Camera Gear: Knobby By Nature

Nikon D300s: 75mm, f/8, 0.8s

Once upon a time it cost a dollar each press of the shutter. My university sold inexpensive photo-paper, and Kodak Tri-X 400 by the 100ft foot box. I got unlimited access to B&W developer and lab equipment with enrollment. My first serious camera, a Minolta X700, looked like a budget knock-off of this Nikon FM3a, but I thought it was great.

I made this photo with the D300s on a tripod above cardboard. I'm happy with the diagonal layout, but I don't like the shadows much. It was impossible to get even light around the cameras. Next time I should remember to go outdoors, and setup on white paper. 

This little Leica D-LUX is D-Lightful. Not as sharp and colorful as the Nikon D300s, but quarter the size. It has knobs, fast lens, optical-stabilization, and the leaf-shutter makes it the quietest camera I've used. Knobs let me verify and adjust without turning on the camera. There are few occasions I go into labyrinth menus, now that I've got it all setup. And it has face auto-focus.

The colors are Panasonic, and get fixed in post. We're extra sensitive to color in faces - a signal of health or disease. In my opinion, it looks good with darker skin, while light pink faces sometimes look like they caught a cold. This is a common problem - I don't know of any camera that can handle every face. My easy fix is to choose a color LUT in Luminar (or Instagram) that flatters a particular face. 

Black&White solved the problem of distracting color above. Camera makers highlight some settings in RED to draw attention. If the most distracting thing in a photograph is not the subject, or it's too busy overall, Black&White might be right for you.

When the D-LUX goes to sleep it retracts the power-zoom and forgets where it was - sadly missing physical zoom control. The [A] auto-mode button is trouble - it disables the knobs, and turns them into liars - if accidentally enabled. The [F] filter-effects button is unnecessary if you shoot RAW - it can't be customized.

The handsome (and heavy) Nikon FM3a pictured above also makes images via knobs. The family resemblance is strong, but the Nikon exposure-comp dial locks. I've got to check that sneaky D-LUX dial every single time. The Fujifilm X-Pro1 also has the too easily bump-able exposure-comp dial.

Fujifilm cameras also have the knobs, stabilization, face auto-focus, and some leaf-shutters. But I prefer the 28mm - the one Fuji didn't bedazzle with knobs. Well, if we're sacrificing knobs, I have to try that Ricoh GR that everyone raves about. 

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