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One year with Sony Alpha cameras and ZEISS E-mount lenses. Developing my own photographic eye in a in a scratch book manner. Hunting the stream of inspiration and sharing it through a popular blog platform.
This is what 'Days of Zeiss' is all about.




Setup talk - part one

Toni Ahvenainen

Sony A7 & ZEISS Batis 2/25 – f/8.0, 0.6sec, ISO100, raw Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen

Sony A7 & ZEISS Batis 2/25 – f/8.0, 0.6sec, ISO100, raw
Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen

The year is slowly coming to its end and so is my year long project as well. This naturally raises some questions of how my current Sony/Zeiss setup has worked for me and has it changed something in my photography. This is of course a question with multiple faces but one thing I can already say is that using Zeiss lenses has lead me away from technically oriented enthusiasm and taught me is that there exists a way of being a photography enthusiast which isn't so inseparably connected to 'gear talk'. I know this sounds like something considered to be self-evident, but the reality is that today's photography culture is very tightly wired with competing products, upgrade-paths and other things of consumerism. Sure the camera setup you are using is important as you are using it as a tool for creating images and a great relationship with your gear can work as a source of inspiration as well. However, as many of you already know, following the gear just because of it can easily capture your concentration and steal your vision as you tangle into specific details of image quality, performance differences and other technology oriented details.

Using some of the best lenses there exists for the 35mm full frame cameras will inevitably alter your approach to photography – and with this I don't mean to refer to any kind of elitism of superior image quality as one might expect. Instead I want to emphasize that now that I know I have premium quality lenses available for my photography - at least still for couple of months – I have stopped worrying or even thinking about the usual metrics of 'image quality' and 'performance', or whether there might exists some other lenses which would be even sharper or better some other way. As intriguing as this kind of 'game of gear superiority' can be, it has really been a relief to leave it behind.

For my photography this has given me a some sort of 'feet-in-the-ground-reference-point': if my images don't cut with the lenses I'm using I can be sure that it's about me and there isn't any other lenses out there which might have a some kind of 'special ability' to transform my mediocre images to something better. I really feel a bit of harm for many of those who seem to be on a quest for finding the best '3d-pop', 'bokeh' 'micro contrast' or whatever as I think they will eventually miss something really crucial in their own photography as a whole. However, it's also a bit eerie feeling as well as I realize that I need to fulfill my photography interests with other things than what happens at the photography markets. I don't know if the situation would be different I had actually bought the lenses I'm using for this project and I would likely have money to trade them to another lenses, but right now for me this setup has been a relief as I don't even feel the need of keeping up what's out there and what else is coming.

As self-evident as it sounds this leads me to realization that using better lenses or better cameras doesn't change me as a photographer – not directly at least. In exchange this has given me a space to actually think about my photography. Instead of going circles with my camera setup and 'what-I-might-be-able-to-afford', I have had more time to think about what kind of photographer I am and what kind of pictures I should try to create during this limited time I have with these admittedly very fine lenses – what is important for me in my personal photography. I guess it's about getting past of 'setup building' and starting another phase where the new intriguing questions emerge from the photographs one takes and how one looks at them. Sounds pretty good to me.