Gabrielle & Sofia

Nikon FE, 35mm F2 FX lens. Fuji across 100.

Acros 100 is the sharpest film I know. The best daylight B&W film in my opinion. All of this was shot under cloudy skies. 2 things you can do in that case: use a hight contrast film like Neopan 400, or push contrast a bit in the dark room or after scanner. Notice that cloudy skies don't necessary lead to poor light.

What DSLR to buy in October 2011.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Ok I'm a little early, but Xmas is on the way, end of the year bonuses of Gran'Ma money too. Time to start deep diving into that DSLR market, have a look at the freshest products, and make up your mind !

DSLRs are a great way to get into serious photography. Costs are fixed, they are the most multipurpose cameras you can find, and unlike compacts the huge choice in lenses allows you to specialize your gear into whatever you like, portrait, macro, landscape.

Part 1 / Things to be aware of.
  1. Picture quality comes from 3 things: the lens, the sensor (its size in particular) and your talent.
  2. There is no such thing as a lens that is good at everything. Buy specialized. Multi purpose will be average at everything at best.
  3. Don't get the kit lens. Buy body only. Apart from top of the range DSLRs, the kit lens is usually very average, a cheap multipurpose lens. A great all purpose lens doesn't exist, a good one cost 1200$. If you'r happy with the cheap kit lens, you probably shouldn't buy a DSLR.
As you can see, none of the fancy marketing crap you are bombarded with is among them. Forget built in HDR, shooting 80 frames per second, or rotative screen with plutonium based night vision with Cylon detector.

When you choose a camera, well don't choose the camera only, choose the package:

- What will I shoot? Out of the answer to that question you will decide what lens(es) to buy. Look into the lens range of different manufacturers first to eliminate those who can't get you what you want. You want to spend most of your money on lenses. Those will last 20 years, not your camera body. Some great lenses I have are older than me, they are still the best on the market. I know the camera body is sexier, all those buttons, screens...but don't be fooled. A great lens on a cheap body will give you a better image than a great body with a poor lens.

- Then choose the camera. Now there is something to be aware of that is not explained anywhere apart from customer service when you take back your lens to the shop: entry level DSLR don't have a built in motor, so they can't autofocus most prime lenses (35mm and 50mm fix lenses). Be aware of that ! You will end up getting one of those lenses one day, they are must haves. Would be too bad you need to buy an other body. Some manufacturers started making those with an engine, to adapt on those cheaper bodies. Have a look at the offer before you buy.

Part 2 / An overview of the main brands.
Whatever brand you pick, you won't really make a mistake. The short story for the ones in a hurry: if you intend to progressively level up your gear, and commit, go Canon or Nikon. I'd go Nikon, they are on top technology wise and in terms of built quality. But going Canon makes a very little difference.

Other wise, Sony and Pentax are not bad choices. I'd go Pentax over Sony, they know photography, but overal I don't see any reason why not go Nikon.
  • Canon: a lot of marketing in the past decade at Canon, allowing them to position as the number 1 amateur DSLR brand. Now looking back at 50 years of camera history, Canon is not the top camera facturer, far from it. All great film SLRs are Nikon made, from the FE to the F5 / F6. All best pre digital era SLRs are Nikon made. However, in the nowadays market of DSLR, Canon will give you the same range of cameras and lenses than Nikon. Price wise, Canon is always in between 2 Nikon cameras (or Nikon is, it's all the same). Nikon will have a 500$ and a 900$ DSLR, Canon will have one at 750$, etc.  Feature wise, it'll be about in between too. Overal going Canon or Nikon makes a very little difference for a non pro, but here is why I'd go Nikon...

  • Nikon:  the best SLRs, digital or film you can get. Period. Why that? The build quality is the best, the ergonomic of aperture and shutter speed control are the best, the metering system is the best since 1995 on the F5, and still far ahead of competition. The sensors and software behind it are the best, performing amazing in low light. All pros shooting digital or film top or the range SLRs are shooting F5 or D3. Finally, all your lenses will work with a brilliant 90$ Nikon film SLR. The D700 outperforms the 5DmkII. Not by much, but it does. Sorry Canon fanboys. Keep in mind that whatever brand you have, we're debating crumbs here, it won't change anything to your ability at taking great shots if you have it in you.

  • Sony: the key benefit of Sony SLR bodies is the compatibility with (RIP) Minolta lenses. It's also the only other brand with a full frame offer, though I believe the camera is a bit old now. Their camera bodies are not bad at all, I just don't see why you would bother going at a brand that has no history in photography, a more limited lens offer (lenses are good though, no match from top of the range Nikon or Canon but good enough).  It's also harder to resell.

  • Pentax: often disregarded by amateurs, Pentax is actually much more of a true hardcore camera manufacturer than all of the above. Their professional medium format film gear simply rocks the photography world. The 67II, 680II are pure marvels of the top level camera world, competing with Mamiya, Hasselblads and Rollei. Pentax knows better than Sony how to make cameras and lenses.  Pentax SLRs are very good. The recent K's have been praised by critics, but this one I admit I didn't have the opportunity to try (I tried 1 to 4 models of each of the above mentioned brands). I would still go for Nikon, for the same reason I'd get a coupe from Porsche and not from Audi, or food from a French restaurant rather than English: buy what someone is best at. Nikon is best at SLR. Pentax's key strength remains film medium format.

Part 3 / My advice for this winter !

My overal preference : best value for the money ratio (around 1000$).
    1. It's a draw ! Nikon D7000 & Canon 600D. The Nikon is my last year's choice. There is nothing better for the money on the SLR market for photography (not for video). Of course D700 and D3 are better, but with the price tag of the Nikon D7000? No thanks, I'm not paying 5000$ for a 5% difference. Ultra high ISO performance, Nikon ergonomics, even the kit lens is decent. The Canon 600D has flaws, ergonomics and control can be crap (some essential part only accessible deep dive in the menu), but picture quality overall will be close to a D7000. Very good in low light too, articulated LCD is great for video (the D7000 doesn't have that). If you know video will be a key part, you might prefer that, it's also a tad cheaper (about a hundred). Be aware that focusing in live view (when looking at the screen, not the viewfinder) is always slower.
The Nikon D300 and Canon 7D are out of question: the D7000 is better than the D300S and cheaper, period. The 7D I had for a day was a great disappointment. At this price range, low light rendering and ergonomics were crap. D90 is too old and can't compete feature wise.

The low budget choice (around 500$)
    1. Nikon D5100. AF system of a semi pro camera, not even really slow in live view. Great image quality. Can't AF with non DX prime lenses ! Make sure you lens is motorized, entry lever DSLRs don't have a built in motor.
    2. Pentax K-r. The best for photography in this price range. High frame rate, good iso performance, small, good built quality etc. Sucks at movies (files are too large due to old jpeg format. For low budgets, the best.
D3100 is just so on cheap side that...I mean if you really can't afford more, I'm sorry but you won't be able to get the lenses either. Just get a good compact, or a used one (no shame, ALL my gear was bought used).

The high budget choice (full frame, 2000$-7000$)
    1. Nikon D4: I know it's not out yet, but it will be before Xmas. My sources (a distributor) told me they will have a huge Nikon announcement in a week, i.e. early October. The D3X and D3S are overpriced, it's ridiculous. Yet they are the best DSLR cameras. Period. However they are not that young, spending that money on them now would be a little dumb. I would bet an arm the D4 is going to be the best you can get in 35mm format, and will remain the best for a while. It will stratospherically expensive, but if you can afford it...
    2. Nikon D800. Same story, not out yet, but the D700 being the actual best full affordable full frame, its replacement should be quite the top of the range machine to own. I will buy one.
    3. Leica M9. Ok that's not a SLR, it's a rangefinder, but if you read the price tag of a D3 and didn't blink, you might want to look into that. It's about the same price, you loose the AF and a lot of  feature (forget action shooting), but lenses will be at a all different level. Low light performance is great too, it's rather small in comparison, and resells value is unbeatable.

Canon 5D mkII ? No, built quality is disapointing, metering system is poor compared to my 1995 Nikon F5, and the low light noise is not as good as a D7000. Simply too old. Canon should announce a new top range camera soon too.

What (and how much) do you need to start shooting film.

If you are already convinced you want to go analog, you can skip the first part.

Funny days. Along with the digital boom in photography as a hobby, we are seeing a limited number of individuals realizing that film is in many aspects the way to go. However they don't take the step because it simply feels like too much to learn, too complicated. Now remember that quote:

Luke: "Vader… Is the dark side stronger?"
Yoda: "No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive."

My spiritual Master.

Indeed, sticking to digital only because it's convenient and easy only proves you are not as dedicated to your hobby as you think you are :p (mwaahahaha !). Now I'm not saying film is better than digital. I'm saying that for some things, film remains better, and for some other things, digital is the way to go. To be more specific:
- film is superior to digital for B&W because of a much wider tone range
- film is superior to digital for dynamic range
- film is superior to digital for the rendering of grain.
- film is superior for very large prints.

 - digital is superior in low light (for large modern sensors, such as on a D7000, Fuji X100 and others)
- digital is more convenient
- running costs are fixed

And finally, the most important: there is no available digital equipment in true medium and large format sensor size. There are some close to medium format digital, but since they cost the same as a nicely equipped BMW, so we'll consider that there is none to most of us. This is very relevant because MF and LF are essentially the way to shoot portrait and landscape.

DSLRs perform better at documentary, action and color in general is you like post processing. The debate on digital color VS film is never ending, film dynamic range is greater, but scanning or developing is very hard. Digital is more flexible, but colder in a way.


 Now that you are convinced you want to go analog, here is what you need, and how much it costs on Ebay, B&H or Adorama:

- a film camera (duh !): if you get a film camera in addition to your digital gear, you are an idiot if you don't go medium format. That's the all point, get that mega amazing new level of image quality, warmth, definition, bokeh, that you just can't have with 35mm sensors. I also recommend you go for proper MF, 6x6 or 6x7 size. 645 is nice, but it's a job half way done. A complete system (body + a great lens the like you could never dream of on your SLR + metering) will go from 300$ for a Mamiya 645 or Contax equivalent, to 900$ for a Mamiya RZ67 and up to 1200 for a Pentax 67II. The 300$ 645 will already outperform your DSLR.
Now if you want a great 35mm full frame with metering starts at 100$ (a nikon FE or FE 2). For the same with AF, you should not pay more than 300$ (for a top of the range Nikon F4 / F5, or even a very good F100)

 - If you went MF, a lens that destroys a Leica M lense, used in great condition, costs from 200$ to 400$. If you went 35mm, lenses are the same as the one you have on your Nikon...oh wait you might not have a Nikon, too bad. For film 35mm, go Nikon and buy a 50mm f1.8 lens for 100$.

- Film. Depending on sensitivity or color, a roll will cost from 2.5$ to 8$. MF format rolls (8 to 15 shots) cost about the same as a 36 frame 35mm roll. You will shoot a lot less, and a lot better. So don't compare the cost of 2000 digital shots to how much it'd cost with film. You'd shot 200 frame max if you know you have to pay more attention.

- Development: you are getting started? Don't do it yourself. Development cost about the same as the roll. So let's say a roll will cost from 6$ to 12$ all included. This is the price for DEV ONLY, not printing.

- A film scanner: that is rather necessary is you want to post your images. Since you'll get your pics developed only, not printing, you'll be able to scan them and edit contrast and other basic things like you would do in a dark room. A good film scanner like the Epson's (V700, V750 and maybe newer models since then) cost about 450$.

Epson V700

Let's sum it up: you got yourself a 6x7 medium format set, a scanner, an 100 rolls of films (enough to shoot for a long time), it will cost you about 2000$. 

That is cheaper than a Nikon D700, a Canon 5D MKII with no lens. It won't age. You'll never need to upgrade it. It's been the same for ever.

Nikon 1 V1 & J1

Nikon announced its compact systems with interchangeable lenses, under the new sub-brand name Nikon 1.

This post is about why you should not buy them, or any other mirrorless system.

Many of us were expecting the D800 and D4 announcements but I guess Nikon as to go where the money is, especially after the X100 success in the field expensive compacts (and I'm guessing much bigger margin).

Beyond my impatience and disappointment - I really can't take the wait for a D800 - let's have a look into those 2 "cameras".

Are you for real?

Yes I put it between quotation marks, because as I will demonstrate it, I don't believe the Nikon J1 and V1 are proper cameras, as any other interchangeable lens compact nowadays. As I read it on a site, "the quality of compact with the price tag of an SLR".

Why is that? As always, figuring out what the right product is for you comes from clearly identifying a photographer's need.

  • You are a total amateur, that is to say cameras are just for party pictures, shooting the kid's first time on a bike, etc. The point and shoot photographer who is just into capturing moment, as he would do with his smartphone, but with greater image quality. That photographer, the one who cares about price, portability and versatility, should be looking for a compact camera indeed. SLR systems cost a lot more money, for no better results unless you have the skills or training to make the most of it. 
  • The photo enthousiast amateur, that is to say, the person who'll intentionally go somewhere or do something with the main purpose of taking pictures. This person might not have the financial commitment of a pro, and will buy a DSLR: it is versatile, multi purpose, and rather cost efficient since the camera is all you need (no scanner, no film etc). You can get a brilliant DSLR system such as the Nikon D7000 with a decent zoom and a good prime lens for 1300$. That person will not be satisfied with a compact size sensor, size he wont be able to shoot low light, play with depth of field, etc.

  • The hardcore amateur with more financial means or the pro: that individual will look into pulling a few great shots, and will use the best available equipement for each purpose. That is to say: medium format for portrait, maybe large format for landscape, and 35mm full frame SLR for sport, wildlife or action. This person is aware that sensor / film size is key, and will prefer carrying 15 pounds or gear rather that shoot a compact and never look at the picture twice because it's not up to his expectations.
The Pentax 67II, a terrific medium format camera for portrait.

So where do those compact mirrorless cameras fit in?

They correspond to nothing at all that makes sense photography wise. Their sensor is far too small to allow anything more that what a compact does, however they cost as much as a Canon 600D or Nikon D7000 (body only). Lenses around 300$ for this? Come on !!! A Mamiya lense for a 6x7 system (a Rolls Royce compared to this) cost 250$ on the second hand market in mint condition !

Why would anyone spend 1000-1200$ on a system that has both the disadvantages of compact and SLR? I know marketers claims it aggregates both benefits, but that is plain bullshit: you get the picture quality a small sensor can give you, that is to say rubbish, but you still need to pay the price for the camera, lenses, as for a DLSR. Get a proper compact, please, like a Canon S95 or S100, a Fuji X10. Those are as good as it gets on a compact, they are small, and they cost what they should.

Now I'm a Nikoner, because historically they produced so many great film and digital SLRs. My lenses work on all my cameras, and many of them still are or were the best in their field (I own a FE, F5, D80). 
Yes I know Nikon has to make money and can only surf the wave of a need that has been created by electronics manufacturers, get their market share. Ok. But still, you are Nikon, do it well ! 

They could have made the first actually interesting compact mirroless camera, if they had used a DSLR size sensor, at least, or even a full frame sensor !!! It would be expensive? Yes and so what? People pay 1200$ for a premium compact? WOW, they would pay for it anyway !!! That would beat Fuji and its X100 (the only sense making compact for a pro, and it pays off commercially). A compact full frame that work with small lenses and Nikon SLR lenses? Even I would buy that ! It would be great for PR, position Nikon as "the real thing for true photographers" or whatever marketing can think of.

Now if size really, really matters, go for the Fuji X100. It has a SLR size sensor, and a great lens. Not cheap, not flawless, but a photographer can pull terrific shots with that already.

The final word: 
Both the J1 and V1 are likely to have pretty lenses and built quality. They will shot ok for a compact, but don't buy them. It you read until here, you care about photography. Those have been created to sell to uneducated people who'll pick it because "you can have it in pink !". For those people there is now "Nikon 1." 
Do yourself a favor : pick your fight. You want to point or commit to that hobby? If you fall into the second category, get yourself an SLR. Please. Even if it's digital I will forgive you, at least it will make sense :)
For you, there is still Nikon.

Compare, this 35yo 90$ camera will allow you to shoot...(see below)

That kind of pictures:

What could be the best camera in the world ?

As a frequent reader of Ken Rockwell's work, I couldn't help but notice how intense he gets about the cameras that he likes. I very much like a lot of what he tries to teach people, about what makes a good camera, the tricks of marketing to make us buy useless features and overal, the idea according to which anything can make a great pictures. Gear just makes it easier or more pleasant to do.

But strangely, as there is no such thing as a perfect camera for all purposes, Ken states the best camera in the world exist in the shape of the Mamiya 7...

Well how about that ! A single camera to rule them all? It like people asking "what's your favorite song ever?", I hate those questions. I hate them because "it depends". It always depends, on the mood and other things. I have a dozen favorite songs of all time ever, same applies to cameras ! just check my previous post, that pretty much summarizes it all...hum...Ken has a point though.

What if I had to go with only one camera, for the rest of my life, what could this one be?

  • First it would be a medium format camera. 35mm...let's be serious there, and large format is too inconvenient. Also it wouldn't be a 645 format. This intermediate format is not the real thing, medium format shows great benefits from 6x6 up to 6X9.
  • It would have built in metering (duh !), because...well off camera metering is way to annoying on the go.
  • It would use interchangeable lenses. Including portrait and landscape focal lengths.
  • It would be somehow portable. That excludes the Mamiya RZ and other tank-like cameras and greatly reduce the scope of possible cameras.
  • It would be astonishing result wise.
  • It would not cost more than 3 000$ with one or two lenses,  because it wouldn't be aiming at wannabe art hipsters willing to remain exclusive, with their Leica on the living room coffee table, although you can't seem to ever see a decent print of their "work".
What does that leave us with?

All Fujicas' are excluded: fix lenses, no metering. Too bulky for the GX680. Brilliant camera's though, but not eligible.
No 645, that limits the scope.
We are left with Hasselblad's, Mamiya 6, 7 and 67's, Rollei's TLR, Pentax 67II...

Hasselblad's  and the Mamiya 67's are bulky, metering requires a big add on on top of it. 

We are left with the Mamiya 6, Mamiya 7 and Pentax 67 II.

Now the Mamiya 6 and 7 are essentially different  by the format, the 6 is square 6x6 format, the 7 is a 6X7 format. I do believe it's nearly impossible to sort those two from one another. They have a couple of major advantages:
- they are super small
- they produce amazing images
- overal they match all the criteria, but...

- they don't really offer good portrait low light lenses.

On the other corner, the Pentax 67 II:
- image quality is as brilliant, it's a draw
- it has a range of lenses allowing portrait & landscape
- it is rock solid but...

- it's very, very heavy and noisy.

The best camera in the world is one of them. As a portrait photographer, I would tend to pick the Pentax 67II for the 90mm f2.8 lens.
For having carried the Mamiya RZ67 on my shoulders while traveling, i'd pick the Mamiya 6 for portability and the 2 extra frames per roll.

Those would be the 2 best cameras in the world for me. And yes I know I had to pick one...

Since I already have a RZ67 I would pick the Mamiya 6. If I didn't have the RZ, I'd start with the Pentax, but in the end, I would buy both. Anyway, my point is: if I had to own only one, it would be a Pentax 67II.

Your choice should be based on your taste for landscape (Mamiya 6) VS portraits (Pentax).

Today I'm 31 ! And these are my dream machines.

Early 30ies is a strange age, it corresponds to nothing. When I was 15, you were either young (less than 25), or a parent (45+), both categories with very distinctive characteristics. But 31? what the hell is that? I obviously can't party rock like before, you're still not having lame dinners with other couples when you put on a're in between all of that. Ah f***ck it. Happy BDay to me.

I would very much like a FUJI GX680, a Nikon D3S, a 80MP phase one digital back for mamiya RZ67 and a Mamiya 6 :) and and get me a leica M6 now that you're at it :)

So if you're rich, bored and for the strangest reason want to make me happy, you know what to do.

An explanation on digital sensors size, and what it means for your pictures.

When buying a digital camera,  2 things require your attention: the lens, and the sensor. I'll write the next post about the lens, but for today let's focus on the sensor.

A bit of context first: image quality, appart from your talent, comes from the optical characteristics of the lens, and the characteristics of the sensor. Now with film, the sensor is the film, so the chemical characteristics of the film at the contact of light are responsible for the tones, noise, dynamic range of your image. 
When shooting digital, instead of photons hitting film, you have photons hitting a sensor that will send an electric signal, according to how many photons of a given "color" he receives (physics PhD please forget my vulgarisation).

Enough theory, my natural geekiness would quickly bore many of you. My point here is : the lens is like the chassis, the sensor is like the engine. Everything else (LCD screen, buttons here and there) are just options and they should not be the main things to look for.

I talk about sharpness, noise and dynamic range as variables of your image quality. Let's first see what they mean, then we'll see how sensor size impacts those variable, and for those who just want the final word, I invite you to skip to the end for conclusions :-).
  • Sharpness is about image elements being distinct from one another. In other words, can you clearly see where something ends. It has nothing to do with resolution! Resolution is how many pixels you can count on the picture, the size of the image if you prefer. You can have a huuuuge resolution and a totally blurry image at the same time. Now sharpness is nearly 99% under lens influence, so don't get confused by bad salesmen bull-shitting you with mega pixels. If you care about sharpness so much, you can get a fix lens, but mostly you should start reconsidering your approach to photography :)
  • Noise corresponds to sensors (or film) made so sensitive to light that they even see light when there is none. Those inaccurate dots on your image are what we call noise. We push a sensor to be ultra light sensitive when we want to shoot in low light. That sensitivity is what you change by raising ISO. The higher the ISO number, the more sensitive, the more noise the sensor is likely to generate. If you see that a camera goes up to 12000 ISO...well that means nothing. The noise level might be so high that image quality would be awful anyway. Also one thing to keep in mind: film noise can look real nice, when digital noise can be properly awful.
Ilford 3200 ISO film on a 6X7 camera (huge sensor equivalent): gives it a nice looking grain.
  • Dynamic range is a little trickier to explain. Let's use an example: I'm sure you already took a picture of some one in front of the sky, and the sky came out totally white. Or the person is coming out black and the sky is blue, and you can't see no details at all on the subject. Dynamic range is the maximum difference between dark and bright that your camera can handle. It's terribly important for landscape in particular, because a valley, a snowy mountain and the sky can have very different brightness level. With poor dynamic range, you only have one part correctly lit, the rest comes out all white or all black. Ever wondered what HDR is? It's when you take several pictures of the same thing, at different light exposure, and pile up picture to make sure everything is lit properly. It's nothing more than faking very large dynamic range.

Courtesy of on this image you understand how DR can be important: you want the shades and the far right part to still be detailled, not just one of the 2.

Ok now back to today's topic: how do sensors impact those image characteristics?

To cut corners a bit, the bigger the sensor the better. 
With film, portrait is done with medium format, up to 60x90mm size film. Landscape is done with large format cameras with even bigger film surfaces. 
What we call a 35mm film camera (24x36mm) is the pocket format, the film equivalent of a compact, the low quality stuff...And that's what we call full frame in the digital world! The top of the range Canon 5D's and Nikon D3 and D700 are "only" 24X36 sensors cameras, also called FX. 

- Most DSLRs are DX camera's, not even a full 24X36 sensor. They are 17X25mm sensors also called APS-C. All the Nikon D3100, D5100, D90, D300, Canon 7D, 550D and other are DX cameras.

- Compact cameras have even smaller sensors. Rather than going thru each of them, look at the characteristics of the camera you're into, and see in the table below what is the sensor size:

Sensor size is crucial to noise and dynamic range for a simple reason: the bigger the sensor, the larger the pixels for a given picture size. 

For example, compare a 10MP medium format (MF) camera with a 10MP compact : same amount of pixels, but the MF camera's sensor has a surface about an hundred time larger. The pixels are then a hundred times bigger. Each pixel being bigger, it can rely of a much larger amount of light hitting it to gather information: it is more sensitive in low light, and generates less noise as it doesn't take decision out of very little amounts of light.

Same with dynamic range: the pixels need less exposure to collect the proper amount of light in the dark areas of you image. So while they get exposed for brighter parts of the image, they still receive enough information to obtain detailed dark objects.

Last but not least: depth of field.

DOF is the distance between the nearest and farthest sharp object on your image.

Long story short, the smaller the size sensor, the more DOF you get. It means that small sensors, i.e. most compact cameras can hardly blur the background behind your subject. Not that it is a necessary thing to do, but it limits your creativity by prevent you from exploring a key variable in photography.

One way of allowing less DOF (=more blur behind) is to have lenses that open very wide (those F1.8, F1.4 lenses), but few compact camera offer that, if any.

Very little DOF: you will NEVER be able to do that with a compact due to sensor size.

If you are into portrait, don't spend 500$ in a premium compact! Get a used Nikon D90 or Canon 550D with a 50mm 1.8 lens, for about the same price.

- The bigger the sensor the better
- Bigger sensor = capacity to shoot in low light
- Bigger sensor = image with better exposure, details in dark zone, which is crucial for landscape
- Bigger sensor = the possibility to get a very sharp subject with a very blurred background, ideal for portrait.

Let's force manufacturers to stop making those mini sensor cameras, when you buy GO FOR BIGGER!!! 
My choice? The only compact with a bright lens and a APS-C size sensor (same as most DSLR) is the FUJI X100. Otherwise go DSLR.
The upcoming Fuji X10 will have a smaller sensor, so careful with the appealing feature, the X100 might still be the best camera for you if you shoot more portraits !

This being said, a rubbish camera can still pull the best picture in the world. So go out and shoot whatever you have :-)

Inspiration: Hannes Caspar (aka Bluecut)

Today's inspiration is a Flickr found photographer from Germany called Hannes Caspar. He annoys me because he can do what I wish I could do... so when I see his work, I get positively envious and it makes me want to shoot.

You can see his Flickr stream here.

He does 2 things I really like:
  1. he shoots medium format (Pentax 67, a tool I can only recommend, with a preference to HP5) in that sultry but reserved style that I appreciate so much (I must say he also choses his models really well)
  2. when he shoots digital (Canon 5D mkII), he makes the most of it by really leveraging the digital editing in the best way possible: he makes it look like light itself played with the sensor, very natural and soft. 
  3. also (yes I added a 3rd point, it's my blog I do what I want), it's overall strongly distinctive in style. You see the pic, you know it's him.

Followers know I'm strongly biased towards film, but his work makes me realize that bias might be related to my lack of editing skills ^^.

It was hard to pick just a few shots, so go see his flickr stream, it's worth it all the way down to the last page (nudity warning).