|Here's a short version of camera layout/functions that are important to me.
Lets start out with the fact I work in all kinds of uncontrolled situations which includes severe weather. My old all manual film cameras didn't have rubber seals all over the place and they worked fine since there was either no or
limited electronics. Today weather sealing is the top criteria for any digital camera I look at. After that, the following applies but in no specific order of importance.
Since I'm a film era photographer I grew up toting around a lot of filters with my camera gear. I had to filter for different types of light (tungsten, fluorescent, daylight, mixed, etc). Today, you have White Balance which does the
same thing automatically if you want it to. If I was using Velvia 50 and doing an interior shot, I would have to calculate for reciprocity failure and add more exposure time plus use color correction filters to get the picture to come out
correctly. It wasn't unusual for me to be doing 5 minute or 4 hour exposures. It's important to note that digital cameras/sensors are just the opposite. They are much more sensitive to light even at low ISO settings and require
either the metered exposure time or less time.
Since this is all built into digital cameras, I look for the ability to be able to dial in white balance, color correction and feel (feel being equal to a specific look relating to a specific film). Of course I use (RAW), so many of these in
camera adjustments are not transferred to the (RAW) file and they can be done in post processing. The only filters I use now are Neutral Density, Graduated Neutral Density and Circular Polarizer. That's a lot less than the 60+
filters I had when I was in my 20's.
Dynamic Range - This is a subjective area when it comes to brands. A sensor capable of a wider dynamic range helps tremendously when recovering whites/highlights or shadows.
Color true to life - This can make or break a commercial project, so the camera sensor combined with the post processing software has to record true color if viewed on a monitor or printed out because everything has to match
the actual subject.
Flash - Back in the film days I didn't do polaroid tests prior to doing an assignment. I had to be fast and accurate and I didn't have the luxury of doing flash/lighting tests. I assessed the situation, calculated ambient exposure and
flash exposure and went with it. I never had any issues with blown out or under exposed pictures. I did a wedding using my F5 with Fujichrome 400X slide film and pre-wedding formals with fujicolor pro 160S all lit with SB28
speedlights. My first digital wedding was with the D80 and 4 SB800 speedlights. So yes, flash and the ability to control that is important to me.
Body layout - This could be a long one, but I'll simplify it. A fast and accurate means to switch focus points. Function buttons with one capable of spot metering on a focus point. I used large and medium format cameras when I
was young, I'm a hand held meter user from the film days. I still had my Sekonic cine/photo meter when I stopped using the F5. AF lock only and AE-L/AF-L to lock my exposure and AF. All digital cameras today (January 2019)
have function buttons with some being more user friendly than others.
The ability to fully customize settings when setting up a new camera - Here's my standard method, in short, when I get a new camera. The first thing I do is (and this is obviously after setting the language/time zone) . . I go right
into the menu and start customizing everything to my personal way of shooting. This, of course, is all based on the fact that I used film. The transition to digital means the camera should be able to function like my film cameras
did. The biggest problem I find with workshop students is they buy a camera and never change anything. They use all factory defaults and auto mode (that little green camera icon on the top selector) because as one person said
"learning how the camera functions is a hassle" but that same person complains about their results too. Read your manual and go over each page with your camera in hand. You'll find it easier to understand the content and be
able to try different settings.
Color depth and overall image quality - I get a lot of compliments on how my pictures look and that's a direct result of customizing the camera and good batch processing. I say batch processing because I shoot like I'm shooting
film. I like shooting it right in the camera and use minimal adjustments in my post processing software. I shoot, upload and export. It's rare that I have to do any major adjustments.
The new camera manufacturer battle is video. Not having silent AF tracking in a body/lens combination for video is not handy for many low budget projects. One of the reasons why Bob Krist secretly started testing Sony cameras
back in 2013 for his work when doing National Geographic travel tours. He needed fast and accurate camera control and AF for un-controlled situations where he had to do off the hip clips.
Optical viewfinders are still the best means of a real view of your subject and having knowledge of exposure and watching the meter beat an electronic view for a long time during the go mirroless wave. The digital era has really
packed in a lot of features beyond film and I actually am able to carry less weight in the field (no film/not as many filters) where I can get the maximum amount of image quality out of the sensor using a digital camera. With
electronic viewfinders becoming better, at some point there won't be any traditional optical viewfinders. A big plus when it comes to flying micro dust particles in the mirror box flinging onto the sensor. I abused the Nikon 1 V1 I
had and never had a dust problem with it compared to using a DSLR.
I used digital DSLR cameras from all of the professional brands and had good luck with all of them. I use or used mirrorless cameras from Canon, Fuji, Hasselblad, Leica, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony so I have a real
world working knowledge of all those systems and how they feel and work. There's just no camera body out there that's 100% perfect for every situation, but many come very close You'll always have that one client who requests
that you use brand A for what ever reason I don't know why . . . maybe because you told them you're invested in brand B :)
There is so much more to this that the best way to really understand it and get the most out of your camera system is to start with a workshop on setting up your camera custom settings.
|Function and Speed
|I use camera systems that allows me to work rapidly and accurately
so I can work efficiently and provide the best service to my clients.
Cinematic and Photographic Ethics - I provide cinematic and photographic services to a variety of clients using the best equipment suited to the project at hand.
I do not engage in "setting up images" by means of staging. There's a difference between creating an advertising campaign and actually catching life as it happens.
All digital pictures are processed like film pictures. They are captured in the cameras RAW format, then uploaded and exported in a RAW file converter like film in a developer.
I do not alter/manipulate pictures. I prefer that they look just like what I saw when I pushed the shutter button. If I alter/manipulate an image, it is clearly marked as such.
© Mark LaMonica. All Rights Reserved.