Dec 172013
 

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…for me 🙂 !

 

O.k., that headline was a bad trick to catch your attention. But anyway, now that you are here…let me give you a quick insight into why I believe I just bought my very last DSLR – ever.

 

Which camera did I choose?
The Nikon D7100.

 

Why did I not choose full-frame?
I do not have great need for the benefits that can be achieved by using full-frame sensors. At least not at this moment in time. No need for shallow depth of field nor for extreme wide-angle shots with my DSLR. No need even for super high ISO capabilities. A comparable full-framer would have cost twice as much – I did not think the benefits could equal the equation in this respect.

 

What did I buy the APS-C sensor DSLR for then?
I think a DSLR is still the best camera for studio shots (apart from medium format of course), tele work and for everything moving at a fast pace e.g. for kids or sports photography. And when it comes to flash photography IMHO there is nothing like the Nikon flash system. It just works. On camera, off camera or whatever you throw at it – the Nikon flashes just never disappoint.

 

Why Nikon and why did I choose the Nikon D7100?
Apart from being convinced the Nikon flash system is the best available out there in DSLR land, I have a great stock of Nikon lenses that wanted to get some more use. All of them are FX, so they can still not be outresolved by the big Nikon sensor. The Nikon D7100 is quite compact (compared to other DSLRs) and is ergonomically unsurpassed. It even has fully customizable U1/U2 user settings that can be of great use in the field. Paired with that outstanding 24mp sensor this camera is the ideal workhorse for my purposes.

 

Why did I not opt for the great new Sony Alpha A7 or Sony Alpha A7R or other mirrorless cameras like the Fuji XE-2 or Olympus OM-D EM1?
The new Sony mirrorless offering no doubt can be seen as a new milestone in the photography business, offering full-frame benefits using the best full-frame sensor available in this category of cameras at this moment. It can also be used quite effectively in studio settings and for most kinds of photographic situations. BUT there are not enough native E-mount full-frame lenses available at this point in time. Especially the missing fast tele and super wide lenses make me watch this new camera from the sidelines. I tested the Sony Alpha A7 with my Leica Super-Elmar M 21mm f/3.4 and must confess I was very disappointed by the results. Color shift and vignetting is nothing I take too lightly. See my article about the use with this Leica lens here.  For further reading concerning legacy lens tests on the Sony Alpha A7/A7R check out the great articles at Sonyalpha Rumors or follow this link to one of the legacy lens test roundups on that site. Maybe in a year or two Sony will have filled the lens gaps and the system will offer all that photo geek hearts desire – but for now I believe the lens offering is far too little for far too much. Spending almost 3.000 Euros for a Sony A7R plus 35mm 2.8 lens is simply uneconomical in my opinion. But as always your mileage may vary here. As for other mirrorless solutions. I have already invested in other systems like Fuji X and Sony Nex and am very happy with the benefits in size and weight. I am especially pleased with the Fujifilm XE-1 and the native 21mm and 35mm primes. Even the „kit zoom“ 18-55 is quite outstanding. All in all this system would be all I would need – except for when I need big tele lenses or when I want the ergonomics only a bigger DSLR body can offer.

 

So why am I convinced, the Nikon D7100 will be my last ever DSLR?
That is because I truly believe, the more compact mirrorless camera systems will only need a few more years to evolve. In only a short time manufacturers like Sony, Fuji and Olympus will be able to perfect their offerings. There will be no more real benefits left for DSLR users. I will use my Nikon for special purpose work until this time. But for hiking, street photography, and to carry everywhere I go…there will always be a more compact mirrorless camera at my side. I just would not want to schlepp a heavy backpack all the time anymore. For further reading please refer to my previous article “The DSLR is dead, long live mirrorless!”.

 

There you go. That is why I believe I just bought my last DSLR – ever. I will be quite happy putting it to use when necessary. But most of the time I will probably pick more lightweight  alternatives to do the job.

Nonetheless the Nikon D7100 is one hell of a camera.

Oct 102013
 

The Nikon D610 is available for pre-order now at retailers worldwide and will probably be available in late October. But is it worth it? Has it improved much compared to the previous Nikon D600 – or is it just another minor update?

Image: Nikon Corp.

Image: Nikon Corp.

 

Nikon states, the new Nikon D610 features a slightly faster shutter with 6 frames per second compared to the 5.5 that can be achieved with the Nikon D600. The improved shutter mechanism also allows for a new quiet shutter mode. This might indeed come in handy for some users, but it is limited to 3 frames per second. White balance seems to have been improved also. Comparing the two camera versions, I couldn`t find any other relevant changes.

Of course Nikon does not mention whether or not the new shutter mechanism solves the problem some users seem to have faced with the “old” Nikon D600 concerning dust and oil spots on the sensor. But in all probability the soiled sensors are now a thing of the past. So, is this just a discreet replacement for the earlier model without attracting too much attention to a previously faulty design? I will let you be the judge of that.

In any case, the Nikon D600 had to suffer an enormous price decline within only a year of its existence. Today you can buy the cam for about € 1.450,- (Germany) and retailers probably won`t be all too happy about that. Their margins must now be very small – some may already be selling at a loss, just to rid themselves of unwanted inventory. The secondary market might be off even worse when it comes to replacing the older version.

 

Image: Nikon Corp.

Image: Nikon Corp.

 

Let´s look at the bright side: The new Nikon D610 is a very capable camera offered at a price point that (at least for now) is quite acceptable. It can be pre-ordered for around € 1.949 / $ 1.999 and can probably be had for a lot less once readily available in shops. The proven 24 MP CMOS full-frame sensor is more than enough for most applications and the nice controls, 100 % finder coverage,  great AF and dual card slots (just to mention a few of the gimmicks) satisfy most photography needs.

No doubt this is a great camera – and in my view probably the best Nikon camera in the line-up. I might even get one for myself now I do not have to fear having to clean the sensor every few weeks.

Of course there may be users that prefer more compact full-framers in future and in general photographers may soon prefer mirrorless solutions altogether.

See my article on the demise of the DSLR here.

That scenario still remains to be seen, but for those of you who want to stop carrying huge backpacks full of DSLR equipment, keep an eye out for coming announcements. There might indeed be some surprises in store for us soon. Even for those that are no Sony aficionados this might well prove to be beneficial because it will most likely put some more pressure on DSLR pricing. All the better for consumers of all brands involved.

Below are some more product images. Check out the Nikon site for more detailed infos on the new Nikon D610.

 

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Image: Nikon Corp.

Images: Nikon Corp.

 

Jul 022013
 

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The new Canon EOS 70D has just been unveiled. According to Canon this new high-performance camera is “… bringing advanced features to photo enthusiasts looking for a step up from their entry-level digital SLRs”. Predominantly it features a newly developed Dual Pixel CMOS AF which dramatically improves the Auto Focus capabilities especially when shooting videos and when using Live View. This is achieved by a new phase-detection AF technology installed on the image sensor plane. It promises to finally merge video and stills photography effectively and will most likely rival some of the existing camcorders on the market today. Apart from that the new DSLR has some other useful features (listed below) that could make it very attractive for a wide range of photographers.

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Basic specs of the new Canon EOS 70D:

  • 20.2 MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • newly developed Dual Pixel CMOS AF
  • 19 point AF system (with all points cross-type)
  • DIGIC 5+ image processing engine
  • 3.2″ fully-articulated touch screen (LCD with 1.040.000 dots)
  • built in flash (can also be used as remote flash controller)
  • 7fps burst rate
  • intelligent viewfinder with 98% coverage
  • ISO 100-12800 (up to 25600 expanded)
  • Full HD 1080p Video (up to 30fps at full resolution)
  • built-in Wi-Fi
  • AF micro adjustment (settings possible for up to 40 lenses)
  • on sale from September 2013 for an estimated retail price of €1.099/$1.199 body only (bundled kits also available)

 

Lupico_130305_20130702_hiRes_eos70d_efs18135mmtop
Aside from the assumed groundbreaking new AF technology which (if it turns out to be as good as promised in actual use) will make this cam extremely interesting for videographers, this Canon EOS 70D also has Wi-Fi built-in and does not need an additional Wi-Fi adapter to get it going. On the Nikon D5200 and on the Nikon D7100 (both of which can be viewed as competitors) this has to be plugged into the camera`s accessory terminal and does not exactly make the cameras any prettier or more handy to use. So in this game Canon has the upper hand for now. The AF micro-adjustment feature was dearly missed in the previous Canon EOS 60D. Its return to the Canon EOS 70D might now also appease some Canon followers. The fully articulated touch screen further enhances the overall usability.

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All images: Canon U.S.A., Inc.

 

The Canon EOS 70D is quite a nice camera solution – if you are still into DSLR photography at all. The new technology should soon evolve and will probably be incorporated in upcoming mirrorless cameras i.e. Interchangeable Lens Cameras (ILC). In my opinion this is a development that can hardly be choked off any more. See my article on the death of the DSLR for further reading. But if you are happy using DSLR equipment and need a camera fit for both high quality still and video capture this new Canon EOS 70D will probably be hard to beat at the given price point. Indeed, this could be an ideal camera not only for casual shooting but also for some professionals who need to cover both ends (e.g. for wedding photographers or sports shooters).

Take a look at the YouTube videos supplied by CanonAustralia and judge for yourself. The AF capabilities seem quite impressive.

 

 

Jun 142013
 
Cameras with mirrors - soon a thing of the past?

Camera mirrors – soon a thing of the past?

The DSLR is dead, long live mirrorless! This remark isn`t exactly brand new and similar discussions have been going on in numerous photo forums (like on dpreview or on Flickr) and all over the net for some time. Editorial and commercial photographer Zack Arias started it all off again reopening old sores with his musings on the death of the DSLR, accompanying his strong praise for the Fuji X100s (see his Fuji Istanbul Video below) and his follow up on “…life without DSLRs“. All very entertaining, nice video and a good read. It may be a little daring to claim the demise of the DSLR at this stage in time. But truth be told, it will not take a lot more to make it happen.

Maybe the proclamation (and also the stated headline) simply is not precise enough. Rather one should say – sticking with Zack Arias`s basic tonality and none too prosaically: the good old DSLR is on its deathbed stricken in years. The royal household is waiting near by saying prayers. The end is near and the next generation of MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras) are waiting to take over the reign.

In the good old days there was no way around shooting DSLRs. To take professional grade pictures, these machines were a must have. Nowadays it has become more or less indistinguishable whether an image was snapped with pro Nikon or Canon DSLR gear or a mirrorless Fuji X, Sony NEX or even a smaller sensor Micro Four Thirds camera (just to name a few).

The movable mechanical mirror system plus necessary pentaprism and even the pellicle mirror solution (as seen on previous Sony models) seems like some sort of residue left over from an ancient world. There is no real use for it anymore. The next generation of electronic viewfinders will make it even more obvious. With resolutions between 2 and 4 million dots, you will almost have to strain your eyes to see much difference compared to the optical solutions that come with clackety clack mirrors in the package. And that is just for starters.

And don‘t forget there are mirrorless cameras out there right now that feature optical finders that are quite nice too. The Fuji X-Pro 1 and Fuji X100s both have hybrid viewfinders. Using the optical viewfinder you can still frame each shot with bright frames projected by an LCD panel with all the digital information you choose to have displayed. You can switch between optical and electronic finder at will. Whatever you need, whatever you feel like. It will be exciting to see what the next iteration of this invention will bring. The Fuji X-Pro 2 might pleasantly surprise some people.

 

 

Any arguments in favor of the mirror? I can`t think of one. A clear and bright 100% viewfinder frame coverage is nice to have. But what`s the fare? Larger camera bodies with gigantic lenses need to be carried. No one really wants to carry a wagonload of  equipment these days. In fact a lot of people are quite happy using their smart phones to do the job. When I read about the Chicago Sun-Times giving up on professional photographers in favor of the remaining journalist staff equipped with iphones, I was taken aback at first. Then it dawned on me, that most photographic images in newspapers or the net might already have been taken with comparably simple photo tools. You probably would not notice the difference anyway. It may be a sad thing but photojournalism probably will have to adept to the new mindset.

Today everyone can snap images on the go anyplace and any time – equipped with smart devices, affordable portable cameras or at best mirrorless system paraphernalia. A new trend will undoubtebly be a dual combination of smart phone with emphasized camera functionality incorporating a high quality lens and bigger than usual sensor. Future cameras in general may look more like small computers e.g. running on Android with apps to make things easier. Just look at the promised new Samsung Galaxy NX. You can see first pictures of that device (scheduled for June 20) on engadget .

There may still be room for professional grade gear in some cases: if you like to do art or shoot weddings or fashion gigs, for sports, birding, architecture or for some other special photo application. But let`s face it: even those strongholds of old are being undermined rapidly. Prominent features that are incorporated in DSLRs today will soon be adapted and developed further to fit the mirrorless crowd. Better AF speed, more frames per second plus some new tele lenses may be all that is needed in the end. Coupled with new wireless capabilities and GPS, a new breed of cameras might well rejuvenate the whole market.

More and more pros are seen using alternative gear, very happy to break the rules and to distinguish their work from the nondescript photography face. Maybe instead it will just be the medium format that will thrive next to diverse Compact System Cameras (CSC). Maybe megapixel giants from the dinosaur-like DSLR world will in turn challenge the medium format champions. But IMHO it is a fight that cannot be won in the end.

On the other hand DSLRs are hard to destroy – as proven by the guys at DigitalRev TV. A word of warning: this YouTube video is real painful to watch. 🙂
 

 
Zack Arias may have exaggerated and polarized a bit to start a discussion. But in a few years time no one will question his initial remarks. Today you can`t venture to go anywhere without encountering all sorts of photo amateurs proudly presenting their DSLRs with kit lenses or big zooms attached. Soccer moms and even kids that hardly know the difference between aperture and shutter speed are lugging around their huge camera kits. Pros are looking for unobtrusive alternatives that just work without fuss. Times are changing.

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