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This will probably be disappointing to some precisely because the 16-70 has a mixed reputation and it would have been hoping for another take on it. In a way, we've gotten it - your experience matches that of others (and test sites). This is one of the frustrating things about the Sony APS-C system. The A6500 is a powerhouse of a camera and, at $1400, needs lenses to match. The 16-70/4 has a great specification, the Zeiss label and a $1000 price tag, so promises to be an excellent lens, but while some applaud its center sharpness and contrast (and, I've read, "3d pop") others are disappointed with its lack of edge sharpness. I've avoided it, despite the fact that the specs would make it a great fit for me, because I'd use it for landscape & scenic photographs where I value edge/corner sharpness.
A little late to the party. The problem with this "truism that isn't" isn't that it's technically inaccurate (and we know what they mean) ... it's that it's often used to rationalize the wrong camera. I see it used frequently in the context of justifying a deliberate decision to downsize or to not carry a camera because it's just too much bother and "I always have my phone with me". If a person can buy into "the best camera is the one I have with me" then it makes it okay to be lazy; to not make the effort to carry a camera (certainly to not carry a tripod !); to not be ready to take good photographs. It's part of a disturbing trend I've seen where "serious" photography is frowned, even on fora (forums ?) dedicated to photography. Pixel peeping is a no-no, of course, along with critical evaluation of lenses, upgrading cameras, and heaven forbid, carrying anything that weighs more than 16 ounces and doesn't fit in your pocket.
I'm not sure if your question intended to correlate your observation to improvements in cameras/lenses/processing or just point out the coincidence. I agree that we're seeing more and more unrealistic images than ever before, but I think it's through action on the part of the photographer and not tied to the quality of the gear. I think it's a combination of the ease of manipulating digital images and unfortunate trends (born out of a desire to stand out tsunami of images). But I also think that the extreme dynamic range that cameras can capture - even in a single frame - can lead to some unreal photos. I occasionally find myself wondering if I like the look of images taken with 1" sensors (Sony RX line) precisely because the dynamic range looks "right" to my eyes. (I recall you posted something about the look of images taken with a particular m43 - Panasonic, I believe - camera). I find that on my first pass editing a photo, I often tend to pull out details in shadows in my photos just because the detail is there to be pulled out, and I have a hard time deciding on a final look.
I suppose "Shadow" is a stretch ... otherwise, I got nuthin'.
Toggle Commented Sep 19, 2017 on Pet Names at The Online Photographer
That's pretty much true. I've had a couple of p&s digicams die one death or another, but only after they've already become "backup" cameras, so that they haven't needed to be replaced.
I think the sufficiency of recent digital cameras is a big reason for the decline in sales relative to the "boom" years. Mirrorless lines are less mature than DSLRs, so you're more likely to see the IV have something that makes it stand apart from the III. I upgraded my A6000 to a (used) A6500 recently. But my other cameras are a D7000 (announced 7 years ago; I've had mine roughly 5 years) and an RX100 (I) which I've had for about 4 years. Image quality is almost disappearing as a reason for an upgrade (within a format). New sensor developments are more about video or frame rates, fast readout for live view, PDAF on sensor, than about image quality. And DSLRs are pretty mature, while mirrorless still benefits from updates (and benefits more from recent sensor developments). Consider the sensor IQ scores on DXOMark for APS-C cameras. Looking at just one brand (Nikon), 6MP cameras scored in the 50-55 range, 12 MP cameras in the 60-70+ range, 16MP cameras scored 80, and 24MP cameras anywhere from just above 80 to 87, while the newer 20MP sensors fall within that range. Big IQ improvements prior to 2010; much slower since. A while ago, I came up with 4 years as a reasonable amount of time for me to get out of camera before thinking about an upgrade. I still think that works ... 4 years before thinking about it, not necessarily doing something about it. Not a rule (as evidenced by my recent upgrade of the A6000), just a number.
When I saw the headline, I thought maybe you had some inside scoop an the upcoming Nikon mirrorless system :) As you alluded to with the Sony comment, I'm finding that at least a few of Sony's cameras are actually hitting that "perfect camera" status (for me), but they're also hitting pretty high prices. I upgraded from the A6000 to the A6500, but only after finding a used one. I own an RX100 (original) and like the looks of the latest models, but the IV actually seems fine; no need for the V. (I won't buy either, at least no time soon). And I've toyed with the idea of the RX10-III as a travel camera (paired with the RX100 for days I don't want the bigger camera) and only wished that it had faster AF. Here it is with faster AF ... and a $1700 price tag ! I could probably come up with a few wish list items, but nothing I could or should reasonably expect. Most cameras have addressed most obvious limitations, except for that of my budget (and they're going the wrong direction on that count).
I like the idea of a wildlife, not idealized book. I'll submit this: (shot w/my phone, naturally)
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2017 on Funny Photo Rant at The Online Photographer
I've encountered this, but only a smidgeon ... one friend, in particular, is taken with candids I've shot, and compares them (undeservedly) to school photos of his kids. (His kids went to a private school and class photos were very nice b/w portraits taken by a very good film-based studio photographer). I had to explain to him that my photos look good because I only show him my best few. As an amateur, I have the luxury of not showing him the other 99%. A pro has to deliver the goods consistently. He has to interact with those kids and get them to smile or look interested. He knows how to setup lighting. And he has to WANT to do it. That's the other thing that a lot of people don't get. Some assume that because you enjoy photography, you like taking pictures of anything and everything. Candid snapshots are not the same as studio portraits. The end result may look similar in some cases, but I'm not posing people and interacting with them to get the shot. Fortunately, I have the wisdom to know I'm not cut out to make money at photography.
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2017 on Funny Photo Rant at The Online Photographer
Welcome back ! My family spent last week in not-quite-your-neck-of-the-woods (the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks ... I had considered a trip out to the Finger Lakes and Letchworth State Park, but it would have required too much driving from place to place to see all I wanted to see). On the way home from our trip, I gave my daughter and her friend a twin pack of Fuji Instax film so they could each print some pictures from the trip (I'd packed her Instax printer). The little prints have a certain charm to them, even though the quality is relatively lousy. On the way home, we stopped at a craft & antique fair, where I picked up a little souvenir pack of wallet-sized b&w pictures from Ausable Chasm (a place we visited). Those little, old pictures were also charming. And while in Saranac Lake, we visited the studio of a photographer, where I bought a poster of a photo he took with a Fuji 617. But I noticed a few prints he had on display that consisted of 4 small images on a roughly 3x10" paper. I found those charming, too. I'm starting to like small prints. Neither here nor there, but I figured between upstate NY and Fuji, it was somehow relevant.
Toggle Commented Aug 28, 2017 on He's Baaaaa-ack at The Online Photographer
Glad to hear the tooth extraction went well, Mike. "Legs" is a concept I'll have to keep in mind. I've looked at this idea from other points of view. One is the idea that pictures that grab people's attention tend to look good as thumbnails, while pictures with legs often make for lousy thumbnails. I'm not sure how true that is. There's also something to do with post processing that has to tie in. Sometimes, post processing that gives a particular image some extra attention-grabbing power can also take away the subtlety that gives it its legs. But only sometimes. As you say, it's complicated. I also like "Doglegs" a lot and can see that that one would last.
I think it probably is true - that for any artist widely recognized as great, there are any number of us who look at their work and wonder what all the fuss is about. You mentioned three works - I love one of the three and am left cold by the other two. I suspect artists need to have a thick skin because, depending on the accessibility of their work, anywhere from only a small handful to a bigger minority of people will actually resonate with it. There's plenty of work that I like very much that I'm sure would leave other people scratching their heads. I don't necessarily see it as a weakness on the part of the artist or the viewer - we're all wired differently. One thing I have learned over time is that just because I don't get something doesn't mean there's nothing to get. Sometimes, I just don't understand what it is that others get. Other times, I can appreciate what other people see in something, but it still doesn't do much for me. That's the case with a lot of music and comedy ... you can appreciate the quality of something without it really clicking, or you can imagine yourself enjoying it 20 or 30 years ago, or driving with the windows open, or maybe while drinking with friends, and finding something enjoyable that just isn't doing it for you now. (Sadly, I encountered this recently when playing a clip from "This is Spinal Tap" ... hysterical when I was 19).
Toggle Commented Aug 14, 2017 on Love It / Don't Get It at The Online Photographer
It's a weird business. Then you have the stories of the studios that go out of business, leaving people unable to ever get reprints of their wedding photos or portraits (though I doubt that more than a miniscule percentage of clients ever go back for more prints after the initial order). Last night, I started looking through a photo book I picked up at a used book sale and in the back was a brief paragraph stating "No part of this book may be reproduced, altered, trimmed, laminated, mounted, or combined with any text or image to produce any form of derivative work." On the one hand, I should be able to do what I want to that physical object, but is a framed page a "derivative work" ? Not that I have any interest in doing this, but it's a large format book (11x16) and maybe some people would.
I just took a look at the Spotmatic after reading this - it's a beautiful camera ! I noticed that it uses 1.35V mercury batteries for the meter and that rang a bell ... years ago, when I bought my HiMatic 7sII, I paid for a CLA and to have the meter circuit adjusted to 1.5V batteries. Apparently, that's one of the things that Abilene does as part of their repair service, but just another argument to NOT skip the CLA step. BTW, those 70's era rangefinders are another nice option for anyone who wants to go this route. (Mine has been sitting in a drawer ... I'm partial to fast photography these days and my daughter will tell you I'm far from hip).
Now watch prices of Spotmatics spike on eBay !
Can't wait to try it. One side benefit of the -2/3: I have a 'thing' about converting photos to b&w if I didn't intend to shoot them in b&w in the first place - it feels like I'm cheating (I'll typically see an image in Lightroom that makes me wonder if it might look good in b&w and sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't, so it makes me feel like a hack who's just playing around). I'd have to be deliberate about it to expose differently in the first place, so I'd alleviate that (silly) concern.
Mike says "I don't know if this gets us any closer to the question of whether a smaller sensor overcomes its deficiencies to be better for long-telephoto work or not" If you can carry and use a big lens on a big sensor, then theoretically you can take better images, but between a cropped from a high res larger sensor and a high res small sensor, I'd bet on the small sensor, because the lens designed for the small image circle is likely sharper and contrastier. Birders are paying $1000 for the Nikon 1 70-300 rather than adapting an F mount lens because the '1' lens is much sharper (for a given area). I imagine that's the case with m43 teles, too ... a Canon FF tele might be brilliant, but crop it down to 4/3 size and I'd place odds on the native m43 lens. So I guess the general idea would be to decide what effective focal length you need to fill the frame, decide how big a lens you're willing to buy/carry, then figure out what size sensor you need to get from that lens to the desired FOV.
Toggle Commented Jul 12, 2017 on Quick Math(s) Question at The Online Photographer
About 77MP. The 51MP 5DS has pixel density equivalent to a 13MP m43 sensor. And a 24MP APS-C has pixel density equivalent to a 14MP m43 sensor. But the 20MP 1" sensors in the RX10s would require a 148MP FF sensor (or a 39MP m43 sensor) to match the pixel density. (If anyone came up with different numbers - I found the linear pixels/mm for any given sensor, then multiplied by the sensor dimensions to work around aspect ratio differences).
Toggle Commented Jul 12, 2017 on Quick Math(s) Question at The Online Photographer
Your conundrum illustrates the problem with Sony's APS-C system, even still. $3000 for those lenses is just nuts. The 24/1.8 may have a Zeiss name on it, but it's a pretty modestly spec'd lens for APS-C (a Fuji 23/2 is much less expensive). The 55/1.8 is also expensive because it's Zeiss and because it's FF (a Sigma 60/2.8 is a heck of a lot cheaper). Meanwhile, over the the FF realm, the A7II is only $1550 ($150 more than the A6500); the compact (and also Zeiss-branded) 35/2.8 is $800; the 85/1.8 is $600 so you're at $2950, leaving you with $1500 to buy a Batis WA prime for the same money as that APS-C kit. I actually own an A6500 (acquired recently, but bought used, because I think the new prices aren't justified). I had previously purchased the 28/2 FE (for a 40mm equivalent normal) but the camera came with the Sigma 30/1.4 so I need to pick between them. I also have the Sigma 60/2.8 (though if I ever gave up my DSLR, I'd replace it with the Sony 85/1.8 because I prefer the longer lens). For WA, I picked up a used 10-18/4. So it's not a cheap kit, but it's a competent kit that suits my needs while avoiding the lenses I consider overpriced. The Sigma 30/1.4 seems promising, but I haven't had a chance to really try it out - I'll be taking on a vacation soon and plan to use it in favor of other lenses as much as possible. AF in low light isn't terribly impressive (not bad, but I was trying to photograph black kittens !) but otherwise, I like the build, the feel, the focal length and the f/1.4 max aperture. (The FE 28/2 actually feels more solidly build - heavier at least - but somehow less satisfying, which is unexpected, as I don't care for the build of the 60/2.8 nearly as much, which it's slick surfaces).
Of course, the speed advantage of the 800/5.6 goes beyond aperture ... the wildlife shooter trying to get fast shutter speeds in iffy lighting conditions doesn't care whether he gets faster shutter speeds through the bigger relative aperture or the bigger sensor (i.e. higher ISO). As a counterpoint, consider a favorite kit of some birders: the Nikon 1 70-300 on whatever the last/greatest body was. Slightly over 800mm equivalent, max aperture of f/5.6 in an even smaller and cheaper kit that's known for excellent AF. I used to shoot nature more than I do now. I always thought zooms were most useful at the WA end ! I carried 50, 100, 200, 400 and a 21-35. My rationale was that at the long end, you're often looking at subjects more than scenes, and your concerns is the degree to which you're filling the frame. The background is likely OOF (though I do enjoy teles for landscape) and there's a fair chance that your longest lens still isn't as long as you'd like much of the time. And if you're shooting sports or wildlife, the speed of a prime can be helpful (though more so in film days). OTOH, at the WA end, there's a big difference between 21 & 24mm and that's not something you overcome by moving a few feet. While I can get by with a 200 and a 400 with nothing in between, I'd probably want 21, 24, 28 and 35, so a 21-35 replaces 4 lenses. And I don't need the speed of a prime because I'm typically shooting WA's stopped down. The 100-400 on m43 is pretty nice. But Nikon offers the excellent 200-500 which gives you about the same reach on APS-C. It's f/5.6 instead of f/6.3 and on a slightly bigger sensor (a state of the art 24MP sensor on a modest $1000 body that has excellent autofocus). Between the two, it could be a tough call, but that lens offers a pretty compelling reason for anyone shooting Nikon (and interested in reach) to stick with the system. I remember years ago wishing for something longer than 300mm. The obvious choices were a Sigma 400/5.6 (which was pretty good, kinda big and kinda pricey) or a Tokina 400/5.6 (which was not that great, but fairly compact and pretty cheap). I shot Minolta and had the relatively affordable option of a 400/4.5 for "only" $1900 (20 years ago, that was even more money than it is not, but it was still cheap for "big glass"). I shot ISO 100 and 400 slide film and the lens was fast enough to have fun as a hobbyist. Nowadays, we're really spoilt for choice, with the options mentioned so far plus the Sigma and Tamron 150-600s. Even my daughter's little Panasonic FZ200 (with a 600mm equivalent f/2.8 lens) does okay on the tiny f/2.8 sensor. It can even shoot raw, which is what I'd do if I used it, but the jpegs that come out of it in reasonable light are good enough for modest prints.
Tom Burke's comment is one I've read before from others, but equally valid (from the other side) is that IBIS offers IS with all lenses. I've shot Sony A mount, digicams that use IS, Nikon F mount and Sony E mount. The IS on my Nikkor 70-200/2.8 is excellent. But the IS that I get with a 30/1.4 or 28/2 on the A6500 beats the VR that I don't get with the Nikkor 35/1.8 (or the 85/1.8 for that matter). Tamron makes a couple VR primes for Nikon and Canon, but otherwise, lens-based IS is only good if it's in the lens. Overall, I guess my preference would be to have both and make them work together, like Panasonic lenses do. Failing that, I have a mild preference for sensor-based IS simply because it is available for all lenses. But it's not a showstopper - I did switch from Sony to Nikon some years back knowing I'd be giving up IS with the 35 & 85. To me, IS is like sensor quality ... at this point, it's good enough and ubiquitous enough that I can take it for granted and make my buying decisions based on other factors.
Toggle Commented Jul 10, 2017 on Why Canon Uses In-Lens IS at The Online Photographer
My version of this was "if only someone would make a digital version of my HiMatic 7sII" ... That camera, a 70s era compact rangefinder, had a nice, sharp 40/1.8 in a reasonably compact body and a quiet leaf shutter. I suppose an X100* would be pretty close and you could make a case for the Panasonic 20/1.8 on an m43 body (though f/1.8 on m43 isn't quite the same - I do recall a few photos taken with that HiMatic that benefit from nice OOF backgrounds). I avoided opening my wallet on the grounds of technicalities for a while, but when Sony released the FE 28/2, I figured it was time to put up or shut up (since I already had the A6000). It still wasn't the same - that camera is loud and the combo isn't as compact. Since then, I upgraded to an A6500 (with a quieter shutter, even when not using e-shutter, plus IBIS) and that camera (bought used) came with the Sigma 30/1.4. That offers a slightly narrow FOV, but the faster aperture gets me back to where I used to be. Of course, this lens is even bigger, so I'm still kind of far from the HiMatic in that regard. I sometimes feel like I should support Fuji by buying one of their cameras, because they've come closest to making what I told myself I want (that Sony RX1 is too pricey) ... but then I curse them for their stubborn dedication to X-Trans.
Toggle Commented Jul 3, 2017 on I'm Going to Shut Up at The Online Photographer
I missed out on an opportunity a few years ago to sell my handful of 128MB Memory Sticks on eBay for $50+ each to people using old F717s and other similar cameras that were incompatible with higher capacity cards. Not long after I saw those prices, the market responded and you can buy lower capacity memory sticks again. We'll always be able to take pictures, most of us in ways we want to take them, more or less.
It's funny ... on the various discussion fora, you'd get the impression that even though there's an A7 for (just) under $1000, the $1500+ A7II is the "entry level" model and everyone seems to be shooting A7RII's or posting their thoughts on their new A9's. Meanwhile, over in the Nikon camp, the D750 (roughly on par with an A7II in terms of price and IQ) is a perfectly respectable choice. I looked at the A7II recently, but opted to upgrade from an A6000 to an A6500. The debate centered around the fact that the A6500 costs almost as much as the A7II and both cameras offer the main things I was looking for in an upgrade (IBIS, higher res EVF and a virtual horizon display in the VF). The A7II would have addressed my 4th complaint about the A6000 - no dual control dials. I'd probably have an easier time putting together a satisfactory lineup of lenses for the A7II, but the total system cost would be considerably higher, especially given that I already have a couple of e-mount lenses. I ended up buying a used A6500 at a good price (relative to other camera out there on the market, the a6500 "feels" like an $1100 camera, not a $1400 camera). My imagined A7II kit would have consisted of the 16-35/4, the compact (but pricey) 35/1.8, the reasonably compact and reasonably priced 85/1.8 and then maybe, eventually, the 70-300. Instead, my A6500 kit includes the 10-18/4 (also recently purchased, also used), the 28/2 AND 30/1.4 (the 30/1.4 came with the A6500 - now I have to decide between those two) and the 18-200 (a good travel lens - I still use my DSLR for anything requiring a really good tele).
What's curious in Mike's analysis of Nikon (which I can't argue with - Nikon is great at what they've been doing for decades and not so great and doing new things or figuring out what new things to do) is why Canon is doing so much better. Canon and Nikon had much closer shares of the market just a few years ago, yet Canon now outsells Nikon something like 2-to-1. I know their (Canon's) mirrorless cameras are selling surprisingly well, but that alone doesn't account for it. It Nikon's lineup of DSLRs looks great next to Canon's - between Sony's sensors and Nikon's overall competence, you can't look at the two lineups and conclude that Canon should be outselling Nikon. I can come up with 3 possible explanations. First, Nikon had a couple public relations issues stemming from problems with a couple cameras and their reluctance to do anything about it. Related to that, Nikon is probably perceived as being behind the times even though they put out a slightly more comprehensive mirrorless system before Canon (unfortunately, it flopped due to Nikon's aforementioned problems knowing what to do differently). Second, video. Canon designs and markets to videographers and Nikon seems pretty uninterested in that market. Third, Sony. I think Thom indicated that it has to do with licensing, but you have companies able to come up with adapters to use Canon lenses on Sony bodies with reasonably good AF, meaning people with an investment in Canon gear can dabble in the Sony system ... or people looking at DSLRs know that they can buy Canon and have options in the future. There isn't really a mirrorless option for Nikon lens owners (Nikon 1 with its 2.7X crop and Sony with very recent and iffy adapters). Canon suffers from some of the same issues as Nikon - a stale and incomplete APS-C lens lineup and a lack of a mirrorless system that seriously competes with Olympus/Panasonic/Fuji/Sony - and a reputation for subpar sensors to boot, but somehow manage to sell a lot more cameras than Nikon.