I’m on the way back from a couple of weeks in Australia, and of course Pictures Were Taken. I brought almost all my photo-gear but used it very unevenly; concluded that I have too many lenses, and was left wondering whether you really even need a camera any more. Herewith notes illustrated with Pacific-ocean (mostly) pictures.

Numbers · Don’t know how many I took, but among the photos I kept, 14 were with the Nexus 5X, 119 with the Fujifilm X-T1. Lens stats for the latter:

  Fuji 35mm  58 
  Fuji 55-200mm 26 
  Pentax 50mm  23 
  Fuji 18-55  4 
  Pentax 100mm 
  Fuji 10-24mm 

Wide angle lenses? · If you have a decent phone-cam, you probably don’t need one. Wide-angle shots usually aren’t low-light:

A beach on Phillip Island

Somewhere on Phillip Island.

I unwrapped the Fuji 10-24 once, for a group shot in a small room at a social, with a tripod; it was great for that but I’m sure there was a Plan B. That lens is a fine piece of glass, but it’s been replaced by my phone; anyone want to make me an offer for it?

The winner · The cheap-ish dinky little old 35mm is obviously my fave. You can point it at anything and you’ll probably be happy.

A beach

I’ll run a couple more Oz photosets which will mostly be 35mm so one is enough here. But sometimes I wonder if I’d be just as happy carrying a Fujifilm X100T or Leica Q instead of all these lenses. Small camera, medium-wide fast fixed lens, great ergonomics.

Runner-up · That’d be the big 55-200mm telezoom, remarkably light and agile for what it does. LensRentals had great fun tearing dwn a water-killed sample; it’s amazing what goes into a pretty basic “kit” lens these days.

Let’s take it to the ocean.

Fisherman on the beach
· · ·
People playing in the waves
· · ·
Port Phillip Bay

Not sure why, but I really like that last shot, even though there’s not much in it. Taken across part of Port Phillip Bay,
pointing approximately at Geelong.

Pentax · I took along the lens adapter, of course, and used the 100mm macro once, on sea-shells, and shells within shells.

Eroded seashell with another inside

But also I got lots of smiles out of the reliable 30-year-old 50mm f1.4. A bunch of old friends had gathered in Melbourne to eat and drink lots. I got the idea of passing the camera and manual-focus lens around so each person could take a portrait across the table. It was great fun, and the need to focus added an amusing note of ceremony. With the Fuji’s nifty manual-focus aids, most of the portraits came out. Here’s Lauren by Sally.

Lauren Wood

It’s not my best glass by any objective measure, but has given as much pleasure as any other.

Do we need cameras any more? · Not for wide-angle work; modern mobiles are good enough. At the moment, you need a real camera for any sort of long shot. But I’m wondering why someone doesn’t mount a longer lens pointing out the top of a phone — you’d hold it flat, screen up, and compose looking down, like with a Hasselblad. For extra retro flare, make it square.

What territory can “real” cameras finally defend? For now, they offer fatter pixels, better viewfinders, optical zoom, and physical dials you can spin without seeing.

Maybe the last is most important; because they don’t have to be a phone and a computer and a gamebox and a browser, so every little bit of the design can be about, and just about, taking pictures.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Mihailik (Mar 28 2016, at 23:27)

I said that 5 years ago, on one of your photo-blog-posts: cameras are on a way out in 5-10 years.

There's no physical/optical reason for bulky boxes to beat compact ones. And a phone for now is the easiest compact. One day they'll make wearables work, but for now phone's the king. Cameras are the best sailships of Victorian times: riding the wind towards extinction.

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From: Dave Pawson (Mar 29 2016, at 00:09)

I'd back your X100T idea. KISS principles, those you'd miss wouldn't worry you. Same Fuji quality, images.

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From: joo (Mar 29 2016, at 09:06)

I still find/observe that I have no "pleasure" shooting without viewfinder (optical or not) even if I do take more and more photos with my phone.

I like the idea of having a retro tele - phone though! (Not only for the unwanted joke)

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From: Tony Fisk (Apr 03 2016, at 18:18)

<i>Not sure why, but I re­al­ly like that last shot...tak­en across part of Port Phillip Bay</i>

I'd hazard a guess that it's the visual contrast with ocean shots. We just spent a few days down at Sorrento, where you can walk from the ocean to the bay in about 15 minutes. The difference in sea panorama is dramatic.

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