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Wednesday, 28 November 2007

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A bit late to the "game" (the story of my life), I would wish for something along the lines of Mike's desired Nikon:

A fulframe sensor in a D300-like body. But I would also want it to have a higher dynamic-range, a lower ASA of 50 (shall we dare to go as low as 25?), and even less noise at the higher IS0s. This may not not be possible with today's technology, but we are asking Santa and his elves. ;-).

Alex

I'm drooling every time I hear that name (Nikon D3)
;)

A bookcase is a nice thing.
Would we be in "our" house in Hungary, it would be on my wishlist too.
There's not much room on the poor thing left that I'm using right now.
But then again, there's not much room left in the house either.....
So, can I put our own house on the wishlist?
Ah, no, that's another post ;)

"Small sensor cameras form a distinct photographic format, and one either embraces that format or turns to other options."

--Sean Reid (alluding to the Ricoh GRD and GRD2)

Mike, the GRD users I've seen seem to be very content with the smaller sensor, and many go so far to say that the smaller sensor fits better the application these cameras were designed for, namely street photography. The pictures exhibit a "character" or graininess reminiscent of film. Replacing the sensor with an APS-C sensor would turn a camera like the GRD into a pale imitation of a Leica M8, or even worse, a less versatile DSLR.

Does a street photographer really want or need medium format quality, like an M8, and plastic noiseless pictures, to be most effective in that genre? The photographers who are actually using these cameras don't seem to think so.

The situation with primes is pretty bleak. Zooms are good ! For every "I wish Sony made an 85/1.8" I can't count the number of people who are happy using the 18-250. Or the CZ16-80 which is about as sharp a lens as most APS-C DSLR owners would need. I've swung from an all-prime lineup to an all-zoom lineup to a mixed lineup, opting to use one or two primes most days. I tried out the A700 with the CZ85/1.4 recently and the AF performance was amazing compared to the pokey 7D and equally pokey Minolta 85/1.4 ... but I'm regularly impressed with OOF highlights from the Min and disappointed with those from the CZ. And the zooms aren't any better. (Well, except for maybe Sony's overpriced 70-200). Sadly, people are impressed with the bokeh from the CZ; if you can open up enough to blur the background, it gets called "creamy". So when people who talk about bokeh are happy with that, it's not surprising that zooms are "good enough". I don't expect I'll ever go back to either an all-prime or all-zoom lineup; two primes: a wide-normal and portrait length at f/2 or faster (don't need f/1.4) will suit me, with zooms (and my tele and possibly a macro) covering the rest.

At least Zeiss is rolling out some primes.

alexmv, since today's mantra is "citius, altius, fortius" - faster, higher, stronger - I somehow doubt we'll see low ISO very soon. I mean, manufacturers seem to have completely moved their R&D to the high ISO area. Olympus E-300 had experimental low ISO left in the firmware, something like 25, or 50 at most. As soon as they heard about it, they issued an update which closed the door. Others don't even try it, it seems. Which is a shame, as more serious photographers would certainly welcome something like that.

BTW, Mike, I'm certain I'll be boring you, but E-410 is still good for being unobtrusive. And there are rumours of primes being designed. Even more, I talked to a person pretty high in the Olympus European hierarchy - she said they got a lot of requests for primes and they are "listening to the market". So now they pushed E-3 out of the doors, they are apparently turning their attention in that direction.

Apropos printer market, I attended the presentation of the latest Epson pigment printers today. Very nice. I got photos 1 and 4 from http://www.clandestineart.com/photo/12.html printed on the biggest one, 11880. Even with the photos not being processed for the printer and with using a paper without a profile, they printed very nice to my untrained and untutored eye. I even got the question of "That's digital?" for number 4. :-)

A Black & White only camera will bring us back to using filters on the lens R G or B filters to get the tone results we want.
The B&W mode in CS3 is a B&W photographers dream. It gives you full control over your image. A hi rez Fuji type sensor will be the ticket. The real problem is 35MM and the lenses can only give you so much, thats where the new stitch programs come in handy---makes your 35MM camera into a 4X5 or bigger with little or no effort. A Macro and stitch program is your best friend for hi resolution landscape photos.
Zoom lens, never leave home with out it. Today it's not just the camera and lens. But the programs you use with them.
Wish list, A new 5D with all the features that are in the 40D Canon for a reasonable price.

What I want is a camera which can write to and read from a standard external laptop hard drive or other usb device. You could download your pictures and check they are backed up safely on the camera's screen, perhaps some simple image editing built into the camera and the ability to process Raws, move files from HDD to HDD. Cheap and versatile backup on the road

"I'm especially grateful for the range of excellent pigment printers, papers, and inks with their extraordinary longevity—these are crucial products and we're so very lucky that the peculiar combination of conditions existed that led to their development."

I think you can really thank
http://www.wilhelm-research.com/

for that. Without Wilhelm shining a light (hah!) in an independent way, I doubt that we would have come so far so fast.

"Street photographers and photojournalist-style artists need something stealthier and more discreet, but that doesn't sacrifice image quality."

Well, there's still film. And good film cameras have gotten cheaper for some reason. :-)

I'm with you on the need for large sensor compact. I'd even take a small sensor compact that wasn't loaded with compromises. But what would be really sweet is a small inexpensive Nikon S3.

Or

A compact waterproof digital camera that was worth buying.

I talked to a Nikon tech/marketing guy at a Nikon media event. They had the entire lineup of Nikon digital cameras layed out on a table. I pointed to the Coolpix 5100 and said I wished someone would make a camera of similar size but with a large sensor. He dismissed the idea for what seemed at the time to be valid reasons (lack of demand, and he said that a camera of such small size couldn't be made with a big sensor). I assume that Nikon would find a way to make such a machine if there were more perceived demand for it. And how hard would it be to fit the electronics into a slightly larger camera, one around the size of an old-fashioned rangefinder compact?

I got to handle the D3 and found it to be very impressive indeed. The Nikon rep snapped off a shot @ ISO 6400, 1/60 and f2.8 in the dim nightclub where the media event was held. The resulting image looked great on the D3's amazing LCD. Unfortunately the D3 is huge and weighs a ton. I would never buy such a large camera unless I needed it professionally. I also took photos while I was there, but I used my small digicam with the equivalent exposure as the D3: ISO 100, 1 sec and f2.8. I had to steady the camera on my knee, but the images I got were pretty good, considering. Surely there is significant demand for cameras that span the gap -- not just in size but also in low-light imaging capability -- between digicams and DSLRs.

Mike,

"Player" mentioned the GRD/2 and I agree with some of his points... remembering a wonderful short article from you about advantages of smaller sensors, e.g. depth of field. With "street" photography however wouldn't most of us be interested in wider primes which by themselves should take care of depth of field needs? That being the case, imho a larger sensor would just result in a "healthier" image... whether b&w or color. Even a larger sensor, when pushed for ISO (needed much of the time for street anyway) would still give the grain mentioned and appreciated by Player.

My real issue with the GRD/2 is price! I can't bring myself to spend what it costs with the specs it has... maybe $399-350 and I'd try it. For the ideal street camera, as long as some of us have waited, I may very well sell my car (probably wouldn't be that much of a sacrifice anyway), but for the likes of what's been available so far? No.

Mike,

I appreciate very much your reminder that we should be thankful.

(And that we could use a political candidate)

I agree with Nicole, who writes:

>>>Does a street photographer really want or need medium format quality, like an M8, and plastic noiseless pictures, to be most effective in that genre? The photographers who are actually using these cameras don't seem to think so.<<<

My concern about the new GR-D II is that it may not have the film-type grain of the original GR-D — that in an effort to improve that image quality (that dreaded term!) the grain will have been made too smooth. These days, if you really like the "35mm aesthetic", typified by Tri-X and HP5+, you can only use small-sensor cameras or artificially degrade files from larger sensor cameras by adding artificial grain.

What small sensor cameras need is some improvement in highlight capture and better ISO 800 and 1600 capability, but not smaller grain.

—Mitch/Paris

Mike,

I purchased a Barrister Book Case arrangement from Hale a few years ago :

http://www.newyorkfirst.com/store/display.cgi?cart_id=&page=3050.html

Quite Customizable and very nice quality. The glass doors allow you to make a nice display of your favorite camera equipment as well :)

I know there seems to be an over-representation of Pentax users in your readership, but it may de worth pointing out that there are essentially as many primes as there are zooms in Pentax' current digital line-up: 14/21/40/50/70/100, not counting the excellent "film" Limiteds (31/43/77)

And more primes to come in the near future, which in Pentax speak may mean anytime between 6 and 24 months (and up).

To "Player," I wouldn't discount sensor size as an issue for street photographers. In fact, a larger sensor gives better light sensitivity and dynamic range, which opens up better possibilities for high ISO work (i.e., low light work, which street photographers do a lot of).

I personally use the Panasonic DMC-LX2, which is a brilliant camera to use (except for the lack of an optical viewfinder). When there's plenty of light the image quality is quite acceptable (as long as you don't go over ISO 100). But it has a tiny sensor (despite the 16:9 format and 10MP). As a result, the camera is amost useless in less than brilliant light.

I get the occasional good shot (http://www.blork.org/mondaymorning/index.php?showimage=202) but it's really not reliable for that kind of work, and I blame the small sensor.

I'm really looking forward to the DP1!

"Street photographers and photojournalist-style artists need something stealthier and more discreet, but that doesn't sacrifice image quality."

Maybe Pentax is planning this with one of their new bodies, and the 35mm macro Limited prime.

Erlik, I am afraid you are right at present--high ISO has replaced the megapixel as the point of comparison (not that I am complaining all that much!). I would like, however, to have the creative options afforded by the a low ISO with rich photographic qualities.

"Mike, the GRD users I've seen seem to be very content with the smaller sensor, and many go so far to say that the smaller sensor fits better the application these cameras were designed for, namely street photography."

Player,
Fine. Then if a large-sensor compact comes out, the people you're talking about can have the camera they want, and I can have the camera I want.

Mike J.

"Fine. Then if a large-sensor compact comes out, the people you're talking about can have the camera they want, and I can have the camera I want."

Absolutely Mike, but just to point-out that a dissatisfaction with small sensor cameras (at least certain cameras) is not universal.

And also, your implication that "serious photographers" are only interested in larger sensors. Again, not universal.

Player,
I didn't say it was universal. If you'll read the post again, you'll see that I was very careful to specify that it isn't. I started out talking about the need for "a couple of choices," and then proceeded to name "a minority of people in the marketplace" as being the ones in need. How do you get "universal" from that?

SOME serious photographers want such a camera. What's wrong with that statement? How is it inaccurate? You need names?

Either I need to write more carefully, or you need to read more carefully....

Mike

"But the public's love affair with zooms is apparently so overwhelming that manufacturers are not even interested in providing prime lenses for those who prefer, or desire, or need them [Note: Pentax excepted], and this is restricting consumer choice for a certain subset of serious photographers."

Uhh... how about Canon? Canon offers just as many prime lenses as Pentax, and several of them are L Series glass: 14mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, etc. There are many other models of macro, T/S, and non-L Series available.

Just today I got at least one wish. The family CFO green lighted 100ft of Tri-X and some Diafine, three cheers and a tiger for me.

Mike,
One of the major differences in film vs digital cameras is one that is hardly ever mentioned any more: the ability of film cameras to accept many kinds of film. Because camera makers must constantly upgrade their products, I predict that some day we'll have cameras with interchangeable sensor modules.

There will be sensors optimized for B&W and infrared, as well as low res ones with larger pixels and high res ones with smaller pixels, etc. And probably foveon-type things and who know what else they will invent. Since different sensors will require different processing algorithms, the processing logic will by necessity be onboard the sensor module, not in the camera. I firmly believe we'll get there some day.

Best Regards,
Clayton

I have to agree where the Digicam is concerned, but for the the ideal 5D challenger will be its replacement! Maybe a mark 2 or maybe a 3D, who knows. The 5D is just too good.

Mike, you're right: I need a bookcase as well. Almost forgot about that.

As for the large sensor digicam, why not just use an entry level dSLR with live preview and prime on it? dSLRs have gotten smaller. The D80 + 24/2.8 does the job pretty well even though it doesn't have the live preview function. But that will change in the next model I guess. Too bad Olympus doesn't make compact moderate wide angle primes, the E410 would be great in this respect.

I'm also interested in a large-sensor compact, but I think that both ggl and Randolph Fritz have made valid points:

1) It is possible to come up with something **close** to the DMD with an SLR design, and the Olympus E-410 is almost there. As everyone and his sister has mentioned, it just needs a small prime to go with it. We may never see a true compact with a large sensor, but we may see dSLRs and pancake primes get so small that they fulfill the same purpose. I realize this isn't exactly what everyone wants, so don't flame me, but it is a thought.

2. As Randolph Fritz points out, why has everyone given up on film? Quality film scanners can be had for ~$200 (yes, I'm serious about the $200) and high-quality compact film cameras can be had for a steal on eBay. We have a wealth of options available, with no need to "simulate" film grain at all. Obviously digital has some advantages, but this is a pretty nice way of tiding us over until a real DMD comes out...

Best,
Adam

I have a Ricoh GX100 and an E-410 with 14-42 kit lens. Can't help the feeling that I need something "in between" them, but no such camera exists. Something like a 40mm (equivalent) f2 lens in a body with a 1-inch sensor would suit me very well and be achievable in a compact size.

Adam wrote:
"It is possible to come up with something **close** to the DMD with an SLR design, and the Olympus E-410 is almost there."

In lieu of such a camera, I keep my eyes on Oly from time to time and never cease to be disappointed at the lack of small, fast primes ... they do seem to be tackling live view, though, which I thing becomes essential in such a camera. The loud, clacking mirror in a DSLR pretty well goes against the idea of the compact rangefinder. So it would have to be LCD/EVF-based live view with no mirror or mechanical shutter. Then all they need is the compact 20/2.8 or 24/2.

I do at times find it is strange the excitement with new products that at times, (and I am also one of them) we almost drool over in anticipation of getting ‘one’ and for some reason later on we believe we need ‘it’

I do have a good stable of equipment. Some are working horses, some are thoroughbreds and even a few ponies .


I dream of the 50M sensor with the 14 bit dynamic range. I don’t really know why, but in my mind somehow it will make my photos better. ‘Really you say!’

With my current equipment I am able, somewhat slower, to get these same results.


I use exposure bracketing to get larger dynamic range images when I need it. I also use pano software when I need to stick together multiple images for very large prints.

It does take more time but definitely not as long to set up and use my 4x5 cameras.

Niels Henriksen.

First off, there seems to be some confusion on the size issue. Small DSLRs are indeed small for what they are, but they're miles away from being tenable as pocket cameras. For reference the Nikon 35ti, Contax T series or Leica minilux are at the upper limit of what I would consider acceptable in terms of size. I already have a lovely smallish DSLR and a pancake lens to go with it, but I still look like a hapless tourist with that thing draped around my neck.

Second, I'm glad that there are people out there doing good work with Canon G series cameras, Ricoh GRDs and their ilk, but that doesn't eliminate the need for a large sensor model. There are more than a couple of photographers that want to be able to limit depth of field or shoot color images above ISO 200.

Finally, it's true that film is still a viable option in the pocket camera market. In fact, given my own personal biases it's really my only option and that's precisely what's got me so miffed. How is it that the camera companies have so completely and totally ignored this niche?

I feel you on the primes, Mike -- they're a lot more fun than zooms to me and my hit rate with them is higher. Zooms keep getting better, but they don't seem to get smaller. To me, Nikon's pro zooms (i.e. 24-70/2.8) are just as daunting as their pro bodies like the D3. Way too big and heavy for me, as I have bad shoulders and prefer my camera to be smaller than my head.

I just don't understand the claim that the noise from the GRD looks like Tri-X. I think that's wishful thinking.
If you want the "Tri-X look" then just shoot the darn film! You can find a higher quality compact camera - even one with interchangeable lenses - and have full-frame, fast-aperture shooting for considerably less money than the GRD.
By the time you've gone through all the motions of creating that film-like look from your digital file, you've killed any advantages of digital capture.

"...why has everyone given up on film?"

Film is wonderful but it is expensive. The big cost is time. The cameras are cheap but it takes an hour to scan a roll of 35mm film. How many digital keepers can you make in an hour? For me the answer is usually: more than I could get out of a roll or film. Digital cameras increase productivity so much that they are inexpensive at almost any price if you make a lot of photos. One development that would go a long way toward restoring the attractiveness of film would be the introduction of radically faster high-quality scanners at reasonable prices, but that seems unlikely.

I'm shooting more film than I have in the past 5 years. Just bought the new Voigtlander 40mm f2 lens for my Nikon F3-P (without motor drive). And I have discovered that the Costco just 1 1/2 miles from my house has equipment to create clean, sharp 18 meg scans. (Scanning film is one of the most boring activites around). Have created several 11x16 prints, from their scans, on my Epson 1280 which I consider to be better than what I did in my 50 years of darkroom work. I use Fuji Reala, and found some Channel Mixer settings for various films which provide good starting points for those images I prefer in B&W. Film and film cameras are great!

To Jonathan:
Why would you scan an entire roll of 35mm?
I look at by negs/slides on a light table, pick the 4 or 5 keepers from the roll, then scan those.
I find it much faster than loading up and viewing one-by-one the hundreds of digital files from the memory card.
Obviously if I was still hooting under a deadline situation digital would be the way to go, but for personal photography the need for fast turnaround just isn't there (for me) and it's cheaper to shoot and process film in my current cameras than invest in a digital workflow system and all the hardware/software upgrades that eventually come with it.

"Why would you scan an entire roll of 35mm?"

Good question. I have two reasons: I scan mostly 35mm B&W and can't reliably pick the good ones without seeing enlarged positives. Also, even when I am looking at the scans on my computer, I don't always know immediately which images I like best, so it's been easiest to scan them all at the beginning. Maybe I should try making real contact sheets so that I can do my initial selection before the scanning stage.

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