Recent Posts
5 years, 7 months ago 21

It’s tough to admit when you’re wrong!  The announcement of the new Nikon D7100 has caused a focus shift in my thinking about sensors. Let’s start a year ago when the D800/800e was introduced. The e version was first met with some skepticism.  I think a lot of us feared that moire patterns would be a real issue.  For that reason I had little interest in the “e” version.  Now I find my attitude kind of strange, since for me, image quality is paramount. I will put up with almost any quirks to get the ultimate in image quality.  It was not until the 800e had been out for several months that I started hearing about how much sharper the images were coming out of that camera, and very few , if any, moire issues!!!  I was till suspicious, but the reports kept pouring in.  I decided to investigate the whole issue.  I got a D800e and did some shooting and was shocked at the difference.  I borrowed a friends Fuji X-Pro1 and was amazed at the clarity of that sensor.  I looked at some work from the Leica M9, same thing, very crisp!!  Now Nikon is introducing another camera with a sensor free of the optical low pass filter.


For some time the big medium format cameras like the Phase One and Hasselblads have bee free of these filters.  Something is up here!!!  So I went on a research effort, shooting various cameras, and comparing them to conventional sensor technology. I’ve drawn a few conclusons;


1.  All things being equal, sensors that have eliminated the Optical Low Pass Filter, are indeed capable of producing higher resolution and apparent sharper results.


2.  I’ve shot the Nikon D800e and the D800 and when I retire I think I will opt for the 800e if I decide to get that particular model.  Is the 800e much higher resolving than a D600 which I particularly like?  Yes, but the D600 is already a very crisp image producer….  It is a personal choice and not an easy one.  In keeping with my quest for the ultimate image quality, it is going to be hard not to own and use a D800e!!


3.  While I have not yet seen or shot a D7100, I have no doubt that it will be “the” DX body of choice for me.  I would expect it to be a super camera in the DX range with 24 mega pixels and the new unique sensor arrangement.  I certainly will let you know when I get one to try, test, and shoot.


4.  I hope a future version of the Nikon 1 & 2 Series to employ this sensor arrangement, though I know nothing to indicate that this is planned.  I have shot both the Fuji X-Pro 1 and the X-E1 cameras and the X-Trans sensor in them, without Optical Low Pass Filter, performs spectacularly.  


5. I do not access to the medium format cameras, but I will accept the word of others that they perform at a high level as well!


6,  The images I’ve seen from the very, very expensive Leica M9 confirms my finding so far.


Conclusion:  If you are buying a new camera and want the absolute latest technology and highest possible image quality, I would say, if you are a Nikon shooter, the D800e and new D7100 should be at the top of your list.  If you shoot other brands, then the Fuji’s and Leica should be considered. One thing for sure if you go with the M9, get ready to shell out $20,000. for a body  and three lenses!!!!  A little steep for me!


The Big Question:  Can you get extraordinary quality without going that route?  Sure, but it’s like football, it’s a game of inches!!!




the pilgrim

5 years, 7 months ago 5

I was sharing with some friends today about my cancer experience 32 years ago.  The emotions came rushing back and I remembered just how blessed I was when I found out that my prognosis and chance of surviving had gone from 5% to 95%!  I realize how fortunate I am to have had the last 32 years with my family.  We often forget how special life is until we realize how quickly it can be taken from us!


It’s good to remember how gracious and loving our God has been to us, we need to do it everyday and praise Him and thank Him for all the grace He has shown us.  I have so much to be thankful for, and I will carry these feelings through the days to come!  Take a moment to think back to all the times He rescued you, and brought you through what seemed like impossible circumstances!


God is truly Good!




the pilgrim

5 years, 8 months ago 13

I got a comment from my dear friend, and sister Catherine Martin about gear and I wanted to expand on the issue of the weight of your gear!  Why is weight a factor?  Let’s set some ground rules, if you are young, under 50, and in good physical condition, weight is much less of a factor. If you are like me and not in tremendous condition and well over 60!!!, it is!!!  Only you know how much you can carry without being uncomfortable.


Here is what I’ve learned about trying to carry too much weight:  It’s not fun, that’s the short description, the longer version is; when you wrestle to with too much weight, too big a bag, or giant backpack, it makes making images work, sometimes hard work!  The more you have to think about those things the less you will enjoy shooting and the more your vision will slip as you struggle with fatigue.  For me, it’s just not worth it.  I love the fast f 2.8 glass and they make spectacular images, but I’m not willing to trade the joy of shooting for that!  Fortunately I don’t have to sacrifice image quality for back health!  Today some great alternatives exist.  Every camera systems has lighter alternatives to the heaviest gear.


Below is an illustration of the two prime zooms from Nikon the 14-24 and 70-200 both f 2.8 maximum aperture, and the 16-35 & 70-300 f 4 and f 4.5 respectfully.  The difference in weight?  The f 2.8s are virtually twice the weight of the f 4 lenses!!!  Multiply this by all the other gear in the bag! You got it, lots of extra pounds!



The Bottom Line:  If you are young and strong, and love to haul a lot of weight around, by all means go for the fastet glass, it sure has advantages, but if you’re not, think about the less heavy alternatives, it will make your shooting days a lot more pleasant and your images will be better when you’re not having to stop shooting in prime light to go and  try to find a tube of Ben-Gay!!


Just imagine how much less a Nikon Series 1 V2 and a couple of lenses would weigh!!!!




the pilgrim

5 years, 8 months ago 12

Over the last year I’ve shared with you about how I’m trying to decide what I’m going to be shooing with when Nikon takes back all their toys!!  Like all thought processes this has been a  moving target as new circumstances have come to bare on the decision making.  I’m getting closer to knowing how to tackle the problem of what cameras and lenses to select.


Here are the factors that I’m curenty dealing with:


1.  What gear will give me the best possible image quality.


This one is pretty easy.  Today the better cameras, pro and semi pro, from everyone are extremely capable!  While the D800 certainly produces files much richer with detail than a D7000, in practical, everyday use, it’s hard to see the difference, the differences between the D800 and D600 are very small indeed.  I’m leaning toward the D600 and D7000 and a two body DSLR system.  I still own a mint condition D700, which I love and works fantastic with  all that old manual glass, so I’m sure I’ll keep that around too!  With a full frame camera and DX camera I can stretch the utility of my longer glass!  For example my ancient but “sweet” Nikkor 400 f 3.5 with the D7000 attached is a 600mm f 3.5, pretty cool!  I have absolutely no complaints about the quality of both of these bodies!  Is a D800 in my future, not sure, budget and needs will dictate that one, but for now the D600 has proven to be about all I could ever ask for!  Except for that bracketing function, sure wish it had 5, 7, and 9 stops brackets!  Firmware could fix that, hope someone is listening in Japan…..


2.  How much weight am I willing, and able,  to carry?


This one is tougher!  If I use my gear out of the back of my FJ, I can take all the gear I want, but if walking around for an extended period of time is part of the plan, I want  (o.k., need!), to use lighter gear!  I’ve been checking out the use of smaller mirror-less cameras like the Nikon 1 Series the V2 and J2 and the Fuji X10 and it’s bigger  brother an sister.  A number of other folks make mirror-less cameras too,  but I’m not thrilled about the build quality except for Nikons and  Fuji’s.  I’m convinced that with the right amount of care, these cameras can rival the big beefy DSLRs on image quality! For saving your back and making photography more fun again, (for old guys like me), they may just be the ticket!


3.  What fits my budget?


No one has unlimited funds, well no one I know, so cost is going to have to factor in my decisions. I already own my prime Nikon glass; 16-35, 24-120, 70-300 and a 105 Micro.  I also have a bag full of older manual lenses that I really like to use when I can slow down and take my time!  A mirror-less body and a few lenses will not break the bank and sure will be a welcome relief for travel and general walk around work.  I think I’m getting close on this front.



4.  What kind of subject matter do I expect to be shooting and what gear is necessary to make those images?


Travel, fine art, Americana, and smattering of nature will be about my only kind of shooting in retirement!  No more sports, no more serious wildlife!  High speed cameras, and very long glass, are pretty much off the table for me now.  I’m entering a time in my life that I hope to shoot things that interest me, not editors!!  The nice thing about this kind of work is it is far less “gear dependent.”  I will still do close-up work, but once again, that is a less demanding specialty!  I’ve long believed that with a wide angle zoom, medium zoom, and short telephoto zoom, plus some way to shoot in close, you can do 99% of this kind of subject matter!  


Caveat:  None of us knows what is coming next, and that could alter the plan, but I think I’m getting close to solving this riddle!


Now, I just want to go out and make some images!!!!




the pilgrim