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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Less is more

I've read a few interesting things on photography recently.

Michael Reichmann of the excellent Luminous Landscape site, during a review of Sony Compact HX5 travel zoom, said that in his experience

many amateurs burden themselves unnecessarily with bulky and expensive cameras when something smaller and lighter will do.

He goes on to say that serious amateurs and pros don't always need their dSLR's or Medium Format Camera (hellishly expensive) and sometimes a simple compact is enough.

Mike Johnston of theonlinephotographer did an interesting piece on two lens kits.

Thom Hogan did a piece about going out with a fixed lens and go out and take photos. He was advocating a lot more than that but.....

When I was holiday I took a bag full of lens, on the Saturday I walked around Mottisfont Abbey with a dSLR with my big telephoto zoom on one shoulder, a dSLR with a big macro on the other and the panny in my belt bag. On top of this I had a pair of bins around my neck. IT WAS A LOT OF WEIGHT. And I decided that I was being stupid.

For most of the week I totally changed what I did. I took out one dSLR with a lighter telephoto zoom with less reach (70-300 as opposed to 80-400) and used the panny for landscapes (the exception was in churches when most but not all were with a dSLR).

I actually found this quite fun. Yes I made some compromises but I took some decent photos and I enjoyed it.

My point of all of this is I actually had to THINK about the photos. And yes it is nice to have flexibility of having a choice of lenses but if the weight of all those cameras and lenses hampers the enjoyment what's the point?

In the old days we bought cameras with a fixed prime lens an no zoom! Did this stop people's creativity? Of course not. A fixed focal length lens make you THINK not just snap.

Of course as Reichmann says its a matter of horses for courses. You don't have to spend a fortune on dSLR's (and a bagful of lenses) or one of this new compact interchangeable lens cameras. Just pick up even a simple compact go out experiment but most of all have fun.


Ragged Robin said...

A great, thought provoking post, Pete. There is a brilliant set of landscape photos by David Noton in this month's BBC Wildlife Magazine (the photo of bluebells is particularly superb). Noton makes the point at the beginning of the portfolio that he used to think that expensive equipment would automatically improve his photos but that is not the case. He stresses, amongst other things, the importance of patience and using one's eyes and imagining how light will change a scene. Although I have to say a macro and telephoto lens are still top of my wish list!

Carrying around camera, bins plus, in my case, a backpack stuffed with os maps, hand lens, id guides etc., etc., is not fun, especially on a hot day and these days if I am on my own I leave the telescope and tripod at home.

As you say, the most important thing of all is to have fun and experiment.

Tricia said...

Having staggered about with far too much weight (add backpack with tripod mounted) I would agree with your sentiments.

It's not necessarily the camera that takes a good picture, it takes the eye of the "beholder" to translate the image successfully onto "film".

And yes, it takes some forethought to determine which camera/lens would be most suited to the environment in which the likely pictures are to be taken.

I might dust off the 70-300 and give it one more chance. It would certainly be lighter.

Janine said...

Agree 100%
Being a beast of burden detracts from the fun of the trip.