And Another Thing...
As outlined in the previous blog post, Limitations Help You Grow (as a Photographer), the idea of restricting one single aspect of your photography, either technically or stylistically, is potentially an opportunity for growth. We all have habits, good and bad, that could do with being re-examined or tested sometimes.
For me, one of those habits is the obsessive use of protective filters.
Whenever I get a new lens, I immediately purchase a higher-end UV or anti-haze filter, and I never even shoot with the lens until the filter is on.
This is entirely about protecting the delicate front elements of my lenses. Nothing else. I actually don't care about UV or haze at all, and would probably be better putting high-quality optical glass there instead of any kind of actual filter.
I then tend to get sloppy about my lens covers after that, though I'm not as bad as I used to be. Now, 95% of the time, a camera in a bag will indeed have both a protective filter and the right lens cap.
I've rarely thought about how this habit could be impacting the sharpness and quality of my final images, or even how it could be affecting something as fundamental as focusing.
Ami Strachan is a photographer whom I greatly admire. Her street photography is outstanding, and I'm seriously considering trying to attend one of her workshops the next time I'm back in the UK. Ami recently posted about how she has had issues with her Fujfilm X100T and getting sharp images, especially with the telephoto converter lens. Her analysis is that it's the filters, and she is no longer using them.
This is a shocking thought, but it occurred to me that it's a great example of a self-imposed limitation that, despite having the best of intentions, might actually be negatively impacting many of my shots. I often review photographs and wonder if they could have been sharper, or why the focus doesn't seem to match what I was seeing through the viewfinder.
The Fujfilm X100T's TCL has a big, wide front element that I am frankly terrified of leaving unprotected, not least from my smudgey fingers, let alone scratchy stuff out there in real world. But it's precisely that kind of fear that can hold one back from getting the images we're capable of capturing.
Taking the filter off of the X100T itself allows it to regain the slim-line look, and the gorgeous silver lens cap that came with it can now go back on, with no stepping ring and filter to get in the way. It restores the intended design and functionality of the camera (definitely fits in my pockets now) and makes it even more remarkable (perhaps too remarkable; it is literally the camera I get the most comments about, universally positive).
It feels like trapeze without a safety net, but I'm hoping to see a difference. I'll post some shots in a couple of months and we will see just how much of a difference it really makes.