The just premiered anime Just Because! features Ena, whose hobby is photography… and her character and the photography details the anime’s staff put into the show caught my eye. (As I’m an enthusiastic and experienced amateur photographer.)
A new series in which I talk about photography and photographers in anime. I hope both photographers and anime fans find it useful and interesting.
Originally, this was part of my first impression post for Just Because… But it got to be very long and very nerdy and made more sense standalone because of the potential for a series of such posts. Plus, having spent over three hours researching, thinking, and writing it deserves the spotlight on its own.
In one scene, Ena captures a shot of Natsume in a pensive moment…
This is actually a pretty good photograph, and tells us quite a bit about the character. She’s not comfortable where she is, and appears to feel lost and maybe a bit lonely.
Myself, I’d have tried to shoot it from a little more to the right and maybe with a just slightly lower sightline… But when you’re shooting street, you take what you can get because you’re shooting fast from the hip to capture a fleeting moment. (Not to mention the old saying among photographers: One scene, eleven photographers, eleven different images.) But still I’d have loved an angle that caught the expressive hunch of Natsume’s shoulders more clearly.
The camera is a Canon PowerShot G5X – a recent (2015) camera and looking at it’s specs, actually a pretty good choice for this kind of photography. Light, compact, and easily slipped into a backpack or purse but with decent photographic capabilities. I still have my ancient and obsolescent (2008) PowerShot G10, and still carry it from time-to-time for just the same reason. There are simply places where I can’t carry my larger and heavier Canon DSLR because of its bulk, or it would be inappropriate or out-of-place. When I’m wearing a suit it fits nicely into a jacket packet, though it is heavy enough to pull the jacket a little to one side.
The G5X is also what’s known as a bridge camera. That means it has the automatic features and built-in lens of a point and shoot, but also has manual controls which a more experienced photographer can take advantage of. It can’t do everything that a DSLR can do, but it’s a very good choice for teenage photographer’s daily carry camera. Heck, it’s a defensible choice for anyone’s daily carry camera. Photography is about the eye, the brain, and the heart – not the gear. You can do amazing stuff with even the cheapest and crappiest camera. Not the same amazing stuff that a more expensive or capable camera can do, but amazing nonetheless. All it takes is practice and experience.
Plus, there’s another old saying among photographers – the best camera in the world is the one in your hands. You can only get a shot if you have a camera with you. I keep my daily carry DSLR in a sling bag that’s fully packed and ready-to-go with a charged spare battery and extra memory cards. When I’m headed out the door, all I have to do is grab the bag and I’m ready for almost anything. (Almost anything because my heaviest and my special purpose lenses aren’t packed.) My tripod lives in my van for the same reason.
Again with the G5X, a powerfully framed shot of Eita (on the left) and Haruto. Four years ago, they played baseball together and were best friends, then Eita moved away and has only recently returned. All Ena knows is that Eita is a recently arrived transfer student… and she neatly captures the distance and isolation he must feel. On the other hand, they’re taking part in a shared activity and that shows their bonds as well (though she has no knowledge of those bonds).
Ena may not have won any awards, but she certainly knows her stuff. Note the slightly-out-of-focus netting, a very interesting stylistic choice that emphasizes the boundaries between the individuals.
Kudos to the animation staff and their researchers for nailing that detail.
Ena is also shown with a Canon 7D Mark II, and it’s implied that it belongs to the club. (Or maybe the school?) That makes sense, even though it’s a crop frame (APS-C) sensor, it’s a high-end crop frame. Even used (it hasn’t been superseded, but people do upgrade to full frame cameras) it will still set you back around $900-$1000 USD.
And whoa Nellie! That’s L-glass she’s sporting there. Translated for non-photographers – a high-end, high performance, very expensive professional grade lens. Though (unless it’s been swapped out) the tripod mount is wrong, it appears to be an EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM. New it runs around $1800 USD, and used it will still set you back around $1200-$1500 USD in good condition. (Glass holds it’s value, even if they’re a decade or more old a good lens can command as much as 75-80% of its original street price.) Though it’s not impossible that I’ve misidentified it and it’s an older lens – by its markings (cream-colored with the unmistakable red ring) it’s still L-glass, and by its physical configuration makes me think it’s a telephoto zoom. I guesstimate that’s still going to be $1200 USD+ worth of lens.
It’s implied though that the camera and lens is school or club property which makes sense. A group can afford and share what an individual cannot. Given the kinds of task school clubs are often shown in anime as taking on, I’m not surprised they own such a setup.
Edit/Update A link from @Jenagsan via @iblessall:
New Japanese Anime to Feature Ultra Realistic Canon Cameras
Which confirms my equipment ID’s. Always nice. :)
Again, kudos to the staff for the details… That’s a heavy lens (1570 g / 3.46 lbs) and very difficult to shoot handheld, especially given the narrow field of view (more on that below). It almost has to be tripod mounted to use effectively. Also, she’s put the hood on it (and it appears to be the right hood for an IS II), which is mandatory given the bright daylight conditions. Most photographers will mount the hood out of reflex, it doesn’t hurt anything and even in lower light can prevent ghosts from lights outside the field of view. More evidence that Ena has experience and knows what’s she’s doing.
Photographically speaking, it’s an interesting choice of lens though. Mounted on a APS-C (1.6x) crop frame like the 7D, its zoom markedly increases (from 100-400mm to 160-640mm) and it’s field of view narrows proportionately. The lens is marketed for sports photography, but that narrow field of view means she’s concentrating on a single player. (Unless she moved, she can’t get both players in the frame from the position of the first shot.) Who? Eita or Haruto? My bet, given the other things shown, is that it’s Eita.
Appropriate for a dedicated photographer, her userpic is a camera. (My Facebook user pic is my trusty T2i.) I can’t identify the model, but it’s probably a film camera given the styling, that silvery metal top was very common in the film era. Nowadays with molded plastic housings that’s a feature found only on very high-end cameras that are deliberately evoking nostalgia and higher class. Not that molded plastic is bad mind you, with a proper choice of plastic the case can be very durable. High end cameras today will often use molded fiber reinforced plastic, you can damn near take a hammer to it.
The picture stymies me though… It’s zoomed in more than I’d think a cellphone camera commonly does, and she certainly doesn’t have the time (or the field setup) to transfer from the G5X she’s shown having at this point. Though, in all honestly, I’m not at all familiar with what the current crop of cell phones can do.
Whew! This started out as a quick comment in another entry, but rapidly spiraled out of control. I hope you found it useful and interesting – drop me a line in the comments and tell me what you think!