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Re: [OM] Systems Rationalization

Subject: Re: [OM] Systems Rationalization
From: Ken Norton <ken@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 9 Sep 2020 09:14:00 -0800
Bob Benson wrote:
> AG, your extensive discussion on your "systems" choices is really
> interesting and insight-producing...

Thank you. It's probably more like trying to listen to an old geezer
explaining how it was so much better back in the day.

> 1.  (At least until when both I and my wife retired this year, and
> consequently put more focus on spending,  led by my eagle-eyed spouse)  I
> have found myself in the " newer has to be better" crowd,  leading to me
> pretty much acquiring the latest models as they appeared.

And I've been the beneficiary of your generosity of old stray bits, of
which I am very grateful.

>  Yet you (and
> others on this list) constantly amaze all of us with your ability to use
> older systems, e.g., E-1, E-400, to produce really wonderful results.  I do
> think later software may have helped in this, but I'm not sure how newer
> (hardware) systems would significantly improve your work as printed or
> displayed, if at all.  Maybe *convenience* would improve (e.g., less
> weight, brighter EVF),  but not the final images themselves.

About a year ago I was having to go through and reprocess some images
from 2005 taken with the E-1. Two things stood out to me. First of
all, I was actually a pretty decent photographer at that time, and
secondly, the E-1 produced a quality of image I haven't seen in
anything since. By revisiting those photographs and reprocessing them
in the latest/greatest Adobe Lightroom Classic (CC), with the most
recent conversion engine has breathed new life into the images unlike
anything I got with any other converter. As you may recall, about a
year or two ago, I did a research project into other converters. C1,
is absolutely, by far, the most superior converter when it comes to
color, but the latest/greatest Adobe converter (Process Version 5)
produces the sharpest and cleanest images of them all. And most
importantly, Calibration tab contains color converter adjustments
which greatly improve the colors almost making them as good as C1. In
a nutshell, this latest converter effectively erases the resolution
loss caused by the AA filter and the 4-pixel conversion itself. The
net-net to all this is an almost doubling of usable sharpness and
detail! I'm now able to get the 5MP E-1 images to match what used to
require 10MP. Of course, this marches up the ladder, so every sensor
produces better images than before.  (A nifty trick with E-1, E-300
and E-400 CCD images is to crank the sharpening slider very high, but
back the radius down to 0.8. And to prevent the white halo or rimming
around high contrast edges is to keep highlight recovery almost

> 2.  But I have discovered the virtues of simplicity.  As you may remember,
> a year and a half ago I had the catastrophe of all my cameras/lenses being
> stolen at the beginning of a trip.  Something like 4 bodies and 9 lenses.
> Insurance worked, but I ended up replacing just one body and one zoom
> leaving me with two bodies and three zooms covering the ranges I need.   (I
> should clarify that I'm talking Oly here.)  Yes, I did get an A7 on that
> trip to give me a camera to use then, but this hasn't resulted in a new
> system for me, I haven't used it since.

If my kit was wiped out tomorrow, what would I replace it with? Like
for Like? No, definitely not. I would do similar and settle in with a
simplistic system that covers all the bases, but probably containing
two variants. I really like the Panasonic GX85 kit for the "go
everywhere" aspect, but if it was my sole camera system, I would want
a better body and lenses. And in doing so, I lose the small and
lightweight characteristic of the kit. I think Moose came to the same
conclusion and he has a couple variants of the same gear.

> For me, while the quality of Oly glass (e.g., the 12-100, the 7-14) has
> certainly helped in this, the main point here is that I don't have
> decisions to make - my system covers my needs, as-is.  I just grab the two
> cameras.  This simplicity has allowed me to be so much better at applying
> the tools available;  my understanding of them, since I don't have a
> plethora of stuff to deal with, has improved.

My latest acquisition of the E-3, 12-60 SWD, and 50-200 SWD is
actually an extremely important part to simplifying my systems. I now
have three distinct and separate "go bags". The GX85 kit is in a tiny
bag that will just barely hold a DSLR with lens. The E-3 kit has the
two SWD lenses, a flash, and space for a second body of choice. The
Sony/OM kit has the A7ii with OM Zuikos 21/3.5, 28/2, 35/2, 50/1.4,
100/2, 200/4, and 300/4.5 and 1.4x Teleconverter. As an alternative, I
can swap out the GX85 three-lens kit with the E-400 two-lens kit. This
is the first time I've been able to have full coverage with the
E-system without adapting lenses. Depending on what I am doing, I can
run out the door with any one or all three bags. Or, I can grab any
other camera and lens combination from the drawers and dash out the
door for a picture too. The E-1 with 14-54 is just going to be sitting
there at all times ready to rumble.

Obviously, event photography will require a different mix, but these
are my current pre-fab go-bags. No real decisions to make, just grab
the system that best matches the needs of the moment. All three are
competent and complete.

> But the underlying point: you have shown me that  a) thinking about
> equipment as a "system" is good, and  b) that's more important than
> "newer."  This has allowed simplicity to occur.  And c) I don't need to
> obsess over "newer" per se.   That is,  until something really
> transformative appears, and no matter what happens to Oly, it doesn't
> really matter to me in terms of creating images I like.  I can rely on my
> system now and in the future.

If we back away from the system approach, we're best served with a
Sony RX10 camera. Why bother with anything else?

But to your lightly stated question - what would I replace it with
today if I started from a clean slate? Good question. I honestly don't
know. I do think that Panasonic is the best overall system platform at
this time. I'll be curious to see what the S5 is like.

AG Schnozz
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