Saturday, December 12, 2015

Merry Christmas! What's Full Frame and what should I buy?

Since we’re in the Christmas season  - I thought I’d be educational for those people out there that may be confused by this whole “crop sensor” or “full frame sensor” business.  I’d also like to pass along some tips on Christmas shopping for your budding photographers out there looking at getting into photography.

Caveat:  I do not subscribe to the thought that “full frame” is better than “crop frame” when it comes to digital cameras.  So I’m not going to get into an argument about it.  It is what it is, and plenty of great photographs have already been made with both.  People who really believe passionately in the subject will argue all kinds of technical points about it, both good and bad.  Let’s just say that I do not care all that passionately about it, and I think the whole reason we got in to “crop sensor” in the first place was more economical anyway.

So why do I even bring it up?  Well, because as a budding photographer, you will get into discussions with people about it, and the full framers will make you feel inadequate for not having a full frame sensor, and the effect it has on the crop frame shooter is that he’s always wishing he could upgrade, and worse, that his photographs aren’t good enough.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Before we get into technically what it is, just understand that when someone talks about “full frame” sensors, he’s failing to mention that there are much BIGGER sensors out there than his dinky little ‘full frame’ sensor in his dinky little DSLR.  So if you were really into FULL FRAME - you’d be spending more money and getting into BIGGER FULL FRAME sensors - which will generally run up the cost into the tens of thousands for those particular cameras.  So I would further argue that the “full frame” shooter who puts down the “crop frame” sensor shooters is really feeling inadequate himself - because in photography (like other things) SIZE DOES MATTER, I suppose.

Here’s my simple synopsis on “Full Frame” sensors:  back in the day, on your standard 35mm film camera, the 24mm x 35mm size of a single exposure on your roll of film was the size of the image you took - hence the name, “Full Frame Sensor”.  The actual light gathering chip in that DSLR camera you have is the same size as a frame of 35mm film.  When you make the sensor smaller, hence the name “Crop Frame”, you have a sensor smaller than your standard 24mm x 35mm frame used in 35mm film.  

[HISTORICAL NOTE - 35mm film was always considered “amateur” because it was so small.  Before 35mm film hit, there were all kinds of bigger sizes, like 6cm x 6cm, or in inches, like 4x5 or 8x10.  Heck, I think Ansel Adams dragged around a view camera that could take 11x14 sheets of film and that would be his “sensor size” - this is why I find it comical that people make such a HUGE deal out of the 24mmx35mm frame as being FULL FRAME].

What does this do?  With the smaller sensor, your vision through the lens tunnels a little bit more (cropping off what would’ve been there had your sensor been the same size as a piece of 35mm film.  So you’re seeing a smaller portion of that frame, and you may have to back-up from your subject if you wanted to get more of them in the frame (or at least more than just their eyes and nose if you’re that close to begin with).  

What this means is that your lens adds some length, and you usually have to multiply by a certain number to know what your actual focal length really is.  

So, if you have, say a 50mm lens on, with a Nikon crop sensor camera, if you multiply the focal length by 1.5, you get the actual length of the lens you’re using.  So if you shoot with a 50mm, it effectively becomes 75mm.  On a Canon, the sensor is a bit smaller, so you multiply by 1.6 to get the effective focal length.  50mm times 1.6 equals 80mm.  80mm is perfect for doing nice portraits.    On the other hand, if you have a Full Frame Sensor, 50mm stays 50mm, and so on.  

This is the only reason I like Full Frame:  when I put a 20mm or a 50mm lens onto the camera, I actually get 20mm or 50mm lenses!    I grew up in the film era so I got used to a 50mm lens being 50mm, and so on.  Although I do it pretty often, I don’t like having to multiply to know what effective length I’m putting on the camera.  When I shoot a portrait session, I know if I put the 50mm on my little Canon DSLR, I know it’s at textbook portrait focal length because the lens becomes an 80mm lens. 

Getting distance is cool, right?  This can only be answered by how you like to shoot.  If you’re into nature photography or portraiture, then yeah, distance is cool.   You put a 300mm lens on your crop frame camera, you get an effective length of 450mm, so you’re getting more distance to get the same shot.  You can be farther away from the wild animals if you’re on safari (safer), and farther away from the football players on the field playing the game (even safer).  But, if you like landscapes and want to include as much in your shot as possible (this is me), shorter focal lengths are king.  But, instead of being able to do that with a 20mm regular focal length, you need an even shorter focal length.  Both the big DSLR makers offer zooms that go down to 16mm, so your focal length at 16mm on a crop frame will be 24mm.  

Ironically, if you shot with regular ol’ 35mm film, a 24mm prime lens used will run you about $200.  Canon’s 16-35mm zoom lens (which will give you almost 24mm on the short end) costs upwards of $800 used.  New they’re a lot more.  

This is why I think coming out with crop sensors first was an economical decision.  Firstly, it costs money to make a big sensor - just like having more RAM in your computer costs more money.  So the manufacturers couldn’t very well sell everybody a $9000 DSLR body, they wouldn’t sell enough to stay in business.  Now, make the sensor smaller, and it opens up a whole new world of new lenses to develop and sell!  Canon and Nikon both have probably made quite a bit of bank on people clamoring for that 16-35mm or 17-35mm zoom lenses.  

So think about that.

Now, onto what to get that budding photographer in your life for Christmas…..

A lot of people ask me for advice on this subject, and you can go online or in magazines and read all kinds of reviews and be blown away by all the features available to you in all the new cameras.  And frankly, everybody makes a good DSLR that even shoots video these days.  They will all be in that 16-24MP range too.  

I try not to be flippant about making recommendation.  It’s a big deal, and if you’ve never spent money on a camera before, everything is expensive.  I get it.  

But in the real world, besides the ability to shoot video, a camera has to be able to do these  three basic things:  

1)  Focus (either manually or automatically)
2)  Adjust shutter speed
3)  Adjust aperture

What you decide to point the camera at is totally your business.  A camera to me, is like a musical instrument.  You can own a beautiful 9-foot Steinway piano, but if all you know how to play is Chopsticks, then that’s all it’s ever going to do for you.  BUT - you definitely do not have an excuse not to get better, and the piano is definitely not going to be at fault if you can’t get better.

Cameras are just like this.  In fact, ALL DSLRs are like this.  If you’ve never shot a camera before in your life, getting hung up on megapixel count, frames you can shoot per second, face recognition, WiFi capability,…..etc.,….then you’ve definitely put the cart before the horse and you might as well get a baseball hat that declares “I have no friends”, and go buy a metal detector and spend endless hours alone on the beach using it.

Features in a DSLR are nice.  They’re like the whipped cream you add to a pumpkin pie - it makes the experience nice, but the pie has to be solid.  This is why I’ve been recommending people go find an old 35mm film SLR from the 80s, and give that a shot first where you have to adjust everything, and even manually focus.  Then at least you understand what your new-fangled DSLR is doing for you when you do use it.  But I digress - that’s a whole ‘nother topic we can jump on later.

So what do I recommend for first-time camera buyers?  Or even people looking for another camera?  Going to my local Sam’s Club today gave me the seeds for today’s topic.  I walked into the photo area, and they literally have all these cool, yet cheap(er) DSLR camera kits, all boxed and ready to go.  Just grab any one of those, go to the cashier and buy it!  Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, Sony….they all make them.  They’re all good.  They all pass my minimum requirements as to what a camera should do.  And they’re cheap!

But wait, what about features?  Megapixels?  Video?  Do you not remember what I said about putting the cart before horse?  Have you ever seen a pro shooters camera?  Even though they might have these bitchin’ features, you’ll see that they may have programmed their camera to use only a certain set of things they need.  Back in the 80s and early 90s, there probably were NO features anyway.  A little further back in the film days, anything that needed power was suspect to the professional photographer - he didn’t want to be out in the field and suddenly have batteries die and he couldn’t shoot.  That would mean an entire wasted day.  

So Canon Rebel T5?  Nikon D3200?  Does it matter?  No.  One thing I will recommend with whatever camera kit you buy, is get an extra battery.  You’re gonna need that.  Buy more memory cards, you’re gonna need that.  Maybe even get your standard 50mm prime lens too, because the lenses that come with these kits, will be more aggravating in the short term to you.  So if you got the standard 50mm f/1.8 lens with it, then you’ll have a lens that will help you learn more about photography than you’ll ever want to know.  In fact, my 50mm is mainly glued to one of my cameras, it’s my go-to lens for everything to this day.

Make sure you can plug your camera into your computer and download your images, and maybe make sure you have a computer editing program to play around with your images, like Adobe PhotoShop Elements.  That’s a good starter software program.  Well, not really a starter, I use that after downgrading from the full-blown Adobe PhotoShop CS (from ten years ago).  

But make sure the desire is there to go out and shoot.  You have to get up off your arse and go outside to make photographs.  One real cool anecdote I got from a photo lecture once was “Now that you have the camera, make sure you go to cool places with cool things to photograph”.  

Best. Advice. Ever.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Some film shots!

So I got my first test roll back from the lab!  These were taken on the EOS-1v machine with a 50mm f/1.4 lens and I loaded it with some cheap Fuji Superia 400 film.  The lab sent the negatives back and scanned the images to a CD.  Even seeing the images on the screen alone in color, they had this creamy quality to them that I missed shooting digital.  The colors originally were a little muted, but then I realized, I had been shooting digital for the last seven years (at least), and I think we've all gotten used to seeing over-saturated colors, and super-sharp details.  To make sure I wasn't crazy, I pulled out some of my favorites photographs I had taken with film over a decade ago and discovered, yes, film colors are a little muted.  In fact, colors in real life are a little more muted than what we see on the internet or in magazine ads anyway.

How am I liking it?  I think I love it.  I'm shooting so much slower now.  It could take days of concentrated shooting to get through a roll of 36 exposures.  I'm thinking more in terms that I want every one of them to be a keeper, which means I'm not spraying an area and hoping for the best to edit out at the computer later.    I want them all to be good, which raises my ratio of good photographs - just thinking before I shoot has made a huge difference!

I will still keep my "digital" chops up, though.       

On another news front, somewhat depressing, is that as I pledge my allegiance to film, Canon announces (or at least gets the first ones to market)  the new EOS 5Ds and EOS 5Dsr.  Yeah, it handles just like my ancient   EOS 5D, but now it's a 50MP sensor!  It has a hefty price tagged but to see something like this getting close to the low-end medium format digital backs out there, all for only $3600 for the body, I feel like the quality is going to eventually get there.

For now, I will repeat my daily mantra:  "film is is good......"  


Saturday, November 28, 2015

OK - we're back and it's another year - and we've gone back to shooting FILM! (gasp!)

I know, these year-to-year postings are really few and far between. But you know how it is, you get busy, have a lot of changes go on, work your regular job.....all of sudden a year has gone by and you feel like you're still in the same spot.

Well, that's not necessarily true - just been really busy and if I'm not moving upward and onward, at least you can say it's "lateral". But the big news for the new coming year is - I'm shooting film again! Why? Read on....

It seems if you look hard enough on the world wide web, you’ll come across a number of photographers who are declaring a return to film. What’s even cooler, is that there’s an entire generation of young kids now who have never shot film, interested in trying it out, too. So rather than this post be about why I did and why you should too, I’ll just post some thoughts, probably economic in nature, that nobody has really talked about yet.

When I started my photographic path some 20 years ago (wow), I cut my teeth on an old beat-up Nikon FM and three prime lenses. Of course, at the dawn of digital, I had to go that way, and I did. I discovered over time that, like computers, I was upgrading the cameras all the time because they’re basically light-gathering computers, and your photographic image files are only going to be as good as the computer that captures them. Heaven forbid you shot RAW, and then some years later that RAW file format is not supported. If you didn’t save it as some kind of generalized file format, like TIFF or (gasp) JPEG, that image was lost.

I also discovered that even moreso, I was upgrading computers, because massaging pixels is big business. And as the cameras cranked out more megapixels, the computers and software had to be able to keep up with the new demand. I’ve run into some friends who are shooting 4K video now, and they’re finding they need to upgrade to the latest and greatest computers to keep up with the input, or else the system just chokes and dies. Do not get me wrong - I like digital. I continue to use it for things like event photos, group photos, buddy portraits, when I have to turn around the product quickly. This is even more true for the people who work in the media, like news people. They definitely need to be able to get their stuff to the TV and papers in record time, so it’s good. But for me, I doubt I’ll ever need to work that fast, so this last year I’ve contemplated using film more, and I just took the leap and went back for all my project stuff and the keep me happy stuff. If someone requests film, I’ll do it, but I won’t push it on them. My two little DSLRs can handle whatever people want quickly.

I did some math, and when I added up upgrading cameras (always in pairs so I had a spare), and computers and software every two years or so (always sooner than planned) I was spending way more than had I shot projects on film, which could have been done with a camera bought and paid for ten years ago (at least), including film and developing. This was a bit depressing. And realizing the old argument about analog vs digital, from a quality standpoint, shooting digital was a compromise so I could get the pictures done rather quickly. But digital photographs are akin to .mp3’s in the sound world. They’re not the best you could get. But they are good enough for adverts and TV, and web blogs. Just like I don’t mind listening to some musical artists on my iPod in .mp3 form. But give me the Boston Philharmonic playing Holst’s The Planets, and I’m sorry, I have to pull the actual vinyl LP out for that to play on a turntable.

But I digress. Remember when I said the image file is only as good as the camera that took it? That’s really true. On the other hand, if you shot it on film, you have a permanent negative that you can scan over and over. Imagine having that negative and in ten years, you scanned it again with scanning technology of the day. Heck, today a really high-resolution scan at 4800 dpi renders a file in the hundreds of MEGABYTES. This trounces ALL digital cameras on the planet. What’s cooler, is many of the remaining labs throw in scanning to CD as part of the fee you pay for development, so you don’t even need to own your own scanner! Who knew? Of course, we pay more now for film developing (I use mail-order services, which ends up being about $12 a roll). But it still ends up being cheaper in the long run.

And the other things that occur when I shoot film are so important: slowing down, thinking about what you want, making it happen, all before you bring the camera up to shoot the picture. With digital, I tended to spray and pray, meaning I’d over shoot and during the editing process keep the good ones (praying that I got good ones). But with digital, I was having to do that with hundreds of files!  I think I sat more at the computer than I was actually out shooting. That had to stop too. If I’m really thinking, it could take me a day to shoot 36 photographs, and editing is easy when you’re trying to make all 36 of them keepers in the first place. So I like that.

So to start, since I had Canon lenses, I acquired an EOS-1v body, and then an EOS-1n body. Both were in mint condition, tested and spec’d up by a qualified technician (Canon still works on the 1v, too) in Japan. Both were $1700 (up to $2000 if outfitted with add-ons) new when they were released (The 1n in the early 90s, and the 1v in 2000). This month, I got the 1n for $100, and the 1v for $250. Incredible. I’ll bet the original owners would cry if they saw how little their old cameras are selling for. The ones I got must’ve been owned by amateurs because they still look new - there are a lot of those cameras out there still working that just look like they been around the world in the back of a pickup truck, but they’re still shooting!

I always wanted to try medium format too, and I am this time around. I just picked up a Bronica SQ system, with two film backs, and two lenses - all for under $400! When that stuff was new just recently in 2007, you could spend $3000 for the camera, one film back, and one normal lens! I think if anyone wants to get in to using film, now is the time to get in. If more and more people use it, the used camera market may just dry up, and prices will go up because of the demand. But that would be a good thing.   Film costs would come down, and maybe more labs would open up (alot of them closed - heck, Sams Club and Costco no longer deal wit film at all, and they were the cheapest by far). With the resurgence continuing, I can only hope more and more people try analog photography. Then maybe there’d be less and less people on the internet talking about it and actually out and about in the sun, shooting!

There’s something to be said about the complete digital lifestyle, and it’s not all good. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Just posting some Disney ambience shots done up in B&W here.  Left the little Canon SL-1 with single 28mm f/2.8 prime lens in Aperture Priority mode, and switched ISO levels when necessary.  That little camera allows me to shoot almost in pitch blackness!  Love it!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Looking back with some embarrassment


Christmas is coming up.

And as the job grinds through the holidays (Disneyland never closes, you know), my family manages to celebrate Christmas spread over a few days as we wouldn't all be available on the same day.  You get used to it.

That said, my mind is already into January of 2014 - it's always forward of where I physically am.  And the first big thing that happens for me is the NAMM show at the Anaheim Convention Center.  The general public is not allowed to attend as it is an 'industry' event, you have to be affiliated with someone in the music industry to attend.  As a musician, I get to be affiliated with different companies so I can attend as a visitor, the first couple of years it was with Acoutin Drums - a local drum builder who makes these incredible drums in Huntington Beach.  They were probably the only snare drums I heard that sounded different from everybody else's, and the retail prices reflected it.  
Due to various connections, I may be a guest of Pearl Drums this year, but I haven't been told yet.  It's just cool to go to the show (it happens over four days) see some musical stars, see the new products, enjoy the circus.  In reality, it's really just like a local RV or Bridal show, that's attempting to keep itself exclusive, for the sake of selling people their wares.  If it really was an "Industry Only" event, you wouldn't see many freaks on the floor seeking out autographs of the stars - which really has nothing to do with debuting new products, right?  

But it makes for a great photographic experience.  It's kind of like being a street photographer, but you're inside, and people generally want to be photographed.  So if you're in there with a camera, you have a captive audience of people that want their images taken.  Everybody who's anybody will pose for a shot, because afterall, the more press they get and exposure, the better.  Not that I expose them anymore than they already are, but I do fall into thecategory of "guy with camera", so they're nice and they pose.

The above shot is my wife with Living Colour bassist, Doug Wimbish.   The man is an incredible player.  He's such a great solo performer on the bass guitar, I would imagine playing in a band must be a little stifling for him - he can carry a whole show on his own with a four-string bass.  Remember that rap song "White Lines" with that crazy repeating bass part that was really the whole song?  That was him.  He's done alot of things since then, but that's probably the biggest music standard he's known for.   In Living Colour the man is THE bottom end for that band.  The man lays down some mean bass with those guys.

Anyway, the shot above is an embarrassment shot.  He was doing a small concert at the DOD Electronics booth, and I was shooting away while he played - it was incredible.  I'm wearing a Canon EOS-1D with a 20-35/2.8 Tokina zoom lens, totally playing the part of pro photographer, and this rig without a flash is about 8 pounds.  After he's finished, I managed to get him to pose with the wife for a shot, only thing is, after we're done and he's having a meet and greet with others, I discover the camera decided to act up on me and it didn't take the shot!

Mortified we hang out a little bit longer, and while he's trying to pack up his bass to go get something to eat, he notices that we're still lingering.  I told him the shot didn't happen and could he please pose again?   He's cool, he does it and we got the shot.  It's not perfect, but I'm not gonna bug him any more than I have to, and then he's gone like the wind.  

This was the event that got me mad at my gear - for not working when it should have.  I know it happens - but a Canon EOS-1D should not glitch.  I'll admit it could've been operator error, but who the hell knows?  I was shooting everything beforehand just fine - I got all those shots.  The one of him and the wife is a big deal, and the camera glitched

Part of me is angry because the camera did this to me.  Part of me is embarrassed because I may have done it to myself.   Had I known my gear a little better, it might not have happened at all.  This is what makes me embarrassed.   If there's anything you can glean from this experience, it's learn-and-know-your-gear.  You never know when that incredible shot will present itself and when it comes, you need to be able to solve the problem fast and get 'er done!  

After this incident, I started studying my owner's manuals with camera in hand and seeing what button pushes do so you can concentrate on running the shoot.   I'll tell you this much, that ain't happening ever again ;)

Monday, December 9, 2013

So the Canon 5D Classic does ISO3200!

What impresses me about the new crop of cameras, especially those Fuji X cameras, is the high ISO capability.  Even today I just read the little Canon Rebel SL-1 (the tiniest DSLR on the planet) can do stupid high ISO like 125600 or something.  I haven't seen any photos done yet like that, but I figure that must mean you'd get photos at least acceptable up to ISO6400, right?

So I had to consult my manual about my classic 5D cameras.  I'm somewhat of an idiot.  When I got the cameras I just pressed the ISO button and turned the command dial to see how high it would go.  It goes up to 1600?  I'm happy!  You have to understand, I cut my teeth on film and 1600 was as high I could've gone with the films I was using.  I have lighting too, so like Joe McNally, the best thing to do is shoot at ISO100 all the time anyway, which is what I've always done.  My attitude has always been that the images get softer and grainier the higher the ISO goes, so I was always about maximum quality - thinking every image had to be able to be printed with immaculate detail up 16x20 ;)

In the 5D manual, Canon has all these "Custom Functions" and one of the functions when turned on, extends your ISO to 3200 on the high end and 50 on the low end.  I can see using the 50 alot.  On the display, you hold down the ISO button and turn the command dial, then it'll read either "H" or "L" depending on which end of the scale you are. 

Excited I could do this, the shots above were shot around the house in the "H" setting (ISO3200).  The lights were dimmed and almost dark.  I wanted to see how well the camera handled in this kind of lighting.  The camera seemed to autofocus well, so long as I was looking at contrasting points, and with the White Balance set to the incandescent light icon, the pictures above are straight out of the camera.  With the exception of the black and white one, that was unsaturated in PhotoShop, but that's it.   If anything, I could shoot ISO3200 in black and white and get some cool art!

Being able to do this is what's holding me off from upgrading to anything new.  Again, I'll learn this gear through and through and drive it into the ground.  What's nice is now I can do a walkabout and shoot indoors without flash - which is what I initially did when I started with an old beat-up Nikon FM with a couple of lenses (a 24/2.8 and a 50/1.4) and ISO800 color film.  My photography was so simple then, I need to get back there.  It's so complicated these days because of the amount of toys I show up with.  Gotta cut that crap loose ;)

It's been TWO friggin' years - I KNOW!

I know - it's been about two years for my neglected blog - but I'm back with something to say!

I apologize for not keeping up, but it's been quite a busy time around here.  Got an additional job with my company, involving playing drums as a world famous mouse, got into new cameras (well, they're considered old and ancient by now), my dad passed away from cancer, my wife's dad just passed away a couple of months ago, the house got a slab leak, then got re-piped, then we got a new know how it is, LIFE happens and here we are, two years later.  The family is now a bit closer to each other and we even went back home to Hawaii to spend time with the family - I realized that we hadn't been back there in over ten years.  Where did all the time go?  Relatives are getting older and passing away and I have nothing to show for it.  We took the time to reconnect with family, and I think that's pretty important after the two big losses we just suffered.

I've re-connected with my photography, my drumming.  I picked up playing the ukulele and got away from electronic music production (an interesting side-business, but hollow).  I have new attitudes about some things, and have let alot of baggage go since you only live once, and time is short.

Probably the one crazy thing I did was install a few rotary dial phones around the house, as evidenced by the opening photo. In avocado green, no less!  That's a nice connection to the past with something I can actually still use, so I got 'em!

As far as photography goes, I got into a couple of Canon EOS 5D cameras, after dumping my venerable EOS-1D's bodies.  I was getting pretty tired of hauling around all this huge gear and either getting lazy and missing shots because I wasn't ready with the boat anchor, or just didn't care because the stuff was digging into my shoulders.  So I went slightly lighter - didn't even get into the extra battery pack - it's easier to just carry extra batteries.  I dumped my zooms and got into prime lenses.  I started off with a 20/2.8 and a 50/1.4, and I ended up dumping the 20 since I didn't do that much with it because in some instances, it was simply too wide.

Then I started reading up on this new mirrorless camera thing.  And Fuji hit the ground running with a rangefinder-like camera that looked like a digital Leica, and ISO technology is just stupid crazy now - those cameras can literally shoot in the dark because it's now natural to be using ISO 3200 and 6400 nowadays.  For the last few weeks now I've been hot to dump my DSLR's and go with these new mirrorless cameras.  I'll take one pound hanging around my neck anyday, as opposed to 3-4 pounds using a single 5D with my one prime lens.

But I blame Zack Arias for my dilemma and cold feet about doing it.  For one, he turned everybody on to these Fuji cameras, and he himself has jettisoned his DSLR gear and has done major campaigns with his Fuji gear.  The lure of being stealthy is strong with me.  I rented a Fuji X100s for a week and it was incredible that I had a one-pound awesome camera that looked like a 1953 Leica M3, hanging on a Black Rapid strap - and when I put my jacket on, you didn't even know I had a camera!

You know how people just wear big cameras to broadcast that they are professional photographers?  I for one am no longer diggin' that moniker.  I like to make photographs, but I no longer want to look like I have to be doing that.  It gets in the way of getting a good shot, or it scares potential subjects away.  Basically you look like the proverbial creepy-guy-with-a-camera and my head is no longer there.

But of course, these new mirrorless systems have issues.  One of them being that it doesn't focus as quickly as a DSLR (yet).  I'm sure as time marches forward, the manufacturers will figure it out.  But for now, the DSLR is still king.  But it's days might be numbered.  Imagine the DSLR going the way of 8-track tape!  Mirrorless cameras have the advantage of being alot smaller (good), less moving parts (you know how many pieces move because of the DSLR mirror box?) and being extremely quiet.

Somebody posted a diatribe on how mirrorless can never replace the DSLR because when you shoot fast moving subjects, the mirrorless auto-focus just isn't there yet.   Well, duh!  Give it time though, and the manufacturers will have figured it out.  I've only replaced a shutter on one of my cameras over the years, and that was extreme.  But when you see the moving parts involved in making a picture with a dSLR, I'm surprised not more break or wear out sooner.

Anyway, getting back to this Zack Arias guy.  He hypes these Fuji cameras, but he also has videos on YouTube where he's teaching (before he got into the Fuji cameras) and he talks about staying with your gear and learning it inside and out.  He said when he started he only had one lens and did everything with it.  So part of me is thinking I should really run these 5D's into the ground if I plan on becoming a better image-maker, and I just might do that instead.  I'm sure if I wait a couple of years, the mirrorless cameras will be even that much better.

For me the 5D seems fine and does everything I need it to do.  It even does ISO 3200, and I practiced with that setting this evening in a darkened house, and you know what?  The dang pictures came out!  sure, it's a bit large, but not as incredibly hulky like the EOS-1D with a 70-200/2.8 zoom on it.   I think I can be somewhat stealthy with a 5D and a prime lens.  Maybe I'll go find a cool-looking hipster bag instead.  I think I might want to get into the Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM lens though.  Sometimes I think the 50mm is too narrow, and I can't get far enough back to get everything in the shot.  So that might be a nice Christmas present to myself.

But yeah, I think I'm curing myself of GAS (gear-acquisition-syndrome), at least as far as my photography goes.  Two bodies, two lenses, I have various lighting devices and meters....what else do I need?  There are tons of photogs out there that get something new every other month, on the constant search for that newest magic bullet.

The cure for this is linked to my being a musician.  I've known for years as a drummer/percussionist: it ain't the drums, it's the drummer.  And this has been true for me from the beginning.  I've always played small drumsets (not more than four drums) because my idols all did, and they were able to say so much with just that.   Photography is the same way.  If you have nothing to say - having bitchin' gear is not going to take the pictures for you.  It's funny how it seems I've only gotten this together now.  But like I said, alot has happened in the last year.  I'm rollin' with the changes.

I'll leave you with this quote from famed photographer Edward Weston, who is one of the fathers of modern photography.  He had alot to say about photographers and photography, and this one sticks with me.  Stay tuned for new images coming soon!

"The fact is that relatively few photographers ever master their medium. Instead they allow the medium to master them and go on an endless squirrel cage chase from new lens to new paper to new developer to new gadget, never staying with one piece of equipment long enough to learn its full capacities, becoming lost in a maze of technical information that is of little or no use since they don't know what to do with it."

-Edward Weston