Monday, December 28, 2015

I basically hate my camera because it's too goddamn big...

When I bought the E-M1 August of last year it was with the clear intent to use it as a workhorse body, paired with my trusty E-P3 as my "fun time" camera with the trio of primes I'd been using for the same work I bought the E-M1 for. After the battery charger for the E-P3 batteries died, I decided it was worthwhile to retire that camera and just stick with the E-M1 for everything, a single body for all. Over 2015 I've picked up the 40-150mm f/2.8, 7-14mm f/2.8, and 42.5mm f/1.2, basically all the nice higher end glass I could to go along with the E-M1 because price was no longer a factor and why not see just how hard I could push things? In conclusion, I've successfully discovered the best way possible to suffocate all the joy out of photography I possibly could have.

Somewhere along the line I forgot that my methodology, my ethos, has always been an embrace of minimalism, because the kit I'm stuck with right now is anything but minimal. People will give me shit for complaining so much about Micro Four Thirds glass and bodies because they're still diminutive in size compared to their Full Frame counterparts, but that simply highlights how strictly my preference for tools is on the small side. The E-M1 is a great imager, but it's a goddamn tank and I hate carrying it around. No matter what I stick on the front of the thing, it's a big black "LOOK AT ME I'M A PHOTOGRAPHER" attention grabbing brick. I can't attach it to my belt loupes and lazily stroll around the street, it's either in my hand or shoulder strapped and bouncing around like an annoyance.

These PRO zooms are great for working photography, but in personal use I've only ever managed to find problems, and they are problems I've found in my old kit of primes that I never noticed before, and now they are all ruined and dead to me because I've gotten to this point of pickiness that everything offends (except for that 42.5mm Nocticron, which is probably the only lens I haven't felt betrayed by this year). Suddenly ghosting and flare is the bane of my existence at all times, and the PRO zooms are so big I bought a backpack to carry everything in... A BACKPACK. I spent years decrying backpacks for being the bag choice of the idiot who thinks he needs to carry everything, and I have turned into that idiot. I used to be able to toss a couple primes into my Think Tank Retrospective 5 messenger bag and walk out the door without a worry because all I needed were those couple focal lengths I picked out and I was happy. Now I'm cruising with a backpack loaded with focal lengths spanning 7mm to 150mm with a flash and tripod collars and it's still not much and all fits into a tiny backpack BUT I STILL FUCKING HATE ALL OF IT.

Having coffee with my dad yesterday, he made the comment that I needed to get off the gear and just focus on the art, and he's right, but I'm having a really hard time getting past the disgust I have for my gear set. I feel like a painter whose paint brush's handle has been giving him splinters every time he uses it for months, and has finally hit the point of fed up where he's ready to toss the horsehair splinter-fest brush into the fire. Maybe less dramatic, since I still find it brutally useful when I am out shooting photos either for work or with deliberate intent. But that is not how I am shooting all of the time. It's Kneejerk Imagery, for fuck's sake, the idea is to see and react, respond without knowing why, then drill down on what it was that caught your attention until you can refine it through subtraction, that's what photography has always been about from fundamentals. And here I am not responding because I don't want to be burdened with a tank in my hands, or paralyzed by choice with a bunch of zooms in a bag that piss me off because they can't help but catch flare off stray light sources.

There is nothing inherently wrong with my equipment. It's a personal frustration with the over-complication of what was once very simple. I enjoyed snapping randomly with the E-P3 and the 45mm f/1.8 because it was simple and lacked the complexity of choice. Ultimately I want to find another solution like that. The simplicity solution, the thing that drives me.

I keep hearing about this upcoming PEN-F re-imagining of the Olympus PEN line but that doesn't exist yet and I'm tired of living and breathing gear purchasing decisions by the bleeding edge of rumor site speculation. Right now the most sensible solution is to pick up a Fujifilm X100T, which I've had my eye on since its 2-generations old predecessor X100 anyway. My first mistake was looking at reviews of the camera from the technical side but that was stupid because my problems have nothing to do with technical competency on the part of the engineers making the camera (any camera these days is more than sufficient, even the ones in our phones). What I'm looking for is an abstract, as it usually is with me. I'm looking for the simplicity in operation, the meaningful limitation that forces creative considerations neglected when technical solutions are available, and mostly the minimalism of it. One camera, fixed lens, built-in ND filter (and lord knows I've been all about that daylight long exposure stuff lately), maybe stick a CPL in the bag with a spare battery (or even a USB battery since that's a cool thing the X100T is capable of charging by), and a tripod. Basically the same profile as the E-P3 kit I always ran around with, minus the variety in focal lengths but even that's okay since the 17mm f/1.8 ended up being the only thing I ever used once I picked it up anyway.

I'm going to do one of two things in the next week. I'm either going to continue being pissed off and dissatisfied with everything for a few more months while I wait for the PEN-F announcement, or I'm going to actually treat myself to something for me instead of for my business for once this year and pick up an X100T kit with an arca-swiss base so I can use my tripod without worrying about swapping the stupid plate that came with the tripod. Let's see what I end up doing and how much regret any decision I make generates (because I will regret every decision at this point, I've driven myself mad for so long there is no wholly positive outcome left).