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Tag Archives: DSLR
Yup – that’s right, I’ve just spent some of my own money on a Nikon camera! Here is my latest toy: A Nikon 1 v3 compact system camera
Granted, it’s not quite the investment that my Canon 1D X or 5D III along with all the lenses were – and it’s certainly pocket change compared to the cost of all of my Phase One gear, but I felt the need to buy it anyway. So, why?
The reasoning for owning a smaller camera is simple: My Phase One gear (with all lenses) weighs in at around 12kg on a good day. If I’m shooting for a commercial client, that’s no problem at all – and I happily carry it around all day on that basis. Then there’s my iPhone – my favourite camera in the world, simply because it’s always with me – but it’s going to be several more revisions before that tiny tiny tiny sensor gets good enough to blow images up to a decent size for display (or even on computer).
And there’s the gap: Sometimes, just sometimes, I want to have a camera with me that doesn’t weigh more than a small child, but does have the capability to take images which are at least possible to print at a reasonable size and also gives me manual control over the photograph that is eventually captured.
It’s a sad day, in some respects, where I now feel the need to confine both my Canon EOS M and PowerShot S120 to the storage boxes in the office – but this new toy filled a gap I’ve been dealing with for a while.
You see, the EOS M is a half-hearted attempt by Canon to get “in” on the mirrorless / compact DSLR market. By half-hearted, I mean the first edition had some challenges, and support for the system has been sporadic at best (it’s even been removed from sale in the US as of the time of writing). While I’m sure Canon will do great things in the future when it comes to their compact system offering, right now, the EOS M doesn’t cut it (and compared to the 100D etc. isn’t actually that much of a size saving either).
Then we have the Powershot S series – which I have been (and still am) a huge supporter of. I’ve owned the S90, S95, S100, S110 and now the S120 – ALL are great pocket cameras, with fantastic features. The problem is, their image quality isn’t quite good enough to properly compete with most compact systems. Its size is fantastic, but the 12MP sensor limits what you can do with the images and even though this would be (at best) an emergency option, it’s still nice to know you can do something with a shot you were lucky enough to take.
So when I saw the original Nikon 1 series a couple years back, I was interested – for two reasons: 1) Could this be the mini camera I’ve been looking for, and 2) Would the images be good enough?
On issue 1) – No. It was still (originally) quite bulky, and had more of a feel of a mini-DSLR than a handy “expert point-and-shoot”. And for 2) – maybe. But the first edition was not much better than my Canon Powershot S series. I saw friends buy into the system and in general it got good reviews. Then the v2 got released – marginally better, but still a little bulky. Then, a few months back, the v3 came onto the scene – so what changed?
Simple answer: Quite a lot, and for me, all in the right direction. It’s a small camera, so I wanted a real focus on that issue. Gone was the bulky viewfinder on the top of the v2 (yes, many people will miss it, but remember what this camera is for – it’s not a replacement for a full frame DSLR!) and instead they’ve introduced a touch-screen that can be flipped to any angle up or down. Gone, also, was the big hand grip on the side (which is now available as an add-on option). Updated is the kit 10-30mm PD lens (which at a 2.7x crop factor is a 27-81mm equivalent) with great results. New, was an 18.2MP sensor – and removed was the Anti-Aliasing filter, leading to crisp, sharp, detailed images at higher ISOs. Overall, I was sold.
So there it is – on my dining table, waiting to be played with. Good job I’m heading back to London next weekend to give it a quick try then I guess – and for the first time in years I won’t be carrying the weight of a small child around with me the entire time!
CES – or the “Consumer Electronics Show” in Las Vegas this year was a must-see for me. While there to look at everything, and learn about emerging technologies in the conference, I couldn’t help but keep my “photographer hat” on and hunt out some little gems during the 4 days I was in town.
Being a “Canon boy”, I naturally spent a little more time playing with the 1D-X but I have to say, both seem to be worthy top-end releases of their respective companies’ line of DSLRs. The D4 had demonstrations from sponsored US photographers, while I was given a little more “free time” with the 1D-X to give it a go.
Naturally, I’m biased, but I have to say the Canon certainly felt better built although both are superb bits of technology with sharp captures, fast response and much improved autofocus. With the D4 releasing onto the market a good month ahead of Canon’s offering, it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out (especially as Canon have some criticisms to fix even before it’s been released – around focusing above f8 and video capture). That said, I really am looking forward to seeing them in the marketplace (although, granted, a few months might help see both prices fall from their $6,000-$6,800 / £4,600-£5,200 marks on release!
Also on the Canon stand, some useful “freebie” sessions on video, photography, settings etc.
Sigma were also just around the corner, proving that size does matter with their 200-500mm f/2.8 lens (which comes with a “free” 2x extender for 400-1000mm shooting).
- and yes, that’s a Canon EOS 7D body hanging on the end of that monster. Although, for a lens worth $32,000/£16,000 – I’d say it’s in about the right ratio to the camera body
The big noise in terms of advertising around Las Vegas was the Samsung Galaxy Note – it was launched at CES this year. As an Apple fan-boy, I have to admit it hurts to say they have released a fantastic product, and one that may indeed steal some of Apple’s market share.
Not quite a tablet, but larger than a phone, this “toy” doesn’t come cheap (around £600-700) but has a stunning display and is just the right “in-between” size for lots of handy applications. How it will fare with photographers, I’m not sure (I still think the iPad wins for displaying images) but the guys were out to prove a point with customised T-shirts being made from caricatures drawn on the device…
Moving on, and into the realm of “gadgets” there were quite a few toys to take a look at in the innovation area of the show…
First up, a company I’ve been following for a while – “Lytro“.
These guys have been around for a while, following a lot of heavy research into Light Field technology at Stanford, and it’s great to finally see their efforts come to life in the form of a product. Imagine – a camera you can focus AFTER the shot is taken? OK, it’s not up there with SLRs or Medium Format cameras quite yet, but you can see where this is going…!
Just hold the Tamaggo device above your head and click. You can view, share, and move around your 360 degree panoramic image online with ease. Just as the Lytro, it’s not currently offering amazing resolutions or anything, but as a concept, I think this could be a winner…
Finally, one more thing that caught my eye in there – “Perfect 365” from ArcSoft.
At first, I dismissed it as yet another “one-click photoshop” attempt (hint: they never work – they just make people look plastic!) but on further investigation they’ve gone a little further…
Yes, it will absolutely give you a reasonable retouch of any image, but the “killer apps” (to my mind) are the iPad and iPhone versions. So, I downloaded it for £1.49 to give it a go. No, it’s not perfect – and yes, you can make someone look very silly, but in essence it works – I can now photoshop pictures of people that I take on my iPhone (even drunken ones!).
Back out to the main floors – and on to the Venetian from the Convention Centre, the PMA held their photography show within CES this year – so we had to take a quick look. The usual suspects were around – Tamarac, Nik Software, Topaz Labs (who offered a great deal on their entire suite at the show) etc, but two things caught my eye as a little unusual…
We’ve all seen the (sometimes horrific) attempts by companies to improve on the iPhone’s built-in camera – including the “mount” for a DSLR lens which allows you to plant your iPhone’s sensor at the end of a 70-200L lens if you really want…
But this package from iPro Lens is different. A neat little setup, with a variety of lenses, and I have to say the image quality we saw coming out of the kit was a radical improvement on the iPhone’s standard lens. Having a wide-angle option for the iPhone would be great for festivals, etc – and the fisheye is fun for quirky effects.
Berlebach had a stand full of wooden tripods. Now, I know a few old folk who will remember using these “when they were a kid” etc, but I have to say, I love the feel of them. They somehow manage to take the cold, hard, black metal and plastic body and warm it up with a bit of nature. The only concern for me? Well – I can’t see them lasting very long when they go flying down a cliff with me and my camera gear to a beach below…
Successful trip? Well, the photo show was only a tiny part of what we went there for (in fact, the PMA show was a complete surprise) so I didn’t really get to spend much time looking, but from what I did see, there are some cool new products heading our way soon and definitely an exciting time to be looking at buying new gear. Who knows, with this light field stuff on its’ way to an affordable level, maybe the days of DSLRs (and even the latest mirrorless models) could soon be numbered…
I’ll leave you with one of my lasting memories of that afternoon. We left the Venetian hotel to find someone who looked how our feet felt, complete with cigarette and beer bottle. Walt Disney would be proud…