Jump to content

The Official Head-Case Photography Thread.


Recommended Posts

The history of digital cameras over the last 20 or so years is littered with quirky designs that have both their detractors & proponents. Where you fall depends on your personal photographic needs, and perhaps a predilection for brave, quirky, unique designs (I resemble that remark ;)

Also, the roadmap for mass-produced products are often not based on the ideal technology for the end-consumer, but rather manufacturing-process benefits & cost-cutting for the companies themselves.

Regarding user-interfaces, its been written that the only truly naturally intuitive interface is the nipple. Everything else is learned, and preferences are based on some prior history. I find this to be mostly true.

Edited by jpelg
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My favorite "quirky" digicam I've owned was the Sony DSC-R1. Great image quality and lens for the time, interesting multi-angle screen, nice control and haptics with manual zoom helicoid.  It was a fun casual backup camera to my full-frame DSLR for a while, only really being usurped once the Fuji X system hit stride for me around the XT-20 era.


  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mine would probably be the Sigma dp2 Quattro and dp0Q. The models even Foveon fans seem to dislike. I doubt I’ll ever sell them, though their use, like all Foveon cameras, is compromised by ISO restrictions. At this point I use them mostly on camping trips and beach visits. 



  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/9/2023 at 8:21 PM, Knuckledragger said:

Just about every full frame digital camera ever made is still worth using to this day. 

Your sentence made me hunt down this article about when digital matched/surpassed medium format film. And of course that wasn’t even FF. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was explaining to my (sainted, octogenarian) mother the different focal length lenses for 35mm cameras and their usages.  I quoted a famous and incredibly pithy piece of writing from Mike Johnston of The Online Photographer.  In early 2009 (almost 14 years ago to the day) Mike went over every common focal length for 35mm lenses.  A worrisome facet of the Information Age is that things are a lot less permanent than we thought.  In spite of massive tech companies indexing and archiving goddamn everything, there's a lot fairly recent internet content that is gone or nearly gone.  It took me entirely too long to find Mike's list, which is related to both its current scarcity and how crap Google search results are in 2023.  With that said, I repost this here for posterity's sake:



No known uses, except to illustrate fisheye effects in photo how-to books.

Ultra-wide rectilinears wider than 19mm:

Occasional interiors. Also used to stump gearheads trying to find stuff to photograph with the things.

Ultra-wide-angle (19, 20, 21, or 24mm):

One of the four of five essential lenses for pros, broadly useful for artists and accomplished amateurs. Used for landscapes, interiors, street shooting, crowd shots, etc. Also used by bored amateurs as the next thing to covet for purchase. Despite the ubiquity of this focal length, relatively few photographers are practiced enough or visually acute enough to use this type of lens effectively; lots more people own these than do good work with them. See Brian Bowers’ Leica books for a rare example of a scenic photographer who actually sees well with a 21mm.

Ultra-wide-angle zoom (wide end 20mm or wider):

Useful for when the photographer would like to carry one heavy lens instead of three light ones, or has a breezy, devil-may-care attitude towards flare effects. Secondary “CYA” lens for pros who aren’t great with wide angles in the first place. (Exceptions do exist.) Also sometimes paired with a fast 80-200mm zoom as a professional’s only two lenses.

Wide angles:

Now that 24mm is more often lumped with 20mm and 35mm has become an alternative “normal” focal length, this class has contracted down to one fixed focal length, 28mm. Useful as a do-anything lens (especially for street and art photography, photojournalism, faux photojournalism, and environmental portraits) where a wide “look” is desired, and/or to complement a 50mm main lens, and/or for pressing into service in place of a super-wide when the photographer does not own same.

Shift lenses:

Buildings. Used for the overcorrection of convergence caused by perspective.

Ditto, but with tilt:

Ditto above, plus landscapes with tons of foreground and tables laden with food.

All-purpose 28-200mm zoom lenses:

Bad snapshots. Also great for making five rolls of film last a whole year. All-purpose = no purpose.

Wide normal primes (35mm):

Alternative normal. Often, the thing replaced by a zoom. Easiest focal length to shoot with. Best focal length for Leicas.

Not really "wide" by today’s standards, 35mm is an alternative normal. Leica M6, 35mm pre-ASPH., Ilford XP-2.

“Pancake” Tessar-types, usually 45mm:

Good for lightening the burden of photographers who would rather not carry an SLR at all.

Normal/standard (50mm):

Useful for taking photographs, if you have a thick skin. When used exclusively, classic “hair shirt” lens for disciplining oneself needlessly. Strangely, when in skilled hands, can mimic moderate wide angles as well as short telephotos. According to one far Eastern expert, lower yield of usable shots than 35mm lens, but higher yield of great shots. Second best focal length for a Leica.

Standard 55–58mm:

Shows you use a really, really old camera.


Flowers, bugs, eyeballs, eyelashes, small products, tchotchkes. Dew-covered spider webs, frost patterns on windowpanes. Great hobby lenses, as macro photographers are among the only happy photo enthusiasts. Also much utilized by photography buffs who like to test lenses.

Superfast normals (ƒ/1, ƒ/1.2):

Used for people who like limited depth of field, as well as for people who like to complain about limited depth of field. Also, especially when aspherical elements are involved, an effective way to vaporize excess cash for almost no good reason.

Standard zooms (35-70mm, 28-105mm, 35-135mm, etc.):

Used for taking pictures in bright light — mainly snapshots, scenics, cars, travel pictures, semi-naked women, underexposed pictures, and pictures blasted by uncontrolled on-camera flash. Evidently very useful for clichés. Sometimes used to remove interchangeability feature from interchangeable-lens cameras.

Fast medium zooms:

For pros, bread-and-butter lenses. For amateurs, often left at home rather than lugged around all day. If very expensive, big, and heavy, may be almost as good and almost as fast at any given focal length as cheap fixed primes. Good for making both hobbyists and their portrait subjects feel self-conscious.

Short teles (75, 77, 80, 85, 90, 100, or 105mm):

Portraits, tight landscapes, headshots, beauty and glamor. In skilled hands, can be used for general and art photography, photojournalism. Essential.

135mm prime:

Little owned, less used. Became a standard 35mm focal length when rangefinders were the main camera type because it’s the longest focal length that is feasible on a rangefinder. Now vestigial, like a male’s nipples.

Fast 180mm or 200mm prime:

Longest general use lens for photojournalism. Sports, beauty, auto races, surveillance in film noire.

Slow 180mm or 200mm prime:

Lightweight and easy to carry. May project a certain “image,” i.e. that you are poor or cheap.

Standard telephoto zoom (70 or 80 to 180, 200, or 210):

Whether slow or fast, indispensable for most photographers, amateur or pro. Used for all kinds of action, activity, fashion, portrait, headshot, reportage, sports, wildlife, landscape, and nature photography. Covers all the telephoto range most photographers ever need, at least until they become afflicted by the terrible urge to photograph birds.

IS (Canon) or VR (Nikon) standard telephoto zoom:

Same as above, but for photographers who drink lotsa coffee and/or do crank.

Fast 300mm:

Fashion, catalog, runway, sports, nature, air shows. Important lens for pros, also for nature photographers. Tough for amateurs unless shooting surreptitious faces in crowds or critters. Status symbol. As fashion, looks grand when accessorizing a photo vest.

Super-telephoto zooms (to 300mm or more on long end):

For adjusting FOV when standpoint is constrained. Replaces several heavy primes. Sometimes pressed into service by amateurs who have burr up ass about having all focal lengths “covered.”


Critters, sports, and birds. Landscapes, if you’re a nut. Also good for photographing football games when you don’t want the picture to show a dang thing about what’s going on.


Critters and birds. Money laundering: can be bought and sold to placate wife about questionable expenses. “But I sold one of my lenses to pay for it, honey, honest.”




No known uses.

— Mike Johnston


"Uses and Application of 35mm Lenses" is taken from Issue #7 ofThe 37th Frame, which I hope to send in early September. There are two companion articles, "Choosing Lenses: What’s Seeing Got to Do with It?" and "Why a 35mm is the Best Lens for a Leica." The Issue also contains a number of lens reviews, plus a long article about the new Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH. To subscribe, go towww.37thframe.com.If you’re already a subscriber and haven’t gotten Issue #6 yet, please don’t despair — I’m making steady progress in contacting people and setting up accounts. If you do not receive an e-mail from me, you will receive a letter. Thanks for being patient!


The frequency with which I use the expression "the terrible urge to photograph birds" defies probability.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
  • Haha 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

For those in the Bay Area through early April, SFMOMA has a Bernd & Hilla Becher exhibit going on ( https://www.sfmoma.org/exhibition/bernd-hilla-becher/ ) and the great Fraenkel Gallery ( https://fraenkelgallery.com/exhibitions/bernd-and-hilla-becher-2023 ), around the corner, is doing a companion show through the 25th. 


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the off chance anyone is curious about the above shows, hit both today and experimented a little with the 14 Pro Max, 48MP (then downsized on output), and ProRaw. The Fraenkel show I had to myself. 








Edited by blessingx
  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Torpedo said:

Did you check if the resolution in portrait orientation drops? I watched a video claiming that the resolution is 48MB only if you shoot in landscape mode.

Do you see it as a substitute to a street photography camera?

I believe it’s portrait mode (virtual bokeh), not portrait orientation, that causes reverting to 12MP. I had no issues. You need to stay on main camera, 1x zoom and (I believe) have ProRaw turned on, thus you’re still getting some processing, but some apps like ProCamera give you a “natural” ProRaw setting. Well lit museum and gallery spaces of old printed monochrome images aren’t the best tests, but so far I’m very impressed. Took a few photos with the Leica SL2-S too, but didn’t even look at them as these were great for this use. My biggest gripe, and why it’s probably great for street, is the “normal” lens is close to 35mm equivalent (contrary to many review comments about it being 50mm), so if you’re a 50mm shooter like me you’re always tempted to zoom and any zooming will knock it back to 12MP. I kinda wish they had a “best” lock setting and the phone became a single focal length, not that the 12MP ProRaw images look bad or anything. I still need to experiment more though. I do already wonder what this tech with the 48MP on each sensor and the rumored periscope lens system on the far end will start to mean to mirrorless body sales. 🙈

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been going over some photos I took in October 2009, when I got my filthy paws on an 85L for a day or so.  Even with my 30D's never particularly good sensor, I am amazed at what that lens can do.  Any HCers who have a Canon body, you owe it to yourself to rend an 85L for a few days.  It's among my list of things that lived up to the hype, which includes HD-650s (in 2004 terms), Ardbeg Uigeadail, Tapatio hot sauce, Citizen Kane and Biosphere's Substrata.  

These are some of the lesser shots I took in '09.  I rejected them at the time, but I'm much better at editing photos now than I was then.  I made heavy use of Topaz DeNoise AI, Luminar 4 and a totally paid for copy of Photoshop 2022.


Not a very good shot.  The vinetting is caused my OOF, unlit people in the crowd.  They make an interesting framing device.


It's just a mirror ball.


Did I ever mention I took an 85L to a jello wrestling event at goth night?  This shot was moments before this woman pulled the announcer into the pit with her.


Unreality.  Heavily processed with Topaz, Luminar 4 and a lookup table.  This is is a very silly edit, but it does show off the 85L's wafer thin DoF but also it's glorious redition of OOF areas.  That aspheric element is Japanese magic.


Another not very good shot.  The 30D sucks at ISO1600.  Also the framing is awful.  Again, the OOF areas are excellent.


More unreality.  I'm having fun with the 85L's tiny DoF (notice the Apple logos are not in focus, as is most of the laser.)  I ran this one through Topaz, Luminar 4, then Topaz again.  Lumianr's pseudo HDR processing really amps up the luminance noise.  


The woman who founded the NoHo goth night announcing the winner of the jello wrestling event.  I denoised it and applied a lookup table, but the end result actually doesn't look that different than the original.  I will win no awards for framing here.

I've got a dozen or so more shots to go through and finish editing.

Edited by Knuckledragger
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Torpedo said:

50mm (FF) is my favourite prime. Thanks for the comments. Let me know the results if you compare the iPhone pics to the Leica's.

I glanced at the SL2-S shots this morning and honestly a comparison to shots of large format, but not particularly sharp by modern standards, prints, wouldn't be a good test. Nor would white frames on white walls. I'll test on another subject at some point. I doubt the iPhone will compete, but how close will it and under what conditions. Certainly a huge step up from my Xr.

28 minutes ago, Knuckledragger said:

I've been going over some photos I took in October 2009, when I got my filthy paws on an 85L for a day or so.  Even with my 30D's never particularly good sensor, I am amazed at what that lens can do.  Any HCers who have a Canon body, you owe it to yourself to rend an 85L for a few days.

Which 85L is/was this? I have the old 85 f/1.2 L FD, which I adapt to other systems.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2009 was one of the craziest years of my life, paralleling 1996.  I should do a photo essay on it.  That'd take more time than I have, so here's a Cliff's Notes version.

The year started fairly inertly, with snow and ice:



I took a photo of my room that was utterly unrepresentational of its cleanliness:


That's my then-new late 2008 Macbook.

Then I had some vintage Mac gear restored:



I pestered a sleepy cat with a Canon 85mm F/1.8:


I let my friend use my 17-40L with his 5D Mk II:


I experimented with sun stars:


I got my first (of 3) IR-modified digital cameras:




I experimented with zoom bursts:


...with mixed success.

I mucked about with HDR, as I had done for years:



I met a pretty German woman who worked as a waitress in the local diner I haunted throughout the 00s:


Then things got interesting, but that tale is going to have to wait for a later post.

Edited by Knuckledragger
  • Like 11
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

So those are already on eBay, the Minolta MD 24/2.8 85/2 and 85/1.7 lenses are quite decent (that was the lens that I used to shoot that portait btw, works great even on the Leica SL2) but they are selling them close to market value. Maybe later on they will have an MD 35/2.8 listed as well, still a sleeper, tack sharp on digital.


Edit: Canon LTM 85/2 and 135/3.5 lenses also appeared, usually pop up from Japan with fungus, haze cleaning marks, etc. they are not uncommon, but chrome versions in good condition are really hard to find.

The problem with these sell-offs is that you think you find a good lens and the next day a better one comes up :)

Edited by padam
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What is the coolest camera used by a Magnum photographer? It could be one of the early Leicas favored by Henri Cartier-Bresson and many others, or the Contax II rangefinder Robert Capa took to capture the D-Day landings on Omaha Beach. Perhaps it’s one of the large-format cameras still used by Alec Soth or Olivia Arthur; or maybe the bellowed majesty of Martin Parr’s Makina Plaubel 55mm fixed-lens camera, with which he shot The Last Resort.

It could be any of those, but it’s not... 


  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's pouring rain here on MV today, so I'm doing the logical thing and avoiding housework by teaching myself about iOS camera apps.  At this point I am outright allergic to the pseudo-HDR tone mapping the default iOS camera app produces.  The initial problem I'm encountering is how many apps are video focussed.  IDGAF about video beyond the most basic functionality.  I'm a still photographer.  Also some of these apps have a subscription model.

There are quite a few iOS camera app reviews on the YouTubes.  For some reason, ever single one I've watched so far has been by somone with an impressively thick accent.  This poses a problem for me, as I'm dyslexic and have poor auditory processing of language.  (That backwars R thing is a pop culture trope.  Not being able to understand WHAT THE FUCK YOU'RE ON ABOUT because of background noise is very real.)

So my top choice is Pro Camera by Moment.  It's reasonably priced and has the basic features I want (manual controls mostly.)  There are a few iAPs (as are present everywhere it seems) but they're not expensive.  

I also bought Hipstamatic Classic.  Now that we're upwards of a dozen years past the faux retro plague that took over mobile photography and lead to ...Instagram, I figure it's high time for me to buy a toy camera app.  To be fair, I was making fake lo-fi images before it was cool.

There are of course many other camera apps out there, but it takes me a while to get familiar with things, so I'm going to limit myself to those two for a while.  I am curious about Halide, which has very good reviews.  I have some doubts about their iAPs so I'm passing for now.

Also I swear I'm either going to buy a either Canon mirrorless and EOS adapter or a fucking Leica before I turn 50.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can already get the full experience with any of the M240 variants (and with better battery life).

The rest you can save up for a better lens. 60MP is too much for a handheld camera without IBIS anyway.
There is an M262 locally that I am thinking of buying after regretting selling the M240 but I can't sell either the SL or the SL2 right now...

Thinking back on it, there was nothing wrong with the M240 in the first place, why I sold it, I do not know... People criticize the rendering compared to the M9 but it's more than fine (prefer it to many other digital cameras I've owned)
I would not mind trying an M9 one day, but that is probably the point where it would feel clunky, old, I would need to carry spare batteries everywhere and the sensor and electronics could develop problems.

Edited by padam
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.