Thursday, February 28, 2013

Nikon D7100 vs D7000

As mentioned in a previous post, the new Nikon D7100 is almost the equivalent of a D600 shoved back into a DX body, putting the comparison between DX and FX on one of the most level playing fields ever. However, more value oriented shooters may compare the D7100 with its immediate predecessor, the D7000.

If you have decided to forgo the jump to FX, then the question is then whether or not the D7100 is worth the price difference. Though it has been said time and time again, we are now at the point of diminishing returns. If you can’t get a good shot with a 16mp dSLR, you won’t get a good shot with a 24mp one either. Thankfully, the D7100 shows improvement in other areas as well…. But again, if you can’t make the feature set of the D7000 to work for you, the D7100 won’t be much help either.

Here are some quick thoughts about what the upgrade landscape might look like for various groups. These are generalizations, of course, and are based on a rational view of the camera market. Purchases, though, aren’t rational, so don’t be surprised if none of the following adequately describes your situation

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Nikon D7100 vs D600

Now that we have the Nikon D600 and the D7100, we have one of the most level playing fields in comparing FX and DX. Both have 24mp, both with similar control layouts. In some ways, it's like the D3/D300 era, only with twice the megapixels, except that, the D600 and D7100 are essentially the same camera with different sensors stuff into them.

The question, of course, is not about choosing between the two cameras. When most people ask this question, what they are really asking is if they can find a way to justify the full frame camera that costs nearly double the price; this before the cost of lenses is added. As they say, bigger is always better... until it isn't.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nikon D7100 Impressions

Nikon D7100! The long anticipated day has finally come! To be fair, the wait has been just about right if you were looking for a replacement for the D7000, but it's long overdue if you are wanted to replace a D300s. The signs are a little ominous, though... the question on everybody's mind is if we have seen the last of the D300-style bodies with the introduction of the D7100. Let's get this one out of the way: probably yes.

But before we dive deeper into that question, there is no doubt that this is a lot of camera for the money.  With each new generation of mid-level enthusiast dSLR's, Nikon has managed to either meet or exceed expectations. If many ways, the D600 was like a D7000 with a full frame sensor stuffed into it. Likewise, the D7100 is like a D600 stuffed back into a D7000 body, only refreshed a bit.

Headline Specs

Behold, Ken Rockwell's best! ever! (insert weasel word) camera du jour:

  • 24.1mp sensor, no optical low pass filter (OLPF)
  • 51 point Multi-CAM 3500DX autofocus module, similar to D300s
  • 6 frames per second, 7 fps in 1.3 crop mode
  • 3.2" LCD
  • New OLED display within viewfinder
  • Shutter rated to 150,00 actuations 
  • Central autofocus point can function to f/8
  • MSP is $1,199.99 USD
  • March 21, 2013 release date

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sony DSC-RX1 Review


 noun \ˈlək-sh(ə-)rē, -zh(ə-)rē\

3a : something adding to pleasure or comfort but not absolutely necessary 

3b : an indulgence in something that provides pleasure, satisfaction, or ease 

                                                                          - Merriam-Webster 

When it comes to premium products, the accepted wisdom is that "you get what you pay for" and that "you remember the quality after you forget the price." However, expense is not necessarily an indication of improvement, and "better" means different things to different people. Compare if you will the Nikon D800 against it's lesser sibling the D7000: it's certainly a more capable and better built camera, but one would hardly describe it as being more luxurious than it's less expensive stablemate. At best, we would say that the D800 is more professional.

If you line up the Sony RX100 and the RX1 side by each, it immediately becomes apparent that they share the same DNA, and even if they didn't, the marketing department at Sony sure wants you to think that they do. However, having now sampled a RX1, more professional is not how I would describe it.... more luxurious seems to be a more appropriate description. There are of course, many luxuries and in this case, I don't mean frivolous in the way that a diamond encrusted Rolex Day-Date is luxurious. One of the greatest luxuries in life is to set aside practical considerations and to work on something that is good merely for the sake of being good. This is a luxury that Sony product engineers seem to indulge in whenever given half a chance.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Nikon D600 Instant Rebates for February 2013

Well, it's back: Nikon's instant rebates program for February 2013.

What's also back is a major typo from the last round of rebates. Nikon does not sell a 24-70 f/2.8 ED *VR* zoom lens... oops (again). You have until March 2nd to take advantage of a number of deals, although the close proximity in time to the last set of rebates suggests that this really isn't a limited time offer. If you discount something often enough, the discounted price becomes the new normal. Of course, I'm being a bit unfair, because the bundled savings go right through the lineup, but B&H's promotional screen *very* prominently displays the D600, which ought to tell you something:

Nikon D80: CCD Versus CMOS?

Revisiting an old favorite of mine for this post. This picture was taken in my first year of owning a digital SLR. Compositionally, it's just a few steps away from being perfect, but for my own limited shooting skills, it's right up there for me.

Steveston Boardwalk, Richmond, B.C., Canada

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Nikon D7000 Sensor: Cross Section Review and Implications for Nikon D5200

Sony IMX071 sensor, used in Nikon D7000 and D5100

In a previous post, I went into detail about the so-called "ISO-lessnes" of the Nikon D7000 sensor. A combination of very high quantum efficiency (the ability to convert light into electrical signal) and very low read noise means that for normal use, there is virtually now difference between raising the ISO in-camera or digitally amplifying an under exposed image in post-processing. The D7000 sensor is now superseded by the D5200 sensor, but it is interesting to see in what areas that the latest and greatest will have to beat what was previously a state-of the art sensor. The following electron micrographs come from Chipworks by way of The Landingfield, an astrophotography blog. This is a cross section of the D7000 sensor (Sony IMX071 Exmor):

Nikon D7000 sensor.

Friday, February 8, 2013

More Nikon D5200 Samples: DPReview... err... Review

DPReview has their sample images up for the Nikon D5200. These are probably the best so far with this camera, as DPReview is usually the most thorough and standardized out of all of the testers. Too bad they are also one of the slowest. To see the images, pull up any full camera review and go to the image comparison pages. I used the D600 review page, referencing the D7000, the Sony NEX-7 and the Nikon D3200 and the D600.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

BlackBerry Z10: Early Impressions (Updated)

Today, the long awaited BlackBerry Z10 became available in Canada. I'm not even going to pretend that I can do the device justice, so if you want to full scoop, you've probably already read's exhaustive coverage. My main interests in this device are twofold:

  • Is it a good photography phone?
  • Is it a device that you can live with? 

I'll touch on the last one first. If I had to, I could live with this phone. The operating system is very similar to the Playbook OS, and the unified in-box, now dubbed the "Hub" is also familiar if you've used the updated Playbook. The interface is not quite modern, and a bit stodgy, but the screen swipes back and forth smoothly... but very so slightly less smooth than with an Apple iPhone. The keyboard is terrific and works just as well as any other touch-keyboard I've used. However, insomuch that Android works a little like iOS and vice versa, the QNX based BlackBerry OS is just a little bit different.  If you've never used it, enough of it is identifiable, but there are some things (like gestures) that will be unfamiliar at first.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Star Walk for iOS Review

Star Walk isn't a camera app (actually, it kind of is) so much as it is a pseudo-camera app. The program has been near the top of the educational category in the Apple Apps Store for quite some time now. If you have astronomical inclinations, this is a good program to add to your iPhone.