week 23 | 2011

I received several questions this week about camera choices and workflow. I try to answer them all, but giving everyone a proper answer isn’t easy though. There are so many things that influence our decisions, and needs and wishes may vary. I try to go through several answers now.

Do you still use your Ricoh GRDIII now you have the Panasonic GF1?” Absolutely, I do use both cameras even do currently I use the GF1 the most. While the GF1 has a much larger sensor it still provides me with some of the more sketchy characteristics I do prefer for my photography. The GF1 is fast, snappy, and is amazing to use with the 20mm lens. The GRDIII is still a pretty amazing camera. Spent yesterday a couple of hours with some great photographers in Amsterdam. Two of them now also use the GRDIII and it is fun to see how they use it for street photography (and they are certainly more accomplished street photographers than I am).

Is the Ricoh GRDIII a good camera to start photography?” While the GRDIII is a lot of fun and not at all complicated to use, I don’t think it is a good camera to start with. A new camera is a lot of money, even more so when you start with photography, but I still think you are better of with a small dSLR and a nice and simple prime lens. Not a zoom, but a prime. Why? The dSLR and the prime lens provides you instant feedback on how aperture influences the depth of field. A second hand Nikon D40 or a new Nikon D3100 for instance has all the basic features a camera need. And the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX lens is basically the 50mm lens many of us used in the good old film days. With an opening of f/1.8 it is fast enough for even in low light and makes the viewfinder a lot more brighter than the standard kit zoom lens. Eventually you can always decide to go for another camera when you have learned all the basics and more with your dSLR.

Workflow and post processing” There is a ton of information on the net about workflow and post processing. And at some point we all have our preferences. I shoot both raw and B&W jpegs in-camera. I consider the raw images basically my negatives, but use them in less of 10% of my final selections. I am more then happy with the B&W jpegs, both from my GRDIII and from the GF1. There are many discussions on the net about raw versus jpeg. Each and everyone will likely provide your personal opinion or piece of information you need or don’t want to hear. For workflow I use Lightroom for my editing and basic post processing. And Nik Silver Efex Pro in combination with Photoshop for the final finishing touch.

I don’t consider the post processing an additional step in my photography. It is part of what I saw when I took the photograph. Therefore I also prefer the B&W jpegs. It is that, maybe nostalgic, but most certainly definite feeling that I won’t change my initial intention.

I therefore encourage everyone to start experimenting. Find what works for you. What works for me will not give anyone else similar results. Besides are similar results really what you want?

And best of all, meet up with other photographers. Shoot for a day or more, and learn from each other. For instance, yesterday I went to Amsterdam with four other friends and we had an amazing time there (more photographs later). And repeat that again, again, and again.

The photographs of this ongoing project will also be updated here.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma