Apr 042016
 

The New Nikon DL. The new enthusiast point & shoot Nikon

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Nikon has announced what appears to be a new powerful point and shoot series in a time when P&S cameras sales have stalled. But this is more of a challenge to the Sony RX100 series from what I see, and they are banking on YOU liking it more than your smart phone for taking images! With a 1″ sensor (like the 1 series, CX) the new DL cameras are fixed lens point and shoots with a traditional Nikon look and feel. As they say, designed to look like a classic Nikon DSLR (of which I feel it certainly does not, but still has some charm) and give modern-day performance.

The main competitor in my eyes for the new DL cameras is the Sony RX100 IV which is my fave pocket rocket P&S style camera of all time (digital).

Below are the specs for  the Nikon DL 24-85..what do you think? They also have a wide angle version that sports an 18-50 1.8 to 2.8 for just under $900. The 24-85 version comes in at $650 and they even have a monster zoom version (ala Sony RX10III) with a 24-500 zoom for a grand. You can see all of the Nikon DL options here, with specs, photos and all. 

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The mid-range member of Nikon’s advanced DL series of point-and-shoots, the DL24-85 f/1.8-2.8 Digital Camera offers a versatile 24-85mm equivalent zoom lens paired with a 20.8MP CX-format BSI CMOS sensor to deliver stunning images in nearly any situation.

This NIKKOR lens features a fast f/1.8-2.8 maximum aperture range that can create images with shallow depth of field and perform well in low light. Equipped with aspherical, ED, and HRI glass elements, this camera will capture images with the utmost clarity and minimal distortion and, thanks to a Fluorine coating, it will repel dust, water, and oil. Furthermore, this camera has a Super Macro Mode that can capture subjects at life-size and a Focus Bracketing feature to capture a sequence of shots with varying focus positions.

Ensuring that all of this technology runs smoothly, quickly, and efficiently, the DL24-85 leverages the power of the EXPEED 6A image processor to produce crisp, clean stills and enables UHD 4K video recording at 30p. Paired with the 20.8MP sensor, the camera can work with sensitivities ranging from ISO 160-12800 and can operate an advanced Hybrid AF system with 171 focus points, 105 of which are capable of phase detection. This AF system can even be used during continuous shooting at up to 20 fps, though with fixed focus users can boost the camera’s speed to an incredible 60 fps.

The camera’s body design is inspired by that of Nikon’s legendary DSLRs, with numerous physical dials and buttons throughout. This includes a command dial, rotary multi-selector, customizable function button, and a precision zoom ring, as well as a control ring that can be set to one of numerous functions. Ensuring composition is comfortable, the DL24-85 also features a 1037k-dot tilting OLED touchscreen. A built-in ND filter is available for working in bright light while using the fast maximum aperture. Additionally, it has full SnapBridge support with built-in Wi-Fi and NFC as well as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology for connecting straight to a smart device. Finally, it has a 24-pin hot shoe terminal for working with Speedlights as well as the optional electronic viewfinder.

20.8MP BSI CMOS Sensor and EXPEED 6A Image Processor

At the core of Nikon’s DL series is a large 1.0″ CX-format 20.8MP BSI CMOS sensor and the EXPEED 6A image processor. This pairing delivers high-resolution still and video shooting with low noise at sensitivities up to ISO 12800. Also, as the sensor forgoes the use of an optical low-pass filter, it guarantees the maximum possible resolution in the final image. This combination also boosts speed in nearly every aspect of the camera, including continuous shooting at up to 20 fps with autofocus or an astounding 60 fps with fixed focus.

NIKKOR 8.8-31.3mm f/1.8-2.8 ED VR Lens

Featuring a versatile 24-85mm equivalent focal length, this NIKKOR 8.8-31.3mm lens makes the DL24-85 a convenient camera for everyday use, including portraiture and travel. Its f/1.8-2.8 maximum aperture range also benefits shooters by allowing shallow depth of field and capturing more light in dim lighting scenarios. Equipped with aspherical, Extra-low Dispersion (ED), and High-Refractive Index (HRI) glass elements to combat aberrations and minimize distortion, the DL24-85 will be able to capture spectacular, crisp images. There is even a Fluorine coating on the front element to repel dust, water, oil, and more. Furthermore, the lens has Dual Detect Optical VR image stabilization that can help compensate for up to 4 stops of camera shake and a Super Macro Mode allows photographers to capture objects at life size at a 1.2″ distance. And, it has an electromagnetic 7-blade aperture diaphragm for smooth out-of-focus elements.

UHD 4K Video Recording & Slow Motion

For the ultimate in high-resolution video capture, the DL series features internal UHD 4K video recording at up to 30p as well as the ability to output uncompressed footage over HDMI. The camera’s processing power effectively eliminates rolling shutter distortion and Auto ISO can smoothly adjust the exposure to fit varying lighting conditions. Other capabilities include a new Superlapse mode which lets you experience moments at double speed, time-lapse for condensing vast periods of time into just 10 seconds, and slow motion video for smooth capture of fast-moving scenes. The DL series cameras will also capture stereo sound via a built-in microphone.

In addition to this exceptional resolution, the DL series can achieve high frame rates in Full HD at up to 120 fps for smooth slow motion capture. Fast options such as 240 fps and 400 fps are available at HD 720p and 800 x 296 resolutions, respectively, and for the ultimate slowdown, users can drop to 400 x 144 resolution for an incredible 1200 fps video.

Advanced Hybrid AF System

Capture some of the fastest-moving subjects with ease by using the DL-series advanced Hybrid AF which has a wide coverage area with a total of 171 focus points, of with 105 points are phase-detect capable for locking on to moving subjects. This also benefits the lightning fast continuous shooting speeds of 20 fps with full autofocus.

Body Design

Ensuring fast operation and DSLR-like performance, the DL24-85 has a variety of physical buttons and dials. This includes a command dial, rotary multi-selector, power switch, and a customizable Fn button. The lens has additional controls, including a precise zoom ring and a separate customizable ring that can be set for aperture, shutter speed, manual focus, or white balance. The rear of the DL24-85 sports a 3.0″ 1037k-dot OLED touchscreen can tilt up 180° for selfies or down 80° for working from multiple angles with ease. Additionally, the DL24-85 boasts a built-in flash for adding some additional light to your scene.

SnapBridge Connectivity

Connect directly to a mobile device for remote control or image transfer by using the Nikon SnapBridge app, in combination with a DL series camera. These cameras offer numerous ways to connect, including the Bluetooth Low Energy protocol for constant connect between your devices. This allows the embedding of location, date/time, and two notes into your files. Along with this standard Wi-Fi and NFC is available for a variety of methods.

Other Features

Dedicated 24-pin hot shoe terminal allows the use of Speedlights and accessories like the optional electronic viewfinder.
Raw image capture provides as much information as possible for post processing.
40.5mm front filter thread.
Built-in ND filter good for 3 stops of light reduction.
Creative Mode with five categories of customizable effects for creating a unique look for your stills and movies.
Six Picture Control options allow you to achieve a signature look that can’t be reached through camera settings alone.
Multiple Exposure Lighten setting for light trail images or time-lapse movies.
Saves images to SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards.
Up to 4x digital zoom is available for boosting equivalent focal length to 340mm.

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What do YOU think of the Nikon DL? Sony RX100 killer or another yawn release from Nikon? I’m still waiting for a KILLER mirrorless solution from Nikon AND Canon as I feel that when they do finally come out with one (a serious one) it will be pretty special, at least I hope so!

Amazon has the Nikon DL series available for Pre Order. They start shipping in June 2016. 

Feb 262016
 

Love it or Hate it

By Marcel Van Gils

Hi Steve,

Two years ago I submitted a few pictures here that were taken in Scotland in a number of distilleries. In 2015 I was the co-author and photographer of a book on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Laphroaig distillery. I visited the small island of Islay on the West coast of Scotland on four occasions during that year, in all seasons.

These pictures were all shot with my Nikon Df. The distillery’s motto is ‘Love it or hate it’ and I guess that applies for the Df as well. I love the camera, although shooting in the (semi) dark requires some experience. The camera’s AF is not its strongest point and the single card slot is a risk. But the sensor’s high ISO performance is just great for shooting in the often dark warehouses. ‘200 years of Laphroaig’ was launched last November.

image of the ‘spirit safe’, a device for measuring the alcohol %. In the old days for the excise man to determine the amount of whisky.

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the malt man turning the barley.

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 Laphroaig late afternoon on a cold winterday.

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Kind regards from the Flat Lands,
Marcel van Gils
The Netherlands

Feb 112016
 
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Documentary Wedding Style and telling a Story

by Mark Seymour – His Website

As a documentary wedding photographer, I record the day through story-telling images.

I like to use a lot of beautiful contrasting black and white, as this enhances the intensity and depth of the image, often likened to the work of fine artists in the renaissance period using a technique called chiaroscuro.

The panel here before us include moments from throughout the wedding day that are all totally undirected and therefore pure moments that have occurred naturally without intervention which is my signature style.

Great documentary photography is still about good composition, beautiful light with a third component of knowing through experience where to position yourself and capture that small moment in time to tell a story within a single frame.
The panel is assembled in chronological order from the tension the bride feels whilst preparing for her day, through various ceremonies such as bedekken, the tisch, and the marriage and finishing with the celebration party dancing. Mayfair fine art dealer William Lansbury recently came across my work and quoted “If Caravaggio had a camera these are the type of images he would take”.

Last week I was awarded the first ever Fellowship and Master Craftsman for Documentary Wedding Photography in the UK Here is the panel of 20 Images

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Mark Seymour

Nikon Ambassador

Three time winner UK wedding photographer of the year

http://www.markseymourphotography.co.uk/

Feb 012016
 

Looking Back: A Review of The Old Nikon V1

By Jake Hyland

Hello fellow Huff readers. If you are reading this article, it means, I assume, that you are considering buying a Mirrorless camera. I also assume it means you are looking into the Nikon 1 System – among others – and that you probably have already read some pretty lousy reviews of Nikons entry into the popular mirrorless arena. Like you, I was totally conflicted. I found very few positive reviews, unless, of course, they were sponsored by Nikon. Even Steve Huff’s positive review left me a bit skeptical. Why? Because everyone keeps dismissing the V1 sensor – the Nikon invented CX sensor. Honestly, when I got back into photography, I didn’t even know what a sensor was. I still don’t, actually. Supposedly bigger means better. Well, the v1 proves that dead wrong.

Lemme give you a quick background on me. I got my undergraduate degree in photojournalism, right around the time digital photography took over in the late nineties. I used a student loan to buy a Nikon D90, which for a student photographer was kinda a big deal. I never became a professional photographer, I became a nurse…..just the way life turned out. I mention this “about me” section simply to let you know I am not, in any capacity, an expert on cameras. But I am very tempted to assume you aren’t either, which is why I think it is important for you to read why the V1 is a perfect choice for folks like us

Because I bet you are in the same boat, I feel it is my absolute duty to tell you that, for most of us, most of the time, the Nikon V1 is pretty much all you will ever need. Lemme point out that you should just dismiss the J1 altogether. There is no viewfinder, and you are not gonna be that guy/gal holding the camera out with your arms like some sort of B-list celebrity taking a selfie.

Which brings me to my first point:

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The V1 simply looks cool and, honestly, when it came down to it, that’s one of the main reasons I bought it. Like I said, I did not even know what a sensor was, so the technical side of cameras was secondary to just having a cool looking camera, and I couldn’t afford the Olympus OMD and certainly not the Sony A7 (Two other powerhouses in the 4/3 game, in case you have not looked them up yet). But this is not all in vain. Let’s face it, you really do not want to lug around a DSLR……yes, it makes you look professional, but that entire mindset needs to be dismissed. Why? Because it’s plain dumb. We are not professionals. We are every day blue-collar folks who like photography. And I am betting most of us are street photographers, so a compact, yet professional functioning camera is what we really need.

Which brings me to my second point:

The V1 feels great in your hands, but there is a catch here. You simply must buy a grip. I got a nice metal one for ten bucks on Amazon. (Be sure to use Steve Huff’s link anytime you buy from Amazon, for anything!) The menu screen is very easy to navigate, and there is this neat dial that let’s you scroll through the menu.

Ok, so the camera looks cool and feels even cooler. Now to the main point that everyone criticizes: the sensor. Yes, it is a small sensor. I believe it is about half the size of a common DSLR. But who cares?! Look at the clouds in my pics, and the clouds in Huff’s V1 review pics. Look at the vivid colors. Can you tell that those pics were taken with this so-called “toy” camera? Of course not. Because, again, for most of us most of the time, we are just shooting for fun. The sensor is an absolute non-issue for, I’d say, everyone looking for a 4/3 camera. By the way, I do not have any photo editing software. The pics were processed with whatever came on my computer. Like I said, I’m just a working stiff that likes to shoot candid shots of people.

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Point number Three:

MONEY! HUGE! ASTRONOMICAL issue! As you may know, Huff is a major fan of the Olympus OMD and Sony A7. The OMD is gonna set you back a grand (for the original EM-1, I just looked it up), and the Sony A7s and Fugi and Panasonic and ALL the other 4/3 camera bodies are WAY more expensive. Do you really need that much of a camera? Do you really need a thousand dollar body and $1200 lens? Huff does, but do you? I got my V1 refurbished from Amazon for $200. It was brand new, just had been returned. There are hundreds out there. I borrowed my brother’s OMD and, although it’s the coolest looking camera I have ever seen, I was not impressed with the electronic viewfinder (EVF). The V1 EVF is BETTER than the OMD. That’s right, BETTER! You know what is also better? The auto focus. It is blazing fast! All these images I submitted were taken from the hip, while I was walking. So the autofocus is so fast you can be moving while shooting. It really is impressive. Sorry Steve…..I know the OMD is in your arsenal. But I also know the V1 is, too.

Finally, the lenses. Nikon originally did not make any fast lenses with the V1. Now, however, there is f1.8 18.5 (50mm) and it is a must have, and it only costs around $170. In all the images I submitted I used the kit lens that the V1 comes with – the 10-30 zoom. I believe that equals a 30mm-70mm. It is a totally acceptable lens for, again, most of us most of the time. Am I making that clear enough? The V1 is absolutely awesome for…….I won’t say it again….yes I will….most of us most of the time.

Ok, there is one thing I gotta admit. The V1 has this camera mode dial on the back panel. It is really a poor placement because when you take your camera in and out of a bag the dial often changes to video mode, or this other silly “perfect shot mode” that is kinda a gimmick. I have missed a few cool shots because of this.

Well, I hope reading this has helped you make up your mind about buying a V1. I think you should certainly read Huff’s review, and also the review on the new V1 prime lens because he includes abunch of stuff about the V1 camera itself.
Good luck shooting everyone!

Jake Hyland

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Dec 082015
 

UPDATE: My RX1RII Review should be up within 7-10 days..

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A few have been asking me when my Sony RX1RII review will be up and it has been delayed due to the comparison with the Leica Q, which many have asked for. It has been very hard to get a hold of a Q, even the rental houses have been out of stock, and I did not feel like buying one to do a comparison ;)

LensRentals finally received the Q back in stock, so I rented it for a few days (over $200)! so I can compare with the RX1RII for the Sony review, which is what the delay was about.

But so far I can say that the RX1RII is stunning. The IQ for me, edges out the A7RII and Sony did tell me the RX1RII is their best image quality camera they have ever produced, beating even the A7RII. If one is OK with just a 35mm f/2 (and what a lens it is) then the RX1RII is well worth a serious look.

Iin comparison to the Leica Q the Sony is smaller, actually has a true F/2 lens (Leica will stop down no matter your manual setting when closer than 1 meter), even when in Macro mode, has a pop up very nice and very good EVF (much better than I expected and improves on the A7RII EVF)  and offers a tilt LCD, 30% faster AF than the previous version, an adjustable or defeat-able AA filter, and superior low light and high ISO performance.

The RX1rII also “feels” more solid than the Q which is a very lightweight body, especially for a Leica. For example, the Q feels NOTHING like an M in the hand. The RX1RII is also about $1000 less than the competing Q. Does the Q offer you $1000 more of a camera? In this case, I will say no. The RX1RII can beat the Q in overall technical IQ, dynamic range, ISO, etc so it is all a matter of taste.

Will one prefer the high contrast bolder color look of the Q or the higher dynamic range and gentleness of the RX1rII sensor? They both are full frame and both are gorgeous capable cameras but the RX1RII does offer more for less IMO.

So look for my review within a week or so, the camera is also in stock now at Amazon (one left for prime) ;) Three snaps below from the RX1RII…

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Oct 222015
 

The End of an Era

By Michiel Faro

I raced bicycles for 25 years at amateur level (mainly criteriums) and, being the Anglophile that I am and not easily content with off-the-peg stuff, after a season of racing on a touring bike I decided I needed a handmade, made to (my) measure steel frameset (no aluminum or carbon then), to build up into a complete bike. After much magazine research (no internet, no Google in those days) and a lot of soul-searching, in the autumn of 1985 I visited a (South) London framebuilder with a worldwide excellent reputation. London is easy to reach from Holland of course, no need to travel farther into the English wilds, and nice to combine with a long weekend. This was the start of a now thirty year-long relationship and may I say friendship with Chas Roberts, the owner of Roberts Cycles and his staff, Brian, Neil, and the framebuilders Winston and Adrian.

Over the years they must have built some 15 to 20 road racing framesets (and two mountainbike framesets) for me (and an unknown number for some of my friends), and all were used in competition until I stopped racing ten years ago. Always steel, lugged and brazed or fillet brazed, never welded. I’d just give ‘em a call, telling them I’d be in on the Friday or Saturday, I’d drop in, we’d choose tubing, finish (always the same colour, Ferrari red, white logo, my name on the top tube), and some months later it would be ready. Sometimes we’d experiment with new geometry (the compact frames, 1995!), new tubing, carbon front forks, glued-in carbon wishbone rear forks etc etc. I’d race them, wear them out, crash them, or I’d just feel a new one was needed.

A year ago I decided (even though I haven’t been racing for a long time) once again that I “needed” a new frameset (my last one?), traditional geometry, lugged, slightly oversized tubing. I contacted Chas.

It turned out that, in the absence of having someone to hand over the business to, Chas was, having been in that business for fifty years, taking final orders and would close down in the course of 2015. My order was one of the last six Chas was taking, and that he would build himself. Early March 2015, I was in bed with a fever, we finalized the measurements, the tubing, the finish, and I decided in some feverish fit to make a photo reportage when I would pick up that frame in person, which turned out to be early May.

The results are not entirely to my satisfaction. All that feverish pre-visualisation fell sort of flat on its face in the excitement and tension of the day. Chas doesn’t really like to be photographed, the light wasn’t as I recalled it, too much bright artificial lighting and, most importantly, I felt too pressured to take my time and let it all (and my presence with a camera) soak in before starting to shoot. So in the end, I’m not really sure these images reflect what that day meant for me: bidding farewell to something that was very important to me for thirty years, and taking away from that scene an object, a thing, that was made specifically for me and will last me for a long time, as long as my legs are up to it. It’s a beautifully made frame, and it built up into a bike that rides really well.

Anyway, here they are. Equipment used D800E, 24mm/1.4G, 58mm/1.4G. The last image shows the new frame and my very first Roberts frame, dating back to 1986.

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2015 1986

Thanks for looking!

Best regards and all the best with the site,

Michiel Faro

 

Sep 042015
 

Meta35: Embed EXIF data in film-shot images, tweak Custom Setting Menus.

By John Crane

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Have you ever wondered how to embed EXIF data into your film-shot and computer scanned images? Are you one of the newly enlightened 35mm film shooters recently in possession of your dream, quasi-vintage film camera (think Nikon F100, Nikon F5, Canon EOS-1V or Minolta Maxxum) – but frustrated trying to figure out how to tweak its Custom Settings exactly how you want? You may have given up, resigning yourself to thinking, “some day someone will figure this out.” Well, that someone is Promote Systems, and thanks to the software company in Houston, Texas, your wait is over. Enter meta35, a new product allowing you to extract EXIF data your camera generates, import to the computer, then embed into the specific frame of film it corresponds to. Not only that, but Meta35 allows interaction with these old, beautiful film cameras Custom Setting Menus; tweak them, then re-export to the camera. Quickly, easily, and without any cryptic cheat sheets.

About a year ago I received an e-mail from a gentleman asking if the Nikon MV-1 Data Reader was the only game in town when it came to retrieving data off the Nikon F6. The answer at the time was, unfortunately, yes – as far as I knew. For those unfamiliar with the MV-1, it’s a glorified CF card reader in a black, velvet pouch that hooks up to the 10-pin ports on the Nikon F6, Nikon F5, Nikon F100 and Nikon N90S/F90X allowing the transfer of Exif data generated by the camera (when this option is activated, as in the case of the F100) – write that data as a tiny .txt file to a Compact Flash (CF) card, then transfer that data to the computer for further use. The MV-1 is perfect for what limited functionality if performs, but there are several downsides. One is cost; at close to $240 it feels dramatically over priced for what it is. Another downside is that it’s one-directional in the sense it’s designed simply to retrieve data stored in your camera and write it to a card. During that process it deletes the data from the camera’s memory. Yet another disadvantage to the MV-1 is they are tough to find – and will become tougher as time passes.

In the old days there was a piece of software called Nikon Photo Secretary, allowing interaction with the F5’s inner functions. I never used Photo Secretary so can’t speak precisely to what it did or didn’t do. It was released about the same time as the F5 and from the looks of things, designed primarily to interact with the CSM (Custom Settings Menu) of the F5, providing easier access to its inner secrets. Regardless, if you can even find it today, and/or a computer that’ll run it – you’d be lucky. So what’s left?

 

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Fast forward a year to an e-mail from the same gentleman a year ago, asking if I’d be interested in trying a new product for extracting data from the F6. Enter meta35, from Promote Systems in Houston, Texas. Meta35 is a new product providing today’s film shooter with the data generated by their cameras, previously inaccessible. And in the case of a camera like the F100 where you actually have to tell the camera to record data (its default is “off”), meta35 is the only game in town allowing access to this function, buried deep in the camera’s brain to wake it up, fully realizing its potential.

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Meta35 is a software/hardware solution for not only these vintage, Nikon film cameras (F100, F5, F6, N90S/F90X), but also Canon EOS-1V and Minolta (Maxxum, Dynax and Alpha) cameras as well (please see footnotes at end of article). The software component runs on both Windows and Apple OSX as a efficiently designed, standalone application. The 2-part hardware component consists of a small cable with the appropriate connecting head for your camera on one end and standard 3.5mm jack on the other that plugs into a small adapter which connects to the computer’s USB port. Meta35 is extremely simple to use, well designed and fully functional.

Think of the camera’s data in two separate buckets:

– First, the Exif data generated while shooting a roll of film
– Secondly, the camera’s Custom Settings Menus (CSM), allowing deeper, more custom interaction with the camera.

The one-driectional MV-1 is capable only of removing (and erasing) generated EXIF data from the camera. Meta35 is bi-directional in the sense it allows you to read and write information to and from the camera. In regards to Custom Setting Menus, in the past its been difficult or impossible to access that data without some sort of deciphering key explaining what CSM function is mapped to what code in the camera. Meta35 somehow cuts through to not only decypher each camera’s CSM info, but allows retrieval, editing on the computer, then re-exporting altered CSM settings back into to the camera.

In the case of the F6, Meta35 does not allow changing CSM settings on the camera – this is simply done using the F6’s Menu on the back. But if you’re an F5, F100 or N90S/F90X, Canon EOS-1 or Minotla Maxxum shooter you’ll appreciate being able to easily read and alter each Custom Setting in the camera, then push those settings back to the camera and be ready to go.

EXIF DATA: Retrieving and embedding Exif data

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When it comes time to embedding EXIF data into your image, meta35 is more than up to the task. Here’s a quick snapshot of the process. There are also links to short, informative “how-to” videos available here.

1) Hook meta35 to the camera and turn the camera on
2) Launch the software
3) Import the Exif data from the camera
4) Locate and load the image directory you wish to work with
5) The software automatically matches the exif data frame with the proper image*
6) Enter the additional IPTC data at the bottom such as titles, locations, keywords, etc.
7) Click “embed data” button

and presto – your image now carries all the data generated when shot such as f-stop, shutter speed, time, date, camera brand/model, etc.

OK – that’s a best-case scenario. Here are a few things you’ll figure out during your use of meta35, each tied to the number above:

1) Hook meta35 to the camera and turn the camera on. Make sure when you’re finished using meta35 you physically disconnect the cable from the camera or it will eventually deplete your batteries.

2) Launch the software. No issues here. It will run on both Windows and Apple OSX computers and I never experienced a single stability issue.

3) Import Exif data from the camera. This begins a bit of a fork in the road: if you use the MV-1 for the F6 it’s set to actually delete EXIF data from the camera after finished writing to the card. This of course leaves no data on the camera for Meta35 to interact with. So if you’re in the position of having both the MV-1 and meta35, use meta35 first to extract the data from the camera. meta35 allows the option of leaving the data stored in camera after extraction. If you wish to go back later and use the MV-1 to extract the data file you can do it then.

*In case you’re wondering – as I was – whether meta35 can work with data already imported from the camera and living on your hard disc, the answer is yes (!)*

4 and 5) Locate and load the image directory you wish to work with. This is an important step that takes a lot for granted. Without getting into a workflow discussion, I’ll say this: for most compatible use across the board it’s best to work with JPEG images. Here’s why.

a) Though meta35 presently understands both TIF and JPEG’s, it’s more compatible with JPEG’s on both platforms. On the Apple platform there is an issue preventing the software from writing all the EXIF data to TIF files on Apple OSX. It does allow some information like shutter speed and aperture, but not other information like camera brand, camera model and some others. They’re working hard to figure this out and I have no doubt they will. But for now, use JPEG’s – especially if you’re in the Mac.

b) When you scan images from a roll of film, this process assumes a logical, sequential naming convention. I’ve written other articles on this in the past so won’t get into it again here. But if you randomly name your files willy nilly when scanning, it makes associating the proper image later with the proper frame’s EXIF data much more difficult. Meta35 uses a logical sequence-based method. It understands “frame 1” in the EXIF data – and expects you to identify “frame 1” in your image directory. Much of this is common sense – but Meta35 isn’t a mind-reader – it needs you to do your part too.

c) The good news is, once you’ve imported the image directory you want to work with, re-ordering images in the image pane is relatively simple if you’ve not been diligent in your naming conventions while scanning. It’s easy to re-order, or even omit and exclude images from syncing. It’s rare that I scan all 36 images in from a roll of film, leaving gaps between images. No worries for meta35. It allows you to either exclude the data file or the image, based on how you prefer to work.

6) Enter the additional ITPC data at the bottom such as titles, locations, etc. This is a nifty way of adding keywords, descriptions, titles to your images. In the case of the Copyright pane there’s an option to apply to whole roll, saving time of entering the same information repeatedly. Same with the time/date stamp – allowing you to time/date stamp the entire roll. It’s a bit laborious to copy and paste information across all 36 images, but it needs to be done at some point and meta35 provides the most concise and streamlined opportunity to work on a whole roll at once.

7) Click “embed data” button. As noted above, this action will embed all entered data into your images, with the exception of TIF’s on the Mac, which embeds only some of it. The image is then permanently joined to its shooting data. When you open the image in other software such as Lightroom, Photoshop, or DxO Optics the data is there.

meta35-data-embeded-into-image-on-zenfolio

CSM Settings: Retrieving, Altering and Exporting Custom Settings from/to the camera:

Nikon-F5-Custom-Settings-Menu

Working with the camera’s custom settings menu is a breeze with meta35. As noted earlier, when altering the F6’s Custom Settings you’ll continue to do so on the camera’s menu itself. But for other cameras such as the F5, F100 or N90X/S, meta35 makes customizing the camera’s functions a breeze. Here’s the overview:

1) Connect the camera to the computer
2) Launch the software
3) Once the camera is located by the software, click “Import from Camera”
4) The camera’s Custom Settings appear within the software. Make whatever changes you wish. You’ll see short explanations associated with each setting if you need more information.
5) When complete, click “Export to Camera” and the camera is now updated.
6) Disconnect the camera.

It’s really that easy. No deciphering cryptic keys, or trying to memorize codes in the camera and what they mean. All information is clearly presented in the software as readable, easy to understand information.

OVERVIEW SUMMARY

Meta35 is a combination of software and hardware that lets photographers download shooting data from compatible cameras, embed the data into the EXIF metadata of scanned images and configure the cameras built in custom functions to optimize settings to the photographer’s needs. For version 1 software it’s robust, stable, well thought through and fully functional. It will be exciting to see where Promote Systems takes it from here.

Compatibility:

Meta35 is compatible with the following film cameras that record data: Canon EOS-1V, Nikon F100, F5, F6(1), F90X, N90S, Minolta Maxxum/Dynax/Alpha 7(1,2) and Maxxum/Dynax/Alpha 9(1 ,3).

1. Custom functions can be set directly on the camera.
2. Requires Minolta DS-100 data saver.
3. Requires Minolta DM-9 memory data back.

Features:

– transfer film shooting data from the camera directly to a MAC or PC
– embed the shooting data into the EXIF metadata of the scanned images
– set up and customize camera custom functions

Meta35 retails for $149 for Nikon, Canon and Minolta versions, and is available for both Windows and Apple OSX computers. For more information please visit Promote System’s web site at meta35.com

Also check out the Nikon F6 Project!

Aug 282015
 

titlefilmyear

A year with film – Leica, Contax, Nikon, and Hasselblad

By Adam Laws

I hope your well and have a cup of tea close by, it’s pretty miserable here in London. It’s been awhile since my last submission and I thought I would write to you about my year of analogue photography with a Leica, Contax, Nikon, and Hasselblad.

Since my last post on portraiture with the Sony A7 ‘apparently’ I have been going all hipster though I must say without the beard by shooting analogue.

The majority of my work is still shot on my Sony A7.

Sony images 1, 2 and 3 – 

Sony 1

Sony 2

Sony 3

However I have been supplementing my digital work with far more analogue images, furthermore I generally shoot all my personal snaps now on film. I don’t believe film is better in any way but I do believe without trying to sound all hippy film gives a more organic image. Most importantly I enjoy the process of shooting film more, and surely fun is the most important element in the creative process.

So I’ve gone through some cameras this year, which I will elaborate on why giving a brief synopsis/feel of the cameras.

Leica

I bought a Leica M6 TTL with a .85 viewfinder and 50 ‘cron. Leica’s are beautiful aren’t they? The lore written about them makes them sound at times like unicorns at times, as such I romanticized owning one.

My thoughts on owning one – Well they are beautifully built. Solid and satisfyingly weighty. I did struggle with ownership, which ultimately made me sell it after a few months. This is not the cameras fault but more the time in my life I purchased it. Soon after I started my part-time photography degree, I needed to shoot an element of film in a studio and the Leica with its limited flash sync was not ideally suited to this task.

I also struggled with the notion of how expensive it was. Don’t get me wrong it is a beautiful piece of machinery, which evokes an emotive response and for that I totally appreciate why individuals buy them. However for the less money I could purchase a Hasselblad 500cm, Nikon FM2n, and Contax G2 all of them with glass and have change. Is a Leica M6 better than all 3 of these cameras? And would I have less fun shooting these cameras. So I sold the Leica to find out.

Leica images 1, 2, and 3

Lecia 1

Lecia 2

Leica 3

Hasselblad

This camera is a beast. Well it terms what I’m used to. The sound of the low thud of the shutter makes me smile. I do struggle with its size. I’m used to traveling light so having a big medium format camera is somewhat strange for me. It also interesting shooting back to front, something I am still getting used to.

The best thing about the camera, even more so than the negative size it produces is the reaction I get from the model. As soon as a model sees this camera in my experience they instantly get more serious about the project.

Hasselblad 1, 2, and 3

Hasselblad 1

Hasselblad 2

Hasselblad 3

Nikon FM2n

This is becoming one of my favourite cameras I own. The bright viewfinder, the solidness of the camera, and the big manual dials. It does not feel as good as the Leica, not as well made or smooth. I would say the camera is more utilitarian workhorse. I use it with an awesome Nikkor 50mm 1.2, which is a joy to use.

Generally this camera is loaded with FP4 film shot relatively wide own in a studio environment, where I would be using the model light as a source of light in-between shots with Sony or Contax G2. I have started taking this camera on the street with me when I fancy shooting B’n’W.

Nikon 1, 2, and 3

Nikon 1

Nikon 2

Nikon 3

Contax G2

The Contax is pretty much always in my bag. It can do everything my Sony can but it uses film. Unlike the Nikon this is normally loaded with colour Portra. The focus is always accurate and makes a great travel companion.

The contax does feels better in my hand than the Leica ever did. This is due to the thumb rest situated at the back of the camera. In addition the dials are a step up from that of the Nikon, but the camera feels very electronic with autofocus sounding something like Robocop. I also use this as a secondary studio camera generally mimicking the settings I had with the Sony to have a comparative organic film image.

Contax 1, 2, and 3

Contax 1

Contax 2

Contax 3

Conclusion

Generally there isn’t one. I think ultimately as long as you enjoy the process of creating images that is the most important element.

Sometimes there is a more suitable tool for the job, but that doesn’t also mean it is the most fun way to complete the job after all.

For me I like the organic images, the slower pace of shooting, the challenges asked of you using antiquated cameras, and thought processes that go through your mind.

I have enjoyed playing about with different formats and cameras. I think it’s always a great idea to play around with as many cameras as possible that way you know what you like and don’t. In addition the challenges posed by new equipment makes you think about your photography, which is never a bad thing.

You can view more of my work on my website: www.adamlaws.com

However I regular update my Instagram with my newest work: https://instagram.com/adamlawsphotography/

Jul 282015
 

User Report: A Nikon J5 Review

by Eyal Gurevitch

ZPR-NIKON-J5-FRONTLEFT-10-100MM

What makes a small camera great?

When asked what camera is compact and excellent I have no straight answer. It’s complicated, I tell them. You must sacrifice zoom range, or the max apertures of the lens, or the price of the camera, or its controllability, or its size.

So what’s the best compromise, they ask. It depends, I say. Would you call yourself an advanced photographer? Do you enjoy controlling your camera? Change its settings much? Must you have a large zoom? Can you pay more? Can you carry more?

91ekAdTmZ9L._SL1500_

How can you compete with a x30 zoom of a 240 gram camera, or a x83 in a camera the size of an entry-level DSLR? How can you challenge a 1” sensor in a 300 gram camera that also has a useful zoom range and an f/1.8-2.8 aperture range?

It’s tough for camera makers to keep pleasing us photographers. To keep surprising us. But somehow they keep it coming. Such is the Nikon 1 J5. No, it’s not a groundbreaking camera, it doesn’t bring anything entirely new to the market. What it does it to balance some really great qualities in a single, triumphant package.

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Size matters.

With its 10-30mm kit lens, the J5 is not any taller or wider than the implicitly aforementioned RX100 IV. It is thicker, due to the length of the lens, so it’s not pocketable and that’s a big difference, but in terms of conspicuousness, they are virtually the same.

So why even consider the J5 over the RX100IV if they have the same sensor size and body size, but a large difference in max apertures, in favour of the Sony? The first and most obvious argument would be the ability to switch lenses. However, most Nikon 1 lenses mounted on the J5 would render it cumbersome and unbalanced, so other than for a niche use of a large aperture prime or a long zoom here and there, the capital practical use of this camera would undisputedly be with the 10-30mm along with its f/3.5-5.6 apertures.

DSC_0072

DSC_0445

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The grip. The controls.

There are two significant changes the Nikon did with the J5 over the previous body. The first is the all new BSI-CMOS sensor that delivers 20.8 megapixels but much more importantly better image quality and richer colors. The second is a thought out design of dials, buttons and controls added to the camera body without adding to its size. There’s a new Fn button in the front, a new dial around the video button, PASM modes in the main control dial and there’s a new grip. I would never understand why all cameras don’t have a grip as deep as their smallest attachable lens. The new grip of the J5 makes it oh-so-much easier to hold, especially compared to J4’s bar-of-soap-like slippery body. All these additions turn the J5 into a camera that’s easy to use and easy to control.

DSC_1254

DSC_1358

DSC_0084

The Speed

Nikon take pride in the fast shooting abilities of the J5 and they have almost every right to do so. Just like the J4, it can shoot a max of 20 shots per second with AF at full resolution, or 60 shots per second with locked focus. It has an impressive variety of slow modes in video (but an unimpressive 15fps in 4K). The only caveat being its slow processing, taking long seconds and sometimes even minutes to save the large amount of photos taken during a quick burst.

81SE1RqcMSL._SL1500_

There’s also the cool best moment capture feature, which keeps buffering images as long as you half press the shutter, taking a batch of 20 shots when you fully press it, 10 out of which are from the second before you pressed it.

In this regard there’s no change at all from its predecessor – you’re sure to capture the decisive moment, but probably not the next one.

DSC_0425

The Bottom Line

The Nikon 1 J5 is a highly capable, intuitively controllable compact mirrorless camera. It’s a huge step up from the J4 in terms of body design and as well as in image quality, making it a viable competitor in the high-end, large-sensor compact camera market, standing against the likes of the Sony RX100 IV as well as the Panasonic GM5, and with a truly attractive price tag.

Check out the Nikon 1 J5 at B&H Photo or Amazon.

Jul 182015
 

Great Sale on Voigtlander  Lenses at CameraQuest!

Stephen Gandy over at CameraQuest.com is having a FANTASTIC sale on all Voigtlander lenses for M mount and micro 4/3!!

ALL sale lenses bundled with a Premium B+W Nano 007 Filter! All have free expedited shipping. Lenses over $600 have free Next Day Shipping to most lower 48 locations. Sale available for North and South America only.

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 11.39.34 AM

Voigtlander Micro Four Thirds Lenses

https://shop.cameraquest.com/voigtlander-micro-4/3-lenses/

17.5mm f/.95 $1200 now on sale $900
25mm f/.95 VII $1000 now on sale $800
42.5mm f/.95 $1000 now on sale $800

Voigtlander Leica M Lenses

https://shop.cameraquest.com/voigtlander-leica-mount-rangefinder-lenses/?p=catalog&mode=catalog&parent=191&pg=1&pagesize=48

12mm f/5.6 Leica M $750 now on sale $700
21mm f/1.8 Leica M $1200 now on sale $1050
28mm f/2 Leica M $630 now on sale $600
35/1.2 VII Leica M $1200 now on sale $1000
50/1.1 Leica M $1000 now on sale $900
50/1.5 Black Leica M $900 now on sale $800
50/1.5 Chrome Leica M $1050 now on sale $950

SL II Lenses for Nikon and Canon EOS

https://shop.cameraquest.com/voigtlander-slr-lenses/

20mm f/3.5 Nikon $550 now on sale $500
20mm f/3.5 EOS $530 now on sale$500
28mm f/2.8 Nikon $500 now on sale $480
28mm f/2.8 EOS $500 now on sale $480
40mm f/2 Nikon $500 now on sale $450
40mm f/2 EOS $550 now on sale $450

May 062015
 

JPDoublemoon

The Power of Symmetry

By José Pazó 

In this article, the third one I am sending you, I am going to talk about an unexpected camera: The Nikon S32.

It is a very simple, waterproof, Coolpix series, yellow piece of plastic. Probably, for many out there, one of the worst cameras anyone can buy. The specifications are incredibly basic: diminutive sensor, lots of noise and tones of glare. All types of chromatic aberrations and quirks of use. At least, very cheap. I bought it for my 2 years old daughter, but cameras are always nice temptations. At the end, like Homer Simpson does with his bowling ball for Marge, this camera was partially for me. Do not tell my daughter.

s32

My prior two articles have been about film, b&w film. I like mechanical cameras (Leica M3, Hassy 503), old glass and expected and unexpected results. I still keep some reservations about digital cameras. I have a semi-old Ricoh GRD and a Pentax K01 that I like because nobody likes it. Call me old-fashioned, but pixels are like gremlins in my deep reptilian mind. Preys for ghostbusters. So I bought the Nikon S32, and when into my hands this yellow piece of soap came (probably the most non-ergonomic camera I have tried –slippery as hell), and while playing with it, the miracle showed up in the ancient form of symmetry. ¡Symmetry!

I guess I am a very asymmetrical type of guy. Although I like and practice yoga, one of my legs is shorter than the other, and size and shape of my nostrils are very unequal. Maybe that is the reason why I love Japanese art so much, because of its tendency towards asymmetry. While asymmetry is humble, subtle, suggestive and dynamic, symmetry is solid, pompous, affirmative and static. Symmetry is in general very much related with power. Japanese art tends towards asymmetry, but Chinese art (and power) leans towards symmetry. Japan hides power; China shows it. So I guess that, with the Nikon S32, a Japanese camera, I discovered ancient China and its marks in the Western world and in my reptilian brain.

JP5floatertree

Symmetry creates admiration, or at least aw (The White House, the Taj Mahal). It also produces endless decoration (the Cordoba’s Mosque, the vegetal decorative motives of the Alhambra). Symmetry is also present in almost any altar or oratory in the world. Our bodies also tend towards symmetry (at least some bodies), our faces too. Studies have shown that babies prefer symmetrical faces, and religious iconography indulges in it. Greece was almost symmetrical, Rome was over symmetrical, gothic cathedrals and Viking homes were too, the Empire State Building is symmetrical. Butts are. Busts too. Eyes, fruits, shells… (When they forget Fibonacci, another aurean way of symmetry). Monsters and extraterrestrial beings are usually symmetrical. Hearts not so much. That is probably why they keep us unbalanced. But they produce rhythm, and rhythm is symmetrical. Trees are rotationally symmetrical and so are kaleidoscopes, one of my childhood loves.

JP4tree

 

Nikon S32 can produce symmetrical images. If I were a fashion photographer, I would be using it to play with models to create enticing, almost religious, visions. Since I am a mere dilettante, I am sending you a batch of everyday pictures. They are technically terrible, but visually addictive. Interiors, monsters, altars, flying trees and perfect landscapes. Etscheresque, for those who enjoy Etscher, the painter. At least for my obsessive brain. This first batch includes photos related with the vegetal world. I do not know if you are going to find enough merit in them to be published, not to even mention other batches. If so, thank you in advance.
As always, regards from Madrid to the whole Steve Huff’s clan. Keep your vision and very personal approach, I find lots of value in it. And the same for all of you who write or visit here. Tons of talent around. I do not have a webpage or similar. Thinking of making one but, for the moment, I enjoy just sending pics to others. So, hasta la symmetrical vista.

JPpark

JPflower

JPcorner

JPpark2

JPgreenhouse

JPmountain

JPDoublemoon

JPVera

JP1tree

jp6nighttree

JP7nighttree

JP3tree

Apr 102015
 

Medium format goes medieval: comparing a Nikon DSLR with the latest from PhaseOne

By Andrew Paquette – His Website is HERE

A couple weeks ago I started making plans to do a photo shoot at the ruins of a local castle. I intended to bring my D800 and a Zeiss 55mm Otus as the primary rig, along with an A7r with a Zeiss ZA 135mm for action and close-up shots. However, a few days before the shoot, my wife and I were talking about medium format systems, the photographer Jason Bell, and then PhaseOne medium format cameras. To find out more about PhaseOne, I performed a few searches on the Internet, but didn’t get very far with pricing information because every page led me to a form that I could use to get a free test drive of a PhaseOne system. I was primarily interested in knowing what a refurbished system cost, but since I had to fill out the form to find out, I filled it out. A few days passed, and then on the day before the shoot, I got a call from PhaseOne. Would I like to borrow a camera for a test drive? The rig suggested by the salesman was the 645DF+, the IQ250 50MP digital back (their first CMOS sensor), and a Schneider Kreuznach 80MM f/2.8 leaf shutter lens. This is the exact same rig Bell mentioned when talking about one of his shoots. Curious to see how it would work out, and with a little trepidation that GAS syndrome may have just had a peek in the room, I decided to try it out.

Dungeon corridor, shot with a PhaseOne 645DF+ and Schneider Kreuznach 80mm LS f/2.8

Settings: f/2.8, 1/5 ISO 400
Considering the slow shutter speed here, I really should have shot this at a higher ISO

Dungeon corridor

—-

Shot with a PhaseOne 645DF+ and Schneider Kreuznach 80mm LS f/2.8
Settings: f/3.2, 1/60 ISO 400

Robin in red

The primary reason I was curious about medium format in the first place had to do with my discovery that almost all of the photos I like the most were shot on medium format systems. In one case, a photographer had one shoot of many on her site that I liked a lot, while the rest were good but not as creatively inspiring. That one shoot was done with a PhaseOne. The more I looked, the more references to medium format and PhaseOne I saw. What finally decided me to look into it was a photographer who wrote how he had tried and tried to make images that had qualities he associated with his favourite photographers, like Annie Liebowitz, but couldn’t do it until he switched to medium format. Until then, he thought there was some problem with the way he was taking the photos, setting up the lights, or editing them in software. It wasn’t any of those things—it was the type of camera he used. After switching, he was able to get the look he wanted.

The D800 and the Zeiss 55mm Otus is a very nice combination for DSLR shooting. Short of the D800E or D810, it is about as good as it gets. The lens is the second-highest ranking lens rated by DxO labs (after the 85mm Otus), and the camera is one of the highest rated among DSLRs. The Phase One is similarly one of the best offerings from a brand that is popular among professional photographers. From my perspective, I wanted to know if the image quality difference would be noticeable, and if it would be worth the huge price difference between the two systems. Lately I have been gravitating toward portraits and fashion, both of which genres seem to benefit from medium format cameras.

Disclaimer:

This purpose of this article is to provide some information about how a high end DSLR system compares to a well-regarded medium format system, for those who are considering a switch. This is not meant to be a definitive scientific test. There are plenty of examples of beautiful work by professional photographers on the PhaseOne website, as well as on Nikon’s and Zeiss’s websites. These are great for showing the best possible results from the most highly regarded photographers, but it is hard to know from these gallery images what went into the shoots. What I found difficult to find were articles that compared DSLRs and medium format cameras by shooting something outside the range of normal technical tests, which are usually just a couple of distant buildings, a girl in the forest, and head shots of the camera salesmen at Photokina.

Expectations:

When I rode the train up to the PhaseOne dealer, I was fantasizing about getting some pretty amazing shots simply because I was using a PhaseOne. That said, I knew the possibility of that happening was remote. The D800 and Otus are an excellent combination and I had been using them for a year. Comparing that to an unfamiliar system automatically puts the PhaseOne at a disadvantage. Another problem is that the DSLR is much more useable in low light than the PhaseOne—or at least most medium format cameras, which operate best at 100 to 200 ISO (with 400 ISO the maximum). The IQ250 back I was using was different because it could go up to 6400 ISO. Despite this, I was thinking of the PhaseOne as a system that required studio lights, as opposed to the D800, which worked fine without them. I was planning on using a reflector and sunlight for the shoot, and had no room in my transportation for lighting gear. I hoped this wouldn’t compromise the PhaseOne too much, but that was what I had to work with so I’d just have to see how it turned out.

At the store, the salesman gave me a quick tour of the camera. During this short tutorial I shot a couple images of objects in the store. What I saw really surprised me: there were prominent green and magenta bands running along the edges of many white objects in the scene. Most of the Zeiss lens line have very little fringing problems, and the Otus has none. I literally hadn’t seen fringing for months because I have been using the Otus as my go-to lens. Even when I use other Zeiss lenses, like the ZA 135mm f/1.8, I rarely have fringing issues. Seeing fringing on the first couple of shots taken with the PhaseOne was disheartening, but on the other hand, the system I had in my hands was the same one used by the royal family’s photographer. There had to be a way around it.

Because of my concerns about the lighting and the lens, I was prepared for the test to go either way, but was rooting for the PhaseOne, if for no other reason but that it is always fun to discover a way to improve the quality of one’s images. It was a fairly dark day, so most of the shots were made with the camera mounted on a tripod.

Conclusions:

Ergonomics… The 645DF+ felt great in my hands, the menus on the touchscreen were easy to understand and big buttons were easy to press without accidentally pushing something else (as I do more often than I like with the D800 and A7r). The optical viewfinder was like looking into the detachable Zacuto viewfinder I use on my Nikon, but integrated with the camera and brighter. The live view screen was very nice, slightly higher resolution than the LV on the D800, and most importantly, the IQ250 has the built-in ability to transmit the live view and preview photos to an iDevice. I tested this on my iPad and it worked very well, using the free app provided by PhaseOne, Capture Pilot. This app can also be used as a remote trigger for the camera. This functionality makes focus checking trivially easy compared to the D800 (and probably the D810 as well) because of the much larger iPad screen. Overall, I felt that the camera was easier to hold, to carry, and to use in some ways than the D800. The only exception to this are the aperture and shutter control dials, which are smaller and thinner than their Nikon counterparts. This isn’t a big deal, but I found them more difficult to find and use than on the D800, probably because I’m not used to them.
The case this camera came in was much bigger and heavier than it needed to be for a camera that felt to be about the same weight as the D800 + Otus. As for overall dimensions, they weren’t much different there either. If I were to get one of these, I’d probably opt for a backpack instead of the gorilla-proof case I was handed for the tryout.

Image quality… Overall, I liked several of the shots from both cameras. In all but one of the examples where I shot exactly the same subject with both cameras, I preferred the PhaseOne result. I shot the PhaseOne in aperture priority mode because I wanted to avoid an excessively shallow depth of field in shots with multiple actors. This worked against the PhaseOne because I was able to use much faster shutter speeds with the Nikon. I initially had the impression that the Schneider-Kreuznach lens was softer than the Otus because the images themselves were softer overall, but the slower shutter speeds almost certainly allowed enough motion to lose some sharpness compared to the Nikon.
Despite the slight softness to images shot with the PhaseOne, in all but one example where I shot the same scene with both cameras, I preferred the PhaseOne because of the superior colours and tonal range. Both camera/lens combinations produced nice images, but the colours that came out of the PhaseOne were noticeably stronger.

I’m not totally convinced that the PhaseOne is hands-down better than the Nikon/Otus combination, but am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt until I have the opportunity to test it again*. I do know that the colour from the PhaseOne system and richer tones are very appealing compared to the more limited range available in the Nikon system.

*Update: I have retested the Phase One system and answered some of the questions left with the previous shoot.

1) The colour differences between the two systems are partly attributable to having used Capture One to process the Phase One shots but Lightroom for the Nikon shots. Despite this, the greater dynamic range of the IQ250 over the D800 is obvious.

2) The CA problem with the SK lens is very real but goes away at higher f-stops. I did some shots of dark tree branches against the sun at f/2.8 (heavy fringing) and f/5 (no fringing) as a test. If shooting at less contrasty subjects, the bigger apertures can be used. The Otus remains the winner in this category.

3) The SK lens is very sharp when setup properly. It really doesn’t like low light situations, and ‘low light’ for the Phase One is a lot brighter than for the D800. I had been setting the Phase One to match the Nikon settings—a big mistake because medium format requires more light than a 35mm.

4) The Capture Pilot utility is really awesome to use. It helps get steadier shots, and allows high resolution exposure and focus checks in the field.

Below are some more of the images from the shoot (and at the end, a couple of bonus shots from the more recent test):

Brigands. Shot with a PhaseOne 645DF+ and Schneider Kreuznach 80mm LS f/2.8
Settings: f/6.3, 1/15 ISO 200

Brigands

Dejeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the grass). Shot with a PhaseOne 645DF+ and Schneider Kreuznach 80mm LS f/2.8
Settings: f/2.8, 1/223 ISO 200

Renaissance battle_4

Thom. Shot with a PhaseOne 645DF+ and Schneider Kreuznach 80mm LS f/2.8
Settings: f/3.5, 1/111 ISO 200

Thom

Merlyn. Shot with a PhaseOne 645DF+ and Schneider Kreuznach 80mm LS f/2.8
Settings: f/9, 1/7 ISO 100

Merlyn 1

Merlyn. Shot with a Nikon D800, Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4
Settings: f/7.1, 1/125 ISO 125

Merlyn 2

Unruffled. Shot with a Nikon D800, Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4
Settings: f/5.6, 1/100 ISO 1200

Unruffled

Sparring. Shot with a Nikon D800, Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4
Settings: f/7.1, 1/30 ISO 125

Sparring

Triple portrait. Shot with a Nikon D800, Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4
Settings: f/4, 1/200 ISO 125

Triple portrait

Robin. Shot with a Nikon D800, Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4
Settings: f/3.5, 1/100 ISO 200

Robin at the window

_______________________
The new test shots were made primarily to check CA and sharpness of the SK lens. All were shot with the 645 DF+, IQ250, and SK 80mm LS lens. Here they are:

Sunset fence 014

mirrored wetlands

RiverBend

Mar 172015
 

titlebjarke

2014 in Twelve images

by Bjarke Ahlstrand

Hi Steve,

Another year has passed, and at least from my perspective 2014 was extremely busy. I fulfilled a dream of mine and opened a rock bar, Zeppelin (www.zeppelincph.dk), + my very own photographic haven/store, One Of Many Cameras (www.oneofmanycameras.com), here in Copenhagen, where I live. The camera store, which deals with both new and 2nd hand stuff gave me even further possibilities to explore the photographic medium and although it hasn’t exactly cured my GAS, it helps that I can just borrow stuff from the shelves now and then :-)

I only shoot manual lenses as they fit my shooting style the best, and I spend most of my photography time on celluloid, expired chemistry and especially large format portraits, but that ol’ Leica M9-P of mine is still my favourite digital camera (since I can’t afford or justify a Monochrome, hehe), but I also adore the little MicroFourThirds camera which was given to me as a x-mas present by my One Of Many Cameras partner Daniel because of its portability, since the large format cameras are a bit bulky to drag around. My work can be seen here: www.oneofmany.dk and www.polaroid.com

Anyways, here goes — once again — 12 images, 12 cameras, 12 months – this time for the year 2014.

***

January · Deardorff 8×10” · 270mm Boyer Saphir Paris f/6.3 · expired Agfa photograhic fibre paper used as a paper negative · ISO3

2014_01_8x10_scan_deardorff v2_270mm_boyer saphir paris f63_iso3_after

January · Deardorff 8×10” · 270mm Boyer Saphir Paris f/6.3 · expired Agfa photographic fibre paper used as a paper negative · ISO3

I’ve been working on a book/exhibition the last couple of years. It’s gonna be called “After” and will feature 130+ portraits of my girlfriend, all shot immediately after we’ve had sex. There will be no pornographic content or nudity but “raw” portraits that try to capture that very special moment just “after”… I went about it in a dogmatic way, so I decided that all had to be shot within a five minute time span and I would max make 3 exposures. It was very challenging as many of the shoots were rather trivial when it comes subject, and location of course, but I managed to use a great variety of cameras and now in the final editing stages of the book, I believe it turned out okay. The book will be published around May/June if everything goes as planned. For this particular shot, Katja laid still for 8 seconds while I captured the light.

***

February · Leica M9 · 50mm Summilux Asph @ f/2.8 · ISO200

2014_02_LeicaM9_50summilux_iso200_Lucer

Still love the Leica, still love rock ’n roll, and I still have a record label, so I actually managed to shoot quite a few album covers in 2014, this being one of them. With vinyl making a serious comeback it’s a joy to shoot band pictures again. The band is called Lucer and they play high-octane rock. Be sure to check them out on Spotify –– or even better, on vinyl.

***

March · Goecker Studio Camera · 270mm Dallmeyer 3B Petzval · Expired Ilford Multigrade photographic paper used as paper negative · ISO3

2014_03_8x10_paper negative scan__Goecker Studio Kamera_Dallmeyer 3B_iso3_Street

I bought an old wooden large format studio camera, dating back to 1913 and it came with a wonderful Dallmeyer Petzval from the 1860s’ so I decided to drag it outside our little camera store (which is also a studio) and test it out. Two teenagers were walking down the street, but I convinced to them to stand still for 1 second while I used my hand as a shutter. Notice the Petzval curve, it’s absolutely wonderful. Oh yeah, the logo of One Of Many Cameras is actually the Petzval lens design from 1840 – both my partner Daniel and I even got it tattooed, so I guess that lens is rather special to me.

***

April · Fuji GX680III · 125mm GX f/3.2 · Ilford Delta 100

Picture 521

Even though I love large format and the creative possibilities it gives regarding perspective and focus, it’s not exactly portable. Enter the Fuji GX680III, a high-end medium format camera from the final days of the professional analog era. It has a small bellow and therefore tilt-shit capabilities and you can cram 8 images on a 120-roll film, so economically speaking, it’s quite okay (compared to large format). You can shoot the camera handheld – and those Fujinon lenses — whauh. This one in particular, it’s perfect. My youngest clone was shot wide open at f/3.2. Love the bokeh.

***

May · Kodak DCS PRO SLR N · 55mm Nikkor f/1.2 · ISO160

2014_05_Kodak DCS PRO SLR N_55mm Nikkor f12_iso160_Mikkel Munch Fals

I don’t want to (re-)start the whole CCD vs. CMOS war, I’ll just conclude that you’ll find on the CCD-side when photographic civil war begins. I haven’t owned a DSLR since I sold my 5D Mark III and I swore I’d never go down that road again… But then I was presented with this Kodak beauty, the first full frame pro digital camera, which cost a fortune back when it was introduced, and having never shot Nikon glass before (!) I couldn’t resent the 55mm Nikkor f/1.2. The 3 included batteries last only 5 minutes each, the camera breaks down constantly, has many quirks and is hardly usable above ISO400… But that Kodak CCD sensor is absolutely wonderful… I get the same feeling as when I look at images from my Leica M9-P and Hasselblad H3D-39. If I’m working digital (and not doing video), I’ll definitely go for a CCD-camera.

***

June · Leica Monochrome · 50mm Apo-Summicron f/2 Asph · ISO320

2014_06_LeicaMonochrome_50apo Summicron_iso320_beach

Had the chance to spend a day with the APO-Summicron. Took it to the beach along with a Monochrome. Nice combo. Stupid price tag, though.

***

July · Leica M9–P · 35mm Summilux f/1.4 Asph FLE · ISO160

2014_07_LeicaM9P_35mm Summilux_ISO160_Barcelona

Took my two clones to Barcelona for our summer vacation, alongside a couple of Leica’s and the Fuji GX680 monster. I keep coming back to the Leica, it’s “like home” every time I shoot it. The swimming pool was nice, too.

***

August · Sinar P2 · 36cm Voigtländer f/4.5 · Impossible Silver Shade 8×10” Polaroid

2014_08_8x10_Polaroid_sinar_p2_36cm_heliar_iso640_herod

Having a record label is nice because you get to meet some really cool people, in this case the Swiss noise-rockers Herod who performed here in Copenhagen, and stayed at my place for a couple of days. I dragged the boys to my attic alongside my Swiss 8×10” large format Sinar camera, and shot an 8×10” Polaroid polaroid. The lens was stopped down at f/5.6 (which is like f/1.4 in 35mm terms regarding depth of field), but with the help of the movements of the camera, I was able to get all 4 members (relatively) sharp.

***

September · Kodak Master View 8×10” · Rodenstock 210mm Sironar f/5.6 · Ilford Direct Positive Paper · ISO6

2014_09_8x10_directpositivepaper_Kodak master view_210_mm_sironar s_iso5_undergang

Another band photo, this time around it was the death metal act Undergang, who were about to embark on a 5 week US tour and needed a band photo for their upcoming LP, so of course we went to a cemetery. I brought an antique Kodak Master View 8×10” large format camera and some Direct Postive Paper, and I snapped this ghoulish portrait with the Rodenstock lens shot wide open. Again with the gigantic negatives (1 x 8×10″ negative = 1 roll of 35mm film), the depth of field is extremely shallow, only a couple of millimeters but that old Kodak large format camera with its bellowsmovements made it possible to get them all “pretty sharp”. I made the vocalist only show the white in his eyes for the second I exposed the Direct Positive Paper, which indeed is a fantastic medium when working with the large format, since it’s like a Polaroid (positive) and you can handle it under red/safe light which makes it much easier than the negatives.

***

October · Sinar P2 5×7” – 21cm Voigtlander Petzval · Expired Ilford photo paper

2014_10_5x7_Sinarp2_21cm_Voigtlander_iso2_when the silver runs dry

One Of Many portraits of my favourite subject(s) – my clone, Hjalte. Almost 16 years old, he looks nothing like the child I’ve been documenting for many years now, as he’s growing rapidly, physically as well as mentally. Teenagers are hard to shoot since they’re pretty demanding, and pretty pimple ridden, but I’ve been experimenting quite a bit with expired analog materials and decided to try to drag the absolutely last silver out of some photographic paper which expired the year Hjalte was born (1999). He sat still for around 4 seconds while I underexposed and then the negative laid in the (also expired) chemistry for around half and hour before it was fully developed. I love it, one of my favourite portraits of 2014.

****

November · Sony A7S · Leica 75mm Summilux f/1.4 · ISO1600

2014_11_SonyA7S_75 Summilux_iso1600_Ruth Storm

Yes, I love old cameras (and especially lenses) but of course I also embrace new technological wonders –– like the Sony A7S. Most of my work is shot at extremely low ISOs, but the A7S opened new doors for me with its extreme low light capabilities. I’ve shot portraits for record covers at ISO 100.000 (!) which look fine on print – and my Leica lenses all perform wonderful on that little Sony. And the ones that can be hard to focus on a rangefinder are easy to nail spot on with the focus peaking turned on. Sometimes I wish the A7S had just a few more pixels as 12mp isn’t a lot for print/pro work, but I use it mostly for videos anyway, and there it reigns supreme.

****

December · Panasonic DMC-GF5 · 1″ Taylor-Hobson f/1.9 · ISO1600

2014_12_Panasonic DMC-GF5_1inch Taylor-Hobson f19_iso1600_trine tree

Yeah, I prefer large format and medium format, and full frame digital sensors. But lately, I’ve come to love a small, not-very-special little Panasonic pocket camera (DMC-GF5) – due to one fact: its MicroFourThirds sensor and the c-mount adapter that came along the little x-mas presents. That combo opens totally new doors when it comes to lenses and look. Old 16mm film lenses (c-mount) shine on that little digital sensor (the ones that cover it that is) and since the camera is very cheap (and lenses, too) I bring it everywhere for snapshots that otherwise were reserved for my iPhone. Here you see the newest member of the Ahlstrand-clan, Trine The Cat, climbing unto a x-mas tree. Nothing fancy, just one of those “family shots”, but I really dig the look of that tiny 1960s 16mm film camera lens, which I just had CLA’ed by my friend, Professor Olsen (repair-guy at One Of Many Cameras).

That’s it. Enjoy.

Mar 052015
 

 

4DAYS

4 days in the life of a Magnum photographer

by Sebastien Bey-Haut

Dear Steve,

I just came back from what has been one of the best photographic experience of my life and would like to share it with your readers.

I indeed had the privilege to attend a Magnum photography workshop mentored by Stuart Franklin in Panjim, a small town in Goa State, India.

It all started while browsing the Magnum website a couple of months ago: I saw a post calling for applications and having nothing to lose I sent a portfolio without too much hopes as they would accept only 12 participants worldwide… I received the good news a few weeks later: I was accepted! Living in Switzerland it meant a long trip (40h) for only 4 days of fun… But no way I would pass on it, so I booked my tickets, packed my gear and here we go !

The workshop was quite intense with mornings dedicated to discussions with Stuart and peer reviews, afternoon to shooting and evening / night to post processing. Our objective was to present a coherent 10 photographs story to be showcased at the Goa Photo festival… If possible without putting too much shame on our mentor’s name.

Of course having someone like Stuart reviewing your work is an incredible experience, his critics were always constructive but he would not miss the slightest default. Composition, tones, alignment of the different elements, everything has to be perfect or the photograph will be rejected without mercy.

The focus of the workshop was in building a coherent story and in editing our work so in order to give you a sense of what we went through I’ll first present the final 10 photographs we selected with Stuart:

10 selected photographs 

001_Seb

002_Seb

003_Seb

004_Seb

005_Seb

006_Seb

007_Seb

008_Seb

009_Seb

010_Seb

Then here are some other “Stuart approved” photographs which did not make it into the final cut

aDSC_6715-3

aDSC_7470-3

fDSC_5783-4

gDSC_6196-2

hDSC_5924-2

hDSC_6915

pDSC_5947v2-3

pDSC_7210

pDSC_7379v2

And to finish some of the images that I personally liked but were rejected by Stuart:

aDSC_5963

aDSC_7606-Modifier-2

bDSC_6538

gDSC_6218

pDSC_5752

pDSC_6066-2

pDSC_7410

pDSC_7556

As you can see the “image quality” is not what really matters, Stuart was looking for images which would invite the viewer to imagine a story behind it, transmit emotions, and more generally have their own strengths. Anything looking more like a nice “tourist postcard” was discarded, which is what happened with most of my portraits…

As a conclusion the main outcome of this workshop was to teach me how to be more demanding with my own photography, which is highly inspiring and will for sure be very useful in the future.

The gear I used is quite irrelevant to describe this experience, so I’ll let you guess what it could have been. One hint: Stuart was using the same camera “hipster” camera…

You can find more of my work here https://500px.com/Sebastien_Bey_Haut

Thanks for reading

Sebastien Bey-Haut

PS: I’d like to take this opportunity to send a big cheers to the Secret Magnum 12, keep the good images coming!

Feb 272015
 

Kids & Flash

By Warren Street

Love the site and look often. Very informative and fair in an unpretentious way. So right up my alley.

I recently bought a flash cord for my D3100 after seeing some of Larry Finks photos and loving the look and feel that to me really highlight emotions.

Being a 9 to 5 Dad of 3 kids means I’m not home a lot but when I am home it’s my job to get the kids ready for bed. One of the things that strike me is the number of different emotions we go through as we get ready and it’s a perfect time to put the camera in one hand and the flash in the other. I’m always amazed at the results I get. When you look at these you can really see so much. From what’s obvious to the subtleties between the kids.

From a technique perspective I shoot manual so I can stop motion(it’s action after all) and also have a decent depth of field as focus is not always so sharp. I’ve shot a couple of parties just for friend(I’m not a pro) and they always come out interesting and unique.

I hope you enjoy.

Warren Street.

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