Loyalty points

I always find polls hard to deal with, as they never ask the right questions. So it is with the AP ‘brand loyalty’ poll in AP 24 August. The question that would have been really worth answering is: ‘Why are you loyal to a brand?’

My answer is along the lines of: ‘I have a lot of lovely prime lenses. I don’t want to have to spend three or four times as much as a camera body on a load of new lenses.’ Mix in a little, ‘I don’t want to have to learn a completely different set of controls,’ and maybe a touch of, ‘And this one works perfectly well,’ too!

In terms of quality, there’s more of it in most cameras than most togs can use. I have no idea why people change cameras just because the latest new model has an extra megapixel, or more focus points. For real improvements in quality, ditch the standard consumer zoom and get a secondhand prime lens or two.

Then settle in and wait, because even if the latest Brand X is actually better than the two-year-old Brand Y, the next mode will once again edge ahead. It’s about percentages, not a clear knockout.

Why i moved on

I read Richard Sibley’s editorial in AP 24 August with interest; what would make a photographer loyal to a brand even consider switching to another? I switched brands about six years ago, and it was, initially at least, a painful wrench. I was a loya Pentax user for the best part of 25 years, with a MX. What’s not to like about it? A deadly accurate meter, simple to use, lightweight but strongly built, top-quality lenses and then, when I got into wildlife photography, I was able to acquire a 5fps motordrive as well.

But there was the rub: I got into wildlife photography. Have you ever tried taking shots of birds in flight using a manual focus lens? I have, I did. It’s not easy. The wastage rate is severe. And I saw those around me using continuous autofocus to get frame after frame sharp while I was lucky to get one in ten with the pre-focus-and-hope method. It was clearly time to re-assess my needs.

The Pentax current at the time was the K10D, with the 300mm f/4 DA lens just announced, but I discovered that the pair simply would not support predictive autofocus. So I decided it was the end of the road. I bought another brand, second-hand on eBay, and found myself the owner of a rather battered but very serviceable Nikon F5, and a Nikkor 300mm f/4 AF-S lens. I was still using film but now getting a much better hit rate for those in-flight shots. Since then I have quite simply become a Nikon convert, and now use a D3 (also secondhand) and have slowly gathered a small but adequate collection of Nikon glass.

So I switched because fundamentally I felt that ‘my’ brand simply didn’t keep up with my growing needs and expectations. Pentax seemed to stay stuck in the mass-market when I needed something more capable — it was autofocus that did it! And why Nikon? Because it kept and adapted the same lens mount when going autofocus, and seemed better at keeping an eye on longevity than the alternatives. It’s certainly a choice I don’t regret. But if Pentax were to produce an affordable full-frame digital camera, I could still be tempted to get out my old manual-focus M- and A-series lenses… Steve Thomas, Bedfordshire go to this exhibition

Sebastiao Selgado’s exhibition Genesis, currently showing at the Natural History Museum, is in my view the most important photography exhibition to be shown in the UK for a long time. I visited the exhibition out of curiosity, as I had noticed he is an Honorary Fellow of the RPS and I remember seeing his work featured in a Leica brochure some time ago. But apart from this, I had no idea what he was about.

The most memorable exhibitions I have had the good fortune to attend were held many years ago when the RPS was situated at the Octagon in Bath. The first was an exhibition of Ansel Adams’s wonderful landscape prints, the other was the amazing portraiture of Irvin Penn. Sebastiao Selgado manages to encompass landscape, portraiture and wildlife photography to a level I find hard to put into words — all in monochrome. His Genesis exhibition is sublime to the extent that I consider him on the same level as Ansel Adams and Irvin Penn as one of photography’s all-time greats. Mick Miller, Berkshire

Nikon news

The news story about Nikon’s plans —С for more DSLRs as CSC growth f slows was interesting (AP 31 from the August). I would have thought that forum its DSLR range was pretty much complete, although a very compact ‘underling’ to the D3200 might be a good idea. That policy could also be applied up the range with a compact FX D400…

What about lenses? That is the weak point of the DX cameras, with hardly any compact ‘fixies’. It should be remembered that, notwithstanding Nikon’s stats about west European/UK/US camera buying habits (including that we bought nigh on a quarter less of everything in Q2), consumers quickly find that a DSLR, especially when part of a multi-lens and flash outfit, gets left more and more at home, having been replaced by something lighter and more compact.

I’m not surprised about the 1 system, I think it was a bad idea. A retailer told me recently that he thought it would be killed off in the autumn. And I cannot understand why Nikon discontinued the Coolpix P7100. To me, alongside the Coolpix P7700, it complements the DSLR range perfectly.

The simple remedy

I liked John Duder’s take on pinhole photography in AP 17 August, and was amused at his suggested remedy. However, I think he should be told that there is more to making a good pinhole than sticking a pin into a piece of aluminium foil. A pinhole needs to be round, devoid of any burrs, in the thinnest possible material — brass is much better than aluminium — and be the optimum size for the focal length chosen. By converting to a lens-assisted pinhole (LAP), much better results are obtained. In the attached comparison, a single bi-convex lens was used in the LAP So perhaps John is right: the simple remedy is to fit a lens! Clifford Brown, Somerset

Should you take your camera to a wedding? AP reader Jill Beeton would rather just enjoy the day i have had the pleasure of attending a few weddings — as a guest, I hasten to add — and the variety never ceases to amaze and thrill me. There is such a wealth of detail, pretty fabrics, flower arrangements, people wearing — and acting — their best. Such a wealth of beauty to fill a camera with for someone such as me who loves taking photos and can find inspiration in the most mundane of surroundings. So you might find this a little surprising but about half the time I do not even take along a camera to such events.

I wonder how many have stopped and thought about the differences in how you view and experience an event (depending on whether you have a video recorder, camera, pencil or nothing in your hand?) For me, that difference hugely affects my experience. For the first wedding I remember attending, I took nothing — but the interesting thing is that I did remember a lot of things in detail, particularly the flowers in the church.

Events, feelings, interaction… I can remember such things without the need for a camera. Now, I love taking photos, but at a wedding what would be the chance of getting particularly good ones if you are just among the crowd, and without all the gear? Someone is bound to put their their head, camera or whole body in front of you, to get their own snap just as you are ready for your shot. To stand the chance of someone taking a step back out of your way, you really have to look the part: if you are loaded up with all the gear, tripod, flash, camera, spare, then you might just have a chance.

Yet if I am a guest, I don’t want the responsibility of having to get the pictures just right, so I have sometimes left my camera behind out of choice. It really does allow you to enjoy the day, and you can watch the other would-be photographers without having to jostle for a position.

A really lovely idea at one wedding was to put disposable cameras on each table at the reception, so that whoever wanted to could just pick one up and take a snap of anything interesting. Brilliant! The bride and groom got to gather up all the cameras at the end of the evening to get developed, so no need for undue shyness or competitiveness. The couple could choose which images to keep and which to add to a disc of the day for family and friends. So what if many of them may have had nothing much in them, the quantity, ease and availability would have given something worthwhile -whether to look at them just that once, or to keep for ever.

At others I may want to have a camera at hand, be it a compact, bridge or DSLR, which may vary with what is working, what I can borrow, or how much responsibility I want on the day — and it may also vary with whose wedding it is, how often I see them, and whether I want any responsibility for producing the pictures of the day!

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