Studio Sixty1 | Equipment

It seems as though three quarters of the internet is more interested in the actual hardware of photography, not the thought process or even the finished result.

How many of you make actual prints from your photographic endeavours any more?  I do, and usually start with tabloid sizes as my smaller images.

But back to the gear.  Here's sort of a retrospective of what I have used to create the images showcased here.

After a hiatus from photography, I looked to ride the coming wave of digital technology starting in 2002.  Knowing that I would have to start a notch or two above beginner level to get the output I wanted, the only game in town was either Canon or Nikon.  So really, my only choices were the Canon D60 (not the 60D, which is much newer) or Nikon's D100.  I didn't have any legacy lens collections holding me back, so it was basically open season.  That's where the adventure began . . ..  Just finding either one of those in stock was a seemingly endless stream of calls and e-mails.  In the end, I found a D100 in an adjacent state, and drove off to buy it.

I have have dabbled with Canon's gear since, and there are enough deal breakers in their ergonomics (along with flash, autofocus, and a few others) to keep me from switching completely over.  I'm satisfied nearly 10 years later with my choice.

Since that first D100, I have owned and shot a succession of Nikon DSLR bodies and a fair amount of lenses.

D2h - my first "pro" body, some odd white balance issues kept me from really building a bond with it.

D200 - I really wanted to like this, but sensor technology was not as robust as it is now with regard to noise.

D2x - my second pro body, this one was a workhorse for a number of years.  It spent a huge amount of its life on a tripod, and despite all of that, had less that 10 thousand clicks on it when I sold it.

D3 - this one was nearly perfect.  It was fast, it could shoot in near darkness.  In the end, it was only 12 megapixels.  When my base print size is tabloid (A3 or so, for the rest of the world) anything at 16 by 20 (A2 ish) or larger just didn't look good to me.  I could see the muddiness from digital enlargement, much like you would from a 35mm negative blown up that large.  The solution there may have been to buy more software, which would have required a new computer. Or . . .

Find something with massive output and/or no detail killing anti alias filter.

Enter the Leica M8.  Not a high speed or low light camera, but oh my, the output.  16 by 20 prints from this camera look absolutely breathtaking compared to anything the D3 could do.

Foolishly, I sold all of my Leica equipment and jumped into medium format digital.  Those camera are currently at the 80 megapixel mark.  Mine is only 28, being based on the Leaf Aptus II.  It has the same richness of detail that the M8 provided, just nearly 20 more megapixels of data to start with.  That makes the A2 print just about a contact print.

Last, but not least, is the DL28.  This is a Mamiya AFD III body and 80mm f2.8 lens mated to a Leaf Aptus II digital back.  I would have sprung for the 33 megapixel version, but at the time it was a quantum leap in price.  Nowadays they are the same, the 28 and 33.  I thought about trading or selling it with an M9 on the way, but Pentax's 645D has killed that notion off.  That's a large sensor 40MP setup for $10K.  So the DL28 stays as the weapon of choice when I'm shooting with big prints in mind.

I have started down the path to rangefinder again, currently shooting with a Leica M9 and 50mm Summicron.  I am determined to work with the idiosyncrasies of the rangefinder because the size, weight, and output quality are worth it, IMHO.

And there you have it.  I may come back and edit this later and prattle on about lenses and strobes and camera bags and all that.

Who can say?

An update for August 2013 . . ..

After all of this experimenting, I have pared my kit down to something more manageable.  Here is what that consists of right now:

A Nikon D800e - smaller and more manageable than the big pro bodies.  And 36 megapixels of capture on tap for the big stuff.  For the first couple of weeks, I just set it to small/fine jpeg, which nets an 8 by 10 image.  Now that I have adjusted to it, it's time to search out some landscapes to really check it out with large prints.  Currently there are three lenses in the bag, a 28-70 AF-S, the 60mm macro, and the 85mm D people lens.

There is also a Sony RX100, so I can hand it to just about anyone and have them operate it.  I really want to replace that with the RX1, but all in due time.

The rest is gone.  The medium format, the Leica.  I tired of the compromises, and saw that most of what I wanted was in the Nikon.  So away it went.

Here is an update for June of 2014 . . ..

I added a Nikon Coolpix A to the everyday bag.  The don't leave the driveway without it kit.  I think I may have finally realized the digital equivalent of Dad's old Olympus Pen from 1964.