Even though MicroSoft and Windows have greatly improved their OS system in the last few years if you need to get work done now, and do not want to wait the Mac is far, and I mean far superior.
I have used MicroSoft OS systems since Windows DOS and Windows 95. I have used a Mac computer for just over five years. When you turn on the MacBook it is ready to go very quickly with no problems, ever. With Windows since W95 and even with my newest Windows 10 systems, the answer is, maybe. If I use any of my two Windows computers or my wife’s two Windows computers every day and leave them on most of the day they are reliable and have few problems. But if you don’t use your Windows computer every day and let it sit for a week, many times you are exposed to update “hell” for hours. I have not used my newest Windows computer for a week. I turned it on 4 1/2 hours ago to update my Lightroom backup. Even though I used it a week ago and had everything up to date when I turned it off, it now has been futzing around for 4 1/2 hours doing, who knows what. It still is not working past a crawl speed. This is common when I don’t run either of the Windows boxes every day.
Many things work better on a Windows computer, but as far as going on and being ready to run fast, reliably, there is no comparison, Mac all the way.
Update 24 hours later. I finally got Lightroom to open and run on my Windows computer. It took about 5 hours from when I first turned it on. Even this morning 24 hours later the thing is still posting updates.
Update 8 days later. I have used my PC laptop most days since I first put out this post 8 days ago. It is working far better than the first two days but still is posting updates almost every time I shut the computer down or restart. So at this point I see no reason to change my original view.
I have had an iPhone X since last fall. It has an excellent camera system both hardware and software for most situations. This time in the area where I live we have a super abundance of flowers and I take lots of shots of my yard flowers, public gardens, and wild flowers. Using the iPhone X for this can be frustrating. It is certainly possible to get excellent shots with sharp focus and good color rendition.
These were all taken in the late afternoon, but not all on the same day. When using the Adobe camera app I activated the zebras to avoid any overexposure. With the Apple camera app you just have to guess on exposure. I usually turn down the exposure as Apple shows you in their camera videos. These photos show that things can work out well with this camera. But I have to say that many times the results are poor. The Adobe camera app has a much harder time focusing using the longer lens on this camera than with the wide angle. And the Adobe app has a great deal of difficulty in bright mid day sun. Why? I have no idea.
The Apple camera app does seem to have more difficulty during mid day bright sun to focus too, but not as bad as Adobe. The issue with using the Apple camera app that comes with the phone is that the Apple software sometimes smears the heck out of the finished image file.
This flower was too bright so I turned down the exposure. When I brought it back up in Apple Photos the computer smeared the image significantly.
You can tone down the noise reduction smearing some by importing the photo into Lightroom CC and doing the edit there. But there is still some of the smearing issue, just less.
So what is my solution? Right now the most reliable solution is to use my DSLR during the day for better focus and raw output. That camera has no problems with getting good focus in any sun conditions. I am also thinking about finding another raw camera app for the iPhone X and giving that a try. I suspect that the reason the Adobe app does not focus as well as it should is that Adobe has just not tweaked their software as well as they should have for the iPhone X.
The films I have used in the last 12 months have all been either Kodak or Fuji. In my opinion you can characterize products from both companies by just looking at the colors on their boxes. Fuji – green and Kodak yellow-red. My overall experience is Fuji tends green, Kodak warm yellows, oranges, and reds. You can correct much of this in post but it is still there.
If I was to guess why, I would say that Japan is where Fuji is from and it is overall a very green place. On the other hand the most iconic Kodak shots are of the Grand Canyon and southwest USA. There is even a State Park in Utah named the Kodachrome Basin. The color pallet of that park is orange, red, and yellow.
I will start with lowest price first.
Kodak Gold 200 and Color Plus 200. I have shot both in the last couple months. Both basically the same price in California and very similar.
This is a very good low cost film except you need to be careful of getting too much grain in shadows. Personally I cannot tell the difference between the two Kodak films on my large monitor except to say that color plus seems a little brighter. In some cases when I get this film the box says Kodak Gold and the film can says Kodak 200.
Fuji 200. – This is the Walmart 24 exposure rolls.
This is a beautiful detailed shot of my dog on my large monitor. This hardly needed any editing.
This one needed a bit of post to get something I liked, but the Fuji did very well in forest scenes. Fine grain throughout even in shadows.
Even in the dark areas there is little grain. I brightened this quite a bit in LR and still minimal grain.
This is a beautiful picture of one of my grand daughters with great skin tones and minimal grain in the out of focus shadows.
I bought this roll of film at Walmart for $250 a roll. Only 24 ex. There are 36ex rolls for sale at B&H and elsewhere. I mention B&H because they sometimes have some very good sales on this film. Currently 36ex rolls are selling for $4.
My comments. If I was shooting the southwest or the beach I would prefer the Kodak Color Plus or Gold color rendition. Both almost as good as Kodak Ektar. Just this morning “The Darkroom” posted on my Facebook a comparison of Kodak Gold 200 and Fuji C200 with two beach shots. To my eye I preferred the Kodak on their example a lot. I have to say the Fuji 200 gave a much more elegant rendition of my forest scenes, far less grain, and beautiful skin tones, much better than Kodak. So which is it? These are both great low cost films. I would only remember to buy 36ex rolls so you can save on processing and watch the shadows on the K Gold.
Lomography 100. Lomography sells 100 speed print film. It is in the same range of price as the Kodak and Fuji products but a slower speed. I have been giving some thought to buying a 3 pack and trying it out. I have looked at the samples on Flickr and they look good.
Kodak 400 and 400 Ultramax 400 & Fuji Superia 400.
I have had very good luck with both the Kodak and Fuji. Kodak has kept their prices level on this film to the same range as the Kodak 200. Fuji used to sell at the Kodak price but now is usually about 2 dollars more. At 2 dollars more I will always buy the Kodak, but this past Christmas I snagged 10 rolls at under the Kodak price. That said here are some samples.
In the end I think I prefer the Kodak Ultramax for landscape and Superia 400 for people and green. The Fuji seems a bit finer grain, but not much. The issue with Superia is that at $6.00 a roll it is almost up to Ektar 100 price and I think Ektar is one of the two best landscape films you can buy. And the Superia is also right in the Portra price range. Portra just outclasses the Fuji on skin shots and anything not in bright desert sun. But you cannot go wrong on either the Superia 400 or Kodak Ultramax 400, buy on price and depending on subject. I plan to work through my supply of Superia 400 this summer but since I have several film cameras I can load them with black and white plus some Kodak for punchier “National Park” type shots.
The ones I have used in the last 12 months are Fuji Velvia 50 & 100, Kodak Portra 160 & 400, Kodak Ektar 100.
Velvia 50 – A classic slide film that is known for highly saturated colors. If you like this level of saturation it does a great job on landscapes and not good at all on skin tones. The speed is a slow 50 but in full sun this works fine. I have used this film often in all of my cameras with built in light meters. It is somewhat fussy about exposure, but I really have not had that much problem with ruined shots except when I ran a roll through a very old mechanical camera from the 50’s with a slow shutter spring. The other thing to watch out for is limited dynamic range. If you average your exposure and have a great variety of shadow and highlight it is easy to underexpose your shadows. Two summers ago I had problems with the bodies of bison against bright backgrounds. The animals had mostly blocked shadows which I could not correct well in Lightroom. Since the big animals were up close and scared me a little I did not change the settings fast enough on my manual Olympus OM 2n. My more auto Minoltas would have worked better. I used Ektar 100 shooting bison and had much less problem with blocked shadows due to that film’s wider dynamic range.
These were taken a couple of months ago and as you can see Velvia pops the colors but then does not do a great job on the skin tones.
But on landscape you can’t fault it.
Ektar considering everything might just be the best overall landscape film available. It is 100 speed which is about what you should have for daytime landscape shots. The landscape color is similar to Velvia 50 without quite so much excess. The grain is very fine. It handles exposure better than Velvia. And it costs about half as much as Velvia. I have shot a lot of rolls of it.
I have had some issues with Ektar going red on skin but as you can see from the next two pictures it is OK with skin.
This is my favorite film but not if I am shooting mostly people.
Portra 160 and 400
Portra tends to be most peoples favorite film. Here are some of my results. It is one of mine too. I find both 160 and 400 to be great with 400 having a touch more saturation.
Portra 160 or 400 are both very forgiving of exposure error. They both have tremendous dynamic range. I do prefer Ektar for landscapes, but if you only want to take one film Portra is a better choice. Very fine grain. Much lower price than the competing Fuji product. Only slightly more money than Fuji Superia 400.
Ektachrome. I had planned to shoot some Kodak Ektachrome this summer. The problem with that is I have not been able to buy any yet. Ektachrome is not Kodachrome, but if I do see some Ektachrome soon I will buy some.
Black and White.
I usually shoot color, but recently have used some TriX and Tmax. I have beautiful results with both. These are both gorgeous films and here are some recent shots.
If I had to pick only one of these I would take TriX, but both are sure to give you B&W results you will like.
So what am I taking with me this summer on our long trip? All of the ones mentioned with a couple of rolls of Ilford black and white. I have just looked up the price of Velvia 100 and Provia 100. They seem to be about $7 a roll. I will call to see how long to expiration before I buy, but that seems like a good price. I have never shot Provia and would like to try it. I usually take about 5 camera bodies with me and I load them up with different films and take what I am in the mood for that day or fits the likely subjects. If I shoot any new films before we leave I will update this post.
All around films. Any of the ones mentioned in this post Kodak 200 or 400. Fuji 200 or 400 will work well and not cost a lot. But if you have to pay $6 for a roll of Fuji 400 I would pick the Fuji 200 for $4 or either Kodak for $4.
Higher end film. I will not pay $15 for Velvia 50. But Kodak Portra or Ektar make great images at about $6.50-7.00 per roll. Fuji Velvia 100 seems like a good buy at $7 but I have to check the expiration. Don’t forget that slide film is harder to shoot and costs about $3 extra to develop.
Black and White. I love both Kodak TriX and Tmax. Both run about $6 a roll.
ability to use more than one camera and editing software. Here is what I mean. My Nikon and my Sony digital cameras are Nikon and Sony hardware and software. My iPhone X is an Apple camera hardware and Apple camera software, but also Adobe Lightroom camera software and Night Cap camera software. If I wanted to I could add a dozen more camera and editing softwares to my iPhone.
This past fall when Apple introduced new iPhones much of the improvement in the camera was software related. Then in the last ten days Adobe launched a huge improvement to their Lightroom Classic software system that I used in line with my iPhone X camera. And all of the iPhone camera software works using an interactive touch screen. Three years ago when Nikon introduced a touch screen on the mid range DSLRs nearly all the camera reviewers commented that it made it much quicker and easier to change settings and to use in live view. I bought a Nikon D5500 because of the touch screen and have admired how easy this camera is to use since I bought it. I find it incredible that all new models of cameras do not have something like this. I recently rented a Sony A7R III and very much missed having a full featured touch screen on this high end device.
Even though my D5500 has a touch screen the software on this camera is limited to only using Nikon’s software. I would like to be able to add Adobe (or other software) to this camera. It is obvious to me that someone other than me is going to be able to see this soon and will shake the camera market by adding this ability. Or possibly a phone maker like Apple, Google, or Hauwei will offer a stand alone camera.
Today’s camera systems are much more complicated than a few years ago. It is a struggle for the camera companies to make both hardware and software that works well at a price people are willing to pay. If the camera companies made their models to be more open sourced for software it would make things easier for them. The camera makers could concentrate on getting the lenses right and software makers like Adobe and others can work on things like efficient transfer of photos and video to the cloud, or backup, or a computer. All cell phones do a good job of this and I don’t think any camera makers do.
Will it be easy to adapt something like Lightroom to a regular camera. No. It will take a significant software change. Even large rich software companies cannot do something like this easily. But lets just say Nikon worked with Adobe and their soon to be announced mirrorless camera had the ability to use software like an iPhone and also had a touch screen that worked as well as an iPhone. It would shock the industry and they would make lots of money. If it worked I would buy one. But I may buy the soon to be announced Nikon mirrorless anyway even if it is only a little better than my D5500 software. So I would guess that Nikon will not go this giant change and only update a little.
This leaves open the possibility of a smaller company or Sony to make this kind of a move. Sony could add this type of system to their cameras by adapting some of the technology from their cell phones. But Sony has left off a full touch screen and menu improvements to their brand new high end cameras so I will not be holding my breath for them to do it.
What I actually think the most likely outcome is that cell phone companies are going to keep improving and make larger cameras less and less relevant. I would guess that Apple and the other higher end makers will follow Hauwei and add a third camera to their phones. Adobe and others will keep improving their camera and editing software. And almost everyone will be satisfied with that outcome. I would guess that the best “photographers” edition phone would have a 28mm, 58mm, & 135mm equivalent lenses and be able to cover everything from wide angle to telephoto in the same system with high quality. Will it give the same detail as a Nikon D850 or Sony A7R III? No, but for almost everyone it will be good enough. And it will do 4K video too. My current iPhone X will do 4K video at 60fps. And the iPhone includes free editing software for stills and video. And it will send all the files to your other devices automatically.
This is a user report. Lightroom seems to be most serious photographers default post capture editing software. It is mine too.
When Adobe introduced Lightroom CC a few months back I installed it to see how it compared to the traditional version. Like a lot of people I liked some of the features of Lightroom CC but could not give up the older style software for a number of reasons.
In the last few days Adobe has sent out a major update to traditional Lightroom CC Classic. The changes have made it much easier for me to get photographs I like. The most significant changes are adding a large set of profiles on the right side of the develop screen, and many additional presets on the left side of the develop screen. Plus you can see a preview of what will happen to your image by mousing over the profile or preview. I have edited about 100 images since this update and I have to say that this is the most significant upgrade to make LR CC Classic easier and faster to use ever.
The profiles and presets so far have not replaced the auto setting and sliders, but much of the time using a profile as a starting point you do not have to manually adjust settings nearly as much as before. I also have to say that Adobe did a very good job in making profiles and some of the presets that are useful. The profiles are mostly new and very good. The presets are all from the Lightroom CC on line and mobile system. They are also quite good, but not as much so as the profiles. At least to my taste and eyes.
I have been shooting a mix of digital and film over the last few years. The biggest reason I still shoot film is I like the color and black and white profiles of some of the films that are available. Kodak Ektar and Fuji Velvia are two landscape films I love to use for their colors. I have many times taken film shots and then some digital shots of the same subject and picked the film ones in the end as better due to the way they handle the color or B&W rendition. I would guess that these changes making Lightroom much easier to use will lessen my film use. I do like some of the simplicity of my Olympus and Voightlander cameras. And the Minoltas are also a pleasure to use with their simple controls and both good manual focus plus auto focus when you want to use it. And some of the legacy glass is just super and gives beautiful results. But there is no doubt at all that my digital cameras are better at difficult exposures and give immediate results.
If you use an older version of Lightroom it might be a good time to upgrade. If you don’t use Lightroom give it a try. This new version is much easier to learn than the older ones.
We usually travel by RV in the USA and deciding on what camera gear to take is easy, Take everything you want. But in 10 days we are going overseas by plane and if you take more than you need then you have to lug it around. So for the last few weeks I have been trying to decide what should go. At first I watched Rick Steve’s video and he is a minimalist and says, “1 compact camera”. I have a very good recent compact that is a Sony super zoom. It does a good job and critically, has a viewfinder. For sunny days viewfinders are a must. But here is the thing, I asked myself, “when you are taking pictures of the Parthenon in Greece is a small Sony enough plus an iPhone 7+”?
Travel pictures always seem to run into the “mid-day” problem. Even though for best photos you are always supposed to go out before dawn and an hour before sunset, the reality is that this is not always possible, or something you want to do. Last night I listened to a very popular and very good you tube couple talk about what they do when traveling and they said, “take pictures early morning and the golden hour before sunset, and spend the rest of the day in museums”. (Tony & Chelsea Northrup). Thing is if you are on a tour you go when your tour goes. Or maybe you want to have breakfast and a shower before going out. Faced with the fact that many of our best shooting opportunities in our upcoming trip will be between early morning and late afternoon I have been testing my cameras to see (once again) which handle bright sun in mid day best. The contestants were iPhone 7+, Sony HX80, Nikon D5500, Olympus OM2n (film), Minolta 600si (film).
The picture above was taken with my iPhone 7+. It was taken last weekend at mid day with mostly bright sun. I spend a lot! of time trying to get this picture into any kind of decent shape. The result is OK.
I then shot some photos a few days later with the iPhone and the colors were much better, but this required some work in Lightroom to get this shot to come out.
The Sony HX80 to me is a slightly better camera than the iPhone. It still struggles with mid day photos. I spent some time trying to get anything out of the above shot that was passable.
The above shot was taken with the Sony while I was sitting in the shade and at a different angle to the sun than the yacht shot.
Yesterday I went down to the same general area and got this shot with my Nikon and just the kit lens with a polarizing filter.
I like the above shot. It is lightly edited and pretty much just came out of the camera this way. I was just shooting aperture priority and fine – jpeg. The key difference in this being a good shot is the fog. So no bright mid day sun.
Shortly after the cemetery shot the sun came out and the Nikon failed to take memorable pictures. I got so frustrated with the color in this group I turned most of them into black and white.
The reason I was so frustrated is that I went to the same location the day before with one of my old film SLRs, a Minolta 600si, some inexpensive Kodak 400 negative film, and an Quantaray 50mm f2.8 lens. I had this film locally developed and they fouled up the scan and only gave me tiny files. But the fact is that this lower end film with poor scans gave a much better balanced color result, by a wide margin than any of the three digital cameras I have used this week. Imagine if I had shot Kodak Ektar 100 and had a fine scan done. The film would have won by a wider margin.
So after all this work, what is the best camera gear for me to take? Very likely I am going to duplicate last year and take the Nikon DSLR with the 18-55 P kit lens & 35mm f 1.8 for low light, iPhone, & Olympus OM2n with my 50mm f 1.4. I will likely add the Sony too as it is small and could fit in my pocket on the flight over. We have booked a number of tours in places we are going to and many of these will be during mid day and sunny. If I was to lighten this up just a little I would leave the Nikon home and add a couple of lenses to the Oly kit + a flash. I would likely take the 28 mm f 2.8 and the 135mm f 3.5. The flash is a T32.
I don’t know why I keep needing to re-affirm the fact that in natural light film usually gives a far superior result to digital. If it is dark digital works better. The iPhone 7 plus is a very good low light shooter.
6 Days later —– OK, I just could not let this issue rest. So I went down to the same beach cliff location today and shot my Nikon D5500 with raw and my iPhone 7 plus with Adobe camera raw in the iPhone. The results from the two digital cameras was the closest I came to the film. Of the two I have to say I preferred the results from the iPhone to the Nikon. I edited both as with Lightroom as best as I was able and the color was just a bit more pleasing from the Apple. But it does not change the fact that an 15 year old Minolta camera with and off-brand (but very good) lens and low cost Kodak print film gave superior results. I am so disgusted with the whole effort I don’t even feel like posting samples. If you want to see some write me a comment and I will do so.
Bottom line. Digital daytime still shots suck compared to film. Sure digital is better for more difficult lighting and interior shots, but in typical vacation type family shots film still rules. I guess that is why more and more people are going back to film. The scary issue for the camera makers is that this means for most snapshot /family shot shooters they don’t need a fancy digital. Sure if you make your living with a camera you should get a high quality rig, but if you are a family shooter an iPhone (or better Android) smartphone camera is fine. If anything my recommendation is for family shooters to consider a film camera, maybe an instant. Polaroid is back with a new camera and Fuji Instax ones are all over the place. Analog rules. Digital is mostly for convenience not quality. I am writing this as I listen to a 45 year old LP record on my good quality Hi-Fi system. Analog music is easily superior to any digital I have heard. Analog music is just not nearly as easy to use. Same with photos. Digital is easier and analog is better.
Over the last couple of years one of the films I have used with good results is Kodak Gold 200.
This shot was taken last summer with my Voightlander and a 35mm 3.5 lens. We just walked around Ennis MT and took in some of the local town sights about an hour before dusk. To my eye Kodak Gold provides with good color saturation and has a pleasing white balance for landscape and people.
Gold has a fine grain if you don’t underexpose. I have run into a few difficulties in the shadows of some shots with Gold. You can get rid of most of the unpleasant grain with noise reduction in Lightroom, but better if you just expose for shadows and then turn the highlights down a bit. One thing to keep in mind is that this is an inexpensive film and it is 200 speed and not 100. Ektar has less grain but costs about 50% more and is 100 speed.
I find both of the above two shots to be quite attractive but the one shot with Ektar is just magic on a big high quality monitor. I took a series of about 15 of the west side of Zion National Park with Ektar and when I got them back from the developer I just went “wow”, the best shots I have even taken of Zion with regards to the red rock color.
As I said, Gold can go grainy on you when underexposed as you can see in the sky on the above two shots. But then the shot above that of the door is very sharp with little grain and the only difference is lower contrast in the scene and correct exposure on the door.
Gold can still be bought at just over $4.00 US in 36 exposure rolls here in the US. It is a good general all around film that does very well on skin tones. Ektar is a finer grain and is beautiful for landscapes, but puts red into skin color.
And here is Fuji Superia 400 for comparison.
To me Superia goes green and that is hard to control, and Ektar goes red and that can sometimes be a problem. Gold is more in the middle but you have to watch the grain.
And finally Kodak Ultramax 400.
All four of these are very good films. They have to be to have survived the purge of the last 10 years. Here are some tips.
Kodak Gold is a very stable film that is very versatile. It is not fussy at all but I would recommend no underexposing it too much or grain could become an issue. I prefer the Kodak Gold color rendition to Fuji. Fuji Superia has less grain and 400 speed. But it is also 50% more expensive on 36ex rolls.
Right now Kodak has two very good lower cost films in the color negative category. Gold at 200 speed & Ultramax at 400.
My web site is about photography, RV ing, audio, gadgets and other things that interest me and I know something about.