Planning and Thoughts on 2014…

Best of the Season to anyone who might look at this!!!

Well.. it looks like I might actually be working!!!  Excellent news for me as I’ve been out of work for a while now.

Last nite, I got thinking about where I wanted to go in 2014 for photography.  So… I’ve mentioned this a bit before, but some background first.  I already have a lot of gear to begin with.  I jumped into the world of DSLR’s a few months ago and got a Nikon D3200 with the 18-55mm kit lens.  For me, this was a very radical departure, but a good one in one sense.  Because I wasn’t working, the need for mobility was not so urgent so I began to look at cameras that had more advanced functionality.  I acquired the D3200 for a couple of reasons – first was the viewfinder and second was battery power.  Am I happy with it?  ABSOLUTELY!!!  Now, to set the record straight here – with the assortment of cameras I do have, for what I do, I really really didn’t need this camera in one sense, but at the same time, I wanted to “complete” a range of cameras.  So now, I have everything in all the classes I wanted and from the equipment standpoint – pretty well ready Smile  Sooo.. I have the D3200 in the DSLR class, I have a Panasonic GX1 and Nikon 1 J1 in the Compact System arena with 2 zooms, I have a Fuji X10 and Panasonic LX7 in the Advanced Cameras,I have a bunch of travel cameras with the super zooms and my trusted old pointy shooties.    Do I use them all – you bet!  So does my wife on a few.  I probably have 10+ cameras at least.

I initially started on this journey to re-immerse myself in photography.  For me, it was a long lost hobby that has been refreshed so to speak.  At first, everything hinged around mobility and having something available all the time.  As my thirst and quest for more advanced functions began, I started to acquire more equipment.  A few holidays over the last year or so also brought out deficiencies in what I had and I adjusted accordingly. 

So… my photographic “tastes”.  A large amount of my photos hinge around the things I did back in the days of 35mm.  This would be scenery/landscapes, architecture, close ups and low light as my primary focus areas (no pun intended).  Then there would be things like family events, social events, etc.  with a bit of free lance/photojournalism tossed in there.  I’ve also done studio work. So… in planning the next move I thought I’d better document this to try to get a better handle on future directions.

When I got the Panasonic GX1 and Nikon 1 J1, actually, I got the J1 first, in both instances, I acquired the larger zoom lenses right away, figuring I would do a lot in the 55mm-200mm range.  Yes, there were times when I used them, but in the end, I didn’t use them all that much.  If anything, I was going beyond that, so my travel cameras got used in that case.  When I got the DSLR, my initial thought was that the zoom wouldn’t be wide enough or long enough, but you know what?  I think they got that range pretty close Smile  Sure I’ve wanted slightly wider and slightly longer at times but not enough to make it worthwhile. 

The other side of this – image quality.  In reality, for the things that my wife and I shoot, image quality has never been that big of an issue.  I would consider myself a reasonably advanced photographer and have no real urge to go past the serious amateur stage (thought I’ve already done a few free lance assignments).  I tend to shoot JPEGS as opposed to RAW.  The reason – time.  I simply don’t want to the spend the time “tweaking” in software.  I have to much going on in other areas of my life and I don’t need to be there.  For the moment, anyway – end of story.  I don’t mind doing a bit correction work and some cropping but that’s sort of where it stops.   Despite the fact that I do have the D3200, doesn’t preclude the fact that I still want to be reasonably mobile either.  In any event, I know enough that I know the shot I want and at the same time, have enough knowledge to get the shot I want. 

The mobility factor – Even when I’m taking the DSLR with me, I always pack one of my travel cameras.  Usually more than one.   I also have one of my pointy shooties, usually.  Why – to be able to get the shot!  The travel cams and pointy shooties have one HUGE advantage – due to their size, they can be put into use very quickly.  They have more than enough image quality and in those instances, there’s little or no setup required.  Just turn it on and shoot.  If I decide to “stop and shoot”, that’s when something like a DSLR or one of the more advanced cameras comes into play for me.  NO..I don’t discount the other cameras – I’ve had a few instances where they’ve actually been easier to use than the advanced stuff. 

One of the BIG things I learned from the 35mmdays, is the fact that BECAUSE I only had an SLR with a bunch of lenses, AND despite the fact I had it always available, I still missed a lot shots.  Back then, though, we didn’t have the equipment available that we do today let alone anything that resembled the photo quality that 35mm could produce.  In today’s world, it’s a whole new ball game Smile  You know, I see a ton of articles on how one should learn to use their current camera before advancing to another one.  I sort of agree with that to a certain degree in that one SHOULD know what the camera does but at same time, I don’t feel that one should restrict themselves to one camera either.  I mean, really – to each his own, so to speak.  I look at the camera (plus accessories, of course), as a tool to capture your “vision”.  You might need a different tool to accomplish that – so be it.  You might need to use software – so be it.   The path I took would be expensive to most but I for me, everything hinged around available time and mobility – money at the time was not the issue, so this was the path I took.  BUT in saying that, despite the expense, to me, it was a worthwhile journey.  I got to learn digital photography and still going strong!!

In my world over the last couple of years, a lot of my acquaintances of today have very little idea of just what my photo background is like.  When I look at what I’m doing with photography at this point, I would think that I’m getting very advanced.  I have a few friends who have attended photo schools to learn how to shoot and post process better, but you know, for me, I have no real urge to go down that road at this point in time.  I simply want to take the photos I want and have them come out the way I want.  End of story.  If I’m happy with what I do – that’s all that matters.  If someone else likes them, bonus Smile 

So.. future directions.  After now using the Nikon D3200 for a few months, I got thinking about next steps and where I want to go.  In using the D3200, what have I discovered?  Let’s start here.

The D3200 has been classified as an entry level DLSR but a very capable one.  With it’s kit lens the 18-55mm/f3.5-5.6 zoom, IMHO, for the most part, it more than does enough for what I’m doing. The majority of my shooting to date has been using Programmed Auto, if you can believe it, but my light box stuff has been in full Manual or Aperture Priority modes.    At the moment, we have snow, so my photography has been limited to indoor stuff, and a bit outdoors to get a feel for how the sensor captures colors.  Compared to my other Nikons in other categories – I would have to say it’s very Nikon Smile  If shot in say Programmed Auto or Full Auto, the D3200 produces what I would call a “bright image”, though I tend to use the VIVID setting with my cameras anyway – mostly for saturation more than anything.  Nikon has been know to “blow out” brightly lit scenes, so in those situations, I’ll underexpose by anywhere from 0.7 EV to 2.0 EV depending….  To me, the flesh tones on Nikons has a tendency to be every so slightly cool but not annoyingly so.  The majority of my photos of people are snaps, so not a concern and also very easy to adjust in software.  If you use the built in flash and are within the range of the flash – it’s all good.  The one big advantage the D3200 has over the rest of the units, is the ability to control flash output.  For some of the things I do, this capability is HUGE – worth having a DSLR for, actually. 

‘Now, I mentioned the fact that the D3200 was very “Nikon”.  I should clarify that a bit Smile  I have several Nikons in my “toolset”.  I have the D3200, a Nikon 1 J1, an S9400, an S3400 and an S3000.  All of them to me render things on the “bright side” of things.  This isn’t a bad thing, don’t get me wrong.  A beach shot, a daylight landscape shot, snow shots tend to have that little extra “snap”.  If one underexposes a bit on the sunny days, the blues come out really well.  My Sony HX30V is like this as well.  I’m going to stop a bit here and give an opinion on my discoveries in various lines of cameras that I have…..

Panasonic & Fuji – I have a few cameras here – in Panasonic, the GX1, LX7, ZS25 & 15 and SZ1.  In Fuji, I have the X10, F800.  Both of these lines take very similar color type photos.  They are not quite as “bright” as the Nikon, but nothing that you would easily notice.  Flesh tones are every so slightly richer but yellows, greens and reds are much richer.  They don’t blow out on the sunlight blue sky piece like the Nikon, but adjustments still have to be made if you want those blues to come out.   The GX1, with it’s newer technology tends to take a better “general” photo, but then it’s more advanced than the rest and it should Smile  BUT this is not one I would take on holidays either.  I’ll chat about that later.  From an ease point of view – the Panasonics are easier to use – they have a good menu system.  The GX1 is more complex, but that is expected for this level of camera. 

Pentax – the one I have here is a pointy shooty.  It’s the P70 and is probably “old” being about 4 or 5 years old at least.  But you know what?  That sucker just keeps on trucking!!  My wife uses it because it not only takes a pretty decent photo, it’s slim and compact enough to put in her purse.  It was actually one of the big jumps we took when digital started to emerge in photography. 

Sony – I have an HX30V which is a travel camera here.  As I mentioned before, it tends to take a slightly brighter shot than the Panasonics or Fuji.  Something very key here is the flash it’s one of those pop up ones that pops up when the sensor feels you need the flash.  It can be annoying to a certain degree but it also has more power than the cameras this class.  It’s also got a very complicated menu system.  Fuji is also like this – a little more complex.  In this class of camera, it’s also more advanced than many, closer to the complexity of the Fuji F800.  Despite that, if you can take the time to learn what they can do, it’s worth the extra you pay, I think.

Canon – the one I have here is a travel camera – the SX270 HD.  Back in my 35mm days I was all Canon and Pentax.  When I started in digital, I didn’t really look at Canon.  I actually started the more serious stuff with the Fuji X10 and started using it.  When I made the decision on the SX270, I had to think long and hard about it.  It was the last travel cam I got and in reality, but one day I was going thru Future Shop and it was on sale!  The older version, the SX260 had gotten some pretty high accolades so I figured “why not” and got it.  In reality, it’s actually quite a nice unit.  From the “picture taking” standpoint, I can see why it got rated so high.  It takes a pretty consistent quality image for what the camera was designed to do.  That beach shot actually shows a not bad blue compared others where the blue seems almost non-existent.  To me, it’s very “neutral” from the color standpoint.  For the most part that’s a good thing as it probably closer to a what you see is what you get in most instances.  So what do I mean by that?  I look at it like this – say I take a beach shot or ocean shot.  The result will be a pretty great shot (assuming you do your thing correctly Smile).  That same shot with say any of the others would be awesome!!  Why, you would say?  I would venture a guess at the extra contrast the sensor adds.  Now, in saying that, the average person would probably never see that difference.  This is simply a good general all purpose travel camera.  For me, it wouldn’t be my first choice, but it wouldn’t bother me take it either Smile

Back on topic – next moves.  Despite the fact that I haven’t pushed the D3200 anywhere close it’s limit, I go thinking about whether I should add lenses or simply get another body with another lens attached.  The one shortcoming of the kit lens, for what I do, is the fact that I could use just a hair more telephoto.  Part and parcel to this – just how bad to I want to swap lenses around all the time. I was thinking of getting an extra body with something like the 18-140mm.  Reason – no lens swapping.  Downside would be sheer cost.  Of course, the other side of this, would be which body? Smile     

The big decision from the body aspect – D5200/5300 vs something in the D7000 series.  The D7000’s are going to cost several hundred more and I’m not so sure at this time, if that extra functionality will be useful for me.  Even more, can I even justify that second body?  My current though hinges sort of around what I’ doing with the D3200 now and from what I’ve been doing so far, the majority of my stuff is in that 18-55mm range.  BECAUSE I’m not planning to use the D3200 all that much for landscapes/architecture, or at least the lens is already wide enough. I’m good here.  The extra length in the other zoom and at least the extra body would eliminate the lens swapping but it would come at the cost of bulk.  But then again, would that even matter?  Would I even use both enough to make it worth while?  A little more thought needed here….

With the upcoming work load, which looks quite high, is also going to take it’s toll on the photography side, though not for long.  Looking later in the year, some sort of holiday is going to be on the books, even if it’s going to a place like ‘Vegas for a long weekend or something like that. 

More thinking required….onward


About gkamitomo
IT Busines Analyst

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