11.01.2011

Just a quick post with a few more Nikon V1 observations.

Tulip the Wonder Dog.  Nemesis of cats.  Patroller of the "holy" fence.

Tulip was in the studio this morning while I was doing a portrait of Natalie with three different cameras. I shot with the Nikon V1, the Canon 1DS mk2 and the Hasselblad 501C/M.  We were shooting with two large LED panels projecting light through a six foot by six foot diffusion scrim.  We also had one LED panel at 1/4 power on the back wall.  This shot is from the Nikon.  I'd set it to manual exposure and metered for Natalie.  Tulip was sitting on the floor nodding her approval and she looked like she needed a new headshot so I tilted the camera down and shot a few frames.  We were using the electronic shutter so the camera was absolutely (hello court photographers!!!!) 100% silent.  She didn't blink because there was no noise and, bonus, no flash.  I made one mistake, though.  I'd metered Natalie and Tulip was way down on the floor.  She ended up being underexposed by 1.35 stops.  And this was no raw file, it was Jpeg all the way.  I tossed the file into PhotoShop and with much trepidation I slid the exposure slider to the right by 1.35 stops.  Since the image was shot at ISO 400 I expected to see big, bad noise in the shadows.  It doesn't look bad to me but I like the tonality of the image, the definition of Tulip's coat and the "just right" white balance.....all under my array of CRI 80 (not very color accurate) LEDs.  The camera is very easy to use in manual exposure.  Just be sure to take a test shot at your final settings and review it before you proceed.

Yes.  Austin is Headquarters to the Univers(e).  It says so right here.

I've modified my camera settings since I last wrote about the little V1.  I'm now using the continuous drive setting because it does away with the preview lag of the single exposure setting.  I set the power down setting for one minute instead of 30 seconds and that's all I can think of.

I spent all day Monday making "paper doll" clipping paths for about a hundred images, and these are images I did real clipping paths for last week.  That was enough torture for me to consider taking this afternoon off for some "away from screen" time.  Today I did a walk through downtown with just the camera and the 30-110mm lens.  That thing is sharp.  At least I think it is.  I'm not "captain DXO" so I can't talk about sharpness in nerd numbers but I can say that it keeps up with my best lenses for other small systems.  And, given my caffeine rattled hands I'm going to say that the VR (it is Nikon, after all, we can hardly call it "IS") seems to do an incredible job.  Here's a big difference between the Nikon and the Olympus m4:3rds gear:  The Nikon uses "in lens" stabilization while the Olympus Pens use "in body" stabilization. While I like being able to mount any lens on the Olympus cameras and still maintain the use of stabilization I also love the way the image in the Nikon V1 finder gets all steady and calm.  You can see the VR in use with "in body" systems.

This is the Littlefield Building.  I think it looks pretty cool and it sits on a premium piece of land in Downtown Austin:  It's on the northeast corner of Congress Ave. and Sixth St. (Old Pecan St.).  One of my clients had an office there for many years.

Whenever I'm out playing with new cameras and lenses I am always drawn to the corner face of this old building.  The combination of brick and stone work shows off good lenses and makes bad ones look worse.  The 30mm to 110 mm zoom lens is the angle of view equivalent of an 81mm to 297mm zoom lens, in full frame parlance.  I think it's doing a great job here.  I love standing on the sidewalk with the camera draped over my neck, staring up at cool buildings.  Makes me look like a tourist from the hinterlands.  Sometimes I'll even stop people and ask for directions.........

This is the 30-110 at its full extension.  I'll give it a big, "not bad!"

So, why do I care at all about these little cameras?  Why all the sudden excitement with the Nikon V1?  Well, I guess I could say that my generation has lived with continual change and I'm generally always trying to figure out how the whole system will change every time a new system arrives that disrupts the old systems and is "just good enough" to do most of the stuff we do right now with bigger and more expensive cameras.  

In a few years kids of Ben's generation will buy something like this camera because the price will be right, the lenses sharp and image quality more than good enough for most of the final applications the market has in mind.  At that point, from a business point of view, they'll shift the paradigm and we can talk until we're blue in the face about "sharpness at 100%" and pixel well size but they'll be out taking photographs that meet client expectations without ever contemplating going in to debt to buy their tools.  

My generation buys the best tools some times as a hedge or a delusional barrier to entry.  We (as a group) hope that our clients will notice our superior "fire power" and conclude that we're the ticket to imaging success.  I'm coming around to the idea that most clients wouldn't care if you shot your jobs with an iPhone, or on film or some other method, as long as it works for the use in front of them.

I remember a large group of photographers, eager to maintain their market position, who laid down big bucks to buy Canon 1DS Mk 3's for $8,000 only to see them supplanted by 5D Mk2's with superior image quality at $2,500 less than a year later.  And Nikon photographers who embraced the first D3's only to see the D700's come to market for several thousand less dollars.  I remember when wedding photographers were convinced that brides would never choose little Nikon D1X cameras over medium format film.  And the next generation came to market with D30's and D100's.   

Every new technology is disruptive and we always have the choice of sitting back and "waiting out" the storm of introduction or jumping in and figuring out what's really cool about the new stuff.  If the whole concept is a bust well, we'll move on to something else.  But if it hits we're in the vanguard.  We get to loot and pillage while everyone else plays catch up.

This store always gets really nice, late afternoon light.  I shoot it when I walk by to remind myself what a difference the quality of light makes.

So, what futuristic, Star Trek-like, disruptive paradigm gigging technologies does the Nikon V1 have?  I haven't played with all the buttons yet but I watched the tutorial for the 400 fps slow motion video mode and it was incredibly cool.  Like having a $100,000 Phantom camera for one one hundredth the price...(kinda...).  And I haven't wrapped my creative brain around a mode that lets you shot a frame while recording a second of video.  When you play it back you get a cool slow motion lead in to your final still frame.  I bet Ben's crew will think of something very cool to do with that....

I'm an inveterate tinkerer and experimenter.  I love to take stuff apart and see how it works.  I love to see if we can light shaving creme on fire.  I want to make giant mylar balloons and float stuff around.  Can you blame me for wanting to see what a whole new camera format is all about?

This doesn't mean I want to abandon my other cameras.  I don't want to give up shooting portraits with my Canon full frame cameras.  And certainly I love the look of my Hasselblad portraits whether clients do or not.  I'm just coming to grips with my need for variety.  Lunch yesterday was a sandwich, today some cool feta, buffalo and jalapeno pizza, and tomorrow macrobiotic vegan food at Casa de Luz.  Life without variety?  You might as well take away my coffee....




18 comments:

christian said...

"...Every new technology is disruptive and we always have the choice of sitting back and "waiting out" the storm...." Your posts presents a whole bunch of concepts and ideas that we will have come to grips with. We probably no longer have the luxury of sticking with the same [digital] camera model the same way many of us stuck with the same [film] camera model over decades. Sure the models changed. Wow, they changed the top shutter speed from 1000th of a second to 2000th of a second and stuff like that. Then we would even get lengthy pro and con articles articles about these changes.It is going to be different.

One thing that struck me the other day, as I was dong some night photography with a new camera, was that 'every time' I get a new camera, I will have to adjust my way of seeing so much more than I used to.

Again, much food for thought here - many thanks!!!

atmtx said...

Kirk, looks like you are enjoying the little Nikon. I'll have to borrow that camera from you do a little bit of my lower light (evening, night) photography that I tend to do. ;-)

fine-idea said...

I really appreciate your fresh and open-minded views, the sign (to me) of a creative person. I also appreciate your eagerness to explore new technologies, such as the m4/3 and now the Nikon V1 cameras. I'm a relatively new reader of VSL, starting when I learned on TOP that you'd quit, and am glad you're back. Your blog is a breath of fresh air, a vibrant counterpoint to the many tech-obsessed resources on the web.

sey said...

the pizza is much better hot..........

John Taylor said...

… does this mean you are a nikonclast!? Nice look at your brain's inner workings, i'm filing this under 'ruts, what ruts?'

John Taylor said...

… dang, i need to proof read my proof reading. That should be nikonoclast, would you be so kind as to correct that typo for me.

Frank Grygier said...

I am very excited about the shift to mirrorless camera systems. Future CMOS sensor development will solve the physics problems of small sensors and before we know it the IPhone will perform like a full frame.

Sean said...

I really enjoy the shots of your walks around Austin. Even if they are just examples of what the camera can do, it's such an interesting place for street photography, and lends well to your discussion on the gear you're using. My wife and I took our first trip to Austin earlier this year and stayed right down near the Littlefield Building. It's an area where you can almost go out and shoot on a daily basis and come home with interesting shots. Unfortunately here in Houston it's difficult to find locations like that without getting run over!

kirk tuck said...

All true.

David said...

Thank you for your take on the Nikon system. On launch all the reviews say that M43rds had taken off. Nikon and Canon are dead. I did find that funny. The V1 looks good at higher ISO, the Panasonic chip is really sad. If Panasonic don't get it write, I see Nikon with small compact and Sony with larger sensor taking off. Olympus might just get bought out, at the current stock prices.

Robert Wolterman said...

Kirk, as I delve more into learning about the 1 System, I haven't found out if the camera will let you shoot in black and white. I'm assuming that would be a picture control setting. Could you confirm this is the case?

Your dog has a great color to her, and the pictures you provide from this camera look better every time I look at them.

kirk tuck said...

Robert, black and white (monochrome but in an RGB file) is in the menu along with Standard, Landscape, Portrait, etc.

DrMickey said...

Nice review of the system on Amazon.com.
I am surprised that the review is a fixed entity with no way to shut it off. I gave up chimping (well, for the most part) a few years ago, so I'd want to disable the review. Maybe in a firmware update?

John said...

I went out and bought one yesterday with the 10-30 lens and the 10mm pancake, which I have not used yet. Like Kirk said here, lenses are very small! significantly smaller than my GF1 stuff.

I love this little 2 second still video bit. Not a video, not a still. A moving image.

Haven't been able to really shoot with it yet but very intrigued so far......

John

studio said...

I still don't get why the camera and lenses have to be so big for a sensor so small. If you're going to lug something that big you might as well carry a m4/3 system (ahem - merely echoing the comments of Nikon shooters about the older Olympus 4/3 system. Back at ya!).

The tiny Pentax Q - with the same size sensor - makes more sense to me, and apparently it is fast (and good) enough that one pro used it to cover the NY fashion week. Any plans on reviewing this one next, Kirk?

kirk tuck said...

Hey Studio. The Q sensor is one half the size of the Nikon series 1 sensor and the Nikon lenses are small and light enough. In industrial design there is such a thing as too small. You have to be able to hold it well to use it well.

I'm laughing because I'm remembering a scene in the world's greatest movie, Zoolander, where Derek pulls out a tiny, tiny cellphone (thing SD card size) and talks to God..... It sums up the wrong-headed race to be too small.

That being said, stop looking at the 10-100 and look harder at the 10mm. That should be the future.

John said...

Finally got to do a little shooting with the V1 today in a "real" setting. We had some Mexican woodcarvers visit my childrens' school today. The link below will take you to completely untouched images. Shot jpg auto iso100-1600 on aperture priority and auto WB.

http://peiphoto.smugmug.com/Milton-Visual-Arts-Alliance/MVAA110411/19912833_6bS8fz

Thanks.

John

Glenn said...

I am a newcomer to your site, and must say I am thoroughly enjoying my cup of joe while reading your posts. Great stuff, thanks for sharing!