27 May The Simple Journey – Part Two – Goin’ Nowhere
And that just about describes the last couple of months, eh? I am assuming that you have, like my family, been doing the right thing and hunkering down in the bunker. So far we are safe and cabin fever has not set in. We wait the day of the big breakout, however.
So, back to the cameras. And the dilemmas of which, what, how, why, etc. The first thing to do is to consider whether you need to have a dilemma at all. Do you need two lemmas? Would one do? For many of us, it would.
One camera. One only – and with one lens on it, too. This may seem a little anti-business for a firm that would like to sell you many cameras, but remember that the founder of Camera Electronic – Ron Frank – was a genius at helping people decide which single camera they needed. He could, and did, ask exactly the right question at exactly the right time. If he could get a clear answer from the client, he could hand them precisely what they needed.
If you are only going to take one sort of picture, one sort of camera will do it. Further – if the one sort of picture you take is always to be found or seen with the same lighting and angle and distance, one lens will do it, and one set of menu decisions will be best. You need to work backwards from your expectations through your circumstances and tell the staff what it is that you are going to shoot.
You might not be so fortunate as to have one job to do and one product to produce. You might be forced to vary what you do over a small or large range of subjects. Indeed, you may want to do this, more than you want to standardise. Your choice – fly every ship on the station to more or less a landing or fly one type perfectly. The ground is located in the same place – they don’t shift the runway. If you are truly going to have to do everything, you’ll need to confess this and be forced to choose, pay for, haul, change, and maintain a vast range of equipment.
If you can do it with one – look at the two approaches; one lens at one focal length or one lens at multiple focal lengths. In both cases you can do it with remarkably competent cameras. In both cases they have their lenses fixed to the bodies and you do not change them out. The streamlining of the design and the ease of maintenance with this approach is no little thing.
a. The Long-Lens compact. Sounds like an oxymoron, but it is technically accurate. Sony, Nikon, and Canon all have super-zoom cameras in their ranges and their representatives will be keen on their various features. Their sensors are buried inside and safe from dust, though they may not be as large as those found on the same companies’ DSLR or mirrorless cameras. However, the tradeoff in resolution may be unimportant to you – these cameras all benefit from modern processors. And the fact that they can incorporate truly staggering ranges of focal length in their lenses is the real advantage. The shooter who really does have to do it all from super tele to wide-angle can indeed do it.
b. The One-Focal-Length sophisticated compact camera. Again a fixed lens but one specifically adapted to the sensor. And in this case the sensor can be APS-C or 24 x 36mm size. The optical designers of Fujifilm X-100 or Leica Q cameras has no brief to spread the resolution, chromatic aberration control, focus speed, or any other criterion to several focal lengths – the light ray paths can be extremely precise for the one lens and the resultant images can be very nearly perfect. The cameras can also be compact and sturdily-built.
The photographer who selects either of these pathways doesn’t debate when they pick up the camera bag which lenses to include with the body. In many instances there is no debate about which flash unit to take ( Another topic entirely, and one that we’ll cover in the future. ) The chiefest need is a charged battery and a clean card and a tram ticket. Whatever adventure awaits needs only a single bag.
My choice? The single lens sophisticated compact – or as close to is as I can get with the gear selection I have to hand. You see, you need not buy that new camera if you are prepared to be disciplined with the old one. Or old ones. Ah, but there goes that discipline…choices again. If you have a small camera that is convenient to carry, and a lens that will pretty much do whatever it is you want to do, combine them and regard it in the same light as the specialist camera. If it happens to have the same focal length as the especial camera, regard it as a test run. See if you can, indeed, get your shots by walking closer or retiring from your subject. If you can, perhaps you will succeed with that new camera…
And the staff at CE are smiling again.