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Dennis
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That is a nice looking piece of kit. On beginners versus enthusiasts, that's an interesting twist ... I'd suggest that the more time a person spends with a camera, the more they want a camera that's carefully chosen to be functional and enjoyable, but I think beginners can be influenced by a camera - a fun camera makes them want to shoot (which in turn helps them improve) while a poorly chosen camera sits in a closet. So long as you keep talking about everything else, I don't think anyone will mind some Panasonic praise. It seems that most other brands have one (or many) blogger/advocates. (Many of those are affiliated somehow with those companies - artisans, ambassadors, whatever). I'll look forward to hearing more about the system (I currently shoot Nikon and Sony).
I don't get why people are suggesting you drink less coffee ... IBIS *IS* the solution ! You can have your coffee and drink it, too !
Roger: good call suggesting an A7II. The A6500 at $1600 is just too much money if you're not using the video/performance aspects of it. Meanwhile, the A7RII offers you a nice, compact Sonnar 35/2.8 and the 85's (FE or Zeiss) give you their intended FOV (I personally like 85mm on APS-C but know it's not everyone's cup of tea).
I suggest you read Mike Johnston's blog, TheOnlinePhotographer ... that guy sounds pretty similar to you and from what he's written over the last few months, he's pretty taken with Panasonic. Seriously, the A6500 is the high tech toy with lots of capabilities (video, high frame rates) you won't find yourself using and a pretty practical, but ultimately unsatisfying user experience. Limited lens lineup, but you're a fan of the CZ24 and there's an affordable new 85 if you want a long portrait prime (as well as the Batis, of course, which might appeal to you as a Zeiss fan, but then you're paying twice for IS). Olympus does everything Panasonic does, just differently. Their cameras strike me as ones you have to work to love using. Tough decision between the three, but the same advice given to most people (on choosing a system) holds ... don't pick a body, pick a kit (write down the body and 2-3 lenses you see yourself using, then think about the pros and cons of the kits).
Mark wrote: "You'd think M43 would be ideal in many ways, not too large, not too costly, still delivers excellent quality in most conditions" The thing with sufficiency is that it applies to more than image quality. If you consider the set of APS-C camera owners, you could make the argument that the majority of them would find the IQ of m43 sufficient. But, apparently, the majority of them find the compactness of their APS-C gear sufficient. I get the appeal of smaller gear - I have an A6000 and an RX100 that get used for different things. But I just spent 3 full days at a robotics competition with my DSLR (with VC grip) and 70-200/2.8 over my shoulder using a Blackrapid strap. I did see one person there with an EM1-II and 40-150/2.8, which looked very appealing, but I have to say I never minded the size/weight of that camera. (I also had my RX100 handy for wide shots, but comparing them side by side, I wish I'd had another APS-C camera along because everything was ISO 1000+. Over several years of photographing concerts, plays and recitals, I've seen few parents with "real" cameras, but there were easily a couple dozen DSLRs at the robotics tournament (many high end models with f/2.8 zooms) and many serious video rigs as well.
Jay Maisel. There are plenty of photographers I admire, but in order to take the kinds of pictures they take, I'd have to be a different person; have a different personality. I wouldn't say my personality is like Jay's (from what I've seen of video interviews) but my style is not too dissimilar. I guess the most concise way to say it is - if I were a successful photographer, I envision my portfolio looking more like his than anyone else's.
Toggle Commented Apr 10, 2017 on Idle Question at The Online Photographer
Sometimes after I research a product, I'll pay attention to ads that claim to offer good prices on similar things, so they can be well targeted. Worse is two weeks of ads for the thing I shopped for AFTER I already bought it ! Talk about counterproductive - now they're squandering ad space on stuff guaranteed not to interest me.
OK - I guess the little boys thing makes sense (probably big boys and beer, too) ... it was pretty impressive, but equally astonishing that that many people gather to watch trucks drive around. For a prolonged period of time. I enjoyed it, but a 2 1/2 minute video was enough for me. These people had to (presumably) buy tickets, drive there, park, wait in line to get in, sit and watch the event for who knows how long, wait in line to get out, then drive home. And there are a lot of them !
Just drink your coffee black. Exploit all that fancy grinding/brewing that you do.
We only "discovered" the Adirondacks a few years ago, despite having lived our entire lives in northwest CT. We can get to Lake George in about 2.5 hours, stay for a few nights, and venture (a little ways) into the park from there. We've only been as far north as Fort Ticonderoga (took in a great battle reenactment). I highly recommend the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake. It's not really near anything, but well worth the trip. You wonder how much there could be to see at a museum dedicated to the Adirondacks and then you wish you'd arrived earlier to spend the entire day. I'm hoping to spend time exploring more of the park by staying somewhere more central.
I wonder how many people are answering this as "all around" for themselves or "all around" for everyone. I think that, at last at this point in time, my answer to both of those would be the same. One of the Sony RX10 models. Or an FZ1000. Not for everyone; no camera is, but a very central compromise. I don't actually own one. Any one camera would be too much of a compromise right now. But something like that sounds about right.
Your 2-lens strategy is the same as what I typically carry (never mind what I own). A zoom for range and a prime for shallow DOF and/or low light. And the prime typically falls within the range of the zoom (either a normal or a portrait prime). Then I find the RX100 good enough that I can carry an ILC with a fast prime along with the RX100 and avoid lens changes. Re: structure, that makes sense based on my observations of accomplished photographers and artists. They might change their set of limitations, but seem to always be working within a set. My own isn't consciously self-imposed, but there nonetheless. (I don't stray far from a very narrow path).
Very nice ! The 7II was one of my "dream cameras", those cameras I'd buy if I won the lottery or something (not that I couldn't afford one, but my photography could never justify one). The Nikon FM2 was another one of those cameras I always wanted. I do have a Rolleiflex 3.5f that I keep around in case I ever get the itch to shoot film. Meanwhile, my daughter is about to put my old Minolta HiMatic to use in school.
Toggle Commented Feb 7, 2017 on Unboxing at The Online Photographer
Hah ! I'm not a kindle user, so the irony of reading a digital version of that book didn't occur to me until I got to the end of your post. To add to the irony, the hardcover version is cheaper than the kindle version. I haven't printed my photos in years ... a few here & there, calendars and whatnot, but I'm woefully behind on family photo books and prints. And feeling an increasing sense of urgency to remedy that. It's not due to an impending sense of my own mortality or anything (though I did recently turn 50) ... more just that too much time has passed without my photography really resulting in anything tangible. That's what I expected your post to be about, but I find your thesis more intriguing still. I can feel that tug of war, too, between gear that's (more than) sufficient and fun to use and gear that's more than I need, but still accessible, just because it's better. One thing that I think printing will help me do is assess my needs, because, while I have a couple big prints (up to 20x30) in my office, I suspect that I'd like to print a lot of photos at modest sizes that I can hold in my hand and look through. I recently saw some prints (I should say I saw a digital picture in a web browser *OF* some prints !) made with a Fuji Instax camera, and they were charming. I think I might end up having a 'thing' for small prints - say in the 6x8 range. Or not, I'll figure that out in time. But yeah, I've seen 40x60" prints made from then-state-of-the-art FF bodies at Photoplus Expo a few years ago; 20x30" prints from digicams with 2/3" sensors and I realize it's all madness and yet, when I think about what camera system I might like to settle on, it's hard not to go bigger/better/faster even if it's bigger/heavier/pricier so long as it's still within reason. Why compromise on convenience for quality that I don't need ? Because I can zoom in and view at 100% ? Because I read too many gear posts ? And why just photography ? I don't suffer from this disease when it comes to music, even though I think of myself as a music lover. I can enjoy music without worrying about whether it could be better (I know it could, but I embrace "good enough"). Why am I okay owning a contractor's saw for woodworking when I know that a good cabinet saw makes it easier to do precision work ? Food for thought.
Toggle Commented Feb 3, 2017 on The Revenge of Analog at The Online Photographer
I like gear posts (because I like gear). Don't like billiards posts. Don't mind a few coffee posts. Glad the tea posts are history. But here's the thing. A blog is kind of like ... ready ? ... a camera ! In the sense that no one blog can be perfectly tailored to any particular reader. And people who go off in a huff because a blog doesn't suit them perfectly are just like the people who rant about this camera or that camera because the manufacturer didn't design it specifically to meet their needs. Meanwhile, TOP is the blog we choose to read, each for our own reasons. I've written before that I own practical cameras that I don't really love using and that I always have my eyes open for that camera system that I'll thoroughly enjoy. (Your recent "How to Choose Your Gear" post hit home). But TOP is the blog I read because it just feels right. Doesn't matter if it doesn't have as many of this kind of post or that as I'd like, or that there's a little too much of something else. It's the blog I check daily without fail. It's kind of the Fuji X system of blogs :) And there are other blogs for other people to read. The nice thing is that you don't have to go to blogrentals.com to try them out. You can try out other blogs for free. (Then come back here where the cool kids hang out).
Ach ! And how could I forget "Nebraska" ? 2013 in black and white.
BTW, missed the part about movies. Since I blathered and didn't answer about lenses, I've seen lots of mediocre movies (my taste tends to run towards "junk food for the mind") but the gems among the junk recently have been The Revenant (favorite recent movie, though the end went a little too Hollywood) and American Hustle. A couple of less recent recommendations are Nobody's Fool (Paul Newman 1994) and Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood 2008).
Sorry for cluttering up the comments with a non-answer ... like the Thomas, I love the idea of simplicity. I'm frustrated by having too much gear from different brands and dream of simplifying down to a single body and as few lenses as possible. In practice, I do tend to carry pairs of lenses (or even a single lens) but the pair I carry changes. I'm not a specialist, but not really a generalist, either ... more a "multi-specialist" ? So I tend to shoot this with a DSLR and these couple lenses, that with a DSLR and those couple lenses, something else with mirrorless and these couple lenses and that stuff with a point & shoot. If I accept that I probably won't specialize any further until I'm forced to by age, then the next best solution for me would be a single brand that offers the half dozen lenses I want, a bigger, performance-oriented body as well as a compact body plus an enthusiast-oriented 1" sensor compact all with very similar user interfaces so I can easily switch from one to another. Sony has settled on a consistent menu system so moving between the RX100 and A6000 isn't bad, but e-mount lacks the lenses and the enjoyment factor that makes me want to use it. Nikon has the long lenses and the bigger bodies; the wide stuff (for APS-C) and the compact options are missing. Ideally, they'd make a mirrorless, ala EOS-M or even a compact F-mount mirrorless body ... the D5500 could substitute, but I don't want to go back to a DSLR without micro AF adjust. This is an area where Nikon 1 missed the boat - the UI was alien. The upcoming DL series hopefully behaves enough like bigger Nikons to fill in. Canon has the bigger DSLRs, the compact Rebel SL-1 as well as EOS-M and some 1" bodies. It's probably a 'safe' choice, but somehow seems very uninspiring. Fuji has the XT2 for performance and the XT20 or XE-series for compact options, plus a nice selection of lenses. Olympus and Panasonic both also have bigger, expensive, performance-oriented bodies as well as compact options - I don't know if they have the similar UIs. Panasonic has 1" sensor models. These options seem more "hodge podge" than Fuji, though, less cohesive and coherent. Maybe it's the mish mash of IBIS and OIS, cheap lenses and expensive lenses. I'm not sure I could put together my ideal kit from lenses from just one brand or the other. That's what I'd like - a top to bottom system offering performance when I need it, compactness and convenience when I need it, with as much consistency as possible. Canon is probably the most sensible, Fuji the most appealing, m43 brands practical, while I wait to see if Nikon offerings improve because of vested interest and some very compelling lenses.
From Fuji's press release: Three Additional FUJINON GF Lenses to be Announced Later in 2017: GF110mmF2 R LM WR (equivalent to 87mm in 35mm format) GF23mmF4 R LM WR (equivalent to 18mm in 35mm format) GF45mmF2.8 R WR (equivalent to 35mm in 35mm format) Between the Fuji and Leica, Fuji (hands down). A smaller cameras is more practical, but a Leica just isn't a camera I'd want even if I were rich. The Fuji is. But ... say this friend offered me a choice between the Fuji medium format and the same value in Fuji X gear. That would be a harder choice. On the one hand, the X gear is more or less similar to what I'm shooting now (except that I don't have nearly that value tied up in it) and it would be more interesting to try the more exotic medium format. On the other hand, it might spoil me forever and I'd be in a real quandary if I wanted to expand it by buying new lenses. Or if I had to pay to fix it or replace it years down the road. Kind of like being given a car you can't afford to maintain or a house you can't afford to heat and pay taxes on. Always fun, these "if I won the lottery" fancies of flight.
Mike, the "lens style" (what a dumb name !) QX1 from Sony and Olympus AIR 01 poke around the edges of modularity, the "box camera" and the Apple camera. Each is a lens/sensor unit that relies on a smart phone for both display and control. My daughter is a freshman in high school and joined the robotics club and I've volunteered to help out (lots of learning on my part, too, as a newbie). The robot has a controller that can read input signals and send output signals to a variety of devices and the team writes code that gets put on the controller to run the robot. Then there's a device on board that communicates back to the robot operators who run a "dashboard" on a laptop connected to various controllers. Most teams use joysticks in various ways, to move the robot as well as to perform tasks (moving various parts up & down) but operations could also be controlled by buttons or switches or whatever you like. It almost seems like we need a from-the-ground-up camera platform based on a controller that can be programmed to work with various sensors, displays and communications devices, but that would almost have to be part of a "developer kit" that could then be used by ambitious kickstarter types to develop end products. It's one thing to prototype with components wired together, another to package it all up in an ergonomic camera that's a pleasure to use.
You're developing into a real comedian, Mike ! Ektachrome never did much for me. I liked Kodachrome (never shot a lot of it) and the Fuji films (more Provia than Velvia).
Toggle Commented Jan 6, 2017 on Ektachrome Returns at The Online Photographer
OK, so that was amusing ... but you didn't have the same reaction to the X-T2 "Graphite Silver". Think of the fun you could have had with that ! "We don't just PAINT the camera, we SPIN it while we paint it."
Toggle Commented Jan 6, 2017 on Taking CES By Storm at The Online Photographer
After DOS/Windows for decades (I did start out on a Commodore !) I've toyed, over the last couple years, with the idea of moving to Apple to simplify things. But their recent products (and prices) coupled with the relative inoffensiveness of Windows these days has me committed to staying the course. (I have an iPhone ... I like my Kool Aid in moderation). People I work with who have imbibed are becoming disenchanted. Even with iPhones. (Tim Cook should be thanking Samsung for its flaming batteries !)
Looking at Olympus brings to mind (part of) one of the Herb Keppler quotes I found on Pop Photo's remembrance page: "Meanwhile, my kingdom for an SLR I can operate when I'm wearing my winter mittens." Not that a Sony or Panasonic would be any better. As much as I love the concept of retro controls, I do enjoy the dual dials on my Nikon DSLR for quick changes of settings (I shoot a lot in M mode, using Auto ISO, often shooting many shots at the same settings, but occasionally needing to tweak either f-stop or shutter speed). I haven't really paid too much attention to controls - I know I like the look of Fuji controls and I know that the original EM1 was really intimidating. My Nikon D7000 and Sony A6000 are both competent, if somewhat uninspiring. Sony is free from the constraint of retro, but doesn't really go very far in trying hard to be usable. The sometimes-maligned RX100 I find to be good for such a small camera. But I couldn't really pick a camera that stands out as right for me (because control layout wasn't that high a priority) nor could I call one out as particularly awful for me (though my suspicion is it would be from Olympus). It is interesting to see Leica trying new things. And while Fuji is decidedly retro, the new X-T2 looks pretty convenient and that joystick seems to get good reviews. (I'm in the market for a new laptop and am about 95% certain it's going to be a Lenovo Thinkpad because I just don't want to give up my trackpoint controller). Despite the overwhelming controls on Olympus bodies, the cameras I think I get along with worst of all are those with minimal controls that require menu diving (like my Nikon 1 J1 or my original Sony NEX-5). For that reason, I'm not convinced that Leica's simplistic touch-based cameras would be very satisfying. (I feel no obligation to give them a fair shake, since they're priced out of contention anyway). I have a suspicion that I would like Panasonic cameras very much (particularly one with an articulating LCD, which I prefer over a tilting LCD, and with the tilting EVF that you recently featured). Not that they do everything well - I tried out a GM5 (the tiny model that shipped with the 12-32) and found it a fiddly little thing.
I forgot which camera I bought that convinced me that I'd never need a >$1000 camera again. It might have been the D7000 (which I paid less than $1000 for, after it had been out a while). You mention the question of value and the trick is to know what you want in a camera. The D500 is pretty great and there are certain things I would appreciate in a camera like that, but nothing important enough to me to want to spend the money at this point in time. You mention the A6300 over the A6500, but the A6000 is the true price performer in that bunch. Manufacturers have gotten better about tweaking their lineups to encourage us to want higher priced cameras. My $1000 stake in the ground looks pretty lame these days when Sony only offers IBIS in the $1500 A6500 (though you can get it for not much more in the A7II if you prefer FF over speed). All the manufacturers seem to have upped their game recently, with flagship products in the m43/APS-C lines in the $1500-$2000 range. It's particularly problematic in mirrorless lines, where technology is still advancing and the latest & greatest offers improvements that you don't see in this year's DSLR versus last year's DSLR. Finally, contrary to my aforementioned conviction, I've noticed many times that I tend to be happier with things that I've paid more than I've wanted for than I am with things where I've compromised out of frugality. I love a good "price performer" but over time, I have far more regrets about bargains than I do luxuries. So my recommendation is don't buy based on perceived value nor just because something is state of the art - buy what you want. And if you can't afford it, just don't buy it (unless you have no camera at all, odds are your existing camera is capable of great work).