And there it was. There on the shelf sat the very camera body I'd traded in months ago. Someone had purchased it, never learned to use it correctly or just didn't like it, and, after much deliberation brought it back and traded it for something else. The camera was still pristine. Almost unused. And the sale price included the big "chimney" finder I'd gotten after waiting nearly six months for them to ship. And the big and small grips. And the accessories.
As is my want I negotiated hard and with a certain cavalier disregard for the logic of American pricing. I walked out of the store about 15 minutes later with the whole bundle in my hands having paid a little over a thousand dollars for the entire kit. I had little hesitation because as soon as I saw the camera my memory was jarred and I remembered the images I'd been able to make with it previously.
I'd like to thank Mike for reminding me that hesitation leads to regret in some cases and that life is too brief not to have what you can afford and would enjoy. Hence Mike's pool table/pool clubhouse and my ever fluctuating camera "collection."
But what is it that I like, in particular, about the FP? In a nutshell I like it because the files have a different look to them than files from the other cameras I use. While it's not the most accurate of cameras, color-wise, it's the most intriguing. I like the fact that it's small and light while still boasting full frame, 24 megapixel sensor, and I like the idea that this camera actually forces me to pay attention and work for the frames I get from it. That "artist meets friction" thing I've written about before. In fact, that's probably the issue I have when comparing the Leica SL2 with the original Leica SL camera; the SL2 is too easy. Exposure is too accurate right out of the gate. The files are gorgeous without my intervention. The SL camera is capable of making gorgeous files; especially of people, but it requires more supervision, more hands-on control, more interpretation. And I'm thankful for the way cameras like that engage me and bring me into the process with a higher degree of intention and attention. Sure, "work" cameras should make life easy. But "art" cameras should bring a stick and a carrot. The stick being that you have to expend time and energy to learn the ways of a less than perfect camera. You have to dig into it to realize its potential. The carrot is that your resulting files will look different, and maybe more pleasing, than those coming from a more "fool proof" camera.
The FP is all that in spades. The big chimney finder for the rear LCD (needed to block light from the screen in bright environments) is a pain in the ass to mount on the camera and use. I'd love to pick up the new EVF finder which, with the updated firmware (3.0) now works with the original FP, but I think it will be months till it's actually available... and it's $700. Not sure I need to be go there since I was able to make satisfying images without that, before.
The FP loves to chew up batteries and goad its user with a bit of "range anxiety" a la electric cars. Will I make it to the Capitol and back on one small battery?
And then there's the lack of a mechanical shutter. Sure, wheels on fast moving cars and bikes won't be perfectly round but that's never been a concern of mine before --- besides, I've got lots of other cameras that can make wheels as geometrically perfect as you could want. But the lack of the mech. shutter also means, for all intents and purposes, that there's really no flash capability with this camera either.
So, what does that all make this camera? Ah, yes. The perfect eccentric's walking around "Art" with a capital "A" camera.
One thing is certain though. As long as I'm still working for clients it will never replace the Leicas and the wonderful catalog of lenses I've put together for them. This is more of an adjunct.
And a reminder that agonizing over purchases is a waste of time and energy. I could have a more expensive hobby. I have one friend who collects and restores classic Porches. That's never cheap. I have another friend who opened a restaurant. Enough said about that. But cameras? Not so scary.
Anyway, it's nice to see the FP again. Who can say how long it will stay this time? Move over Panasonics. You've got company.