Hello blogosphere! Contrary to popular belief, I’m not dead! I’m alive. Busy but alive. The days are just packed! (That’s an old Calvin & Hobbes comic book that I still have on my shelf). Between church life, family life, Estate executor life and professional photography life, I haven’t had time to have a blog life! Better late than never!
We took an amazing family get away in the first part of October to Cypress Hills and stayed at the Resort. We rented cabins which were perfect for us, two bedrooms, kitchenette, beautiful setting. We had the run of the place as there weren’t any other people booked in. The temperatures were crisp in the evening and a bit windy but the days were glorious. Sunny & warm! We had such a blast. Grandma & Grandpa got to hang out with the grandkids, we all got to go on some beautiful hikes and of course, take pictures!
For this trip I brought my full Nikon setup. Usually I’ve replaced the whole kit with my Fuji X100s for family trips because of the versatility, small size and awesome image quality. But for this trip, I wanted to shoot the forest in full frame with my D800. Also I knew I’d be doing some family portraits that showed the glorious fall colour that was still there (Thank the Lord!). So I brought out the dynamic range duo of the D800 & the Df. It’s the best of both worlds for low light performance and resolution.
We went to Conglomerate Cliffs the first day there. It was incredibly windy but still breathtakingly beautiful. I shot some family photos there with flash. I brought along my Alien Bee 1600 and battery pack. It’s such a great light. Super value for the money and I love the volume of light it produces. Quick Photoflex soft box and there you go. Instant Christmas Card photo magic.
We also had some fun doing light painting with the kids and their glow sticks. They had fun whirling them around and seeing the cool streams of colour.
Cypress Hills also has a dark sky preserve with an observatory. We had a decent night but the clouds were rolling in. Were able to nab some northern lights though, and I think I caught a falling star too.
All in all it was a fantastic trip. I cannot recommend Cypress Hills enough. If you’ve never been, you’ve gotta go check it out. It’s provincial treasure! 😎
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! 😉
Today was the annual Family Tradition Black Angus Bull Sale! I look forward to it every year, mainly because I really know next to nothing about the cattle industry. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about cattle production as well as how the purebred game works. I love the descriptors that the auctioneers use to sell them. “This bull has a lot of red meat on him.” “He’s got 40cm testicles.” “He’s as square and stout as any bull you’ll see.” It’s great! And everyone does a fantastic job. It’s really almost more of a family get together than a sale in that everyone socializes after the sale around pie and refreshments. The Frey’s really do know what Saskatchewan hospitality is all about. And, it’s REALLY nice that they have an indoor facility. That wind still is so consarned hornswogglin’ cold!!! 😯 I did nab the shot above of the bulls outside in the viewing pen. It was worth the cold! 😀
But I had fun at the sale with my Nikon Df in tow. I used my f/4 zooms which worked very well. I could shoot the ISO up really high and I didn’t even really notice the f/4 aperture limitation. I could still nab good exposure. I used my trusty expo disc to nab the correct white balance too which is helpful. If anything it dials in a bit too much magenta, but it’s an easy fix. Here’s some highlights from the day.
We took advantage of another AWESOME local concert at the Stewart’s tonight. The band was “The Fretless“. They rocked the set! They’ve got a sweet celtic influenced stringed folk amazingness, with a little step dance thrown in for good measure. I was dying to try out the Df as a stealthy event camera. It did awesome as I knew it would. The quiet shutter was really nice and not very invasive or distracting to others around. All I brought was a 50mm 1.4 and it proved to be a good fit for the homey event. Zooms will always get you more photos when you’re at a venue as a seated guest, but I wasn’t at the event to be a photographer. So I didn’t care. 😎 I wanted to try out the high ISO madness in the
crap difficult lighting situation. It’s actually an insanely difficult situation. There are 4 little halogen spot lights above the fire place that super bright. Then 2 other red floor lamps. That’s it. So you’ve got an overexposed background and a super dim foreground (where the faces are). Very tuff. RAW helps reign the wild pony highlights back in though. I shot from 3200-12,800. Files look great. 😀
The Stewarts have been blessed with more musical talent in one finger than I’ll ever have in my whole body. All of them. They’re all outstanding! We were treated with an impromptu blues performance (hence the cyanotype). Unreal! 🙂
Then, as we left to head home, it was snowing like crazy. I snapped a silhouette of my lovely wife who is happy that it’s not -50C anymore and, who was stoked to take advantage of another awesome live band! 😀
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! 😎
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.The 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!
It 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! 🙂
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 don’t usually post stuff like this. However, I feel compelled to. 😎 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. 🙂