The top image is an iPhone XS Max panorama using Apple’s built in pano generator. I don’t think it is a great pano but I need the shot to make a point.
And the shot immediately above is from my Sony A7iii and about 15 shots taken hand held then merged on Lightroom. The pano with the Sony and Lightroom was pretty easy. Lightroom is very smart and does this quite easily. But, the iPhone XS Max made the first pano in camera, hand held, effortlessly. Looking at the finished panoramas on my high end monitor in full size (very big files, both of them) there is no appreciable difference in the results. The Sony produced file has slightly more detail, you can read the names better on the gravestones, but you can also read lots of graves on the iPhone produced image too. By the way, I want to give credit to Thomas Heaton who is a youtube landscape video maker and has his own channel on youtube for giving me the idea to do more panoramas. I have done them in the past, but after watching his video went out the next day and shot a few.
An hour later I went and shot some video down by the bay using the same Sony and iPhone. And the results were much the same. Although in this case the Sony and iPhone processing was the same as I did not edit either. Again the Sony had a bit more detail, but the overall viewing of the video is about the same. I only put up one video which I thought was the best clip. It is from the iPhone. I do find the Sony 24mm-105mm f4 to be a good video lens. It is fast focus, silent focus, stabilized, and has a good zoom range. The iPhone’s system of video and zoom is quite good also. If you hand hold and manipulate the zoom with one hand and hold the phone with the other the result can be quite good. Both the Sony and Apple smoothed out the hand holding pretty well. The panoramas are also not edited except for pushing the auto enhance feature as I did not like the resulting photo all the much, but wanted to share the fact that in this case the expensive Sony body and expensive G zoom was not noticeably better than the iPhone.
On the other hand I have not found iPhones to be that good at macro or close ups of plants and flowers. With the Sony A7 or nearly any other regular camera you can focus to a subject quite well with little effort. To me iPhones, even the latest iPhone XS Max are sometimes OK and sometimes not. Even the little Sony HX 80 compact I had last year could easily lock on to a flower and get an accurately focused photos. I have many many well focused iPhone shots of flowers, but only up to a certain point. Past that point the focus can be inaccurate. And also today on my hike up the large hill back of our house I only took the iPhone. Not having a sun shade for the iPhone was a big deal as was no polarizing filter. My point here is that while smartphones can be very useful in photography they have limits where larger or more featured cameras do better.
I pay a monthly fee to youtube so I don’t have to watch commercials and do watch quite a few varied clips. Many of them are about photography. Some are good and many not. But my reason for writing about youtube is to say that many trolls say really rude inappropriate things on YT. A couple days ago I posted a comment on a video about the Nikon D3500 (new) vs Nikon D700 (used). My comment was polite. Some troll came along like he was hot stuff and said that the Nikon D5500 I used to own was a “plastic turd” compared to the 10 year old Nikon D700. It was inappropriate of him (or her) because I did not disparage the D700 as I have no experience using one. But I have lots of experience using the D5500 and it was / is a camera I got many many very good photos from. It’s only defect was a small viewfinder and that it is not mirrorless.
All of the above shots were taken with the Nikon D5500 in 2015 with the old style Nikon kit lens. Take a look at those close ups of the bristlecone pines. That was not with a macro lens just the standard kit lens. Or the Bodie California shots. In the full size files that are very sharp pictures and most of them were shot jpeg standard size. No raw. In addition to taking really great photos the D5500 had about the slickest control system and menu I have ever used. The back screen worked for a variety of things plus going through the menu. Compared to that Nikon my current Sony and iPhone are miles behind. But the D5500 did not have an EVF which would have helped it. And the live focus for stills or video was terrible. In my humble opinion Nikon would be smart to just convert this camera into mirrorless. Take out the mirror, put in an EVF, but make sure it focuses as well as the D5500 does not when not using live view. The curved body and light weight makes this crop sensor camera so easy to use. Even with the low end style lenses they work pretty darn well. And there is a full line up of lower cost good performing lenses. Or instead of making it mirrorless leave the dam mirror in and just put a greatly improved live view auto focus in.
For the most part good photography is because of the photographer and not the gear. The last four beautiful strawberry sky photos were shot on the same trip as the D5500 ones, but they were taken with my old Motorola Droid Maxx. That had a 10 megapixel camera in it. And finally Film Fail. As much as I like shooting film with old cameras there is one part of the process I don’t like. Many film labs. Sometimes they screw up one or more full rolls of film. I got back two rolls week before last from a local lab that has done good work for me in the past. One roll of Kodak Portra 400 and the other Fuji Superia 400. Two different cameras. The lab fouled up both rolls. Many of the photos were of no consequence, but one roll was Christmas 2018. So those photos will never grace an album. Now I need to go back to the one local lab that does not screw up film rolls (or at least has never done so in the past) and just put up with the 40 mile drive to get there. And the extra money they charge.
2018 was a big uproarious year in the image and video creation business. After going a couple of years with buying only new smartphones and a compact digital Sony I got caught up in all the changes and bought not one new full frame camera but two. And I also went back to the full sized iPhone after saying the smaller one was a perfect size. I also bought a new MacBook Pro.
Featured image above was taken with a Nikon D3200 in 2014 and edited in iPhoto
Early in 2018 I started using tripods again after years of mostly hand held. My flower photos improved doing that. I was bored after having my Nikon D5500 for 3 years so even though I really liked that camera I started looking for my next larger digital camera. I wanted to get a Nikon and wanted to get their upcoming mirrorless. But back in the spring of last year there were only rumors about when the new Nikon would be out and it looked like it might be the spring of 2019 before you could get one. So when Nikon sent me a low price on the D750, 24-120mm, and grip I bought one. I also got the Nikon 50mm f1.4 at the same time. Total for everything including tax and shipping was about $2,500.
After using the flyweight and very easy to use Nikon D5500 for several years when I got the D750 I did not like it at all. Too big and heavy. With the 24-120mm zoom on it the size seemed gargantuan compared to the D5500. It hurt my 71 year old right hand with a little arthritis. But I then got a Peak Strap and used the 50mm lens and the 750 started to grow on me. The controls of the Nikon D750 were easy to learn and very intuitive after having two crop body Nikons. The Peak strap was a big improvement over the strap that came with the camera. I only shot stills with the 750. For video I used my iPhone X. I also tried using some of the FX lenses on my D5500 DX Nikon body. The better lenses made the smaller Nikon a lot better. Images from the 5500 and either FX lens were very nearly the same as using the D750. On the other hand the 750 focused much quicker and the viewfinder was way better.
The Nikon D750 had buttons for most adjustments that were easy to find and when you needed to use the menu on the back screen it was obvious that Nikon had spent some time designing them to be intuitive. But what the D750 did not solve was washed out mid day full sun colors. Looking back on it now it is obvious that I should have stuck with the D750 longer and learned to improve this problem instead of jumping to the Sony system. I did not find out till later that using live view on the Nikon you could see a histogram before shooting. But I did use bracketing with the 750 and that worked well.
The full frame Nikon came with us on our summer motorhome trip and after a while I just got used to the size of it. The D5500 was still much lighter and easier to handle, but the D750 was OK.
My film photography in the first 6-7 months of 2018 suffered because I kept experimenting with different film stocks, using expired rolls, and using labs that were not great. This has now changed and I went back to using my preferred and unexpired film stocks plus two of the best labs and now my film shots look great.
We got back from our long summer trip in late August and by this time Nikon had set a date for intro of both their Z6 & 7. Sony was selling lots of A7iii and A7riii. After watching about 1,000 (exaggeration) you tube videos I decided in Oct to buy a Nikon Z7 or 6. I called George’s photo and then went down with the intention of buying a Z camera. While there I chickened out getting the new Nikon Z7 because it was expensive, new, and getting mixed reviews. I have a number of Sony-Minolta lenses that will adapt easily to the A7iii, and made the spit second fall back decision to get the Sony A7iii and 55mm f1.8 and not the Z7. Likely if the Z6 would have been available then I might have gone that way. I figured, “If you don’t like the Sony you can sell it. The price was not in the same range as the Z7 and the Sony was very very popular so no problem selling it.” The next day I got the Sony A7iii, LA EA4 Sony adapter, and Zeiss 55mm f1.8.
Right away after getting the Sony it was obvious that it was difficult to use and confusing. I had had 4 Sony compact cameras over the years so I knew a little about the Sony menu system.
I did find that the sony adapter worked well with the Minolta A mount glass. But while several of the Minolta lenses worked brilliantly on the film camera they were made for the Sony A7iii image quality with them was just not as good. Why, I suspect these lenses were developed for film and the A mount. They just don’t perform as well as when adapted. This is stated over and over again by Ken Rockwell in his blog kenrockwell.com which you should read. I agree with him.
Just before Christmas I bought the Sony G 24-105mm f4 lens for the A7. It works great, $1,300. I bought this as I liked the Nikon 24-120mm f4 and missed it’s abilities. This Sony is essentially the same but does not cut the corners just a bit at 24mm like the Nikon did. I only paid $500 for the Nikon and the construction quality seemed just as good. Plus the D750 was quite well weather sealed and the Sony A7iii does not seem to be.
The switch to Sony from Nikon was painless. I found willing buyers quickly for all of my Nikon gear. I sold the D750 and 24-120mm for very little less than I paid. But of course less the ebay sellers fee. The D5500 I used for 3 1/2 years and sold it with kit lens for around 60% of what I paid. The Sony HX80 sold for about 60% of what I paid and I only used it 1 1/2 years.
So what did I loose and gain by all of these transactions.
I gained eye auto focus.
I lost one camera I loved – D5500 and two I liked – Nikon D750 & Sony HX80 and gained one camera that is technically very competent that is growing on me a bit but so far I would have to say I only like it slightly.
If I had it to do over again I would go back to what I had.
Auto eye focus is not enough to make this worth it. One of my New Years 2019 resolutions is to get rid of GAS and use what I have now for the rest of the year. I will make two exceptions 1. Olympus introduces a full frame camera that follows what I like about the Olympus OM2n of small size, high capability, and everything you need and nuthin you don’t at a price I am willing to pay. 2. Nikon updates either the Z6 or D750 that fixes the obvious flaws in both bodies. And I can sell the Sony for enough to pay for one of these two exceptions. If neither of those two scenarios comes to pass I am going to live with what I have and improve my skills with that gear the complete year.
Expanding on my exceptions 1 and 2.
Olympus – I am completely perplexed as to why Olympus has not followed up on it’s fantastic OM series and introduce a system with a full frame sensor. The price of sensors has come down and I see no reason not to go with the advantages of a larger sensor for the same reasons I like full frame film cameras. I like the perspective I get from 35mm. I will not buy a camera with a small sensor like the micro 4 3rds.
Nikon Z6 or D750. The Z6 needs to get their auto focus to work as well as the 4+ year old D750 period! Why do I want to pay a lot of money for a camera today that is not at least as good as their 4 year old comparably priced 750? And for gods sake add another card slot. Preferably with SD cards. 750 to 760. I have never had an issue with a mirror or the F mount. To make the D760 really desirable the live view focus needs to be as good as regular view. And a touch screen. 4K video is obvious. I could live without the EVF if the back screen worked as fast as the Sony A7iii.
My second new years resolution is not to use expired film and to stick with the films and labs I know and trust. No cheeping out on bargain film or labs. And to shoot more film.
Apple XS Max upgrade from iPhone X. Meh. The iPhone X was a great great iPhone. The iPhone XS Max is slightly bigger and better.
MacBook Pro 15″ 2018 6 core 512 gb upgrade from 2013 MacBook Pro 13″ 2 core 256 gb. Meh. I have literally used the crap out of my old MacBook. It still works fine and I am using it to write this blog post. But I does show some of this heavy use in balkiness to start up sometimes. It is also much slower to start now than 3-4 years ago. But it is not slower to start than the new one.
Pros of the new MacBook –
Cons of the new MacBook
no variety of ports like the old one. This one really pisses me off. I delayed for two years getting a new MacBook because of this but finally caved because I need at least one reliable newer computer and wanted an Apple. Not only did they take away ALL the old style USB ports but the idiots removed the mag safe connector. They even obsoleted my Apple Thunderbolt screen so I had to buy a dongle for it. And no SD card slot. Something I used all the time with my old one. So now I am switching over to the new style connector. By the time I switch everything over it will be time for Apple to obsolete that connector too.
I really liked my older MacBook Pro. My favorite Apple product of all time. The new one I bought because I wanted to stick with Apple and I was worried about the age of my old unit. I would have rather bought a new old style MacBook with upgraded chips. Apple has made this device worse not better for me. The old style keyboard is better.
Conclusions. New is many times not better and sometimes worse. I have purposely used only photos from 2014 to show that with my old gear before I started spending a lot of money my shots turned out fine. I really liked my old Motorola Maxx smartphone. It worked well, it had some very slick features, and the battery lasted forever. I bought my first iPhone the 6S after the Moto and in many ways the Maxx was a better device. But now you cannot go back to 2014 because Motorola has been sold and they make just so-so phones compared to Apple.
Back in 2014 I used Apple iPhoto, iMovie, and Aperture. But then Apple obsoleted iPhoto and Aperture and gave us Photos. Photos is a better organizer and works with on line better, but the editing functions work poorly with any photo that was not taken with an iPhone. Or at least poorly compared to Lightroom. Now I am still stuck sorting back and forth between Apple Photos and Lightroom. And I also have to remember if I used Lightroom CC Classic or Lightroom CC. My real photo collection system in 2018 was more of keeping photos on local disks out of any software. And now I am going to go back and have prints made from my best photos of last year + 2017.
In this blog I have posted very good photos (or at least ones I like) from cameras up to 65 years old, film, digital, DSLR, smartphone, and compact. All worked just fine. The key to photography is the photographer and not the gear. And that is going to be the same in 2019 as it was in 2018.
Today I saw the first rumors of the update of the Nikon D750 that will likely come next year. Is that a wise move by Nikon, and is the DSLR dead? My answer to those two questions is yes and then no. But let me put in a qualifier on if it is a wise move by Nikon. It is a wise move if Nikon improves the auto focus in live view so that it is at least on par with the current Nikon Z6. If the back screen gets a bump up in speed then it becomes much more useful.
Over the last six years I have taken under ten videos with my cameras that were not smartphones. The new iPhone XS Max which I have had now for about two months takes excellent video including 4K up to 60fps. Apple has an easy to use video editor called iMovie that is free and works well. And I don’t have to learn all the stuff that goes with bigger cameras like my Sony A7iii like “log” “lut” “gamma” “grading” and so on. I have shot some test videos with my Sony A7iii. It is far harder to use than the light iPhone XS Max which I put on a small tripod type holder. The iPhone XS max also has a far better screen to use with the camera than the Sony. My point is that one of the Key mirrorless advantages is lost on me. Better video than a DSLR.
The key advantage for me of an EVF is to improve exposure. Seeing zebras and the histogram in the viewfinder helps. I mostly use the zebras and adjust exposure compensation using them as a guide. But with improved live view on a D760 you could see that information on the back screen. Is that as good as the viewfinder, no, but it would help. A big advantage of the OVF is it is always on and does not use power. Plus the D750 I had this year had a much clearer optical viewfinder than the Sony electronic viewfinder I now have.
The rumors I read say the new camera will have a new 36 mega pixel back lighted sensor. The optical viewfinder will be with a prism and 100% coverage. The back screen will be flippy and full touch enabled. Two SD card slots. (I have also read rumors saying the sensor will stick with 24 mega pixels and the back screen will not be flippy.) Price between $2,295 and $2,495.
Even though I wanted the weight to be less when I had the 750 that was only with the 24-120mm f4 lens that was 27oz. The D750 was fine with the 50mm f1.4. Now after owning the Sony A7iii for 2 1/2 months I would say I prefer the D750 and lighter lens to the Sony A7iii and lighter lens. The 750 is a bit heavier but has a much better grip than the Sony. And the Nikon buttons and co-ordination with the menu on the D750 was much better (actually much much better) than the A7iii. And if the new 760 comes with the touch screen like I used on the Nikon D5500 then the Nikon D760 will have a far far superior control and handling setup than the Sony.
The other giant benefit of the D760 is that I assume it will come with an F-mount. That means Nikon’s giant catalog of F-mounts will be able to be used on the new camera. That means all kinds of specialty lenses but also much better values like the 50mm f1.4 for approx $400 instead of $1,500 on the Sony.
For the last couple of years uncounted people with podcasts, videos, and blogs have hailed the coming of mirrorless to replace the old mirror system in SLR’s. I never really saw the reason for getting rid of the mirror. I have had an Olympus OM2n body I bought in 1980. In 38 years of use I have had exactly zero problems with the mirror. And the old Oly has just a magnificent viewfinder with a very simple optical focus aid. I would hope the new D760 would come with a similar manual focus aid or at least be possible to add one. I really like focusing manually, but find it harder to do with viewfinders that have no help to let you know when you are at focus.
With these rumored features.
Full frame new 36 mega pixel back lit sensor
Improved live view focus to at least Z6 level
Weight and size no bigger than the D750
F-mount not Z mount
Price between $2,295 and $2,495
I think Nikon would have a real winner. Of course something extra like a little electronic screen in the viewfinder with a histogram would be really nice too.
Up until now my experience with digital cameras that were not attached to smartphones has been 4 Sony’s and 3 Nikons. All have been reliable. The Sony’s up until now have all been compacts. The Nikons have been two crop sensor and one full frame DSLR.
Over the last year I have wanted to step up to a full frame digital sensor as that is what I have been using for many years with film photography and I just like the perspective and subject isolation you get with 35mm. And I have been thinking about going mirrorless full frame to get reduced size and EVF to facilitate exposure.
Last spring Nikon offered me a deal I could not pass up on a D750 full frame DSLR. I bought it with the 24-120mm f4 and a 50mm f1.4G lens. I have to say that the images out of this rig were excellent. Nikon sold me the 24-120mm lens for $500 and that is a bargain.
The above shot was with the 24-120 and shot at 24mm. When you look at this at full resolution it is a great shot except for the top corners. But for me the combo of the D750 and 24-120 was just too big. Plus my experience with the last Sony compact with the EVF and my iPhone and using the Adobe camera app got me used to seeing exposure and over exposure in real time.
So I figured I would look at Sony and Nikon as that is what I have good experience with. I went to the camera store with the intention to buy a Nikon Z7 or Z6 and changed my mind while in the camera store. Why? 1. I have a number of legacy Sony-Minolta lenses that I thought would adapt really well on the A7iii. 2. The A7iii was $2,000 and Z7 was $3,000+. 3. I liked the fact that the Sony was on it’s third generation of A series cameras and figured they had the bug ironed out. 4. I have had recent experience with the Sony HX 80 compact and the menu system is very similar to the A7iii’s. I did not have a problem with the HX menu.
I bought the Sony A7iii and figured if regretted I could always sell it and buy something else. I also bought the Sony – Zeiss 50mm f1.8 lens and the Sony LA 4 adaptor. The Zeiss f1.8 lens is a small, light, very high quality standard lens. It also costs $1,000. In my opinion sharper than the Nikon 50mm f1.4. And it cost $375.
Most of my older Sony-Minolta AF lenses work as well as I thought they would. The 50mm f2.8 Macro which has been one of my favorite lenses. Gives very sharp, colorful, good bokeh results.
The medium tele Minolta works pretty well. I like the bokeh and it is light and easy to use. It is 1/4 the size of the Nikon 24-120mm f4 and about 1/3 the weight. Plus I paid $32 for it.
And above is using the Sigma 24mm 2.8 Macro I paid $80 for a couple of years ago. I have several more that worked well too.
The Sony autofocus adaptor worked quite well with all of the autofocus lenses. Although using the Sony with a very sharp digital sensor did show some of the weaknesses in bokeh a couple of the lenses have that was covered up more using film. Film has more grain usually and tend to smudge the bokeh a bit.
Here are two more from the Sony and the Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro. These have been cropped quite a bit and the details in the full size image are great.
OVF compared to EVF. I like OVF better but EVF offers more information. Being able to see the histogram and zebras before taking the shot makes it worth it. The mirrorless is also far better for taking shots using the back screen. The Sony is much more responsive than a DSLR back screen.
Videos are far better. with the mirrorless than the DSLR. Video was so bad on the DSLR cameras that I almost never used it. The Sony A7iii is extremely easy to use. Although the adapted lenses would not be good for autofocus. The camera would make too much noise using the old lenses. I have tried the Zeiss and it is silent.
I do miss the 24-120 but not the weight and size. Sony makes a 24-105 f4. I have given some thought to buying it, but I don’t want to get back to lugging a heavy camera around. Using the adaptor and the 24mm prime I already have is less than half the weight and size of the Sony 24-105. But not a zoom. I think I will stick with what I have for a while before doing anything more with additional new lenses.
Do I regret not getting the Nikon. I do not regret not getting 45 mega pixels at all. My computer set up is just not ready for lots of big still files. And I have not had a problem getting used to the Sony menu system. I set up buttons for almost all functions and hardly use the menus. But I would have to say that the Nikon EVF is quite a bit better and I would like to have that. I do not love the Sony position of the front and back selector wheels. The D750 was better.
Far left is Olympus OM2n, the Voightlander Prominent, Minolta 600si, then the A7iii. Of the four I prefer the Oly. I put a a leather ever ready case around it and it becomes very easy to take and carry with you. I also have an ever ready case for the Voightlander. The 1953 leather is looking a bit worn, but still very serviceable. The Sony A7iii above has the Zeiss 55mm lens on it which is a small lens. But it is easy to see from this picture that what we think of as a small lens in 2018 is much larger than the other three. Much bigger than the Zeiss and the Sony is not an easy camera to tote around. I am giving some thought to getting the Zeiss 35mm f2.8 or the Sony FE 28 f2 which are even smaller than the 55mm. But since I have a closet full of film I can just use some of it with the smaller SLR’s.
Final comment. Olympus is the only one of the larger camera companies that have not come out with a full frame camera. If they were to make a smaller full frame and smaller lenses I think it would sell. Maybe even to me.
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.
The shot below is what happens to many digital photos when taken at mid day.
On the other hand here is some film shot at mid day with full sun.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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