Light is Everything!

Cameras

X100sB&W

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I must confess, ever since I got the Nikon Df, my X100s has been on vacation. I still love it to death. But I find that the Df gives me more versatility with my DSLR lenses. However, every time I go and re-pick up the X100s, I think I could totally sell all my DSLR gear and just go mirror less Fuji. They are so light and wonderful in almost every way. So compact. So handy and versatile. And of course, the B&W.  I love shooting the X100s in black and white. I just love how the Fuji renders the files. I have to do virtually nothing to them providing I shot the exposure right in camera.  I had it along as the image maker today and shot primarily in black and white. Most JPEG and a few RAW files – which are easy to edit into Black and White gold since Lightroom has got the Fuji camera profiles now.  Quick user preset of wee exposure tweaks and you are golden. I love this camera!!! It was the perfect camera to enjoy a day up at Kenosee Lake with the family. :cool:


#Camping2014

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It’s been quite busy as of late! We’ve been campin’ up a storm all over Saskatchewan and most recently Manitoba. Child’s Lake has a really terrific campground, as well as tons of other cool stuff. It’s been my in-law’s campground of choice for years. This year we had great weather but the bugs were heinous verging on horrendous. Lots of water = lots of mosquitos. Our poor children looked like walking mosquito bites, despite slathering them down with all manor of DEET bearing spray known to mankind! :evil: But we always have a good time. Weather was good. There was only one rogue black bear in the campground to worry about so that’s not bad either. :cool:

My favourite shot from the trip was the banner image from this post. I was really wanting a nice sunset image of Child’s Lake. But the sunset was quasi-lackluster. And boats galore were chopping up the lake for some last minute water skiing and tubing. So I had to with them out until it was almost too late. Plus I was getting eaten alive by the winged vampires – despite the army of dragonflies eating them by the metric truck load above my head. I had the Nikon Df on a tripod and made the 13 second exposure with the 24mm AFS f/1.4 lens. That lens is a cracker jack piece of glass! When I’m travelling I only ever bring a prime kit (24, 50, 85), or just my FujiFilm X100s if I want to be truly ultralight. I opted for the Df because I knew I wanted to make this image that required a bit wider of a lens than the X100s has. The super long exposure turned the water into a polished mirror. As the seconds ticked by the haunting call of loons filled the lake. One notch off of paradise I’d reckon. :)


Nikon Df review video

I finally got my Nikon Df review video online. It sums up those 5 paradoxical things about the camera and offers my thoughts about buying it. I really do love the Df. :D It’s a fantastic all-rounder camera despite it’s flaws. I got to try out my dads old school film lenses on it as well this past weekend. They work great! I was blown away by the old 35mm f/2.8 lens. It’s sharp with no chromatic aberration wide open. Not even one of my modern AF-S Nikon primes can boast that!

This video was my first kick at the cat trying “cinematic filming techniques.” I’m no videographer, that’s for sure, but I had fun putting the montage together. Although, I recorded the outdoor scenes at temperatures between -25 and -50C (no, that’s not a typo) which made it very tricky and somewhat miserable! And I didn’t even freeze to death. Yay! :cool:


The Nikon Df on Assignment

So I’ve been shooting non stop with the Df for the past few days, exposing its weaknesses and revelling in its awesomeness. My original “paradoxical” concerns have all turned out to be true. :| But, it’s all trumped by the joy it is to shoot, its amazing image quality as well its killer good looks :cool: I’ve been doing lots of candid stuff of the kids, low light tests and a had a chance to use it on a shoot. I still primarily used my D800 but I wanted to see how the Df would do. It did fantastic! I had my lighting setup for a corporate headshot. Here’s a BTS shot of the setup, noting that my rim light had already been taken down when I remembered to make this shot. A sheet gaffer taped to the wall (DO NOT USE DUCT TAPE) was my background in a confined office space. Umbrella key, background light and a hair light was the 3 light setup. I tuned it all and shot with the D800 then simply swapped my SU-800 commander to the Df. Other than max shutter speeds being different (1/250 on D800 and 1/200 on the Df), everything operated the same. The metering between both cameras was spot on as well.20140221-untitled-001The other cool thing I wanted to try with the Df is it’s spot white balancing ability in Live View. This is a super rad feature for nailing a white balance. Just pop the camera into live view, switch the White Balance to PRE, hold it, then measure your grey/white surface in the lighting conditions. It’s really, really accurate and pleasing! It’s not really in step with the “pure photography” mantra but I’ll take it nonetheless. It’s slick!

photo-4It was also nice to edit smaller RAW files than the D800 megapretzel madness. I was quite happy with how the Df rendered skin tones and colour. It seems to be a wee notch up from my other Nikons, which is a plus. I look forward to using the camera on assignments in the future! :)20140221-Kori-001

 


I bought a Nikon Df

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My Df showed up today in the mail. I was totally stoked! I ordered it last Thursday. It shipped Friday and was here today after a long weekend! Thanks to the great folks at The Camera Store in Calgary, Alberta. I’ve bought all my cameras there for the past two years and I love the store. The staff rock the set. Buy all your gear there. ;) So I had my old 50mm f/1.8 AF-D lens still kicking around. But I don’t use it much anymore since I bought my 50mm 1.4G. But it’s still a great little lens. Soft wide open with lots of nice chromatic aberration. But whatevs. It was my first prime and I love it for nostalgia reasons. It’s a perfect match for the Df. I bought the camera straight up without the kit (on account of my 1.4). And at first it appeared that I couldn’t use the aperture ring to change aperture. But thankfully you can change that. If you use setting f7 in the menus you can in fact use the Aperture ring on the AF-D lenses for that sweet manual touch and feel. (more…)


I am Buying a Nikon Df

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I am going to buy a Nikon Df. No, I’m not a hipster but yes, I am insane. :cool:

They’re never been a more polarizing camera ever. Everyone either hates it or loves it, much like lutefisk (I’ve never had it so I assume it’s either loved or hated). That’s how people treat the Df. And that’s OK. Whatever floats your boat. I was able to check it out and use it a bit the other day. I read the reviews and watched all the YouTube vids but this camera doesn’t really connect with you until you pick it up. I was instantly in love with it. Much like my FujiFilm X100s (hipster alert!). :D First of all, it is small and light. It strikes me as an ideal prime lens camera. Beefy zooms (or even my less beefy favourite f/4G zooms) will be better suited for my D800 or a D610. But all my primes that I love will fit this camera like a glove. And the shutter is quiet. And quiet mode is actually . . . quiet! Not X100s quiet but ninja’s shadow quiet. And I do love the tactile buttons. Am I gonna use it like a non-film digital SLR? Yep. And I don’t care about the “pure photography” thing. I like that it doesn’t have video in exchange for killer battery life. There’s a lot that I like about it despite it being a completely paradoxical camera.

Enter the 5 Fold Paradox:

♥ It’s a D4 chip. A low light beast. It begs to shoot primes in the dark. But it has the inferior D610 autofocus system that will no doubt struggle to acquire focus in the dark. :|

♥ It can accommodate every Nikkor ever, but the focusing screen isn’t designed for manually focusing lenses. :|

♥ It’s $3000.00 but not a “Pro” Body. :|

♥ It only has one card slot instead of two, depriving it of a very useful in-camera photo backup workflow. :|

♥ Its top shutter speed is 1/4000 bummer for fast primes in full sun :|

But…

I just don’t care. I think the Df offers the ultimate of flexibility, portability and image quality. It will be an ideal compliment to my D800. I’m thinking low light wedding dance madness where the clean files will be great. I’m thinking that events where 36MP is complete overkill 16MP will be just fine. I’m thinking that it will be a sweet companion for the X100s – 23mm/35mm on it and 85mm on the Df. Very nice, light event kit. :cool:

So as soon as I hock some more camera equipment I no longer use, I will have enough dough to shell out for the overpriced Df. Despite all of it’s paradox, I’m still going to buy it. It’s a decision not made with the head but rather the heart! It’s that experience and bond with a camera that I love, like my wee but mighty X100s. Call me crazy. I’m ok with that. :D Just don’t call me a hipster. Cuz I’m really not.

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Fuji vs. Nikon Color

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I read a photography blog post the other day where the author responded to the general claim that Fuji’s colour reproduction is magical. He claimed that the consensus of celebrity pro-togs who love Fuji have their heads up their posteriors. It’s all hear say and media hype. Now, I love Nikon and I also love Fuji (specifically the X100s). I’ve had great success with both. But is the colour really that much better on the magical Fuji? Well I had the opportunity to really test that out today at my daughters birthday party. One of the fun activities was making bead necklaces. So we had lots of different coloured beads available. I brought my cameras and here’s the skinny. :cool:

Caveat: Any of these “scientific” colour tests are inherently skewed because it’s impossible to get everything the same across camera platforms. Lenses are different, sensors are different, blah blah blah. You get the idea. :)

I normalized the cameras as much as I could across the settings and exposures. I decided that I would use an on camera flash to bounce the same exact light across each exposure. The frame is lit entirely by flash with no ambient bleed. The settings were: JPEG files straight out of camera with no editing whatsoever (other than the down sample of the full res files to 1024px). Fuji was on factory Provia and Nikon was on factory Standard settings.  1/250 f4 35mm ISO 200 WB Sunny/Fine. SB-600 Speedlight on Camera zoomed to 35mm shot in Manual mode at 1/32 power for both. FujiFilm X100s (23mm = ~35mm on FX) vs Nikon D800 with 16-35mm f/4 AF-S VR. Take a look at the results and see for yourself.

Fuji

Fuji

Nikon

Nikon

I put the photos side by side in Lightroom and did screen captures. I didn’t downsize the D800 so they don’t line up. I put them both at 1:1 just to compare the colour. In all the shots, the Nikon file is on the left side.

So, what do you think? I noticed that there was about a 1/3 stop exposure difference between the two files. I made the histograms the same in post and brought the Nikon exposure down -.35 in Lightroom – but that difference is not shown here. These are all SOOC. Even with the slight exposure tweak, the files to my eye are different. The Fuji has an extra little bit of contrast and pop straight out of camera. And whatever it is, this magical Fuji special sauce is what all the Fuji hype is about. :cool: Just look at the difference in the pinks (read SKIN TONES), it’s quite remarkable!


DSLR Workshop

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DSLR class in Redvers, SK

Susan Hill and I ran two DSLR and Photography workshops this past week in the charming little town of Redvers, SK. The classes were held at the Redvers public library and 30 people in all took the course. It was tonnes of fun! :cool: Helping people take their camera off of Auto Mode is always such a treat. As for myself, I bought my first DSLR (Nikon D40) because I hated how slow and laggy my point and shoot was. I took a billion photos in auto mode and loved every minute of it. Nothing really changed until I got a 50mm f/1.8. Best thing ever for turning the ol’ mode dial to A mode. That’s what started my foray into being a full blown photo and exposure nerd. We introduced the participants to all the basics of ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed – knowing full well nobody is going to become a full blown M mode shooter overnight. But to have someone take me by the hand and guide me through everything would have been helpful to me when I was getting interested in photography. But we all had a blast and we will be running more classes in the future. :D

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Susan Hill

 


First Wedding of 2014

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Hitched in a Blizzard!

Well I had the first Wedding of 2014 on the 3rd of the month. It was a very special wedding because it was Parishioners of mine who asked me to take a few photos after the ceremony.  It was a very small gathering with only the couple and their witnesses present – which is just fine. Everyone thinks a wedding needs to be a big deal with metric tonnes of frills. It doesn’t. It can be a small, humble event, as this wedding was. And in all truth, it became one of my all time favourites! :cool: Hubert and Audrey were so excited to seek the Lord’s blessing on their relationship which is such a cool testament to their faith. At 80 plus most people would simply think living together would suffice. But nothing beats good ol’ fashioned marriage! And a good ol’ fashioned marriage deserves a good ol’ fashioned camera!

I brought along my old film Leica FujiFilm X100s. The photos were going to be all posed portraits in the church sanctuary and I took a couple of candid shots afterwards. But I figured I could get it all done with the Fuji and it worked great. I brought along a very simple Off Camera Flash setup of 2 stands, 2 LP180 flashes and 2 umbrellas, triggered by Pocket Wizard PlusX units. Very simple and very effective, no nonsense kit. I carried the camera, triggers, gels and flashes in a small lowepro bag about the size of a milk carton. Who doesn’t love that?! We did lots of the typical “nice” photos everyone wants, then I had my lovely wife assist me for a shot with more dramatic lighting which turned out to be my favourite of the day. I LOVE the Fuji’s black and white JPGs with the yellow filter! :)

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But I also love the Fuji’s rendition of colour. Just look at that candle smoke. The subtle blue is out of this world! It just nails colour every time, even in weird mixed light environments. Ahh, Fuji, is there anything you can’t do? ;) All the best to the latest Mr. and Mrs. Freitag! May God give you many years!

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My Take on The Nikon Df Camera

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I don’t usually post stuff like this. However, I feel compelled to. :cool:  Call me a hipster, a wanna be retro mofo. I don’t care. I like nostalgia. I like buttons and tactile dials. I like the link to the past. The inter web has become a flurry of controversy over Nikon’s latest offering. The Df. The name is kind of goofy. DF: Doesn’t Focus, Darn Fugly, etc. But it’s an intentional throw back to the film cameras of legend. It’s a “Digital Fusion” camera.  It means it incorporates the feel and look of the old with new technology. I instantly liked it. I like the look and style. I like the fact that you get a D4 sensor for less than 3 grand. I like what this camera is designed for. But that is the key. One must understand it as such. If you go into this camera comparing it other DSLRs designed for different purposes then you will be disappointed and drinking a big ol’ glass of hater-aid.  Like this article from stoppers.  The biggest complaint I see from the blog critics is that it doesn’t shoot video. So flippin’ what?! It’s not designed for DSLR video. If you wanna shoot video, get a 610 or an 800. Honestly. “It doesn’t shoot video.” Every six year old kid has an iPhone that shoots great video. Use that for crying out loud. Not every camera needs to shoot video. It’s a still camera made for still photography. I have a D800 and I’ve never used it for video. If this camera had come out before the D800, I’d have bought it instead.

To me this Df camera is a beautiful mix of form and function. It’s a perfect prime lens camera and an awesome travel camera. And, it can use all the old school Nikon glass sitting in your dresser collecting dust. That’s cool.  I could see using this camera with a 24mm, 50mm, 85mm and 105mm. I could see using this camera as a wedding machine. The low light capability is fantastic. Strap a 24 on it and you’ve got a your ultralight wide angle madness. Use a 70-200 on another body and you’re golden as an event photographer. I’m digging this camera. The only thing stopping me from picking it up is the yet to be released XPro-2. Fuji is the bomb and they’ve been rocking the retro now for quite some time.  We’ll see.

Is Nikon just trying to liquidate their D4 sensor stock because an update is coming? Probably. But I think they are really after the heart of still photography with this camera. I’m a firm believer that the camera you use makes you shoot photos differently. I’ve experienced that first hand with my Fuji X100s. It made me into more of a range finder type photographer. I get closer to things than I normally would. I’m thinking that Nikon is onto something special with this camera and I predict that those who buy it for the right reasons will love it a lot. Plus, Joe McNally likes it. What more do you need. Get the credit card out. :)

 


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