Manual Focusing Takes Me Back to the Future

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”—Mark Twain

A few years ago I wrote an article for Shutterbug’s Digital Photography How-to Guide about using different kinds of lenses on mirrorless cameras and it got me feeling nostalgic.

Fast forward: I’m walking down Wilcox Street in Castle Rock CO carrying a Panasonic Lumix G5 with a Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Biogon lens mounted and all of a sudden I’m 40 years younger walking the streets of Baltimore as a student at the Maryland Institute of Art working on a class assignment. No kidding that’s exactly how this lens/camera combination made me feel. The last time I felt like this was when I had a Contax G1 and I’m still sorry that I sold that camera.

bridge.CRWhy did the Lumix/Zeiss combination take me back? Part of it, I think is that manual focusing a lens seems more involving than just point, wait for the beep and click.

Instead of shoot-and-scoot, manual focusing  makes you slow down and think about the photograph and its composition. The other part is the visual aesthetics of the package and before you accuse me of being a hipster please keep in mind that as photographers we think visually and visual appeal of the lens/camera set the mood that when I started shooting in black & white, naturally and bang-zoom here I was back in 1972.

Keeping the time travel analogy going I noticed that the same subject matter started calling to me, such as bridges and architectural details… If it wasn’t for the pain in my knees I might have I felt younger too.

light.bookAlong with photographer Barry Staver, Joe is co-author of Better Available Light Digital Photography that’s now out-of-print but new copies are available at collector (high) prices or used copies for giveaway prices—less than five bucks—from Amazon.

Author: Joe Farace

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