Confusion - a personal view

BillN

Hall of Famer
Aug 25, 2010
123
S W France
Bill
A personal view

We are all enthusiasts - we are passionate about taking images

we are/have been rushing around buying the latest serious compacts, M43 cams and the like - buying the latest body with the "not to be missed price wise, kit lens" - and then quickly realising that we "need" to get the "other" lens and then adapters and then a few manual lens, etc., etc.

What are we really after? - we want great IQ, a simple menu with (especially) the ability to change ISO and EV quickly

and a quick way to MF

aren't we all missing something

without a good (great) lens we are lost

IMHO, (non DSLR) - the great lens are made by Leica, Zeiss and CV - not any of this other stuff that is being churned out

We need a simple body, good sized sensor, simple controls and the ability to focus MF RF lens quickly - the opposite is being thrown at us in the latest incarnations

It has always been said and it is true that "always buy good glass" - that is the way forward - we are all being sucked in by new camera marketing hype when "good glass" is what we need - at the end of the day it is the only way that "you" will approach happiness, (if that is possible)

Discuss?
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
without a good (great) lens we are lost

IMHO, (non DSLR) - the great lens are made by Leica, Zeiss and CV - not any of this other stuff that is being churned out

We need a simple body, good sized sensor, simple controls and the ability to focus MF RF lens quickly - the opposite is being thrown at us in the latest incarnations

It has always been said and it is true that "always buy good glass" - that is the way forward - we are all being sucked in by new camera marketing hype when "good glass" is what we need - at the end of the day it is the only way that "you" will approach happiness, (if that is possible)

Discuss?
I largely disagree. To me, having the right combination of camera and lens to be able to get the shot I'm after always seems to trump some mythical (or real) wonderfulness of the glass itself. To wit - I shoot both LX5 and m43 cams. With the M43 I have a few basic lenses that get most of my use. For architectural shots and some types of landscapes I absolutely love the Olympus 9-18. Its not reputed to have the absolute best optical quality for a similar wide angle, but it allows me to get the images I'm after with a small m43 camera. For low light I usually shoot with the 20mm f1.7. Its a pretty nice lens optically, but that's not why I shoot with it as much as its fast enough and a focal length I like. I'm usually happier with the Olympus 17mm in decent light because I like the field of view a bit more, even though the lens isn't perhaps as optically good as the Pany 20.

I have one manual focus lens I use sometimes. Its a really nice Voightlander 50mm f1.5 that I believe was made for Leicas but I use with an adapter on my ep2. It probably is the best "glass" I own in terms of optical quality, but I only use it for one thing - shooting pictures of people in small to medium sized rooms after dinner, at a party, etc. Its just a great length for head and shoulder candids and its fast enough to get them in low light. The fact that its optically pretty wonderful is all but lost on me, I have to admit, although I do like the bokeh it produces, which I guess is somewhat related to the optics. But if Olympus made a comparable lens with poorer optics but decent auto-focus, I'd probably buy that and never use the Voightlander again because AF would be really nice in those situations a lot of the time. When I'm walking around being a tourist, I love using the Olympus 14-150 superzoom. Is it great optically? Probably not, but good enough for me and it lets me get just about any shot I'm after except for ultra wide (so I keep the 9-18 handy too). And my favorite street camera in decent light is the LX5, which I'm sure is the least wonderful optical combination I own but the combination of focal lengths and features and size and speed of operation make that a wonderful little street camera, optical perfection be damned.

So, no, I'm not "lost" without a great lens - I'm actually more likely to get the shot I'm after more often with a more 'convenient' lens, rather than an optically great one. So I'm probably actually more likely to be "lost" with a great lens, at least the way you're defining one...and the way I'm defining "lost".

-Ray
 

Grant

Veteran
Nov 12, 2010
68
Lunenburg Nova Scotia
If you think equipment is important in creating great photographs have a look at this list:

Andreas Gursky, 99 Cent II Diptychon
Edward Steichen, The Pond-Moonlight
Dmitry Medvedev, Kremlin of Tobolsk
Edward Weston, Nude
Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe
Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe Nude
Richard Prince, Untitled (Cowboy)
Richard Avedon, Dovima with elephants
Edward Weston, Nautilus
Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, T[emple] de J[upiter] olympien pris de l'est
Gustave Le Gray, The Great Wave, Sete
Eugène Atget, Joueur d'Orgue,
Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol
Ansel Adams, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico


This is the list of the top fourteen photographs than commanded the highest prices at auction. There combined sales value exceeded $24 million. Now without looking, quickly, tell me what cameras, and what lenses did the photographers used.

Now less quickly see if you can find out what there equipment was.

Or, best yet stop worrying about your equipment and start taking pictures and remember you are just a click away from you first million! :)
 

deirdre

Top Veteran
Sep 26, 2010
103
If we really cared about image quality above all else, we'd all be lugging around 16x20 cameras and doing contact prints.

We all make compromises on quality and cost and we all have preferences in the style of shooting we'd like to do. And we get great pictures anyway. :)
 

wt21

Hall of Famer
Aug 15, 2010
123
I used to chase great lenses with Canon, but I decided my real issue is framing! And getting out there, too.

Also, I'd like a silent shutter. It's bad enough overcoming my fear of streetshooting, but the noisy little shutters make me paranoid! Also, easier hyperfocal and manual exposure settings would be nice. I guess maybe it depends on what you are shooting. For instance, for B&W, you might want more a contrasty lens than one the emphasizes great color. And for me, I like the Olys with the 1:1 crop, as I'm not great seeing the picture in front of me without the camera framing (really pathetic, I know).

I guess there are as many different views on what you need as there are photographers. We wouldn't all want the same shooting style and interests. That'd be boring!
 

BBW

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 7, 2010
123
betwixt and between
BB
Bill, thanks for starting off this thoughtful thread. I've appreciated reading everyone's responses.

Right now, at this moment having just come on and not having thought too much about this, my first reaction is that the maybe things have changed since our film days? Yes, I'm asking it as a question. When we all were shooting film, we really depended upon lenses. I'm not saying we still don't depend upon them but from what I can understand I think that digital brings in other players and Christina (AKA Christilou) has hit on a big one - the sensor.

Digital brings with it so many aspects from the sensor to the lens and, yes, to the actual controls - and for many of us, especially those of us who don't have perfect eyesight to things like Auto Focus and a really great viewfinder. So, it's not a simple "answer". Perhaps it is a multilayered answer depending upon one's needs?

I love my LX5 but I would be even heaven with a higher level sensor - with as good a lens. I don't think I need an interchangeable lens if I have one that is wide enough - but that's just me. I'd also be on cloud nine without having to press buttons and twirl too many wheels for what I want which is usually only f stop and EV. :wink:
 

javier

Veteran
Oct 5, 2010
103
Los Angeles
Gosh, where do I start? What do I think? Let me say this. In allot of ways, i am as much of a collector than anything else.
Let me start with my feelings on film. The glass was always better than the media. The bodies meant nothing. Even metering
was and is not a big deal. I still shoot allot of film and never pay much attention to the meters. But I do know my lenses and the
reality is that if I am with in a stop, the picture will come out good. Great DR.

With the first DSLR's the lenses where still better than the bodies. I remember when 6MP was a big deal. Heck, I still shoot my 6MP
DSLR's. But it is to the point where todays modern DSLR's sensors are now out doing the glass. So now good glass does make a difference
in image quality. So I myself am very picky about my lenses. I never used to be, but now I shoot primes 90% of the time.
In fact in my PENTAX DSLR's I shoot with primes 99% of the time. Pentax IMO makes the best primes.
In my Nikon DSLR's I use primes 80% of the time, but I do have the 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200F/2.8 Nikkors VR lenses. Those are some fine zooms.
I paid and arm and a leg for them, knowing that the sensor technology would catch up and it has. MY D7000, makes better pictures than my D300s and
is just a step behind my D700 that is FF. In fact, it is at most only a 1/2 stop behind.

This is what has me most intrigued about the fuji x100. To have a lens matched to a sensor has got to be a big +

more later
 

AzPete

Veteran
Dec 24, 2010
103
Although it is always nice to have nice camera outfits of sort, for me my thinking has changed over the years. I too was brought up in the old chemical/film days and I could manipulate any old image under the lights. Today its sort of the same. But the equipment has come and gone with the wind and my own unsatisfied desire to have the right camera has went from this to that. I am so fickled.

I am sort of with Grant on this: that I measure the light, timing and the frame and subject more than the camera and lens. I have been just as satisfied over a photo with my rollie box 2 /14 film than with my canon or nikon. This photo below has been a love affair with me for over 30 years taken with a rollie that had scratches on the lens and leather pealing on the sides, not to mention a sticky shutter.


Please disregard the crud attempt at burning in the sky on the top. I am getting better at this.

I can appreciate both sides and really all sides.... there is no right way. the right way
is what works for YOU!.... thanks bill for an interesting thread.
 
Nov 27, 2010
43
Laurel, MD
IMHO, (non DSLR) - the great lens are made by Leica, Zeiss and CV - not any of this other stuff that is being churned out
I would add Schneider-Kreuznach to that list. They have been making very high quality lenses in Germany for a very long time and are very popular especially in LF circles. Currently Samsung uses them in their serious compacts.

Having said that I think the biggest bottle neck in serious compacts image quality wise lies in the sensor not the lens and the answer to that is fewer and better pixels not more crammed into the same space.

As far as changing ISO and EV quickly once again I hand it to Samsung with the TL500/EX1 as it could really not be quicker or simpler. You hit a dedicated iso button and turn a wheel to change the iso, and you press and turn a simple wheel to adjust EV.

I am with you on a qucik and easy way to have MF. So far the system on the Sigma DP line with the distance wheel seems the best to me. Manual focus on my Samsung TL500 SUCKS big time.

Even better would be a hyper focal setting that would work at any aperture, zoom position/focal length, and f/stop. You would just set it on "HFS" and set your f/stop then the camera would turn AF off and would auto adjust it's focus depending on the focal length of the lens.

That would be a simple firmware fix to do the above, and the DOF is so deep with compacts that you could easily have a tolerance of +/- 5-10% in accuracy and it would not make any difference
 

Djarum

All-Pro
Jul 10, 2010
123
Huntsville, AL
Jason
I largely disagree. To me, having the right combination of camera and lens to be able to get the shot I'm after always seems to trump some mythical (or real) wonderfulness of the glass itself. To wit - I shoot both LX5 and m43 cams. With the M43 I have a few basic lenses that get most of my use. For architectural shots and some types of landscapes I absolutely love the Olympus 9-18. Its not reputed to have the absolute best optical quality for a similar wide angle, but it allows me to get the images I'm after with a small m43 camera. For low light I usually shoot with the 20mm f1.7. Its a pretty nice lens optically, but that's not why I shoot with it as much as its fast enough and a focal length I like. I'm usually happier with the Olympus 17mm in decent light because I like the field of view a bit more, even though the lens isn't perhaps as optically good as the Pany 20.

I have one manual focus lens I use sometimes. Its a really nice Voightlander 50mm f1.5 that I believe was made for Leicas but I use with an adapter on my ep2. It probably is the best "glass" I own in terms of optical quality, but I only use it for one thing - shooting pictures of people in small to medium sized rooms after dinner, at a party, etc. Its just a great length for head and shoulder candids and its fast enough to get them in low light. The fact that its optically pretty wonderful is all but lost on me, I have to admit, although I do like the bokeh it produces, which I guess is somewhat related to the optics. But if Olympus made a comparable lens with poorer optics but decent auto-focus, I'd probably buy that and never use the Voightlander again because AF would be really nice in those situations a lot of the time. When I'm walking around being a tourist, I love using the Olympus 14-150 superzoom. Is it great optically? Probably not, but good enough for me and it lets me get just about any shot I'm after except for ultra wide (so I keep the 9-18 handy too). And my favorite street camera in decent light is the LX5, which I'm sure is the least wonderful optical combination I own but the combination of focal lengths and features and size and speed of operation make that a wonderful little street camera, optical perfection be damned.

So, no, I'm not "lost" without a great lens - I'm actually more likely to get the shot I'm after more often with a more 'convenient' lens, rather than an optically great one. So I'm probably actually more likely to be "lost" with a great lens, at least the way you're defining one...and the way I'm defining "lost".

-Ray
I'm going to have to largely agree with Ray here. For me, the best camera and lens is the one I own first off. If I own more than one, then its the one I use most often. After that, I'll take the convience of fast AF over MF and lack of optical quality for usability any day.
 

wolfie

Veteran
Sep 19, 2010
68
The eternal struggle between lens and film/sensor will probably always be with us. I suppose unless if the two are are roughly equivalent capability the image will be lacking in some degree. It reminds me
that soon after launching the E-1 5MP DSLR, Olympus said they had planned their Super High Grade lens were designed to deliver a quality image to a 20 MP sensor - when 6MP sensor was the cutting edge.
But then there is also the whole other area of the subject, composition and lighting that the editors at the magazines I deal with(no nonsense outdoors fishing/hunting publishers) say these factors override resolution, dynamic range
and even minor camera shake!
 

Djarum

All-Pro
Jul 10, 2010
123
Huntsville, AL
Jason
Not to hijack Bill's thread, but the responses in this thread really show the vast differences in what people really want out of the mFT system, or really any system. Some people are looking for a more simple/conventional system using great glass. There are other's who want mFT to have true dSLR performance in terms of just about everything from AF speed, ISO, burst rate..etc. Then there is another group that wants to keep the system as compact as it can, even if that means slower lenses.

I'll say this, I've only been doing photography for about 8 years now. Before mFT the only choices we really had were big bulky SLRs or high end compacts which really weren't even close at the time in terms of performance. Along comes mFT and suddenly people get excited, dissappointed, happy, and confused all over a new controversial system. The real challenge to the manufactures is to make enough people happy and stay profitable. I'm really glad to see that high end compacts are getting better, APS-C cameras are getting smaller, and mFT is moving forward. We have more options now than we ever did in terms of getting quality gear. While the lenses might not be Lieca, Zeiss, or other uber high end quality, they are quite usable, at least I think.
 

Penny

Veteran
Aug 26, 2010
103
Outside Liverpool Uk
I can go back to the box brownie..just; as cameras have got better and for the most part more widely available to the general public by either virtue of having more money or ways to afford them 'we' the enthusiasts want better cameras or what we perceive to be better more advanced camera equipment, because that is what the manufactures persuade us to believe.
I who have somehow bought three new cameras in the past 10mths have fallen into this trap, yes I do agree that the lens is all important yes I do want a large sensor; but at the end of the day if can't produce a half decent photograph then the only person to blame is me! not the equipment; you only have to look at some of the photographs and the cameras used in the late 1800's to early 1900's maybe not clear or sharp as we expect from our cams costing hundreds of £'s they're the people I admire for their tenacity of being both creative and dedicated to there craft within the limits of there equipment.
 

BillN

Hall of Famer
Aug 25, 2010
123
S W France
Bill
Thanks guys - lots of interesting comments which have confirmed and widened my confusion - the thread was prompted by a "self analysis" on my part

How about another one:

"disposable cameras have come a long way since the "one film" ones that you bought in the supermarkets for your day trip" - their life may have got a little longer, but hell, after a few months they have been replaced by the latest and (much) better - helps to keep the deficit buzzing

Will the X1 - X100 - X2 - X200 - be the saviour and satisfy our passions - and I notice that the new black is now white, or is it

I'll keep buying gold - sorry I mean't glass
 

summerkl

Veteran
Oct 11, 2010
103
Vancouver, Canada
Kevin
we are all being sucked in by new camera marketing hype when "good glass" is what we need - at the end of the day it is the only way that "you" will approach happiness, (if that is possible)

Discuss?
Here's a buyer being sucked in by old camera marketing hype :biggrin:

Why Did Someone Pay $104,000 For This Battered Old Camera?

Actually, it is because of new technology / hype, that it is possible for me to appreciate the different qualities of lenses. Having followed the digital technology advances over the last ten years, I am relatively comfortable in saying that it has reached the diminishing return point for me. I am happily settled in with my Sony A33 and Minolta glass :)

I see that I need to update my signature - I only have Takumar, Hexanon and Helios lenses left.
 

Grant

Veteran
Nov 12, 2010
68
Lunenburg Nova Scotia
quick search revealed that it is indeed President Medvedev. It seems that the President is a
Yes it is the Prez, or at least one of them. While he is a very good photographer I suspect his standings put the image over the 51 million ruble mark. When I sell an image for a million or more then I will be able to shoot with Leica as well.

And yes please invite him, as I am sure he could contribute to the banter.
 

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