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I have a Canon 7DmkII, which I've been very much enjoying. I'm a long-time Canon DSLR user but I hadn't upgraded since 2008 as none of Canon's offerings seemed to offer me that much more than the cameras I already had, whether in their full-frame offerings or in their APS-C cameras. However, the autofocus improvements in the 7DmkII tempted me to let the moths out of my wallet. I've been very impressed so far. Firstly by the autofocus (which I'm still coming to terms with: it's much more sophisticated - and complex - than the AF systems I've previously used) and also by the more general improvements in overall performance. I'd not seen the lack in my older equipment, but 6-7 years is a long time in the digital world and I'm really appreciating the advances made over my older cameras. While I had been tempted by Canon's "full-frame" offerings (most particularly the 5DmkIII), I resisted as have the things I think FF handles better than APS-C very well covered by my Leica gear (yes, I am one of those rangefinder weirdos), while I've found the things I prefer to do with a "traditional" DSLR are mostly well handled by an APS-C based system. Where APS-C isn't quite right, and neither is the Leica, I'll keep using my original Canon 5D, at least for now. It may be 10 years old but it still produces nice photographs. For anyone who might be interested, examples of my 7DmkII photographs (web sized only) can be found at: ...Mike
Toggle Commented Nov 30, 2014 on Prejudices at The Online Photographer
I used Photoshop Elements for many years, until the many, many version upgrades got to me and the product just became too restrictive as I learned more. Despite many grumblings as Adobe broke things (most especially printing) I went through each version of CS2 through CS4, mostly for camera compatibility with ACR but also to make use of (a very few) new features. I've just been doubly messed up by Adobe's recent decisions. Through my own distraction and stupidity I was caught beyond the last date when I could move from CS4 to CS6 at the upgrade price. Having been caught, I'd more-or-less decided to stick with CS4 until I was in a position to transition from Windows to Mac, then pay full whack to install the latest version of Photoshop (whatever that may be) for that platform. I'd held off moving to Mac for a number of years just to avoid having to pay the full license for Photoshop all over again. I guess the joke is on me, there. I can't afford to move to Mac right now, so I've bitten the bullet and bought CS6 (for Windows; ugh). My guess is that it's the last version I will buy. (I'm so excited by this that I haven't even got around to installing it yet.) I'll probably end up with some combination like Lightroom and/or something else on a Mac while keeping CS6 around for those occasions I really need to use it, running on a Windows box (which I'll have to have anyway; for scanners and suchlike which can't be made to work on Mac). I'll get by, but I don't have to like it and from now on I doubt Adobe will get one cent further from me for Photoshop, though they just might get me for Lightroom - I haven't decided. I do wonder just how many photographers they're going to lose as (Photoshop)customers in analogous ways. Perhaps this is exactly what they want: to position Photoshop back (or further) to being more for graphic designers and the like while moving (shoving?) photographers towards Lightroom.
Dead Easy, I'd 've thought: a 2nd hand Canon 5D (mk I, that is). Makes wide angle / fisheye look as intended on a 35mm frame size, not too expensive 2nd hand, solid as a rock (well, mine seems to be), a useful but not OTT file size and prints well to and beyond A3+. Controls are (to me) quite easy and fall directly to hand without much need for thinking. What's not to like? Oh, not "current"; and somewhat "old fashioned" - especially if teamed-up with old-fashioned (ie. inexpensive) EF lenses. Capable but not flashy. Personally, I like it and suspect it would admirably fit the stated requirements. However, I also expect it's too recent to be "cool" while too far behind the bleeding edge to be "modern". Which might rule the idea out-of-bounds entirely unless "functional" works as it should. ...Mike F
Toggle Commented Apr 7, 2013 on Your Advice Needed at The Online Photographer
As a just-carrying-around camera? Mostly a Canon 5D with 50mm and 24mm lenses. If I feel like shooting film, a Leica M3 and 50mm Elmar-M. If I have something specific in mind, I grab something suitable for that - usually "as well as" rather than "instead of".
Toggle Commented Mar 23, 2013 on The Out-the-Door Test at The Online Photographer
Let's think... In terms of spending on digital photography, I last bought a digital camera just on 4 years ago (a Canon 50D). I had to upgrade to PS CS4 at the same time (to get ACR support for my new camera). My only expenses directly for digital photography since then have been consumables (paper, ink, storage). I have bought a new computer since then, which does get used for digital processing. But I would have had to buy that anyway, for non-photographic reasons. I probably bought a more expensive computer than I otherwise would have because of photography but, really, the difference is marginal. On the film front, over the last four years, I've bought any number (an embarrassingly large number) of film cameras because they've been so cheap. Admittedly I didn't have to buy them to take photos with film (I already had film cameras), but I had to buy them because they were so nice and, well, so cheap. (Boy, does that add up!) So my budget for buying film cameras has been enormously larger than my budget for buying digital cameras. The price of film being what it is in Australia ($$$$$$$$$), I've spent a lot more per photograph with film than I have on digital (even though I'm mostly developing my own B&W, and mostly ordering film from the US) while my per-shot cost shot of other consumables (ink, paper, storage) is roughly the same as it would be for digital. (If you factor in time for scanning, that would add even more to the per-shot cost of film.) So my total cost for film photography is way, way, higher than my cost for digital, in both capital and recurrent spending. ...Mike F
I doubt that statistic. But only because of a private rule I observe: "if it hasn't been printed then it isn't a photograph". ...Mike
Toggle Commented Sep 21, 2012 on Quote o' the Day at The Online Photographer
Hmmm. I might actually consider this based on not-too-unreasonable price and newer technology. But then I look at the largest-size prints I can make (A3+ or 19"x13") and the quality I can get printing photos from my existing 5DmkI and 50D, and wonder: "what real-world improvements would I get for spending that money?" I suspect what I already have hits my "good enough" threshold. I'd like to think that's because I'm the (it seems) increasingly rare type of photographer who prints, and judges "good enough" based on print quality rather than pixels-at-100% screen views. But perhaps I'm just undiscerning. ...Mike F
The Puritan Gift by Hopper&Hopper is well worth reading, though not directly related to photography.
Toggle Commented Jun 20, 2010 on Sunday Open Mike at The Online Photographer
It should really have an "old fogey" setting so the image is properly reversed as well as a "normal person" setting where it isn't. ...Mike F
It is, of course, a very good thing that the rate of death among those on active service is not higher than it is. I do wonder and worry, though, about those casualties who do not die. My understanding (which may not be correct, of course) is that in these days of body armor and IEDs there are a great many injuries which are now survivable (due to better emergency battlefield care as well as body armor etc.) but have serious, permanent and debilitating consequences. I hope that injured soldiers and their families will be well cared for, but history and politics lead me to have grave doubts. ...Mike F
My bet: if the girls really do take up the camera then we'll see a lot of good photos, unimpeded by concerns about whether they used the "right" lens or not. If their husbands/boyfriends or brothers/fathers (or saleswomen or girlfriends) give just a little useful advice we may see a whole crop of good photographers arise from this. Photographers much more concerned with actual photographs, and not much concerned with what was used to take 'em. ...Mike
Toggle Commented Oct 16, 2009 on K-x Lollipops at The Online Photographer
Providing "unbiased" advice is tough to the point of impossibility. The very best you can do is be aware of the possible sources of your own biases, compensate for them as best you can, and declare any major factor up front. That can be tough since reviewers, as with all of us, have biases they may not even be aware of. Being a disinterested provider of advice is somewhat different. That is in the sense of having none of your own interests (especially financial ones) tied up in the content of or outcome from your advice. (Not the all-too-common disinterested=uninterested usage.) Having your own interests involved, in this sense, provides an obvious source of potential bias, but complete disinterest does not guard against other sources of bias. These can include anything from "I don't like black cameras and this one only comes in black" through "I shoot mainly in B&W and so don't notice colour issues so much." The last is slightly topical (given recent rehashing of events in the Leica space) and most difficult to guard against as it is often unconscious. You can't make an up-front declaration of a bias you're unaware of. It is all too easy to speculate (or even construct conspiracy theories) about things that might compromise the disinterestedness of a reviewer while completely missing other, perhaps more subtle, sources of potential bias. ...Mike F
Toggle Commented Sep 15, 2009 on The Ethics of Reviewing at The Online Photographer
In general, I can but agree with John Camp's overall thrust that there is no magical pixie dust in a Leica M-mount rangefinder camera that guarantees to make your photographs better. While I have a Leica M3, the bulk of the rangefinder shots I've taken have been with Konica Hexar RF cameras rather than with the Leica. What I do find, though, is that I personally take different photos with an M-type rangefinder camera than I take with other camera types. I think this is because with a rangefinder I see more of the scene through the viewfinder (things inside and outside the framelines, everything in focus) and decide what to exclude based on framing and aperture selection. With an SLR I see less and have to decide what to include by changing framing and aperture selection. So, in theory I could take the same shots I take with an RF using an SLR and similar lens but in practice I find myself composing differently with the different camera types. Neither better nor worse, I think, just differently - and I choose the camera to use based on what I feel will work better for different subjects or just on whim (since I don't do this for a living). I also find (again, it may be just me personally) that I achieve better focus more consistently where I want it with a correctly adjusted RF camera than I do with an SLR, whether via AF or manual focus - but only within the restricted range of things and distances that RFs are good at. So for me, for some subjects and in some circumstances, I find RF cameras more suitable than SLRs. So I use them in those circumstances. In most other circumstances I use an SLR - overall I find an APS-C DSLR to be a good "jack of all trades, and master of some" so wouldn't be without one. (If I made less use of long lenses I might prefer a full-frame DSLR.) So I suspect that for most people, most of the time a Leica rangefinder won't be the best camera to use. But for some people, who work in circumstances suited to RF photography and who find it suits them, it may be that a rangefinder camera is just what they need. And if their needs include digital rather than film, then Leica is almost the only game in town. Me: I'll stick with DSLRs for most things, film rangefinders for others and occasionally a film SLR or compact digi (or whatever) as well. Others' needs and likes will differ. As they should. ...Mike
I'm in the "I must have an optical viewfinder" camp. That doesn't mean I have a problem with the EP-1: it looks to be a great concept for a camera. I hope the reality matches what I've seen of it so far and I hope Olympus sells shed-loads of them. None of which changes my mind about an optical viewfinder. That's a preference of mine. I doubt it will be met in the world of interchangable-lens micro-4/3rds, as an integrated optical finder that could cope with all possible lenses, including zooms, including really long ones, would be pretty much impossible. But I don't think it's too much to hope for an optical finder on a camera with a fixed zoom lens (like the one on my Olympus Stylus zoom: at best adequate but it is adequate, and the lens never blocks the finder). If someone makes one of those they might also make one with a fast fixed prime for the tiny market segment my wants represent. Something like my Olympus Stylus Epic (a digital equivalent of the Konica Hexar would be really great, but perhaps too much to hope for). Olympus is making digital Pens, so I don't think its out-of-bounds to hope they might also make a ditital Stylus or two, some day. ...Mike
"...because I feel starved for an injection of creativity into the current state of camera design." something I very much agree with. The Panasonic and Olympus micro 4/3rds and Sigma DP-x cameras are, to me, quite promising signs. The thing they don't do for me, though, is make me want to buy them (or, at least, not enough to make me part with actual money). That's because of the lack of an optical viewfinder which, for me, is not negotiable (others' preferences might be different, of course). I have owned and used an EVF-based camera and while I tried to like it I just couldn't. I know they're much improved now (I've looked at a Panasonic G-1 in-store) but not in any way enough to suit me. I may be a dinosaur, but I just can't work well composing on the rear LCD hand-held (on tripod is different). Use of an external finder may be workable (and I'm glad the option is available) but I'm yet to be convinced. It seems to me that it shouldn't be beyond human wit to devise a workable integrated optical viewfinder for this type of camera. In fact I know it isn't: just looking at my Olympus Stylus Zoom, or Contax T2, or Konica Hexar or Contax G2 system tells me that adequate to good solutions can be devised, at least for a restricted range of focal lengths. I like black-blob wunderplastik SLRs. One is always going to be my primary shooter for most circumstances. But I'd like a smaller, easy to pack and light to carry, more discrete alternative without the level of compromise that small-sensor digital entails (yes, I have one of those as well). But, for the moment, that secondary camera is going to be one of my old film cameras until or unless someone can come up with something as good (for me) in digital. People, please! It should be possible to produce an expensive digital camera that matches what my $80 Olympus Stylus Epic can do for me. But so far it hasn't been done. ...Mike F
Well, I'm hardly likely to disagree with this post as I frequent RFF and was an early adopter of the "RFF top 10" concept in my .sig file. In mine, I reference my top 10 (which are my personal favourites) and, in keeping with the forum gallery format, are actually 12 photos and are limited to photos taken with a rangefinder camera, so they're not really my 12 favourite photos, only my favourites taken with particular equipment. I also reference my flickr gallery (as my "day to day" photos) and a gallery at DeviantArt as "some of my better stuff". The reason for "day to day" photos is some things, such as photos I wish to reference in forum posts, aren't my best work at all. Some are positively dreadful (when I need somewhere to host a photo to illustrate "positively dreadful") and many are, well, just illustrative. If I'm making a forum post regarding, say, a camera bag then I need a place to store a photo of said bag. If I'm posting about a lens, then I may wish to show a 100% crop selected to show the detail recorded by the lens. I may post a few photos of an event to a forum, then point to a bunch of other photos (perhaps not as good) for those with an interest in the event itself and so forth. I've found there are many reasons to put photos on-line that aren't because I think they're particularly good. I try to keep them separate from photos I do think are good or, at least, good enough. But aside from the purely illustrative, I do try to keep to a personal rule that if I haven't printed the photo and put it in an album then it isn't worth posting at all. To at least a first approximation I figure that if I haven't printed it then it isn't a photograph. ...Mike F
Toggle Commented Jun 14, 2009 on This I Like at The Online Photographer
Mike, While reading the comments to your earlier post, I went and took this photo: I used the exact same technique that I used when shooting my Leica M3 yesterday: (The M3 had just come back from having its RF re-aligned after a bump.) The technique? Get a base-line reading of the light (in-camera on the 5D, using an external meter with the M3). Set the aperture I want for effect. Vary the shutter speed based on changing light using my right forefinger on the shutter speed control (a dial on the M3 vs a little wheel on the 5D). Bring the camera to the eye, focus manually then release the shutter. Both equally simple. The only difference is that I pretty much have to use the M3 that way. There are many other ways to use the 5D. But I don't have to use it those ways unless I want to. ...Mike F P.S. I use the frameline preview lever on my M3: I often shoot a 75mm Summilux lens, the framing for which is about half way between the 50mm framelines the lens brings up and the 90mm preview framelines. An MP has 75mm framelines, though.
Toggle Commented May 27, 2009 on On Simplicity at The Online Photographer
Mike, you are quite right that "simple" means different things to different people. From the looks of the comments here, most (perhaps even the vast majority) of TOP regulars think "simple" is something like an OM-1 or a Leica M3. That's fine and I guess I think that way too. But I'd guess that for the vast majority of people buying cameras, "simple" means something like my Olympus mju-II (aka Stylus Epic). You point it at what you want to photograph and press the button: the camera calculates the exposure (using flash where "needed"), sets the shutter speed and aperture, focuses the lens and takes the photo. Done deal. Simple. Modern digital SLRs do that too. All have a "green blob" (or similar for non-Canon) mode where the camera "does everything" except frame the shot and decide when to press the button. They can also be used in "simple like an OM-1" mode. Just turn the dial to "M", then use it that way. That's "simple" in the other sense, and I use mine like that from time to time: it works like a charm. (OK, in some ways not as charming as my Leica M3, but that's a different sense of "charm".) The complexity comes when you want to make the camera do all the other things the camera can do, from complex servo-mode focus tracking to sophisticated flash modes to, well, whatever. Modern cameras can do lots of things. But if you want to use them in a "simple" way, whatever that means to you, then I'm pretty sure you can make 'em do it. I've certainly had no trouble. And I like it that they can do all the other stuff too. ...Mike F