State of the musings.

(or, Gear Update 2016).

At this time each year, moments of photographic doubt seem to plague me — doubt about the work I’ve produced, and doubt about the gear I’m using,

The annual condition is not so much secondary to the realization that yet another year has slipped by, and therefore the “frames” of our existence have measurably diminished (though this too carries a great weight).

No, it’s more to do with the winters here:  the lack of light and warmth tend to encourage an introspective existence.  And when a photographer does a considerable amount of thinking (and not much photographing), it usually leads to trouble.

So, here’s the trouble I’ve gotten myself into.

I made the decision to walk away from my Leica gear.  All of it.  This was, in fact, decided last month.

I made the decision to pick up a Nikon D810, and photograph with Sigma 35m f/1.4 Art and (Edit December 29, 2014:) Nikon 85mm f/1.4G Sigma 50mm Art lenses.

I made the decision to stay with film — the only photographic medium that matters (my opinion of course… but I’m right and you know it).  To see this through, I’ve decided on a Minolta Autocord as my “walk around” camera.  I’m waiting for it to arrive.  I can’t wait for it to arrive.

Finally, I made the decision to return to the mighty Mamiya RZ67+110/2.8, the best portrait-producing combination I’ve ever used.  Why did I sell it?  You’d have to ask somebody who knows.  I no longer have the RZ67, but I will.

So there.

Prosophos Cameras and Lenses 2016

Edit (December 29, 2015):  The Nikon 85/1.4G has been replaced with the Sigma 50/1.4 Art and the image above has been updated to reflect this change.  The Minolta Autocord arrived not functioning, so it has been sent for CLA.

—Peter.

17 thoughts on “State of the musings.

  1. Chris D says:

    Merry Christmas Peter! Please excuse my rambling while trying to pry into your mindset. Reflecting back on your displeasure for Leica moving away from the CCD, your reasoning for choosing the 810 must be based in-part on the 810 sensor having a similar look to the M9 files? You don’t seem like the kind of shooter that crops much, preferring to get it right when you shoot, so I’m guessing you really don’t care about having so many more megapixels at your disposal, but maybe better dynamic range. The 810 with lenses is so much larger than the Leica; that must not be a concern because you seemed content shooting the RZ. Ultimately, if you’re pleased with the results you’re getting and the gear is not getting in the way of creating your images, it’s probably the best decision you could make!

    • Hi Chris, and Merry Christmas to you too!

      The D810 files definitely have more MP (something I don’t necessarily need, but it’s nice to have… though my computer takes more time crunching through the files) and more dynamic range (something I do appreciate). As a walk-around camera — it’s not, lol.

      I still prefer the files from my M9, but the D810 comes very close with good lenses.

      I still prefer the M9 as an all-around camera too, for the types of images I create.

      I have no intention of going back to the M9 though.

      As for CCD… I’ve recently written “Keep the Faith!” There’s a reason for that..which will be apparent soon.

  2. René Sterental says:

    Can understand the whole rationale except why you decided to get rid of the Leica M9. Why didn’t you keep it even if you got the D810?

  3. bijansabet says:

    Fantastic, and congrats!

    -bijan

    >

  4. andygemmell says:

    All great choices and no doubt each in their own way will bring loads of great moments.

  5. John G. says:

    What a journey…

    I am shocked and sad at your decision to give up your Leica equipment. I just acquired an M-E and M6 last year.

    I seem to always question my equipment. I acquired the M-E and 50mm Summilux about a year ago, much due to all the wonderful family photos that you have posted that inspire me. I won’t bother explaining the wonderful quality of the cameras (as you well know). I do really love the Summilux rendering, but continue to struggle with low light and focus. I think I’m going to send them both in to have the focus checked. I have keratoconous, which is corrected with hybrid contact lenses, but I often wonder if that is contributing to my focus challenges with a rangefinder.

    I’ve been using a friend’s D2x a bit recently. I am blown away with the focus accuracy, speed of use and just overall functionality of the camera. It does even worse in low light than the M-E, but in good light, I do like the colors and skin tones. I’ve been dabbling with a Fuji S5 the last couple of weeks as well. I really like the camera, just with there was a newer model. My copy seems to be slightly out of focus, so it’s going back.

    I also do love just how easy a good DSLR is to work with. The autofocus is of real value to me with a 7 year old, but of course you certainly pay for it with the size and weight of the equipment. I’ve been looking over the D810 since your announcement. Dynamic range, eye autofocus, and overall image processing all look very promising.

    Of all the photographs I take and others that I view, I am still the most impressed with my stepdad’s. He has used his Nikon F since the 60’s (Vietnam), his F2, on Tri-X film, and prints on Ilford graded paper. I find it amazing, frustrating and aspiring that his photographs taken with 50 year old equipment, using 50+ year old processes. still look better than anything I have seen from digital…at least to me. I suppose digital photographs are technically more accurate, but the B&W grain and tonality just look more artistic to me.

    I really enjoy developing film. I don’t particularly enjoy the darkroom printing, but I don’t have a good setup. I have to bring after dark when the moon is not full. It usually equates to a 3 a.m. bedtime. I enjoy it, but it’s a real pain. I guess it just takes commitment and not something I can just buy. A better darkroom arrangement would be a good next step for me personally.

    At the end of the day, I keep asking myself what the end goal is for my photographs (e-mail, post, print). While it’s fun to e-mail and post, I find the most satisfaction from a good print that I matt, frame and hang in my house or give to someone who would enjoy it.

    I enjoy and am frustrated with both the digital and analog workflows. I would love to settle on a workflow and camera as my stepdad did 50 years ago, but I’m not sure I will ever get there. I guess we are lucky to have all these choices and disposable income to afford it.

    Anyway, thanks for keeping things interesting and I look forward to seeing your upcoming photographs and comments.

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

  6. TLRs are great. There is something about using that type of camera which is rather special. I actually can’t wait for 127 film to come back in style. Those Yashica 44s are awesome.

  7. Louis says:

    I’m perplexed at your choice of an Autocord. There are thousands of beautiful older Rollei 2.8 and 3.5s. You didn’t even have to go for an F. Seems a curious choice.

    I also wonder what draws people to film. I spent a decade in a darkroom paying my way through college. While I periodically miss making a really nice B&W print and seeing it magically appear in the developer tray, I can’t say I miss darkrooms at all. Film’s limited dynamic range certainly requires you to focus on your visualization and image capture process, but it seems you had that in spades with the M.

    Anyway, 120 B&W is magical compared to 35. The lower base image density allows you to capture so much more dynamic range and shadow detail. I can’t say I know how this would translate once scanned, but 120/220 is the best medium for B&W.

    Wishing you a happy and successful 2016.

  8. “And when a photographer does a considerable amount of thinking (and not much photographing), it usually leads to trouble.”

    This quote serves as a gentle reminder to me. Always inspired by your photos.

  9. Hello Peter. Happy New Year! All the best to you and your family! I would like to congratulate you firstly for your wonderful blog that I started following in 2015. I will make a short comment, with my honest opinion, and without wanting to influence you or criticize you. I think you are a great photographer regardless the gear you choose to use. But having said, that I miss the colour and pop of your images of the Leica CCD sensor. Don’t get me wrong, your D810 images are wonderful, which have to do with your skill, but the “je ne sais quoi” isn’t there. But that is my humble and unqualified opinion. I will still follow your blog, regardless of the equipment you use, because in essence it’s about your images. Wishing a productive and healthy new year!
    Demetrius

    • Thank you Demetrius, and Happy New Year to you and your family.

      I prefer the M9 too but I can’t trust the camera and Leica’s ability to support it in a timely manner. But fear not, there may be another CCD camera around the corner, but I am not at liberty to discuss this.

      Also, the D810 output is actually pretty good. You have to understand that at this time of year the light is bad here (Leica or not), so it’s best that you reserve judgment on my output until both (1) the light improves (in a few months!) and, (2) I’ve had a chance to fine-tune the processing.

      Thanks again for your comment.

  10. gunston says:

    Hello Peter, happy new year to you.
    hmm, it was bit surprise for me to read this, that you given up all of the Leica gear, thought we can literally depend on you to fight back the CCD sensor to be brought back by Leica (that’s why i am still holding my M9-P, 50lux ASPH, 35FLE, 28mm Rokkor) well.

    All the best in your journey with newly acquired Nikon D810.

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