Category Archives: camera

Oh, one more thing …

As you might have guessed, I have been involved in photography on an advanced amateur basis for nearly 40 years.  I belong to a group called “Old Masters” — not because we are that good, but many are.  The name plays on our ages.  Take a look at our photos here.  As always if you see one you like and can buy a print, please do so … if you see one you think is really nice, please share the link on your social media.  Thanks.

My favorite CEO, Steve Jobs, was known to end his product announcements with “Oh, one more thing… .”  This time I have “one more thing.”

My initial tests of the new Nikon show detail that truly amazes me.  But so far, I have only been able to work in jpeg format … because the D3300’s NEF format is apparently only supported by software (from Nikon, Adobe, and 3rd parties) which runs on a version of the Mac OS that I do not have.  In fact its one that if I upgrade, I lose some capability for other computer things I do which are necessary for my business among other things.  So I am stymied on using this raw format at the moment.

I tend to forget that we really don’t have cameras any more … we have handheld computers and the issue of compatibility with other software is important.  Its exactly like buying a new 35mm film camera and finding out it must use 40mm film and nothing you have in your refrigerator (remember, that’s where we kept film) will work.

Interesting world we live in.

Surviving Religious Wars

As promised this is my fifth and last blog entry relating to the selection of replacement gear.   Before I begin, whether one believes photographers are fine artists, or merely craft artists, I would like you to take a look at some images from this group, the Artistic Photographer.  As always if you see an image you like and can buy it, please do … but at the minimum if you see an image you like, share it on your social media account(s).  It will be a big help to us.

I had eliminated point and shoots because of their small hand “feel”, and I eliminated some other manufacturers because of cost or because they were not big market players and therefore the availability of things like lenses was limited.  That left me with Canon or Nikon, and I went looking for comparative reports.

Did I ever step into a hornets nest.  It was like a religious war.  One side chanting “I believe in the manufacturer Canon, maker of the best cameras on earth” while the other chanted the same words but substituted Nikon.  I was stumped.  Each time I would find a deficiency reported, I would go to that camera’s owners’ manual and find the feature really was there.  What?

I found reports about the superior video of Canon (my company is a video company, and to be able to use my DSLR for b-roll work was a good thing) and believed it because I use a Canon camcorder already, but then would go to another report which definitively said the negative.  I ended up going to a camera store and trying each out.

I ended up selecting Nikon because of the larger sensor AND because the lens would accommodate my array of filters and attachments … I’m sure Canon would have been just as good a choice.  On the advice of a professional photographer, I selected the Nikon D3300 but am buying a couple of upgraded lenses for it.  So …

stayed tuned for my first test photos.

Size matters … sort of

As promised this is my fourth report in my search for a replacement camera.  For those of  you who have followed my posts, you know that I enjoy the nostalgia of photographing old buildings.  I belong to a group which produces art with the theme of “old buildings and ruins.”  You’ll find some of our work here.  As always, we appreciate a print purchase if you like the image enough, but we also ask you to share the image on the social networks to which you belong as that helps us too.

But back to size … sensor size.  The question is how large should the camera sensor be?  The answer is not so straight forward, and in the end is essentially personal preferences and the use to which the images will be put.  This is how I figured the issue out … others with more knowledge will come to different conclusions I am sure.  The bottom line is the result of the printed image … which depends on the desired image size, resolution or sensor size, lens performance, and printer capabilities.  I’m not an expert on lenses so I’ll just assume that your lens works adequately for your needs.

Commercial work is normally requested at a 300 dots per inch (dpi) or pixels per inch (ppi) resolution.  That allows the publisher’s art department to do what I believe is a maximum of cropping 25% of the image away and still getting a good result.

When I worked with 35mm film and slides, the maximum print I ever made was a 20×30″ landscape taken in Arizona.  But if you only print a maximum of an 8×10″ photo, your sensor resolution needs will be much smaller – just don’t expect much quality if you upsize.

As far as printers go, my photo editing software warns if printing less than 220 dpi, and on various Epson models I have made superb prints at 150dpi.  A lot of that depends on the quality of printer you have and the paper you use (I use Ilford, a carryover from my film days I guess).

So if I were to make another 20×30″ image to sell commercially at 300dpi I would need a sensor size of 54 Mpixels; to make that same image on a 220 dpi printer I would need 29 Mpixels, and to print the image on what has worked for me in the past I would need 13.5 Mpixels.  If I intended to crop these images first by say 20% all of those numbers would need to be increased proportionately.   By the way, cropping is essentially electronic zoom so for those of you with a 5x electronic zoom you need a lot of pixels.  On the other hand, if I never intended to print or work with an image larger than 8×10″, those numbers are drastically reduced: 7.2MP, 3.9MP, and 1.8MP – with the appropriate allowances for cropping or electronic zoom.

For my purposes then, I needed to look at 18 million pixel sensor sizes and above … but others could do great jobs with much smaller sensors.

Some reports say that larger sensor sizes do make a difference when the camera is asked to work at the extremes of its iso settings (very high and very low light).  Again, I am no expert so I will leave you to research that yourself.

Next … camera religious wars.

Raindrops on roses …

… and spots on my sensor.  Well it could have been sung that way.

Before I go into this, the third in my journey to DSLR replacement, let me introduce a group of photographers and artists who work with landscapes (the images, not necessarily the orientation of the print or picture).  I work with this fine group … if you find any of our efforts you would like to buy, please do so, but equally as important is to share an image or link you like with your friends on any of the popular social media.  The landscape images can be found by clicking here.

But I was talking about sensor problems, tongue in cheek.  I meant that in the film days we worried about a bit of dust in the transport mechanism, but in general were more worried about dust on the lens itself.  Today we have to worry about whether the dust in on the mirror, sensor, or lens … in my view a more complicated problem than it was not that many years ago.  (I confess to keeping a medium format film camera around in case all the digital stuff goes away – hah).

With the prevalence of good (not especially great perhaps) 18 to 200 or so mm lenses, it would seem that the manufacturers are asking us NOT to change lenses ,,, so maybe the changeable lens DSLR is a dinosaur.  That meant to me I should look for features in a point and shoot.

I did find at least one line that seemed to have what I was looking for, including a jack for an external mic for video sound quality, but in the end the ever shrinking form factor I wrote about earlier reared its head … my hands are just not made to work tiny controls, with tiny screens, on tiny cameras.  My camcorder comes with a little plastic pick so that I can clumsily use its menu system, and I did not want that in my DSLR.

So for me … the whole P&S line was discarded … even though I use a Canon Powershot A1400 to do preliminary scouting work and to make the occasional off-the-cuff videos.

Next time I’ll talk about whether size matters — sensor size, silly!

In case of fire …

Remember the signs in elevators which read “In case of fire, use stairs”?  I recall some wags in one company where I worked scratched out the word “stairs” and wrote in pencil “fire extinguisher.” Presumably their theory was that stairs cannot put out a fire.

But their point sort of works with the first problem I faced in selecting new equipment.  When I see a scene I would like to photograph, I don’t instinctively pick up a telephone, just as when I want to call someone I’ve hardly ever picked up a camera.  Yet today, the two worlds are merging and in fact have merged.

This has led to camera manufacturers chasing the “how small can I make it” form factor, and at the same time substituting internal electronics and software for the old fashioned hand controls of the camera.  Who remembers the rule of thumb ‘sunny day, 1/film speed” and in fact does anyone today have any idea what that meant to us?

So decision one meant I wanted to find a camera that allowed me the maximum amount of creative control without a terribly messy interface of nested screen menus.

As those of you who read this blog know, I am a Floridian.  I love this state, and am saddened by the wholesale destruction of its natural beauty under the bulldozer blade of developers.  Others paint, or photograph aspects of Florida … here is a link to some of their images.

Meanwhile, back at the mo-tel …

Its time to upgrade my digital single lens reflex.  I have used Pentax for many years, in fact getting started with Pentax when it was owned by my employer Honeywell (we wanted the imaging technology for star-trackers).  That is long past, but with an investment in lenses and accessories that were targeted to the Pentax line, I stayed with the Pentax brand.  As you probably know, Pentax went more or less independent, and didn’t do too well, then merged with Hoya whom you may know from their photographic filters line … and has been fairly recently purchased by Ricoh.  I personally think Ricoh will turn Pentax back into a cutting edge digital imaging product, but its time for me to move over to one of the two leaders: Nikon or Canon.  I’ll tell you which and why in a later post.

In the meantime, there are many of us ranging from serious hobbiests to small business people trying to make the occasional sale or two in the photographic arts line.  I’m going to share the various groups I work with on this blog over the next few posts, but let me start by asking you to take a look at my gallery.  Comment, share, or like as you wish … but it all helps a lot.  Thanks.

Click here for my gallery.