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Wednesday, 22 July 2020

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What I find quite appealing is that Nikon has kept the IBIS and the good viewfinder of the Z6 and Z7, kept weather sealing, and they have also improved battery life. Now if they would just offer a series of lenses like the Fuji f2 primes...

According to Thom Hogan these Z cameras are in his experience the best mirrorless for focusing manual lenses.

I'm with you, dude. Back in the day you would be interested in premium products for the quality. For example, most lenses were iffy. But these days a $500 camera will give you more than enough quality for almost anybody's needs, so $4,000 cameras are for enthusiasts with lots of gold, and pros for which the small gains are worth it.

Also, again, yes, more compact lenses and cameras are needed. That got lost for a while.

Eolake

"Nikon actually introduced a new lens that is designed for small size and (actual, not just claimed!) compactness"

Is there a difference between small size and compactness?
I'm actually asking, I may have missed something.

I am not a Nikon shooter so I’ve not followed their product evolution. But I certainly groove with your enthusiasm for smaller, less-expensive, often “entry-level” cameras! I have really taken to that little Canon RP ($999, 26 mp full frame, mirrorless mount). It’s light, small as a Leica, excellent ergo (sorry, has flippy screen), uses the fab new Canon RX lenses, superb color. It’s certainly the current best ilc-style camera bargain!

Further, as I’ve had plenty of time to review my image catalog I’ve noted that I’ve captured more than a handful of the images I most prize with relatively low-brow cameras such as Canon “Rebel” entry class cameras.

I like my Z50 with the Tamron 18-400 zoom for my wildlife photography & will consider adding a full-frame Z in the future. I like how the design and button placement on the Z series works - Nikon has most of the best practices in design worked out.

The Z5 has great appeal for me & the new compact lens would fit my quick shooting style.

On the subject of modest telephoto zooms, Nikon also made a 50-135mm f3.5, which is a very nice range and max aperture, IMHO. It was a very good lens for its time; only drawback is that it's a little large-ish.

It's the subject of "Tale 61" in Nikon's "Thousand and One Nights" series of history articles, many of which are quirkily charming. In Tale 61, we learn the story of the "yamaji type" zoom lens design:

https://imaging.nikon.com/history/story/0061/index.htm

Utilitarian, maybe, but what more does one really need? They could all go back to keeping models unchanged for 5 years now. The digital camera problem is solved.

You are right, but you are not: Once you experienced low noise level at 64 ISO, you do not like it at 400 ISO... So my lenses should not be THAT slow. But they are small and light, yes. But they are slow too. And light and small... and ... and...

I think the relevant size comparison between camera systems is always body + lens, not body only. The Z5 with the 24-50 is about the same size M43 body with an Olympus 12-45, or Panasonic 12-35 2.8 (although with a bit less reach at the long end).

Given that the smaller aperture is compensated for by the larger sensor, the only remaining question for me will be whether or not it's edge and corner performance stand up to the better lenses from M43 and APSC. If so, it could be a compelling option for those who want a larger sensor in a smaller package. (Having said that, I'm still quite happy with M43 and wouldn't switch systems because of it).

I think you are thinking of a lens similar the amazing HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3, though this is for APS-C format.

That small lens makes it a very attractive package, doesn't it? It does seem that the previous market push towards "perfect" lenses seemed to forget the practical reality that you might have to carry the thing around if you want to get the shot. I feel like this is directly related to the recent theme about "access". I think one of the facets of access is having the gear with you to get the shot you want. That differs for different situations. If I'm going to shoot polar bears in Nunavut then packing the biggest cameras and longest lenses are an integral part of the equation to make the best use of that access, but if I'm going to ride my bike through the industrial dockside neighbourhood, then this little body and lens combo is what I would want slung around my neck.

A side story from me, I always looked forward each month to reading Galen's articles in Outdoor Photography. One evening after settling into my seat to fly to Denver, I pulled out the copy of OP received early that day and turned first to the page for Galen, only to read with shock and disbelief that he and his wife has died in a plane crash. Reading about a plane crash just as was about to leave on one is not what I really wanted to read about. But, I lived to tell this tale here. Some months later I found a used autographed copy of Mountains of the Middle Kingdom with the like-new dust cover in a local bookstore for $25. That deal left with me!

As regards ‘half a short zoom’. The only lens I regret selling was a OM Zuiko 28-48mm f4. I kick myself now because they have quadrupled in price and shucks, my bargain basement nature just won’t let me part with the money to replace it.

I realize modern digital cameras - especially full-frame examples -can work at much higher ISOs than they could only a few years ago. But it still annoys me when any zoom lens other than an ultra wide or long telephoto starts slower than f/4 and ends up slower than f/5.6.

There are too many recent zooms out there that go all the way to f/6.3 - or even f/6.7 in the case of the Zuiko 70-300mm. Many of them are normal zooms. That's just laziness to me. Or a sign that the glass - and the camera it is mounted on - is not for me.

And that's too bad. Because, like you, I find the Z5 very interesting. No, I don't need it. But I've never owned a Nikon before and wouldn't mind picking up one of these when the price comes down a bit - or once one can find an example refurbished by Nikon.

Back in the 70's my kit was an Nikon F3 with a Series E 75 - 150mm ƒ/3.5 and the Nikkor 35 ƒ/2 AIS. I hardly recall a time when I was wanting for another lens. I was sad handing it over to KEH after it sat on my shelf for over 20 years not being used. I now feel similarly about the Lumix 35-100ƒ/2.8 I use on my G9.

I'm a big fan of wide-to-normal lenses. The 55-100mm f/4 lens for the Pentax 67 was my most used lens for architecture interior work - 28-50mm equivalent. Big, heavy, and optically near perfect.

The light and colours in the photo heading this post are beautiful.

[I always call it "Vermeer light," an interior space with light from a window off to the side. If I ever built a studio it would have a north-facing window with blackout curtains (for some control of direction), a relatively close white wall on the opposite side, and a black background. --Mike]

Mid-range Cameras: When I review a string of award winning photos I always take note of the gear that was used. Quite often I see affordable mid-range cameras in play. Some of the cameras are even a little long in the tooth. The 2020 Astronomy Photographer of the Year Shortlist (DPReview) features three pictures made with a 6D. The 6D was announced in late 2012 yet still performs well enough to win astronomy competitions. The Royal Museums Greenwich website still holds the 2019 winners of this competition and the winning photo for Best Newcomer was made with a modified Rebel 450D which was released in 2008. The 450D was my very first digital ILC so it was cool (and surprising) to see it mentioned.

The 2020 Audubon Photography Awards (also on DPReview) feature pictures primarily made with mid-range, crop sensor cameras (7D, 70D, D500, 1DX, X-T3, FZ80, D7100) due to their extended reach. The 7D Mark II was the most prevalent and was used to create four of the prize winning photos. Mid-range cameras are plenty good for most of us if we can put aside our want and focus on our need.

Small lenses are really nice to use. Apart from being light, they don't frighten people and they don't draw attention.

Whatever price and weight, I like to ask, "What's the performance like wide open?" Maybe I'm spoiled by Leica M lenses that are all still good at max aperture. But a ceremonial maximum aperture of f2.8 that needs to be stopped down two or three clicks to achieve reasonable sharpness and contrast means I'm actually paying for and using a f5.6 lens.

I had to check out what you you wrote since this seems to be a camera aimed at the still photographer: good EVF, good AF, IBIS and apparently good ergonomics. Not so good on video, but sufficient if video is not an important thing. And I like the camera already, not enough to buy it though, but in that the features seem well balanced for "traditional" still photography without going into the spec war.

Another interesting choice from Nikon was the focal length range of 24-50, something that I approve since size can be kept down and that happens to be my most used range. However, f6.3 is just too slow for a normal lens. I'm sure it will find its buyers, but I'm still shaking my head, 50/6.3!

It’s nice to see that flip up screens are still alive and kicking.

For $1300 one can get the Canon RP *with* the 24-105 STM kit lens.

P.S. same weight, too.

I was also a big fan of the Series E 75-150 in the 80s and 90s. Many of my best pictures were made with that lens. Mine was stolen with all my gear in a burglary in 1991, along with the F801 (N8008), my favourite film camera. I found another used lens and an F601 but the camera wasn't as good as the 801.

This new Nikon Z5 interests me, being a fan of IBIS. The choice at the moment is terrific, with the Canon R series too, making it hard to choose. I'm tempted by both.

But I still have my Pentax K-5 with five zooms and as you know, it still produces very nice images. I'm tempted to stick with Pentax and maybe buy a K-3 to go with it.

But I do like video and OLED viewfinders so Pentax fails there. Maybe I won't buy anything and stick with my new fun Nikon P950. It's great to have such choices, though.

[The N8008 (801) was also one of my favorite cameras. I sold my F4s and bought two. --Mike]

I have to disagree about the usefulness of the very slow lenses. I tried a z50 with the 16-50 lens and indoor photos were in the ISO 1800-14400! range, sometimes with the included baby flash. The camera and lens is fine in good light but the lack of f1.8 prime lenses cripple it in lower light. It's not good enough at high ISOs to make up 3-5 stops. My M43 camera with a f1.8 lens was a lot better.

Just out of curiosity, I followed your link to the Nikkor 50mm f1.8 and Holy Cow!
A 50 1.8 that costs $600 and looks more like a 105mm!
And apparently the only other Nikkor "normal" lens is a 58mm f0.95 that costs 8 grand.
I'm a big fan of compact f-two-ish normal lenses, but Nikon's got nothing for me. I'll be sticking with my Fuji.

Bravo to Nikon for making that lens. I would have even liked to have seen them going even shorter and making it a bit brighter, if they could keep the same size, e.g. 28-40 f2.8-4. That would be just about the perfect zoom lens in my book.

> If you're not familiar with the old E Series 75–150mm from the 1980s

I would be because it was the second lens I bought for my 8008s when I got back into photography in the 90s and was playing with color slides and trying to ape Galen Rowell. I still have it in the back of my house somewhere.

Many if not most of the few decent landscapes I ever took I took with that lens back in the day. To this day I wish someone would make a telephoto zoom with a similar range and size. But everything has to be huge instead.

A story about the 75-150... I went to an event that another professional was shooting and the ceremony in the church was blitzed by the shutter sound from their DSLR. I shot the ceremony from a distance using the electronic shutter from my A7s and the 75-150 and explained to the other photographer it was no longer necessary to have mirror slap during church services. I showed them the photos I took and they immediately asked me to leave the event. :)

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