Light is Everything!

Cameras

Shooting Cameras

This is just a quick blog post showing how I was shooting some macro shots of my favourite cameras this evening.

This behind the scenes iPhone shot shows the exceedingly crude setup. Main light is an AlienBee 1600 through a gridded Photoflex soft box. I setup my home made scrim as a big reflector and did a simple blue gelled flash pointed at the back wall to give a bit of colour. Very simple setup with a decent result. 

I also shot the good ol’ Nikon Df with an old 28mm manual focus lens from 19 diggity 5. I took more of a macro approach with this shot and used that same blue flash to add that hint of glancing colour to the shadow side. The blue sets it off just that extra little bit. 

I shot the same kind of angle of the X-Pro2 but it doesn’t work as well to me. The X-Pro2 is more minimalistic in its design, lending to a more covert external appearance anyways (which I like). There’s just not as much going on for the accent light to bring attention too. Anyways, just a fun little shoot for something to do. 

Here’s a link to the Nikon photo in 4K resolution. I shot all these files with the Nikon D800 RAW so there’s resolution to burn. 😎👍


X-PRO2

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I pulled the trigger on getting a FujiFilm X-Pro2. Sight unseen. But I had been coveting one since it was announced. But I thought “nah, I’ve got loads of Nikon gear. What do I need an X-PRO2 for? It’s not a need. It’s a want.”

YOU NEED AN X-PRO2

From the very first moment I picked the camera up, while it was still in the protective shipping plastic bag yet, I loved it. The camera is big and solid, hefty even. It feels perfect in the hand. I threw in a charged batter from my X-E2 (which are the same by the way) and slapped on the 35mm f/2 lens. What a dream. The camera is blazing fast to autofocus & accurate. I shot the normal test shots we all do of our keyboards to test focus and it was bang on.  I quickly put the camera into ACROS film simulation. Wow.

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The photos have this alive/organic/analog quality to them. The transfer from shadows to highlights is out of this world. The ACROS grain is so smooth and film like even at higher ISOs my jaw dropped when viewing the files. They seemed to jump off the screen at me.

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I just kept shooting the kids. Shot after shot through the EVF, the shots were sharp, and had the same filmic quality. I was hooked from the very first few frames!

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The shadows are so rich and the highlights are buttery perfectly. I was shooting the camera wide open at f2 and the files are sooo sweet. I always knew that the fuji JPGs were great, my X-E2 files are wonderful. But the X-PRO2 files are just that much better. I can’t wait to actually put the camera through it’s paces.

20171025-XPRO2-048These quick shots here are straight from camera, no editing other than a resize for the blog. Again, I’m totally blown away by the camera. The tonality of the files is wonderful. I’ve never ever felt this way about a camera before or the photographic results. If you’ve ever been thinking of getting an X-PRO2, do it. I can already see how this camera is going to change my photography going forward. More to come!


Nikon 24mm 1.8G

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So I just got the Nikon 24mm 1.8G lens. My overall Nikon kit was lacking a fast aperture wide angle option. So now the Nikon bag is full. I’m rounding out my 85mm & 50mm 1.8G collection with the 24mm. This compliments my 16-35mm f/4 & 70-200 f/4 with fast primes. I’m really pleased with the lens so far, though I haven’t sufficiently put the lens through it’s paces yet – it’s coming soon.

Here’s a couple of sample photos from it, focusing on bokeh & centre sharpness. This lens is phenomenal wide open. The bokeh is as good as it gets for a wide angle (which aren’t known for being cream-cheese soft).

I’ll focus on this 100% crop. This was shot wide open at ISO 800 with window light. The detail of the eye lashes is unreal! The lens stacks up really well on the D800. Shooting on anything less will be even better, as the D800 sensor is pretty tough on glass.

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So there you go. More review to come on this one in the near future, but suffice it to say, the lens is fantastic sharp, and very light and manageable. 😎


Adaptation

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I’ve always wanted a long telephoto lens for the Fuji X system because I love love love the skin tones & nuanced colour that Fuji produces. I saw the K&F Concept lens adapter for Nikon G/AI lenses to the X mount for a mind blowing $30 bones on Amazon. I didn’t have any high hopes at all about the quality or usability of the adaptor but for the cheap price, how wrong could a guy go? So I got one shipped out.

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Nikon 85mm f/1.8G lens on the XE2 Astia film sim.

I opened the box and was blown away. The whole thing is metal. It has a built in aperture control for Nikon’s new G lenses that don’t have an aperture ring. And it works to keep the lens wide open, stopped all the way down and a couple of in between settings that are largely guesses. None of the settings register with the camera because there is no communication between camera and lens. It’s just a simple adaptor. So it’s manual everything. But Fuji’s focus peaking even at 1.8 is a snap. Works great!

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I slapped on the 70-200 f/4 which balances decently with the small camera body. You could shoot wildlife with it gaining the extra reach of the crop sensor but manual focus on fast moving subjects requires ninja like reflexes that I no longer possess.

But for portrait stuff………

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Nikon 70-200 f/4G on the XE2 Pro Neg. Standard film sim

I’d say it works just fine. These two sample images are straight out of camera other than my resize for web lightroom setting. Here’s a 100% crop of Phoebe’s eye:

 

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It is tack sharp! This is wide open too. You’ll see from the included info that the camera only records the shutter speed & ISO settings. Aperture is not and for some reason it defaults to a 50mm lens. But the results are awesome. The skin tones are so, so great. And it’s sharp! Did I say that already? So this image is 200mm 1/180 ISO 200 handheld JPEG shot with a Nikon SB-900 through a Lumiquest Softbox III triggered with Phottix Ares triggers! How’s that a for a FrankenSetup!? lol

I love Fuji lenses and they rock the set. But for 30 bucks, you can’t go wrong with the K&F Concept adaptor. Highly recommend picking one up!


Das Wesentliche

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Leica just officially released the M-D Typ 262 camera. You’ll quickly notice that the back of the camera takes us back to the first digital cameras . . . that didn’t have LCD screens.

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That’s right, sports fans, no viewing your photos on the back of the camera. No chimping. No showing others your great shots on camera. Nope. You gotta wait until you get home and get your film back from the lab hook up to a computer. Immediately the camera was met with criticism on the inter webs:

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It is true that Leica does now have the reputation of being a boutique camera for the rich and or famous. It’s always focused on the essentials (Das Wesentliche) in having very no frills operation, no AutoFocus until recent models, no video, etc. It has remained stalwartly old fashioned in the modern hi-tech era of photography. But taking away the LCD? It’s a bit odd.

However, I wonder if such an advancement development would change the photographic experience? People go on and on and on about how photography isn’t about gear, it’s about developing your eye and looking for moments and colour and  gesture and seeing etc. It’s not about the gear you use.  It’s a nice sentiment, especially for making beginners feel great about photography and not self conscious about pro-level gear they can’t afford.  But it’s also total BS.

Gear does make a difference to photography. It affords capability and quality that is not otherwise achievable. This is why pros use zillion dollar pro gear. It gives them an edge on the competition as well as ability to nab photos they otherwise couldn’t get. Like shooting at ISO 5 billion in the dark and still getting a usable photo. But not only these practical things, the gear actually changes the photos. It alters the way a photographer shoots. People who use Medium Format make different photos from the person using the iPhone camera. Likewise when people switch to mirrorless. They find that not lugging around the big heavy DSLR gear all day changes their photography. Using a fixed prime instead of a kit zoom changes the photography.

So what about removing the LCD screen?  Will that change one’s photography? Yep. I’ll bet it would. One, you’d be more careful. No spray and pray shooting. You’d have to be extra conscious and aware during the photo taking process to make sure you had the exposure and composition right – because you won’t know until your looking at it on a screen back home, long after the fact. This alone would make everyones’ photography better. The film guys were careful. They were thoughtful. There was a level of “critical” that is almost gone in the digital age. There was some finality to the roll of film in a way that there isn’t with high capacity memory cards affording metric tonnes of available shots.

Ditching the LCD, will it bring back the ‘film thrill’? I don’t know. It would scare me to be honest. I rely heavily on the LCD in my photography. I’m always chimping, always checking the light and the highlights. It’s a part of my photography now. I’m sure I’d find not having the crutch there unnerving. But it also might be a freeing thing too. What do you think? Boutique camera with a stupid gimmick or photographic genius in the making?

PS: I wrote my article here before watching the video. 😎


The History of Photography in 5 Minutes

Very cool video worth a watch! Amazing to see how photography has exploded so rapidly, largely thanks to the iPhone.


Nikon vs Fuji – Skin Tones

Ok, well, here’s my quick experiment. These comparisons are never ever 100% but it does give a good idea. I normalized the settings in camera and then adjusted the Dynamic Range in post. The D800 sensor is more sensitive to light than the Fuji is so I had to bring up the Fuji file and bring down the Nikon. These files are JPEGs that haven’t been adjusted (other than the Dynamic Range tweaks and exported to web size). Fuji was in Pro Neg Std. Nikon was in the default Portrait picture control. These are both the suggested portrait settings from the manufacturers.

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Nikon D800 – Portrait Picture Control

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FujiFilm X100s – Pro Neg Std. film simulation

To my eye, the Fuji file is much, much more pleasing in the skin tones and over all colour. I guess this is completely up to personal preference in the end. But I could easily shoot Fuji JPEG for people photos for the rest of my life and be happy.  To me the Nikon files almost always have a yellow undertone to the skin that must be overcome, which is why I always shoot Nikon in RAW. I don’t know for sure, but I’m wondering if Nikon colour was optimized for Asian skin tones. It would make sense to boost that skin colour’s tonality. But on caucasian skin it comes across almost jaundice to my eye. The Fuji files don’t seem to have that colour push. Maybe the X-Trans sensor is more precise in colour handling. Might just be a white balance tweaking question. Let me know what you think.

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2016: FujiFilm’s Year

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2016 is not only the year that Nikon got its mojo back, but it is FujiFilm’s year to shine! Since the release announcement of the X-Pro2, X-E2s, X-70 and sweet new telephoto lens, the interwebs have been a buzz with excitement. I’m no different. I’ve been with the X-System for 3 years now when I got the X100s – still a goto camera for me. It’s been an omnipresent companion on all my family trips and events because of the size/ergonomics and of course phenomenal image quality & colour rendition from a crop sensor. I still love that camera and will never sell it.

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I’m totally stoked for the X-Pro2. The first version was a fantastic camera with its own quirks and quickly rose to cult status – as did the whole X-System really. While other manufacturers continue to pump out updated models, FujiFilm takes their time. They make their current products better with firmware updates. That immediately garnered my respect. Sure, lots of manufacturers fix up bugs in their products with firmware updates, but seldom if ever do they add new features. Instead, you must buy the updated release version to get them. I love FujiFilm!

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The X-Pro2 caught my attention because it is the long awaited update to the classic first version. I knew that Fuji would take their time, gain input from photographers who know and love their products, and then produce an amazing camera that people can’t wait to purchase. They have not disappointed! There are already several amazing reviews/first impression blogs & videos up now. As I haven’t actually seen or used the camera in real life I have nothing of value to add to the discussion. However, the features I’m most interested in are as follows.

20130608-FujiFilm-003The first thing is that they’ve done a great job in making the camera weather resistant. The new Fujinon lenses will all be weather sealed too. This really puts the “Pro” in X-Pro2. I’m thinking of wedding photographers or landscape people or even travel documentary photographers. Having gear that can keep up to the elements is a must.

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Also hardware wise, I’m delighted to hear that it has dual SD card slots. This in my mind is another Pro feature. Whether for redundancy on critical wedding jobs or over flow or a JPEG/RAW workflow, this is an excellent feature to have. Glad they included a UHS-II slot too for fast data transfer. This will help immensely for buffer clearing, especially RAW files which will be bigger on the all new 24MP sensor. This is a welcome jump up from 16 in my books. FujiFilm colour and skin tones are absolutely incredible. And now with 24MP, you get more glorious pixels of both. And phenomenal high ISO performance as well. So exciting!

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Another feature I’m really excited about is the new ACROS black and white film simulation. I’m a huge fan of Fuji black and white straight out of camera. In fact, I almost never shoot my X100s in RAW. The JPEGs are so great and I love the colour so much I just go JPEG. Especially for black and white. But now to have a really punchy and contrasty black and white option in the ACROS film simulation, it’s all kicked up to notches unknown to mankind. I’m looking at you Leica Monochrom! It will be great to see how the new X-Trans sensor handles the B&W tonality.

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Another upgrade that may not seem like much is the sync speed for flash bumping up to 1/250s. This is awesome! I love using my X100s for flash stuff because of the leaf shutter and syncing capabilities it has. But to get that extra wee smidgeon of ambient killing power from 250 instead of 180 does help quite a bit. I’m dying to shoot the new X-Pro2 with some telephoto glass for portrait work. So far I’ve only ever shot the 23mm/35mm lens on the X100s. But if I could get the 90mm f/2 or the 56mm 1.2, I’d be a happy portraitist indeed.

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There’s a zillion other features about the X-Pro2 that others have already commented on and will continue to do in the weeks to come. The stuff I listed just scratches the surface of what will undoubtedly become another classic camera for Fuji.

If you want one, get on the pre-order list ASAP. If you order from The Camera Store, they have a promo discount on the new 35mm f/2 lens as well.

Congratulations FujiFilm! 2016 is your year to shine!

Top 10 X-Pro2 reviews


Cool Stuff in 2016!

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So today has been an exciting day for Nikon! Loads of new goodies for Photogs to covet. Finally, finally, FINALLY Nikon has returned to the greatness of yesteryear. The D3 and the D300 were amazing technology jumps for Nikon that brought them to a new level of awesomeness. You had your full frame monster flagship as well as the DX crop sensor mini-monster. It was a great & logical setup for photography products.

Then the D4 generation came out. It was D4 flagship . . . and a 36MP monster D800 . . . and a D7200 . . . and the D600 . . . and D610 . . . and a Df. It was a complete schmoz. And above all, no D400! Where was the DX upgrade with maximum FPS, rugged pro level build quality and all the great stuff that Wildlife and Sports photographers wanted?! It never came.  People were left in limbo land and Nikon really seemed to be walking around the desert of product releases that nobody really wanted or asked for, splitting markets in weird ways.

But it all changed today! The D5 was released alongside mini-monster D500! This is awesome news! Now semi-pros, enthusiasts, and full time working pros FINALLY get a solid DX performer that is up to snuff. Boo ya! Congratulations Nikon for making the product that everyone wanted and reclaiming the logical glory of yesteryear.

Check out the D500 mini site here.

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In other news, I updated my professional portfolio website that you can check out. It was long overdue for an update and I kept the simple minimalistic style that I like. You can check it out at www.schultzphoto.ca

And, I also went for a walk with the dog today and took along the beloved FujiFilm X100s. Here’s a few street shots from the walk. Really great clouds again today!


Nikon 1 V3 Review Video

Well, my time with the Nikon 1 V3 is over. I was a blast of a camera and a great opportunity. Thanks again to Nikon Canada for contacting me and letting me take it for a spin! My only regret was that our weather here while I had the camera was oh so uncooperative. -50 billion ºC is never fun, especially when you want to get out and shoot a camera. 😎 Check out the full video review here:

 

I put it through it’s paces in three main ways. I came at the camera as a Manual Mode DSLR shooter. Could the V3 keep up to the advanced shooter? Yep. Yep it can. It’s got enough external controls to keep me happy. I wanted to know additionally how the FT-1 Adapter would work for wildlife and for macro. It’s very capable! The incredible field of view you get from the CX sensor and full frame lenses is fantastic. Also for macro. The 105mm Micro Nikkor I used with the V3 made an excellent combo. And, I wanted to know how the image quality stacked up, especially in low light with high ISO. Shazam! It’s incredible.  Nikon really hit a home run with the V3. The extra perks of built in WiFi and the articulating screen make it so much more enjoyable than it’s predecessors. Too many people write off the Nikon 1 series because of the small sensor. That’s a shame! It’s an incredibly capable camera and system with loads of uses and appeal to consumers to prosumers! 😀

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Happy Valentine’s!

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Nikon 1 V3 + FT-1 Adaptor with 105mm f/18 1/250 ISO 200

 

The Nikon 1 series of cameras are really suited for close up macro/micro work. That small CX sensor is the bomb for getting loads of the image in focus. Normally you might not want that, for portraits and such. But for close up stuff, it’s just what the doctor ordered. I stole my Valentine’s ring for some close up shots and I was impressed. The image quality is great and there is a tonne of detail available. I was lighting these images with a ring flash mod on an SB-900 that I had to cheat a bit to make work. It’s a shame that the R2-D2 pop up flash on the V3 doesn’t allow for Nikon CLS control. That would be sweet sassy molassy and could be added in a future firmware update.

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Nikon 1 V3 + FT-1 Adaptor with 105mm f/18 1/250 ISO 200

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Nikon 1 V3 + FT-1 Adaptor with 105mm f/11 1/250 ISO 200

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Nikon 1 V3 + FT-1 Adaptor with 105mm f/11 1/250 ISO 200

Macro ring shots are something that I do at every wedding we shoot. So the extra detail that this smaller sensor can capture is great, especially when coupled with an FT-1 adaptor and Nikon’s 105mm micro lens. In all truth, it’s too long for this kind of work. Probably Nikon’s sleeper 60mm micro 2.8 would be just the ticket for working with the FT-1 adaptor.

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Nikon 1 V3 + FT-1 Adaptor with 105mm f/8 1/4 ISO 200

With the same setup I shot this peacock feather. The detail is very good with the 18MP sensor. Also diffraction sets in super fast with the 105. Probably f/8 is more than enough to capture detail and still have a sharp image.

Again, the image quality and capability of the V3 camera is stellar. The possibilities for creativity with it are only limited by one’s imagination! 😎


Nikon 1 V3 Does Wedding Photography?

We shot a winter wedding last weekend. Fortunately the freezing rain that was forecast didn’t show up. Instead we had some snowy and blustery cold conditions to contend with. I’ll do a later post with some images from that wedding because it as a lot of fun and the bride chose an amazing venue to do some of the wedding party photos.

It was in the Virdin Auditorium. What an amazing location! We did a bunch of fun group things and then I asked if the backdrop could be brought down and the theatrical lights be used to light a portrait of the bride. I knew I wanted to try the V3 in this setting with the 18.5mm lens to see how it would hold up. It was challenging light for the camera to balance in that it was only lit by CTB and Magenta gelled spot lights.

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Nikon 1 V3 18.5mm 1/160 f/1.8 ISO1600 Netural Picture Control JPG Straight from Camera

I thought the camera did amazingly well. This photo is straight from camera, neutral picture control JPG. The colour tones are pleasing and rich. Just for fun, I shot the same setup with my Nikon Df & 50mm 1.8G lens for comparison:

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Nikon Df Image JPG from RAW 50mm f1.8 1/125 ISO 800

It’s definitely not possible to do an “apples-to-apples” comparison here but it gives you an idea of what the Nikon V3 can do contrasted with a $3000.00 DSLR setup. There is more tonality and colour nuance captured by the Full Frame DSLR sensor, but to be honest, the V3 image is more contrasty which I prefer for the overall look of this photo. Also, the Df at 1.8 is bokelicious wonderland where the V3 keeps pretty much everything in focus at 1.8.

Here are some ~100% crops to see how the V3 holds up at 1600 ISO. The Df is at 800 ISO here just for comparison purposes.

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Nikon1 V3 ISO1600 Crop

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You can see that the V3 detail is noticeably less than the Df, which is expected due to sensor size. But, it handles the noise amazingly well. Her eyelashes are discernible. Her hair is beginning to get a bit mottled together but to my eye, it’s still incredibly good! I’m impressed with the performance!

Nikon1V3SkinTonesHere is one more unedited straight from camera JPG. I’m blown away by the skin tones here. They are very pleasing and creamy. The colour reproduction is really quite good as well. This scene has a metric tonne of white in it and the nuance between the snow, the shady snow, the dress, the shirt and the flowers is discernible.

Overall, it’s impressive image quality for a small CX sensor. If I was a person looking to upgrade from a camera phone camera or point and shoot but didn’t want to lug around a big DSLR, the Nikon 1 V3 would totally fit the bill. 😎

 

 


The Nikon 1 V3

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My whole entire life just got incredibly busy! More on that later! But in the mean time, Nikon Canada sent me the latest Nikon 1 camera to play with. The V3 is a sleek new mirrorless camera from Nikon and it is a tremendous upgrade from the V1 that I currently own. When I was contacted about doing the product test, I had my choice of the 1 Series lenses to try out. I opted for the 18.5 f/1.8 lens. I wanted to see how a fast aperture would work on the little camera. In a nutshell, it works great! There are so many features about this camera that are really impressive. One is the wifi. Having the built-in ability to transfer and view files on your phone from the camera is awesome. You can use the free wifi utility app to take pictures too, though the functionality of that feature is quite limited. More details to come about this experience though.

IMG_0611I shot the above photo this morning using the FT1 mount adapter I also requested from Nikon. I’ve wanted to try this since it came out and haven’t had the opportunity. As I have a bunch of Full Frame Nikon glass at my disposal when you strap them onto the tiny mirrorless system it unleashes all kinds of creative opportunities. I can see two really practical applications in the incredibly awesome telephoto reach this combination of a tiny sensor and big lenses gives you. (2.7x crop factor makes my 200mm f/4 lens a 540mm f/4!). But also  the macro possibilities are exciting as well. That small 18MP sensor will capture a load of detail.

IMG_0622Also, I wanted to see how Nikon had improved the CX sensor’s low light performance. So far it is looking fantastic. The image above was taken at 3200 ISO and it looks very good. Both of these images here were transferred straight out of the camera with no post processing. So, on the first glance, the V3 looks like a super camera! I’m sure consumers who would likely buy an entry level DSLR will find the V3 sufficient for their needs and beyond. I’ll probably do a video review of this setup in the near future and discuss it in more detail. I’m impressed so far and the articulating touch screen is awesome! 😎


Nikon Df with old Manual Lenses

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My Nikon lens kit is a pretty basic, do anything kit. I don’t have any of Nikon’s Holy Trinity f/2.8 zooms because they are extremely heavy and expensive. Instead, I picked up the newer, sharper, cheaper, lighter & slower f/4 zooms. 16-35 & 70-200. I don’t have the 24-120 as to my eye, there is nothing interesting happening in those focal lengths. Same goes for the do-it-all, ever versatile, ready for anything 24-70. I’ll never buy it. Too close to uncle Bob’s kit lens focal lengths. Nothing cool optically is happening there. Wide and telephoto is where it is at.

That being said, I’m primarily a prime shooter. I just like them better. A little sharper glass. Lighter in the hand. Easier to transport. Etc, etc, etc #PrimePraise. So for my prime kit, I have a Nikkor 50mm 1.4G & 1.8D, 85mm 1.8G & 105mm 2.8G Macro (And the Fuji X100s at 35mm equivalent f/2). I didn’t have a fast wide angle lens though. I thought about picking up Nikon’s new 20mm 1.8G. It looks awesome. Nassim just got his review done, check it out here. It’s affordable and awesome, a true winner. But I am honestly tired of spending money on photography gear. And, even more so, I didn’t want the 1.8 form factor. The new G lenses are larger and bulkier. Optically better, but just also bigger. I didn’t want that.

I wanted to pretend I had a Leica. 😎 I love the smaller form factor of the rangefinder systems, another reason I love the Fuji so much. But I also have my trusty Nikon Df with all of its awesome old school film inspired manual controls. So I started to think about picking up an old school lens to match. Nikon made some really killer glass back in the day. No AF. No weather sealing. No Magical Nano Crystals. Just glass & metal. So I looked at a couple of fast(er) primes and I settled on the old 28mm Nikkor f/2.8 AI-S. The old lenses in this form factor take the small 52mm filers. They are light and pocketable, much like Fuji’s X-series lenses, but fit full frame sensors.

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It’s a sweet gem of a lens. It’s eagle talon sharp, even wide open. Very little lens distortion. Hardly any Chromatic Aberration (unlike much of Nikon’s new G stuff). It as hard stops on each end of the focus which is great for locking the lens into infinity focus for landscapes and astro photography. It’s all sweet, smooth manual focus baby – which is a rather sucky experience on Nikon. They do give you the green-dot-O’-focus but it’s not as good as using focus peaking on the mirrorless cameras. However, the focus and distance marks are still engraved on the old lenses which is awesome, especially for a technique known as zone focusing.

I’d never heard of this before but stumbled across it while looking into the Street Photography Genre. Suffice it to say, in a world without modern Auto Focus, how would photogs get sharp shots in the fast paced, ever changing world of the street? They would stop down and preset the focus on their lenses. This would essentially give the photographer a “zone of focus” – an area in the photo that would have an acceptable level of sharpness. Say f/8 at 5 feet away. This gives you roughly 6 feet of in focus area to work with, 1.7 feet in front of the subject, 4.2 feet behind. You just had to get good at manually guessing how far your subject was from you when you made your shot. If they were in that 5 foot range, you’d nab the shot. It’s actually quicker than auto focus because you just pointed the camera and clicked the shutter button. That’s how they did it.

I wanted to try it out. But I don’t really live near any streets. LOL. 😎 I’ll try it for real when we go to the city. But it does work pretty good, especially with the Df’s low light capability. I can crank the ISO and still have clean images for the small f/8 & f/11 apertures.

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Just compose and boom!

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It’s a pretty cool technique. And you can do it on the cheap. I picked up the 28mm off eBay for like $250! I was leery of buying glass unseen off eBay and vowed never to do so. But I took a chance and it worked out great. The lens shipped from Japan and was in BETTER condition than what the seller had indicated. It’s essentially brand spankin’ new. Gotta love that!

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Optically it’s really sharp, even wide open. I was blown away by the quality. Even on the D800, this puppy holds up. I thought that sensor would eat it for breakfast but it does a great job.

20141111-28mm-014And it’s got a nice creamy bokehliciousness to it as well. Wide(r) angles aren’t really known for the bokeh. But this is pleasing enough for me! 😎

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Happy New Year!

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2015 is here! I thought we would be burning around in flying cars by now! Guess not. But what we do have are really tremendous cameras. I think the old film guys would be doing backflips in their graves if they could shoot with the stuff we have now. So many photo blogs and sites compare the features of this camera and that camera – but you know what? All the technologies in these new cameras are really fantastic. Auto Focus is awesome, even on less than stellar performing cameras. None of the old guys had it. Just try turning your AF off on your camera and shoot for a day. You’ll appreciate even slow AF after that! 😀

As I look over my husky collection of personal images (like 66,000 or something crazy), Lightroom allows me to sort them by metadata. Such as which camera took what number of images. My old & sold D300s definitely took the most as that was the camera I really learned photography with. But the most used camera I own isn’t my Nikon D800 or the Df – both of which I certainly do love. Rather, it is the FujiFilm X100s. The bulk of my professional work is still shot with DSRL. But my family/personal camera is the omnipresent X100s. It’s a camera that I naturally just pick up. The Nikon Df also has this spirit about it too. I love the manual controls and dials on these retro-styled cameras. But there is just something about the Fuji. It’s sum is somehow greater than its parts.

Ergonomically, it’s a winner. Small profile. Virtually silent. And then there’s the features: Macro capability, Killer sharp optics, stellar high ISO performance, leaf shutter flash sync speeds, AMAZINGLY ASTOUNDING COLOR. And this is the big one for me. The X-Trans sensor is a colour ninja. All the photo gurus go on and on about this but it is so true. This sensor renders a scene exactly as your eye sees it. Nuances of colour exist that even my D800 and Df just cannot replicate despite being bigger and 3 times more expensive. I snapped this shot just to see how the X-Trans would negotiate the wild mixture of light in this photo: Tungsten lamps in the living & kitchen illuminating the family, daylight balanced wall sconces and Christmas LEDs in the family room in the background. This is a JPEG image shot in auto WB mode! It’s amazing! And the skin tones are incredible. And look at the various shades of blue! I’m constantly blown away by this camera.

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I used the X100s exclusively over the Christmas season for capturing family memories. I shoot it in JPEG. I wouldn’t dream of doing that with the Nikons. The pre-processing of the camera makes this possible. Using the X-Trans for professional work would be a dream, especially for weddings. Being able to produce pre-processed JPEG images – that are FANTASTIC – would save hours and hours of editing time. And the black and whites are the best in the business. Bar none. No contest. The FujiFilm Black and White is incredible. I’d love to compare them to say the Leica M Monochrom. So Leica, if you’re reading, send me a setup to try! 😎 I shot this one of my Nephew in very low light, using MF focus peaking to get it sharp. It was f/2 1/60 at ISO 6400. At 1:1, you can count his eyelashes. And the “noise” looks like film grain at 400 ASA. It’s astounding. Like my nephew who is the most striking little gaffer ever. His eyes are jet black!

20141225-NYBlog-004 Also, because of that tiny little profile and silent shutter, you can nab moments. Nobody even knows you are taking photos!

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Sony made and is making a big splash right now with its full frame Mirrorless A7 cameras. Rightly so. They’ve beat both Canon and Nikon to the punch in changing the history of photography for the better. DSLR technology is just analogue film tech ported over to digital. Mirrorless is true digital photography. No old analogue tech work arounds. It’s the real deal. I’ve looked seriously at switching to Sony, particularly with the release of the A7II. Awesome kit with killer in camera stabilization. Way less weight to lug around all day. What’s not to love? Not much. . . . Except that it uses the same sensors that Nikon does. (Or, rather, Nikon uses Sony’s sensors). This isn’t a draw back. The sensors rock the set. But as I look at the X-Trans images, I prefer the look and feel of them. The tonality and colour can’t be matched, not even by Sony’s incredible full frame sensors (Sorry Canon, you’re beaten like a rented mule on this one). I’m not ruling out Sony stuff, that’s for sure. It’s an exciting time for photography! Loads of awesome image making options. But let’s just say that I’m anxiously waiting for the X-Pro2 release. So Fuji, if you’re reading, send me a setup to try! 😎

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My last point about Fuji that I want to touch on is their approach to their customers. No other camera manufacturer respects their customers more than Fuji. When you buy a camera, undoubtedly there will be some glitches and bugs to get worked out. Firmware releases generally fix those up. But that’s all they do. Seldom, if ever, is more functionality introduced to a camera – and especially not if an upgraded model has already been released. You have to buy said upgrade to get the new features. Not so with FujiFilm. They so respect their customers that they release firmware updates that make the existing products better. Even products that have already been replaced with updated models! That’s awesome! It instills confidence in the purchase for the customer. I know that my investment in Fuji is not a one time deal. They will bless me with greater functionality in the future. This is how a company can create a jubilant base of hardcore fans and supporters. It’s a two way relationship with Fuji. And they keep on giving. They show respect to the customer and for that, I give a very deep and long bow (not to mention further business in the future).

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So here’s to a happy new year of image making in 2015! May all your pixels be bright! 😉


Whitetails at 36MP

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People may complain about the high megapixels of today’s generation of DSLR cameras and I’d agree that yes, sometimes they are are über overkill. But then, some whitetail deer might show up 363 yards and all you might have with you is a 70-200mm lens. And then, you’re happy to have the D800 mega-pretzel madness! The photo above is a 100% crop of this photo: #LOL 😎

20141118-Deerts-001It’s a bummer. I was too late grabbing the camera because this deer and another buck were sparring. I watched with binoculars for a bit then ran for the camera. When I got back, the other deer had already run off. To the victor goes the spoils! Cheers to next years Whitetail babies! 😀

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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. 😎


#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! 👿 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. 😎

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. 😀 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! 😎


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 😎 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. 😎

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!). 😀 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. 😎

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. 😀 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. 😎

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.

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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. 😎 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! 😎 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. 😀

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Susan Hill