I'm a sucker for pillars and the last light of the day reflected off distant buildings....

I don't know about you but when I'm in another city on assignment and have a day off I head out the front door of my hotel and explore all day long. I'm in Denver right now and I found one building just a few blocks from my hotel that has really cool pillars. I walked by the building yesterday in the early evening and even though the building faces east parts of the pillars were all lit up by the reflection of the setting sun off the mirrored windows of a giant office building. I shot them from as many angles as I could. Even though I am largely a portrait photographer there's something about this kind of architecture that I like. Maybe it's the repeated forms and maybe it's a reference to the temples of the ancient Greeks but it's a type of structure that I find photographically fascinating.

Today has been a recovery day. I've actually done laundry in the hotel self-service laundry room. Why? Because my production team seems to think I look best in one of my gray t-shirts and we used them up last week. Makes me wonder why I bothered to pack those ten other nice shirts....

Tomorrow morning we get started again. I'm driving an almost comical Fiat 500 to Morrison, Colorado to do video production for my newest class on portrait photography. The Fiat 500 is definitely NOT a photographer's car. I can barely fit my single Domke bag in what passes for a trunk and getting a fully loaded Pelican 1650 rolling case into the back seat (two door car....) is like Tai Chi weight lifting and muscle popping puzzle solving. When I get wedged in between two giant Colorado pick up trucks the car gets lost entirely. Finally, the stereo in it kinda sucks. I don't understand why I didn't get the Bentley convertible. Maybe Martha Stewart can help me figure that one out....

Monday is coming at me fast...


Done about 16 years ago in a primitive version of PhotoShop. One with no layers and no undo...

I sent it out as a holiday card.
The response was wonderful.
I still have a copy on my desk. 
At nearly 18 the boy is as angelic (for the most part) 
as he was then.

I included this in a new program I'm working on 
about photographing your family.

It's all fun.

Say "Hello." Look people in the eye and introduce yourself. Ask politely. It's a plan....

I was walking down "Mall" street in downtown Denver and I saw this man playing cards at one of the tables in the middle, park like area between the two bus lanes. At first I walked by. I was feeling a little shy. But then I realized that passing up a nice portrait because I'm becoming chicken shit will be the first step in a long flight down to the point where I'll never be able to ask again. Reticence builds on itself.

I turned around and approached the table and, when the subject and his friend at the table had a break in their conversation, I asked the man with the headscarf if I could make his portrait. I introduced myself, told him (truthfully) that photography was my hobby and that I was visiting his city and I noticed he had an interesting face. He smiled and gave me permission to continue. At that point his friend stood up and let me sit in his chair, across the little stone table from my subject. That was a very nice gesture.  It allowed me to be at eye level with my subject and I'm pretty sure that made both of us more comfortable.

These are the kinds of portraits I like to take on a full frame camera with a medium telephoto lens but I wasn't dragging a rig like that around today. Instead, I relied on my Pentax K-01 with its little 40mm 2.8 lens. I had the camera set to shoot black and white. And I'm pretty darn happy with the way the image turned out.

The entire exchange took a minute. When I'd finished I thanked him very much. Touched his jacket sleeve and told him (honestly) that he had helped to make my day better. He smiled, his friend sat back down, the deck of playing cards came back out and they resumed their game. And, at least for now, I have regained my self confidence where approaching strangers for photographs is concerned.

It's strange, when you photograph people for a living you are always in a safe zone. You've been asked to make a photograph of someone. There's a total buy in by all parties. It makes taking the images so easy and that ease makes it harder when there is no external purpose for the images. Harder when there isn't the certainty that people will say, "yes." We get too complacent when we have our subjects delivered all primed and ready. It's a good exercise to venture out into the big, wide world and learn to ask nicely again.

How one sneaky little camera, bought as a novelty, can throw your whole plan off kilter. #Pentax

I guess I told you a month or so ago that I'd bought a used Pentax K-01 for a song and that I was having fun using it. I didn't pay much attention to the camera in the weeks after my purchase because I was getting up to speed on the Samsung Galaxy NX camera for my trip to Berlin and doing a bunch of pre-production and then shooting on some video projects. While packing for my working trip to Denver I decided at the last minute to toss the little yellow Pentax K-01 into my camera bag along with its charger. I brought it along as a rain/beater/fun camera to carry with me when I finished the long days of shooting with the big Sony cameras. 

The only lens I have for the Pentax is the 40mm pancake lens. So, what I've essentially got is a cheap camera that's yellow and has only one very limited focal length, no EVF and a tacky, promotional Pentax camera strap. And after four or five hours of walking around and shooting with it today I've already come to appreciate it, enjoy images from it and even smile when I hear its muted and quietly precise shutter go into action. Yes, the rear screen is as difficult to use as any other in bright daylight but I don't seem to care because the camera in its holistic entirety is so adorable. Maybe I like it because no one on the street seems to even pay attention to it when I shoot.

So, why do I think of this camera as problematic? Hmmm. I've been mulling that over. I guess it's because I've shot some stuff with the lens wide open at f2.8 and been very impressed with the characteristics of the lens. Sharp and smooth is how I'd describe it. Maybe it's because the shutter is muted and solid. And maybe it's because the I've come to like the bright color of the body....it's easier to find in the recesses of my black camera bag. It's become problematic because I keep thinking that if Pentax got so many things right in the creation of this camera and the matching of its physical properties to my proclivities then maybe some of the other Pentax cameras would suit me as well. And that's where the slippery slope always begins.... I keep zapping over to Amazon to look at reviews of the K5.2.  I played with one again at Precision Camera and came away impressed. Especially for the price!

I'm sure the Pentax glass is just as good as anyone else's and I like the size and feel of the bodies. It always starts like this: I'll decide that only one body and maybe that 70mm pancake lens will be just enough to make me happy. Sure, I'll keep the Sony a99 and other Sonys around for all my professional, paying work. The Pentax will be my fun camera, my art camera, my personal camera. But then I'll find reasons to like it too much and little by little it will ingratiate itself into my camera bag. I'll add a lens or two. And then one day I'll take it out on a little assignment instead of the Sonys and I'll have good luck that day, for one reason or another, and I'll decide that it's great to have two systems to go back and forth with and I'll add a few more lenses and maybe a second body; because you know that no professional should ever go on assignment without a back up body....

Deep in the honeymoon period I'll look for ways to rationalize getting rid of the Sonys and going "all in" on the Pentax gear. I'm sure the initial self-argument will be that the bodies and lenses are cheaper, etc. But once in the system we'll go through the honeymoon stage into our first big, plate throwing, name calling fight over some weakness or absence in the system. I'll begin to pine again for the full frame option. I'll rail against Pentax's primitive video implementation and lack of a headphone jack and I'll be back where I started, only thousands of dollars poor...

At this juncture, before I do any damage to myself or my bank balance I would love to hear from former and present Pentax users. Maybe you'll be able to blunt my desire with rational arguments from the other side. Maybe not. So much for camera lust. Let's talk about the Denver Art Museum.

I have the day off today and I was up early, well breakfasted and out the door with a camera in time to shiver happily in the 36 degree lows. The day is bright and sunny and warmed up quickly. I walked around for a while and then finally got serious and headed to the Denver Art Museum. I was thrilled with what I saw there. Absolutely thrilled. Right off the bat there's a show of Mark Rothko's work. I've always been a fan of Rothko's later subtle and quiet color studies but the show's curator did a nice job of creating a time line from Rothko's earlier work into his final years of working abstraction. The show also includes some work by contemporaries which helps to place Rothko's work within the time period and art/cultural milieu. That show closes tomorrow so I considered my visit lucky right from the start.

The architecture of the museum itself, an origami assemblage of non-linear, angled walls and creative space is worth the trip and I found myself bringing the camera up to my eye just to catch the whimsical juxtapositions of the walls. But the two installations that I really loved, almost worth the trip to Denver alone, were the enormous installation of Sandy Skoglund's Foxes at Play and smaller, quiet, black and white portraits by photographer, August Sander. 

Conceptual artist, Sandy Skoglund, has been creating wonderful three dimensional tableaus for decades. I first became aware of her installation work back in the late 1970's or early 1980's because a photography magazine featured her seminal piece, Attack of the Goldfish. The emphasis of the article at the time was the way that Skoglund lit and captured her three dimensional constructions. She used an 8x10 inch view camera and color film to make incredibly wonderful photographs of her work. In those days I assumed that the final target  was always intended to be the photograph as the final artifact of her work but museums have been collecting installation pieces now so the exhibitions have long lives and the photography recedes back a bit into its role of documentation for magazines, websites, catalogs and the like. The FOX installation is wonderful. I could have walked around it for hours. And I love the fox sculptures which I think stand up well as individual, sculptural art. Google Sandy Skoglund and I think you'll be surprised at how much Gregory Crewdson borrows, conceptually,  from her much earlier work.....

Middle Class Mother and Child by August Sander. All rights reserved.

 Finally, in a gallery in the North building of the Denver Art Museum is a small but very effective show of August Sander's work. For those of you who are not familiar with his work he was a German photographer who created a huge body of work by going onto locations and into businesses to photographing his fellow Germans in very direct and formal poses. His work was done in the 1920's and 1930's. He made portraits of coal miners, bakers, bankers, clerks---an enormous range. In most of his work the subjects face the camera with grim expressions. They are serious in their collaboration with Sander. Part of the formalism came, no doubt, from his use of a large view camera on a tripod.

But this show introduced me to several new images of Sanders that I hadn't seen before which are less formal but no less powerful. There was a portrait of three men in suits, posed casually in the countryside that is wonderful. Any of our best photographers in this age would be secretly proud to have shot that photo.... And the one of the mother and child in the park (above) is also timeless and perfect on so many levels, from pose and expression right through to final print.

The August Sander exhibit sobered me up and reminded me of how far we've allowed our craft to fall in servitude to budgets and expediency. His 8x10 inch portraits have a depth of field that is so shallow and falls off so beautifully and dramatically that even his technical decisions elevate the work to a level that most of us will never be able to achieve today with our technically advanced but mercilessly crippled cameras and lenses. In one sense it's all about format size.  We just can't replicate the magnificent focus isolation Sander was able to get with his tools unless we too go back, grow a pair, and start shooting with very large format cameras and very carefully processed and printed sheets of film. And it's a pity since the uniformity of our current cameras impoverishes us with its homogeneity. Sad times when the tools betray us and obfuscate their aesthetic shortcomings with a glittery display of techno-fireworks. And built in "art" filters....

Said in a different way: the more our tools are identical the more our collective vision is damaged by that self same lack of diversity.  And if we are unaware of what came before our chip filled toy cameras we don't even have the capacity to understand that there is a loss and how crippling that loss is...

That's the real gift that museums keep giving photographers. They keep showing us how the tools and vision are intertwined and how we've abdicated choice for easy use and low cost. And every now and then a Weston Print or a Paul Strand Print or an August Sander print comes along to slap us in the face and drag us out of creative lethargy. Thank you to the Denver Art Museum for at least three beautiful exhibitions savored all under one roof on one day. You made my stay in Denver that much better.

Phoning it in.

I'm in Denver working on camera as an instructor for Craftsy.com this week. I got here on Weds. and I'll be here until Thurs. morning. Teaching photography this way is fun and rewarding. I love the process and every time I do a class on the opposite side of the camera (the talent side) I learn more about the art of making great video and I get to be on the receiving end of good direction. I'm paying attention to the work done by a great camera crew and learning the fine points of gracefully transitioning between scenes. 

In the evenings, after a twelve hour day, I come back to my hotel, have dinner and try to chill out. I was looking at the photographs on my iPhone this evening and I found this one of Belinda that I'd taken at the W Hotel during some party or celebration last year. I know it's just "phoning it in" but I enjoyed having a forgotten photograph of my wonderful wife turn up out of nowhere. Makes me realize how lucky I am.

And I feel lucky in my career as well. The people at Craftsy.com are reminding me that I'm sharing thirty years of valuable experience with a whole new generation of image makers and that feels great. 

So, a week in Berlin then a week in Denver. At the end of the month of October I'll be spending the better part of a week at the Photo Plus Show in NYC. I guess the industry is not slowing down as quickly as rumor would have it. That's okay with me. I'm having the time of my life.


Theater photography tonight. Travel tomorrow.

Tonight is the dress rehearsal at Zach Theatre for the blockbuster opera/musical: Les Miserables.
I'm doing photographs tonight for press releases and initial marketing of the show so I'll be camped out dead center of the orchestra nursing an armful of cameras and trying to capture the fast moving action and the even faster changing lights. But I hate to be unprepared or surprised when I'm doing a job for a client so I dropped by the Theatre on Sunday evening to catch the first half of the show in a technical rehearsal. No audience, no photos (Equity rules...) and no stress. I wanted to sit quietly and watch how the overall lighting design worked and how the choreography looked. The actors were great and the play was well polished.  I stayed for a couple of hours and now have kind of a running mental inventory of how the cast comes together for little finales, little group shots just before the lights dim to change a scene. Those are the signature shots that papers and websites love to run.

When I walk into the theater this evening I'll have a good idea of which cameras and lenses to use to cover the wide shots and the tight close ups. I'll probably go with two Sony a99's and a wide to slight telephoto zoom plus a standard 70-200mm 2.8. I like shooting the a99's at ISO 1600 but I'll probably go up to 3200 on the wider zoom just to add more depth of field. The show is darker than some of the recent, upbeat musicals and I'll be watchful about dipping below 1/125th of a second. I do like to keep it all sharp.

Tomorrow I travel. I'm headed to Denver, CO. to spend a week with my friends at Craftsy.com. We're doing two video programs this time for their website.  Both have to do with portraits, lighting, posing and family photojournalism. I've done five solid phone meetings to flesh out the details and we've revised the outlines a few times.

To be clear, I'm actually appearing in the programs I'm not part of the crew or in charge of the direction. I'll be teaching, on camera, and as nervous as any of the talent I've worked with over the years. It's a whole different thing to be on the other side of the lens. I warmed up to it last time and I don't have nearly the trepidation this time. I'm actually looking forward to ten hour days on camera since I don't have to haul lights or make sure technical stuff works right. Someone else will be stringing the extension cords and tugging on sand bags.

I've got my laundry list of things to do today. I need to make time for a haircut, I need to go over the packing and make sure I have the right cables to connect my cameras and my laptop to Craftsy's video equipment. I have to find that great little can of shaving cream I discovered last time I traveled. I have a couple of hours of post production to do on an ongoing job and, of course, I'll need to turn the Zach Scott rehearsal images around by the end of the night tonight. One more swim workout before the sun comes up tomorrow and then wheels up. There's so much to do when you are a one person business. If there's a detail that makes a difference it's up to me to see that it gets done. But I like it that way. I like it because when I finish a big project there isn't the feeling that I have to jump right into something else to keep the payroll flowing. If I want to chill for a few days or a week that's my call too.

I suspect the blog entries will either be less frequent or shorter or both for the next week. If Samsung gets me a new camera today I'll have some stuff to report on the newest version of the Galaxy NX. If they don't then the big Sony's will have all the fun. I guess it all hinges on that one Fed Ex truck....

I am turning into an instructor. I'll have to think about this for while and decide if I like this direction. I can see where it would interfere with my goal of being a fully eccentric artist......Sounds like it's time for a little meditation when I get back.

Swim well. See well. Speak well. And enjoy the arrival of Fall.


Learning to love reading. That was a special year.

Now he's meeting with colleges and trying to make up his mind about where to go off to school.
That was a fast few years.

Leica M6, Summilux 50mm 1.4. Neopan 400.


How did one get "hooked" on photography, circa 1978?

I think the big difference between photography now and photography in the "good old days" of film and printing paper can be found in the sheer investment and risk of the former. While in the days of magical cellphones and instant uploads to sharing sites we have almost zero investment in creating images the days of yore demanded a whole different level of attention and intention on the part of the artist.

This print, above, is from my earliest days as an amateur photographer with a light. I had one flash and a umbrella of some sort. There were no screens to tell you if you got stuff right or if you totally fucked up everything from exposure to flash sync to focus. If you were a poor student with a very small budget you probably developed your own film, which was also fraught with peril. Did you get the temperatures of the chemicals right? Did you agitate the developing tank correctly? Did you dip your film in Photo Flo and distilled water in just the right way to keep the negatives from streaking? Did you dry your film in some area that was relatively dust free? There were never any guarantees in the process and if you did mess up you'd only find out about your mis-steps days or even weeks later. Long after the statute of re-shootablity had expired....

And none of this takes into consideration that learning to print well continues to be a multi-year experience. I got lucky with the print above. I got it with a relatively small investment of test prints and test strips. But to get to this one image there was, for me, a profound investment in time, money and learning curve. There was required investment to even get something so simple and singular. Maybe that's why the end results were so precious to use back then. In a sense we were creating a permanent artifact of our memory and our way of seeing. Not a consumable meant as Facebook candy.

Maybe that is why so many older and more experience photographers have such a hard time letting go of an idea of photography.  We hold onto the idea of enduring artifacts that had intrinsic value based on our investments of time and skill. Now, for the most part, we're engaged in a process that's not much different than creating a beautiful and tasty main course for a fine dinner. We might fuss a bit and throw in some lighting and post production but in the end we know that the product is more transient. More....consumable. And we get the sense that we need to increase the output to feed that gaping maw of social sharing. If we want to somehow remain relevant.  It's a whole different medium by dint of its use.

The moment that hooked most of us back in 1978 was the moment that your first decent print started forming in a tray of developer under the soft, dim glow of the red safe lights with a little transistor radio humming away in the background. When Belinda's eyes started to come up in the print. That's the moment I decided that I was "all  in."


Are they "street photographs" or are they portraits taken on the street?

Claire remarked a few days ago that she likes my portrait work but has never really warmed up to my street photography. And I thought about that for quite a while. Then I started thinking about images like the two above. Are they portraits or are they some form of street photography? Both were spontaneous and neither was set up in the sense that I posed them or directed them in any way. So, what would you consider them?

And while everyone's taste in street photography is different I do like these (below) for various reasons.
I wanted to share them again today.....

Big lights make nice portraits.

I've been using large lights for portraits for a while now and I love the way they look. My favorite tool in doing this kind of lighting is the black card I use on the shadow side to make the deeper tones more dramatic. This is a scan from a print and as such it's probably hard to see much detail in the shadow areas but on the negative and in the original fiber based print there's sill detail all the way down until the tones turn black. Difficult to represent on the web with only 255 shades to work with....

My current favorite lighting tool (yes, they change from week to week and sometimes from day to day...) is a 72 inch white umbrella with a black backing that's made by Fotodiox. The image above was done with on of my largest soft boxes used close in.

One of the things  I like about portraiture is the ability to constantly experiment with different light sources and modifiers.

When I re-visit portraits like the one above it reminds me how much I like the longer focal length lenses for the style of portraiture I like to do.

An alternative to watching re-runs of Breaking Bad this weekend? Tired of all that Downton Abbey stuff?

Well, you could sign up for my portrait lighting course at www.craftsy.com and watch 2.5 hours of information about portrait lighting in the studio..... Here's the ad I just saw in my e-mail. And if the thought of me shooting and talking for a couple of hours isn't enough there's also Neil's classes... Or Rick Sammon's Landscape course...

I'm heading back up to Denver on Weds. next week where I will spend eight days working on the next two programs. Should be a lot of fun. One of the two programs will also be offered free of charge. I'll keep you posted.

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In case you hadn't heard Adobe created an economical cloud package for photographers.

A month ago there was lots of agitation and uncertainty over Adobe's decision to move all future revs of PhotoShop to the cloud. More recently Adobe has been offering photographers who already have licensed copies of previous versions of PhotoShop a special pricing strategy. They are bundling PhotoShop, Lightroom and Bridge for a monthly subscription cost of $9.99. With tax it come out to a little less than $11 a month for me.

I looked at the numbers for previous upgrades and the fact that the new upgrade path will be more of less seamless for me and decided to accept their offer. The contract holds the price to $9.99 per month for the next year.

I did the downloads yesterday afternoon and they went without a hitch on a Mac using system 10.8.4.
The upgrade is good for me as I keep getting cameras to test for which the raw files exist only on the newest versions of the software.

The software is resident on your hard drive and the files are resident on your hard drive but can also be sync'd with the free, accompanying 20 gigabytes of space you get in the Adobe cloud. You also get a free website program to use with your images. See their site for more details.

If you don't like the idea then just keep using what you have.


Blog notes.

Comments are back on but moderated.

A camera reviewer's indecision and an ambiguous set of testing parameters.

We talk about cameras and stuff like they really matter. As though our choices will dictate some plane of reality that will change our lives. And we give far too much credence to camera reviewers. Anyone who's read my blog over the years knows that I'm as clueless about what constitutes the perfect camera as everyone else in the whole industry. We've chased after megapixels, high ISO performance, build quality, nostalgic design cues, low noise and high speed and not a single parameter makes much sense in its own little vacuum.

One of my blogger friends wrote a piece gushing about the high ISO performance of the Canon 6D and how it opened up the doors of perception for him by allowing him to shoot well exposed images in Stygian darkness. Problem is that the image he posted wasn't nearly as good as the ones he's done previously with much less capable cameras. He worked harder on the older images and leaned on the idea that his camera was providing the magic on the newer images. Big mistake.

Over the years I've had the opportunity to test a bunch of different cameras. Some are cameras that advertising and handling made me infatuated with and I bought those with my magic credit cards and, for the most part, over the course of months or years, felt the magic wear off and sold them or traded them in with significant friction of trade. 

I believe that most of us pursue the hunt for the perfect camera because of an overwhelming sense of insecurity. Most of us believe that we are not possessed of talent or vision or any of the great stuff that everyone else seemingly must possess that gives them the opportunity to make great images. We see ads in which our role models and heroes profess to use a brand and model of camera and we buy it in the hopes that some of the great power of the technology will convey to us. Will lift our work up and help overcome our innate inferiorities.

We give away some of our power to the camera and to the reviewers and spokespersons. Why do camera companies have people review their cameras? Why do they select the people they do to evaluate their cameras? Well obviously they look for people with audiences and credibility because the testimonial is still a very powerful form of persuasion.

If you are looking to me to justify your camera purchase my opinion will only make as much sense for you as it does for me. So let's look at my case study:

Kodak>Nikon>Kodak>Nikon>Fuji>Olympus>Olympus Pen>Canon>Sony>Sony Nex>Pentax.

That's the progression of my digital camera buying. And those are just the brands not the individual models (of which there have been many). Is there any logic to it? None that I can see. What's the end result? Huge friction of trade at every shift. Thousands and thousands of dollars poured into black holes. In real estate we'd call it short selling. The reality for everyone in the market is that five minutes after buying whatever new toy we're buying we're under water. 

But if, after every new acquisition, my images got demonstrably better and I got more creative and the camera did sprinkle a higher quality of creative pixie dust on me I'd gladly spend the money to move my ego (oops!) I mean my art forward. But the reality? The reality exists somewhere beyond my rational reach. I know each camera is, on paper, capable of more than the cameras before but does the technical capability of a camera have even the slightest effect on the emotional quality of photographs?
Not that I can see.

At the top of this blog I put a photograph that I very carefully selected as an example. It's a picture of Michael Dell volunteering at Austin Easter Seals. I shot it with a Nikon V1 camera a few years back. I liked that camera and I probably sold it in a moment of stupidity after trying to make it do something it wasn't designed to do. But I wrote a number of mini-reviews about it and it was definitely a workable tool. In fact, I think it did a great job at the Easter Seals shoot. It was small, discreet, fast to shoot and it seems to have handled the requirements of basic photojournalism quite well. Jobs haven't gotten more demanding and imaging hasn't gotten any more difficult but that little camera is gone and replaced by something new and shiny. At my loss. And the opportunity loss of that money in both directions. The acquisition and the sell.

If you took me seriously as a reviewer every time I get a crush on a new camera you'd be doing yourself a huge financial disservice.

A lot of the cameras I review are sent to me on short term loans. They arrive, I shoot with them, cart em around with me all day long and screw around with the files until I break em to find the quality boundaries. Most cameras are great these days. The differences are largely the way they feel and in how perverse the Japanese, Koreans and occasional German menu architect have turned out to be. Some cameras are operationally tough to use because of their interfaces. Some have handling issues that can only be solved by people with very plastic and elastic hands. Some cameras have no discernible spirit or soul and some cameras are just mean. But it's all terribly subjective. At the end of the test period I get to send them back.

I've tested and shot many cameras and at some point in the process I'm nearly always torn between an appreciation for the images and some imagined or real shortcoming of the camera design. The files are beautiful. Sometimes you love the idea of the camera but the handling is not there yet. I like new stuff right up until the moment that it fails me operationally.  If you looked at the images I shoot with the cameras and read what I've said about the cameras you might be tempted to buy the cameras. And with some cameras the early models sent to reviewers are eventually transformed by firmware updates that turn an operational assessment upside down. I don't want to torch a potentially good imaging machine out of impatience. But you should always wait to buy one from any maker until you can handle it yourself. And that's what you should do with every camera anyone reviews. Try it yourself. Work the controls. Use it the way you always use your cameras and see if the camera will solve your problems. Not mine.

Case in point: I love the look and the feel and the files of the Leica Vario X. So much so that when I handled it with the EVF attached I was seconds away from buying one on the spot. I'd owned many film Leica cameras and loved every one of them. But I walked away and took a breath. As I fought about the way I liked to shoot I admitted to myself that I almost always shoot wider than this camera's apertures would allow. Especially in the focal length range in which I like to shoot. 70 to 90mm f2.0-2.8 is my sweet spot. I knew this camera wasn't for me. But... Ming Thein wrote about it so eloquently that I wished it were.

I'm writing this in response to Charles who asked me about my camera choices in a previous blog. I hope it's a better explanation than the one I wrote. I am always grappling with ethical questions that arise when writing about stuff.

When I see the image of Michell Dell with the kid in the image above I am reminded that all of this nonsense about cameras is time limited, constantly morphing and changing without check, and ultimately unsatisfying. No matter how perfect a camera is there will always be something to pine for in the yet unannounced Mark 2.