THE NEED FOR SPEED


A couple of days ago I logged into the Sigma camera website to look at samples of photographs taken with the DP2 Merrill to be blown away by the sheer quality of  the images.

One in particular caught my eye, a three-quarter length portrait (4704px H x 3136px W) of a whiskery chap in jeans. I downloaded it an examined the image in detail. He’s wearing braces connected to buttons on his trousers … imagine how small they are, yet on a 100% enlargement the writing on them is clearly legible (184px H x 161px W) . Quite amazing!

While everyone on the web seems to criticise the Sigma compacts for being slow I  wonder what the hurry is. Consider the process of taking a photograph with a large format view camera. First you carry the camera, tripod and accessory kit to the site. Then you assemble the  camera (not all models, I’ll admit), screw it onto a tripod. Screw in cable release, open the shutter, put a dark cloth over your head to focus, close shutter. Set shutter speed and aperture. Cock lens. Pull open camera back, insert (pre-loaded) dark slide, remove double dark slide. Press cable release. Re-insert double dark slide. Remove film holder from camera, Repeat for second frame. Now that’s slow … and I won’t even begin to take you through the developing and printing process.

Everything is relative, and I suspect that there are a lot of photographers who work in a considered, deliberate, fashion who wouldn’t notice that the DP2 is slow, at all. Given the price of the DP2 – it seems to be about $1000 in Australia – the trade-off between speed and quality especially for landscapes and portraits, requires more thought than ‘it’s so slooow”. Is there always the need for speed?

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