Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Surprise! FX is Cheaper than DX: Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED L

For the a similar field of view, the new Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED lens is actually less expensive than its DX counter part, the 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED AF-S DX. Both cover roughly the same field of view and are at the bottom of the price range respectively in the DX and FX lineups, but the FX lens is priced just under $750 and the DX lens is $870. Surprised? I am, but not shocked. I think this further highlights how expensive Nikon's DX ultrawides are relative to the competition. The original 12-24 f/4 DX is more expensive still and lists for almost $1,100 USD.

This raises an interesting question: We all know that FX is more expensive than DX, but what is the current real-world price difference?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What Does it Mean When We Say That the D7000 Is An "ISO-less" Camera?

The concept of the D7000 being an "ISO-less" camera was raised soon after its introduction when photographers started noticing how the noise profile behaved throughout its ISO range. However, the concept is still an easy one to misunderstand, and at times can be quite counter-intuitive. Now that the camera is at the end of its retail life, it (and others using the Sony 16mp sensor) may very well be remembered for ushering the era of "ISO-lessness", as cameras that followed it such as the D800 and now the D5200 exhibit the same behaviour.

But what is the property of ISOlessness you might ask?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Nikon D4x? Baseless Speculation... Based on the D5200

Comments about my photo editing skills will be judiciously moderated....

More objective testing coming in for the Nikon D5200, this time from DxOMark, who have ranked this model as the best ever for APS-C cameras. Ordinarily I'm not a big fan of DXOMark, (and even less so of their lens rankings) because I find the reduction of a number of different variables down to one specific numerical rating to be overly simplistic and terribly misleading. The art of comparing things is more than just ranking what is better than another; writing and reporting should always be more nuanced than that. However, if you dive deeper into their reviews you will get that more nuanced view, and what they have said is in line with other samples being put up on the web. I've already stated that the sensor in the D5200 is the best Nikon APS-C, and have felt very comfortable doing so, almost from the get-go.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Nikon, Tamron and Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 Teardown

Over at Lens Rentals, they've done an absolutely fascinating look at the insides of three popular full frame normal zooms, the Canon 24-70 f/2.8 Mk II, the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 AF-S, and the Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 Di VC. Something that hasn't struck me until know is how similar the Tamron's lens layout is similar to Canon's. Nonetheless, the elements are mounted in a similar fashion between the Nikon and the Tamron. The Canon, however is more modular in construction, and appears to come apart easier. 

Have a look, it's great stuff.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Joby GorillaPod SLR-Zoom Review

As much as photographers love to brag to one another about how steady our hands are, the simple truth is that the best way to extract the most amount of image quality from our cameras is to mount them on tripods. However, carrying a tripod can be prohibitive, both in terms of personally practicality and in terms of permission of use (think museums). Joby has been selling the GorillaPod line for years. Though it is not longer the highest end of then range, the SLR-Zoom model is rated up to 3kg and sits in the butter zone as far as price to performance ration goes. It's bigger brother, the Focus, can hold 5kg and was meant for heaviest bodies like the D3. The following image is a D7000 with a Tokina 50-135, which would tip the scales at just over 1.5kg. It sits comfortably on the SLR-Zoom when mounted with the tripod collar. However, if you try to mount the pod on the body, the lens will not be able to stay up and will droop slowly but surely, so I really wouldn't push the 3kg hard unless there was no other choice.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cheaper iPhone for Apple?

Back in September when I wrote this post, Apple stock had soared to new heights. It was $668.30 on the day that I wrote that post and the price had even topped $700 at one point. Today it is just over $503. I'm not sure if I was clear at the time, but I wasn't writing about the stock in terms of an investment opportunity, but as a gauge of long term growth potential. My point was, no matter how high the stock price seemed then, the long term... and six months is not long term... revenue generating capacity of the company was still excellent because of two things. The first would be for future iPhones to fully convert the public to LTE; as it stands now, it is still something that only early adopters have. The second would be the ascendancy of the iPad and iPad mini from tech toys to mainstream household consumer appliances. That's the long term.

In the past week a couple of news items have crossed the internet. The first was the rumours of a cheaper iPhone in the works. One of Apple's ex-CEO's thinks this is the direction that Apple should go to.... he's also the same CEO who fire Steve Jobs in the 80's. This rumor is nothing new, as there seems to be a cheap iPhone rumour every year, and this one seems to be fading as well. The second was a Wall Street Journal piece about declining iPhone parts orders. I can't give specific comment on either because I'm not privy to the Apple's inside business workings, but in my defence, I would like to say that most of what you read about Apple is written under similar circumstances.

Monday, January 14, 2013

DX Advantage: Look at What Fits in a Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home Bag

Thom Hogan made a big splash in the Nikon community with his "DX Month" series of articles. And even though the market is trending towards smaller and more mirrorless cameras, the DX format still has size advantages of its own. Most of these are apparent to owners of Nikon cameras, but I thought this one picture would be a good visual indication.

True to their flamboyant corporate image, no matter how respectable the outside looks, Crumpler can't resist splashing the colour around on the insides of their bags.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Does the Nikon D5200 Have a Focus Issue "Like the D7000"?

Pocket Lint just published their early impression of the Nikon D5200, leading with the story that they found focusing with the optical viewfinder to be less accurate than with Live View. They're also wondering if it's the same "issue" that early D7000 adopters faced.  Having said that, they were pleased with the sensor output, but I doubt that's what's going to get people's attention...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Nikon D5200 High ISO Review Part 2: DX or FX? Comparison with D600

More information is coming in about the D5200. For a camera that was announced weeks ago, it's surprising that so little has been known objectively about its performance...until now. ePhotozine has samples up for the Nikon D5200. For a comparison of how the D5200 compares to other DX cameras, refer to this earlier post. So far I've been happy with all of the sample images that I've seen from this camera. It's not so much that the camera is an improvement in image quality over the previous DX cameras... I would describe it being as the D5200 being able to make 24mp work better on the DX format than the D3200.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nikon D5200 Sample Image Review: Noise at High ISO

Photography Blog has sample images from the Nikon D5200 here. For reference, I am comparing them to their Sony NEX-7 samples. Unfortunately, Photography Blog wasn't using the same bookshelf test target for the D7000 two years ago, so the nearest equivalent would be their Sony NEX-5N review. This should be a good baseline to compare the new Toshiba 24mp sensor versus the known quantities of the Sony 24mp and 16mp sensors. (However, a really frustrating thing is that the D5200 samples, though shot at the same f/8 aperture, use a tighter focal length). I'll also be discussing their D3200 samples images to compare Nikon to Nikon, and to see what a year's difference makes between sensors of similar megapixel count.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Surprise! Nikon D5200 Sensor is Made by Toshiba

Chipworks just published their teardown of the Nikon D5200 today. Turns out that the sensor inside the Nikon, despite having dimensions and published specs similar to the Sony NEX-7 24mp chip, is in fact, made by Toshiba. This is a surprise, as Toshiba hasn't been a Nikon manufacturing partner in the past. Traditionally, Nikon has used Sony (D800, D7000) sensors, or outsourced to Renesas (D3) or Aptina (V1). Another surprise is that the Toshiba chip is built on a cutting edge copper fab. Nikon, Sony and Canon have only produced sensors from Aluminum fabs in the past, with the only current Copper based image sensor coming from Samsung. There is more to image quality than fabrication of course, but it remains interesting considering that copper has a high electrical conductivity than aluminum. To me, this hints at lower read noise and higher data transfer speeds off of the sensor, but that remains to be seen.

Nikon has been willing to play around with sensor sourcing with the consumer level cameras. If you look at the V1, D3200 and D5200, they all use different sensors than the traditional mainline Sony or Nikon-specified parts. Business-wise, it's a good sign for the company, as it shows a willingness to break out of the "not-invented here" syndrome that often often plagues companies. By appearances, this also makes Nikon one of the most connected camera companies with regards to supplier relationships, and gives them an added measure of product flexibility. Canon does their manufacturing under their own umbrella; with three sensor suppliers and additional fabrication partners, Nikon has the added flexibility of choosing from multiple competing technologies when laying out the groundwork for new cameras.  This is also a reflection of the global reality of electronics manufacturing, with allegiances shifting year to year... watch what happens in 2013 with Apple and Samsung over iPhone and iPad components and patents. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fujifilm X20 and X100s Launch Impressions (Updated)

Details leaked. If you waded through the press release, there's a lot to get excited about if you like the X-series cameras. A review of the headline features of the X100s and X20:

Fujifilm X100s 

  • New 16.3 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor 
  • Image sensor has phase detection (PD) elements. Fuji is claiming " world’s fastest AF speed of just 0.08 seconds"
  • Burst rate to 6 fps
  • Upgrade to EXR Processor II
  • A digital version of the classic range-finder split-image focus aid mechanism, meant to aid focus at open apertures and macro shooting
  • Focus peaking, where the outline of the focus plain is accentuated in live view to aid manual focus while using the live view screen, like the system on the M 240
  • Improved hybrid viewfinder, 2,360K-dot and capable of displaying depth of field during maco shooting.
  • 60fps HD video recording (1920 x 1080 pixels), bit-rate of 36Mbps 

Fujifilm X20

  • 12 megapixel 2/3-inch X-Trans CMOS II sensor, replacing EXR CMOS sensor on X10
  • Sensor has built in phase-detection elements
  • EXR Processor II
  • 60fps HD video recording 
  • "Digital Trans Panel" used in new optical viewfinder, which Fujifilm is claiming to offer improved display of shooting information like shutter speed, aperture, etc.
  • Rear display screen unchanged at 460,000 dots and 2.8"
  • New faux leather / metallic top option in addition to all-black 

Fujifilm X20

Friday, January 4, 2013

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 Review

In the early years of digital photography, superzoom bridge cameras were all the rage, thanks in part to the expense of dSLR's. If you were limited with a small sensor, you might as well have make lemonade out of lemons by adding more zooming power, which is something that Panasonic has been doing for quite some time. The market moved on; first came the lower-end dSLR's à la Nikon D40, and then m4/3 and the Sony NEX cameras. You can buy a large sensor camera today for the what a superzoom camera used to cost.

The Panasonic DMC-FZ35 is an older camera in a long line of Panasonic super-zooms. This camera was released in September, 2009, superceding a  number of cameras before it, and in turn, being replaced by the FZ40/45 and most recently the FZ60. However, considering that the majority of camera owners are not serious enthusiasts, this camera is actually representative of what's actually out there in the closets of real-world camera owners: a less expensive device that is a little bit out of date, and by no means cutting edge technology. If you spend your working day being non-productive on DPR's forums it's easy to forget that. However, this was a well-received camera for its day, and as is often the case, the easiest way to longevity is to be good from the get-go.

Consumer-level cameras tend to be refreshed every year, if not sooner, so the number of upgrades and improvements since has been incremental, but steady. Panasonic used to differentiate between their more serious-enthusiast compacts that used the larger 1/1.7" sensors over the less expensive cameras using 1/2.33" sensors, but the lines have gotten blurred over time as different permutations of sensors and lens combinations were issued. Still, the models with three digit numbers are higher spec'd than the ones with two digits. (If you are reading this in Europe, the FZ38 was a re-badged version of the FZ35). The FZ35 runs on a 1/2.33" 12.1mp sensor hooked up to Panasonic's Venus V engine. Driving all of that is a f/2.8-4.4 27-486mm full-frame equivalent zoom lens. The modern equivalent would be the DMC-FZ60, which has essentially similar specs but a modern modern sensor and image processing engine (goes to ISO "6400") and adds even more zoom. A step up would be the DMC-FZ200, which has a constant f/2.8 lens.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Nikon D3: Dodgey Craigslist Posting

Continuing with an ongoing tradition of picking apart suspect Craigslist ads here on 1000wordpics, I bring you this mongrel of a camera kit up for sale recently:

Nikon D3-With Nikon 18-200 1:3.5-5.6 G ED VR Lens - $2300

Used Nikon D3 bodyand its come with Nikon 18-200 1:3.5-5.6 G ED VR Lens. Shows some very minor cosmetic wear, but all functions work perfectly, and it still has lots of life left in it! I just had the sensor professionally cleaned, so it's all ready to start taking amazing pictures! Includes 2 batteries, battery charger