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Years ago, I bought a Rolleiflex 3.5f from someone whose father had bought it new and handed it down, but the guy I bought it from never used it. I offered a moderate price, because I planned to immediately send it out to Marflex in NJ for service. That pretty much doubled the price. A few years later, I added a new focus screen from Bill Maxwell. It's a beautiful/usable camera and I loved using it. Always wanted to get a prism finder for it, but good ones continue to be expensive. I'd enjoy using it today, if only it didn't involve film.
Toggle Commented 7 days ago on Too Long; Read at The Online Photographer
It kills me that Fuji can make a lens lineup that's so appealing, while Sony has great bodies, sensors, affordable full frame, but a lens lineup that's so ... not. Anyway, you asked: "did you like the crowdsourced lens review?" If it were a lens I was considering, I'd find some value in it; user opinions complement objective tests. I don't know that there's anything here that's not available elsewhere, but it's a little more 'concentrated'. I know that Sony users can see similar reviews crowdsourced over a period of years for dozens of lenses (from obsolete to current) on the website and I have to believe there are similar sources for other mounts. Dyxum has a pretty interesting setup - you can search its database for lenses via mount (A or E), brand, fixed or zoom, etc. For each lens, you can see the reviews (numeric ratings, which I ignore, plus a subjective writeup), you can see links to external reviews, and then a link to a forum thread dedicated to sample images taken with the lens. The benefit of such a review here is that it's my impression that your readership represents a more skilled/informed group of photographers, on the whole, than those who contribute to other sources. The negative aspect is that it reads like the comments section of any of your blog posts, with "chaff" thrown in (posts having nothing to do with the lens). And the quality sample photos are a nice benefit (especially when inlined with the subjective opinion of the photographer). The problem is that unless you do this for dozens or hundreds of lenses across multiple brands, it's a resource that's of interest to only a very narrow slice of your readers. Sites that do this via a database or a forum have a huge advantage over a moderated blog is that they can collect data over a long period of time without much/any intervention. In summary, I don't think this is a good use of your time if it really takes that long to do. Other sites are setup to do it more efficiently.
He's very good. I think he should do a kickstarter campaign to get support for publishing a book in quantity. I'd sign up. I can't justify buying books from blurb knowing that most of the cost is due to the print on demand model. I do think he ought to find a new title. The whole "beauty in sadness" thing doesn't seem original and doesn't work for me, and anyway, the photos do just fine on their own without having to try to support a theme. I love the photo shot from behind of the person carrying the two plastic (Walgreens, I think) bags.
I wrote a lengthy reply yesterday, but just to further counter the notion that only smart phone makers care about photography, a few links:
Toggle Commented Mar 11, 2015 on Corrections at The Online Photographer
In reply to the featured comment by Andre: It's trendy to beat up on the down & out camera manufacturers. Apple is promoting photography with good photos; why aren't the camera companies ? Well, the photos shown on that recent Apple site are good ... but they're not that good. Meanwhile, Nikon has this "I am generation" campaign going featuring people who've been given D810s to photograph their stories, and have you ever seen a camera release that didn't feature excellent photography ? Been to the Fuji X website to see galleries by their X photographers ? The Sony Artisans of Imaging ? Canon or Nikon's Ambassadors ? What about the Sony World Photography Awards ? It's a hell of a lot easier to find excellent photographs taken by real cameras and sponsored by real camera makers than it is by smart phones. It's just not in your face every moment of every day. So, yeah, there's a page on Apple's website showing that they're tolerable for certain types of photographs and it's making the rounds, because everybody likes to brag about their phones. But take a look around and you'll find the camera manufacturers doing plenty to promote photography. As an aside, I was reassured recently, amidst all this "common wisdom" that says that young people don't care about cameras, by this video on petapixel showing young kids taking (foolish/dangerous) risks to explore abandoned places in New York City. Climbing on bridges, getting arrested, going into old buildings and subway tunnels. And lugging those dinosaur DSLRs along with them. Phones are amazing pieces of technology. As cameras, they're remarkable for their social/sharing features. They're not remarkable when it comes to taking good pictures, and people who care about good pictures figure that out pretty quickly. The traditional manufacturers don't have a clue about the things that make phones so amazingly convenient and fund. But they still know a thing or two about helping us make good pictures.
Toggle Commented Mar 11, 2015 on Corrections at The Online Photographer
I hate to even mention this, because for some bizarre reason, aperture equivalence makes some people go ballistic, but you could compare that 23/1.4 to a Nikkor 35/1.8 ... using layman terms instead of equivalence terms, whatever you would do with f/1.4 on APS-C, you could do with f/1.8 on FF. Personally, I'm very interested in the 28/2 for my A6000. The old Minolta 28/2 was my favorite lens when I was shooting A mount (KM 7D and Sony A700) and before that, I really enjoyed a rangefinder with a 40/1.8. It's a little bigger than I'd like (I'd love a dedicated APS-C lens like the Samsung 30/2) but the focal length is ideal, the aperture is ideal - the Sigma 30/2.8 compromises speed and the Sony 35/1.8 (which has image stabilization) sacrifices on focal length (I'm using the Nikkor 35/1.8 DX on the D7000 now). The 28/2 is basically as close as I think I'll get to the lens I've been waiting for.
That's a nice gallery of iPhone photos. I've seen any number of recommended galleries of iPhone photos that leave me disappointed; iPhone photos by otherwise competent and/or pro photographers who show off what they can do with an iPhone, and it's usually boring stuff with some Instagram filters applied. These are ... photos ! On the 6 versus 6+. I never owned a mobile phone before January of this year. I just decided it was time. I liked the idea of the real estate space and the image stabilization (plus battery life) on the 6+ but couldn't decide how much the size would bother me. (My wife has had the 5 for a couple years, and I knew I could live with something a little bigger). I drew them on paper ... that made the 6+ seem reasonable. Then I finally cut out templates from some masonite and found out very quickly that the 6+ would be inconvenient to carry and uncomfortable to hold in my hands.
I get your appreciation of the fact that things can wear. In my case, it's that a worn object suggests that there are stories to be told. Many years ago, I was at a craft fair where a pretty decent local photographer was displaying large prints for sale. One that I liked quite a bit showed a latch hanging down from an old barn door, and a little arc of worn wood where this latch must have been undone and allowed to wear away the wood thousands of times over the years. - Dennis
Toggle Commented Feb 25, 2015 on LA on JS (A Heads Up) at The Online Photographer
What I find ironic is that some people want their $$multi-thousand Leica gear to look like it's been through a war, while other people put camera armor on their $500 cameras and cell phones, not to mention screen protectors, cases, bumpers and any other imaginable protective device so that when it's obsolete in a few years, it still looks like new.
Toggle Commented Feb 25, 2015 on Not So Cool New Stuff at The Online Photographer
Thanks for the link to the Peter Lik article. I'd done a little searching and found similar stories - ex-employees of the galleries talking about how they were instructed to hard sell people who walked into the gallery on the investment potential of the prints. And I also stumbled across a sorry picture in the extensive listings on artnet. -- I don't watch TV (I see a little now & again) but I love movies. I thought Nebraska was great. There were plenty of elements of truth in those characters. I never quite settled with the b&w look. Not because it's b&w (I liked the b&w portrayals in Schindler's List and The Artist better, though I thought Nebraska was a much better movie than The Artist). I'm not sure if it's the look (low contrast) or because the movie takes place in modern times. Anyway, it (b&w) didn't work for me, but it's still one of the best movies I've seen in a while, despite that.
My own interest in keeping up with the latest & greatest gear comes from a similar place; a geeky interest in it, and always looking out for something closer to that perfect camera - for me. I'm not too interested in what anyone else thinks is best. I get the appeal of Leica, but have little interest in owning one. (I could afford it if it meant enough to me). Trying out a friends M6 cured me of that; I actually enjoyed my old compact rangefinders more than the Leica. I'm using a couple cameras that are the best choices I could find for my needs, but obviously aren't perfect, so that's where I'm looking for something new & fun. Trouble is, it's more than just a camera; someone might come out with a camera that's closer to perfect than what I'm using, but for a system with a lens lineup that does nothing for me ... there have plenty of cameras that are closer to perfect in one way or another, but not a big enough jump to make me want to spend money or time. You posted recently about buying & practicing with one camera, and getting familiar enough with a camera to shoot everything you want to shoot well takes time.
Toggle Commented Feb 20, 2015 on Seeking the Best at The Online Photographer
That's a content doggy ! 25 years ago, my wife and I lived in a small house that used gas heaters in the kitchen and living room. In the kitchen, the stove/heater was about a foot away from the wall. Our cat, Mugsy, would lie behind the stove and absorb the heat until he couldn't take it any more, then crawl out and sprawl across the cooler floor like a puddle. Now we have radiant heat throughout most of our current house. Our current cat, Shadow, likes to crawl under furniture, lie on the warm floor insulated from above. He doesn't overheat like Mugsy did, but he's pretty spoiled.
Toggle Commented Feb 20, 2015 on The Lamb of Spring at The Online Photographer
My 12-year old daughter loves AC/DC. That's cool. (She wants to go to an AC/DC concert. Not so cool.) I get the impression that music that "kids" listened to in the 50s & 60s was radically different than what their parents listened to, both in style and lyrics, whereas what's on the radio today just isn't all that different to me than what I grew up on in the 70's & 80's. Of course, I've been listening to music all along as it's evolved. There must be some reason that parents objected more to their kids music "back then" than they do now. My daughter is always shocked when her dad knows that Imagine Dragons does this song or Taylor Swift does that. You gotta listen to something when you commute an hour each way to work, and NPR isn't *always* interesting :) I like the commercial.
Toggle Commented Feb 20, 2015 on Photoshop is 25 at The Online Photographer
It's interesting - at first glance, it didn't strike me as HDR-ish; not exactly natural (I would have suspected auxiliary lighting at first) but not unnatural, the way objectionable HDR looks. I didn't look at it long enough before scrolling down, though, so can't say how my reaction would have differed had I looked at it longer without any info. Having read the post, when I look back at it, it does look a little too HDRish for my taste - just a little - mostly in the books and the slats on the back of the bench. Both have a little too much local contrast, making the whole image busier. At the same time, the drastic reduction in the total contrast causes it to lose the shapes created by the highlights and shadows and rely more on color and less on tonality. I also didn't see the mug handle at first, but again, didn't look long enough before scrolling down to read what it was about. Now it bothers me a little, but just a little.
Toggle Commented Feb 18, 2015 on HDR Madness!! at The Online Photographer
I think it's curious how we, or at least some of us, are prone to what can be termed "hang ups". From what I've gleaned from your past posts, I think I share your reluctance to convert color to b&w unless I've gone out with the intent of shooting b&w (I'll do it, but it feels wrong). And I don't really like mixing up b&w and color work together, but at the same time, color versus b&w is an overly simple/trivial differentiation (I much prefer to look at work by photographers who present themed portfolios in which everything in a given portfolio is one or the other). Same with books. I don't care for books that mix the two. In modern portfolios, particularly by amateurs, I'm inclined to think that the b&w conversions were done to save lousy color photos. FWIW, I agree entirely with your assessment of the two versions of the photo you posted.
Interesting observation by Ben about color palate (something I've never considered). I sometimes use filtering capabilities in Lightroom to see which lenses or settings I commonly use in taking my favorite photos. If I can get a little further along in rating photos, it would be interesting to bring up just favorites and see if I can identify a palate as easily as I can by going to google images and typing in Renoir, Cezanne or Monet. I'm not sure I'd agree with Bencr that Steve McCurry is a master at color pictures. Colorful pictures, definitely. And I suppose many of his pictures are enhanced by his vivid, saturated colors, but the colors don't always play nicely together or contribute to the composition the way something like this does: (That's from Patrick O'Hare's "Recent Work" and I'm providing a link to the image since there's no link to a page containing the image). I think I generally tend to prefer monochromatic color images, but certainly appreciate a well done cacophony. I like the subdued color palates of some early color photographers (including Stephen Shore and Eggleston); also some of the bold abstracts by Ernst Haas ("Color Correction" is one of my favorite books) or Saul Leiter. More frequently, I just come across gems among any portfolio, rather than specific photographers who always strike gold.
Those distinctions makes sense, and if I accept them, then I can also understand why someone might have a preference for black and white. We've read stats on how many billions of photos are taken on a given day and realize that there's a lot of chaff to sift through. Most of the chaff is in color. If you look at black and white photos, the percentage of "good stuff" is bound to be higher, simply because few casual snapshooters bother with it. That doesn't mean there isn't plenty of good color photography out there; it just means you don't look for it the same way you look for good b&w photography. I like to think that I'm pretty good with color, but somehow, I think it's kind of automatic with me; my eyes are attracted to scenes in which color contributes, and often I don't realize it until I look at the resulting photos later. Or maybe I just think I'm good with color, and just choose the ones that work when editing :) I'm getting more deliberate with it over time.
My Minolta HiMatic 7sII had a 40/1.7 that I loved to use. When I got my first APS-C DSLR (the Konica Minolta 7d) I ordered an old Minolta 28/2 off eBay. The seller accidentally shipped a 35/2 that I tried, but then returned for the wider lens. The 28 remains my favorite lens on APS-C. (I've since switched to Nikon and am suffering with the DX 35/1.8). I have a new Sony A6000 (since Xmas) and am contemplating picking up a normal prime for it (I have 3 lenses that were sitting in a closet because they were purchased for use with a NEX-5 which I grew to hate). The Sony 35/1.8 is appealing because of the max aperture and OSS, while the Sigma 30mm is only f/2.8 and the upcoming FE 28/2 lens is going to be more expensive and lack OSS. So I looked through images in Lightroom, filtering photos taken with each of the lenses (28/2 and 35/1.8) and looking for the better (favorite) images with each, and I found a world of difference. The 35mm shots were typically subject-oriented; almost used like a "close up telephoto" in many cases, if that makes any sense. Subjects more often filled a lot of the frame, but not in the same way they do when you get up close with a wide angle; you don't get the same sense of up close perspective nor the wide background. The 28mm images, on the other hand, "breathe". They're relaxed; they're environmental. The subject doesn't fill the frame in so many, but even when it does, there's more context. It feels close to being a wide angle lens without really feeling like a wide angle lens. The difference is significant enough that it's pretty clear that I should buy either the upcoming 28 or the Sigma 30 and forget about the OSS lens. The other thing I found interesting is that photos taken with zoom lens at those same settings don't have a similar look at all; there's a big difference in the approach I take with a prime (looking for photos that can be shot well with a 28) versus a zoom (looking for anything interesting, then picking a FL to frame it). I keep meaning to go through my entire catalog and rate photos, so I can get a better sense of how I shoot my best/favorite pictures.
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2015 on Legions of 40mm Fans at The Online Photographer
No arguments here. I'd love to see a book of his photos.
Generally, I would prefer a non-macro, unless I had good reason to think I would need something that focuses closer. One exception, for instance, is when my daughter was born, I chose a 50/2.8 macro (for APS-C) over a faster non-macro, for getting closeups of toes and eyelashes and the like. My feeling is that with a macro lens, you're usually paying extra for a bigger, slower focusing lens with a smaller max aperture. (The max aperture doesn't have to be smaller, but you're certainly paying more). I don't shoot portraits, per se, but candids, and I enjoy reasonably quick AF and shallow depth of field. I haven't tried a new AF macro lens any time recently, and I know I could get shallow enough DOF from a 100/2.8 on full frame, so I wouldn't rule out macro options altogether. But I'd have to see what options are available and at what cost. Re: Canon, I have no interest in an f/1.2 lens. I understand it's excellent, but it's big, expensive, and I don't need the ultra shallow depth of field. Plus 85mm is a little short for me. Olympus, almost certainly the 45/1.8. It's reputedly excellent, and I'd want the shallower DOF. The Zeiss options, I'd want to try. They're both beyond anything I've used. Since getting an A6000 for XMas and playing around with manual focus, I'm more open to manual focus lenses, but still like AF for candids to catch fleeting moments. The Fuji choices are a little tough. The 56 is supposedly really good, and f/1.2 on APS-C isn't as unnecessarily fast as it is on FF (though still faster than I need). It's a tad short, as I mentioned about the Canon 85, but 60mm isn't much longer. But f/2.4 on APS-C on a 60mm lens is a little sluggish. I'd probably go for the 56. I'm currently using an 85/1.8 Nikkor on a D7000. The long FL works well for candids. If I were to ever move to FF, I'd have a heck of a decision. The 105 macro is intriguing because f/2.8 is quite reasonable for shallow DOF on FF (I used a 100/2.8 macro on a Minolta film camera) and it has VR. The 105/2 DC lens is also intriguing; I just can't recall if there was something I'd read about it that I didn't care for. I've done macro before and wouldn't mind doing macro again, but I don't have the same needs in a macro lens. I use a tripod for macro, so not only do I not care about lens size, I prefer bigger lenses with tripod collars. They're very handy for allowing you to switch from horizontal to vertical without having to reset the tripod and recompose the shot. (I never used an L bracket, so before the tripod collar on a 180mm macro, I'd flop the ball head over and end up looking at something different). I like a macro lens with a narrower FOV than a portrait lens. And finally, I don't care if a macro lens is manual focus only, and prefer one with longer focus throw, which doesn't lend it to being quick for autofocus even if it does autofocus.
A little late to the party: Dave, I definitely second your recommendation to look at Vincent Munier for something different in nature photography. And James Sinks - I like some of your photos; I find them interesting despite not having your personal connection. Not so much the trees or the person that you said only have meaning to you - I agree, they're meaningful to you and not photographed in a way that makes them interesting to me. But many other shots - buildings, windows, "scenes from a horror movie" - are interesting to look at. And to me, that's it ... "meaning" is a loaded word; I'm not sure what it "means" in this context. I can find a Stephen Shore photo endlessly fascinating without knowing why. Does it have "meaning" ? I've never bought into the idea that photos should tell a story; never found it a universal law that a photo should "evoke an emotion" or "make me FEEL something". It just has to be interesting to look at. For whatever reason. Different photos for different reasons. And if it isn't (interesting to me) it's likely interesting to someone else. What's interesting to us says more about us than it does about the photo.
Toggle Commented Jan 20, 2015 on Scenic Photography at The Online Photographer
Years ago, when I was a young 20-something and getting into photography as a semi-serious hobby, I loved scenic landscape photography; the stuff portrayed in Outdoor Photographer. Pretty calendar pictures. I wanted no sign of the "hand of man" in my photos. Golden hour, magic light, blurred water, etc. I don't find that type of photography all that interesting any more. It's still pretty and still catches my eye and I can appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into it, but it's like pop music - I can enjoy it in the car on the radio until it wears itself out within a couple weeks. One thread I can think of that touches on this subject is Galen Rowell's writing on familiarity. He wrote about how interesting the unfamiliar is, whether it's exotic or photographing something common in a new way. This genre is so popular, though, that nothing new stays new for long. Tom Till has refused to disclose the locations of some of his photos for fear that they'll be trampled by an army of followers. I think that the controversy over Peter Lik's recent alleged sale is simply that he is widely viewed as a scenic photographer; someone who crafts pretty pictures.
I have to believe that whoever came up with the FE lineup was not involved with the APS-C E-mount rollout. There seemed (and still seems) to be no strategy behind the latter, while the former is pretty reasonable. Compact 35 & fast 55 along with f/4 zooms to start, then these newer lenses. I still don't see a portrait prime (same problem that plagues the APS-C lineup). Some might be happy with the 90/2.8 for that purpose. I like the looks of the 28/2 for my newly acquired A6000. When I shot the 7D & A700, the old Minolta 28/2 was my favorite lens. I use a 35/1.8 on Nikon now, and 50ish just isn't the same as 40ish. I know Nikon also sells a full frame 28/2.8, but for some reason, I'm more interested in such a lens for the compact ILC. My biggest reservation is that the FE system is becoming pretty affordable and attractive, and I'm not sure I want to spend much more money on APS-C (I bought the A6000 to make use of lenses that have been collecting dust since I gave up on trying to enjoy my NEX-5).
Toggle Commented Jan 12, 2015 on Sony's A7 Lens Line at The Online Photographer
Okay, what are the odds of back to back comments from Fer and Ger ?
Toggle Commented Jan 9, 2015 on Glorioski! at The Online Photographer
Thanks for the link to Alex Buisse's website. There's some great photography there. It's amazing that people do all of that stuff on purpose.