Sofi Lee: a photographer who only uses old CCD compacts

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by Karim Ghantous, Dec 11, 2017.

  1. Now, this is interesting:

    Interview: Sofi Lee is a pro shooting with vintage digital compacts

    Part of me wishes that I had the same love for old, cheap compacts as she does. I admit that I think they're not that great, but I bet you that many of them, especially the ones with long zooms, are going to give better results than a late generation phone camera. And you can get them for a few dollars.

    I agree with a few things she says about contemporary photography. She is right to point out the fad of shooting wide-open all the time. IMHO it's an affectation.
  2. I bet you it's going to depend on who's shooting them.
    Wouter Willemse and tomspielman like this.
  3. "Pros" are as clearly weird as the rest of us, it seems.
  4. I'm not sure "vintage" is the right word for compact cameras made between 2008 and 2011 (her preferred era), and she's settled on what were pretty high end cameras for the time. I'm sure there were pros who used compact cameras at least from time to time 6 to 10 years ago and managed to get great results.

    In another 10 years should we be surprised that people will be able to take great pictures with the compact cameras or phones we're using now?

    I'm not knocking her or the article. I think it's good that we get periodic reminders that it's not all about the equipment. She's figured out that you don't have to spend a fortune on cameras to be successful, has talent, and has found a niche. Good for her.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
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  5. It's not about having the technologically best equipment. But it's still very much about the equipment and which is also what the photographer seems to say at the end of the article, that it's about using a particular equipment (in this case the old digital compacts) that will give a particular result.
    denny_rane likes this.
  6. Interesting. My Mom has a 2004 era Nikon point and shoot that has always produced very good images, I believe it was close to $700 at the time. It still works very well. While I once considered one of the Canon G cameras as my first digital I finally ended up with a D1-X. I found a cheap low miles D100 and still have both. They get used from time to time, one lives in one of my go-bags. Newer cameras have some advantages but the older ones are still pretty good.

    Rick H.
  7. The article also mentions that she used to get stuff from Goodwill but that they've shifted to selling things like cameras on-line. I've bought a few film related items from their on-line store and have noticed just within the past year that SLRs and associated lenses are risen in price sharply. So much so that it's often not any cheaper than eBay, especially when you add in the shipping and handling fees.

    One thing that is still pretty cheap are compacts, - both film and digital. They'll often include half a dozen or more in a bundle. Most are pretty worthless but sometimes some nicer cameras end up getting thrown in. I've toyed with the idea of getting an older high end compact digital just to carry around when I don't want to bring along an SLR or DSLR.
  8. Agreed. She wanted to find something that had a different look than modern digital cameras but was more recent than film. She's still using cameras that some people who care a lot about equipment would look down on, and that was my point. And though she is after a certain look that those cameras provide, she wouldn't be enjoying whatever success she's had without knowing how to take great photos and edit them to get the results she wants.
  9. Its funny, but looking at her photos I wouldn't be able to say what was taken with what camera. I think she came to her process and I respect it.
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  10. I think the article is a little deceiving. Though she experimented with much older cameras, the one's she's actually using, while not new, aren't exactly ancient. And the reason CCD was in use then was that CMOS was crappy by comparison.

    She's chosen what were high end compacts and she's benefited from the fact that technology moves quickly and that people with enough disposable income to buy these cameras will replace them with something newer before long. These cameras have good optics but suffer from the limitations you have with lenses that small. Modern compacts still have the same problems.

    Again, I think it's fantastic that she's found a niche, but she's not exactly creating great images from junk.
  11. I like her style and ability to use those old cameras and make interesting images. You can still stumble on some of these cameras at Goodwill and other thrift shops, you just have to so some hunting. This is a quote from an article about her I read after reading Karim's post: "Trends always change: I definitely don’t see photography aesthetics being static. If you look at the history of photography we can see how a lot of styles came and went. The obsession with shallow depth of field and bokeh is another thing that will probably go at some point. I’m personally getting tired of seeing one eyelash in focus." I can't judge whether or not the cameras she uses are junk (most D850 owners would think so) but she does create some very nice images.
  12. I agree that there are trends in photography just like anything else. I also agree that shallow depth of field may not be employed as often in 5 years as it is today and that wouldn't necessarily be bad. But it's a tool that will still be in the toolbox and used appropriately can show more than flat images can. And that is a problem with her chosen cameras, - they really don't do shallow dof very easily.

    A larger dof works for her because she prefers everything in focus anyway. And if you look at her portraits in the article, she either has a very plain background or a more busy one that frames the subject. She kind of creates her own bokeh. Definitely more work involved but the results are very good.
  13. She sounds to me to be one who if she determined she needed shallow DOF for her work, would go out and find a suitable tool. She's not into it now so doesn't seem to be a problem.
  14. I think that on the odd occasion that she wants to use selective focus, she would have no issue in buying a $100 DSLR or CSC + a $50 portrait lens. Personally I think that anything wider than f/2.8 in the 35mm format is unnecessary.
  15. The only digicam that I have is a Kodak DX7630 bought new in 2004 for $300. It has a 6Mp CCD (aspect ratio 3/4) and a modest 3x but excellent zoom.
    And I am not a "pro", that is : I am not paid for my pictures. But I don't believe that because they are taken with a tiny sensor they are "flat" ; after all, our eyes sport tiny sensors too.

  16. Back in 2005 I bought Olympus's iconic E-1 which was generally looked down on because it's 5.6Mp sensor size was so small. I stuck with the 4/3rds format, still own and use this camera, even though I have progressed to the m4/3rds E-M1. The sensor in this was one of the last designed for consumer cameras by Kodak. The colour rendering it delivered, was exceptionally good and to be honest, at 200 ISO, the image quality from this, (unless you are doing a fair bit of photoshopping) are really darn good! I also much prefer the ergonomics of the E-1 body, especially the locating of the On/Off switch on the right-hand side of the body, behind the shutter release. The optics Olympus made for this, were, and still are superb, especially the 50mm macro and f4.0 7-14mm ultrawide zoom. In fact on the latter, I'd say whilst the new Olly f2.8 7-14mm is a stunner, the previous lens with the 4/3rds to m4/3rds adaptor, is an absolute bargain S/Hand nowadays and used on the E-M1, you will be hard-pressed to see any difference between the two.
    Karim Ghantous likes this.

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