So many great cameras out there, yet so few chances to make important photos.
This is a bit or a rant.
I came back the other day from shooting in rural Malawi. Mostly orphans or people with HIV that were involved with a humanitarian group I was shooting for.
The previous month I was in Haiti working with another humanitarian group. Mostly the same subjects but not in a rural setting, more slums.
On both trips I took a number of cameras including some film but mostly digital since the group needed digital images and I test digital cameras for the major brands for a living. (This is not a film vs digital thread.) For years I made my living shooting pro sports but now I test prototypes and tell people designing them how great they are.
While on the trips I shot everyday, for most of the day. I would put together a kit for each day with a couple cameras, lens combos and head out the door to shoot for the day. The next morning I would mix it up with a different system/combo and head out again. Since I test different gear all the time I've become very good at changing gears from one system to the next. I do it all the time. One shot I'm using a film rangefinder, the next minute I'm shooting stills with a prototype of a video camera that is coming next year.
Now back at the studio in Burlington I'm lamenting the fact that there are so many great camera systems over the past years, ones I would love to have used, but there seems so little time to do actual, important shooting.
I own a Nikon F6 that I use when shooting with Zeiss F.2 mount lenses. It's one of the nicest cameras of all time, but I hardly get a chance to fire it up. And since I rarely travel with Nikon mount lenses I would have to bring an entire (somewhat bulky) system just to use the one camera.
I've always loved the Olympus OM4T, never used one, but wouldn't it be a great camera to take out for a ride, especially if you could get your hands on the 180mm f2 that they had in the line up years ago.
Then there's the Leica R6 and R6.2 bodies. I shot with R5 cameras for years but never used the R6 in the field. I'm sure it was a wonderful combo with the Leica 35mm f1.4 they made or that 90mm f2. Now that's a lens.
Rangefinders are a whole different subject but I'd love to find room on an job to to squeeze off a few shots with a Nikon S3 or even the SP..... but now I'm dreaming too big.
I do shoot with a M-mount system, combining the M9 with the Zeiss Ikon film body but there are so many other great cameras that would be fun to take on assignment. I just bought a CL to add to the bag. I'm looking forward to using this small camera since it doesn't add much bulk to the bag and I have to bring the lenses anyway. But I'd love to work in a rural African clinic with an M2 or M4 for a change. Such great cameras that I'll never have room for in my travel system since the bags are filled with the latest digital wonder toy with their bulky zoom lenses and vertical grips and spare batteries. In Malawi spare batteries and chargers for all the different systems took up more space in the Pelican case than my old Leica M6 system.
So many great systems, so few chances to do important work.
One day maybe I'll have the guts to go on an assignment in the jungle/slums/rural clinics/remote orphanages with just one system and a pile of Delta 100 but I can't see when.
Sorry for the rant.
PS.... I didn't even mention the Contax G system. Wow, I've heard the prints would take your breath away from those lenses.
Rob, I don't get around as much as you do but have narrowed my travel gear down to a Hassleblad 501cm with 80mm lens and the XPan II with 45mm and 90mm lens. This way I'm guaranteed to have my cameras on me at all times. I keep it simple and am happy to work the tools for the best shots. Why not give it a shot?
A photographer might take 100 photographs he feels are important to show the world that people are not getting proper medical care in Malawi, but in reality only one picture counts the portrait of child with the caption this child will be dying of AIDS, in order to get him the needed medical attention we have to raise....$, the child doesn't even have to be from Malawi but could be an afro american pre-schooler and the photograph would work as well and would be just as important as the picture of dozens of people infected with HIV/Aids directly from Malawi. I used to be a volunteer for the red cross and this topic came up very often people are more willing to help attractive subjects or children it's the same thing with saving animals show the picture of an endangered insect and nobody will be willing to pay or help said animal, show a picture of a baby seal with large beseeching eyes and the public will be willing to help and pay. And If you want to make important photography that wake up the public the tools for making the pictures shouldn't really matter only the end product.
I am a little confused. Are you complaining about not being able to use the cameras you love for the important work you are doing? Because you certainly don't seem to have any shortage of important photos to make.
Reminds me of the old saying about a man with one clock always know the time, while a man with 2 or more is never sure. You're gear-fixated by profession, if not temperament, I guess.
Friends are falling in love with the Fuji X100 and X10 because it cuts through this conundrum and frees up their attention much like Leica M still does.
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I'm beggining to mourn the absence of the rangefinder forum.