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Saturday, October 01, 2005

Tools of the trade

There is a continous debate between people that all fundamentally enjoy photography: Does the tools used matter or not. A very common opinion is that it's all in the vision and that a great photographer is a great photographer regardless if he or she is holding a Leica or a disposable camera when capturing an image.

This view has obvious merits in that composition, creativity and a 'good eye' will come through regardless of what camera is used.

The other, conflicting opinion, is that the tools used are as important as the eye behind them.
Examples you sometimes hear to support this view includes 'you can't use a 35mm camera for an image that will go on a billboard', 'you can't shoot a game of baseball with a manual focus camera', 'you can't do extensive macro-photography with a rangefinder camera', 'you can't do candid street photography with an 8x10 large format camera', etc, etc.

There are obvious good points in this view as well.

There are also people that enjoy the more technical aspects of photography and the tools used. They are often ridiculed by people that are of the tools-does-not-matter group and referred to as 'fondlers' - especially if they also collect photographic equipment.

One of the more entertaining forums, where people from all these groups 'collide' is photo.net's Leica Forum.

Me, I'm a camera-collecting-fondling-user-believing-that-both-vision-and-the-tools-make-a-difference

I guess it means that I take no sides - and all sides. I should run for politics.

Having said all that, here are some of my current, favorite 'tools'...:

Leica M3

This fine piece of fine German machinery is from 1964 and the fondler side of me enjoyed building a small kit with a contemporary 50/2 Summicron lens and hood (featured in the photo below), an MR-4 meter and a very nice half-case from Luigi's.
The user in me is enjoying carrying around and using this camera as my current favorite camera.

Canon VT-deluxe

This gorgeous Canon body is from the late 50's and features a built-in trigger-winder in the bottom plate. Using it is somewhat of an acquired taste and personally I really like it.

The viewfinder on this camera is currently very dim and it's about to be sent out for cleaning and possible re-silver the viewfinder mirror. Maintenance is definitely one aspect of owning and using these older camera bodies - but it's worth it.

Body below equipped with a Canon 50/1.4 lens and an S-50 hood.

Hasselblad 500C/M

It's a brick from the land of SAAB, Volvo, IKEA, ABBA and tall blondes - the camera that went to the moon: The Hasselblad.

This camera represents to me the essence of camera-zen. It forces me to slow down and use a tripod and it's modular design is as genius as it is simple - and the large, square images it produces has more detail than I could ever hope to get out of any 35mm film - regardless of the glass used.

Coupled with some Zeiss glass this kit becomes an almost unbeatable manual, medium format camera in both portability and quality. With second hand prices dropping the way they are this classic camera kit is now within reasonable reach for many hobbyists. God bless digital sometimes :)

[Image to come]

5 Comments:

Anonymous ava said...

"Examples used to support this view is for instance 'you can't use a 35mm camera for an image that will go on a billboard', 'you can't shoot a game of baseball with a manual focus camera', 'you can't do extensive macro-photography with a rangefinder camera', 'you can't do candid street photography with an 8x10 large format camera', etc, etc."

Well, let's see, you're either an inexperienced amateur level photographer or you just don't read much. Photography is only limited by your imagination.

October 03, 2005 10:03 AM  
Blogger Gene Wilburn said...

The half-cases from Luigi's look really nice -- thanks for the link. How do you remove the camera quickly to change film?

October 09, 2005 5:45 AM  
Blogger Rich Silfver said...

Gene, the half case that I have for the M3 has two straps with snap locks that hold the camera VERY securely - when taking the body off just open the buttons and pull off the case. Literally a 3-4 second exercise :)

October 09, 2005 10:17 AM  
Blogger Gene Wilburn said...

Thanks, Rich. I've put a Luigi half case on my Christmas list :)

Do they all have the snap locks?

October 09, 2005 11:07 AM  
Blogger Rich Silfver said...

Gene, I think all of the M-ones do apart from the Millenium cases

October 09, 2005 1:54 PM  

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