• #643. Making the switch
  • #643. Making the switch
  • #643. Making the switch
  • #643. Making the switch

#643. Making the switch

Bob Hamilton is a regular contributor to DearSusan.
He makes some interesting points here which might interest us all in this lengthy article.
 

****************************************************************************
 

I’m getting on in years and have this increasing urge to push my personal envelope and, at the same time, do something which has a bit more purpose and meaning, photographically speaking that is.

 

I’ll explain the above statement by saying that I’ve been an almost solely “landscape photographer” for more decades than I care to mention, photography which has usually been done in conjunction with my passion for walking in the upland and mountain areas of Great Britain, but that I’ve become increasingly disenchanted with what I would describe as the somewhat sterile nature of my images, which have deliberately excluded anything living from them, and, now, seek, more and more, to reverse that style to make sense and meaning of the environments in which I walk and, hopefully, bring them to life.

 

I’ve always had a fascination for, and interest in, fauna and flora, in particular bird life, and, over the past year or so have set out on my various excursions with the deliberate intention of capturing those aspects, in addition to the grand view, and have tried to “tool up” accordingly.

 

At the beginning of this new stage in my photographic life, I realized that my existing equipment of Leica S and Sony A7R2 was simply not going to do the job for me as, even if they were available, the size and weight of the lenses with the focal reach needed would be far too large and heavy to carry comfortably and that I would have to choose in advance which type of photography I set out to do, rather than being able to be flexible as opportunities arose… either that, or hire a Sherpa to do my carrying for me! I knew that Leica were never going to bring out a focal length long enough to do what I needed, as development of the S system effectively ceased a couple of years ago, and, as stated above, the weight and bulk (and speed) of such a lens would make it impossible for me to carry around the hills. The same is able to be said for Sony with its A system, as not even they are able to defeat the laws of physics and the image circle diameter necessary to cover a full frame sensor. The mirrorless camera bodies may be lighter and more compact than their optical viewfinder siblings but the lenses are barely so and never will be.

 

A smaller format it would have to be, despite the incumbent compromises, and, setting out on a short period of research, I quickly arrived at the two alternative systems of Olympus Micro Four Thirds and Fujifilm APS-C, the latter choice strongly aided and abetted by Mr. Perton’s praise for it and the obvious quality of his images taken with it and the fact that I had previously owned and used the Olympus O-MD E-M1 Mark 1 and several “Pro” grade lenses and, while I admired it’s build and optical quality and most of its design, I was never really satisfied with the image quality it produced.

 

My comparison exercise consisted of receiving RAW images taken by a friend in Australia on his new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark 2 and downloading further RAW files taken using that system from the internet and being very kindly given the loan of a Fujifilm X-T2 with the 23mm f2, 35mm f2 and 50-140mm f2.8 lenses by a former colleague. I’m afraid it was no real contest as I found the Fuji files and camera usage suited my type of photography much better than the Olympus, especially in situations where I wanted to use wider angle lenses which is an area where I feel, from experience, that the smaller format does fall down.

 

Having done my research, I, therefore, invested in a Fuji X-T2 and decided to buy the new weather resistant 23mm f2 and 35mm f2 lenses, along with the superb, and also weather resistant, 50-140mm f2.8, 100-400mm f4.5-f5.6 and 1.4x teleconverter for my wildlife work and the 60mm f2.4 macro for still life. The 16mm f1.4 and a second hand 18mm f2 quickly followed for wide angle landscape work.

 

To say that I am pleased with my purchase would be an under-statement. As the saying goes, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” and it has been my go to system for all types of photography over the past 10 months, relegating my Sony A7R2 system to only occasional use, if only to remind myself how competent, easy and enjoyable to use the Fuji is by comparison, and has led me to dispose of my Leica S system, a step I would never have contemplated a year or so ago.

 

Is the Fuji perfect? Of course not, as nothing made by Man can ever be “perfect” and “perfection” is an extremely subjective term, but for me, it is the “perfect compromise”, doing some things superbly well and others sufficiently well. It does landscape work sufficiently well and competently and wildlife work superbly, is extremely robust, well made and, for the most part, well thought out and is intuitive, easy and enjoyable to use, an aspect we amateur photographers often miss in the quest for the holy grail of ultimate image quality. Its sensor produces images which print superbly up to its native A2 size (at 300dpi) and beyond, prints which are, at that size and to my eye, indistinguishable from those made from images taken with the higher resolution Sony or Leica cameras. The optical and build quality of the lenses I own give nothing away to those from the other two systems mentioned above and the lenses are, obviously, much lighter and more compact.

 

I apologize if I’m beginning to sound like a Fuji fanboy and can only assure you that I’m not and that such evangelical devotion and blindness is not my style. I invested in the Fuji system with eyes wide open, in the full understanding and appreciation of the compromises I would have to make. A system has to perform for me or it goes and I have little, or no, sentimental attachment to equipment which doesn’t do that, as evidenced by the number of different systems I’ve had over the years, in particular by my “beloved” Leica S.

 

Although internet screen resolution is no way to judge the total quality of images, I’ll let some of my images of the past ten months do the talking for me and assure you that each prints superbly well up to its native A2 size (even those taken at what might be considered to be ridiculously high ISO settings) a size which, when all is said and done, for a 24 megapixel sensor, only equates to a Photoshop screen resolution of 24% and not the ridiculous 200% or 300% at which many images appear now to be judged in many internet forums.

 

The first image was taken a week or so ago and is of a diving Kingfisher. The Kingfisher is an extremely small bird, no larger than a sparrow, and moves with extreme speed as it dives. To put its size into some perspective, the fish it is catching are no longer than the first joint of my thumb – at most, three centimetres. As a result, the image was taken from a rudimentary hide less than three metres away from the pool into which the bird was diving, necessitating a shutter speed of 1/3000th of a second or faster to capture the action at an aperture of f4.5 to try to obtain the benefit of some depth of field. Given the quickly changing lighting, the resultant ISO varied between 6400 and 10000 and the image you see was taken at ISO 8000. There is noise in the image but it is not intrusive and is uniform and more like very fine grain in nature with no colour blotching and, importantly, the fidelity and clarity of the colours have been retained. The camera was set to use the silent electronic shutter, shooting at 14 frames per second to capture as much of the action as possible. This performance would have been impossible with film and would be impossible to equal or better with most of today’s digital cameras, even those specially designed for such work. Even the dynamic range of the sensor is pretty well retained at such a heady ISO level. A truly superb performance from the X-T2, plus booster grip and 50-140mm f2.8 lens – a combination which costs just under £3,000 Sterling, is weather resistant and weighs in at a touch below 1.75 kgs.

 

Image Number 1 – 8065801

Image Number 1 - 8065801

Image Number 1 – 8065801

 

The second image was taken on the same day, using the 100-400mm lens and was shot at a much less flamboyant ISO 800, as the juvenile Sparrowhawk was virtually stationary, other than its constantly moving and watchful head. The bokeh at 400mm (600mm full frame equivalent) and at an aperture of f5.6 is, to my eyes, lovely and compliments beautifully the detailed, yet delicate, rendering of sensor and lens. Colour quality is, again, superb and is a feature of the Fuji sensor and the Lightroom profiles. (I only shoot RAW).

 

Image Number 2 – 8066450

Image Number 2 - 8066450

Image Number 2 – 8066450

 

The third image was again shot with the 100-400mm lens but, this time, with the addition of the 1.4x teleconverter, making it into the full frame equivalent of a 840mm lens. It was shot at ISO 640 and cropped into a panoramic format to accentuate the line of Puffins and focus attention on the bird staring at the camera. The image was shot hand held using the excellent image stabilization of the lens – a package weighing in at below 2.4 kgs.

 

Image Number 3 – 7994930

Image Number 3 - 7994930

Image Number 3 – 7994930

 

The fourth image of a Dog Rose, taken using the 35mm f2 lens, is of a completely different nature and helps to show the flexibility of the system. Shot hand held, with a lens which would not normally be associated with this type of subject, with no image stabilization available and at ISO 400 to minimise image shake, the image displays a lovely colour palette and tonality.

 

Image Number 4 – 7890122

Image Number 4 - 7890122

Image Number 4 – 7890122

 

The fifth image, taken using the 18mm f2 lens, demonstrates how well the camera deals with my traditional type of landscape work. Taken using a tripod, at ISO 200, the image shows excellent resolution and dynamic range and, again demonstrates the quality of the colour palette and tone.

 

Image Number 5 – 7984170

Image Number 5 - 7984170

Image Number 5 – 7984170

 

The sixth image, of snow squalls sweeping over the Cuillin mountains on the Isle of Skye, was taken using the 50-140mm lens from the roof of my vehicle to give some extra height to the image. Again, it demonstrates how well the camera takes to detailed landscape work and how good the colour palette and tonality are.

 

Image Number 6 – 7633101

Image Number 6 - 7633101

Image Number 6 – 7633101

 

The final image (you’ll be glad to read) is of a wild Buzzard in flight and was taken using the 100-400mm lens hand held at the 400mm focal length, at an ISO of 800, enabling the action to be frozen by using a shutter speed of 1/1250th of a second, while panning slowly with the moving bird.

 

Image Number 7 – 7932131

Image Number 7 - 7932131

Image Number 7 – 7932131

 

I apologise for the length of this article but I hope it has given you some food for thought and an appreciation for what camera systems which might be considered as being of “lesser quality” are able to achieve when used with understanding and an honest recognition of their potential shortcomings – even when used by someone learning a new genre of photography. As I said, no system is perfect and the object is to honestly evaluate and recognize one’s needs and, thereby, achieve the perfect compromise able to meet them.

www.bobhamiltonphotography.com
 


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30 Comments

  1. Avatar
    jean pierre (pete) guaron September 13, 2017

    LOL – been there, done that – junked all my B&W film gear, and decided to spend what time I have left exploring digital and the colour opportunities it provides (like “home processing” of colour photography – something I could never have done in the analogue phase).

    While I have admired your landscapes in you previous postings, Bob, these photos have completely blown me out the window.

    As to any issues of image quality – that ends up as being “beauty in the eye of the beholder”. And that beauty isn’t necessarily derived from the size of the sensor, or the number of pixels it has, or the particular lens. Mostly, in fact, it comes from the person holding the camera. I find cameras are an inanimate object – it’s the holder who takes the photo, the camera just does as it’s told.

    That said – the quality of these images is startlingly high. I’ve cheated – I opened them up on my screen and examined them carefully – they are technically bloody marvellous, and I did it because of your comments, to see why you felt the need to make them – because I’d already decided the photos were BRILLIANT.

    I never enlarge any bigger than A3 these days. Because most of my photos are printed A4 or 4×6, and only a handful as large as A3, there’s simply no point – to go as large as A2 would require a bigger printer, and it wouldn’t be happy on a diet of smaller prints – the printers that do A2 or larger do no function terribly well if you feed them tadpoles instead of tuna – it does horrible things to the printer head.

    All I can add to all that twaddle is – “please, please – post some more of them!”

    • Avatar
      Bob Hamilton September 13, 2017

      Thanks Pete.
      I can only agree with your comments and thank you for them.
      It is all about the photographer but, as I said in my reply to Michael’s comment, “the gear sure as hell helps”, especially when it’s as well made and conceived as the Fuji X system.
      There’s a load of crap talked by the “internet mafia” about sensor size, sensor format and dynamic range and, to be honest, I’m sure they haven’t a clue what they’re talking about and, like a lot of internet “experts” talk completely out of their backsides with very little real experience of the various formats and systems on offer. Unfortunately, for my bank balance that is, I have only too much such experience and hope that my article inspires others to kick off the shackles imposed by the film era to realise that size isn’t everything and that sweet and totally competent things can come in “small” packages.
      Happy snapping.
      Bob

      • Avatar
        jean pierre (pete) guaron September 14, 2017

        Wholeheartedly agree. When I started exploring digital seriously I found myself confused by the crossfire about pixels and started asking questions – when I started receiving answers, I was fascinated by the weird and wonderful things “they” told me.

        My “take it with me always” only has a 12.8 megapixel 1.5″-type CMOS sensor. I don’t imagine I’d ever choose to make an A2 print off it, but I regularly make A4 prints from it and the people I’ve taken those photos for are deliriously happy with the quality of them. I suspect – but could never prove – that because its sensor is ALMOST half-frame, and it has a low pixel count (but larger pixels), those factors combine to produce shots with adequate sharpness and astonishingly good colour. Not that I ever liked the uber-rich colours of Kodacolor slide film, but I suspect larger pixels can store more information than heaps more (but smaller) pixels – and I also suspect they impact on tonal range or quality.

        When I want a bigger print, the D810 does a perfectly adequate job. Hardly surprising – a short time back it was the best thing since sliced bread, and if it was “perfect” then, it’s hardly likely to have suddenly turned into a complete dud now. My first “superior” camera was a Zeiss Contarex with a 50mm Planar lens, and I ran it for half a century – not that I plan on living long enough to do that with the D810 🙂

        I keep a spreadsheet of my photos and analyse it. It’s interesting. It tells ME what I “need”, according to the photographs I take. Puts a bit of a dampener on GAS 🙂

        PS – more bird shots, please 🙂 If I can’t take ’em myself**, I can at least enjoy yours! I have adored puffins, all my life – fell in love with them when I was in pre-school. And kingfishers are endemic here – mostly kookaburras, but there are other more colourful ones, similar to your first shot. The garden at my previous house was like an open aviary – deliberately designed to provide a bird friendly environment, and it worked amazingly well – the birds that made use of it came in large numbers and an astounding variety.
        ** (my longest lens is 140mm in 35mm terms)

        • Avatar
          Bob Hamilton September 14, 2017

          Pete,
          The rules of engagement changed completely with digital and, especially, the high resolution digital we now use and we need to move away from the pre (and mis) conceptions inherited from our days shooting film.
          I’ve compared professionally scanned 645 transparencies, taken with a Contax 645 and its beautiful Zeiss lenses, to 24 megapixel digital images and the digital, in my opinion, is leagues ahead in terms of resolution, cleanliness of image and colour fidelity, not to mention dynamic range and the adjustments which can be made to the file by today’s RAW processors…..and don’t even talk about 35mm film…!!!
          We don’t know we’re born and I just wish that I were 20 years younger.
          Fauna of all descriptions is definitely on my list and I’ll endeavour to post some more images in the near future.
          Thanks again.
          Bob

  2. Avatar
    Michael Demeyer September 13, 2017

    Bob,

    Nice expansion of the envelope. Trying new things can be both challenging and rewarding. For me, my envelope expansion was to go beyond my landscape/architecture background (mostly 4×5″ in the film days) and to begin to learn to do casual, event-based people photography. In my case, driven by creating a (somewhat) participative activity to align with my wife’s highly social lifestyle. I’ve come a very long way in the past few years and have come to enjoy both the activity, the results, and the appreciation from others for a level of remembrance that goes far beyond cellphone selfies.

    While I still focus on my own core photographic interests – on a 1-year assignment now in Beijing and finding much fascinating to explore and photograph – I’ve enjoyed both the challenge and rewards of this new addition to my work. And I even look forward to the parties and events!

    Michael

    • Avatar
      Bob Hamilton September 13, 2017

      Thanks Michael.
      For me, rewardng – very rewarding – and a new chapter in my photographic life while there’s still life in me.
      It’s amazing what a new system can do for one, especially when it’s so well thought out and made.
      Equipment maketh not the photographer but it sure as hell helps…!!!
      Enjoy your challenges and good luck with them.
      Bob

  3. Avatar
    pascaljappy September 13, 2017

    Bob, 3 things :

    First, thank you so much for sharing this !

    Second, do I need to comment on how brilliant those images are ?

    Third : “lesser quality”. That’s a point that’s not being addressed properly by the community. The term probably covers two distinct meanings : one is the shooting envelope. And it appears that the system you are describing is second to none (probably not even to the new Sony A9) in a superbly comfortable package. The other is image quality. And my recent work with old smartphones continues to convince me that the who concept is nonesense. There are physical capabilities and measurements that translate into a certain look, for each sensor size and each camera. So the look from one is different to the look from the other. And a FF camera will have a seriously hard time replicating the look of a phone image, just as the phone will struggle in the opposite direction. Learning to work with the strenghts and limitations of all these systems allows us to cultivate a wide range of renderings that can’t be considered better or worse but different. Just like the distortion in a guitar amp makes it ridiculously bad for HiFi and vice versa.

    All this to say that is you love the handling of your gear and the look of your images (who wouldn’t) then you have made a great choice. The fact that it’s more affordable only adds to its charm.

    Cheers,
    Pascal

    • Avatar
      Bob Hamilton September 13, 2017

      Thanks Pascal. I can honestly say that I haven’t enjoyed using a camera and its lenses as much in years or being so impressed by the quality of the images they produce. It shouldn’t be surprising, given the DNA and heritage of the maker, that I can see the best of film and digital in the system’s output. I’m smitten and I don’t care if the sensor size is “only” APS-C and the resolution ‘only” 24 mpx.
      Bob

      • Avatar
        jean pierre (pete) guaron September 17, 2017

        This “only” business fascinates me, Bob. My PowerShot is “only” 20MP, and the photos are fine, for my purposes – although if I was producing an A3 or A2 print, I’d rather take it from the D810’s 36MP sensor – but the difference isn’t all that great, and from a proper viewing distance (do people understand that?) the difference is scarcely noticeable. I think there’s a rather extraneous element involved in this kind of debate – GAS or “gear snobbery” or something – kind of like finding myself sitting next to an idiot in Montmartre who had 5 Leicas hanging around his neck, wanted to know what I was shooting, and proceeded to lose interest when he realised it was “just a D810”. Never having had a Leica – do any of them do any better than a D810 with a 55mm Otus on its snout? I just shuddered, and wished he’d go away. Just as doggie dumps attract blow flies, people like him with 5 Leicas around his neck and the red spots that go with the territory attract all sorts of very undesirable people, in a place like a cafe in the tourist precinct in Montmartre, and I don’t like being anywhere NEAR them.

        • Avatar
          Bob Hamilton September 17, 2017

          Pete,
          I couldn’t agree more and it’s something about which I’ve been “banging on” for some time now.
          Show an A2 print taken with the 24 megapixel Fuji and one taken with the Leica S or Sony A7R2 to the “man in the street” (and to most experienced photographers, for that matter) and they won’t be able to tell the difference.
          I simply laugh inwardly at the type of person you describe and get on with enjoying my photography which is, after all, what it’s all about.
          Bob

  4. Avatar
    Scott Edwards September 14, 2017

    Outstanding post. A lengthy one? Not at all! Love the images and love your honesty even more. I remember a series you did on the Skye Islands with Leica, I believe. The images were just amazing and with your commentary I felt like I was there. It made me want to go! So, your profession for wanting to squeeze more life from your work is even more meaningful and something that I imagine most readers can relate to. Yes, one of the few drawbacks for me, right now at least, for the Sony system is my inability to tred through Chicago winters when the weather transitions from rain to ice to snow… I get “skeered” of water… too many stories out there… So I take your point. At any rate, great work, great “confession” and honesty! Look forward to your next post!

    • Avatar
      Bob Hamilton September 14, 2017

      Many thanks, Scott.
      Like you, I don’t fully trust the Sony A7R2 in anything other than slightly damp conditions at worst and have struggled frustratingly with protective covers when the rain came down. I’ve yet to fully test the Fuji in such conditions but am advised that it is pretty robust, a claim substantiated by many on the internet. My (ex) Leica S was extremely weatherproof but, as I said in my post, it had to go as it was quite simply holding me back because of its form factor and the obvious lack of development by Leica – a product which has definitely entered its end of life cycle, whereas the future with Fuji looks extremely promising.
      Bob

      • Avatar
        jean pierre (pete) guaron September 14, 2017

        LMAO – you wouldn’t want to take my D810 out, with any of the Otus lenses!!!!!!!

        • Avatar
          Bob Hamilton September 14, 2017

          Great camera and fantastic lenses but, given the weight and bulk, I’d be as well off investing in a Fuji GFX50S. For my needs, however, as the article siad, I need to compromise to lengthen my ability to enjoy the great outdoors, with emphasis on the word “enjoy”, a word of which we amateurs so easily lose sight in our quest for “ultimate image quality”, whatever that means and however important it may be to real world photography.
          Bob

          • Avatar
            jean pierre (pete) guaron September 17, 2017

            It’s not even the weight – the Otus lenses have no attempt at weather proofing, and I’m a bit iffy about the D810 from that point of view, too. Stick with your gear! – it’s much more sensible. Mine needs too much babying, it wouldn’t do for bird photography. Anyway last time I priced a super tele lens from Zeiss was years ago, for my Contarex – and when the price of their 1000mm Mirotar moved from AUD$6,500 to AUD$[POA], I kind of lost interest. Even then, you could buy quite a good car for that kind of money (not just your stock standard family sedan). Frankly that kind of thing is rather absurd – no matter how much I love Zeiss. 🙂

          • Avatar
            Bob Hamilton September 17, 2017

            Pete,
            Again, I agree. I don’t abuse my equipment but I want to know that it will simply work, in many ways regardless of what Mother Nature throws at it.
            When you see a rainbow, the clue’s in the name and I don’t want to have to put my kit away and miss a golden opportunity because I’m concerned that my camera will begin to fry…!!!
            Bob

  5. Avatar
    Soso September 15, 2017

    So what does this tells us about the Leica S then if a crop sensor can replace it by simple convenience?

    • Avatar
      Bob Hamilton September 16, 2017

      That it’s dead. It certainly is as far as Leica management are concerned. They just haven’t been considerate enough to their loyal customers to be honest and advise them of the fact, presumably in an effort to offload as many pieces of S system equipment as possible before the penny truly drops – hence the recent promotions and price reductions, which have only further diluted the resale values for loyal (ex and never to return) customers such as myself to the point where I almost had to give my S sytem away. In terms of real life image quality between the S system and smaller format equipment, there’s not enough of a difference, if any at all, to justify the price and its weight and bulk.

  6. Avatar
    Adrian September 16, 2017

    There seems to be a disturbance in the DS force, as I found this article posted about a week ago and hadn’t seen in, tried to leave a comment and my connection failed, so I lost my words. I can’t really remember what I said…

    Anyway…

    Are these out of camera jpegs? Some have very pleasing colour and tone.

    You seem to specialise in photographic genres that don’t inspire me! Sorry. Landscapes often leave me cold and unmoved, as do wildlife photos, although I understand the effort and commitment that can be required to achieve them.

    • Avatar
      Adrian September 16, 2017

      Apologies Bob – having lost my original comment the other day, and written this one in haste, when I read it again it sounds rather negative (about your photos), which wasn’t my intent. Some of the photographs are very pleasing – the kingfisher is very special, and I like the pink sky and colours in #5.

      • Avatar
        Bob Hamilton September 17, 2017

        Adrian,
        No problem.
        The beauty of the world in which we live is the diversity of people – their thoughts, likes and dislikes. It would be a sad and boring place if we were all the same.
        Bob

    • Avatar
      Bob Hamilton September 16, 2017

      Adrian,
      No problem. Each to their own – likes and opinions – and it’s such diversity which makes the world go around and be such an interesting place. It would be terrible if we all had the same mindset – how dull and boring.
      These are not OOC JPEG’s but RAW files converted in Lightroom using the Adobe version of the Fuji film profiles (whichever appears more appropriate to the image (normally “Provia”) and then “finished off” in Photoshop.
      Bob

      • Avatar
        Adrian September 17, 2017

        Thanks Bob. I thought from your comment about colour and tone that perhaps these were camera jpegs (since lots of people comment on how much they like the Fuji jpegs). I never had much luck with Adobe during my time of X Pro 1 ownership (2012-2015) as frankly the results it produced were pretty mediocre, and lacked the sharpness that a sensor without an AA filter should offer. In fact I was so disgruntled I gave up on Adobe completely, and never went back! It seems that they have made some improvements since then (as one might hope!).

        Regarding subject matter, I sometimes find landscapes particularly tiring. In large part this is due to a trend where every UK amateur landscape photographer feels the need to emulate Joe Cornish or Charlie Waite with their over-saturated faux-velvia colour palette and big stopped ND filters for the obligatory “dream like” flowing water. I know many can gaze at a landscape photo for hours and admire the lighting, colour etc whereas they often hold no such interest for me. Perhaps it’s because I’m a country boy who say the light and moved to the city. As I once said to a colleague, the countryside is quite nice viewed from the train window when you are travelling somewhere else, but I wouldn’t want to go there!

        I assume you bird photographs are a reflection of a personal interest in birding? I think I just don’t have the patience!

        • Avatar
          Bob Hamilton September 17, 2017

          Adrian,
          To my eyes, Lightroom has definitely improved over the past few iterations, perhaps helped by my understanding now that the default settings for matters such as sharpening are not apropriate and need experimentation and adjustment.
          Adrian,
          Like you, I can’t stand milky or cotton wool water, as that’s most definitely not what I see in Nature and I think it leads to a misunderstanding of what the image is about and leads to viewer disconnection. Most of my landscape images are now taken with the equivalent of a 70-200mm zoom lens, rather than a wide angle, as I feel that the longer focal length helps to distil what is essential in the image and aids the viewer’s understanding of it, rather than introducing confusion by too many, potentially competing, conflicting and unnecessary elements. I’m always conscious that we should remove elements from an image, rather than introduce elements – landscape or other.
          I, too, was born a “country boy” and moved to the city but have since returned to the countryside which gives me so much contentment and inspiration and have, as my article said, tried to move away from taking pretty (hopefully anyway), but sterile, landscape images in an effort to try to make some real sense of the landscape and its purpose.
          Bob

          • Avatar
            Adrian September 17, 2017

            I remember having to endlessly adjust the sharpening and NR settings in LR with x trans raw files, and still never being very happy. SilkyPix Developer Studio did a much better job, and I now use it all the time – a review come “how to” article should be published soon, and although I appreciate that when you have a large library in one software tool it’s hard to change (or you don’t want to), I would encourage you to at least try a free download just to see how your files look in SP Pro v8. The newer sharpening routine (it offers 4 types!) is one of the best I’ve used/seen.

            Yes those damn fluffy streams and waterfalls! So removed from reality…

            And, I’ve lost count of discussion online where someone says they want to buy an ultra wide angle lens for landscapes, and I always tell them to get a “standard” zoom or maybe a tele. It’s not that ultra wides don’t have their use, but they need careful composition etc to make great photographs with them.

            I like your idea of “removal”, it’s something that had been subconsciously playing on my mind regarding composition for a while – I tend to think of words like “simplicity” or “graphic”. I even apply it to physique portraits – other similar work often photographs the subject in front of some perhaps dramatic background. I’ve never really understood this – is the viewer supposed to admire the physique or the view? – so I tend to prefer very plain locations – “simplicity”.

            I get the idea of the calm.pastoral quality of nature and the countryside – but I get bored very easily, like to have people and things like the arts etc around me, and always have to be “doing” something (although less now than when younger!). Perhaps the appeal will grow with greater years.

          • Avatar
            Bob Hamilton September 17, 2017

            Thanks Adrian. I’ll give it a try and look forward to your article on the subject.
            Re the countryside, I’m a bit of a loner, completely happy with my own company and confident on my own, even (or maybe especially) in the wildest and remotest of places. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a natter if I come across another soul when out in the hills.
            Bob

          • Avatar
            Adrian September 17, 2017

            I once saw a documentary about someone who had been exploring and photographing the American desert.
            It really struck a chord with me (sorry I can’t remember who, it was several years ago on TV).
            He said he used to drive through the desert and never stop. Then he used to stop briefly and walk a little way into the desert, but would feel uncomfortable or insecure about being there.

            Gradually, he stopped more and spent longer there, until eventually he would happily spend several days there, camping out in the desert and exploring the American wild.

            His feelings on his early ventures into the “wilderness” exactly mirror how I feel when I get “too far” from civilisation – out of my own “comfort zone” and feeling somewhat uncomfortable.

            I don’t like being too far from civilisation even in the UK, let alone in foreign places. A Thai friend who’s parents live in a house outside of the city surrounded by fields once asked me if I would like to go camping there. When I said no, he asked if it was because I was afraid of ghosts (Thai people often have strong spirituality and are quite superstitious). My reply was that I didn’t mind the ghosts, it was the insects, spiders, snakes and rats I was more concerned about!

            Many years ago I looked into travelling to Mongolia, but when the advice was that you should take a satellite phone, I decided it wasn’t a place for me (I think it has changed now). In Thailand, and other neighbouring countries, I usually get a mobile phone service even out in the countryside, and often better than in rural England (I suspect since in developing countries the population have become so reliant on mobile phone service because they have no land lines, the investment in infrastructure is better).

            These things make me comfortable – and although it’s good to challenge yourself, I’ve learnt it’s folly to try and go against your nature and do things you are not comfortable with.

          • Avatar
            Bob Hamilton September 18, 2017

            I totally understand, Adrian, and can only say that we are “fortunate” in the UK in that we don’t have any really dangerous beasts or high end predators. I think that I would be a bit more concerned going walking where I am likely to encounter a grizzly bear, for example…!!! Having said that, I put the word “fortunate” in quotation marks as the lack of any high end predators, other than man, means that certain upland areas of the UK are in danger of being overrun and nibbled into even more of a desert condition by the vast numbers of deer.
            Bob

  7. Avatar
    Brian September 17, 2017

    Interesting and timely for me. I’ve just dumped my Sony A7RII and A6500 stuff and gone one lower to MFT and Oly OMD 1 II.

    Unlike some, I’m keeping my Leica M7 and Zeiss Distagon 35 mm 1.4 and Zeiss Planar 50 mm 2.0. (also got an adaptor for MFT to M)

    Feels great to simplify the kit.

    I just got back from a 2 month vacation (i’m retired) in our RV and took the whole kit. I ended op using my iPhone 7 plus and the A6500. Only trouble is, the Sony APC interface sucks and then lenses are not as diverse. Unlike Oly. Also the Oly features are more appealing for my use.

    Slowly beginning to realize that ultimate IQ does not in its self make a compelling image.

    • Avatar
      Bob Hamilton September 17, 2017

      Brian,
      I couldn’t agree more.
      It’s all about the camera equipment you enjoy using and that which suits your needs. Professionals tend to look at the lenses on offer, which suit their needs, before they jump into a system, whereas most amateurs/enthusiasts are seduced by the camera and the lenses come, to a large extent, as an after-thought and, more often than not, they end up with a system which is far too compromised.
      Bob

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