Posts Tagged ‘compact’

Compact Followup

4 March 2009

Dear J-

I think I’ve hit on the line of reasoning I need to justify (or not, as the case may be) future expenses:  sure, it would be great to have all the advantages of the larger sensor in a compact body, but there’s been nothing — repeat that, nothing — that quite matches up to what I have in mind.  Between the control scheme and operational speed, the good old E-1 keeps soldiering on as my current best solution.  So the question remains what lenses look most promising, knowing that the recession — and the tax man — will be taking a bite out of our money before much longer.  That new Panasonic GH1 looks quite interesting — to the point where I begin to lament my camcorder choice — but even then, isn’t quite there, small size-wise.

For all the time I’ve spent looking over and researching features and details, that’s time taken away from actually shooting or other more pleasurable pursuits.  I’m not getting that time back.  Review sites seem to fall into various traps, either debating useless minutiae endlessly or injecting arbitrary criteria (“this camera was clearly designed by a photographer because it happens to coincide with how I, personally, believe how a camera should act”) that’s meaningless to most of us.  My experience, my resources dictate what cameras come to hand, and it’s told me, so far, that of the ones that have crossed my doorstep, the one I use the most is the one that works the best for me.

Eventually, the one number that doesn’t lie to me is the number of exposures I run through.  I end up taking maybe 150 shots a week, which is nothing for some folks, but me, with my mind still stuck somewhere in film-land, I see that as five rolls, where I used to regularly stretch out one roll a month, maybe.    If practice is the key to getting better, then it’s been a tremendous learning tool.  Some day there will be a compact that does it right — we saw a flood of serious film ones in the early 90s — but we’re not quite there with digital yet.  It takes time to learn how to use any camera, though, and I’m just starting to get the hang of this one, 8 000 clicks later.

Mike

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Camera Lessons

15 February 2009

Dear J-

My weekend workflow is unnecessarily complicated by wanting to lug around my big, heavy dSLR everywhere I go; it was the final piece in my 5-MP upgrade plan of a few years ago (started off with the DSC-V1, moved on to the DMC-LC1, and settled on the E-1 — if you’re going to lug around something as big and heavy as a dSLR (LC1), you might as well go with a dSLR), but I still haven’t forgotten the siren call of a good-performing small-sensor camera.

The LC1 is (was) darned close, but far too bulky:  I loved the zoom range and lens speed, but the camera itself didn’t fall to hand quite like I thought it should, and the ISO range pretty much limited it to daytime shots; there’s a lot of atmosphere to twilight, and all I kept getting was banding and noise — it made for interesting, textured photographs, but not the reality I saw.  The V1 is a good carry-around camera, and comes with an excellent lens; its sole weakness is the battery life (I always forget to keep it charged).  So the E-1 goes everywhere, even though it can’t be considered a pocket camera by any means.

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I have learned a few things from the E-1 experience, though.  I can’t stand waiting for the camera — when it falls asleep and I have to force it awake, it can’t happen fast enough; I’m finding that I live right around the 35mm-equivalent focal length, and that not having a built-in flash is liberating, although there’s been more than a few fill-flash opportunities I’ve missed.  The nice thing about having lots of options means that you’re able to pick out the ones that work best for you, so it makes you (theoretically, at least) a more educated consumer; on the other hand, if you’re cursed with a long memory, there’s always a ton of interesting cameras that were prohibitively expensive new but reasonable used — and I’ve got to try them, right?  This is how I ended up with two titanic shelf-queen Kodak DCS 600-series bodies at one point, after all.

Mike