On a recent workshop I observed one of my students operate his Cambio technical camera equipped with a Phase One IQ4 digital back. A surgeon by profession, he looked like he was in the operating room, operating the complex machine with the precision required for a difficult surgery. The magnifying loupe used to check the focus on the digital back was reminiscent of the magnifying gear used in operating rooms. Not that I am familiar with it, having no experience in surgical procedure and no knowledge of the gear used during such interventions besides what I have seen on TV or in movies, which is most likely quite different from reality. However, the precision of the movements he made, the care with which he attached the digital back to the camera, the specific adjustments required to fit the lens to the mounting board and the specific steps required to calculate the focusing distance were all more in tune with a surgical environment than with an artist’s creative process.
This is not to say that such equipment cannot be used to create art or that I am adverse to high quality gear. I was using a Phase One digital back myself that morning but mounted on Hasselblad V, a reflex camera more forgiving in terms of setup requirements.
We were photographing Mono Lake on a windy day that morning and the wind was blowing sand and dry salt, a combination likely to ...