I have mentioned it before that I kind of look for a different camera, preferably with a larger sensor. I checked the stores during the holiday season and played with some dSLR’s from several manufacturers. But I was so surprised how well my Ricoh camera handles in manual compared to these dSLR’s. Turn wheel there, turn wheel here, to change the aperture push button and turn wheel, exposure compensation, press other button and turn wheel again. There are only dials on top available for basic settings like program, aperture priority, shutter priority or manual mode, scene modes, you all probably know the drill. Many buttons at the back, extensive menu’s, and a overkill of settings. Especially with the consumer and prosumer models intuitive isn’t exactly what comes to mind.
Now you wonder, haven’t you used any SLR camera in the past? Be calm, yes I did. Had a Nikon and Canon SLR before and used Praktica and Pentor cameras. But these cameras were simple (even my EOS 1000F). The lens had an aperture ring on the lens, there was a speed dial and ISO dial on top, and you had all the important information in the viewfinder. And lets talk about viewfinders. Except for the very expensive cameras, these viewfinders are quite dim and small too. Where are those bright viewfinders? I loved the viewfinder on the Nikon N90, large and bright with all the important information.
And form factor. Most dSLR’s are pretty large and bulky and many cameras look like Canon EOS cameras. Now that is not necessarily bad, but I liked the size of the Nikon N8008 and the Pentax MZ series. Only the Olympus E-420 and E-520 still reminds me of those cameras. But these Oly’s come with the 4/3 sensor and as a result of the 2:1 crop factor it is hardly possible to get a real wide and fast angle prime lens.
I still believe there is a market for tough and simple SLR cameras like the sturdy Nikon FM2 or the Olympus OM2, built to last and to be reliable. I guess there are enough enthusiastic and professional photographers who would welcome such a digital camera. Dials on top for shutter speeds and ISO settings, large and bright viewfinder with 100% coverage, no internal camera-flash, a swivel LCD screen like the Epson R-D1(s), a full frame sensor, and fully weather protected.
As a result of my current impressions and experiences with these dSLR cameras, the Sigma DP1 becomes an even more tempting camera. Simple interface, still small and when outfitted with the optical viewfinder and the lens hood a quite attractive package. For a camera with a single prime lens I rather preferred a 35mm focal length, but the current price drops are getting better and better. In the UK you could get this camera for even less than ₤300,- (which is currently like €300,-). And hopefully the Sigma DP2 will be the much improved camera with a lens usable for more general photography.
What if Ricoh produces a digital Ricoh 500G, or that Sony has the guts to develop a digital Hexar AF? Too much money is spent on technical features in my opinion.
Enough dreaming, because eventually it all comes down to taking/making photographs. And I hardly have been able to do so this weekend.
Every season does have its beauty. Normally the winter can be dark and grey in the Netherlands, but with frost and snow it becomes very special too. And after a thick mist the other day, we got a lot of beautiful hoarfrost today.
This patch of snow contains some time limited evidence. Probably next week it will all be gone again.
I am still amazed about the bokeh from this little lens.
I photographed this place more often, you know that Ronald, but it seems so pretty today. I couldn’t ignore it.
Barbed wire gets covered with hoarfrost.
All photographs by Wouter Brandsma
Do you think about your composition before you press the shutter? Or do you study your photographs when you are reviewing them? People talk about compositional rules and guide lines and that these help them make better compositions. Others say that there are no rules at all, they just lead to uninteresting non-suprising compositions. Henri Cartier-Bresson hoped that photo shops wouldn’t sell “little schema grills” to clamp onto our viewfinders, but today many camera manufacturers do.
When you read forums people all know it so well. Some of them can give extended descriptions with a sauce of artistic and intellectual flavor. Others praise photographs with short phrases: “Beautiful, wonderful!” And of course others will say that they dislike those short phrases, because they want real critics. Some will tell you that the photograph works, because it was taken with a rangefinder, others will pick on you for using the wrong camera. Some see the presence of the foveon sensor, others think film is still the best.
Some re-crop to make a composition work for them, others will never crop. Some, fulfilled with a healthy doses of arrogance, say there is a lot of meaningless stuff posted on the web, but do find it hard to cope with criticism. Some will say that landscape is silly and others will say that street photography is the real deal. A few professionals might say that all amateurs suck, because they are not …….. professional. And some amateurs think they are a professional.
I believe there are so many ways to do it. What works for you, might not work for someone else. And that is fine in my opinion. When I take a photograph I aim, frame, and press the shutter. For me it is a feeling. It feels right or it feels wrong. I don’t think about it. And OK, I do quite a lot of landscape photography. But for me no tripods, large cameras, and lock-up mirrors. I don’t capture a scene because of its beauty, I believe I try to document a state of the scene. I don’t get inspired by other landscape photographers, but find inspiration in the work of documentary and even wedding photographers.
Look, most of us are no professional photographers, nor am I. And that is fine I think, I hope you do? We don’t have to commit ourselves, we have no costumers who expect the best all the time. We have more freedom and time to try new things. No marketing to worry about, no mouths to feed with photography. It is a pure hobby for the sake of it. I like to improve myself, because I want it. Not because others expect me too.
I love to talk about photography, preferably about photographs and not about cameras, express my preferences and my dislikings. I am not so good at referencing to other photographers, or discussing arts in an intellectual fashion. I try to be polite and friendly. I hate 100% viewing and pixel peeping, but love getting prints. I personally rather prefer to go out, take my camera with me, and take photographs. That is what feels right to me, I hope for you too.
All photographs by Wouter Brandsma