An Interesting Perspective


Mu-43 Regular
Jan 23, 2013
South Portland, ME
Today, when my daughter visited, we walked around taking pictures.

It was fun for me enjoying her company, and a fresh outlook through her style of photography, but what struck me the most was how our equipment, the hardware, has changed over the past few years.

When I decided to take up photography again after 30 years or so (the p&s years don't count), I had to decide on a system. My last real camera had been a relatively simple spotmatic, with Pentax's infuriatingly proprietary screw-in lens mount. Talk about a good reason for bayonetting! So I poked around the internet and found a site where the photographer had traveled around the Himalayas taking great pictures with a camera that worked, was rugged and reliable, and didn't cost the equivalent of vital organs. His site is here: I still visit it from time to time remembering my original inspiration.

So I looked around only to find out that the GF1 was 1) highly regarded by serious photogs, 2)seriously rugged and compact, and 3) already outmoded. Except it really wasn't as Panasonic had taken a hard left turn against the wishes of the faithful and produced a series of flighty cameras that were small but, well, small. Really small. So I went on Ebay and bought a GF1 kit with the 20mm lens and started shooting. I added the 14mm and then the Olympus 45 mm lenses and was astounded at the results. All this before I even had heard of PP, let alone bought software.

Over the next year or two I shot a lot of photos, became my own harsh editor and learned how to use software to achieve the results I wanted. I was in my prime, and prided myself on using primes. No zooms for me. Then the next wave.

My dad had used Leicas which he bought in England after the War. I remember, as a child, looking at all the mechanical bits (camera bodies, lenses, viewfinders for the different lenses, leather cases) with wonder. Then, one day when I was fifteen, he came home with a Canon slr extolling the virtues of through-the-lens metering. The Leicas were gone. I was heartbroken. Looking back, he probably had no clue that I was interested in photography with its magical bits and thought of his trade-in as being the very vanguard of progress. Just look through the viewfinder, move a dial or two and shoot. Perfect exposure. No loss; all gain.

So I repeated history. Panasonic (I've stuck with panas; I like their interface and, in this case, familiarity breeds respect) came out with the GH3 which promised a much improved sensor, ergonomics, and a ttl viewfinder. I bought one and agreed; essentially following in my father's footsteps. But, perhaps in a nod to the changed market for used bodies, but more importantly my desire not to repeat my father's mistake, I gave my daughter my prized GF1 and lenses. She is delighted.

I've since gone the way of zooms and big lenses. The 12-35 and 35-100 have proved their value. I picked up a 7-14 for mountain shots that's worth it's weight in the metal of the week. Lastly, I sold my PL25 and 45 to help fund a Nocticron which I've used exclusively for the month of May. The results are shown here: I think my dad would be happy.

In a way I've imitated him: trading a light versatile take anywhere system for one which is bigger and heavier, but which offers some very real advantages for shooting considered landscapes under challenging light and weather. And I've ended up with a great system, but, more importantly, a great relationship with my daughter which is worth far more than a thousand words.

John Dana
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