Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Finally started taking some night shots with this crazy 50mm f/1.2 Nikkor... all I have to say is... oh my. I can shoot by the light of a single flame. My mind is still reeling. I suppose war shooters have been used to this for a while now, shooting with 1Ds's and the Canon's ridiculously fast lenses, but it's a whole new world to me.
So, here's some simple stuff from last night's festivities. Enjoy.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
These work days at Voyager are killin' me... not really, it's just hard to watch entire days vanish into the wind. Fortunately, this vanishing act is accompanied by a steady cash-flow, so that counteracts much of my angst. And hey, if it enables me to grab some great lenses that'll last me a lifetime, I say all this overtime is worth it.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Gnarly ... describes both this trick and my assessment of the Canon 5D that is now in my possession.
I'm a huge fan of this camera body, to say the least. Now, I think you need to think about the gravity of that statement after I tell you that I despise the controls and menu system, or in other words, everything except the sensor and thus image quality. Well, that's not being entirely fair, but I'll voice my caveats later. I want to expound on this subject, though it fall under the hated "gear talk" category. I think it's important, because there are now several distinct options for an affordable full-frame camera. Let me go down the line.
1) Canon 1Ds - Affordable and tanklike, but possessing a far inferior sensor to the others in terms of resolution and high ISO performance. If you stick to 400 ISO and under, sure. But why are you reading my photojournalism blog?
2) Canon 1DsMkII - ~$4000 used, according to my morose and frequent craigslist sweeps, great pro build quality and controls (though they're a little obtuse and frustrating at times, for no good reason.)
3) Canon 1DsMkIII - Get the hell out of here, if you're reading this review, it's not because you're waffling on whether or not to get a 1DMkIII. They're for studio shooters who either want the versatility of a 35mm SLR, or don't want to spend $16,000 dollars or more on a digital medium format system.
4)Nikon D3 - At $5000, it's an attractive opportunity as the first Nikon full-frame, meaning you not only receive the great pro Nikon build, tanklike, as the various 1D's, but their (in my, and most every photographer and photojournalist I've met's opinion) controls and ergonomics are just worlds better. As they say, a Canon is the best camera built by engineers, and a Nikon is the best camera built by photographers. The F-mount is no small advantage either, as you can use millions of Nikon lenses produced over the past four decades in the F-mount. I just purchased a 1970s design Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 Ai-S that performs as well as ever on a full frame body. I view this lens as future proof because I can mount it on a Canon EOS body via adaptor and retain full metering, or I can mount it on a Nikon FX (their term for full-frame) camera like the D3 or the...
5) Nikon D700 - Take the D300, largely called the best dSLR ever made, with its form factor and controls, and put a D3 sensor in there. Call it $3000. Call it... the best camera ever designed for a photojournalist. The D3 may still hold that title to some, but anyone who has shot with a camera without an X-box huge vertical grip attached realizes the huge unadvertised advantage: you're not as imposing! Bear in mind, everything I'm saying about the D700's size is true of the 5D as well. As I was saying, a big-ass professional camera like that attracts notice in a way that smaller cameras just don't. Oftentimes, your subject's apprehension at being photographed is directly proportional to the size and general weirdness of your camera/lens assembly. While a medium format camera often perplexes, a large format camera incites curiosity and often reminiscing, a pro SLR intimidates or scares.
6) Canon 5D - I have this to say about the 5D. It's no Nikon D700. But it's also not $3000, and as a college student on a budget, the 5D is right at my alley. I got it for $1750 at keh.com.
That sounds like a real diss, right? Well, sort of, but not really. Because the 5D is still fundamentally a great camera, regardless of the insanity that is the D700. As any photographer knows, the camera doesn't really make the picture, the lens does. And a 5D enables me to buy a whole lot more glass than I could with that D700. I suspect this is a concern to you, dear reader: you want to make good photographs with a variety of focal lengths and various optical characters, not carry around a fabulous gee-whiz camera with a not-so-fabulous ho-hum kit lens and nothing else, due to tightness in the purse.
As well, the 5D really does operate just fine the way I use it. Note: I'm being a weird artsy photojournalist type and using old Nikkor primes, as my forefathers did when they shot sabertooth tigers and wooly mammoths back in the golden days. Instead of paying $1200 for a Canon 35mm f/1.4 L, I'm spending a third and getting a manual focus Nikon of the same focal length and speed and – I'm going to go out on a limb here – a more interesting subjective "look," not as perfect as the L lens, but with more uncorrected spherical aberration, more flare, just an older, more vintage look in general. You buy distressed jeans in this same vein, why not lenses? This goes on for all sorts of focal lengths, as you'll soon discover as I purchase them. In the end, I've got faster lenses than an f/2.8 pro zoom, more variety focal lengths, and I've spent much, much less, even splurging for a decent F-to-EOS mount adaptor for each lens ($50 at Adorama.)
Anyways, back to the man of the hour, the 5D. Once I made the switch from Nikon to the Canon controls, and conquered the byzantine menu system with a 5D manual in hand (and photo.net not far away for some questions), using the 5D became a very fluid experience, probably just as time-efficient as the Nikon, though I'll still always prefer a Nikon interface.
The 5D sensor is the real story here... it's incredible, better than film. Better high ISO performance, certainly. ISO 1600 is very clean, especially relative to other cameras (the D300 is likely similar, from what I've heard, though it can hit ISO 6400... but we're not talking about crop-bodies here), and ISO 3200 is usable, though I wouldn't suggest it unless the situation requires it. 12.8 megapixels? Well it certainly chews up my CF cards. It's a large enough file for huge prints, 3 feet on a side, and probably larger without much of a quality drop. As soon as you're talking 6 MP, you're good to go for publishing in any magazine or newspaper and even for most fine-art photo prints, unless you're Andreas Gurky.
When the time comes, I'll sell the 5D, call the adaptors a loss, and end the exile of my brave little Nikkors from their rightful homeland, the D700. The 5D is simply the my first full-frame stepping-stone.
The 5D creates a beautiful image, especially when paired with a wonderful old lens. Ironically I've had two pieces of crap on it so far, a Lensbaby 2.0 (which is a really fun piece of crap that I highly suggest, but a terrible optic of which there can be no doubts) and a Canon EF 35-80 f/4-5.6 (barely sharp enough to use by f/11... oi vey.) Keep watching the blog as I receive every magical lens and put it through its paces. I hope it will be at least slightly exciting to some of you.