I’ve been thinking about the amount of technology that is inside our cameras these days and how magazines and web sites encourage us to buy the latest cameras for a particular super wizz bang feature. Then on the next page they will be telling us to shoot raw because it provides the best quality from the camera.
So what about that image processing engine that the camera manufacturer spent probably millions developing? By shooting raw aren’t we bypassing most of the functionality of the camera? Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t shoot raw, after all I do myself, but I have taken to shooting JPEG+RAW and using the raw file as more of a fallback when exposure wasn’t quite as I needed. Basically by pushing us to shoot raw, we are boiling our cameras down to the three settings (aperture, shutter speed and iso) and the quality of the sensor while ignoring the majority of the image processing.
Now obviously the quality of the sensor does vary, and the iso and shutter ranges do vary, but do we really need the all singing high end camera model, or should we be more careful and choose based on those four fundamental aspects we all ways use. Certainly going forward I’m going to be putting a lot more thought in to how high up the camera range I need to go in order to get what I really need.
If you’ve read any of the other posts on the blog you will know I’ve a growing like for the smaller mirror less cameras which really do pack good quality images without the need to have a large body and correspondingly large lens. While in London with the Secret Photography Group I took my D7000 as well as my Olympus EP1, and Olympus EPM1, but spent the whole day using the EPM1 primarily with EP1 as a second body. The D7000 never came out of my bag.
Yeah, I was a bit nervous that the resulting images wouldn’t hold up to my companions, but to be honest I shouldn’t have worried. They look just as dandy. What did amuse me though was when one my fellow photographers got accosted by some security guards around Canary Wharf asking them if the were doing any professional work, while I sailed by.
The biggest drawback with the current crop of smaller bodies is the lack of a view finder, which having used DSLRs for the last 6 years or so is the only thing I’m missing. I especially missed it at the weekend with the bright sunshine, but that can be solved by using the VF-1. The VF-1 works well with the 20mm and 14mm Panasonic lenses I have, but because it is optical, it provides no additional information from the camera. This means you have to rely on the annoying focus beep , that I normally turn off, in order to know when to take the shot. The real problem comes with the Olympus 45mm (which is just great by the way) because you just can’t reliably frame the shot on the VF-1. I’m going to have to investigate one of three options, the VF-2, VF-3 or EM-5.
All you can eat with Micro Four Thirds? With the right combination of kit you certainly can with no serious compromises.
This weekend just gone I spent a pleasant day in the company of a few members of the Secret Photography Group (shh it’s a secret) trying some street photography in London. It was an opportunity to try the Olympus 45mm on the E-PM1 body, which turned out to be a great pairing. The 45mm is really very good wide open, although a lot of the shots were taken with it stopped down to f4 because of the surprising amount of sun that day. If you know the weather lately in the UK you will be aware we have been experiencing quite a bit of snow and rain, more so than we have in recent years at this time of year.
Street photography is an interesting branch of photography requiring the photographer to put themselves in uncomfortable situations, but the rewards do out way the fear. I’ve only done a bit in the past, and I’d forgotten how much fun it is when you get into the zone. It can be quite un-nerving approaching strangers and just snapping away at them, but generally you will find that most people will do one of a number of things, smile or frown at the weird person taking their picture.
For me, the more interesting people are the people that either react in a way where they don’t want their picture taken, like the guy above, or just continue on oblivious to what has happened.
All towns seem to have their collection of characters that are worth capturing, but London being so large has a generally much more diverse collection of these characters. I’m sure there must be a character per square foot figure for every place on earth, and London must be right up there with the best of them.
There is something about street that lends itself to B&W images. They just seem to evoke a feeling which is diluted by colour. I think this tends to come from the surroundings being full of advertising rather than other subjects which normally have a much more diluted range of colours, not to say that the colours in other settings aren’t as bright, but they number of colours do tend to be more constrained.