The ongoing saga of this quarter's favorite VSL picture taking machine.

Click on the photos to see them larger in a separate window. 

All images taken with the Panasonic fz 1000. 

So, I had the opportunity to get paid for one of the photographic pursuits that I do for myself; walking around downtown Austin making images of buildings and stuff. I got to do the job exactly the way I wanted to without active curation on anybody's part. I started out the project using full frame cameras and prime lenses but I quickly came to realize that a wide ranging zoom would be much more effective and efficient. I also wanted to use a camera with an EVF because I was constantly using a circular polarizing filter and wanted to have the immediate feedback one gets from the camera assembling the preview and showing it as one shoots. 

I thought at first that I'd use the Olympus cameras but frankly, I didn't have the lens range I really wanted. I ended up choosing the Panasonic fz 1000 because, in broad daylight, the camera gives up very little to the larger formats when it comes to low noise, sharpness and the general look of the files. I shot raw and did some post processing but most of the files were in an optimum exposure range and already looked pretty good. Camera Raw in Adobe apps tends to yield a pretty flat file from  Panasonic raw files and that's okay because they seem resilient at taking bit corrections and big color changes without falling apart. 

As I got used to the rhythm of the camera the battery life seemed to go on forever. At a 400 mm equivalent focal length the image stabilization (five axis) was pretty incredible.

I loved being able to set the camera to f5.6 and zoom from 25mm to 400mm without seeing any real impact on image quality. This is an amazing camera. Much more exciting to shoot than most other bridge cameras because the 1 inch sensor means I have a great chance of getting competitive files. 

I love this camera so much I bought a second one as a back up.  If you like bridge cameras you should try one. It's amazing. It's the current VSL camera of the quarter. 

Less than the price of a good lens alone....

I have heard the rumors about Nikon buying the video and sensor tech from Samsung. Let mull this over for a minute and think about the ramifications.

Here's one thing Samsung is not good at: Marketing stand alone cameras outside of South Korea. Here's one thing Samsung is very, very good at: Making state of the art processor, memory and imaging semiconductors. Always seems like a great idea to play to your strengths. 

There are two rumors floating around right now and I am inclined to believe them both. One is that Samsung is exiting the camera markets almost everywhere in the world, outside their own home market. And probably there too. The problem for Samsung was one of marketing which, by extension, effected their decision making in camera design. They consistently launched relatively expensive mirrorless cameras with no EVFs and no possibility of hooking up an aftermarket EVF finder. They consistently made cameras with good video capability at the chip level but with no microphone inputs. They misread the amount of demand for cameras with full bore Android operating systems inside. They tried to wrap a marketing campaign around #DitchtheDSLR but they never made the arguments for why one should get rid of a perfectly good camera to embrace one that was more or less unknown. One without a supporting campaign of features and benefits. They tried to paint the status quo DSLR as something bad instead of touting the things their mirrorless cameras supposedly did better. The marketplace judged the value of things included and things left off the various and then voted with their wallets. In most markets it was thumbs down. 

But the thing to remember is that the parts that were just about the technology were very, very good. And then we come to Nikon. 

The rumor is that Nikon is buying Samsung's camera tech in order to bound into the mirrorless ring with gusto and present us with a "professional" mirrorless system. I sure as hell hope there's someone smart at the controls there and that Nikon doesn't stub their toes hard trying catch up all at once. I'd rather see them take it all one step at a time. 

The no brainer is the actual sensor. The NX1 proved that Samsung could make a great APS-C sensor and they bolstered the performance of the sensor by surrounding it with fast image processing chips. Nikon needs an alternative to Sony as an imaging sensor supplier. Having a single supplier is like having one client; it's dangerous. Nikon can start by implementing the BSI sensor tech from Samsung into their APS-C cameras which will get them more resolution and more speed. And the experienced people at Nikon can get the colors right. Or at least more right than Samsung did.

The imaging sensor and the surrounding support team of micro processors and micro controllers are also part of the secret sauce for the 4K video.

If Nikon's first steps are to use the chips to speed up overall processing and also provide highly competitive video I'll be happy if they stop there to catch their breath.

The next step would be for Nikon to introduce the EVF from the NX1 into one of their APS-C bodies. They could keep the lens mount and just eliminate the mirror. That should provide backward compatibility with a rich and really good selection of current and past lenses. Once they do a good job with the video and the EVF they've pretty much entered into the realm of what I want out of a mirrorless camera. 

I hope Nikon will resist two things which, I think, would kill them in the advanced consumer and professional markets. They must avoid, at all costs, the temptation to abandon the existing lens mount and introduce a system designed around the Samsung mount. I understand the lure of not having to make the adaptations from system to system and I understand very well the value of being able to put lots of different lenses (other than Nikons) on the front of the camera, but a major selling point of Nikon for decades and generations of photographers has been the backward compatibility of the lenses. I suppose it would work to use a shorter flange distance and come out with a seamless adapter to use the lenses in question but I think they will run into the same marketing issues that have plagued Samsung and Sony, and at the same time have served Nikon and Canon so well; the idea that the camera body is an introduction into a massive inventory of existing glass that is time tested and familiar.  That Sony and Samsung haven't reached a usable stable of lenses, much less an inventory of lenses that cover everything professionals and advanced amateurs might need. But those lenses we want already exist across Nikon and Canon's lines. 

The second thing I hope Nikon resists is trying to make their new cameras too small just for the sake of marketing in the few countries in the world where people have smaller hands, smaller homes, smaller offices and smaller purses. It's my hope that, from a handling point of view, that Nikon stick to a minimum size of the APS-C line of cameras they are selling right now. While I love the Olympus EM5.2 cameras we are already under the limits of size-to-convenient use ratios and I fear more shrinkage. We need to be able to hold our cameras securely and access the buttons on the tops and back with authority. 

Nikon has a reputation to maintain and I hope they don't destroy it by going too far too fast. 

In all, this could be a good thing for Nikon and Samsung. Good for Samsung because I think the camera division was a distraction, and a field they just don't understand from a world use perspective. They simply didn't have enough time and research in the user field to understand how best to market their cameras to enthusiasts. A hash tag campaign and the besmirching of a product category isn't really marketing. At least not marketing that will build long term clientele. 

It's bound to be a good thing for Nikon because it gives them more options and more diverse product to sell. They could very well have a flagship line with full frame, highly capable traditional cameras, a second line of state of the art, mirrorless APS-C cameras and perhaps a total refresh of their purse cameras, the N1 System. They just need to resist the temptation to combine everything into some sort of Frankenstein product inventory. We've already lived through that.  

Keep the mount, leverage the sensor. 
Keep the lenses, leverage the processor speeds. 
Keep the body styles and sizes, leverage better video.  It could work. Or it could all be just rumors that will never come to fruition. We'll see. 

The proto camera.

A handful of cameras, only one of which have EVFs.

And here's where they just went totally off the rails......

Or was it here?

Hanging out at the graffiti wall thinking about cameras....

I don't need it but for many mostly irrational reasons I sure do want it.... The Sigma 24-35mm f2.0

I'll just stick this on my Amazon wish list with the 
hopes that some blog reader feels abnormally
generous during the holidays and want to send one along.
I won't be holding my breath....

What is it and why do I feel like I want one. So, apparently Sigma has decided to kick everyone else's ass in the lens making arena with their "ART" lenses. I thought it was silly until I bought the 50mm Art lens from a friend who found the lens so compelling that he bought a Nikon version and a D610 to use it with even though he primarily shoots with Leica and Canon. He just couldn't turn down a bargain. But he was not well suited to a life divided between two primary systems and an orphan system so he turned to me and let me have the lens and body very inexpensively. I didn't really needs the body and sold it a short time later but the lens wowed me and I've kept it on the front of the D810 most of the time I've owned it.

When Sigma announced the 24-35mm f2.0 Art zoom lens I was immediately interested but, as a portrait shooter mainly, I don't have a pressing need for the focal lengths that this one covers. And I've been trying to rationalize my "need" to purchase of it ever since.

I have this ongoing fantasy of being able to run the core of the business with a couple of really good cameras and just three lenses; this one to cover all my wide angle needs, the 50mm f1.4 I already have in hand and an 85mm f1.4 Art lens the minute it becomes available.

From everything I've read on review sites this lens really does deliver. While not quite as sparkling as the single focal length varieties from the same company its performance as the fastest zoom lens available for full frame cameras is at least as good as many of the prime lenses being offered by the traditional camera companies, like Nikon and Canon.

Of course, this concept of the three lens "perfect system" is kind of silly for me. As a portrait photographer I should be focusing on 50-85-105 and 135 and leave the wide stuff for the people who like it and can use it well.  But hope always springs up anew. I'm just waiting for the client who says, "We need to do some annual report work under low light with some really dramatic angles. Do you have lens that does that?"  I don't right now but as soon as the "ink" is dry on the contract I'll be heading out the door to grab one.

Unless one of my many adoring fans just happens to toss one in a Fedex box and send it in this direction....... Santa?

Counting down the days till my favorite "assistant" heads home from school. An old portrait I stumbled across this morning.

This image of Ben was taken a number of years ago. If memory serves correctly it was done with a Kodak SLR/n camera and a Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 (not that it matters) on a Saturday morning at a swim meet.  Where images of "the boy" and his mom are involved I have really followed "best practices" in terms of backing everything up in multiple places and across multiple media. These are the images I am loathe to lose.

On the other hand....

We instituted a new policy about three years ago for client work. We put the onus on them to keep their commissioned images safe, sound and at hand. If they paid for a three year license we state that we'll use the best methods at our disposal to retain the images but don't guarantee the survival of digital work past the license expiration date.

A number of years ago I started culling through the enormous, three drawer filing cabinets that fill up a wall in the studio. I started dragging out old headshot of business people from businesses that had gone belly up. I looked through lots of envelopes and carefully inspected lots of negative pages to make sure I wasn't tossing anything that I might construe as important. It seems silly to keep around a full sheet of negatives from a quick, cattle call portrait session, done at a company that, in all likelihood laid off the subject of those negatives years or decades earlier.

We have an obligation to hold onto the work during its period of contracted relevance but in the days of digital, if a client needs long term storage they are much better equipped to run an image library than I will ever be.

The newest purge is CD-roms from 1995 to 2005. Unless there is a compelling reason to keep the work (historic imagery?) I'm grinding it up and consigning it to the trash heap of history.

We have moved from "keepers of the archive" to "makers of contemporarily relevant content. In this day and age that's truly what we get paid for.

Sloughing off the day to day work of an earlier time is emotionally freeing and exciting. I feel as though I am no longer anchored to the past in quite the same way. Every time you can divest yourself of responsibility for something that doesn't pay for itself I think you win. Just a thought.