Just some stuff about photography

INDEX

No turning back

in Olympus E-System , Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Well I've done it. Today I placed my order for an Olympus E-1 and various accessories. It should arrive in a few days. Since the E-1 is quite new, and it's all new to me, it seemed like a good idea to maintain a diary of my progress. At the same time it forced me to work out how to run two weblogs at the same time from MovableType (yes I know it's basic but I do have other things to do...) So, what did I order ?
  • The E-1 Body and 14-54mm lens kit
  • the 50-200mm lens
  • the extra battery & grip (yes I know it is really an alternative, not an extra)
  • the 1.4x converter
  • the grid line focussing screen
To be honest I wasn't totally sure about the battery grip, but what the hell. I ordered from my local shop (Il Fotoamatore in Lugano) - I got a pretty good price. Sure I could have shopped around on the internet, but that's a mug's game. Everybody - the shop included - is aware that this is an option, but with this kind of thing I prefer to pay the small premium and get personal service, confidence that any problems will be resolved, and the simple pleasure of being able to discuss things with professionals beforehand (and they initially tried very hard to convince me that the E-1 was a risky choice!)

So, here we go.

1 million photos to save the world

, Thursday, January 15, 2004

Recent news articles have been highlighting the dramatic environmental and ecological disaster we are facing if governments - and George W Bush's in particular - stay in their greed-fuelled state of denial. The Independent recently published an article reporting Tony Blair's chief scientist's attack on US policies. It states, amongst other things, that "results of a major study showed yesterday that more than a million species will become extinct as a result of global warming over the next 50 years".

So what has this got to do about photography ? Well in fact it need not have to have anything to do with it, but it has. The work of talented and high profile wildlife photographers help to keep issues in the public eye. Seeing a great picture of a wild animal in its natural habitat is always nice - seeing it in the context that your children will probably only ever see it as a historical curiosity is another matter altogether. The photo that sparked off this train of thought - although the environmental issues were already well to the fore in my thoughts - was of a group of lions, published today by Michael Reichman on his Luminous Landscape website.

It illustrates that beyond all the talk of megapixels, L lenses, Canon, Nikon, Leica, etc ad nauseum, that there is, sometimes, some tangible social benefit to this photography stuff. If just a few visitors to his very popular site stop and think, hey, a minute, maybe that goddam pinko liberal limey scientist guy has got a point...then maybe the lions, and the other 999,999 species will have a better chance.

Outside world

, Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Just discovered some interesting links today, which I should have known about...

This one, Photographical.net I discovered a few weeks ago, but today it led me to the somewhat opaque but still interesting 28mm.org. Opaque, because as far as I can see it doesn't appear to be run by anybody :-). Anyway, that led me to the gallery by Alexandra Emde on Munich Airport, which was interesting because today's background theme in my head is architectural photography. Following up to Alexandra's website, I then discovered a near cousin to this site, PhotographyBLOG (I think Photoblogography is a better name, but obviously there's no competition on content...)

Endless wonderful stuff out there...so little time to explore. Come back here when you've seen them all!

Emperor’s Clothes

, Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Well I still can't bring myself to buy a digital SLR. I came close, but then I did a quick calculation, and worked out that by the time I'd finished making up the theoretical savings in film and processing cost, then whatever I bought would be terminally obsolete - i.e. in about 18 months. Of course it would still work, it would still take photos as well as it ever did - but some new device would be on the market driving gear lust, and I'd be spending hours rationalising to myself why I have to have it. And that is pretty much where we come in - I have, to a great extent, all I need now to enjoy photography. Even too much. I have some growing doubts that there is something slightly wrong with the focussing of my Canon T90, but it could just as well be my eyes.

Yesterday I saw a shop window with more or less the whole array of DSLRs proudly lined up, from Canon 1Ds to Pentax *istD, via Nikon, Olympus and Fuji. And all at, let's face it, breathtaking prices. Yes, really. Magazines, internet pundits, manufacturers (obviously) are lining up to tell all photographers that without a DSLR they can't take photos anymore. And that they should "upgrade" to a camera which, in terms of basic picture-taking capability, is on average 5 to 10 times more expensive than an equivalent film camera. And yet, even with these wonders, you can find endless discussion lists all over the internet devoted to desperate owners trying to debug their new wondertoys.

I know this sounds like sour grapes, but it isn't. I cannot deny my credit card was twitching outside that shop. But I'm getting more and more aware of the fact that I'm only prone to DSLR envy when I'm not out taking photographs. When I'm happily using my Hasselblad Xpan, my Canon T90, my new (old) Fuji GS670, or even my little Ricoh GR1, I don't think about whatever DSLR XYZ1000 at all. I don't even think about it when I'm stuck for hours in front of a film scanner. The only time I do think "hmm, well, maybe" is when I'm trying to find space to store away the latest box of slides.

And in that same shop, in the secondhand window, were devices like a Canon EOS 1v, a Leica R8 and M6, a Hasselblad 503cw, in pristine condition and at frankly jaw dropping prices I would not have believed a year ago. And these, I think, would help me to improve my photography.

If I was a pro, with deadlines and income-limiting workflow issues, then, obviously, a DSLR would be in many (most?) cases a no-brainer. But is it really a good idea for amateurs such as me to end up multiplying their gear budget by such a huge factor, and yet end up with, at best, slightly better results and slightly more convenience, and at worst, worse results because they can't afford quality lenses any more ?

There's nothing wrong with digital on technical grounds - quite the opposite - but I think I can wait until the prices make sense, even if, somehow, this means I can't be taken seriously any more...

The IKEA of camera manufacturers ?

in Hasselblad XPan , Friday, November 07, 2003

During the last 4-5 months, I have been having an ongoing battle with the venerable Hasselblad, a company which I always assumed took pride in customer service. Rather than repeat everything, here below is a letter I sent to them via their customer service web site. Almost needless to say I never received an answer (but see the PS at the end).

-----

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to you to express my strong disappointment following my current experience with your after sales service. I own a Hasselblad XPan, with the full set of lenses, as well as Hasselblad V system and ArcBody equipment. I believe that my investment in Hasselblad brings me quality, long term value for money, and above all reliable and professional after sales support. This belief motivates my current intention to invest in the H System, although, as you will be able to understand from the following, this intention is currently very much on hold.

In May of this year I noticed that there were what appeared to be a few pale specks of dust behind the front element of my XPan 30mm lens. I took it to my local Hasselblad agent (Photo Catena, Lugano, Switzerland) for inspection, and they sent it to the Swiss distributors for Hasselblad, Leica Switzerland. A few weeks later I was informed that Leica Switzerland could not carry out any inspection or repair and would have to send it to Sweden. I was also told that the estimated time would be 8 weeks, which was a first surprise. After enquiring with Leica, I was told that this unusual delay was due to the relocation of Hasselblad’s factory in Sweden, and that they had been informed, by Hasselblad Sweden, that the expected return date would be in the first week of August.

By mid-September I had heard nothing, and repeated queries to my dealer and to Leica Switzerland were without result. Finally, after some persistence, I got a call from Herr Bachmann, Mareketing Director for Leica Switzerland, who informed me that he had finally received a report and repair estimate – not from Hasselblad, but from Fuji. It seems that the lens was returned to Japan for servicing. The estimate, with few details, save that apparently one or more lens elements needs replacing, is for 700 Euro exclusive of handling charges or taxes [NOTE - this would put the cost to me at _well_ over 1000 Euro] . All concerned – Leica, Photo Catena and of course myself have expressed surprise at the high cost and inexplicable delay of this estimate. Apparently this is the final word from yourselves at Hasselblad – no explanation, no reason, no negotiation. Leica Switzerland, clearly embarrassed by this situation, have made a generous offer to share the cost and to drop handling charges. Before I respond to this offer, I would like Hasselblad’s views and answers to some specific questions:

• It is not a secret that the Xpan is a rebadged Fuji camera, which has benefited from some Hasselblad design input. However, it is marketed and sold by Hasselblad in Europe, to the specific exclusion of Fuji’s version, and all warranties, documentation, service agent list and packaging is Hasselblad branded. It is of no concern to me what business partnerships you enter into, but I have in good faith purchased a Hasselblad product and I expect to be able to deal with Hasselblad after sales, not Fuji.

• I am curious to know what method of transport you use to ferry materials between your Japanese suppliers and your factory. It is difficult to understand how it can take 5 months to send a lens to Japan.

• My 30mm lens has been well used – I am a photographer, not a collector. However it has also been very well cared for, along with the 45mm and 90mm I own. Regardless that you offer only a 1 year warranty on a 2000 Euro lens, I would like to understand how foreign bodies can penetrate a Hasselblad / Fujinon – designed professional quality lens, other than through a design or manufacturing defect. There has been no question of negligence on my part, and there is no sign of poor treatment from visual inspection of the lens.

• Finally, if this is how Hasselblad is handling its joint ventures with Fuji, could you please explain what grounds I might have to have any confidence in buying a complex and expensive system like the H1 ?

I am frankly more surprised than anything else by this episode. Perhaps you can reassure me that you still take customer care seriously, and still intend to provide the standard of service your name is associated with. I am not expecting to bear zero charges for work I ask you to do. However, I am expecting to be dealt with more quickly, more explicitly, and in this case to receive a convincing explanation of why you believe that this lens defect should be acceptable.

----

PS. A few days ago, the director of marketing at Leica Switzerland called me to make a new offer: an exchange 30mm lens for 800 Sfr. Whilst he continued to express his dismay at Hasselblad's attitude, he recommended that I accept this as a compromise. I agreed with him - I want the lens back, because regardless of all this, it is a fantastic tool. It arrived next day.

PPS. And finally, I learned yesterday of another customer at Photo Catena, who dropped and badly damaged his 4 month old Leica Noctilux f1.0 lens. This, apparently, despite being clearly a non-warranty issue, was repaired free of charge by Leica Switzerland and is as good as new. Makes you think....

Page 114 of 116 pages ‹ First  < 112 113 114 115 116 >