Tuesday, April 30, 2013
|max and ruby|
The internet photo forums are abuzz with discontinuance of the Hasselblad 503CW, the last of the V series. According to the official Hasselblad press release;
“Everything has its place in time. The veteran 503CW combined with an extensive V System range of interchangeable lenses and accessories, was for seventeen years, the camera of choice for discerning professionals and aspirational amateur photographers.The 503CW was and is a dinosaur, even during the fading heyday of film. I remember a close friend of mine who worked with me at Wallis Kamera Haus back in Atlanta during the mid-1970s nick-naming it the "CollossalFlop" due to its large mirror. The only time I ever really paid attention to the Hasselblad was during the Apollo program, when special built Hasseys were used with Apollo 8 onward, the Skylab series, and early Shuttle flights. But that wasn't enough to inspire me to want to own one. I did own an interchangeable lens TLR, the Mamiya c330 f. I loved its quiet shutter and its solid feel in my hands. Most importantly I loved its affordability. I bought the body and two lenses for less than what I would have paid for a Hasselblad 500c body.
But there has been a substantial decline in demand for this camera over the past five years or so and the time has now come for us to reluctantly consign the V System to history. In so doing we would like to thank all fans and customers for both their loyalty and their enthusiasm for our legacy Hasselblad V System.”
In my not-so-humble opinion Hasselblad the company has been slowly changing, and not for the better, since Victor Hasselblad sold the company to investors back in 1976. The company has passed through several owners over the decades, again not necessarily for the better. The last time I paid attention to Hasselblad was the bad attention it drew with the introduction of the Hasselblad Lunar, a Sony NEX-7 with $5,000 of useless luxury bling glued to its exterior so that Hasselblad could sell the ultimate luxury mirrorless camera. Too bad that Leica has already staked out that particular market niche by selling the M240, which might actually turn out to be one of Leica's better
Although I'll never own one, I have to say if you need a medium format quality digital camera, then investigate buying a Nikon D800 or D800e. With the right kind of technique I've seen both cameras produce remarkable results rivaling medium format, especially if it's your desire to "print large." Except for my brief foray into medium format with the Mamiya, I have been and always will be a small camera person. Medium format cameras just don't fit in with my idea of what a camera should be. The Hasselblad V series stayed too stagnant for too long, and now it's rightfully being discontinued. Long past time to move on.
Monday, April 29, 2013
|The Old Watch|
I've been back to tinkering with the internal settings of the camera. I've set the Custom tone (Menu - First Camera - Picture Mode - Custom) to Monochrome (Picture Mode), Contrast to +2, Sharpness to +1, B&W Filter to Green, Picture Tone to Sepia, and Gradation to Auto. I set the camera to 16:9 aspect ratio, and pulled the image straight out of the camera.
At 1600 ISO you'll see lots of
Image was taken hand-held, and I set the focus square to sit over the watch to get the composition I wanted. I'm thinking cinematic these days, even if I do loose a few megapixels on the top and bottom edge. I think I'll set the E-M5 to the exact setting and put the 45mm on it.
Why this? The joys of experimentation. And just to have a little fun breaking down my self-imposed walls.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
|Near Kohls, Gainesville, Florida|
While I was waiting for my wife to return the shoes I walked around the Kohls' parking lot grabbing some environmental/architectural photos of the store and its immediate environs. I was using the Olympus E-PL2, Panasonic 14mm, and the E-PL2's dramatic tone art filter. Today's lens setting was f/4, two stops down from the 15mm body cap lens.
|Looking in from the outside, Kohls, Gainesville, Florida|
|Shadow play, Kohls, Gainesville, Florida|
|Pastureland, on I-75 south of Gainesville, Florida|
|Wild phlox, on I-75 south of Gainesville, Florida|
|Some of my blooming orchids|
|And my mandaville back in bloom again. Note the subtle details captured, especially upper left.|
A mix of the E-PL2 with Panasonic 14mm and the E-M5 with 12-50mm kit zoom. Art filter when used was dramatic tone. All other was vivid. Every image SOOC, no post processing, cropping, nothing. Just straight out JPEGs.
I remember when I ran with straight JPEG out of my Olympus E-300. As much as I still love and miss that camera, the E-M5 and today's Zuiko lenses just leave the E-300 in the dust.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
|"Classic style" Burger King, John Young Parkway|
Today I went out on a shutter therapy break, using an Olympus E-PL2 and the f/8 15mm body cap lens. I'm still enamored with the dramatic tone art filter, which is what I set the E-PL2 to use. I also turned off autofocus (it's certainly not needed) and turned off "autochimp mode" by turning REC VIEW off in the menu (Menu -> Wrench (or Spanner for you Brits) -> REC VIEW and then turn down the time to briefly display until it's zero). With all of that the E-PL2 executes as quickly as a film camera. It becomes a true point-and-shoot but with a nice big sensor.
Most of the photos were taken on today's trip from a Jersey Mike's at Conway and Turkey Lake out to a bead store on Sand Lake and John Young Parkway. Some taken out of the driver's side, some of me walking and waiting on my wife.
|Fixing a sub, Jersey Mikes, Conroy and Turkey Lake|
A lot of folks dislike the heavy post processing of dramatic tone. That may be the case, but it's one of the few art filters that keep calling me back to try it. Others include pinhole, diorama and grainy film. In this photo the high ISO chosen (1600) combine with a slow shutter and motion blur produces an effect that is "too smooth" for some, where fine detail is obliterated. Big deal. I like it and that's all that matters.
|The Big Orange Bus, John Young Parkway|
|Sun Eater, John Young Parkway|
|Brass bracelets in the bead store, John Young Parkway|
|Grand Opening, John Young Parkway|
|Shadows, International and Central Florida Parkway|
Tomorrow is another jamb-packed day. I'm switching out the 15mm for the Panasonic 14mm. It has a different character than the 15mm. Keeping to the dramatic tone art filter I want to see what comes out of the camera.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
For whatever reason there's been a spate of articles published on the Internets about digital camera self portraits, or selfies, and What It All Means. There is in particular a recent essay published on Luminous Landscape (LuLa to those of us In The Know) titled "The Age of Narcissism – Digitized, Homogenized." It's the kind of essay I might have been assigned in a freshman college English course. It's an earnest attempt to show how narcissistic we've become in this digital domain, aided and abetted by the twin devil spawn of Facebook and Instagram. So here's my nominal addition this culture's "narcissistic pandemic." If there's any saving grace to these photos, it's that they aren't on Facebook and they haven't been produced by Instagram.
Produced over the years with Olympus Pens. The top was produced with the Olympus E-PL2 and the Panasonic Leica 25mm, the middle with the Olympus E-P2 and the Panasonic Lumix 20mm, and the bottom with the Olympus E-P2, a µ4:3rds to OM adapter and an OM 1.4/50mm. All post processed in Lightroom and Silver Efext Pro for the black and white images.
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Blackmagic Design's Pocket Cinema Camera caught me by surprise when I first read about it on Thom Hogan's sansmirror.com web site. Up until yesterday I was pretty well settled about not buying any new camera gear, until I came across this announcement. What's scary is that the $995 suggested price isn't a problem with me. My first line of defense, my inherent cheapskateness, has failed to protect me and my wallet.
What is remarkable (to me) about this camera is that it appears, on paper at least, to be a real digital cinema camera, not a stills camera with video bolted onto the side. I'm certainly no video expert, but I've been dabbling in video with the Pens as well as the NEX-5N. And I have not been particularly satisfied with the results. I'm now going to commit the timeless amateur photographer's sin by saying that I would get better results by buying a different piece of equipment. I'd be the first to look askance at anyone making that kind of claim, but for the following features on this particular camera;
- Sensor: Super 16mm sensor, 12.48 x 7.02mm (3x crop)
- Mount: µ4:3rds, active mount, supports autofocus and exposure information
- Output: Video only, 1080P/23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30; Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) or lossless CinemaDNG raw format
- Shutter: global electronic shutter
Rather than run around like my hair's on fire saying how I just have to pre-order this camera, I'll sit back and see how it fares in someone else's more capable hands. That should make my wallet and my wife happy. I want to see output from this camera where there's movement, either the subject, the camera, or both. And not see rolling shutter.
I could see me owning this particular camera for my video experimentation. It would certainly be discreet enough (like the Pens) and fit in a very small pocket with the rest of my kit. And who cares if it uses a different battery (the Nikon EN-EL20 of all things)? Buy an extra battery or two and make sure they're always charged and I'm ready.
A highly-affordable cinema-class video camera in a Pen-sized body that takes all my µ4:3rds lenses. That's just awesome to think about.
Monday, April 08, 2013
Sunday, April 07, 2013
|Model||DxOMark score||color depth, bits||exposure range, EV||low-light, ISO||Year announced|
As you'll note in the chart I've pulled the pertinent DxOMark scores for my cameras from the eponymous website. I tried to rank them in descending score order, but decided at the last minute to rank them both in score order and the year they were released. Yes, I know the 5N was announced six months before the E-M5 (August 2011 vs February 2012). But that's surprisingly not that far apart.
Other facts from the chart:
- There's no difference between the E-P2 and the E-PL2. They also span a seven month release from November 2009 to June 2010. And, oh, by the way, there's no difference between the E-3's score, a camera announced in 2007, and the E-P2's, even though the E-3 is 10MP and the E-P2 is 12MP. Think about that.
- There's essentially a two decadal jump score-wize between the Pen's score and the E-M5's score. It shows in the quality files I get from the E-M5.
- The real boost shows in the exposure range. I really do see two extra EV of exposure range in the E-M5 and 5N, and not just in the highlights, but across the entire exposure range.
- Cameras that score within the same decade (50s for the Pens, 70s for the E-M5 and 5N) behave equivalently. Except for extreme exposure/corner circumstances, I can't tell the difference between the E-M5 and the 5N, and when I believe I do I'm really not that sure. And that's a good thing.
- I don't care about megapixels. Really, I don't.
But I have reached a point where I'm pretty much tapped out with regards to gear. I have all these primes and no real need for more. Well, I could use something around 200mm to 300mm, and I'd rather have it in µ4:3rds mount to take full advantage of the E-M5's IBIS, which is absolutely phenomenal.
I've learned a fundamental truth from all the shooting, observing, and staring at DxOMark numbers: all cameras that have a score of 70 or higher are essentially in the sweet spot of digital photography. If the sensor is in that range then you can be assured of excellent performance regardless of brand.
Photographically speaking I'm happy, bordering on ecstatic. Who'd of thought that would ever happen to me?
On The Way Home
I picked my wife up after 5pm when the opera finished. On the way back, driving south on Parramore and at the corner of W. Central, I passed a number of now-empty buildings covered in local graffiti.I stopped across the street, and with nothing but the NEX 5N with the Sigma 19mm, I walked around and took as many photos as I could before I had to stop and head on home. While walking around I came across a local who told me that the buildings were due to be torn down in two weeks to make way for a parking lot for the Amway Center just two blocks south and east. This is but a fraction of all that I took. I hope I documented enough before this is all gone.
I used the Sony NEX 5N with the Sigma 2.8/19mm. Post processing was done with LR 4 and Nix Color Efex Pro 4 and my special filter. The look is almost like HDR, and it works equally well with either the NEX 5N or the E-M5 raw files. The Sigma 19mm has a 35mm equivalent of 28mm on the NEX 5N. I like that field of view. And I like what Color Efex Pro 4 is doing with the raw images. I'm slowly approaching a look I like with this tool. It definitely isn't film-like, and I like that.
Saturday, April 06, 2013
Olympus E-M5, Panasonic 1.7/20mm on all but the last photo, which used the M.Zuiko 40-150mm R. Post processing in LR 4, Silver Efex Pro 2 and Color Efex Pro 4, using a number of Color Efex Pro presets.
Friday, April 05, 2013
On the way out of the Best Buy parking lot, I drove through the connected parking lots of three other closed businesses that face West Colonial; Toys 'R' Us, Chevy's Fresh Mex, and Borders Bookstore. The Toys 'R' Us moved to a new location next to Millenia Mall, the Chevy's closed when they opened a new one at Disney's Lake Buena Vista, and Borders closed when the whole corporation shut down nation-wide mid-2011. I don't remember the order in which each business closed, but Border's was the last to close; Toys 'R' Us and Chevy's were already boarded up when Borders closed its doors for good.
On the way out I stopped in the Chevy's parking lot and and walked around from there. While walking and photographing I started hearing the cries of what I thought were hawks, but were in fact ospreys. A nesting pair had set up a spot in the top of one of the old parking lot lights. While standing and gawking I saw one of the pair swoop by with a large fish in its claws. I tried for some photos of either one, but all I managed to do was to spook them away. It was just a short time later that the mall security drove up and informed me I couldn't photograph the closed buildings. I sat there for a moment, and then told the guard, fine, I'll come back when you're not around. He didn't say anything so I left. My goal is to go back and photograph those ospreys. The only other spot I've seen nesting ospreys was about two years ago in Lakeland.
Everything taken with the Olympus E-M5 and the Panasonic 1.7/20mm and M.Zuiko 40-150mm R. All the photos were taken using the E-M5's key line art filter. In post I selected three for RAW post processing using LR4 and Color Efex 4. I've created my own customer filter from the black gold filter in Color Efex, with tweaks for my own taste, and that's what I used on the three above. They should be obvious.
For the very first time since I started to take digital photography seriously I am approaching a look to my work that I really like and consider mine. And it's the top photo.
Thursday, April 04, 2013
Photography enthusiasts will spend nearly endless sums on expensive gear of every strip because they can, in pursuit of ever diminishing returns. Everybody else spends only what is really necessary to get the job done. If it happened to cost a lot at the time, then that's what it costs.
I tend to fall somewhere in the middle of those two categories. I'd probably be an enthusiast if my wallet could stand it, but I'm constrained by budgetary realities. I tend to feed the enthusiast beast within by picking up the odd little piece of gear when it's been marked down; my inner enthusiast doesn't care, or at least that's what it tells itself.
Another reason I tend to switch into don't-care mode is you really do reach a point where you have so much stuff you can't use it all. I now have a Kata DR 467 backpack with four (and sometimes five) mirrorless cameras in them, each with a different lens on the body. I've found some space to hold those lenses not mounted, as well as chargers and cables and spare batteries and SDHC cards. Big enough to hold everything, yet small enough and light enough to grab by its top handle and put in the back of the Prius or on my back. If I really intend to travel there's a slot on one side where I can slide a Macbook into it, for post processing on the go. Note there is no flash or tripods. Just bodies and lenses. This is an available light only kit.
With all that firepower I have slowly come to the realization I'm well situated to document the boundless mediocrity I live in and drive through every day. I'll never be recognized as a Photographic Mover and Shaker, so I might as well do what I do best, photograph mediocrity in my best mediocre style.
And to that end I've picked up a few extra extensions for Lightroom 4.x. I picked up the complete Nik Collection on Monday when Google had marked it down another 15%. I may even pick up the VSCO kit for a completely different look. Right now I'm in something of a film noir mood, and Nik's Color Efex Pro 4 is helping to aid and abet that streak.
I'm also tired of Orlando and its environs. It's full of kitschy shit and places where new business is plowing over the wetlands and other green spaces. So I'm going to document and interpret all this crap and throw it out there. You have been warned.
Olympus E-M5, Panasonic 1.7/20mm, everything manual. Post in Lightroom 4.4 and Nik Color Efex Pro 4.