Dog day after zoom
For a keen photographer who loves dogs, it does not get any better than the Maidenhead and District Canine Society Show. Shooting predominantly with my old Leica and manual lens I thought would be relatively challenging so I wanted to use the day as an exercise to see if it could work. I also wanted to see what kind of results using a DSLR with an autofocus zoom would give me and if it would make my life easier.
I managed to get a good deal on a weekend rental the Nikon D4 and 70 -200mm F2.8 lens from Fixation
This is not intended as a comparison of cameras – it would be unfair on the Dslr as I don’t know my way around the camera that well – it was just intended as a day trip out with two very different camera systems and a personal quest and bit of fun trying to see what works best for me.
Firstly I love using the Leica M9, I love the way it looks and its weight. I love the feel and holding this ‘emotional’ camera. Certainly it is a very challenging camera to use and I discovered that indoor dog shows are very challenging. The lighting is quite poor, everything happens so quickly and you have to work fast to get your focus. And because you are shooting wide open to get as much light there is not much room for inaccurate focus. That said, it’s an amazing experience because it really pushes you to work fast and think about everything. Its best purpose in the show ring is probably as a candid camera walking around capturing stuff behind the scenes reportage style.
The Nikon D4 is a different breed (pardon the pun). With its phenomenal low light performance, I set the ISO to Auto and shot in Manual trying to keep my speed up to freeze moments. I was shooting around 250 to 300FPS and between F2.8 and F4. The ISO was hitting 8000 to 12500. In the right hands and with a bit of practice this camera can probably do anything. Initially I didn’t think I needed such a big zoom, it was an increadibly heavy 70-200 lens. I should have probably hired the camera out for a weekend just to familiarise myself as I found myself trying to work out all the controls. I pretty much stayed with the same settings as I didn’t want to mess around with the controls too much. My only criticism is that I found the lens would not lock focus all the time. This was really frustrating as I missed a few shots I hoped to capture.
As much I love my Leica, the Nikon was probably the best tool for the job and I definitely did not do the camera justice, as I was completely unfamiliar with the controls and functionality. In the right hands this could have produced phenomenal quality images and if I do more shows I would seriously consider investing in one and getting to know the camera well.
There are numerous tech blogs that can probably delve deep into the pros and cons of cameras. The purpose of my blog is more a personal note to myself reflecting on a day out and how I felt shooting with a manual camera and modern Dslr, how to improve myself as an artist and photographer and trying to develop my own style of imagery.
Taking photographs is a constant road to discovery and knowing and learning how to use your equipment is a constant quest and learning curve. I enjoyed using both cameras, I prefer using my Leica but I have to accept that a more modern camera like the Nikon D4 can probably be used in most circumstances and for all types of photography.
I don’t make sense in anything I do, I don’t drive a modern car and my life could be so much simpler if I had a newer car and I would not have to deal with the constant garage bills and hassle of not having a car readily available for any trip. But my old car feels like a car and emotionally engages me.
It’s the same with my cameras which are old and are not always the best tool for the job and readily usable for any situation. But I love using them, they push me and they make me think and feel. This is reflected also in the images – when it is right and shot well they produce emotionally engaging images.
I have had requests from people asking for images and I am happy to share low-res versions. I have placed quite a few pictures in the gallery section and they are numbered, so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to my sister Claudia for dragging me along, to Sharon Ames for letting me share in your day and to Paula and Neil for the lovely meal.