Life Flow, and Cameras
I, and many others, have been living on this long problematic journey through the so-called golden years which are part of the irreversible flow of life from birth to death, but as we approach the end, we are still left with the residue of the unresolved.
In my case, one of those many, so far, unresolved issues is how to minimize my photography gear so that I can still do photography. I guess I should be thankful that this issue is the one most pressing on my mind.
This issue has been complicated by lack of ideas for what to photograph, bigger changes in my physical abilities to handle the cameras and get around, and some changes in the technologies incorporated in the cameras.
Thanks to technology I am now trying to do more of my photography with smaller gear like the small Canon G5X Mark II. Those who haven’t followed the evolution of the Canon cameras should take note, and notice that the “Mark II” designation is quite important for this camera since the Mark II version is a lot different from the original camera. As a minimum, I will carry the G5X II as a backup to one of the Fujifilm cameras and whatever lenses I’m using to photograph Homewood events. That saves me from needing to carry a larger heavier Fujifilm backup camera in a larger bag.
As another step towards living life with more minimal gear, at least when it comes to my photography, I still would like to minimize my gear further; but, doing that too quickly might be labeled heresy and a little premature or early in my journey.
As an interim step I’m going to try a micro 4/3 system again and try the Olympus E-M5 III since it is WR and more rugged and is a little larger in size, controls, grip, etc. than the G5X II; i.e., between the G5X II and the Fuji cameras I have. Another reason for going down that path again is the excellent Olympus image stabilization (IS). I have found real value in having the IS with the G5X II, at least for non moving subjects. If I can make the micro 4/3 system work well enough for my indoor Homewood photography, I will then start selling off the Fuji gear, probably starting with the heaviest and largest camera and lenses.
Olympus Simplifies Photography
I have been pushing my Olympus 14-150mm F4-5.6 II lens to its limits and liking it more and more. These are all crops which were then upsized to make the sizes shown. Click on one of the images to switch to slideshow mode and then down below the bottom right of each picture you can select a larger size to view the details better. Note that these images started as out-of-camera jpegs which were then tweaked in LR CC and upsized in ON1.
I was considering obtaining a 60mm macro lens but I don’t think I will since I find that I can make good enough images like these without it. I would like to get to the point where I could just use one camera and one lens for most of my photography, and I’m now closer than ever with the Olympus PEN-F and this lens. I am at the point where I can do it for my personal photography and I’m working to see how much of my Homewood event photography might be photographed with this camera. So far, I found that a faster lens was often needed indoors and I used either the Panasonic 12-35mm F2.8 lens or one of my F1.8 prime lenses in those cases.
A lack of things to photograph and a need to make images that I haven’t before, pulled me away from using my prime lenses as much; but, I still prefer walking with and using one prime lens. It took the Olympus 14-150mm zoom lens to go back to getting some enjoyment out of a zoom lens.
Labor, Income, & Tax Changes Needed
Canon is building a new automated facility in Japan for the manufacture of cameras and closing other out-of-Japan manufacturing facilities that are labor intensive. In the past, we in the United States and other countries like Japan moved production to countries where labor was cheaper. Now Apple is going to build new automated manufacturing facilities in the United States. In addition, robots have been displacing labor in all kinds of manufacturing and distribution facilities.
In the United States of America, we rely upon taxing the income of labor to support our society, our infrastructure, our government, to pay for the cost of disasters, etc. All of these costs have been going up and are on the verge of exploding due to decaying infrastructure, climate changes, etc.
After inflation, the income of laborers and those who are most likely to be replaced by robots have been stagnant on a per person basis for the last decade, while costs for most things have been increasing. I think we have a problem.
How are people going to make a living? How are we going to be able to pay for the rising cost of health care? How are we going to be able to tax incomes to cover the costs of social services, infrastructure, social security, etc. when we have no income? It is impossible unless we radically alter our taxation model. We need to develop different taxation and income sources if we are going to improve, or even maintain, our infrastructure and living standards.
We have a choice. Either we go back to subsistence living like we did in the distant past, or we change our political, cultural, and economic structures now. Think back to how we made pictures in the past. Cameras won’t revert to film, but our available cash to buy future cameras might be nonexistent if we still want to eat and have shelter. They will be priced far above our ability to afford them. We might already be seeing the results of our changing abilities to afford luxuries. The sales of cameras have been declining while their costs have been climbing.
We may be lucky to afford a smartphone that will replace our computers, cameras, telephones, post office, entertainment, credit cards, local banks, etc.; but that would also mean fewer jobs available to provide individuals with income. No income, no taxes, no police or firemen or roads or bridges, and no money to buy the basics. Where will this downward spiral end?
Camera Update … Back to Pentax
As has been my practice, I have been selling and changing cameras. For a long time, I kept trying to find one camera that satisfied me for the variety of pictures I make. I have never found one. I then tried to find a pair of cameras with the same controls, etc. so that I wouldn’t have to remember how to use one after having been photographing with the other for an extended period. Again, I never found a pair I liked that I could afford that did everything from one manufacturer.
Since I have also tried, not always successfully, to not write as much about the technical details of my cameras, lenses, and techniques, I thought that I would write this post to bring you up to date if you are interested. If not, you can stop reading.
I am currently using a DSLR again for a weather resistant outdoor camera. I went back to an old favorite of mind, a Pentax DSLR. I purchased the Pentax K-3 II and two lenses, the 55-300mm PLM WR zoom lens and the 18-135mm WR lens; but I also have the 50mm f/1.8 prime lens on order. I primarily plan to use my Pentax gear for flowers, wildlife, etc.; i.e. my field camera. In the past I found a DSLR and lenses too heavy, but I think I can handle them now, especially since I am not venturing that far from home or car. I also intend to use this gear for my run-and-shoot system when a neighbor calls and says there is an XXX on the pond, or an accident on the road, or a fire at XXX, etc.
To afford the above, I sold my Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera. It was the best, most capable camera I ever owned, but was around the same weight and size of the K-3 II with lenses and I didn’t need two such cameras. While the X-Pro2 was WR, the 55-200mm zoom lens wasn’t WR. I like the weight, size and focal range of the Pentax 55-300mm lens better, even though it isn’t as fast, nor does it have the same image quality.
While the X-Pro2 and my lenses were great for my Homewood indoors and tour photography, my Fujifilm X-E2s is smaller and lighter and when used with the 27mm pancake lens, it is a great travel/tour combination. I will continue to use Fujifilm gear for my indoor and travel photography. The main issue with the X-E2s vs the X-Pro2 is the 16MP sensor vs. the 24MP sensor. If they produce a new X-E style camera with the 24MP sensor I might think about upgrading if I need the longer Fuji lenses, but I have another idea.
While I am currently OK, it doesn’t mean that I am through making changes. I keep thinking that if I could do most of my Homewood indoor and tour photography with an effective 35mm lens, I could also replace the X-E2s and all my Fuji lenses with the Fujifilm X100F. That would help me simplify and get rid of six Fuji lenses, etc. I love the Fuji gear, but smaller and lighter is better. I had a Fuji X100 when they first came out and I would like to go back to that small camera now that they have the new 24MP sensor along with the focusing improvements.
On the Other Side
I do most of my photography for Homewood with the X-Pro2 using the program mode since I need to work fast under changing conditions; so, what I am writing about in this article doesn’t apply to my event photography. I am writing now about how I photograph my own work when I am experimenting and learning. As I have done this, I have been exploring more types of photography with my X-Pro2 and the HX80. I like the size of the HX80 and I can do a lot with it, more than many would expect; but, there are times when I need more.
The things I really like about the X-Pro2 are the controls. I can make the changes I need to make just by looking at and changing the external dials. Not having this capability is alright if I’m photographing in program or auto modes, but is much harder to photograph in manual mode with the HX80 which doesn’t have the nice controls of the X-Pro2. And don’t forget that the capability and image quality of the HX80 are way less than what the X-Pro2 has.
I have been doing more experimenting while I practiced with the above cameras. As I have been doing this, I have been finding the value in photographing in manual mode. This realization, along with the limitations of the IQ and controls of the HX80, have started me wondering if I can find another camera that is in between the size and weight of the X-Pro2 and the HX80; but choosing one involves other compromises, constraints, and changes, including my continual battle with finding things to photograph, deciding whether I am going to need/use longer focal lengths, considering weight and size issues related to my physical abilities, etc.
The above have moved me to keep going lighter and smaller with my cameras, but ones with better controls, so I have been thinking about going back to the older Leica X2 or the older Panasonic LX100 or the Leica D-Lux 109. I had a Leica X2 once before, and I am going to give it another try first. I liked the minimalist simplicity of the camera in addition to its small size and its external controls. I should have another used one in my hands this coming week to check out.
I keep thinking about getting a better pocket camera, but before I decide, I have been using the one I have … the Olympus TG-4. I like the TG-4 because it is water and dust proof, has a zoom lens which is internal, i.e. doesn’t extend when zooming or focusing, and it all fits in a small pocket. The only reason for getting something else is because of the small sensor in the camera. Surely a larger sensor would have better image quality, especially if it also has a better lens.
But, is the TG-4 good enough? As I have learned how to best use it, I have been getting closer to deciding that it is good enough and that another camera wouldn’t be of much value to me. I especially like it for creating high contrast B&W images like the ones above. I took these when I was walking Misty first thing in the morning. The camera is sufficient for these kind of images, especially for photographing up close, even in lower light.
Olympus better than Fujifilm (for me)
Look at the camera and lens I used to get the images in my previous post (lower right in slideshow mode). I have decided to use micro 4/3 sensor cameras due to a combination of size, ergonomics, image quality, and cost. In order to keep the cost down and quality up, I purchased a used Olympus Pen E-P5 since it has the same sensor and uses the same battery as my Olympus OM-D E-M5 II. I plan to use a few prime lenses with the E-P5 and use the E-M5 II for my longer focal length work, primarily at 300 mm focal length. This will enable me to stop frequently changing lenses and grab and go quickly.
The E-P5 doesn’t have a EVF but I don’t need one for inside or low light work. The lack of the EVF hump also makes it easier to carry in a vest or jacket pocket. It is a little on the heavy side but is built like a tank and should withstand being thrown into various small bags, etc. I need the EVF on the E-M5 II for use with long focal length lenses since it makes it easier to hold the camera-lens steady to compose in bright sunlight. A big plus for both of the cameras is the 5-axis image stabilization system. It is quite good, but I still need to hold the camera steady with long focal lengths to focus on the area I want.
I decided to sell all of my Fujifilm gear and go with Olympus due to the size and cost of the lenses. I used my Fujifilm X-T1 and 35 mm lens for the last time to make the above picture. Using the Olympus smaller sensor cameras keeps the weight and cost of the long lenses lower. I decided that I couldn’t afford or carry the long focal length Fujifilm lenses. Using the E-P5 with prime lenses rather than the X-T1 enables me to have and use one system.
There are three earlier posts which discuss differences in image quality as well as some of the reasons for ending up with these cameras: Round 1, Round 2, and Changes. Click on each to read each of them if you haven’t already read them. When I earlier decided to go with the Fujifilm system, I planned to only use shorter focal length prime lenses and give up images of wildlife and distant compressed landscape details, but I found that limited my photography and therefore I went back to some longer focal length photography.
I do like silent electronic shutters and using LCDs to compose with my camera in my lap. No one was aware that I took this picture and there were people close to me.
If all goes as I hope, I will also be going silent in the future about camera gear and settings. I hope to go in different directions with my blog and photography; but the changes other than stopping the mentioning of the equipment and technique used, will be minor and slow to evolve.
My blog will also be going silent for at least a week since I am going away and will not have internet access. After I return I don’t expect a rapid discovery of my blog voice and vision, but that will help ease you into whatever changes I decide upon over the coming months.
Enough, Sufficient, and Minimal for the Purpose
And now there is one. I now only have one camera. I found new homes for all but my Fujifilm X-T1 camera and three prime lenses, the 18 mm, 27 mm, and the 60 mm lenses. I hope to enjoy my path to a more simple existence. I have been shedding not only cameras and lenses, but also camera bags and other camera related stuff, and I hope to continue reducing other things from clothes to tools, etc. if I’m not using them.
I am now approaching photography a little differently and I’m enjoying the freedom from carrying a heavy camera bag and looking for a wide variety of subjects both near and far. I hope to spend more time photographing details, and life experiences up close with a wider prime lens. I will have to shorten my vision and not look for small images in the distance. It sort-of goes with the image of me walking slower with a cane and looking down rather than far. My 27 mm lens will be my standard walk-about lens for now. I’ll use the 18 mm lens for inside buildings when I need something wider and my 60 mm lens when I’m photographing details and/or need a little greater reach. The only change or addition that I’m still considering is getting the new 35 mm WR lens when it comes out and making it my standard walk-about lens.
I plan to continue my photography and make images of ordinary things around me with my single, lighter, smaller, higher quality camera. I hope to photograph the mundane, but with an ever-changing perception of how I see and think; but it will have to be up close since I no longer have a long focal length zoom lens. I like to go out with just one lens at a time … just one focal length at a time. I usually just select from one of my three prime lenses before I go out and then just photograph what works with that lens. I rarely change lenses out in the field but I do change them when photographing an event or project here at Homewood when I don’t have to walk far with a bag of lenses, etc.