A Gorgeous Sunset Day


Lee Gernes - Thai Garden Restaurant

I previously owned the P7000. I got it just to have it available to walk around everyday with and so that my my wife would have something simple to use. She likes taking pictures but she doesn’t want to really learn the ins and outs of photography. She used the P7000 a couple of times but then hardly ever picked it up.

I purchased the V1 for street photography to go along with the D7000. Now my wife is using the V1 all the time. In fact when I go on location to do photography more than once she has wandered off and self-absorbed in taking photos with the V1 So I sold the P7000.

She loves the EFV and more than once she has said out of the blue about the V1 “I love that little camera.”

The V1 has its pluses and minuses but if your wife is like my wife go with the V1.

On the dpReview forum a fellow wanted to know what kind of camera to get for shared use by himself and his spouse. This kind of exchange goes on endlessly for one reason alone. Men are squeamish about buying cameras that are too automated to match their “highly technical” self-image. So the burden rests on the tiny shoulders of their wives to provide a “cover” for their purchase of a compact camera of some sort or another.

The response above was written like so many by a husband who cares about his wife’s enjoyment of his passion for photography but is like so many of us somewhat clueless about what a person who is more interested in the moments that the camera captures than the technical perfection of the pictures.

I come from the view camera tradition. That means the large cameras with bellows and heavy lens and a tripod and a dark cloth to shield the sun from the rear of the camera so that focus is possible. In fact you carry a loupe with you to ensure that you can see what you are doing on the ground glass. You schlepp around a spot meter and a whopping six (6) or so film holders to give you a good days quota of a dozen images. The whole kit weighed in a something over 30 pounds when I carried my Deardorff view camera and its heavy tripod.

I later traded in that 5×7 inch beauty for the more svelte 4×5 Zone VI view camera with its soft sided case that allowed my to reduce the weight to about 20 pounds with a large ash wood surveyors tripod. And you could never tell what you had until you got back to your darkroom, mixed up the chemicals and tedious developed each negative for the proscribed time to get a negative which would hopefully print nicely on Grade 2 paper.

After the negatives were dried and stored in glassine envelopes it was then time to mix up more chemicals in trays and begin the laborious job of printing the best of the negatives that you had determined by looking at the proof sheets you had printed by contact. Of course those proof sheets had to dry for an hour or more before you could hope to handle them. And they had to be examine by loupe again to verify that the focus was just so and that the shadow detail you hoped you had gotten was really there.

Now along comes something like the Nikon 1 V1 and it offers the promise of instant picture verification in color (not just black and white) and it weight in at under 5 pounds (soaking wet) with a kit of three lens, and other accessories (including flash) and guess what I pinch myself every time I bring the thing out to make images. Whoopee!

In the large format world the “toy” cameras are 2-1/4 square ones, like the Hasselblad. I owned one of these for use with color slide film to serve in shooting both landscapes and interiors. My Leica was strictly what most 35mm image makers think of as a point-and-shoot camera. But to hear the average 35mm camera user talk about it theirs is the only real digital camera around. Rubbish. Absolute Rubbish.

If these guys (and the majority seem to be males) were really all about image quality the least image quality they could stomach would be from a Hasselblad with a digital back. Now that camera really delivers sharp, colorful images. But when you only own a hammer every problem looks like a nail.

There is no perfect camera but 35mm users are in search of something that is both automatic in all respects having to do with exposure determination and yet fully manual when it comes to setting the aperture and shutter speed on such a camera. Kind of a contradiction in purposes but I figure that they feel more “serious” about their photography when they are fiddling with dials and the like.

So it comes as no surprise whatsoever when the wife of a fellow photographer eschews the use of the Nikon P7000 in favor of the Nikon 1 V1. I bought and kept for three days the successor to the Nikon P7100. It is a wonderful camera but I am convinced it was developed to keep “serious photographers” on holiday from having to explain to themselves that using a Point-and-Shoot camera was not a sign of personal weakness.

For my money it was a nightmare to use and overly complicated. I owned up to having made a mistake and promptly bought the fully automated Nikon 1 V1 without a moments hesitation other than the increased price point. And it has done everything I could want of it.

Some of the fellow on the forum are constantly wringing their hands when they discover that it does not do everything that their more expensive DSLR will do for a third the price and a quarter the weight. This all leads me to believe that most of them have no understand of the marketing strategy that a large photography company must have to allow their tiers of products to survive.

Sure you want innovation but you need to consider what producing any model means to those above and below it on the pricing totem pole. So no, I am not concerned that it does not yet have 1 billion mm lens that are able to capture the backsides of gnats in total darkness without the aid of a tripod. I need only the three lenses I have to do what I want to do, which is make images.

And I truly cannot tell you how liberating it is to turn to Aperture 3.2.2 and “develop and print” my images without having to mix chemical or stabilize water baths and turn on safe lights to print images in the wee hours of the morning each weekend. I don’t have to run out to the store for paper or film because I discovered that my supply was running low. All my images are kept on a SDHC card about the size of a postage stamp (actually smaller) and thousand of them are maintained in a piece of software like Aperture 3.2.2 from which I can recall the images from a particular date or location or by subjects name or via facial recognition.

I have died and gone to photographic heaven! Pinch me…