly...well, just leave it at that. Adding on major dips for individual stocks might be a good gamble, but do your due diligence, and underline the word gamble.

TMJ said...

I agree with your comments about sensor pixels, I have a Ricoh GR with 16Mb, which is perfect for handheld use, although there is a rumour about an update with a curved sensor and 24Mb. 16Mb is perfect, more would not be better in this instance.

If you think about it, Leica didn't exactly design either the screwmount or M series rangefinder cameras to sit on a tripod and Tri-X or HP5 aren't the highest resolving film emulsions, but worked perfectly well on them.

Michael Matthews said...

So true, the 12 megapixel rule. I’d have stayed with the little Olympus EPL 1 if it weren’t for the impossibility of seeing anything on the rear screen in full daylight. The add-on EVFs were so crappy in that era they were of no real use. With my irritating low-level tremor and the earlier form of Olympus IBIS if the light was right the camera’s LCD provided at least a what-you-see-is-what-you-may-get view. When the shot was successful the result was quite satisfying. Then along came the OMD EM5 and the flame of lust was lit.

Your market sense is spot on. Mine is one day late. Following the recent slump and near recovery my wife and I discussed sweeping some of the past year’s gain to cash in order to pay down a bit of debt. By the next day the new swoon was under way. With the one day delay in mutual fund sell order vs. fulfillment what we would have taken as gain had vanished. We now wait patiently, convinced the longer view will pay off before the wheels come off altogether. Hmmm.

amolitor said...

My wife is a financial planner, so all that stuff is of my plate. To my delight. All I know is that the best thing you can do for your investments is minimize fees. 1% a year is a mountain basically no clever strategy can overcome.

MO said...

Hi kirk

I use canon 1d III's, Canon 5d II's And Panasonic gx85's not spending more than 375$ on any of the cameras. I cant see my self upgrading right now. cant see any output advantages in buying the new 1500- 4500$ cameras.

I might end up spending 4000$ on aputure lightning and v-lock battries tough. But i will say i only invest in lightning that can be used for both video and stills.

Lenses i tend to hit the middelground. I do that by buying the older vision of lenses come in new versions. I make some exceptions 2-3 signature lenses going up to 750$ but generally keeping most under 400$ to. I buy most used.

I think in output and handeling only by now. I don't need new Tech if i it do not affect my workflow in output and handeling. And the effect in the newer tech compared to the above is minimal if any.

Thats my take

cheers

Mike Rosiak said...

Do we see a Linhof on rails in Kirk's future?

On the diversification thing, be sure to diversify globally. Ex-US instruments wouldn't necessarily follow US down the rathole.

David said...

I never read the 12mpixel argument. But for me I find 16 Mpixels to be the sweet spot. I like the contrast and comparison between my GM5 and DF cameras.

Anonymous said...

Love the image of the bikes!

DavidB

Herman said...

Making use of an old box camera-
www.wfn.org/~hkrieger/bikepath.htm

Michael Ferron said...

Maybe your Oldie choice should have been a D300? I picked one a beautiful sample for $225. The rear screen is very decent and though still built like a tank it's compact compared to the D2x. The files are better than one might expect at low ISO's. That and the same 50 1.8 are going to be my 6th St rig. My new (to me) D800 will be my slower working often on tripod camera.

HR said...

I got my 12mp Sony A700 in 2008 and used it for a few years. I decided that the 12mp was really about all I cared about since all my photography is done handheld using cameras designed for being handheld. It developed problems so in 2012 I moved on to m4/3 for the smaller size/weight, but not for the 16mp and now 20mp (PEN-F).

Rob Katz said...

i just picked up my first full frame, the 12mp canon 5d classic (aka mk1). it was on my local craigslist with the canon 50mm/1.8 stm for less than me and my wife spend on our wedding anniversary lunches so i said, why not! i have been very pleased with the canon color palette and the files seem wonderful. i was hoping to use it as my designated window light portrait tool, an area i am increasingly trying to master. woo woo to old, still useable, tech.

as for the financial markets, i have spent the past 35 years being an independent film-maker. that just fancy talk for, i am unwilling to go into debt as i make media because any given year's success might not be the same for next year's efforts. plenty of times, i feel like a farmer since the weather in the financial markets are outside of my control. (of course, other times i feel like a tailor, can you make it a little shorter or longer and can you maybe change the color of the titles ever so slightly?) my money mantra: there are three kinds of money. the money you earn. the money you save. and the money you don't spend. that last one is the wealth accumulation tool. buy anything on "sale" and you are not spending full price. use that as a purchasing philosophy and the small sums soon add to bigger sums.

Phil Stiles said...

Once upon a time...there was considerable effort involved in choosing tools and materials for the craft of photography. We are past that point; it would be hard to buy a modern camera that wouldn't be technically adequate for most purposes. It's down to marginal improvements in specialized areas (frame rates for sports, focus stacking macros, shadow detail in available light, and so on.) at ever increasing cost. So I'm taking a deep breath, and resolving to simply use the fantastic equipment I have.

Retirement investment? I think the key is diversification. Cash gets hit by inflation, markets are volatile, just keep all your eggs out of just one or two baskets.

Bob F. said...

I was suffering a bad case of GAS until reading your post. Thanks for saving me from giving into Sony/Olympia/Fuji envy....

BTW, I believe the link to Herman Krieger's post should be www.efn.org/~hkrieger/bikepath.htm

For those who haven't seen them, Mr. Krieger creates some of the wittiest visual puns around; it's always fun to revisit his site!

Dave Jenkins said...

I read recently that fully one-third of the British are counting on the lottery as their retirement plan.

Mark Davidson said...

When I was younger I really was certain I was a genius stock picker. The only stock I got right was when Apple was at $9 and I told everyone I could to buy it as the real estate and IP was worth several multiples of that. I sold at $70 thinking that there was no more in this stock and I better get out while the getting was good.
Thus I still work for a living.
Today I invest in index funds (Vanguard) and have had good returns.

As for which way the market will move is anyone's guess. At the moment I think we will see a bit of a run as companies buy back their shares with their tax rebates. But that can be knocked right down if we start a trade war tomorrow and a recession on Tuesday.
I moved half of my retirement into bonds two years back as I felt things were overpriced and I am 61. But I continue to save and put it into stock index funds.

The biggest danger to me and people of my age is that the long term is not that long any more and any sharp losses that may be recouped my not happen in my lifetime.

The best investments I made were marrying a wonderful woman and having great family.