On Cameras

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of research on digital cameras. My first digital camera was a Canon Powershot, and my first inter-changeable lens mirrorless was the Panasonic GF1. I loved the 20mm 1.7 pancake the GF1 shipped with, but unfortunately I lost this beauty on a night out in NYC.

Even still, the GF1 gave me a good impression for what Panasonic were doing with micro four-thirds. So when I was looking for a new camera in 2013, the GH3 was a no-brainer. However the GH series had become more famous for its video features, but I didn’t mind, it was an equally good stills and video camera.

However I cant say I liked the 12 – 42mm power zoom this model shipped with, I liked the zoom, but the aperture wasn’t quite as wide as the pancake on the GF1. It turned out this was a great learning lesson in the value of wide apertures, at least for the type of photography I like to do.

And really the bug to get back into photography has hit hard lately. I think it’s got a lot to do with getting outdoors, visiting interesting locations and spaces, and capturing them on a sensor. Lately I’ve been super interested in doing my own timelapses – something I’ve never really done before, plus long exposures, night photography and in general just getting back into photography for photography’s sake. Previously I’d shot on slide film, and for quite a while my cameras have existed for me merely as a documentation tool for artworks, or, lately just with my iPhone as a travel cam.

But ‘doing photography’ is something much more, I think, and certain types of photography like long exposure, well, the iPhone just isn’t up to it.

So I decided to get my first ‘full-frame’ camera for low light and low-noise purposes, moving up from the smaller ‘cropped’ micro four-thirds sensors I’d been working with. There’s a lot of activity in full-frame mirrorless at the moment with new announcements from Panasonic, Canon, and Nikon, however Sony has been innovating from the front in this field for quite a number of years.

I was originally sold on the new Nikon Z6 (pictured below) which is out this November, it has a near perfect feature set for what I’d like to achieve, but as a new camera it’s quite expensive.

Full-frame cameras are entering into near perfect image quality, particularly in regards to 4K video resolutions and the emergence of 10-bit colour depth (the Z6 can record 10-bit to an external recorder). In the end, however, I decided to save some money and go with the A7sii from Sony. It’s a couple years old, but it has time-lapse functionality, great 4K and 1080p video, and excellent low-light performance. What’s also cool is you can adapt Nikon or Canon lenses to the Sony with adapters. I picked a basic one up from Gobe, an ethical adapter and lens filter company from Byron Bay.

The only caveat with the S series from Sony is that they use 12 megapixel sensors. They do so to achieve their famous low-light capabilities, and while absolutely fine for the web and uploading online, this resolution is a little concerning for doing high quality prints. I’m looking forward to experimenting with this and hope I can achieve good quality results. Doing panoramas could also be a nice way to achieve higher resolution.

After years of coding and playing around with programming languages, coming back to photography and video feels like a nice return to cameras in many ways. I’m also quite interested in exploring drones at some point in the future for the aerial photographic perspectives they offer. Like a piano, lens-based imagery is such a pliable, accessible medium, that anyone can use. I’m looking forward to capturing a lot more content soon across landscape, astro-photography, and low-light videography. It’s an idea that I’ve been trying to capture with stock material, computer graphics and software for many years, but going back to the camera feels like finally coming home.





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