For years now I have been playing around the margins with my photography gear, especially with my personal photography. Another way of expressing it might be that I have been seeking something but whatever it was, or is, it keeps moving or is so unclear that I’m not sure what it is I’m seeking.
I kept telling myself that I have the time, and a little money, to spend trying different cameras and lenses to see if I can find a way to expand, or change, my photography. I have tried macro lenses, long telephoto lenses, and various sizes and weights of cameras from small waterproof P&S cameras to larger DSLRs, and mirrorless cameras in between.
I finally arrived at Fujifilm gear that enabled me to make images suitable for Homewood uses while recording events and happenings at Homewood at Plum Creek. I never had any problems with output of the files that were suitable for their less expensive in-house publications, but I did have problems with poor lighting, multiple color temperatures, etc. I finally resolved those issues with Fujifilm gear, higher ISO values, and Lightroom processing.
For my personal photography it has been difficult due to lack of subject material that is suitable for publishing on the web. In addition, I have been seeking cameras and lenses that I can more easily use with my physical issues of pain in my hands and back and knees. Those physical issues led me toward seeking lighter gear and better ergonomics for my hands that also led to poorer image quality. That has been a journey that I don’t think will ever arrive at an optimum end since the goal keeps moving as I get older.
Aesthetics, new technologies, and nostalgia are some other interests of mine. I like rangefinder style cameras rather than DSLR style cameras in terms of looks and weight, but not in terms of ergonomics. I love the hand grips and ergonomics of the control placement of DSLR cameras, but not the weight or the look. That seems like an unsolvable dichotomy. I also like the technology in new cameras and I’m always interested in what ends up in cameras and how well it improves, or diminishes, one’s ability to make certain images of interest. These things taken in aggregate have led me to keep buying and trying different cameras as I search for the unattainable. The question now is, what will I do in the near future.
I’m slowly rethinking how I spend my time. Searching for the perfect (for me) camera and set of lenses isn’t helping me with making more pictures that I like. It has been a way to spend a lot of time and money with little to no improvements in my photography. I need to bring this search of gear to an end. I’m reducing the number of cameras and then just doing what I can with what I have and stopping trying other cameras. When I do that, I need two cameras for coverage of events with multiple lenses and to have a backup if I have any trouble with a camera. The two that I’m settling on (for now) are the Fujifilm X-T2 and the X-Pro2. That means that I will sell my X-H1, X100F, and TG-5 cameras. I just acquired a used X-Pro2 camera and I’m still checking it out and confirming that it is the most suitable partner for the X-T2. Also note that I’m adapting to older cameras that don’t have all of the newer video-oriented capabilities. I find that video just complicates the cameras and leads to other problems.
As I follow-through with this idea I hope to mostly use the X-Pro2 with prime lenses for my personal photography for my blog. If I can’t find enough suitable subjects, or when I can’t handle it physically, it will mean that my blog posting might wind down. I will be primarily using the X-Pro2 and learning how to extract enough “goodness” out of it with my emphasis on looking for interesting compositions rather than looking for another camera or lens. We will just have to see where this approach leads. I’m adopting this photographic approach using minimal gear with a desire to simplify as a way to see if I can achieve more images that I like with less.
I made a picture of these bleeding hearts one evening with the Canon G3X at 600mm and then again the next morning with the X-Pro2 at 35mm. I preferred the one above made with the X-Pro2 and the equivalent 35mm lens. I had to get closer, crop, and upsize to match the composition, but when I can get closer I like them better.
When comparing pictures made from the Leica X2, the Canon G3X, and the Fuji X-Pro2, I noticed a big difference in the white balance between the Fuji and the others, so I have made some in-camera adjustments to the white balance of the Fuji and I like it better. The Fuji images were too cool so I warmed them up.
I will probably go back to mainly using my X-Pro2 for most of my photography and mostly use the Leica as a pocket camera when I can’t take the X-Pro2 and use the Canon mostly for birds and extreme focal length images.
I even used my old pancake 27mm lens to make the following as I was checking colors. I’m now thinking that I might use the X-Pro2 with the 27mm lens for many of my future around town pictures.
This morning I had to go back to the Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera to make these images. The Canon 80D with the Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 lens could not capture the first one early this morning. It was very dark in the kitchen with no lights on other than the electric flickering candle. The lighted window was in a neighbor’s Villa as seen across the way through our window. I used the XF 35mm F2 lens.
The other two pictures were made with the XF 55-200mm lens through a window later in the morning. The snow was coming down.
Why am I showing these pictures, what is common among them? They are all out-of-camera jpegs made using an Olympus TG-4, which is a small pocket camera that is waterproof and pretty indestructible with an internal zoom lens and a very tiny sensor. The above were made at a fixed ISO of 100 in low light at 1/5 sec. shutter speed while being handheld.
I am thinking about moving this camera from storage in my camera drawer to my pocket again to supplement my Fujifilm X-Pro2. You probably couldn’t think of many cameras with such an extreme difference in image quality and capabilities and that is why I have not been using the TG-4. I started thinking again about the occasional need to make a picture under conditions when my X-Pro2 isn’t at hand … or when I desire the effects that can be obtained with such a small sensor.
Whenever I start thinking this way, again, my thoughts always go back to the limitations of the TG-4 in low light; and thus the reasons for the above pictures. I wanted to try again with some differences from previous attempts. The primary difference this time was not using auto ISO since the images get very noisy when the ISO rises in low light. Some other differences were in how I processed them in Lightroom.
The image of the cup was made in very dark conditions. I could see a noisy image on the LCD to compose, but when I downloaded the picture it was solid black. You wouldn’t know what it was supposed to be. To make this image I had to set the exposure to +3.55 in LR. I also had to reduce the color noise as well as luminance noise and the result is a little fuzzy. This is probably due to lack of focus, hand movement, and noise reduction; but sharp is not always a required attribute.
I haven’t decided, but using it some is a thought. I’m thinking about some more uses to make monochrome images as the weather changes as we move toward winter. I have been primarily thinking about monochrome images, but below are some more color test images that I made this morning. I need to keep reminding myself that such cameras still have uses.
I was driving through town today when I made the above. I had my 27mm lens on the camera and made this image through my windshield, but I had to crop it a lot to get this view. I am still experimenting with how far I can push the utilization of the 27mm pancake lens since I prefer its’ size on the camera for “just in case” images.
As I am wondering what is around the curve for my photography, I have been revisiting many of my older pictures, and reworking some of them. At the moment I am looking at some of the minimalist images that I have made. At one time I considered only making minimalist style images, mostly in monochrome but also color. I might try to focus more on minimalism as I blog through the coming winter, but I will still “mix it up” and make different images. This will still probably be one outlet for my need for change.
In essence, what I have been doing is continually discovering, leaving, then returning to, certain core ideas as I kept changing. Preferring minimalist images is one, and preferring the convenience and simplicity of photographing with one prime lens at a time is another. By one at a time I mean going out with only one prime lens and looking for images that work with the chosen focal length. On another day I might chose to go out with a different prime lens. This method of photographing works best for me since it minimizes the weight and need to use one hand to adjust the focal length with zoom lenses. I use a cane when walking and I need to do as much as I can with one hand on the camera. When I stop I often hang the cane from one arm so I can still use both hands on the camera to change the aperture and hold the camera still, but not having to think about also zooming the lens is a help in simplifying the photography.
The above doesn’t mean that I don’t use zoom lenses. I still use a couple of zoom lenses when I am photographing activities here at Homewood when I am mostly photographing in a crowded room and can’t move around much or/and when I can’t get close enough.
One other core, or fundamental issue with me has been the weight of the camera-lens combination. I have finally stopped trying to find the lightest camera that I could. The desire for greater image quality, control ergonomics, and capabilities kept driving me back to the slightly heavier, larger, and better cameras. I have found that the Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera is the best compromise for me and I plan to stick with it as I go forward. There will be no camera changes in the near future as I go around the curve.
Another thing that I have gone back to is my very first Domke camera strap that I bought. I have tried sling straps, wrist straps, and various neck or shoulder straps, but I am now using just the one-inch Domke gripper strap. I still would like to occasionally use a wrist strap but I got tired of changing straps back and forth, so I now use one neck/shoulder strap. I have it shortened to a compromise length that lets me use it around my neck when photographing an event but can still hang it from one shoulder when walking, or for the rare times that I need to hold the camera further away from my body, I can wrap the strap around my arm.
Settling on my camera gear has been the easiest part. I am still at a loss for finding and deciding on what I am going to photograph for my personal photography. I will still be photographing activities, events, and scenes for internal Homewood use, but that is not enough for me. I still need to make pictures where I can be more creative with my processing. I might just be attempting to make minimalist images of common everyday items around where I live.
When I took a walk yesterday I looked for bits of color and scenes that fit the 18-55mm zoom lens that I had on the camera. I don’t normally use this lens when I go for a walk since I prefer using just one camera and one prime lens when I walk.
You might notice that all of these pictures were made at the 55mm focal length which is the longest zoom range for this lens. I often wish I had a prime lens that wasn’t too large or heavy that was slightly longer.
I am still pondering whether it is worth my continuing to show pictures of the things I see around me, when I really don’t go far or see much of interest subject-wise. I have followed the practice of trying to make pictures of common everyday things that I see, and to do it frequently. In many ways it is only a visual diary of my life.