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Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .


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Old 04-14-2008   #1
Roger Hicks
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Who cares?

Increasingly I find that as long as a camera/lens combo isn't outrageous -- 500mm mirror on DSLR, that sort of thing -- I'm not really worried about focal length or speed if all I need is a shooting 'fix' (taking pics for the fun of it).

I grab whatever camera is handy and loaded, with whatever lens it has on it, and go out and take pictures. Then, when/if I change the lens (because I NEED the different focal length or speed) I need quite a kick to make me change that, too.

Of course I'm happier with some cameras and enses than others, but this just means I change my favourites even less often. Equally obviously, there are some lenses I use for specific purposes, e.g. pack shots and step-by-steps, but that's not the same as taking pics for the fun of it.

Anyone else find the same thing?

Cheers,

R.
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Old 04-14-2008   #2
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Dear Richard,

Thanks for christening the new forum.

Glad to know I'm in good company (yours and HCB's).

Cheers,

R.
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Old 04-14-2008   #3
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The immature owl that parked himself on the tree 50ft from the front door was the Kick I needed to use the 300/4.5 on the F2. He just sat and watched as I shot half a roll.

For a shooting fix, I try to pick a lens and camera that has "been Neglected" and take it for a walk. I enjoy shooting with almost any camera that can take film.

And congratulations on the new Forum! I just noticed where I am...

Last edited by Brian Sweeney : 04-14-2008 at 11:55.
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Old 04-14-2008   #4
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I'm in the same boat. Although I have a range of lenses, both LTM and M, I tend to use just the one when I am out and about, unless I *need* the alternate focal length. Equally, once I have changed, it takes me a while to change back. I'll therefore run off half a roll with a 15, or a 90, once I have got around to putting it on, otherwise 90% of my shooting is done with whichever 50 I am using as the "standard" for that particular body.

Regards,

Bill
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Old 04-14-2008   #5
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I like to select some lens and go out with it... with no other lenses at hand. Having just one lens with me allows me to relax and "go with the flow". However, I do tend toward selecting some lenses over others. These days I'm tending toward 28 & 35mm. At other times in my life I was more interested in the 50.
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Old 04-14-2008   #6
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I think there are moments when you want a specific tool, because you want to shoot a specific subject, and then there are moments when you need to "enjoy yourself" and you take out a combo, and try to see if you can make it work. I find that varying the lens angle in particular, forces you to take a different view about what's going on around you, that is why I just periodically rotate the lenses I use in everyday shooting, and I think most people who carry a camera with them every day do the same.
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Old 04-14-2008   #7
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When I wish to hammer a nail, I use a hammer. If I find that I have failed to bring my hammer with me, I either refrain from hammering that nail, or I use some expedient tool that I have pressed into service.

It may serve well enough for the purpose of hammering in that nail, but it generally requires me to extend myself a bit to avoid hammering more or less than I intended to, or bending the nail, or other such misfortune.

In other words, I use the proper tool for the job if I have it, and make do if I do not. It does not require a kick up my pantaloons to persuade me to use a hammer for hammering and a screwdriver for, well, you know.

However, with that said, I was out driving around my small town several years ago with a Kodak Brownie next to me, and I saw a house fire. I stopped and took photos with that, then processed them at home, scanned the negs, and sent them to the local newspaper. Turned out it was a training fire for the local firefighters on an abandoned house, but the newspaper ran what was probably the last reportage in America done with a Brownie. I had it, I used it, it worked. Had I known, I would have brought a different camera / lens, however.
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Old 04-14-2008   #8
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I like challenging myself, and, like Brian, sometimes take the most "neglected" lens in my collection and go for a walk. It's fun, and since I don't pretend to be a photographer, I simply burn film for the sake of it.
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Old 04-14-2008   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pitxu View Post
I go out to take photographs, not to test combos.
I do both. Sometimes I am interested in making photographs, and sometimes I am interested in the camera I'm currently playing with.

Quote:
I think you'll find that it's the more inexperienced photographers that waste most time changing lenses.
I recently visited a wildlife preserve, and by good fortune had my 90~300mm zoom with me as well as my 'go everywhere' 28~105mm. A small group of white-tail deer came out from hiding on a ridge about 200 yards away, quite aware of me and quite skittish. Fortunately, they remained still while I changed lenses. I did not get wonderful shots - but with my 105, they'd merely have been specks in the distance.

Was that a waste of time to change lenses?
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Old 04-14-2008   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmattock View Post
When I wish to hammer a nail, I use a hammer. If I find that I have failed to bring my hammer with me, I either refrain from hammering that nail, or I use some expedient tool that I have pressed into service.
Dear Bill,

I think we'd all agree with that. All I mean is that taking pictures for fun is a bit like going for a walk for pleasure and exercise: there may be a dozen places you could go equally happily, and (depending on how ridiculously many cameras you have, and on the destination) there may be a dozen cameras or lenses or permutations thereof that you can equally happily take with you. As your estimable Brownie story illustrates.

What am I saying, only a dozen permutations...?

Cheers,

R.
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Old 04-14-2008   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pitxu View Post
Not at all Bill.

Though if I was going out to shoot skittish critters I would take the appropriate lens.
Ah, but I did not know what I would see. I expected birds, this being a famous birding site (but I had put away my very bulky and hard-to-use 500mm mirror lens) and was merely out walking in the fields of the preserve. I had thought to leave the 300mm zoom in the car, shoved it in my pocket at the last moment.

The deer were an added bonus, one that I was glad to have the longer lens for.
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Old 04-14-2008   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Dear Bill,

I think we'd all agree with that. All I mean is that taking pictures for fun is a bit like going for a walk for pleasure and exercise: there may be a dozen places you could go equally happily, and (depending on how ridiculously many cameras you have, and on the destination) there may be a dozen cameras or lenses or permutations thereof that you can equally happily take with you. As your estimable Brownie story illustrates.

What am I saying, only a dozen permutations...?

Cheers,

R.
Ah, yes. In that case, I agree. I have (as you guessed) quite the menagerie of misbegotten, ugly, and otherwise unloved fixed-lens rangefinders of dubious quality and state of wretchedness, and they often find themselves accompanying me on one journey or another, just because.

And, it is fairly said as well, 'when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.' I find that opportunities to take a photo that are appropriate for the camera in hand at the moment tend to present themselves.

My apologies, you are correct.
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Old 04-14-2008   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmattock View Post
However, with that said, I was out driving around my small town several years ago with a Kodak Brownie next to me, and I saw a house fire. I stopped and took photos with that, then processed them at home, scanned the negs, and sent them to the local newspaper. Turned out it was a training fire for the local firefighters on an abandoned house, but the newspaper ran what was probably the last reportage in America done with a Brownie. I had it, I used it, it worked. Had I known, I would have brought a different camera / lens, however.

Neat story - are the photos viewable online somewhere?

Roger,

Congratulations on the new forum!

Matthew
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Old 04-14-2008   #14
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I often seem to take ages deciding what body/lens to take with me - I try to go out shooting somewhere every weekend and will wonder on and off during the week what to use. But once I actually get out it doesn't seem to matter and I enjoy using whatever I have with me.

It's the same when I'm getting ready for a trip East. I'll spend ages deciding what equipment to take, but when I get there I'm happy with whatever I've got - I'm never stuck thinking "I wish I had such-and-such a lens" (not even the time I took only an Olympus OM2 and a 35mm lens).
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Old 04-14-2008   #15
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Cool Brownie story, Bill.

I really have lost interest in a camera for a camera's sake, now that I have some things I like. Usually I take what fits in my pocket.
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Old 04-14-2008   #16
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This is the challenge for me -- to go out with a camera/lens combination and be happy with it, and not regret the lack of, say, a 200mm to isolate that seagull perched on the roof. To continue the metaphor, to only pound the nails that are appropriate items for pounding with the hammer you have (and which you might not have considered when you set out).

But on the other hand, if you're in a place where you've got a real opportunity to photograph birds on the wing, you'd be nuts to leave that tele at home.
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Old 04-14-2008   #17
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me too, a bit.
Moreover, i usually go t a trip with a fixed lens camera or two
Earlier this year I went to south africa with two friends for three weeks (cool place!), carrying a tlr, a konica hexar af with the glued-on 35mm lens, and a digi point and shoot. The latter for macros (and i banged it badly on a rock up in the Drakensberg, so now it doesn't even zoom - still does macro though, so it's all fine!!).

edit: And who says you need a long tele for shooting wildlife?


a tlr will do!

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Old 04-14-2008   #18
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Roger,
Thankfully, all my shooting is for the fun of it.

But I am happy to simply use which ever I have with me. And I also happily spend time seeing what I can do with the various "combos" I have; not so much "testing" as seeing if I can get something on the film that I like regardless of which lens/camera/film I have with me...OK, testing myself, I guess.

Today, for example, I'm shooting some 800 speed color print film. Mainly so I can reload the 17mm lensed "single" use camera it came in. But I hope to get a few decent shots and learn the camera a bit better before I load it again.

Rob
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Old 04-14-2008   #19
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Hey Roger, congrats on your new sub-forum!

I enjoy the experience of using a variety of cameras. When going out to take photos, unless there is a plan and specific requirement, I take a camera that matches my mood at the time, choosing from cameras of different styles (RF, slr, TLR), different formats and degrees of automation.
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Old 04-14-2008   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Allen View Post
Neat story - are the photos viewable online somewhere?


Original Thread on RFF

This is what they wrote up in the Wilson Daily Times, Wilson, NC:


Quote:
Training Day for Firefighters

Bill Mattocks of Anderson Street came across this fire scene at the corner of Hines and Pender Tuesday afternoon. Mattocks had a 50-year-old Kodak Brownie camera with him and shot a series of photos. The outdated, 120 film format worked just fine to capture this image of Wilson firefighters engaged in a training exercise. An abandoned house was burned as firefighters practiced their techniques.
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Old 04-14-2008   #21
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Jeez, I didn't realize that the 120 film format is outdated!
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Old 04-14-2008   #22
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> I have always refrained from carrying a camera on vacations and the like, since it seems to get in the way.

I always refrain from bringing a computer for the same reason. Today at work, I had four running in parallel debugging a piece of code.

On Vacation, I select four cameras. Last time it was a Canon P, Leica M3, Canonet QL17l, and Nikki's digital imager. We went to Williamsburg. Kids pay much more attention to what's going on when they have a camera in hand. Something I learned as a kid.

Bill, one of the last Brownie pictures to make it into print!

do you respool onto a 620 reel?

Last edited by Brian Sweeney : 04-14-2008 at 15:09.
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Old 04-14-2008   #23
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do you respool onto a 620 reel?
No, I was too lazy. I had previously taken a Dremel to the guts of the Brownie and 'fixed it' so it would take 120. Didn't work that well, but I did manage that one roll.

Now, a normal Brownie Hawkeye, that's easy - they will take a 120 feeder roll with a 620 take-up spool. Works a treat, but 6x6 instead of this one, which is 6x9.
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Old 04-14-2008   #24
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Quote:
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HCB was once asked which lens he used the most, "The one on the camera" was the reply.
Si franšais. When you get the question asked for the zillionth time, there's a bit of shrugging of the shoulders involved.

In answer to the question "Who cares?": I do.

But like to use whatever I have at my disposal. I'm an equal-opportunity button-pusher.
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Old 04-14-2008   #25
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I've been forced to use one camera one lens for quite a while with my Med Format kits. Years ago I used a Holga and one of those Russian 6x6 cameras (they were both fixed lens).

Later I bought a Rollei 6000 series, and used only the 80mm lens. I really didn't feel the need for another focal length until I saw them in advertisements, and boy were they expensive. Needless to say i still only have the 80. Even with those big cameras I could shoot pretty quickly and have fun.


The problem I have with taking more than one lens with my RF is that I keep changing back and forth, every shot has to be done in 3 different focal lengths. Play then seems to become work.
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