It was raining lightly and all of sudden Misty started growling at the back door. When I looked out to see what she saw I noticed this big old snapping turtle in the yard. When I looked closely at her I thought she had a piece of metal stuck in front above her head, so I got the grabber to see if I could remove it without harming her, or me. It turned out to be a piece of grass. She was covered with junk from the pond bottom.
This is a good example of why I keep a Pentax K-3 DSLR with a zoom lens. I can grab it quickly and take it out in any weather to make pictures like above. I haven’t been taking it on my walks lately but I’m reconsidering that. I hope that maybe if I get the right bag that I might be able to carry it in a manner that doesn’t bother my hands or back as long as I don’t go far.
The K3 is the camera that best fits my hand and once set up I never have to mess with the menu and I have never pressed a button accidently. It is an ideal run and gun camera for documentaries, except for a few things. It is built like a tank and is heavy and the shutter/mirror slap is loud, but I love it for outside when there are no people close-by and when I don’t have to carry it far or long.
PS, later it was pouring down the rain. The following is a view through my front window of the street and driveway. Reminded me of when I used the K-3 during last July’s flood. It was after that when I started referring to my K-3 as my apocalypse camera. I hope it doesn’t rain too hard or for too long since our culverts still haven’t been permanently repaired from the flood damage.
I noticed that we have flowers starting to grow (at least the bulbs are poking out) and it was only the 25th of January.
I was in the process of renewing my acquaintance with an older 2013 vintage Pentax K-3 camera with the 18-135mm zoom lens, so I made a quick picture, cropped in tight, and then increased the size of the image with ON1 and LR to make what you see above. Ultimately, I want to make some comparisons between Pentax DNG files and Fujifilm X files using resizing, but that can wait a while. In the meantime, I have some other features to check including B&W vs. color.
The flowers are starting to go through a renewal, but they are not alone. I am in the process of renewing my love of Pentax DSLRs. I am checking out some differences between them and my Fujifilm cameras in the belief that they both have advantages and differences that I wish to take advantage of. If all goes well, I will be using different cameras and lenses and blogging less about camera gear and be putting more emphasis on the photography.
Those of you who have been reading my blog for years know that I previously owned Pentax DSLR cameras and lenses and then gave them up. I gave them up for basically two reasons. One I was searching for one camera system that would enable me to take pictures of Homewood events in poor light and that would be silent; i.e. no loud flapping mirror and shutter, as well as satisfy my other desires with my personal photography. Second, I was searching for a lighter camera and lenses that I could more easily handle with arthritis in my hands and back. Since no Pentax DSLRs met all of those needs, I sold them and tried several other systems including a series of Fujifilm cameras and lenses, and finally settled on a micro 4/3 system and the Olympus PEN-F and E-M1 Mk II cameras.
My micro 4/3 gear meets my needs for photography of Homewood events and activities and it is a lighter, smaller system for my walks; but, I felt that something was missing. While I wasn’t sure of what was missing, I suspected it involved the size of the sensor. The best way to reduce camera system size and weight is to reduce the size of the sensor (as I had done) but that doesn’t come without other issues. I just felt that I didn’t have the aperture DoF effects and resolution that I had with previous Pentax DSLR cameras.
Recently, I purchased another used Pentax K-3 and a couple of WR lenses with the idea that they would give me a “knock-about” weather resistant system that I didn’t have, and that I would try them again and see if I regained whatever I had lost after selling them before. Since getting them, I have been making pictures with them. The ones at the top are examples of using the Pentax gear for closer work. I have liked the results.
I have also been using the Pentax gear for distant shots, like for the ducks in my previous posts. The following images demonstrate another capability that gives me better results than with the micro 4/3 gear. That is the resolution and IQ for severe crop-zooming. I took the picture below, handheld, from my back porch at 300mm focal length (an effective 450mm). I then severely cropped out a portion of the bird walking near the center, and then upsized it from 758 pixels wide to 2100 pixels wide to make the second image shown below.
Based on my tests so far, I have decided to keep the Pentax gear to use outdoors when I don’t have to carry or hold it for long periods. In essence, I have given up on a one camera solution. I will use my micro 4/3 gear and excellent fast lenses when photographing for Homewood around people and use my Pentax for some of my personal outdoor photography as long as I don’t have to roam far from my car or home. The Pentax K-3 has the best ergonomics and fit to my hand of any camera I have ever held. It is also the most weather resistant for the size, weight, cost, and image quality of any camera I have seen.
The problem I now have is maintaining two totally different systems, but it is one I will deal with, as long as I don’t go overboard buying lenses for both.
I am playing with another Pentax K-3 DSLR and the 18-135mm lens. The whole package is very weather resistant and is like what I once had before. After having sold the previous ones I decided that I might get another set for outdoor bad weather photography. I would like to do more than I can do with the pocket WP Olympus TG-5 camera.
As I am checking this copy to see if they are worth keeping, I am also trying some different focus affects. I thought about getting a Lensbaby Velvet lens but doubting that it was worth the cost, I am trying some software applications in these images. You can see that I have played with different amounts of outer edge out-of-focus vignetting.
I could do everything with the Olympus E-M1 Mk II and lenses but since I need them for my Homewood photography I have been afraid of damaging them. If I keep the Pentax camera I will not be afraid to use it in all kinds of weather nor worry about knocking it about outdoors. It is very sturdy, and I tend to think of it as my apocalypse camera. In the past I owned many different Pentax cameras and loved them and missed them. I didn’t stop using them until I needed a good lighter camera and lenses that I could use indoors silently while photographing events in poor light. The Pentax is everything but silent with the noisy mirror and shutter slap. It is also much heavier, but I don’t plan on using it in-hand for hours at a time like I use the Olympus cameras.
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.
I have been pondering two things … what will I photograph in the Borough of Hanover and what focal length lens will work best. I really need to find the answers in order since what I photograph determines what camera and lens I need; but maybe not. Since I have already photographed the most interesting areas, I have been exploring some of the back areas.
I was standing in one of the public parking lots when I took the above pictures. My reaction was that there was nothing of interest around me but I took some pictures anyway so I could continue my evaluation of the Canon SL1 camera with the 24 mm lens. Even after studying them, I found nothing of interest, unless it was the thought of what was missing. From the size and age of the trees along with their locations I imagine that these lots were previously plots where buildings once stood. They were probably vacant and falling down so the Borough acquired the lots, tore down the buildings, and paved the lots for parking. This parking lot is typical of many such lots through-out the Borough. I am guessing that what is missing was of more interest, but I can’t photograph that.
I then tried cropping a section out of one of the pictures, and converted it to monotone. You can see the results below.
And the answer is, using an old phrase, “you can’t create a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” I found nothing of interest in any of these pictures and it means that I will have to work at making images around Hanover. I have already photographed some of the “noted” areas that others think of since they are on the main roads and that is why I have been, and will continue, looking for the unusual and mostly not seen areas.
I still have no idea as to whether to concentrate on details or the bigger picture; but if I wish to concentrate on details I will need a longer lens. The problems are that longer Canon lenses are heavier, larger, and expensive if they are good fast lenses. That means more compromises if I get a long Canon zoom lens and my gut reaction is that I have little interest in more compromises that will probably end up as wasted money. I might just use my K-3 and 55 – 300 mm lens and shoot from close to the car so that I don’t have to carry it far. If not that, I might use a micro 4/3 or one-inch system.