On Equipment

As a photographer, I've gone from high end to low and back up. I started with a Nikon F, through Pentax and Praktica, and along the way I've used Leicas, Speed graphics, Rolleis, Hasselblads and view cameras. With digital, I've used a succession of small P&Ss and two larger cameras, including a Nikon D100, and my current "large" camera, the Canon G9.

Like most choices, there are compromises. The G9 is not very good at fast action, and if one is bothered by digital noise, there are better machines. It can be set-up to deal with these limitations by prefocus, shooting raw, noise reduction software, turning off the LCD, and review. There are lots of tricks for speeding things up or dealing with noise.

However, it has a really good lens, that covers a range I like very much, 35-210. What distortion it has is easily corrected in Photoshop or Elements.

This is a jpg straight from camera, at 800 ISO, resized for the interwebs., and at about 170mm. The tilt is the photographer, who sometimes tilts. 1/100 at f/4.5. This was done quietly, and because of the optical viewfinder, unobtrusively. No bright lights from the LCD, and because it's mirrorless, and an electronic shutter, there is none of that clanking and clatter associated with an SLR type camera. Just a small "snick", that in a theatre is probably unheard by any but me. The OVF is more of a general aiming device, as it only covers 80%, and is slightly "off" as to actual aim, but functional still. What I have is a quiet, discreet machine that fits in a coat pocket, and takes images that I find very usable. Dance performances are very glittery; noise sometimes there, can disappear into the overall sparkle. From my own work, and reviews on the web, shooting in raw, and doing noise reduction can help a lot.

Professionally, as a tool for documenting art, the little machine shines. At base ISO, on a tripod, superb image quality; and by paying attention to the "sweet spots", images can be produced that require minimal processing. Aperture at f4.5, and in a middle range of focal length, though the entire range is perfectly usable. I have a gadget that allows use of a traditional shutter release, but for this kind of work I prefer the self-timer, as it lets everything settle down. The large LCD makes the camera like a mini-view camera, except no hood. The image on the LCD is also 100%, and quite accurate as to what will be captured. This is something that, using a SLR type camera, with a viewfinder, is only available in pro level equipment, though more cameras are coming with "live view" or even electronic view finders.

Camera from the front, with a Richard Franiec, Lensmate, filter adapter and custom grip. The adapter allows use of filters, which are sometimes needed in photographing art. Below, with out the adapter. Under the flash is some velcro, used for covering the flash with some diffusion material. I sometimes use the on camera flash to fire a Nikon SB-80, and I also can fire the Nikon using a SC-17 Nikon cord, remnants from my Nikon system. I've covered all but the center contact on the hot shoe, allowing the camera to fire the flash with out any of the folderol of TTL, etc. This also allows very high speed sync; all Strobist tricks. Strobist is a good source for the use of flash.

A relatively small, light camera, that shoots raw, has full manual, and is capable of superb image quality, and all at a modest, by camera standards, cost. When somebody makes a machine like this, but with an EVF rather than the OVF, it'll be time to upgrade. Probably, soon, there will be such a machine. In the meantime, the G9, because I know how to use the camera, something far more important than resolution, or the size of your lens, is capable of professional imagery.