Friday, January 19, 2018

Je suis en Pen (-F!): Impressions françaises sur l'Olympus PEN-F

Depuis l'an dernier, 2017, pendant laquelle j'ai publié l'un de mes blog-notes sur l'Olympus Pen-F j'ai toujours eu l'impression de ne pas avoir vraiment tout dit sur ma relation totalement subjective et affective sur ce modèle compact du format M4/3. Doté du même capteur que la version PRO de l'OM-D E-M1 Mark II, le PEN-F représente le logique aboutissement de toute la série Pen d'Olympus depuis les début du modèle EP-1. Moi-même ex-propriétaire d'une version EP-3 dotée de son viseur électronique externe, j'ai toujours considéré cette configuration à la "rangefinder" comme l'interprétation la plus juste représentant le format Micro 4\3, MFT.

L'Olympus PEN-F nous renvoie aux concepts d'appareils photos utilisés par des marques de légende comme le Leica. La similitude est frappante et les clins d'oeil faits par les designers d'Olympus sont nombreux sur le boitier. Qu'on songe à l'interrupteur d'alimentation, le ON/OFF,  ressemblant à s'y méprendre à au bouton de rembobinage de film 135. Ou encore du sélecteur d'options situé à l'avant du boitier rappelant l'ancien sélecteur de vitesses d'obturation lente des Leica série F ou G. Et que dire de la possibilité d'utiliser l'antique cable déclencheur mécanique sur le déclencheur du PEN-F. Bref c'est un véritable festival de nostalgie et de technologie à la fois.

Mais le PEN-F c'est aussi un appareil diablement sérieux et qui peut avoir ses exigences. Utilisable en tout-auto vous me dites? Peut-être mais certains pourront facilement s'y mêler les pinceaux s'ils ne prennent pas garde. Oui c'est bien un Olympus avec toute sa complexité habituelle à commencer par son interface à options multiples. Et de plus il est totalement ou presque reconfigurable et il s'agit de bien se rappeler tous ces changements de fonctionalités des différents sélecteurs et boutons-poussoirs.  Donc le PEN-F n'est surtout pas pour le distrait et l'explorateur inconséquent. Non Madame et monsieur c'est un outil photographique qui demande à être respecté et profondément apprivoisé.

Il s'en est dit beaucoup sur ces formes délicieusement "vintage" suscitant une vague d'amour et d'endossement aveugle par beaucoup de bloggeurs reconnus, respectables et toujours si connaisseurs. Oui le PEN-F ressemble à un Leica M mais de vous à moi qui suis un ancien possesseur devenu pauvre (!) de Leica M4-P et M6, l'Olympus est d'une autre planète sinon galaxie par rapport à ces archaïques télémètres couplés d'un âge révolu. Le PEN-F est issu de l'ère numérique en étant performant, versatile et éminemment fonctionnel. Son capteur surpasse en résultat tout ce que les anciennes pellicules argentiques pouvaient offrir point à la ligne. Son posemètre analyse plus finement que n'importe lequel Sekonic ou Gossen de la génération des appareils à films. Sa mise au point automatique (!) répond à des situations où l'oeil combiné au télémètre ne pouvait être efficient. Bref on laisse tomber les tomates pour se consacrer aux oranges.

Ce que j'apprécie le plus de l'Olympus PEN-F est bien sa "fausse" discrétion classique car personne n'est dupe de votre présence avec cet appareil mignon comme tout mais tout le monde est séduit! C'est pourquoi il devient votre meilleur ambassadeur en toutes circonstances surtout en photo urbaine ou en voyage. Et aussi le complice de nombreux sourires... Mais attention le PEN-F peut être également un vrai pro toutes catégories... enfin presque.

En prise de vue son viseur électronique est dans la bonne norme avec un zeste de surplus de contraste surtout pour les scènes ensoleillés. Son temps de réponse est faible lui permettant une bonne réactivité aux situations spontanées. Sa visée-écran est excellente pour la composition précise ou encore les travaux de reproduction. Vrai aussi qu'un visée électronique décentrée ne correspond pas vraiment à un viseur sportif prévu pour l'usage des objectifs téléphoto puissants, donc journalistes sportifs s'abstenir. La position des différents sélecteurs et boutons-poussoirs répond à la logique courante pour ce type d'appareil. L'écran-viseur est tactile ou non au choix de l'utilisateur, option déjà existante chez les autres modèles de la série Pen il faut le souligner.

L'Olympus PEN-F est compact mais pas au point de glisser dans la poche de votre pantalon à moins qu'il soit cargo... Si on le combine avec un objectif de focale fixe tel les 12mm, 17mm, 25mm ou 45mm l'ensemble reste discret et relativement léger. La remarque prévaut également pour les objectifs zoom comme les 14-42mm mais au détriment d'une réduction possible de la qualité d'image obtenue et d'une ouverture maximale passablement plus petite.

Avec le PEN-F vous perdez toute inhibition à montrer votre appareil photo et vous redevenez beaucoup plus productif. Vous le tenez prêt à toute éventualité photographique et comme disent mes cousins français, vous shootez! C'est pourquoi le PEN-F est un outil créatif de première ligne toujours  paré à tout pour vous.

La tenue en main du PEN-F n'est cependant pas optimale comme à l'image des anciens télémètres couplés. c'est plutôt un appareil de poitrine ("chest device") comme on n'en voyait plein sur ces bons vieux touristes allemands des années 1950. Heureusement il est plutôt léger surtout avec une focale fixe comme précédemment mentionné dans ce texte. On le tient pour prendre des photos et non comme certains designs de type DSLR pour exercer ses poignets et renforcer ses biceps. La protubérance frontale du sélecteur de mode d'images  peut être gênante pour certains utilisateurs, c'est dit.

Concernant la qualité et le rendu des images obtenues, l'Olympus PEN-F remplit son mandat en vous offrant des résultats détaillés et des couleurs réalistes sans trop d'accentuations agaçantes et purement commerciales. La neutralité des images en noir et blanc est exemplaire et correspond parfaitement à l'archétype attendu d'un vieux routard comme moi qui a fait son apprentissage et en partie sa carrière avec ce format (N & B) traditionnel dont la renaissance est un autre bienfait de l'ère numérique.

Pour des analyses pixel par pixel vous n'avez qu'à vous référer aux multiples ressources Internet spécialisées dans l'analyse de photos "à plat" répétées à l'infini. D'ailleurs tout au long de ma glorieuse épopée de photographe professionnel mes éditeurs se foutaient littéralement du matériel que j'utilisais et ne jugeant mon travail que sur les tirages ou transparents (diapo) présentés. Il en est ainsi dans ce monde cruel... Donc si le PEN-F vous permet de générer des images originales de qualité ayant un impact pour votre auditoire, il remplira vos exigences les plus pointues.

Quelques suggestions peut-être... Un accu BLN-1 et une carte mémoire SD de rechange assurément. Pour la photo au flash électronique d'appoint, le diminutif fourni avec l'appareil est par trop faible pour l'emploi à moins qu'il soit utilisé comme unité de déclenchement d'un montage multi-flashes. Privilégiez plutôt une unité autonome en énergie et puissance comme l'Olympus FL600R. La poignée amovible optionnelle ECG-4  ou ses clones a l'avantage de recentrer l'orifice prévu pour le boulon du trépied ou d'offrir un plateau intégré de type Arca-Swiss.

L'Olympus PEN-F vous offre les options de connectivité standard pour la tablette ou le mobile. L'interface est complète et comprend entre autres les options de prises de vues et de transferts des images.

En résumé l'Olympus PEN-F est un appareil compact mignon mais sérieux qui incite à la photographie et c'est bien ce qu'on lui demande!

Blog-note on the Olympus Pen-F english version previously published in 2017.





Thursday, January 11, 2018

Excuse my french! (Pardon pour mon français!)

Pourquoi pas ce blog en français? Après tout il s'agit de ma langue maternelle (et paternelle!). Et la photographie n'est-elle pas une invention toute française, un peu de chauvinisme ne fait pas de tort. Et la passion pour ce médium visuel est encore très présente dans l'Hexagone.

En effet pourquoi pas l'avant-scène et l'arrière scène de l'appareil photo avec Daniel M. Hum peut-être un peu long comme en-tête de blog-photo. Essayons plutôt le Devant-Derrière du mini photoscope avec Daniel M. Peut-être mais mieux encore adoptons la nouvelle phraséologie française en conservant le Back and Front the (compact) camera with Daniel M prononcé à la française bien évidemment...

Oû en sommes-nous aujourd'hui avec la photographie française et autre? Dans un univers visuel tout aussi fascinant qu'à son origine. Les thématiques sont infinies et infiniment renouvelables, les outils de création jamais aussi diversifiés, les place-formes de diffusion multiples bref c'est encore un univers sans frontière "visible" et les amants de la photo n'ont jamais été si nombreux.

La photo c'est un geste créatif personnel dont l'impact ne dépend que de notre volonté à le partager. Sa motivation qu'elle soit profonde ou superficielle dépasse notre conscient-inconscient individuel. Une fois lancé dans la stratosphère sociale de notre civilité une photographie ne nous appartient plus vraiment devenant ainsi une composante de notre environnement visuel émotionnel. C'est pourquoi il faut parler de contribution plutôt que d'expression photographique.

Ah la langue française! Comme elle permet la prose, la poésie et qu'elle enrichit la philosophie! Aujourd'hui je ressent bien la difficulté de la rendre "anglaise" et de la réduire à l'expressif réduit de l'américain moderne présent partout dans le "Web" de maintenant. Comme quoi nos racines culturelles restent irremplaçables.

Sans parler de tout un vocabulaire photographique à priori français. Il n'y a plus d'excuses pour me prévenir de piger dans cette ressource linguistique et culturelle extraordinaire pour rédiger mes modestes élucubrations photographiques.

Alors qu'en est-il pour l'année-modèle 2018 de Back and Front...? Certainement une touche toute canadienne-française à offrir pour tous mes fidèles d'entre les fidèles et pour certains leur suggérer d'utiliser l'option "Goggle traduction" s'il ne le font pas déjà!




Thursday, December 21, 2017

Play Professional? Play for yourself!

Splash on the impact of your picture that's the only rule!

Ok lets start by avoiding an annoying debate with the DSLR fundamentalists around the Web. If you want really to get an approved by these old timer thinkers fully sold to DSLR (incorrectely called full frame but in fact already named small format during the 35mm film era) your only choice for a "real" professional camera are the Canon EOS 1DX or the Nikon D5 series. All the others choices are intended for amateurs, part-time paid photographers, passioned experts or collectors. In reality these two models have been designed in the first place for an intense use in adverse conditions and for the action and newspaper photography requirements. End of the line.

But wait! Because every photo device can produce image output that can be sold. Because it is the image which will ultimately be sold not your equipment. And photo editors will look at your pictures and not at your personal gadget bag. They want something that answer their needs for an image that got impact. So there is no place for this past stubbornness about DSLR that will prevent you to work with photo equipment that will suit your need and personality.

Late Associated Press photographer 
Henry Huet (Photo source: Wikipedia)
The late Henri Huet was a very fine Associated Press photo correspondent during the Vietnam war who lost its life in Laos in1971 along with others colleagues like Larry Burrought (Life magazine). The Associated Press replacement memo of Huet photo equipment has stated the lost of 2 Nikon F cameras, 3 Nikon lenses (35mm, 105mm, 200mm), a Leica M series body and a Leica 35m lens. All these equipment were at that time a compact kit using small film format (35mm/135). None of these products were all-wheather proof equipment although they were notorious for short term resistance. But Henri Huet manage to produce outstanding pictures that you can consult over the web and on various Vietnam war related publications and on Associated Press archives.




The Pro "Binôme" illustrated by two similar camera bodies of the same model couple
 with basic all-around purpose lenses.
For fast acting shooting two camera bodies with lens is often better that one sophisticated camera with three lenses because of the readiness of the material. Using same camera model is another advantage for fast and reliable access to your personal settings. Compatibility of accessories such as power pack batteries, external flashes, remotes, memory cards is another plus of using identical equipment. A different camera model or even another complete system can be interesting if you can afford a third option used in a more secure context. If you are working under specific mandates with short term contraints or for unique events you have to keep in mind to plan an "on the spot" back up possibility. Even in this digital age this basic rule is still standing.

The "apple" may fall from the tree!
Today you are seeing more and more "phone" crash pictures (and movie clips) over the news web sites or even in printed newspapers or on TV/Web diffusion channels. So what to conclude on the many experiences of the past photojournalism is mainly that every options are reliable for photographers. Be ready and be available to take and to transmit a picture are the success keys of photojournalism. At this point you need only to produce a picture that will fulfil their publishing standards (that can vary a lot depending of the situation and the availability of the image ressources).

If you want to act as a "professional" photo reporter the first rule is to get a picture whatsoever you are using to produce it. And this why many photo professionals are equipped with backup material (identical or not compare to their priorate photo device).

During my time as a paid photographer I have (as for my colleagues) experimented photo equipment failures even from the very best material like Leica M, Nikon F and Canon F-1 series. It was part of the game knowing that the camera manufacturers were not able to design a complete foolproof camera for every imaginable situations. And dont be mistaken because all those cameras were really very expensive at the time.

A "Pro" on assignation break!
These models are designed for more "abusive" work in 
adverse condition.
Today I am amazed by the durability of the present photo material. Although it won't survive to a three story crash for sure or a complete immersion into 200 feet water deep,  I have learn stories of various camera models that have been lost on the outside for months and been recuperated and still working! And there were not professional stamped models from their manufacturers. Having said that it is true that specific models are better suited for intense work in adverse conditions.

The DSLR fundamentalists of today-yesterday are became the strongest promoters of their photo material choice (True they are not alone because we see this in every consumer spheres of today). They are arguing that their equipment are the best (and the only one) that can fulfil the task of professional photography. Sorry for them but it never has been true because photography and its diffusion is so diversified that you cannot think a a general rule of choosing photo taking equipment that will suit every situations, every purposes and every publics.  It is simply like that.

Many photographers were looking and still look for a more compact camera alternative. This is why in the past small 35mm film format material have got so success in every way.  At the time they were strong quality limitations attached to that choice but it never prevent great photographers to produce outstanding pictures that have been published and printed up to the very fine image standards.  Now with the fantastic digital photography technical advancement you can use compact cameras that will offer you superb image output if you care to take carefully your pictures. And videographers are experimenting the same story. As I have already stated in an earlier post the equipment size factor is paramount to the photographer confort of doing his/her task. And as usual the technical aptitudes of compact cameras are still improving and need to do so in area like the continuous autofocusing functionality. But we have reach a first level of maturity that allows photography to rely on compact cameras for still (and video) photography. For sure you have to know the limits of the actual technology and stay creative with your photo taking techniques.

So what is available for photojournalism in compact cameras field? Every manufacturers will propose  us an interesting solution. With Fujifilm you will be directed to X-T (1 digit) and X-Pro models. Panasonic will offer you GH and G series more specifically. Olympus will present you its own OM-D E-M (1 digit) series. All those models are very capable digital cameras that can be combined with high class lenses especially designed. At the end what is the more important think is to play professional for yourself! (and to select your own combination).

And what about your mobile phone? It is maybe the best multifunctional communication device ever designed for photojournalism. It can act as a notebook, as an emergency and spontaneous camera, as a rapid connector between my pro camera and the web, as a storyline editor and sender, as a front line news front desk. Moreover it is an emergency camera that can deliver basic useful pictures (depending of the light conditions).

Photography is an evolutionary world and the choice of the past are different from the contents of today and it will be the same in the future. Nothing will be good for ever because world changes and we change. Be open to new tendencies and to new challenges is the beauty of the human search for a better world.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Montreal By Snow


 











Every year Montreal is turning in white to celebrate the winter season and the holidays period. A time to break down (a bit!) our frenetic way of life.

Happy Holidays and a nice new year to all!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Celebrating five years of "confidential" posting

Yes this December 2017 will represent the "landmark" of five years of mostly confidential (and certainly not very interactive posting). In todays standard that can be a bit hurting considering the fact that many people if not all are looking for the most "likes" they can reach.

During this half decade I was lucky enough that at least few friends and relatives sometimes give me encouragements or sort of. But being confidential with more than 80K views may feel strange par moment. But I manage to keep my concentration in my pursuit of this interpersonal photo blog. With no interaction it is almost impossible to evaluate the pertinence of your writing or your illustrations. So I have maintained the highest autocratical level that I can address to myself.

I must confess that the very beginning in 2012 of this blog was let say on the crude side of presentation. But with time and some experiences I learn to enhance its physical aspect. On the subjects side I have soon started to be more focus and more... comprehensible. But my english have never really progressed to my basic expectations over all those articles and I feel sorry for the fews who have read faithfully some of my textes if not all.

Some have said that this blog may be a good source of an additional incombe. Considering the 1 cent ratio applied to each individual that have decided to click to one or another adsense advertisers and the fact  that 2300 people have effectually done it my potential revenu (You need to reach at least the level of $100 to get paid) for five years has been approximately $23! So long for my future bottle of Champagne needed to celebrated this landmark...

Since a few years I was amaze by all these bloggers desperate to get more and more advertising clicks and that are literally polluting their page with commercial contents. Even the most serious ones (that I respect highly) are now recalling their audience to not forget to click advertisers that appear on their page.

Yes it is now a kind of rought time for the non-profit Internet users. The Web is becoming more and more a very commercial (legal or not) business or a very tedious political platform. The time of innocence is really a far past souvenir. Most blogs are at least self promotional which is part of a general "fakebook" tendency all over the web planet. And many of them are not really critical or even autocritical about the medium and the material surrounding it. The question is what you are loosing being a marketer instead of a critic is simply credibility. But is it still an issue in this era of self endowment?

At this day I think that my best accomplishment in this modest blog has been summarized into my small series on contemporary perceptions of photography. I have found that I am a bit of a photographic philosopher (modestly).

A new year (2018) will start within the next few weeks and it will be a kind of turning point for me regarding this blog adventure. Nobody including myself know the future but all options are possible. For the moment it is a time of reflexion before next action.

I hope all these posts during the last five years have entertained you or least some of you and have participated to your passion of this wonderful medium, photography.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Doing your classical? (Is there a future for the traditional way of photographing?)

(Part of "the contemporary meaning of photography" series)

Nota: This final episode of our photography meaning search saga is dedicated to all my old friends and colleges that have a profound passion of the traditional ways of doing photography. A great great generation of picture takers that are thinking that they have been spoiled by the introduction of the digital age, an age that have no respect for traditions or ancien manners of all kind.

It is amazing to try to count how many times the death of traditional photography has been announced since the last 3 or 4 decades. In fact it is a testimony of the continuous resilience of the medium over two centuries. But is there still a future in doing photography the classical way? Otherwise described by that taking picture with a specialized camera device, then treating the image registered and  then after diffusing it or printing it.

Specialized camera devices have known a lot of transformations during those 200 years. Many socall modern photo equipment have become totally obsolete in a relatively short period of time. It happens all the time and will happen again. SLR then DSLR designs are now on the verge of anhilation by more recent un-mirror design. Since we are constantly on the move we want performing cameras in a smaller and lighter package with easy connecting virtues. That is the price to pay for innovation and many traditional camera manufacturers are facing the challenge to simply survive in that new dimension.

So is traditional way of doing photography will disappear in profit of an "instamatic" world? Not really because the demand for more sophisticated photography both technical and artistically will remain and expand following our demographic grow. But as usual during all the course of the photo history learning the more demanding aspect of producing original and impacted pictures will stay the work of a more specialized users.

When I have started to take pictures we were at the pinacle of film photography and many older photographers were stating that the days of traditional photography were over, that everybody (meaning not especially skilled) can take good pictures. Since that time I can certify you that many very talented new artists and photographers just prove the contrary by exploring new ways of exploiting the medium.

It occurs to me that today photography can ask you a greater personal investment than just clicking but offer also a much more rewarding consideration. It is up to you to go ahead!

The Art of frozen vision

Part of "the contemporary meaning of photography" series)

It is about photography. Is it an Art? We know already the "art" of doing photography but the result of it can we compare it to the others forms of art such as painting or sculpture? It has been already a long debate and even today photography is still fighting for its legitime place in the Parthenon of Art.

In fact photography has been and still is a very actual art by creating trends and carrying them over the past two centuries. Artists have incorporated or simply expose their pictures into a variety of visual presentations. So it seems very difficult to restreint photography into its classical 2D flat representation. But photography is stil the expression of a frozen vision as a flash of the selected moment by the auteur.

Today there is a multitude of photographic events that are showing many of the different aspects of this contemporary visual art. Subjects, treatments and diffusion modes have exploded around our cultural world. Influences have become fully multi-lateral at a point that make uneasy to identify the many currents of creativity available. Moreover artists have chosen for many an ecliptic way of life that bounce from one interest to another. Although mécènes of art are still exist in variable forms a lot of artists are self-sustaining producers and diffusers.

Is there a place for innovation in our today world of constant communication? This question is surely initiated by the arrogance for the past artistic creators versus the actual production. Surely all visual arts (as for the others forms of Art) will continue to evolute in form, in practice, in showing. New subjects will appear as for older subjects that can be reinvent. New and more classical visual representations of the frozen vision can be reconstructed. The limitations as we are seing today cannot prevent us to research new frontiers and reach them.

Photography is certainly a very contemporain cultural expression that showcase many humain interpretations of our world.


                                                                                                                                                    

Next theme: Doing your classical? Is there a future of the traditional way of photographying?