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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.




The flexibility of the camera setup

Toni Ahvenainen

Sony A7 & ZEISS Touit 2.8/12 – f/14, 10sec, ISO100, raw Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen

Sony A7 & ZEISS Touit 2.8/12 – f/14, 10sec, ISO100, raw
Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen

When I started my project 'Days of Zeiss' at 1st of January I had a difficult photography year behind me (the year 2015). I had lost my inspiration for the photography and photographically speaking I was drifting out there without any reference points. Picking up the camera and heading out there for pictures had become something that was just harder and harder to do on a daily basis. Contemplating on it afterwards I believe there were at least two reasons why I had lost the flow. First of all I had fall into a situation where I had pretty difficult camera setup to work with. I had the same Sony A7 which I've been using all along this project, but I only had two lenses for it: Touit 2.8/12 & Touit 2.8/50M. Don't get me wrong, the Sony A7 and the Touit lenses are wonderful and I will write more about them later but I had kind of 'painted myself into corner' as I didn't have financial resources to upgrade my setup into something more fitting. Using APS-C Touit lenses with the full frame camera was a compromise that didn't really inspire me, and in terms of focal lengths the ultra wide angle and the moderate telelens were just too far apart. Especially the Touit 2.8/12 was difficult to put in use in a meaningful matter.

The second reason was that I didn't have any photography project which would have guided my photographic flow, given me goals or offered me the experiences of success. My photography became too random which didn't provide me any kind of continuance of flow even if I felt succeeding in some single cases. The next day it would feel meaningless as I didn't have any plan to follow. But all along I had been working to start a new personal project which would, not only provide my photography some external goals, but also solve my camera setup worries – at least for a year.

While I believe it is unnecessary to even mention it because it shows through this project, I will still explicitly state that my current setup with all the great Touit, Loxia and Batis lenses have given me a great pleasure throughout the year. You know the setup is working when it just calls for you to use it on everything – it makes you want to take pictures and test out how this or that will look when photographed. Of course there aren't any universal attributes related to 'perfect camera setup' which would provide to be fitting setup for everyone. For some it might be the Zeiss craftsmanship, image quality and overall photographic experience, but for some others it might be something totally else, like the mobility and accessibility iPhone. And that's ok, because in the end it's about getting 'into the flow', staying there and finding your own photographic eye through that process.

For me, one aspect that has strengthen this flow is definitely the flexible setup with many different focal lengths. The idea of the prime lenses – that one can concentrate on exploring one focal length at a time – and still have enough different choices have greatly benefitted my inspiration. It's like wearing a different hat at every time and being able to adapt into many kind of situations. Regarding these different focal lengths one of my favorites is really the Touit 2.8/12 which gives a point of view of an ultra wide angle lens. Most of the time you will hear that the ultra wide lenses should be used for landscape and architectural pictures, but I find the Touit 2.8/12 to be very well fitted for different kind of creative approaches. Every time I attach it to my camera I find interesting point of views that differ so radically from standard focal lengths. Quite literally I find myself looking my surroundings from a different point of view and it often triggers new ideas. But here's the thing: when I was working with just two lenses and one of them being the Touit 2.8/12 my experience was the opposite. Too many times I found myself forcing scenes into ultra wide region and coming back disappointed. I guess here is a lesson to be learned, and I believe it was precisely the flexibility of my new setup that gave a new life to Touit 2.8/12 in my photography and eventually made it 'the creative lens' of my setup. So don't be afraid of ultra wide lenses as a some sort of special tools made just for landscapes and architecture, get one but be sure you have some standard focal lengths solved before that.