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Secret Summer Sale on Phil Steele Photography Courses

My friend Phil Steele is having a private sale on his courses. Phil's tutorials are the best I've seen; check out his previews and see for yourself. He has a 60-day no-risk money-back guarantee, so you've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. You can watch them from anywhere on just about anything, far better than a book, file or eBook.

SAVE 33%: Secrets of Successful Event Photography.

SAVE 25%: Lightroom Made Easy.

SAVE 15%: Photoshop Basics for Photographers.

SAVE 15%: Pro Portraits with Off-Camera Flash.


Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

I buy only from these approved sources. I can't vouch for ads below.

Phil Steele Event shooting

Phil Steele Training

28 August 2015, Saturday

Fujinon 16mm f/1.4 review

Fujinon 16mm f/1.4.

NEW: Fujinon 16mm f/1.4 Review.

Yes! Rockwell's back from summer vacation and writing real reviews again! Whoo hoo!

The scary part is you folks probably do want to see my snaps from Hawaii last week; I'll be getting to them as well as reviews for the X-T10, 16-55mm f/2.8 and 90mm f/2 Fuji goodies.


27 August 2015, Thursday

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L II

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L II USM.

NEW: Canon 35mm f/1.4 L II.


NEW: Canon EOS M3. also comes as a kit with 18-55mm IS STM, and as a kit with a white body, and as a kit with 18-55 and 33-200mm lenses.

NEW: Canon EF-M 11-22mm. (only for the EOS M series.)

NEW: Canon EF-M 22mm f/2. (only for the EOS M series, what's new is that this one is silver; the old one was black.)

NEW: Canon EF-M 55-200mm. (only for the EOS M series.)

Canon has kept the EOS M from America; they've been selling it in other countries since February.

What did I say about watching the skies between 19-27 August? Here we have two biggies just dropped by Canon. Nothing from Nikon; Nikon hasn't had much innovation for quite a few years. Let's be serious; the D3300 is the same as the D3200 and D3100 and the D7200 is the same as the D7100 and D7000 as far as real photography is concerned. Thank you Canon, and Yawn to Nikon!


Nikon D5500 USA box end

USA Sony RX100 IV box end showing "UC2."

NEW: Getting a Legal USA Sony RX100 IV.

There have been increasing reports of people getting ripped-off with gray-market cameras, so here's how to tell if your RX100 IV is legal in the USA. (Ignore this if you're outside the USA.)


26 August 2015, Wednesday


DEAL: Nikon D7000 & 18-55mm: $449 with free shipping, refurbished.


Note Taking?

A reader noticed that most of my film shots have copious notes of focusing distance, lens, filter, f-stop, shutter speed and etc. He wanted to know if all this note taking made any sense if he wanted to shoot film.

My answer is that I've been doing all this note taking since I was 11 years old and started shooting seriously (probably before), and still have ALL my notes.

Rosedale at Night

Boathouse as seen across Conselyea Pond, Brookville Park, Rosedale, New York, 7:45 PM, Thursday, Thanksgiving evening, 22 November, 1973. 30 seconds at f/5.6, infinity focus, Minolta SR-1 camera, 53mm (yes, 53mm) Auto-Rokkor PF f/2 lens, Kodachrome-X (ASA 64), processed by Kodak, Fairlawn, NJ. enlarge.

I made this shot on frame 21 of my very first roll of Kodachrome. It was made with my very first SLR I had bought it the week before, used. I calculated the exposure based on Kodak's printed exposure guides; I didn't need a meter, and meters couldn't read that low back then anyway.

The colored lines are tail lights of passing vehicles along Brookville Boulevard What might look like scratches are reflections from the passing cars. The green tint is from the mercury lighting.

Even as a kid I took notes. Back then I wrote them on paper, and when I finished the roll and got my slides back a month later I copied the notes to the slide mount. If I had made a mistake, I would have been able to correct it next time. 42 years later, my data is still on the slide.

No, it's not important, but I do it because I'm part German, and we Germans like to keep records.

Honestly though, the point of notes is so I can figure out what went right or wrong after I get my pictures back, so I can do more of what works and less of what doesn't.

It lets me see what lenses I actually used or didn't, and what settings work well or not in a given situation. Most importantly, I like to know when I took my pictures. Call me crazy, but little would I have realized that I'd meet my wife exactly 30 years later, to the hour, of when I made this snap.

Digital does most of this by itself. It's why pro cameras like the Canon 1D X and Nikon D4S have built-in voice note recorders, so we easily can add place, people and event names to our photos. (No voice notes = amateur camera).

Pro 35mm (F5, F100 & F6) and 645 cameras also record exposure data. Today I'm using Meta35 system to pull data from my camera to store it with my film scans, and I print the data and file that with my film. I love my Contax 645; it prints lens and exposure data on the film edge by default!


New from Olympus

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, black: $649. also at B&H and at Amazon.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, silver: $649. also at B&H and at Amazon.


Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II w/ 14-42mm, black: $799. also at B&H and at Amazon.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II w/ 14-42mm, silver: $799. also at B&H and at Amazon.


Olympus ECG-3 External Metal Grip: $59.99.


Back in the Saddle

Well, back in my Aeron Chair anyway, my ultra-comfy American-made office chair.

I've been all over the place this summer, and today is my first day back in an office for any length of time since early June, as if the lack of much in the way of formal reviews these past months hasn't already shown you that.

Shooting all over with my Sony RX100 IV, Olympus TG-4 and Fujifilm X100T these past months, a few important generalizations come to mind:


Sony RX 100 Mk IV

My Sony RX100 IV is terribly hard to setup and configure due to the world's-worst menu system loaded with more garbage than a hoarder's garage, and there are too many clicks needed to swap from one memory setting to the next. It needs its M1, M2 and M3 settings on its top dial. Maybe in the Mk V, but for now I still miss photos trying to scramble from one to the other, or Heaven forbid if I need to change even the simplest setting not preloaded by me into the twelve Fn locations.

However, once my Mk IV is set (which it usually is), it shoots faster and better than anything anywhere near it's own size and weight. It outdoes most DSLRs for speed of shooting and ability to read light, focus and exposure by itself, and the images look great so long as I'm not pushing it too hard compared to a DSLR.

The RX100 IV is made in China for light duty. Consider it as an expendable, replacing it after a year of hard pro shooting with the next version — after which you'll have racked up enough great photos to pay for this little toy ten times over.

The Sony's images are optimized for places and things; people pictures are OK but skin tones aren't as magnificent as they are on a DSLR or Fuji.


Olympus TG-4

I'm busted. I've never had an underwater digital camera, and now that I have an Olympus TG-4, my wife keeps asking me "why haven't you had one of these all along?" DUH!

It makes great photos in or out of the water, and with all the water trips I made this summer, I've needed one for years.

The TG-4 has much better menus and ergonomics than the RX100. The TG-4 is so easy and fun to set and use that I often would grab it instead of the RX100 to save myself the mental effort of having to grope around the hoarder's garage of the Sony's menus. The TG-4 has its memory recall modes clearly on its dial, and its menu system is clear, simple and to-the-point.

The TG-4 images look great, with perfect exposure, fill-flash and color all around.

If I didn't have an RX100, the TG-4 is all you really need for a vacation, and has a longer lens than the RX100.

The TG-4 easily held up to being in and out of the water every day for the past month, be it the ocean, pool or hot tub, but I never took it more than a few feet under.

It doesn't like sand kicked-up in water by the shore; if you get grit in its controls then move to clean water and operate all the controls to clear the sand.

I don't know about its 50-foot (15-meter) rating, but for snorkeling, pools and water parks, it easily handles all of it. For instance, when it's around my wrist with its included wrist strap, it's safe and easy to paddle with that hand, using the TG-4 like a small fin.

It loves water, but It doesn't like being dropped. I don't see any rubber around it; it seems like every other dinky plastic camera from the Orient. It's not a Nikonos. Even though rated for a 7-foot (2.1m) drop, Ryan dropped it 5 feet onto a rock and the shutter button section broke off. It and all its dislocated parts then fell immediately into the pool — and flooded. Obviously the "7 foot" drop rating only applies to pillows; it's too delicate to drop onto a big rock, brick or concrete. We'll see how Olympus handles this design defect under warranty.

Olympus' images are ideal for all kinds of photos. I leave it set at "1 VIVID" and people, places and things all look great.


Fujifilm X100T

Ahh, the world's best digital camera. Now that I've been back in the country for a few days and using it for my kids back-to school fun, it's so obvious how the X100T is a real camera and not a disposable like the RX100 IV and TG-4. (Disposable means that these cameras will probably be thrown away and not repaired if they break after a few years.) The X100T is the only one of these with DSLR quality; the RX100 and TG-4 have much, much smaller sensors, and the X100T is the only one with real controls.

The Fuji is a real camera and does everything well, and looks great doing it. Almost every day people are still impressed by its looks

I met a friend yesterday who also owns an RX100/IV, and he thought my Fuji was a LEICA. I busted up laughing, since I explained that while LEICA's 35mm cameras are superb, that my Fuji is so much better than any of my digital LEICAs. (Digital LEICAs are for showing to your friends, not for making pictures.)

Today someone else asked me what it was, thinking my X100T was a 35mm camera.

In each case people think it's a nice, friendly classic camera and warm up to it, which gets me in places I wouldn't with a cell phone or DSLR. Even many photo enthusiasts don't know what it really is.

I'm impressed at how many people continue to be impressed by the X100T when they see it around my neck. As I explained at school, I have pretty much any camera available to me, but when it's something important like the first day of school, I grab my Fuji.

Fuji's colors are superb for people pictures, but not as good for photos of places and things. I have no idea why people buy Fuji's interchangeable-lens cameras for anything other than people photos. People look fantastic in any light with any of the Fujis, but their color rendition isn't very good for places and things.


Interchangeable-Lens Mirrorless

As always, I don't get these. These cost twice as much as an ultralight D3300 (455g) or Rebel SL1 (403g), but only offer only half the performance.

Not that the Fuji X-T1 (435g, an ounce heavier than the Canon DSLR) is a bad camera, but its colors aren't as good for places and things as either DSLR, and it costs three times as much. The XT-1 and the Fujis excell for people pictures, but not for action and not for places and things.

Beats me why people buy these things. The SL1 or D3300 take better pictures with the same size and weight! The problem is that too many non-pros spend too many of their best years behind desks working for strangers making money they don't need, and blow it on expensive toys. They just don't consider that Nikon's and Canon's plastic DSLRs have the same image quality as the big pro DSLRs, just without the price and weight.

A small DSLR is a much better camera for much less money than a mirrorless camera, unless of course you use gear purchases to make up for not living the life of which you dream of while at work.


Canon 5DS

Ah, now that I'm back, I can get on to my Canon 5DS/5DS R comparison. The only difference is $200, any difference in the photos between the two are almost completely indistinguishable.

I can also get back to shooting my 5DS R for serious work now that I've returned.


24 August 2015, Monday

Lowest Canon Prices Ever

Here are bundle deals on Canon's top cameras. Sell the extra goodies you don't need to make these even better deals.


5D Mk III: $1,999.06 after rebates and rewards, even less if you sell the printer and etc.

I got rid of my 5D Mk III last month, but it's still faster than the 5DS R I now shoot instead. No one needs 22MP, much less 50MP, and yes, the 5D MK III is a fantastic camera everyone should have — certainly better than the D810 or anything from Nikon. I paid the full $3,500 for my Mk III when it came out.

Canon 5D Mark III w/printer & more: $2,149 after $350 mail in Rebate and includes free shipping — and you get $149.94 in Adorama Rewards to spend next time!

Canon 5D Mark III w/24-105L IS, printer & more: $2,749 after $350 mail in Rebate and includes free shipping — and you get $185.94 in Adorama Rewards to spend next time!

These 5D Mk III bundles include:

5D Mk III and maybe the 24-105L IS
Adorama rewards dollars to spend next time
Canon PIXMA PRO-100 Professional Photo Inkjet Printer
Canon SG-201 Photo Paper Plus Semi-Gloss, 13x19", 50 Sheets
Green Extreme LP-E6/N Lithium-Ion Battery Pack (2000mAh 7.4V)
Lexar 64GB Professional Class 10 600x UHS-I U1 SDXC Memory Card
Lowepro Nova Sport 17L AW Shoulder Bag for DSLR
New Leaf PLUS - 1 Year Digital Camera Service Plan with Accidental Damage Coverage (for Drops & Spills)
One year membership to both Adobe Creative Cloud Photography & Kelby Online Training.

7D Mk III: $1,249 after rebates, even less if you sell the printer and etc.

Canon 7D Mark II w/printer & more: $1,249 after $350 mail in Rebate and includes free shipping.

Canon 7D Mark II w/18-135mm IS STM, printer & more: $1,649 after $350 mail in Rebate and includes free shipping.

7D Mk II bundles include:

7D Mk II and maybe the fantastic 18-135mm IS STM lens
Canon PIXMA PRO-100 Professional Photo Inkjet Printer
Canon SG-201 Photo Paper Plus Semi-Gloss, 13x19", 50 Sheets
Lexar 32GB Professional Class 10 600x UHS-I U1 SDXC Memory Card
New Leaf PLUS - 1 Year Digital Camera Service Plan with Accidental Damage Coverage (for Drops & Spills)

6D: $1,149 after rebates, even less if you sell the printer and etc.

Canon 6D w/printer & more: $1,149 after $350 mail in Rebate and includes free shipping.

Canon 6D w/24-105L IS, printer & more: $1,649 after $350 mail in Rebate and includes free shipping.

6D bundles include:

Canon 6D and maybe the 24-105L IS
Canon PIXMA PRO-100 Professional Photo Inkjet Printer
Canon SG-201 Photo Paper Plus Semi-Gloss, 13x19", 50 Sheets
New Leaf PLUS - 1 Year Digital Camera Service Plan with Accidental Damage Coverage (for Drops & Spills).


18 August 2015, Tuesday

Why the Sony RX100 IV and not III?

Simple: Auto ISO wasn't properly done in the old models.

In my RX100 Mk IV I can program the minimum shutter speeds in Auto ISO. The old models don't let me set this, making the Mark III and older not that useful.

I program the Auto ISO system to choose between 1/8 and 1/20 minimum depending on zoom setting to allow the lowest ISO for things that hold still. I program that into my M1 memory; these are the slowest speeds I hand-hold well at each zoom setting.

I program 1/125 minimum speed for people shots in any light so people are sharp. I program this into my M2 memory.

I program 1/250 for action in any light. I program this into my M3 memory.

Here are the rest of the settings I use in my Memory modes. I use these modes to swap between different shooting situations. If I had to stop and fiddle with all these, I'd miss most of my shots — or need two or three cameras around my neck instead.

The old RX100 models (Mark III and older) can't do this, which means they aren't able to do what I need them to do. Properly programmed Auto ISO is critical to being able to shoot immediately without having to miss the photo while fiddling with settings. Lose the ability to program this, and I'd lose a lot of pictures.

Whatever the arbitrary Auto ISO settings of the older cameras were wouldn't be the right values for a lot of shooting. Nikon and Canon have had this right for years, while the RX100 only figured it out last month as of the Mark IV.


Deals: Fuji Rebates, including the black edition X100S for $848.

Deal: Lowepro Photo Sport 18L Shoulder Bag: $7.95 after $8 mail in rebate. (Regular $39), with free shipping.

Deal: Lowepro Nova Sport 35L AW Shoulder Bag: $16.95 after $8 mail-in rebate.


17 August 2015, Monday

No news is good news

Sorry, no news today.

It's probably the lull before the storm; It's not unusual for major camera announcements to come in late August; that's when the Japanese get back from vacation.

For instance, the D3100 and Canon 60D were announced in late August 2010, the D90 in late August 2008, the D3 (world's first full-frame Nikon DSLR) and Canon 1DS Mk III in late August 2007, the D80 in late August 2006 and the first Canon digital Rebel was announced in late August 2003.

All these were announced between the 19th and the 27th of August.


11 August 2015, Tuesday

Kodak vs. Fuji

Kids use Alka Seltzer to explode film cans

LIVE VIDEO: Kids use Alka Seltzer to explode film cans. It turns out that Kodak's cans leak and don't blow, while Fuji's work great. (Olympus TG-4 VGA movie.) Play 30 MB camera-original © video file.

It turns out that Kodak's film canisters are so leaky that they don't explode when filled with water — but Fuji's work great!


New: DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter with 3-Axis Gimbal and 2.7k Camera: $799.00 with Free Shipping. Get yours while they're still legal!

Deal: Lensbaby 50mm f/2: $59.99 for Nikon or Canon (Reg. $129.95)

Deal: Sony A- and E- Lens Instant Rebates

Deal: Glow ParaPop 38" Portable Softbox: $219.95 (Reg. $300.00) with Free Expedited Shipping.

Deal: Audio-Technica ATH-M70X headphones & Apogee Groove portable USB DAC & headphone amp: $349 (Regular $594!)

10 August 2015, Monday

Olympus TG-4 Review

Olympus TG-4 (red).

NEW: Olympus TG-4 Review.

I finished my review from over the weekend, although I'll be adding more to it for the rest of the summer.

This is a great little camera for beating around and using underwater.


New: Korean Cine lenses in consumer and PL mounts, and a lot cheaper than ZEISS or Cooke!


Fuji X-Pro1 deals

Fujifilm X-Pro1 with 27mm f/2.8: $799.90.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 with 27mm f/2.8 and 35mm f/1.4: $949.85.

Fuji Reviews.


Sale: Lexar cards.


08 August 2015, Saturday

Sony RX100 Mk IV Review

Sony RX100 Mk IV.

FINALLY: Sony RX100 Full Review.

It's been a month or more, and I finally added all my input, user tips and sample image files to my review. Get one!


07 August 2015, Friday

Bahamas photos

NEW: Bahamas Sony RX100 Gallery!

Whoo hoo!

Here's what I shot a few weeks ago in the Bahamas. I love the RX100!


05 August 2015, Wednesday

New Nikon Lens Rebates.

Strobe deal: Flashpoint StreakLight 360 WS strobe, BP-960 power pack, Transceiver Set & Umbrella Kit: $399.95 with free expedited shipping.

Deal: Nikon D7100 for $629.95 (refurbished).

Deal: Pioneer HDJ-2000 Headphones: $149.99 (Regular $249). Also in white.


04 August 2015, Tuesday

Nikon 200-500mm

Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 VR.

NEW: Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 E VR Review. $1,397!!!


Nikon 24-70mm VR

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 VR.

NEW: Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 E VR Review.


Nikon 24mm f/1.8 AF-S

Nikon 24mm f/1.8G.

NEW: Nikon 24mm f/1.8 G Review.


NEW: Infra-Red Fujifilm X-T1 IR. also at Adorama.


03 August 2015, Monday

Canon 1D X

Canon 1D X and 28mm f/1.8 USM.

Canon 1DX

The Canon 1DX is the world's best camera for sports, news, action and general professional use, and it's now on sale for $4,599. It was $6,800 when introduced, and has been the world's top pro camera ever since. (if the sale link gives an error, try hitting refresh or closing the window and trying again; this is a popular item!)

It's also on sale at B&H and at Amazon.

We're in luck because the US Dollar is worth 25% more against the Japanese yen than it was a year ago; that's why we can get deals like this at the moment.

Talk about a deal; it's not much more than I just paid for my 5DS R!

Your choice is simple: the 1DX is for sports and for taking physical and environmental abuse, while the 5DS R is for making gallery prints and mural-size exhibits of things that hold still under reasonable weather conditions. No one needs 50MP unless they're making 12-foot-wide prints, and even then, 22MP is still more than enough.

If you shoot in driving rain and blowing mud and dirt, you need the 1D X. If you only count pixels and don't shoot action, get the 5DS R. If you only shoot sports, but not at the pro level, get the astounding new 10 FPS 7D Mk II because there's nothing close to it for under $4,500.

The 1D X is a man's camera for full-time pros who have to shoot under whatever conditions nature throws at them or need the fastest frame rate for action, while the 5DS&R is for weekenders as well as nature and landscape shooters who can keep their cameras out of serious weather.

The 5DS R claims some sort of minor gasketing like most other consumer DSLRs, but it's still a girly-man's camera mechanically compared to the 1D X. The 1D X is over twice as fast and twice as tough, and has a built-in voice note taker. Sure, the 5DS R will take some drizzle, but if you're like my friends shooting in the drenching rains of southeast Asia, you need a full pro camera like the 1D X to keep on shooting when everyone else has put away their 5Ds and 7Ds.

I'm always amazed how people spend unhappy lifetimes letting an alarm clock blast them from sleep just to commute to a job that they hate (and are paradoxically in constant fear of losing due to layoffs), instead of simply getting the pro camera they've always wanted, quitting the rat race and becoming a professional photographer and working for themselves. No one ever got rich working for someone else.


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