My 12 for 2013
By Adam Anderson
I enjoyed Jason Howe’s Top 12 for 2012 very much, and its message distills the ‘less is more’ philosophy that resonates strongly with my own photographic intent. My life would likely improve a great deal if I was able to translate this philosophy to other areas.
Jan to Dec 2013 are convenient bookends for a significant time in my life and photography. I moved to Sydney for a 12 month tryst with the city, its surrounding landscape and my Zeiss Ikon ZM rangefinder. I also got to try a bunch of other camera and lens combos which I will give my brief thoughts on. Stricken with Gear Acquisition syndrome, my ownership period of these non-Ikon devices was short and featured a great deal of anticipation and subsequent remorse. Not unlike a good night out! So, in the spirit of the cost vs. benefit of brief liaisons with the opposite sex, I’ll chalk up my short ownership period of these cameras as a worthwhile experience.
I tried to keep this sample of 12 fairly objective since my own emotional attachment to places, people and experiences doesn’t always make it through the lens. Regardless of the photos that made the grade, this year I found myself preferring film to digital, 1×1 aspect ratio and b&w to colour a lot of the time. Hardly groundbreaking revelations to any seasoned photographer, but fun to use tools for someone like me who was excited to expand his horizons beyond MS Paint as the foundation for his digital image manipulation workflow.
Zeiss Ikon ZM and 35mm Biogon C 2.8
The ZI is my favourite by far and most used. It gives classic rendering with the 35mm biogon which is beautiful with negative film. I cannot give enough praise to the Ikon’s wonderful viewfinder, the convenience and reliability of its Automatic exposure mode and its overall ergonomics and handling. Steve often talks about the necessity of a camera to motivate its inclusion on outings and no camera and lens has been more motivating for my photography than this setup. I had all my film developed and scanned by Foto Riesel in Sydney. They are the best photo lab I’ve used and tolerated my “Selfies on film with a wide-angle lens” phase.
Canon 6d and 40mm f2.8 pancake
This was a neat setup. The 6D is compact for a DSLR, is solid and has a simple but useful control layout. It delivers fantastic IQ on all counts and great low light performance. It really ticks the boxes for what’s important for me in a DSLR. It survived me getting lost in the Australian wilderness several times. I regretted upgrading to the d800e.
D800e and 50mm 1.4g
I had a love hate relationship with this camera. I loved the sharp, detailed results it produced when everything was right. The various metering modes were often way off, under and overexposing at inconvenient times. The AWB was not as natural as the 6d. After the 6d’s interface and layout I found Nikon’s menu structure and controls convoluted. Not to mention the bayonet was designed on opposite day. Perhaps more time spent with this camera would have yielded a happier relationship. More likely my experience is akin to learning to drive in a Formula 1.
Mamiya 7 and 65mm f4
This was my first foray into medium format and the results blew me away. I already have quite an economical shooting style so 10 frames per roll wasn’t too restrictive. Once you get the hang of the centre weighted lightmeter it’s a breeze to use on AEL mode to really nail exposure. It’s easy to load on the go and the controls are basic but very functional. My favourite film for this camera was Fuji pro 400h. My favourite photographic technique with this camera was loading the film incorrectly and getting only 8 exposures instead of 10.
Thank you Steve for your website and your bandwidth, and your readers for their attention.