3.10.2018

Random Notes Bouncing Around My Brain. Saturday Evening.

Swimming Pool. Lisbon.

A lot of cameras have come into the market lately; most are iterations of existing models with various added features or specialized feature sets. It's nice that almost everyone is busy iterating new models but there is little, newly launched, that propels me from my chair at the dining room table to my office computer to engage in pre-ordering much of anything. 

Sony announced the new A7iii and it looks great. Key features are improved video chops and the new battery. Both are nice, and welcome, but hardly a big enough jolt to move existing A7ii buyers to  rush to the camera store. The "nerd" feature of the new model is a sensor that is purported to have wider dynamic range and I'm sure there are a few people out there who feel that this would be welcome for their work. For me? Heck, I'm not using up all the dynamic range I've got right now. As a first time buyer into the Sony system the new A7iii would be a smart acquisition. You get ample resolution from a full frame sensor as well as a myriad of little improvements that should make photography more fun. But in the end it's the same resolution as the A7ii, the same color family, the same EVF resolution, the same rear screen resolution, and pretty much the same stabilization parameters too. If all you want a camera for is to generate a nice, big file you might be a thousand bucks ahead to just source the previous generation (A7ii) and learn to put a couple of extra batteries in your pocket...

My thoughts about the A7Riii are about the same. A bit more dynamic range, a bit faster throughput but mostly the same imaging performance one can already achieve with the A7Rii. Already have the A7Rii? Save your money and wait for the next generation after the iii and you'll probably feel smarter. As always, if there's something unique for you in the new model (can't think of what it really might be....) and you have the cash then go for it. 

My question for the moment is: Where is Sony going with the A6x00 series cameras. While the A6500 and A6300 are very capable image generators and both are very good at AF and video do we really need to keep iterating all that imaging goodness in a body design that is so tortured? It was novel to make a camera with such great output as tiny as possible five or six years ago but I think we've learned our lessons. If you want to have a camera body that's comfortable to hold and use you need to make it big enough to fill the average user's hands, to provide enough square centimeterage 
of surface area for good controls and enough mass to help make the camera stable. Not to mention that a bigger body gets you a bigger, better battery and much better thermal management. I'd love to see an APS-C version Sony mirrorless in the A7 body style; or even bigger. The APS-C sensor is a logical choice for great video capture and a bigger body (a la the Panasonic GH5) would allow for twin UHS-ii card slots and the ability to run the camera in the sun without shutting down or compromising imaging performance. 

I'll sign the petition for a "pro" style body that uses the newest Sony A7xx battery and the faster cards. That, and a much bigger EVF window/magnification. Let's make sure when they get around to producing it (inevitable) they remember to put that headphone jack on the side....

I won't go into the A9 because it's just a stupid camera for the kind of work I do. To pay more for less capability than an A7Riii in every regard but speed is just amazingly stupid for anyone not requiring some zany speed metric for some highly specialized task. It's not sports. No one needs 20 fps to track most any sport. I conjecture that they make this camera just to torment Nikon. 

Nikon. In my mind, for my potential use, Nikon only makes two cameras. But both of them are still very useful and bright arguments for sticking with the lens system or for staying with DSLRs. Conservative but capable. I'm thinking mostly of the D850 and the D750. I've owned the D750 (the most recalled camera in recent history) as well as the predecessor to the D850; the D810. After playing and working with a D850 for the last few days I can honestly say that when it comes to sheer image quality it's probably the best all around camera you can buy in 2018. And considering the competition that is saying a lot. If I shot high end products or fashion all day long this is probably the camera I would own. The files are amazing when wrung out to their maximum potential. 

I was even impressed by its the overall look of the video files. But even as I was playing around and shooting test shots with the camera I could not help wondering how much better the camera could have been with a super high resolution EVF installed in the place of the traditional eye level prism finder. Wanna go into the photography business with one camera and one lens? Buy a D850 and the Nikon 24-120mm f4.0. Then put your credit card away and go shoot. 

If you haven't had the religious conversion to the power of the EVFs yet and you don't need endless resolution then the D750 is the perfect all around compromise of: traditional DSLR, sweet spot resolution, great handling and very nice, mature color. The one I owned went back for service once too often for me but I have many friends who love theirs and have made kilo-bucks in the past four years shooting them. I've seen them new for around $1700 but if you are on a budget and must go Nikon be advised that D610s use the same basic sensor, have the same color response and are dropping in price toward the $1200 mark, new. 

If you enjoy studying the history of photography you might want to buy a Nikon for your historical collection. If they don't come out with a convincing APS-C or full frame mirrorless camera in the next 12 months ----- they are toast. Not right away but ----- toast all the same. 

Canon. Canon is such an enigma to me right now. Some great lenses. Some good lenses. Some mediocre lenses. A lot of good, nice handling and mature bodies (the 5D series, the pro bodies), some great AF technology and an interesting approach to sensor tech. Less low end DR. Shadows that recover into pointillist noise patterns. But when I walk out of my door and embrace the wide open world of photography it's the female segment of the market that is remarkably almost all Canon.  Every woman photographer I meet seems to be driving a 5D2, 5D3 or 5D4, nearly without exception. I get it. The color is pleasing and easy to work with in post production. The 24-105 + the 70-200mm combo is universally embraced and there's nothing else to buy (except for the A.I. powered new Canon flash). 

Seems the gear nuts are unable to embrace the Canon multi-verse because of the dynamic range controversy but the non-gear nuts are happy with tried and true technology that just works. I've shot with Canon cameras and they are, for the most part, great. Just think how much greater they'd be if Canon delivered a model with a really nice EVF. Since they've been introducing rank consumer models with APS-C sensors and EVFs I conjecture that it's only a matter of time before they begin to join the worship services already in progress over in the sanctuary of EVF-ness for full frame. They need only look to Sony for guidance....

If Nikon and Canon were the only two choices in solid cameras today it would be interesting to think about choosing one over the other. The Canons are fun to shoot and pleasant while the Nikon's are the precocious lab rats of the two. It all comes down to mindset ----- and the (perceived) need for super wide dynamic range. Confession: surging nostalgia for the Canon 5Dmk2+100mm f2.0, but equally balanced by the same kind of Nostalgia for the D610+85mm f1.8. 

Wouldn't it be a more interesting photo environment if both Nikon and Canon started introducing a choice in new camera lines? A D850 for traditionalist and a D850EVF for cognoscenti?

Olympus. It's time for Olympus to make some interesting "special edition" EM-1mk2s. Let's talk. 
I have a feeling we're going to be living at 20 megapixels in m4:3rd-land for some time to come so "new and improved" is going to have to come from features and style. I would love to see an EM-1 mkV that had a permanently attached battery grip, beautifully integrated into the overall design, that added all the capabilities that videographers who also moonlight as photographers would want. That would include space for a full size HDMI port, headphone jack, mic jacks, and a battery outside the core body of the camera in order to isolate the good stuff (sensor) from heat. I would also love to see a menu that you could choose in order to optimize for video. That would be separate from the Klingon language menus now being used for their mostly still photography control. 

Where Olympus is totally rocking it right now is in the lens department. I have experienced it first hand in the 12-100mm Pro and the 40-150mm Pro and I continue to be impressed and awed. I've been playing around with the Rokinon 50mm f1.2 for cropped cameras but it's just not quite there when used wide open. If anything the Rokinon has become my emotional brain's prime ally in the quest to buy the Olympus 45mm f1.2 Pro lens, which would be quickly followed by the 25mm Pro and the 17mm Pro. 

I teeter on the abyss of plunging back into the Olympus camp via an EM-1 mk2 just for the dual I.S. I'd get with the 12-100mm. I can't imagine it could be even better than it is right now.....

Which leads me to thoughts about Panasonic. The GH5 (classic) impressed me last weekend when I shot for a radiology practice. Batteries that last all morning long and then half of the afternoon. A perfect EVF finder. A great, flippy screen. And, at the end of the project, a great set of big raw files that are jam-packed with detail and perfect color. These guys get color science in a big way. 

My only regret was that there was not more video to be done. It's that camera's ultimate wheelhouse. 

I know they just introduced the G9 and it's fast and perky but what would I really like to see in the next generation of GH cameras? Um. The only thing I can think of would be the high res mode. Everything else about the GH5 is perfect for its format. 

But what about the GH5S? This camera is ultimately interesting to me but only as a curiosity. It's so obvious where the designer's inspiration came from. This is the micro-four-thirds version of a Sony A7S or A7Sii. Lower pixel count in exchange for higher ISO performance. But I think the performance improvement mostly pans out only in the video area and so it becomes only a specialty camera and not an everyday user. My friend James has one but every time he heads out to shoot something he seems to default to the GH5. It may be a compromise but life is made up of compromises and he seems to feel most comfortable with the classic... 

I'll wait for the G90. A rangefinder styled version of the G9. 

And that leads us to the eccentric system. Fuji. Like Olympus I think Fuji does lenses really, really well. They seem to have their fingers on the pulse of what higher end consumers would like in lenses and they tend to deliver it. I want to like Fuji but I'm a little afraid of them. You see, I was one of their early, unintentional beta testers. I worked with a couple of Fuji S2 cameras for while. When they worked they worked well and the color and tonality of the files was really great for the time. The S3 was good as well. But the S2 had two faults; it had two different sets of batteries and their individual exhaustion rate was never synchronized. Those cameras corrupted more CF cards than any camera in the history of my camera use experience. To this day I don't trust the bodies. 

And, in fact, I'm not sure I trust the camera body designers. I saved up all my money from returnable bottle deposits and from begging on street corners just to buy the original Fuji X-Pro-1 when it came out. I rushed to the store with my bags of nickles and quarters and dimes, I asked to see the demo model and pulled it up to my aging eyes. Blurry finder. I asked the salesperson to help me find the diopter adjustment knob only to be told that this particular camera did NOT have an adjustable eyepiece diopter. After that I've never been able to take Fuji cameras seriously as "user" cameras. Just not contenders....

I understand that they've improved by leaps and bounds. And, of course, the lenses... So I tried once again and bought a X-100T. That was a nightmare of a camera and one I could not understand, tolerate or appreciate. It's tainted my perspective ever since and that's sad because I've heard such great things about the XT-2 and even the X-H1. You go ahead and buy one. I'll go with the theory of "thrice burned means I am an idiot."

Great color. Great lenses. Nice styling, but I keep checking under the bed for monsters...

I think the overlooked Fuji camera right now is the EX-3. A nice body style with a reasonable price and the same sensor as the top of the line cameras. At around $1299 with the good 18-55mm what is there not to like? If I was to test the Fuji waters yet again it would be this camera that I'd pick up and put through its paces. Ah, here in the EX-3 is the Fuji gateway drug.

Who have I left out? Well, there's Leica but I won't go there. I believe they make insanely good lenses and that they used to make insanely good film bodies. I tested several Leica M series digital bodies and I'll have to say that the translation from film to digital didn't do Leica any favors. For the price of an M digital body and a standard lens you could pretty much equip an entire studio using other brands. When I make my next million I might reward myself with an M10 (or by then, M22) but maybe I'll just keep the money in the bank... 

Finally, there's Pentax. They lost me, existentially, when they came out with a camera that had a grip that lit up. Really! A light show on the handgrip. Amazingly tacky. Trump level tacky. In fact, had they come out with gilded version I think we could be hawking a bunch right now on Pennsylvania Ave. While the newest K1 mk2 might be an exemplary full frame body with the heft and density of a classic I falter when I look through their inventory of full frame compatible, designed for digital, lenses. 

Wouldn't it be great if the K1 Mk2 was similar to the Sony A7 series in that one could use just about anyone's lenses on the front of it? If I was an artist instead of a commercial user I'd love to try the K1-2 with a single, hand selected lens. Perhaps the perfect 50mm. It's a camera whose ethos cries out for a tiny handful of prime focal length lenses. As such it's a "pass" for most working stiffs.

So, where do I see the whole industry moving? 2018 has started out with a cough and a wheeze when it comes to sales. Maybe it's because we finally like and are satisfied with all the stuff we just bought. Maybe it's because official unemployment numbers dropped to something like 4.1% and everyone is too busy working to give a shit about cameras anymore. Maybe photography has become boring. Everyone is heading over to YouTube to glaze out on videos. Maybe, just as it's too much trouble to read it's also too much trouble to look at still images. Maybe it's like the Matrix where everyone is hooking in and endless video feeds them their reality. I think the malaise is because we've collectively decided to stop shooting literal and start shooting figuratively, shoot surreally, shoot impressionistically. Shoot ideas instead of proofs of technical process. All of which means that hyper detail, hyper sharpness and perfect focus are becoming much less important than having an interpretive style. And maybe we don't need new cameras if we're going to actively mess stuff up and post process the crap out of it. Maybe that's the short term future.

editor personal notes: Sorry to be out of touch this week. Taking care of a parent's entire existence seems to be a full time job. I've diversified investment accounts that no one has paid attention to in perhaps a decade this week. I've arranged for physical therapy and then, with feedback from my father, cancelled it as well. I've made claims on half a dozen insurance policies for my late mom's estate. I'm trying to clear out a house that's packed with 38 years of memories and memorabilia. I'm working with my parent's CPA on this year's taxes (while working with my CPA on my taxes!). And all the while I'm trying to visit and have meals with my dad at the memory care facility an hour and half from my home, at least twice a week. Throw in a few swim practices and something has to give. Last week the blog got short shrift. The week before it was just lack of sleep. Who knows what next week will bring?

Thanks for waiting and thanks for coming back. We'll keep writing. It's good practice for thinking. 

If you know where photograph is headed drop a line and let me know. I'm pretty sure cameras will follow along if we are smart enough to identify the trends...


39 comments:

Fred said...

Kirk,
We're still here.
No idea where photography is going. I just take pictures:-).
Although it would be cool to have a reasonable perspective control lens in M43.
Fred

Alex said...

Kirk, thank you for still writing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Great to have your blog comments back, I value your comments highly. I was becoming concerned that something had happened.

Ken said...

Thanks for finding the time to continue writing. A few comments about your observations/opinions: the unique feature you couldn’t remember about the Sony A7R3 is the focusing from the A9. The A6xxx series should maybe be looked at as an upgrade to an iPhone, better ergonomics, quality and lens choices as opposed to comparing it to a pro camera. Fuji? Agree. The lenses and images are amazing, but the X-T1 body I had burned me (and that was FAR better than the models you purchased!) and will keep me away from trying what are supposed to be better bodies now. Olympus was recently quoted as saying that they will continue to be stills-focused and not gravitating toward better video capabilities. Pentax? I largely agree with you. I have fond memories of K1000’s, LX’s, MX’s and great little lenses but am not drawn to trying anything they’ve made since the dawning of the autofocus age, let alone digital. Canon was recently quoted as saying they now will be turning their focus and resources toward the land of full-frame mirrorless. I already envision future posts from you about their journey! I wish you the best with the family issues you are going through now. Thanks again for sharing with us.

Gato said...

Missed your writing and good to have you back, but your father comes first. And take care of yourself as well.

As to your topic, seems like we're getting more and more of the same old stuff, just with incremental upgrades that really don't amount to much. Kind of a boring time to be a camera geek. But if a person wants to make pictures they have a ton of great options.

I'm out here debating whether to sell out of Sony completely or upgrade my A7r to a ii model. A pretty dumb debate since the Sony has not made a real photo in months. I get it out, shoot a few things around the house, marvel at all those pixels and then when it is time for real photography I grab the Panasonic.

John Krumm said...

You would laugh at the way I use my K1. I shoot the thing in live view mostly, like a TLR, with the double-clunk of the mirror flop. But I've gotten used to it, and I like the results, and it makes the focus much more reliable and the handheld shutter shock mostly gone in the 1/60-1/160 range, which is where I most often end up shooting... I have the EM1 and 12-40 and use that camera for events, where it's silent and near perfect, but I still grab the Pentax for my fun shooting.

I agree though, I'd love a nice EVF Pentax.

Michael Matthews said...

Glad to see you’ve found time to return to the blog. I think everyone who reads it realizes you work for a living and that the time pressures there make a regular schedule in this sideline unlikely. Throw atop that the family obligations you’ve encountered recently and it’s a near miracle you show up here at all. We also realize that you owe us nothing. Each post is a gift. Thank you.

Peter said...

I and my parents went through what you are now doing about 10-15 years back. They are both gone now, but the message I took away was to enjoy their company as much as I could when I could. Make it a priority as it will not last that long.

Where the camera industry is going I have little idea. I suspect that most consumers will depart entirely, and leave only specialists of one sort or another, requiring highly specialist cameras and lenses. I might be somewhere in that spectrum or I might not. I'll have to wait and see.
Peter Wright.

Richard Jones said...

I have to be quite dissatisfied with a current camera to consider an upgrade.Example: the battery life of the Sony A7Rii is criticized everywhere. Well, that certainly depends on what you are photographing. I start out each day with a fully charged battery, and have never needed to change. So, not an issue with me.

I know people who are enticed by neat features, such as a Joy Stick, and will upgrade just for that (and other) added features.

In film days, I and people in my circle of photography friends didn't upgrade much at all. We paid more attention to new lenses!

Richard

Yoram Nevo said...

Thanks Kirk. Your post was exactly fit for the duration of a relaxed dinner :-)
Very good to read your professional and well written observations.
Keep on writing when you find the time and energy. We read.
Regards, Yoram

Mike Rosiak said...

I guess we're at the point of "sufficiency."

Back in the pre-digital days, a Kodak Instamatic was a "good enough" camera for many. My wife then carried an Olympus clam shell camera, leaving her Nikon F2 at home. So, today, any smartphone is the Kodak Instamatic, and plenty good enough for most people. Apart from the pro's, like yourself, any "better" camera is just an opportunity to geek out. I don't think geeks alone can support a large and diverse market.

Russ Goddard said...

Thank you, especially, for the family update(s). Something we all may face at some point, either as givers or receivers.

Doug Levy said...

I want to like Mirrorless and EVF...but I can't help but feel that it disrupts my connection to the subject. It feels like there's a microdelay, even with the best EVFs, and I don't like feeling like I'm watching a video of the photo I'm about to take. I'm like you in that I own a ton of cameras, including the H1, H5X, D4, D850 and D5, and the H and D850/5 viewfinders are so large and bright it'll be a tough sell to get me to switch. If the other selling point is size, I shoot 75% of my portraits via tripod and the larger cameras actually feel more comfortable in my hand anyway.

zobeleye said...

Kirk, I know this is totally off topic and I apologize, but I can't find or get any answers to how to work with a flash trigger on the Sony RX10 iv in the studio on M and have a workable i.e. bright enough viewfinder picture, except opening the camera's inbuilt flash and taping it dark. Any chance you could point me in the right direction ?
much appreciated and always good to get your opinion on things
cheers
Stephan

Greg Heins said...

Two cheering developments. One is that with the announcement of the new Pentax K1, Pentax also announced that owners of the original K-1 will be able to send their cameras in for an overhaul that will bring them completely up to the new camera, including new lettering on the camera front. Photographers - well, some photographers, anyway - have been asking for something like this for a good long time now. And the second, somewhat milder, was the Olympus firmware upgrade, quite significant for the OM1 at least, for no charge at all. It's just nice to see makers who don't leave previous purchasers standing outside the door in the rain and cold.

milldave said...

Some of us have been in the places you find yourself now, juggling professional and family needs caused by the loss of a dear family member.
Several times, when you're the surviving son.
Hang on in there; the people who read this blog are rooting/praying for you.
Things will get better, but it takes time.
It takes a brave man to wear his heart on his sleeve, as you do; it takes a stronger man to feed the needs of those of us who are complete strangers to you phsically, but part of your online family.
Take your time and come back to us when you're ready; your blog is so good we aren't going to go anywhere else!
Best,
David

Hugh Alison said...

"But when I walk out of my door and embrace the wide open world of photography it's the female segment of the market that is remarkably almost all Canon. Every woman photographer I meet seems to be driving a 5D2, 5D3 or 5D4, nearly without exception. I get it. "

Maybe.

The 5D series are just unglamourous, efficient machines to make photographs with. Women photographers seem generally to be more interested in making photographs than they are in cameras.

A 5D is more or less the Pentax K1000 of the digital world. You buy it, and then you get on with documenting whatever is important.

Carlo Santin said...

Suffering from choice fatigue at the moment. I need a gear upgrade. Don't know where to put my money. I've been handling bodies, not worrying about specs and such at the moment. The best feeling cameras in my hand? So far the Sony A7Rii and the Panasonic GH5. Both felt perfect for my hands, a joy to hold up to the eye. The worst? Nikon D610. I don't think I've ever had more contempt for a camera just from holding it. I'll be trying out the Sony RX10 series next, just for feel. I won't buy a camera, regardless of specs, that I am loathed to pick up and handle. I'll pull the trigger on something one of these days. I think my Nikon days are over though.

Michael Meissner said...

I've been disappointed with the recent Olympus offerings. Olympus has offered two near low end cameras (E-m10 mark III and E-PL9), neither of which I will buy. The E-m10 mark III eliminated stuff I used like the wired shutter release, and the E-PL9 is over-priced and does not have an EVF.

As a hobby photographer, I tend to be in the middle of the price range. I can afford $700-$1400 cameras and $400-800 lenses, every so often, but $2k cameras and $1k+ lenses blows my budget. The new primes are presumably good lenses, but I really don't need f/1.2. F/1.8 is generally good enough for me. However, as somebody who does occasionally shoot in the range, I really would prefer if they came out with mark II versions of the f/2 or f/1.8 primes that was splash proof.

I did look at the E-m1 mark II, but it has a serious flaw (IMHO) in that it uses a TFT LCD viewfinder, which has problems if you wear polarized sunglasses. I prefer the OLED viewfinder that many of the Panasonic cameras and the Pen-F/E-m10 mark II/III use.

Panasonic recently has been more interesting in what they produce. While I'm a long standing Olympus photographer (16 years), my last three cameras have been Panasonic (G85, LX10, FZ300). I'm slowing starting to adapt to the Panasonic way of doing something.

I do wish Olympus would come out with say an E-m5 mark III or Pen-F mark II, and splash proof mid-level lenses.

Ted Phillips said...

I shoot with an Olympus EM 1 & the 12-100 f4 & 75mm f1.8 & I feel no need to upgrade as the combination does what I need & want. I don’t need to shoot in the dark & I use flash most of the time to control the light. I do believe we are at the point where more features aren’t necessarily going to get most people running to purchase the newest & greatest camera.

Eric Rose said...

Quite the analysis. I totally agree with you on 99% of it. I would say 100% but I don't want to sound like a fanboy ;) . Once the GH5 is replaced I will look for a gently used one. It will make a great stable mate to my G85.

I am glad you have the flexibility to spend the required time with your dad. Of course being a self employed businessman you have all the flexibility you want. You just don't get paid. I've been self employed since the 80's and while I was working would never go back to a normal 9-5 job. Now I am retired, quite a bit before my 9-5 friends and with less wear and tear.

When my dad was in his final years I cherished the time I could spend with him. I could always fit what I needed to do around his schedule. Those are moments you can never get back.

Take care and know Erna and I are praying for you and your family. Even Studio Dog.

Eric

Anonymous said...

Kirk

I know quite a few women who are serious photographers (not pro). A plurality use the Canon models you mentioned. According to them it's because of the color presentation they see on a screen and especially in prints. Inroads are being made by Panasonic lx10 and g85. They do not like oly or Fuji.

Jay

mosswings said...

The Sony A6K series is the horribly disfigured Gollum hissing and grimacing by the side of the road, a cautionary tale for any manufacturer wanting to make something "small and light". Canon, to their credit, has been making compact APS-C mirrorless cameras that don't suck too bad in the UI department, but also don't hew to the punishing form factor that Sony chose for their A6Ks.

I can't warm up to Fuji. As good as their lenses are, I don't like a quasi-retro interface. Modal interfaces are there for a reason in the digital age. Two control wheels or 2 control wheels and a touch screen, yes.

I'd probably be rocking a G85 right now if it weren't for that ^&Y*&^(^ point-and-shoot 4-way controller. Come on, Panasonic, the G85 is an enthusiast's mirrorless. Make a UI that an enthusiast can really love. At least, that an escapee from Nikon land could.

When you boil things down, Canon probably has the best shot at the escaping-DSLR APS-C market, as it is starting to make useful mirrorless cameras if the M5 is any indication - and it has that really quite great DPAF to banish the last annoyance of all the u4/3 bodies - C-AF that doesn't exactly work as well as it should.

And in the end, that's what keeps me rockin' f-mount: C-AF that just works for anything you throw at it. It's taken Sony 3 layers of chips and a refrigerator unit to get data rates up to the level where their OSPDAF is somewhat comparable - but my fingers and brains say "no" to their interface, and to going big. In the next world, you go small or go home - but you go big sensibly. Amazing how sensible Panasonic is - and how troubled the Panasonic camera division is...

With regards to your Dad - been there, done that. It's hard. That's all there is to it. But you only have one Dad to cherish. Amidst all the chaos, remember to be in the moment.

Daniel Walker said...

Kirk,
Thanks for coming back, you have the best and most honest content on the web. I have read over twenty reviews on the Sony A7 III and they all sound like they were written by Sony. I am looking for a new camera and was debating between a Sony A7 III and a Panasonic G9. I keep hoping for Olympus to come out with a OMD M3 but am running out of patience.
Dan

Kodachromeguy said...

Kirk, sorry to hear about your dad. It is a real challenge, so good luck.

Once you are back to your normal busy schedule, please give Fuji another chance. As you noted, their lenses are terrific, and you can, as with Panasonic and Olympus, mount Leica and other brand lenses with adapters. Zeiss even made some great optics, which are surprisingly reasonable on the used market. I have an older X-E1, which has been flawless.

Joe Kashi said...


While I'm not a rabid fan boy and am primarily an M43 user (Olymus E-M5 II and Pen-F with the 12-40 Pro zoom and a bunch of small, sharp Olympus/Panasonic primes), it would be a mistake to dismiss the 36MP IBIS full-frame Pentax K-1. It can provide extremely good large image quality for someone who works slowly and carefully. Clearly. though, it's not targeting the same market niche as Nikon and Canon.

I've found that the K-1 is a good complement to my smaller M43 cameras, with a lot of unique and useful technology and excellent build quality in those weather-resistant metal bodies. I've found, though, every Pentax camera seems to require individualized focus micro-adjustment for good results. Luckily, it's a lot more affordable than comparable Canikon systems, which allows me to pick the right tool between M43 and Pentax for a particular project.

Pentax still has several exceptional full-frame primes lenses on the market at a rational price, including the 31mm and 77mm f/1.8 Limited primes and the optically superb 50/2.8 macro.

The 100/2.8 macro, 200/2.8 and 300/4 prime lenses are also very good on full-frame. All of these are available new and, except the 50/2.8 macro, have exceptionally high quality metal construction that complements the good prime glass. In the 35mm range, the Sigma ART 35/1.4 is of course very good, but the inexpensive Pentax 35/2 and cheap 35/2.4 both work surprisingly well out to the full-frame edges. The prime lens optical choice is weakest in the ultra-wide angle range and I've never liked Pentax zooms except for the new 28-105mm full frame model, which is well-balanced and affordable.

The K-1 is the least expensive high-resolution prograde full-frame dSLR on the market by a easy $1,000 or more. With the new Mark II version, we allegedly have the first hand-held high-resolution pixel shift mode and Pentax has offered to upgrade original K-1 bodies to the newest K-1 Mark II at essentially cost.

As I owned several excellent Pentax primes from several years ago, before M43 became my primary system, I bought a K-1 and found it an excellent complement to my Olympus cameras for those times when ultimate image quality was of primary importance.

Rokrover said...

Your candid commentary on the state of the photographic industry resonates well. It’s a refreshing dose of reality to counter bias from sites driven by advertising revenue like DPR.

Yet we humans are flawed so emotion often trumps reason. After abandoning the ponderous Nikon DSLR realm to dabble with Sony compacts I returned one last time for the D500. This was driven by pure nostalgia for the robust D2X and D300 days, tinged with a collectors desire for what I believe will be the last great Nikon DX body.

Of course it's comforting to have a rational justification so mine is Nikon out-of-camera JPEG’s appeal more than the rather unnatural Sony color palette. I got tired of wrestling raw files to tweak the look.

Cheers,

Ted

Don said...

A nice round-up of where things stand and entertaining to read, as usual. Thanks Kirk and good luck with all your family commitments. Most of us wouldn’t even think of spending time writing a blog in the same circumstances I’m sure.

If it’s of any interest, I also owned an X-Pro1 for a year or so. I loved the ergonomics but operationally it wasn’t quite quick enough for me. I’ve since bought a used X-Pro2 - it is definitely a better camera. Snappy, well built and it has an adjustable dioptre! The files are lovely too. The Acros mode at 2000 iso (for that subtle, slightly ‘gritty’ grain effect) is incredible.

All the best,
Don

William Collinson said...

Another relevant blog post. I’ve shot Nikon DSLRs for over ten years, starting in 2006 with the D50. My kit of the past two years was a D7100 and D610 with a modest set of lenses. I agree with you that the 24-120 f/4G is one of the best all-arounders out there. I also shot m4/3 in parallel for a while, an E-M10ii, G7, and E-M1 with the trinity of 1.8 Oly primes and Panny 12-35. It was a versatile kit and my goto bag for travel and shooting light. But as an enthusiast I couldn’t justify two systems to traded off the m4/3 gear for more Nikon glass.

Last week I traded out of the Nikon gear and have jumped all in with Fuji. This was driven by a few things. For one, though in one sense it shouldn’t matter, I’m concerned for Nikon’s future and the system is starting to feel like it might be heading into sunset. I hope I’m wrong. I also found myself not grabbing the camera bag when heading out, even the D7100 with a Sigma 18-50 on it can feel ponderous to carry around. I was as likely to grab a well used X100S as anything. Finally, my 14 year old daughter, a promising young photographer and aspiring videographer, simply won’t shoot DSLRs. She started on mirrorless and EVFs and simply isn’t interested in shooting any another way. So I brought her to our local camera retailer (like you, we’re fortunate to have a great local camera store here in the Indy metro) and had her try the GH5, E-M1mk2, and Fujifilm X-T2. Having shot my X100S a lot over the past year, she immediately took the X-T2 and so that is where we’re headed.

It is interesting because you talk a lot about having the right kit to meet your professional needs. Also in your writing it is clear that the system has to fit how you work and also be gear you enjoy creating with. As an enthusiast I enjoy a bit more latitude, I have no one to please but myself (and my daughter) and so I can choose a system that inspires me to shoot and to simply enjoy. The m4/3 system is one that does that; I would have been perfectly happy with the GH5, it feels wonderful in hand and is clearly a capable system. But the Fujifilm X system is also lovely, and I look forward to exploring it and getting back to making photographs more often (and get out of the endless gear research loop I’ve been in for the past month).

Your theory about Canon and women photographers is interesting. Here in Indy and Carmel I see about a 50/50 mix of women photogs, both pro and enthusiast, shooting Canon vs. Nikon. At my daughter’s high school I see mostly entry level Canon DSLRs. Strangely, she is one of the few mirrorless shooters there, though there seems to be a lot of interest when she brings the X100S. I’m seeing some pros start to move to mirrorless (Sony mostly). Also, pros here like yourself who are doing a lot of hybrid and video-centric paying work are all shooting Panasonic.

I focus considerably on dance and ballet in my more serious work, and in that small world of photographers I see 90% Nikon and 10% Fuji, with maybe an odd Canon shooter in the mix. The D800 and 810 are most popular, but there are still guys who will keep shooting the venerable D700 until they all simply fall apart. Fuji’s MF system gets a lot of discussion, and few have even invested in it, but I don’t see where the payoff is for working photographers to invest in medium format digital (especially with bodies like the 850 available).

Thanks for the thoughtful writing, wishing you also the best in your personal life. Sorting through my late Father’s estate took nearly a year, so I can sympathize with the effort involved there.

Neale MacMillan said...

Best of luck caring for your Dad.

thequietphotographer said...

i wish you all the best with your family. These moments you'll remember in future-.
robert

Aubrey Silvertooth said...

As a public school teacher with a daughter who is attending the University of Texas at Austin, funds are being watched very closely in our household. My Nikon D-90 still makes beautiful photographs. I was fortunate to get very good copies of the kit lens and the 70-300 and, after several years of working with them, I have found how to get a lot out of them. I find myself grabbing by Minolta X700 and its lovely 35-70 f3.5 more than ever. I develop my own film, which I actually find relaxing, so the cost is relatively inexpensive. I think I am going to hold off on any new purchases for a while, although the Lumix G9 is calling my name. The folks at Precision Camera will have to suffice with keeping me supplied in chemicals and film for a while longer. Thank you for maintaining your blog, especially with all you have on your plate.

tnargs said...

I presume the "G90" you are waiting for is not the GX9? I can't see it happening.

Mitch said...

I started to, finally after a decade, feel with the D750 for my corporate and editorial work that it was time to stop buying cameras until the ones I had, broke. Just like the old film days. Pretty liberating to not have to worry about the latest iterations like my career depended on it. Like the recent old days ... "this one will do TTL again!!! This one will shoot wide without a 14mm required!!!"

Strength for and peace in the family journey that is set in front of you. Thank you for all you share.

Bassman said...

When the cameras we own are sufficient for our needs, even gearheads with means (like me) will slow down our purchases.

My main shooter is an E-M1.2, with an E-M1 classic as a second body. While I would always appreciate better low-light performance, more pixels and magical focusing, I believe further gains will be slow in arriving. The body ergonomics are first rate, the menus (after years starting with the E-M5) seem okay to me, and the Super Control Panel is great. My lens collection slowly evolves, yet the Panasonic 12-35/2.8 that I started my m43 collection with still receiving the most use. The 100-400 and 40-150/2.8 were both outstanding on an African safari last year.

The GX7, sadly, rarely leaves the drawer anymore despite having made many swell images.

The Nikon cameras are all gone now, as are most of the lenses and accessories.

My wife went through your journey with her mom, and I can only send you the best wishes. My own mom, although sharp of wit, has mobility issues at 96 that make her situation difficult. Everytime she starts to feel bad about all of the "trouble" she puts her kids thru these days, I remind her that she wiped all of our bottoms for years and it's payback time. Because really, it's no trouble at all. It's what we do.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, similar thoughts. I shoot Oly & Fuji and unless one needs 4K video, each have in essence, downgraded to the EM-10iii & XE3 models, respectively.
Some ask why we shoot with polarized glasses with our viewfinders, well we just do -- I'm outdoors alot.
I also keep a FZ300 around just in case a superzoom is called for.
To Kirk: Fine write-up, and blessings.
Paul

neopavlik said...

I've been getting a little antsy with my D600 but going out and shooting helps with that. Waiting to get eye autofocus with my favorite lenses which happen to be screw drive ( 105 DC, 180mm 2.8, 300mm 2.8 ). Been thinking of an A7r3 or A73 w/ adapters for Canon varients of those ( 100mm F2 , 200mm 2.8, and 300mm 2.8 ) but that is pretty darn pricy.

Paul Gero said...

THinking of you and your family Kirk...sending prayers to ease your burdens.

Paul

Eric Wojtkun said...

Kirk I was wondering if one day you could elaborate on what you mean by Color Science. Many "Pundits" claim Fuji and Oly have it down as tops for jpegs. The same folks also said Panasonic was off somehow. I respect your thoughts a lot...and you say Panasonic has it down pat. So if you can explain it one day in a blog post I'd appreciate it. I just cut my budget for gear way down, and went from really expensive Fuji gear to a mix of m4/3. One G85 and one OM-D 10 mkII. I can see differences, and there are major differences. Just hard for me a relative novice to understand what is "right" and just "ok" or "wrong". Thanks.