Category Archives: Uncategorized

“America’s Best Idea” The National Parks

The whole quote goes like this, “National Parks are the best idea we ever had.  Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best not at our worst”.  Wallace Stegner.  The US National Parks have been the favorite place to visit for myself and my family over the last 5 decades.  And before that my parents would take my sister and I to places like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone.

Grany Canyon Railway-0611

If you have not visited our National Parks you should start.  If you have, then read on for some of my experiences.  Grand Canyon by train – We have been to the Grand Canyon a number of times.  We have seen the south rim, north rim, and parts of the east end.  This past summer we drove our motorhome to Williams AZ and then took the train to the south rim.  The Grand Canyon Railway is a private company that has refurbished locomotives, train cars, the train station at both Williams and the Grand Canyon, and runs the service to and from.  I bought our tickets a few months ahead to make sure we got the service level and train we wanted.  We parked our motorhome in the campground run by the Grand Canyon Railway.  This campground is within walking distance of the train.  Shortly before the train boards there is a “wild west show”.  This is a kids oriented show with good and bad guys plus a western town background set.

Grany Canyon Railway-0613
This is a photo from the car we were riding in.

We picked the dome car service and just went on a day trip.  You can also book the train over, stay a few nights at the rim, and come back on the train.  The cost for this level of the day trip was about $375 for two.  This included some entertainment to and from plus a simple breakfast.

Grany Canyon Railway-0615
Small train station when you arrive at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

When you get to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon there is a short walk up a hill to the rim of the canyon.  Expect lots of people if you go during the summer.  There, is the famous El Tovar hotel & several other less fancy places to stay, a couple of very nice gift shops, and a few choices of places to eat.  The El Tovar is a lovely old hotel right on the rim and if you are going to be at the canyon overnight I recommend staying there.  If you are not staying the night have lunch in the dinning room.  We had lunch there this past summer and the food was excellent, view great, prices medium.

El Tovar Hotel-0616
View of the El Tovar dinning room.  With my wife at the table.  
El Tovar Hotel-0652
Here is a view of the El Tovar a little walk down the canyon trail.  

Be prepared for some walking when you get to the rim.  This can be casual strolls along the paved trail at the top or up to super strenuous hikes to the bottom and back.  The views are some of the very best of any place I have ever been.  The very first time I saw the canyon it was a thrill.  The view just took my breath away.

My strong advice is that if you want to experience this unique place is that you stay the night at the rim in either one of the hotels or in a campground.  And also if possible do not go in the middle of high season.  We went in mid June and it was crowded.  I would recommend strongly to go before Memorial day or after Labor day.  However, the Grand Canyon is one of those must-see places, so if you only time is high season go anyway.  I have never been to any place that has the same visual impact as here.  The ones that come close to this would be 2.  The Yosemite Valley at the bottom near Yosemite Falls or from Glacier Point.  3.  The Geysers of Yellowstone.  4.  Towards sunset from the Many Glacier Lodge looking west across the lake.  5.  View from the Prince of Wales during high tea towards the Lake in Waterton NP Alberta.  6.  View towards Lake Louise near the Fairmont Hotel.  7.  The wildflower gardens in August looking towards Mt Rainier.  These are the gardens near the Paradise Inn.  8.  View of Haleakala crater from the overlook.  9.  Balloon Fiesta Albuquerque NM of the morning mass ascent.  10.  Seeing Mt Rushmore for the first time in person.  11.  The walk from Rigi Kaltbad cog rail station on the ridge that over looks Lake Lucern.

South rim trail-0649
Shot with Nikon D750 & 24-120mm f4

No matter what, take a good camera in addition to your cell phone.  I used a Nikon D750 full frame digital camera with 24-120mm f4 lens for the shots you see in this post.  I had my iPhone X with me but I don’t think I used it much.  I have sold this particular setup at this time, but except for the size and weight (too big & too heavy) the 750 combined with this lens makes a very good combination.  I currently have a 24 mega pixel Sony A7iii that I like a lot, but would be tempted to say that the Grand Canyon may be one of those few places where 42-50 mega pixels would be useful with the right lens.  This canyon is indeed huge and detailed.  The more pixels the better for this place.  And even though I love using film I only currently have 35mm and this canyon calls out for larger format.

Why I Chose A Sony A7iii over Nikon Z7 – Z6

Up until now my experience with digital cameras that were not attached to smartphones has been 4 Sony’s and 3 Nikons.  All have been reliable.  The Sony’s up until now have all been compacts.  The Nikons have been two crop sensor and one full frame DSLR.

DSC00451
Shot with Sony A7iii and Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro lens

Over the last year I have wanted to step up to a full frame digital sensor as that is what I have been using for many years with film photography and I just like the perspective and subject isolation you get with 35mm.  And I have been thinking about going mirrorless full frame to get reduced size and EVF to facilitate exposure.

Last spring Nikon offered me a deal I could not pass up on a D750 full frame DSLR.  I bought it with the 24-120mm f4 and a 50mm f1.4G lens.  I have to say that the images out of this rig were excellent.  Nikon sold me the 24-120mm lens for $500 and that is a bargain.

DSC_0729
Nikon D750 with 24-120 f4 lens shot at 24mm

The above shot was with the 24-120 and shot at 24mm.  When you look at this at full resolution it is a great shot except for the top corners.  But for me the combo of the D750 and 24-120 was just too big.  Plus my experience with the last Sony compact with the EVF and my iPhone and using the Adobe camera app got me used to seeing exposure and over exposure in real time.

So I figured I would look at Sony and Nikon as that is what I have good experience with.  I went to the camera store with the intention to buy a Nikon Z7 or Z6 and changed my mind while in the camera store.  Why?  1.  I have a number of legacy Sony-Minolta lenses that I thought would adapt really well on the A7iii.  2.  The A7iii was $2,000 and Z7 was $3,000+.  3.  I liked the fact that the Sony was on it’s third generation of A series cameras and figured they had the bug ironed out.  4.  I have had recent experience with the Sony HX 80 compact and the menu system is very similar to the A7iii’s.  I did not have a problem with the HX menu.

DSC00452
A7iii with Sigma lens

I bought the Sony A7iii and figured if regretted I could always sell it and buy something else.  I also bought the Sony – Zeiss 50mm f1.8 lens and the Sony LA 4 adaptor.  The Zeiss f1.8 lens is a small, light, very high quality standard lens.  It also costs $1,000.  In my opinion sharper than the Nikon 50mm f1.4.  And it cost $375.

Zeiss 5 star-00445
Sony A7iii with Zeiss 55mm f1.8

Most of my older Sony-Minolta AF lenses work as well as I thought they would.  The 50mm f2.8 Macro which has been one of my favorite lenses.  Gives very sharp, colorful, good bokeh results.

DSC00455
Shot with Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro 
Minolta 70-210-00523
Shot with Minolta 70-210mm f4.5-5.6 a low cost lens

The medium tele Minolta works pretty well.  I like the bokeh and it is light and easy to use.  It is 1/4 the size of the Nikon 24-120mm f4 and about 1/3 the weight.  Plus I paid $32 for it.

Minolta 70-210-00164
Shot with Sigma 24mm f2.8 Macro

And above is using the Sigma 24mm 2.8 Macro I paid $80 for a couple of years ago.  I have several more that worked well too.

The Sony autofocus adaptor worked quite well with all of the autofocus lenses.  Although using the Sony with a very sharp digital sensor did show some of the weaknesses in bokeh a couple of the lenses have that was covered up more using film.  Film has more grain usually and tend to smudge the bokeh a bit.

Here are two more from the Sony and the Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro.  These have been cropped quite a bit and the details in the full size image are great.

DSC00374

DSC00375

OVF compared to EVF.  I like OVF better but EVF offers more information.  Being able to see the histogram and zebras before taking the shot makes it worth it.  The mirrorless is also far better for taking shots using the back screen.  The Sony is much more responsive than a DSLR back screen.

Videos are far better.  with the mirrorless than the DSLR.  Video was so bad on the DSLR cameras that I almost never used it.  The Sony A7iii is extremely easy to use.  Although the adapted lenses would not be good for autofocus.  The camera would make too much noise using the old lenses.  I have tried the Zeiss and it is silent.

I do miss the 24-120 but not the weight and size.  Sony makes a 24-105 f4.  I have given some thought to buying it, but I don’t want to get back to lugging a heavy camera around.  Using the adaptor and the 24mm prime I already have is less than half the weight and size of the Sony 24-105.  But not a zoom.  I think I will stick with what I have for a while before doing anything more with additional new lenses.

Do I regret not getting the Nikon.  I do not regret not getting 45 mega pixels at all.  My computer set up is just not ready for lots of big still files.  And I have not had a problem getting used to the Sony menu system.  I set up buttons for almost all functions and hardly use the menus.  But I would have to say that the Nikon EVF is quite a bit better and I would like to have that.  I do not love the Sony position of the front and back selector wheels.  The D750 was better.

IMG_1471

Far left is Olympus OM2n, the Voightlander Prominent, Minolta 600si, then the A7iii.  Of the four I prefer the Oly.  I put a a leather ever ready case around it and it becomes very easy to take and carry with you.  I also have an ever ready case for the Voightlander.  The 1953 leather is looking a bit worn, but still very serviceable.  The Sony A7iii above has the Zeiss 55mm lens on it which is a small lens.  But it is easy to see from this picture that what we think of as a small lens in 2018 is much larger than the other three.  Much bigger than the Zeiss and the Sony is not an easy camera to tote around.  I am giving some thought to getting the Zeiss 35mm f2.8 or the Sony FE 28 f2 which are even smaller than the 55mm.  But since I have a closet full of film I can just use some of it with the smaller SLR’s.

Final comment.  Olympus is the only one of the larger camera companies that have not come out with a full frame camera.  If they were to make a smaller full frame and smaller lenses I think it would sell.  Maybe even to me.

 

Kodak Ektachrome – Is Back – And Here Are Some Image Samples

After waiting a year and a half for the new Kodak Ektachrome I finally got some.  These samples are from the first roll of Ektachrome e100.  The featured image at the top of the page was taken last weekend and is totally unedited.  It did not need any editing and this is exactly as I got it back developed and scanned by North County Photographic in Carlsbad CA.  When I saw this shot on my computer this afternoon I just went “wow” look at those colors.  My second thought was, “I can’t improve this image and am going to leave it alone.

20830014
Kodak Ektachrome e100 shot on Olympus OM2n with 28mm 2.8 – UV filter only 

The above picture just POPS with that pink animal costume for halloween.  The Olympus OM2n is a very good film camera.  It was the very first SLR that metered the exposure right off the film.  That was handy for this shot as I trimmed off a bunch of overexposed but not blown out image to the right.  Most positive film (slide film like Ektachrome) does not have the dynamic range of print film or digital.  My impression from shooting one roll of the new Ektachrome is that this film has more stops of range than most slide film.

20830008
Ektachrome shot with Olympus OM2n & 50mm f1.4 & tungsten blue filter

And when I saw this people shot (of my wife) using a bounce flash, a lot of tungsten lighting, and using a tungsten filter it made my very happy.  It means that this Ektachrome gives good skin tones.  That puts this slide film ahead of Velvia 50 or 100 that I use for landscape but not people shots.  Both give what I consider unflattering skin color.

20830010
Same as the last one but with me in the picture

I have to say I really like these skin tones.  I usually have to do some color tone editing with most films and on these two people shots I only cropped the photos and made minor exposure adjustment.

20830019
Ektachrome with 28mm and UV filter

On the other hand this Ektachrome does not like it when I bring up the shadows in Lightroom.  When I used the auto setting on Lightroom Classic this photo got much too grainy.  So I went back to the original and increased the black table cloth just a little.

20830017
same as the last one

I really like the colors of Ektachrome e100.  But this is my first roll and I have 7 more in the fridge to get some more experience.  You can see from the above photo that when you go from full shade to full sun that it holds up pretty well.  If I had been using a separate light meter I would have likely added a stop to the exposure and that shade of this shot would not have blocked so much and the full sun would have been just slightly overexposed.

20830033

The above is a mixed sun – shade – and a tiny bit of skin.  When you look at this blown up you can see sharp bricks to the right.  And sharp photo overall until you get to full sun.  Very likely something like Portra 160 or 400 would have held on to the highlights a few stops longer but I do not think the orange in the T-shirt would have been nearly as bright.  Ektar would have worked but the skin would have had more of a red hue.  And the Ektar would have had a different overall cast to it.  But I think Ektar or Portra would have been almost as good with the details.  That said, with just my gut reaction I think for this shot I like the color rendition of the Ektachrome the best of all three of these.  I am sort of smitten with this film after one go at it.

20830021

Look at this nice color and clarity.

20830027

Good mixture of shadow and highlights.  The Ektachrome handles it all really well.

20830036

These colors are just fabulous.  Bright, saturated, but not overdone like Velvia can get.  The above shot I only cropped I did not adjust the color at all.

20830034

Very lifelike colors.  I did not post process this photo expect for crop.  The colors look exactly like what I saw in the field.

20830032

I used a little dehaze on this to cut down the glare from reflections, but other than that this is right from the developer.

20830016

I shot one roll of 36 and got back 36 images.  None were junk, but some were better than others.  My overall comment after this one roll is to say that my long wait for this film was worth it.  Kodak has a stunning winner on it’s hands.  The price is a little steep, $12.95 per 36 ex, but that is the same price as fresh Velvia or Provia.  If you are into film buy some and see what you think for yourself.  If you are not into film, give it a shot.  After just buying a Sony A7iii and a Zeiss lens I can tell you film is not more money than digital.  Get yourself a good quality SLR with a 50mm & 28 or 35mm and go enjoy.

Does The Sony A7iii Adapt To Minolta-Sony A Mount Glass Well?

Yes it does.  A couple of weeks ago after thinking about doing it for a year I bought a full frame mirrorless digital camera, a Sony A7iii.  I chose the Sony A7iii over the Sony A7riii because of price and the fact that the bigger files would overwhelm my current computer setup.  I chose the Sony over a Nikon Z7 or Z6 mainly because the 24 mega pixel Sony is available now and I have a number of Minolta/Sony/Sigma AF A mount lenses I like a lot.

DSC00202
Shot with the Sony A7iii and Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8

I also bought the Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8 when I got the camera from a local camera store.  No surprise the Zeiss lens works great with the Sony A7iii.  The above shot was taken last weekend in full sun with a sun shade on the lens and a polarize filter.  This shot was taken in raw and converted to black and white in Lightroom Classic.

DSC00214
Sony A7iii with Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8 shot at f8 at 1/60th sec ISO 125

The Zeiss does a good job with color too.  But this is a well reviewed lens from one of the best suppliers that was designed for the A7 line of cameras and cost $1,000.  So you expect it to be good.  It is also light and smallish.  Plus has a 49mm filter size which I have a lot of lenses that size.  In fact that is the standard filter size of many of the Minolta lenses.

But when I got this camera the real question in my mind was how well my favorite Minolta – Sony A mount glass would work.  These lenses are;

  1. Minolta AF 50mm f1.4.  A splendid lens at least as good as my Nikon 50mm f1.4 G lens or my Olympus Zuiko 50mm f1.4.  But not as good as my Voightlander Nokton German Made 50mm f1.5.  The bokeh on the Voight is beyond beautiful.
  2. Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro.  I have loved this lens since I first got it with my Minolta 600si film camera a few years ago.  It is very sharp and goes to 1:1 or short focuses to .18 m or .62 ft.
  3. Sigma 24mm f2.8 Macro that is also able to focus down to .18 m.  A great wide angle lens that is quite sharp with little distortion.
  4. Minolta 35-70 f3.5 – 4.5.  A shockingly sharp unexpected gem that I got for free when I bought a Minolta 70 – 210mm from ebay.  When I got my first samples back from this lens I immediately looked it up as the results were so good.  This is a plastic excellent light small mid zoom.  Don’t laugh till you see the photos.
  5. Minolta 70 – 210mm 4.5 – 5.6.  Both this lens and the 35-70 were made in Japan.  This is a very good plastic lens.  It is very light and very small for the zoom range.  This is not the same as the all metal “beer can” Minolta with similar zoom range but f4.  This lens is also quite sharp although not quite as good as the 35 – 70.  But it will fit into your pocket if you are wearing cargo pants.  Try that with the Sony 70-200 f2.8.
DSC00164
Sony A7iii with 24mm at f8 1/100 ISO 4000

I also bought the Sony LA-EA4 adaptor that is designed for the Sony A7 series of AF lenses with screw focus.

As I found out immediately the A7iii with LA-EA4 adaptor worked very well with both the Minolta lenses and the Sigmas.  As you can see in the shot above the 24mm gives a very good still shot.  I used center focus and center exposure for this shot.  It was taken a few minutes before sunset.

DSC00243
A7iii with Minolta 35 – 70 f3.5 – 4.5

This shot above of the purple geranium is about a 50% crop and was shot at 55mm f8 @ 1/00 ISO 800.  It is very sharp, good color, nice bokeh, and I got this lens for free.  This is my best purchase yet.  I got the 70 – 210 zoom and this lens for $32 dollars plus shipping.  A laughable amount.  This 35 – 70 focuses almost instantly with the A7iii and adaptor.  As with all of the adapted lenses I am reviewing here I would suggest manual focus if you are going to shoot video.  The adaptor and lens will just be too noisy for video in AF.

DSC00176
A7iii with Sigma 50mm Macro f2.8 

Above is my Macro 50mm 2.8 Sigma.  A well built lens that is quite sharp and can focus as close as .62 of a foot.  I have used this lens a lot with my first Minolta 600si as that camera came with this lens.  I have seen this lens on ebay recently for around $75.

DSC00250
A7iii with Minolta 70-210 f4.5-5.6 ISO 1250 f8 @ 1/100

And finally we have my Minolta mid range – longer zoom.  This is a very small compact zoom for the 70-210 range that might be 11 or 12 oz.  Is it as good as one of the large 70-200 2.8 lenses, no.  But I already own this lens and it works up to a very good standard and you can own one too for less than 50 dollars.  Here is another example below of this bargain.

DSC00248
A7iii with 70-210 

The above is not a good photo but does show that the lens can give a sharp and acceptable result.

My point is that the Sony A7iii is a very flexible tool for getting high quality stills with a wide variety of expensive and low cost lenses.  Sony bought Minolta in 2006 and still makes cameras that use the Minolta A mount plus A mount lenses.  There are a lot of A mount lenses for sale now at attractive prices.  The ones I have work fine for still photos. And for that matter there are quite a few used E mount Sony lenses for sale too.  Although so far I have found some of the better E mount glass to sell at relatively close to new prices.  I have been looking for a 35mm Zeiss and in a couple of ebay auctions found the used sold for about 80% of new.  If you want to use video without the noise of the older style auto focus you are going to have to get some native quiet glass.

A7iii.  So far I like the Sony A7iii quite a bit.  Since I have had several previous compact Sony cameras including a HX80.  I am used to the menu and find the A7 easy to operate.  Now I have set up buttons to operate all of the major functions directly and adjustments a very quick.  This camera with reasonable size lenses makes for a package of camera and lens similar to my film SLR’s like my Olympus OM2n, Voightlander Prominent, and Minolta 600si.  The Minolta is now my largest body.  But it is only a bit bigger than the Sony.  I have no plans at this point to buy huge heavy glass for this camera so that it is hard to travel with and carry around.  If I had not had any of the older glass that works easily with the A7iii I might have made a different choice of a full frame mirrorless body.  I like the fact that Nikon with the Z mount has come out with some pretty light and smaller glass.  But the Sony already has done this.  The Sony 55mm f1.8 like I bought is about the same size and weight as the new Nikon Z 50mm f1.8.  But the Nikon 35mm f1.8 is over 13oz.  The Sony 35mm f2.8 is 4.4 oz and the Sony 28mm f2.8 7.1 oz.

Enough for now.  I have a bunch of rolls of the new Kodak Ektachrome and am waiting for the first finished roll to come back from the developer.

Vinyl, CD, or Digital On Line, Which Is Better

Up until recently we produced recorded sound using analog technology.  The technology was to take and analog source like a wax cylinder or flat plastic disk with sound groves in them.  Run a “needle” down the groves and amplify the sound produced.  In the 50’s vinyl LPs we produced first in mono and then stereo.  Stereo recordings started in the late 50’s.  Beginning in the 60’s very high quality sound reproduction could be had from high quality analog record players.  I bought my first higher end system in the early 70’s. In addition to a record player I had a reel to reel tape recorder/ player.

APC_1171

 

In the early 1980’s the music CD came along and it took the industry by storm.  Sony made the first CD players that I ever saw and were over $400 dollars back in the 80’s.  Soon lots of people made players and millions bought them.  The CD changed music from analog to digital.  CD’s do a very good job of it and very soon CD’s generated more volume than LP’s.  Some record stores stopped selling records and only sold CD’s.

 

APC_1168

And finally around the year 2000 on line music became popular with Napster and Apple’s iTunes and iPod.  I knew 15 minutes after using a borrowed first iPod that it was going to change the music industry, and it has.  In 2018 a lot have people get their music with on line subscription services like Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, and Pandora.

So today I use LP’s, CD’s, and iTunes and on line services.  So which of these types of music delivery sounds best to my ears when it goes through my best audio system which includes very large JBL speakers and a high quality amp.  I like vinyl LP’s the best if it is a well mixed record.  I have a number of times played records, CD, and iTunes on the same music and every time I like LP’s the best.  It is very hard to describe why, but very easy for me to hear.  The best I can do is to say that the LP’s have more sound.

IMG_1411

CD’s provide very detailed sound that can be excellent, but just like digital photos, CD’s can be perfect, but sound clinical / dull / without the color of LP’s.  I suspect that when sound is converted to digital that the imperfections are scrubbed off and even though CD’s synthesize the analog sound at a high rate it is not the same as pure analog and our brains can sense that.

IMG_1403

iTunes and other on line mp3 type music has come a long way in the last 15 years.  I think that Apple music through a late model high quality DAC gives sound quality very similar to CD’s.  5-6 years ago this was not the case.  I could easily tell the difference.

DSC_1637

The fact that lots of people have recognized that the old LP system of sound reproduction was to many people better, has lead to a major expansion of the analog record business.  In our local area there are all of a sudden quite a few record stores where only 6-7 years ago there were only a couple.

IMG_1409

So do we keep vinyl, CD’s, and on line/ iTunes?  Likely.  I am going to continue to use all three.  But in the future I will likely buy more records and not so many CD’s.  I use a couple of the on line music services plus iTunes every day.

For sound quality I like vinyl best when I can take the time to sit in the room with my big sound system.  I also like the additional benefits you get with LPs like,

  • You actually own something that is tangible
  • The last for a very long time.  I have many LPs from 40-50 years ago that sound fantastic
  • You get the pleasure of the cover art front and back.  Sometimes you get a custom decorated inside liner with maybe the words to the songs on it.

IMG_1407

For on the go I like using an Apple device with a good DAC and using either a wired connection or bluetooth.  Bluetooth has good fidelity in my home system or car system.  Additional benefits are,

  • With Apple Music I can listen to any artist or song Apple has
  • Easy
  • The sound is pretty good

A big negative of on line is you only can listen as long as you pay the monthly fee to the service.  I actually know what music my grandparents liked in the 1920’s because I have about 75 of their 78 records from that era.  90 years from now no one will know what I liked on Apple Music.

IMG_1410

CDs are somewhere in between.  I have several hundred of them.  I have uploaded them to iTunes and so can use a mobile service to listen to them. Some CD’s that have good mixing are really startling at how good the sound is.  CDs you can also do portable.  I still once and a while take a few with me in the car and use them.  No internet needed.  Simple no complications like with on line stuff.  You own CDs and don’t pay every month.  CDs can be bought for about the same price as iTunes albums.  And you can buy used CDs.

Camerageddon = 2018 – Might Be The Biggest Year Of Change Ever In The Photo – Video Industry

This year has had one significant introduction after another in new camera bodies, systems, and film.  Sony has introduced the A7riii and A7iii.  Both mostly great and maybe the greatest full frame mirrorless cameras of today.  Nikon has put forward the A7 & A6 full frame mirrorless designs with new lenses.  So far to me this looks like the biggest contender of the Sony’s.  Canon EOSR.  A great camera, except, no ibis and big crop on video at 4K.  Both Nikon and Canon have only one data card slot.  This is a big omission.  Fuji XT3.  Another great camera, but crop sensor and no ibis.  Fuji again with the R version of their medium format camera.  This looks like a great landscape camera but lacks features that are in the full frames.  Panasonic now is talking about their S line for full frame mirrorless, but full specs are not available.  And then Zeiss and their ZX1.  Complete specs are not available and neither is the price.  As I said in my previous post I love this ZX1 concept.  I want one.  But I want one based on specs that I imagine but are not confirmed yet along with the price.

summer trip 2018-1064
Nikon D5500 – Using Lightroom to get B&W

I would like to buy a new full frame mirrorless camera.  I currently have a Nikon D750 DSLR and would like something smaller and lighter plus has an electronic viewfinder.  Of the ones above that we actually know the specs and price of I would say the Sony’s and the Nikon’s are the closest to what I want.  But here is the thing, I am not sure I like either enough more than the Nikon D750 to switch.  I like have tried the A7riii and did not like the way it felt in my hand and thought the menu-control system to be difficult.  I do like the dual SD cards.  The Nikon Z7’s are just now getting shipped to their buyers.  So far I have heard good feedback.  But I don’t really want to switch to XQD cards.  My three computers all have SD card readers but not XQD.  So dongle time would be the case with the Nikons.  And I like the dual card slots I have on the D750.  I don’t like the fact that Nikon is charging a lot more for a 50mm f1.8 than and F mount 50mm f1.4.  Actually I don’t like that a lot.

000005330020
Kodak Tmax 100 with Minolta 600si and 50mm f1.4

Or for that mater Nikon charging 50% more for the Z mount 35mm f1.8 than the F mount f1.8.  Even the 24-70 f4 is more than I recently paid for the F mount 24-120 f4.

And neither the Sony’s or the Nikon’s have settings adjustments for the all important aperture, shutter speed, and ISO dials.  Ones I can see at a glance like Zeiss and Fuji.  The Sony and Nikon do have quick change on aperture and and shutter speed but not in the elegant way Zeiss and Fuji do.

And then the Fuji XT3.  What a great camera with dedicated settings for aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and exposure compensation.  And it is a beautiful camera, far more so than the Sonys.  And a bit prettier than the Nikons.  Plus it is cheaper than any of the full frames.  But no 35mm sensor.  What were they thinking???  The whole World is going back to the best image size ever invented full frame 35mm and they stick with crop size? And no ibis to top it off.  But I have to say the simplicity of the Fuji and quality of materials, and the smaller size have great appeal.

IMG_1026
Shot with iPhone X and it’s wide lens

I have no experience with Canon cameras except that several of my friends and relatives have and like them.  Most prominently my professional TV and Movie cameraman son who is about ready to go back to a Canon DSLR after having a Sony A7S for two years.  His reason, “Canon has better colors”.  And this is a person who uses $100,000 camera rigs in his work.  So maybe when the Canon R is in the stores I will take a closer look.  Right now I don’t like the one card slot of the Canon or the no ibis.  Plus it is big unlike the Fuji.  But Canon has an extremely good reputation so maybe more on it later.

summer trip 2018-1001
Shot with Nikon D750 and converted to B&W with Lightroom

Like Canon I have no experience with Panasonic.  Their two full frame bodies look quite good, but no final specs or prices yet.  So more to come on these two later.

Kodak Ektrachrome is finally shipping.  After the unexpected Zeiss ZX1 this Kodak announcement was the most exciting of the German show.  I like shooting with film.  I like the look of the results I get from my old SLR cameras (4 of them with lots of lenses) and one very nice Voightlander rangefinder with a set of 3 lenses.  On our summer trip this year I did not shoot as much film as I had planned as I bought the D750 just before the trip and was still experimenting with it.  But one of the rolls I shot was Kodak Tmax 100.  I used my Minolta 600si for this film and all of the shots turned out.  I was being lazy and did not use any filters for the whole roll, which was a mistake.  I should have used a yellow, orange, or red for daylight shots.

000005330003

flagged film photos-000005330034

Both of these above shots were from this roll of Tmax.  The second shot was a lean out the moving train shot with 100 speed film and an unstabilized lens.  The camera was set to auto focus and worked perfectly.  It has 3 auto focus points and not 500 like modern cameras.

flagged film photos-000005320013

flagged film photos-000005320020

flagged film photos-000005320021

The above 3 shots are from Portra 400 film that was about a year expired.  All were shot on a 40 year old Olympus OM2n and 50mm f1.8.  One of the best film SLRs ever made.

flagged film photos-000005320029flagged film photos-000005320030flagged film photos-000005320032

And the above three were from inexpensive Kodak Gold 200 that was expired two years. I used my second Olympus OM2n to shoot these.  The Kodak Gold really did it’s job, but if I had it to do over again would have shot with fresh film.  Keep in mind these were shot with a very simple old meter in the Oly and then put through medium priced developing and only mid range scanning (3000 x 2000).

So I am thrilled to be able to get Kodak Ektachrome fresh again.  I fully expect that Kodak’s new formulation will be better than the old Kodak Ektachrome.  This film is being made in the United States in Rochester New York and is shipping from the factory now.  The new Ektachrome is the “natural” formulation and not the old “vivid” formulation as per an interview I watched yesterday from a Kodak spokesperson.  Why am I thrilled?  Slide film has punch you cannot get from negative film.  And you can project slide film on a screen without electronics.  One downside is reduced dynamic range.  As you can see from the three color photos above, the Kodak Gold has tremendous dynamic range.  I have already called one of the local camera shops to get an estimate as to when they are getting the film.  Guess is second week in Oct.

My Pick For The Most Significant New Camera Introduced This Year So Far

Back in April of this year I wrote a post saying that all of the big camera makers were going to copy cell phones in their ability to capture, edit, and upload easily and quickly.  So just after Photokina in Germany last week Zeiss is the first significant company in the photo industry that starts the trend.

Zeiss ZX1 front-

Zeiss has not made cameras for over ten years, but has worked closely with many camera companies like Sony extensively.  All four of my Sony compact cameras I have owned over the last 15 years have had lenses from Zeiss.  Many of Sony’s best E-mount (A7 and 6000 series) glass comes from Zeiss.  Even the lenses in the glasses I am wearing today were made by Zeiss.

Key points of the Zeiss ZX1

  • Full frame digital camera with a little over 36 mega pixels.  Supposedly Sony makes the sensor for this camera.
  • Small, lightweight, easy to use camera with a fixed 35mm lens.  According to the company introduction they have purposely kept the controls of this camera and settings down to a minimum.  The emphasis is on using it to create great photos and video and little time setting it up.
  • ISO, shutter speed, and f-stop are all set by dedicated controls.  Aperture is on the lens, and the other two on the top plate.
  • This camera comes fitted with Adobe Lightroom CC to edit your work using the camera’s back screen.  Your photos and video can then be sent to Adobe wirelessly or a computer or any other device using wifi.
  • You can post to social media directly from the camera wirelessly.
  • The camera comes with half a tera byte of storage internally.  So no media cards needed.  And backs up through wifi as you work or when wifi is available.
  • Modernist sleek form that goes towards the future and not retro in any way.

Zeiss ZX1 2

I love this concept.  The camera is to come out the first part of next year.  Prices yet to be revealed.  If I love the camera or not will have to wait until I see the complete details, price, performance, and hold on my hands and use it just a little.  But right now I really want, the concept and camera if it is at a price I am willing to pay.

So why do I say this is the most significant camera introduced this year?  Because it goes beyond simply going from DSLR to mirrorless, it gets back to expanding the industry of making cameras instead of just turning over most of it to cell phones.  This camera fits right on top of the best call phones.  It works just like an iPhone or high end Android but just the camera part.  Because of it’s simplicity most people can use it.  And most people are never going to buy or use a Nikon Z7 or Canon DSLR or Sony A7riii.  The Nikon, Canon, and Sony are just too big, heavy, and complex for casual shooters of both stills and video to want.  Zeiss has done what Nikon, Canon, Sony, and other big camera makes have not been able to do, they combined a big high end sensor with editing an internal storage, and wifi ability with simplicity.  Sony could have easily done this camera but did not.  They are still wedded to their impossible complex menu systems that twists your brain into frenzy looking for things.  Nikon is moving this direction but it will take a while.  Fuji is the closest to the ZX1 but this is a radical redesign from their heritage soaked designs.  Fuji has simple controls but in a traditional way.  The Zeiss does it in a futuristic way.  And Canon can but will likely take a while.  To me the only other company that is close to this camera is some of the Leica models like the TL.

So tell me what you think in comments.