Old School

Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner
Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner

One of the nice things about scanning all this material, taken by Ann and myself many years ago, is that it has refocused me much more on the images and away from the gear. Adding in the fact that I'm VERY happy with my current camera / lens combinations, and there has certainly been a shift of emphasis round here, which will be reflected by what gets written and posted in this blog.

Sony NEX-7 Zeiss 24mm f/1.8
Sony NEX-7 Zeiss 24mm f/1.8

Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner
Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner

I've never wanted this to be a gear review site. I have no desire to become Dpreview, Imaging Resource and the like, and while I try to present my "reviews" as user experiences and ongoing reports on how gear works for me, with the tests and presentation of comparison material, on many days you could be forgiven for thinking that you had stumbled on yet another equipment test and evaluation site.

However, first and foremost I am a photographer. Yes, I test equipment to see how it works for me, and the publishing of the results of those tests does make the process a little more bearable, but in all truth, not much more. It is a tedious process comparing settings, lenses, sensor performance and the like, and as time goes on and more and more equipment gets released, the more I realise that there are actually not great differences between all of this anyway. These days there really isn't a huge difference between using a m4/3 camera with a kit lens and a Sony NEX-7 with a Leica lens, though its obviously in the interests of the sites that make money out of reviewing cameras and lenses, to make out that there is.

Sony NEX-7 Voigtlander 28mm f/2 Ultron
Sony NEX-7 Voigtlander 28mm f/2 Ultron

Also the more time passes, the more things start to revert back to how they were before. Just as the design of the electric guitar was just about sorted out by 1958 do we really need to redesign the camera? Do we really need much more than a Leica M or a Nikon F in terms of design? The nouveau retro that is all around us currently has some of its origins in fashion yes, but a lot of it is that this works, it always has worked, and it probably always will. Fuji have just brought out the X-Pro 1, Olympus are apparently working on a digital OM camera. Leica are doing great business, and the faux rangefinder, lookaleicas are everywhere. Despite manufacturers trying to persuade us that we don't need viewfinders, we keep insisting we do, we like knobs, dials and many of us even like to manually focus our lenses and decide on our own exposures. They keep trying to do all of this for us, but somehow we don't seem to want to tow the line, and keep insisting that we would like more control, on the grounds that we know what we want and a microchip doesn't!

Sony NEX-7 Zeiss 24mm f/1.8
Sony NEX-7 Zeiss 24mm f/1.8

So recently I've been working with my NEX-7 and mostly prime lenses. I've found a nice set in my Voigtlander 28mm f/2, which I've found a solution to the magenta cast and vignetting for, by using Cornerfix.The lens is also much sharper when I use it for real, than when I test it. I have no explanation for this, but it is. This paired with my Voigtlander 75mm f/2.5 makes a great combination. 

I've currently been deciding what exactly I want to keep out of all the cameras I've currently got. Its not a lot! I'm very happy with the NEX-7 and it gives me the results I want and handles the way that I want. It works very well for me. If something comes along I think is better, then I'll buy it. If not I wont.

I've dusted off my polarisers and they give me a nice option. So to a large extent, I'm back in the late 80's - early 90's, hence "old school". You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to realise that this is not unrelated to my scanning activities. 

I'm not going to go into a glorification of film and how wonderful it is, because in the digital age, it isn't. There isn't a snowballs chance in hell that I will ever go back to it. It just happens that I (we) have these images that we really like that were taken with it. There is no way that we can go back and reshoot everything digitally, so scanning is the only answer. 

What it does make clear however is that manual focus, rudimentary functionality and much more control of what the camera is doing is no handicap to producing good photography. We actually don't need as much help as camera manufacturers think we do. I'm using just a fraction of what my NEX-7 can do, but most of it is unnecessary for me anyway. Ultimately its what we see and record that is important and the camera is merely the means of achieving that. There are a whole host of pieces of gear that can do that for me and my choice is purely one of personal preference.

So from now on its less gear and more photography. And you can't get more "old school" than that.

Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner
Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner

Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner
Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner

Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner
Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner

Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner
Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner

Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner
Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner

Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner
Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner

Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner
Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner

Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner
Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner

Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner
Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner

Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner
Pentax 645 Transparency film Nikon LS9000 scanner

Sony NEX-7 18-55mm
Sony NEX-7 18-55mm

Sony NEX-7 18-55mm
Sony NEX-7 18-55mm