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Author Topic: A Matter of Character  (Read 31395 times)
tomsi42
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« Reply #80 on: April 19, 2013, 06:36:32 PM »
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I too liked this article, and with the thoughful replies, decided to register to the site forum.

I read the initial rveiws of the X-Pro here, and got confused as many seemed to like it; but your reviews seemed that it was just a strange camera. I had that feeling when I had the original Sigma DP2; so I decided not to pursue Fuji further.

But a few months ago, I was able to try out the X-E1 for two weeks (with 18-55mm and 35mm /1.4); and I was surprised to find a very nice camera with good handling, and a great character (I installed the latest firmware). The RAW support was still flaky; CaptureOne 7 was still the only real choice. That has now been solved - I get great files with both LR4.4 and C1 v7.1.

The thing that really struck me, after returning the X-E1, is how much I miss the camera (I shoot 4/3 and -4/3 currently; had Canon earlier). So it will be my system of choice in the future.

I like telecentricity's comment on a camera's soul. Looking back at my photographs. My take on the subject, is that I to get the best results with characterful cameras, not soul-less machines. The favourites during the times are the Olympus XA, Fuji S-304 (!) and Panasonic GF1.

A few photos from my X-E1 adventure (processed with LR 4.4RC, so trhey could be better).






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gregkoz1
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« Reply #81 on: April 19, 2013, 11:56:54 PM »
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Our cameras are extensions of ourselves.  I really loved my Rolleiflex /80mm Planar 2.8 and M-4.  With those 2 tools, I could do anything.
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DaveCurtis
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« Reply #82 on: April 20, 2013, 12:41:08 AM »
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None of my modern Canon digitals have character. Perhaps the 1 series has a little.

However my first camera, my mums Kodak Retinette had truck loads! A fun quirky camera to use.

Slightly off topic "lenses with character" - , my new Zeiss 35mm f1.4 ZE has plenty character. Classical rendition from f1.4 - f2. Interesting that a modern wide angle lens has been designed to draw this way.
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Rob C
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« Reply #83 on: April 20, 2013, 02:53:40 AM »
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[
For that reason, I'll add to your list the rackover Mitchell and the Arri IIC.  Beasts, both.  Seminal cameras. Real characters.


For still cameras, I must add the Pentax 6X7.  Nobody who's tripped the shutter on that giant SLR can forget the experience.


Yep, and I kept mine for about a year... found it to be what I imagine the early 6x6 Bronicas such as the S2 must have been: athletes that constantly leapt out of their own skins.

A shame, really, because on paper -a least - if offered such potential for large 120 trannies. In the end, slow synch., bounce from every moving part and the dfficulty in loading/unloading without the film flipping out of my fingers killed it for me. But other than that, it was beautifully made.

Rob C
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pegelli
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« Reply #84 on: April 20, 2013, 02:54:15 AM »
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I guess maybe I'm quirky but for me a camera that I enjoy taking out and shooting with has enough character for me.

In that way my current most used camera's (Sony A850 and NEX 6) have all the character I need.

But maybe I even think bread toasters have character, probably caused my education as an engineer  Grin (and when it burns the toast it's usually my fault, not of the toaster  Wink)
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pieter, aka pegelli
Riccardo
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« Reply #85 on: April 20, 2013, 04:05:08 AM »
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You can feel the character, as well as the charm, but you can't define it.

I use digital cameras and printers by profession and I'm not a nostalgic for the good old days (maybe just a little).
Having said that, I think that no digital camera has character, as well as no printer or PC.
The inkjet prints have gained character and charm, but not the printers (unlike some enlargers).

A camera with character? Mamiya 6 (but not the Mamiya 7).
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Abernero
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« Reply #86 on: April 20, 2013, 04:07:28 AM »
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Back in the day I used OM-1s which to me were wonderfully simple, full of that elusive character and I really connected with them, the OM-3 that replaced one of them I never got that feeling from regardless of how good it was in terms of results.
Similarly more recently going from D700 to D800; the D700 somehow seemed easier to get on with though the results from the newer machine are wonderful - not that the D700 was too shabby in that respect.  Having said that when did I actually last use the D700? So although it felt like it had more character it certainly isn't far enough up the character ladder to make me actually use it.
On the automotive analogy since I now drive a Morgan Threewheeler it is possible that I really don't need any more character from the machines in my life...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/39263697@N08/sets/72157632388832973/
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HSakols
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« Reply #87 on: April 20, 2013, 08:06:48 AM »
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For me character was shooting in square format. I guess my Mamiya c220 had real character compared to a nikon d800.  I still miss the square. It has been years since I've projected square slides. 
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Pete_G
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« Reply #88 on: April 20, 2013, 09:03:01 AM »
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[
For that reason, I'll add to your list the rackover Mitchell and the Arri IIC.  Beasts, both.  Seminal cameras. Real characters.


I was going to add the Mitchell BNCR, but you beat me to it, I agree with the Arri 2C as well, but there's nothing like seeing a Mitchell on a big crane, with a camera operator and a director, 20 feet above the ground. Old fashioned movie making.
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Jason DiMichele
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« Reply #89 on: April 20, 2013, 09:53:28 AM »
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Any folding technical camera for field work. Sensor size of any medium format (pref 6x7). I love the methodical ways of working with the technical cameras but kind of don't miss developing the E6 at home. That would be my ideal camera.

Cheers,
Jay
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Jason DiMichele
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louoates
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« Reply #90 on: April 20, 2013, 02:43:22 PM »
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For me the camera with the most character was my Kodak 1 MP digital. I don't miss its gargantuan grain and artifacts. But it did start me on the digital path with my very first image manipulation. For that I am eternally grateful. Kodak, RIP
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rickk
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« Reply #91 on: April 20, 2013, 03:49:10 PM »
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A variety of 120 folders and "press" cameras: Century Graphic, Graflex XL, Rapid Omega, Mamiya Press 23 and Universal, Voigtlander Bessa II
had plenty of character and quirkiness. All kept me busy with fine-tuning and fixing -- especially the Rapid Omega backs.
In that era, I was always seeking but never found a deal on a Plaubel Makina 67 or W67.
Later, the Mamiya 7ii and Fuji GSW 690ii were my tools of choice.
I still use the Mamiya on occasion and haven't been able to let go of the Century Graphic and a few select lenses.

Regards,    Rick
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JV
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« Reply #92 on: April 20, 2013, 04:18:43 PM »
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The Fuji FP-1, a rangefinder camera with bellows that took Polaroid pack film.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #93 on: April 20, 2013, 07:14:50 PM »
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Most of my "character" cameras have been mentioned already: Speed Graphic and Mamiya 6, for example.

Also the Pentax Spotmatic. In 1971 my wife and I went on a Sierra Club two-week "High Light" trip (duffel plus food carried by mules) in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, many nights above 11,000 feet, and crossing two passes at 12,000 and 13,200 feet. I brought two Pentaxes, one for Plus X and one with Kodachrome. Several other hikers had Nikons. During the two weeks, every one of the Nikons failed or broke at some point, but my two Pentaxes kept on working all the time.

But there's one camera nobaody has mentioned: The Zeiss Baby Ikonta, which was a pocketable folding camera that used 127-size film, with negatives about the size of a 35mm full-frame neg. Totally manual, wire finder, good lens, great for taking candids. My brother picked it up in a pawn shop and let me use it one summer, and that's what hooked me on photography.
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leeonmaui
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« Reply #94 on: April 20, 2013, 08:40:27 PM »
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My Pentax 645D, its the finest camera I have ever owned or will ever own I guess. It seems I argued with a lot of my other cameras and at times wanted to heave them out into the landscape I was shooting. I worked very hard and scrimped and saved, I ate lots of instant noodles to get the money to buy it used, and to assemble, lenses filters and a solid shooting platform. I bought a Lowpro h20 bag to nestle it in.
I don't feel the weight of it as we wander, I'm confident, I know it will be ready and able to work. most of its buttons and function remain unused, and I'm surprised every now and again by some of the tricks its has up its sleeve.
Rarely if ever do I shoot it hand held, its not that kind of relationship, its goes from the bag to the arca swiss in an easy transition, then it silently lets me get to work, mostly at the same settings shot after shot, it waits with me for light, in the chill of the morning and rests under my head, under the stars on trips, its not concerned with a bit of rain or snow or dust, although I fuss a bit and worry, it silently works its way through it all. its never out of my sight as I journey, my silent partner is too treasured to let out of my sight at airports or bus stations.
Its a big black brooding looking thing, now with scratches and a few wear marks, its character is one of silent support to my imagination, it just disappears as I shoot. It goes back in the bag, and we move on. it comes out of the bag, I compose, bracket trigger with a timer, 5 shots, it slowly works its way through the captures, and offers one up for inspection, I'll think, adjust look recompose,  and repeat, it will agree and work away. It goes back in the bag, we move on.
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jmaxim
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« Reply #95 on: April 20, 2013, 08:43:38 PM »
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What a great article and discussions!

Here is my two cents worth (Oh no! We've just abolished the penny in Canada and so I guess that rounds down to 0 - about what my opinion is worth...):

My favorite camera was the Canon F1 bought in the early 70s. It was just the right weight and size and had all the right buttons and controls and no superfluous controls. I was able to take wonderful pictures with it and rarely screwed up. So I guess it had no character.

On the other hand, my father, the professional, had a Contarex. Now that was a camera with CHARACTER. You needed a fork-lift truck to carry it and it had more buttons and dials than I could ever possibly master. By this definition I think all modern day cameras have "character". They all are impossible for me to master. Of the more recent cameras my vote would probably have to go to the Pentax 645D. Nick Devlin is probably not aware that he is responsible for getting me into one, out of it and into my next camera. Although the Nikon D800E is helping me get better shots, it and its modern rivals still overwhelm me with choice.

All of this is to say that I finally realize what character in a camera would mean to me now. I still miss my F1 and 645D. Character in a modern camera would mean that it is different to all the rest of the cameras. For me that means that it should have only those controls I want (pretty well all manual) and nothing more to help me screw up shots. Oh and, of course, the best IQ and glass in the world. Does anyone really think they will ever make a camera like that?

Wistfully yours,
Jon
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Jon

(I used to be professional but I improved so much that I had to start again. Now I'm an amateur)
noisejammer
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« Reply #96 on: April 20, 2013, 09:03:43 PM »
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I'm another newbie...

Perhaps the three cameras that really had character for me were the first I used - a Rolleiflex (used for my first image when I was about 5), an Agfa Super Silette (which I was given when I was about 15) and my OM-2 (for my 21st.) The Agfa was drowned in a hiking accident and the Olympus was stolen, but I was able to eventually replace them both. The TLR still works perfectly.

I must confess to be astonished by how easy it was to pick up a Canon DSLR and use it - the interface is so well sorted out that it is wholly intuitive. I suspect that, having achieved this ergonomic excellence, the cameras lost their character.

And then came the X-E1. I've had it since Tuesday and I'm absolutely hooked. Like others, I have the 18-55 and the 35/1.4 but I bought an adapter to fit my OM lenses. The 16FE, 24/2.8 and 55/1.2 all achieve marvelous things... Rather amazingly, it is the only digital camera I've come across that actually benefits from a f/1.2 lens ... I've checked.

Of course, it does have some weirdness. Like everyone else, I'd like to see the AF button moved and I'd like to see the focusing aids from the X100s built in to the firmware. Who knows, I might even get my wish. Smiley
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Riccardo
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« Reply #97 on: April 21, 2013, 07:23:07 AM »
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I think the character is not determined by performance (or rather, not only by performance).
It 's something that has to do with the power, in the long term, to stand in front of us with strength and dignity, despite the limitations.
Nikon F, Olympus OM1, Polaroid SX-70 and 190, Linhof Technika, Mamiya 6 and many other cameras  have this ability, after several decades, while we know that none of the current digital cameras has this power, regardless their high performance. In a few years every current model will be forgotten and eclipsed by a more powerful model.
In their essence, digital cameras are expensive and high-performance disposable cameras (but without the character of a "Kodak fun"  Wink)
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Rob C
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« Reply #98 on: April 21, 2013, 09:50:08 AM »
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It pains me to admit it, but I think you are right: digital cameras are devoid of character because they are not really cameras; deep down in their dark and hidden hearts, they are computers with all the lousy attitude that brings with it.

At the moment, I can't even get into my own website to change some things. For a few days I've been kept out by a crazy system that asks me, over and over again, to log in with user name and password. As I said, over and over again. The best advice I've had so far is to clean the browser's cache, which has been done repeatedly to no avail; I await further instructions from Weebly... they introduced a system for getting into the website via Facebook, and I suspect that this is the cause of the goddam problem: I am not on Facebook and have no intention of getting involved. Maybe the reality is that I will have no option but to join. I hate this manipulation of self, this losing of control.

So yeah, digital cameras don't have it and never can - at least, not to an older generation.

Rob C
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David S
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« Reply #99 on: April 21, 2013, 10:01:32 AM »
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"So yeah, digital cameras don't have it and never can - at least, not to an older generation."

So is that part of the issue of character. What we started with defines what character is, for us, in a camera. Or something like that anyway. And does that then change the way we use the camera?

Dave S

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