I remember a story Fred Picker once told about showing his portfolio to a curator at a museum in New England. Fred photographed in the British Isles, near his home in Vermont and places far and wide, and trained his eye and lens on natural forms and man-made totems in nature. His favorite photographer was Paul Strand, though his photo collection ranged as far as his travels. In any case, in goes Fred to this curator, who quickly breezes through the images and dismisses the lot, saying, “We don’t need any more rocks and trees.”
I took on this review assignment because I’ve had considerable history with printing, both silver and digital, and printing with Epson printers. Over the past few years this interest has led me on an odyssey through various printers, profiling, and a considerable amount of (early) frustration. My emphasis has been on monochrome printing and those who share in this interest and who have attempted black-and-white printing in the past understand the numerous obstacles it can present. Those include, but are not limited to, unwanted color casts, gloss differential in deep black areas and some tonal borders, poor deep black reproduction (accompanied by equally poor highlight repro), a lot of poor paper surfaces, and the hassle and waste of switching from matte black to photo glossy inks. Color printers face these as well, plus the challenges of color balance, casts, skin tone reproduction, highlight bias, green shadows, and more. Of late I have printed with the Epson Stylus Pro 3800, 3880, and 4800 models, the 3800 being my studio workhorse for years and the 3880 the model that many photo schools and workshops at which I’ve taught use as a mainstay student and production printer.
The Sony NEX-C3 is an ultra compact CSC (compact system cameras) system with an APS-C sized sensor. The camera offers a resolution of 16 MP (megapixels), which is similar to some Sony SLT cameras like the SLT-A35. The main difference in the concept of the NEX cameras is the very compact body and the fact that the camera doesn’t work with an optical or electronic viewfinder, but only with the LCD screen on the back as viewfinder and control monitor.
The Panasonic GF3 is the successor of the GF2. The new camera is 17 percent smaller and 16 percent lighter than the GF2, making it an extremely compact camera. Due to the reduction of body dimensions there are some elements missing which were part of the GF2--no accessory shoe for external flash light systems and no interface for the optional ELV that could be mounted on the GF2.
Having owned a (used) Leica M3 since the late 1970’s I can attest to the charms of working with a Leica camera. There is a certain heft and solidity of construction that speaks to its obvious longevity, which is juxtaposed with a deftness of operation, characteristics on display in the M3 in the stroke of the film advance lever and the sound and feel of the shutter release. For those who have experienced a Leica, that “aha that’s why” moment is quite unmatched by other cameras and it spoils you, in a way. Yet, working with a Leica for me has always had a certain awkwardness—witness the film loading in the M3, at least when compared with a sleek Nikon or Canon of the day, and the rangefinder focusing system, almost arcane in the world of autofocusing speed and accuracy. Yet, that awkwardness is not a true impediment and almost becomes part of the charm.
The Fujifilm Finepix X100 is designed like a classic viewfinder camera yet it offers state-of-the-art digital technology and some brand new and innovative systems. The Hybrid viewfinder, for example, is an example of a sophisticated enhancement of a classic concept. First of all, there’s a very bright and large optical viewfinder onto which the camera will overlay exposure information (aperture, shutter speed) and a parallax marker. Instead of using an optical system to create these overlay elements, as done in classic viewfinders of analog cameras, it uses a high resolution LCD. This results in detailed information and a very crisp look.
With the recent announcement of the third PEN in this series from Olympus, which is now in Shutterbug test, the not yet discontinued E-PL2 has dropped in price to $599 (from Olympus, with 14-42mm kit lens), about $200 less than when it was first introduced and to me a good deal for what you get while you can get it. The 12MP (effective pixels) Live CMOS sensor Olympus E-PL2 adds to the charms of the first in the “PEN” digital series, the P1. (See Joe Farace’s excellent review of that camera at http://www.shutterbug.com/content/olympus-e-p1in our Jan, 2010 issue) The PL2 adds a larger and higher resolution viewing screen, expanded accessories using the special plug-in adapter, an enhanced control setup and expanded Scene and Art filter modes.
Perhaps the most versatile of all moderate tele zoom focal lengths, the 70-200mm or thereabouts range is a hallmark and standard-bearer for many optical companies. Being a constant aperture (fast) zoom, this lens opens up numerous focusing, depth of field and perhaps as important low light shooting possibilities that make it a lens most Canon photographers aspire to own. Introduced last year, we got a chance to work with one and were so impressed we thought we’d revisit it with a quick review.