One Camera, One Lens, One etc. etc.

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Sophist, Jan 26, 2018.

  1. Sophist

    Sophist Member

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    I've been reading the original "One Camera, One Lens, One Year" article, more formally titled "The Leica as Tutor.", and I've been thinking about embarking on a similar project.

    What I can't figure out is how strictly to apply the rules; I know I'll be breaking the "Leica only" one, probably with a Kodak Retina, but where does it end?

    I reckon I'll be sticking to HP5 and LC-29, but are push and pull processing in the spirit of the "Challenge?" What about filters (either "contrast" or neutral density)? What about flash, for that matter?

    I'm not currently set up to wet print, but I'm fairly happy with my - currently multi-format - dev and scan setup.

    Stretching the rules too far (in particular the one about filters) would probably mean using my Nikon FE instead, which would "dilute" the challenge still further.

    I realise that in the end these are all personal choices, but if you were embarking on a similar undertaking, where would you "Draw the Line"?
     
  2. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    The rules are yours to make or break.
     
  3. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    For me I would pick one camera, one lens, one film, no filters and allow push/pull processing.
     
  4. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Rules are made to be broken.:angel:
     
  5. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    Well, I did it for 15 years with this:

    -- Pentax SP500
    -- Super Takumar 55/2
    -- Kodak Plus X

    That's all I could afford. Initially I thought the 55mm lens would be too limiting; I wanted the range from 35mm to 135mm. I told myself that I'd buy a 35mm lens when I mastered the 55mm. Well, even after 15 years I felt no urge for any different lens.

    The Pentax SP500 became second-nature to use. Even though I lusted for cameras with more features and sexier viewfinders, I found the simplicity of the Pentax made me ignore the camera and allowed me to produce my best work. Even today, having many cameras, the SP500 is the one I feel most comfortable with.

    Also, I felt no need for a different film.

    But what actually helped me the most was doing my own printing. If I were going to spend from midnight to 6am making prints, I quickly discovered the photos had better be worth printing.
     
  6. Ron789

    Ron789 Subscriber

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    Never done push/pull processing in all my life. If I want higher speed, I use a higher speed film, if I want lower speed, I use a lower speed film.... easy. Developing all films at box speed worked fine for me over the past 40 years.

    And.... as others have said: rules are there to be broken. The whole idea of this challenge is that you need to limit yourself. It's not gear, materials and technique that makes great photos. It's up to you. Good luck, and please share your results with us!
     
  7. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I'd use filters and tripod.

    I'd learn how film responds to light and development by pushing it to the limits. Underexpose, sure... to see how low you can go. But then overexpose too... to see how much latitude there is. Underdevelop and overdevelop. Mix it all up. Then try to get everything perfect. Once you realize the boundaries, you can find what works for you.
     
  8. William Crow

    William Crow Member

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    Contax RTS II
    Contax/Zeiss 28.85 zoom
    3200 B&W film shot at 1200.

    More recently:
    Hasselblad 500cm
    80mm lens
    3200 120 film shot at 120 film

    Using both with a Sekonic hand held meter.
     
  9. Alan W

    Alan W Member

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    Photograph what you want,where you want,when you want and with what you want.Easy.
     
  10. Pioneer

    Pioneer Subscriber

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    I think it is a great way to spend a year. I used a K1000 the first time around and then my Leica M-A and Rolleiflex 3.5 MX-EVS together in 2015. I did use a few other cameras in 2015, but I actually didn't backslide too much.

    To be honest, though I learned a lot about using the cameras and lenses I chose, the part that taught me the most was printing and evaluating my own work on a regular basis.

    I used different films, filters, pulled and pushed. I felt that for my purposes it was about learning photography without spending the year worrying about gear.

    Put everything else in a box, store it on a shelf in the closet, and go shoot the camera and lens you choose. Keep close track of how you do by regularly printing and evaluating your best work. I think you will really enjoy the results.

    But everyone is different and there are many who do not feel any need to restrict themselves to just one camera or lens.

    One thing about it though, if you make it through the year you will darn sure know how to use your camera without having to think about it. :D
     
  11. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I agree. Much of my photography has been to places or events that deserve to be recorded for friends and for posterity. Having appropriate equipment for this is more important than wasting the opportunities to produce the most useful photos.
     
  12. Fixcinater

    Fixcinater Member

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    I’d restrict to a 35mm RF (one body/one lens), and one film stock/developer. Push pull is fine as that’s part of learning how it all responds to light.

    I think part of his intent is to get comfortable with an RF and part holding the variables down as much as possible. A 35 or 50mm lens is not exciting like an ultra wide or super Tele so you have to work to make interesting photos.

    The Leica mention isn’t a requirement until it is. Can you get a similar experience yes but it’s not the same.
     
  13. OP
    OP
    Sophist

    Sophist Member

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    Thanks for all the input. I think having the "rules" is part of the game really, that's why I'm trying to set them down in advance.

    The reason I'm wavering about filters is that I used to use a yellow-green basically 100% of the time with HP5/FP4, but I also use a tripod(/fence post/other object) quite a lot, which means I didn't have to worry about push-processing to get the shutter speed down. Of course, it's possible this is a sign that I need to do a new project in order to break out of the "comfort zone"!

    I've had a bit of a clearout of gear over the last year; the TLRs are gone, and I'm down to an FE that I've used for IR, a Digicam, and a Box Brownie, so I probably will invest in a camera specifically for this project. Sadly, I'm old enough to be comfortable using a rangefinder already. The shortlist of cameras currently looks like: Retina ii, Werra 3, Zorki 1. And, of course, Leica. I think the "unmetered" aspect of the project is fairly important, possibly more so than the "rangefinder" aspect.

    Will give this some more thought, I'm still at the "planning" stage of the project. In fact, I haven't even identified the start date yet.

    You might be amused to hear that the reason I have the Box Brownie is that my young daughter was curious about what all the TLR gear was when I was photographing and packing for eBay, so I figured £8 on a Box Brownie was as good a way as any of showing her what it was all about.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2018
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  15. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    That's a very good choice. I myself wouldn't feel guilty staying with that for the duration of the exercise.
     
  16. blockend

    blockend Member

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    The Leica directive raises my suspicions about the project as a whole. Finding a Leica of any age that doesn't require a CLA (at least) and a thorough overhaul (more likely), is an onerous requirement just to take pictures. Add a lens that makes shooting a Leica more worthwhile than any other small camera, plus the 2 to 6 films a week and print costs, and it starts to look more like a vanity project that a learning exercise. The advice to carry a camera, take a lot of pictures, and hone your vision round a fixed focal length, is sound in itself but as someone in the comments noted, you can do that shooting jpegs on a 40D.
     
  17. Fixcinater

    Fixcinater Member

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    Since you already know what the filter does and know when you would use it, I see no problem there. That’s be like choosing a color emulsion over another for saturation level, totally within bounds.

    I have a Retina II, excellent 47/2 Ektar lens but for me, it would be too fiddly to use it every day all day. Part of a Leica (in my mind it’s an M) is it is simple, straightforward: no accidental double exposures, no missed shots because you forgot to cock the shutter after winding. But I’m terrible at remember those things so the non-coupled cameras cause me more grief than they might someone else. Plus the VF is awful squinty to be staring through for a year, but I use glasses so again might not be an issue for you.
     
  18. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    How about the following:

    • No pushing whatsoever. Instead try an aim CI/ G-Bar in the low 0.5's range - ie about 70% of Ilford's 'normal' times & work out an EI that gives you the shadow detail you want.
    • No lenses shorter than the short dimension of your chosen format & none more than 10% longer than the long dimension.
    You might find these nominal restrictions quite freeing.
     
  19. guangong

    guangong Subscriber

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    Any camera will do that has wide choice of shutter speeds and f stops. Don’t forget lens shade, filters and some kind of case to protect camera should be considered an integral part of camera. If you have a Leica of any kind use it, don’t be put off by the disgruntled. Also, even though a restrictive exercise does not mean you will not produce some memorable pictures, so I don’t agree with the jpeg recommendation. Many great works of art have been produced by artists who deliberately placed restrictions on themselves: many of Hitchcock’s films,or involuntarily: early jazz recordings limited to 3 min: Bix, Satchmo, Bing Crosby and Mills Brothers recording of Dina (so much happens musically in 3 min) or the Boswell sisters.
     
  20. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    what is the difference from a Leica and the FE? Leica is fine if you can afford it but why it has to be a Leica?
     
  21. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I have 42 35mm cameras and if I take on this project I can't see that I should spend $10000 for an MP and a 35mm f/1.4 or so.
     
  22. jim10219

    jim10219 Member

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    The whole point of challenges like this is to place constrictions on your gear so that you rely more on your talent. There are no rules that can't be broken if you feel they're holding you back. The idea is to have these decisions, which aren't as important as we tend to think they are, made up for us. That frees up our time and brain power to focus on other, more important decisions like composition and creative perspective.

    Photographers too often think about the gear first, and the shot second. This is meant to take the though of gear out of the equation for you. The best thing to do is to think of the shot first, and then after you have it previsualized, figure out how you're going to accomplish that with the gear you have.
     
  23. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    What he^^ said.
    It doesn't need to be a Leica, it can be any camera. I did a similar exercise when I got an 8x10, one camera, one film, one lens, one meter, one developer. I used other cameras and formats meanwhile, but for 8x10 that is what I did: even though I have lenses from 6 1/4" to 16 1/2", I stuck with a 30cm lens, Tri-x, and HC-110 dil. B, Weston Master III. After a few months, using the camera, etc. was second nature and that combination is still my starting point and results in at least 75% of the pictures I make with 8x10.
     
  24. Ko.Fe.

    Ko.Fe. Member

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    It is something special in consumerism current time, I guess.
    I used for years FED-2, Industar-26m and same slide film. Then P&S until it crapped out and then Canon SLR with kit lens for six years.
    Then I ventured back to RF I enjoyed Bessa R with 50, but them switched to 35mm. I worn it out from mint to trashed one, just by wearing it on neck stripe or keeping in soft case. But it was still working then I sold it to chaise Leica thing.
    I used it for two years and nothing else with 35 lenses mostly. And it actually broke. Now I know why Winograd always had two of them. But back then Leica service was widely available. Comparing to now... Now it is only few places and not all of them know anymore how to fix more complicated issues. If it is nothing special, it could be done quick. If it is more complicated, you might wait for more than one year. I was waiting for almost one year. Times changing very quick now. It is not 2009 then article was written. In 2018 more and more Leica cameras will needs more than just CLA. But curtains, light shields...
    Of course those who have five of them, plus truck load of other cameras will still tell you how reliable Leica is, but they are not using any of their cameras as single camera.
    John Free has no problems with using of his Nikon SLR and one lens for decades, BTW.
     
  25. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    I normally use a couple of different systems with multiple lenses, however I am seriously thinking along the lines of buying a good but used 120 folding camera. (there some goodies about) Obviously there will only the lens that is fitted to it, so going back to basics once in a while, taking time to 'see' and frame a picture, use a hand held meter, set the exposure and press the release, can be more rewarding than humping a mass of kit around with you all the time.
     
  26. blockend

    blockend Member

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    Because it offers yet another opportunity for owners to claim exclusive rights to the history of photography. More seriously, it changes a good idea into an exercise in one-upmanship.
     
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