9.05.2019

I had a strange shopping adventure this week. An attempt to buy another K-1, squashed.

The first one. The lure.

I love to buy cameras that seem to be out of favor with the mainstream opinions of the photographic "thought leaders." I seem to champion more than a few underdogs in my acquisition of, and writing about, cameras and goofy lenses. But I like to think there's always some half way decent reason, or at least an available rationale for my selections. A great example of this is my recent embrace of the Pentax K1 camera. If you dig down into the V-log reviews and website reviews that came out just after the launch of the camera you'll quickly understand that the K1 is probably not going to be your first choice for a sports camera and that, at the time of launch, the auto focusing could be a bit underwhelming, but lost in no little measure of reviewer gloom and doom (does everyone shoot motorsports AND birds in flight exclusively now? Is no one interested in "ART" anymore?) was the consensus that the sensor and image processing combination was really, really good and, in fact, could be construed as "class leading." Which of course fires up folks who embrace the challenge of squeezing great images out of a camera with potential instead of expecting their camera of choice to do all the heavy lifting. A workout versus a spoon-feeding....

I'm not going to mount a passionate defense of a four and half year old camera; it would be a fool's errand. But when I look at raw files  from this camera (no matter how hard won) I am pretty impressed. In just plain imaging prowess, as divorced from things like frame rate, the number of focusing points, the range of lenses available, etc., I think the K1 is every bit the equal of the Nikon D810 and D800e's I've owned and....I'd give the nod for accurate and pleasing color to the Pentax.

If you shoot as I do; mostly street scenes, lit portraits, casual portraits and, of course the ubiquitous and dreaded downtown Austin buildings, most of the things that seem to get YouTuber's panties in a bunch are things that I'm for the most part not concerned with while shooting. I'm there for the final look and, to a certain extent, repeatability.

At any rate, I convinced myself on Tuesday that I was enjoying shooting squares format, 24 megapixel portraits with the K1 and might continue to do so for some extended length of time. I thought I might also want to sell that style of photography to a few ad agencies and other clients I know because I am being charmed by the results. But if I go off on another multi-city shooting assignment, or choose to select the K1 as a "personal project" camera for some  out of town work, I am mentally conditioned to want to bring along a second, identical camera body as a back-up to the primary camera.

I looked at KEH.com and B&H and Adorama and while everyone of them would love to sell you a brand new K-1ii none of the usual places had any used K-1s in stock, which I took as a promising sign of this camera's enduring popularity with Pentax users. My fingers strolled across the keyboard until I ended up at Amazon. I found seven or eight used K-1 cameras in their "marketplace" and selected a "like new" one from a highly rated seller, clicked the right buttons and got an e-mail confirmation that my transaction was completed, credit card accepted, and that I could expect the camera in two days "guaranteed". (It was a Prime purchase and it was to be "fulfilled by Amazon).

I can tell you that I've ordered a ton of stuff from Amazon and while there have been occasional screw ups by the "last mile" delivery people the mothership has always been pretty good about getting me what I want when I want it.

I ordered the camera on Tuesday and was happy enough to expect it on Thursday. I checked on the order yesterday and their tracking info indicated that it was in the shipping process but had not yet shipped. A bit strange but I figured them to be an advanced logistics company so I let it go and decided I would check the tracking info before swim practice this morning.

When I went to click on my order on their website I was stunned to find that the order had completely disappeared. As though the camera had never been ordered. No trace. It was so weird that I called their customer service. The person who helped me asked me to check around and see if I could find an e-mail Amazon had sent me at 3:30 a.m that morning which would explain everything.

In short, they said in their e-mail that they were unable to put their hands on the product they'd previously confirmed with me, and that since they no longer had the product, they cancelled the order and refunded my $$$. I was flabbergasted. I presumed they knew what they did or did not have in inventory; especially since they were acting as a clearing house for a third party seller (whom I hold harmless).

I was a bit shocked but took it as a sign that I wasn't meant to have too many Pentax cameras. But that measure of restraint wore off by mid-afternoon and I found another K1, used, that's supposed to be on its way some time mid-week, next week. Shipped directly by the independent seller.

I'd just go and buy one locally but our big bricks and mortar camera store stopped selling Pentax products about a year ago, citing low sales versus the usual brands. What's a contrarian supposed to do?






And then there was color....


A couple of days ago I posted some black and white images from the Zach Theatre production of a family targeted play called, "JungalBook." I got a nice response for the most part but some questioned why I did not shoot color. I wanted to post this today to ensure those folks that we shoot all the plays in color and that I was just messing around with the black and white for the pleasure of tweaking stuff differently and, partially, for the nostalgia of how we used to shoot promotional photos in Austin 30 years ago. Back then our sources of media coverage were pretty much a couple of newsprint tabloids, some newsprint community newspapers and the newsprint put out by the Austin American Statesman; our main newspaper. In only the rarest instances did anyone ask for any color work. I shot rehearsals on black and white Tri-X and if we did color we set up electronic flashes and made our color photographs on medium format Hasselblads. The color shots were almost always "set-up" shots which meant that I had the luxury of being able to shoot a test Polaroid or two to get the color and exposure right. 

Now I photograph nearly everything at Zach Theatre with some selection of digital cameras. Right now my cameras (and lenses) of choice are Fuji X-H1s for the image stabilization and the great, high def EVFs. I have a couple fairly fast zooms which give me a lot of flexibility. I shoot in either raw or Jpeg, depending on the complexity of the lighting, but always I capture in color and, if I want to see black and white variations I do it in post production for the ultimate in control. 

While I like the black and whites from this production that I made (for myself) and shared here, the work I delivered to the marketing team was in glorious color --- which is how it should be now that all the publications and web venues are printed in full four color and the images that end up in these pubs are almost exclusively run in color only. 

So.... here are some of the same selections you saw in black and white but presented in all their colorful glory! I think they are just right for a kid's play...