7.26.2020

I love playing a guessing game. "Which camera and lens did I use to photograph these?" I usually lose. I presume most were made with stellar cameras.

From a Zach Theatre Production of "Harvey." 

I find I'm as susceptible to group think as everyone else. When I look at older photographs that I've shot; especially the ones that are technically very good, I presume I made them with some sort of full frame, 40+ megapixel camera and a lens lovingly crafted by German elves. Then I imagine that I was working in some sort of optimum envelope at the time which would allow me a rock bottom, low ISO and the fastest shutter speeds I could ever want.

Well....

I found myself putting together a collection of images that span 15 years of documenting performances at the theater. I pulled images based on what I liked instead of picking "most popular" shows or some other metric. And I kept coming across images that were both technically quite good and also captured at just the right moment. While I have used all manner of modern full frame cameras from Canon, Nikon, Sony and now Panasonic the images I most admired and wished I could take consistently came from the oddest assortment of cameras which were not even considered "state of the art" at the time of purchase. 

Some of the front runners have been (surprising me to no end...): The Panasonic GH4, GH5 and G85. The Olympus OMD EM-5 (both I and II), The Panasonic FZ2500, The Sony RX10-2, and several ancient, pre-mirrorless Sonys. There is even one long shot that I did of the kid with the Red Rider BB gun in "A Christmas Story" with an ancient PenFT 150mm f4.0 lens adapted to a Panasonic GH3. Sharp and nice even though it was shot under trying conditions and with no I.S. anywhere!

The images I've included here are all from a Zach Theatre play called, "Harvey." I presumed I'd done them with a Sony a99 or one of the Nikon D800s, along with a $2,000 70-200mm f2.8 but that was NOT the case. All the images I've included here were done with an inexpensive Sony SLT A58 camera. It's a camera that was introduced in 2012 and more widely available in 2013. It featured a "new" 20 megapixel APS-C sensor, a semi transparent, stationary mirror and a pop-up flash. I used it NOT with a prestige lens but with a very consumer oriented 50-200mm f4.0-5.6 zoom lens. I think its one nod to high performance was a metal lens mount on an all plastic barrel. The amazing thing is that all of these images are straight from the camera Jpegs which have not been kissed by post production. And all of them were shot at or near the longest focal length on the zoom lens and as close to wide open as I dared at the time. 

If you're reading on your phone the quality context of the images will be lost. But if you are looking on your desktop click on them and see them enlarged in a bigger window. A really great performance for a camera of its price and era. But no more visually substantial that photographs from similar cameras through the years.  Kinda proves the concept that being at the right place at the right time with the right training is the most important combination.



4 comments:

Frank Grygier said...

Makes one wonder about the new Pentax APSC flagship camera about to be released.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

I'm always wondering about the underdogs in this race. I really liked the K1; makes me interested in the new camera. We should discuss it over coffee some time soon. KT

Eric W said...

I still kick myself for selling my K5 and favorite lenses: 50-135, 77, 43, and 100mm Macro. I'd love to have the 77 and 43 on a K1 and see what they could do first hand.

Yoram Nevo said...

Amazing - you can see fabric details, not to mention the photos are lovely