Tag Archives: Olympus

2018 Purchases – Nikon D750, Apple XS Max, Apple MacBook Pro 15″& Sony A7iii – Reflections

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

Foggy hill in Olympic National Park Velvia 50
Taken with Olympus OM2n 50mm f1.8 and Fuji Velvia 50 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.

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Taken with Motorola Maxx cell phone and edited with iPhoto

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.

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Taken with Motorola Maxx smartphone

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.

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Shot with Olympus XA compact film camera

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.

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Shot with Nikon D3200 and 55-200 kit tele lens.  I have not changed these photos from my 2014 edits.  So when you see unleveled photos such as this one just know I was not as picky four years ago on editing.

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.

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Nikon D5500 and 18-55 kit lens.  Edited with iPhoto

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.

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Voightlander Prominent from 1953 and 50mm f1.5 Nokton lens, Kodak Ektar film

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.

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“Yellow flowers on hill in Olympic National Park”  Taken with Olympus OM2n 50mm f1.8 lens Velvia 50 film hand held.

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.

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Taken with Voightlander Prominent 50mm f1.5 lens and Ektar film

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.
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Eye auto focus is fine, but this great shot of my daughter was taken by a 65 year old Voightlander with a difficult to use rangefinder focus adjustment that has not been adjusted since 1979.  And to top it off Kodak Ektar is not supposed to be a very good skin color film.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
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Shot with Nikon D3200 and kit 18-55mm

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.

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Taken with Nikon D3200 and 18-55kit lens

Pros of the new MacBook –

  • bigger screen
  • better speakers
  • newer

Cons of the new MacBook

  • $3,000
  • 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.
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Olympus XA compact film camera with Ektar film

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.

 

 

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 – 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.

More Film Vs Digital Photos

We just got back from a two month trip in our motorhome that included an Alaskan cruise.  I got some very good pictures along with some great memories.  This summers trip seemed to revolve around water.  We camped on lakes, oceans, and rivers.  That seemed to make for very good places to stay.

On this trip I used both digital and film cameras.  I took 1.  Nikon DSLR with 3 lenses.  2.  My cell phone camera.  3.  My 1953 Voightlander Prominent 35mm with one lens, a 50mm 1.5.  4.  My Olympus XA compact 35mm film camera.  I used all of them.  Here are some bullets of stand out features of those cameras that I found helpful this summer.  the lighthouse picture

  1.  Vibration reduction on modern digital cameras is very useful when using a long lens.  The above picture is a mid range telephoto and this was an easy shot due to VR.
  2. Quick acting DSLRs are needed when the picture is an action shot and you want to use digital.  When we were in Glacier Bay the glacier calved.  I had a split second to get the action and the Nikon was up to the task.  Auto advance is another important feature in this situation.
  3. Modern film like Ektar 100 is almost impossible to expose incorrectly.  I shot an entire roll of 36 at a wedding with a 60 year old rangefinder camera and mostly guessed on exposure.  All 36 shots came out fine.  Of the 4 rolls of Ektar all of the pictures came out exposed well.
  4. Cell phone cameras are nearly totally useless shooting action.  I tried to get pictures of dogs on the beach in Oregon.  I would push the button and the dogs were way moved on before the shot would take.  By far the Olympus XA was more useful.  The Olympus is a simple camera, but when you push the button the picture is taken right now.
  5. Full frame cameras give you a shallow depth of field.  This is very useful when you want to isolate a subject and have beautiful bokea for background.  I much prefer the size of my Olympus OM2n with full frame than Cannon or Nikon full frame digital.
  6. I far prefer simple manual adjustments of the older cameras.  My Nikon is the 3200 and it is far more difficult to do manual adjustments of f stop and speed than on any of my semi automatic or manual cameras.
This was taken with a telephoto.  Vibration reduction helped me get a good shot of this.
This was taken with a telephoto. Vibration reduction helped me get a good shot of this.
This is an Ektar shot with a 60 year old rangefinder.  People love this picture.  I have had more comments and likes on this than any other picture I have ever taken and posted.  Who says Ektar 100 does not work on flesh tones.
This is an Ektar shot with a 60 year old rangefinder. People love this picture. I have had more comments and likes on this than any other picture I have ever taken and posted. Who says Ektar 100 does not work on flesh tones.
I tried repeatedly to get a dogs on beach picture with my cell phone.  Forget about it.  They had moved on before the picture shot.  This is not a great shot but at least I got all three dogs and froze their action.  This is the Olympus XA with Ektar.
I tried repeatedly to get a dogs on beach picture with my cell phone. Forget about it. They had moved on before the picture shot. This is not a great pictue but at least I got all three dogs and froze their action. This is the Olympus XA with Ektar.

So what is my point.  Just like you need many tools in your garage to fix things around the house, no one photo tool (One camera) does everything “best”.  Mixing film and digital in my case is the best way to go.  I got shots that I loved with both digital and film.  I have to tell you though that I like the film process of taking pictures better.