Another Shift in Photography (That Nobody’s Noticed*)
*Well, some of us have.
Not even a year ago I was writing on here how I thought that Olympus, finally, were stealing Canon’s clothes. In the OM-D was a camera that was small, light, mirrorless and had exceptional image quality. Not only that, I wrote that the same company had also produced an accompanying lens that, at less than five ounces in weight and costing around £200, was now ranking as one of the finest portrait lenses in the world.
Canon’s response to all this, lazy and half-hearted, was to launch a mirrorless ‘professional’ camera that nobody bought and can now be found in the photographic equivalent of Poundland.
So do I feel vindicated in choosing to jettison all my full-frame Canon equipment, with their beautiful ‘L’ lenses? Yes, and ten times over. Though I admit to having felt a pang of longing when I first saw Peter Zelewski’s amazing portrait work, all taken with a Canon 5D3 and a 50mm f1.2 lens (their finest, in my opinion - as well it might be, for £1300.)
But then I started to imagine whether (given Pete’s talent, of course) I could acheive the same results. And the answer is, using the OM-D and Leica-Panasonic’s equivalent lens, I think I could. (What’s more, a rumour is circulating that Olympus is soon to launch its own 50mm-equivalent prime. Now that should really be something.)
Anyway, enough of my Olympus smugness (it’s so boring always being ahead of the curve, after all.)
Lightroom - the future of retouching?
So here’s the other shift. And it’s called doing all your retouching in Lightroom. It represents yet another blow for the same company’s Photoshop (remember when photographers only ever used Photoshop? Remember when mobile phones couldn’t take pictures?)
While I would always send high-end beauty work (with a budget to match) to a professional retouching house, for the first time I now no longer feel the need to export to Photoshop (or another auxiliary retouching program) for further work.
Why? Because almost under the wire have emerged three sophisticated ‘portrait brush’ preset systems for Lightroom.
I’m talking VSCO Film, SLR Lounge, and Digital Photo Buzz, and I have them all. Once I’d learned how to use Lightroom’s own masking feature effectively and efficiently these brushes are just a breeze. And the idea, for example, that VSCO - the current royalty of photographic software companies - should be producing their own adjustment brushes is reason enough on its own to sit up and take notice.
$119 … (but the brushes are just an ‘add-on’ to the main event.)
$99 … (as with VSCO, brushes are just a small part of this package.)
$20 … (just 18 brushes, pure and simple.)
So, the Law of Imperceptible Change (my own modest invention) strikes again. What’s next? Well, I think it might be to do with lighting, and a manufacturer you’ve never heard of. But that’s for another day …