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Hopefully I'm not showing any bias (I'm a Sony user) in saying I'd pick the A850. Between in-body IS and a balance of IQ over features that suits my needs, it's the easy choice. I can see someone opting for the Canon for LV, video, AF/fps performance or expansive lens lineup if those things are priorities.
Toggle Commented Sep 1, 2009 on Canon 7D, $1699 at The Online Photographer
I definitely get where you're coming from on this one. Part of it is looks, part of it is build/feel, but part of it, I imagine I just can't describe. Of my 35mm film cameras, I don't really remember my first (Miranda) too well and the followup Yashica Fx3 (entry level) didn't do it, but the Pentax Program Plus was pretty good. I went through several AF Minoltas before getting a used '9' and that was the first 35mm SLR I owned that really begged to be taken out & driven. Solid, with a 100% viewfinder that demanded to be looked through and a silky sounding shutter that I'd press just to hear it :) My Rollei TLR has some of that as does an old Ricoh 500 rangefinder. The thing is, such a camera, I think, can't have anything get in your way. If a camera does most things right, but something annoys you, it doesn't have that "use me" quality. I've yet to try a digital camera that appeal - and maybe never will.
I voted "not a consideration". I drive a 2007 Honda Ridgeline. Even I think it's butt-ugly. And not in an "ugly, but I like it" kind of way. I don't care for the looks of it. I suppose if I detested it, I'd have discounted it altogether. But even though it was the least aesthetically pleasing of my choices, "features" won out. And that's a vehicle I'm seen driving. If I can live with that, I can live with anything in the way of a camera. (Almost, anyway ... I couldn't see myself with a champagne gold Sony DSLR or a red or blue Panasonic G1).
Before replying, I found some photos of current high end (FF) Canon & Nikon bodies and was quite surprised to find that I like the looks of the Canon bodies much more. The Nikon bodies (D700, D3x) look sort of ... arbitrary. Put a button here, a button there (maybe for very practical reasons) and whatever it looks like is what it looks like. The Canons have more style; a more intentioned look. I'm an Alpha system user (Minolta Maxxum since the 7xi back around 1991). So I supposed I'm biased. I like the A850, but if I try to view it in the proper context, I might be inclined to agree that it's ugly, but in an appealing way. It has a sort of skeletal look to it (it took a bit of thinking to find the right word for it and skeletal seems like the best word to describe my response to it). It's not pretty, but it has a certain sense of style to it. I like Mike's fat gangster in a nice suit analogy, too. It's a bull dog or a boxer or a great dane ... not pretty, maybe ugly, but ugly with pride. As for whether it matters, it doesn't to me. I've seen cameras whose looks appeal to me and those that don't but choosing a camera (particularly an SLR, film or digital) has always been a fairly simple, practical matter. I can always convince myself that the camera I want is attractive. I did a search on the Maxxum 9 to see how much Sony styled the A900/A850 after the Minolta flagship. I'd always wanted a 'pro' film body and finally picked up a used 9 at a fair price (years ago, pre-digital, not *that* cheap) and I loved that camera. Heavy, sturdy, with a silky sounding shutter that I tripped just to hear it. A work of art. Until I found pictures of it just now and thought "ugh, that thing is ugly !"
Toggle Commented Aug 29, 2009 on 'Wunderplastik' at The Online Photographer
Personally, I'm willing to bet that Nikon & Canon execs said "oh crud" way back when they first heard Sony was entering the DSLR market (plans to make Maxxum-compatible cameras were announced about 6 months before the buyout of the DSLR division). I'm sure they knew then that Sony would nibble away at market share and have been strategizing with Sony (and Panasonic and everyone else) in mind all along. They're both fighting tooth and nail and making extremely difficult for anyone else to gain traction. I like Sony's approach here. They're not going to lure many pros away from N & C, but at $2000 for the body and a couple Zeiss lenses, they can probably be nice little "second systems" for some pros, while luring in some well heeled amateurs & fine artists. They have some nice lenses, too ... the 24-70 is a beaut and Nikon and Canon users can crow about AF but I've never seen any lens on any camera AF like the Zeiss 24-70 on the A900. Then the 70-200, 70-300 or 70-400 round things out with a minimal investment. Andy Biggs posted an "impressions" piece on an A900 that Sony loaned him for one of his safaris and he wrote that the 70-400 takes all the best features of the Nikon and Canon equivalents and puts them together in one lens. A few more lenses wouldn't hurt. Mikes 35/2. A 24-105/4. A 100/2. Anyway ... it's refreshing after being a Minolta user for years to see so much 'stuff' coming out in such a short time.
Mike, I sympathize entirely ! I don't have the same space issues. Our fridge is 18 cu ft & just under 30" wide in a space under a 33" wide cabinet. (The existing fridge has a nasty habit of freezing stuff in the fridge compartment). I can look at the 22 cu ft models *if* I'm willing to cut down the overhead cabinet by about 3/4" (and given that it's an old kitchen with cheap cabinets that we're planning to remodel in the next decade, I'm ok with that). Like you, we're looking at bottom freezer models. (Part of the motivation for the bigger fridge is because the bottom freezer models shift the volume ratio in favor of the freezer so if we were to stick with 18 cu ft, we lose fridge space). And we like the french door models since we have an island to our backs when we open the door. There are umpteen million fridges out there, but narrow it down to one that fits, is Energy Star rated and then try to find one that doesn't have a factory installed ice maker ! We're down to precisely one bottom freezer model with a single door and one with french doors (and that one does have an ice maker). And they're tough to find in retail stores - I'd probably end up ordering it online. Anyway, we just stopped at the local Sears this morning & that convinced my wife that she likes the french door models so it's one last pass through the spec sheets (I narrowed it down to 4 brands earlier), then just buy the one that comes closest to what we want. How bad can it be ?
Toggle Commented Aug 24, 2009 on Open Mike: Bad Shopper at The Online Photographer
It was interesting for about 5 pages; I read to the end, but stopped caring. It was insightful to read about her photographic development. But otherwise, it's a long-winded way of saying she'd a spoiled brat because nobody ever held her accountable for anything. It sounds like she has emotional issues not unlike those that many other people have, but most other people with those issues have not had the opportunity to be so irresponsible with so much.
Mike, I agree wholeheartedly. I was going to disagree about certain things - I'll go to amazon & hope for enough reviews for statistical significance on things like ... appliances :) I mean, if most people are happy with a fridge (I'm honestly shopping for one right now) odds are I will, too. I know what the features are, but don't know if it's noisy or prone to breaking down in 6 months. But it doesn't work for art, as you say, and it doesn't even work for things like camera lenses. A couple of websites have 1-5 ratings of lenses on sharpness, wide & tele, open & stopped down, but I find that data useless no matter how many scores. I'd much rather read an opinion (or many opinions) and better still, try it out. OTOH, I'm happy to see that anything I'm looking at has many ratings on amazon or b&h or any other site where the ratings are accompanied by reviews, because then I can drill through the reviews and some of them, people spend a good deal of time on. The ratings remind me of earlier days of digital cameras when there were significant differences between the Oly prosumer and the KM prosumer and the Nikon prosumer and people would take the time to put together spreadsheets rating the cameras on 20 or 30 different attributes, each with a weighting that supposedly emphasizes the relative importance of each feature (to the person doing the spreadsheet, but usually posed as if it were universal), and the camera with the highest tally would "win". I always found reviews and specs good for narrowing down items for consideration, and then things usually get subjective for me. I sometimes can't even explain my choice; it just "feels right". But most importantly, if the A900 is a 5 and the DP2 is a 2, how do you rate the E-P1 ?
Toggle Commented Aug 15, 2009 on Ratings: Bah, Humbug at The Online Photographer
Ted wrote: "After reading Ken's review again, it's clear to me that the camera world is NOT badly in need of new ideas even if they’re not entirely new. Instead, the camera world is badly in need of reworking some proven ideas for the digital world. What's needed is a Canonet G-III 17 with an APS-C sensor. If you include the rangefinder, than autofocus is unnecessary and the LCD can be lousy, as all that it's needed for accessing menu items." I agree that such a camera would be wonderful; I've always said I was waiting for the digital equivalent of my Minolta HiMatic 7sII. But as for it being needed, manufacturers stopped making them when we were all still shooting film. I'd guess it's a demand issue. Enough demand for Leica; not enough for Canon or Minolta. Without RF focussing, it seems someone could keep the size of one of these small with an EVF and a smaller LCD. Sacrilege, I know, but I'd still choose the articulating 2" LCD on my Canon A610 over a 3" LCD with no viewfinder. But then, I'm not using it to focus manually. An E-P1 with a smaller articulating LCD and a small EVF (without increasing the camera size) would be a big improvement.
Toggle Commented Jul 23, 2009 on Olympus E-P1 PEN Review at The Online Photographer
After reading all the comments, I tend to agree that there's a certain quality to be admired (genius is probably a stretch) in what they did. If, as some suggest, they simply entered a contest under false pretenses and happened to win, then it would be a minor story about a couple of cheats. Instead it does appear that they set out not specifically to win, but to prove a cynical view that the contest will be won by a certain kind of entry. It's not that they lied; it's that they knew what lie to feed the judges. As for 'formulaic' I think about the photojournalism awards handed out each year ... seems like I usually find out about them from something Mike posts here and before I click over to see them, I can just about envision the poignant moments of human suffering and the lack of "good news" that will be represented in those images. I imagine that the photographers who won this contest had an even more narrow expectation of what these judges would be looking for. Q: if photojournalism is so much more diverse than other genres, why is there a photojournalistic style of wedding photography ?
David, I'm not at all committed to the OVF. In my post, I was trying to point out that since that the E-P1 is more expensive than a DSLR and (for those to whom it does matter) gives up the OVF, there has to be something to make it worth considering, and that something is size. I'm actually quite ready to write off the OVF so long as I get to write off the mirror in the process. I wouldn't mind replacing my DSLR with an EVF-based camera at some point in the future. I'd prefer an articulating LCD in a camera like the E-P1 (and could happily live without an EVF at all).
Toggle Commented Jul 1, 2009 on The E-P1 to Scale at The Online Photographer
The Minolta HiMatic 7sII is one of the smaller 70's era compact rangefinders; not as small as the littlest Oly's but small enough for a camera with an f/1.7 lens, manual & shutter priority. It measures 115mm wide (to the E-P1's 121mm), and 71mm high (to the E-P1's 70mm). Both are "minus protrusions" (the 7sII pickes up another couple mm in width due to the back hinge and knobs and shutter release button add 5 to 8mm on the top). The 7sII body is 30mm deep to the Oly's 36mm, but the total depth (with lens) is 60mm (64mm with cap) while I saw one spec saying the 17/2.8 is 22mm long (whether with or without lens cap, that still comes in about the same). It's still amazing to me that the little 7sII is "full frame" and packs a sharp 40/1.7 into a package that's very slightly smaller than the E-P1. But at least now I have a good frame of reference. Enough to know I'm still intrigued and eventually want to try the camera out in person.
Toggle Commented Jul 1, 2009 on The E-P1 to Scale at The Online Photographer
Ken wrote: "Who cares about the size, shape, color, etc. Does the thing take pictures of the quality that we desire? And does the camera work for you or against you? Do we all have misplaced priorities or what?" Not at all. For one thing, most enthusiasts you'll see chatting up this camera on forums already own a camera that shoots satisfactory pictures and are looking for something smaller for times when their primary camera ... too big. So no misplaced priorities there. Secondly, the E-P1 offers all the features and imaging capabilities of a much cheaper DSLR. Minus the TTL viewfinder. So why would anyone in their right mind pay more money for the E-P1 ? Because it's smaller and/or because it's mirrorless (and presumably quieter, but I don't know yet if it's rangefinder quiet or not). Right now, most of "us" are probably DSLR shooters who happen to own one or more compact digicams and we're NOT thrilled with the results we get from them, but we compromise at times to carry a small camera. We're excited about the E-P1 because we know the image quality is substantially better than we get with our p&s's and we're hoping that it's small enough that we'll be willing to carry it instead of a p&s. I'd say the size of the E-P1 is quite reasonably a high priority for most people considering buying one.
Toggle Commented Jul 1, 2009 on The E-P1 to Scale at The Online Photographer
My biggest issue with the G1 is that it doesn't have in-body stabilization and neither the Oly 17mm lens nor the eagerly awaited Panasonic 20/1.7 have IS (at least, Panasonic's roadmap doesn't list OIS next to the 20). The LX3 has a nice fast lens and better-than-average high ISO results (for a small sensor digicam). In a larger sensor camera, I expect fast lenses and image stabilization both or I'm not taking advantage of the larger sensor. I'll have to check out an E-P1 in person. I think I'd be happy with the size of it; I've seen other photos that make it look smaller (larger hands presumably). I'd really like a twistable LCD but could live without it if I really love the camera. I'd like to find out how easy it is to switch from AF to MF - if it's just an override where turning the focus ring on the lens puts you in MF or if you have to click through the menu (yuck). Right now, I have 28mm and 85mm primes for my APS-C DSLR along with a couple of zooms covering 16-300 and a 400 tele. I typically shoot primes or zooms and when I shoot primes, it's almost always people; sometimes it's the 28 for a semi-compact outfit. I can see myself replacing the primes with an E-P1 kit (17mm pancake and maybe the Oly 50/2 with an adapter) and just keeping the zooms and the tele for the DSLR. I suspect I'd end up using the E-P1 at least 75% of the time if I did that.
Toggle Commented Jun 29, 2009 on Taking Pen in Hand at The Online Photographer
In reply to: "Mike, perhaps your next post should explain that f1.4 lenses and pants pocket size don't go together either" I didn't think "pants pocket" was a goal for this camera. I'd never carry it (or any other camera) in pants pockets to begin with, but at best, it's pocketable only with the 35/2.8, certainly not the zoom. (Why'd they bother with the zoom if ther requirement is to fit in pants pockets ?) Anyway, I'd be plenty happy with a camera this sized: In fact, that's exactly the camera I loved carrying everywhere that I'm looking to replicate with something like the E-P1.
Ken wrote: "Anybody ever use a medium-format camera with waist-level viewfinder? " Yup and a digicam with an articulating LCD that is wonderful for doing the same thing. But if you shoot the E-P1 like that, you'll get a lot of pictures of your feet. Personally, I haven't noticed a lot of furor over the lack of an OVF specifically. I've noticed a lot of hand-wringing over the fact that it only has a fixed LCD. Some people want OVF, some want EVF, some (like me) want an articulating LCD. If the lenses I want became available and there was no sign of an articulating LCD version coming, I'd probably live with the fixed LCD. But I'd wait a while to see what happens first. I rarely use the OVF on my digicam - it's inaccurate, small, and the LCD is just better (I only resort to the OVF in bright sunlight) - but at the same time, I rarely shoot with the LCD parallel to the camera body.
An OVF on a fixed lens is fine (Sigma DP-x). TTL OVF (DSLR) is obviously fine. But an OVF just doesn't seem like the right solution for a camera like this. They're all about (electronic) live view off the sensor. LCD, articulating LCD, EVF, or any other variation on LV you can think of. Maybe Canon or Nikon or someone else will release an APS-C fixed lens "compact" with an OVF mated to the lens.
My wife has an LCD p&s and I don't like using it at all. I have a Canon A610 (couple years old 5MP model with no IS at all) that I won't give up ... even though the LCD is small, it swivels up & down and lets me shoot with the camera held low, up high, held up a window with the camera turned 90 degrees or most any way you can imagine. If that sounds like something that's only useful for silly stuff, it isn't - in fact, most of the time, the LCD is oriented some way other than parallel to the camera body. I shoot it a lot from low angles; from a table or counter top, in my lap, but also from up high. Even if I crouch down to get low for a shot, odds are I want to hold the camera a little higher or a little lower to get the perspective I want and a parallel LCD would be hard to view. Part of the appeal of an EVIL camera to me is to be less conspicuous when shooting people. At parties or other events the size of my DSLR with a portrait lens or zoom is attention-grabbing and at quiet events, the sound of the mirror & shutter draws looks. I can tell that people are conscious of me photographing them. If you can avoid a straight line from your eyes through the camera to the subject by having the camera down lower, basically so you're not looking "at" your subject, people relax - they're aware that you're there, shooting, but aren't constantly conscious of the fact that you're shooting at any point in time. It's not being sneaky, it's about avoiding that "hey, don't mind me and this big, black camera and lens that I've got mashed up to my face - just pretend I'm not here" situation. And finally, when shooting kids, I find that kids are much more likely to engage you in what you're doing if you're looking at them and not through the camera. My DSLR does not have live view, so I sometimes resort to a quick peek to frame/focus, then try to hold the camera steady with my face away from the camera, looking at the child. All of these things would be best served by a camera like the E-P1, but with an articulating LCD that I can acutally see at high & low angles. I still think an EVF would be useful for shooting in bright sun, particularly when you want to do more than just frame the shot (like precise focus or DOF preview), but I could live without that. I could probably even live without the articulating LCD, but as of right now, the camera doesn't hold $700+ worth of appeal. With the right viewing system, I could see using the E-P1 with wide-normal and portrait primes most of the time, and using my DSLR with its zooms occasionally.
I could live without raising the camera to my eye. I do that today with my Canon A610. But if I have to live without an EVF, then I'd really like an articulating LCD (like my A610 has). I imagine sooner or later I'll take a look at this camera & I'm sure I'll read reviews that talk about how the LCD does in bright light. There's been little mention of compatibility between the Panasonic G1 lenses and this camera. You'd think they'd be compatible. In which case, the pre-announced Panasonic 20mm lens would be more to my liking than the 17/2.8. F/2.8 is certainly nice - I could settle for f/2.8. But I'd have to take a serious look at the Panasonic LX3. (The Panasonic 20mm is supposed to be faster IIRC). I'm not sure if it's the camera for me, but it's definitely nice to see on the market. And maybe I'll end up with one. I'll look forward to reading experiences with Oly OM lenses. Though I'm sure the prices of those will go through the roof now :( I could see shooting with the 17/2.8 pancake and a 50mm OM lens for portraits.
Some years back, before my daughter was born (but after we bought the house we're in now) I bought a book on building your own darkroom. I'm not sure what kept me from doing it right away, but in hindsight it was a really good thing. I would have had a couple "good years" before my daughter came along, my time disappeared, and not long after that before I switched to digital and the darkroom would become a big waste of time, money and space. I can easily see the darkroom as a sanctuary and darkroom "work" as an enjoyable hobby for many people. I could enjoy it under the right circumstances. But the "digital darkroom" does it for me right now. I work on computers all day, but when I'm going through pictures in Lightroom, the fact that I'm on a computer is secondary to the fact that I'm working with pictures.
Toggle Commented Jun 4, 2009 on Thirty Years Past Peak at The Online Photographer
I've always likened woodworking to photography in certain forum discussions ... Tools matter. A good woodworker can make great things with a hammer and a handsaw ... but most don't. Tools are more about what you can do than how well you can do it. Only a handful of woodworkers are also artists; most are craftspeople working off plans or know-how to produce their own iterations of the same thing that's been produced before. You can probably add plenty of other similarities. I have a decently equipped basement workshop, a number of books and a few years worth of magazine subscriptions. I had visions of being a Norm Jr until I realized that I had no time to be a Norm Jr. So now it's a family handymans workshop, used for small around-the-house projects. But maybe someday ...
Toggle Commented Jun 1, 2009 on Shunners of Sunlight at The Online Photographer
Regarding the contact sheet, I found some interesting thoughts on that in "On Being a Photographer". It's interesting that the authors claim they can see a photographers working method from contact sheets and that most accomplished photographers (they're talking primarily photojournalists/essayists) have a similer working style in which they approach and hone in on their subject, working toward a final selection. It's not so much figured out what worked and didn't as figuring out how you approach the subject; how you "get there". (I think there's a belief that if you learn why one shot works and why another doesn't, you can work toward becoming a zen master photographer who can analyze any situation and then make a perfect picture with a single exposure). I tend to keep a lot more than my best shots on my HD (and in my catalog - formerly PS Elements and now LR) because it's interesting for me, at least, to look at the "story" that unfolds even if I only share a couple a select few.
Toggle Commented May 29, 2009 on Why It Has To Be a Leica at The Online Photographer
The danger in this is that after using a Leica for a year, you'll be even more frustrated with the lack of a digital DMD ! I've been in the camp with those waiting for a decent large(r) sensor compact for years now. A digital equivalent of my HiMatic 7sII would be wonderful. Fixed lens, interchangeable lens ... it could be very compact or less compact (there was a wonderful 70's era fixed lens rangefinder from Yashica with a sharp 50mm lens that was about as big as a small SLR) ... but just less obtrusive, easy to carry, easy to shoot, QUIET :) I'd be interested in hearing your half dozen reasons for choosing a Leica, though I know the experience is different (from shooting with an SLR). The viewing system alone tends to make you look at things a little differently. And you lack DOF preview or the ability to see what effect filters have; you have to visualize everything without the aid of the camera. Personally, I've found that digital capture and post-processing has given me a better understanding of light, dynamic range, and the differences between how our eyes see and how our cameras see than anything I did previously. But that does nothing for composition. Anyway, count me in the 28000. Not that I don't agree with the premise; it's just not for me. (There are loads of things I could be doing to improve my photography, but I'm not doing them, either :)
Toggle Commented May 29, 2009 on The Leica as Teacher at The Online Photographer
I agree that small sensor alternatives to the DP2 provide so-so image quality and that the DP2 compromises usability features, but my choice in this dilemma continues to be to suffer with a bigger, clunky DSLR until the 'right' camera comes along. I have a small p&s that I use for a few things, but still bring my DSLR many places that I'd prefer a large sensor compact. (An f/2.8 or faster normal is fine for me). I've been using my 28/2 more and more frequently and it's the shutter/mirror sound that bothers me more than the size of the DSLR w/28. (In fact, I've even been using it with vertical grip attached more & more). We'll see what Oly has its sleeve.
Toggle Commented May 29, 2009 on DP2 ≠ DMD at The Online Photographer
Not to be picky, just to give credit where due: I pointed to another related essay while Robin recommended "The Thing Itself". Thanks to Robin for providing that link - of all the books and articles pertaining to photography I've, extracting bits and pieces that help me slowly shape my own photography, nothing has been so smack dab apt, so necessary as this essay. It seems so familiar, I wonder if I've read it in this same form before, or only the chapter "The Subject" in OBAP.