Five Weddings, Five Cameras, Five Images by Fran DeRespinis

Five Weddings, Five Cameras, Five Images

Steve and Brandon, like so many others who visit your website, I want to thank you for providing a rich source of information for all of us who appreciate straight-forward, real-world reviews and insights about photography. You do a great job, and I appreciate all of your hard work to make such a wonderful website work so well.

My photography life was so much easier back in the days when I shot film. I had my Nikon F2 and Nikon FM, later to be replaced by an F4 and an FE. That was it. Three primes, two always on camera, and I was ready to go. No muss and no fuss. But, digital came along, I got older, and GAS crept into my life. I eventually wound up with five digital cameras (after buying and selling others!), and though I’ve wanted to thin the herd, I enjoy all of them and didn’t know which, if any, I could let go of to simplify my photography life a bit more.

Then, it happened. INSPIRATION! My wife and I got invited to five weddings over a seven weekend period this spring. Five weddings, all located here in North Carolina, but scattered throughout the state. I knew that each wedding would have a pro dutifully documenting each event, and many guests would have point-and-shoots, phones with cameras, and a few DSLRs. Everybody is a photographer, right?

What an opportunity for me! I had no obligation to capture the events. I had no responsibility at all other than to be there, be generous with gifts, and have a great time. So, I decided that I’d be selfish and take photos for myself and not be concerned with capturing images for the wedding couples or their families, despite the fact that each family knows of my passion for photography…the guy who takes a camera everywhere he goes. And besides, maybe I’d get a better feel for which of my cameras I should sell.

This was the plan. Having these five cameras and there being five weddings, I decided to use one and only one camera for each wedding. My goal was to create one shot from each wedding that I was really happy with. Of course, I took more than one shot at each wedding, but I didn’t take all that many. Remember, there was the professional and all those other folks with their image makers already doing that. Each of my five images was to be very different in content and rendition. I didn’t care what the subject was. All that mattered was that the shot had to be taken at the wedding. All shots would be taken in raw, and I would use Lightroom however I wanted to create my final versions. I wrote the names of my five cameras on pieces of paper, put them in a hat, and selected one piece of paper at a time for weddings 1 – 5. I was inspired!

For the first wedding, I shot my versatile Olympus EM-1 with 12-40mm lens. It’s ironic that my wedding one image turned out to be of the newly-married couple driving off to their honeymoon. One would think that that shot would be best if it was from the fifth wedding. But, this is not a photo essay. As for this image, I found it interesting that as I shot the sequence of the couple pulling away in the car, the two pros were fumbling with lenses and missed the entire thing. The newlyweds loves this shot. 😉


For the second wedding, I made a grave mistake! I brought my SONY RX1 with a low battery level. When the SONY went dead, I reached into my pocket for my backup battery only to discover that it was a battery for my Olympus. Don’t make this same mistake kids. Fortunately, I had already taken a few shots that I thought would be good candidates for my project. This one catches the mood and landscape for me, as we all relaxed after the wedding. There is something both formal and informal going on here.


I brought my Leica M-E and 50mm Zeiss Planar lens for the third wedding. I have a love-hate relationship with the Leica. I love the files…love…love…love…, but my aging eyes really don’t like manual focusing all that much anymore. More about this later. The image? Well, you can’t tell from my photo, but the young bride was wearing her great-grandmother’s wedding dress. Wow! I decided that I wanted a “vintage” feel to the image, but to also include the modernity of the moment, a young woman in her 20s getting married. Thus, the tattoo emphasized along with the vintage rendition.


I would have preferred to stay with smaller cameras for each wedding, but my Nikon Df came up on the fourth pull out of the hat. I didn’t want to be all that conspicuous with a camera, so I stuck with my 50mm kit lens with no hood rather than my 24-120mm lens. Not a small package, but not all that large either. The outdoor location for the wedding was the North Carolina mountains, west of Asheville, and I just couldn’t resist the shot, even though it doesn’t have “wedding” written on it. Hey, it’s my project, right?


The final wedding. The final camera. The final shot. I took my trusty SONY RX100 M2 for this one. I love this little camera. However, another SNAFU, but not with the camera, exactly. The wedding was to be taken outside near the water, but a storm was threatening and at the last minute, chairs were set up in the reception area inside the country club. It was dark (Where’s my Df when I need it?), cramped, and a lot of light was coming through those windows backlighting the couple. Nevertheless, I got this shot. With a lot of help in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro, I created an image to my liking.


Five…Five…and Five. DONE!

I’m not a great photographer, I just know what I like. I was moaning about having too many cameras when a situation presented itself that inspired me to do a photo project. I had a great time with it and learned some new things from each of the wedding experiences, some while shooting, some while working in Lightroom. Now, I look for everyday situations to inspire me further. I love it.

As for the five cameras, all served me well. I did sell the ME…but I ordered a Leica T!

Wedding anyone?

Thanks, Brandon and Steve!

Fran DeRespinis

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  1. Hi! I like the first one best and the third Picture is my second favourite! I know what GAS feels like but I have managed to stay with my Olympus EM-1 because I always seem to bounce back to it when I find a new camera to lust for. I am still amazed at the files this Little monster produces when I process my files in CaptureOnePro. Due to Steve and his positive Reviews of the Olympus lenses I have caved in to GAS on that front…
    Having a project is a great way to get going with photography. Perhaps Steve and Brandon should think up a weekly or monthly photochallenge?

  2. If you want some real inspiration, go to the library and borrow some photo books with photos from the great masters like Henri-Cartier Bresson, Andre Kertesz, William Eggelston, Paul Strand, etc. They did so much with much lesser equipment. I all photographers need to come to a point where we need to stop looking for excuses to be inspired by equipment (I’ve been guilty of this myself) and start looking to be inspired by photos.

    Just my 2 cents!

    • Jonathan, that is great advice. I know all of those photographers and own many books of photographers that my wife and I have accumulated over the years. I am never inspired by equipment. Didn’t mean to give that impression. I was inspired by the five weddings! 😉

  3. Hi Fran!

    Thanks for the story of your quandary about how to decide which cameras need to be retired. It hits very close to home, as I have 3 different kits with a fourth pulling at the back of my mind. Not to mention aging eyes and old glasses that makes focusing an M9 a little difficult.

    I would be interested in knowing what influenced you to get the M over the T. Since the T has the newer and larger EVF, and an adapter to use you existing lenses.

    Concerning which cameras to keep. If you and I were enjoying an adult beverage and reviewing just these 5 images, my suggestion would to go to the bottom of your presentation and work up. For me the top 3 images are the most compelling, which makes the cameras the most worthy of keeping.

    Have fun.

    • Str-8Shot, I had the T on order, but an out-of-town friend was visiting and he had a new M and the leica EVF. He gave me the camera for a day and using it was night and day for me compared to my M-E. I had an easier time focusing with the rangefinder and loved the live view and EVF! So, it became a no-brainer for me because I did miss my M-E to some extent. I have no regrets, though I’m sure I would have loved that T.

  4. “the two pros were fumbling with lenses and missed the entire thing. The newlyweds loves this shot. ;-)”
    made me smile.

    There’s funny David Bailey 1980’s ads on youtube.
    David with his point n shoot olympus getting the shot whilst the pro is fumbling with his cameras, lenses missing the shot.
    This is why the newly announced Panasonic Lx100 fast m43 compact (Leica Dlux)
    & Panasonic 1″ superzoom FZ1000 (Leica Vlux) would do me fine for almost any such occasion.
    Wish I had the FZ1000 for the olympics in London.

  5. I enjoyed them all, but like the Leica photo the most (3rd). Can we assume you kept the 50mm Zeiss Planar lens to use on your new Leica T as a manual focus 75mm equivalent? If you enjoy new technology, then GAS is the inevitable consequence. Getting something for a reasonable resale price helps if you can convince yourself that the loss is just a high “rental” fee and worth the experience. I also try to justify the mix by convincing myself that–especially with high quality primes–one needs to carry and use several camera and different lens configurations at the same time. A small 28mm camera here, a high quality 35mm one there, and a 50mm interchangeable lens camera as well. Three smallish ones that fit into one bag, then two around your neck and one in your pocket. I just heard that Cartier-Bresson used to walk around with 3-4 cameras around his neck at one time (with different focal length lenses). Only photos you see of him shows just one camera. The quote came from Walker Evans who traveled with him. I’m sure no one called that GAS at the time, just being prepared. I hope all this is helping everyone who has been convinced that GAS is a negative personality trait. Perhaps it’s just a good way to work. Please share photos with your new Leica T and let use know about the “old” Zeiss lens.

    P.S. GAS is being fueled by some amazing new products and engineering coming at use at a very fast pace.

    • I agree, Larry. Yes, it’s GAS, but it’s also optimizing certain focal lengths and functions. As for the Leica T, I changed my mind and bought a Leica M (240)!

  6. Hello Friend, that you think bring over of the Sony RX1?
    The images seem to be really very three-dimensional.
    I use the DF but his brightness has not just convinced me, soft images I use nikkor 35f2d and 50 1.4g with this one finalize a bit better.

    Thank you

  7. First… do we know the couple in Photo #1…?

    Now, if you like pics as these, you’re gonna love the “T”. Get both lenses, it really enhanced utility to do so.

    Files are robust and can take PP as well as my Canon 6D’s. Very sharp, rarely needs
    “clarity” or “contrast”. Mine is ~1/2 a stop too hot on the meter but I leave it anyway as ETTR… (8<))

  8. Great photos -keep your cameras you use them well -as for the Leica T- I must say I like it a lot and it has got many favourable reviews -so I know you will be putting it to good use !

    Best Wishes

    • Thanks, fergus. I have to add that since sending this post to Brandon, I changed my order at the Miami Leica store (great people there, by the way!), and am now the owner of a new Leica M (240). I’m using the Oly EV2 on it when I think I need it, and yes, I’m shooting with the camera. Thanks to Steve for all the great info on the 240.

  9. Nice work Fran, but boy do you have some GAS!

    That said, at least you’re using and enjoying them all in equal measure…

  10. Hi Fran how are you doing,

    Have you got the Leica T yet? How do you feel about it compare to the Sony RX1?

    i confuse to choose between the T or the RX1″. I do mot mind the fix lens of the Sony. Anyway when I am to buy the T, it it going to be the fix 23.

    Need your advice. Thanks.

    • As I posted already, I decided to sell the M-E but then bought a Leica M (240) and am using the Olympus EVF 2 with it. I’m very happy with this combination. I love the RX1. It’s a keeper.

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