8.31.2018

I just heard more Full Frame rumors. I'm not buying anything new until I see what Panasonic is really coming out with. Announcement at Photokina?

An added source to my conjecture: https://www.eoshd.com/2018/09/panasonic-full-frame-mirrorless-camera/

The most impressive camera I've shot with this year is not the Sony A7Riii or the Nikon D850. Without a doubt it's been the time I've spent with the Panasonic GH5S that's made me sit up and take notice. It's pretty much perfect for shooting video and I'm happy with the noise performance up to 3200 ISO; maybe a little bit past.

But as I was laying in bed, counting 50mm lenses in my head, trying to get to sleep in defiance of my insomnia, it came to me that what I'd really like to see in a new camera would be all the stuff that's in a GH5S but with a full frame sensor. I could care less about actual resolution. I would not even care if it was a 10 megapixel sensor as long as it featured dual ISO (lower ISO = great dynamic range; higher ISO = low noise and nice files) and shot the incredibly beautiful video that I'm already getting out of my current GHS. These guys get the idea of hybrid camera technology, and use, better than any of their peers right now.

Can you imagine a beautiful GH full frame with glorious and gigantic 10 ┬Ám diameter pixels? With incredible color science, minimal noise and 400 Mbs video files, in camera!!! Sure, the camera would still only have 10 to 12 megapixels but the files would look incredible, and never mushy.

I read the rumors and some people were suggesting that since Panasonic and Leica are partners that the lens mount would be the Leica SL lens mount which would give access to a small but highly respected group of modern lenses. But I'm equally sure adapters would abound.

We've seen the Nikon Z introduction and I think it's pretty darn good for photographers. We're all pretty sure Canon is about to drop their mirrorless miracle on the 5th of September and even Olympus seems to have something up their sleeves.

I'm predicting that what happened to film cameras between 2002-2005 is about to happen to traditional DSLRs remaining in the market. They'll be gone as new stock products the minute mirrorless sales jump the line. Traditional camera users will be as vehement in their resistance as their kind were when facing the onslaught of digital during the waning years of film photography. They will kick and scream and prognosticate about how DSLRs will take decades to recede. But then we'll be reading their blogs three years from now as they tout the amazing capabilities of their XXXXXX brand camera. More telling will be their gushing praise and total allegiance to electronic viewfinders. Brace yourselves DSLR users, you are about to be hit by the wave of EVF. Resistance is largely futile.

Don't like EVFs? Better stock up on (now) retro gear. Those D850s won't last long. That is, if we can actually get them out of backorder status....

Just passing along rumors. Don't want you to go on a Z shopping spree if there's something much better just around the corner.

I read this "review" of the new Phase One and laughed so hard espresso came out of my nose. (Did a damn good job clearing my sinuses.....).

http://photothunk.blogspot.com/2018/08/phase-one-camera-for-photographers-who.html#comment-form

From the brilliant and un-opinionated mind of Andrew Molitor. His blog is now on my list of:

I-went-there-but-he-didn't-post-anything-new-for-the-last-couple-of-days-so-I-kept-going-back-until-there-was-new-content-and-I-read-it-and-went-away-feeling-smarter. 

And sometimes I think he may be even more cynical than 1.

Don't trip over the profanity --- my lawyer sez I'm not responsible. For anything which may happen anywhere.....

Environmental Executive Portraiture. Nikon D810. Nikon 70-200mm f4.0.

This is my portrait of Mr. Mark Agro, until recently Mr. Agro was the 
CEO of Ottobock Healthcare Canada. 
I photographed him on location at the north American headquarters 
of Ottobock Healthcare, north America;
here in Austin, Texas. 

I like the recent practice of making offices in buildings with exterior walls that are all floor-to-ceiling glass. If the interiors are also spare and well designed then my clients and their architects have taken away much of the grunt work of environmental photography for me. I need only to find a background that will look nice and unobtrusive when I toss it out of focus by using an open aperture on my taking lens. Then it's a fairly simple matter to figure out the best angle for my subject to provide short lighting (or "Rembrandt" lighting). 

The equipment I brought along for this photograph was pretty simple. I used a Nikon D810 and the cheaper and lighter 70-200mm f4.0 Nikon zoom lens. I could have used a faster lens but I've found that it's considered "normal" to have both the tip of my subject's nose and his ears in acceptable focus and I would end up stopping down any of those fast, sexy lenses to f4.0 or f5.6 as well. And since this is a person and not a product I surely don't need the files to be astringently sharp. 

I did bring along a giant (six foot) white umbrella, a tall light stand and a shoe mount flash with a remote trigger. It's directly behind the camera and positioned up over my head. It adds just the right amount of fill lighting to balance out the light softly gushing in from the windows. My one last nod to the light and lighting design was to float a diffusion frame over Mr. Agro's head in order to block light from an obnoxious "can" fixture in the ceiling above him. 

Conversation was easy since Mark Agro is fun, charming and well informed. Main topic of conversation? Leica cameras and lenses. And an article I wrote about them that ran on Photo.net in 2000 (A.D.).  You may not like the bright lights in the top right of the frame but the art director and I found them charming and insouciant.  We could have retouched them away but that would have been wrong. 

I love doing portraits like this. I started experimenting with this style in the ramp up to writing my first book on photography. Which I am NOT linking to here. 

On a related note. 

Sometimes, when I get too engaged in writing here at the blog, I almost forget that I have another job which entails actually using the various cameras I write about (too often) in order to make money by creating photographs that people and companies actually want to buy/license and use. I know. It's almost counter-intuitive to the usual practice of writing about cameras on the internet to try to make money and then, maybe, grudgingly using the cameras reviewed to create some modest visual proofs that the writer has actually used the camera they have written so vociferously about... 

I can't imagine why most "professional" cameras reviewers would even have opinions about features such as dual card slots since so few of them photograph in fast moving commercial situations with money at risk and clients howling at them to meet deadlines (while adding more shots the brief willy-nilly). Why would the reviewers care if they have to re-shoot a snap of their coffee cup, their Thai food, or their depressed/beleagured looking date? Where's the drama? 

I am often asked why I don't do more to "monetize" this site and I think the best way to answer that is to throw out some stats that I read in a recent article on branding in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.  In writing about YouTube personalities (think of Hugh Brownstone's Three Blind Men and an Elephant channel with has 28,000 subscribers, or Tony and Chelsea Northrup with over one million subscribers for their photography channel) Amanda Hess's research unearthed some interesting numbers. I'll just quote her here: 

"The opportunities to market ourselves online are never-ending, but the financial rewards remain elusive. Headlines heralding the multimillion dollar incomes of YouTube stars can make cultivating a brand there seem like a real career option , but a recent study found that even those with channels among the top 3 percent of viewership can bring in as little as $16,800 a year. " NYT Magazine, May 6, 2018

It turns out that most of the YouTube channels that we, as photographers, reference and visit are engaged in what the Cornell professor, Brooke Erin would label as "Aspirational Labor"; which Erin describes  as a "mode of (mostly) uncompensated, independent work that is propelled by the much-venerated ideal of (trying) to get paid to do what you love." (Also from Hess's NYT article).

To be fair, I don't think all online photo personalities are moored on the shores of poverty. I can imagine that Tony Northrup has figured out how to add affiliate, and self-propeled, income streams galore with various products (training programs, books, videos, etc.) which at least leverage his online popularity among amateur photographers, but I also imagine that a life dependent on YouTube is daily hard work for him and most others. There are, on his channel, almost daily well produced video episodes, podcasts, training videos to star in and produce and so much more. While many would look with jealously at the opportunities he and Chelsea have to travel to camera maker events and to write about each of the latest cameras in order to continue to attract viewers, I'm wondering when the couple has time to spend making their own art; as opposed to creating their own examples for consumer programming. 

I think many people flocked to YouTube to become celebrities only to find that, for most, being a mini-celebrity on YouTube, preaching the new equipment theology, and trying to brand themselves, is probably not paying as well as driving around in your dusty Chrysler mini-van driving for Uber. At some point the reality settles in and many find that the $200 to $600 (or less) per month that the vast majority of bloggers or vloggers pull in is barely enough to keep the lights on and the air conditioning rolling. They come to grips with the necessity of working a "real" job to keep pace. Ever hopeful that some day their blogging/vlogging ship will come in and make them rich. But not leaving nearly enough time in a day to step outside the process to make art for oneself. 

So, who is getting rich amongst all the people that YouTube touches? Oh right! That would be the owners of YouTube who sell mountains of paid advertising, inserted in an amongst the free content. Content given freely to YouTube by people desperate to create a brand that may somehow, someday, pay off for them. Any wonder Google stock is sitting at $1,218 today? With a total company valuation north of $ 800,000,000,000? Not bad. I would love to open a retail store in which I only paid rent while all the products were donated to my store with no strings attached. 

So, why aren't I making every attempt to monetize? Basically, I'm too lazy and probably not the sharpest UV laser in the fab. I like writing here because it provides a low maintenance soapbox while ensuring enough distance between me and most of my audience to prevent real, physical attacks because of something silly I've written. But most of my reticence is about trading a current sense of community for the neediness of a transactional relationship. If I'm not badgering you to buy stuff and I'm not shilling for an advertiser I think it goes a long way toward establishing my credibility as a writer on the subject of photography. I may still be wrong on any given subject but it won't be intentional and it won't be in the service of separating you from your money; just your time. 

Like when we're all trying to evaluate the newest products from Nikon and no one in the bloggosphere has used the product with final firmware....

Ah well, executive portraits. 

I also wonder, as a working photographer for over thirty years, why the incredibly talented and hard-working YouTube Photo Celebrities have not figured out that working in advertising photography, for a high day rate, coupled with usage fees, is a much less iffy way to make more money. 

Ah well. I want to thank them all for the well produced and completely free content they provide me. Perfect for those delays at the airport.....




Fence. Austin, Texas.

Fence. ©kirk tuck.

Nothing to say this morning. 

Well, maybe, "Hello Coffee."


8.30.2018

A brand new camera from Nikon that is destined to save the company's bottom line. And make great photographs.

The Nikon D3500.

I'm pretty sure that the Nikon announcement of the Z6 and Z7 cameras was just a ploy to distract attention from other parts of their product line that were about to be announced. I'm sure they did not want Sony and Canon to gain too much pre-knowledge about the camera that will be the real money maker for Nikon; far outselling any of the models marketed to overly-excited, ardent camera "connoisseurs" that line up to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on luxe camera bodies that are 1 or 2% better than the models (bought a few months ago) that they will replace. Now that Nikon has pulled the decorative cover sheet off the D3500 I'm nearly certain that Canon will be rushing to get out a competitive Rebel model as soon as possible while Sony will gin up another cynical advertising campaign meant to move their ancient a5000 or a6000 stock in response. 

As camera enthusiasts we like to believe (deep down) that good photographs can only be well taken with a "prosumer" or better camera. Afflicted Nikon worshippers draw the line at the D7500 as worst case, and really have come to believe that the only cameras that seriously matter to the true believers are full frame and as new as cheap wine. Likewise, the Canon camp will tolerate 7D cameras, with their tiny cropped frames, but secretly they suspect that "authentic" Canon cameras begin with the 6Dmk2 and hit their stride with the 5D models.

There are no current, newly launched, state-of-the-art cameras from Sony that can compete with a camera like the D3500 for one simple reason: The Nikon D3500 will come ready to shoot, with an 18-55mm version 2, VR kit lens (which is actually not a bad lens at all) for the princely sum of....
$499. Camera, lens, 24 megapixel sensor, no anti-aliasing filter on the sensor, and 1080p video for the paltry sum of $499. (yes, some would have killed for performance like this from a $6,000 camera only a decade ago...).

When the Z cameras were announced I was interested in the way a student of English Literature might be about some newly discovered poems by Andrew Marvell. I'd love to read the poems and understand how they fit in with the existing poems. But I would not be quite ready to bid on the original manuscripts... I think the Z cameras are interesting, capable, new and different but I don't think I "have to have one right away!!!!!!!!!" and I'm pretty certain that even the Z7 won't be that much better an image maker than the little collection of D800's and D800e's that I've been stacking up in the drawer just beneath the mirrorless drawer in my office. I probably won't rush to Precision Camera with my American Express Mocha Edition card with the intention of dragging home a whole new system. But the D3500; now that's a different story. And I'll tell you why....

This is a mature, time tested product line which is limited, really, only by the lenses you choose to put on the mount. The sensor itself should be in the same ballpark as the Fuji and Sony APS-C sensors that photographers love to gush about. But instead of ripping well over a thousand dollars out of your wallet in order to own one you get basically the same level of performance, in the camera, that you could get from a $2,000 trendy body in a delightful and agile DSLR for > $500. Slap a $4,000 Otus super lens on the front of a D3500 and I bet you'd be able to generate pix that would absolutely blow away competitors' cameras, outfitted with "lesser" lenses,  that come with the same basic 24 megapixel, Sony derived sensor. So the limitations for the D3500 should not come from the imaging pipeline, they'll come from the glass you choose to use. 

Of course the little camera will have a number of limitations that pricier cameras will not. But most of those features on the pricier cameras fall into the unnecessary category, equivalent to seat warmers in car seats of automobiles sold and used in Texas. (Believe me, there are maybe three days a year when you might actually want to use seat warmers in Texas....). 

But the limitations will be concrete things like: A smaller buffer. A less impressive eye level finder. A slower frame rate. A less sophisticated autofocus implementation. Less battery life (although the press release states 1200-1500 shots --- so much better than all previous generations of exotic cameras like the 380 shot spec of my old Sony A7Rii...). AND THE MOST SAVAGE DEAL KILLER OF ALL TIME: Only one card slot in the D3500!!!!!

But if I already have GH5 cameras and D800 Nikons and D700 Nikons why would I be at all interested in a cheap-ass camera like the D3500? Hmmmm. Because it's small, quiet, almost disposable and able to take most of the lenses I used on my other Nikon cameras (sorry, no "D" series and absolutely no metering or automation with Ai, MF lenses). I can see using a camera like this when I want to travel with almost zero burden. I'm even considering using a camera like the D3500, combined with a lens like the 24-120mm f4.0 VR to shoot dress rehearsals with because the range is perfect in a way that it's not with full frame Nikons. And much quieter.

I also think it would be a nice camera for a challenge I have in mind for all my friends who walk around spouting things like: "It's not the arrow, it's the Indian." "It's not the camera, it's the photographer." "the most important thing is what's two inches behind the camera" etc. All while routinely dropping thousands of dollars a year on over-engineered cameras of which very little of the camera's potential is even tested, much less used. I would like to get all of them to buy one of these cameras (or the equivalent Canon, or entry level mirrorless) and prove to me (and the world) that it really is more about the photographer than the inventory of toys. 

But here's the bottom line: Nikon may sell a bunch of Z cameras but they will sell a bunch x10 of cameras like the D3500. You'll be able to pick up your D3500, along with your 120 roll pack of toilet paper, from Costco. You could get one along with your driveway oil change kit at Walmart. Might even be able to get one at a Sears store, if one still exists... The Z is not the camera line that will make or break Nikon financially ---- it's the small, cheap highly competent cameras at the bigger bottom of the product pyramid that will keep the wheels turning. And each student, struggling to find a job millennial, mom-turned-photographer-on-a-budget, will  start out with a camera like this and keep the pricier cameras at the top alive by establishing a brand loyalty and by upgrading (as many of us have) over the course of their careers and lives. 

I can hardly wait for the reviews to come in. I hope while DPReview and all the other "usual suspects" are thrashing and trashing that single card slot, and that smaller buffer, etc. they take the time to mention that, used correctly and with good glass, the images out of the camera have the potential to be every bit as good as those from a $1500 Sony a6500 or a $2200 Fuji X-Pro-2. 

When I get mine I'm going full beginner chic and using the big black and yellow camera strap that will, no doubt, come boxed with the camera. No pre-order necessary. These will be flying off the shelves like candy at a supermarket checkout line but Nikon will keep these in stock. 



8.28.2018

Just looking back at a video we did for a client in Toronto last year. Simple but to the point. Most projects aren't breathtaking and spectacular. It's okay if they get the work done.

https://youtu.be/yMFzIU3Lp1o

I spent a few days in Toronto making four different video programs for the German healthcare company, Ottobock. The program here was made to celebrate the anniversary of a very successful product that helps amputees be more mobile.

The CEO of Ottobock Canada anchors the video while the b-roll material is from either an afternoon spent shooting in the company's production facility, or from material shot for the two other videos we were tasked with creating in a short amount of time.

I had an assistant for one of the shooting days but the first two days of shooting were done solo. There is a web-based lie/fiction/fairytale that suggests that it is impossible to do acceptable video without several ingredients.

Those are:

1. A crew of helpers and technicians. Sound operators, grips, gaffers, production assistants and assorted entourage. Plus a secondary crew that shoots behind the scenes videos.

2. State of the art, video specific, gear.

3. The ability to shoot and edit entirely in a S-Log or V-Log setting.

4. An enormous budget and acres of time.

5. Multiple, expensive tools with which to move the camera while filming.

Of course, this is all nonsense. The basics are still what matter most to just about any production.

With practice and some previous experience a good single operator can easily set up for a one person interview in fifteen or twenty minutes. You need to light the interview and can do so with two well chosen fixtures and two modifiers. You need to set up to record sound. I favor boom mounted microphones over lavaliere microphones because I think they sound better. Setting up a mic boom on a light stand, and orienting the microphone correctly, takes five minutes. A few more minutes to set levels and you are good to go. It's always nice to have someone around to pack and haul gear for you but it's not anything someone in reasonable health can't quickly and efficiently do on their own.

The advantages of having NO crew? You don't have to listen to their suggestions, you don't have to feed them and you don't have to pay them. I move quicker when I don't need to explain my delegations.

In the four videos we made in Toronto I used two different cameras; a Sony A7Rii and a Sony RX10iii. You might think the A7Rii was the primary camera but I used it sparingly, and only when I needed to drop focus out in the backgrounds to a greater degree than was possible with the RX10iii. I used the RX10 for over 90% of the shots because its great zoom range made effects and composition so much easier, and, counterintuitively for most people, the video files from the all-in-one camera are just better. The RX10iii was a $1500 camera and at that price it's set and ready to use. About the price of a professional compendium lens shade for the $,4500 Zeiss prime on the front of that $20,000 Sony F55 video rig...that pundits insist one must bring.

So, just how much are you getting paid? How do you justify the cost of ultra-high end gear to create an inexpensive (modest budget) video for web distribution? For YouTube? Really? And you need an Arriflex Alexa to get it done? I didn't think so.

I guess V-Log is great if you shoot on the beach or in super high contrast situations. The rest of the time a non-Log setting is just as good, easier to work with, easier to expose well and ....... just less of a pain in the butt. I spent an afternoon testing the V-Log on the Panasonic GH5S and it works well. Just not any better than shooting in a well modified "natural" camera setting. And the "natural" settings always seem to have much better flesh tones...

When it comes to budgets you may have noticed that most video projects these days have budgets that are sized to match up with their predicted market. Big budgets come hand-in-hand with big distribution and also the intention to do broadcast across multiple markets. The north American market for high tech prosthetics is, at any given time, a tiny fraction of the number of people who will tune in and watch a re-run of "The Big Bang Theory" after work today. You may have noticed that most corporate video projects are intended for one or two small granules of a very granulated media market. It's a small segment... But we probably shoot more often than ever before.

My budget to get to Canada and back, stay in a decent hotel, rent a car, eat nice food, shoot, direct and edit video over the course of four days was less than $20,000. When I look at the numbers I realize that I won't get into the 1% by doing this kind of work but, on the flip side, it's fun, collaborative, refreshing, a constant source of education and learning and, well, it's always been more than enough to pay the bills with. And, with a range of video work added to my photography work, it's easier than ever before to justifying new bits of gear here and there.

If I were to charge what we charged at my former advertising agency for a 30 second TV spot we'd wipe out my client's current video budget for the year with one project. The market has changed. Pricing changes with it. With less money to spend on production of each project you create you need to come up with concepts and shots that are easier to produce. You distill the messages down to make them more direct and accessible. You work with smaller crews. You figure out ways to use the gear you have in-house rather than bleeding off part of your fixed budget to rent the current popular gear.  Makes sense to me.

Finally, there is the idea that the camera needs to be moving all the time. This leads most new filmmakers to rent or buy giant cranes, SteadiCam rigs, and giant, motorized sliders to insure that cameras are constantly buzzing around a set. But too much movement is distracting and takes away attention from the speaker and the content.

Some stuff, like sliders and cranes, are getting replaced by handheld gimbals. Sometimes handheld gimbals can be replaced by dual image stabilization technology combined with digital image stabilization in post. Soon, as the newness of endless movement wears off people will put their cameras back on tripods.

But the bottom line is that all the gear and excessive crew is secondary to:

A really good script.

A really good plan of attack.

Better lighting.

Great Sound.

Wonderful acting.

Good direction.

and.... knowing the limitations and constraints of your project.

Just a thought while reviewing some older work.


8.27.2018

Existential dilemmas related to camera selection and wretched excess.... When is enough too much?


Most of the photographers I know are swimming in cameras. They own many more than they can hold in their hands at one time. All of the cameras they've amassed are very good and highly usable for most work. They just want more. It's like a drug addiction. I guess the root cause of suffering really is desire. The idea of "must have features" is simply the modern way of rationalizing this rampant and largely unchecked feeling of endless desire. I don't know where "deal killer" fits in but I suspect it has to do with rationalizing brand tribalism and also gives a nod to the idea that any new technology must be good even if it was never necessary before. Perhaps we would all be better drivers had automatic transmissions never been invented. Automatic transmissions have largely been an excuse to use one hand to drink giant sodas and fondle phones while driving distractedly around town. What sins might excessive automation and feature creep have visited on the prowess and skills of photographers?

On the other hand I guess most new camera features fall more into the innocuous camp of TV remote controls..... Just laziness. We were all twenty or thirty pounds lighter, and faster on our feet, before the age of TV remote controls. Photographs looked better too....

All photos below are from a "single slot" Nikon D700, shooting with an ancient, manual focus Nikon 55mm f3.5 micro lens at around f5.6. You might get more resolution from a different camera but I'm not sure you'd get a better color file....






8.26.2018

Thinking about the Nikon Z series after reading more from Nikon and trying to figure out what they were aiming to produce versus what reviewers thought Nikon was trying to produce.

It's all in the design mix.

Everybody seems to think that Nikon's design goals with the Z cameras were to match, or somehow better, what consumers like about Sony full frame cameras. This is a mistake. Nikon was trying to figure out how to deliver a totally different set of design parameters. And I maintain that the indicator of this (regardless of how many faux engineers want to argue the point) is the re-invention of the lens mount. Nikon's goals are less about delivering a spec sheet full of matching metrics and, in my opinion, they are interested in nothing less than making a system that delivers the highest potential image quality in a mirrorless package.

The proof will be in the lenses. People have been aghast on the web forae about the cost of the 50mm f1.8 lens ($599) and it's because legions of writers have trained them to think of all 50mm lenses as being "nifty-fifties", designed to be decent performers, and also designed to be dirt cheap. Most 50mm 1.8s are based on really old five and six element designs using standard elements and assembled in cheap, plastic lens bodies. The lenses can generally be forgiven if they are not very sharp wide open because most of them can be bought new for around $125. No wonder everyone is up in arms, they seem to believe that what Nikon is offering is just another garden variety nifty-fifty attached to an "Art" lens price tag. A "kit" lens.

If the wags were diligent enough to do some easy research they'd find that Nikon's new Z, 50mm f1.8 is a totally different animal, and a look at the specs would suggest that it might be a bargain at the price point the lens occupies. Why? Well it's a twelve element design in nine groups. The lens features two ED elements as well as two aspherical elements. The lens surfaces are nano crystal coated and it's also internal focusing. It is definitely not your hipster nephew's Canon or Nikon (F series) nifty-fifty by any means. And if you can believe Nikon there is no need to stop down past full aperture to attain the highest levels of sharpness. It's painfully sharp right at f1.8. If you compare that with older series of 50mm f1.4 and f1.2 lenses from Nikon and Canon you'd understand that even with their lofty price tags the fast 50mm lenses of yesteryear really needed to be stopped down a couple of stops to be critically sharp. If the new Nikon 50mm matches their stopped down performance while used wide open that certainly mitigates against the need to spend more for "faster glass." Seems to be in line with the idea that Nikon's design goals all circle around creating the ultimate in imaging performance throughout the system.

Next let's look at the new 35mm f1.8 lens. It's equally interesting from an optical point of view since it features 11 elements in 9 groups, has three aspherical elements along with two ED elements. It's got the nano crystal coating, weather sealing, the same sharpness aim points as the 50mm and the lens focusing ring can be repurposed as a programmable control ring. So, if the lens proves to be sharper than any of its competitors; from Canon to Sony to Zeiss, would it be worth the asking price of $849?

My point is that most reviewers seem to be sitting down with a list of features that are offered on current Sony A7 models and going down that list just mindlessly dinging the Nikon products for not focusing on matching the Sony list. It's my contention that Nikon had a different model in mind. I think they are going to make demonstrably better lenses as well as demonstrably better color science processing in photographs and video, and make those attributes their prime differentiators. Seems a damn sight more valuable to me than getting into a misguided pissing match about which system can shoot the most frames per second. Or which system has the most automation features.

I guess my questions for all the naysayer are these: If the Nikon Z cameras can leverage the new mount (and have really optimized the color science) such that the images from the cameras are, technically and aesthetically, much better than the images coming out of any of their competitor's cameras, and the cost of this perfection is one QXD card instead of two fragile SD cards, which would you choose? If the Nikons have better image performance across the system as well as better handling and better industrial design but this comes at the cost of no having eye detect AF, which would you choose?

The question at hand is: Are you interested in collaborating with a camera to make great images or do you demand all the gingerbread features that allow you to play tech-savant while being totally happy with images that, going forward, will represent a compromise?

I could be totally wrong. Nikon could be blowing massive smoke into our knowledge pipeline. But if they turn out to match what now seems like advertising hyperbole with real performance it will eventually come down to each of us having to choose whether we prefer one implementation over another.

I've handled the Sony A7 bodies over the three generations but no one I personally know has handled an actual Nikon Z camera. If my experience and my hunches are correct I anticipate that Nikon has produced a camera body that feels just right in most people's hands. They can be brilliant lens makers as well. Especially, I would think, if their existential survival depends on it.

I don't believe much of what I've seen and read on the web so far because the fact that all the reviewers were working with cameras that had unfinished firmware makes all of their shared experience little more than "fake news." The proof will come out the week Nikon starts to deliver cameras. For the person who is an imaging perfectionist the new system may just deliver exactly what mirrorless fans have always wanted: A platform with near medium format performance combined with great haptics. Too bad about lower specification for frames per second. I just can't shoot studio still life images with anything less than 21 frames per second. And GPS.

Oh, and for all the people comparing Sony video to Nikon video..... one video project with a GH5S and you'll never look back. It's the ultimate argument that photographers who shoot video WILL benefit from a two camera system.

HERE'S MY FREAKIN DISCLAIMER: (Let's see the other guys match this!): We not only didn't go to a Nikon unveiling event, we also didn't belly up to the open bar, photograph the silly set ups and otherwise waste time. We didn't preview or review a camera with unfinished firmware. We aren't advertising Nikon, Amazon or B&H on this site. We have no pre-order links, or indeed any links at all to product attached to this article (blog post?). And we have engineered no affiliate links to take advantage of what I've just written here.

Instead I read everything that Nikon said they intend to do, every specification about each of the new products and matched those things against my own camera use profiles and attempted to talk about why I think this is a different product than all the other stuff on the market. In the same way that the Nikon D800 was different than everything that came before it back when it was introduced.

I'd like to buy one of the Z6 cameras as well as a 50mm f1.8 Z lens. I think it would be cool. But probably not that much better than the images I already get out of a Nikon D700 with a Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art lens. But I'm kinda tired of the mercenary writing crews trying to force the Nikon Z story  into a Sony box.

Get over it. It's a different product and probably aimed at a different demographic/user profile.

Don't like Nikon's new stuff? Just don't buy it.

Added later: Apparently the lack of a second card slot and eye AF isn't discouraging tens of thousands of pre-orders for the Nikon Z7. Check this out: https://petapixel.com/2018/08/28/nikon-is-sorry-that-the-z7-is-selling-so-quickly/


Intimate camera handling versus menu driven convenience-appliance use.

Venice. 

When I mention how strange I find it that some people pick out a feature, or lack of feature, on a camera and call it a "deal killer" I think I'm just reflecting how differently people approach their creative tools. I find myself wondering why other people make the trade-offs they do with equipment and am sometimes puzzled by which compromises are most important to them.

To use an example: If two cameras were equally capable of making very, very high quality images but one camera was designed to feel much better in the hand, and have a better overall interface, while the other camera was less comfortable in use but had features such as two card slots (presuming the competitor has only one card slot) or included GPS, which one would I choose? Well, of course I would choose the one that I'd enjoy having in my hands for hours at a time, possibly over the course of years.

But equally experienced photographers of a different mindset might choose to ignore ergonomic shortcomings in order to have the piece of mind that a dual card slot might bring, or to leverage the (very questionable) advantages provided by GPS (which I find a worthless concept for any but hardcore travel photographers).

People are free to choose whatever combination of handling, build and feature sets they want but choices that diverge from mine always cause me to stop and try to decipher why they value the very things that seem to fly under my radar while being willing to put up with various operational discomforts instead.

I think I finally figured it out. The answer lies in the way the two different contingents think about cameras in general.

I started thinking about the difference in the way people use their cameras and feel about their cameras in the context of how groups of people use their smart phones. At first I thought it was a generational thing but many people older me by a long shot are virtuosos with their phones. They know all the cool apps and controls, they whisk around town creating personal hot spots, doing their banking and using their phones to control their daiquiri blenders, the temperature of their bathwater and to automate the bird feeder in the back yard. I bought my iPhone to make and receive phone calls and only recently mastered texting. I think of products as singular tools despite adoring the "idea" of Swiss Army knives.

If I had to chose between a phone which makes it easy to make calls on and to get texts with versus a phone that could do a million more things I know I would gravitate to the simpler phone just because the onus of having to master a thousand apps and a dozen pages of menus makes me tired and makes me feel as though all of our time is leached away learning a million useless control steps but the tool is never really pressed into actually doing the art. Or the call. Or the whatever.

My preference in a camera will generally be how it feels to use it. How much it becomes a trusted ally in helping me do the things I want to do and create the images I want to create. I spend long days with my cameras and generally have one by my side most waking hours.

If you shoot the same way and in the same style most of the time you either get used to the feel of the camera or you grow to dislike it. Whether you persist with a camera that makes your brain/hand combination unsettled for the sake of either specification satisfaction or some feature you can't find anywhere else depends on your individual disposition.

I see cameras as very, very specific tools. More so since I started shooting video in earnest with the GH5S. I tested that camera for stills and it's fine but it is so much a dedicated video camera that this is all I find myself using it for. If I want to shoot video I pick up the GH5S. I like the video files from the camera more than anything else I've shot since the days in which we shot 35mm movie film. I may, in fact, try to trade my original GH5 for another S variant just for that reason. But I don't see the GH5S as an "all arounder" and won't take it along in situations where I my intention is to just shoot photographs.

At the other end of the spectrum I find the Nikon D700 to be a very, very comfortable physical camera with a very well thought out and uncomplicated physical interface design. It is designed for one this only and that is to take photographs. It is unencumbered by video, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-fi and all the countless modes that more modern cameras fester with and so it has a clear intentionality of purpose and seems to convey that sensibility of intention to a daily user. To put it clearly it is a camera that becomes more and more transparent to the process the longer one uses it and gets comfortable with it. And, at the bottom of all camera design and use isn't the real idea to make a camera which doesn't distract from the process with poor handling and unnecessary operational complexity? It is for me.

A quick way to tell whether you prefer a "pure" experience or "need" the complexity of a feature rich camera is this: Do you know what all the function buttons on your camera are programmed to do and do you use all of the function buttons on your cameras in the process of making your photographs? Do you routinely use Bluetooth or wi-fi in the daily routine of making your own, personal, not-for-publication photographs?

If you answered yes then you are probably the same type of person who understands all the myriad possibilities of your smart phone and how to access them. We are opposites. Our camera choices may never converge. And that's the starting point to understanding how I'm going to approach my approach to the new Nikon Z cameras. I'll be evaluating how well they work as shooting cameras; not how many check boxes they tick. I'm ordering the Z6 as it makes the most sense.

When I get back from San Antonio this evening let's look at what Nikon's real intention for the new cameras is, as expressed by the insanely well designed lenses as represented by the 35mm f1.8. See Michael Johnston's most recent discussion of this lens at theonlinephotographer.com

I'm headed down to San Antonio to visit my dad and have lunch with him. I'm taking along a Nikon D700 and the 85mm f1.8. Should be a nice day for a visit. Happy Sunday!

8.23.2018

It's already started. The Nikon Z's won't ship till the end of September (earliest) and already the YouTube reviewers have found a "major" point of contention.

Chrysta does a furniture ad.

Here it is: Tony Northrup will be recommending that professional photographers NOT purchase the Z6 or Z7 because......wait for it......the camera does not feature dual card slots. This is his position having not yet used either camera and I will be interested to see if his position changes once he is delivered to New York City, feted and entertained by Nikon's PR agency who will, no doubt, provide a rational and defensible argument as to why, going forward, it's okay for their two cameras to only have one card slot...and a QXD at that. That happens, I think, this weekend so I'm sure we'll know more after checking  Tony's YouTube channel on Monday. 

I'm neutral on the whole "dual card slot imbroglio." I understand the only good rationale and that is to have a duplicate copy of important, once in a life time, photographs from non-repeating events or imaging opportunities. Got it. If a card goes bad you've still got one in the second slot with which to save your bacon. But I have to say that I have either been incredibly lucky over the years or the incidence of card failures (among authentic cards from well known makers) is wildly over-reported. 

It's been a while since I experienced any sort of photographic equipment failure other than just wearing out lenses or something occurring from drop damage. But I do get the point; a second card slot is a relatively cheap and easy way to get a redundant back-up. 

This is, of course, why every photographer worth his government issued, official professional photographer licensing card here in the U.S.A. (not a real thing) carries back-up equipment for everything. When I go on location to shoot a non-repeatable corporate executive head shot I always take along duplicates of all mission critical equipment: A camera and a back up camera. A range of lenses and an exact duplicate of the first range of lenses. Back up batteries for each camera. A back up camera strap for each in case my strap frays or unexpectedly snaps into pieces from overuse. A set of studio flashes, and a second set of back up studio flashes. Enough memory cards to back up the back up cards in the main and back up cameras. I generally bring along a second set of prescription glasses and a second set of prescription sunglasses. 

But that's just the core gear. I bring an assistant, and also a back up assistant in case the first assistant eats some bad mayonnaise at lunch and becomes incapacitated. I bring along a second set of clothes for myself and also for my assistants in case we fall in mud or some fiber eating microbes begin to disintegrate our original clothes. I pack a lunch, and then a second lunch in case the first lunch is lost or destroyed. I bring along empty Pelican cases just in case our primary cases are somehow destroyed during the shoot. 

I carry plenty of back up tripods because you never know when one will short circuit or become humidity damaged. We bring duplicate light stands just in case someone runs over our primary collection of light stands with a forklift or other warehouse vehicle. And soft boxes! Dozens and dozens in all sizes. Many duplicates in case the fiber glass rods snap...

Finally, we bring along a second car in case the first car breaks down, either on the way to or the way from, our client's chosen location. All of this duplication is cost intensive but I don't see how else one could call oneself a "professional photographer" unless you are willing to dive onto the top of a live grenade of equipment spending and required portage costs in order to give your client unmatched service and piece of mind. The cheap bastards deserve nothing less... 

At times though I look at this endless imagined need for back up and duplication in different ways. I've never acquired a back up spouse and so far I've experienced no job stopping corruption, or total spouse failure. I only have the one house and that's been working well since about 1995. And I've actually flown in planes with single engines and if there was ever a perceived need for redundant back up that would be it.

I would be interested to know if you've recently experienced any card failures from modern (post 2010) memory cards. If you routinely save money by buying the Russian surplus or Chinese counterfeit cards from the Amazing "marketplace" you are on your own. But if you are using current "big brand" cards that came from a trusted source I would be most interested in being proven wrong and saying a big mea culpa to Tony Northrup (whose videos I actually very much enjoy --- even when I don't always agree). 

Let me know if the single card slot on the Nikon Z's is really the big "deal killer" for you. And why. 
Thanks. KT



Can we have a quick discussion about the Nikon announcement?


I had a chance to read all the promotional stuff from Nikon this morning, as well as the mindless chatter of articles on DPReview. My take is that Nikon produced a very nice first try of a mirrorless camera. They got some stuff right and then swung and missed on some other stuff. If I was a Nikon shooter I'd think about adding one of the two bodies to my inventory for things like those times when you really do need a silent shutter or when you really need to have autofocus that works well in video. I think their choice of sensors is perfect; one for ultimate image quality and one for great overall quality and speed (24 and 45 megapixels). 

I haven't handled one but it looks like they got the grip right. I'm pretty sure the lens mount will end up being a good decision down the road although I hate the idea of having to buy new lenses when the old Nikon F lenses still work so well. An interesting possible benefit to the people who aren't thinking of making the switch from Nikon F to Nikon Z any time in the near future might be that with other people switching the used market will be flooded with excellent F glass (and bodies) at ever lowering prices. I'm still looking for that perfect D810 but at a $1200 price point. It will happen, it might just take a bit more time.

I'm also happy with the overall styling of the camera but time will tell if it's too small to handle well or if it is too light to provide a solid and vibration resistant platform. By popular demand (and marketing necessity) the cameras feature five axis image stabilization with the Z lenses and three axis stabilization with older AFS lenses. People will love that the AF points in the flagship camera occupy the majority of the frame. 

Videographers will scratch their collective heads, wondering why some video features were not improved vis-a-vis the D850 but most will take a wait and see position pending actually shooting some files and looking at them. Nikon seems to view suppliers like Atomos as a natural ally and feature supplimenter for video in that high quality codecs (the sort of which can be handled in camera by GH5 cameras) are only available when using an external video recorder. If you want anything more than 100 Mbs 8 bit files you'll need to use the HDMI port to export into a digital recorder to unlock the good stuff. In a certain way it makes sense but when a two year old camera can suck up faster bit rate files with much more information and then write them in camera you have to wonder how serious Nikon is about the video market....

So, good feature sets, nice new lens mount, in body image stabilization, some backward compatibility with F lenses, a pretty body design, and full frame UHD video are all really nice and useful. We like to think about having these things. But where has the ball been dropped? Where was there potential that remains unrealized? Let's see.

I'll start with the battery. It's a variant of the EL-EN 15 and it's only rated at 330 shots. I know that the camera has continuous live view and those faster processors suck up juice like crazy but I also know that if the marketing team hadn't badgered the designers to try and get close to Sony's dwarfish camera body size they could have made the camera a bit bigger, easier to handle, a more stable platform for handholding, and a home for a bigger and more enduring battery. I think a battery grip will help but one will still get about half the battery mileage one gets with an off the shelf, traditionally mirrored DSLR.

The video specs are nothing to write home about. The 8 bit, 4:2:0 in-camera codec seems underpowered when Panasonic GH5 and GH5s cameras can write up to 400 Mbs in camera and offer a wide variety of 10 bit, 422 files that can be recorded in-camera onto a standard V90 SD card. The GH5S can also offer codecs that allow you to shoot 4K at 60p while the Nikon is restricted to 30p in 4K. According to pundits, who may or may not have actually shot any real video with the new Nikons, the rolling shutter at the full frame, 4K setting is nothing to write home about. 

Finally, even though Panasonic showed the way into the hearts and minds of serious filmmakers with in camera tools such as a vector scope and a wave form monitor Nikon chose to stick to the hobbyist route and leave these valuable features out. If you are a serious video shooter and you are using an Atomos Ninja Something or Other you'll be able to take advantage of those advanced features and also "false color" in spite of these features not being offered on the camera. 

From what I'm reading they did get the EVF just about right. Very high res and very nice eyepiece optics but they wimped out in the engineering a bit and stuck with a 60 fps refresh rate instead of pushing the envelope and implementing a 120 fps lens rate as debuted in the Panasonic GH5S.

To sum up: I think Nikon put some good thought and design skills into making a better body design than Fuji or Sony have been able to do. Unlike some naysayers I think the bigger lens mount will lead to more interesting and higher performances lenses (if Nikon rises to the challenge). For most social media and web-based video, corporate or otherwise, I think the video specs are quite usable and you could consider this a true, hybrid video camera (thought not as well provisioned as at least two of the less expensive cameras from Panasonic). 

People will bitch and whine, mostly for no good reason, about things like the single card slot for memory cards, or the fact that the camera just takes QXD cards. People will always bitch about price. But the majority of camera buyers will be satisfied that these will be  great work and play cameras; especially for people who have long used Nikon and are bored with their current cameras and ready to see just how good photography can be with a well designed mirrorless camera with a nice EVF. 

It really doesn't matter who was first to market. Panasonic rolled out a full on mirrorless concept ten years ago and the innovation alone certainly didn't rocket them to the top of the market. In many ways I think Nikon was smart to let everyone else grapple with the complexity of innovation and to come along and leverage all the engineering work and the heavy lifting of marketing ground work, done by others, in making mirrorless a successful concept on the eyes of consumers. Nikon was able to continue to sell millions of more traditional cameras while Olympus, Panasonic, Sony and Fuji worked hard at selling the "concept" of a new kind of camera to somewhat wary consumers. Now that the concept has been driven home the vast majority of the worldwide market now feel comfortable in making the transition and Nikon has swooped in with no legacy baggage in the space and should be able to grab a great R.O.I. because both they and Canon still own most of the mindshare among photographers who spend and upgrade. A nice strategy. The Zune was one of the first MPEG portable music players but it is now buried in a shallow grave in the tech history grave yard while late arrival, Apple, cleaned up in the space and then used their iPod product as the technical launching pad for the insanely successful iPhone. 

Will I buy one of these new cameras? Sure. I'll make construct a rationalization around the idea of just getting the 24 meg version and the 50mm lens and becoming a "one camera and one lens" purist. But you know me. By the end of the year I'll have most of the inventory squirreled away in my bag. 

At this point though I'm finding a lot more to like about the GH5S. It's not just a video camera. But more on that later.

What are your thoughts on Nikon's announcement? Will they be able to deliver in bulk? Will they kick Sony's butt? Are still cameras just a dead end? Comment?   

8.22.2018

Those days when you think of selling a couple thousand pounds of cameras, lights and stuff, buying an old M4 and a 50mm Summicron and walking away from the routine. Where did I put that brick of Kodachrome?


I thought you might like to see what a video frame from a GH5S, shooting in L. Monochrome with an Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 Pro, looks like when we pull a still frame.

A frame from a 4K video clip shot at Esther's Follies on a Panasonic GH5S.
The cast is doing a script rehearsal. Fascinating to me. 

(Below: my edited version. The target I'll aim for in the promotional video)



(Maybe with a bit less added noise the next time around.....). 


I've read over the last few years that we will soon be able to pull still frames from our videos. I decided this afternoon to see what a 4K still frame, taken directly from a handheld video clip shot at 30 fps (1/60th of a second shutter) with the lens set at f4.0.

Well, this is what mine looks like. I would guess that by using a tripod I could have made the frame even sharper. I would also add a bit more midrange contrast to the image but wanted to present the file the way it was shot for video.

It's interesting to me to see just how nice the frame looks prior to grading or post processing.

My GH5S gets more interesting every day that I shoot with it.

As I think about the new Nikon mirrorless cameras I find myself looking back at work done on a wide range of Nikon cameras. From the D100 through the D850, and lots of stops in between.

from a rehearsal of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" circa 2006.

If you want to figure out what kind of camera (and what brand of camera) you really like to shoot with it may be instructional for you to go back and look at which cameras (and brands) have cycled through your hands with the greatest frequency. What did you like about them and what led you to change into other systems. 

One of the system I seem to gravitate toward most often is Nikon. Specifically, traditional Nikon DSLR cameras. I can generally pick up any of the cameras they've made in the past two decades and figure them out in minutes. They feel good. And, with hindsight being better than presbyopia, I can see that even the older models were, in fact, good performers. By that I mean the images you could create with them were excellent. Some I would rate as excellent in their time but some were just flat out excellent, even when compared to today's cameras. 

I looking through the files I came across a set of images that I shot for the theater production of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Some were done with with one of my least favorite cameras, the D200 and some were taken with one of my favorite Nikon cameras, the D2X (see image at the top of the article). 

There is an undercurrent of thought, becoming more prevalent among photographers, which posits that the camera industries much touted advancements in the last ten years have been less spectacular than marketing and industry reporting would have us believe. As I look through various files I've come across material we shot with a 2002 Kodak DCS 760 which our clients used as 4x6 foot point of purchase displays; and marveled at how good it looks. Ditto for the much underrated (image quality wise) Kodak DCS SLR/n. We shot a series of images that became large wall graphics using the low ISO settings on that camera and the files seemed better than some of the images I've pulled off much more recent and higher res cameras. (The SLR/n had an ISO 25 setting that worked by making multiple exposures into one file while reducing noise via anomaly cancellation processing. The end result was files of incredible detail and sharpness with no discernible noise. The trade off was the need to shoot with continuous light and the long shooting a processing times...). 

Even the files from the early D100 were good. The sensor in that camera was a 6 megapixel one in an APS-C size. That camera's biggest fault was a tiny raw buffer. You got four shots and then the camera went dormant for while in order to process them....

I have several favorites from the middle years of Nikon digital cameras, including: The D2XS. It was prone to noise at any ISO setting above 640 but the files in the sweet range (200-400) were/are competitive with anything on the market today, when comparing like sizes. It was a rock solid camera that nailed focus without much fuss and yielded great color without much sweat in post. 

The D700 deserves to be considered as one of the legendary cameras of the digital age. And the next big step up was the D800/D800e. It's six years on since the D800e and yet, when I compare files with a D810 at ISO 100 I'm sure not seeing six years of quality increase or magic. A bit more dynamic range for people destined to shoot outside in the sun but for most people either camera is so capable of delivering amazing files that the recurrent limitation will be that of most people's technical skills or the quality of their lens collection.

I sold my mid-term Nikons and jumped to Canon at a time when Nikon didn't have any full frame cameras with a resolution over 12 megapixels. Canon had come out with the 5D2 and it was a pretty amazing camera in it's time. I was personally happy with the D700 but I had a few clients who were clearly mesmerized by the marketing hype of high resolution and I felt like I needed to keep up with the Joneses. We weren't nearly as smart back then. I bought the technical enticements hook, line and sinker.

When Nikon launched the D3X and I looked at the price tag I felt entirely vindicated for choosing the Canon and it took a while for Nikon to step up and match. The Canons were great cameras but after Nikon got up to speed with the D750 I switched back again (and there were "sub-systems" in between). 

Now I am actually waiting with a bit of excitement to see what Nikon presents us at tomorrow's launch. I can get all lofty and say that I don't need anything beyond what I have today but I'll just repeat a quote from the character of Mr. Burns on "The Simpsons" when Lisa Simpson asks him (paraphrasing here): 'You are one of the richest men in the world why keep chasing stuff?' and he responds that while he is quite rich  ----- "I would gladly trade it all for just a little more!"

I'm by no means rich but, where cameras are concerned I often have the feeling that I too would, "Gladly trade them all for some just a little newer..."

Currently working through the obvious logic dysfunction I've describe here....

Looking back I am amazed at how much I disliked the D200 and how much I enjoyed making photographs with the D2xs. Perhaps one of the new mirrorless models will raise the bar in some noticeable way which will make it easier for me to rationalize yet another unnecessary expense. 




















When a camera has certain performance parameters that exceed your expectations. By a lot. Today it was the GH5S shooting black and white video.


I recently acquired a Panasonic GH5S and I hadn't had the opportunity to give it a thorough test until this week. While I've shot some RAW stills with the camera one doesn't really buy a $2500, 10 megapixel hybrid camera unless one is looking for some specialized performance, and, in this case that performance is all about the video. I have an original GH5 but when the S version came out I read up and realized that the dual ISO feature and the improvements (though subtle) in video image quality and overall color science would be a plus for any projects I might consider.

When the opportunity came along to trade one of the two GH5 originals for an almost new GH5S I came up with a check for the difference (fair is fair) and didn't hesitate.

I spent part of last week and any spare moment during last weekend familiarizing myself with the video menus and the handling feel of the camera when used as a video camera (as opposed to how one handles the camera when shooting stills...). I also tested the codecs to find the right balance between creating files that would work in our typical end media and not getting lost in

8.20.2018

Robin Wong discovers that older cameras can be very good photography making machines.

https://blog.mingthein.com/2018/08/20/digital-classic-robin-reviews-the-original-canon-5d/#more-17429

I guess a lot of us are wrapped up in a mid-first-decade of the new century reappraisal/re-appreciation of just how good the camera tech was for the third generation of full frame gear.

Would be interested to hear back from the newest D700 users to see what they think. Chime in!

8.19.2018

I spent $17 on a total "piece of crap" lens and I had a fun time shooting with it yesterday. Hello "Holga for Nikon." Can't wait to use this "glass" on a new Nikon Z with an adapter......hmmm.

I had a serious purpose for being nose deep in Amazon.com on Thursday. We'd just gotten the "thumbs up" on fun video projects from three different clients and I wanted to buy a Thunderbolt SSD drive to put all my footage on for faster editing. I found what I hope will be a good drive but when I was on the site I made the mistake of looking around at the Nikon lenses to see if there was any particular focal length I had missed and needed more than oxygen....

Nothing from Nikon bubbled up but when I started looking at third party lenses I came across the most counter-intuitive lens I could possible imagine. The Holga people have begun packaging the famous(?) Holga 60mm f8.0 lens that has been "featured" on their cameras for decades for various other brands of camera. You can now buy a 60mm Holga f8.0 for your Nikon, Canon and micro four thirds cameras. The lenses come with the appropriate mount for each brand. The build quality is utter crap and focusing is strictly by zone. There is no way to change apertures and even the smartest cameras with the best Auto-ISO will be mystified by exposure with this "gem." 

I should mention that there is one decent feature set: The Holga lens comes complete with front and rear caps.

The vignetting is so strong that the lens acts like a t16 instead of an f8.0. The edges are monstrously dark and I found that the highest precision approach to both focus and exposure was ---- trial and error. Much error, even more trial. 

I should mention that the lens (which I assume is a one element lens design) is not sharp anywhere in the frame. The one benefit for all you people obsessed with camera weight and size is that the all-plastic lens body construction probably weighs in at about 2 ounces and it will fit in the front pocket of your most hipster trousers.

Here (above and below) is my gallery from Saturday's Holga Photo Safari in downtown Austin. See the attack of the electric scooters!!!! See the dark edges!!! No Instagram filters were used in the degradation of these images!!! See flare an anamorphic lens lover could be proud of!!!!

Why did I buy it? Why do I do anything? Lack of impulse control and a credit card balance that the issuing bank seems to be ignoring.... Will I keep it? Well, of course. How else will I be able to invent a whole new style for myself for the future?

Can't wait slap an adapter on the lens and mount it on the GH5S. With the vignetting and distortion of the lens coupled with some V-Log and beginner color grading I think I'll have the kind of winning new "authentic" vibe I need to reach a whole new generation of photo buyers. Cheers!