Land of giants

So this is the age of the full frames!

Nikon, Canon and shockingly Panasonic [!!!] have all announced or indictated they are joining Sony in the brave new world of full frame mirrorless cameras.

Has anything really changed?

I’m not sure.

These beasts are likely to be so expensive that they remain the preserve of wealthy enthusiasts and pro photographers.  Their lenses remain heavy and the mirrorless versions are sometimes larger to make up for the new mirrorless dimensions. Maybe then everything remains the same just without mirrors.

The approx £2000 price tag will price out many hobbyist photographers, so my main concern is how seriously panasonic will take micro four thirds now. Because if almost everything stays the same, just mirrorless, then the big issue is whether mft as a format will still receive investment.

Now if manufacturers were willing to bring the price of digital cameras down then that would be interesting. If full frame cameras were within reach of more people, and at a price point that recognised that they need replaced every four years, that really would be a thing!!

With all this talk of increased frame rates, megapixels and more and more K video, what I really really want, is an inxepensive, relatively low tech, minimalist full frame camera, that I could afford to replace every few years. And of course, a few decent primes!

I can dream…

Will mft survive this?

It was fun when it lasted but 10 years after the micro four thirds format was launched perhaps the end is night.

A couple of years ago I lamented the ever increasing size of mft cameras and the subsequent loss of their advantage. At the time I mused that thankfully pro end mft cameras remained smaller than their larger format counterparts (https://davebobphotos.com/2016/07/18/is-there-a-benefit-to-micro-four-thirds-cameras-in-street-photography/).

But this is no longer the case. I had read some criticism in the blogosphere about the large size of the Lumix G9. And today I have finally been able to compare it online to Nikon’s full frame mirrorless Z series. They are nearly identical sizes. And for the record the Sony A7 III is smaller than the G9. (See camerasize.com)

The size difference will remain in the lenses. Mft lenses can be smaller and lighter, and because of the crop factor effectively longer. So under certain circumstances I can imagine a comparative advantage to mft.

But for someone shooting primes in the wide to short tele range, I suspect there will be less advantage in mft lenses. And the image quality and noise handling of full frame is likely to persuade many away from mft.

Where mft used to excel was size and price but now both have crept up close to their ff equivalents.

I hope I’m wrong. But if I was a pro or wealthy enthusiast, I’d be hard pushed to consider mft now.

Perhaps Olympus and Panasonic have acquiesced to the ff mirrorless crew. But if not, in my opinion they need to remember the competitive advantage they used to provide by being a little smaller, lighter and cheaper without compromising quality.

More GAS

It’s 10 years since the first mirrorless camera appeared on the scene. Amateur Photographer magazine has a whole issue devoted to the subject (Saturday 18th August 2018).

One article compares the first mirrorless camera, the Panasonic Lumix G1 with its contemporary counterpart the G9. Unsurprisingly, there are great improvements in the latter over the former model.

However what struck me was the relative similarly in the sample images. Yes the G1 delivers noisier shots. But given that there has been a decade between the cameras I was surprised with how well the G1 images compared.

Now, of course their have been very significant changes in other areas. The viewfinders today are a huge improvement on the laggy earlier offerings. Image stabilisation, autofocus, focus peaking and 4K have also made their mark. But basic image quality has possibly improved less that some other technologies.

I have seen similar comparisons of each iteration of Canon 5D. Yes their have been improvements, but the actual images can appear similar without too much pixel peeping.

The thing we have to remember is that photography is not just about art, it’s about business, marketing, sales and profit. There is an industry devoted to parting you from your cash with the promise of better images. But new cameras and lenses will probably make a marginal difference compared to practice and devotion to the art of picture taking.

The blogger Giulio Sciorio confirms this in a recent post saying that after years using and testing the latest camera tech he is now using an older and adequate camera with only a few lenses. However, he sounds much happier than when he had all the newest gear (here).

Sadly we convince ourselves that if we just get a new camera or lens, we will be more satisfied and our images much improved. The problem is that the new gear satisfies for a few weeks and then something better comes along. Our new gadget is psychologically relegated and we remain the same photographer we were before.

Technology moves on and we need to catch up from time to time. But we should challenge more often the myth that the latest gear is most important.

Processing plunge

P7090403.jpg

I have just started to migrate from Lightroom to Luminar.  At the moment it means using Apple Photos as my catalogue and Luminar as an external editor.

Luminar has a few rought edges which I think Skylum is addressing. For example, I find it a little laggy at times, it actually crashed twice during the first couple of hours of experimentaion. There also seems to be an issue with the apparent sharpness of files during processing. With regard to sharpness, I found it best to apply sharpening in Photos itself after processing in Luminar.

The Luminar user experience is very different to Lightroom and I’m taking a while to acclimatise. However, I have hight hopes that I will be able to develop a streamlined workflow.

The main reason I moved to the new software is the subscription model that Adobe has established. Call me a luddite, but, where possible, I prefer the standalone software option; especially at a third of the price (Luminar is currently on sale on the app store).

 

Change of direction?

Today I am reduced to posting the kind of image that inspires within me self loathing; a hipsteresque image of coffee and my camera (the only thing I despise more is the horrible ice cream glass some chains insist on for lattes).

I lost my bottle. I tried to take an image of a guy on a BMX, lost confidence so asked, and was told to beat it (in more colourful language).

I should have carried on shooting elsewhere, but instead gave up for a while. The reality is there is very little conflict in street photography. Yet, when it happens, it makes me want to give up. I listen to John Free tell me that street photography is a noble endeavour. But sometimes it seems to be perceived as less than honourable.

It is a fairly mainstream activity. Today I listened to part of the fascinating story of Vanley Burke documenting the experience of the African-Caribbean community in England. This was a Radio 4 programme. Hardly an underground or especially edgy source. The story told the response of some of his subjects discovering his candid shots. In the main they sounded ok with it and some sounded pleased.

However, with some of the present anxiety over GDPR (which will hopefully turn out to be unwarranted) and the potential for conflict, I wonder if it’s time for a change of direction.  Or at least until I get my bottle back.

In these circumstances I enjoy doing something different. For example, occassionally I get the opportunity to photograph events. It gives me the chance to plug in the flash and take some non-candid shots and portraits. I find that mft cameras can generally deal well enough with the light conditions and my little Nissin i40 flash does a brilliant job with the problem situations.

Auto focus

So, it turns out that shooting analogue doesn’t cure GAS at all.

After a few weeks of using the Trip 35, which I really love, I’ve managed to get hold of a film camera with auto-focus. This lovely Rollei compact belongs to my brother. I don’t think he’s used it much in the last 20 years, and he kindly gave it to me.

This is the first 35mm camera I’ve had with autofocus and I notice a big difference. Far fewer shots are not sharp and shots seems much sharper than using zone focussing with the Trip 35.

In fact this camera seems to achieve focus very quickly, probably faster than my MFT cameras. Here’s an example of a snatched shot while crossing the street.