Does Size Matter?

That one question, that either male or female, sometime in the past, present or future, has or will be answered, spoken about, found excuses around, and all that.

Does the lens size matter? Or is it how you use the lens? Does the sensor size matter? Or is it the composition?

Does what gear you have matter? The answer is of course no.  That’s a hard no if we are just answering that single, meager question. It’s like comparing it to a professional ice hockey player who will definitely be better at playing hockey with an old wooden stick compared to a quasi-professional player using a top of the line stick.

The point that is commonly repeated is that the camera certainly cannot replace knowledge of composition. Fine, we all agree.

But can it help with inspiration? Can it help with identity? Can it help with confidence? Can that top of the line hockey stick make the almost professional athelete make the leap to a full-time professional?

Yes. That answer is of course yes.

Aside from the inspiration it would be silly to say that a landscape photographer doesn’t need an ND filter to create the creamy waterfalls. It would be wrong to say that a portrait photographer doesn’t need studio lights to adjust the lighting around the subject’s face. It would be unwise to suggest that for still life, or fine art, a sharper lens would be equivalent to a duller one.

But what about the identity? Much like in fashion, your camera is an accessory, a hat, a necklace, a type of shoe.

You wear it proudly. I wear it proudly.

Just recently I bough the Fujifilm X100F and I absolutely love it. It fits in my computer bag when I go to work, and just the other day, there was a city landscape, trucks laying desolate in a parking lot, and fog all over. I stopped the car, took a few frames, and put the camera back in the bag.

In this Youtube video you can see how Henri Cartier Bresson hid his camera in his palm. It reflected his personality.

And the video also shows quite an amusing sneaky side to his character.

Word is that he wanted to be the fly in the wall, unlike Bruce Gilden, who is famous for getting up into the subjects’ face, literally. Here is a great video that shows his style.

And no, it’s not the Leica they used that got them the elite status.

It’s that the Leica worked for them. The Fujifilm X100F works for me, it works for what I want to shoot.

Primarily, it is portable. Secondly, it has the quite leaf shutter. I got so close to this guy in Downtown Detroit and he still didn’t hear me.

Aside from the phone, I loved the juxtaposition between the guy’s hair and the lion’s mane. With my Nikon DSLR I might have shied away from it.

That’s becuase although I had a fast, portable, 50mm equivalent prime lens on the my Nikon DSLR, before getting the Fujifilm X100F, I still felt like the “photographer”.

You know that feeling when you think that for some unreasonable reason you feel that the world is looking at you because you are out with a DSLR and not your phone, and to make it weirder you are randomly snapping away at shadows, signs, random people, and anything else that most non-crazy photography lovers would not care about.

Ya, you know that feeling?

I love my Nikon. But it doesn’t sit well with what I want to do when I’m on the streets. Does the Nikon take better or worse photos than the Fujifilm? No, maybe, yes?

I don’t know. The point is that for street my Fujifilm makes me feel comfortable. It makes me feel inspired.

It’s like wearing that fancy sport coat and asking your wife on a date, as opposed to asking her when you’re still in your pajamas.

She said ‘yes’ a long time ago. She’s already your wife. But you just feel that much better with that gorgeous, spiffy-looking coat, right?

Cameras are the same. They inspire us to take that picture. To get out there. To photograph.

The Fujifilm X100F is just too damn elegant. And I got the black edition. The reason? So that at night it wouldn’t give off any glare and catch anybody’s attention, as would the silver one.

It that truth? No, of course not, it’s my opinion, fixation, irrational thought. But do I have my camera with me when I go out to dinner with friends? Yes.

Here’s the beauty.

Image result for x100f

In addition to the size, its discrete leaf shutter, and elegance, I love the rangefinder capability when looking at the optical viewfinder.

It’s something that I had only read about, seeing that with a DSLR you get what you see. Instead, with the rangefinder style, you get to see a little past the frame, perfect for foreseeing your shot.

I really could go on and on about how this camera gets me going, but the last thing I’d like to add is that it has a fixed lens, a 23mm equivalent to the magical 35mm full frame. I like walking, changing viewpoint, moving to frame differently. I don’t want a zoom lens for the streets. I don’t want it as I’m documenting life around me.

The Nikon DSLR, on the other hand, is just as inspiring, when I am in a context where it is needed, or perceived as such. For example, landscape photos, photo assignments or studio portraits.

When practicing at home with studio lighting, understanding how studio lights and reflectors would affect shadows on an egg, I did so with my Nikon D5500 with the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II and loved every minute of it.

Nikon D5500 + 18-200mm

In those cases it truly does feel like the right gear. I like the zoom, I like the versatility, I like the deeper grip. It feels right and as a consequence I use it more.

(Overall settings are very similar in between shots, as well as the egg positioning and the table surface. I just changed the lighting position and reflector usage)

I’ll spend more time with the camera. I enjoy it more. Studio lights all setup, flashes set, camera on a tripod, hooked to the computer. The usual music in the background (right now it’s Flashed Junk Mind, Milky Chance).

It’s just that much more engaging. And isn’t that what we want, as photographers? To just know that the tool we cherish so deeply, to which we have that bond, works as a natural extension of our passion?

In previous analog photography classes I took, I used the same approach. I went to KEH.com and bought a used Minolta X-700, with a 50 mm 1.4 lens.

I wanted that historical feeling. Defunct in 2003, and now part of Konica Minolta, I just felt that Minolta had that status back then. Could I have gone with a Nikon, a Canon? Yes. Of course.

Would it have mattered? Technically, no. But to my joy, yes.

Studio setting photo of Minolta X700

And that’s what counts the most.

That’s why I also got the Kodak T-Max 400 black and white film (photos of New York here) as well as the Kodak Ektar 100. I had heard of them, or their timeless quality.

I wanted to discover them. Discovery through Photography.

(Adjusting Yellow, Magenta, Cyan while printing proof sheets to get the correct color temperature)

So let’s ask the question again. Does size matter? 

I’d say the more important question should be: Does it feel right?

Until next time,

Renaissance for Detroit

Gio