I accumulated too many cameras and lenses. I primarily did that while trying to cover many different photographic situations and trying to figure out what I wanted or needed. The above are what I had when I started my recent purging, and you will note that I had a lot of overlapping systems. It doesn’t include all the other cameras I tried and sold previously. Lately, I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what I want to do, can do, and will do, in my future photography so that I can simplify. By-the-way, there are a lot of differences between “want to do, can do, and will do”.
The unmarked camera in the picture at the top on your left is the Canon SL1. At the time I took the picture I had black tape over the lettering. I had one other camera in addition to the above cameras that I used to take the picture. It was the Ricoh GR.
I have given up on reducing down to one camera for the time being, but I am reducing the number of different systems that I have and selling off some of the above with the goal to end up with fewer options. While trying to decide which way to go, I cycled through each of the above cameras and used them to remind myself of their individual characteristics and why I got them in the first place. Each has a particular strength and capability so my decision process came down to deciding what, or how, I will not be photographing in the future.
I have tried to pick a subject to concentrate on. I first thought it would be Hanover streets and buildings, and it might still be; but I have concerns. In some of my trials I have had minor confrontations which I have been able to walk away from so far; but I am concerned that the confrontations might increase, especially if I use a DSLR camera with a long zoom lens.
I would like to do something with a rangefinder style camera with a focal length of 35 or 50 (e) mm; but that usually means photographing people, and is not likely … in town or within Homewood. But, that doesn’t rule out such a camera for buildings, landscapes, etc.
What about other possibilities? The big one is travel photography but for several reasons, that is not likely for me. Another possibility would be nature, wildlife, etc. We have limited wildlife but it is still a possibility. There are also weather, clouds, etc. but that is limiting from an opportunity perspective. I can’t photograph the weather effects when I wish since it is dependent upon the whims of the weather.
I am still trying to decide what it is that I mainly hope to photograph, but in the meantime I am going to concentrate on what is most likely. The picture below shows what cameras and lenses I am currently using after going through my initial simplification and concentrating on what will most likely be available for me to photograph.
The Pentax gear and the Lumix LX7 have been sold. The rest have been boxed up for sale or storage. I haven’t sold the micro 4/3 gear yet since I haven’t yet decided to give up on micro 4/3. I like my micro 4/3 gear but I can’t do everything (especially in low light) that I would like as well with it. You will also see my latest acquisition, the Canon 70D with the 18 – 135 mm lens attached that I am trying for 30 days. Yes, the Canon is heavy (just slightly lighter than the K-3) but it has advantages and uses that I would rather not give up. I really like the articulated LCD and fast live-view focusing. In order to deal with the weight, I might not carry it far or often, and if necessary, I could get a 50 mm lens for it and back off using the longer, heavier focal length lenses. Currently I am trying the Canon 70D for certain uses like clouds, wildlife, some internal Homewood projects, etc., and using the Ricoh GR for my pocket camera while walking about as well as for several projects close to people, etc. where all I need is an effective 28 mm focal length.
My objective is to just use the Canon 70D and the Ricoh GR for a while as I continue to evolve my future photography over time, and later replace one or both with a camera that is better for a more limited style of photography when, or if, I decide or find I need or want to reduce further.
I am considering slipping into two different modes for much of my photography. One mode tends to be sharp, clear, and documentary. I will use this mode for my Homewood and Hanover related projects. These types of images will probably be primarily made with both my Canon SL1 using the Sigma 17 – 70 mm lens and my Ricoh GR with its effective 18.3 mm lens.
Another mode that I like is similar to the images shown above. These types are limited, collapsed perspective images made with long focal length lenses like the above made with an effective 300 mm lens. Due to the necessity of a long focal length lens while at the same time desiring to keep weight and size to a minimum, I am considering using a micro 4/3 system. I used my Olympus E-PL5 with the Olympus 40 – 150 mm lens for the above images. My problem is that the camera I used, the E-PL5, doesn’t have a viewfinder and that is a limiting factor for long focal length lenses since it is hard to hold the camera-lens combination steady enough. In addition, I tend to accidentally hit buttons when I use it vertically, especially when shooting quickly.
My other option is to expand my use of the Canon camera and get a longer lens for it. The advantage is primarily using one Canon system; the disadvantage is the increased weight and size. In addition, if I found a lens I liked and could handle with the SL1 camera, I could potentially sell all of my micro 4/3 gear and Pentax gear.
And then there is the “big option” … my Pentax K-3 with the 55 – 300 mm lens. The advantage of it is that I have it and the lens is better and longer (effective 450 mm at the long end). Other advantages are that I also have a vertical grip for it and I prefer the vertical/portrait orientation with this style of image, and it a weather resistant system. The disadvantage is that the K-3 and lens and vertical grip is large and heavy.
The purpose of this post is to show you the quality, sharpness, etc. of the Sigma 17 – 70 mm lens zoomed all the way out to 70 mm. I took the following picture handheld at f/9, 1/640 sec.
The following image is a crop showing the bird in the tree. Note the sharpness of the bird and the tree limbs, and no chromatic aberration either.
Note that these images have not been altered by me in any way other than for the crop. The picture was taken in raw format and what you see is the image as processed by Adobe Lightroom 5.7 with their standard settings.
I am still in the process of deciding whether I will use this combination of camera and lens as my walk-about setup for outdoors or whether I need a longer focal length lens. Based on what I have seen so far I am leaning toward “making-do” with just this setup for my DSLR camera and lens preference.
I took this picture while I was seeing how well the Sigma 17 – 70 lens focused up close, and while looking at the result I was reminded that I should probably tell you some more about why I have pursued a lighter, more easy to hold camera system that still lets me practice photography. You have read enough about my back problems, but it isn’t the only problem. My hands are also a big problem, and at the moment they are giving me more grief than my back. I have arthritis in my back and hands.
Have you ever found yourself using both hands to lift a can of beer at the end of the day? I sometimes find myself doing that to keep from dropping it, especially if I have carried and used a camera much during the day. This is another reason why I am exploring lighter-weight cameras with better grips and changing what I photograph to fit an easier to use format.
There is a positive side to my life. Physical changes force me to try new things. I have gotten tired of photographing the same things in the same way, and I now have an excuse to look for, and try new things … new cameras and lenses and new subjects and techniques.
I like the Canon SL1 camera well enough that I purchased the Sigma 17 – 70mm (f/2.8 – 4) zoom lens for it. I am still checking it out under various conditions but so far I like the features for the cost. I took the above picture with it at the 70 mm end of the zoom while I was out with my first walk with it.
I have also taken some indoor pictures of people with it and it performed OK. The Canon exposures and white balance of all pictures are a lot more pleasing than I get with my much heavier and more expensive Pentax K-3 camera. As of now, I plan to switch and photograph with the Canon SL1 and the Sigma lens for a while to see how well I adapt to it. So far the reduced weight and easier carrying of this system outweighs the few advantages of the too-heavy K-3 and longer lenses and it should work for most of my projects at Homewood.
The Canon SL1 with the 24 mm prime lens and the 17 – 70 mm Sigma lens are working out to be a very good, inexpensive setup for most of my photography. The two major issues facing me are longer focal lengths and photographing close to people. I need to figure out if I can have an adequate amount of fun photographing with the 70 mm limitation. If I miss the longer focal lengths I will have to decide what to do about it. The other issue is about photographing in and among people. The combination of the Canon shutter noise and DSLR form factor are not ideal among people. I need to decide if the Ricoh GR focal length works well enough for that kind of photography.