Monday, February 06, 2006

Digicams -- going with the telephoto



One of the things I've been mulling over lately is what digital camera I am going to get next. I had been looking at the next generation of 12X optical zoom prosumer cameras and debating whether to go for the more powerful macro or more telephoto. My current camera is a 10X Fuji s5000, now three years old, but still taking great pictures. More telephoto has won, hands down.

Basically, it is because I like shots like this:



One of the cameras I was looking at gave me even more macro, but with less telephoto. The energy of the foreshortening effect is fantastic, and I don't want to give any of it up. I especially like that shot above because of the mountains hanging ghostly in the background. The way the telephoto can be used to push everything in the shot together yields some wonderful picture effects -- these betel nut girls below are actually about 30-40 meters apart...




...I love the shots where the streets are empty, and the buildings loom large, and crowd against each other....



And this one, where the northbound lane of the freeway appears even more intensely crowded with cars returning home for Chinese New Year with the added power of the telephoto



and this, the mountains near Taliao on a clear day right after a typhoon.



and especially this one......



When I was growing up and looking at Asia, the stereotyped shot was like that one above, or this one below:



...the streets crowded with signs, though usually there were more people....like this one:



.....or this....



...or telephoto shots over cities like this one over Keelung.



Probably somewhere a cultural critic has written a learned tome about how the telephoto lens overdramatizes the effect of crowding in Asia, orientalizing it visually for westerners (where the telephoto is used to emphasize space, as in the stereotyped shots of endless lines of telephone wires lining empty western highways). But for me, even after all these years, a telephoto lens and a crowded city still says Asia......

7 comments:

Tam and Tim said...

I loved your photos of the cityscapes. Especially the picture where the mountains are looming large in the background. That's really amazing. I live in Fengyuan and that one shot really captured the true essense of Taipei for me:the traffic, The cabs, the traffic, the forest of signage, the mountains and the unsettled weather. I think you made the right choice going with the telephoto.

All the best

Tim

Daniel said...

More betel nut girls per photo... Worth every penny Michael!

Anonymous said...

good idea for a paper...

Anonymous said...

誰必須東方主義? 可以 用本地的觀點,http://www.libertytimes.com.tw/2006/new/feb/7/today-taipei0.htm

NP

Darin said...

What about the option of getting a (D)SLR and then a couple of lenses? For example I have a Nikon D70 with the kit (18-70mm) lens and then a 70-300mm lens as well. Certainly not the best combination, I need a 50-100 or so lens to cover a range from both because I'm switching lenses too much, but it gets the job done in most situations. With Nikon releasing the D200 not long ago, I would think you could find some used D70's for decent prices.

Michael Turton said...

Interesting idea. I hadn't even thought of a used SLR. I've resisted it because then I'd start to pile up lenses...the really great thing about a prosumer camera is that you don't have to cart around all the lenses. Also, since I carry my camera everywhere, risking, loss, theft, and damage, I need a camera I can afford to lose. If my s5000 disappeared, I'd be bummed, but I can replace it easily....

Thanks for the suggestion, though. I'll have my wife comb Yahoo tonight.

Michael

rmdazwdv said...

The new Sony R-1, while it may have its flaws, is unique in that its an SLR, but you can see the photo you're setting up, live on the LCD, not just through the viewfinder, or AFTER taking it. Given your experience that may not be needed. Its also new and expensive and not exactly disposable. I think there are plenty of very solid digital SLR's out there if you take one step back from the bleeding edge. You might also look at pricejapan.com, for a taste of what they should have at the stores near Taipei main station. I'm sure you'll be doing good work with whatever you get.