Paring down on camera and lens inventory makes for easier day to day choices. Swimming on Thursday is rough. Coach has designated it I.M. day. In my mind that stands for "ouch."

 I've been working on reducing the camera inventory over the course of this year. I wanted to get rid of excessive duplication (also referred to as "redundancy" or "back-up" gear) and I was strongly motivated to get rid of different systems with different menus and different batteries. For someone who spent a large part of his career juggling different cameras for different work scenarios it took time for me to get comfortable with winnowing stuff down and being rational (or as rational as possible....) about it.

I wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece about getting a new Leica Q2 yesterday but what I didn't mention was that I've sold off, over the last couple of months, five cameras from other systems and at least ten lenses. Gone. Out the door. I've gifted a few lighting units and have given away other peripherals. 

Once I started shooting with Leica cameras I decided that I'd pare down as much as possible to only that family's products because it's nice to have consistency and it's nice to have all of the lenses be interchangeable; even between the APS-C Leica CLs and the full frame SLx cameras. 

At this point I only have two non-Leica cameras left. One is the Panasonic S5 which is too useful to part with. It's a go-to camera for video work and also a great camera for use with dedicated, on-camera, TTL flash work. Think galas, social events, etc. But I'm not in a hurry to part with it until I find a bullet-proof on-camera flash system that works across the Leica universe. 

The other camera is the eccentric, wonderful, quirky but capable of beautiful files --- Sigma fp. 

Both the fp and the S5 use all the L mount lenses interchangeably and both are worth so little as trade-ins or sellable products that it just makes economic sense to keep them around. And a bonus feature of the Sigma fp is that it takes the same batteries as the two Leica CLs. Nice. Swappable. Wish the S5 could use Leica batteries; or even better, that Leicas could use S5 batteries...

Since I sold my two Fuji X100V cameras last December I've been casually looking around for the right camera to replace them. A couple of times I almost back-slid to the Fujis but they have been unavailable for so long that my interest in them collapsed altogether. The Q2 has been on my radar for a couple of years now but I never quite figured out if the camera would work for me; both for jobs and financially. 

But selling off more and more cameras and lenses made the purchase at least fiscally do-able. So I took the plunge. 

Why that camera? Because it makes sense considering the direction in which I'm pushing my primary working cameras. It tucks into the overall system quite nicely. And, as with the Sigma fp and the CLs, it takes the same battery as the SL and SL2 cameras. I can see using it in concert with the bigger cameras when I want something quick and no nonsense while on assignment. 

I've often argued against the Q2 because I'm not a big fan of the 28mm focal length and that's what you get, permanently installed, on a Q2. But a quick tutorial with a friend who was already a Q2 owner showed me just how well the camera works with the zoom-in feature. It's really a well done work around for a fixed focal length. I can choose to shoot in a 35mm A.O.V. space and still come away with files that are over 30 megapixels in resolution. While the 50mm frame lines are smaller that crop too is usable and gives one about 15 megapixels of resolution. 

But the features I like best are the sharpness and performance of the Leica lens, the color science, the sensor (which I think it shares with the SL2) and the uniformity of the menu with the SL2 --- which is my most used camera for $$$ work. A well designed menu doesn't get the gushing credit that things like super snappy AF do but in my mind is a primary benefit for a camera --- and by extension, a system.

The Q2 is much smaller and lighter than my SLx cameras so it's easier to always have around. I'm also happy with the I.P. 52 weather resistance rating and look forward to moments of nonchalant indifference when the rain starts to pour down.

But the biggest selling point is the image quality. 

I wanted to buy a leather half case to protect the bottom of the camera --- since that part gets set down on rough surfaces sometimes when we're all moving quickly. I looked at a version of a leather half case at a Leica store and was shocked (really --- shocked) to see a price of $350. I opted for one advertised on Amazon and the cost was $34. I'd ordered one before for the TL2 and it was perfectly fine and fit well. Some things  you really don't need to splurge on....

One more thing. Just because a camera is made by Leica doesn't mean it can't be voted off the island.

Just recently I mini-celebrated (nice coffee) the departure of my most ill-advised Leica camera purchase. Yes, the Leica TL2 is now someone else's interface nightmare. Gone and at a $ loss. But I'm happy just to see it go. I'm sure there are many who bond with the camera and the cellphone-like menu system but the camera was just a non-starter for me. I'm touchscreen illiterate. And when you don't look forward to using something it's time to let it go. Unwanted cameras just take up space in the drawer and in your brain. Once gone you can use the space for something better.....or just enjoy the space itself. 

It was an interesting attempt by a company that was brave enough to take chances. But it should never have left the lab. At least not before a good test run in the hands of many ham-fisted photographers....

Several readers have asked if I considered the Q2 Monochrom when making my purchase but to be truthful it never crossed my mind. I find the controls in camera (Profile: Monochrom HC) and the breathtaking flexibility of Adobe's Lightroom all I need to create B&W images that match the style I like. 

I would love (not really) to write a series of blog posts about the 20+ years I spent in my own commercial darkroom souping film, making contact sheets, printing on fiber based paper, testing sodium vapor safe lights, toning in selenium solutions, using Spotone and tiny brushes to dust spot prints, fixer staining many beautiful shirts and pairs of pants, pouring chemicals down the sink, and so much more but I find the whole subject .... incredibly boring. Like describing to someone how to dig a hole with a shovel, fill the hole with dollar bills, set them on fire and the cover the ashes with the dirt. 

Many, many years ago, when I worked in advertising, we used to have to order type from a service for print ad production. When the type (on sheets of paper like material) came the leading and spacing wasn't always perfect and we used a waxer for adhesion on the backside of the page of type and then carefully cut some words out letter by letter and aligned them and pressed them onto the boards we sent to the printers. It was careful, time consuming work but it was always just cutting type out with a sharp blade and repositioning it to make the type look better. Once we were able to kern and space type on our computers we never had the misplaced nostalgia to go back and heat up the waxers and hunch over a drafting table lining stuff up sticky type with a Mayline. Never. 

That's about how I feel when I see people waxing sentimental about the actual drudgery that was darkroom work. We only really cared about the prints. The final piece of art. How we got there wasn't the source of joy. It was getting out of the darkroom alive and with a nice print in our hands that was the happy part.

Going backwards? Not on your life!

So, what's on your holiday list of "most wanted" stuff? And please don't say, "Dektol."

Finally, swimming. We have a mean coach on Tuesdays and Thursdays but we're growing to like and respect her. She upset our routine by making us lean into all four strokes and also to up the effort level in our workouts. Not necessarily more distance but a lot more speed work. Keeping those heart rates over 150.... at least mine...

Today, by her declaration, was I.M. day. It stands for individual medley. There are three races in the Olympics that are I.M. The 200 meter I.M.  the 400 meter I.M. and the 400 I.M. relay. In each the first quarter is butterfly, the next quarter is backstroke, then breaststroke and finally freestyle. In the 400 (non-relay) the first 100 yards is the killer. It's 100 yards or meters of butterfly stroke --- which most people could not finish for any reward. It's too hard to do for occasional swimmers... Even fit ones. And then the turn. And then right into backstroke, etc.

Our workout today consisted of mostly I.M. sets but also three main subsets that concentrated on one main stroke for each. You have not started out your morning under physical duress until you've knocked out five or six hundred yards of butterfly. It's just a whole different thing. In fact, I've been sitting here typing this post just to rest up and have the energy to get up and go find another cup of life-giving coffee....

Just a warning if you were planning to come to Jen's 8 a.m. workout next Thursday. 

No commercial links here.