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Thread: Is there life after DSLR?

  1. #1
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    Default Is there life after DSLR?

    This is a question I've seriously been pondering of late. I feel a little bit between a rock and a hard place on this one... not because of my belief but because as Olympus principal photographer and educator in the UK my opinion could be accused of being biased.

    Those that really know me personally will know the internal dilemma this will have caused me because you can't buy the McGillicuddy integrity, I wont sell my opinion, loyalty or endorsement for pennies in the pound... period!

    Actually I'm sure that isn't quite true - I just haven't found my price yet... when I tell you that the new "Chocolate" camera from Cadbury Schwepps is the be all and end all... THEN you have my permission to throw rotten fruit at me, if you can reach me in my ivory tower... until then please bare in mind my first love is always photography ;0)

    I started my career with my head virtually under a black cloth with sheet film cameras, how refreshing, how liberating it was to transcend to medium format roll film... smaller lighter more readily transportable, more comfortable to use for a protracted length of time... 10 6x7 shots out of a 120 roll instead of the two... is this nirvana???

    Then 35mm came along and very quickly the "novelty" format strengthened its appeal, and real pro's looked at it and took to it as film became more advanced and optics improved. How refreshing, how liberating it was to transcend to the new 35mm format... smaller lighter, more readily transportable, more comfortable to use for a protracted length of time... 36 shots out of a tiny roll instead of the 10 out of a roll of 120... is this nirvana???

    Then digital surfaced... and quickly evolved. Bodies and lenses designed for 35mm film were converted to the new technology and in no time at all the pixel race was producing files that were not only good enough, but in the hands of the vast majority - just as good. The bonus though was huge... no film cost, instant feedback on what you shot, no protracted lengths of time locked alone in the dark (personally I love the darkroom) now this has to be nirvana surely???

    Then sensors got to the point it was cost effective to make them "full frame" and it was almost like the second coming of christ... we had arrived... and battle lines were drawn!

    Can you see where this is heading ;0)

    If you weren't on "full frame" you were somehow inferior, somehow not a top pro... bollocks - the camera is just a tool, whatever its shape, size or format, I've always believed its how you wield it that counts... Think on this, there isn't a camera available today that isn't technologically superior to the equipment used by some of the most significant artist's in photographic history... Horst, Parkinson, Newton etc, etc. Their "inferior" kit didn't stop them and many, many others shooting images that simply took ones breath away. So its not the kit alone then???

    As I write this I'm out of the UK working, testing and tuning stuff as usual and shooting images. Part of my reason for being here is to push myself and cement my beliefs, to test and prove and test and prove again, finally and empirically my faith... my faith in the micro four thirds format.

    I've come away with, for me, what is bare, bare , bare bones kit. Two bodies, the one I want to talk about here, the E-P5, a kit lens, my 9-18mm, 17mm prime, my 25mm Voigtlander and the 60mm micro - oh and two FL600r's.
    One of my commissions is a new book and I wanted to see just what imagery I could create with what many would see as "none serious" kit. I've long believed that prejudice is holding back our beloved profession. I wanted to see what compromises, if any, the m4/3 kit put on me in my quest to shoot my brief.

    Granted this is a new way of working but in the whole of my career part of my success has been due to my ability, just like the marines, to adapt, improvise and overcome! The world is ever evolving... most of us carry in our pockets smartphones that literally have more computing power in them than it took to put men on the moon... sobering thought really!

    Yes in the beginning the quality wasn't up to that of film but things advance. When I tested equipment for "Digital Photographer and Creative imaging" magazine both the editor and I coincidentally penned the same thoughts in our respective articles... "when we hit SIX megapixels - that will be Nirvana". Sounds a little laughable now doesn't it!

    I'm going to stick my neck on the block here and make a prediction. The DSLR as we know it is on the endangered list! Last time I made such a rash industry statement was in the early 90's when I saw the impending demise of the GP (general practitioner - doing a bit of everything) photographic studio. You guessed it - I was laughed at... but where is the GP, one in every high street, studio now??? Pushed out of existence, first by those that specialised and more recently by business conditions and the ready nature of adequate imagery today...

    Feel that chill??? Its the wind of change my friend - take note, or catch a cold ;0)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Is there life after DSLR?

    So why am I so confident to make this soothsayer doom and gloom predication - well for several reasons really, which can be summed up by the headings cost, convenience and capability.

    Cost wise the CSC has less "bits" in it, no tricky mirror or prism assembly so by definition they are easier and quicker to make. That allows a cheaper price point which means a bigger take up in the market, which means due to the economies of scale they become cheaper to manufacture... And so the merry-go-round keeps on turning!

    Convenience... As a guy that's had a camera by his side for nearly thirty years I don't have the vocabulary to begin to be able to describe the joy of being able to slip one of these babies into a pocket and just go. Or indeed the delight of packing a carry on allowable ruck sack that has the ability to hold all the kit I need to be able to do a fantastic job in 95% of the shooting situations I find myself in most of the time... It's quite simply a major breath of fresh air to be able to move as free, easy and with massively reduced stress that this new age format allows.

    What of capability though... All this convenience is nought without quality! This is the bit I really love... Cause these lightweights punch HARD, well above their weight! The quality is simply breath taking. I have a 36 inch image hanging in my studio of the Internationally celebrated latex fashion model Ulorin vex where I've posed here against a black metal staircase and if you should care to do so, and you examine the stairs in the image you will Clearly make out fingerprints! Just a few, short, short years ago the quality that the m4/3's system is capable of delivering at best cost thousands and thousands of pounds and at worst where the stuff of our fantasises and dreams.

    Now I'm not saying everything in the m4/3's garden is perfect or that every job every can be accomplished by this format, that would be blinkered. What I am saying though in most hands, for almost all situations these beauties do much better than good enough. For me and my clients, that, along with the major logistical advantages of the format mean its a big thumbs up, job done from us.

    How exciting, this is a format virtually at its infancy and we are here to see it develop, and you know what that means don't you??? It's only going to improve and get better. It will grow. mature and improve and my God what you can produce with them right here right now is fantastic. I'm lucky, I get to see little bits of the future ahead of the crowd... It simply takes my breath away. The advantage of a brilliant EVF is incredible alone, immediate visual feedback on a variety of image critical effects.

    I believe that this is pure evolution and indeed revolution... This is a format not converted to embrace digital but a format, sensor, body and optics, designed and engineered to be a DIGITAL system... Conceived from the ground up to be what we desire, no what we need in this digital age! Hey don't believe what I say though... The proof, as my Grandma would have said, is in the pudding! Go and give it a try yourself. One of the main reasons the forward thinking Olympus commission me to run the "Wow" and "Experience" days... Your chance to get hands on, without commitment or any sales pressure and really put the system through its paces.

    So alongside the other work I was doing I wanted to see if I could exist, no thrive photographically not with the m4/3 format - that is a commercial reality for me but to see if minimum kit covered all the bases for me and allowed me to shoot both commercially and privately creatively, artistically and with ease.

    I challenged myself to shoot quality portraits with artificial and ambient, family shots, documentary and travel images and my personal joy, creative, artistic imagery and a few abstracts... Not much to do then!!!

    First thing I've got to say is my Olympus rucksack was the perfect choice, small, comfortable and easy to use. It carried everything I needed and was so small compared to my usual kit I travel with I practically forgot it was there most of the time.

    My first working observation is the VF4 adds a whole new dimension to the camera, the effective pixels are virtually doubled over my beloved OM-D and I thought that was a pleasure to use, this, well, its just something else. There's so much resolution that even without focus peaking its a breeze to focus with my manual Voigtlander, I am "bobbing" on a bit now, I'm getting old, so every little bit helps!

    If I'm really honest I was pleasantly surprised at the quality, ease of use and the overall photographic experience that the EP-5 gave me. I'm not even certain I doubted it. I'm just an old pro stuck in my ways I think and the EP-5 just ripped my prejudicial blinkers away. The caveat for me being the need / want for the EVF... It's just the way I. Like to shoot. It amazed me that at the resent Olympus "circus shoot" I asked two children to come out of the audience and assist me. They both did the same thing that surprised me... When I handed them my OM-D they BOTH automatically shot off the LCD as opposed to holding it to the eye as I would... I know I'm daft to be surprised, after all it is the new Xbox generation, it was just an eye opener for me - no pun intended!

    Aren't we all a little like that though... Set in our own ways, comfortable with the status quo, resistant to change - certain it was better in "the good old days". I wonder just what the greats would have done if they had access to our kit today... I'm guessing embraced, enjoyed and created. That's the bit I don't quite understand! Today's photographer seem to have lost the desire to create, their pioneering spirit... Very few seem to just want to shoot and create decent imagery.

    People are too tied up in lens test charts, hi speed sync, and ANY automated, computer driven process that eludes to doing the job / shot for them without thinking or fully understanding... "P" most certainly is NOT for professional ;0)

    One of the major advantages of the CSC is that is small enough for you to take anywhere and this really hit home to me in this protracted test... I quite simply had shooting opportunities that if I was using a more traditional system would not have presented themselves... Quite simply because I wouldn't have bothered to take the kit with me... No camera - no quality photo... An iPhone isn't really a credible alternative for the super keen image maker. The E-P5 enabled me to quite simply have a quality shooting option with me wherever I went if The mood so took me. I was able to indulge my love of photography in more situations than I would normally... It was quite simply a joy and long, long may it continue...


    Until next time

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Is there life after DSLR?

    hi,

    that's a meaningful sharing well worth my time reading

    I find u very blessed - to have been able to experience the growth of photography from sheet film to 35mm to slr to nowadays, the powerful cscs or even the superb high end compacts.

    I grew up seeing my dad fiddling with his OM1, the way he treated it made me respect the camera, and of course later in my life to respect photography as more than just pressing the shutter and spamming shots. Many have argued the cheapening of photography with digital but i guess everyone thinks differently and i respect that.

    Starting with the standard point and shoot and one day discovering that i yearned for more power, i decided to switch and weirdly - and of course a decision for which i was laughed at then was that I decided to eschew the DSLR altogether and jumped straight into MFT, heh with the EP1 and 17/2.8.

    Well, i had then paid SGD$1500 for a camera not great technically and more expensive than some SLRs but I never regretted it. The EP1 gave me a lot of joy and the want to bring it out to shoot. If i had gotten a DSLR like everyone else, most likely the weight will have dampened me a lot.

    MFT has now grown tremendously , look at the upcoming EM1 or the 75/1.8 as an example of pushing boundaries. I still face (actually recently too) 'purists' who believe that getting a FF camera or top of the line equipment is a 'requirement' for good photos. I don't subscribe to that fallacy, to me no camera is perfect ; its the interplay between the person and the camera that gives rise to beauty. I am very sure I will never buy a DSLR haha, and I'm also very sure there are many like minded people like me outside who will give support to your idea of 'is there life after DSLR?'

    and charts? come on, does a nice spanking chart result guarantee quality breathtaking photos? haha.

    I'm glad, for now the word DSLR isn't equated with demanding photography ; rather we have MFT, X-Trans, Lytro's sensor just to name a few , each catering to every person's unique needs and wants.

    This is exciting.
    Last edited by keithwee; 10th October 2013 at 08:50 PM.

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    Default Re: Is there life after DSLR?

    Thanks for the reply Keith, I reply appreciate your thoughts an sentiments. You're right, these are really exciting times!

  5. #5

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    Well-written. Technology is moving so fast today, that we are living the future all the time, and not just the present

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    Default Re: Is there life after DSLR?

    You're so right, as we sit here today technology marches on, perhaps the next debate is only around the corner?

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    Default Re: Is there life after DSLR?

    Good food for thought but alas it's about reality.
    5D/5D3/Zeiss/28-85/100 F2/200 F4/50 F1.4/70-200/24-85/85 F1.4
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/zeisser/

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    Default Re: Is there life after DSLR?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zeisser View Post
    Good food for thought but alas it's about reality.
    And what is reality?

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Dog View Post

    And what is reality?
    Listening to Queen singing Bohemian Rhapsody?

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    Default Re: Is there life after DSLR?

    Quote Originally Posted by kei1309 View Post
    Listening to Queen singing Bohemian Rhapsody?
    A very good start!!

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