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Thread: walk vs zoom

  1. #1
    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    walk vs zoom

    apologies for another semi-philosophical post but I've got tons of work to do. So why not avoid it by waxing with words.

    While pondering gx100 vs. gr2, it struck me that in some ways it comes down to walk vs. zoom. When I reflect on how I've shot in the past and how that has evolved based on technology, I find a few oddities in my approach. Not surprising, especially if you ask my ex-wives...

    When I first started getting "serious" about shooting, I ended up seeing more macro shots than anything else. Textures and patterns...maybe it is the lapsed scientist in me. But to get those shot, I had to walk to them. And invariably I wouldn't have a tripod around and refuse to use a flash (I can never get it to look right), so I shoot available light at all costs. That means having the lens as fast as possible, so I get up close an personal. I know there are many ways to skin a cat, but that's what works for me. Plus there is some tactile response involved by being without aura distance of some thing/person but I digress.

    As my eye got more trained and a bit more flexible, I started to play with other setups, one of which was a Panasonic FZ-20. Huge zoom. I race cars for fun, and am at the track a fair amount. Having a long throw lens in a no-muss/no-fuss setup is quite useful there. In that case, not much walking, plenty of thumbing.

    At some point I turned into a videographer/director/dp/etc. Have been shooting with a Canon HD camera for the past year or so, and with video I end up zooming as a matter of course. I do run and gun (again, rarely have a tripod around), and sometimes have to catch things on the fly. So zoom good, and it has become second nature.

    But put a dslr in my hands...and I walk. I usually have a 105 micro lens on my D70, and whether I'm shooting macro or just general shots, I walk to and fro to find the shot. I had a very popular 18-200VR lens for awhile and ended up selling it. I hated to zoom for some reason. Instead, I preferred to walk.

    With the D-Lux3 I go back and forth. I usually default to zoom, because sometimes I just can't walk to get what I see. So that is a nice convenience. But when I'm out walking to get coffee or whatnot, I grab a camera and invariably will stop, take a few steps this way, then that way trying to find what I'm seeing. Even if I have a zoom. It drives my 11 year old son crazy when he comes with me. "Dad, can we keep walking?!?"

    At any rate, not sure if there is a question other than maybe, do you walk or zoom? And why/why not?

  2. #2
    Senior Member simonclivehughes's Avatar
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    Re: walk vs zoom

    Well, there's more to it than just getting closer to the subject to simulate a zoom lens. You also have to take into consideration how the FOV that the fixed 28mm lens "sees" the world up close. You certainly don't want to take (closeup) portraits of your dearly beloved that way, although your 11-year-old might get a kick out of it!

    Your hypothesis is more correct for a longer lens, such as a 50mm, for example which has less inherent distortion than a wide angle.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by simonclivehughes; 6th February 2008 at 17:24.

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    Re: walk vs zoom

    Zoom is a children's television show, not a way to make photographs.

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    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    Re: walk vs zoom

    Quote Originally Posted by Maggie O View Post
    Zoom is a children's television show, not a way to make photographs.
    True, but how about if I call it a "push" instead?

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    Re: walk vs zoom

    "Push-a-push-a-push-a PUSH?"

    Nah, not as snappy!

  6. #6
    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    Re: walk vs zoom

    oh, I dunno. Worked for Led Zeppelin. Didn't someone post photos of lemons the other day? It all comes together...

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    Senior Member Per Ofverbeck's Avatar
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    Re: walk vs zoom

    Quote Originally Posted by Maggie O View Post
    Zoom is a children's television show, not a way to make photographs.
    Well, Im beginning to arrive at the same conclusion... To keep zooming all the time can easily lead to mediocre "gee whiz" type of work.

    When using my D200 with 17-55/2.8 (my "lumbago outfit" ), I tend to stay at 55 all the time, missing lots of wide opportunities. I did think the GRD II would give me a healthy dose of discipline with only 28 available. So to test my idea before buying, I went out with my Digilux 2 set at 28. And wow, was it fun! Instead of zooming, I started to look actively for "28 shots"... and they were all over the place, once I got the hang of it.

    But when returning home, I saw I also had a few 50 shots (and the occasional 90) that I wouldnt have liked to miss out (and cropping is no option with small sensors). So I decided to leave the GRD II out of the equation.

    It is convenient to have other FOVs available when really needed. The step zoom feature of the GX 100 was what attracted me most to it; Sean Reid describes its advantages very well in his review. But finally, the Dlux 3 it was to be.

    Now I find I do leave it on widest (and 16:9) almost all the time, zooming only when inevitable. And Im convinced its making me abetter photographer (well, plenty of room for improvement, surely... ).

    Next week is our annual family ski holidays, normally a photo and gear fest for me; this year Ive decided to leave everything back home except the Dlux. Just to FORCE myself to go on in the new trails...

  8. #8
    Senior Member Will's Avatar
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    Re: walk vs zoom

    I find I get lazy using a zoom lens, not in the getting exercise sense but in the looking for the right angle sense. I'm prepared to swap missing the odd picture because I can't get close enough with the wide lens for coming back with an overall better better set of images.

  9. #9
    helgipelgi
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    Re: walk vs zoom

    Same here, zoom lenses make me lazy.

    I also find that having a fixed focal length makes the camera less distracting as a tool, as it directs your attention more to the work and less to the camera. I much prefer walking around with a simple 28mm prime lens (45mm EFOV) on my dSLR than top-of-the-line zoom lenses.

    It's widely accepted that limitations are good for creativity, and there's also this interesting theory in a book called The Paradox of Choice that I think can be applied to this. What it says is basically; the more options you have available, the harder it is to make a clear decision and the less happy you will be with whatever you end up choosing.

    Going out for a walk with a 18-200mm lens, to take an extreme example, is a bit like going out on a date with several attractive and interesting people at the same time. Endless opportunity, but you won't be able to focus on one of them long enough for anything other than surface chit-chat.

  10. #10
    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    Re: walk vs zoom

    Quote Originally Posted by helgipelgi View Post
    Going out for a walk with a 18-200mm lens, to take an extreme example, is a bit like going out on a date with several attractive and interesting people at the same time. Endless opportunity, but you won't be able to focus on one of them long enough for anything other than surface chit-chat.
    obviously you're not watching the same movies I am...

    <cue slinky music>

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