> Thank you for that very useful insight AG. I like the
> reference to different films...it is like being able to
> achieve electronically what can be done with different camera
> backs on an MF camera only much more.
My perspective on equipment operations is a bit different than a
lot of people. I think in terms of "battlefield conditions"
where you are just trying to survive amidst conditions seemingly
out of your control. This describes most weddings, BTW.
Reviewers, such as Phil at DPREVIEW count buttons and give
common reference material as pertaining to specifications. But
what these reviewers don't talk about are the "intangibles" that
crop up under heavy usage in unusual conditions.
Let's use a wedding shoot as an example. During the
pre-ceremony formals, I am using metered studio lighting and
have everything controlled as much as possible. ISO is low, WB
is custom set to the flash and a few other things are adjusted
for life at its fullest. A few minutes later, I'm shooting
on-camera flash at a higher ISO, different WB and with exposure
compensation. Then I'm outdoors, shooting the bride's arrival
with a different ISO, different WB and no flash. Moments later,
I'm back inside, with flash, exposure compensation, different
WB, etc. During the ceremony I start out with flash and then go
to ambient light (with a different WB and ISO), then comes "the
kiss" where I'm back with flash at a different ISO.
In the above example, Almost EVERY photographer will use TWO
cameras! With the Minolta or Olympus, I can effectively have two
cameras by just selecting a different configuration.
Ok, so you don't shoot weddings and the above example doesn't
apply to you. How about this:
You like shooting landscapes. You'll be using ISO 100, one or
two second anti-shock, RAW, custom WB, spot metering and
single-exposure "advance". Oh, and aRGB, CS3 Saturation, and
Sharpness 0. Nice, good, high-quality setup fine-tuned for
landscape photography. However, you also shoot family pictures.
ISO 400, sequence-drive, AWB, on-camera flash, ESP metering,
sRGB, SHQ, Saturation set to CS2, and Sharpness to +2.
Tell me just how long does it take you to reconfigure your
camera between these uses? How many of you have overlooked one
or more of those settings and screwed something up?
If you are like MOST users, you'll just slap the camera into the
Green-Square position and hope the camera figures it all out for
you (which it usually does a very fine job of doing).
Higher-level pro cameras don't have those green-squares. The
alternative, which seems to be pretty popular, is to have a
second P&S camera you use for the family pics while the DSLR
does the serious stuff.
I consider these "intangibles" to be very important and woefully
overlooked in almost every published review out there. The
reviewers and hobbiests are more concerned with the "tangibles"
like pixel counts, noise-ratings (regardless of how the noise
actually looks in prints) and AF performance. I'm not
suggesting that these are mutually-exclusive attributes and
should be ignored, but few cameras are able to incorporate true
"usability" features while maintaining good "specifications".
The big problem is that most of these "intangibles" are both
usage-related and something that takes weeks to really discover
about the camera. It takes me 600-1000 shots before I'm
comfortable enough with the basic operations and characteristics
of a camera before I feel good enough locking in my own
preferences and exploring all the nooks and crannies of the menu
options. I'm shooting almost 10,000 per year on each of my
digital cameras and there are many times when I feel like a rank
amature with the cameras. There are numerous buttons which I
really have rarely ever used--like the exposure-compensation
button, AEL, BKT, Lock, and Flash buttons. I usually have no
clue what the Noise Filter and Noise Reduction does--when in
doubt, turn both on.
An "intangible" which I never figured I'd run into is the
absolute robustness of the E-1. I've always banged my cameras
around a bit--no big deal. Brassing and nicks are signs of
use--no closet queens here. However, last year, Joel and I were
photographing in the UP when my E-1 was met with a small
avalanche of rocks. It really got pounded. We're talking "end
of service-life" pounding. What the rocks didn't get, the dirt
should have. After spending a few minutes cleaning the camera
up (and whimpering a lot) the only damage was a scratch in the
paint on the prism hump. Over a year later, I still find red
dust in places of the camera I never knew existed.
I'm now using the battery-grip on the E-1. Does it make the
camera better? Well, no (except for improved focus-speed).
Does it make the camera worse? No. What it does is give the
camera an entirely different feel. It also gives the camera a
totally different "appearance". Is appearance an "intangible?"
Absolutely! I consider it to be a rather important one for some
situations. The camera absolutely demands to be respected. I
photographed a holiday event Sunday night and the appearance of
the E-1 with the grip and 14-54 got respect. Nobody questioned
me, my intentions or purpose. They get out of your way. But
when going for a walk with the camera out in the country, I'll
gladly leave the grip home.
I agree with Moose on how he dipped his toes into digital. He
got the DRebel 300. By using such as camera he was able to
learn one he wanted and didn't want in his next digital camera.
I did the same with the Minolta A1. If it wasn't for the QC
problems that Konica-Minolta was having, I would have gotten the
KM-7D instead of the E-1. The one thing I wanted was a reliable
"brick". The E-1 was a huge step backwards in so many ways to
the Minolta A1--and even to my OM-2S and OM-4, but the camera
was solid, made decent images and was trustworthy. The "Memory
Recalls" on the Minoltas are the best in the industry--if I were
to select a camera based solely on that, I'd never even consider
anything else. As I look for my next DSLR, there are certain
"feature" I want, but there are several "intangibles" which I
won't give up. And what is important to me may not necessarily
be important to you.
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