Trying a new approach to photography

After a little bit of struggling to find a way to get camera gear at a price that’s a little more tolerable, I think I’ve come up with a solution.

First, I want to state what my goals have been for gear lately. I travel a whole lot. Packing 30 pounds of camera gear is a bit much at times, so I have been trying to find a way to shed weight without losing quality. Generally speaking better cameras weigh more, or so I thought. I had a dream of owning a 20 megapixel camera body with fast and good lenses, all in a small package.

Honestly, I can’t afford new equipment, it’s just too expensive. Sure, the new Canon 5d mark III is nice, but it’s costs as much as I spent on my car. It’s too much. Add to that a couple of F/2.8 L lenses and we are talking about $10k or so. More than I’ve spent on every car I’ve owned for the last 7 years. Over the years I’ve found good deals on used gear through Craigslist and eBay, but I’ve also noticed that there are literally thousands of older lenses out there for 35mm bodies that are not being used and could be had for cheap. Good glass, and in some cases at a fraction of the cost of what would fit on my canon DSLR. The question then became how can I take advantage of this?

I’ve already proven that I don’t have the ability to handle shooting film in a reasonable or cost effective manner, so using an old film body is not a good solution, which is too bad. Maybe someday I’ll be able to set up my own dark room and play with the magic of film, but that’s at least a little ways off.

At some point I started thinking about adapters for lenses, a piece that would mount on my canon DSLR body and allow me to use older lenses of varying brands, and that’s when I found the micro four thirds crowd. It seems that there are quite a few folks who are just like me (imagine that!) and want something a little different. Micro four thirds cameras are made by olympus and panasonic at this point, and they both use the same lens mount. The awesome thing about these little cameras is that they are mirrorless, so they are small, but the best part is that it’s possible to put an adapter on them and use older 35mm lenses with no change in the focal length. This makes quite a bit of sense, and solves a couple of my delimnas. First, is a decent micro four thirds body can be had for a fraction of the cost of an SLR with similar qualities. Second, is that lenses can be purchased for cheap, good lenses actually. Third, i want to get away from using the bigger CF memory cards, and switch over to more modern SD memory cards. Fourth is that i want to be able to buy bodies as deals come up of more than one manufacture. And finally, the whole thing is quite a bit easier to pack around.

Now I’m going to have to try it out. I ordered a used panasonic lumix dgc-gf3 body and found a 50 mm prime lens that already has an adapter with it all for under $200. Unfortunately I couldn’t get it to the ship, so my report on how it works will have to wait until I get off work in three weeks. I am excited and can’t wait to give it a test. Luckily I’ll be in Baltimore at that time, so I aught to be able to find some interesting stuff to take pictures of!

Photo contests, are they bad?

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I’ve been thinking more and more about how to get more involved in photography, and how to get my name out into the world. The thought of photo contests has crossed my mind a few times, but I really don’t know a whole lot about it. I’ve done a little bit of “googling” on the subject, and now I’m even more confused on what is the right stance.

The pros seem to be that your pictures and your name gets put on a site or possibly used and seen by many people. It’s also a positive thing to be judged by people in general, I would guess.

The cons are that many of these contests have some not so good rules. The biggest problem that I see is that once you enter a picture the rights to that picture belong to the company who runs the contest and they can do with it what they please, including selling it to whomever. It would suck to see my picture used for advertising, when I didn’t get any credit or payment for my hard work.

So, if I am asked if photo contests are good or bad for a person to use as a way to get known, I would have to say that it’s probably ok if you are careful about which ones you enter and take special note of how they can use entered photos in the future. I personally feel like it would be better to promote yourself in other ways, but I may enter a contest or two in time. What other ways, you ask? How about a website, or a blog? Lets keep that for another day.

Comments with your thoughts are and will be appreciated!

Quote of the day

Money and experience can insulate you from calamity, but never perfectly; when it comes down to it, you are responsible for your own happiness. Are you ready for that kind of responsibility? I wasn’t always- but I am now, I think.

Matt Gross from the Turk who loved apples: And other tales of losing my way around the world

How easy it is

I find it interesting how easy it is to get caught up in a strange alternate reality where I have to have all the latest gadgets and doodads. I mean sure, it would be nice to have the perfect gear to do all the things we want to do in life, but does it really make things better?

The short answer is that it doesn’t. In reality, in the real world, you can have a good time with your old gear, or your lack of gear, and after a while you start to forget that you don’t have the 36 megapixel camera or the $2000 laptop. It’s ok. Life goes on and I would even venture a guess that says maybe you would be better off without them. I’ve pondered many times whether its better to spend money on nice gear or to spend the money on a ticket to somewhere, anywhere. Most days the ticket wins over the gear.

I recently got sucked into a conundrum of gadgetry, a vortex of must have if you will. I find it completely humorous when I do this to myself, because I do it often. Usually, I escape unscathed, but not always. The way it usually goes is that I’ve been at work a little while, I have a little money saved and that’s in the back of my mind. Then someone comes along with a newfangled camera, or a really nice laptop and the wheels start turning. From there I start asking about their stuff, then I search it out on the net and then, in a frenzy now, I realize that I don’t really NEED THAT STUFF. I just want it. So, then I start to relax, because it doesn’t make me a better photographer, writer or traveler, and I take some deep breaths and then it goes away.

The aftermath of it all is a fear that I have some strange mental disorder, and then I question my brain a little and then I realize that it’s all not really that strange, yet really it is. Anyways, at this point I’m grateful that I wasn’t like the millions of people who have self induced buyers remorse at this very second, and I move along. Usually, I do this by day dreaming about being in a village some where in the third world with no technology whatsoever.

Funny, right?