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Marco asks "How do you decide that you are going out to take snapshots (phone) or something more serious (camera)?" Mike, I know you don't encourage discussion in the comments, but this gets to my earlier point about phones being the best camera (despite weaknesses) for the intended usage of most people. For me, it's not about carry convenience. If I want to take pictures, I take a camera. If an ILC is a bother, my RX100 is convenient enough. My pictures get imported into Lightroom where they're available for making prints of photo books. There's no urgency to share them. My phone is for "visual texts" - reminders, amusing anecdotes, things I want to show people. But not for photography. Image quality, at least at 28mm and under the right conditions, is fine. But it's not a camera that lends itself to enjoyable, contemplative shooting. In a prior post, Mike mentioned the complexity of modern cameras, but phones are too easy - in order to get it to do what I want, I'd have to find the right app and learn how to control it and it's not via dials that I've been using for decades. So for me, it's straightforward. If I know (or suspect) I'll want to take pictures, I take a camera. Because, while the phone is the best camera for sharing, my cameras are better at taking pictures I want to keep. (And I'll have my phone, anyway).
Well, I can't very well reply TL;DR after you called my comment brilliant ! I started photography as a kid with a camera in the late 70's, but I never did my own darkroom work. If I had to go through anything close to the bother you describe, I'm sure I would have abandoned photography as a hobby. (I did develop one roll in the high school darkroom with a friend who sort of knew what he was doing and it was fun to do ... once). To clarify my comment a little, I think various people have different reasons for wanting a better camera in their phone - maybe low light picture quality, probably a telephoto for most - but I don't think most people are bothered by the image quality they get from their phones (most probably get better images from their phones than they would from a DSLR, thanks to the intelligent processing they incorporate). But we're somewhere in the middle of a period of rapid improvement in phone cameras, precisely because manufacturers know their customers want more out of them. As for convenience, I used to do all the picture taking in the family. Now my wife gets her phone out to take a picture of anything she wants to share, because she doesn't want to have to wait for me to get home, download the file, tweak it in Lightroom and email it to her. Not nearly as onerous as your old workflow, but it may as well be - if it happened yesterday, it isn't interesting. All of which gets to the purpose of taking pictures. For most people, the phone is the best camera for what they want to do with their pictures. Even if they do want a zoom lens on it.
I test drove a Range Rover once. I was at an event where Land Rover had set up up an off road track through the woods and you could drive through it. It was fun - and they sent me promo emails for months afterward, but I'm not in the target market for a Range Rover. However, when shopping to replace a Ford Explorer a couple years, I came to realize that if you're looking at a higher trim model (my aging backside wants heated seats with adjustable lumbar support) then the mainstream brands at that higher trim level are often nearly as expensive as entry level models from the luxury brands (and, due to higher depreciation on the luxury brands, they can be even cheaper on the used market). And I didn't see much difference in features. So, for example, I ended up with a 2014 Volvo XC90 for a bit less than I would have paid for a 2014 Honda Pilot with heated leather seats. I don't know what options I might be missing out on, but the base Volvo had all I wanted, where I would have had to go high end on the Honda (or Ford or Nissan, etc) to get what I wanted. I noticed the same thing applies to, for example, Acura versus Honda - base Acura versus high end Honda are pretty similarly outfitted and very close in price on the used market.
I bought Tony Mendoza's book "Pictures With Stories" through his kickstarter campaign. I found the photos and stories interesting enough as an unreleated viewer/reader, but I was motivated to see if it could be used as a model for my own photo books, in the hope of making them more interesting to friends and family. (Short answer: I'd very much like to follow that model, but those photo books are a future endeavor).
Toggle Commented Mar 13, 2019 on Picture Permanence at The Online Photographer
(follow on ... ) while I haven't missed gear posts, I DO miss when you go a while without Random Excellence or book posts.
I can't say I've missed (or even noticed, really) gear posts. But I am curious to know how you're getting along with the G9.
My opinion on the camera is built off Thom Hogan's - I didn't really know what to make of it. It makes sense that they rushed something to market without suitable lenses for the target market because they're trying to keep Sony from whittling away at their user base. If you have EF lenses and want to put them on an inexpensive mirrorless body, a Canon body is bound to be better than an old Sony with an adapter. So it should get the job done, even if it doesn't really attract any non-Canon users. (The RF lens lineup is too high end for most people who would consider buying in at the entry level, unless all you need are a 24-105 and a 35). What I find more intriguing is what this might portend for APS-C. Canon's EOS-M system is not compatible with EOS-R and Nikon has yet to announce mirrorless APS-C. My guess is both would prefer to not roll out APS-C lineups compatible with their new FF mirrorless, if they can drive enough of the market to FF. Canon probably already sells plenty of EOS-M systems to people who obviously aren't concerned with an upgrade path ... Fuji and m43 offer no upgrade path ... only Sony would have APS-C and FF with the same mirrorless mount if Nikon is content with a somewhat smaller, but more lucrative user base. Time will tell, but a $1300 FF body (even if it's not performance-oriented enough for 7D users) might help sway some APS-C EF users to move to FF. I'm sure the low prices on Sony's A7 and A7 II have tempted some former crop sensor users. In short, I think the RP shows that the behemoth can sit and watch the market, then react quickly enough, when needed.
Toggle Commented Feb 18, 2019 on Question at The Online Photographer
Most of my purchasing regrets come from GUNNA disease (more so than GAS). I've rarely regretted buying something better than I needed. But I've regretted buying things to do something I was gunna do. For instance, in my basement workshop, I have a few tools that are a little bit overkill, but that makes me like them that much more. OTOH, I've purchased specialty items - usually because I saw a good deal - for things that I've never gotten around to doing. Kind of like buying filters or adapters or gizmos or gadgets (or lighting stands, studio strobes, and backdrop) for photography that I was gunna do. Over time, I've learned to wait for a real need (or a real want !) but try to avoid buying for an anticipated need. But I'll admit I'm still hung up on the "maybe gunna print big one day".
Toggle Commented Feb 1, 2019 on Gunna Disease at The Online Photographer
I guess, because most people are perfectly happy taking pictures with a phone, it's understandable that my friends & family consider an expensive camera or lens an extravagance. But many of those same people spend far more on snowmobiles or boats or ATVs, luxury car upgrades, etc. And in some cases, they don't use that stuff as much as I use my cameras. That said, I can't see myself spending even $2K for a camera, given how good cameras in the $700-1400 range are, but never say never. I can envision myself spending more time enjoying photography when I (eventually) retire from work, and possibly wanting more of a luxury kit.
35 years ago, in the summer after graduating from high school, I flew out to California to visit a classmate whose father moved the family as soon as graduation was over. My friend had a part time job in a camera store in a mall and I bought a little, box-shaped, padded camera bag from his store (I think it was $20 new, but with his employee discount it was something like $13). The plastic brand badge (I think it's "Phoenix") has broken. The zipper pull has broken and been replaced with a paper clip. It's been vacuumed out a few times, and I lost the insert for it, so there are no compartments, relegating it to be stuffed full of chargers and cables, most of the time. I guess I'm wondering if anyone really needs to worry about camera bags wearing out.
Toggle Commented Jan 20, 2019 on Billingham Bags at The Online Photographer
Just settings ? You're obviously not looking at enough selfies !
You can also look at Manfrotto bags. I own a smallish Kata bag - they've supposedly been merged into Manfrotto. Never bought a Manfrotto-branded bag, but it's another option.
Toggle Commented Jan 14, 2019 on Lowepro and the 'T' Bags at The Online Photographer
Mike, The Lowepro logo isn't there so that you look cool carrying a Lowepro ... it's there so THEY look cool when Mike Johnston carries their bag ! I can't help much. I haven't really carried a camera bag in a while - I used to haul a backpack full of lenses around, with a tripod, doing nature photography, but these days, I typically carry one camera & lens on a BlackRapid strap and then an RX100 on a little belt pouch. I mostly use camera bags for transporting gear (in a vehicle) - to a vacation spot, to a friend's house, or just for a drive - but then I don't carry it around. I have one (Tamrac, I think) bag for carrying a small Sony e-mount kit that's pretty small & convenient for body&lens plus a second lens, but it would be too small for the G9 - an A6500 just about fits in sideways, grip up, like you show. I've always been partial to Tamrac bags. p.s. I agree about Loo Mix (or is it pronounced "lummox" ?). They had the right idea with a two syllable name, but that was about it.
Toggle Commented Jan 14, 2019 on Lowepro and the 'T' Bags at The Online Photographer
I kind of wish I hadn't read this before finding time to do the first parts of the exercise ... and at the same time, I think that knowing the goal will help me with the initial 25 (though it might bias me on the prioritization.) I expect the 25 to be challenging because there are so many ways of looking at what I like to shoot, from subject matter to lighting to times to locations to moods ... But I definitely appreciate the intent. I imagine I'll still be "photo dad" and take snapshots of the cats but I'll identify areas of focus for the kinds of photography I like to do when I have to do that kinds of photography I like to do. By the way, I've done a half-hearted job of this in the past for another reason. I've looked at EXIF stats in Lightroom to see how much I shot with a given camera or lens in the last year to get a sense of where my priorities are, gear-wise. But then I've also done the same for a subset of pictures I consider to be more the kind of stuff I want to spend my time shooting. It may or may not help me with gear decisions in the future, but it's interesting (to me, anyway). If I can ever get serious about categorizing photos, I can see what I use to shoot the things that are most important to me.
I think you're wise to follow the advice you espoused here. There are lots of vloggers out there (TOO many vloggers) to compete with and even a lot of the enthusiastic ones are pretty painful to watch. It's good to try new things, but also good to know your strengths and weaknesses. Life is short and I'd rather spend more of it doing things I'm good at and enjoy, than forcing myself to do things that don't suit me for the sake of a "challenge". I also wish that more "content providers" would write rather than vlog - video is a lousy medium for a lot of the content people are using it for.
Toggle Commented Jan 3, 2019 on Go With Your Gifts at The Online Photographer
You might want to double check that math ... If you drive a whopping 20,000 highway miles and get 30 mpg, you're using 667 gallons. Drop that by 10% (27 mpg) and you're at 740 gallons. At $3/gallon, that's an increase of $220. Your 2.5 minutes estimate suggests a 15 mile round trip, which only adds up to 5000 or so miles a year. One of the things I looked in before picking our last car is diminishing returns with fuel consumption. You save about as much going from 15mpg to 18mpg in an SUV as you do going from 30mpg to 45mpg in a car. It's kind of like megapixels ... those big numbers sound impressive, but they don't really buy you that much.
Toggle Commented Dec 20, 2018 on Open Mike: Find the Time at The Online Photographer
Re: the world moving onto the SUV/FFM and being left behind, I don't mind not being part of the wave. The bigger concern is that manufacturers pull a "Ford" and announce they're going to stop making most passenger cars in favor of SUVs/crossovers.
Is there something going on here ? You've recently written about car mags and supercars and about not overbuying, interwoven with posts about the Zeiss ZX1 and Tamron Opera and Zeiss Batis lenses. I don't know whether I should view it as a double standard or ironic commentary.
Hmmm ... I'm only 160 (used to be 150) at 5'11 and like a car with legroom. I've been driving either a pickup truck or SUV for at least 25 years now, so it's not about ease of getting in/out for me. However, I will freely admit that the number one, overriding factor in the choice of the SUV I bought a year ago (and any car I might buy going forward) was seat comfort for my creaky back.
I don't have a favorite aspect ratio - I agree, at least based on my own experience, that photographers can adapt. I've been shooting 2:3 for 30+ years, dabbled with square (6x6) and when I experimented with shooting for square crops for a little project, I loved it. I'm comfortable with wide horizontals and shorter verticals, but I think you (can) just end up composing for whatever you're using, so I've seen great 4:3 horizontals and 16:9 verticals as well. I think that if I were to switch from APS-C to m43, I'd probably adapt, rather than crop, except when needed (and I crop APS-C now as suits the photo).
Toggle Commented Oct 4, 2018 on That Was Nice at The Online Photographer
This was an interesting read that seems to express a sense of missed opportunity that I think others probably feel at this post-September-Revolution juncture. However, I believe that the part about telephotos showed your own bias. You stated that you assumed bird/wildlife photographers would flock to m43 for the reach. And when they didn't you determined that they use big lenses for the prestige. It's pretty easy to find some impressive wildlife & bird photography out there by people using these lenses and I'd conclude that they're using them for the results, not the prestige. Personally, I went years without a long tele (since switching from film to digital) and only recently purchased a Sony RX10 III. This should handle my backyard wildlife needs (though AF at the long end is dodgy compared to my DSLR). I'm not enamored with the idea of carrying around a big tele (nor do I see any prestige in it). But I've dabbled in it and read about it enough to believe that those who do bother carrying long teles do so because they're very passionate about what they do and about doing it well. Personally, I see FOMO as being a bigger factor than prestige in people's irrational attraction to larger-than-necessary sensors. When I see the word prestige, I think of the guy in the Honda looking at the guy in the Mercedes. Maybe he wants a Mercedes, maybe he doesn't, but there's nothing wrong with his Honda. With cameras and sensors, I see the guy shooting APS-C looking at the guy shooting FF and wondering what he's missing out on. He's thinking about noise in 100% views at ISO 6400. If the FF guy is using a Leica and he's envious, then it's prestige, but if it's just a bigger Nikon, then I think it's insecurity.
Mike, I think you've hit the disconnect squarely on the head ! At this point, I think it's finally clear where the companies are headed and where they want buyers to go. The big question is whether buyers will go and what happens if they don't. Will the APS-C DSLR users migrate, stick stubbornly to their DSLRs, or look elsewhere ? Will one of the companies "break ranks" and offer Fujifilm some serious competition in mirrorless APS-C ? What are Canon and Nikon offering to entry level buyers ? EOS-M isn't compatible with EOS-R. (Is that it ? You buy one or the other ?) Nikon doesn't have APS-C mirrorless (or any promise to have it). It's a tough time to try to figure out which system to buy into, when m43 offers more quality than you need, but the m43 system you want is $1700 (and so is the 1" fixed lens digicam you want !) and a Z6 with a 24-70/4 can be had for around the same price as a G9 with a 12-35/2.8 ... I tend to think that manufacturers are going to win out and get a lot of people who never planned to buy FF to buy FF. But who knows ?
(In reply to my own question: oh, it's apparently a NEW URL !) [Right, created because of the new consortium. --Mike]
Would would have guessed there were enough SL rumors to warrant a URL ?
I don't buy into the squeeze from the bottom. After all, Sony's 1" sensors helped several manufacturers carve out a niche (for several manufacturers in the presumed-to-be-dead compact market. Rather, I think it's because (most of) we photographers have this ingrained belief that "bigger is better". Years ago, 35mm was the ideal balance between film size and cost/practicality for most people. In the DSLR era, it's been APS-C, but costs of FF have been dropping, FF systems offer the broadest selection of gear, and it's no more impractical than it ever was. The thing that doesn't come up in that is image quality. In film days, 35mm was sufficient without being overkill. Indeed, compared to what we can do today, we were considerably more restricted. Today, except for shallow DOF, a 1" sensor probably meets the same standards, but sufficiency just doesn't factor in for most people, any more than it factors into their choice of a flat panel TV (what's the biggest I can afford that fits on the wall ?), cars (what's the biggest I can afford that fits in the garage), houses (what's the biggest I can afford), cell phones (you get the picture). In short, the move to FF is being driven by consumers' irrationality, but there's no point in judging ourselves too harshly, because the downsides of choosing FF over something smaller just aren't all that significant. I'm getting ready to do some test prints to see if I could live with 12x18" prints from 1" sensors and if I could be happy with m43 instead of APS-C. But then again, a couple of my Nikon lenses would work fine on the new z 6 and that 24-70/4 looks pretty compact. Go figure.