Monday, 10 May 2021

Random Musings

Pentax 6x7, SMC Takumar 105/2.4, Agfa Scala 100

Been involved in an interesting discussion on FredMiranda based off a Professional Photographer's social media posting about why they continue to stick with DSLR's.

One of the commenters was going on about how Mirrorless isn't ready for prime time. A few of us started quizzing them about what they meant. Turned out it was a combination of buying Sony offerings obviously unsuited to their uses (A6x00's don't handle well with long lenses) and more importantly, refusing to read the manual. They had a number of issues with performance on the Olympus E-M1.2 that come down to they left the default settings then complained that the default settings didn't do what they wanted and rather than read the manual (the E-M1 series are insanely configurable and almost everything can be setup 5 different ways) they just used non-optimal workarounds and complained about it.

Rule #1. Learn your camera. Especially if switching systems (the guy in question was a long-time Nikon guy and seemed to expect identical behaviour from another brand's camera). If you don't learn your camera, don't expect to enjoy the experience. 

When I get a new camera I usually buy a guide (Thom Hogan's guides for Nikon, other writers handle other systems. There's excellent guides out there for Olympus and Fuji that I'm aware of, and I'm sure Canon, Sony, Panasonic and Leica all have 3rd party guides as well). I always spend a bunch of time figuring out what the bits I expect to use will do. I also have a pretty standard set of features I use (A & M modes, Auto ISO, FL settings for IBIS/Non-CPU lenses, bracketing and if the camera is capable of doing it in RAW mode, HDR/stacking) so going through and figuring out how the features I use regularly work is part of the new camera experience.

Rule #2. If you are doing something that challenges the camera, like Bird in Flight photography, go read some on doing that sort of work on that camera before complaining about the camera. There's plenty of guides online. Olympus for example has a great starter guide for BiF on their website which will give you good settings to start from. The defaults are almost never right for anything past general walkabout shooting.

 Moving on to other randomness, I'm a little frustrated with shooting the Z5 these days, and frankly am kind of regretting getting rid of the E-M1.2 to get it.

I still think the Z5 is a great camera, the body itself is not the source of my frustrations. It's the lens situation. 

There's three aspects to this.

1. I'm very hesitant about the Z 24-50. It screwed me in the cold. It handles poorly. The close focus isn't as good as I'd like. On the plus side it's excellent optically, the AF is speedy and the 52mm filter size is great when pairing with AI lenses, as it's the standard filter size for older Nikon glass.

2. The FTZ handling is meh at best. The chonky tripod mount blocks the body mount in many setups, so I need to have an L-bracket mounted to use a capture clip with the body + FTZ. The tripod mount also doesn't fit the hand well, and it's simply kinda porky and adds a lot of weight to the Z5+manual lens combos. I think I'm just going to have to accept at some point that adapting SLR lenses is just not working for me as a regular use setup. I love the idea, but I didn't like the reality on the A7II, I didn't like the reality on m43, I didn't like the reality on the Fuji's and I don't like the reality on the Z5 either, at least with the FTZ. I might try a 3rd party F mount adapter, but that will cost me EXIF.

3. Native Nikkor lenses. They're big, they're expensive and I just don't see myself buying into a system that pricey to deliver IQ that I just don't need. 

The challenge is that I REALLY like the body itself. My challenges are all around what to put in front of it. I'll admit I've been spoiled by the m.Zuiko PRO 12-40/2.8 for its small size, ridiculously good close focus performance (0.2m and SHARP) and optical quality. 

I see three options.

1. The simplification option. Trade Z5 kit in on an E-M1.2 as soon as Henry's gets one in used (or special order a new one at the current pricing, which gets me a new one for $200). I get hosed on my investment, but get a working kit relatively quickly.

2. The glass option. Trade Z5 in and use the credit for glass for m43 and/or film kit. That could get me a really awesome couple lenses for film (ZF.2 25/2.8 and 50/1.4) which pair well with my 105/2.5, or some nice options for m43. I'd re-buy the E-M1.2 at a later date. Still get hosed on my Z5 investment here but it could round out one of the kits very quickly.

3. Keep the Z5, move to using it with native 3rd party lenses/adapted M/LTM/FE lenses. I like the Z5 better than any Sony bodies, so I'd effectively remove my reliance on adapting SLR lenses for more compact adaptation options like M and FE mounts, and/or buying some of the 3rd party manual lenses from TTArtisan, 7Artisans and Laowa. I end up with a bunch of capital tied up in a body that's basically a side project, but on the flip side I keep a body I really do enjoy while investing in glass that better suits how I work with it and removes some of the handling warts. And I still have the FTZ to use with F mount lenses if and when it's needed. I'd put more into the m43 side as that would become my primary hiking kit. 

Frankly, what will likely happen is either #1 or #3. #1 if I continue to get more frustrated with the Z5 lens situation, #3 otherwise. #2 option 1 puts the investment in an area I'm unwilling to bet on, I'm still not sure if film is going to remain a major part of my work, it's really enjoying a boost right now because of the level of instagram engagement I'm getting and generally liking film for around town/found item work. I'm not sure I've any interest in expanding it beyond that though, and I kind of expect the rate of shooting to taper off some as things open up and I can get out in the woods again. 

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