Photicious - Photography Thoughts, Reviews and Ramblings


Canon 1DX Mark II and Canon 5D Mark IV

January 30th, 2015

There’ve been rumors about an impending Canon 1DX Mark II and Canon 5D Mark IV for awhile now, but today’s firmware release for the 1DX and 5D Mark III just doused those hopes and pushed them down the timeline for 1-2 years. I love Canon’s policy of getting the hardware right first time around and upping the camera’s usefulness through firmware upgrades, which are at times quite massive.

Nikon almost never does this, the firmware releases are bug fixes or adaptations for new lenses. They rather put out a new camera, which saturates a market unable to absorb the number of new expensive bodies entering it. I’m talking about the recent D800/D810 debacle, where the D800 held for little more than an year. The result is massive value depreciation of the to-be-replaced camera which frankly pisses me off.

Message to Nikon: Stick to a 3+-year product release cycle and concentrate on firmware enhancements of the existing line-up. We’ll love you for it!

Is Nikon Shutting Out DX In Pro Bodies?

February 21st, 2013

The shiny new D7100 was introduced today. Which leads me to speculate that Nikon has deemed DX crop-factor cameras to be “amateur” and FX to be “pro” (barring the D600). Why? because it has not upgraded the former “pro” lineup of DX bodies since the D300s.

Now ever since the D7000 saw the light of our wallets a few years ago, photographers have been waiting, hoping or clamoring for an upgrade to the significantly older “Pro” D300s. The D7000 didn’t have the feel and weight of the Dx00 series, nor were the images quite as good in terms of color authenticity, external ports and other more or less important aspects. Now that the Dx00 lineup has not been updated while the D7x00/Dx0 amateur lineup has leads me to speculate that Nikon does not deem DX to be fit for pro use anymore.

Which might actually make sense, now that I think of it.

It also appears that the optical low-pass filter is a thing of the past, since Nikon experimented with dropping in the D800E. While the D3200 already has a 24MP sensor, same as the D7100, I assume the D7100 would easily knock the socks off the smaller model in the sharpness department due to this feature.

DSLR Pixel Wars Continue to 55 Megapixels

April 25th, 2012

Does the entry-level Nikon D3200 forecast the development of 55 megapixel SLRs? Yup, sure can!

The announcement of the D3200 gives an indication where the pixel wars are going next, now that image resolution is again in vogue. The 16 Megapixel D7000 with DX-Sensor dimensions of 23,6 x 15,6 mm enabled the release of the 36 megapixel D800 with FX-Sensor dimensions of 35,9 x 24,0 mm, both cameras having approximately the same sensor pixel density. The sensor area ratio of DX to FX is 2.3 (pixel density being the same), so 16 * 2.3 gives ~36.

55 megapixels may be next55 megapixels may be next

Enter the D3200 with 24.2 megapixels on a DX sensor, which translates into 24.2*2.3 = 55.6 megapixels. So an FX camera with the pixel density of the D3200 will be a 55 megapixel camera.

Nice!

Medium format is being seriously threatened.

Nikon actually considering a release of such a camera will depend on how well the D800 is received. Too many photographers grouching about gigantic RAW files may delay release till demand grows.

 

Sony NEX-VG10/VG20 Flimsy Tripod Mount

December 8th, 2011

Much has been written about the small and flimsy piece of metal under the SONY NEX VG10 and VG20 videocams masquerading as a tripod mount. I had expected SONY to provide an improvement for the VG20 but disappointingly there was none. However, there is a detail you should observe to keep yours from breaking – keep the tripod screw less than 5.5mm.

Well, mine broke too (see pic).

VG10 Tripod Mount Broken, Tripod Unremovable VG10 Tripod Mount Broken, Tripod Unremovable

Since I needed the cam for the following production there was no time to send it for repairs to SONY (which would have taken weeks, not days).

So I opened up the bottom plate and plunked in a replacement from another camera. Some phone calls later and I got a replacement plate (as a spare part, this costs around 90$. With labor a lot more. SONY was generous enough to waive the cost. Replacing is easy if you have a mini Philips screwdriver).

It was only later when I found out the probable reason why the mount failed. The SONY handbook notes that the tripod screw must be less than 5.5mm in length. Anything longer and you’ll be leveraging the mount right out of it’s plastic surroundings. Granted, the mount looks flimsy if you happen to open the camcorder, but remember that the VG10 and VG20 are not pro cameras, and are not built to take daily abuse.

So for all normal purposes, you’ll get by fine with the tripod mount, taking care that your screw is short enough.

Space Time-Lapse

November 17th, 2011

Holy crap, watch this full screen! (D3S time lapse)

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael König on Vimeo.

Inside SD-Memory

August 18th, 2011

If you ever had the urge to know what’s inside a memory card. look below. I cracked open a Sandisk 2 GB SD-Card.

At the top is the interface chip, below the flash memory chip.

What's inside a SD memory card?What's inside a SD memory card?

Antique Passport Photography

June 22nd, 2011

The 5 minute street paper-photo in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

Wow, Killer Sports Video

June 21st, 2011

Watch this awesome sports footage:

Battle Of The Cameras

May 23rd, 2011

Must-see, lol (sound must be turned up loud!).

D7000 Problems…

February 10th, 2011

In their mad rush to roll out the wildly successful D7000 in time for the Christmas Season, Nikon appears to have foregone their quality assurance to leave us with a bunch of duds. Well, almost.

Everyone and their aunt seems to have one of these now, a D7000.

It IS better than it’s predecessor, the D90, but really THAT much better? Well, some seemed to have thought so, including me.

I bought mine early, just as the camera was announced, to replace my D90 travel camera. It took ages to arrive, mostly because Nikon focussed it’s sales on the Kit model for the newbies. Body-only peeps had to wait, and this is still true, months later.

The first thing I noticed with the 17-55mm lens was that focussing sometimes just didn’t activate. It seemed dead. I’d fiddle with the AF button on the front left and then suddenly it would spring into action. I uploaded the firmware upgrade but that didn’t help either. Being a sporadic problem, I went to Nikon’s Repair Center personally to show the camera. Apparently the lens locking switch needs replacement. I’m glad that they found the problem.

Then I noticed that the manual’s pages were all haywire, some pages were missing and others were out of sequence. Got a replacement from Nikon.

An acquaintance’s D7000’s light meter doesn’t work, another case for repair. This is my 7th Nikon camera but the first to need any repairs when new. Hope things clear up soon.

The Shutter Count Myth

February 10th, 2011

I just had a buyer whom I sold one of my old D300’s on Ebay to hurl mud at me screaming “but the camera has 92k shutter counts!!!! I want my money back!!!”.

Holy shit!

It seems every SLR-Buyer is looking for the shutter actuation count in order to judge the state of the camera. The shutter being the only moving part in the camera which is rated by the manufacturer, this would seem to make sense.

Seems to me we’re back into the heydays of the Megapixel race. We crave for a hard and fast metric to judge an item.

12 Megapixels!

Or just 5000 actuations!! (much better than 7000 actuations, isn’t it?)

Baloney.

Shutter count will not tell you:

  • How badly the camera has been knocked about or dropped
  • If it is a dud
  • If it has been left excessively long in the rain or burning sun
  • Has other inherent problems.

Although the manufacturer might be forced to cite a number in the specs, there is no hard and fast rule what it actually means. I think it is meant to convey that “you should not be concerned if your shutter conks out after this number of shots”. Or, “you should not be concerned if your shutter conks out before this number of shots”.

A camera will NOT DIE the moment it reaches the rated count! (as some lady seems to believe). It is not a printer cartridge which will disable the printer as soon as the print count has been reached. In fact a rather unscientific site – but the only one I found –  seems to suggest that there is not much of a correlation between shutter counts and shutter lifetime. The shutter might die at 10k, 100k or sometimes 1million or more actuations.

The actuation count on my main camera is WAY beyond the manufacturer’s specs, but the camera works as good as new.

Replace the shutter when it dies – it isn’t that expensive (the actuation count will also be reset to 0).

So: Enjoy shooting and stop worrying about the number. It is essentially irrelevant.

Nikon D7000 vs D700 vs D90 vs D300 [Comparison PICS]

November 17th, 2010

As already mentioned in my previous post, the D7000  finally arrived!

The four contestants: Top D300 and D700, bottom D7000 and D90. Notice the size differences

The four contestants: Top D300 and D700, bottom D7000 and D90. Notice the size differences

So before I send off my D90 and  D300 to Ebay’s chopping  block, I took a bunch of unscientific comparison shots at the full range of ISO settings with the D700, D7000, D90 and D300 – see the full-resolution pics below.

The subject is a heap of Lego, which provides recognizable color, sharp edges and a dark area for noise-comparison.

The glorious subject :-)

The glorious subject :-)

Settings and Setup

I used the 24-70mm/f2.8, arguably Nikon’s best general-purpose lens, always at f2.8 and 70mm. I used the shallow depth of field on purpose to compare the noise in bokeh areas.

I used the NL (neutral) setting, Auto White Balance, and camera on manual. For the D700 I needed to move the tripod nearer to the Lego to compensate for full-frame and left the lens at 70mm.

All the files are JPEG LARGE, optimized for quality, straight out of the camera (all EXIF is intact), and file sizes are around 3-6MB each.

Exposure varied from 1/8s (ISO 100) to 1/2000s (ISO 25600).

D90 Pictures

D300 Pictures

D700 Pictures

D7000 Pictures

Bottom Line

The images at low ISOs from all bodies are comparable, with the D7000 providing 16MP and the others 12MP.

In regard to ISO performance the four bodies fall into two classes, with the D90 and D300 being roughly equivalent in one and the D7000 and D700 in the higher-performing class.

The D7000 is definitely compares to the high-ISO performance of the D700, and that by a crop sensor and at a higher pixel count!

It is remarkable to me that Nikon has integrated so much of it’s high-end technology and performance into the consumer-grade D7000.

A Note to the Critics

Some may bicker that the images are not shot in “low light” conditions. This is irrelevant. A sensor will need a certain number of photons to produce a correct exposure and will not care how they arrived to it, whether through a longer exposure or through a larger aperture.

So a sensor will produce an identical image at for example 1/1000s @ f/1.4 or 1/15s @f/11 all other things being identical and ignoring DOF.

Lower the light by 6 stops and open the aperture to f/1.4 and you’ll have the same image once again at 1/15s.

For time exposures starting at 8 seconds (Nikon applies long-exposure noise reduction at this value) this statement is not valid, but 8 seconds is  way beyond the 1/8s slowest exposure used in this series.

So this comparison IS absolutely valid for the low light found in common situations like events and weddings.

Someone noted that the images were “blurry”. Yup, that’s known as Bokeh :-). There is always a focus point in each image of course.

Nikon D7000 First Look

November 17th, 2010

Yay, so I finally got my D7000 body today! (the kit version has been shipping since weeks but that’s not what I wanted)

In short, this camera blows the D90 and D300s out of the water and will even give the higher-end models a run for their money. There is a difference in speed to the D700 and D300s, for example, but if you’ve never owned a D700 there won’t be anything you’ll miss.

First off, this body oozes quality, and all the controls feel just that much ever-so-slightly more upscale than the older models. The battery is new (yuck) and so is the charger (yuck again), but since the charger is larger I assumed that charge times will be shorter and this is true. A full charge took about 1-1/4 hour which is faster than the old charger. The new EN EL15 battery’s capacity has risen from the 11,1 Wh of the old model to 13.3 Wh; this is good.

SO where are the goodies?

  • Nikon has finally addressed their loud shutter-click issue: the D7000 is quieter than the previous quietest models, the D90 and D80.
  • The Quiet Shutter mode (set the dial on the top left of camera to Q) tones down the sound much further and this alone would be a reason for me to buy this camera (the D300s has this too).
  • All the scene modes – a number of new ones have been added – have been banned away from the top dial (great! who uses these anyway?)
  • The button layout at back left is identical to the pro bodies (finally!!)
  • Movie mode seems to work well but this isn’t my first priority so I’ll delve in this later.
  • Two SD card slots on the side with various modes as to how they are deployed.
  • A virtual horizon (same as the pro bodies), configurable to the front function button.
  • A dial top left to select Single shot, Continuous Low, Continuous High, Quiet, Mirror Up etc (same as the pro bodies),
  • ISO way up to 25k if you need it and up to 12k for pretty darn good images.
  • 16 Megapixels vs. 12 MP of all the old bodies (yes, megapixels DO matter).

WOW!!!!

Summed up: I shall not miss my D90 one bit, it’s been fully and totally obsoleted by the D7000.

I’ll be using the D7000 as a general purpose and travel body, so the smaller size comparing to the Dx00 series will definitely be an advantage. For commercial work I’ll still prefer the feel of the larger Dx00 bodies. It’ll be 2011 till those are replaced by Nikon and I’m sure they will be blockbusters!

SONY NEX-VG10 Still Images (ISO 200-12800)

November 9th, 2010

I put my SONY NEX VG10 onto a tripod and shot a bunch of shots from ISO 200 to 12800. Mode on Manual, WB on shade, Aperture open fully on the 18-200mm kit lens.

In a nutshell, NOT BAD pretty darn good till ISO 6400 and acceptable at ISO 12800!

Click on a picture to see the straight-out-of-the-camera high resolution image. This means these haven’t been passed through any image processor like Photoshop whatsoever.

I’m wondering what the limitations of the 18-200mm kit lens are and am DYING to try out the VG10 with my *nice* pro Nikon lenses. Unfortunately the NEX to Nikon adapter I’d ordered from China hasn’t arrived yet, I’m pretty pissed.

Careful: The images are large at 3-7MB apeiece. All the EXIF-Info is intact of course.


ISO 200


ISO 400


ISO 800


ISO 1600


ISO 3200


ISO 6400


ISO 12800


Shot @ISO 200 showing Bokeh of 18-200mm kit lens

And here’s a couple more for good measure:





Test Footage: SONY NEX VG10 with STEADICAM Merlin

November 7th, 2010

I took my Sony VG10E, plunked it on my Steadicam Merlin and spun it through a quick test chasing my son running around and up and down some steps. The VG10 was set to program mode and had the 18-200mm kit lens set to 18mm. White balance on Auto. The sound is original and from the built in microphone.

Watch the Merlin performing (this was a no-rehearsal, unplanned, see-what-happens take), see how the VG10 handles back light, full frontal sun and sudden transitions to shade.

The artifacts seen at times is due to the Youtube compression and is not present in the original footage. Around 0.18 you’ll see my reflection in the glass. I didn’t set the video to be played in HD on purpose. Feel free to view at a higher resolution than shown here.

Sony NEX VG10 with Steadicam’s Merlin

October 17th, 2010

I’ve had Steadicam’s Merlin for quite a while now and though it is expensive, it’s a nice tool to get smooth video while moving the camera on your legs. I’d mostly used it with Canon’s HV30 Camcorder, which is a lot smaller and lighter than the Sony NEX VG10 with the 18-200mm kit lens.

In short: it works, nicely!

Sony VG10 Camcorder with Steadicam Merlin

Sony NEX VG10 Camcorder with Steadicam Merlin

I had to fiddle about till I got balance, and I had this configuration:

  • NEX VG10E with 18-200mm kit lens
  • Lens set at 18mm
  • Standard FV70 battery
  • Display flipped out
  • Lens hood removed
  • Wind muffler attached to microphone
  • Eyecup attached.

Change any of this any you’ll need to re-balance the Merlin. With the lens of the NEX VG10 being so heavy, the center of gravity of the camera is way to rear, which is reflected in the position of the camcorder on the Merlin. Using the optional bigger FV100 battery, center of gravity moves forward a bit and will work by just adjusting the stage  forward – no additional weight needed.

Ok, my settings were as follows:

  • Caliper extended quite far
  • 2 full weights and two half-weighs attached
  • Hole H on the stage
  • -3 cm offset
  • NO mid-weight. I’ve found that removing the mid-weight (shown in the image) gives a better balance and also allowing the camera to be mounted slightly forward on the stage.

Since SONY’s Steadyshot is not quite as good as the regular steadyshot I’ve gotten used to from them, probably due to the large sensor in this camcorder, the Merlin is a very useful device.

With the NEX VG10, the Merlin does become quite heavy for single-hand operation, but I guess my hand will get used to the additional weight in time and will adapt by itself.

Stay tuned for video footage from my first exploits.

P.S. you might notice in the photo above that the hand holding the Merlin is not vertical. This is just a consequence of bending over to pose for the photo; normally the grip is vertical.

SONY NEX VG10 Review (first peek)

October 4th, 2010

My Sony NEX VG10E arrived on Friday.

YAY!

Sony NEX VG10 Camcorder

Sony NEX VG10 Camcorder

I had excitedly pre-ordered this first affordable APS-C interchangeable-lens camcorder from SONY and it’s been a long wait till it finally arrived.

What’s In The Box?

The VG-10 arrived in a relatively small box. Apart from the camcorder and the included 18-200mm lens, there was:

  • a FV-70 Lithium-Ion battery (the larger FV-100 is available separately at additional cost)
  • a battery charger
  • an AC adapter to power the camera
  • forward and rear lens caps
  • USB cable
  • a dead-cat-style wind-screen for the microphone
  • a lens hood
  • a cage for the end of the battery compartment
  • a quick-start manual
  • a CD-ROM with software and the user-manual
  • a voucher with location and keys for downloading and activating SONY’s Vegas video-editing software and a bunch of nice sounds.

My First Impressions

  • The camcorder looks and feels nice
  • The 18-200 lens looks nice, however operating the zoom is not buttery smooth like on Nikon’s lenses but somewhat stiff and therefore feels cheap. There is NO power zoom on the Sony VG-10, all zooming has to be done manually, more specifically by holding the camcorder’s lens-end with the left hand. The camcorder’s rear end is held up by the right hand in the conventional camcorder strap. Using the VG10 with just the right hand is tiring and feels imbalanced, because the lens is simply too heavy. This takes some getting used to but works fine thereafter.
  • The lens moves out considerably while zooming in. Combined with the lack of a power zoom this means that operating the camcorder on a steadicam (I have Tiffen’s Merlin Steadicam which would otherwise be perfect for a machine this size) will be a pain if you need to zoom – you would need to rebalance all the time. NOT convenient.
  • Sony forgot to backlight the controls – while operating the camcorder at night, I found it difficult to locate the controls.
  • I am a manual freak but this camera is not geared towards manual operation. Ewwwwww! You can adjust exposure compensation, focus, gain, iris (aperture), exposure-time, white balance and shooting mode (P, A, S, M provided) manually, but you first need to hit the corresponding button hidden inside the swivel-out LCD-display, then turn the thumb-wheel to the desired setting, then press the thumb-wheel to confirm. This takes much too long to be really effective in a live shooting situation. It would have been much more effective – even with the supplied controls – to hit the corresponding button repeatedly till the desired setting was reached – e.g. switch from auto to manual focus and back just by hitting the button twice.
  • The focus ring, while present, does not allow for manual override, e.g. focusing in auto, then turning the ring for manual focus override. Or being in manual focus and pressing the single photo shot button for a back-button-focus style override is not possible.
  • You can swivel the LCD-display only a maximum of 90° upwards and downwards, it’s not possible to go 180° to be able to flip it on it’s back to show the monitor to the subject being shot.
  • Auto-focus is sluggish, especially when light is low. But even in daylight it’s not comparable to a conventional modern camcorder.
  • There’s a “RECORDING” delay of around 4 seconds after pressing the record-button to end a recording, which is somewhat irritating. (I used a class 4 64GB SD-Card, so this delay may – or may not – be shorter with a faster card). Also, commencing a recording has a delay of around 1 second.
  • No macro-mode with the kit lens. You’ll need the separate 30mm lens for this, for example.

What I Liked

  • Video quality is nice
  • Handling is generally nice – as long as you don’t want to use the camera in manual mode
  • The camcorder is light and almost frighteningly small: If you remove the lens and subtract the battery compartment at the rear, the body is less than 7.5 cm deep!
  • The large rubber eye-cup is great for viewfinder shooters
  • The battery compartment can hold the optional larger FV-100 battery without it jutting out from the rear of the VG10.
  • You can directly copy the video files from the SD card to the computer (SDXC cards above 32GB might need the exFAT driver to work)
  • You can directly play the AVCHD video files using the free VLC video player and also directly import them into Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.
  • You can use the camcorder well for floor level shooting by holding it by it’s top handle and using either the viewfinder tilted upwards (nice) or the display to monitor the frame.

Connectors

I found the following connectors on the VG10:

  • HDMI
  • USB (yes, you can transfer both Video and stills over USB to the computer)
  • Microphone
  • Headphone
  • Power-in

Photo Mode

You can take still photographs with the VG10, with the restriction of no mixed stills and movie shooting: You need to press the mode button at the rear of the camcorder to set to stills or video mode. The camera automatically reverts back to video mode on power-on.

Pressing the dedicated PHOTO button causes the camera to release, pressing it in halfway auto-focuses (with an optional beep). The release is not silent but somewhat reminiscent to a Polaroid release click. In repeat-shooting mode this can sound somewhat intimidating.

You can set the focus-point via menu. However this a far cry from focus-point control on a DSLR.

You can set single-shot, or continuous shooting modes. The continuous mode is overly sensitive, so you’ll probably end up shooting several frames when you just wanted one.

To Sum Things Up

  • This is not a pro-level camcorder by any means, being mostly unusable in rapidly changing situations like weddings.  Too much menu vs. button operation and slow auto-focus are the main show-stoppers. Build quality similarly does not conform to professional standards.
  • It’s not a camcorder for manual shooters – the handling over multiple, not easily accessible buttons, menus and the thumb-wheel are much too fidgety.
  • The lack of power zoom sucks initially but is fine once you get used to pulling the zoom manually.
  • The battery charger is very slow. For serious work you’ll need to buy the AC-VQV10 charger.

I have ordered a third-party NEX-to-Nikon lens adapter so I’m curious to see what my crop of Nikon lenses do to the VG10. This and more hands-on experience with raw footage and photos will be the subject of one of my next posts.

Exciting Times! (Sony A55)

September 24th, 2010

More innovation on the DSLR front, with SONY doing away with the slap-back mirror and replacing it with a transparent mirror, giving for getting rid of the mirror slap (finally!!! thank goodness!!!), a faster image rate, continuous autofocus, continuous imagefinder viewing, a smaller footprint, less maintenance and what have you!

Could it be that we’ve finally struck the death knell for the DSLR? That would be fantabulous!!

Here’s a clip with David Pogue showing the main features. Exciting times indeed for photographers!

D7000 Goodness

September 15th, 2010

After some advance speculation yesterday on Engadget, probably a “controlled” leak on the part of Nikon, the goodies are now officially announced:

The new Nikon D7000 and a random bunch of lenses.

Let’s look at the new body, a phenomenal beauty (as far as features go):

  • 16MP sensor
  • 25K Max ISO
  • 2 SD slots
  • Full HD-Video with stereo sound recording (w/external mic), internal mono mic
  • Full-time AF and manual controls for Video (finally!)
  • Sealed body
  • 150k cycle shutter

However (yuck):

  • Video sequences are limited to 20 minutes (if SONY can build an APS-C camcorder with unlimited recording time, why are you telling us that your sensor gets all hot and bothered after just 20 minutes?)
  • New rechargeable battery type
  • Mono built-in microphone (any camcorder has stereo so why not this baby?)
  • Native 100 ISO (instead of 200). It’s easier to slap on a ND-filter to push ISO down lower than to pump it up higher. We LIKE native ISO 200, Nikon!
Nikon D7000 body

Nikon D7000 body

So we’ve essentially gotten an upgraded D300s packed into a smaller body with some amateur features like scene modes for a fantastic price. The D7000 obsoletes both the D90 AND the D300s in one fell swoop, and even matches or beats the D700 in most features except in being full frame.

Holy Moly!

The model number suggests that Nikon has moved the “prosumer” range of Dxx cameras into the Dxxxx range and merged it into the entry-level bodies. So, we’ve got the following ranges of Nikon DSLRs now:

  • Dx – pro (sports and fast action), currently D3, D3s, D3x
  • Dxxx – full frame pro small-body no grip, currently D700
  • Dxxx – DX pro small-body no grip, currently D300s
  • Dxxxx – amateur, this baby D7000
  • Dxxxx – entry, currently D3100
  • Dxx – consumer range, now defunct, last addition: D90.

The amount of cool technology being offered to the entry-level crowd is amazing! It is fully possible to take professional-grade images in almost all situations with this body (provided you know how). It far surpasses the feature set of the pro range of just a few years ago.

HOWEVER, I think Nikon has made a mistake in choosing the model number – they should have stuck with the Dxx range and perhaps called it the D91. D90 owners wouldn’t like “stepping down” into the entry Dxxxx range. And the Dxxxx range now contains the new 14MP D3100 and this 16MP D7000. So the waters are now unnecessarily muddled up. Perhaps Nikon should have come up with new model ranges to clean up their mess.

Now that Nikon has given away all it’s pro features for a song, I’m guessing that there must be something pretty huge in store for the Dx and Dxxx series upgrade!!! I am positively drooling in anticipation of what’s coming!

Nikon’s New Offerings

August 19th, 2010

So Nikon just announced the D3100.

Yawn, so who cares?

Nikon D3100 setiing the stage for things to come?

Nikon D3100 setiing the stage for things to come?

I do, even though I don’t care about the D3100 by itself. I care about the features of this camera, which no doubt will percolate upwards to the slowly due upgrade of Nikon’s Dxxx and Dxx series.

So what do I see?

  • An upgrade to a 14MP sensor
  • 1080p instead of 720p video
  • Permanent Video AF (sorely needed feature)
  • (I hope it will finally be possible use manual settings with video)
  • SDXC Memory supported (Dxx), makes sense for Video
  • I hope there are no more limits to video shooting time which sure is a PITA with the D90.

They left the mono sound! Yuck!!!

It’s not really THAT much goodness, so I hope there will me more goodies underneath the hood which are not apparent from the spec-sheet.

Now that Sony has their VG10 Camcorder, the uniqueness of DSLR Video is dead in the water, because you finally have a REAL camcorder with the DOF-capability of a DSLR.

The upgrade to 14MP IS a big deal, because the goodness of Nikon’s uniform 12MP DX and FX sensor resolution will be shattered, which will translate into an upgrade to a D90+, the D300+ and the D700+.

So what about the Nikon D4?

Strategically, I’ll guess they’ll omit the low-resolution (12-14MP range) sensors altogether and stick to the higher sensor-density models, bumping up their ISO-capability to current D3-levels.

Wow, GO Sony! (NEX VG-10)

July 22nd, 2010

I’ve been waiting for this for years and FINALLY someone’s done it!

Sony, with it’s NEX VG-10 Camcorder.
(I was hoping Nikon or Canon would, but they’ve been such slouches lately)

  • APS-C Exmor CMOS Sensor.
  • Interchangeable lenses.
  • 1920x1080i.
  • 14 MP Stills at 7 fps (wow).

Now it’s time to finally forget all those crappy DSLRs posing as video cameras.

Sony NEX VG10 Camcorder

Sony NEX VG10 Camcorder

Kling Summer ’10

July 15th, 2010

Just stumbled across these absolutely gorgeous images by Antonella Arismendi from Spanish clothing outlet Kling. Clothing, models, expressions, styling, makeup, location, photography and post all join forces to deliver the perfect dreamy and undeniably sexy WOW images.

Check out the Kling and Antonella’s websites for more images from the series.

Lady Antebellum Cover

July 14th, 2010

With their ubiquitous and monster Fleetwood-Mac-Rumors-Meets-Cock-Robin tune “Need You Now” leading me to their album, I was stunned by the cover.

What a beauty!

An unusual and captivating pose:

The Yummy Lady Antebellum Cover

The Yummy Lady Antebellum Cover

Technically: nothing special. Looks like a 1 light, 1 reflector job and a plain backdrop. The pose and the expressions do it all, with a number of triangles adding to the magic.

Btw: In case you don’t have the song up to your eyeballs yet, here’s one of the live renditions.

Timeslicing

July 10th, 2010

Multi-camera timeslicing. Real cool!

MySnaps

July 2nd, 2010

Today’s New York Times has an article “This Year’s Model: Me” which is all about taking impromptu images for online and personal use. The shots are all off, but that doesn’t matter in the least. They’re supposed to be that way! Take a look.

Me, The Model

Me, The Model

3 Crappy Things Wedding Photographers Say

October 20th, 2009

On website-bios and interviews some wedding photographers sometimes write/say a few ridiculous things meant to impress. Someone.

Since everyone seems to say the same stuff, it doesn’t really work.

“I’m passionate about photography”

Yeah. You’d have to be, because you aren’t really earning much money. The passion somewhat compensates the low income. The ones who are financially successful have their passion elsewhere: in running a business.

“I got my first camera at age {x}” (insert any low digit)

Everyone has, so who cares? Now if your mom gave birth to you holding a camera in your hands, that would be news.

“In my first year I shot {xx} weddings!!!” (insert high double or triple digit number)

Of course you did, your prices were so ridiculously low!

You won’t say that you
i) didn’t earn any money
ii) almost killed yourself through work-overload
iii) nearly ruined your relationship/marriage in the process.

Nikon D800 in 8 Months

October 14th, 2009

With Nikon unveiling its D3s today, it’s a matter of time before these goodies percolate down to the semi-pro Dx00 series. With the D3, this took about 8 months till the D700 inherited its features (and more).

Nikon D3s

Nikon D3s

So I’m expecting a D800 (or D700s) to be announced in about a 6-12-month timeframe. ISO 102400? Yeah! Slient-shutter-mode? Yeah!! HD Movie function? Yeah!!!

Nikon: Now, we just need you to add a swiveling Display and a rotary ISO knob to the D800 and you’ll have all you need to make me part with my D700.

Photographers Rendered Obsolete

August 6th, 2009

The Sony Party shot is a base which rotates 360° and tilts. It controls the mounted Sony camera to zoom in and releases the shutter.

Automatically.

Yes!!!

Wow, I’m floored.

Watch this:

And if you don’t believe me, check out the press release (you need some Japanese language skills for this).

Do You Need the Nikon D300s?

July 30th, 2009

Nikon’s announced the D300s today, deliverable as of 1. August 2009.

Nikon D300s

Nikon D300s

As an owner of several D300’s, I inspected the specs to see if there was something in the bag I needed to persuade me to upgrade.

In short: No.

Nikon has merged the capabilities of the D90 with those of the D300 to produce this hybrid. No longer do buyers of the D300 need to envy features available in the much cheaper D90, movies for example.

The D300s now also rolls 1280×720 (720i) movies, same as the D90. This is NOT 1080i HD. It pumps out the TV signal through a crappy HDMI-C connector, the full-sized HDMI connector of the D300 is gone.

A dedicated Liveview button has been added, same as the D90. (this is a convenient feature, which can be programmed to the FUNC button on the D700 but not on the D300. Come on Nikon, add this in a firmware upgrade).

A virtual horizon has been added, same as the D700 and D3.

A second SD-Memory slot in addition to CF has been added, although it’s not clear if this can be used to allow simultaneous writing to both cards. Which would be nice.

A silent shutter mode has been added. This is perhaps the most intriguing feature of this camera. I’ll need to check this out on a physical copy of the camera to make up my mind.

Apart from this, all the upgrades seem to be minor: “better AF”, faster continuous shoot mode (by a hair), Auto-D-Lighting (as on the D90 and D700).

So, in a nutshell, nothing revolutionary in the D300s. If you’re crazy for video the D90 will be good enough (although hardly anywhere nearly as good as a pro camcorder). If you already have a D300, keep it.

And finally, what I missed on the D300s:

* 1080i Video

* Swivelling display like the D5000

* Higher resolution sensor

* Rotating ISO dial which I mentioned ages ago (The Canon G10 already has this)

* Better Movie-AF

* In-Camera VR for movies

“Which Camera Do You Use?”

July 17th, 2009

This is the question photographers are most often asked .

This is also the question which irritates them the most. When Helmut Newton supposedly was asked this by a famous cook, he blustered back “and which pans do you use?”.

So why does this question touch a raw nerve among photographers?

Simple, ego.

They assume that others perceive the key to achieving their results to be the camera, not them. Their talent, their eye and their experience is not being appreciated. They assume that others feel that would they have the same camera, they would get identical results.

Photographers counter this with similarly interesting statements “the camera is not important”. “I could shoot with any camera”. “I’ve won contests with cellphone pictures” (just stumbled across this somewhere. He’s proudly listing his small arsenal of equipment which would easily cost around $10k. That’s ridiculous. I’d be more impressed if he could pull it off with a Canon 500D or a Nikon D5000 and a kit zoom).

Yuck.

If the equipment were not important, why are they not all shooting with 100$ point and shoots?

Gear IS important, so important in fact that the so sought-after shallow-depth-of-field look is creating high demand for some the fastest lenses available, Canon’s 50mm/f1.2 and 85mm/f1.2. They are not cheap pieces of equipment. Is there any well-known photographer who uses the significantly smaller and cheaper f1.4 version instead of the f1.2, although there is hardly a big difference between the two? I don’t know any. The same goes for the camera itself, for example “Full Frame” and high ISO capability are all the rage right now.

Yes, you might happen to win a contest with a cellphone image. This could happen to both a professional or a rank amateur. It all boils down to luck, happening to press the shutter when all conditions were optimal. A professional might get a few more lucky strikes than the amateur, but that’s it.

The problem is that the results are not consistent. It is simply not possible to get consistently good results with a consumer camera under any condition which can be encountered. Low light. Studio. Rain. Fast action. Single-opportunity situations. Tight schedule. Cramped quarters. Getting published. And so on.

So – let’s go through some typical situations:

* Low light? You’ll have speckles all over with a point and shoot. If you can focus, that is.
* Studio? Your model will run when he sees your camera. If he doesn’t, try triggering a studio flash setup with a cellphone camera.
* Rain? Your camera’s electronic junk after the first 3 drops.
* Fast action? Umm, ever heard of shutter lag?
* Single opportunity situations? Oops, the camera couldn’t focus on the bride walking up the aisle. Yeah, and the kiss happened just moments before.
* Tight schedule? Wait till I change batteries and wait again till I find the menu to pump up the ISO.
* Cramped quarters? Back up, back up. Ow, didn’t see those stairs behind me. Never mind, I’ll stitch a pano in Photoshop.
* Getting published? What? These images are noisy? Come on!

And consistency is what it’s all about in professional photography. Take any situation and be 100% sure to get a great if not stunning image.

This can only be obtained with a combination of an artist’s eye, experience and equipment. Take one away and it just won’t work.