When push comes to shove, I have no idea what’s going on in the minds of the management in Canon’s imaging division. A New Zealand photographer, Rob Dickinson, got an early sample 6D mark II from Canon New Zealand, at least as I understand it, and he’s posed some early images from it. Images from which some people in various communities, most notably Fred Miranda[1], have started looking at them to determine the dynamic range of the camera.

On one hand, I do feel it’s important to point out that the images that all this discussion is based on are from a “pre release camera.”

That said, the 6D mark II is supposed to be released on the 27th of this month. That’s less than 3 weeks away. Right now, Canon is building up inventory to ship so that there are more than a camera to have on shelves on release day. The hardware is all final. There can’t and won’t be any tweaking to the sensor or any other hardware between now and the 27th.

In fact, the only thing that Canon could tweak is the firmware, and even that would almost certainly require a post launch user applied update.

In short, my expectation is that the retail cameras will reflect the performance that’s being seen in the sample images from this particularly pre-release sample.

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In many ways, you could say that Bryce Canon National Park, is the sister park to Zion National park. More than anything, these two parks are tied together by geology. The rocks at the bottom of Bryce Canyon are from the same formation as the rocks at the top of Zion Canyon. This article details my brief experiences with photography in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Back in October of 2016, I went with my family on a week road trip through the American Southwest. This trip included stops at the Grand Canyon, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Mesa Verde National Park, and Zion Nation park, among other places.

Even though this wasn’t a dedicated expedition purely for photography — not even for me — I couldn’t help but bring my cameras, and too much gear with it, to photograph this amazing places. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anywhere near enough time to fully explore, or become remotely familiar with these places. At the same time, having to think on your feet and work on the fly is something we always have to deal with.

As with the above linked articles, this “guide”, and I use that term loosely, is aimed at telling the story of my experience in Bryce Canyon National Park, and to provide some ideas on how to approach photographing it on a foreshortened timescale.

In terms of time constrains Bryce Canyon NP was second only to Mesa Verde in how little time I had to work. Part of that is that we were staying at the Zion Lodge in Zion NP, and drove over to Bryce as a day trip. However, unlike Mesa Verde, which is a mere 40 minute drive from Durango, Co., Bryce Canyon is close to a 2 hour drive from Zion NP.

The longer drive, a late start, and the desire to be back at the Zion Lodge in time for dinner — and before it started getting dark — curtailed just how much time we had to explore Bryce Canyon.

Due to our limited time in the park, we basically drove to the end of the one road in the park, to Rainbow Point, and started working back towards the visitor center stopping at each of the lookout points and pull offs.

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Image: Canon USA

The last time I wrote about a new camera I wasn’t planning on getting was when Nikon announced the D5 and D500 back in Mach of 2016: more than a year ago now. Since then, mum’s been the word, mostly because I just don’t find cameras to be all that interesting to talk about anymore.

In fact, I generally find the commentary that comes with a new camera to be obnoxious to the extreme. Still photographers are shouted over by people whining about 4K video and frame rates in cameras that are still principally, if by ergonomics alone, still cameras. Moreover, there’s generally so much noise about stats, often being represented incompletely or inaccurately, as if the performance of the camera’s sensor was the primary thing that made a picture good.

Or maybe I’m just getting prematurely old about all of this.

One point that’s been repeatedly driven home to me over the last 3-4 years is that the sensor doesn’t matter nearly as much as the person behind the camera. A great sensor will never make a mediocre picture better, and a comparatively poor quality sensor will never made a emotionally resonant picture fail. The difference between the widest dynamic range in the best medium format camera and the poorest APS-C sensor pales in comparison to what the person using it puts it to.

Instead of caring so much about the sensor itself, I’m increasingly becoming convinced it’s the ancillary and supporting features that make the most difference. Things like GPS, autofocus, metering, frame rate, and most importantly the user interface—the things that make it easier to convert your vision into an image—that matter the most.

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Back in October of 2016, I went on a 2 week road trip with my family around some of the American Southwest. I’ve previously covered my experiences at The Grand Canyon, riding the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge railroad, and Mesa Verde National Park. This time I’m going to talk about Zion National Park, and a brief side trip over the Bryce National Park while I was there.

In some ways, I have a great reverence for the Grand Canyon. It’s a nearly impossible topic to discuss or convey in text, or images. It’s scale is so much beyond what most people will have any reasonable experience with that it’s extremely difficult to comprehend the scale of what you’re seeing.

Zion and Bryce are, both separately and together, completely different experiences. Neither are as big, or as deep, and yet in may ways their far more approachable and relag because of that. And at the same time, they pose a completely different experience with a completely different set of challenges; both for the hiker, and the photographer.

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In my previous article on the US full frame cameras market size, I mentioned that it might be interesting to see if the strong fall signal was a product of the US commercialization of Christmas and how strong of a market signal it was. Since I had some of the data already cooking, I went back to the CIPA shipment statistics to see what the other regions looked like.

The short of it, is that I’m also entirely certain that the big uptick in shipments in the Americas in October, was driven by the United States’ Christmas retail behavior. The same with the big down turn in shipments in December, January, and February; post holiday cool-off.

Interestingly, the “other” region had a similar signal, though I don’t know what countries “other” covers.

One final note, as alluded to in the title, these charts are based only on interchangeable lens camera (ILC) shipments, from the Japanese camera makers that report shipments to the CIPA. Fixed lens cameras, so point and shoots, are not included.

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Back in the beginning of April (2017) Sony USA put out a press release[1] announcing that for the months of January and February they had taken the number 2 spot for full frame camera sales in the US. Needless to say, the photography press (and photo blog-o-sphere) ran with this, with many seemingly citing it as evidence to support a narrative that Canon and Nikon are clueless and Sony isn’t.

On a related note, I also recently wrote about the lack of data and problems that causes when it comes to talking about camera gear, sales, and features. One of the biggest of those problems is that without clear data and context, it becomes hard if not impossible to identify outlying events, and, more broadly, outliers can be made to fit pretty much any narrative an author chooses.

This article is the result of well, lets be honest, Sony’s press release raised some questions for me and I started digging into whatever information I could find as best and accurately as I could; which raised even more. None of which I think I really answer completely, but then that really wasn’t the point of this kind of exercise for me anyway.

I don’t have any vested interest in any particularly result, though many certainly do. However, as I said in my previous post on bias, without any kind of data and contextualization it’s hard to make sound judgments. While I don’t have tons of hard data, I do want to look what data I can find, and other market factors that may have been at play.

Moreover, the media and blog-o-sphere’s response to this struck a cord me with me. Sites like DP Review (though I’m certainly not singling them out) have far more in the way of resources to talk about and add context to a press release this, at least compared to someone like me. I don’t have a budget for review gear, sophisticated test benches, and most certainly I don’t have the readership and pull to be able to go to a camera manufacture and ask for clarification on press releases that aren’t clear to me. But this kind of research doesn’t get done, because it’s not as shiny and profitable as posting a fluffed up article about the newest camera that’s been announced; so it doesn’t really get done.

So let met preface this article with this. There is a lot of speculation in this article. Most of this speculation is based on hard data, but not always the data I’d like it to be. I do talk about my assumptions and where I get things from. All told I’m probably going to raise more questions than I can answer, but ultimately this is intended to be food for thought, perspective if you will, not a rebuttal or refutation of something.

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You’ll have to forgive me, I have a bit of a rant here with on the level of discussion on the Internet around cameras. Don’t get me wrong, I like talking about cameras and other camera gear, and even to some extent the apparent strategies of various manufactures. Heck, I’ve even written a series of posts advancing ideas that I’d like to see implemented by camera makers. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that a good percentage of us photographers like engaging in these kinds of discussions.

At the same time, I find myself continually annoyed by the level of discourse on these kinds of topics. A large part of that,I believe, stems from the near complete lack of good data and information to work in these kinds of discussions. As a result, it’s very easy to make claims that are both unsupported and subject to significant levels of bias.

It’s not just commenters on various discussion forum who are “guilty”, if you can even call it that, of not being able to discuss things effectively. Many authors of articles published by the photography press have fallen in to the same traps of not having enough data to properly contextualize things they’re talking about — or worse just going for outright sensationalism like so much of the rest of the media.

Certainly there is data out there on things like the demand for features and actual market share rates at a segment level. However, it’s almost always not publicly available, and in many cases almost certainly proprietary and so will never become publicly available.

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Mesa Verde National Park is probably not the first place anyone thinks of when they think of interesting National Parks. Honestly, I can’t say it’s the first place I think of either. But it is interesting in its own way, and it’s especially interesting if you’re interested in anthropology and how early people dealt with the harsh landscape that is the American Southwest.

In late October of 2016, I went with my family on a road trip adventure across some of the American Southwest. I’ve already written about the Grand Canyon and Durango and the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge railroad. This time I want to talk about Mesa Verde, a rather obscure National Park focused on protecting some of the cultural heritage of the early peoples of the Southwest.

I’ve been to Mesa Verde twice, once in 1997 and once on this trip. Combined, I’ve probably spent less than 6 or 8 hours in the park. However, I have no recollection of even seeing a cliff dwelling, let alone visiting one, so that was something I wanted to rectify as much as possible this time.

Mesa Verde isn’t the biggest, the most impressive, or the most grand of the National Parks; that not its focus. Its focus is to protect archaeological sites of the ancestral Pueblo peoples that lived there more than 700 years ago. These people survived in this harsh inhospitable area for nearly 700 years, only abandoning it in the late 13th century. Mesa Verde protects almost 5,000 archaeological sites, of which nearly 600 are cliff dwellings.

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Smell is as powerful as any other sense when it comes to triggering and forming memories. Smoke mixed with valve oil and steam from a coal fired stem engine is one of those triggers for me.

In late October of 2016, my family and I embarked on a 14 day road trip adventure around some of the American Southwest. This is the third installment in a series of posts detailing that trip. The first two posts detailing road tripping, driving, and traveling and the Grand Canyon National park can be found through those links.

Our second destination was Durango, Colorado. Home of the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and a close neighbor to Mesa Verde National Park.

 

Why Durango?

Why not?

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I’ve never been one for doing posts about the gear I use. In many ways, I don’t see the point. You’re not me. Your eye, your objectives, your interests, and so on, aren’t the same as mine. The natural consequence of that is that your gear isn’t going to, and probably shouldn’t, be the same as mine either.

However, I was thinking about this the other day, and I realized that what I’ve used over time would prove to be an interesting look into my evolution as a photograpehr. When I realized that, I also realized that I was a little sorry that I haven’t regularly been writing up something about what I use and why. If only so I could go back and look at how my own preferences have changed over time.

So I’m starting here. I’m not going to list every piece of gear I own or go through my camera bag and pull everything out and talk about it. I don’t have a fixed bag of gear; what I’ll have on me at any point changes based on what I’m doing and where I’m doing it. Instead I’ll be talking about what I find I gravitate towards most regularly, and why. That’s where I think the interesting things come from over time anyway.

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