Feb 232016
 

I really got quite excited at first after learning about the new DL-line of compact cameras from Nikon all set to be delivered by June 2016 at comparatively modest prices. One inch sensor technology packed into cool looking compact camera bodies with lenses that sound up to the task and even a touch screen to top things up. Finally Nikon got the message…that was my first reaction. Then I caught up with the news. They left out the built-in EVF on both the Nikon DL24-85 f/1.8-2.8 and the Nikon DL18-50 f/1.8-2.8.

DL18-50_frontDL18-50_back DL18-50_top

 

By golly, it happened again. IMHO otherwise great new cameras have been crippled (without incorporating an EVF) and left to be more or less mediocre compared to products from competing companies. Maybe that is just me. But this will make it easy for Sony to remain in the driving seat. Even more so when they update the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV this year. That well established top-of-the-line professional compact camera already features a swell electronic viewfinder (EVF) that hardly leaves anything left to be desired. Now, if they could only make that LCD a touch screen…But if you ask me – I would gladly sacrifice the touch screen functionality for a decent EVF  – built-in of course and not only available as an accessory. That does not only leave the new Nikon cams a little too expensive for my taste (RRP without optional external EVF ranging from € 769 for the Nikon DL24-85 f/1.8-2.8 to € 959 for the Nikon DL18-50 f/1.8-2.8) but also makes these photo tools much more difficult to handle and above all cumbersome to carry and stow away.

If you have no use for electronic viewfinders and are happy shooting the way you are used to from your smart phone, these two compact Nikon cameras may be what you desire nonetheless. The lenses seem to offer a great package after all and especially the Nikon DL18-50 f/1.8-2.8 is quite unique at this point in time. 4K-video and state of the art auto focus are nice features after all. The new small DL cameras kind of remind me of the old Nikon Coolpix A – but with zoom lenses instead of fixed prime ultra wide. See my article here.

Images: Nikon Corp.

Images: Nikon Corp.

Nikon still seems to fear cannibalism when it comes to their DSLR cameras. But would customers really be put off from buying a Nikon DLSR because of a readily available Nikon compact with built-in EVF? Would there be a stampede killing off all DSLRs driving potential buyers towards mirrorless offerings? Read this if you fear the end is near 😉 .

ARGH…

 

 

Need any more infos? Check out the Nikon press release here.

Feb 282014
 

I know a lot of folks like the looks of the Nikon 1 V2 (or Nikon V1 or J models for that matter) and are quite happy they have a great array of interchangeable lenses they can choose from. It is a nice camera for what it does. It is small and sleek, fast and handles quite well. The bulky looking EVF may put some people off – but at least it has got one. If you prefer not to have this EVF Nikon offers the option to buy a Nikon 1 J2 without EVF. So everyone should be be happy with that…

V2_BK_back.low

Image of Nikon 1 V2 back: Nikon Corp.

V2_10_30_WH_top.low

Image of Nikon 1 V2 top: Nikon Corp.

V2_10_30_BK_front.low

Image of Nikon 1 V2 front: Nikon Corp.

 

Personally, I have tried it and liked the feel of it. But there is one thing I cannot understand. Why is Nikon limiting this camera to a 1 inch sensor? Why not develop an ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera) and incorporate a trusted APS-C size sensor? The smallish body size probably could be maintained. Other manufacturers like Sony and Fujifilm have proven as much.

Well, the answer may be very simple. The sales of DSLR cameras. IMO there would be no real reason to choose an equivalent DSLR if there was an ILC that basically can do the same thing.

There is even talk of a new Nikon 1 V3 coming out in a few weeks time. According to Nikon Rumors this cam will be much of the same internally, have a rebuilt camera body that leaves out the integrated EVF (probably offering an external EVF instead – only optionally available so it seems 🙁 ) .

I never quite understood why anyone would choose an ILC with a comparably small sensor over a compact camera like the Sony Cyber-shot RX100M2 (Mark II or coming Mark III). If you can make do with such a small sensor (which is not that bad at all) why would you have to have interchangeable lenses? OK, it has got super fast AF and start-up time, loads of fps…but who needs that in combination with a 1″ sensor? It does not make sense to me. But as always your mileage may vary.

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100M2 handles well, is quite a bit smaller and has a 1″ sensor that can more or less equal the one of the Nikon 1.  The lens covers most peoples needs (especially considering the compact size) with an equivalent 35mm focal range of 28-100mm and a fairly fast f/1.8 maximum aperture which is quite good in low-light providing shallow enough depth-of-field for adequate subject isolation in most cases.  Simply put: the lens delivers excellent results too.

 

Lupico_140225__FXE4245

 

The anticipated new Sony Cyber-shot RX100M3 (or Mark 3) will have a few surprises in store and be hard to match spec-wise. Take a look at my earlier article at this link if you are interested. It will fight a hard battle against the rumored Nikon 1 V3 that will probably be announced in a short while too.

I know what I would choose. Do you?

Dec 172013
 

Lupico_131217__DSF3982-1

 

…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.

Nov 082013
 
Image: Nikon Corp.

Image: Nikon Corp.

Nikon has finally jumped on the bandwagon going retro. When the new Nikon Df will be available for buyers near the end of November,  it will offer a warm-up of well-proven features seen in previous Nikon full-framers – all freshly packaged in a newly designed body reminiscent of the good old seventies.

The “latest” old fashioned looks will not appeal to everyone though, especially considering the back side still remains quite modern looking. In fact there is not much difference to other D-versions here whereas the front and top of the cam sure will look retro enough for many Nikon fans. Personally, I quite like the black version – maybe because this little flaw in design is less conspicuous in black.

Image: Nikon Corp.

Image: Nikon Corp.

Nice are the added control functions. Exposure compensation and ISO can be set with solid metal dials on the top plate. But the latter can not be set to Auto-ISO which is a bit of a shame. But you can have this setting after diving into the menu of course.  The Nikon Df incorporates the same sensor that can be found in the professional Nikon D4 at a much higher price and offers a package that will appeal to professionals and advanced enthusiasts.

The key specs of the Nikon DF:

  • 16 MP full-frame CMOS sensor (first seen in the Nikon D4)
  • 39-point AF system (just like Nikon D610)
  • ISO range from 100-25.600
  • 3.2 ” LCD (921k-dot)
  • single SD card slot
  • Optical viewfinder with 0.70x magnification and 100% coverage (just like Nikon D800)
  • EN-EL14a battery (also compatible with Nikon D 3100, D 3200, D5200, D5200, D5300 and some Coolpix cameras

 

Image: Nikon Corp.

Image: Nikon Corp.

Image: Nikon Corp.

Image: Nikon Corp.

Image: Nikon Corp.

Buyers of this retro beast will have to keep one thing in mind. Not all features that can be found in other full-framers from Nikon have found their way into the new Df body. Several things have been omitted on purpose. The most obvious: there is no video function. This is quite a surprise and may put off some potential buyers. In my view this is a huge mistake. Technically it would have been no problem to incorporate this little feature, but it seems to be the Nikon philosophy to keep this camera as pure as possible for the “serious” photographer. But there are also some other features that may be dearly missed by some users:

  • no video function
  • no built-in flash
  • no AF-assist light
  • no preset buttons for U1,U2, U3 (as seen on Nikon D610, D7100)
  • no interchangeable focus screen
  • no EVF
  • no built-in Wi-fi
  • no GPS

The Nikon Df may be an ideal tool for retro fans and does look kind of smug and can probably be handled quite well. Also, decades-old non-Ai lenses are supported, making this camera a dream come true for photography oldtimers with boat loads of ancient glass. But will this be enough to make this a big seller? The price may be lower than a comparable Nikon D4 – but $2749.95 still is quite a big bang. There are other Nikon options to consider for full-frame – the Nikon D610 and Nikon D800 will certainly still be attractive for Nikon fans when comparing prices. And other manufacturers keep pumping out interesting alternatives. The Sony A7/A7R might be just the right recipe to draw away the key customers.

Nikon only recently published their latest financial results which did not sound too exuberant for the future of high-end cameras. A “dramatic fall in demand among photography hobbyists…” usually does not leave much room for positive statements. And accordingly the forecasts for sales and operating income were lowered by ¥30 billion and ¥6 billion, respectively. See the full Nikon statement here.

In my opinion, the Nikon Df is a very nice camera – but only for a very limited number of enthusiasts. The design will probably not appeal to the masses and pros will probably prefer the Nikon D800/D800e for studio work and e.g. the Nikon D6100/D610 for full-frame back-ups to their Nikon D4 or Nikon D3s.

So, this will not help a great deal considering the lack in demand. The Nikon Df is still too large and old-style with mirror box and large lenses nobody really likes to drag around all the time. The Nikon 1 is not doing too well in respect to demand either. It has a nice size and form factor but simply disappoints in sensor dimension. That is the main problem for Nikon in my view. There are no real game changing products for the photo hobbyist any more. No Nikon mirrorless system with APS-C sensors – let alone full-frame solutions with electronic or hybrid viewfinders. Nikon simply does not want to jeopardize their  DSLR sales. This may be a fatal mistake. Mirrorless solutions in smaller and lighter camera bodies are in high demand and will in all probability shape the future of digital photography while leaving DSLRs in the dust. Nikon and Canon respectively will have to adept and deliver some goodies real fast or they may be swept away by Sony and the Micro Four Thirds alliance.

See my relating article “The DLSR is dead, long live mirrorless!”

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.

 

Lupico_120217_D610_28_300_front

 

 

Lupico_120217_D610_24_85_top

 

 

Image: Nikon Corp.

Images: Nikon Corp.

 

May 082013
 

Nikon Coolpix A (photo: Nikon Corp.)


I have been looking for a nice little cam to serve as backup when I am out and about carrying my DSLR equipment or my Leica M gear. I usually do not have much space in my bag, so I am in need of a very compact solution. Of course sometimes I do not want to carry anything big at all (let alone a camera bag) and only wish for a reliable and capable small cam to slip into my back pocket. Well, could this be it, the Nikon Coolpix A?

The specs sound impressive for such a small package:

  • 16.2 MP CMOS sensor (DX-format)
  • 18.5mm (28mm equivalent) f/2.8 retractable lens with manual focus ring
  • 3.0“ (7.5 cm) 921k-dot LCD monitor
  • aluminum alloy body (top surface covered by magnesium alloy)
  • mode dial for manual exposure control (PASM) and U1/U2 personalized settings
  • RAW shooting mode
  • approx. 4 frames per second continuous shooting
  • optional optical viewfinder and wireless mobile adapter
  • 1920 x 1080/30p Full HD video recording
  • current price around € 950 / $ 1.100

The new fixed lens compact camera Nikon Coolpix A shows that Nikon is capable of putting an APS-C size sensor into a very compact camera body. Especially in black it looks quite sleek and straight forward and comes with nearly all the bells and whistles serious shooters demand. Previous Nikon users will feel right at home with the GUI i.e. the menu settings, which look much like the ones on Nikon DSLRs. The mode dial makes selecting your favorite settings easy, even incorporating the special user settings U1/U2, which come in handy when you do not want to fumble with controls all day and just want to reset to your own preferences.

Nikon Coolpix A mode dial (photo: Nikon Corp.)

Nikon Coolpix A screen (photo: Nikon Corp.)

Image quality is also much like what you would achieve with the latest 16 MP Nikon DSLRs. But of course being a compact, it is using a fixed 18,5mm lens (which is the equivalent of 28mm). This focal length is quite demanding and may not be suited for everyone. A 35mm lens would have been more mainstream.

Some of the photo blogging luminaries have begun putting the „A“ through its paces and have written extensive reviews. You can have a look at some of the mostly favorable opinions following my link pick to Ming Thein and Steve Huff.

So, this little Nikon should not be a bad camera at all. In fact it would be quite terrific for my use – if it had an electronic viewfinder (EVF) and interchangeable lenses to go with it. But of course it has not. Instead Nikon is trying to enthuse with a very compact camera featuring a comparably large sized sensor. But it is not the only fish in the pond. The recently announced Ricoh GR will have almost the same features, same size sensor and be priced a little lower (about € 200 / $ 300 less). Of course there are numerous others to consider. If I wanted to spend a lot of money (around €/$ 2.800), I would go for the Sony RX1. It not only has a nice and bright f/2.0 Zeiss 35mm lens but also packs a whopping 24 MP full frame sensor. Then again, this would not be quite as compact anymore.

These cameras all have one thing in common. They are trying to lure customers with compact dimensions, good optics and big sensors, aiming at enthusiasts and pros that do not want to carry heavy equipment all the time. They are all very capable when it comes to image quality but it seems like all camera makers are desperately trying to avoid competing with DSLRs.

All except Fuji. They never looked back when they quit the DSLR business a couple of years ago and they are now putting all their efforts into products that really appeal to customers. Next to the X-Pro 1 and the XE-1 the popular Fuji X100/X100s really nailed it IMHO. While still keeping to compact dimensions, the Fuji features the EVF most of us are desperate for and also offers a superb APS-C size sensor with great color output and low-light performance. They are selling like hot cakes – and rightly so.

The XE-1 is my go-to camera at the moment and I am quite happy using it as a backup to my DSLR or Leica M. But when it comes to choosing a pocketable alternative, I am still undecided. If the Nikon A had that darned EVF instead of a clumsy optional add-on thingy, I would buy one in a heartbeat. But as it goes, I am still on the fence.

Nikon Coolpix A with optical viewfinder (photo: Nikon Corp.)

 

If Nikon were to introduce such a camera and maybe even throw in some interchangeable lenses, they would probably have to build another factory to meet demand.

So, what is Nikon waiting for? Are they only testing the water with the new Nikon Coolpix A? Will there be a „serious“ compact ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera) soon?

We shall see … 🙂

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