Tag Archives: Nikon

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. 

Travel Photography When You Can Take Everything

We travel regularly by motorhome.  We don’t live in a motorhome, but we do go for local and extended trips with one.  One of the benefits in doing this over either going somewhere by car or flying when you like to take pictures and video is you can take everything.  Another benefit is that if you are a hybrid shooter who uses both digital and film you have a refrigerator with you to store your unused and exposed film.  We left mid June and I had with me.

  • Nikon D750 Full Frame digital DSLR with two lenses
  • Nikon D5500 Digital DSLR with three lenses
  • 2 Olympus OM2n’s with six lenses
  • 2 Minolta 600si SLR’s with six lenses
  • 1 Voightlander Prominent rangefinder with 50mm f1.5
  • 1 Sony compact HX 80
  • 1 iPhone X
  • At least 30 rolls of film
  • 3 tripods.  None have been used yet.

We are now still on our trip.  Since I bought the D750 shortly before the trip I have used that the most so far to see how well it performs.

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Taken with a Nikon D750 with Nikon 24-120 f4

And the answer to that question is pretty dam well.  Other than the two little corner imperfections that I should get rid of with Lightroom the above photo from Bryce National Park is very nice.  Yes there is a little bit of sky issue caused by too wide of a lens for a polarizing filter, but when you look at the file in full size on a good screen the detail and color of the rocks is stunning.

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Nikon D750 with Nikon 50mm f1.4

The above shot was a couple of days earlier near Page UT.  This was taken at dusk and the file was taken raw and it allowed me to bring up the foreground of the photo so that it blended well with the top of the frame.  When you see this file full size it is very detailed.  Again I have not done as much Lightroom as I could and the top corners need a little fixing.

My experience using this camera when traveling is that if you put my 50mm f1.4 prime lens on it and one of the Peak larger camera straps you can carry it around pretty well without feeling weighted down.  It is nowhere near as easy to use like this compared to the Nikon D5500.

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Taken with a Nikon D5500 and 18-55mm P

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All three of these photos above were with my D5500 and the latest 18-55 P model zoom.  I took the D5500 with me this day because it is much lighter than the D750 and I felt like using it instead of the 750.  To me the 5500 files are as good as what would have come from the 750.  But when I work with files from both these cameras there is no doubt that the full frame 750 and full frame glass gives more details and less noise.  It seems like you can crop the 750 files forever and they still look great.

And a few times I have put the little compact Sony in my pocket and come up with these results.

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All of these were shot hand held.  You cannot do raw with the Sony so these were jpegs only.

Plus I did use my iPhone X some.

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For the iPhone X pictures I used for these three the native Apple app that comes with the phone.  Sometimes I use the Adobe Lightroom camera app which allows you to use raw.  This works very well with the Adobe Lightroom mobile app on the phone and my iPad.  But as you can see from these three shots that the standard Apple app works pretty good.  The middle photo is taken using Apple’s portrait mode.  This now gives what I would call excellent results in most of the times I use it.

Now here is the bad news.  No matter how many cameras you have with you you cannot control the weather.  We have been in the mid west USA mid summer heat dome and we have had bright overcast days for at least a month now.  Blue skies and puffy clouds have been as rare as Leicas.  Bright overcast skies are the enemy of good outdoor photos.  Bright overcast skies are almost impossible to shoot with a digital sensor camera as all digital cameras do not handle highlights that well.  Even if you shoot in raw you might have only two stops over on the best digital camera.  What happens is this.

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Wisconsin Dells shot spoiled by too much contrast in sky to land.   
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North Dakota grasslands spoiled by too bright sky

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So with too much contrast in the sky you only solution is to take shots without sky like the one above.  The problem with this is that when you are at places with natural things to see like National Parks you need to put some sky in the shots sometimes.

To me not being able to handle over-brignt highlights as well as photo film is digital photographies biggest weakness.  In one very well done you tube video I have watched a couple of time “The Slanted Lens” showed how the Nikon D850 compared with Kodak Portra film.  The Nikon shots were not usable at 2 stops over and the film was OK up until about 4 stops.  This is a very big difference.  Remember that each stop doubles the amount of light.

  1. Mirrorless cameras with good EVF’s and indications in the viewfinder are helpful at knowing when the highlights are too bright.  However, this does not fix the problem.  It tells you to turn down the exposure, but then you can plug your shadows.  Or if you don’t plug your shadows, you darken them.  And when you turn up your shadows in post it increases noise.
  2. Film tends to work better than digital in situations where you have very bright highlights and lots of contrast.  At least film with lots of dynamic range does.

Thats it for now.  Time to go shoot some film in the classic western town of Medora with classic old SLR.

Nikon – Please help all of us that cannot afford to buy a Leica M10

I bought a Nikon D750 a few weeks back.  I love the images I am now getting out of it.  I hesitated buying this camera for a couple of years for one main reason, it is big and heavy.

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Nikon D750 and Olympus OM2n

This afternoon I took out the camera bag that holds my two Olympus OM2n’s.  I removed the winder from one and took the ever-ready leather case off the other.  I then put the new Peak strap on the Oly and was kinda shocked at how compact and light it is.  The above picture gives you an idea of the size of both.  Both cameras are full frame, both have a 50mm f1.4 lens on them.  Of course the Olympus is film and manual focus.

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In addition to size the Olympus weighs about half as much even though it’s body and lens exterior is mostly metal.

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Going by what I have seen on the Nikon Rumors pages the most likely camera in their opinion will be a lot like the size and look of the OM2n/ Leica M10.

Please Nikon make this reduced size mirrorless full frame camera a reality.  I cannot afford a Leica M10 unless I sell all of my camera gear and then throw in a few extra grand.  And even after all that the Leica will have no auto focus.

Once again Nikon, I love the image quality out of my D750, but I hate the size and bulk.  And a Sony A7iii by the time you add a lens is not much smaller.

 

Lightroom Upgrades To CC Classic

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.

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Taken with Nikon D5500 and 18-55 lens using RAW & Lightroom CC Classic 

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.

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Taken with Nikon D5500 with 18-55 lens and LR CC Classic 

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.

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Taken with Nikon D5500 and 18-55 lens using LR CC Classic

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.

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Shot with Nikon D5500 & 18-55 lens edited in LR CC Classic

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.

Travel Photography – What To Take

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+”?

Parthenon in Athens, Greece-Parthenon ruins tourism destinations
These are likely conditions in mid day, difficult.  Bright sun and blown highlights.

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).

Sailing on San Diego Bay
iPhone 7+ with significant time spent editing.

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.

gaves overlooking coean
And this was a couple of days later with better color.

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.

big yacht SD harbor
Sony HX80 in full sun.

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.

DSC00651
This was taken on the same day but came out better.

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.

fog with graves leading to trees
The difference here is the polarizing filter and mostly the fog.

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.

DSC_3427
Nikon same aperture priority and Polarizing filter.  And this is after editing.

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.

bird on the cliff
Nikon shot with B&W filter.

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.

Digital Camera Pictures Vary Between Cameras Like Film Varies

I currently have three working digital cameras.  The one in my three month old smartphone, an older Sony compact camera, and a year old Nikon DSLR a 3200.  On our recent trip to southern Utah the Nikon really surprised me how well it adjusted for mid day pictures in brilliant sun.  Normally by far the best pictures are taken early in the morning or late in the day.  My Nikon 3200 when put on the landscape icon on it’s settings dial produced really good mid day pictures.  The camera in my smartphone had a much harder time with this lighting.  I remembered my Sony compact had a landscape setting too and decided I would do a test today to see how it worked with mid day light.

 

Here is the Nikon 3200
Here is the Nikon 3200
The Sony compact
The Sony compact
And my cell phone
And my cell phone

The Nikon DSLR did by far the best job of these three.  The Sony washed out the colors in the distance a bit.  The cell phone decided to focus on the trees in mid range and then put a strange lighter border section between the mountains and the sky.  In my opinion the only acceptable picture is the Nikon one.  But lets try a test where mid day sunny skies are not a factor.

Nikon
Nikon
Motorola Cell phone
Motorola Cell phone
Sony compact
Sony compact

All of the files on the digitals are about the same size approx 2.1-2.5 mega pixels.  In this case in my opinion all three are comparable pictures.  I prefer the color on the Motorola just a bit, and the Sony second.  Which puts the Nikon in third.

Conclusion.  The Nikon benefits from good software.  It has given an acceptable picture in mid day with color that is not washed out.  The Sony compact on the other hand is about six years old and does not benefit from software advances from the last couple of years.  And then the Motorola software has the right idea, but puts a gap between the sky and mountains.  And focuses on an object not in the center of the camera.  For tough mid day bright sun shots I am amazed at how good the Nikon works.  There is no way you could get shots as good as it does unless you are a wizard at post press.  And for this inexpensive Nikon the shots that came out of the camera had the color and saturation right.  Traditionally using film to get good mid days shots called for a polarizing filter.  In my humble opinion with Fuji Velvia 50 and a polarizing filter you would get even better shots of Monument Valley.  But that is only speculation as I did not shoot Velvia when we were in Arizona a month ago.

And for close up shots of flowers in late afternoon any of the digitals I have produced good results.  In this situation any of the shots would be OK, but here I preferred the look of the cell phone camera.