Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Smaller cameras

I've worked all my professional life with big cameras. Bronicas, Hasselblads, Linhof 4x5 and 8x10. But for my 35mm work, which was mostly for slides. I used a Nikon FM. For the life of me, I can't remember why I chose it rather than it's bigger brother professional Nikons. Choose it I did and it served me well for many years. It was petite, small and comfortable in the hand and non aggressive in it's appearance, but usually, that didn't matter. Later, after a career switch and then a switchback, I ended up using a Canon, which of course, was big and ugly. But for my personal work, which eventually led me to Alamy, I bought a Contax G2, a rangefinder but totally automatic (if you wanted it) with fantastic Zeiss lenses. It was a joy to use, small and light but with a quality which I considered to be the equivalent of the 6x4.5 cm Mamiya I used professionally a lot. So a bag of the camera and four lenses was a doddle to walk around with when exploring exotic places.

Therefore I am gladdened by the industry trend towards EVIL cameras. EVIL stands for electronic viewfinder interchangeable lenses. Fuji has the XPro-1 and the lenses are supposed to be very good. Nikon has it's new 1 system and Canon is bringing out it's solution in late summer. Meanwhile the Olympus OM-D EM5 is getting good reviews. This is a case of the industry listening to the gripes of it's customers and that is gratifying.
Bear in mind that the DSLR will not be made redundant by this development. I could never have envisaged using my G2 in the studio, and many of the Alamy contributors who have gone in the direction of EVIL cameras have not disposed of their DSLRs, they've simply added to their arsenal.
I still wish somebody would resurrect Contax and bring back a digital version of the G2 and it's Zeiss lenses.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

British Journal of Photography

The eminent British Journal of Photography has been published since 1854. That's a hell of a long time to be such a guiding light to enthusiasts and professionals alike. My father took the magazine and his father before him and even perhaps his father, because they were all professional photographers, in all sorts of genres. I grew up in a house where the bookshelves were lined with the typical A5 sized green bound annuals since, I think, the 1920's, at least. The photos were exciting and inspiring. As were the published formulae for developer and fixer solutions.
In the 1960's, as a teenager, I remember that the content took a decidedly technical direction and the magazines were filled with graphs and diagrams and a lot of industrial photographs. A bit boring for a young lad like me. Then, of course Dave Bailey, Terence Donovan and Brian Duffy came along and changed everything. I don't remember much of their influence on the magazine, but the stuff in the annual was explosive.
In recent times the BJP, as it has always been called, has changed from a weekly to a monthly, with a massive improvement in print quality. It really is printed very nicely. But, you see, I have a gripe which not only I have expressed before. The BJP seems to have forgotten it's niche as an important professional journal by not publishing the work of professionals. Most of the photos appear, to me at least, to be of the art variety. Contemporary art photographs which explore the possibilities of the captured image.

Now that's all very well but the guy who is practising photography as a profession is not getting the opportunity to see what the creative minds in his field are doing. I honestly think, that despite the rationale behind illustrating what directions art photographers are pursuing, a lot of the BJP's loyal readers would like to see what the up to date directions professionals making a an everyday living from photography are taking. The editors of BJP are adamant in their concept of what the magazine should publish, but I think I am expressing a desire to see a change which many share.