January 2012's News Deals
30 January 2012, Monday
Why did I order my own Nikon D4?
Simple: I earn my living with this every day, and in this highly competitive real world, if you're doing enough business to justify $6k for a small competitive advantage for the next few years, it's a no-brainer. In competition, sometimes only the slightest advantage is what wins the race.
Life is tough in photography. It's your own small business, and it's exactly like the jungle. There are only 50 full-time photo jobs in the whole country: 40 of them at local Wal-Marts as the photo studio guy, and the other 10 in industry and museums with 7 of them as badge-photo guys at large corporations, and the remaining three jobs are at huge museums — and all of those 50 jobs are already taken. In "professional" photography, you are your own small business, or you don't exist.
In the jungle, there are those who eat, and many more who are eaten by those who know how to win. Business isn't about fairness or how things ought to be in some college coffee house: business is about you getting the shot and getting the job, because 10 more of those starry-eyed college kids will offer to do the same job for 1/10th price — or free — unless you clean their clocks first.
Photography business has almost nothing to do about photography; like every business, it has everything to do with competition, sales and marketing. Especially with digital cameras today, any idiot can take better pictures than I can.
The professional advantage of the D4 has nothing anything to do with "picture quality," it's about getting the shot someone else won't. The reason a pro with enough gross revenue needs a D4 is simply because it weighs less and runs a little faster than the D3, so we feel better having to carry it all day so we're fresher and more able to see well, and we just might get the grab shot that no one else will. For $6,000, we buy it because we know that the slight advantage it gives us will bring in significantly more extra revenue in a competitive world that our D3s wouldn't. If you use this all day for a living, $6,000 isn't that big a deal.
If you're a hobbyist or not grossing enough, by all means get your D4 for fun, but the business case for it only exists if you're grossing enough for the slight advantage in shootablilty to win you enough jobs.
In the pro scheme of things, my D3 cost me $4,999 in 2007. Over four years later, Adorama will give me $1,500 for it, so it cost me less than $3,500, or under $70 a month. Only my accountant and the IRS know how much I made with it, but I'm pretty sure it's more than that. I could probably get more for it over eBay, but I could make a lot more than the difference in price by spending that time doing something at which I'm good instead of answering questions from strangers over eBay.
Competition is win-lose. There aren't any do-overs. You win the job, or some under-50 kid does. Just like any other kind of race, the race may be won won by thousandths of second. In competition, everything matters. This is why professional bicycle racers might spend a million dollars to develop a bicycle just a thousandth of a second faster: because that thousandth might be all that's needed to win, instead of being second (the first loser).
See also Is It Worth It.
While we're on the subject of innovation and competition, I was going to go on today about how sad it is that America's government has failed the world so sadly that we've not been back to the moon for almost 40 years. 40 years ago we were flying men there and back every several months. It was the Space Age. America proved to the world that nothing is impossible. We gave the entire world hope — while sadly today stupider people write me and think that we "could never do it again." What morons; if we did it in 1969, 1970, 1971 and 1972 with 1960s technology, we certainly could be doing it today if we had leaders.
America had an active program to get men back to the moon today, but current management cancelled the world's hope. When God sits back and looks at what Man has done, he was impressed when we managed to get off our own planet a few times. What have we done recently?
Winning the Tour de France seven times in a row in unheard of, but it's competing against other men. Flying to the moon is competition' against barriers set by God, not other men.
In 1967, before we even sent men to the Moon in 1969, motion pictures like "Planet of the Apes" showed the world that by 1973 we'd be flying between other worlds. Watch the film; it was set in 1973, just 5 years ahead of when it was made, and Charleton Heston nonchalantly flew lightyears away to another inhabited planet, The Planet of the Apes. In the 1960s, America's government fulfilled its obligations to lead the world into great accomplishment that business and individuals couldn't. Only government had the power, and we did it.
Yes, I have a real problem with the fact that dreams of space cover my kid's pajamas with Apollo rockets and Lunar Excursion Modules (LEMs) and moons and Saturns and stars, and that no one has enough hair on their lower extremities to get men back into space where we've already been over 40 years ago. Orbiting around the earth is cute, but America had Monkeys in rockets in the 1940s, and the Russians got a dog into orbit in 1957.
My generation did something worth dreaming about on kid's pajamas. What will my kids' generation have show for themselves to put on my grandkid's pajamas — pictures of zombies "posting to facebook?"
President Kennedy had the vision to say "screw you guys and your orbiting dog, we're going to send men — to the Moon!," and we did it under Nixon's watch. The world had leadership and vision, not just politicians too busy seeing who can send them the most lobbying money. Kennedy even had the guts to put a date on it. When politicians debate today, no one has the guts to put a date on something big, like energy independence, to which we can hold them in the future. Even the Communists did 5-year plans. America got men to the moon in less than ten years after Kennedy promised it, and we were there on time. Holy crap! That was like promising to cure cancer by 2020. Today, nada.
By 1973 we should have had men on their way to other planets, and by the 1980s, ought to have been flying to other galaxies.
As a seven-year-old I saw mankind achieve glorious things beyond anything ever imagined. My neighbors on Long Island were all working at Grumman, where we designed and built the LEM that landed on the moon. Everyday at school each kid would come in and excitedly brag about what his dad did yesterday to help get us one step closer. We took it for granted that that's what we did as Americans: fly farther, higher and faster just because we could dream it.
We got to the moon with little more computing power than slide rules. Honest: all those guys at Grumman? There were no personal computers for ten more years; most of the calculations were done on slide rules! What useful have we done with all the computing power at our disposal? (The Internet was also invented in 1969 by DARPA, thank you.)
I was really hoping that by age 50 mankind would really accomplish something beyond what lies beyond our imagination. But nothing. What is government doing with all my tax money? Nothing much that we couldn't do by spending it smarter ourselves today.
As individuals we can hire our own police, fire, military and package delivery, but as individuals, we could use a little leadership to help us make our dreams reality and get a man to Mars. Oh well. Poo.
As in business, there's no one here to help us but ourselves in this competitive world. Government isn't the answer; we need individuals to step up to the plate and create a new space program to get us out of Earth's orbit and back into space travel. Now then we'd have some photo opportunities!
27 January 2012, Friday
Canon 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5.
Great ergonomics and light weight, but poor optics.
New Photo Tour and Workshop: Oregon's North Coast
See you there! The weather is usually perfect in summer in Oregon, but Oregonians try to keep that a secret.
Obviously Canon didn't introduce a 5D Mk III at CES or PMA, and this price is less than I paid for my 5D Mk II body only. The 5D Mk II is Canon's highest-resolution DSLR; even the new 1D X is under 20 MP.
I just got a SteadePod and am learning it. It's a made-in-USA gizmo that fits in a pocket, and screws into the bottom of a camera and has a retractable steel cord to attach to your belt, or to put under your shoe. American ingenuity, made in America!
26 January 2012, Thursday
Nikon D3, D3s and D4
I've got my Nikon D4 on order, as well as everything else.
In case anyone is curious, I was just talking to Adorama, who tells me that they are paying $1,400 - $1,500 cash for a used Nikon D3. They pay a lot more for the Nikon D3s, but since the used value of the D3s is varying so quickly, you'll have to contact them directly for specifics for your D3s.
Therefore, if you want the D4 and want to sell your D3, D3s or anything else, Adorama is all ears and cash.
Deal: Lowepro SlingShot 202 AW Series, normally $100, special for $59.95
25 January 2012, Wednesday
NEW: NAMM 2012 Show Report.
The NAMM show is completely different from CES. NAMM was this past weekend.
Fuji X100 and X10 deals
When in the Eastern Sierra shooting (or heading to Mammoth for skiing), always stop by Galen Rowell's Mountain Light gallery, which is on the right side of the main street as you head north, so you can't miss it.
If you're there in the next couple of months, be sure to check out Carr Clifton's exhibit. Carr Clifton is one of the greatest living masters of outdoor and nature photography.
Vacuum Tube Factory for sale!
My buddy who founded and owned Groove Tubes retired, and had bought all the original GE production equipment used for certain kinds of audio vacuum tubes.
If you'd like to bring tube production back to the USA (or anywhere else), here's your chance to do it, with the original equipment!
Interested? Phone or email Raffie at Industrial Odds & Ends at (818) 253-5692.
24 January 2012, Tuesday
New Image Sorting Software — Hooray!
Welcome Phase One Media Pro.
I've been using iView continuously since 1999 to sort and evaluate all my digital camera images and film scans. It's the choice of pros, so much that no windows version was available until only recently.
Microsoft bought the program several years ago and denamed it to something like "expression media." A a professional I simply cannot afford the hazards of loading any Microsoft software on my computer, so I've been using my 2006 copy of iView 3.1.3 to this day, every day, for everything related to sorting, cataloging and selecting images.
Once selected, I use Photoshop CS5 to master the image for publication, but when I need to see what I've got and pick the images I'll publish, it's iView. (I use Aperture with raw images, which for me means from LEICA M9 DNGs, and still use iView to select output files from Aperture for publication after I've tweaked them!)
Phase One rescued iView from Microsoft last year. I didn't have the time to try the new version, since my old daily standby — the way I earn my living — worked just fine, and I have no time for new software.
Well, iView 3.1.3 on OS 10.6.8 never shows a full-sized Finder window as I'm saving catalogs, costing me a green-ball click to full-size the window as I'm trying to save a catalog to a specific location. Clicks cost me money, but never enough to want to look at new software.
Lately my copy of iView has been scrambling both my 30" Apple Cinema Displays requiring me to reboot my entire system, and that's not acceptable, so I finally broke down and installed Phase One Media Pro.
The great news for all you folks who've had no way to buy iView these past five years is that yes, Phase One Media Pro seems to work swell, just like iView. I haven't used it long enough to see if my iView problems go away, but for all you folks, that's irrelevant, since the only thing you can buy today is Phase One Media Pro.
One whine is that in "Media View" (command+3), Phase One Media Pro takes a moment to redraw screen images, but no big deal, since I double-click to get to light table (full screen, set preferences > General > Double-click > light table), images in light table update instantly at any size, even rendered as bilinear. Light Table is still limited to six images, CTL-J still brings truncated drop-down options, and it still can't read Canon's auto-set ISO values from EXIF.
The fantastic news is that the new Phase One Media Pro runs exactly the same as my old iView. There's no learning curve for me since all the keyboard commands are exactly the same, and it opens my existing catalogs exactly as the ought to be, and the really great news is that there now is a program I can recommend for all of you who ask me what I use. I fly around in iView half my day here, and it looks like Phase One Media Pro is a seamless transition for me, and a new dawn for most of you. I'm sure I'll break something soon, but for now, a new dawn rises.
New in Media Pro is the ability to display and catalog Apple's Web Archives properly.
Media Pro's icon is even distinctive, which is critical if you're running 10 programs or more at once and need to swap among them out of the corner of your eye. Blue icons all look alike, but not Media Pro's.
I'm running a 6-core 3.33 GHz Mac Pro desktop with 8 GB RAM.
TIme is everything, and it seems that the newest version catalogs about ten times faster then iView ever did. Lossless JPG rotations take as long or longer, and sometimes don't work — oops! Lossless rotation is another critical feature in these programs missing in most other software.
You also can see more at Phase One's site.
23 January 2012, Monday
I'm done adding to my CES 2012 Photo Report. I've got the new stuff on the way to review.
I also completed my CES 2012 Audio Report. If you found it interesting, look at it again to be sure I haven't added something that you missed whenever you last looked at it.
NAMM is a huge music-industry trade-only show, and shows the newest guitars, basses, pianos, amps, strings, reeds, sticks, and as far as I'm reporting, the latest in pro audio gear.
I'll be starting my NAMM report today. The most memorable items were the professional Apogee Duet 2, which for $595, is probably a far better headphone amp, computer interface, DAC, monitor controller and ADC than most of the audiophile rabble out there at triple the price (but the Woo Audio headphone amps are top notch), and the Focal SM9 studio monitors were also quite impressive little beasts.
21 January 2012, Saturday
Velodyne vPulse headphone.
The first of the gear from CES is starting to arrive for review. The cameras are still further out.
20 January 2012, Friday
Kodak files for Chapter 11: So?
Family and friends keep asking me "wow, Kodak bankrupt? Is the sky falling?"
As business owners, we know that filing for reorganization under chapter 11 is merely a trick used by irresponsibly managed parties to weasel out of promises made to others — but to stay in business.
If you're going out of business, you file under a completely different chapter, chapter 7, but you guys know that.
The news media loves to get everyone all riled up, so they report irresponsibly as if chapter 11 is "going out of business." Heck, almost every airline and Ritz has pulled this same "Chapter 11" rich-guy's trick, and they're all still around.
Chapter 11 merely means that you're run irresponsibly and want to skip out on your promises, but to stay in business shining your big ugly teeth back at the people you managed not to pay by playing the chapter 11 legal trick.
All filing under chapter 11 means is that you're a poorly managed and irresponsible operation. It's a badge of shame — but you or your company will still be around, and that you're promising the judge to be better next time.
I'm amazed that Kodak floated along this long. It's been poorly managed for decades. I remember 20 years ago when neither I nor any of my other colleagues could figure out who our Kodak rep was, while we always knew our Fuji guy. We still have no idea who our local Kodak guy is.
Whenever we could find a Kodak rep, all they did was whine about how bad Kodak was doing and how short lived their job might be, and this was told to us as part of their job representing Kodak!
George Eastman invented film, and the ride was easy for the first 100 years. Kodak could do what it wanted, and do well, until Fuji came along with better film that looked better and lasted longer without fading. Old faded color pictures? Kodak film and Kodak paper.
Kodak hasn't been the leading film maker for pro use for 20 years since Fuji replaced them. Kodak floated along on its laurels for decades. For recent decades, Kodak was run it its interest, not in our interests.
After Velvia came out and turned the world on its head, we kept waiting for Kodak to make something better. Ektachrome 100 VS. Lumiere. Every attempt was crummy; and as the years rolled on, Velvia kept making better, bolder and more vivid images than anything Kodak could try to copy, and even if Kodak did or does come out with a film that looks better, it probably would fade much faster than Fuji. If it doesn't last, why shoot it?
With its filing, I expect that Kodak will be around for a long time. I have no worries that I'll be able to get all the TMX100 I can shoot, and if not, Ilford, others and even Fuji make good B&W film, too.
The most important thing Kodak does today is make the CCD sensors used to protect the world's freedom (America's spy satellites are watching you now from space, even inside your home or office, with Kodak CCDs), and Kodak CCDs are used in most professional cameras like the LEICA M9, LEICA M9-P, Phase One, Hasselblad and etc. (Nikon and Canon are consumer products.) But hold on - Kodak hocked their CCD division last year.
Kodak are still the eyes of professional photography, both real photography and "digital."
"Color Photography" is an oxymoron; photography is a black & white medium. "Color" is merely a distortion from pure photography.
No problems. No big deal. Nothing to see here, move along.
But aren't old digital cameras better?
I'm always astounded when some anachonrist asks me "but don't ten-year-old digital cameras really make better pictures because they have much bigger pixels, leading to cleaner images?" (Fewer megapixels means that the fewer pixels left each get more light, because the light isn't being split up amount so many others.)
No. Old digital cameras were awful. I love a good conspiracy theory, but no, digital cameras are still getting better if you can figure out their bloated menus.
Old digital cameras are loaded with problems, like hot pixels, noise, blown-out highlights and more.
I don't suggest anyone buy a new camera, but if you're using a digital camera 10 years old, dump it and get either an old real camera or a new digital camera.
Deal: Flashpoint 4x6" Photo Print Scanner: $39.
This tiny Flashpoint Scanner scans prints up to 4x6." It might even scan business cards, which would be handy since I just got back from the NAMM show and have more cards to scan.
I haven't ever tried this scanner, but it you need one, it's only only $39.00 with coupon code S5413012 used at checkout. It's usually $54.95.
Fuji XPro 1
These lenses only work on half-frame DSLRs, not full-frame of course.
$159 (reg. 199.99) COOLPIX S9100 (black).
$111.11 (reg. $129.99) COOLPIX S8100 (black).
$74.95 (reg. $109) COOLPIX S6100 (silver).
$59.00 (reg. $99.95) COOLPIX S4100 (plum).
$57.00 (reg. 69.99) COOLPIX S3100 (silver).
18 January 2012, Wednesday
News: Win a free LEICA M9-P!
The LEICA Oskar Barnack Award awards a free camera to the submitor of the best series of 10 to 12 images that "expresses the relationship between man and the environment in the most graphic form."
Prize: a new LEICA M9-P and a lens, whoo hoo!
17 January 2012, Tuesday
Tokina 12-24mm deals
Rainy Season Freebies
Think Tank is handing out free eyepieces with their Hydrophobia rain covers (these cover a big DSLR and pro zoom, and the big one covers up to a 600m f/4).
These are for working pros: you can carry the whole rig by the cover, and the sleeves are big enough to let you control the camera (there's a clear wind
When you check out of the shopping cart you'll be asked which eyepiece you would like to receive for free.
See also my Think Tank Hydrophobia review.
16 January 2012, Monday
I think I've got my CES 2012 Report complete.
I'm still refining and adding to my CES 2012 Audio Report.
07 January 2012, Saturday
Newer new trip
Canon so Rules
My wife's crappy HP printer was acting up, so I got called to deal with it. All it ever did was align and clean itself, but rarely did it print its entire life.
It needed more ink, but since it sucked so bad, I didn't think it was worth it.
Checking its reviews at Amazon, I saw that it was designed to be a POS that did nothing but suck ink from the beginning; pure profit for HP (printer makers only make money on ink sales; they would give the printers away except that that would give the scam away).
I found the unopened Canon MX300 box as it arrived from FedEx over 4 years ago, broke open its delicate seal for the first time, and it installed in seconds.
I was wondering if five-year-old ink would work better than the new HP.
Lo and behold, my new old Canon MX300 printer/scanner/FAX works perfectly with its ancient ink.
Good job, Canon!
For whatever it's worth, I'm still using my Epson 1640SU scanner and Epson R220 printer daily. I got the scanner as a refurbished product for $50 in 1999, and I splurged and bought the R220 new in 2006 for $137.
06 January 2012, Friday
NEWS: Fuji XS1 announced.
Here are some of the workshops at which I'll be teaching this year for which we have hard dates and registration available:
(Yosemite in Winter: 16-19 February 2012 (Thursday-Sunday).
I won't be on this one simply because my kids are starting to miss me while I'm out on these things, however I got the best B&W shots ever last year on this trip, so I wanted to let you know about this trip, too. Let Dave know I sent you.)
Olde Southern California: 02-04 March 2012 (Friday-Sunday).
We'll be skunking around the backroads and less-often seen olde missions of historic Southern California.
California's Central Coast en Plein Air: 12-15 April 2012 (Thursday-Sunday).
This trips is awesome: it's some of the most beautiful landscape on earth, and we bring our own chef who prepares fresh meals for us all day as we're out shooting!
Photoact 2012: Santa Barbara: 24-25 August 2012 (Friday and Saturday).
This is something different for me, and a bargain for you.
Publisher Rocky Nook (the guys who publish the world's best books about photography, especially Bruce Barnbaum's "The Art of Photography,") are doing a weekend of conferences and workshops at the most beautiful spot on earth, Santa Barbara and its Museum of Natural History.
Photoact 2012 ia a slew of lectures and field sessions from some of the world's greatest living photographers and photographic artists — and me.
Read all about it, and let them know I sent you.
If you don't want to listen to the speakers, you can listen to America's last remaining great radio station all weekend, KDB 93.7 FM, of which I'm a sponsor.
See you there!
NEW: Nikon D4.
NEWS: AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G.
Forecast: Nikon D5.
Forecast: Nikon D5x.
I was right-on for the past 4 years about the Nikon D4, so I now present to you the world's first accurate forecast for the Nikon D5 and Nikon D5x.
05 January 2012, Thursday
My pal, humanitarian photojournalist Karl Grobl, just launched a new website with video called "Come Along For The Ride," where he shares all he's learned as the world's most acclaimed humanitarian photojournalist.
For those of you considering work documenting the efforts of humanitarian and relief organizations, often called "NGOs" (non-governmental organizations) in the lingo, Karl bares all the secrets of what's involved. Karl has been doing humanitarian photojournalism for a full-time living for something like 12 years.
Be sure to watch the television show at Karl's site.
News: Lexar 1000x CF Cards
Lexar today announced 1000x (150MB/s) CompactFlash cards.
It meets VPG-20 and will come in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB sizes.
These aren't a big deal for my kind of still photography, but they are a big deal for people shooting video to CF cards.
02 January 2012, Monday
NEW: Beyer DT 770 Review.
Beyer DT 770.
Second day of the new year, and the second headphone review. The DT 770 is the closed-back version of the DT 990.
I review what people loan me. If you don't love music, then don't come complaining to me about these audio reviews if you haven't done your fair share and loaned me some camera gear to review instead.
But seriously, folks, I do have plenty of photo gear to dig through here that you folks have been generous enough to send me, and the trade shows where all the new everything will be introduced start January 10th, and I'll be all over it.
01 January 2012, New Year's Day
NEW: Beyer DT 990 Review.
Beyer DT 990.
New year, new headphone review of almost the same thing as last year's DT 880 review.
31 December 2011, New Year's Eve
NEW: Beyer DT 880 Review.
Beyer DT 880.
What Was New in:
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