Yep, it’s PHOTOKINA WEEK, and since this is some kind of a photography site, I’d better waffle about gear and stuff and all the AWE-SOME things lining up to grab our credit cards.
Well, I hope so anyway. Lasersoft’s Silverfast 8 HDR Studio finally slipped out of Beta a few days ago, presumably in order to get promoted at Photokina, although Lasersoft seem to be being pretty quiet about it. The link to the new version is of course broken, bless ‘em, as it still points to v6.6, but the demo link works and the demo can be serialised. So far I haven’t had time to explore it, but when I do I’ll write a review.
Not exactly Photokina, but anyway it’s certainly bad news. No, not Fuji killing off movie film, but the acquisition by the disgusting Google of NiK software, which will almost certainly result in the disappearance of excellent products such as DFine and Silver Efx, and the mutating of Snapseed into me-too Instagram to let talentless narcissists like this one (sorry, I know he’s popular, but emperor, clothes etc) upload thousands of photos a day, have them auto-processed and handed over to Google’s scary advertising engine. Well anyway Patrick LaRoque puts it far better than I can.
It’s no contest really, is it ? Unbelievable. Aghast doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Swedish design meets Italian engineering. Or is the other way around ? I’m sure half of Saudi Arabia is already sending the slaves out to queue up for it. Poor old Victor must be doing about 180rpm.
One of my favourite-ever lenses was the Canon FD 135mm f2.0. This fast telephoto would let me pluck a detail out a scene, beautifully sharp, with the fore- and background smoothly blending into a creamy smooth bokeh. And it had great contrast. And I gave it away, with most of my Canon FD gear, to the daughter of a friend who wanted to study photography but had no way of affording the gear.
I never really found anything to compare to that lens, but now maybe I have: the Olympus m.Zuiko 45mm f1.8, which has the added advantage of being almost absurdly low-priced. Mine arrived today. And here’s a sample of what I’ve found it can do.
So far I’ve found that the E-P2 tends to underexpose by 1/3 to 2/3rds of a stop with this lens compared to the 14-45mm. But that’s not much of a problem.
This is a fun lens to use, much more so in my opinion that the highly-rated Lumix 20mm. It is light, but well built, with a large, well damped focus ring. It looks gorgeous. And the results are pretty much guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. This is a must-have lens for and Micro Four Thirds camera owner. And an absolute bargain. I’ll post some more examples soon.
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...