This page points to all recent articles published on dslrbodies.com, sansmirror.com, gearophile.com, and filmbodies.com, and is updated as new articles appear (most recent on top). For articles from previous months, check the Articles Index Archive.
Today's Articles (Wednesday November 25, 2014):
The Nikon DSLR pricing chart has been updated.
Things You Can Learn From Nikon’s Holiday Flyer. At one time, Nikon was really aggressive about coop advertising with dealers. In most markets there were weekly flyers for all three year-end months and many more during the rest of the year. Article on dslrbodies.com.
What You Should Buy. Before picking a few winners, let me say this: pretty much any digital camera launched in the last year is way above the “good enough” bar for most people. Article on dslrbodies.com.
November 24, 2014 ______
Why Announce a Camera You Can’t Get? A common question last week was “why did Sony announce the A7II only in Japan?” Article on sansmirror.com.
Sony A7s Review. The A7s is the third model in the A7 lineup, and as with the two previous models, the primary difference revolves around in the sensor. Article on sansmirror.com.
November 21, 2014 ______
What Nikon Has Done Right. I get criticized by some on the Internet about my critical comments towards Nikon. Often, those making such complaints don’t see the trees for the forest and overlook the things I do praise, so I thought today I’d take the time to point out some of the things that I believe that Nikon has done right. Article on dslrbodies.com.
November 20, 2014 ______
Nikon Is Generation Image. The NY Times today broke a story on Nikon’s new marketing campaign in the US, targeted at millennial consumers through mostly millennial-consumed media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), and called I Am Generation Image. Article on dslrbodies.com.
But mostly it was a mirrorless update day:
Fujifilm Updates. Fujifilm made multiple announcements today associated with their mirrorless product line. Article on sansmirror.com.
Panasonic GH4, Olympus E-M1 Firmware Updates. Article on sansmirror.com.
November 19, 2014 ______
Another Type of User: Samplers. Samplers are folk with enough disposable income to indulge themselves. If some new product intrigues them or seems to cater to what they desire, they buy it to augment their current gear (i.e. Canon or Nikon DSLR, generally). Article on dslrbodies.com.
November Software Updates. AfterShot Pro 2, Pixelmator 3.3, Lightroom 5.7, ACR and DNG Converter 8.7. Article on dslrbodies.com.
November 18, 2014 ______
It’s discount-oriented Tuesday at bythom, apparently. Get used to it. We’re coming into the weeks where we’re going to see a lot of discussion of price drops. I won’t report everything, but I do try to cover significant changes you should be aware of. Given the yen depreciation against the dollar, the Japanese camera companies have a lot of room to discount product this year (in Europe, as well).
Nikon Lens Rebates Return. As usual, I’ve posted my opinions of which lens rebates Nikon is offering that you should really pay attention to. Unfortunately, you need to buy a body to get these discounts. Article on dslrbodies.com.
Olympus Discounts. The E-M5 has been discontinued and goes on deep sale. Couple that with Olympus’ lens rebates and you can put together a very nice mirrorless package cheaply. Article on sansmirror.com.
In keeping with today’s articles discount focus, I’ve updated the DSLR price chart. The only drop so far has been a 6% discount on the D610.
November 17, 2014 ______
Nikon Df is Golden. In Japan today Nikon announced a Special Edition of the Nikon Df camera: the Gold Edition. Article on dslrbodies.com.
November 13, 2014 ______
Olympus Announces Firmware Updates. Olympus today released firmware updates for most of their m4/3 bodies. Article on sansmirror.com.
November 12, 2014 ______
Sony A7 versus Nikon D750 and A7r versus D810. I just spent some time in Utah and California with Sony/Nikon body pairs. As you might expect, I have a few words to say about that ;~). Article on dslrbodies.com.
November 10, 2014 ______
What We Wanted versus What Nikon Gave Us. We’re pretty deep into the D4 generation now. At this point, one can make some conclusions about where Nikon drove that generation of cameras versus previous generations. Article on dslrbodies.com.
November 8, 2014 ______
Nikon 2nd Quarter Financials. Nikon announced their financial results for the first half of the current fiscal year on Thursday. Article on dslrbodies.com.
Do You Believe in DxOMark? Every new camera introduction causes one portion of the buying population to wait…for the DxOMark results. Article on dslrbodies.com.
October 31, 2014 ______
Late October Software Updates. Quite a few prominent software programs just got a refresh, so check them out along with a couple of brief recommendations. Article on dslrbodies.com.
October 30, 2014 ______
Fact Check on the Nikon Aisle, Please. From the Nikon Imaging site: "The image sensors used with Nikon cameras, including FX (36.0 x 23.9 mm), DX (13.2 x 8.2 mm)…" Article on dslrbodies.com.
Nikon’s Annual Report. Somehow I missed it when it came out (October 7th), but Nikon has issued its 2014 Annual Report. For those that follow Nikon, this particular annual report is of interest because it represents the first statements of the new management team, headed by Kazuo Ushida. Article on dslrbodies.com.
October 29, 2014 ______
The Big Nikon Leak. Updated In case you haven’t figured it out by now, the primary leak point in Nikon’s lineup is the D300. Article on dslrbodies.com.
October 28, 2014 ______
Nikon DSLR Prices. Just for fun I thought I’d put up a page this holiday buying season that tracks Nikon DSLR pricing. Article on dslrbodies.com.
Another FX Christmas. ”So go out and buy an FX camera.” Article on dslrbodies.com.
Previous articles can be found in the Articles Index.
Thom's Monthly Teaching Point — A Landscape Two-Fer
Since I skipped a teaching point in October, this month I’ll use the same image to write about two different things. It’s a Two-fer Teaching Point!
First up, graduated filters. With virtual graduated filters now built into Lightroom and almost every other post processing product that people use these days, I often get asked whether or not it’s still useful to bring them into the field.
Yes, absolutely. This image is a good example of why. That’s the moon up there in the sky, and in this pre-dawn exposure the foreground is massively lower in light than the sun reflecting off the moon. I didn’t use a graduated neutral density filter on this shot, and the moon therefore is a complete blow out. No amount of Highlight recover is going to give it any detail back.
Of course, even a three-stop graduated ND filter might not have saved it in this case. A two-step would (and did) save it several minutes later as the light rose a bit in the foreground. But I like the gentle feel of the pre-dawn light in this image better, so I’m kicking myself about not doing something about that moon. I could have brought the sky exposure down three stops with the filter and the overall exposure down another three stops. Then I’d have to post process the foreground upwards. But the latest Sony sensors can handle that pretty easily.
So, yes, I still recommend that landscape shooters carry graduated ND filters with them. (My preferred filter most of the time is a two-stop soft [advertising link], but Singh-Ray also makes hard edge plus one and three stop versions, and often carry a mix in the field). I also tend to recommend you carry a circular polarizer with you for dealing with unwanted reflections, too. But that’s about it in terms of filters I use regularly in the field any more. Everything else can be done as well in post these days, often better.
Okay, I promised two teaching points.
You’ll note that this is another 16:9 aspect ratio (well, close, I cropped a bit). These days I’m often composing in this aspect ratio, and as I’ve noted that might be because of my filmmaking background: I like wide screens and I will not lie…
What did the full frame look like?
You’ll note a couple of things. Even here I was trying to keep to near 16:9 (bottom of the full image; the top sky is superfluous and doesn’t add anything). The reason for this was simple: I had the reflection of the Tetons, shouldn’t I also have the reflection of the sky and moon?
Unfortunately, this led to a lot of not-so-great bits being added to the framing:
I’ve got that “nothing sky” at the top. On the bottom, I’ve got near bank weeds sticking up into the reflections, but not the bank itself (I do have the near bank in another shot, which I like less). And note the mountains: the core of the Tetons are the four peaks in the middle. The echo at the left is a bit weak, and it really doesn’t hold the eye at the border. Which is why I cropped thusly:
A strong, below middle-of-frame horizontal base, with a clear diagonal leading you up into the sky above the main peaks. Enough reflection to tell you how tranquil it was, but not a slavish complete echo reflection. The action is at the top of the frame: trees, peaks, lit sky, moon. The composition is built to emphasize that.
I’ve got better images from this shooting session, but I wanted to show this one because it’s a work in progress and better indicates where I was starting from and the teaching points I was trying to put into practice. I started with no graduated filter, which was a mistake. I started by being too slavish to the reflections and not seeing that strong diagonal drive.
The real trick in the field is to keep working. Keep asking yourself what’s sub-optimal, what’s not working. Some of it will be technical, as in the moon exposure here. Some of it will be emotional, as in the composition.
In a situation like this I probably had less than ten minutes of decent color. Thus, you need to be relatively disciplined at working the scene. First, I’ve been to this location many times before, so I knew what I was dealing with in terms of subject and where I wanted to be. Indeed, I had been there the day before, so I knew the current state of vegetation and water and snow, and from the weather forecast had a reasonably good idea that I should be there the next morning. So get all those things out of the way before the magic light time comes.
Then as the light gets close to where you want it, make sure you work through the technical things quickly. Aperture, focus point (and thus DOF from those two things), exposure, filtration if needed, leveling of the tripod (or not), ISO and white balance settings, etc. Have a checklist, real or mental, so that you work through them all.
Finally, take the shot (a previous teaching point). But don’t stop working. Now you’re trying to work compositionally and emotionally while the light is at its best. Which areas you’ve framed support what you’re doing, which don’t?
One of the mistakes I find amateurs making is that they get tripod locked. They set up their tripod in that spot, the light is right, so they spend all their time while the light is best discovering that they didn’t set something, set something wrong, or worse, just take multiple images of the same exact thing, perhaps varying one thing, such as exposure. One of the things I learned from Galen Rowell was this: once you’ve got this shot, move on. Find another shot. It might be better. That’s exactly what I did this morning, and exactly what happened.
Still: work the technical before you need it (e.g. DOF, filtration, etc.), then work the emotional as it happens (e.g. magic light). Only after you’ve accomplished that is it time to move on. But if you can get as much of the technical done before the light is optimum, you can spend all your time on the emotional when the light is optimal. And again, once you’ve got the shot, move on and bag another.
If you're wondering where the previous Teaching Points went, they're here.