With which camera do you have the best 'flow'?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by medform-norm, Jun 27, 2005.

  1. medform-norm

    medform-norm Member

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    It has taken us quite some time to figure out with which cameras we had the best 'flow' experience - in the sense of the word as coined by professor Csikszentmihalyi. For us these happen to be the Optika, the Pecoflex and the Kiev 60 with WLF. They seem to suit our personalities and personal needs best. When working with one of these, we seem to forget that there is a 'machine' between us and what we're doing. The camera becomes part of the flow and the concentration on the job is 100%. (I am not describing it in the best possible way, but I'm giving it my best shot.)

    These are not necessarily the best cameras ever made, but that's not the point. We've had a Linhof Technika, but never really got friendly with it. Didn't like the knobs, for starters. Instead, we make do with the much cheaper Graphic View II - still usable in very cold weather. At the moment I have a very beautiful Linhof 220 RS with a razor sharp Technikar, but it just hasn't got flow. Never in the world we would want to have a Hassy, since we don't like the way it holds or is operated, even though the lens quality is legendary. One of us likes Rollei type TLR's, but the other gets seasick just holding it. And so forth, and so on.

    Now we were wondering if other people had the same kind of experiences with their camera(s)? Which camera has the best 'flow' potential for you and can you explain why it suits you so well. It would be interesting to hear your personal stories.
     
  2. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I am having a difficult time determining who "we" are.
     
  3. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    You haven't met King Norm, Don? It's the "royal We"

    :smile:
     
  4. medform-norm

    medform-norm Member

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    No, no, it's more like a gollum...:smile:

    'we' is two people sharing this one name for the sake of... oh well, a lot of things, really. What counts is that we operate very closely and both do a lot of photography (but still not as much as we'd like to). Does that clear things up for you?
     
  5. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    You might look into analysis...
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Maybe you would get fewer puzzled inquiries, if you changed your username to, say "medform-norm-and-hildegard" or whoever the other half of "norm" is.

    As to the original question, I guess I have the best flow with the camera I've owned the longest--a Canon "New" F-1 that I've had since around 1983. I'm pretty comfortable with the Tech V and the Bronica S2A and the Perkeo II and my 8x10" Gowland.

    The Bessa II never felt quite right, so I sold that one, but other than that, I think I can integrate most equipment into the "flow," if I use it enough.

    I just picked up a Sinar F1, and that feels very natural to use. I tried Tom Duffy's P2, at the Asbury Park shoot, and I could imagine getting used to that very quickly.
     
  7. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    My best flow would be my Nikon 35mm. But with me using it less and less, the Mamiya RB is catching up. I don't use my TLR any more. Never got all that comfortable with it.
    The 35mm is what I learned on and it has that handy built in meter thingy. I believe that's why I get the flow. One less thing to worry about.
    With the RB, I have to slow down, take readings, setting up the tripod takes longer. Gives me more time to think and look at the shot I'm considering.

    While I can shoot a roll of 35mm easier, I get a higher percentage of images (that I like) when I'm shooting 120 format. Perhaps my "flow" isn't currently what's best for me.
     
  8. medform-norm

    medform-norm Member

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    Maybe we should change it to 1+1=2. But that still would not stop people being puzzled as to who 'we' would be. So we'll leave it like this for the time being. Being puzzled is not necessarily an unhealthy state of mind.

    Funny you mentioning the Canon F-1N. Totally forgot to include that in our list as well. It's a real nice camera to handle and very tiny if you're used to handling larger gear. Always suprised how light it is.

    Would like to know what's important in a camera for you in order to integrate it succesfully into your "flow"? What didn't feel right about the Bessa II for instance? Something about the design that didn't match your approach?

    Cheers, Norm
     
  9. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I know, and agree with the idea of flow. For me, it is the Hasselblad 503Cx.

    Why? I don't have a clue. It is, that's all.
     
  10. medform-norm

    medform-norm Member

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    Or maybe you're going through a process that David has called so rightly "integrating a camera into a flow"?

    Bought the Linny 220 because it has a built-in light meter thingy, which is very nice. Camera is just godawfully huge to operate. Can barely reach the release button on the top of the anatomical grip. Hands are too small. :sad:
     
  11. Jan Cornelius

    Jan Cornelius Member

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    ... We certainly have the best flow with the Nikon FM3a, our little precious that is ..... we have other, but our little precious has the best flow for us.

    (That is for me and my wife, German but not Hildegard)


    Pretty good question actually when you come to think of it. I read through the German leica forum from time to time, there you will find people who love their their M6'es and M7'es, worship their summilux'es, are prepared to go to war unconditionally with anybody having any form of critique on their Leicas, but somewhat dislike the handling of the leica whilst taking pictures..... This compared to their wives digital thingies....

    I'me sure "best-flow" and best overall cameras are two different things all together. And is it that using a "best flow" camera brings out the best shots, because of the ease and general acceptance of the flow ? ... I think it is, similar with guitars. I have an expensive Gibson (acoustical) and a relatively cheap Alhambra, the Alhambra is like an extension of my body and soul, might not (technocratically) sound as clear as the gibson, but I produce better music on it because of the flow of things .....
     
  12. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    My Fuji MF rangefinders... but if I get to play with the Kodak 2D 5x7 more, it just might take over 1st place! :D

    gene
     
  13. Gim

    Gim Subscriber

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    For Flow, my old Nikon FTn. I only take it out on nice days just because I like to push the button.
    Jim
     
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  15. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I never got used to the Bessa II's left-handed orientation, with the shutter trigger on the left side mounted on the door. I tried all different ways of holding it, and it was good in the vertical orientation, but I got a lot of camera shake in the horizontal orientation, so I tended to shoot verticals with that camera.

    I recently tried Bob Fowler's Bronica SQA with the rapid wind grip and prism, and that was a really nice handling camera. It was light and felt like a 35mm SLR with the prism and lever wind on the right with a nicely positioned shutter button.

    Another one that was always a little awkward to me was the Pentacon 6. I had one for about a year.
     
  16. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Hasselblad. 30 years and still ticking.
     
  17. photobackpacker

    photobackpacker Advertiser Advertiser

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    At one time, I would have said my Nikon F3. When I was shooting regularly, I didn't even need the meter. My eye made a subconscious connection to my fingers and the apeture ring snapped to the right setting without conscious thought.

    Now I am shooting the Master Technika. I am lucky to crank out a dozen sheets of film a week and often have long periods of inactivity in between. It has taken a long time to get even mildly comfortable with it - let alone "in the zone." You tend to use the camera you love and you end up loving the camera you use.
     
  18. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    When I shoot with primes, I never hit a flow. It is always "I wonder how that shot would look through this lens or that, I probably have wrong lens on right now", but end up with such nice pictures out of them that I still find it hard to use zooms. It's a comical juggling act of lenses, filters, meters and tripod adjustments.
    It's funny for a shameless small format advocate like me to admit but my best flow is certainly with a 4x5 view. After many years of long days and long weeks doing set up after set up, tying my bellows in knots, I could probably do it in my sleep (and I suspect that I actually have). I still enjoy doing studio still life work but when I go out the door, I have some form of a 35mm.

    Gim, I know what you mean. I get a thrill from the distinct, confident sound of my FTn's shutter every time that I hit the button. None of this lightweight vertical, titanium stuff. It's like slamming the the door of a '64 Lincoln Continental, solid as as a rock. Great, great camera. A joy to use.
     
  19. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    Easily the Deardorff's. I use the 8X10 the most of any camera. I can set it up in my sleep and my hands are completely disconnected from my brain. I can have it set up and focused faster than my Mamiya 6X9 and while the Nikon is a wonderful system, I haven't touched it in half a decade. I have the baby Deardorff for 4X5 / 5X7 but the 810 gets taken along and used 30:1 over the smaller 'dorff. The design is sheer genius and the best part is the owners were wise enough to leave it alone for 60 years. The Folmer & Schwing 7X17 is a close second. I'm really enjoying that camera.
     
  20. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    If a camera doesn't fit my "flow" after 6 months it gets tossed to the curb (eBay).

    The keepers so far:
    Holga
    Rolleicord
    Minox 35GT
    Crown Graphic

    Up on the chopping block for further testing:
    Nikon F80 (not sure on this one)
    Horizon 202 (only shot with it for 2 days so far, but it feels so great to shoot with!)

    What I would like to try out:
    Bessa R3A (I really loved my M3, but wished for aperture priority when needed)
     
  21. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    It really depends on the frame of mind or what image is on the agenda for that day.
    I mostly use and love Fuji 6x8. It is really a cross pollination of several formats and is quite flexible for responding to the moment.
    For street shooting I use an XPAN. It has pretty much replaced my Hassy 503 and T90's the last couple years.
    For the big gun I use horseman 450 and sometimes a Shen Hao. The SH I got last year because it was lighter and great for travel but it and I are far from comfortable with each other.
    For business I'm primarily Horseman, Fuji 6x8(70% of the time) and Hassy 2 1/4
     
  22. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    WOW!

    Thanks Thomas - for such an excellent question! I'd actually been thinking about this and similar issues in recent years. Who cares if you've got the most impressive camera/lens combo if you really can't function properly with it??

    This is actually one of the reasons I'd standardized on the faster grandagon lenses, too. I figure one would work faster - and you'd be more likely to catch compositional and other errors.

    At any rate - I'm not sure if I'm answering prematurely - but it may well be a dead letter before I actually thought substantially about it. I'll tell you one thing for sure. I can't compose to save my life on 8x10. I've tried it too many times! It seems to have a LOT to do with the optimal size for me to do hand drawings at. Yes, that's right. Hand drawings. I think everyone's got an ideal format in this sense. Each person composes at some particular size better than at others. That's my theory. Anyway - mine seems to be somewhere between 6x6 and 4x5 I seem to work with both of them quite well, compositionally speaking. Though perhaps 6x6 or 6x7 tends to edge out 4x5 insofar as the image tends to be quite a lot brighter with a 2.8 lens over a 5.6. There's just something so precious and jewel-like about a medium format viewing screen. It's amazing. Kind of like looking at an animated photograph. This being said, I guess my canidates for a 'flow camera' would be SLX, 500C/M, my old Yashica TLR, and pretty much any 4x5. But the sinar really wins out for work-flow. That is, working SPEED! Crazy. Anyway - I'm going to think on this and maybe get back to the conversation if I have any stunning revelations.

    thanks again.
     
  23. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Particularly bad flow--Nikon CoolPix 990. I'm always going through some menu to do things. I usually use it in all manual mode, but I've given up on manual focus with that camera, because even if I use the custom settings to reassign the controls, you still have to hold down a button while turning a wheel to focus.
     
  24. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Nikon F80 - I've been using it for almost five years now, but it felt right as soon as I picked it up. All the controls are just where I would have put them. I can forget all about the little black box in my hands and concentrate on making a photograph.

    I've used Canons and Minoltas that my friends eulogise over. After five minutes I generally want to hurl them over the horizon. (Top tip - If you're shopping for a 35mm and don't want a Nikon, do check the camera body for its aerodynamic properties, just in case...!)

    Others... Well, I have an old Pentax S1a, which isn't bad where speed of use isn't essential (and when the mirror doesn't stick in the up position!), an Olympus Mju II (PAS, film in, brain out... ...but no control :sad: ), a Lubitel II (which I really don't like) and have just acquired a Mamiya C330S (feels pretty good on a tripod, but early days and I have a very steep learning curve ahead).
     
  25. dr bob

    dr bob Member

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    For purely “flow” I cannot improve on my Koni Omega Rapid. Its bright, parallax compensated viewfinder, ease of focus, quick change lens system, and lastly the kick-start film advance. However, even though the negative almost has the quality of a 4x5, it cannot perform the tasks requiring the movements of the view camera.

    Notwithstanding the “flow” advantage of the KO, I employ a Mamiya TLR for about 80% of my work. Flexibility wins over flow in most cases.
     
  26. medform-norm

    medform-norm Member

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    Funny, that's exactly why one of us really likes the Bessa. Pehaps your left hand is the strong one and the right one more adapted for finer mechanic operations?

    Right hand normally gripped around the body to stabilize the camera, middle left hand finger used to lightly trip the shutter trigger, seems to do the job just fine. When camera is in portrait position, the only difference is that the thumb is used to trip the trigger. Hand-held shots up to 1/25 sec are possible, sometimes even 1/10 sec.