Sunday, February 13, 2011

New Camera For Bob?

I'm working on a new software product that is intended to be the quality leader in professional athlete performance management. There's more that goes into managing an athlete's speed, agility, nutrition, injuries, rehab, etc. than I knew. And since a bunch of data has to be collected in remote locations like an America's Cup boat or a field where you are running sprints or other speed tests, I have to make decisions about remote broadband connected tablet PC's and laptops that I don't like making, because that part of software development is completely uninteresting to me. I just want hardware and connectivity that works, so I can concentrate on data models and the stuff I am actually competent at. I'm no technologist.

Simplott Center in Boise, ID. Shot with my point-and-shoot Panasonic DMC-FX-01
But when it comes to photography, I am a hardware junkie. I read about cameras. I enjoy the feel of a well-built camera in my hand (I like small cameras, BTW). Maybe it's because my tools for designing databases are completely abstract (a vision in my head) and the camera is my tool for making a photograph, no different than a hammer or an axe, or a good surfboard, for that matter. Regardless, I chase after good cameras, and it'll soon be time to think about a new camera or two.

A good long lens allows this kind of compression. Gettysburg PA, film.

I admire my friend Dennis Krivda, who is a photographer's photographer, and stays at it with older equipment. He takes great photographs and is motivated to do that internally, and doesn't give a hoot about the hardware, I think. The brain makes the photo.

For me, I get energized to do photography by a new camera, a new environment, anything new. Which is why I make my living with databases instead of photography. I'm like a crow swooping down on whatever is shiny. I'm shallow that way.
Film, point and shoot, with flash

So, it's coming time for a new camera.

We have a real embarrassment of riches when it comes to what they call the "enthusiast compact camera" market, where I'm looking. Panasonic, Canon, and Olympus make very good cameras in this market segment, as well as Ricoh, Leica, and other high-end camera makers. What am I looking for?

First, a world class lens. At the end of my time using film, I went to Contax prime lenses because it was worth the extreme money for tack sharp negatives. Today, you can buy point and shoot a camera with a very, very good lens for less than $200.00, much less than a single Contax lens costs. And you need a bunch of lenses if you shoot Contax which adds up to way too much money for an amateur like me.

Manual control. I need full manual control over shutter speed and aperture. I've owned many point and shoot cameras, both film and digital, that were great, but tricking the camera into using the setting I want is a pain in the ass.

The motordive let me get this shot. Film SLR, and a decent lens.

I want a hot shoe for a real flash. Flash ruins most photographs, but  REAL flash allows photographing a room of people possible.

Pocketability. I will carry this camera everywhere I go, even to just buy groceries. The best camera is the one you have with you. No camera, no picture.

I'm thinking of a couple of promising looking cameras. My first SLR was an Olympus. I used it In Monterey CA years ago. I liked that it was small and easy to carry. Olympus has a cool camera out now, this one:

It has deficiencies, but all cameras do.

Also looking at this:

I like the Panasonic better. We'll see.


  1. DoF and bright, sharp lens makes you happy, right? Try the XZ1.

  2. Yeah, it's a really compelling lens. Remember when we could blur the background with our film cameras? Now, if you use a little P&S like I do, everything is in tack sharp focus.

  3. Thanks for the kind words, Bob. I barely consider myself anything other than fortunate and somewhat serendipitous.