Photography gear: reviews, lenses, cameras, film, etc.

Charm Or Economics

Embrace Imperfections

Chris Gampat at the Phoblographer on the unique look of older CCD camera sensors:

CCD sensors on the other hand were really a work of art. They delivered great images, but at high ISOs they just fell apart. Arguably though, you’d get even better colors with one when paired with more modern glass. CCD sensors also delivered images that simply just looked organic and film-like. You generally didn’t need to apply some filter from VSCO or RNI films, you just got it.

Embrace the old school – the flaws, the imperfections, the personality, the challenges. With film, it was easy: grab a camera and buy a pack of film. But with digital, there are only so many limitations, and one of those is the older-style digital sensor format.

Maybe CCD sensors will be the new Lomography for the digital crowd.

Lease Versus Own

Lease Vs Own

Michael Gartenberg on the iPhone 7:

All of sudden, customers like me, who prefer to buy once and hold on as long as well can become the outliers. There’s a whole new set of buyers to appeal to who will view a monthly charge for the latest phone as just another line item.

But can Apple get enough customers on the subscription model? Will the desire to always have the latest and greatest iPhone be enough of a driver?

I held on to my iPhone 3G probably a year too long. With my current iPhone 5S, it’s the same situation. And when I do upgrade, it will probably be to an iPhone SE, not a 7.

It’s the same with photography. Sony would love for you to buy the latest Alpha 7 model every year. Adobe wants you to “subscribe” to Photoshop.

Are you on the “lease” model Gartenberg talks about? Or do you purchase things for the long-haul?

I like owning things. I like relying on my purchases for the long term, and a lot of research and thought goes into each of those purchases. The same goes for music, for automobiles, for everything. It could be that I learned a lot from my grandparents, who grew up during the Depression, and invested in things that lasted. They took pride in the things they owned. And they treated those items with care and respect, and kept them running.

The problem comes when the software updates outlast the technology.

Then again, my Canon 5D is shooting just fine, 10 years later.


40mm and Go

40mm And Go

Everyone talks about 50mm being the focal length for 35mm photography. And I mostly agree.

But lately, my 40mm pancake lens is getting a lot of use – for good reason.

Five millimeters north of a 35mm lens, and just a hair wider than 50mm, 40mm sits in a sweet spot. It’s wide enough to get landscapes and cityscapes, and yet short enough to do people well, and get details.

I took a chance on my own Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens. Not that it’s not a good lens. It’s a great lens. And very affordable – especially when you buy it refurbished, like I did.

No, I took a chance because I thought, “I so love 50mm, why do I bother with 40mm?” It turns out that because of the lens’s size, weight, and utility, it’s now my most-used lens. It’s almost permanently strapped to my 5D. I just pick it up and go.

The 40mm doesn’t stick out from the camera, making it great for close-up shots of the kids at home, or of people out in the city. It’s a great front-seat lens that goes with me to and from work every day for the random landscape shot. It’s flexible for the kind of shooting I do, and I appreciate it more and more every day.

And now that I’ve had it for about a year, I’m getting to see the world in 40mm – just as I did with 50mm (both are natural, of course, being “normal” lenses). My Canonet probably helped warm me up to 40mm before that, as did my Fuji X-E1 with the 27mm (40mm equivalent) pancake lens.

While the 50mm gets all the creative credit in the photo world, it’s good to know there’s a handy, slightly-wider alternative in the 40mm lens.


A Confession


University of Michigan Museum of Art

Sometimes, when I just need to unwind at work, or kill some time in the grocery line, I’ll look at the For Sale board on Fred Miranda.

I don’t need anything, and I’m sure as heck not going to buy anything. But it’s fun to read the equipment listings, especially when I don’t recognize something. That’s always a good research opportunity, and I love few things more than doing research.

Granted, I have picked up a few good finds on Fred Miranda. My go-to Canon 5D is from that listing board, as was my Fuji X-E1 and my 20mm lens.

I look at Fred Miranda like a car person reads a hot rod mag. No harm in that.

Look, A New Camera


Canon AE-1

Earlier this week, Hasseblad released a new thing: a mirrorless medium format camera.

Of course, if you follow the camera press, you heard about it from rumor to reveal. It’s supposed to be the “next big thing.” Maybe it will be.

For those in a rush to spend $10,000 on a new camera, might I suggest something? Don’t read the initial reviews. Read the reviews from users a year from now.

How does it handle? What hiccups does it have? How tough is it? What complications does it introduce?

A lot of things – cars, tablets, cameras – are introduced to great fanfare with no thought to the long-term usability of the product. When things go wrong, do they go horribly wrong? Does the company stand behind the product?

Yes, a new camera, shiny and cool with a neat new idea. But if you wait a year, it should still be cool, and I bet you’ll get a better deal on it.

New Camera Day

Low-End Shooting

Exciting news: Canon released a new camera today. More megapixels! Touchscreen! GPS!

For many people, it really is exciting. They have $3,500 burning a whole in their pocket, or they need it for professional work.

But for us low-end shooters, we don’t need latest and greatest. In fact, a new Canon 5D means that the previous models, Marks I-III, will be on sale here soon. You can buy an affordable used or refurbished model.

I’m not shy about it: I use a 10 year old 5D for most photo stuff. There are others (six megapixels? C’mon!) who are even more ambitious in their anachronism.

So you can use this New Camera Day as an opportunity to jump on something new, jump on something old – or maybe wait a bit, until it goes on sale.