Monday, December 30, 2013

The Change in Photography - Kirk Tuck Gives His Thoughts

It Should Be Simple to Tell a Story, by Reed A. George
I've been thinking a lot about where my photography is going. I've got a new project bubbling up, but it's not yet ready for prime time. I'm still absolutely all over the place with equipment, recently enjoying the use of my Nikon F2 as much or more than my digital wonders.
I recently read one of Kirk Tuck's posts on the Visual Science Lab, about his impressions of camera gear and photography, and what all of the changes mean. Change is certainly underway, but where is it all headed?
(Click Here) to read Kirk's post on Visual Science Lab. I'll summarize some of his points and give my own thoughts below.
First, Kirk says there are two photography communities: the old guys (I just celebrated my 49th birthday), who carry around big heavy gear and focus on "getting it right" technically, and the younger generation, who focus more on telling a story, regardless of equipment, video vs. still, or any other issues that may hold them back.
Another point Kirk makes is that we no longer need to worry about getting it right technically; that's easy. Unless of course you use old equipment like I do. The fact that I still sometimes wait to see if my pictures "come out" does show that I'm an anachronism. I can accept that fact.
Kirk also says that the difference between the very good and the very best cameras no longer matters. His example is the comparison between an Olympus OM-D (a very good camera), and a Nikon D800 (even better). His point is that you really cannot tell the difference with an online image from either camera, and that's all that matters these days. No one's going to look at prints in a gallery. At least no one but us old men.
Another point that I really identify with is that only those who resist the change in photography will feel any pain. I buy that. I like to use it all - old, new, difficult, simple. Hell, I had as much fun with an old Brownie 127 camera that I converted to shoot panoramic images on 35mm film as I had with my Lumix GX1 so far. Talk about different beasts. Meanwhile, I'm working through exactly how to use my new Lumix GX7.
Here is Kirk's prescription for what must happen with camera gear to support the change:
  1. Smaller, lighter, more accessible cameras
  2. Less user intervention required
  3. Cheaper camera/lens systems
  4. Connection with other technology (phones, tablets, etc.)
Personally, I believe that the camera companies are addressing some of these needs well. For example, Micro 4/3 is definitely hitting the mark with 1,3, and 4. Panasonic and Olympus are failing to meet requirement number 2 with their current Micro 4/3 cameras.
From my point of view, if I want simple (#2) in the digital world, it's Leica all the way. Of course, they fail at requirement #3, at least if we're talking about their system cameras.
And maybe I'm fooling myself about the M9 being a simple camera. After all, there's no autofocus. No video.
A Leica DLux 6 (Panasonic LX7) that had the manual controls and lack of menus that the M9 exhibits would be a killer camera. I don't want to accidentally hit a button that sends me into some labyrinth of menus when I'm grabbing my camera out of my jacket pocket.
I think the camera companies are taking different approaches, and someone will hit it just right. Nikon is appealing to us old farts with the Df (which I really like, and want). Leica is trying a little of everything, from the M240 to the C. However, I personally don't think they've developed the perfect product yet. Something along the lines of the X cameras, but with interchangeable lenses could be great. In short - small, few menus, superior interchangeable lenses, autofocus, autoexposure, video. That's what the new age is calling for.
As long as it also has manual controls that us old men can fiddle with, I'll be happy to give the new world order a try.