Camera Random Neural Firings: Something old and Canon (1Ds Mk II) and new and Nikon (Z)

Just some thoughts regarding recent purchases (also returns) and recent news. As background, I consider myself brand agnostic and think there is space for many brands to accommodate many preferences. Debates regarding one brand versus another will send me backing away slowly. Pointless. These are just some observations regarding recent personal and news feed revelations. Continue reading “Camera Random Neural Firings: Something old and Canon (1Ds Mk II) and new and Nikon (Z)”

3rd time a charm. Revisiting the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8

A lens so nice I bought it… thrice? Anyhoo…

I love a bargain. My father is the tech/geek inspiration, but my mother’s battle cry is “Never pay retail!”

Round 1:

A while back I had a Nikon D3300 that I really liked. Would still have it if the upgrade path were not so prohibitively (for me) expensive lens and body wise. My favorite lens for it was the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. More about that version here and below is a sample photo of a nightmare fuel mutant hummingbird lobster moth thing captured in my backyard with it.

Shots from the day.

Round 2: Continue reading “3rd time a charm. Revisiting the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8”

Samsung is on to something with the NX300… so I just ordered an NX30.

Addendum: Samsung so impressed me with the NX300 that after some consideration I just sold my DSLR and ordered an NX30. Bottom line is that I realized I wanted an NX300 with a built in flash, hand grip, and an EVF. As an added bonus over my just sold DSLR the NX30 offers WiFi built in, a fully articulating touch screen, an articulating EVF, many more focus points, etc, etc. Plus I could share lenses between the 2 cameras. Looking forward to receiving it and taking first shots. -ELW

Recently I exercised an utter lack of brand allegiance by liquidating my, very much enjoyed, assemblage of Olympus gear. Why? Simple. Having an E-P5, many sundry lenses, and a very nice flash larger than my camera I was next planning to purchase:

  • Either an OM-D E-M10 ($699) or OM-D E-M1 ($1,399). A built in EVF to use in conjunction w/ my flash and fulfills my wish for having 2 camera bodies.
  • The very nice Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO ($999). Nice low light, lens envy. But would still give me only 1 camera body.

So I of course traded a few lenses for a Nikon D3300 w/ a 18-55mm kit instead with no out of pocket expense. Eric logic. I love a good deal far more than acquisition for acquisition’s sake.

Then I rather enjoyed the Nikon so for a moment I thought of trading the balance of my Olympus gear for a D7100 so as to have  a 2nd body. But I liked having a mirrorless camera so I instead traded for 35mm f1.8,  a 55-300mm and had a few coins left over for whatever CSC I decided upon. Nothing wrong with the E-P5 or the D7100. Great cameras. Just wanted to see what else was out there, and had become obsessed with interested in obtaining a tidy little CSC with an APS-C sized sensor like my newly acquired Nikon. I realized my initial issue was trying to get one system to do all things which was fair to none. My personal preference was to have a mirrorless to exploit it’s strengths of small size and lightness AND also a DSLR to gain it’s strengths of a burly hand grip for my mitts when using a zoom and a built in viewfinder. After a brief, but obsessive search I settled on trying out an NX300. Let’s get the negatives out of the way:

  • No EVF, on board or even optional. Honestly didn’t care. I wanted small and reasonably priced so something had to lose out. Personal preference.
  • No built in flash, with a clip on included. Honestly didn’t care. I wanted small and reasonably priced so something had to lose out. Again, personal preference.

Now on to why I gave it a shot.

The zoom kits (20-50mm non-OIS kit and 18-55mm OIS kit) are nice, but that focal range was well covered by my D3300 kit lens, furthermore by the 55-300mm and I am a sucker for fixed focal length lenses so the 45mm was the way to go kit wise. I expected to like the NX300, but it has performed well above price and my expectations so far. Because of the price gap I was not expecting it to hang in the same realm of the E-P5, but as this comparison shows the NX300 holds it’s own quite well in fact.

I now have a nice balance. A very nice family event (soccer, recitals, etc.) and long zoom camera in the Nikon D3300 and a very nice compact walkabout camera in the Samsung NX300.

In fact I like the NX300 so much I have already ordered a Gariz half case and will soon be picking up a 30mm f2 lens (since purchased) for that added bit of portability while giving the closest Samsung equivalent to my favorite focal length. Plus instead of potentially laying out an additional $699 to $1,399 to obtain a second body I acquired 2 bodies and 4 lenses on an even swap without a penny spent. Some last thoughts and some sample shots:

  • It takes really nice pictures.
  • A very balanced body with the prime lenses.
  • Manual controls via the i-Fn which makes great use of the focus ring (unused during AF anyway) and is an execution many should take a look at.
  • I really cannot say enough good things about the control layout. Quite impressive given the real estate available.
  • Viewed as what it is, a DSLR sized sensor teamed with compact camera dimensions (assuming you stick with fixed lenses), and well thought out controls, it does not disappoint. It is not a small DSLR, nor do I believe it was meant to be. Even Samsung acknowledges this by producing the NX30.
  • Well implemented Panorama vertical or horizontal.
  • Very nice in camera edit mode for effects (the color edits are my favorite), cropping, and more are very intuitive to use.
  • Great full auto implementation.
  • Touch screen focus very snappy.
  • Power on to ready to shoot quite snappy.
  • Sensor clean can be set for power up, power down, or manual.
  • Continuous near 9fps shooting.
  • Burst folders stored in folder in camera.
  • Likely owing to a bright aperture and quick shutter release, but camera shake is a non issue even for a near 70mm full frame equivalent lens.
  • Having variable playback speed recording in camera (slo-mo to Benny Hill) is a nice touch.
  • In camera video fade in/fade out.
  • Quick AF.
  • Manual focus aids like focus peaking and auto zoom with available always on hybrid manual focus override are executed here better than I have seen before. Want to tweak the autofocus lock? Simply twist the focus ring during shutter half press to automatically zoom in (5x being my preference) and activate focus peaking. Here is the nice piece. Focus zoom location is driven by the last autofocus point.
  • Very small and light.
  • One touch ‘Direct Link’ is a simple add, but very effective.
  • Capture still during video playback in camera is another nice touch I have not noticed on other cameras before. May have been available, but implemented well here.
  • Subtle back thumb grip, shape of the front right of the camera, and the leatherette covering around the middle makes for a camera that is very comfortable to hold and walk around with.
  • Overall it looks like Samsung developers sought to integrate features in a seamless manner that made them quite intuitive to use and easy to discover rather than seeming like afterthoughts. On other cameras features may have been available, but at times they seemed difficult to find and activate or slightly clumsy to use.
  • A few things I am forgetting I am sure, but will add as need be.
  • A great bargain in my book.
  • And… it takes really nice pictures.

-ELW

And further I descend in to the photography rabbit hole…

My latest obsession is a full frame telephoto lens. In acquiring a Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 I had been eyeing, to replace my DX 35mm prime and DX 18-55mm kit lenses and stop the short range lens swapping madness, I also traded my Nikon DX/APS-C 55-300mm, which I really liked. The thinking was and is that I know a full frame camera is in my future, so I may as well make the switch from DX to FX lenses now. To achieve this end I bought a Sigma 70-300mm lens because it was cheap ($199), had OIS, was full frame, and I thought I would not care that it was mushy at the long end. And I was impatient. Plus, how bad could it be?… Yeah, I was really wrong all around on that one.
  1. Would not focus in live view.
  2. Long d-pad press fast zoom and pan during image review was hobbled when the lens was attached.
  3. OIS showed on in the camera whether the switch on the lens was on or not.
  4. Occasionally you would hear a click and all of the nonsense would magically disappear until it inevitably came back for no rhyme or reason.
  5. Initial reviews said nothing of this, but a specific search on the issues above revealed that it was a known issue and that Sigma would fix it with firmware if I sent it to them.
  6. On the fence I took it outside on a clear beautiful day and took a perfectly mushy on center 300mm shot as wide open as it would go…
  7. It was then promptly boxed up at that very moment, RMA printed and affixed and it was shipped back to B&H today for a refund.
No ding on Sigma. For $199 I took a shot, had no hard feelings, and I am sure they would have done right by me if I had sent it to them for a firmware update. Truth is after being spoiled by a constant aperture Tamron 28-75mm I really wanted a constant aperture telephoto zoom. So long lower end 70-300mm lenses. After a discussion with my adviser, my wife, she agreed that I should not waste money buying a lens I knew I did not really want again.  First a dive in to the virtual and real word used bins. But used constant aperture lenses in this range were either non-existent, barely any less expensive than their new counterparts, or were old as dirt. Since I had such good luck with the 28-75mm I tried to settle on the non-OIS Tamron 70-200mm, but the reviews are meh, it is also soft at the longer end like the Sigma I just returned, and I know I want OIS at that focal length so that was a recipe for disappointment. The eye watering Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 was not happening for over $2,000. Worth it I am sure, but just no for this hobbyist. I also could not warm up to the Sigma and Tamron f2.8s. That is a lot of beans for an after market lens even if it is over $1,000 less than the Nikon. Personal opinion there. Then I happened upon the Nikon 70-200mm f4 and it is getting fantastic reviews. The one I found most helpful was here:
Excellent write up by Photography Life that is a great read if you are considering a lens in this range. The highlights for me:
  • Lighter weight and smaller size than the 70-200mm f2.8.
  • Excellent image quality all around.
  • For my purposes enhanced VR seems to compensate somewhat for the one stop loss in constant aperture.
  • Amazing sample shots of wildlife and interior sports.
Simply put I will not be satisfied with anything less and I am unwilling to spend any more. It will take me awhile to acquire it compared to the lower models, but after reading this article I am sure it will be well worth it.
-ELW