Mar 16, 2014

Tick Tock

Oh my it's painful waiting for the new toys to arrive.  Ordered on Thursday but the website did warn me that it would probably be 7-14 business days before it ships, seems that stock is still low and demand is high - sigh...... Gonna be a long wait :-(

Mar 11, 2014

Bye Bye DX

Well that's it.   After 135000 pictures, traveling around Canada, the arctic, the US and Bermuda, my trusty Nikon D200 and all my Nikon lenses just walked out for their new home in a women's prison.   I hope it does them good for many many years to come and helps them refind their lives and purpose.   I could have made more money through ebay but if me getting a few dollars less will help someone out then I'm good with it.   Nice to know that the gear won't be gathering dust in some corner but actually being used.   The fellow was telling me tonight it's been a group of 12 ladies sharing 4 cameras that they had to beg for.   He's driving all over eastern Ontario today picking up cameras and equipment for them.

So here I sit tonight with only 3 camera to my name.   My old Pentex ME Super 35mm film camera, a Lumix point and shoot and my Fuji X100s.   Should I just stick with these?  Nahhhh, I don't think so :-)

I have the Henry's shopping cart loaded up but haven't hit checkout yet.    Unless something drastic hits before tomorrow it looks like it will be a Fuji X-T1 body, 14mm F2.8, 35mm F1.4 and the 55-200mm.   The 56mm F1.2 will follow at a future date.  Soon I will be a fuji man!

Mar 9, 2014

He Shoots - They Die?

No new photos today, just some oldies but goodies.

I realized the other day that there are a few pictures I have taken of things that no longer exist.  Here are a few that jump to mind, and then the story of what happened;

One of my very first HDR images with my old Canon S3is.   Just a few short months after this picture was taken the old schoolhouse burned to the ground while I was away in Bermuda.   Never heard conclusively what happened but many believe it was arson.  Such a shame, a great old building.

The next two were from photographing the same week during the Tall Ship parade in Bermuda 2009 celebrating Bermuda's 400th birthday.

The first to go was Canada's own "Concordia"

Just 1 year later she was gone.  Sunk off of Brazil but fortunately everyone survived.

During that same Tall ship parade I got some great shots of the "Bounty"

Lost in Oct 2012 during Hurricane Sandy with the loss of two people -  (such a terrible photo to see in the article)

and the last one that jumps out at me is the Club Med in Bermuda as seen at the bottom of the screen from this Ariel shot over Bermuda.  Thanks John for the plane ride!!!

The the video of the implosion:

Mar 5, 2014

Dog Walk

Early March and the snow continues.  Almost every day there are flurries.  Today was a bit warmer so decided to take the dogs for walk on the snowshoes and try some monochrome.  Tried 3 times to get my lazy dog to go but he kept refusing so I took our visiting dog with me - welcome Nella.  She got extra carrots for being a good sport.

Funky sky with the snow falling so had to throw in a colour image.

Mar 1, 2014

Bye Bye Nikon DX - Hello Who?

Happy 1st of March everyone.   I look out my window and the snow is falling and I look at the thermometer and it shows -15c, so where is spring?   Obviously not here :-)

1 March, where the heck is spring?
Since before picking up the Fuji X100s I had pretty much made up my mind to "upgrade" my DX equipment.   The D200 is pretty long in the tooth now, although still takes great pictures, but I am of the belief that the DX line is probably going to slowly disappear in the coming years.  For me the D300 wasn't a big enough upgrade to fork out the dollars so I waited and waited for the D400.  Well 2 years ago it started to become apparent there would never be a D400.   Nikon began releasing lower line full frame cameras, such as the D600, to grab the attention of those of us using the higher end DX line.   The DX line continued to develop their mid range stuff D7000 and D7100 and the lower end D3100, D5100 etc... but nothing on the higher end of things.

Either I go down to the mid range DX (Nikon probably now sees that as the high range) or upgrade to the low end FX line.   To upgrade to that FX level I would need to replace most of my lenses.  FX lenses are horribly expensive.   My own estimates put me around 4-5k to properly upgrade when you consider a body, walk around lens, wide landscape lens and a zoom.   Fortunately I already have the 80-200mm ED zoom but the wide lenses are crazy expensive.   I'm not a pro photographer and I sure as heck don't have money falling out of my ass so I continued with the D200.

With the serious side of DX dying a slow death I asked myself "will those D3100 owners buy my good quality DX lenses if I decide to upgrade?"   I have a 10-20mm, a f2.8 17-55, a 18-200, a f1.4 50mm prime etc etc...   Most of the D3100 and D5100 user are folks who got an SLR for family stuff and the occasional vacation.   These are not the people who are going to purchase good quality lenses for their 300-500 dollar camera body.   They have the kit lens on-board and they never change it.  That leaves those with the D7000 series cameras.   The market is getting small.   Maybe it's time to get out while I can still sell them?

I've already talked about my issues around the weight of the SLR's and their lenses.  Thus my playing with the Fuji X100S.    Does the X100S replace all that I already have, oh hell no.   It's a great walk around camera and does a good 70% of what I need.  The quote "the best camera is the one that you have with you" is completely true.   Before the X100 I never had a camera with me so I missed the shots.   Now I have the camera and I'm constantly taking pics of things here and there and playing with all the different options.  But I'm still a big wide landscape guy at heart.   The X100s will be for walking around and putting me outside my comfort zone but there are times where I will want that big landscape shot.

What to do?

It broke my heart but I put all my Nikon gear up on Kijiji as a package deal.....tic tic tic, no takers.   I just didn't want to deal with 10 different buyers so I liked the idea of a package but obviously the price scared folks off.

I put everything up for sale at work, either as a package or separate items.   The phone rang and rang, everyone asking "why are you selling your gear?"   We have a small photo club at work and I've given a presentation and many of them know my work and were worried I was leaving the hobby.   I did sell off two of the cheaper lenses pretty quickly but that still left the bulk of my stuff.

Sigh..going to have to break down and go the e-bay and the paypal route.  What a pain.  But low and behold I get an e-mail from the 2 week old Kijiji ad where someone wants the package, but at a very low ball price.  They also have a story to go with it around how it's for a woman's prison program and they are no longer looking to beg and borrow but have come up with money to buy equipment.  I go back and tell him that some of the gear has already sold and gave him a new number and he then surprised me by coming back with a higher number.   I'm still taking a bit of a loss compared to what I would "probably" get on e-bay but with the lower hassle of not having to deal with multiple shipments and losing money to ebay and paypal and it going to a good cause I slashed all my prices to rock bottom and we met at a price.   Yes I did some background research and discovered he is on the up and up, it's not a fake story, he actually is helping out women prisoners.  It's nice to know that the equipment will go to a good cause and be used by people who will appreciate it even though it's getting a bit long in the tooth.   But it's not a done deal yet, he still has to shake the funds out of the prison but I'm willing to wait a few days yet.   So a tentative sale of all my gear - woot!

So what do I replace my DX line with?   The million dollar question.

I no longer have ties to any manufacturer.   All the Nikon gear will be gone.   I have a clean slate, I can start all over again.   I could go to the Canon full frame line or the Nikon line.   It would be the lower end full frame stuff (6D or D610) as I can't justify the kind of money they want for the mid range FX (D800 or 5DMk3).  I've always liked the feel of the Nikon's in my hands but loved the landscape dynamic range and colours coming from the Canon line.  But recent quality control issues on the Nikon's have bothered me (see all the stories about the oil on the sensor around the D600) and I don't forget how I feel somewhat screwed by them not staying on the DX path.   Canon has bugged me from the point of view of how bad their kit lenses are and their lower end cameras.   I look at what comes out of the low end Nikon's vs the Canon's and Canon should be ashamed of themselves.   Until you put a decent lens on a Rebel it's not a good kit.  The plastic kit lenses on the Nikon's at least put out good images.    Part of me wants to punish the two big boys (I've always liked the little guys) for the way they treat Mr Joe Customer.  But they definitely have the best full frame gear on the market.

Or do I use a crystal ball and look at something else?

Has mirrorless crossed the line?   This is the question I have been asking myself and been researching this past 2 weeks that I haven't posted anything.  Owning the X100s has been an eye opener about mirrorless technology.  I find myself following some of the various Fuji photographers and websites and I think there is a silent revolution taking place and the question is now being asked "has cropped sensors and mirrorless reached the quality level of full frame?"   To be able to ask that question and not come to a quick answer tends to make me believe that we are indeed very close to that magic line.

In the past year or two Fuji has really come on strong with their X-Line of cameras.   They started with the X100, the X-E1 and the X-Pro1.   Each was a good camera quality wise but had speed issues and firmware bugs that all needed to be fixed.   They quickly released new firmware, based on customer feedback, and they released the X100S and X-E2 to fix those problems and suddenly they had a line that everyone was talking and raving about.   Then they turned about and did something I have never seen Nikon or Canon do, they released a timeline map of their upcoming lenses;

If you look at those lenses you will see a great selection of primes and zooms that they have released.   There really is no gaps, there is a lens for every situation you could think of (except reaching out and touching a bird in orbit).  When you compare the prices and specs of all these lenses vs what Canon and Nikon are offering at the FX level you find this is a cheaper solution and they have lower light capability.   But is it fair to compare the FX lenses to the Fuji lenses which are for a cropped sensor?  Is it like comparing FX to DX?  .....hmmmm

Most of the Fuji X-Line are using the X-trans sensor. Each at 16mp.   I have been noticing a trend of late with all the manufactures that have them either moving their pixel count down or stabilizing it between the 16-24mp range.  It appears that pixel peeping is finally coming to an end. They are realizing that the quality in this range is really all 90% of us need.   There will always be a place for high pixels but I would argue most of that work belongs in the studio.   Everyone is raving about the X-trans sensor including myself.   My X100s has unbelievable jpg's straight out of the camera.    The colours are amazing and accurate, not something I have seen since my film days.  The low light and low noise is amazing.  It really can shoot in the dark.  But this is a cropped sensor not an FX, is the FX that much better?   Not according to what I'm reading.

There are tons of reviews online for the various X-Line cameras and lenses.  I'll save you the trouble and recap what everyone of them says.   "The fuji X-line is amazing and the image quality is the best".   I have never seen so many reviews written about a product line that has almost no negative comments.   There are a few complaints about the ergonomics, the placement of the rear buttons etc... but your going to get that on any camera.  The earlier X-line have some complaints about the autofocus response but that doesn't seem to be an issue on the newer line unless your doing continuous shooting but if your doing sports events you probably should look at the FX lines anyhow.   But nothing about the image quality or quality control or the responsiveness of the company to address firmware upgrades.  It's like a big lovefest out there.   Even people who hate Fuji can't find much wrong with the new line and are admitting just how good it is.

A month ago Fuji released their newest offering, the X-T1. (click the image to get the link to all the specs and juicy stuff)

The price is comparable to what I would have expected to pay for a higher end DX camera but the camera itself is a fraction of the size, a fraction of the weight and it's completely weather sealed and has a magnesium body.  Tilt LCD and all the major controls on dials on the top of the camera.  My god it's a 35mm camera with a digital heart.

I was first introduced to Electronic View Finders (EVF's) on my X100S and I love them.   To be able to spin the dials and see (in the eye viewfinder) the changes  a -/+ ev makes or changing the aperture without actually taking the picture is amazing.   There is a bit of a lag when doing this but it is awesome.   Along comes the T1 which has a .05 lag (wow) and a viewfinder that is apparently bigger then those on the EOS 1D and the D800.   There are a ton of other things I love on the fuji cameras such as the MF and monochrome filters etc that I could go on about but go back in my old posts and you should find the comments.   These are all on the T1.   But for me it's all about the quality of the images.   The less work I have to do in post processing the happier I am.  When I pull an image from the camera that is great straight from the camera I get excited.  It means I properly composed the shot and did the work with the camera, not a bag of software tricks.

The T1 is a bit pricey when compared to the E2 which has the same internal guts.  Is the extra speed, EVF and ergonomics worth the extra price or do I use what I save by buying the E2 for another lens?

Speaking of lenses, which friggin lenses do I get?  It's a candy store.  You could go with all primes that are between f1.2 - f2.8 and as sharp as a tack, standard zoom lenses 18-55 and 55-200 to cover the gambit, a massive wide 10-24mm or a matching weather sealed 18-135mm walk around lens.   What to do?  I can't buy them all but seriously, if I go with the T1 what combo of lenses?

This is where I sit.   On the Henry's website in my shopping cart I have two packages;

1.  Nikon D610 with a 28-300mm, and the
2.  Fuji X-T1 with the 18-135mm and and 10-24mm wide.

There is a $50.00 difference between the two packages.  Full frame or mirrorless?  Big boy or the little guy? Something proven and known or new and maybe the future?  Big camera vs small?  Proven tech vs new tech?

The Fuji stuff is all pre-order as everything is still new but shipping should start within the next month.  The Nikon stuff I could go up the road this morning and pickup in store.

The research continues while I wait for my DX sale to be complete.  I'll go back and forth a few times I figure but I'd be interested in any other comments out there.

Some great links to see what the X-Line can do;