How not to choose a new camera

©Neil Turner

Please accept my apologies. This post starts with a short rant.

Every time I read an opinion about which of the many utterly superb cameras that are on the market produces the best colours, my heart sinks. When the writer gives their opinion on the colours or the contrast that this or that model produces I know that I can safely ignore them but I also know that others listen. They often sound convincing because what they say has some small foothold in reality. I find it unbelievable but some people actually base their selection of equipment on how they perceive a camera model to render colours using the factory settings and often under conditions over which they have little control. Even worse; others actually allow the opinions of these short-sighted and wildly ill-informed folks to influence their purchasing decisions.

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Apple MacBook Air M1

Ten years ago I bought an 11″ MacBook Air. It went everywhere with me because it was so portable, so useful and did the job that I needed it to do. Four years ago I tried really hard to find a way to use an iPad to do the same sort of on-location quick edits that the small laptop had been so good for but I never really made it work. I kept the rapidly ageing laptop in service for longer than I should have and carried my 2017 15″ MacBook Pro on more jobs that I would have wanted to. When Apple released the M1 powered 13″ laptops earlier this year I thought that I might finally have found a solution and the reports coming from other photographers about how good they were helped me make my mind up to invest in one.

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One more from the archive project

Professor Richard Dawkins, Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, University of Oxford. © NEIL TURNER/TSL. October 2001.

When I was posting an archive portrait a day to my instagram account during the COVID-19 lockdown I had about thirty images in my mind that were ‘must-have’ pictures that I remembered being something special. When I started to put to the set together two things surprised me;

  • Some of those thirty must-have pictures weren’t as good as my memory told me they were.
  • Quite a few others were available top take their place in the top thirty – either because they were way better than I had remembered or because I had totally forgotten about them.
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Magic moments – I’ve had a few

©Neil Turner/TSL | March 1997

Working with teams of photographers on big sports projects is one of my main sources of income these days. Get a bunch of photographers together and they will almost inevitably start to tell stories about what they’ve done and who they’ve met.

Recently a colleague mentioned my Instagram project from last year and how he had enjoyed seeing my early work. That lead to a discussion about how lucky we are to go places and to see things that the general public can’t or, at least can’t without spending a lot of money.

For me the places come second to the people.

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Camera timeline & nostalgia trip

A colleague of mine, Edmond Terakopian, put a post on a Facebook groups a few days ago talking about the Nikon FM2 cameras that he has owned for many years. From there lots of people agreed with what he had written and a few others moved the conversation on to some of the kit that they’ve owned through their careers.

Most of the comments were about how good and how reliable the earlier kit was and how bodies and lenses from the 70s, 80s and into the 90s are still working and still able to run out quality pictures. Lots of nostalgia for the way things used to be!

Personally speaking I wouldn’t want to go back the shooting and processing film – even if that meant you could get a complete professional kit (two FM2s, two motor drives, 24mm, 35mm, 85mm and 180mm lenses and two flashes) for under £2,500. I was never as big a fan of the FM2 as so many of my colleagues were. The much more expensive and robust F3P/MD4 combination was my favourite of all of the manual focus film cameras but the arrival of the EOS1N made me realise that auto-focus was the way to go.

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Muscle memory, match fitness and second nature

Whatever you do for a living, for fun or out of necessity the general rule is that the more you do it, the better you get at it. Like a very large number of people I have been doing what I normally do a lot less through the COVID-19 pandemic and I have found that has caused me to stop and think a lot more.

I haven’t been into a single school for almost a year and a half and I haven’t shot a large set of corporate headshots for almost as long. I haven’t been asked to photograph retail spaces, conferences or the work that takes place inside hospitals. That’s a massive chunk of my core photography work missing from my life and the relatively few editorial and news jobs that I’ve done certainly haven’t made up for any of the regular commissions.

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HR Director Contact Sheet

Inderjit Seehra, Cambridge University Human Resources Director, December 2008. ©Neil Turner

My favourite kind of blog posts are those which have forced me to write them following a conversation with someone that has really made me think. There’s often something else going on in my head or in my life that brings those thoughts into a sharper focus and this one is no exception.

It concerns a set of portraits that I shot of a gentleman called Inderjit Seehra that I shot way back in December 2008 for a business magazine. I like to post contact sheets on here and go into the back story of the pictures and frames from this set have been in and out of my portfolio since I shot them. I hadn’t selected this job as one to blog about until earlier this week when I got an email from a young man studying for a degree in photography who had been directed to my website by one of his lecturers. At his request I’m not going to name him but I do have his permission mention him here. The ethnicity of the student photographer is important to the story – he is British Asian and all four of his grandparents moved to the UK in the 1950s and 1960s. All four of them were born in India. What makes this more relevant is that a sub-committee of The British Press Photographers’ Association‘s Board are looking at what our industry can do anything to improve the career chances of BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) photographers. (more…)

FTP and the Canon EOS R5

ftp with the Canon Eos r5 tutorial

A little over three and a half years ago I made a video showing users how to do a simple set-up to transmit images directly from the Canon EOS 5D MkIV camera using the built-in FTP feature. Recently a chap who saw that video asked if I could do the same with the EOS R5. At that time I didn’t have access to an R5 so I made a note to get around to it ‘one day’.

Last week I needed to get my hands on one to make sure that it was able to transmit into a server that some of the photographers that I work with use. Thanks to Canon UK and CPS (Canon Professional Services) I have had the camera for a few days, ironed out any issues we had and so I thought that I’d go ahead and make a quick walk-through tutorial and comparison video.

The video is now on YouTube and you can use this link to watch it. Spoiler alert; (more…)