Dec 122013
 

Intro

Well, it has been a while that I divested myself from Nikon, selling my D800 and many of my lenses to busier (and probably better) photographers who would give them more than a “shelf life”. In the past few months I have been shooting my Olympus OM-D E-M5, and more recently an E-M1, which covered 90% of what I do and are compact enough to be brought along almost anywhere. For full frame imaging, I used a Leica M, with its excellent optics. However I kept my favorite Nikkor lenses, namely the 85 mm AF-S f1.4,Nikon-Df1 45 mm PC-E and few other primes (105 f2.5 Ai-S and Micro 105 AF-S), as well as a 17-35mm AF-S, the latter to be used with my Full Spectrum converted D7000 for IR-landscapes.

Recently Nikon annouced the Df (Digital fusion, which I think is a misnomer- I think F-D, as in digital F, would have been ore fitting). If you are reading this you probably know already, but the Nikon Df is a “retro styled” full frame camera (FX in Nikon speak). Retro in this case means the top of the camera is reminiscent of the FE and F3 of yonder, with dedicated dials for shutter speed, exposure compensation and ISO, as well as a shutter button that accepts – nice but useless tough IMO – a mechanical shutter release cable. The back, and –  more important –  the innards – of the camera are pretty modern DSLR material built around the excellent 16 MP sensor of Nikon’s flagship D4, which is the best low light sensor available in any camera today (I am not alone in this opinion).

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Jul 242012
 

I have had the D800 for a few months now – being an early adopter. Of course I have heard about the focus problems but never saw anything obvious. I Must also admit that I use a lot of center focus and recompose. A bit of history: I was a big fan of the D700, loved its low light capabilities (though I rarely shoot above ISO 800), but I found it’s 12 MP sometimes limiting when making large prints (16×20 and above). It leaves little room for cropping – which I freely admit to – and the lack of some features, i.e.  video, crop modes such as 5:4 implemented in the D3, as well as an awkward Live view, made me yearn for an update. I acquired the D7000 as a back up, which replaced and beat the D300s in ISO but is smaller and less sturdy, and sold the D700 last November, thinking once the replacement was out I’d upgrade to the rumored  D4 or D800. Upgrading to the expensive and bulky D4  just did not make sense. For one, I like to shoot landscapes, and I am lugging already heavy lenses. Second, 16 MP felt like it was geared towards the sports or news shooter. It took a while, but the day the D800 was announced my order was in and thanks for Bangor Photo, I was probably one of the firsts in Maine to get one!

 

So when the problems kept propping up and I had not noticed anything, I counted myself among the lucky. I even calibrated all my lenses with the fine tune AF function! I even did a quick and dirty hand held test and figured that everything was alight. Then I stumbled across Thom Hogan’s advisory and testing method and thought I’d give it a try. Here is the setup:

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Jul 232012
 

I recently got my hands on an Olympus OM-D E-M5, which is a complicated name for a really neat camera. It is a “micro 4/3rd”, or M<FT, camera, which means the sensor is 1/4 the size of a full frame (I know there is no logic in the designation, it has to do with how sensor size used to be gauged), and thus lenses used on that format have double “effective” (i.e. 35mm film equivalent) focal length. In other words, a 25 mm lens gives you the same field of view as a 50mm on full frame. The OM-D is the 3rd iteration of MFT for Olympus and surpasses even the quite decent E-P3 (IMO by quite a bit). It  actually looks like a mini DSLR – hardy larger than my well liked Nikon V1, which it will soon replace. In fact, it is the camera the Nikon V1 should have been… Continue reading »

Feb 132012
 

Just received the FT-1 adapter to Nikon V1. It enables me to use my F-mount lenses on that little compact, albeit with a crop factor of 2.7x.

 

So far I am impressed – not so much by the lenses, I knew they are superb, but by the V1. The FT-1 construction is very solid. It is compatible with a wide array of lenses. It is a bit bulky but that fades when the large Nikkor lenses are mounted. It clearly holds up very well, and the “big” lenses show up the flaws in the kit 10-30 zoom , which looks comparatively soft. The 14-24 gives amazing detail on the small 10 MP sensor. The V1 with those big lenses looks pretty weird though, like a Sony NEX on steroids.

 

Testing the Kit 10-30 vs the Nikkor 14-24 f2.8, at f5.0 and 24mm, on a tripod

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Jan 192012
 

I am no compact camera fan, as you probably know. I must say though that I am impressed with the Olympus XZ-1, recently purchased as a underwater photography backup and also conveniently replacing my Nikon V1, which had to make an unexpected trip to Nikon for a repair.

I was pleasantly surprised when a few pictures I took of a friend’s twins turned out rather nice. The big plus on the XZ-1 is it’s lens, which has a wide aperture of f1.8 at the wide end (28mm equivalent) and only f2.5 at the long end. This beats hands down its “only” competition in the enthusiast segment, the Panasonic LX-5 (f2.0 – 3.3, 24 – 90mm) and Canon S100 (f2.0 to 5.9, 24-120mm), although both obviously have 4mm on the wide end and the S100 is a bit longer.

Sleeping Bear

 

Lakota

Dec 082011
 

I promised I’d put the Nikon V1 through the paces as a street shooter. Today, I hit the streets of Manhattan for a few hours. I also took along my Leica M6, and a good supply of TMAX 400, not knowing how I’d like the V1.

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Dec 042011
 

If you read my post about the AW100 then you know I’ve had my share of bump ins with compact cameras. They are pocket-able but usually not good enough for “professional” work. In that respect, I  actually was the most fond of the Leica D-LUX 4, which produced quite good quality, aided by the fact that it show RAW. Last year I owned an Olympus E-P2, one of the micro4/3rd’s. This delivered quite good image quality but suffered from the lack of good lenses (at least in 2010) and I even bought a Leica M to m4/3 adapter, but that proved quite cumbersome, as there really was no good way to accurately focus.

So with all those cameras sold, and having committed to rarely leave the house without a camera, I have been schlepping around my M9 and 1-2 lenses, which not only puts this expensive equipment at risk of loss or theft, but also adds another bag and weight.  Enter the Nikon 1 series. The V1/J1 already had been written off by many “serious” photographers prior to their launch. My guess is most complainers never shot with it. Defenders of the camera point out that Nikon did not intend to produce a camera that replaces their DSLRs, rather one that completes them. I agree with the latter. While I would probably buy a APS-C sensor size Nikon “mirrorless”, especially if it took F-lenses, I do not really need one. It would still be clunky (just imagine a 14-24mm attached) and I would probably keep my SLRs (call me old fashioned, I like optical viewfinders). I don’t need a “rangefinder”/retrostyled X100 equivalent, I already have one (the M9).

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Nov 212011
 

For the longest time, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with compact cameras. I started out with a clunky Olympus in 2001, my initiation to digital photography (a now laughable 2.1 MP!). I have owned several Sony’s, then a D-LUX4, Canon G12, Canon S95…. and I never have been very impressed.

Why? The image quality, frankly, is sub-par when compared to even basic DSLRs. The depth of field is huge. But, it depends on your point of view. If you want to produce professional looking images for print, and have almost unlimited range of possibilities, then a DSLR or at least a “Mirrorless” should be your choice. But let’s face it, most pictures get displayed as tiny facebook images, on blogs and maybe the iPAD. Who needs 24 MP or even 10?

So I changed my attitude. I have skied with a Leica M8 tucked away in my jacket , I have taken a Nikon DSLR on a kayak and a sail boat and I have biked with Leicas, a Mamiya and a Fuji medium format rangefinder. Most of the time, I have worried about damaging it more than I have enjoyed the sport or activity.

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