A few months ago I was a happy contented DSLR owner. Quietly going about my work shooting with either Nikon or Canon cameras. I manage to take pictures that people want to buy so I can afford to buy and use some of the best cameras available. ie. D3X, 5DM2.
So why do I now have a collection of adapters, old manual focus prime lenses and two (yes TWO!) Leicas.
To be honest I'm not sure - but I'm having the most fun (with a camera!) I've had for years.
I've always changed my gear on a regular basis. Not looking to find that elusive combination to make me the great photographer that I'm surely destined to be, but to try new things & to explore new ways of working. However up to now its always been what might be described as an "upward curve" ie. every new camera is an "improvement" on the one before.
However I'm now moving "backwards" and loving every minute.
There are some practical reasons for this:-
1) Prime lenses are better than zooms. They are faster, lighter & sharper.
2) When Autofocus appeared in the 1980's I asked the question - "How does the camera know what you want to focus on" I still ask the same question today. If a camera has 50+ AF points who tells it which point is "the one" I'd rather do that myself.
3) My back won't tolerate much more abuse. Its been a real pleasure to return from my work trips, which usually involves walking a considerable distance, without having to leap (leap! crawl more like) into a hot bath having taken a couple of pain killers.
4) More pixels doesn't mean better pictures. As has been established its the quality of those pixels that is the important thing.
5) Just exactly how much of this technology do I actually use? My D3X has menus I don't even understand, let alone use! I have a certain set of requirements and once those are fulfilled I can do my work. I don't shoot Formula 1 or celebrities coming out of night clubs so a lot of the "go-faster" bits are wasted on me.
I suppose the writing was on the wall when I used to prefer taking my Pentax *istD out rather than my Nikon D700. I loved that Pentax. It fitted my hand perfectly. It was ludicrously slow. I used to shoot multi-image panoramas on it & they could take a while. The images were also quite soft. However despite all this I really enjoyed using it. I still regret selling it - though it did go to a Pentax collector in Poland - so I know it will be cherished.
THE TURNING POINT.
The Panasonic G1. Theres an earlier post on this so I won't go over old ground except to say that finally I found a small light camera with great Image Quality.
Then I discovered that you could use old MF primes on it. I have a collection of Nikkors so I got myself a couple of adapters & tried them out. I liked the results from my Panasonic 14-45 zoom but when I looked at images I had shot with my Nikon MF 50mm F1.2 my (photographic) world changed. They were amazing. The method of using these also changed the way I was working. I started looking in a different way. My pictures started looking different. I've always enjoyed taking photographs but this was like starting again - I felt that same excitement that I did when I bought my first SLR. A Manual Focus, Aperture Priority Pentax ME Super with fast prime lenses. (Gosh! what a coincidence)
Since then its gone crazy!
The G1 was followed by:-
Another G1 - in RED! 4 Voigtlander lenses, An Olympus E-420 + 25mm Pancake lens, Olympus 9-18 and 40-150mm lenses, A Leica Digilux3 with 14-50 Elmarit and finally a Leica M8. Yes I have finally given in! After spending years convincing myself that I didn't need a Leica I finally gave in to the simple fact that I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED ONE! See previous post /soundimageplus/2009/06/on-buying-leica-m8.html for all my reasons not to buy one. They are all very valid but when I opened the box & picked it up for the first time I felt like a "real photographer" Totally ludicrous I know, but the smile that went from my head to my toes was all I needed to know I'd done the right thing.
So there it is - from Techno Gear Head to Retro Nerd in a few months. I make no attempt to justify any of this. The reason I became a Pro Photographer was so I could be a Photorapher all the time. There never was any other reason other than that. After my family there is nothing else in the world I love more than taking photographs. I could this with a fraction of the gear that I own and have a lot more money in the bank but then that would be good sense, good business, sensible, practical and efficient.
And a lot less fun!