Saturday, August 30, 2008

Salva-dillo: From the Archives...

USULATAN PROVINCE--We turned from the main highway down a narrow, two-lane road that until only a few years ago had been a dirt track that often washed out during the rainy season leaving the coast cut off from the rest of the world. We saw these two boys playing with their pet, perhaps future dinner, and I asked the driver to stop. The armadillo didn't seem all that happy with the attention, would most likely have been off doing whatever it is that armadillos do, but he posed politely anyway.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What Was I Thinking Anyway??

LUND--I don't want a D700. I want a Nikon D3. Of course I want a D3. Yeah, the 700 is smaller but not so much smaller I'd carry it anytime I wouldn't carry a D3. If I wanted a small, easy to carry SLR that would be a D40 or D40x. Even if it is an amateur model it is still an SLR and takes real lenses. And if I really want to carry a small camera it would probably not be SLR time anyway but pocket camera time. So there, that is it, this time I mean it. The D3. Now I just need $4,500. But I did finally get a Swedish freelance job today. It even pays real money. Just not that much...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Monkey of the Day

Nikon D700

LUND--I went by one of the local camera stores the other day and played with the new Nikon D700 with the full-frame sensor. Awesome. Incredibly fast. It had a 50mm f1.8 lens. The auto-focus version of my very first lens. It is a big camera but not nearly as large as the old D1x or the D3. And so much faster than the D1x. Did I mention the full frame sensor. And a big, big focusing screen. I use a lot of manual lenses on the D1x and the screen is really tiny. My eyes are good but I have to be very careful with that screen not to be slightly off-focus. The old screen of the FM was a true luxury. Anyway, I like, I want, a D700. Good job Nikon. Now if you'd only make a digital FM. Basically something digital like the FM3, I would be happy. And don't trick up the body. Make it as close as possible to the FM design that worked so well for so many years (and still does).

Now the question. Why does Nikon, who does and has always done so well with their SLRs (and rangefinders for that matter) make such unsatisfactory point and shoots?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Monkey of the Day

A booth on Stortorget in Lund for the Jehova's Witnesses. Apparently they don't believe in monkeys...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Things I Carried Redux

LUND--Now I know everyone of you three or four people who read this has been waiting with bated breath to find out how I fared with my camera equipment and well, here, finally, is the answer. I do think, given what I have, which is plenty and I shouldn't complain but I will, worked fine. It was all the correct choice. But I am rather a stickler about equipment and I am not satisfied.

First, the Panasonic DVC60. It is an excellent camera and takes great video under every situation and has never given me any trouble. And the shoulder mount can be nice. But it isn't a terribly good solution for someone doing what I am doing. It just is too big. It is physically large and given that I am never going to give up taking stills too much to carry. It might be viable for a person completely dedicated to motion pictures. However, that being said it is, especially for a lone cameraman, obtrusive. If you were backing up a reporter who already got the, "I am invading your life." stuff out of the way it would be pretty perfect. But I am, to date, solo. I am not discounting or ignoring all the people who pave the way for me, translate, drive, fix and explain, but I am alone in the reporting business with no other person to shift the attention off of away from the BIG FRIGGIN CAMERA AND THE OTHER TWO AROUND MY NECK.

The Leica M6ttl performed splendidly as usual but here in Sweden getting 24 rolls of 36 exposure Kodak 400CN developed, no prints only crappy scans to CD cost nearly $300. That ain't near the price of a digital Leica M8 but it's a statistically significant portion. The old Leica Digilux 1 also performed nicely but, well, it just is a very old cmera in digital terms. Still, I am very happy with it. For lack of a better term it takes magical pictures, at 4 mega-pixels, and, well, a lot of contemporary cameras should be ashamed. But still it is not what it could be in terms of modern technology. Still, I will keep using it, at least in certain circumstances, for a long time to come. It is truly an outstanding picture-taker and deserving of cult status.

But here, I think, is what I want. Like Jimmy Carter for other women, I lust in my heart after a Leica M8 but unlike Mr. Carter I find that no sin. Or maybe I do. I put the M6 away today and had a good hour of near panic attack. But right now I cannot afford the film and cannot afford the temptation to load it up and then have that film to develop. The M8 sounds good but, practically speaking I need a new SLR. The old D1x is just that, old. And maybe I need to reevaluate it because it takes very fine photos but it too is big and unwieldy and I often and am not prone to carry it. So perhaps a Nikon D300 or full sensor D700.

As for the video camera, the Panasonic DVC30 with the tiny Sennheiser MK400 microphone would, I think, be ideal. So there, that video camera, the Nikon D700 with the 55mm Micro Nikkor and 20mm Nikkor, and the Leica M6 with just the 50mm Summicron and black and white film. Because it is expensive but if the subject is right I'm not ready to give up changing a piece of reality forever by making the choice to expose some film, of recording history. And of having with me a camera that will keep working without the need to charge a battery.

Friday, August 1, 2008