Live and uncut episode no. 75 with Simon Weir

The Model maker...

 

At the start of the show I felt it was important to congratulate my good friend Martin Bailey on his 500th Podcast which he broadcast just last week. Martin is my inspiration for this show and for him to reach this number of episodes is a no mean feat... So Huge Congrats Martin here's to your next 500 shows (Yikes)...

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I first met Simon Weir a few years back at the Nikon Users Club in London, organised through Grays of Westminster, ( A unique Nikon (only) store that is a requirement for all Nikon users to visit!) He comes from a family background of photographers and can always remember cameras being around his house as a boy, (he still has his fathers old Rollieflex!). On holidays the time was spent going out and about photographing with their photography-mad keen father. So much so that Simon's Mum just couldn't take it anymore and she too went out and bought a camera - So holidays almost became a competing experience of not only getting the best image but beating each other to the best advantage point.

Like many of my guests Simon first used a Minolta SLR and only moved onto Nikon when he purchased his first digital camera the Nikon D100 (6mp) and has continued to use Nikon ever since moving through D200, 300 and finally his present camera the Nikon D810 (probably the best camera he has owned to date). He has an in-depth knowledge of all the cameras that he has used. Which probably stems from his interest in Physics of which he studied at university. From there he managed to secure a job at the BBC working in the classical music department. Although photography was and still is a major influence in his life - since he could remember - classical music was also a major interest and love, for him. So working in the musical field was an ideal solution for him. Since then he has moved on to freelance work and to offer additional services such as film and photography to the events which otherwise would have been carried out by external contractors. in so doing, Simon has created a one stop shop for these type of events. 

Apart from his musical production he has continued with his interest in photography. It is Infrared photography that has caught his real interest, though. Originally working with Infrared film which had its difficulties Simon decided that as he upgraded his cameras, the Nikon D100 which was steadily collecting dust on the shelf could be put to a more practical use if he converted it to Infrared. He deiced to replace the filter (which sits in front of the sensor) on the D100 himself! Can't be that difficult he thought! Well it might be on hindsight.... It took him three attempts to re assemble the camera as dust kept getting in between the sensor and the new filter, which he had had to cut and make by the way. Braver man than me that's all I can say.

In the meantime, Simon had found that using a Nikon camera, at classical concerts and events was proving difficult as not only were they struggling in the low light conditions but also were quite loud with the shutter noise or as some would describe as 'mirror slap'. It was at this time that he be came aware of the Fuji's which would work well in lowlight conditions and also had the added advantage of being silent. Initially using the XE1 he upgraded to the XT10 soon and Simon had found the tool for his trade in concerts but, that doesn't mean he has sold out on Nikon. Along with the Fuji he has various lenses from prime to zoom and looks forward to new lenses being announced by Fuji. The Nikon gear though he still uses for his other interest in his landscape photography. With the Fuji upgrades he was now left with a Fuji XE1 gathering dust on the shelf. It made sense for this to be converted to Infrared, but this time by the experts at ACS - but they had never replaced the filter in a Fuji before. Problem was the X-Trans sensor was so good, getting all the aspects of infrared photography to work, was problematic. But they eventually succeeded. What you will find with an infrared converted Fuji camera is amazing quality and pin sharp images, something which the film Infrared photographer had never really seen before.

Once he started to upload his infrared images to his website and some social sites, Fuji UK became aware of his work and he was asked him to join them as a Fuji X-photographer. This was an opportunity not to be missed and since then he has been involved with lectures, workshops, lens and camera reviews on many occasions.

We talk in detail about Nikon and their slow move toward a full frame mirrorless system. It is a subject that rears its head many times with Nikon users and camera gear heads. Why has Nikon not developed more into the mirrorless market? Apart from their foray with the Series 1 system and the 1 inch sensor, which in itself is a great camera but small to handle. (In my opinion). Well the simple answer as it happens, is the distance between the back element of the lens and the sensor has to be maintained for the Nikkor FX and DX lenses. The only way for Nikon to produce a camera with either a 1.5 crop or full frame sensor would be to design a whole new camera 'from the ground up' plus create a whole new set of lenses! Even with the company size of Nikon, I can't see how they could operate with four camera systems. Unless they developed a rangefinder styled one! There's a thought. It has to be mentioned though that it is noticeable, the 3000 and 5000 series Nikon bodies are getting smaller - maybe this is a way for Nikon to go! As technology improves and with probably a smaller battery we might yet still see a Nikon that rivals the size of a Sony A7 or a Fuji XT1. But it will still have to have a mirror!

When I asked Simon who he would consider as his favourite photographer there was no contest whilst he recognised many great photographers it is Michael Kenna who for him is top of the list. His inspiration comes from the many members and students that have attended the workshops that he works in conjunction with Chris Weston another Fuji X photographer. He finds it amazing how he not only learns from them but also the admiration his has of their work and dedication to their hobby, that he sees after just a short time with them.

Simon it was a great pleasure to have you on 'Live and uncut' thank you so much.

Until next time 'Leave your camera bag at home'.

 

The all important links..

 

Photography Live and uncut with Simon Weir.

The Simon Weir website

The Simon Weir Blog on Yellowstone National Park in Infrared.

The workshop and his work with Chris Weston at Magic-Is Photo Safaris 

Advanced Camera Services for Infrared conversions.