Micro Four Thirds

Series 1 — Portraits of Produce by Adrian Galli

Project Kr, begins with Portraits of Produce, the first series of the year.

Inspired by shapes, minimalism, macro, and an affinity toward dramatic, one point lighting, a project of what I expected to be half a dozen or so images just kept growing. In fact, I might continue this with other produce items that I didn’t get to photography (or couldn’t find) like fresh figs, several types of squash, and more.

I hope you return because a black and white version of this series may also appear. I decided this needed to be color in the moment but some of these images look really spectacular in black and white.

A funny take away: lighting an aubergine proved to be much harder with anticipated. The Story of the Aubergine, behind the scenes, on Hexagon on the way.

Series 2 coming January 21, 2019.

Portraits of Produce

Full Frame Misnomer by Adrian Galli

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Anyone who knows me will tell you Adrian Galli is a rational, logical, creative, scientist, and appreciates intellect and justice over most anything else. In the film production and photography communities, you’ll hear so many gear enthusiast talk about what one “should” shoot with or what one “can’t” shoot with or what one “needs” to be a “real” photography or cinematographer. It is all bunk.

First, just go out and shoot. Have a good time with whatever gear you have. Push it to its limits, learn those limits, and turn those limitations into advantages; you'll be a better photographer for it. I, personally, enjoy such limits or having someone tell me, “you can’t use that camera for that.” I then show them a series of photos and ask them to tell me which photos were shot with my iPhone(s), Four Thirds*, APS-C, or Full Frame. They invariably fail because it isn’t the camera that creates the image, it's the photographer. Perhaps there is no greater example of this than from DigitalRev and their “Cheap Camera Challenge” where they give a professional photographer a “junk” camera and see what they can do with it. A photographer is someone who can consistently produce exemplary work with their camera.

However, this post isn’t really about gear, it is about marketing. Actually, it is about accuracy of language which marketing departments are generally not very good. “Full frame” is a photography misnomer.

In the early 2000’s, companies like Olympus, Nikon, Canon, and all the big photography gear names were stepping into the digital age with “large” sensors. By 'large' I refer to APS-C (similar to super35 in film production) at just shy of 24x18mm and Four Thirds, just a hair over 17x13mm. Up to this point, most digital sensors that anyone could afford were much smaller. Sensor technology was expensive so larger sensors were generally cost prohibitive for most people.

However, many photographers of the film days were shooting 35mm, medium format, and large format. There were some cameras like the acclaimed Olympus Pen-F (recently revived with a digital version) that shot a half frame of 35mm film. But the time came for larger sensors to be lower in cost and 35mm sensors (36x24mm) worked their way into our digital cameras.

I would estimate that you don’t hear people call it 35mm, however. You will hear the term ‘full frame.’ It is shorthand for a sensor that is the size of 35mm film. Personally, I dislike the term. Too frequently it is used to demean any camera technology that does not have a 35mm sensor in it. “You need to shoot full frame to get the quality you really want,” some will say. Or you’ll hear the depth of field arguments being based on sensor size; if you want shallow depth of field, you “need a full frame camera.” And you’ll hear ALLLLL about "crop factor" and “equivalence." Personally, I like smaller sensors in many ways explored in this previous post. Even then, depth of field is really controlled by aperture diameter so the sensor, while seemingly a variable, I'll argue that it is not. 

The 'full frame' is a marketing term. I would argue Canon came up with it to insinuate that one needs it because anything else is not “full” <fill in the blank>. To be fair, I have nothing to support this argument other than intuition from working with many marketing teams around the world. The reason I accuse Canon is simply because they were the first company to make a 35mm sensor mainstream in a digital camera with the Canon 5D. Nikon shortly followed but they refer to their 35mm sensor as FX; APS-C as DX, and their 1-inch sensors as CX. I’ll forgo the naming conventions the many other 35mm sensor camera makers for the moment but this is my argument and I’m stand by it. From this point forward, I will not refer to a sensor in a camera as ‘full frame.” It is a 35mm sensor or digital 35mm.

Why is it a misnomer? All cameras use the full frame of their sensors. A Four Thirds sensors is not a 35mm sensor using only a quarter of the frame. It is simply a sensor with less surface area but still uses the full sensor to capture an image.

On the other hand, there is also medium and large format. Medium format digital cameras have even bigger sensors than 35mm. In the days where film was the only option, some photographers would scoff at the idea of shooting with “small” formats like 35mm. Medium format cameras come is various sizes themselves. The Leica S uses a sensor of 45x30mm†. Mamiya, Hasselblad, and Phase One use sensors that are just under 54x40mm‡. So is the Leica a full frame and a half camera? Or a 1.5x frame camera? Or .8 crop? You can see the issue with the convention of 'full frame.' 

The whole ‘crop factor’ verbiage is a spot of contention. For the same reason above concerning 35mm vs. Four Thirds, 'crop' sensors are not actually cropping anything. The whole sensors is being used. It is, perhaps, a good reference point that a Four Thirds sensor has a field of view half that of a 35mm sensor, but the image is not cropped. The image that comes out of the camera is the full image. If cropping was taking place, then a 35mm sensor is a crop of a medium format sensor, a medium format sensor a crop of a large format, and so on. 

Certainly, a baseline for comparison is valuable and 35mm is a very common size for both film and sensors. However, to be fair, the most common sensor size is around 1/3 inches which you find on an iPhone and many other mobile device, small video cameras, etc. One might argue that to be the standard by which all other sensors are compared. 

The convention that I prefer to use is simply the field of view; the angle of view spanning the horizon. It is strictly math without any insinuations about the sensor. A 50mm lens on a 35mm sensor will give a field of view of about 40° while a 25mm on Four Third (and Micro Four Thirds) will give you a similar field of view. In other words, one will see essentially the same composition using a 50mm on a 35mm sensor as one would using a 25mm on a Four Thirds sensor.

The purpose of language is to communicate and words can be clumsy. To communicate more effectively is the ultimate achievement.

As always, Accuracy Matters.™

 

 

* Four Thirds is both a sensors size and a type of lens mount. Micro Four Thirds, however, has the same size sensor but a different mount.
 Information from Leica.com
Information from Hasselblad.com

A Year in Photographs by Adrian Galli

Sunset @ 25,000ft – Day 361

Sunset @ 25,000ft – Day 361

One year ago, I set out on a person mission, my New Year resolution and creative endeavor to take a photo every day for 365 days with each month a theme. 2018 is here and 2017 has come to its completion and thus A Year in Photographs concludes.

It is somewhat bittersweet to end this project. For an entire year my mind has been at work photographing everything around me. It is also a relief. There were days and weeks where it was very hard to get out and photograph; or at least follow my theme. Some months were very busy with work and other events. But all good things must come to an end.

I learned a lot about myself and photography. I pushed myself and took many along this journey but I think I will keep this simple.

When I set out on this journey in January of 2017, I was very excited. I felt somewhat in a rut professionally and A Year in Photographs gave me some purpose creatively. I also recall a post not too many days into this project concerned I wouldn't have enough storage for all the photos I was taking. And had I continued that path, I would have thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of photographs.

I would head out every day with my camera and take photo after photo after photo and end up with a hundred by the end of that day. Two things were an issue: I didn't want to store all this and, two, frankly, I soon found I didn't have time to photograph as much as I thought I needed to.

This need wasn't about actually needing the quantity, it was about lack of focus. While I enjoy running around, wandering, with my camera and taking photographs, it simply wasn't practical to do when sometime in the future I would find myself working sixteen hour days. Instead, I soon found that I needed to adapt and become even more creative. 

Chicago River – Day 26

Chicago River – Day 26

My daily mission wasn't to shoot a bunch of photographs and pick my favorite one to post for the day. My mission became that of having a precise creative vision. In other words, whatever my theme was for the month, I pushed myself to envision what I wanted to capture that day and go out and find it. Rather than wandering, although I still did that when I had a chance to, I would set out to find the image specifically; knowing where I could/would find it and make it happen.

As it turned out, rather than taking dozens of photos, I would take just a few and find what I wanted. When time was short and other circumstances would keep me from taking all the time in the world to photograph, this learn was huge.

Some months I had the chance to also work with some colleagues and friends. Erik Dirksen and Juan Galindo were two who I set out on a day of photography. I also enjoyed some time with old friends—Rory Coyne, a friends and artist, allowed me to photograph him as he worked. I hope to do more small projects like this in the future as time allows.

Further, Mazi and Chrissy, two good friends, requested me to photography their wedding. While it was not a normal skill of mine, it was a great opportunity and fun to get out of my usual creative space. One of my favorite photographs from the entire year came from this shoot.

Mazi and Chrissy – Day 245

Mazi and Chrissy – Day 245

My one opportunity with this project was to take it even further. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. But let this not sound like a defeat or complaint. It is merely another learn from this that there is so much more to photograph, so many more endeavors left that one could not achieve them in a single year.

Looking back over the year, I noticed that things began to work together. Things I worked on or learned earlier in the year, for example Color or Shapes and Patterns, became important influences in Perspective and Details. People played an important part in Cinematic while Minimalism and Black and White influenced Night

While this project has come to an end, I enjoy looking back over the 365 photographs I've taken. It was tough, sometimes even foreboding when I could not imagine having time to do it, but it was an incredible experience. I recommend to anyone who enjoys photography to engage in such an adventure.

January – Black and White
February – Shapes and Patterns
March – People
April – Minimalism
May – Color
June – Architecture
July – Signs and Symbols
August – Night
September – Cinematic
October – Perspective
November – Motion
December – Details

A Year in Photography: 365 days, 12 themes, each day a challenge. Here are some of my favorites from 2017.

December — A Year in Photographs by Adrian Galli

Details.

Unknown, Chicago, 12/29/2017

Unknown, Chicago, 12/29/2017

November — A Year in Photographs by Adrian Galli

Motion.

Smoke, Chicago, 11/14/2017

Smoke, Chicago, 11/14/2017

Capturing motion in a photograph is a challenge. I love playing with long exposure but I also used Live Photos with iPhone. It felt a little bit like cheating, there is a movie created with all Live Photos, but it was a month of busy schedules.

Apple Michigan Avenue opened on October 20th, 2017 as I played a major role as Historian documenting the event. We then when right into the Chicago Series which was thirty days of programming at Apple Michigan Avenue. I spent much of my time working as a Programming Expert where by I was one of four who managed the team in charge of the events taking place.

Most of these events took place at night and I was at Apple Michigan Avenue for sometimes twelve or more hours. Finding time to fit in my person project was hard but achieved.

I had aspirations to do more action based photography; photographing sporting events, for example. But given my time limitations, I could not make it happen. As it stands, November might be better known as Long Exposure but, as with many months before, this gave me inspiration to move into a deeper project for the subject of motion. As 2018 approaches and A Year in Photographs will be coming to an end in a month, I plan to extend my creative endeavor in a new directions of more project based photography.

Please enjoy November.

Up next: DecemberDetails