Nikon Df + 50/1.8. RAW conversion in Capture NX2, final tweaks in Photoshop CS6.
Recently, Leica introduced a new camera – the T. From the images, it appears to be a sleek and sexy camera. One that appears to borrow from Apple’s oeuvre. It is a “system” camera – Leica is building a whole new line of lenses for the T system and also offers an adapter to allow M-mount lenses to be used. A friend asked me what I thought of this camera and if I was interested in one. I am not. At all. No interest whatsoever.
While I applaud Leica for building a very modern camera (God knows they have been beaten up in the past for being an “anachronism” in the photography world) with a touch-screen interface, auto focus, zoom lenses and many other bells and whistles, I’m sure, I find the older I get, the more I am finally beginning to understand the truth behind the oft repeated adage – “It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer”. While I agree that a camera should inspire one to shoot, to me it matters not a whit if the camera is mirrorless, a honking big DSLR, a medium format TLR, rangefinder, compact, full frame, APSC, yada, yada. Some tools are better suited to some tasks and will give the photographer an edge in a specific application, no doubt. But, almost every modern camera available today (and a vast majority of the not-so-modern cameras) far surpass the capability of the average photographer – amateur or “pro”. It is interesting to see the frenzy of reviews and recommendations, of opinions for and against a new camera on the various internet fora. Most of them by people who make misinformed statements with the weight of great authority. The endless handwringing and recommendations on business strategy are most amusing to read as well. “Leica should have done X”, “Nikon should do Y”.
A new camera is not going to make you a better photographer. Unless it inspires you to shoot more than your current one. Period. Lord knows I should know – I have the gear and the credit-card statements to establish my authority in this one area.
Want to be a better photographer? Shoot. A lot. Think about what you’re shooting. Look at your work with a critical eye. Hang out with people who will give you the truth about your images. Bluntly. Learn from your mistakes. Shoot. Keep shooting. Simple really.
So what does the image below have to do with the Leica Type 701? Absolutely nothing! It was made by a camera that is currently inspiring me to shoot. That’s all!
Nikon Df + 135/2 DC. RAW conversion in Capture NX2, final tweaks in Photoshop CS6. San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.
Continuing the series of images shot while in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Again, the ability to blend in to the street, the confidence to shoot people comes from a state of mind. Happens some days. Is elusive on other days. Can becomes a natural state with practice.
I was within handshaking distance of this lady photographer.
Nikon Df + 50/1.8. RAW Conversion in Capture NX2, final tweaks in Photoshop CS6.
Yesterday I wrote that to me street photography is a state of mind that allows one to blend into the street and boldly shoot. I also said that the camera hardly matters as long as it is an instrument that inspires you to shoot.
When I created this image, I had managed to blend into the street – I was shooting with the camera to my eye and at close range, without people reacting. :)
Nikon Df + 50/1.8.
Recently, I had the opportunity to spend half a Saturday walking through San Francisco’s Chinatown, one of my all-time favorite places to walk-through, camera in hand. Usually, I shoot with a Rangefinder camera but of late I’ve been shooting almost exclusively with the Nikon Df and the 50mm Nikkor “Kit” lens.
Much has been written about the “Rangefinder Experience” and the value of a Rangefinder for street shooting, some of which I even agree with! Whatever the benefits/disadvantages of a rangefinder camera for street photography, a relatively small, very high quality DSLR camera-and-lens combination like the Nikon Df + 50mm/1.8 Nikkor can certainly enable one to shoot effectively in the street.
To me, street photography is a state of mind, an ability to blend into the street and boldly shoot. The camera hardly matters, as long as the camera inspires you to shoot. For me, the Df is a superb camera. I’m especially enamored of the monochrome images that I can coax out of the camera with little effort.
“And her enchanted hair was the first gold.
And still she sits, young while the earth is old,
… And, subtly of herself contemplative,
… Draws men to watch the bright net she can weave,
Till heart and body and life are in its hold.”
Boston MFA, original sculpture by Kiki Smith.