Landscape photographer David Muench moves from 4x5 to smaller format camera

Chuck Pike

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There is an interesting read in the latest Outdoor Photographer magazine. It is an article by David Muench explaining how he has moved from the 4x5 view camera to a smaller format and why he did it. He is now shooting with a Panasonic Lumix FZ50 and the Canon PowerShot G10. He explains how he keeps the ISO set to 100 and never shoots above that. Today he even shoots some shots handheld.

I had a chance to meet with Amy White & Al Petteway in the N.C. mountains. They won an Emmy for there music used on the TV series about National Parks. They also are published photographers, having their own books and have been published in National Geographic magazine. They saw my GF1, and wanted to ask about it. They also have a Lumix camera, but my GF1 was a step up from the one they owned.

So, people who could have any camera that they wanted are going to using smaller format cameras. I realize that I have now been a photographer for 52 years and using the GF1 with my three lenses gives me as much pleasure in making pictures as all the pro equipment that I have gotten rid of. Its going to be fun seeing how well this works when I go to the mountains of N.C. to shoot color. I figure I will be using the 14-45mm and the 45-200mm lens for much of that work, while I use the 20mm for a walk around city lens. This is so much fun using the smaller camera.

Images for books, magazines and calendars | photosbypike
 

BBW

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Thanks Chuck - it's always interesting to hear about photographers making their move to smaller formats.
So, people who could have any camera that they wanted are going to using smaller format cameras.I realize that I have now been a photographer for 52 years and using the GF1 with my three lenses gives me as much pleasure in making pictures as all the pro equipment that I have gotten rid of. Its going to be fun seeing how well this works when I go to the mountains of N.C. to shoot color. I figure I will be using the 14-45mm and the 45-200mm lens for much of that work, while I use the 20mm for a walk around city lens. This is so much fun using the smaller camera.
Chuck please keep us in the loop and promise to post some of your photographs here, too. I've never been to the mountains of NC in the fall, but am absolutely sure the scenes would be breathtaking.
 

Fiddler

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I bought my e-p1 - 17mm, OVF kit, having never used an m43 cam, and I was stunned by the quality of the jpegs. My DSLR hasn't seen much daylight since then!
 

andrewteee

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As they might say, it's the photographer, not the camera... Clearly, Mr. Muench already knows how to capture a great landscape shot. Then it just becomes a matter of getting the camera to work for you. And as a business it's surely cheaper for them to shoot digital.

It must be a relief for these guys to not have to haul so much stuff out into the backcountry (unless one enjoys that kind of thing).
 

andrewteee

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I love it - they cram a short story into two separate web pages surrounded by ads and self promotion. I won't be going back there anytime soon.

Interesting that they use super zooms and not something that is still small and light but with a larger sensor. And I suppose composing with an LCD is not that far from composing with large format ground glass, probably preferable to a VF.
 

Pelao

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He is now shooting with a Panasonic Lumix FZ50 and the Canon PowerShot G10. He explains how he keeps the ISO set to 100 and never shoots above that. Today he even shoots some shots handheld.
You might find this article interesting. A well-known Landscape photographer compares G10 images with those from a medium format, and gets some fascinating results.

Kidding
 

Rudi

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No offence, but... who cares? If you want to justify your :43: purchase and ownership, why? Buy and use the camera(s) that you like, it's your prerogative.

But... don't try and tell me that a smaller sensor is superior to a larger format! Because that isn't, and never will be, true.
 

PeteMarshall

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No offence, but... who cares? If you want to justify your :43: purchase and ownership, why? Buy and use the camera(s) that you like, it's your prerogative.

But... don't try and tell me that a smaller sensor is superior to a larger format! Because that isn't, and never will be, true.
The real key to why m4:3's cameras may appeal to those, such as myself, who have previously used 5X 4 cameras for much of their landscape work is down to the ability to use shift and tilt adapters with accurate manual focus in the way we are used to using the camera movements and large screen on the back of a field camera.

I have attempted to use Tilt and shit lenses on dSLR's with some success in the past, however the hit and miss nature of focusing through the viewfinder has always been a problem when making very small adjustments to the focal plain (hence they tend to get used more for special effects photography on small format cameras, rather than as focus aids). This results in most landscape photography on small format cameras such as the EOS 1 D mk whatever and the Nikon D series cameras relying on shutting down lenses to control depth of field rather than shifting the focal plane.
On the back of my GF-1 with a shift adapter I can focus very accurately around different point on the screen just as I can on the back of a large format camera and its even the right way up!

Whilst the smallness of the sensor is a considerable limitation, this factor compensates for this. Plus carrying a GF-1, and a couple of prime lenses plus adapter and tripod is considerably less irksome than hauling a field camera half way up a mountain:smile:
 

Chuck Pike

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Look, I shot for a newspaper for 10 years and shot weddings on weekends for years. I owned some of the best Nikon gear at the time. I wouldn't think of shooting a wedding with my GF1, but I don't shoot weddings anymore or events. Who cares? I think that there are many who have carried their Nikons and Canons around for years taking pictures that would be just as easy taken with the smaller camera. When I bought my GF1, I felt that I could sell it and not take a big loss if it turned out to be a bad move. What I did was get rid of my Nikon gear. You shoot weddings, I shoot for magazines to illustrate articles. Different usage altogether. Someone reading this might well wonder what I am giving up to move to m 4/3 format. If they shoot weddings a lot, but most anything else, not much.

Rudi, I just looked at your site. Nice work and good eye. I really like the way you can navigate through your work.
 

zettapixel

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There is an interesting read in the latest Outdoor Photographer magazine. It is an article by David Muench explaining how he has moved from the 4x5 view camera to a smaller format and why he did it. He is now shooting with a Panasonic Lumix FZ50 and the Canon PowerShot G10. He explains how he keeps the ISO set to 100 and never shoots above that. Today he even shoots some shots handheld.
I still don't quite understand why he does it, unless the depth of field advantage of P&S overweighs better sensitivity of SLRs.
His gallery is amazing, but even with G10 you'll need a good tripod to make most of those shots. Not a pocketable package it seems...
 

Rudi

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The real key to why m4:3's cameras may appeal to those, such as myself, who have previously used 5X 4 cameras for much of their landscape work is down to the ability to use shift and tilt adapters with accurate manual focus in the way we are used to using the camera movements and large screen on the back of a field camera.

I have attempted to use Tilt and shit lenses on dSLR's with some success in the past, however the hit and miss nature of focusing through the viewfinder has always been a problem when making very small adjustments to the focal plain (hence they tend to get used more for special effects photography on small format cameras, rather than as focus aids). This results in most landscape photography on small format cameras such as the EOS 1 D mk whatever and the Nikon D series cameras relying on shutting down lenses to control depth of field rather than shifting the focal plane.
On the back of my GF-1 with a shift adapter I can focus very accurately around different point on the screen just as I can on the back of a large format camera and its even the right way up!

Whilst the smallness of the sensor is a considerable limitation, this factor compensates for this. Plus carrying a GF-1, and a couple of prime lenses plus adapter and tripod is considerably less irksome than hauling a field camera half way up a mountain:smile:
Look, I shot for a newspaper for 10 years and shot weddings on weekends for years. I owned some of the best Nikon gear at the time. I wouldn't think of shooting a wedding with my GF1, but I don't shoot weddings anymore or events. Who cares? I think that there are many who have carried their Nikons and Canons around for years taking pictures that would be just as easy taken with the smaller camera. When I bought my GF1, I felt that I could sell it and not take a big loss if it turned out to be a bad move. What I did was get rid of my Nikon gear. You shoot weddings, I shoot for magazines to illustrate articles. Different usage altogether. Someone reading this might well wonder what I am giving up to move to m 4/3 format. If they shoot weddings a lot, but most anything else, not much.

Rudi, I just looked at your site. Nice work and good eye. I really like the way you can navigate through your work.
Pete, Chuck, please don't get me wrong. I agree with you, and that is why :43: is part of my kit. I too enjoy the smaller and lighter form factor for a lot of stuff that I shoot. And I agree that you can shoot landscapes and portrait even with a small sensor compact. All I'm saying is that it might not always be the best tool for the job. :smile:

I still don't quite understand why he does it, unless the depth of field advantage of P&S overweighs better sensitivity of SLRs.
His gallery is amazing, but even with G10 you'll need a good tripod to make most of those shots. Not a pocketable package it seems...
And this is what I mean by not the best tool for the job! If you're already going to be lugging at least one good tripod and several polariser and ND grad filters with you, why not a camera with a larger sensor? A DSLR is still highly portable, and even the crop-sensor DSLR offer real advantages over a compact such as a G10. A :43: sensor offers a good compromise, IMO, and if easily achievable large DOF is the goal, this would be my pick. Not a small sensor compact! The image quality differences are easily seen between the two formats, yet :43: is of a very similar size and weight to a G10 (with the added advantage of interchangeable lenses). I guess I'm saying exactly what zettapixel is saying - I don't understand the preference for a G10 when :43: is clearly offering all of the advantages with no disadvantages that I can see.

Again, I'm not picking on the guy's choice of camera - if it works for him, great! Some of the best images that I have made were with P&S compacts, such as the Fuji F30, Canon G9 and Panasonic LX3... simply because I had the camera with me at the time. So I understand their advantages. Add the larger :43: sensor, and I think that is why the Oly E-PL1 is my go-to "compact" these days. :smile:
 

Ray Sachs

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But... don't try and tell me that a smaller sensor is superior to a larger format! Because that isn't, and never will be, true.
I don't think anyone is claiming that. But I think the point of the article Pelao linked to (comparing the printed output from a Canon G10 to a medium format) is that the differences are getting smaller and smaller and are already to the point of insignificance for certain types of work. I don't think that anyone would claim that a G10 or an m43 camera will do anywhere near as well for action or weddings or even low light (without a tripod). But that photographer realized he couldn't tell the difference between 13x19 inch prints (of static outdoor subjects) produced from G10 files and those from his medium format Hassleblad, and tested the proposition with several of his professional friends, who also couldn't tell which was which. That's pretty compelling stuff.

The G10 sensor is a lot smaller than the one in m43 cameras. I have the same sensor in my s90 and I can't tell the difference between prints from my s90 and m43 gear up to about 16x20. The primary advantages of my m43 gear are for lower light and faster action - the things that DSLRs are even better at - and focal lengths outside the 28-105 range of my s90. Even for street photography, I find my ep2 MUCH more responsive and quicker in use than my s90, which I haven't gotten many good street shots with. But for daylight shots of static subjects, the quality differences are too small for me to tell.

So, no, the smaller sensor cameras are not as good at some jobs, but for others, they're more than good enough, even if a pixel peeping test might discern some differences, even very practiced human eyes looking at normal prints don't.

For me, m43 is the perfect compromise format. The m43 is small enough to carry anywhere, even with an extra lens or two, is quick enough for the kind of street shooting I like to play at, and is good enough in low light for my needs. The S90 is great for bike rides where even the m43 gear is more than I want to carry. If I shot action or weddings, I'm sure I'd use a DSLR, but I don't.

-Ray
 

Djarum

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My take on this is simple. With all the hiking I do, the lighter, the better. I know when I'm hiking I see several people with the larger SLRs including Full Frame, and I see that they are limited by where they can go due to fear of damage to the equipment or just unable to get the equipment to a better spot. I don't do a ton of climbing or anything, but some of the trails I go on are rough, and both hands are required to get to the places I go, and having a big pack on with heavy equipment is not always an option.

I've seen some fabulous landscape pictures with medium format cameras on display at some local galleries. Nothing wrong with that.

Dj
 

goldenlight

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I just think it's great that there is so much choice these days, and no choice is wrong if it works for you. :smile:
 

Rudi

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I think that it's quite ironic that the image in that article, while a compelling image, exhibits the muddiness in the shadows and excessive grain in the dark sky, all the traits of a small CCD sensor.
 
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