Posts Tagged ‘NIKON’

MICRO FOUR-THIRDS - A NEW STANDARD ?

MICRO FOUR-THIRDS - A NEW STANDARD ?

It of course could be construed as either :

‘Fallen for It ?’ … head-over-heels with these new, high quality cameras (& lenses) that offer SLR quality in miniature Or : 

‘Fallen for It ?’ … the Penny/Doris marketing (wrong !) of a system solution to a non-existent problem

There are certainly at least two schools of thought on the arrival of m43, now that both Olympus & Panasonic have truly small bodies, along with a few m43lenses. I definitely lean towards the former, although, in my last post, I indicated that I already have several compacts & DSLRs …but, so far, no Micro Four-Thirds camera (or lenses) …and here’s why :

1/ There’s so far a distinct shortage of available lenses in the m43 format …although there are several potentially useful 43 lenses  eg one that caught my eye today, the Olympus 12-60  ie 24-120mm equivalent – but it’s a fairly large lens, relative to m43 body size, and it pretty well negates the point of a useful, truly miniaturised system.

2/ The end of October sees a likely New Product announcement from Olympus – and the general concensus is that this will be something along the lines of ‘E-P2’ …probably with the inclusion of an in-built viewfinder, and possibly on-board flash.

3/ I learned today that following at least one major Ricoh Japan/Ricoh UK staff meeting last year, Ricoh will definitely be in the ‘small body/interchangeable lenses’ game …and some product is likely fairly soon

4/ Nikon are apparently developing a ‘2.5x’ small system …so, for example, a 10mm lens will be equivalent to 25mm (in 35mm terms) …and surely so must Canon and, by implication, Sony ?

5/ Fujifilm are known also to have taken great interest in the early succes of m43, and are rumoured to have products of a ‘similar’ nature in development.

6/ Samsung NX models are likely soon …not m43 standard, but a miniatuised system along the same lines

7/ Additional to the existing E-P1, I also have reliable confirmation that Olympus will launch a total of three new m43 bodies, planned to see the light of day over the next six months … although my source expects that this may more likely stretch over 9/12 months …but that’s still an ambitious output, and Olympus are ‘very seriously comitted’ to m43.

8/ Based on that last statement, we should see the introduction of several new m43 lenses …hopefully sooner rather than later.

Given that m43 is really just in its infancy, and already seems to offer superb performance …albeit with a few fixable deficiencies so far …this is, from what was expected to be niche, fast becoming a type of product range seen by the major (& smaller) players as critical to their ongoing survival – let alone their ongoing success and increased market share & profitability. 

Extrapolate accordingly, and if the consumer-led, and pro-led, revolution really gets under way, we’ll really be spoilt for choice. That has to be a great situation for all of us absolute enthusiasts, and marks a truly interesting era in digital imaging. I’m observing all of this in some detail, and will step in when I feel the time’s right…and that doesn’t necessarily mean waiting for too long – but there really is so much on its way AND SOON.

In the meantime, if you’re already using, or considering a DSLR, you may find some interesting reading at http://nikonpro.wordpress.com

For more, see also http://1001noisycameras.com

COMPACT IMAGE QUALITY

COMPACT IMAGE QUALITY

Despite all of the interesting stuff on the ‘net, I still enjoy reading a magazine – especially one that’s been really well printed onto high-quality paper …and when I say ‘reading’, I suppose I mean looking at and appreciating the photographs. Most people – around 80% of the population – respond much more to an image than to text …so we’re not alone !

When a magazine image is so well-printed that you can almost appreciate the quality of the equipment used to make the image, as well as the photographer’s clear ability, some individuals can be convinced that it’s the gear that made the difference, and invest in new kit accordingly. Known well to the musical fraternity – and also being a musician myself – there’s a syndrome that has many ‘sufferers’ …G.A.S.  That’s Gear Acquisition Syndrome.

It’s as applicable to cameras & associated gear as much as it is new musical instruments, amps etc, and it’s all too easy to be drawn in. And it’s not as if I’m immune, it has to be said.

But that’s sometimes what can make things really interesting. If you read the previous post, re Hasselblad H3D/Leaf, Sinar & PhaseOne backs etc, and their place in the commercial photography world, you’ll know that I see it as a challenge. Yes, I have a D3 – one of the finest cameras on the planet – that’s usually to be seen connected to a Nikon ED24-70 f2.8 lens – one of the finest lenses on the planet ….but as a combo, not always the most convenient to cart around. And they’re in for lens repair and calibration at the moment.

My F200EXR is these days pretty well always with me. There’s no RAW file capability, no off-camera flash facility (although it could be ‘slaved’) …it’s little more than ‘point & shoot’. But the quality levels being achieved these days in compact cameras mean that its uses go way beyond taking ‘snaps’. 

Careful setup & usage – and image processing – can result in some great image quality that would have been strictly SLR material in the not-too-distant past. But that’s all changed. I’ll be going into some detail in future posts about achieving ultimate quality from a compact – some readers (of the 82,000 so far) have asked for an e-book, which I may well consider if there’s enough demand. Let me know if that might be useful to you.

The image above is another of my ‘personal challenges’ – visualising what I’d aim for if I had the D3/24-70/tripod with me, and all the time in the World for careful set-up, composition, processing etc ….all the things that happen at the start of the process in the commercial photography domain – and how I could achieve not dissimilar results from one of the very best compacts around – could be with the LX3, or in this case, the Fujifilm F200EXR ‘pocket rocket’.

Job done.

Much more on Fujifilm’s F200EXR (and F100fd/F30), Panasonic LX3, Ricoh CX1, Nikon D3 & D200 at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com.

LX3 WITH OFF-CAMERA SB-800

LX3 WITH OFF-CAMERA SB-800

A great feature of the LX3, and one which certainly differentiates it from a ‘normal’ compact camera, is the provision of a flash ‘hotshoe’. This connection is the portal to truly exciting and dramatic lighting effects, the likes of which have often been reserved for DSLRs …to the extent that so little of its use is ever discussed as being the norm on a compact camera.

This is where it changes. I’m not going into huge technical detail on this occasion, rather just piquing your interest with an image made in this way. I mounted a radio flash trigger on the LX3’s hotshoe, connected the receiver to the base of one of my Nikon SB-800s, and that was the complete rig. Exit SB-800 stage left a couple of feet, some careful positioning, and one slightly used (!) Omega Seamaster captured with its reflection on glass, with a black card beneath it – that simple.

Bear in mind a couple of points in such a set-up :

1/ There’s no TTL metering …it’s Manual mode on the camera, and some trial-and-error – but it doesn’t take long to get the look you’re after

2/ This is a brilliant, highly portable, reliable, high-quality set-up that can be used for on-location shoots – portraits etc –  just as well as indoors for say product/macro photography.

When the light isn’t as you’d like, either in darkness when you need some (!), or in bright sunlight where some fill-flash would make all the difference … or when you really want to tap your creativity, in exciting, unknown territory –  the off-camera flash added to your LX3 will transform your photography.

Once you have a single flash off-camera, things can get even more interesting with slaved multiple strobes …and this doesn’t have to be that expensive. A little research will detail lists of models that can be ‘slaved’ in such a way, and includes several older Nikon models, Metz, Sigma, etc – they’re out there if you hunt for them.

As usual, there’s a selection of LX3 off-camera flash images at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com, and for the technical side of things – with also a huge amount of help in getting started, and evolving your use of ‘strobes’ – check out David Hobby’s site at http://www.strobist.com

Of course, many would say that the absolute master of this style of lighting is the infamous Joe McNally, hero of many a challenging shoot for National Geographic, Time, Sports Illustrated and countless other titles … check out http://www.joemcnally.com for some stunning images, and tips on technique.

I’d suggest essential reading material as both of Joe’s books on the subject : The Moment It Clicks, and The Hotshoe Diaries. Both are highly informative, full of absolute gems, and delivered with Joe’s trademark humour that will have you laughing aloud  ! He also features on a Nikon ‘Speedlight’ DVD, and of course there’s plenty of content on Joe & many other ‘strobists’ at http://www.youtube.com

LG CHEN CARBON FIBRE

LG CHEN CARBON FIBRE

One of the real challenges in photography is to make the very best of the (day)light. The angle of light, its strength, its quality …warm, cold, harsh, subdued etc. Then add to this the varying climate we have here in the UK, along with the speed with which light can change, and daylight photography is not always as straightforward as may be anticipated.

This shot was one I wanted to make in daylight, with the sun streaming in through an open back door at the time. I chose to use this as creatively as I could – you can see the highlights on the card background I was using. Very careful positioning allowed the detail and highlights to be captured pretty accurately, and this image is from an LX3 RAW file, processed as usual in SilkyPix, then further in Capture NX.  The blown highlight on the right is entirely intentional, in this instance, although could have been easily edited further in post-processing. This keeps it ‘real’ and far less artificial-looking, and is exactly how it looks to the human eye when strong sunlight hits !

This is a feature which I notice is becoming far more prevalent these days in the commercial images used in very many ‘quality’ publications, whether it’s the Sunday Times supplement,  MBR (Mountain Bike Rider), or any other that’s produced in a modern style, for a readership with relatively high expectations in both photographic and print quality. Unless you’re aiming for a surreal ‘concept’ shot … Realism is the key. That’s not to say it can’t look stunning.

Daylight variables can often make for more interesting images than those captured in the totally-controlled ‘studio’ environment … although that’s an area that also still remains dear to my heart, with a radio trigger going into the hotshoe on my LX3, firing either Elinchrom studio lights, or, much more conveniently, my Nikon SB-800s for location shoots where there’s no nearby mains supply – more of which to follow in an upcoming feature.

For many more LX3 images, check out http://nickbland.zenfolio.com where you’ll find many new and updated LX3 photography galleries …and for more on the LX3 and cameras in general, I recommend a regular visit also to http://1001noisycameras.com

web1067x600-P1120811NX

In a way, I’m revisiting here a couple of recent posts with new comment below added in the light of news over the last week or so … three hot topics as the title of this entry.

DSLR publications – can these be at all relevant to LX3 users ?

On a positive note, in observing a few of the recent/current mag covers I’ve shown above – some from the USA, but mostly UK issues, I still really enjoy learning all I can on photography, and getting different angles (ouch!) on imaging, as well as gaining an insight into maybe some new piece of software, or a different technique, that deserves attention. Sometimes it can be just for inspiration, or can trigger an idea that had been filed away in the grey matter.

The ‘DSLR’ mention – in mag name(s), front cover headlines, and of course inside … well, you know my opinion on that from my June 9th post – but there is something valuable in these issues, that can be very useful to all LX3 users, especially new ones that may have moved up from a standard pre-set point & shoot. No, it’s not a DSLR …there’s no interchangeable lens for starters – although it has a lens spec : f2-2.8, 24-60mm full-frame equivalent – that every SLR user would love if they could afford it. Some might say it’s the perfect range anyway, so no need to change. As a comparison, the lens I use most of the time on my D3 covers 24-70mm, but at f2.8 all the way …and is the best of that range that Nikon makes/has ever made !  Back to LX3, there’s no pentaprism, so reduced weight, no mirror slap, smaller form factor… ok, and a smaller sensor, for now. 

But, LX3 is a fully-manual camera, if you want it to be. That means that apart from all the ‘consumer’ stuff on there, you’ve Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority settings on the dial, as well as the crucial ‘M’ …so you can control lens aperture and shutter speed independantly, exactly as on a DSLR. And record a high-quality RAW file. This means that you may find such mags a great help in getting into the Manual settings on your new LX3 , to get the very best out of it – and I recommend you do that asap for better, & much more creative results. Promise I won’t mention magazines again today.

E-P1 … the first of many new m4/3 models

These designer types – you know, the guys (and girls, no doubt) that we are all deeply appreciative of, for their frankly amazing technological achievements, are extremely talented, but in my own experience are often not very good at communicating with real people.

Olympus is different. Their verbose technical guy/spokesman has seemingly been quoted in the last few days that E-P1 is the first of many m4/3-design cameras that will see the light of day in the relatively near future – for all of us, this could be very good news. Different models, different specs and features, smaller cameras, larger models ….very good news indeed.

Because this means that Panasonic will have to already have their competing range well into the prototype/pre-prod stages if they’re to fight their corner on such cameras, and meet what are now, thanks to LX3, G1, GH1, etc very high global market expectations.

So, you can wait a while … or, you can just buy (or keep on using, if you already have one) the LX3, safe in the knowledge that so far, at anywhere near its price point or form factor, there’s nothing to touch it for the range within which it works. But then, you expected me to say that.

The reality is that the LX3 will remain a totally valid tool even later on … the E-P1/2/3 etc lens line-up so far doesn’t get close to the LX3’s stunning built-in Leica 24mm f2, and that, in combination with the LX3’s 16:9 format, remains a real favourite of mine.

Go to http://nickbland.zenfolio.com for many new & updated LX3 galleries, separated into different subject areas for your ease of use … and enjoy !  Incidentally, they’re pretty well all in 16:9 format, my own preference.

 

NEWweb1067x600P1120602NXIt’s common knowledge – amongst some, anyway – that I’m not one to spend ages ‘post-processing’ images, although I do spend some time on each of my photographs. None are straight from the camera, but for several months, I thought LX3 RAW files to be unnecessary, and enjoyed ‘multi-film’ mode and the immediacy of the jpegs, with just a few levels, contrast, colour and sharpening mods to get them how I wanted them to look.

More recently, in my interest to gain as much quality and flexibility from the LX3 as possible, I’ve shot RAW files, and used the supplied SilkyPix software for initial processing, finally saving each file as a 25MB tiff.

Shot this evening at dusk, I’d missed the best of the evening light, but came across this scene as I walked from the car park near to a local lake. With signs of a decent sunset – which I enhanced later in Capture NX – this RAW file has given a better result than a couple of earlier attempts in Photomatix HDR software.

Although not necessarily aiming for a typical high-dynamic-range style, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of latitude available from the RAW file from my LX3. The final version is again testament to this stunning camera that is fast replacing my SLRs for everyday shooting where portability, convenience and file quality all count.

As usual, there’s much more to see at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com, where you’ll find many LX3 galleries, most separated into subjects, for ease of use. Feel free to leave a comment on here or on the zenfolio site – I’d be interested to know of your own experience with your LX3.