Discipline: One camera, one lens, one year. Not for the faint of heart
Reader Stephen Jenner, a prolific MacFilos commenter, has just finished his OCOLOY experiment. OCOLOY stands for one camera, one lens, one year. The original concept was set out my Mike Johnston of The Online Photographer: A Leica Barnack camera and lens, one roll of B&W film per week developed at Costco (for US participants) for one year.
It is certainly a tall order for most of us, even after we've ditched the doubtful allure of Costco and taken the roll to Boots. Stephen selected a Leica M2 and 50mm Dual Range—both of which he bought from Ivor Cooper at Red Dot Cameras—for his year of penance, if such it be.
He also bought a Nikon CoolScan and an old PowerMac. He tracked down a top-of-range quad core for £45 and the scanner, which only works with Leopard, was £500. This only runs (sounds like a helicopter, says Stephen) when he needs to scan a roll; he then transfer the lot to his MacPro. Stephen has discovered Iridient Developer to convert the .NEF (Nikon raw files) into JPG or other compressed formats.
Unfortunately, for a variety of personal reasons Stephen had to fall by the wayside after nine months. But it is still a marvellous effort, one that I cannot imagine myself emulating. Still, he is fairly happy with his OCOL9M foreshortened experiment:
What have I learned? I am glad that I gave up with film around 12 years ago--went from Nikon FM2 to Canon Digital Ixus, from Panasonic LX3, to Leica M8, Sony RX100, Fuji X100S, Ricoh GR(rrrr), finally alighting on the iPhone 3/5. Yet I really don’t like automated everything, apart from a light meter. I have found that I waste too many shots with sunny 16, or accessory meters. My composition has improved significantly. I am seeking to choose my shots, rather than become re-infected with digital diarrhoea, a good lesson.
We lesser mortals would find even the nine-month exercise difficult to manage. As William Fagan mentioned earlier this week, he is more an OCOLOD (one camera, one lens, one day) man. I can sometimes manage OCOLOW as I did last week in Athens. But, in a way, I was cheating because the D-Lux, admirable as it is, does not possess strictly OL, instead it has OZ, which is cheating because a zoom is many lenses in one.
No, to do this properly, you have to stick rigidly to OPM, one prime lens, as did Stephen. And, for instance, the irrepressible Eric Kim who constantly tells us how he shoots exclusively with the Leica MP and 35mm Summicron, year in year out. Eric, despite his obvious youth, is surely heading for OCOLODecade.
Minimalism in all forms is enticing, especially as I get older. I constantly downsize and I can really appreciate the one-camera-one-lens concept. Not only is it a pure objective, sensible in its own right, it is one of the best ways of improving your photography. You get to know the camera and its ways inside out and you can concentrate on the subject rather than the choice of gear or the settings.
Eric's MP, or any Leica film camera for that matter, is perfectly suited to the task. With only three settings to consider—aperture, shutter speed and ISO (and, of course, ISO isn't really a setting with a film camera, it's a roll-by-roll advance decision) you are entirely free to concentrate on what you are doing.
Unfortunately, in my case, I do get tempted to try all sorts of different cameras. I tell myself that if I became an OCOLOYist I would have nothing to write about (except perhaps banging on nauseatingly about my minimalist credentials). On the other hand, I might have some better photographs to illustrate my non-writing.
It's a hard choice. While OCOLOY and similar disciplines are superficially attractive, the final decision is a personal one. Some people like the discipline of focusing on one camera, others like the challenges of different tools for different jobs. It's a case of horses for courses, I suppose.