I wanted to hold off on this post until I had more time to spend with a few of the cameras I mention below. Although I spent more time with my personal SL1, rented an EOS 6D, sold my EOS M, rented a Nikon D600, got hands on time with a D610 and D800, and rented an EOS 5D Mk.III, the recent launch of the completely misguided Canon T5 has forced my hand. I’ve kept notes on all of those experiences, most of which will end up as part of a larger “new camera” narrative I’m working on.
There was recently a post on SLR Lounge by Carsten Krieger titled “A letter to Canon from a (soon to be) former customer.” I dove into it immediately because this exact same idea has been rattling around my head lately as I hunt for a new DSLR to replace my aging Canon EOS 60D. It was a particularly well timed article for me since I’ve become increasingly disenfranchised with Canon and lately have been exploring Nikon solutions, especially the D600/D610 which I feel is an almost perfect Prosumer camera body for the kind of work that I do (lifestyle/event).
The post addresses a few issues, including the disappointing lack of innovation coming from Canon, but then goes on to focus on a few professional bodies and lenses with a particular emphasis on cost, value, and features when compared to direct competitors. Now, while I agree with some of these points, they are only highly specific examples of a much larger problem with Canon at the moment; A complete lack of product focus across their DSLR lines.
WiFi + Bistro = Wistro. I’m not sure I like this name, but it’s everywhere here.
I was told that I need to start making food more of a priority. This is actually pretty true. For some reason eating just sits at the bottom of my daily “to do” list. I can go an entire day on a cup of coffee and a croissant and just not feel hungry. It’s not that I don’t like eating, or food (quite the contrary), it’s just something that slips through the cracks. I actually love sharing meals with people as a vehicle for conversation and interaction, so maybe that’s part of it. When I’m on my own to eat I guess it just doesn’t seem important. Speaking of priorities, every time I hear that word I can only think of the following quote from Jim Collins:
If you have more than 3 priorities, you don’t have any…
Works for me. Oh wait, you wanted to know what they are? Hmm… maybe next time.
Real Life vs. Real Time. This is something I’ve written about in the past. It is essentially the conflict between people and the world we live in as it relates to expectations about interacting with each other within the context of that modern world. Technology now bends us toward “Real Time” interaction, but the reality is that we exist in a “Real Life” setting. This is something I’ve experienced first hand in my life, from both sides, and is something I go back and forth with. These days, when you receive an email, or a text, or a missed call, etc, from someone, “Real Time” dictates that you reply immediately simply because you have the capacity to do so. Technology has given us nearly 24/7 availability and can provide us with the options for a near instantaneous response time. Because of this, the sender has an expectation about how quickly you will reply because they know you have the capacity. Not meeting this expectation can result in conflict (I’m sure that if you live in the “modern” world, you’ve experienced this, it’s often very passive-aggressive). The truth of the matter is though, that expectation usually does not take “Real Life” into account. Just because you have the technological capacity to reply immediately, doesn’t mean you always can… or should. This is where the line exists when it comes to compromising “Real Life” for “Real Time”, that the communication should exist a kind of bubble. Now, I say “compromise” on purpose because there is a lot of the time where this competition just doesn’t exist. If a person is sitting on a park bench and they get a text, email, etc, of course they can just immediately reply. That isn’t really compromising anything critical or high impact for the sake of availability. But if you send an email while someone is in a movie or on a date or in a meeting or… whatever, and then get mad because they didn’t reply until it was over (even after they may have told you where they were), that is kind of, well, the essence of this idea. The expectation that a reply will come back immediately because they are enabled to, and the obligation they might feel do to so for the same reason, is a little silly. And that’s the weird back-end of this, the sense of guilt or anxiety from not replying immediately. It’s almost like “Real Time” is becoming human nature, an innate desire and need to be that available, to provide “Real Time” responses to everything, and supplanting the concept of “Real Life”.
Now, this isn’t all to say that “Real Time” should never be considered. It’s very easy to read through this and say “You know what, screw “Real Time”, I’ll reply whenever I feel like it!“. I suppose no one can tell you not to, but there is a bit of modern courtesy and practicality involved. Not replying just for the sake of sticking it to someone’s ideas about an appropriate time-frame, or to prove a point, is just as nonconstructive as sacrificing “Real Life”. Some people just have priority status, and of course there are things like emergencies and other mitigating circumstances. The point is to find a balance and not let one take over the other, and if you do let it fade either way, to make sure it’s for the right reasons.
I was also thinking about the correlation between coin money, comparing the Dollar to the Euro, and speaking French. So, first off, there is a common American joke about the “man purse”, or “European man bag”, etc etc. Well, it’s for good reason. COIN MONEY. Good lord, there is a coin for every possible denomination here and they are used exclusively in a lot of places (i.e. no bills) so you have to carry them around with you (This does lead to a fun game though, of having a “coin money” day where you just try to get rid of all of it). So having some kind of bag makes a lot of sense here, which is good news for me since bags are my one real retail weakness. This kind of ties into living here for a while now (does 2 months count as “a while”?) and the need to stop comparing the Euro to the Dollar. It is incredibly difficult to do, especially as someone who will end up back in the US at some point, and even more-so as someone who watches his money like a hawk. The Euro is strong against the Dollar right now so money goes quicker than anticipated. It’s easy to keep comparing, but it is also maddening to do so. I was thinking about this relationship and it reminded me of learning and speaking a different language. At some point you just start to innately understand the new language instead of using your native tongue as a reference. I was only thinking about that because I really need to get on the ball about learning French.
The last thing I’ll yammer about is the Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM. This is a bit of camera nerdery so feel free to skip it if that is of no interest to you.
So, the common recommendation for prime lenses when you first pick up a DLSR is the classic 50mm. If you’re a Canon user, this is the EF 50mm f/1.8 II, aka The Nifty Fifty. No doubts, it is an AMAZING lens (although I use it’s big brother, the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM) especially since you can pick it for about $99. It’s incredible for portraits, but a bit tight on a crop sensor, like the 60D, for everyday use since it actually becomes an 80mm. For a while I was shooting walk-around on the EF 35mm f/2. It is the classic length for full-frame photography and it crops out to 56mm on the 1.6x sensors, so it’s is decent to work with in standard shooting, although the quality of the lens itself leaves a little to be desired. There isn’t currently a mid-tier USM version of the 35mm in Canon’s line-up, there is just the 35mm f/2 and the $1500 EF 35mm f/1.4 L USM. It’s too bad, since it’s a good length and probably a better prime length to cut your teeth on than the 50mm. The real hidden gem here though, and what has become my most used and most loved lens, is the often overlooked EF 28mm f/1.8 USM. This lens is my little workhorse and it produces some amazing images, especially of flowers (yeah, that’s right, I like to take pictures of flowers. So what. Wanna fight about it?).
It produces bokeh unlike any other lens I own, adding a sense of almost “hatched motion” to unfocused backgrounds. A lot of the photos in my Flower Flicker Set were shot on the 28mm for this very reason. It’s similar to how the 50mm f/1.4 produces the “dream” effect around subjects when it’s stopped down all the way. I pretty much never go anywhere without my 28mm because I know that it can pick up any of my daily duties in a pinch. It crops to 45mm so it can handle portraits, as shown, it’s amazing for flowers (rivaling even my EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM Macro) and other daily shots, and with a little distance, can pull off wide-angle duty. It’s very a much a “frame with your feet” lens, but given it’s small size, it’s easy to get right up on whatever you’re shooting without too much hassle. If I could only ever bring one lens with me anywhere, it’d be a tough choice between the Great 28 or the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM. That’s saying a lot for an obscure little prime, but it has made a believer out of me.