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.
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!
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! 😎
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).
So here’s to a happy new year of image making in 2015! May all your pixels be bright! 😉
Ahem. I humbly start this post, firmly entrenched in the Nikon camp, but I have to say it: I formally recant pretty much every negative thing I’ve ever said about Canon. Ever. 😳
Pa got his new toy, the highly coveted Canon EOS 1D-X camera. For those who don’t know (where have you been?!?), it’s Canon’s flagship, top o’ the line, best camera ever. And it is, most definitely Canon’s finest camera to date. This camera is a beast! It’s nothing short of amazing. My chief complaints about Canon have been 1) Crappy Focusing and 2) Crummy LCDs. This camera addresses those issues and then some. This is not an in depth Camera Scientist review by any means, rather a quick 1st impressions post. And, the impressions are good. The focusing is incredible! Check the specs and see, there’s an entire processor dedicated to focusing alone. And it shows. With oodles of programable modes, you can tell the 1D-X exactly what you want it to do and how you want it to behave. It’s positively awesome.
Just check this out – you can customize the focus settings for several different cases, depending on what you’re photographing. In this case, Dad had a hummingbird setup in the back yard and so he went with this “Bring it on, sucker” focus mode. It’s unreal. The birds came into the frame and boom shakalaka, this camera nails the focus again and again and again. Check out one of his photos from his Flickr stream. There’s a whole set there of tremendous shots with more to come.
Certainly, you’d come to expect this kind of performance from a camera setup of this calibre. With the 500mm lens, it’s nearly diabolical! The shots are sharp and the focus is . . . fixed! 😉 And, the LCD on the back of the camera is more like an HDTV instead of watching colecovision. (Google it if you don’t know).
If you are a Canon fan and you’ve been waiting for this camera, it will be everything you’ve dreamed of and more. You’ll probably curse Canon a bit for moving the tried and true traditional button configuration around – (even I found that annoying as now it’s quasi counter intuitive). But the performance of this bad boy more than makes up for having to learn a new button liturgy.
I told Dad that he should go out and satisfy my curiosity about the focus system and shoot some motocross. If anything will stress the tracking features, MX certainly will. Being that he’s primarily a wildlife shooter, perhaps getting my brother to chase a herd of pronghorn antelope in front of the lens may be a more fitting focus test. I suspect that it won’t be much of a challenge anyways, the focus is just that good. During the hummingbird setup, we slapped on a teleconverter and I simply watched the wind flicking the honeysuckle blossoms in the wind through the viewfinder. The focus points tracked it back and forth with no intervention from me. It’s sweet!
So basically, that’s all I’m gonna touch on in this post. The Canonista Camera Scienticians will soon have incredibly detailed reviews out about this beast. I’m sure it’s ripping up the olympics right now too. Oh, one last comment, the ISO performance is awesome too – another great improvement. Being 18MP, it’s just about a perfect blend of resolution and noise performance. That extra bit of crop-ability is appreciated and the high ISO stuff looks good. 6400 was totally usable in my books and it goes up from there, waaaay up. But the image quality similarly decreases too. Can’t wait to see some head to head tests with the 1D-X & the new D4 from
the good guys Nikon! 😎
Real men like war-based action movies with lots of guns. Plain and simple. We also translate that into Photography. Go and watch The Battle of F/Stop Ridge to confirm my thesis.
So, when you’ve got a 500mm lens, you need to look and feel the part of a sniper. You can be back a loooooong way when you have 500mm to play with. It’s got über reach. The bokeh and compression with this bad boy are purely incredible. So, to put it to the test, we setup a blind in the backyard to see if Pa could nab any blue jay shots. For wildlife, the ultimate setup is the blind or “hide” as they are sometimes referred to. You setup and wait for the wildlife to come to you. In this case, we used the swing set and some hunting camouflage attached with zip ties. It’s quick and efficient and works really well. Dad also wore a full suit of camouflage to blend away into nothingness. The birds had no problems with the blind and came right in. The only issue was if he moved, then they took off. But other than that it worked really well and he got some awesome shots! All the bird images are copyright Bob Schultz of Sunwood Photography.
When eyeing up lenses across the two major competitors (Nikon & Canon) one notices something rather odd. A conundrum of sorts, really. It makes sense to me to have lens focal lengths stop and start in complimentary places. For example, the holy trinity of Nikon’s f/2.8 glass line up go from 14-24, 24-70, 70-200 meaning that you have the entire range of focal lengths from super wide to long telephoto all at the magical f/2.8 aperture. Makes sense.
What doesn’t make sense is Canon’s line up. There you have 16-35 and then 24-70 & 70-200 all L series at f/2.8. There’s a mismatch in the focal lengths from the Canon ultra wide zoom to the standard zoom. Does it really matter? No, not really. Am I nitpicking the competition? Maybe. 😉 But the more curious thing is that Nikon ALSO makes a 16-35 (f/4) & a 17-35 (f/2.8). [FYI: Both Canon & Nikon have no VR/IS on these lenses].
I got to thinkin’ – why do that? Why make 2 lenses that seemingly double up the focal lengths?? That also was a conundrum. I found a Flickr forum discussing the issue and the general consensus was that the 14-24 was a “fun” lens while the 17-35 was a “useful” lens.
Meaning, that because the 14-24 has an aspherical front element, you can “bend” your photos to have some really cool artistic lens distortion, even using it as a super wide portrait lens at concerts or what have you. The advantage of the 17-35 is that because it isn’t aspherical, you can use neutral density filters on it, making it perhaps more suitable for landscapes or photo journalism. The point was made that if you were photographing a large crowd of protestors with tear gas and rocks and debris flying everywhere, a lens filter would better protect your lens. You can’t outfit the 14-24 with lens filters because it is aspherical. So, the 17-35 has the advantage of adding armour in combat situations. 🙂
But back to Canon being bizarre with their focal length mismatch in the lens line up, well, that’s just weird. 😉 Go Nikon.
Beginners to photography always ask what lenses should I buy (after they ask what camera should I buy). 😉 It is good to have a plan in place so that you don’t spend money on junk glass that you will want to sell later on to buy better stuff. I came across the whole 5 year plan concept on one of Jared Polin’s YouTube blogs and I thought the idea was superb. Have a plan in place that allows you to save your money and upgrade to the very best of lenses and camera bodies over time. Quality is everything! And we pay dearly for it! But it is worth it. 🙂
The plan I present here is for the beginner who has gotten into photography and really likes it & wants to take it to the next level – either hobby or business wise. As such, it starts out with the entry level camera body and kit lens. Then, it encourages buying professional level glass as the next step. Why? Because if you waste your money on junk glass now (because you can afford it), then as you get better and want to upgrade, you’ll have a bunch of junk glass nobody wants. But if you purchase higher end glass, you’ll be fine and dandy as sour candy for your entire photographic career. Camera bodies come and go but lenses last forever (well, a LOT longer than camera bodies!) 😉 As for camera bodies, you want to jump from the entry level body to the top of the pro-sumer line, then to the top of the professional line. It’s not advisable to simply buy the next update of the entry level camera body you already have. They don’t change that much from update to update.
This proposed plan may take you shorter or longer to accomplish and that’s OK. It’s totally up to how aggressively you want to pursue photography and how much cash you have on hand to bank roll it.
Check out this plan for both Canon & Nikon lenses & bodies and let me know what you think. Lists of accessories are also included. The over arching goal is get good glass in your hands that covers the focal range from super wide to long telephoto. But it really depends on what kinds of photography you want to do. For example, if you really want to do Macro photography, that lens will be further ahead on your list than say a 300mm f/2.8 wildlife lens 🙂