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!