December 18, 1998

Lilly in the Studiom (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

My second last session of 1998 was probably the most casual studio session I have ever done. After Lilly and I finished up our real reason for being in the studio (Lilly trades me figure modeling for more traditional photographic services) she asked if I wanted to do some nudes, as we still had an hour in the studio. I had brought along a couple of rolls of slide film for that very possibility, so we reloaded the camera, and went to work.
35mm transparency film
Given I had not been sure if Lilly would be up for modelling nude, I came to the studio with little in mind as far as images go. All the nude images were created spontaneously, drawing as much from Lilly's poses as my own ideas. After two months of printing in the darkroom, it was a pleasure simply to have a camera in my hands, and make images. I purposely opted to work with slide film, as opposed to my usual black and white negative film. I knew I wouldn't have time to produce any images with larger negatives. 35mm slides have a wonderful immediacy to them, which in some ways makes up for their small size. Given that the session was more an exercise in camera work than a serious attempt at image making., I was willing to accept the compromises involved with staying with 35mm format.
35mm transparency film
The other element which I changed in this session was my camera. As opposed to working with my 35mm Nikon FM2 and fixed focal-length lenses, I tried out the new Canon EOS 3, and the 28-135 IS (Image stabilized) lens. I had read glowing reports about the EOS 3 body, and was very interested in putting it through its paces. The 35-135 IS lens gained no advantage from its image stabilization in the studio, a feature designed for use with very low shutter speeds. The lens is, however, reputed to be very sharp, thus I was curious how this expensive amateur zoom would work in the studio.

The EOS 3 was a delight to work with - the 45 point auto focus worked very well, both vertically and horizontally, and while the Eye-Controlled focus was a little inconsistent, I would be more inclined to put this down to the lack of learning time for the camera than to claim the eye-controlled focus was inaccurate.
35mm transparency film
The performance of the lens is another issue all together. While I suspect most people would find it more than acceptable, it had major flaws when set against images produced with fixed lenses. The sharpness I am used to was simply not there, which I realize is no surprise, but the biggest surprise was how lazy the zoom made me in my image creation. With fixed lenses I usually chose the lens which best suits the image, but with the zoom, I composed with the lens, paying little attention to the effect of the focal length on the image. My only concern was with the composition, much to the detriment to some of the images.

While the EOS 3 is certainly a camera to covet, for me the combination of the body and the zoom lens simply didn't work. I plan to stick with my fixed focal-length lenses. The slight price of having to change them more often is small compared to the increase in the quality of the image produced, both technically and aesthetically.

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