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.

Sicily

We’ve recently been to Sicily. It was a family trip and I’ve learned that it’s not really possible to be a useful dad and focus on taking photos. So I simply used my phone and snatched the odd image before having to chase the kids through the streets of Syracuse.

Sicily was beautiful. And once we’d become accustomed to the slightly crazy driving ( eg I was undertaken at the first roundabout) we tucked in to the abundant seafood, gelato and archaeology.

A few thoughts arising from the photos above:

  • I love the square format again made popular by Instagram. I’m thinking of changing all my digital images to this format.
  • Mobile phones have pretty decent cameras now and the processing power is incredible. They are useful in most circumstances and the images are fine for online sharing.
  • I wonder if Apple will ever team up with a camera manufacturer produce a larger sensor offering?
  • I wish my digital cameras had Apple’s intuitive software.
  • But I’m still mourning the loss of Aperture. I wouldn’t want Apple to buy Olympus or Lumix and then reduce the pro options as some feel has happened eg with Aperture, iWork, Logic Pro and the MacBook Pro.

Is there a benefit to Micro Four Thirds Cameras in Street Photography?

Most weeks I do a little window shopping at our local camera shop. I seem drawn to opportunities to grow envious of gear that I don’t need and can’t afford. I suppose it’s the chipping away of residual satisfaction with my current camera, so that eventually I persuade myself that a new camera will improve my lacklustre images.

On a recent browse, I was surprised by a couple of new Nikon bodies in the window.  Both were entry level cameras and both were much smaller than I had imagined. In fact they they seemed almost the same size as the Panasonic G7 beside them. To confirm this I did a little research and found a really helpful site called camerasize.com. For example, if you follow the link you’ll see that there is very little difference in size between the Nikon D5500 and the Panasonic G7.

Which got me thinking about the increasing size of successive models of mirrorless camera and in particular the Panasonic Micro Four Thirds (MFT) range (e.g. compare the GH1-GH4, the GX1-GX8 or the G3-G7*). To me the increase in size seems to be counter productive, particularly in terms of Street Photography.

The greatest advantage of mirrorless cameras is their size. Of course you need to include lenses when considering overall system sizes. But since APS mirrorless bodies and DSLR bodies use similarly sized lenses, having bodies the same size clearly diminishes the mirrorless advantage. Even in the case of MFT bodies where lenses can be significantly smaller, a small DSLR body with a small prime may be almost the same size. And in terms of image quality an APS DSLR with a small fast lens might be preferable to a similarly sized MFT body. Clearly this is also an issue which MFT cameras face in relation to APS mirrorless bodies.

There remain clear advantages to using MFT systems in some genres of photography. For example if you are going to carry multiple lenses then MFT bodies will have a size and weight advantage. This might sway a travel or documentary photographer. Similarly film makers may prefer the overall system size when using a Lumix GH4 over a Canon 5D.

But in the case of street photographers who usually want small light cameras, when MFT bodies grow closer in size to APS DSLR and Mirrorless bodies their benefit is reduced. This issue is mainly notable at entry and enthusiast level. Once you move up to the pro cameras, mirrorless systems seem much smaller than their Full Frame DSLR equivalents. However at this end of the scale additional considerations of image quality and relative expense may be of equal importance to body size.

*the LUMIX G series has seen only a small increase in size and G3 was actually smaller than both the G1 and G2. 

March 2018 – I notice the new Lumix GX9 appears smaller than the GX8, perhaps Panasonic have been reading this blog;-)

Comfort Zone 

Decided to challenge myself to shoot wider on the streets for a while. I normally use the Panny 20mm 1.7 or the Sigma 30mm 2.8, with the respective FF equivalence of 40mm & 60mm. 

So, I’ve purchased a second hand Panny 14mm 2.5 which gives the FF equivalent field of view of 28mm. 

  
It’s a tiny lens, not too much larger than a 10p.  Time will tell if I can get close enough to use it. 

Fear and Proximity 

  
This is a friend of mine. She didn’t notice me as I arrived at her bus stop and I already had my camera so I thought I’d get a candid shot. 

I got in closer than normal, without sticking the lens right in her face. I also shot with the sigma 30mm f2.8 instead of my usual Pany 20mm f1.7. I prefer the framing of the 30mm and the ability to stand further back, but I often feel that it’s not wide enough for classic street photography.  

But the main reason I got in close it that I wasn’t afraid of the reaction I’d get. I knew if my subject noticed me she would be pleased not irritated.  It makes me wonder what type of shots I’d get if I overcame a fear of negative responses.