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My 2nd Black FE

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phiggy

I have recently added a Black FE to my collection its my 2nd black FE.
I traded my 1st one in some 10yrs ago, I decided at that time I could do every thing with my F801s or F90.
But there is still something a bit special about using a manual camera.
Where you set the aperture/shutter and set the focus, you are in total control the major decisions are taken solely by yourself and when the transparency comes back if its wrong you only have yourself to blame.
When its right it gives you a great deal of self satisfaction.
I own 12 manual Nikon cameras at present and I try to use them all in turn so as to keep them in running order.
I look back at the various pictures I have taken over my time and I have Kodachromes taken in the 1960s that are equaly as good as the one's I have taken with the latest AF gear.
It's just a lot easier to shoot certain subjects these day's, with auto everything.
 

lnbolch

Well-Known Member
I find nothing whatever special about a manual camera – specially with 35mm. All it does is limit your options. When using my Bronica ETR for covering sports and doing photojournalism, I greatly appreciated being able to turn on aperture priority metering, giving me the highest possible shutter-speed under rapidly changing circumstances. The same was true of the Nikon F3. In both cases, I greatly longed for powerful auto-focus – basketball for ex&le – but unfortunately it had not been invented yet.

In some cases - my Linhof system for ex&le - automation is neither an option, nor would it be an asset. It is a camera largely limited to contemplative work – product, architecture or landscape where extensive swings, tilts, and all the view camera adjustments are used. Using it to cover action would be as absurd as using a 35mm camera for what the Linhof does best.

A 35mm camera relatively lousy at this sort of work, though I have done much architecture with the 28mm PC-Nikkor lens when slides were demanded, and the same was true of product photography. This was not by choice - I would have been much more comfortable with large format.

The great strength of 35mm is in its mobility, letting the shooter react, capturing the “decisive momentâ€. If you want to do contemplative, slow, deliberate stuff, you are working against yourself using 35mm. A medium or large format camera simply does everything much better, and with what you have apparently tied up in 35mm equipment would buy more appropriate equipment many times over.

What you apparently do not realize is that most cameras above point-and-shoots allow full program automation, aperture priority automation and full manual. This gives the experienced photographer the ability to configure the camera to the subject matter at hand. It removes the limitations of only a single mode.

If you get lousy quality back when shooting on an automatic mode, it simply says you do not have the skill-set to use it. Automatic is easily fooled if a fool is using it.

The key is in understanding how automatic exposure works. Automatic tries for a compromise, protecting highlights while seeking an average middle tone. If you have a bright light source in the image area, you can count on overall underexposure. The opposite is also true, have a large dark area - your highlights are gone. As a photographer, you are supposed to use your eyes. If you do not - and rely on the automation to replace your brain - then you get the results you deserve. It takes every bit as much skill to use an automatic camera effectively as it does a manual camera.

A knowledgeable shooter will understand WHEN to use automatic, how much automation to use and when to go partially or completely manual. Any decent camera offers you all the options, but it is not a god, it can not do miracles. It will only do what you direct it to do whether on manual or automatic. Manual and automatic are simply different modes, each appropriate in specific situations. If you are out of control when using automatic, it simply means you have not acquired the skills to use it properly and appropriately. You are blaming the camera for your own ineptness.

You seem to be hung up on the process more than the goal. What matters to photographers is the image - ONLY the image. That is what photography is about – creating images that elevate, entertain, inform, or move the viewer, not fiddling with the toy du jour.

No one can tell – or cares, for that matter – if you struggled with a view camera for an hour to get an image, or if you used every contemporary feature an advanced camera can provide to get the image. There is no virtue to either if technique or process intrudes upon the content. Anyone with well below average intellect can learn to focus a lens or read a light-meter and set a manual camera. This is just not a big accomplishment.

Wearing a hair shirt to gain sanctity went out in the 1400s. A photographer uses the most effective tool available to attain the goal. However, it still remains that the destination – not the journey – is what separates photographers from camera buffs and shutterbugs.

larry!
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B

bobar57

Larry there is some truth in your post but there is also some misleading information.
Looking at your website anyone can tell that as today you're completelly sold, or 99 % sold into digital cameras and Photoshop.At least I see it that way.

Let's try to break into some statements and find what IMO is not accurate or represent a biased point of view:

Quote:

"I find nothing whatever special about a manual camera – specially with 35mm. All it does is limit your options. When using my Bronica ETR for covering sports and doing photojournalism, I greatly appreciated being able to turn on aperture priority metering, giving me the highest possible shutter-speed under rapidly changing circumstances. The same was true of the Nikon F3. In both cases, I greatly longed for powerful auto-focus – basketball for ex&le – but unfortunately it had not been invented yet."


A manual camera does not limit your options. How was sports and photojourlalism covered a couple of decades ago?....And there are some quite great photos from that era.
You mention convenientely two subjects that are challenging for a manual camera user: sports and photojourlalism. You also posted, while reffering to automated cameras:

Quote:

"If you get lousy quality back when shooting on an automatic mode, it simply says you do not have the skill-set to use it. Automatic is easily fooled if a fool is using it."

Well, let me tell you a hard learned lesson: the same happens with manual cameras. Manual is also fooled if a fool is using it.

Yet great photos, and not "contemplative" work, can and are achieved with manual cameras.
There're a great number of photojournalists that carry a Nikon FM2n as a reliable tool, sames applies to Leicas rangefinders, specially the M6. just inquiry about the equipment of some great photographers from National Gheographics..just as an ex&le.

Quote:

"A 35mm camera relatively lousy at this sort of work, though I have done much architecture with the 28mm PC-Nikkor lens when slides were demanded, and the same was true of product photography. This was not by choice - I would have been much more comfortable with large format."

A 35mm 2.8 PC Nikkor can do wonders in a manual camera if used correctly, specially in landscape work, it can even replace a bellows system. Does it make 35mm manual cameras less efficient tools than the large format Linhof?

All is in the eye of the beholder. As I posted somewhere else in this Forum, with today's film technology, an 8"x10" print from 35 mm is not less than one from medium or large format. Of course if you go into bigger prints, things are a bit different, but still 35 mm achieve decent results. And lets be realistic, prints larger than 8"x10" are far from highly demanded.

Quote:

"As a photographer, you are supposed to use your eyes. If you do not - and rely on the automation to replace your brain - then you get the results you deserve."

I agree with you 100 %. That is one of the reasons why I use manual cameras ( an FM3A and an FM2n )

Quote:

" What matters to photographers is the image - ONLY the image. That is what photography is about – creating images that elevate, entertain, inform, or move the viewer, not fiddling with the toy du jour. "

I really got lost here. The previous quote contradict this statement.
Is a photographer supposed to use the eyes and brain ( I highly recommend it ), or all that matter is the image, despite the tool and the creativity ,the vision and correct use of the settings to achieve a great image?
Some of us fiddle with ruged, built to last, manual cameras. Some others fiddles with automated or digital cameras, that I believe will last less, are more prone to break or get owl in some computerized circuit or CPU, will be outdated soon and will not have the replacements or ways to repair that a manual camera does-and if it does, will cost almost as a new camera-, and will be destined to a landfill as outdated computers do.

Quote:

"No one can tell – or cares, for that matter – if you struggled with a view camera for an hour to get an image, or if you used every contemporary feature an advanced camera can provide to get the image. There is no virtue to either if technique or process intrudes upon the content. Anyone with well below average intellect can learn to focus a lens or read a light-meter and set a manual camera. This is just not a big accomplishment. "

We can tell and we do care about our phographic work, and that is simply enough. Sometimes is better to look at the world within us than the outside world,.... and this applies for art. Great art comes from the journey, not from the destination.

True, anyone with well bellow average intellect can learn to focus a lens or read a lightmeter and setup a manual camera. The acomplishment(sp) lies in the vision and how we do achieve it using those simple tools.


My daughter, a teenager, and many as her can program and setup an advanced cellphone within minutes, without reading the 96 or 100 plus pages Instruction Manual. They do also can program and use an automated or digital camera in the same way, letting the camera do all the work for them, just point and shoot,..maybe caring sometimes for composition. This is just not a big accomplishment either.
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gjames52

Well-Known Member
Larry:

Did you post <I find nothing whatever special about a manual camera – specially with 35mm. All it does is limit your options. > on the Leica forum?

Gilbert
 

lnbolch

Well-Known Member
Gilbert

No, just here.

I have used Leicas for most of my career, but have not used mine for several years now. I always used it in situations with potentially dangerous people. I found it a very unprovoking camera. If you check my website there is an ex&le that I shot a few decades back
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I would not have even thought of walking into these bars with a big aggressive SLR. The M5, 50mm 1.0 Noctilux and 35mm 1.4 Summilux was the perfect combination, along with loads of Kodak SO2475 film, rated at about one bazillion ISO.

It allowed me to shoot comfortably in full view of the subjects and did not threaten them. It also provided loads of atmosphere, and gritty grainy pictures that matched the subject matter and my impression of it at the time.

The M5 had a built-in lightmeter, which I used for some guidance, but other than that it was entirely manual with a lot of the exposures buy guestimate. These were also not locations where one wants to go around waving a light meter in the subjects faces.

Of all the cameras I could put my hands on at that time, it was ideal for this shoot. Since it belonged to the newspaper, I had no hesitation walking in with $10,000 worth of photo equipment around my neck and in my pocket.
lol.gif


If I were to do a similar essay today, I would shoot it with my Nikon CP5000. Again, I would use the built in meter, but this time I would have the advantage of the histogram for much more precise exposure.

The CP5000 is fully equal to the M5 for subject comfort, but it offers about the same latitude as Kodachrome. The other downside is that it has only an f-2.8 lens compared to the f-1.0 of the Leica. ISO1600 is about the max without losing too much shadow detail.

With the CP5k, accurate exposure and white balance is absolutely critical, where exposure with SO2475 was not. Many of the exposures rescued in the fume-room by much dodging and burning while printing. Wit this sort of approach, empty shadows and blocked highlights can be minimized by stretching the mid-tones. Days were spent in the darkroom printing the few images that make up the essay.

No such luck with digital, but there are some techniques in shooting that can at dramatically extend the contrast range to match the environment's contrast range.

Wherever possible if shooting the essay now, I would use the Auto-Bracket feature and layering to extend the range, using the technique detailed at
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This lets me precisely set the exposure for the darkest image, preserving the vital highlight detail, and lets me set the next four exposures to perfectly cover the contrast of the environment in 0.3EV, 0.7EV or whole stops, for total control of shadow detail and successful combining of the mid-tones and shadow detail with the super-critical highlight detail.

While a breeze to do for architectural interiors where nothing is moving, I have none-the-less had excellent results in very difficult environments where there were people. See the ex&les near the bottom of the page. The key is to shoot on "motor drive" so movement is minimized.


The whole character of the essay would be much different - and more nearly reflect a quarter century of maturing. However, it would still have the same honesty of the original.

larry!
 

hooch

Member
Larry,

I'm not the person that you were responding to about enjoying the use of their manual camera so I don't represent that point of view. However, there were some comments that you made that I strongly disagree with.

"If you want to do contemplative, slow, deliberate stuff, you are working against yourself using 35mm."

Boy, do I disagree with that!?!?! The tools do not dictate the thought process that goes into making a photograph. I can be slow and contemplative with a D2H and hasty with a Linhof. Just because a photographer has to spend a lot of time setting up and fiddling with a gangly, cumbersome piece of equipment doesn't mean they're giving a bit of thought to the subject before them or the image they wish to make. Certainly a field or view camera gives the photographer camera movements largely unavailable in 35mm and certainly they lend themselves quite well to some types of photography but a general nature/outdoor photographer can be well served by the 35mm format. While some images would best be captured on 4X5, the 35 mm is an affordable and transportable way to get a versatile array of lenses and accessories into the field. This allows the photographer to have a wide variety of problem solving tools at his/her fingertips.

I have never made a photograph that I wasn't there to make. You know the old saying, f8 and BE THERE! Getting to remote locations under your own steam is where 35mm excels. I can put an arsenal of 35mm equipment on my back and tote it 10 miles from the car, I would not cherish the thought of doing that with a field camera outfit. There are photographers who do, John Fielder puts his Linhof on the back of his Llama and goes trekking into the Colorado wilderness for days or weeks at a time. However, those of us without the bank accounts to support the expense of 4x5 and who only have ourselves to tote it around are well served by the 35mm format and, I daresay, many of us are very thoughtful and contemplative about the images we make.

"Using it to cover action would be as absurd as using a 35mm camera for what the Linhof does best."

While it may be absurd to think of using a 4x5 to cover action it is certainly not absurd to think of using a 35 to "do what a Linhof does best" at least not in the case of landscape. While David Muench, Mark Muench, Jack Dykinga, John Fielder, Charles C&bell and others are producing BEAUTIFUL IMAGES using 4x5 so John Shaw, Art Wolfe, George Lepp, Rod Planck, Jim Brandenburg, the late Galen Rowell and others are, or were, producing beautiful landscapes with 35mm. As for professional studio work and architecture, you're probably right, a 4x5 is the tool of choice.

"You seem to be hung up on the process more than the goal. What matters to photographers is the image - ONLY the image."

I certainly agree with you if your point is that the camera is only a tool to produce an image but I'm afraid in making that point you've gone farther than I can agree with. It sounds like you make your living as a Photographer so I imagine that you are concerned about your productivity, which is fine. But for many of us who do this for other reasons than making a living, the journey can be every bit as important as the destination. I like the many beautiful pictures that I have produced with my camera but even more I have enjoyed the many hours I spent in beautiful places making those pictures. While your 'results-are-all-important' philosophy fits well in a commercial setting it doesn't fit in all settings.

I believe art is one of those instances where the journey determines the destination. Will the photographer who spends his/her time photographing a place out of sheer love of being there produce the same results as the one who's there to make a living? No, they probably won't. Will one be superior to the other? Not necessarily, the guy who put his kids through college as a professional photographer certainly got good results as did the one who saved his favorite place from the axe with his photographs (If you don't believe that can happen, look at the history of Kings Canyon National Park and the Photographs of Ansel Adams.) The point is that photographers have different goals, for some it's the joy of using the tools, for others, it's the hours spent in places they love, for yet others, it's the way they make their living and probably for the majority, it's some combination of all of the above. It's not up to you and me to set their goals or tell them what is or is not a valid outcome of their photography.
 
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