D800

Why are you not printing your work?

It’s a simple questions really.  With all the chatter, to be more accurate, clacking, about the ease and instant gratification of digital cameras why are you not printing your work?  It’s just as easy to do and to do well.  Inkjet printers are capable of creating stunning prints.  Printers are affordable and easy to use.  So I ask again; why are you not printing your work?

I went to Beaumont a few weeks ago and had lunch with two very talented and smart photographer friends of mine.  Oh and we had amazing Indian food, but I digress.  While waiting for Jeff to give us a meet up time Richard and I were in his living room talking about many topics one of which was the printed image.  Richard’s living room is a fine art photography gallery.  Showcasing is amazing, and I do mean, AMAZING photographs which are printed and hanging with great care.  I remember commenting then that no one prints their work anymore, why?  Cost?  Access to quality printing?  Who knows the answer to the question but what I do know is this:

The image you are seeing one your iPhone or iPad or what other “i” device you are using cannot compare the quality of a well done print.  Don’t believe me?  Then pay just one time and have a high quality print done of your favorite image and then see if you still think the iScreen is as good.  If you are going to take the time to learn how to use our new D-whatever that cost you $3,000.00 or more and then take the time to learn Lightroom or Photoshop, why are you not learning how to print?  It’s like hitting the ball over then fence and then stopping at 3rd base.  Take it all the way home and PRINT YOUR WORK, ya bunch of knuckleheads 🙂

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Fuji XT-1, is it as good as the D800?

In order to fill the void between wedding shoots I offer actor head shots and am learning the art of food photography.  While learning the latter I noticed something interesting.  I notice there are glaring differences between the Fuji XT-1 and Nikon D800.  The first difference that jumps out at you are the colors.  One is not better than the other but the differences are eye-popping and very noticeable.  The second and equally as noticeable difference is the sharpness and resolution with the clear winner being the…

When it comes to gear I hear all the time that: “the camera is just a tool”.  While that much is true I would like to point out that you would not use a roll of paper towels to hammer a nail now would you?  A ridiculous example I know but back to my point.  Yes, the camera is just a tool and each tool serves its purpose and the Fuji XT-1 is no different.  I am a huge Fuji X fan, I mean HUGE fan of these cameras.  I use the X-Pro1, XE-2 and the XT-1 and by use I mean this is what I carry to shoot 100% of my weddings!  The reasons why I shoot the Fuji X series for wedding are many, and I’ll list some (but not all) of them for you:

  1.  Light weight
  2.  Amazing low light shooters
  3.  Great skin tones
  4.  Stunning B&W images
  5.  Amazing fast lenses with my favorite being the; 56mm 1.2, 23mm 1.4 and 35mm 1.4

When it comes to flash photography the Fuji’s do just OK, but wireless manual flash using my Pocket Wizard in tandem with my Quantum T5-dr’s are as good as anything else compared to any other camera.  Because the Fuji X system cameras are such amazing low light shooters I find myself using less and less flash.  With that said there are some limitations to these cameras the caused me to pick up a Nikon D800 and I’ll get into these reasons now.

Back to my opening statement.  The D800 is not only a great camera but it nicely fills the void left by the Fuji’s.  What void you ask?  Well, I’ll tell you.  First off the D800’s auto focus is, well, better.  As in, no comparison, even with the newest firmware update on the XT-1.  Yea, yea, yea, I know that XT-1 is not designed to compete directly with the pro end DSLR’s, but I am a pro and I am going to talk about this anyway because using the right tool for the job matters!  The other area of difference is the resolution.  At 36 megapixels the D800 captured more detail, period!  Where I noticed this was when I was shooting food and this is where detail is critical and the D800 did not disappoint.  When severe cropping is needed he D800 retains all of the detail, even at a 100% crop which makes the Nikon D800 is the clear winner.  The sharpness, colors and full frame-ness of the D800 really shines in this and other areas of photography.

Where Fuji has the advantage is in the area of mobility and stunning black and white photography.  For all of my street photography the only thing I will use is my Fuji X-Pro1 and 35mm 1.4 & 23 1.4.  I adore the Fuji as a travel camera.  In fact that’s all I ever take with me when traveling.  I am headed back home to New Orleans in August and my XE-2 and X-Pro 1 will be with me for sure.  They are do wedding dresses better than anything else I’ve used.  They are almost noiseless up to 3200 ISO.  They are silent, discreet and most of all my back is not killing me at the end of a 12 hour wedding.  The auto focus is much improved and the lenses, well those lenses are simply put, YUMMY!

So, is the camera “just a tool”? In short, yes. The right tool for the right job in the hands of the right person matters more in my humble opinion.  When you need the most in the way of detail, sharpness, resolution and cropping the clear winner is the Nikon D800. But when you want B&W photos and for shooting brides the Fuji wins.  So is there room for both a DSLR and a Fuji X camera in you bag?  Yes, there is plenty of room for both and the amazing thing about living in “Merica is that you can have both!

JamBall1-WIG

Above D800 100% crop

JamBalls2-W

Above XT-1 10% crop with 18-55 2.8-4.0 R

PastryXT1-W

Above Fuji XT-1 with 56mm 1.2

PastryD800-W

Above D800 no crop

The death of film. Well, maybe not! But most likely. But when?


 

We have to accept that in these days the Leica myth has more nostalgia than future. The exhibition is a proof that the future is not a continuation of the past and even Leica can not disregard the writing at the wall.” …Erwin Puts from The TAO of Leica 2014 “Augen auf!” exhibit

 


 

My Leica M6 is and I guess, will always be the crown jewel of my camera world, aka “obsession”.  Any photographer worth their salt puts the emphasis on the image, the subject if you will.  The story the image tells.  The emotion it evokes.  Second to this is the camera they use.  After all the camera is just a tool right?  The flip side of this argument is: does the “tool” matter?  I guess I fall on both sides of this discussion.  I use my Leica M6 for the image quality, ease of use, the fact I shoot film and the “stealth” like shooting I can do.  But I am not how “stealth” I am at 6’3″ and 360!  But I digress…

As much as I yearn for the days of film I am constantly drawn to the merits of digital.  One of the best art nude photographers I know, Richard Tallent of Beaumont, TX, scratches is head each time I post anything about shooting film.  Ya see, he is 100% digital and misses NOTHING about film shooting.  Richard is always befuddled as to why I choose to still shoot film.  My answer to him is always the same;  It’s because it slows me down and makes me feel more like a real art photographer.  Which I am sure makes zero sense to him and most of you who might real this.  Now enter The Fuji X system.  This was a BIG TIME game changer for me.

The Fuji X Pro-1 with the 35mm 1.4 lens and my ability to really use the hell out of Silver EFX Pro2 made me really second guess the use of my Leica M6.  Well, for a while that is.  No one can argue the exacting and amazing image quality you get out of these cameras.  The B&W images from the Fuji X series are simply stunning! But even with a tool that mimics the M6, there was still something missing in the final product to which I have struggled to put words.  Until now!

To me the digital file is too exacting.  Too literal if you will.  It’s cleaned and polished with every pixel is right where it should be.  Digital images are the Stormtroopers of photography.  What I get with film (talking B&W film here) is a buttery creaminess coupled with (arguably) wider dynamic range and tonality.   It has the serendipitous imperfections that make each frame on the roll truly unique, absent of subject matter.  The grain is real and not a created digital version of grain.  When you look at a frame taken with my M6, Hasselblad 500Cm or Pentax 67, there is no doubt this is a film image.

Even with all of this spoken I constantly hear; “but you still have to scan it to make it a digital image so why not just shoot digital“?  My answer to this is always the same.  Because a scanner takes a “picture” of what it is scanning and therefore I retain that look and feel of a film image even after it is scanned.  I then ask; why do you shoot digital and then spend hours on Photoshop or Lightroom trying to get it to look like film?

Now, do I shoot digital?  Heck yes!  Do I feel like I am giving up something in the way of image quality because I am NOT shooting film, sometimes.  But I am learning that I am not giving up image quality in as much as I learning the differences in image aesthetics when I shoot digital.  What I know to be a fact is, not one of my images would have been a “better” image had I used a film camera.  The reverse is also true.  This harkens back to my earlier statement. Care more about the photograph and less about the gear to truly see what kind of photographer you can become!

 

Until I can deal with the mental block of shooting digital as an art medium I will still use film.  Admittedly I am shooting less and less film.  I think I feel obligated to shoot film because I have these cameras and because the ever so annoying hipsters still shoot film.  However, the Fuji X Pro-1 is helping me a great deal with this issue.

 

FYI my Nikon D800 with its mammoth 36 mp is really changing my opinion!