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The (im)perfect approach to photography


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I shoot primarily fashion and portraiture, and have been using a Sony A7 since 2013 with Sony/Zeiss glass with great results for the most part.


As my photography improves, I have been gaining a better understanding of my style and have been looking for ways to enhance that style.  Essentially, I enjoy photos that have a timeless, vintage look, and sometimes dreamy look to them instead of modern photos that look just like a 100% true representation of the present reality.  


I know that this look could probably be obtained by using photoshop, tools like VSCO, etc (and this is likely what most people do).  However, I have never enjoyed spending hours to manipulate a photo, nor do I find the results very satisfying (perhaps due to my limited knowledge of post-processing too).  My solution became a simple one, where I began to explore the advantages of the mirrorless system by buying legacy lenses with the appropriate rendering for my style.  In this case, I bought a Zeiss C-Sonnar 50/1.5 for M-mount.  This approach worked well and gave me results that were vintage looking with lower contrast and the all important classical look.  Of course, it is no secret that the characteristics of the lens translate directly to the sensor and the final photo, making it difficult to change my mind about the mood of a photo after the fact.  Another problem is that the lenses are still not optimized for these mirrorless systems, and lens sharpness and performance is understandably lower as a result. There is alot of trial and error involved in finding and testing the right lenses with the appropriate rendering to fit the mood I am looking for.  Yesterday, I bought a Summicron 50mm f2, and ended up not liking its rendering with my camera.  


This had me rethinking about my approach, since I also have an XT-1 that I have been borrowing, which is fantastic and achieves similar results with film simulations which could be altered after the photo is taken.  Even when compared to Leica lenses, I find the Fuji glass is every bit as good, especially in terms of colour, sharpness, and micro-contrast.  Yes, the photos must still be sharp to be acceptable, but for the most part, I prioritize lens rendering over sharpness.  I don't need to have the sharpest lens in the world, but it has to be sharp enough for my use for photographing fashion and portraiture.  



What are your thoughts on my approach?


Does using legacy vintage lenses produce a unique mood and rendering to the photos that is not possible to be created in post-processing?


Instead, is it far more desirable to shoot using a neutral lens with extreme clarity and sharpness, and then adjust the rendering, colours, etc. in post-processing?  


Is Fuji X the solution?  


The photos attached shows my Jpegs straight out of camera with no editting using:

1) Girl with blonde hair - Sony A7 with Zeiss 50/1.5 C-Sonnar

2) Door - Fuji XT-1 with 23mm/1.4



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If you want that vintage/film look, best solution is to shoot film. I shoot film for fun, digital for the convenience.


If you want a unique colouring, you can do nearly anything in post, though it's always hard to simulate real film. Film and digital will always look different.


If you like how a certain lens renders, well, then there's the http://www.fuji-x-forum.com/forum/6-adapting-lenses-to-fuji-x/ part of the forum where they'll answer all of your questions.

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There are many ways to do anything and go anyplace and in the end you have to do what works for you which will, most certainly not find necessarily other people’s approval.


It all comes down to what you have produced at the end of the process, if it is good it's good, if it isn’t then it is not.


The goal, in this case, other than in Zen, is not the way you to the achievement but the achievement, the result of the process.


You can get caught in all sorts of illusory superstitions and believe that a picture has to be the result of this that ot the other process and can only be obtained through that magic combination, but it ain’t necessarily so!


As Ira Gershwin wrote even the “ things that are liable to be in the bible ain't necessarily so”! There are no fixed truths in photography but many at the same time.


I find also slightly puzzling though certainly revealing that you called your site visual poetry journey.

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Some would prefer to show only what they see, other would show you what they want you to see and there are some who would like to show you what they see.

None of them are right, nor any of them is wrong too.


Photography is a very personal thing, your pictures has to please you first and foremost. If it also happen to please others, all the better !


But in the end, there is nothing else beside, you and your subject. It really doesn't matter why you are doing it or how you are doing it. Just enjoy it.


As for the legacy lenses, plenty of them are perfectly usable with the Fuji X-T1, I have an Helios M44-2 58mm F2 with a focal reducer and the Super Takumar "Bokehnator" 105mm F2.8 with a dumb adapter. I swap the adapters around when needed or when I want to change the field of view on the lens. 

So far, I have been very satisfied with the results and the way the pictures are taken, somehow it feels more organic to shoot with those legacy lenses, you are a lot involved into the shot than just pressing a button here and there.

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I think there are characteristics of some legacy glass that are difficult if not impossible to recreate in post. I have some different legacy lenses I use, nothing that I'd say is really cool, but they do change the look of the photo. I prefer to get the look I want in camera. I'm not a fan of spending time post processing. I think the film simulations enhance the legacy glass even more.

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I think there are characteristics of some legacy glass that are difficult if not impossible to recreate in post.[...]


The Helios 44 series is a very good example, up to the 44-3 version, it still had the swirly bokeh, later version lost it because that specific bokeh was caused by a lens defect, which they corrected on later versions.

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