September 2011's News
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28 September 2011, Wednesday
Kodak is Watching You
Today Kodak builds sensors, called "focal-plane arrays" in the defense industry and CCDs by you and me, that are used in today's spy satellites and space-based and terrestrial weapons systems. Kodak's sensors are also used in the world's best digital cameras, like Hasselblad and the LEICA M9-P and LEICA M9, whose sensors are all made in Rochester, New York, USA.
Kodak, and America's weapons, have been watching us as long as there has been a Kodak. What they're doing today is always classified, however some information just became declassified about what Kodak was doing a few decades ago up until the dissolution of the USSR finally proved that Marx's evil experiment of Socialism just won't work.
Optional history section: Communism and Socialism can't work, as the Soviet experiment proved, because ultimately they have to be administered by real people, all of whom ultimately work in their own personal best interests. The incentives all go the wrong way, so as the years go on, Socialism and Communism circle the drain to oblivion. It sounded great to intellectuals, but ultimately governments are run by politicians and factories are staffed by regular guys, never college professors for either, so the book has been closed on this dark chapter of history since the 1980s. Marx never had a real job; he was a failed poet, and probably has wreaked more havoc on this world than just about anyone. Hey, sorry for the history lesson, but we need to learn from history. The way things could or should be in an intellectual discussion are not at all related to how they actually are and will be.
Anyway, these satellites shot film for the best resolution, and pooped it out the back of the satellite to be caught and developed on Earth. Other satellites and drones made by the British shot film, had an onboard film processor and scanner, and transmitted scanned film data back to the ground, not using the film again.
28 September 2011, Wednesday
The Nikon D1
A reader was gracious enough to give me an effectively brand-new boxed Nikon D1 set from about 1999. The Nikon D1 is the world's first practical DSLR. It is the progenitor of all that most photographers take for granted today. (more at Nikon DSLR history.)
I discovered a design flaw: after paying Nikon for a service because all I was getting were all-black or all-white frames, it came back saying "no problem found," but they charged me for a service anyway just to be fair.
Nikon included a note saying that this problem often is due to bad batteries, and that they'd cheerfully test my batteries for a charge.
For less than that price, I bought a new Lenmar-brand battery which arrived next-day from Amazon with free shipping for we Prime members. Lately, Amazon has been delivering everything next-day, even though only promising two-day delivery, all for free. I think Amazon is working on same-day delivery to put retail to bed once and for all, and good riddance to all the traffic, car-accident deaths and pollution that result from selfish people still shopping at retail. Can't these people wait a few hours for free delivery and save us from their driving all over town? I don't know about you, but people in my family and other friends are dead today because of traffic accidents because people had to shop at retail. No one ever got killed shopping online. I never got to know my grandma on my mom's side because she got killed in a car accident when I was only 3. Marvelous.
With my $24-as-delivered battery, my D1 works great; problem solved. Better than Nikon's original crappy batteries that never worked and had no warranty, my new Lenmar battery has a two-year warranty.
If any of you are old enough to remember the Nikon D1H and D1X, they all had defective batteries even when new: they'd only run a few frames and start reading LOW for the rest of the charge, and then they'd only run a total of a hundred or two hundred shots per charge anyway. Every pro had a bag full of the big nasty batteries, and they all had pointy end caps that made them very uncomfortable to jam in a pocket.
Here's the original D1's design flaw: it doesn't turn off soon enough when the battery gets low, so half of the electronics (the camera mechanics) keep running and you think you're shooting, but the DSP, specifically the data compression board, stops processing the images that you think are being recorded! You shoot, and get blank frames!
Nikon "fixed" that in the D1H and D1X by making the camera turn off sooner, giving even worse battery life. Obviously, Nikon never bothered to fix the flaw in the original D1, and instead moved on to the next model before people's batteries got old enough to show this.
In the case of the original D1, when batteries get old, the voltage sags more under load, so you can get blank frames even when the gauge reads full. Wonderful.
Now I remember why I was so happy to dump my D1H in favor of the new Nikon D70, which ran thousands of shots on a charge of its tiny lithium battery, and had better images, too.
I'm on the "Internet!"
Yay! I'm famous!
For anyone who wants private photo lessons, Steve Cirone is the best guy there is. People ask me, but the kids won't let me out of the house. Steve has a whole business built around giving private lessons and photo tours.
Which Real Camera?
A reader asks: "I'm starting out in photography and want to get a good 35mm camera. I don't want to spend a lot of money on my first camera but I want good quality, so I am considering the Nikon FE2, Nikon FA, Pentax K1000, Minolta SRT-201 and Canon FTB."
My reply is that the Nikons is much better-built than the K1000 or SRT-201, and the Canon FTB even older.
The Nikon FA is more complex and more likely to need service than the FE2, but offers the superb Matrix meter and full automation with almost all Nikon lenses ever made. I'd get FE2 to be safe, and the FA if you're feeling lucky as to getting one in great shape. Most FE2s are going to work great, but FAs are more likely to be broken today.
Guess what: the Nikon FA or Nikon FE2 are both professional cameras and either could very well be the last camera you'll ever need. The others are purely hobby cameras.
NEW: Bass Management.
How to get your bass where it needs to go.
Every man needs two.
27 September 2011, Tuesday
$120 Complete Lighting Kit Deal
Adorama has a special coupon deal for you, my dear readers.
Use coupon code S0925201 at checkout for this two-light kit, and the price drops to $119.99, with free shipping!
This two-light kit uses continuous 5500K fluorescent lights. I prefer strobes for studio shooting, like Adorama's $400 three-light strobe set, and I learned that these continuous light are both for video, as well as for people who don't have a flash meter or know how to guess exposure on their LCD.
This $120 two-light kit is ideal for an inexpensive way to get great lighting for use making product photos, or anything really. I'd be sure to set a manual white-card white balance for the best color, and I do the same thing with my strobes.
Nikon D7000 Deal
Amazon has the Nikon D7000 body available at $1,129 last I looked.
Amazon is fun; every time you refresh the page, you never know what price you'll get. I just looked again, and it's down to $1,118.
Nikon IR Remote Control for $2.88, delivered!
Heh heh, I paid $4 last month. Now copies of the ML-L3 are just $2.88 ML-L3 at eBay, with free shipping direct from China!
The $4 one I bought works great!
Nikon F6 Deal
Here's a new Nikon F6 offered on eBay direct from Japan for $1,950. I haven't bought from that store, but I have been following their ads for years.
They usually sell for $2,500 at B&H, if you can find them in stock.
26 September 2011, Monday
Canon 5D Mark II Instant Rebate
Canon 5D Mark II.
The Canon 5D Mark II, the world's best DSLR for nature and landscape photography due to its combined light weight and superior resolution, has a $100 instant rebate (read price reduction) at Adorama and at B&H: it's now only $2,399. (Sorry, Nikon, the D3X is too heavy to be a contender for nature and landscape photography where you're in the field, and every other Nikon DSLR has much lower resolution than the 5D Mk II.)
At B&H, it also includes a free "Red Giant B&H Video Production Software Bundle ($494.95 Value)," although I have no idea what that is.
Note my use of weasel words in this sentence: "The Canon 5D Mark II is the world's best DSLR for nature and landscape photography." In this sentence, "DSLR" is the weasel word, excluding better cameras that are not DSLRs from the comparison.
If we remove the weasel word "digital," and open the field to every camera, then the world's best camera for serious nature and landscape photography is a lightweight 4x5" camera like the Tachihara.
24 September 2011, Saturday
They're still on backorder, and I added the Fuji X100 to Recommended Cameras as the very best camera for people, reportage and casual photography. I'm taking it everywhere to snap my family, and with no tweaking every shot comes off exactly as I want it. Ever tried to photograph kids? Sports is so much more predictable and leisurely than little kids — and the X100 gets it all under every light.
I also added the LEICA M9-P and the functionally identical LEICA M9 as the best camera for nature and landscape photography. It's smaller and lighter than my DSLRs, and its overwhelmingly superior lenses give me superior results.
23 September 2011, Friday
Thought for the Day
22 September 2011, Thursday
Nikon 1 J1 and 30-110mm lens.
NEW: Nikon 1 System Review.
21 September 2011, Wednesday
Amazon so rules
He was super excited. He wanted to know when they'd be here. I told him about lunchtime, two days later.
All day yesterday all he could ask is "Are they here yet? When will they be here?" He told everyone he met that "Dada ordered two Hexbug ants, and they'll be here in two more days!"
This morning we got up, and the first thing Ryan wanted to talk about were the Hexbug ants. (I also ordered one for his sister). I suggested we go look at the shipping status on my computer, and lo and behold, Amazon was ahead of schedule, and they were supposed to arrive today. Sure enough, they arrived at lunch, or free next day shipping. Amazon's been doing that a lot lately: beating their free delivery estimates.
We all remember great stores that used to have great service, but got cheap and crappy. Wonder where the new top-service store is? It's Amazon — for everything. It has nothing to do with the price; it's all about superior service and superior selection.
Needless to say, Ryan and Katie nearly blew gaskets when they saw that their Hexbugs were here early. We totally scored on colors: we got a blue and a pink one, so they already knew whose was whose.
Getting back to photography, I used to have to order my A76 / LR44 cells to run my real cameras from a watch repair wholesaler in Los Angeles to get them at a reasonable price, but lo and behold, Amazon has them for 22½ ¢ each for the Maxell name brand — again with free shipping! Whoo hoo! I use these in my Nikon FA, Pentax 1º Spotmeter V, LEICA M6 TTL, Minolta CLE and just about every other proper camera. It sure beats paying $3 each at retail.
For you cheapskates, you can get the off-brand A76 cells for less than 10¢ each, delivered, perfect for powering our new fleet of Hexbugs. The 9¢ cells work great, just that if one leaks 10 years from now and destroys a camera, I'll feel pretty silly for trying to save 24¢ 10 years ago. Heck, when I first started buying A76 cells in the 1990s for my FA, It used to cost me $6 the pair at Radio Shack.
And that brings me back to the élan of Amazon: while shopping at Amazon, Amazon suggested many options of 22¢ cells, not the obscene $14-the-pair HexBug Power Cells. $14? That's almost twice the price of the toy! I pity the poor kids whose parents shop retail, and when the bugs' batteries die, the kids are out of luck.
Christmas is always around the corner, and for those of you donating toys (we're always donating to something), remember that the parents of the poor kids who get your donations have no money for more batteries, which they have to buy at retail for $6 a pack of 4 AAs. That's a lot of money to the families who need your donations. You folks on the Internet probably don't appreciate it, but among the kindest things you can do is to remember to attach lots and lots of extra batteries to the toys you give, because that may be the only batteries the kids will ever get for them. (Maybe also try figure some way to remove toys from their infuriating packaging while still leaving them packaged. I shop thrift stores, and it's also sad when I see toys for sale there that I realize have never worked because the parents never knew that they needed a screwdriver to remove some weird packaging from the bottoms of the car toys. The poor kids who got that new toy never got to enjoy it fully.)
The Hexbugs are easy to unpack, YAY, as my kids eagerly awaited for me to free them. They also come with batteries, ready to go, but they'll quickly wear out if your kids have half the energy that mine do. No problems here, I have a box way up high with plenty of A76, but ordered more.
CROCK: I added a scherzo image from the future to my electric cars article.
Nikon 3.5cm (35mm) f/1.8.
The world's first super-speed wide-angle lens, and still a great performer today. It has no relation to the cheap but excellent Chinese plastic Nikon 35mm DX.
An index page for my Nikon rangefinder camera and lens reviews.
Laugh all you want, but if it weren't for these first Nikons, there never not be the DSLRs we take for granted today.
The D3X comes from the D2X.
The D1X is a D1 with a better sensor.
The D1 is an F5 with digital guts.
The F5 is a complete re-do of the F4.
The F4 is Nikon's most innovative camera, which replaced the F3.
The F3 is an F2 with electronic guts.
The F2 is the Nikon F with a faster shutter.
The Nikon SP was the new Nikon with a built-in 35mm finder that took advantage of this new super-speed 35mm f/1.8 lens.
Thus is Nikon's heritage.
17 September 2011, Saturday
NEW: Canon S100 Review.
Mostly the same as the S95, except adds a broader zoom range, 1080P video and GPS.
16 September 2011, Friday
Yashica Auto Focus Motor II D.
I found this in the trash, complete with a blank roll of film, so how could I not want to go shoot it and see what happened?
15 September 2011, Thursday
Tonight, 15 September 2011
This weekend, 17-18 September 2011
San Diego Laguna Mountain Lodge Weekend, featuring me, and it's almost free since we're all volunteering our time ($20 for members, $45 for others).
16-23 October 2011
New Trip: Yosemite for Crazy Photographers!
Dave and I are running a new trip to Yosemite in November, but only for seriously crazy shooters. This means you're free to bring any sort of camera, except a DSLR.
Dave wanted to do an alternative process trip where the crazier your camera, the better. Dave and I tried to figure out how to define alternative process, and we didn't want to say "iPhone and pinhole only" or whatever, so the best we could dream up is simply NO DSLRs. Once we struck out DSLRs, what's left is all cool.
Bring your point-and-shoots, 120/220 Hasselblads, wet-plate collodian, Pentax K1000 or whatever, but leave the DSLRs at home.
We'll be moving too fast for wet-plate or large format cameras; we're really expecting cell phones. I was just kidding about wet plates, but we're serious about no DSLRs on this tour. Dave and I run enough tours for DSLRs: two already this year and one in October above.
Contact Dave Wyman in Los Angeles (323) 377-7565 for registration and more information.
See you there!
Think Tank 20%-off Sale Gets Better!
They've now added more free items from which you may select when you’re checking out. Yipee!
In addition to the Pixel Pocket Rocket, Cable Management 10, and Security tag, you may now select a LARGE Lens Drop In, RU Thirsty, Whip it Out, Skin 50, Skin 75 Pop Down, Skin Double Wide, Skin Strobe, or a Skin Chimp Cage, free when you get something else. Yay!
NEW: Canon 135mm f/2 L Review.
Canon 135mm f/2 L.
As my Canon friends keep telling me, this is one of Canon's best lenses.
Studio Lighting Deal
Novatron doesn't make them like they used to, so here's the same thing, for even less money, from Adorama:
Adorama Three Strobe Set.
Adorama has a $400 three-light strobe set, perfect for portraits and product photography.
It includes three monoblock strobe heads, three stands, and two umbrellas (the third strobe is used as a catchlight from the rear without needing an umbrella).
It also includes a big case about 37" long. The first 50 orders will get a free upgrade to a case with wheels; otherwise, the regular basic case isn't that exciting if you plan to have to haul it around.
These three strobes each plug in the wall with three power cords.
They each have an integral slave, so use your camera's pop-up or shoe-mounted flash on Manual to fire all the strobes together. Of course you can use additinal wireless, radio and IR slaves if you like.
These strobes also operate on battery power if you want to buy additional battery packs, one for each strobe.
The strobes have variable power and modeling lights, and of course to conserve the batteries the modeling lights don't light on battery power.
Flash meters are nice, but I don't use one. Just shoot at about f/16 in manual exposure mode at your lowest ISO, look at your LCD, and adjust the aperture (or lights) to taste.
14 September 2011, Wednesday
Nikon 40mm f/2.8 DX Micro-NIKKOR.
The 40/2.8 DX is a fantastic lens optically, but it's not practical if serious macro is your goal because you'll get in your own way.
It is a great lens for general-purpose use if you value super-close focusing over the faster speed and slightly lower price of the 35mm f/1.8 DX.
13 September 2011, Tuesday
New Canon AE-1 Programs
Talking to friends who've gotten cameras from this seller (and I got one too), his stuff is great. Good luck!
I love the Canon AE-1 Program as my favorite Canon FD camera. While I also have fancy Canon FD cameras like the T90, T70 and New F1, the AE-1 Program just works and gets out of the way, while I still can't figure out the T90. The New F-1 is a pain to use; the Canon New F-1 is what lost Canon the great SLR wars of the 1980s, and why Canon had to start over with the EOS system.
I also just got a Canon EF 135mm f/2 L to review. Canon friends tell me that this is among Canon's best lenses ever for Canon EOS, meaning also their DSLRs.
Nikon 135mm f/2 DC
Nikon 135/2 DC.
DEAL: If you need one of the world's best portrait lenses, I found a used Nikon 135mm f/2 DC, for sale here at eBay at a good price from a great store. I've bought from this store before, and service and product have always been just like new, so I'd go for it. Heck, that store is in Japan, and the items arrived in just a few days when I've used them!
See also see How to Win at eBay, as well as other ones at eBay, to see what a good deal this is on a great lens. They sell fast, so I suspect it will go fast at that price. Nikon can't make these fast enough.
Pop Photo's back!
I just got the current (October 2011) issue of the USA's Popular Photography Magazine, and it's awesome, just like last month's. Clearly Pop Photo has heeded my advice for print media and is finally doing what print does best: talking about photography, and not trying to keep up with the internet for gear and software reviews.
It's wonderful being able to read a magazine full of great photos, instead of computer menu screen shots as Pop Photo has been for the past few years. Not that we didn't love Debbie Grossman's Photoshop articles, but jockeying software has nothing to do with photography. Photography is all about vision, not staring at a screen all night. Heck, layers and masks went obsolete when Photoshop was rendered obsolete for photographers by Apple's superior Aperture.
I am so stoked, yes, there is an article about HDR, but it's about what to do with it and why, and not about how to twiddle software. There was not a single computer screen shot in the article!
Yes, there are some camera reviews, but they are useful and not just charts, and they don't take away from an otherwise feature-filled magazine.
Hey, for $14 a year, it's worth it again.
So Why Don't I Get an iPhone?
I'm too cheap to get an iPhone.
I'm also not going to sign a contract with a some cell phone company that's not happy until I'm not happy. I did just order a BURG watch phone. No camera, but I can pop my existing SIM card in it and go. For $30 over eBay, I'll try it.
With GSM phones, just pop your existing SIM card in a new phone, and you're good, no contracts required, and all your memorized phone numbers come over in the card's own memory.
When I do get an iPhone, that means no more Nikons, LEICAs or Canons, and no more gear reviews, so watch out!
Since iPhones are also GSM and use SIM cards, I hear old models sell cheap, so maybe I'll get one some day.
12 September 2011, Monday
Nikon D7000 on-sale
Amazon's prices change by the minute, but as I checked, it's $50 off and in-stock.
10 September 2011, Saturday
A great flash that replaces the SB-600.
I'm quoted in the San Diego Daily Transcript
Use a better camera!
Want better pictures? Want to stand out from the noise? Then use a better camera!This pro uses his iPhone.
09 September 2011, Friday
Second Anniversary of the World's Best Digital Camera
It was exactly two years ago today, 9/9/9, that the LEICA M9 was announced to the world.
Adorama has some deals on Pentax K-5 kits:
Pentax K-5 body kit with 8 GB card, spare battery, memory case and camera bag $1,199.95. It used to be $1,599.95.
Pentax K-5 kit with 18-55mm lens, card, spare battery, memory case and camera bag $1,349.95. It used to be $1,749.95.
In each case, the price just dropped $100 and an extra $300 instant rebate drops them each by $400. No, I've never played with the K-5; in fact, I have a K1000 SE here on my desk to review next.
Olympus E-5 Deal
New Olympus in-stock
Adorama just got these in stock:
New Panasonic in-stock
Adorama just got these in stock:
Voigtländer 28mm f/2 für LEICA M.
07 September 2011, Wednesday
Truth is Stranger than Fiction: Steve McCurry
Steve McCurry was chosen as the first awardee of the Leica Hall for his indefatigable commitment to a kind of reportage photography focusing on the sufferings and inhuman concomitants of acts of war. "More than almost anyone else, Steve McCurry has recorded the terrible consequences of war and persecution and has thus had decisive influence on our perception of world affairs for decades. For his work, he deserves our thanks and recognition,” says Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, chairman of LEICA.
As far as I know, his most famous shot was made with a Nikon FM.
I'm so confused.
What this all shows us is that the camera never matters. My journalist friends have met Steve undercover out in the back woods of India. Steve was surprised when my American pal casually went over and said "Hi Steve!," as Steve was just out working.
The camera never matters. As far as I know, Steve has never bought any LEICA, and not last week, either.
Thank you, Dr. Kaufmann and LEICA.
NEW: Crock: Electric Cars.
01 September 2011, Thursday
California State Capitol Dome, Sacramento.
I still owe you snaps from last weekend's trip to Monterey.
Awesome New October Workshops
Each is sponsored by a different organization even though Dave and I teach both of them, so you'll need to register in two different places.
Upcoming San Diego Photo Events:
15 September, Thursday: Photo Club meeting: the night sky (free).
17-18 September, Saturday-Sunday: Laguna Mountains Lodge Workshop ($20 pre-registration required). I'm teaching at this event. It's usually only open to locals, but I hear we have a few spots open, so have at it.
Advantages of the X10 are a zoom lens with a manual mechanical zoom ring, but it has only a tiny sensor, not the real sensor of the X100, nor does it have the hybrid electronic finder that makes the X100 the X100, nor does it have an aperture ring nor does it have a shutter-speed dial.
It's just like a Canon G12; it is not in any way an X100 except in price.
Very clever, Fuji: make a $250 camera, puts it in a bigger case and plays off the excellence of the unobtainable X100, and pocket it all the way to the bank. Bravo!
20% off Think Tank Set Sale Continues
The other Modular Set components for sale individually are the Belly Dancer Harness, All the Other Stuff, Bum Bag, LARGE Lens Drop In, Lens Changer 75 Pop Down, Lens Changer 25, Lens Changer 35, Lens Changer 50, Lens Drop In, Lightning Fast, Modular Pouch, RU Thirsty, Speed Changer, Chimp Cage, Trim Changer, and Whip It Out.
The other Skin Set components for sale individually are the Skin 50, Skin 75 Pop Down, Skin Chimp Cage, Skin Double Wide, and Skin Strobe.
See also Think Tank's site. You guys also get a special free gift with each order for being friends of mine. Yay!
I've been shooting for years with Peter Nagainis, an established landscape and panoramic shooter.
Peter has just built his own studio in northern San Diego, with all the lighting, backdrops, photo gear, printers and accessories anyone might want.
Peter wants to get into model and product photography, and would love to meet some local photographers, sylitsts, models and talent to exchange ideas locally.
He wants to know where to go to get information (specific websites, clubs, professional organizations) for connecting with other photographers, models and designers local to northern San Diego.
Does anyone know of an open position in this field, or need a collaborator or assistant to help out on shoots or post-processing?
Any and all input would be really appreciated. There is just a glut of information, both good and bad, and someone could spend forever sifting through it all for answers.
If anyone has a couple of minutes to spare, Peter would really appreciate an email, phone call or perhaps you could meet up for a brief face to face discussion in the San Diego Area.
NEW: Quad 34 Preamp Review.
Quad 34 Preamp (1982-1996).
What Was New in:
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