Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Thoughts on Cameras

 A bit of a diversion into the world of photography, with some relevance to modelling.

During lockdown I took a lot of photos during walks along our local marshland coast. Some of them were quite good, though I say it myself. Since then though I've sort of stagnated. Unlike modelling, where I come to a full stop, I tend to carry on taking photos in Zombie Mode.

One problem is how "good" my Google 6 Pro camera phone is. It is so good that I increasingly can't be bothered to use either of my mid-range compact cameras. But here are two catches. Both are related to the amount of in-camera processing. The first is that it isn't quite as clever as it thinks it is, which means sometimes photos don't stand up to close scrutiny. This usually isn't evident until you get home and look at them on the PC. I'll be honest often these are photos that would be a challenge for any camera, but it can be deeply disappointing. The other catch is that times the processing does so much I don't really feel that it is "my" photo. Anyone could have taken it.

It does at least give me an option to save RAW files, but when you look at them they need massive amounts of processing and to be honest, even Photoshop struggles to do what the phone does internally.

So what to do about it?

First and foremost I have to accept my compact cameras are now obsolete in practical terms for general purpose photography, whilst my mirrorless cameras still have life left in them.

So that means buying a more specialist compact that does fewer things but does them brilliantly. There are a couple of options, The Fuji 100v and the Leica Q2 Monochrome. Neither are cheap.

Another option would be to move to a newer generation of Fuji bodies in combination with more prime lenses. Mine are both ten years old and whilst they can still take great photos there is no doubt the current range is a lot more capable.

In the short term, with a birthday due, I'm treating myself to one of the new generation of cheap lenses.The TTArtisan 23mm f1.4 You sacrifice electronics for decent but quirky optics. No big deal when you grew up with manual lenses, and the quirkiness is something I often find myself adding in post-processing anyway.

The prime modelling question is what would I take to an exhibition these days?  Before Covid I tended to rely on the Fujis for the bulk of my exhibition photos, with the phone doing the more general shots and for getting into awkward spaces. The compacts were never really that useful. 

I'm not sure of the answer.

When it comes to photos of my own models, where I have a lot more control, I really can probably depend on the phone 90% of the time.

The secondary thought is about the route TTArtisan have chosen to go down, and the appeal of it.

They are using modern design and manufacturing techniques to produce a product that is good, but lacks bells and whistles. Although Hornby have their Railroad range I think perhaps it is something worth considering, especially as prices rise.

Finally what about our own modelling? Using this lens makes me work with the constraints of its design. But I actually find that very liberating compared to the multi-purpose phone camera. Do we too often try and square the circle, rather than living within it?

Time for some thinking.


  1. The best camera is the one you have on you. Even if it is a phone. I've seen plenty of terrible photos taken with really good cameras.

    1. Much though I admire Chris Nevard's work I do think he has , quite literally. distorted layout photos so people emulate his look, rather than taking good photos of their layouts

  2. I have a friend, Tim Clinch, whose work you will see on the front of glossy magazines. He is as happy using a phone as he is using a 10x8.

    I think the catch is the Pixel Pro is trying to do a little too much, and doesn't give me a fall back option when it gets it wrong. One of my happiest periods as a photographer was when I restricted myself to monochrome 1x1 images all taken with two essentially identical cameras, and working within their limitations

  3. Hi James.

    I tried to comment the other week, however either operator error or the tech let me down. So here I am late to the party, as usual.

    I've shot using Fuji in the past. Lovely cameras. My current set up is Sony with a big sensor to allow heavy cropping of wild life images. W/L is only 15% of what I shoot but brings 80% of the post processing embuggerance as I like to print cropped images big.

    I'm contemplating getting a Fuji as a carry around, probably an X-E4 with a pancake 27mm. I find my iPhone (12) even shooting in RAW and all the computational stuff doesn't always quite do what I would like it to. I accept that I may be the problem. The X-E4 is a simple creature yet very powerful none the less. And the lenses are interchangeable.

    It is interesting that you know Tim Clinch. I've not made his acquaintance, well why would I, however I read his articles in B & W Photography mag and check out his stuff on Instagram. He produces brilliant images often with an X-Pro 1 which is 10 years old now. And I like his philosophy.

    Anyway, my two pennyworth. You'll reach your own conclusions.

    1. So it is me being late this time. I do wonder if something is up with blogger because I didn't get an alert for your comment. I would switch to wordpress, but no one seems happy with that, either.

      I do like Fujis, and I would upgrade, but no one model in the range does everything I want. The XE-4 is missing in body stabilization, otherwise that would be my choice when I do change. At least now they are allowing third party lens makers to join the Fuji mount club. I would like more of their primes, but the prices seem excessive for the benefit I would get (which is not the same as saying they are overpriced)

      I know Tim via Rob Bennett of Busybodies fame. Tim is quite active on FB. I would love to do one of his courses in Bulgaria. As you know, he has been known to playfully tell people photos taken on his iphone were taken with his 10x8, and the other way around. As you say, his philosophy is very attractive.

      If I'm honest one reason I wanted to move here was because my photography in Warwickshire was in a rut. IMHO I was taking some good shots, but there was a sameness about it. The challenge I find here is that Paul Hart - who is brilliant - is way ahead of me !