Category : The Learning Center
I got this question from yesterday’s blog and it made me want to set the record straight….. I really appreciate the question!!
This starts with a short story. In my early years as a photographer I used to love to read articles, and publications from a photographer named George Lepp. George was one of the original columnist of Outdoor Photographer Magazine, and still is! When I first met George he was a Nikon shooter, he later switched to Canon and is highly supported by them. That didn’t keep him from being honest when evaluating equipment or products, he called it the way he saw it, which I’m sure did not always please Canon, but he was honest! I came to trust him because I knew he had integrity. My late father stressed to me that when it is all said and done we have nothing more valuable than our character, integrity, and our faith. I’ve tried very hard to always adhere to my father’s advice and follow George’s lead.
So to the answser to the question above is;
I worked for Nikon for 11 years as their NPS tech rep for the southern U.S. I did my very best to always be honest with my customers and give them the best guidance I could. Nikon paid me a salary and provided benefits, and I very much appreciate all they did for me. However, that never affected what I said when I offered advice, I always told the truth. Fortunately my telling the truth was never a disadvantage to Nikon. I believe my customers thought more of Nikon because they provided that kind of service to them, through me. If I ask for some ones help, I expect them to tell me the truth, and that is what I do. I do the right thing, because I said I would.
I no longer work for Nikon. I now write a blog, teach classes for my own company, for Jack Graham, and Kelby Training. I appear before audiences all across America, and I only want to do one thing, make their lives better, because I was in it for a brief moment. For my entire career I’ve believed that almost all companies in the photo industry make good products, some are better than others for their intended purpose, but most companies make very serviceable, cameras and lenses. What you buy is up to you, I don’t benefit either way, I hope to offer my opinion, and they are only that, my opinions. I do however have 43 years of industry experience to back up my opinions.
Do I work for Fuji? No. Do I work for Nikon? No. Do I work for Singh Ray filters? No, or Think Tank, or Lowepro? No. I want to keep my position as a neutral source of information so I may be of real help to you! Let me tell you how far I’ve gone to do that. In late July I was contacted by Fuji and asked to send a photo of myself and a testimonial about how much I loved the Fuji X system for use in a 2 page spread, national ad. I thanked them, but declined. It was way to soon after leaving Nikon to appear in a competitors ad, even though I was happily using Fuji cameras. I wouldn’t do that to my friends at Nikon, I respect them to much, I owe them better than that, and I don’t want to be perceived as on the payroll for Fuji, which I am not. By-the-way, every piece of Fuji equipment I own was paid for, nothing has been given to me. I was offered the chance to be used as a featured speaker representing Nikon yesterday, I said thank you, but no thanks, I am a free moral agent and I want to keep it that way. Both of those decision cost me money, a lot of money, and some good exposure which for a blogger and workshop leaders is a valuable commodity, but it isn’t worth it to me. I want people to come to this blog and know I will be honest in my evaluations of products, that matters more to me than the money. Money can’t buy integrity, that must be earned. While we are on the subject, some of the sponsors of my workshop company do provide some products for us to use and evaluate, but I receive nothing that I have not paid for to own long before I was sponsored by those companies. In other words, if I promote a product, I first bought it with my own money, free stuff could not buy my loyalty.
Have I turned my back on Nikon? No, I still own a significant amount of Nikon gear and still love it. When I can have it handy, I still use it, I just can’t comfortably carry it in the field as I did when I was a younger man. Do I still think Nikon makes great gear, you bet, 95% of everything I’ve shot in my career has been with Nikons going back to the Nikon F. Do I think Fuji makes great gear, you bet, I am using it 95% of the time now and I’m getting wonderful results from it. I can hear someone saying how can that be???!!! Let me ask you a question, do you have children, more than one? Do you love all of them? Do you love them each in different ways, but all equally? There you go. My cameras and lenses are my photographic children, each are different and I love them all. Are they equal, of course not, each have their own strengths and weaknesses but I still love them. I also think Canon, Olympus, and Sony, Panasonic and Leica and many other camera companies make great stuff too!
I do this blog for two reasons; to spread my belief in and love for my God, and to share my great enthusiasm for photography and the wonderful people it has brought into my life. One thing is for sure you can always come here knowing I will shoot straight with you, as best as I can. I hope you believe me, but then, that is your call.
This entry was posted on Friday, November 22nd, 2013 at 3:34 pm
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Over the last year, as I have gotten used to my downsized system and I’ve grown a great deal as a photographer. I’ve come to realize that less complications really does lead to better vision. I started carrying a smaller system to protect my shoulder and so, at the end of the day, I would feel good instead of worn out! I can’t express how much I appreciate that Fuji made this system, it is really meeting my needs, and, at least, in my opinion, my work has stepped up several levels. One thing is certain, I’m having the most fun I’ve had as a photographer in many years!
Now I will admit that I now own almost as much Fuji X system gear, in weight, as my Nikon stuff!! So where is the weight savings? I don’t carry all of it at one time, unless, it’s in the back of the SUV, which is the same way I carry the Nikon system!
I have, for now, (new stuff keeps coming out!), three distinct systems for different kinds of trips.
The trip where I want to get great images, but don’t want to deal with even a small bag! I simply love the Fuji X100s and with the 35mm (equiv.) f 2 lens it works for 90% of what I want to shoot! It does good enough for “reasonable” close-ups, and the lens is tack, tack, tack sharp (that means really sharp!!) I carry a couple of spare batteries, a couple of chargers in my carry on luggage! A spare SD card, and I’m set! I do have a polarizer, but rarely use it on this camera, it just makes such stunning images, I enjoy not having to deal with the hassle! This is my go everywhere, shoot “almost” anything, desert island camera!
When I am going out to do serious work, and want to cover more bases, in terms of focal lengths. The Fuji X-E1, (soon to be replaced with the improved X-E2), with the 18-55 medium zoom (28-80 approx. equiv.) and the 55-200 Fujinon telephoto zoom (80-300 equiv.). With those two lenses the system weight does not go up that much, and the range of shooting opportunities goes way up. I usually use a Domke vest to carry the extra lens and the batteries. Both lenses have polarizers, (Singh Ray, I think the best out there!), and I carry a couple of two element close-up filters that work fantastic to do tight close ups with each of these lenses. The diopters are the Canon 250D, and the old and, sadly discontinued, Nikon 5T.
O.K., it’s time to go on a very serious trip and shoot all kinds of subjects, I know I might need everything, so I load all of it up in a Gura Gear 18L, and I not only take the gear pictured below; The Fuji X-Pro 1, 14mm, 23mm f 1.4, 60mm Micro f 2.4, and the 55-200 f 3.5-4.6. I also throw in the X-E1, X100s and one of my favorite lenses for low light, the 35mm f 1.4 (53mm equiv.) Of course the 18-55 is in there too!! Bunches of chargers, batteries, and lots of other stuff, and the whole thing weighs less than 15 pounds!!!! For the record, I don’t carry that bag on my back, I work what I need into the vest, or a Think Tank belt system if it is substantial.
So less is more, “if” you get better images!!?? I don’t know if this attempt to re-order my priorities will work for others, but I’ve met a lot of shooters that have experienced the same transition, and all of them agree that it has been one of their best moves!
What ever you do, go out and have fun. While you’re at it, love on someone in His name and for His glory!!
Did you catch it? I just noticed that in an effort to get the shots of gear set-up, I didn’t change the batteries as the X-E1 and the X-Pro 1 use a different an slightly larger battery! If you caught it, good for you!
This entry was posted on Thursday, November 21st, 2013 at 4:53 pm
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Wow, some interesting stuff is happening in the camera market place! A few years ago Olympus revived the old OM series in digital form, and the first model the OM-D E-M5 was a big hit, and charged to t he top of the ladder of Micro four third cameras. For good reason, it was well built, very resistant to the elements and Olympus has always had a reputation for making great lenses. They supported the camera with and extensive line of quality glass and Olympus was on their way. The OM-D E-M1, which I had the pleasure of shooting in Death Valley, is another giant step up for Olympus. This camera is a force to be reckoned with.
To add to the confusion, Nikon introduced the the Df about ten days ago, a throw back style body with manual knobs and locking controls and a modern D4 sensor, wow are things getting interesting! I’ve got a theory, and I will share it, but first let me brag a little on Olympus. This is a real winner, good looking, solid feeling, great image producing camera. It has more features and possible adjustments than almost anything I’ve seen in a long time, and that may also be it’s achilles heel. Let me back up on that, if a person is willing to dive into the manual and learn how to use the amazing features it can be an amazing tool. It can do more than I’ve seen in a camera in long time, but it is not to be taken lightly, with this camera , at least for a while, the manual will be your best friend!
The top deck has a knob that sets the main operating system, Program, Manual, Shutter Priority and Aperture Priority, plus some special functions, that’s easy enough. When you get into setting the custom function buttons and control wheels, I counted 6, but I may not have found them al! It’s obvious this camera can be either really powerful, or really confusing. I expect that someone a little younger, and more patient will not only figure it out, they will get wonderful results from it.
Now to my theory, there is a secret that is starting to emerge, one that Leica never forgot, Fuji has rediscovered, and now Nikon is “finally” on board with, and I’m not sure where Canon is???!!! Many photographers are getting older and want something that is simple to use, like what they learned on! A Shutter speed knob, aperture ring on the back of the lens, easy to set compensation dial, you get it, a camera like we learned on in the late 60′s and early 70′s! Does this make an effort like the Olympus bad? Absolutely not, I applaud them for pushing the boundary of micro four thirds technology and creating such a very capable camera. Heck, I’m really tempted to pick one up, I think it has some really wonderful applications. The upside is it is really well made, it has the best viewfinder I’ve seen on a mirror less camera. The 12-40 f 2.8 Pro lens (24-80 equiv.) I used and the 12mm f 1.8 (24mm equiv.) were both top notch in build and optical quality, I suspect the soon to come additional Pro lenses will be up to this standard. If I was looking for a small camera that was also very capable, I don’t think you could go wrong with the OM-D1.
Is there a downside? Maybe, and it depends on what you like, need, and prefer. If you like manual control knobs instead of buttons, and want the best very High ISO low noise performance you may consider the Fuji X system which has the bigger APS-C size sensor. They are very different cameras and after you hold both, and operate them, you’ll know which one seem right for you. One thing is for sure, the big camera companies like Canon and Nikon are loosing people to these new smaller and very capable cameras, and that is not something that has to happen! Both of the flagship, big boys, in the industry are more than capable of building these kinds of killer, smaller, but very serious performing systems!! I wish they both would, it sure would make the market place even more interesting. The Nikon 1, the V and J were good starts, but to compete in this arena, they need to go to the next level. Come on Nikon, I know you can do it!
I want to thank my dear friend and long time photo buddy from Olympus, Ray Acevedo for making it possible for me to try out this truly wonderful camera. It is such an attractive camera, I just may find myself owning one!
This will give you a size comparison idea next to the Nikon D7100.
Exciting times indeed!
Addendum: A friend emailed me shortly after this posted and he owns the M5, the earlier model, he owns Olympus, Fuji, and a Panasonic. He agreed with everything in the report, but added that he got the multi button scheme down pretty quickly and said he loves the camera…. Doesn’t surprise me a bit! I think those that take the time to shoot it, will really enjoy it!
This entry was posted on Friday, November 15th, 2013 at 10:30 pm
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I spent most of the last month looking for fall color, without much success, now back home for two days before the next trip, where there will not be any fall leaves at all (Death Valley), I find a few images right close to home. It has been a poor fall in Kentucky, for color, but even in the worst fall seasons a few interesting things appear, and as photographer you work with what you have!!!! I wanted to start out this blog post with a few images to remind myself that this is what I love, the photography part!! I’m going to make today’s post a double, two subjects! I will be traveling all day tomorrow headed to Las Vegas to meet Jack Graham for our workshop in Death Valley, so this will have to hold us until I shoot some stuff out there. I hope to post again by Thursday, if we have internet service at Furnace Creek Lodge??!!
This morning as a I drove around looking for images I was reminded again, just how much I love the process of photography, both visual, and technical!
Last night at midnight Nikon introduced a new camera, the Df shown below;
If this had happened two years ago, I would have one, maybe even two, on order right this minute, but I don’t, and even though I’m not buying one, yet, I applaud Nikon for doing this!! As you guys that read my blog on a regular basis know I started using the Fuji X System some months back, and did so for a several reasons;
1. I simply could no longer carry the large DSLRs and lenses comfortably from my Nikon system. My bag had grown to over 25 pounds and one shoulder surgery was leading to a second!! No way…… (I needed a lighter, smaller system!).
2. I was unwilling to give up image quality just because I needed a much lighter system. With the Fuji X System, (X-Pro 1, X-E1, and the X100s) I have exceptional image quality and exceptional lenses, and at half the weight.
3. I, being a old codger, or is that an old coot, never sure which one applies?? Anyway, I really loved the throwback design of the Fuji cameras, and that brings us to the new Nikon Df! Below is an illustration of both cameras from the top, it gives you an idea what I love so much about the Fuji cameras, and what I love about this new Nikon Df, it’s old school! Real control knobs and rings for the most important camera functions!!!! Even the old threaded release!
I think it is great that Nikon understand that the millions of baby boomers, that are retiring, like me, that got into photography decades ago when this was how cameras operated, are enjoying the chance to go back to the roots of our love, and enjoy the old school way of doing things! The Nikon is smaller and lighter, I like that! Unfortuantely, the lenses are still bigger, and heavier than what I currently use, but I do still have a bunch of Nikon glass, so who knows, one of these lovely Df bodies may make it into my collection, but I sure am enjoying the lessened burden and fine performance from the Fuji X System! It may be a little late, but still good for you Nikon, this is a very interesting product, and looks very worthy to be considered by those that want to stay Nikon full frame. With the D4 sensor, I imagine it will be an a fine imager as well! I will try to get a hold of one and run a review. It might even cost me $2,795. (That’s what the body alone is running) It’s fun when the major camera makers keep making products to make this more fun, thanks Nikon, I think you may have hit a home run!
The most important thing is to stay out there looking for images, and having fun making them!!!
Photo Note: Fuji X-Pro 1 and 55-300 Fujinon lens. Images fo Nikon Df and Fuji X-Pro 1 courtesy of Nikon and Fuji.
FLASH, my latest Kelby Training Video went live today!