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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Look at this nice color and clarity.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Waiting For Good Light

If you cannot see the back LCD on your DSLR maybe it is not a good time to take pictures or video?  Or you should stick to film that has huge room for bright highlights in full sun?  95% of my best digital outside photos or video are taken when it is not bright overhead sun.  So instead of a new camera with EVF or reading the zebras to make sure your highlights are not blown you should just take your shots or video when the light is good?  Even if you turn down the exposure on digital so you don’t blow your highlights in full sun you have to pull your shadows up so much that you get a lot of noise.  The best digital cameras like a Nikon D850 only have about +2 stops of highlights before the pictures are unusable.  The best film like Portra have about +4 stops.  Many times when the photo is overexposed a stop when you try to improve it in post you just don’t get a good result even using raw.

The flower below was taken with a digital camera about an hour before sunset and mostly in the shade.

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Nikon D750 taken late afternoon

The shot below is what happens to many digital photos when taken at mid day.

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Same camera as the above shot a D750 but full sun in North Dakota this summer.  This was taken raw but there is no way to get this into a good photo.  At least it is beyond my ability.

On the other hand here is some film shot at mid day with full sun.

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Inexpensive Fuji film and the lowest priced scan
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Fuji 200 (cheap) but a medium quality scan both of these taken at mid day
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D850 late afternoon in shade
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Fuji 200 mid day shot.  Medium scan.
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Black and white film works fine mid day but a filter either red or yellow would have improved the sky.  Kodak TriX 400
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This is Tmax 100 with no filters.  Again I should have added a yellow or orange or red filter.

Right now you have a ton of people switching to buy mirrorless cameras from DSLRs to get an EVF.  That way you can control your exposure better when you can’t see the back screen.  My suggestion is that if you cannot see your back screen maybe your camera is telling you it is not a good time to be taking pictures.

Now if you are switching to mirrorless because you want to take more videos with your camera then I think that is a good reason.  But if you are going to take mostly or all photos and not video there is no reason to ditch your DSLR or not buy a new one.  Both Nikon and Canon offer very good DSLRs at modest prices.  I have a several year old Nikon D5500 that takes sharp clear detailed photos and is half the price of a comparable mirrorless.

Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Leica, Olympus, Fuji, and Maybe More New Mirrorless Cameras

So mirrorless full frame cameras are now going to be a common thing.  Sony has had most of the headlines in this category for the last couple of years.  Leica has long made mirrorless full frame cameras too, but they are a very high cost device and their announcements for reasons of price and also features have been muted.  I personally have been waiting to see what Nikon and Canon announce as at this point I really do prefer the full size 35mm image capture either film or digital to other sizes.  Why, it is what I am most used to and also seems to work best.

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Expired Kodak Gold 200 taken with Minolta 600si 35mm with Minolta 50mm f1.4 Edited with Lightroom CC Clasic

Last Spring I rented a Sony A7riii with a Zeiss 55mm f1.8.  At the time I was not thrilled with this camera except for it’s images.  When I rented the camera they did not include an operators manual (even though I likely would not have read it) and I found it quite confusing even though I have had four compact Sony’s and the menu system is similar to the A7.

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Sony A7riii with Zeiss 55mm f1.8 taken as a jpeg with a small amount of editing in LR

I blundered along using the A7riii for a day and of course used it in the most harsh condition of full sun mid day.  But I did get a few shots of subjects I had taken with other cameras and found the jpegs from the Sony to be excellent.  I only shot jpeg and did not do anything but shoot in aperture priority.  This was before I bought a Nikon D750 and was used to the weight and size of a D5500.  I found the Sony to be heavy and hard to hold.  But then for a month after I got the 750 I found it heavy and hard to hold.  Since I used this A7riii there is a Sony A7iii that is cheaper than the r model.  But now we are down to 24 mega pixels and not up at the r’s 42.

My overall impression of the Sony was good and not so good.  The images looked very good when I figured out how to operate the computer, oh I mean camera.  But I am sure I would learn how to operate it just like I figured out how to use a MacBook after 20 years with Windows.  What I might not get used to is the grip.  Not nearly as nice as my Nikon D5500 or D750.  But then my favorite camera is an Olympus OM2n which has no grip at all.  The Oly is just a flat case like the Leica M’s.

Nikon had their somewhat low key intro for the Z6 & Z7 just over a week ago.  I still have not held one in my hand as is the case with nearly every other prospective buyer.  But a fairly big number of youtube personalities have and like almost every news caster today spins their opinions in lots of different directions.  To me the main reasons to get mirrorless over a DSLR is that you get an EVF and WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) plus much improved video ability.  I like WYSIWYG.  It is very useful so see what you are going to get in a viewfinder before you take the shot.  This is one of the main reasons cell phones are so popular for photos and video.  It is easy to get great shots if you know what you are going to get before and when you are taking it.  Plus good video ability.  My two Nikon DSLR’s are hard to use for video so I don’t.  I use my iPhone.

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Nikon D750 with 50mm f1.8 That is my wife’s face in the upper left of the shot

Pros of the Nikon Z’s

  • Looks like a typical easy to hold camera body like my existing two Nikons
  • My Nikon glass adapts easily to these cameras
  • I have had very good experience with Nikon.  Their cameras have been very reliable
  • Touch screen has full control of menu settings.  This is a big deal.  I have that on my Nikon D5500 and it is very fast and easy to adjust settings.  However, my Nikon D750 has marked dedicated buttons for major functions like ISO and Image quality. The buttons make up somewhat for the fact the 750 screen is not a touch screen.  Sony’s screen is not a full featured touch screen.  Sony’s buttons are not marked.  That means I have to assign the functions and remember where I set them.  Overall I would have to say that Nikon’s choice to go with full featured touch screen on the Z’s is the best one.  Sony’s the worst.
  • Nikon introduces a good working inexpensive adapter for Nikon’s F mount lenses.
  • Nikon comes out with 3 lenses that are relatively small and relatively well priced with new cameras.
  • Very good set of video specs. From the video I watched on youtube last night it seems like the video focus works quite well as does the stills focus.  But so does Sony.
  • Z7 has basic ISO of 64.  The best of any of the new mirrorless full frames.
  • The bodies are smaller and lighter than my D750.  But so are the other new mirrorless full frames.
  • High resolution EVF

Cons of the Nikon Z’s

  • One card slot and the one card is not SD.  My D750 has two SD card slots.  I like two slots.
  • Screen does not fully articulate like my D5500.  In fact it is exactly like my D750.
  • New lenses are high priced.  Why does the new 50mm f1.8 cost more than my recent 50mm f1.4?
  • Z7 more costly than D850 which is the king of DSLRs at the moment.  If you don’t care about video the 850 seems like a better buy.
  • No built in flash.  I have one on my D750 and it works very well.
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Sony HX 80 Compact Zoom – mirrorless

Canon EOSR. 

Canon announced their full frame mirrorless EOSR a few days ago.  Orders can be placed this week and deliveries very shortly after that.  I have never owned a Canon camera so my comments are just armchair ones.  I would like to say that my sister has had Canon for years and is happy with it.  My son who is a professional camera man for movies and TV has both a Canon 5Diii and a Sony A7s.  He likes Canon.  He likes Leica lenses better.

Pros for Canon

  • Canon has a habit of making cameras that work well without problems.
  • 30 mega pixels vs 24 for Sony and Nikon (The lower Sony and Nikon)
  • Fully articulated screen
  • Touch screen
  • Inexpensive adaptor seems to work very well with Canon legacy glass
  • Made in Japan

Cons for Canon

  • One card slot
  • 4K video is cropped
  • No high megapixel option
  • Two of the new lenses are huge.  Small size is one of the major benefits of mirrorless and huge lenses defeat that.  Those two lenses are also very expensive.
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Nikon D5500 with 18-55mm f3.5

Panasonic.    

Panasonic has made it their speciality to make excellent mirrorless mirrorless micro 4-3rds cameras that are known for their video capability.  They have indicated that they will announce a full frame camera in a few weeks.  Since good video is one of the prime reasons to go mirrorless this might be a dark horse winner.

Olympus 

Olympus has made a very popular line of micro 4-3rds cameras along with Panasonic the last ten years.  In the past Olympus has introduced some very innovative cameras.  The OM line of 35mm film cameras offered a very capable 35mm body that was smaller and lighter than the competition.  The XA compact film 35mm camera was a miracle of miniaturization for full frame image size in a pocket camera.  The EM5 digital camera of 2012 started the trend of making retro digital cameras with in body stabilization, advanced video, and a high quality lens line.  So anything could happen from these guys.

Fuji 

Fuji has been rumored  to be introducing a larger than full frame sensor rangefinder camera at Foto Kina in Germany later this month.  Prices for the body are supposed to be in the $3,000 – 3,300 range.  If so that could sway Z7 and A7riii buyers to look at the Fuji.  We will have to wait for announcements to see how all the Panasonic, Olympus, and Fuji cameras turn out.

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iPhone X using portrait mode.  As it came out of the camera with just the Apple enhance button pushed. 

Conclusion

If you need a camera today you need to buy a Sony.  And that might not be such a bad idea.  They have three mirrorless models and also the A 99 which is mirrorless but different.  Sony now has a very good lineup of lenses for zoom or prime buyers.  And with an adaptor you can easily use the older Minolta AF lens line at a much lower price point.  I have a number of pieces of Minolta glass and can tell you that some of it is excellent.  I would put my Sigma/Minolta 50mm f2.8 macro up against any comparable lens for sharpness.  And Sony is a huge company that has the resources to forge ahead with new models.  They currently also have a line of excellent crop sensor cameras that use the same E mount.

For Nikon and Canon I would say that if you have Nikon or Canon lenses now that you should likely stick with that brand and go with mirrorless if you plan to do both stills and video.  If you are going to mostly shoot stills I would stick with DSLR’s.  Two of my friends bought Canon full frames recently at very good prices.  I bought a D750 because Nikon made me an offer I did not want to refuse.  And sticking with a DSLR means you can use the existing lines of glass new and used without adapters and at much lower price points than any of the mirrorless full frames.  I came very close to preordering one of the Nikon bodies the first day.  But then I just decided it would be better to hold one in my hands and maybe even rent one before buying.  I suspect the Nikon bodies will not be fully sorted out for a while.  For that mater Adobe won’t have raw conversion when the first production models come out.

The last three, Pana, Oly, and Fuji, their offerings are not known yet and only rumors.

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Nikon D750 with 50mm f1.4 taken raw and edited in Lightroom CC Classic

Oh, and to leave the best for last there is Leica.  I would love to have the budget to buy an M10 with autofocus.  But I don’t have the budget and they don’t sell them with autofocus. I actually like focusing my old Olympus OM2n bodies because it is so easy when it is light outside.  I like the look and feel of a Leica M10 better than any other.  I love the small size of the bodies and especially the lenses.  But at about $8,500 for an M10 and a 50mm Summicron is that really a wise purchase in 2018.  I suppose you could make the case that an M10 and an iPhone X paired is all you would need.  But realistically you would want a 50mm, 28 or 35mm, and a 135mm for your kit.  And now we are up to about $15,000.  But going back to the first though, an M10 with 50mm Summicron + the optional electronic finder, paired with an iPhone X would be a pretty good set up.  And you could call it quits and just know you were carrying two of the World’s best cameras.  Keeping in mind that the Leica does not shoot video.  So if a lot of video is in your future a Leica M10 is not.

But think about this.  A Nikon Z6 with a Nikon new Z mount 50mm f1.8 could be bought for about $2,800.  It includes EVF and video.  The size is similar to the Leica, but with the lens the Nikon will be longer from back to lens front.  The grip is likely more comfortable than the M10 that does not really have one.  That said I find no problems when I hold an M10.  And with my similarly sized Olympus OM2n I have been using it for 38 years and it is my favorite camera.  So is this a better camera setup than the Nikon D750 or Canon 6D or 6D II?  For just stills, maybe not.

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Nikon D5500 with 18-55P kit lens taken raw and edited in Lightroom CC Classic.  Seen in the full size file this is very detailed.  Plus Lightroom dehaze made this a great shot.  I used the D5500 the whole day plus my ever trusty iPhone X. 

Added the next day September 10

I write this blog to keep track of my thoughts and maybe once in a while put up something that helps out someone else.  And in no way do I make any money from this or intend to ever do that.

It is amazing the amount of chatter and people involved in photography today and the storm in information and opinion going on about the new photo tools coming out this year.  The year 2018 is almost 3/4 over, but it is like a building crescendo of noise from all the new cameras coming out.  It seems like Sony started the noise back at the end of last year with the really capable A7riii.  Then Sony upped the ante and added the cheaper but also very capable A7iii in the Spring.  Now Nikon and Canon have introduced their full frame mirror less bodies and the noise is gone way up without any production units shipping.  A few blogger-youtubers say they have production model Canon’s but to me real production units is when many regular users get their cameras.

What all of this reminds me of is when computers were something everyone was getting and general use of the internet was fairly new.  Say about 2000.  Every few months performance and new applications were introduced and Microsoft would make changes on their system.  Many people including myself bought a new computer frequently.  In my case I had both a desktop and laptop.  I got a new one at least once a year.  And Apple was starting to make a comeback.  Today’s computer-cameras right now seem to be changing a lot and their is a lot of noise going on as to what the changes are and what is best.

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Taken with 2000 Minolta 600si with 50mm f1.4 Minolta lens and Kodak TriX 400.  Developed and standard scan.  A tiny tiny edit in Lightroom CC

All of this excitement is good for photography and video.  But it is not the same as computers in 2000.  Back then many of the computers and computer software being sold was crap.  Remember the blue screen of death.  For those too young to remember that is when Windows crashed yet again and you had to restart your computer.  What is different is that there are all kinds of very good cameras being sold today that do not have problems and the new bodies are just improving things a little.  Keep in mind the new Nikon and Canon bodies are also taking things away, like the 2nd card slot.  And going with shorter battery life.  Even Sony has an excellent legacy system.  The A mount that has the same sensor and mega pixel count as the top end A7riii.

WYSIWYG is a big deal if you take the time to consider and adjust your shots before taking them.  Blown highlights are still an issue with digital sensors and being able to tone them down before taking the shot will help you get better shots with fewer tries.  WYSIWYG is not new except for Nikon & Canon in the viewfinder.  Even with Nikon’s exposure setting for highlights it is helpful to be able to see in the viewfinder if you are going to blow the highlights in advance.  I do that with my little Sony compact.  I set it to aperture and look at the zebras before I take the shot in the viewfinder.  I turn down the exposure when I see zebras.  It saves ruined shots and saves time in post.  So I expect EVF’s are going to take over.  Eventually.

The big German camera show Photokina is going to be here shortly and I expect more announcements from more camera makers.  But here is the thing.  Until these new devices get released and in the field no one will really know how good they are.  My favorite blog this morning after singing the praises of Nikon a couple of weeks ago and basically saying Fuji can now go back to making film.  Sony can go back to TV’s and toasters.  Now this morning is changing their mind as says buy Sony A9 for sports and action and Canon R for everything else.  Now I am paraphrasing here and condensing the last couple of weeks of this blogs postings plus this is just my opinion of their postings – but if you had followed this blogs advice you would have placed both the A7 and A6 on preorder.  Now we are told that in fact Canon is the best one except for sports and action.  So you have $6,000 worth of Nikons coming in that are now not recommended.  But the blogger would have been paid a commission if you had used the links on the blog.

My advice.  Spend your time and money learning to use the image capture devices you already have and concentrate on improving your ability instead of trying to improve your images and video with new systems.  When there are units in the field and you can go to a camera shop and hold one then that is a good time to maybe buy one.  Or not buy.  All the camera makers are giving big money off their existing models and Fuji just introduced their XT3 body for less money than the XT2.  And the XT3 is mirror less.  (crop frame though)

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1980 Olympus OM2n with 50mm f1.8 using expired Kodak Portra 400 developing with standard scan.  A little Lightroom CC editing.
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Same details as the shot above.  I love the colors in these two shots.  The Kodak Portra gave colors I just don’t see from my digital cameras or the same look.  To me film still many times adds something you cannot get from digital.  Film is analog and we still see in analog.