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Author Topic: how to choose what to use?  (Read 861 times)
Eric Brody
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« on: May 26, 2013, 12:12:56 PM »
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These are exciting times for photographers. We have an incredibly flexible array of gear from which to choose. In my film days, my 4x5 was the default; if I could not bring it, (weather, weight, whatever) the next choice was the 6x6 (Hasselblad), for hikes, and travel, there was the Mamiya 7, arguably the best quality to weight ratio in the world of film. For me, film is in the past, though.

I now am fortunate to have a Nikon D800E, relatively quick, easy, and portable compared to the 4x5, and with impressive image quality with good lenses. I also have an Olympus OM-D with a couple of primes. It makes pretty good images, not up to the D800E but for under 16x20 size prints, sensor real estate and pixels do matter up to a point.

My real question, after all this, is how do people choose what camera to bring, assuming decent shooting conditions and short of a 5 mile uphill hike? I wonder if a lot of us "serious" "fine art" photographers are simply aging and unable/unwilling to lug around gear that did not faze us in our youth. In the past, a couple of times, I brought two or even three camera systems. It was a pretty funny sight at a John Sexton Workshop in Monument Valley years ago to see me with a 4x5, Hasselblad AND D200. I suffered mightily from the simple inability to decide which camera to use. Never will I do that again, it was colossally  embarassing. The current fashion (I won't say fad because it's not really that) is to go small, unless one's needs are pretty specialized, eg long telephoto for sports or wildlife or the need for billboard sized prints. The MFT and APS-C cameras such as the Fuji X series make these decisions quite difficult. I admit I am a bit of an equipment nut. I do really LOVE cameras and especially lenses, but on a given day???

Yesterday our local group did an architectural shoot at a local college with lovely buildings. A surprising number had view cameras, even an 8x10 and a 5x7 were there. But there was also me with my D800E and a friend who is a superb photographer with a wonderful eye for composition with his Fuji X (and he used an 8x10 just a couple of years ago, then a D3X, and now the Fuji X).

Thoughts on this conundrum would be appreciated.
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EduPerez
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« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2013, 02:53:38 AM »
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Well, I do not own as much equipment as you do; I can carry all my equipment in a camera backpack, so I just have to decide which lens to use, and whether I should bother to stop shooting and change the lens. My personal experience is that I tend to be far more creative when I stay on one lens, and try to find suitable compositions for that focal length, than when I try to find the right lens for each scene in front of me.

After lots of garbage pics of wonderful places, I no longer have the feeling that I am "missing the opportunity" if I do not shot what I was supposed to shot; sometimes, I even dare leaving home with just one fixed lens, and take the risks.

Just my humble two cents...
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2013, 03:26:56 AM »
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I also did a WS on the San Juan river 8 years with Alain Briot with both the Ebony 4x5 and the D2x. That sort of worked but only sort of.

Nowadays my rule is to carry only one system with me in the field, and that is the heaviest/bulkiest I can afford to carry that is compatible with the environment.

Typically that ranges from the Ebony 4x5, D800 with 3 lenses and a heavy tripod/pano head down to the Sony RX100. In between are various D800 configs with and without tripods, a D7100, a Sigma DP2m and a Nikon V2.

I will basically always pick the V2 for moving subjects unless I can carry the D800.
I will carry the DP2m if there is enough light and if battery life is not an issue,
I rarely use the D7100 in the end, it is also a back up of the D800 on some assignments where I cannot afford to come back without images,
I very rarely use the Ebony 4x5 since I get better image quality with the D800 and the pano head at a much cheaper cost (ease of use, success ratio, flight domain, weight, bulk and financial aspects also) and a much faster workflow compared to dust removing from my Imacon scans.

Cheers,
Bernard
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scooby70
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« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2013, 04:33:22 AM »
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My considerations are...

Shooting conditions and practicalities.
Potential output size and viewing circumstance.
The image quality and overall look I'm going for.

My current first choice for most things is a MFT Panasonic G1 and prime lenses but my 5D will be used for low light and night time shooting and when I just might want to print a large image and want the best quality image I can possibly get (and assuming that using the 5D with it's bigger lenses is practical.)  For most things though such as web images, screen images and most prints up to A3 in good to borderline light the G1 does just fine.
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PeterAit
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« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2013, 10:06:06 AM »
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I can't answer your question, but a recent thread that I started about the freedom of using primes had some interesting and relevant comments.

There is a tendency among photographers to want to be ready for any potential photo op. So, you drag along the macro lens, the tilt/shift, the ultra-wide, the 600mm, and so on and so forth. You end up being a pack horse and having a lousy time. But, by George, you did not miss any photographs! Except, of course, those that were available another 100 yards up the trail but you were too tired to walk the 100 yards, or those that you didn't see because your back was hurting and your pack strap was chafing.

You don't have to get every photo!

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Peter
"Photographic technique is a means to an end, never the end itself."
View my photos at http://www.peteraitken.com
theguywitha645d
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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2013, 11:30:11 AM »
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That is easy. I own two cameras--a Pentax 645D and Sony RX-1. I take both when I am working and just one (I will let you figure out which) when I am just doing my daily chores. I have found my second camera does not weigh me down.

I prefer using my camera over simply carrying them, and if my load is too great, I am also too tired to really work. In this regard, less is more (I will do more and better work with limited gear and more energy, than lots of gear and fatigue). I could do 95% of my work with one camera and one lens. Adding more gear has diminishing returns. What I would advise is to simplify. Really look at what you use and get rid of the rest.
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NancyP
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« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2013, 03:07:47 PM »
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The DP2M is the "always with me" camera I use for impromptu shooting.

For hiking, I decide what subjects I want to shoot, and pack accordingly. 1. General daytime landscape, not carrying tripod:  DP2M, or Canon 60D with 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6      2. general daytime landscape with macro and tripod available: Canon 60D, 15-85mm, 180mm macro    3. birds only: Canon 60D and 400mm f/5.6, with 1.4x teleconverter and extension ring set in pocket

For situations where I am near the car, I can take all of the lenses including 8-16mm and 70-200mm, though I may walk back and forth to the car to change lenses, get out tripod,etc.
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Byron Will
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« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2013, 01:17:50 AM »
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FWIW, right now in my backpack I bring the Nikon D800e, Nikon 16-35mm f/4, Nikon 50mm f/1.8, the new and wonderful Nikon 70-200mm f/4, which works surprisingly well wide open with a 2x teleconverter and also focuses quite close. The only other weight decision is whether to bring the Feisol (longer hike) or the RRS 24L tripod with a bigger head.
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Eric Brody
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« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2013, 06:33:39 PM »
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Thanks to all who replied. I know I've got too much stuff, but on a regular basis use only the D800E and OMD. I'll be slowly getting rid of all the film cameras I've not used in years.

I find the virtual stampede to mirrorless APS-C and m43 cameras fascinating. It seems that EVERYONE has one and is shouting its praises. People are giving up full sized DSLR's in droves, or at least say they are. The next few years will likely be interesting in the world of digital photography.
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