AutoMatters & More: Another Revolution in Photography, JPL and Changing Systems

From the early 1970s until the turn of this century, I mainly shot with Nikon SLR cameras. In the beginning, the only electronic component of these cameras – at least to my knowledge – was a light meter. Adjustments were made manually, as was the focus and advancement of the film from shot to shot (motors were available for some cameras as expensive additional options).

Over the years more and more electronics were introduced into SLRs, including autofocus, but their images were still recorded on film.

A major revolution in photography occurred at the turn of this century with the introduction of digital (DSLR) over film cameras. Especially in the beginning, their image quality was somewhat lower than that of film cameras, but we photographers no longer had to pay to have the film processed and printed, and neither were we limited to only 24 or 36 exposures per single-use roll. -movie. Instead, we used reusable memory cards of increasing capacity. Plus, we could immediately see a reasonable facsimile of what we shot on the camera monitor, instead of having to wait – and hope – until we got the images back from the lab. . I went digital and removed my trusty Nikon F2AS film camera.

In recent years, we’ve seen another, albeit more subtle, revolution in serious amateur and professional interchangeable-lens cameras with the rise of mirrorless cameras.

My used camera equipment, in box for sale

(Jan Wagner)

SLR and digital SLR cameras use mirrors to allow the photographer to see, through an optical viewfinder, what he is about to photograph. Then, when they press the shutter button, the mirror momentarily moves away from the distance between the lens and the film or image sensor, and a mechanical shutter opens and closes to take the picture. This all happens very quickly, and every time a clicking sound is heard.

Mirrorless cameras use an electronic viewfinder (EVF) instead of an optical one, so they can be smaller and lighter. Some are completely silent.

A few years ago, I began to seriously consider mirrorless while filming at a particular event, on a guided public tour at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. There was a lot of interesting things to see, so I took a lot of pictures.

Sony Alpha 1 mirrorless camera and 100-400mm lens

Sony Alpha 1 mirrorless camera and 100-400mm lens

(Jan Wagner)

At one point on the tour, we were invited into a dark auditorium to see a video presentation. I stood at the back of the room and put my professional Nikon DSLR on its “Quiet” (a little muffled) setting. My camera could only do really quiet photography in “Live View” mode, which offers seriously inferior performance, so I rarely used it.

After the presentation, as we were exiting the auditorium, a member of the audience approached me and began to speak. She was furious, accusing me of spoiling her enjoyment of the presentation because of that click (supplement removed) from my camera (removed). I apologized profusely, but she just ran away – and several other members of the audience stared at me as well.

Sony Alpha 1 with its many programmable buttons

Sony Alpha 1 with its many programmable buttons

(Jan Wagner)

I have never forgotten this experience. This woman would probably be delighted if she knew that since that moment I have been much more aware of the environments I have filmed in and acted upon.

Mirrorless cameras have come a long way. Sony’s top-of-the-line mirrorless cameras offer features that even my professional Nikon DSLRs couldn’t match, including incredible subject tracking, incredibly high burst speed, quiet operation, smaller size and weight, much higher resolution and more programmable buttons and controls.

I bought one of Nikon’s mirrorless cameras – the Z6 – to try out the technology. In general I liked it, but it operated slower than my professional Nikon cameras.

One of the Sony Alpha 1 menus

One of the Sony Alpha 1 menus

(Jan Wagner)

A new professional Nikon mirrorless camera is on the horizon, but I made the difficult decision to sell my Nikon gear and switch to Sony Alpha l cameras. I bought two of them, so I won’t have to remember which controls do what on different models of cameras, when shooting. I also needed to buy new lenses, batteries and other equipment.

Now I have to learn how to use my new Sony cameras. Their 54 menus (plus submenus) and commands are very different from my Nikons. My first challenge will be to shoot the Long Beach Acura Grand Prix this weekend.

To see most of the photos and the most recent text, and to explore a wide variety of content dating back to 2002, visit Automatic questions and more on AutoMatters.net. On the home page, search by title or subject, or click on the blue “years” boxes.

Copyright © 2021 by Jan Wagner – Automatic questions and more # 710r1


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