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Martin D
UK
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Yes!
Toggle Commented 6 days ago on Digital Dreams at The Online Photographer
Oops, my earlier post got submitted whilst I was still editing. That Zeiss lens was the Zeiss _18mm_ lens. I put it onto my Fuji E3 and it gets used with the external Leica 28mm finder on top. The lens is quite heavy, so I add the handgrip to the camera. Nice street combination.
The Leica 5cm "SBOOI" external VF is a true 1:1, --- it allows for completely undistorted two-eyed shooting. The left eye surveys the entire scene, the right eye does the framing within that scene. Magic. I have used the Leica external finders for 50mm, 28mm and 24mm on my Fuji X-E3, with zone focussing on the Fuji 35mm, Zeiss 23mm and 16mm lenses. It works.
No contest: the Leitz external 50mm VF, "SBOOI". Straight 1:1, and as clear as can be. Makes you feel at one with the world. Perfect for the classical two-eyed approach to people photography: "frame the picture with your right eye, and simultaneously look at the wider environment with the your left eye." I used to use the SBOOI on my Leica IIf and Leica If when I still had those, and I have been seen using it occasionally with digital cameras. The 35mm and 28mm VFs can be used in the same fashion, Leitz and Zeiss have made great ones. Though the wider the angle, the less effective becomes the two-eyed approach. With the 1:1 50mm, it really is a magical experience. I do enjoy using the external 28mm VF together with a Zeiss 18mm on my Fuji XE3. Talking of Fuji, I am very happy with the OVF on my XPro-2. Far from perfect, but it works and it gets me into the right mental mode.
Keith Jarrett, The Köln Concert.
Long-normal (65mm-e) is good. On my Fujis, I love to use the Voigtlander 40mm: for street, family, city environments. Not all the time, but occasionally. The long-normal is clearly not a tele yet, but it does give the slightest hint of compression, it quietens the tone. Similar to having a conversation with someone who is able to allow for pauses and silences, without the need to talk all the time; the long-normal lens has that same quiet self assurance. Paul Strand was forced by his Graflex to use 60mm-e, I think. He wanted shorter but the mirror mechanism didn't allow it,so he made the long-normal part of his vision. As it happens, I love the short-normal (40mm-e) too, not on the same day but as an alternative. Exactly the same subtle shift in perspective as with the long-normal, only at the wide side. The short-normal is not as busy as the 35-mm, but it offers a subtle recognition of a wider scope.
Rodenstock here too. On my (seriously under-used) Canham 4x5 it's a Sironar N 210mm. I always prefer "wide normal" (40mm-e) or "long normal (60mm-e) over normal-normal, and in large format I ended up with long-normal. Talking of long-normal, I do like the Voigtlander 40mm on my Fujis.
The Canham DLC45 is an intriguing foldable metal field camera made by KB Canham. Highly collapsible and super lightweight, meant for backbacking landscape photographers. Very elegant too, with an austere Bauhaus-style design. Folding up the Canham requires a very specifuc series of simple steps that everyone gets wrong, everyone that is except Mr Canham. Result: crinkles in the bellows, in a very specific staircase pattern top down from the top of the front standard. Every copy I have seen has them, my own copy which I bought used had those crinkles when I bought it. Functionally the crinkles don't damage the bellows (which is made from some rubber-based material). To me these crinkles are part of the look of this particular camera.
Toggle Commented Sep 12, 2020 on Last Man Standing at The Online Photographer
"Here's to turning pages, and writing new and better chapters in our lives." A triple YES! to this beautiful statement from Dan Gorman's comment on your 30 years. True for us all.
Ming Thein's style never really spoke to me, but he certainly knows what he is doing and he communicates well. His departure from active blogging is a serious loss in our valiant battle against the rise of internet bluster. The only photography site that I really need for serious inspiration is yours. You are the Montaigne of photography. I also regularly vist Kirk Tuck's VSL and Thom Hogan's sansmirror, both offering solid, experience-based commentary, such a rare thing. Beyond traditional blogs, I really like Sean Tucker's photography reflections on Youtube: they are thoughtful, subtle and intelligent.
You make it happen, Mike, you make it happen. Your writing is quiet and open-minded, and that invites quiet and open-minded comments.
In Jim Arthur's picture: those scratches absolutely make that picture what it is. Magic.
A single prime lens fixed to the camera body, that's how God has meant it to be. In my Fuji system, I have several bodies (all with the same sensor) and my lens cabinet covers the whole spectrum from 16mm to 90mm, all in primes. But the choice of lens is made right at the start, as I venture out, and each excursion then is with one body and one lens, or possibly two bodies with different focal lengths. That lens stays on the camera throughout the day. There may be a backup lens in the bag but it never gets used. The "day in the hills" then becomes, say, a "35mm day", or perhaps a "23mm plus 60mm day". And God smiles on me.
My advice to my younger self: share more. Make simple prints and send them out.
Toggle Commented May 26, 2020 on Do-Over at The Online Photographer
I love good viewfinders, and I like to experience all sorts of different types of viewfinder. My Fuji XPro-2 has a fine optical RF-style viewfinder. I like it and enjoy working with it, but whilst it is good and practical, it ain't magical or beautiful. Perfection probably comes in the shape of the 50mm external VF that Leica produced for the screwmount Leicas. In my final film phase I used it with a 2.8 Elmar on a Leica IIf. This viewfinder has a 1:1 magnification, and because of that it requires no special skill to use the camera in the proper, two-eyed way: right eye on the VF seeing the 50mm frame, left eye off the camera seeing the context. Perfection: an intellectually and aesthetically deeply satisfying way of working. The 35mm and 28mm external viewfinders by Leica are great too, especially the 35mm one, as the two-eye approach still works fairly naturally in this field of view. I have both and use them occasionally, the 35mm finder for the 23mm Fuji and the 28mm finder for the 18mm Zeiss that I use on the Fujis. For my Fuji 16mm lens on the XE-3, I got myself a Leica 24mm external finder, using zone focusing for distance and the external finder for framing. This works well in practice, a true grab-a-shot machine, though at such wide angles the optical viewfinder no longer feels as natural as at 50mm, the view is too compressed for that. Still, works great for street (and for taking pics of my kids). Never had a chance of using one of those wire-frame press camera finders: must try it one day! And then of course there is the groundglass on the view camera. Another form of magic, completely different from the rangefinder but equally compelling. Sadly those cameras never clicked with me, but I look at all view camera users with awe and envy. I do agree with you, Mike, smartphone screens can make for fine viewfinders, and the reason I think is because on modern high-resolution screens they do act like a groundglass.
Boy, am I glad that an obsession with sophisticated audio setups for music listening is not amonng my (many) ailments. I can get excited about quality microphones and mic preamps for voice recordings, but those are for producing audio materials. When it comes to consuming audio, I am content with respectable core comprehension of the message. But then in photography too, I love to have a lens that has spirit but when viewing a photograph I am content with a rough print.
Toggle Commented May 21, 2020 on Followup (Sorry!) at The Online Photographer
With the X-Pro2, I always shoot JPEG+RAW, the JPEG set to medium or small file sizes. All my photographs are in B&W, and the colour RAW file is just an intermediary. The JPEGs are set as "Acros" and that is also what I see in the EVF (if I don't use the OVF). The JPEGs are purely for bookkeeping, and occasionaly for immediate sending off if I want to share. The real output always comes from the RAW file, which I process in Capture One, where my starting point is the neutral colour file that comes from choosing the "linear response" option for the initial curve. The Acros JPEGs are lovely, and it is true, they are hard to replicate from the RAWs. But then I don't want to replicate them; I have my own set of simple preset curves and settings that do what I want to do, in a standardised fashion, with minimal fine-tuning required. When shooting, I expose with my eye on the final RAW processing, not the JPEGs. A bit like shooting with the old "positive-negative" B&W Polaroid film, Type 55. There you exposed for the negative and got a slightly over-exposed Polaroid print, as a bonus. That print now is the JPEG. For me, all of this works beautifully. But then I have always liked to think of the restrictions of a given film as a welcome reduction of complexity, not a limitation that I need to overcome.
Toggle Commented Apr 14, 2020 on Fuji X Raw Studio at The Online Photographer
Hi Mike. When I look at these pictures, I see myself walking through a city that is made up of deep, shadowy valleys, on a day when a strong sun makes the shadows even darker. I feel ill-equipped to disagree with you, but I have to say, these are great photographs and to me the tonality of the picture meets the nature of the subject matter in the most striking manner.
Well put; well put indeed. All creative work is driven by some sort of (often painful) tension, and I think your essay gives a very precise description of the specific creative tension that defines the work of the photographer.
Toggle Commented Apr 12, 2020 on Picturehunting at The Online Photographer
Talking of Fuji, allow me to recommend one of the few meaningful photography Youtube channels, called Andrew and Denae. A lovely couple, based in Utah, doing professional portrait stuff and regular Youtube broadcasts as well. He is the gear-head of the two, but they look at the gear as practicing photographers. They work with Fuji, but without the fanboy tone. One of his recent pieces is his summary of why he likes Fuji, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDE4PdouDKE. I enjoy watching their videos, they are informative and he is a lovely person too, with warmth and always speaking as a photographer.
Lovely post about your walk, cheered me up.
Gosh, Mike, let me get this straight. You've got that fantastic Rollei beast, tick, with that fantastic Schneider lens, tick. The combo works, tick. Moreover, the combo works in the best possible configuration there is: manual focus with in-camera focus confirmation. Another tick. Last time I checked, you had plenty of film rolls in your fridge, too. Another tick. I can see only ticks. Now I would expect to find you out there roaming the woods (respecting all the distancing rules of course), enjoying your wonderful setup. And yet, no such thing. Mike is at home, looking at his gear, searching for a problem. Intervention, Mike, intervention! I love you, Mike (in the forum sense, obviously), and therefore I think I have the right to say it: That missing autofocus is a non-issue, an absolute and utter non-issue. If you send that lens off for a not-needed repair, we will have to worry about you, Mike. Go out and enjoy some wonderful film in that wonderful Rollei with that wonderful Schneider lens! And stay safe, as we all must in these strained times. [Jeez, will you guys give me a minute? I just got the batteries back like two days ago. And it was raining. --Mike]
Pierre Charbonneau in his comment has nailed it. The main thing about shooting with a RF is the fact that you aren't given a flattering preview: you have to know what you are doing. For some photographers, this is a design flaw. For others (me included), it is the key to unlock a source of creative tension. The RF view puts my mind into a heightened alertness, and it does so because it forces me to pull together all the elements that will produce the image that I want. That "pulling together" has to happen in my mind, and this becomes easier if the viewfinder is not yet a nice-looking 2-dimensional image. The viewfinder shows me what I need to know to compose the shot, but it does not yet show me the visual effects. For some of us, this works better than WYSIWYG. Hence when using the XPro2, I will normally use the OVF, not the EVF.
As regards Leica vs the rest, I'm not entirely sure where your sarcasm ends and your true opinion begins, so I will stay away from that aspect. Instead, I merely list the "rangefinder-style" cameras I've been using over the years: Rollei 35, lovely; Contax G1, lovely; various "Barnack" screw mount Leicas such as the Leica II, Leica If and Leica IIIg, all beautiful and all true workhorses; the Fuji GW690 medium format giant, utilitarian and wonderful; and today in digital it's the Fuji XPro2. I also once held a Zeis Ikon ZI in my hands and should have bought it. Of the film cameras, the Fuji GW690 was the most powerful and joyful tool to use, so simple. And looking at the whole lot, today's Fuji beats them all in terms of "being the right tool". Note that in that list, only the Barnacks and the Fuji GW690 had an actual rangefinder. All the others had a RF-style viewfinder and possibly some other focussing assistance. But they all felt like proper rangefinders regardless.
"I've provisionally decided that it comes down to whether I want to a.) make B&W prints the old fashioned way, with an enlarger, or b.) commit to mastering B&W digital printing." Both of these avenues no doubt will lead to thought-provoking reflections in your blog. Looking forward to them either way! Speaking purely egotistically, I'd love to see you explore avenue b) and learn from your experiences. My own recent step into digital was coupled to my decision to do all my digital photography in B&W, and I feel painfully deficient on the printing side of the process. But as others have rightly commented in reply to your recent "To be or not to be" post, you must do whatever is right for your own creative growth, and we as readers will benefit most if you follow your own creative needs.