I laughed when I read that people will always want to shoot with traditional digital cameras.

Camera: Pentax 6X7 cm.
Big, Loud and a pain in the ass to 
load with film. Ten shots and time 
to re-load. 
I'll never switch to digital???
(Now, "I'll never switch to an EVF?)

The recent discussion on EVFs versus OVFs spilled over to the Nikon and Canon forae at DP Review and I was amazed at how civil 98% of the people who commented were. A lot of good points were made. The current crop of full frame cameras is the gold standard for ultimate, affordable quality in cameras and there are still reasons (flash?) for some people to prefer optical view finders. No one threatened murder or muttered the "fanboy" put down. Either we photographers are evolving or the whole field has become so stagnant and  picked over that most people are just too bored to fight about stuff.

The remarks that I thought were interesting were the ones from people insisting that optical viewfinders were a "forever" thing and that most folks would be "pushing up daisies" before EVFs became relevant to the rank and file camera user. I thought about that sentiment in light of my own (overly) long career as a professional photographer. The idea that there's a singular answer to making art.

I know this will be boring to some but it shows me that a lot of us who have done this as a business were not preoccupied by oh so rationally pinching every dime and only buying new gear when we'd used our existing gear so hard and for so long that it ground into dust in our hands. Far from it. I think we were downright experimental all through the film age and we certainly weren't completely beholden to the 'miracle' of the pentaprism finder. 

All of my first few years of well paying commercial assignments were done almost exclusively with two camera systems. One was the 4x5 inch Calumet view camera and a trio of medium grade lenses. That camera, along with 24 film holders and a Polaroid back, helped me accomplish hundreds of assignments in a time when the large format transparency was king and real photographers still headed into their own darkrooms to tray develop their sheet film and print their own prints. The other camera was a Mamiya c220 twin lens camera with a 135mm lens (that was really a bit too short for my taste) and this was my portable, quick, candid camera system. Oh sure, I had a Canon TX camera and a 50mm lens but no self-respecting client was interested in using such a small frame for "real" work. Nothing was web res. Everything might need to go large. No way such a dinky frame would go poster sized (24x36 inches) at 600 ppi and no one really wanted to try...

Eventually more and more stuff went to medium format and we bought Hasselblad cameras to work with. They beat the pants off the Mamiya camera and having multiple backs pre-loaded was like a dose of paradise. We ended up using the waist level finder with a flip up magnifier for everything and the 4x5 inch view camera was still the "go to" camera for important assignments. We even shot portraits with it, along with a 250mm Zeiss Planar view camera lens.

In the early 1990's we settled nicely into medium format and when the waist level finders of the Hasselblads proved unwieldy for street photography or fast reportage we did NOT rush to find a pentaprism finder, instead we started buying up Mamiya 6 and Mamiya 7 rangefinder cameras that shot medium format film. By now we had some auto focusing Nikons or Canons but they still only saw use for event work and slide shows. No real work (except sports and journalism) got shot by commercial advertising guys with such a tiny format. (Sure, throw Jay Maisel, and Pete Turner back in my face...).

We used the medium format gear right up until the conversion to digital. And I still remember wave after wave after wave of older professionals, or professionals who wanted a clearer roadmap into the future swearing all the way up to 2005 that digital was never, ever going to be as good as film, ever. And that they'd be pushing up daisies before they felt the need to change over. A good number went belly up but by 2005 even the hard core stupid and recalcitrant ones were dragged, kicking and screaming, into digital because, for the most part, clients just started refusing to pay for film and processing and scanning. And few clients wanted to wait to use "their" files.

We bit the bullet back in 1998. And we bit the bullet over and over again until the taste of lead seemed normal. We reveled at the one frame per second, twenty four frame buffer of the Kodak DCS 660. Ooohed and ahhhed over the 4 megapixels of the Canon 1D and almost fainted when we mastered raw files and color profiles. But we never felt that finders would make or break our careers as photographers. 

I'll agree that current EVFs, while plenty good for most stuff, aren't perfect and there might be reasons to use OVFs for some stuff. And maybe it will stay that way for another year. Maybe 18 months. But beyond that the idea that we need to make a pledge to a life long allegiance to any camera technology paradigm is silly beyond silly. 

Maybe it's only my crusty, old generation of problem solving photographers who can make nice pictures with just about any machine. Maybe the new generation, raised on digital sensors crammed into last century camera bodies are incapable of shifting gears, dealing with change or otherwise retaining the flexibility that allows the sapling to bend in the wind while mightier trees are felled.

I can't think that is true. I think people just get comfortable and burrow into whatever they first learned on. But it really doesn't matter; if they use their cameras to make good images and nobody needs to change if there's no compelling reason to change. There's a big, old hump in the middle of the Bell Curve. The early adopters can't imagine why people don't want to embrace the newest thing and reap the benefits of being first. The middle section (the vast majority) only follow when every kink is worked out and the theories are well proven. The final, tail end embraces the product in its last  gasp of relevance, assured that they are getting the bargain of a life time. And each group believes with vigor that they are absolutely correct. But in the end it's only the images that matter. 

Thanks to all the new visitors from DPR who added to the process for me. I enjoyed (and learned a few things) reading their comments on the forums. I hope some will stick around here. The nice ones. Of course. 

other notes: We've rounded up a couple of wonderful models for the HMI experimentation and will begin our series of shoots on Friday. 

Those wonderful people at Nikon in Europe have had the newest firmware for lens corrections with the D7100 (and a raft of other popular Nikon bodies) up for about a week now. Those dolts at Nikon USA haven't gotten around to uploading the upgrade to the U.S. site. If you go to Nikonusa.com you see version 1.009. If you go "continental" you can get your hands on version 2.005. The upgrade fixes the distortion issues I talked about with my "convenience" lens, the 18-140mm.

I spent the middle of my day doing a photographer task that we do when we are not shooting. I drove to Johnson City, Texas to meet with a client about an upcoming annual report shoot and to scout several shooting locations for assignments in October. Gotta see the locations before you can really figure out the logistics. Studio Dog did not want to travel. I went by myself and had a nice, quiet drive out into the Hill Country and away from the "big" city. 

that's all the news from me. hope your week is fun.