If you were a detective you would look for motive as a prime clue as to who did the deed, but how many times have you really thought about your own motivation for making photographs? The mystery all photographers eventually attempt to solve is: just motivates me to make pictures and to process images in my own unique way? Kind of like trying to figure out the meaning of life, I guess, and using your photography to help you answer a small part of that question.
There are those who make prints often, and there are those who make prints occasionally. The split, you might think, is between amateur and pro, but that’s not always the case. Some “amateurs” print as much if not more than some pros, and some pros make their own prints only when they have time, usually for their personal portfolio, but certainly not on every job. That’s why pigeonholing the Epson R3000 in terms of intended audience, amateur or pro, is not so easy. It certainly delivers the quality you might expect from a higher-end Epson model, given its attributes, ink set, fine nozzles, and highly evolved print head, etc., but it’s by no means a volume/production printer, given its single sheet feed for “art” paper, albeit with larger capacity ink carts than some past 13x19” printers, and roll feed capability.
Long banished for being retro, unconnected, and perhaps even unhip, this year’s worldwide photo show, photokina, marked the return of what might be called RLCs, or “Real Live Cameras,” at least in their appearance and build and in all instances in digital manifestations. Most have new features, new capabilities, and even have sprouted “antennae” for connectivity, yet at the same time have the look and feel of photographic instruments with world-class lenses and handling to match. We begin our photokina reports in this issue, and will follow through with other reports on new products in subsequent issues of Shutterbug.
It’s as if camera companies had been holding back in the last few months and finally the dam burst, resulting in a flood of new cameras debuted at photokina 2012. While there was a fair share of Micro Four Thirds mirrorless, interchangeable lens compacts, and medium format digital cameras, the major headlines were grabbed by a full slate of full-frame cameras—even “compacts.” In addition, it seems as if smartphones have chased the camera makers into offering more and more Wi-Fi-capable cameras, along with downloadable apps that can expand a camera’s capabilities. In all, it made for a host of new camera announcements—enthusiast, pro, and high-end alike—although there were few bargains to be found. As I go through the camera intros I’ll include the list price (when available) without comment, but in general you might be somewhat shocked by some of the prices these new cameras command.
While black and white digital photography is based on the conversion of a color (RGB) image to monochrome via software, those who remain adherents of film photography have an entirely different route to obtaining a black and white image.
The reaction to a human face is inherently stronger than to any inanimate object or arrangement. The expression, body language, placement and lighting often overcome the processing and/or printing technique, or at the least dictate much of the approach.
While weight is just one measure of a paper’s resilience and usefulness for fine art printing, it can also have an effect on how that paper is handled, depending on the printer. In the case of Red River’s Polar Matte Magna, which is a 96 lb (320 gsm) stock, it means working with individual sheet feeding rather than with a stack loader in almost every printer you might have. This feed-through also limits the printers that can make use of this nice surface—those without a single feed option need not apply, as well as, according to Red River’s notes, HP printers with front feed paper trays (which have also proven problematic with other heavyweight surfaces).
When a photographer deals with the emotions generated by black-and-white prints, and the methodology of creating and defining those emotions and how they are generated, he or she begins to deal with developing a sense of the aesthetics of the monochrome image.
The Pentax Optio WG-2 GPS is a rugged camera that is waterproof (maximum depth: approx. 40 feet) and shockproof. The camera offers a 16MP sensor and a 5x zoom lens with 28mm wide-angle and 140mm tele settings (35mm film equivalent). It is the follower of the WG-1 and shows some improvements in image resolution and configuration. Its unique body design is indicative of the “tough camera” class and is designed for use by photographers who want to dive or use this camera for downhill mountain biking or other “adrenaline sports.”
In this issue we offer a host of camera reports covering a wide variety of models and camera types, and this gives me a good opportunity to discuss the forms our camera tests take—lab tests and what I call “anecdotal” reports. In most cases we limit a model to one type of test, except when we feel that it rates a second look and that there’s more to add by using both approaches. We also make a decision about lab or field tests when we feel overwhelmed by new cameras coming our way, and simply don’t have the space each month to cover every one of them. Plus, we offer tests that never see the pages of the magazine that can be found under the Image Tech section of our website at www.shutterbug.com.