5.08.2014

What did I read this morning? A blog by Ming Thein that sums up why I think my 16 megapixel GH4 hits the professional sweet spot...

If you haven't read Ming's writings yet you might really enjoy his site. This blog is about "sufficiency."

http://blog.mingthein.com/2014/05/08/beyond-the-numbers-whats-next/#more-7935

Have fun. And maybe circle back and let me know what you think...

Knowledge. A good differentiator.

Studio Portrait Lighting

5.07.2014

And while we're on the subject of economics and change..... Get ready to lose your film printers.


I walked into my local Costco today to pick up some prints I'd ordered online. They were all profiled with the latest profiles and they looked perfect. My wife sent me along to Costco with a small envelope that had three 35mm negatives that she also wanted printed. Costco had printed work for me in the past and had done a nice job. I smiled at the clerk and asked her if she would help me remember how to do a print order. She smiled that oh I'm sorry to tell you this smile and nicely told me that they no longer could actually print from negatives. No prints from film of any kind. None.

When I got back home I started doing a little research on line. Prints from negatives have fallen dramatically for mass marketers like Walmart and Costco. So much so that Costco has started designing a new generation of stores with no photo finishing departments at all. None. And many others are following suit.

But it doesn't stop with film. My quick research shows that overall print sales in consumer mass merchandizing stores, grocery stores and drug stores chains is down by as much as 40% year over year. The decline seems to match, in slope, the same relative decline that happened when digital imaging eclipsed film cameras. The slope is quicker than many expected.

My feeling is that we've hit another inflection point in our society's transformation from artifact collectors to digital information consumers. We want the  visceral delight of seeing our digital images immediately, on our little screens. We are no longer interested (as a cultural) in getting the little envelope of actual prints and looking at them and then storing them somewhere until they retire from our memories.

You will no doubt write to tell me, anecdotally, of all the people you know who crave physical prints to hang on walls and send to aging aunts and grandmothers but that may be because you are a selective and self-selected audience and not representative of the mainstream demographic for whom the machine print 4x6 was a ubiquitous (pre-digital) sharing medium. People with the ability to chose have chosen. Images are meant now to be enjoyed on screen. Not as shuffles through an envelope filled with paper prints.


Terminal Ubiquity (tm). When everyone offers it no one needs to buy it...

This photograph is unique to me because it is my own kid.
He's running a cross country race in the Texas heat. 
The image reminds me (as if I needed reminding) that  
he is a great son. 

I read too much. But I kept reading things that reinforce some thoughts I've been having. One is that when everyone pursues the same goals and everyone has a horse in the race at some point whatever is offered becomes truly ubiquitous, loses the values that make it special and reinforces a commodity expectation. Take online advertising for example. The early and ongoing promise for companies advertising on the web was that, like early TV, people would be magnetically attracted to content and would complacently look at any advertising a company cared to pair along with the paid content. In the earliest days this meant absolutely horrible banner ads and then pop-up ads which led users to invent ways around the pop-ups while helping the target market become immune to even acknowledging the banner advertising. 

But, of course, the web is built around the pervasive idea that everything should be free and that content will drive profit everywhere. As an example this blog is hosted for free on Blogger which is a Google service. Google monetizes the "bold" Blogger experiment with Google Ad Sense. That is the part of Google that generates lots of innocuous, little ads that bloggers can choose to sprinkle around and through their content. The ads, theoretically, will pay for the cost of maintaining Blogger and also return a profit to Google. Not sure how that's working out. I tried working with Google Ad Sense in the early years and the system placed a number of totally unrelated or competitive ads on the site and returned less that ten bucks, total, to me as their affiliate. At some point Google may decide that the decade of blogs is over and shut the whole thing down. That's one of the downsides of stuff being free, you don't ultimately have any control over it. 

But what really got me thinking was a news story I heard about Alibaba, the giant Chinese company that will be going IPO on the NYSE sometime soon. The company is into everything, and it sounds like a blend of Amazon and Google but the operating theory is all about selling advertising. The products are secondary or even loss leaders for the service, it's the advertising space sales that currently bring in the revenue. And that's their business model. And Twitter's business model. And Facebook's business model. And DPReview's business model. And Yahoo's business model. And Pinterest's business model. And Instagram's business model. And everyone else's business model. 

It's almost gotten to the point where everyone's business model, no matter what service they provide or trinket they push, is really all about selling advertising surrounding the service or trinket to other businesses around your neighborhood, your city, your state and your country. But if everyone everywhere is selling advertising space does this mean that the market for advertising is infinitely scalable? I don't think that's really possible. 

I get that there's room for growth in emerging markets but the trend in the U.S. period already points to both deceleration and declining web ad revenue. The media buys are already too fragmented to achieve perceptible, measurable momentum and results for any but the most enormous marketers and, the fragmentation of the market continues unabated. Twitter stock recently took a big dive because investors are unsure how adding more advertising in yet another space within an already over crowded market will ultimately drive profitability. I'm sure the same will follow along for most of the purveyors of user generated content spaces because of the sheer amount of space available. 

It all comes down to supply and demand. When ad space in a demographic sector (high capacity web users, hipsters, middle America Online ) becomes closer and closer to infinite the value of said space drops to nearly zero. A recent example is as close at hand as stock photography. Once upon a time stock images were hard to find, hard to get and hard to physically deal with. Now they are just electrons, they are sourced directly from your mom and your daughter and your Facebook pages and tens of millions of free stock image generators. The search and delivery is totally automated and we can now access billions and billions of images at the click of a touch pad. The supply has gotten closer and closer to infinite and so now the value has dropped to nearly zero. Supply and demand. In fact, Getty is giving most of your stock photography away free because they too believe the mantra that the key to profitability is to sell advertising space and they are using their product (your product) as a "loss leader" to drive eyeballs to their site in order to capture enough data to convince all the same prospective advertisers everyone else is chasing about the wonderful value of their space. 

Wouldn't be surprised in the least if Amazon was making more money in the placement, advertising and marketing of the products that they sell than they do in the actual margins on the products you queue up to buy. Wouldn't it be bizarre to find out that your camera purchase or your purchase of Nike running shoes on their site is partially subsidized by advertising revenue delivered by selling space on their own site to their own merchants. Even if it is a less than direct methodology. 

But let's dive a little deeper and see what we think the end results might be.... So, imagine a publisher starting a newspaper in a big, literate town which currently has no newspaper at all. They bring in a staff of reporters, designers, layout people, editors, sales people, distributors and all the rest. A big investment. But...they have an exclusive market for their style of advertising: Display ads in among the (riveting) content as well as consumer (user) generated ads in the "want ad" area of the paper. The newspaper makes a good profit. Which attracts another newspaper that comes in with the same basic offers and the same space. They split the market and both papers make a profit, although now the overall profits to both are reduced.

Now imagine a metro market of half a million people who are offered two thousand newspapers. All with very similar content. All with very similar ad space that is moving toward infinite availability. There are not nearly enough advertisers to go around (not enough demand) so the papers start price wars in attempts to get more of the market share. The prices drop because there is a huge supply of space resources and no increase in overall demand. As the ad space nears infinity the revenue from that ad space effectively approaches zero. But if the quality of the content remains the same that means costs remain fixed. 

So, now the papers have two options. They can try to institute a much higher price subscription paradigm but they quickly find out that they have done a good job teaching their target markets (both advertisers and end consumers) that all information and ad space should be almost free (remember that the ad revenue was supposed to be the driver that paid for the overhead). The other option is to reduce the cost of content. They could do this by crowdsourcing the content and laying off their pro staffs but in the end they may find that the unvetted and unreliable content is no longer good enough to drive consumers to consume the papers in enough numbers and with enough loyalty to lure advertisers into buying ad space to reach said consumers. 

At some point, across the board, the revenue starts to zero out. When the revenue starts to zero out the entity can no longer afford the content that drove the site in the first place. Or the market they once enjoyed in an almost exclusive way is now split between hundreds of very similar vendors, most of whom did not have to bear the same costs and time investments to create the market at the inception. 

This then triggers Kirk's immutable law of virtual content and virtual delivery economics: Terminal Ubiquity (tm). Infinite, nearly identical offerings, drive markets to zero profit. When they approach zero profits the ability to supply differentiating content also vanishes and creates a death spiral for that particular industry.

While Amazon.com may be doing well now imagine how much different their battlefield will be when there are hundreds and hundreds of nearly identical marketers, some subsidized by the governments of their countries of origin, all competing for the same high value customers. Delivery costs can't be driven to zero. The cost of actual product is just as inflexible. At some point the margins will fall to unsustainable levels. As they have in royalty free stock photography, video tape rentals, office supply stores, camera stores (outside of the three thriving U.S. markets) and many other businesses. 

When all of the web based businesses realize that Kirk's rule is also inflexible, that ubiquity drives out profitability, they will either have to offer consumers products with embedded value or they will have to exit the business. The point at which the profit/saturation curve crosses over is falling due for a number of players. Call it a bubble. Call it a thinning of the herd. The bottom line is death from Terminal Ubiquity

As an adjunct to the idea that this is a business model failure only of big social sharing and information websites it would be wise to apply these ideas to every other kind of business extant. The Chinese and Bangladeshi workers offer nearly ubiquitous labor which destroys the  markets in other countries for the manufacture of clothing. Photographers offer their work free to magazines and clients in the hopes that it will generate future, paid, work. It's a cycle that is also unsustainable. 

At some point someone will have to make something that other people would like to have. Something that can't be imitated easily. Then real profit will be returned to the businesses and they will prosper. Right now most web businesses are running on an unfulfillable promise. Infinitely scalable advertising space needs.  And we have a good idea of where that will end...

5.06.2014

Lens Candy. The Panasonic 7-14mm f4. Tiny and cute.


Stuff comes and stuff goes. A Sony a850 sacrificed itself to I could bring this lens home. I've wanted a copy of my own since I first borrowed this lens from a friend. Nasty thing about even the best friends is that they expect to eventually get their stuff back from you....

What's not to like? The Panasonic 7-14mm is small and light and sharp. It's a 14-28mm equivalent if mapped in full frame angles of view but it's much smaller than the Nikon 14-28mm, almost by a factor of four times.

It doesn't have anything fancy tacked on. No I.S. and no knobs. The hood is part of the structure. The front element protrudes and disallows filter use.

Optically, I can state that the lens is sharp just about every where in its range of focal lengths and from wide open to at least f8. Probably thanks to good design which includes two aspherical elements and 4 ED elements.

This rounds out my optical system for the GH series cameras. These (the 7-14mm, the 12-35mm and the 35-100mm) lenses are the lenses I had in mind from the beginning when I started re-exploring the system in anticipation of the GH4 arriving. The whole system with two camera bodies fits into one, smallish Pelican case. Very cool.

If you own this lens I'd be interested in any comments relating to your use of it and the results. Thanks!



Roger Cicala (LensRental) does a great job explaining MTF curves and data!!

http://www.the.me/lens-wtf-modulation-transfer-function-mtf-chart-explained/

For those of you who may have missed it, Roger Cicala of LenRental wrote a great piece explaining the reality behind those MTF curves you see on lens test sites and in the boxes of pricier lenses. He does a great job explaining both the math (by not using math) and the relevance of the curves in the real world of lens selection. It's very well done. As is Roger's regular blog on his own site. 

And now for something completely different: The 85mm Samsung NX lens on the new-ish NX30 camera.


I was weighing one final equipment change for now. I wanted to pick up the 7-14mm Panasonic lens (I've borrowed one on and off) to add to my GH4 system. I think at that point I'll feel a sense of (at least) temporary completion and stasis with my new m4:3 system. I'll I have equivalent of the holy trinity of zoom lenses that professional photographers always seem to amass for Nikon and Canon system. High quality zooms that effectively cover the range from 14mm to 200mm (in 35mm speak). But I'm being cautious with cash and to make the final acquisition and achieve temporary system stasis I feel like I need to peel off more excess gear. The orphans around the studio now are the Sony a850 and a few attendant lenses. 

I had some hesitation about letting that stuff go because (I rationalized) there may still be times I crave that very narrow depth of field that larger sensor cameras do so well. While I was pondering and dithering about the whole roundabout deal a thought slammed into my consciousness: Would I be happy with the performance and the look of a fast, longer lens on APS-C? Especially the look and performance of a lens I already have; the Samsung 85mm 1.4? So I grabbed the Samsung NX 30 APS-C mirror free camera body (20 megapixels, at least as nice a noise profile as the bigger Sony) and headed out the door to see what's what.  That's what these images are all about. 

The camera is not image stabilized and though a number of the Samsung zooms feature I.S. the 85mm 1.4 SSA does not. The trade off is, of course, a very fast max aperture which goes a long way toward delivering higher, more handhold-able shutter speeds. I shot with the lens wide open and the center 2/3rds of the frame are very sharp while the outer areas are more typical of the fast primes from other makers. 

I stopped down to f2.8 and the lens got very sharp and very well behaved. I think that when it comes to zero depth of field portraits the camera and lens are a very good combination. Having done this test makes me a bit more confident about moving on from the Sony full frame Alpha stuff and into the ever bubbling pot of micro four thirds. The 85mm+the Samsung NX30 will be hanging around the edges like a bokeh lifeguard for those moments when nothing will do but eyelashes in razor focus with earlobes soft and fuzzy. 

One more step forward in the world domination by m4:3s, with the Samsung 85mm as an ally in the wings...







Oh goodness. An almost total immersion into micro four thirds. I may have to give up my Professional Photographer's Decoder Ring...

5.05.2014

Settling into the creative process by embracing my anxiety.


I've always been an anxious person. I'm sure it's something I inherited from my mother who is a constant worrier. For a long time I thought of my pervasive anxiety as a "flat tire" on my artistic journey in photography and as a writer, but lately I've come around to the idea that, in a certain sense, anxiety is, as Kierkegaard said, a reflection and realization of the possession of freedom. Freedom to make any choices from an infinite selection of choices. We have anxiety because we question our choices but if we had no anxiety in the process it might indicate that we have somehow removed free choice from our mental construct.

I get nervous about projects, in part, because my brain generally goes directly to the idea that there are dozens, hundreds or thousands of ways to do a project. All of them are flawed and yet, in another sense all are valid choices. It's the implied responsibility to come up with the right choice for the job or project at hand that causes the discomfort. And it makes sense.

I added the image of Belinda (above) to make my point. This image was done the way I wanted to see it for a amalgam of interconnected, personal reasons. In one sense it represents a point on a long time line. It's not the apocryphal image of Belinda for all time, rather it's a small inflection point. A memory of a kind of look, in a certain place, preserved for my pleasure. Had it been "commissioned" by Belinda I'm sure she would have requested a more pleasant look on her face, time to remove the sunglasses from her head and to smooth and fuss with her hair. She might have preferred a different garment and even a different venue. Had it been done with her parents as the final audience we certainly would have done the image in color and I would have coaxed a happy smile onto her face. Technically I might have pulled away from the wall to minimize the shadow on the rock work and I almost certainly would have pulled in a reflector on the shadow side of her face to fill in.

Had we been shooting for the city of Verona's chamber of commerce we would have dressed Belinda up a bit, brought in the make up people, shot in color, placed her on the ramparts of the wall instead of beneath it, used a wider lens so we could also see the city behind her and finally, I would have used a big, battery powered flash in a soft box to balance the light on Belinda with the sunlight drenched scenery in the background. Or would the right choice be the one I already made?

To an extent every assignment frightens me with the same kinds of choices presented in different ways. In my mind I see the choices in terms of client preferences but that doesn't really make sense. I start down a line of thought that endlessly presumes what I think the client has in mind. What the client really wants. Do they want movement? Should the camera's strength be its portability and ability to focus well on the fly? Or is the client looking for ultimate technical quality? Should I be renting a medium format Leica and a couple of car's worth of lenses with which to do the project? The anxiety comes in trying to resolve which leg of the triangle of choices to shorten and which one to lengthen.

While a pragmatic business man would just say, "They only have this (X) budget so they only get this camera and they only get this much effort." the sad truth is that artists (to their own detriment) aren't wired that way. We almost always presume that the client wants perfection as much as we want to deliver it. And so we go back and start looking through all the compromises to make the best match for our presumptions. Not just choices of gear but also choices of process and style.

The truth is that clients don't really care about technical quality unless it interferes with the ultimate audience appreciation of the image. If a lesser quality detracts from the overall presentation only then is the project a "failure". And the truth is that we artists trap ourselves by making presumptions about the client's parameters and expectations. We share culpability with our own tenacity in holding onto cultural assumptions of (ever shifting) technical and stylistic norms.

The closer I get to a big project the more my anxiety wells up. The more choices I see in front of me which are all valid, all accessible in some form or another. My worry is that to choose incorrectly will result in some sort of failure that will be laid at my feet. One false step and you'll see me doing street photography with an albatross around my neck....

But there it is. The underlying truth of my photographic process. Be it a personal project or a client assignment, the underlying current that powers what I do is the anxiety presented by choice. And freedom to choose. Because with that freedom is the constant intimation that I can choose incorrectly.

Is it any wonder that we change cameras as often as we change our underwear? I don't know about you but the subconscious (partially conscious? fully conscious?) conceit is that the next camera will be the one that makes all three legs of our quality/price/creative triangle equal and powerful. A talisman to ward off the bad luck of too much choice. The new lens is like a bottle of Xanax, absolving us of error by dint of its innate imaging prowess, conferred to us. But we quickly develop a resistance as we build up our dose of "miracle" lenses and realize that underneath, nothing has really changed. And all we can do is make the choices and move forward.  But the anxiety does drive us to make the choices.

I envied my associates who exist by "blinkered" belief. They reject so many avenues of freedom of choice by choosing one from the menu of many options and eating the same diet of process everyday, every minute, every shutter click. They have no anxiety because they did their "research" bought the best compromise and never looked back---changing only when replacing damaged goods or following the mainstream along the curve of complacent, and slower paced acquisition. It must feel good to make every sortie in photograph in the same unquestioning way. It must be calming to make each photograph in exactly the way one made the last one and the one before that.

We are all wired differently. We all look over the chasm of choice with different mechanisms for coping. But at its essence the anxiety we feel is conscious embrace of choice. The reality of its existent and the reality of our freedom to embrace it. Or be humbled by it.

5.04.2014

Sony RX10 in the workplace.


I was shooting some table top stuff against white on Friday. Same as I've done for years and years. Only instead of using a "professional" camera I decided to test the set up with a Sony RX10. I was shooting with fluorescent light and also shooting with the camera on a horizontal arm on a Gitzo tripod so I needed a camera that would shoot without vibration. The image will end up being masked so the cables can be removed from the background and dropped into whatever document or web use the final client has in mind.

I set up the camera to shoot raw files and I enabled a two second delay self timer. Having read the reviews of the camera at DP Review and other websites I decided to use f8 as a good compromise between depth of field and diffraction. Interestingly enough the RX10 is one of the few cameras (according to Sony info) that uses a diffraction correction algorithm with helps to correct for diffraction induced aberrations as the lens is stopped down. In fact, I did test the lens all the way out to f16 and it was much better than my grasp of physics would have led me to believe.  All things considered I thought f8 would be just fine.

With the camera directly overhead I auto focused with a wide focusing pattern and metered using the camera's zebra feature. I have it set for 100% so I shifted exposure until I just got the zebra pattern showing and then I had a reasonable expectation of getting white background in the final image without having to monkey around too much in post. The zebra settings must be a tad conservative because I still had detail in the white areas. In reality the 100% is more like 92%. Good to know.

I didn't bother with a custom white balance since I was shooting in raw and against white. The file certainly didn't need much nudging to get exactly right in PhotoShop.

What I wound up with is a file that has lots and lots of detail, very little noise and no weird lens stuff going on. The electronic shutter with self-timer is vibration free.  The fast set up and the great EVF and rear screen make this a fast camera to use for more mundane work.   Especially work that is most likely destined to run small in a brochure or as an illustration on a back page on a website.

One might be able to make the argument that a Nikon D800 or a Sony a77R would be a better tool for this type of work but with every change one leg of the compromise changes as well. Those cameras would have less depth of field and would require smaller apertures to ensure sharp focus. Being a phase detection AF camera, the Nikon D800 can be subject to focus shift. The Sony lacks an electronic shutter and, according to many, suffers from exactly the sort of vibration that this kind of set up would amplify.  I prefer to keep things simpler and happier.

In the new world of advertising and commercial work the RX10 is a competent and very adequate performer. Not all still life is basic and straightforward and a larger sensor camera would be useful if you were dealing with putting parts of the frame out of focus. But for documentation and representation of (non-glamorous) and utilitarian product a simple solution is effective and efficient.



Amazon - Shop. Connect. Enjoy. All from Earth's Biggest Selection.

5.03.2014

GH4 is fun to shoot. Here's a sample at ISO 800. Jpeg.



I was at the Bullock Texas State History Museum when I saw this exhibit and made an image. I used the GH4 along with the 12-35mm f2.8 lens. The image was shot with the lens wide open. The bottom image is crop of the top image. I was looking for noise. I was unsuccessful.

The camera is charming to shoot with both a voluptuous EVF and a no nonsense shutter sound. I like it all. 

5.02.2014

Working. It's always interesting.


Studio Dog and I have been working a lot this week. And we've been doing it all wrong. At least I have. Studio Dog does her part with the same panåche she always has. She barks at the UPS guy and she growls at the Fed Ex guy. She stakes out her turf on her dark brown carpet just a few feet shy of my desk and supervises my efforts at the computer between naps in which she dreams not only of chasing squirrels and birds but also catching them....

No, I'm the one who keeps doing things the wrong way. Case in point: a recent job shooting architectural interiors and antique furniture. I should have used the ancient 4x5 inch view camera (but it's long since gone to its rewards...) and in the absence of a filmic tool solution I know the right way to do everything is to grab a full frame camera and a safety deposit box full of tilt/shift lenses. I should excite enormous amounts of photons with a "professional" electronic flash and I must always aim the flashes through soft boxes or into waiting umbrellas. 

But that would be the same way we did it once before and I like to think we aren't little picture factories, trying to crank out a never ending stream of photographs that look exactly like every other photograph we've ever done. I think that even in the digital age we can introduce the imperfection of our handiwork (mental or physical) into the mix. Even if its genesis is the mad desire to see how things will look when we gaze through a very different kaleidoscope. 

I did the job with my Sony RX10 and I was delighted. No muss, no fuss. Lots of live view. Lots of electronic levels. Lots of megapixels. Lots of depth of field. And, I know I should have shot every single thing raw but I sure liked the way the camera unbent previously straight lines and added some detail to the shadows via a slight introduction of DRO. That, and a good tripod and I'm ready to rock the architecture. Although I must admit that I had a little help from Mr. Reflector Panel and Mr. Shoe Mount Flash (bouncy, bouncy!). I've been shooting stuff like this for a long time and I must say that I was a little surprised at just how good the new technology is. The Sony RX10 is an amazing camera. I am even more amazed that so many otherwise knowledgeable people are immune to its (obvious to me ) charms.

Bolstered by that success I started using the RX10 for a number of studio still life jobs where I found the combination of a very sharp and flexible lens, an enormous depth of field at f5.6/8 and a dense sensor with a one hundred ISO setting to be......little short of miraculous. I've been shooting servers at angles. An angle across the front and probably a 30-40 degree down angle. The camera is able to hold focus and still give me amazing sharpness and low noise/no noise. I'll admit that though I've produced still life of product and technical stuff for decades mastery of the view camera made things relatively easy (where keeping things sharp front-to-back was concerned) but the full frame digital cameras always seemed to vex me with a combination of niggling issues.The first niggle is that most of the well corrected lenses are generally the macros in the 50-120mm range and at the distances we want to shoot the apertures required for satisfactory depth of field seem to range in the f16-22 range. And that brings up the second niggle: that densely packed, high resolution sensors tend to add their own diffraction to the diffraction provided by stopped down lenses. I'm going to guess it's a pretty circular conundrum regardless of format but the "one inch" sensor cameras seem to hang on to sharpness and depth of field at around f8. 


At any rate, the servers we've been shooting seem to like the combination of smaller sensor, perfectly matched lens and they reward us with good visual behavior. 



So, in the middle of all this, after having found a workable still life solution, I continue my adventure in taking a successful methodology and then changing it up to see what happens next. Today I shot servers in racks on location in a factory. I opted to do it with the Panasonic GH3 and the 12-35mm X series lens. Why? Who can know? 

Panasonic GH cameras seem to me to really be fine-tuned toward working professionals. They are kludgier than other cameras but they do some things very well and almost invisibly. Take the simple "framing mode." All the EVF/Live View cameras have an small issue in working with flash. If you have your camera set up to give you accurate exposure indications in manual changing the shutter speed or aperture makes the view in the finder brighter or darker. Just like an OVF camera. But when you go to use a flash and set an exposure that is intended to over power the ambient light the finder image goes darker as you set higher shutter speeds. For instance, on the factory floor (lit with a combination of artificial light sources) I wanted to use the fastest sync speed on the GH4 (1/160th) combined with an aperture of f8 in order to get rid of any contamination from ambient light sources. I wanted my three studio flashes to totally dominate the lighting.

But as I headed toward that exposure combination everything in the finder was very dark. Now, on my Sony cameras with EVFs I would go into the menu and finder the "setting effect" menu item and turn it on or off to get a bright, amplified finder image with which to use flash. 

I had learned that the GH3 would automatically switch to "bright finder" mode when I attached a Panasonic or Olympus flash to the hot shoe and turned it on. Wow. Cool. But today I found out that if I put an adapter in the hot shoe and plug in a sync cord the camera senses that as well and automatically switches to "bright finder" mode. In a sense this feature also transforms into an alert because if you lose the flash connection the viewfinder will warn you by reverting to "darker reality mode." In fact, this automation also include my radio slaves. 

I shot for a couple of hours and came back to the studio to look at the raw files. (Why am I not shooting this stuff with the new GH4? I am waiting for the introduction of Adobe Camera Raw conversion software for the new camera). I'm in a raw file mood this week. Go figure. 


The GH series is soooo set up to use quickly and efficiently. All the controls in the right place and raw image quality that's exemplary. (I would say that it punches above its weight class but about 65,000 web sites and blogs about photography have used that phrase in the last week making it a de facto cliché).  The final invitation to the system for me was the introduction of the two X lenses, the 12-35mm and the 35-100mm 2.8 lenses. It took me a while to circle back to the system but it sure does feel solid for real work...

From "A Christmas Story" at Zach Theatre.

But work is work. I've been heading to the Bullock State History museum each afternoon doing a project there and I've been coming home to do raw file conversion and put web galleries up for my client. I've been switching between cameras there as well, just to see which cameras excel at which things. As I work in the near darkness of the museum my thoughts don't wander toward full frame sensors as much as they wander toward the idea of fast glass. Is it any wonder then that I just got off the phone with sales impresario, Ian, who was calling to check on my GH4 experiences and subtly, slyly let me know that they currently have three of the 42.5mm Nocticron lenses in stock. Just in time for some more museum shooting next week.....


The images below are just a random assortment of things I've shot recently with non-conforming/non-professional camera equipment. And I had fun breaking the rules at every step. ..

There are images from the RX10, the Samsung Cameras, a Sony R1, A fuji S3,  A Sony a77 and even a decrepit, old Sony a850. Not a single "pro vetted" picture machine in the bunch. Wacky stuff. But then it is Friday!




Hello Fuji!

R1

Galaxy NX

a77

a850

 Galaxy NX

G6?

RX10