4.16.2009

Wondering why there aren't more formats available?

I often get accused of preaching about film because I'm some sort of Luddite who doesn't get that digital is infinitely better than film ever was. That's not exactly true and I have closet full of multiple generations of digital cameras to prove it.  The real reason I wax nostalgic for the good old days was because we had some nice choices for formats.  

Now, if you don't like 2:3 or 4:3 crops,  you're just flat out of luck. After over a hundred and fifty years you get two choices.  Both rectangles. Both kinda klodgy.  I guess their both okay for general stuff but what if you really like COMPOSING in a square? We all know you can crop square or round or whatever on your computer but what if you want to simplify the choices for your brain, cut the mindshare and make the decisions with the camera? This is a photograph of my friend, Lou.  She fits the square perfectly.  I photographed her with a Hasselblad and I never had to deal with determining how it would be cropped.  The viewfinder was my friend, knew I liked squares, and helped me do it in the gestalt of the moment.  So now my mind is always free to like the image just as it is.  

If I shot it on 35mm I would always have to repress the little script that would pull on some cortex of my brain, screaming, "Are you sure you made the best crop?  Why didn't you show more on the top?  Less on the left?  More on the right?"

I talked to an engineer at a semiconductor company thirteen days ago and he confirmed what I thought all along---laying out chip dies as squares on a wafer is the most efficient and cost effective way to manufacture our camera sensors.  To say it in a different way, it would be cheaper and easier to make square sensors than it is to make rectangular sensors in volume!

So how about a little choice here?  Nikon and Kodak has acknowledged that there is a demand for the square.  You can set the old Kodak SLR/n and the Nikon D3 to shoot square.  But what the hell good is that if the viewfinder still shows a rectangle.  It's all so frustrating.  Surely you'd like to have a few more choices, wouldn't you?

But I still have a couple of square cameras to all is not lost.  By the way, the above image was made in my old studio using a Hasselblad 201f with a 150mm 2.8 lens.  There are two lights: The main light, over to the left of the frame, was from a Profoto Acute 1200 pack with one head. The head was used in a 54 by 72 inch soft box with the front panel placed about four feet from Lou.  Another head was used in a small softbox, dialed way down on an Acute 600e pack, to put a very slight amount of light on the background.  Probably three stops down from the main light.  Agfapan APX 100 film.  Wanna see a bunch more portraits?  Head here.