Topic: commetary (2 posts)

Big Changes

Since recovering from my hip surgery back in November I have begun to work with a mirrorless camera: the Sony A7R Mark ll. This is turning into a difficult transition. I believe I've written before that I do not look forward to new equipment and have never adjusted well or quickly to something new in my camera bag. 

This time is no exception.

Neal's new camera advice. Do not buy a new camera just before heading off on a trip to photograph. Do not buy a new camera when starting out on a new project. Do not use a new camera to shoot a project on any kind of deadline. Get the new camera when you've got some weeks, or months, to become familiar with it, to work it into your way of photographing, your methodology.

Actually, I do enjoy new lenses, learning how they see and render, where they are best and not so good. But cameras, particularly current digital cameras with complex menus? Not one bit. There is nothing worse for me than being in front of something really good and not being able to get it because I don't know the tool used to capture it. 

The Sony has me in fits, excited by the prospects but still confused how to use it and work with it. The Nikon I know, have used for years and, although the D810 and the lenses I have are too heavy and cumbersome, these are tools that get me the results I want: excellent files with great resolution allowing big prints. 

The Sony is still an unknown not because of it but because I am not good enough with it yet.

I am persevering, reading tutorials and user experiences on line and reading Gary Friedman's Guide, which by the way is 630 pages!  For instance: there are 16 pages just to explain his setup. Argh!

I read and study, set the camera and go out and make pictures with it. Come back home, work the files and start again. Each time, learning the system a little better, understanding some new setting.

But the camera is major. The files are killer at 42 mp. The lenses so far are really good (with the possible exception of the Sony 24-70mm f4, which seems a little soft to me) and the camera is allowing me to do things I've never been able to do before. It is smaller and lighter by far and, although the setup and use can be confusing, it allows many presets and options. 

Photography is changing  in big ways (again!) and the advent of really superb  mirrorless cameras may predict the demise of the conventional DSLR. 

What's my plan? To become good enough and confident in my abilities in this new format (for me) that I don't need both systems, Nikon and Sony. To start to sell off the DSLR equipment and turn those dollars into more lenses for the Sony.  The only aspect that could change is if Nikon wakes up and offers a mirrorless camera of exceptionally high quality that allows use of their existing lenses as well as builds over time lighter lenses for the new format.  Not holding my breath on that one.

Both Canon and Nikon are completely asleep at the switch so far. BTW: I am writing (in January 2016) this after Nikon made a big deal of announcing the new D5 and the D500 at this year's CES show in Las Vegas. This is a yawn of major proportions as there is no new technology in either of these cameras. "Much ado about nothing" does not impress this career photographer one bit and probably shouldn't impress you either.

One caution: if you are somewhat new to photography, are unsure about your results or your work in relation to others, be careful of the "if I just had a new camera" syndrome. Chances are, you should work on your picture making skills and ideas more than investing in a new camera. Yes, newer cameras have all the bells and whistles and yes there are genuine technological advances taking place but for most these matter not so much in the reality of the actual photographs they make. For instance, there's little point in joining the pixel race of more megapixels unless you need to print large. 3K for the fancy new camera that you've been lusting after or 3K on that trip to shoot those stone walls that you saw that time outside of Bath, England in late afternoon sun in early June? Or driving to rural Pennsylvania to shoot abandoned steel mills, flying to Belgrade to shoot the weekly farmer's market on Saturday mornings, or to the tip of Baja to... you get my point.

Stay tuned.

Topics: Equipment,Camera,commetary

Permalink | Posted January 20, 2016


Before leaving for San Diego I resigned from the board of directors of the PRC (Photographic Resource Center) in Boston. As there have been some rumors about why I did this I thought I'd post the "why" here. 

I joined the board almost six years ago as I thought I could help. I cared about the PRC and its continuing existence.  I knew many of the people who either worked for it or were on its board. I also thought the board needed representation from an educator and a photographer. This part of the regional photo community lacked representation on the board. The bylaws of the PRC state that a board member can serve two consecutive three year terms, then must step down for a minimum of one year before going back on the board. This if the PRC wants the board member back on and he/she agrees to serve again. As my term was ending this June, I resigned a few months early as I was going to be away most of the spring.

I gave my all to the PRC and believe as strongly today as I ever have that it is one of the finest non profit photography organizations in the USA, if not the finest. I believe that Boston and photography in Boston is in part defined by the presence and programming of the PRC. I also believe that the staff and board are exceptional as well. I am proud that I was on the board and hope that I was helpful.

Further, I wish the PRC all the best and pledge to do anything I can to help if asked.

If you live in the region, I hope you will offer to help as well. Being a non profit these days is not easy and many have folded. For me it is impossible to think of no PRC in the community in which I live. No lecture series, no shows, no PRC nights, no web site, no portfolio reviews, no auctions, no Loupe. Inconceivable.


Topics: commetary

Permalink | Posted February 23, 2013