Even with the reasonable light I came to the conclusion that for any indoor photography without additional light the big ol' sensors win every time. The cameras might not be unobtrusive, but as I repeatedly discover, that doesn't matter. It's big lenses that put people on their guard.
All three cameras did OK, although the one I used least might have been down to focal length more than anything. Even so that was the camera which took my favourite photograph of the day! The 90mm equivalent focal length seemed natural to me despite thinking 30mm equivalent might have got more use. The camera with the zoom got most 'keepers'. Again, not much of a surprise as the tilty screen was used a fair bit.
Although I thought I'd seen everything there is to photograph in the egg judging world the 'level stick' was new to me. That made the visit worthwhile on its own. And I got a decent shot of it in action.
Final decision? Stick with the full frame DSLRs - even if they aren't fashionable in these days of mirrorless transition. They work, I have the lenses I like. No need to change. The Fuji, yet again, pissed me off with its clunky in-out-shake-it-all-about focussing. It's gonna have to go. I can understand why rangefinder users like it - they're used to a slower way of shooting. In that respect it is quite like the film shooting experience. But times have changed. When the subject isn't going anywhere fast it makes nice files though.
One from the smallest camera to prove that at screen sizes there's nothing to choose between any sensor, even at higher ISOs.
Another reason for my lack of drive to get out on Sunday was having been at a sheepdog trial the day before. That had been another exercise in camera evaluation. I got myself another APS DSLR body to give me a cheaper way than buying a longer lens of getting more reach for photographing sheep dogs in action. I ended the day wishing I hadn't bothered.
There were two reasons for this. Firstly the camera didn't seem keen on focusing on distant things at the full length of my cheaper zoom. The lens I was hoping to weld to the camera. At close range or shorter focal lengths it was fine. With two different lenses it was fine. For some unknown reason it improved performance after lunch and started producing acceptable results. I have no idea what was going on, it might have been something to do with the focus modes I was using.
Being in trial (pun intended) mode I had other gear with me. I was also seeing if the Fuji might work as a second camera for this sort of event. I took two shots to start with then put it away for the day. It really doesn't work for me. My cheap and cheerful mid range zoom, on either an FX or DX body on the other hand works great for me. Better on the larger sensor. That decided me to stick with it as my outdoor go-to lens for the summer rather than rely on the do-it-all superzoom. The second body might get a longer zoom, or simply my 100mm.
The day also served to convince me that photographing sheep dogs going round the trial field isn't my thing. If I was a mad keen trial person then it probably would be, but as I'm interested in making decent pictures there's not much scope and it relies on long focal lengths which don't make my kind of pictures most of the time.
That said, I was able to get a couple of decent driving shots when the dogs took the sheep to the exhaust gate as I was able to stand near to it with the slope putting me at sheep level - saving the old knees.
Of course, long focal lengths do have their uses. I find them handy for pictures of dogs, and handlers with dogs as they both give separation from the background and keep me away from the subject so they don't notice me. Although that latter point is moot.
I struggle to find detail shots at the trials. However I made a pair of pictures to show a fancy crook and a practical one.
I'm posting the next two pictures because the second one was the result of me persevering for longer than I often do in the hope of getting a better picture. It's not perfect. I'd have liked a sheep dog and sheep in the distance, but it's not too bad of its sort.
What drew me to the scene initially was the two men and their dogs having a near symmetry. I positioned myself to get the judge's 4x4 in the frame and the handler (he's 92 by the way) at the post. The first frame here (I took a few more) was not too bad but I moved a little to my left to separate the vehicle from the chap on the left. Then waited until both dogs were looking at the sheep.
I was hoping to get both men in profile, as they were chatting, but settled for one. It wasn't until I got the pics on the PC and was toggling between the two I thought worked best that I realised that the guy on the right had crossed his legs mirroring the pose of the other chap and making the picture. I'm not sure that having both faces in profile would have improved the shot. It might have been too 'static'. It's funny how little things in pictures can make big differences. Something else I only noticed later on was that the right hand dog lead is a contrasting colour to the bloke's jeans. Nothing much, but it helps the story, I think.
I'm not sure why but I prefer photographing sheep being driven as a flock rather than as small packets round a trial field. When it was time to gather them up to take back to the release pen I was almost in the right place. Getting the three elements - sheep, dog and shepherd - together is down to luck I reckon. One of those subjects to keep trying until it clicks. The sheep in the background were a small bonus.
The way back to the release pen was up the narrow lane. While quiet a flock of sheep on the tarmac destined to attract a car or two.
A busy couple of days which have convinced me of a way forward to pare my gear down. The Panasonic is going in the fishing bag, the Fujis are just going. The DX body is going to stay for the time being. If I can fathom the focus issue it'll be worth keeping for anything I need maximum reach for in good light, and possibly with a couple of small primes as a knockabout camera.
I'm keeping my 'pro' zooms mostly for rainy days as they have better weather sealing than my 'consumer' zooms and for low light situations. The mid-price zooms will become my staples for outdoor use in fine and sunny weather. My big resolution is to concentrate on the middle range of focal lengths as I think they make most of my best pictures. Forget trying to cover all bases and home in on making good pictures of a more intimate type.
Open trial season is well under way now with plenty to choose from, including tow and three day trials. Agricultural show season has also kicked off. Will I stand the pace or am I already running out of steam? Time will tell.