Tag Archives: Sony

Initial Thoughts On Using My New Nikon D750

After thinking about it for 3 years I finally bought a full frame Nikon D750 camera.  When I looked at new DSLRs just over three years ago I went to a camera shop and had them put the Nikon D5500, Fuji XT1, Olympus OMD EM5 II, and Nikon D750 on the counter.  I went for the D5500 as I had been using a D3200 for two years and got very good images from it and no repairs.  The D5500 added new features including a very useful touch screen.  I checked out the Fuji as many reviewers were talking about it having a very high quality body with direct dials on it to make the most important adjustments.  I looked at the Olympus because I have been the happy owner of several Olympus cameras since 1980 and really liked the brand.  I looked at the Nikon D750 as I had been shooting full frame film for many years and liked the perspective of that size image capture media.

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Nikon D750 & 50mm f1.4

The D5500, Fuji, and Olympus all were about the same size and felt like they weighed about the same in the hand.  The Nikon D750 was a lot bigger and a lot heavier, and critically, would have been much more money than in my budget at the time for a new camera once lenses were included.  The Olympus had a smaller sensor than I wanted.  The Fuji was nice but not smaller or lighter than the D5500 and would have been a lot more expensive for me to buy with lenses than the Nikon D5500.  At the time I thought that if money was not a problem I would have bought the D750.

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D750 and Lightroom Monochrome B&W setting

So after three years I had the bug to buy a new camera before our summer motorhome trip this year.  I bought a Sony compact last year that fits in my pocket and gives me great results that are a step up from my iPhone X.  So I thought, why not try a Sony full frame.  I rented an A7rIII and Zeiss 58mm f1.8.  I got some really great files from that rental.  I would have stepped down to the A7iii though as the file size from the R were just bigger than what I want/ need.  I did not find the A7 comfortable in my hand. I did like the size of the body.  But when you add lenses much of the time it is the same size as a DSLR.  The Zeiss 58 f1.8 is much bigger /longer than the Nikon 50mm f1.4 and costs more than twice as much.  And there is the Sony menu system.  I have used it through all of my 4 Sony compact cameras.  I find the Nikon menus & controls easier to use.

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D750

I very rarely take video and when I do I use my iPhone.  My main reason for wanting EVF is to avoid blown highlights.  But Nikon offers an exposure setting that auto reads for highlights and avoids blowing them.  DP review and many others place the Nikon D750 and Sony A7iii about the same in overall quality.  So why did I get the Nikon?  I just could not pass up the deal and I am very happy with Nikon.  I still very much like my D5500 after three years.  I still think it is the best camera in it’s category.  It is so easy to use compared to my Sony compact.  It just does not fit in my pocket.

The deal.  Nikon sent me an email offering me the D750 plus battery grip plus 24-120 f4 lens for 2 grand.  The Sony A7 body was 2 grand.  And the Sony 24-105 f4 is $1,300.  So if you don’t count the grip and only the lens and body the 750 is $1,300 less.  But I bought a 50mm f1.4 from Nikon for $369 (refurbished) and I did get the grip.  The 750 was about 40% less than the Sony comparable package.  Now I have had it for a week.  I made a good choice.  What is the single thing I like the best about the Nikon deal, the grip I would have never bought if it was not free.  It makes it so convenient to go to portrait mode and has and extra set of controls and one of those easy adjusters for setting focus.  What is the thing I like the least, the size and weight up from the D5500.  But the Sony A7iii would not have been smaller with the 24-105 on it and would have been just 8 oz lighter.  Plus after a week I am kinda used to the heavier weight.  Yesterday I went hiking with the 750 and used a Peak snap connector on my backpack strap.  The size was fine.

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D750

So what do I like about the D750 so far.  It gives great images, fast.  No waiting for focus or anything else on this camera.  The files come up looking really good and the jpegs too. I usually shoot raw, but tried using raw + fine jpegs.  I ended up using mostly jpegs of the photos I have taken so far.  I tried editing the raws in LR Classic and ended up about the same place between the finished raw and jpeg files.  The focus set on auto just seems to find the subject 9 times out of ten.  If it does not I just center and reposition.  I have been experimenting with the exposure.  The no-overexpose setting works about 80% of the time.  Bracketing and using LR to merge works well too.  I very quickly just set this camera on manual (not manual focus) on the top dial and used the two wheels to adjust f-stop and speed.  The individual buttons are faster than the touch screen on the D5500, but not by much.  I very much like two adjust wheels.  Makes using manual a breeze.  And I love love the big viewfinder.

So right now I am very happy with my purchase.  The files do seem a bit better than the D5500.  Even when I do a lot of cropping the result is fine.  So not getting a camera with 40+ megapixels seems the right choice.  If Nikon was introducing their mirrorless at the end of the summer I would likely have held off, but a year till next Spring was too long to wait.  If Nikon blows me away with a mirrorless that has normal size lenses (normal Nikon size), does not break the bank (Leica style), and comes with reasonable size files and not huge ones, then I might spring for one of those when they come out next spring.

So how does this affect my fondness for film.  It does not.  The only thing I am going to change with this summers trip is to only take one camera (besides cell phone) on each day and not a film and digital.  Last time I took film and larger digital cameras most of the time to compare shots.  That is done and now I need to concentrate on working with the tool in hand to make the best composition.

Final comment.  Right now I still think my Olympus OM2n and the Nikons from the 1980’s like the FE were a better design than what we have today.  I would like to buy an Olympus full frame digital that had a body the size of the OM2n and lenses the same size as the ones I have from the 1980’s.  Why is it only Leica seems to get this?  If my budget would stretch to a Leica M10 and 50m Summicron?  Well one can hope.

Film vs Digital Photos – May 2017

About five years ago I started shooting film again after going with digital only for about 7-8 years.  Now in May 2017 it seems like film is back in a big way.  I have been writing this blog and one other with most of the posts being about photography.  My most popular posts are when I write about film and film cameras.  Recently I saw a post that was in Photoblographer on 5 great but unknown film cameras.  The Minolta 600si was in the five.  Within a few days I had a bunch of hits on most two 600si posts.  Same with my post on Kodak Gold 200.  Few have written about these items and all of a sudden my posts on them have been looked up and read.

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Shot with Minolta 600si with 50mm f2.8 macro Quantaray lens and Kodak Portra 160

For me personally I have settled into using both digital and film.  I have a number of both types of cameras and just pick what I think will give the best images.  The exception to this rule is that I carry an iPhone 7+ with me constantly and take a lot of images with it.  My most recent camera purchase is a Sony pocket camera.  It is a DSC HX80.  This is a very new model of super zoom.  I have had several Sony pocket cameras over the last 15 years and this one takes the best pictures of any I have had.  This is not the highly rated $1,000 one, but looks very similar.  I got it as I was trying to find something a bit better than the iPhone 7+ that had a long lens on it.  I like shooting wildlife and volunteer at the San Diego Zoo so there are times when a long optical lens is helpful.  I have to say the little Sony is a very good camera when you consider what it cost.  It even has an electronic viewfinder (the same one as the $1,000 Sony) that is absolutely essential in bright sun.  I recently took it with me to Arizona and the camera is a very good bridge between a large SLR or DSLR and a cell phone camera.

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Sony DSC HX80
AZ trip with Cathy & Jeff-53
Sony DSC HX80 at about 500mm a little tweaking in Lrightroom

On this trip I took my iPhone, the DSC HX80, and my Nikon D5500.  So no film cameras.  Why, I knew I would be bouncing around between outdoor and indoor, plus back and forth between landscape and people.  We did not plan to go to any epic landscape places like the Grand Canyon or Bryce.  So I spent several days trying to decide on what gear to take and just left the film at home.  I really wanted to take my old Voightlander, but it is just more limited than some of the newer cameras.  I got some very good shots with the gear I took.

The cactus is with the Sony, Casa Grande Nikon, and Route 66 with the iPhone.  All three were easy to edit and organize with Lightroom and Apple Photos.  I pretty much edited the pictures when sitting in the hotel and they organized easily as dates and times were already embedded in them.

Would the images have been better with film?  Maybe.  I would have needed two bodies for both 100 speed and 400 speed.  The 100 would have been Ektar or Velvia, and the 400 Kodak Ultramax or Fuji Superia.  I picked these films as I just have not been happy with my landscape shots using Portra 160 or 400.  I just don’t like the desert look I get from this film.  My two Minolta 600si bodies are just as easy to use as the digitals so I would have taken them.  I would have used my two primes a 50mm and 24mm both with macro.  The long shots could have been with the 70-205 Minolta zoom I have.  Absolutely the 50mm macro is better at close ups than any of the digital cameras I have.  The new Sony super zoom really has a long reach.  So a couple of the animal shots might not have been as close up.

The added reason I picked the digitals is that I am trying to get certain looks with them in camera and post with Lightroom.  I wanted to experiment some more to get the results I was looking for.

AZ trip with Cathy & Jeff-77

These shots of Casa Grande in Arizona I was trying to get the “Kodachrome” look.  To me this photo (from the iPhone no less) pretty much nails that.  And I could have made the same result with Velvia or Ektar in one of my film cameras.  In this case though it is a bit of a pano that is easy with the iPhone 7.

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Nikon D5500 with 18-55 P lens

The above is with my D5500 and I get the same “Kodachrome” look.  I just used the P setting and landscape mode.  I had saturation turned up +2 on the landscape mode.  Then in Lightroom I just added a small amount of additional color in the sky with the dehaze slider.  And I turned up the shadows a bit.

In summation I would have to say that I have settled into working with both film and digital for stills.  There are some things I like about each process.  As far as gear goes, I like some of my vintage film gear.  Looking at and holding cameras mostly made out of metal and not plastic is a pleasure.  And having full frame film cameras that are not heavy and relatively small is also a pleasure.  I would like to move up to a digital full frame sometime in the near future, but nobody has made the camera I want yet.  The closest is the Nikon 750, but I don’t like the fact that the camera and lens is so large.  And the Sony stuff is just too pricy for what you get.  Plus the lens cost and short battery life are additional problems.  I would really like to get up to the 30 meg area of file size too.  At this point the 750 is the same detail as my existing D5500.

Film Video vs Digital Video

While it seems I can get very good results with digital cameras I have to say I am glad that using film in movies is popular again.  I hate digital video on TV that has not been processed to look like film.  Netflix does that on their in house movies and they look terrible.  I can usually spot movies made with film or TV shows.  For instance HBO’s Westworld.  The cinematography was so gorgeous I figured it was film.  And it is.

Thats it for now.  I am going to try to get out this weekend and shoot some film.  I have some partially used rolls and I want to finish them and send them off to get them developed.

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.