Points in Focus Photography

Since I wrote my last article rambling about mirrorless cameras, Nikon released their first two full frame mirrorless cameras (the Z6 and Z7) and the rumor mill has leaked images and specs for Canon’s full frame mirrorless camera. And while Canon won’t be announcing their mirrorless camera properly until closer to the end of September September 5th, there’s some things to talk about now anyway.

As I noted in the last article, I’m still very much not a mirrorless fan. For my uses there are too many compromises, especially when it comes to power consumption, for me to really get behind them. I’m also decidedly not an average enthusiast level consumer, so my take on features and specs is not likely to match theirs.

I really worry about Nikon these days. They seem confused and somewhat rudderless to me at this point. Actually I started worrying about them when they released the D5 and D500 with maximum ISOs that are flat out unusable.

Admittedly, I thought with the D850, that they had realized that it’s not how big the number is on box is that makes a great camera. They went back to sold specs that insure that the photographer is going to get solid images out of their camera.

Then they went and released the Z6 and Z7.

At first glance, they look like reasonable full frame mirrorless cameras. And to a certain extent they are. However, when you start digging into the details they the picture just starts getting confusing. Who’s the target market?

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It looks like 2018 may just end up being the year of the mirrorless camera. Not that everybody didn’t already have a mirrorless solution of some sort. However, now both Canon and Nikon are expected to announce full frame, serious, pro-grade, mirrorless platforms before the end of the year.

It would stand to reason, presumably, that this should be an exciting new stage in photography, right?

Well, I’m not convinced, or rather I’m no longer convinced.

If I was writing this a year ago, in late 2017, I would have been singing a completely different song. Back then, if Canon were to release a mirrorless version of the 5D mark IV, I would have jumped pretty much instantly. After having spent a week shooting wildlife in Yellowstone, I’m definitely not on that train anymore.

Don’t get me wrong here, it’s not like I don’t recognize the pros of a mirrorless camera. Nor am I just a luddite that’s afraid of change. The problem I have is that, when push comes to shove, a mirrorless camera isn’t always better than an DSLR for my uses.

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I occasionally venture off into reading discussions on various camera forums and rumor sites. Lately the rumor mill has been awash in rumors about a new full frame mirrorless system coming from Canon that isn’t going to use the EF-M mount, or as some rumors indicate the EF mount for that matter.

Reading through the discussions on these articles there’s a lot of hand-wringing and anxiety about how this change my happen. One of the biggest concerns that I see is the mount, it’s compatibility with existing EF lenses, and how “non-native” EF lenses will have performance issues.

In my assessment, the whole situation is silly, and this article will try and detail why.

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There was a post the other day on Canon Rumors asking what people would like to see in the next generation of Canon’s 5D. I’ve been thinking about this off and on for a while now, mostly since I’m very happy with my 5D mark IV — to the point I’ve found myself thinking that I might even skip the Mark V completely when it comes out.

In any event, since I’ve been thinking about this, I thought I might take a stab at putting up my wish list for the 5D mark V, and why I’d like the features.

Mirror, Mirror in a Camera, but with more display options

I admit, I see value in a mirrorless camera. With way fewer moving parts, and no sensors that have to be kept in alignment, there’s a lot going in it’s favor. Up until my Yellowstone trip, my feeling was pretty simple; if Canon released a 5D mark IV as a mirrorless camera and no other changes, I’d be all over it. Now I’m back on the fence.

Why back on the fence?

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A while back I got a second 5d mark IV to use as a second body, and with that had to go through the process of setting it up to match my other mark IV. For some reason, I had though the 5D mark IV had the same feature as the 1D series does where you can write out camera configs to a flash card and then load them in another camera or back into your camera at a later date.

Alas, it doesn’t have that feature, and I spent 20 minutes going through each menu and sub-menu meticulously transferring the settings over to my camera.

In the process of doing this I started thinking, I really shouldn’t have to do this manually. The 1D’s save settings feature should be on more bodies — Nikon does this; good going Nikon.

By why stop there?

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Back in early 2017, I put up a “state of my gear” post. My intent was to document the gear I used, so I could come back and see how it changed over time and with changes in my interests, style, and subject matter. A year has now passed, and I’m going to do that dance all over again since things have changed.

My intent is to look more introspectively into the craft in part by looking at how my evolution as a photographer has changed my perspective on gear. Additionally, I’ve found that the gear I use can have a material impact on the way I go about approaching my vision, and I want to see if I can identify trends with that too.

As an example, in reading through my article from a year ago, there’s been more than a few places where conclusions I made back then have been reversed, or at least I’ve gone off in a different direction. Certainly some of the expectations I’ve had for equipment in the past have proven out to be wrong when put into practice.

Finally, like the last time, this isn’t an extensive list of every bolt and nut of camera gear I own. Major things, and things I use a lot are most likely to be covered. However, there is no hard criteria for what does and doesn’t make the list.

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The Curious Case of Canon’s new 70-200 L Lenses ledeImage: Canon USA

Canon just announced 2 new “updated” 70-200mm pro zoom lenses. The 3rd generation EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM, and the second generation EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM. Of course with any new product release, there’s a lot of talk around the net about these lenses, and what Canon has and hasn’t done with them, and ultimately why Canon is doomed because of what they did or didn’t do.

Anyway, I can’t help but throw my 2 cents into the fray on this discussion. So here it goes.

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How Many is too Many? lede

Many years ago, when I was first getting started with photography, Sports Shooter posted a set of portfolio review videos. One of these reviews stuck out in my mind. A student’s portfolio had 2 images of a baseball pitch in flight with the ball in focus and the pitcher, catcher, batter and so forth out of focus.

Several of the reviewer’s commented on the inclusion of two of these images in this person’s portfolio. He showed he could make that kind of image, repeating it didn’t add any value to the portfolio, and generally wasted precious space.

Portfolios are showcases for an artist. They should show off the individuals best work and their range as an artist. Repeating similar images doesn’t work towards that goal, it just pads out space.

You could almost go as far as arguing that it wastes the time of the reviewer, since they’re just looking at an additional version of the same image.

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Hurricane Irma, Jose, & Maria: Here We Go Again lede

Update 2: Monday 2017-09-18

This is really not the year to be a Floridian, and an even worse year to live in the eastern Caribbean. First, we got smashed by hurricane Irma, which while I don’t want to downplay the impacts of that storm, certainly could have been a lot worse. If it hadn’t had been for the interactions with Cuba (which of course was bad for them) and the dry air that caused the back end of the storm to fall apart, it almost certainly would have been a lot worse.

Right on the coattails of Irma was Jose, which too rapidly intensified into a major hurricane, then just barely squeaked by the already decimated Leeward Islands that Irma just finished with. Thankfully, for everyone in the Bahama’s, and the Southeastern US coast, Jose turned out to sea and has largely not been a huge factor so far. And while Jose is forecast to make a close approach to New England, and potentially loop around in that area, it’s now moving over cooler waters that will seriously hamper it’s ability to continue to maintain its intensity.

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Thoughts on Nikon’s D850 ledeImage: Nikon USA Press Release

Nikon finally announced their latest high-end/pro-level DSLR, the D850. Honestly, there’s a lot to talk about with it both as an upgrade over the old D810, as part of Nikon’s current lineup of cameras, and with respect to Nikon’s future prospects in the industry.

Recent times have not been good to Nikon. Camera sales have been down and of the big the camera makers, Nikon is arguably the most vulnerable to declines in camera sales. Moreover, Sony has been aggressively trying to move into the market space, and most of their gains have been coming at Nikon’s expense.

Compounding matters, Nikon’s D800 series cameras can certainly be perceived as being extremely long in the tooth at this point.

Nikon’s first real attempt to get things moving again, so to speak, was the D5 and D500. Cameras that very much were both simultaneously impressive and disappointing.

In many ways, the D5, and to a very much lesser extent the D500, looked to me like a panicked response by terrified management that saw market share eroding and could only think of how to inflate numbers to make something that looked, in their eyes at least, competitive.

Fortunately for Nikon users, the initial flailing response that the D5 and D500 seemed to embody seems to have past. Nikon seems to have remembered what matters; not putting bigger and bigger numbers on a box to delude gullible photographers into buying the latest thing, but providing a solid tool that photographers can use to produce the images that want to make.

Looking at the announced specs, and some very preliminary performance estimates that have surfaced, the D850 looks to be exactly the camera Nikon needs right now. So lets dive in to looking at some of the announced specs, and what some preliminary testing implies.

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