Kirk Shifts Gear, Again

Kirk Tuck with his Hasselblad - Austin, Texas

Kirk Tuck with his Hasselblad – Austin, Texas

I’ll start by saying that this post is not a criticism of Kirk Tuck — friend, professional photographer / videographer and blogger at Visual Science Lab. Rather, I find his migrations from one camera system to another, amusing. It’s a cycle that has gone on for a while. Even during the eight years that I’ve known him, he has shifted from Olympus, to Canon, to Nikon, to Sony and now to Panasonic. I probably have his switch order wrong and there’s probably some camera transitions that I’m forgetting. I know there was a stint, somewhere in there, with Samsung. I know there was a romantic period playing with Hasselblad film cameras, which I captured in the portrait above. About the only system Kirk has not used since 2009, if memory serves, is Fujifilm.

I have no doubt that these shifts are logical and make business sense. After all, Kirk is a successful, professional photographer. And, for all his changes, he’s a lot smarter than me, since he sells his gear while they retain some value. I pretty much keep all mine, which is why I now have over 50 cameras. Granted, while Kirk and I share a passion for photography and cameras, we are in very different places. Being a professional, Kirk ultimately is dictated by the bottom line and how he provides his essential service. I’m an enthusiast. My criterion is just to have fun — playing with cameras, creating images and wrapping stories around them. Luckily for me, most my cameras are old, vintage even, and I didn’t pay much for most of them.

Despite Kirk and I coming from different places, however, we’ve pretty much landed on the same (micro 4/3) platform. I own a full frame Canon 6D with a bunch of lenses, a Nikon DSLR, a Fujifilm X100S and a slew of other capable cameras, but I choose to use my Olympus cameras most often. I use Olympus because they are full featured and capable of what I need them to do. I don’t judge them by their sensor size, but instead, by their performance out in the field. I shot most my 2017 Japan trip photos with two Olympus cameras which fit in a small camera bag. What a wonderful combination for lightweight travel photography.

I know Kirk’s switch to Panasonic, with a smattering of Olympus lenses, was dictated by his professional needs. I always contend that Panasonic is tops for video, which is critical for Kirk. For stills, however, I prefer Olympus. Professional or enthusiast, Kirk and I agree that the micro 4/3 systems hits a sweet spot for performance, cost and portability. Whether Olympus or Panasonic, the lenses work together and together they form the potent micro 4/3 platform.

By the way, I made this portrait of Kirk back in 2011 with my first Olympus, the E-PL1 with the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 lens. It was a poky combination but I loved the color. That started me down the road with Olympus.

Welcome back to micro 4/3, Kirk.

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9 thoughts on “Kirk Shifts Gear, Again

  1. That order seems about right. I too would not be critical of this rotation as selfishly it’s given Kirk fodder for articles/posts. BTW, I think he had a smattering of Olympus’ (dual E-M5s?) mixed in there in recent years among the Sony’s and Pany’s 🙂

  2. I haven’t paid much attention to Kirk’s gear wanderings, preferring his thoughtful essays that dwell on the art and business of photography. While I’m sure his gear focused posts get the most visits, I skip those myself. I groan when I see a gear transition on the Visual Science Lab and I take leave of the site until Kirk’s thoughts drift back to the more important things in photography and life. I did read through his recent post that you linked to and rather than the gear juggling I found it interesting for two trends he mentioned.

    One is “access instead of ownership”, which must be a Millennial idea that has rubbed off on me. I attributed it more to the Minimalism movement than a Millennial thing but either way it’s a good philosophy. I’ve gotten rid of the majority of my gear with over the past couple of years and what I own now is the stuff that I enjoy using the most and is sufficient for what I like to photograph. I’m down to 2 cameras and may be down to 1 before much longer. The realization that I can always rent or borrow some expensive piece of gear instead of owning it was a liberating idea that allowed me to let go of a number of things.

    The other trend Kirk touched on is video. That’s a reality that saddens me. People prefer video over stills these days and I’m quite the opposite. I’ll take reading of well written articles like Kirk’s blog and meandering through good still photography any day. A lot of today’s video content is a waste of time to me. Alas, it serves its purpose to captivate an increasingly distracted audience more so than a photograph. I marvel at people who will barely give a photo a passing glance yet are entranced by a bit of video drivel on social media. I’ll take my antiquated photo books, thank you.

    1. Mike,

      You’ve done an admirable job paring down your gear to the bare essentials.

      Wearing my creative hat, I’m not very interested in videos either. Creating that one great image to capture that scene is much more enjoyable. But again, I get to selfishly ignore the market. That’s the benefit of being an enthusiast.

      The world continues to go down the path of least resistance and perhaps at a quickening pace. It seems like the ease of creating distracting content, makes people more distracted which sucks up time and adds stress, so more distracting content is needed.

      Of course, I as a content creator, is just adding to the noise. Just in a different way.

  3. I’d like to have Kirk’s freedom to make wholesale changes in camera systems, just to see if any new choice might give a significant boost to the quality of the few photos I produce. But that will never happen. He has the advantage of buying and selling cameras as business assets. Hobbyists don’t have access to depreciation and other tax considerations in moving from one set of camera gear to another. Plus, his cameras and lenses have paid for themselves — in part because he seems to work about 26 hours a day.

    1. Agreed.

      And, I think there are intangible benefits to changing cameras too, like keeping things fresh that will maintain or stimulate creativity. Kirk’s been shooting similar events for many years and perhaps using the same gear all the time might get routine or boring.

      Even for me, as an enthusiast, I enjoy shooting the same events/scenes with different cameras and lens combinations.

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