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Old February 12th, 2012, 05:23 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Default Small cameras for street photography? (World press photo)

The question about the "perfect" camera for street photography is raised from time to time. It seems that everyone agrees that smaller, less conspicuous is a must and that massive DSLRs are not a good choice.

Lately, the results of the 2012 World press photo competition were published. Finest press photography indeed.

Most of the pictures include technical data. Looking at which type of cameras were used is interesting. Most of the photographers used a full frame DSLR. This includes entries which can be described as "street photography". This one was taken with an EOS 1D, that one with a 5D (and presumably a 28mm prime) and that picture with a D700. Big camera... no problem.

And rangefinders? Well, the only rangefinders who appeared in the list on winners were used in long-terms projects: the Hasselblad XPan II (here) and (surprise!), the Mamiya 7 was used by no less than 3 different winners (here, here and here).

Far away from the latest fashions about smaller cameras and higher ISO (only this picture was taken beyond ISO 3200), the cameras chosen by experienced, successful professional press photographers give a different window into the trade than the one we may be used to.
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  #2  
Old February 12th, 2012, 05:47 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
The question about the "perfect" camera for street photography is raised from time to time. It seems that everyone agrees that smaller, less conspicuous is a must and that massive DSLRs are not a good choice.

Lately, the results of the 2012 World press photo competition were published. Finest press photography indeed.

Most of the pictures include technical data. Looking at which type of cameras were used is interesting. Most of the photographers used a full frame DSLR. This includes entries which can be described as "street photography". This one was taken with an EOS 1D, that one with a 5D (and presumably a 28mm prime) and that picture with a D700. Big camera... no problem.

And rangefinders? Well, the only rangefinders who appeared in the list on winners were used in long-terms projects: the Hasselblad XPan II (here) and (surprise!), the Mamiya 7 was used by no less than 3 different winners (here, here and here).

Far away from the latest fashions about smaller cameras and higher ISO (only this picture was taken beyond ISO 3200), the cameras chosen by experienced, successful professional press photographers give a different window into the trade than the one we may be used to.
I applaud you Jerome, fully agreed.

PS: there was yet again some controversy about the winning picture. Some "photo detective" on TV was criticizing it for the exposure being explicitly kept low so that we would not see the man suffering on the right and that our attention would focus on the main characters. Are the press photographers no longer allowed to decide even on the exposure of their photos? Go figure...
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  #3  
Old February 12th, 2012, 06:36 AM
Ben Rubinstein Ben Rubinstein is offline
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Not sure I see this train of thought, these are all pro PJ's. Not really known for melt into the background subtelty. Hardy comparable to street photography.
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Old February 12th, 2012, 07:15 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
I applaud you Jerome, fully agreed.
To me, it was quite interesting to have a small window in the world of actual press photographers and see that the equipment they use is far from current fashion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
Not sure I see this train of thought, these are all pro PJ's. Not really known for melt into the background subtelty. Hardy comparable to street photography.
Maybe the teaching is then that there is no need to melt subtlety in the background for street photography? In my opinion, the pictures I pointed at were taken not only on the street but also with the subject being oblivious to the photographer. Isn't that what street photography is about?
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Old February 12th, 2012, 05:56 PM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
The question about the "perfect" camera for street photography is raised from time to time. It seems that everyone agrees that smaller, less conspicuous is a must and that massive DSLRs are not a good choice.

Lately, the results of the 2012 World press photo competition were published. Finest press photography indeed.


And rangefinders? Well, the only rangefinders who appeared in the list on winners were used in long-terms projects: the Hasselblad XPan II (here) and (surprise!), the Mamiya 7 was used by no less than 3 different winners (here, here and here).

Far away from the latest fashions about smaller cameras and higher ISO (only this picture was taken beyond ISO 3200), the cameras chosen by experienced, successful professional press photographers give a different window into the trade than the one we may be used to.
There is no such thing as a ' must ' camera. Whatever gave you that idea. I expect a photographer uses
what he/she has on hand or that shall get the job done.

RE; "Finest press photography indeed:. What do you find ' finest' in the majority of these photographs.
I personally find the first image tragic. ' Finest ' is not how I describe human sufferings. Images of them,
or narration of such tragedies.

As regards giving a different window into the trade..more a real window into what is happening on the ground. Not necessarily a desensitized and sanitized version that has become the norm.
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Old February 12th, 2012, 10:31 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Originally Posted by fahim mohammed View Post
RE; "Finest press photography indeed:. What do you find ' finest' in the majority of these photographs.
I personally find the first image tragic. ' Finest ' is not how I describe human sufferings. Images of them,
or narration of such tragedies.
Sorry. I agree that "finest" was a poorly chosen word, considering that many of the pictures presented including the first prize describe human suffering indeed. I just wanted to say that the photographies were well made. I should say that, when I watched the pictures (as opposed to when I looked at the technical data), I avoided the pictures showing war or death and concentrated on the others, so that I had a different frame of reference in my mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fahim mohammed View Post
As regards giving a different window into the trade..more a real window into what is happening on the ground. Not necessarily a desensitized and sanitized version that has become the norm.
There seem to be a misunderstanding here: I meant a window into the equipment real professional news photographers use as opposed to what is imagined by forum users.
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Old February 13th, 2012, 04:25 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Jerome, thank you for the clarification.

Regards.
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  #8  
Old February 13th, 2012, 04:00 PM
Maris Rusis Maris Rusis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
The question about the "perfect" camera for street photography is raised from time to time. It seems that everyone agrees that smaller, less conspicuous is a must and that massive DSLRs are not a good choice.
Curiously, I have found that using a big camera on a tripod makes me "invisible" when doing street photography. I'm "part of the furniture" rather than an annoying pest that buzzes after people with a camera over my face.

I set up by prefocussing and framing on an interesting spot, shop window, ticket booth, fountain, and the like, where interesting looking people may do quirky things. I watch the unfolding scene attentively but casually and I never look at anyone through the camera. Sometimes the reflection in the lens filter tells me my "target" is in the right spot. Because I fuss with the camera controls, make meter readings, occasionally press the cable release, wind the film while standing in front of the camera, no one knows when I have made an exposure or who has been photographed; not even the small, easily bored, transient crowd that gathers to watch what I do!

My most "conspicuous" camera is the Mamiya RB 67, a TLR is even less visible, and the 8x10 view camera may as well not be there at all.
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Old February 19th, 2012, 05:02 AM
Michael Nagel Michael Nagel is offline
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I think that key factor is the general perception of a person taking photos.

The size of cameras being used by most amateur/casual photographers followed a trend of miniaturization since the introduction of the Kodak Brownie. The perception of a person trying to take photos of someone has followed this trend.

The most widespread type of camera I see when I walk around is the flat, small compact camera which is in the process of being replaced by the smartphone.
Entry-level DSLRs are quite frequent, but are in the process of being replaced by the smaller mirrorless system cameras.
Larger cameras such as medium to top level DSLRs, MF or LF cameras are becoming increasingly rare (also in the order mentioned).

What does this mean for my perception?
If there is someone using a compact camera, a smartphone or a mirrorless system camera without viewfinder, it is easy for me to recognize that person even from far by the posture. As this is the most frequent type of camera, I am first alerted by this type of situation when I am in the process of becoming subject for a photo.
When it comes to the larger cameras, better mounted on a tripod, this looks less suspicious, as the photographer could aim for something static, which would not imply myself.

Size does matter, but in the opposite way than it worked for well-known street photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Alfred Eisenstaedt, W. Eugene Smith or Garry Winogrand - mainly 35mm rangefinder user and from my point of view responsible for the idea that the camera for street photography must be small. All are still very present through their work, but there were/are street photographers using MF, like Vivian Maier, whos work was discovered recently.

Using diffferent equipment than the majority can make you invisible. If you behave the right way, you blend in the landscape. It can also make people curious - this depends on the mentality and of course your own behavior.

Best regards,
Michael
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Old February 19th, 2012, 09:55 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Nagel View Post
I think that key factor is the general perception of a person taking photos.


.................Using diffferent equipment than the majority can make you invisible. If you behave the right way, you blend in the landscape. It can also make people curious - this depends on the mentality and of course your own behavior.

Best regards,
Michael
Michael,

This is one of the best analyses I've found, so far! It's counterintuitive that a LF camera on a tripod would be less obvious, but your point of the posture of the shooter being recognized is key. You have brought out an important point. At least a tripod or the camera on a table in a street restaurant allows one to be some no threatening oddity that the brain does no construe as any threat and that's what's always being weighed subconsciously, as folk pass.

At times, I have the camera prefocused and ignore it, just watching the zone where the subject will arrive. However, with a radio trigger or a cord, the image is what one wants. The perfect frame then has to be made at home.

Asher
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  #11  
Old February 19th, 2012, 02:31 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
At times, I have the camera prefocused and ignore it, just watching the zone where the subject will arrive. However, with a radio trigger or a cord, the image is what one wants. The perfect frame then has to be made at home
I don't want to restart a long discussion on that subject, but isn't that crossing the line between candid photography and stolen pictures?
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Old February 19th, 2012, 03:50 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
I don't want to restart a long discussion on that subject, but isn't that crossing the line between candid photography and stolen pictures?
I think it's still worth addressing the topic briefly as being unnoticed is to me essential from time to time.

Street photography, is IMHO, almost always stolen. I admit it! We're hunters. Now Fahim engages the folk, smiles and gets consent, he says. Is this always? I don't know. I assume that most folks have no idea of the publishing side of the result of that greeting, whereby the image they agreed to is now spread permanently on the internet. My praise of Fahim's work is in main because of the opening of our eyes to scenes most of us don't have the opportunity to see. I call this holding a lantern to our world.

In my mind, the good outweighs the bad, but in the end, even with the best intentions and permission, it's all, to some extent, exploitative. Having admitted that, I personally wouldn't show any image that can reasonably assumed to humiliate the person shown or allow for child pornographers to get something to get off on or put someone in danger.

My issue with asking always is the resultant perturbation by interfering with their life even for a moment. There must be, after all, some alteration to what was previously natural behavior and therefore a part of "the truth" that I originally saw from my vantage point at that instant in time.

Asher
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  #13  
Old February 19th, 2012, 05:57 PM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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  #14  
Old February 19th, 2012, 11:50 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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The line is difficult to draw, but for me:
-standing in the middle of the street with a camera in your hand or on a tripod is ok
-leaving a camera unattended and operating it with a remote control is not.

It is all I wanted to say.
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