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Author Topic: A Matter of Character  (Read 35125 times)
michael
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« on: April 17, 2013, 05:16:55 PM »
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In my essay A Matter of Character I've asked that if you'd like to propose any camera or system (now or from the past) that you think has "character", why not post a comment here?

Remember though Ė this is all about "opinion" There's no right or wrong. Keep it civil please.

Michael
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Rob C
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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2013, 05:26:46 PM »
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In my essay A Matter of Character I've asked that if you'd like to propose any camera or system (now or from the past) that you think has "character", why not post a comment here?

Remember though Ė this is all about "opinion" There's no right or wrong. Keep it civil please.

Michael



Michael, not only civil, but short: it's gone 00.25hrs here and I need my beauty sleep. Badly.

Camera heaven would be a 500 series with a full-frame sensor. That I could afford to buy. I don't ask for much.

;-)

Rob C
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WalterEG
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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2013, 06:17:15 PM »
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Funny, isn't it?  Character in a camera is a hugely underrated factor in choices we make.

How could I ever find character in the melted Mars Bar (sorry for the theft Rob) that is my Canon DSLR?  Not so much a love/hate relationship as a "commercial expedience"/loathing co-existence.

On the other hand, as Rob knows, I just acquired yet another Hasselblad - a 501CM - and for me a principal character trait that makes the mighty Swede such a fond companion is that it is almost organic and simply about pure function.

Going up a size, my Sinar provides the ultimate image control and certainty. But, despite having used them for decades, Sinars are devoid of soul and, hence, wanting in character.  By contrast my Linhof Technika is a technological barbarian with great character and a strong sense of the heights of beautifully seductive industrial design harking back to Art Nouveau and Art Deco.  This closely reflects Michael's Jaguar/Lexus point in his story.

Sorry for the long-winded response.

Walter
« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 06:25:20 PM by WalterEG » Logged
dsaxe
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2013, 06:21:54 PM »
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Interesting article, Michael. You are right about cameras having character. My favorites were my Hassleblad X-Pan, a Contax G2 and of course my Leica M9. (I seem to be partial to rangefinders) I have owned many camera but those are the ones that stand out the most. Interesting though is the fact that I also owned a Fuji X-Pro 1 and sold it a few months ago because I thought it lacked character. Chaq'un son gout.

Cameras are for the most part a very personal experienceójust like many tools we have owned. I am sure carpenters have their favorite hammers, artists prefer certain paintbrushes to others, and at one time many years ago, I used to work as a draftsman (pre-computer), and I could not function without my Faber-Castel 3H pencil.
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AFairley
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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2013, 06:44:50 PM »
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For me (limiting myself to cameras I actually have owned), the camera system with the most character would have to be the Nikon F and the alphabet Nikkors that were out at the time.  I now have an almost mint red dot body with a 50mm f1.4 sitting out on display in my office.  I never get tired of looking at it and handling it.  (Though that may just be the remains of youthful infatuation.)  Not the film camera I would choose if I went back to shooting film, but definitely the one with the most character.
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Peter Mellis
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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2013, 07:13:16 PM »
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Only two of the cameras that I have owned and used over the years have had real character; a Voigtlander Vitessa L and a Pentax Spotmatic. I can't really define why, in either case. None of the digital beauties come close.

My wife's TR3 that had a hole in the floor on the passenger side and side curtains had character, as did my MGB. Can't explain that either.
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joezl
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« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2013, 07:35:48 PM »
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Mamiya 7II, Contax G2, Speed Graphic (no kidding). There are so many more but these three gave me a markedly different way of working at different times in my career which, in turn, has influenced the way I think about photography.
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telecentricity
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« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2013, 07:56:55 PM »
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The soul of any camera is made up of the photographs it took.  This is why an M3 or Nikon F are immortal, as everyone knows.  (Look at any war image from David Douglas Duncan or Larry Burrows).

But you asked about character, not soul.  All modern pro DSLRs allow you to forget completely about the camera and concentrate entirely on the image.  That is excellent industrial design but it is still not character.  I define a camera's character as its ability to draw attention to itself in a positive way such that the act of making a photograph is a harmonious fusion of camera and subject.  Robb Kendrick's wet plate photos of cowboys might be a good example of the character of a camera adding to the artistry.

My suggestions for cameras with character:  Zeiss Super Ikonta B, Sony NEX 7n with a W-Nikkor 3.5cm/1.8 and Fuji Instax Mini.

Just my thoughts.
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Gary
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« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2013, 07:59:50 PM »
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Camera heaven would be a 500 series with a full-frame sensor. That I could afford to buy. I don't ask for much.

;-)

Rob C

+1
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tsjanik
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« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2013, 08:05:14 PM »
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Only two of the cameras that I have owned and used over the years have had real character; a Voigtlander Vitessa L and a Pentax Spotmatic. I can't really define why, in either case. None of the digital beauties come close.

My wife's TR3 that had a hole in the floor on the passenger side and side curtains had character, as did my MGB. Can't explain that either.

My first car was an MGB* and my first 35mm a Spotmatic.  I agree they both had character, the difference is the Spotmatic always worked.   Grin

Tom

NB: If I were to choose something current, I might pick the 645D; in some ways like a Spotmatic, except for all the buttons I don't use.

*and my college roomate had a TR3.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 08:23:27 PM by tsjanik » Logged
ndevlin
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« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2013, 08:40:21 PM »
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That's easy:

Nikon F3

Canon EOS-1

Mamiya 6

Nothing I have shot since the dawn of digital has come close. 

- N.
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Nick Devlin   @onelittlecamera
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« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2013, 08:55:34 PM »
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I've had a fair number of cameras over the years. There was a Ricoh long ago that had this strange lure for me - I just had to use it.

Anyway, I had not come close to the feeling of character until I purchased my X-Pro 1. I don't have the zoom. With the primes, which are excellent, it is utterly fluid in use. It's kind of arrogant: it has a sense of excellence about it. If you are into gadgets it's a real let down. I want to create photographs using a tool that was made by people who love to do the same, and this camera is it.

To  borrow some Michael's phrase, it kind of sneers at toasters.
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Ray McGuinness
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« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2013, 09:05:12 PM »
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My all time favorite camera with with the most character was my medium format field camera the Horseman VHR.
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TimBray
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« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2013, 09:07:02 PM »
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I had the budget for either and ended up with the X-E1, strictly for reasons of character.   Having been a Pentax and (coincidentally, I didnít arrange for the merger) Ricoh guy, obviously Iím a sucker for character.  Never had a Fuji before, aside from a lamentable point-and-shoot way back around Y2K.

Iíve never worked with a rangefinder-style EVF like the X-E1 has before, and Iím very taken with it.  The readout is crisp and excellent and itís got the enlarge-to-help-manual-focus button, which is very seductive. I wonder how the X-Pro optical viewfinder will work with the upcoming long tele-zoom?

Recently, on the Big Island of Hawaii, I went on a long and quite arduous multi-hour hike across rough lava to where the live lava was, to poke a stick in it (pix & story at http://goo.gl/GL9dl ).  I took only the X-E1 and the 35mmF1.4 prime, totally appreciated the featherweightness of that combo, and the pix came out pretty good.
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David Sutton
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« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2013, 09:31:34 PM »
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The camera that replaced my Pentax Spotmatic, the Rollei 35, had character. Never got same number of keepers from it but I always really looked forward to using it. That counts for something.
My current character camera is shaping up to be a Kodak no 4 Screen Focus which I'm converting to take 120 film. Red bellows and beautifully constructed from what appears to be cedar. I can't wait to take it out into the field.
Cameras post 1918? Bah!
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Pelao
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« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2013, 09:37:22 PM »
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I had the budget for either and ended up with the X-E1, strictly for reasons of character.   Having been a Pentax and (coincidentally, I didnít arrange for the merger) Ricoh guy, obviously Iím a sucker for character.  Never had a Fuji before, aside from a lamentable point-and-shoot way back around Y2K.

Iíve never worked with a rangefinder-style EVF like the X-E1 has before, and Iím very taken with it.  The readout is crisp and excellent and itís got the enlarge-to-help-manual-focus button, which is very seductive. I wonder how the X-Pro optical viewfinder will work with the upcoming long tele-zoom?

Recently, on the Big Island of Hawaii, I went on a long and quite arduous multi-hour hike across rough lava to where the live lava was, to poke a stick in it (pix & story at http://goo.gl/GL9dl ).  I took only the X-E1 and the 35mmF1.4 prime, totally appreciated the featherweightness of that combo, and the pix came out pretty good.

Just read the story. I've never been anywhere near fresh lava. Amazing features form as it cools. Thanks for sharing.
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Dave Bridenstine
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« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2013, 10:04:03 PM »
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Interesting enough thread to prompt me to register.  I got interested at age 12 with my dad's Bolsey B2 rangefinder. Talk about quirky. Shot for the college newspaper with a Yashica twin-lens and a Yashica manual slr (manual stop-down after focus and manual mirror return.) But the one I like to handle (still own it), the one that does what I want it to do and gives me the info to do it is my OM2n.  Had this conversation with a friend at church several weeks ago -- there is just something very satisfying about taking a photo with a solid, competent manual device.  Will now have to take another serious look at the X Pro 1.
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Schewe
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« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2013, 10:48:49 PM »
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I've asked that if you'd like to propose any camera or system (now or from the past) that you think has "character", why not post a comment here?

Well, it may not fall into the typical "character" status, but I would have to say my Sinar P 4x5 camera that I bought when Aldermans (a big Chicago camera store) went out of business. This was in 1977 or 78 (can't remember). It was a huge price for the time, an Expert kit for just under $4K. I still have an use the camera from time to time (now with an IQ 180 back). There's just something about the gears that I love! Something about Swiss precision...

No, it's not sexy to fondle...and it's a pain to set up. The bellows are kinda long in the tooth (I have tape on some places where there are light leaks). But the darn thing has served me well ad helped me produce some really nice images over the years.

I used to love the 'Blad...but I sold it...
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Stephen Scharf
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« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2013, 11:01:07 PM »
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Michael,
I have to say that I'm personally very pleased you've discovered the X-Pro1. When I read your original blog entry you were considering one, I thought about dropping you a personal note recommending it.

For the me, the X-Pro1 is absolutely my definitive camera of character. I bought my X-Pro1 and the wonderful 35 mm/1.4 prime last November, having become smitten with the X-series after taking my sweet little X10 to Utah for landscape photography in October, and having it consistently smoke my old warhorse Canon 1D MkII for image quality, resolution, color, dynamic range, signal/noise and all-around experience of use. I got mine almost exactly when firmware version 2.0 came out, which made a dramatic improvement of autofocus performance compared to versions 1.0 and 1.3. Version 2.03 of the firmware has taken this performance even further. Fuji is clearly listening to customers and consistently making improvements for us. What a nice change fro the norm as far as some other manufacturers.

Using the X-Pro1 takes me back to the days when I learned the craft of photography using my completely manual Olympus OM-1s. I think that some of the wonderful qualities of the X-series cameras is that they force you to intellectually and physically re-engage with the process of making images, an experience I had not realized I had been missing using my Canon dSLRs until I got my X10. Personally, I love the "hands-on" experience of the X-Pro1, where you have to use your hands on the camera body (and lens) to made exposure and focus adjustments. And it has a real, wonderful, bright, clear optical viewfinder! The optical viewfinder is a revelation. Like you, I've never liked EVFs, so for me, the fact the X-Pro1 (and the X10, for that matter) had an optical viewfinder was a very compelling feature. The electronic hybrid overlay was merely icing on the cake. I would estimate that use the optical viewfinder 99% of the time.

I rented the 18-55 zoom recently, and was so impressed with it, that ordered it and just received mine yesterday. As much as I love the image quality from the 35mm prime, my guess is the 18-55 will be on the camera most of the time. I agree with you that the image quality of the 18-55 is excellent. Personally, I am really waiting for the 23mm prime to ship as it will then turn my X-Pro1 into an X100S-equivalent.

What I am most impressed with the X-Pro1, though, is the image quality. The detail, resolution, low noise, dynamic range, and those Fuji colors! Gasp! This camera also, as Sean Reid describes it, "draws" in black and white absolutely beautifully.

So, Michael, I sincerely hope you'll enjoy yours as much as I love mine, but I am confident you will. This camera makes me want to pick it up, get out and generate work with it, and, at the end of the day, that's what it's all about.

Some pics from the X-Pro1:














Regards,
Stephen Scharf
« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 11:08:40 PM by Stephen Scharf » Logged
kipdent
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« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2013, 11:23:50 PM »
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This thread idea seemed the perfect place for me to throw a monkey wrench into the mix. From LuLa, I first started reading about the Sigma DP2 Merrill. I wrestled with how impractical a camera it is and thought I was crazy for even considering it. But I took a leap of faith since I cannot afford a medium format back for my Contax 645, and decided I wanted something really different than my Leica M9 which, I thought, the X-Pro 1 was too close to conceptually.

I've had the camera for five days, and I can say have not been this excited about a camera in at least 20 years. I can't stop taking images with it, and every time I print an image, I am giddy beyond words. I'm stunned, astonished, and electrified that a $799 camera can produce images of such quality, three-dimensional texture and realism. I'm almost speechless. It is truly not for everyone, I'm sure, and is frankly ridiculously clunky to use--but so what! In a way, its impracticality also gives it character--but more than anything, it is its output that defines its character. Count me as a complete convert, and fully bonded to the DP2--so much so, I will not shed a tear when I sell my M9.

After sleeping on it, one more camera comes to mind--my Polaroid SX-70. Just looking at it makes me smile.

Kip Peterson
Fallbrook, California

« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 09:27:04 AM by kipdent » Logged
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