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Author Topic: If art is goal does gear matter so much?  (Read 83446 times)
luxborealis
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« Reply #80 on: December 06, 2011, 08:25:02 PM »
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I suppose we have to start with "what is art?" But that's a lifetime journey in itself...

There are photographers and there are artists. Skating well, doesn't make you a figure skater; baking well doesn't make you a chef; taking pictures does not make you an artist. Art is less about well you see and more about expressing what you feel.

If art is the goal then, no, gear doesn't matter too much provided you can create the art that's inside you with the gear you have. "Gear" certainly doesn't matter to the average buyer of fine prints. As photographers, we often forget that most people are attracted to the emotion of a photograph, not the pixels. I can tell when another photographer is looking at my work - they walk right up to it and pixel peep. Those who appreciate art for the emotional connection begin by just standing there, then move to one side and have another look. They might walk up to it, but not to pixel peep but rather to read the signature or the title card. Then they'll bring someone else over to validate their emotions. (I know, it sounds a bit crass, but that's what appears to be happening!)

Astute buyers will appreciate a photograph for its emotional connection, but also recognize quality craftsmanship when they see it. Perhaps this discussion is more about craft than art. From my experience, most people buying photography at weekend art shows don't recognize craftsmanship which is why so many poorly crafted photographs sell - buyers have an emotional connection to the scene.

That being said, I have what one would might call a jaded view of galleries which is often the next "level" artists aspire to. Gallery-owners place an emphasis on gear seemingly for two disparate reasons:
A. How "serious" is this photographer? (i.e. they rate the saleability of a photographer by how much the photographer has invested, after all, the gallery is going to invest as well and they want to know the artist is serious. All things being equal, the more the photographer has invested the more the gallery-owner might be willing to invest.)
Unless scenario two comes along...
B. An unknown/undiscovered "diamond in the rough" shooting amazing stuff with a sexy new gadget like an iPhone. Again - that translates into sales because it's a human interest story and can become a "project" of the gallery-owner, a "discovery" if you like.

Is it art? - no more or less than any other quality photography. But who said the gallery world is about art. It's as much about sales as the camera gear industry, but at least most gallery owners recognize superior craft.

Remember - "it's not what ya got... it's what you do with what ya got". So, in the hands of an artist, the same scene will turn out entirely different from the average photographer, irrespective of equipment. It's all in the eye and your ability to use the tools you have (visual design elements, gear, darkroom/lightroom) to recreate what you saw and felt at the moment. Once you have a well-crafted photograph, it's now up to marketing as to how well that photograph becomes formally recognized as "art". In the meantime, keep working on your craft.
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Isaac
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« Reply #81 on: December 08, 2011, 11:14:14 AM »
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Is it art? - no more or less than any other quality photography.

"To make art is to pursue an idea in a visual way... Look at the work of mature contemporary drawing artists and you will see this very process ... all these artists are pursuing and questioning abstract ideas through the vehicle of those images, and so when you look more closely, you will see beyond the images and into the variations of those internal ideas."

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Rob C
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« Reply #82 on: December 13, 2011, 11:21:45 AM »
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What, other than something worth photographing, would get you in the mood to take a photograph?




The obvious answer, of course, is money.

Apart from that point, yes, you are absolutely right. I struggle with the question every day. I feel the urge to justify the small fortune I've spent post-retirement on buying again equipment I owned and then sold towards the end of my pro days. And that's difficult.

Inspiration doesn't come knocking every day, and going out with a load of stuff and an empty mind isn't very productive either. The perfect combination is when one has a semi-formulated idea of location, treatment and lens. That way one can travel light and, if it comes to nothing, at least the exercise has done the heart some good.

That was one of the purposes of travelling to exotic locations: one got a fresh perspective on life and whatever one was supposed to be shooting. At least, that was the best reason I could offer my clients at the time, and it must have seemed sensible to them...

;-)

Rob C
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RSL
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« Reply #83 on: December 15, 2011, 06:33:02 PM »
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Yes, exotic locations can snap you out of a slump, but I'm not sure it's a solution to what you're feeling. The world is full of fascinating images -- people, architecture, even sometimes landscapes. If I know I'm after architecture or its equivalent, as when I'm traveling cross-country and poking through dying towns, I have my D3 with an L bracket and 24-70 lens on the floor of the car between the front seats, and a tripod behind me -- a load of stuff. But when I go out with a small camera -- one I can hold in my hand with the strap around my wrist -- and a 50mm prime or its equivalent I don't have even a semi-formulated idea of location or treatment. I'm looking for things that strike my eye -- whatever they are. Here's one of those things from last night in St. Augustine, Florida, where I spent a couple days and walked about 30 miles looking for photographs. Tomorrow I've got to start going through the two-day catch and culling.

No, inspiration doesn't come knocking every day, but it seems to me that just going out into the world and looking often gets inspiration at least to hang out around my shoulder. Just going out and shooting tends to get things moving. With digital it's especially easy because as soon as you get home you can see what you grabbed. For me at least most of it turns out to be dumpable, but then, every once in a while there's that one that stopped your heart when you tripped the shutter, and it turns out to be there... right in front of you on the screen.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #84 on: December 15, 2011, 06:48:52 PM »
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Hi,

In general I prefer well executed images. Fine detail may be interesting/important in many images.

The image is important, not the way it was taken.

Best regards
Erik


Just curious what the general reactions of photographers are when they're looking at photographic images from an art appreciation point of view.

Over the last 30 years I've shot everything from 4x5 view cameras to simple cell phone digicams. I've been obsessed with gear off and on, but have gravitated over the last few years to simply looking at what an image conveys and how I feel about it. I really don't care as much about pixels, noise, gadgets, etc. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it seems to me that all the manufacturer emphasis on gear and the tech side of things, including painstaking pixel-peeping camera reviews has shifted the user/viewer's attention away from the vision of the photographer and more on the gear itself. As if the photographer doesn't matter so much anymore if you have bought the latest and greatest version of some new gear.

Of course I know this isn't true, but it seems like the meme has taken hold and it likely sells a lot more cameras. Still, it's painful to hear, "Hey, that's a really nice image. What camera made that image?" As if all one must do to make nice images is buy the fanciest, most expensive, most sophisticated machine and then push a button.

After again lugging Nikon dSLR gear and a small Panasonic LX3 compact on a U.S. motorcycle journey http://www.kaleidoscopeofcolor.com/galleria/go-west-color/ I discovered getting back to just using a simple compact  appealed to me. My intent was to work on publishing a book of my photos and journaling from the road to capture more of a LIVE feel http://amzn.to/hE9KNG So, I figured I better make myself shoot more sophisticated dSLR gear for the extra resolution. However, I found that I actually ended up using just as many images from the much easier to shoot LX3 stuff in the book. Sure, you can tell a difference between the compact and dSLR images, but I don't believe there's much difference in how the images emotionally convey what I intended.

I recently backpacked for a month in Mexico. I've spent many years traveling off and on in Mexico. Have lugged 35mm gear through the jungle, and heavy dSLR gear all over the country on motorcycles, backpacking, buses, etc. So, at this point I figured I had plenty of satisfying images of Mexico (from a 2009 Motorcycle/Mexico trip: http://vimeo.com/7268216 ) and could leave the heavy gear behind at home for a change and force myself to simply use only an iPhone 4 and apps for editing and uploading. Also published short MagCloud magazines from the road via my travel blog http://www.kaleidoscopeofcolor.com/mexico-2011 (sorry, it shows me still in Mexico but I got the flu on the way back and haven't got around to wrapping it up yet)

After I got home and noticed how well the iPhone images actually held up and printed, I was fairly shocked to be honest: http://skip-hunt.artistwebsites.com/art/all/mexico+winter+2011/all

So, my question is this... when photographers look at images in general do they now mostly study the image for pixel quality and make an aesthetic decision whether they like an image based on how much resolution and lack of noise there is? Or whether or not the image was obviously made with the state of the art full-frame camera? Or, if the photographer managed to make something nice with the simplicity of an iPhone, Holga, or a toy camera?

Or, do you first look at an image and decide how you feel about it based on how the image effects you without regard for how and what camera was used to create it?

Skip Hunt
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luxborealis
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« Reply #85 on: December 15, 2011, 08:54:26 PM »
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Quote
Yes, exotic locations can snap you out of a slump, but I'm not sure it's a solution to what you're feeling.

How true! I have always believed that our best potential is our own backyard. It has continued as a major theme in my work through out my life.

One of the things I learned whilst I was working and travelling for seven years in Tanzania, England and Europe, was that photographers who are closest to these wonderfully exotic places have the best opportunity of capturing scenes at just the right time under just the right conditions. I always lamented that they could be there when it counts. As a tourist, I would simply have to do the best I could under the conditions given to me in the few days or weeks I was in a place.

Upon arriving back on home turf it occurred to me that to people from other continents, my home location of southern Ontario is exotic (I know, it seems a stretch!) AND, who is better placed to portray the best of this exotic place than photographers like me, as I live here and can be where I need to be relatively quickly. I can also scout out locations for another day or next year.

Sure everywhere else is exotic, but to everyone else it's exotic right here. If you go through life with that thought running through your head, you will never be at a loss for photographs.
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Terry McDonald
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Rob C
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« Reply #86 on: December 16, 2011, 02:58:32 AM »
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Well, I'm afraid that I have to remain the odd man out!

My own experiences on trips were that I was far more awake and aware, that very often the recce trip was even more rewarding in terms of the non-model pics (I was only location scouting on those - model pix were the final objective for the actual shoot) than the real shoot. I found nothing compared with the 'shock' of the new. By the time I returned with the girls, it wasn't that exciting anymore.

As for the backyard: when we first moved out here to Mallorca my wife and I drove down the whole accessible bits of coastline looking for beaches and cliffs (and restaurants) that we could use; the main reason for leaving the original backyard was to live in better photo-locations for calendar-style work (and stock) than found in Scotland and with warmer waters!

And you know what? After thirty years that new 'backyard' has become so boring (to me) that I no longer feel capable of seeing it with fresh eyes. In fact, today, I'd probably get fresher shots back in friggin' Scotland!

That's the secondary problem, apart from the basic lack of models which is the greater.

On the other hand, the new reality has made me think more in terms of the unreality around me; that's partly why I recently bought my second cat Nikkor, and also perhaps why I bought a 105 micro Nikkor a couple of years ago. Perhaps my salvation lies in avoiding the obvious, and exploring what's not in front of my nose, in creating my own little world.

Rob C
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #87 on: December 16, 2011, 07:45:27 AM »
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My own experiences on trips were that I was far more awake and aware, that very often the recce trip was even more rewarding in terms of the non-model pics (I was only location scouting on those - model pix were the final objective for the actual shoot) than the real shoot. I found nothing compared with the 'shock' of the new. By the time I returned with the girls, it wasn't that exciting anymore.
Oh, dear, Rob! You're not saying that the exotic locations looked better without the girls are you? That would go entirely against the RSL/RobC Philosophy of Landscape Photography, that every landscape needs either the Hand of Man or the Body of Woman.

Eric
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« Reply #88 on: December 16, 2011, 07:52:54 AM »
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... the RSL/RobC Philosophy of Landscape Photography, that every landscape needs either the Hand of Man or the Body of Woman...

Or SB's philosophy (ok, more like a wishful thinking) that has both, preferably combined? Grin
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Rob C
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« Reply #89 on: December 16, 2011, 09:39:31 AM »
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Oh, dear, Rob! You're not saying that the exotic locations looked better without the girls are you? That would go entirely against the RSL/RobC Philosophy of Landscape Photography, that every landscape needs either the Hand of Man or the Body of Woman.

Eric


Nope, Eric, sorry to disappoint you! I'm just saying that the second take isn't that exciting regarding the location anymore. The girls provide their own intrinsic je ne sais quoi (lies! I sais perfectly well!) which makes it okay... actually, my best client used to make use of a mix of both girls and location 'atmospherics', the latter mostly shot on the recce since it was best use of available time.

I enclose this example hidden deep inside the Biscuit Tin on my site; it was part of the cover, the whole cover consisting of two sections; a top one with all the image pages, and a lower one also wiro-bound to the backing board on which lived the dates, credits and the various company logos. Logos, because the Group had me make 42 different versions with different company names and stuff... kept me working for months. Wish they still did, but though they were the largest civil engineering plant-hire and plant-sales group in the UK, they ended up being bought out by a Canadian group... so endeth the fortunes of Man, never mind his hand. And much of his income.

;-(

Rob C
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fotometria gr
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« Reply #90 on: December 22, 2011, 05:22:20 PM »
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"To make art is to pursue an idea in a visual way... Look at the work of mature contemporary drawing artists and you will see this very process ... all these artists are pursuing and questioning abstract ideas through the vehicle of those images, and so when you look more closely, you will see beyond the images and into the variations of those internal ideas."


+1
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jessuca09
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« Reply #91 on: February 06, 2012, 01:11:34 AM »
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I admit to being a "propellor-head" and lusting after megapixels, and yet, the images that I appreciate the most, are the ones that I can emotionally connect to. My first DSLR, at 6 mpix, is used just as often as my newer 12 mpix one. And it will continue to be used when I upgrade to the next 24 mpix model.




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Rob C
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« Reply #92 on: February 06, 2012, 08:31:54 AM »
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I admit to being a "propellor-head" and lusting after megapixels, and yet, the images that I appreciate the most, are the ones that I can emotionally connect to. My first DSLR, at 6 mpix, is used just as often as my newer 12 mpix one. And it will continue to be used when I upgrade to the next 24 mpix model.





Why? And if so, why upgrade at all?

Rob C
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Vincen77o
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« Reply #93 on: February 13, 2012, 03:13:20 AM »
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Having looked at the phone images I got to thinking that yes, gear does matter. The lack of quality stood out and I thought if I had a Phase One I could take, obviously, far better images. My canon and 3/4 Lumix could easily take better images.
Then I saw the latest article on the site 'The Making of Sugarloaf Rock', taken with a Phase One. This is art, not plain photography, as the image is highly enhanced. I recently bought a cheapo Olympus for $150 which could have taken the initial picture of Sugarloaf Rock.
The answer is that if you want to take pro photographs get some gear, but if it's art you're after, stick with the phone.
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Rob C
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« Reply #94 on: February 13, 2012, 08:22:50 AM »
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Having looked at the phone images I got to thinking that yes, gear does matter. The lack of quality stood out and I thought if I had a Phase One I could take, obviously, far better images. My canon and 3/4 Lumix could easily take better images.
Then I saw the latest article on the site 'The Making of Sugarloaf Rock', taken with a Phase One. This is art, not plain photography, as the image is highly enhanced. I recently bought a cheapo Olympus for $150 which could have taken the initial picture of Sugarloaf Rock.
The answer is that if you want to take pro photographs get some gear, but if it's art you're after, stick with the phone.


I wish I could agree with you!

Cellphone 'art' is okay as long as you want to stay with tiny Internet pics as I do with it; if you want to print, then forget it. In my own lot, hardly any of them are as shot: the image is invisible in the shooting conditions, and all I can do is make a guess at how much might actually be on the sensor when I go click, and even that is a matter of doubt since who can tell when the actual exposure is being made, what delays might be in process? So really, chopping bits out of an inferior medium ain't gonna give you paper-based art! Plenty of frustration about what might have been, but not a lot more. As for going back with a decent camera to reshoot: you gotta be kidding! Once shot the idea is as dead as the dodo.

The cellphone is always around, but it isn't a solution for anything serious.

Rob C
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RSL
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« Reply #95 on: February 13, 2012, 10:52:08 AM »
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The cellphone is always around, but it isn't a solution for anything serious.

Which is exactly why, even though my cell is on my belt, unless I'm lugging my D3 I carry a little E-p1 with a Leica auxiliary finder and a 25mm (50mm equivalent) DG Summilux lens on it wherever I go. I can print up to 17 x 22 with the raw files from that camera. Couldn't even begin to touch it with the cell.
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Rob C
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« Reply #96 on: February 13, 2012, 01:15:40 PM »
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Which is exactly why, even though my cell is on my belt, unless I'm lugging my D3 I carry a little E-p1 with a Leica auxiliary finder and a 25mm (50mm equivalent) DG Summilux lens on it wherever I go. I can print up to 17 x 22 with the raw files from that camera. Couldn't even begin to touch it with the cell.




Russ, what's an E-p1? I'm not up to speed with small cameras.

Rob C
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langier
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« Reply #97 on: February 13, 2012, 02:10:09 PM »
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IMO, discussions of cameras, lenses, sensors, film, noise, grain, ad infinitum when it comes to the aesthetics of a photograph is simple B.S. It's nothing more than polishing a turd trying to one-up that the tools I use were better than the image and since I use good junk, that matters more than the image.

Take Van Gough's Starey-starey night. Is the impact any better because he used Windsor-Newton Cerulean Blue oil with an Ultretch No. 10 Hog Bristle brush on Gumbacher canvas?  I think not. If I used my Wolfgang Puck pot to cook you a can of beans, would the gas I gave you smell sweater than if I simply cooked them in the can over a fire in the hearth? I think not.

It's still the vision and the craft that matters!

Look at the photos in many photo magazines. The best photos from the best photographers are great images. The rest listing cameras, lenses, tripods, media, filters, etc., are nothing more than a way to sell you more crap. The implication is that if spent your wad on all that stuff and used the same tripod holes as was used on the published image, you, too will have just as good image. Not! Get over it!

Sure, if you are learning, get into the minds of great photographers and emulate. Then move on and form your own vision, unique to your work and stop shooting using the same old crap in the same old place and creating the same old and tired view.

Now go out and create a gee-whiz image of something new and exciting!!!
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« Reply #98 on: February 13, 2012, 03:37:36 PM »
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Russ, what's an E-p1? I'm not up to speed with small cameras.

Hi Rob, It's an Olympus micro four-thirds "mirrorless" camera. Its sensor is essentially the same 12 megapixel sensor Olympus uses in their DSLRs. It's exactly half frame, and even though individual sensor size is moderately small in a four-thirds array, I find I can operate up to ISO 1600 and usually not pick up enough noise to worry about. It's about the same size and weight as my old Leica M4, and several months ago Panasonic came out with a 25mm DG Summilix for it. On a half-frame that scales up to the equivalent of 50mm on a full-frame -- my favorite prime lens for the street (and a lot of other places). With the Summilux's f/1.4 lens the thing's usable almost anywhere. I shot that picture "Over There" that I posted a week or so ago in User Critiques with the E-P1 at f/1.4 and 1/60 second.
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Rob C
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« Reply #99 on: February 13, 2012, 06:15:54 PM »
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Hi Rob, It's an Olympus micro four-thirds "mirrorless" camera. Its sensor is essentially the same 12 megapixel sensor Olympus uses in their DSLRs. It's exactly half frame, and even though individual sensor size is moderately small in a four-thirds array, I find I can operate up to ISO 1600 and usually not pick up enough noise to worry about. It's about the same size and weight as my old Leica M4, and several months ago Panasonic came out with a 25mm DG Summilix for it. On a half-frame that scales up to the equivalent of 50mm on a full-frame -- my favorite prime lens for the street (and a lot of other places). With the Summilux's f/1.4 lens the thing's usable almost anywhere. I shot that picture "Over There" that I posted a week or so ago in User Critiques with the E-P1 at f/1.4 and 1/60 second.


Thanks for the info - I'd never looked into smaller cameras than 35mm...

Rob C
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