You never know what you’ll come across

You never know what you’ll come across as a visit to the local coastal town proves.

It was a gloomy overcast December day and I thought I’d take my son out for a drive and maybe find something interesting to photograph.

After having lunch out we had a walk down the seaside promenade. Apart from a large contingent of gulls there was a small fishing boat out in the estuary.

Then my son got excited:

Boat emerging from port

He saw this ship coming out of port. We watched as it cleared the harbour walls and then headed down the estuary. I’m not sure what it was about this particular ship but he stood there and watched until we lost sight of it. Although it wasn’t huge it did dwarf the little fishing boat that was busy a few hundred metres away.

Now when I see a ship or a plane I wonder where it’s come from and where its going. I’m a bit weird like that, as my wife will testify. Well, she will probably just say I’m weird full stop. 😀.

But my son just enjoyed the moment of watching. 

Sometimes as photographers I think that’s something we forget: to stop and look at the moment. Take a photograph by all means but also enjoy that sunset, landscape, night sky, whatever it maybe.

Because you never know what you’ll come across….

 

Whats the difference between a boat and a ship? Apparently a ship can carry a boat, but a boat can’t carry a ship. 

Why are submarines called boats? That’s a conversation that needs alcohol and snacks 😀

Black Friday 2018

It’s Black Friday 2018. Every year it seems to get more underwhelming. In fact if you squint you might even miss it this year.

Normally the bargains are thrust upon us. In 2018 it seems you almost have to go looking for them.

Im not saying that’s a bad thing though. Perhaps it’s finally dawning on people that the so called reductions may not, in fact, be that good after all. Shock. Horror.

In the UK we still have austerity. Despite the government trying to tell us different. I’ve not come across many people who would say their ‘feel good’ factor is any better than it was a year ago.

We are also on the verge of the great Brexit deal. How great that deal is  will be open to question and probably be debated on ad nauseoum for a lot longer than anyone wants. Either way the uncertainty isn’t helping consumer confidence.

My opinion on Brexit is the country voted for it. Get on with it. We live in a democracy the people had their say. Someone is always going to be upset it didn’t go their way. In that case do we do the best of two out of three? Three out of five? Where do you stop?

Ok, let’s keep it photographic 🙂

If your up for some new gear I hope you get lucky with Black Friday or maybe even Cyber Monday.

On a personal note the only thing I’m up for at the moment is some spare batteries. I don’t actually NEED anything else.

I don’t know if I should think myself fortunate or a bit sad…

I’m going with fortunate 😀

It’s a balancing act

It’s a balancing act these days. My new found interest in Astrophotography has resulted in a new found interest in the weather.

Keeping an eye out for clear nights is now something I do more often. The balancing bit comes in with fitting the odd clear night around family commitments.

According to the weather forecast we are looking at cloud and or rain for the next week or so. Oh well.

Talking of balancing acts, we photographers quite often have to manage compromise. How much we spend on a piece of gear versus  have much we will use it is a common one. For hobbyists it’s harder than professionals. Why? Because a pro will look at it as a tool. Does it add value to what I do? How quick will the payback be? For the rest of us it’s more a case of want than need.

How much have you got?

Another compromise amateurs make is what gear to actually take with them on a shoot. Too much gear can lead to analysis paralysis. You have some FOMO (fear of missing out) by leaving something behind. So you end up lugging a suitcase of stuff around – just in case. Chances are you will only use one or two lenses on that hike or day out. The rest is extra weight.

OK. What do you do?

Im fortunate in that I don’t have a huge amount of gear. I balance my photography needs with the needs of the family. (Plus the wife keeps an eye on the spending😀).

I’ve got less than half a dozen lenses for my Nikon DX body. I can usually leave a couple of lenses at home without too much anxiety. If I’m really unsure I might leave them hidden away in the car.

My CX kit is a different kettle of fish. I can cover (the FF equivalent of ) 28 – 300mm in three pocketable lenses with not much weight. Whenever I’m out I always carry a spare battery for whatever body I have. In reality I very rarely use it though. Theres that FOMO again.

More often than not my balancing act is do I take the DX or CX kit. If I’m going out for potential wildlife shots I.e. birds, dragonfly’s etc, I’ll take the DX kit with a CX body and FT-1 adapter. More urban adventures and I’ll take the CX gear.  Hiking it could be either. Or a combination. In some ways I’m glad I don’t have more.

In choosing the right gear your balancing what you think you’ll shoot against what you’ll actually shoot. A planned day out for photography can make that choice easier, but  how many times have you grabbed a camera bag to go out ‘somewhere’ because the sun is shining? Or your just going out anyway. I have to admit I do that all the time.

Sometimes I get some reasonable shots, others the gear just stays in the bag and I enjoy a day in the sunshine.

Whatever your up to may you achieve a suitable balance.

New genre or new gear?

Heres a question: new genre or new gear?

As one who has little interest in the new Nikon mirrorless offerings (or any full frame for that matter) it occurred to me that some people maybe spending too much effort thinking about gear.

Instead how about a new genre. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy new gear. What I’m suggesting is whether a new genre could be more stimulating to your photography than a new camera.

Fancy macro?

How about exploring macro? There’s a fascinating world to look at when you get close. You could start off with a raynox adapter which will yield very respectable results for little outlay. See told you I wasn’t against buying gear 😀.

If you decide to pursue the macro bug you may want to consider a specialist macro lens. I’ve achieved some great results with a 60mm Nikon micro lens. Yes Nikon confusingly call their macro lenses micro. Most other manufacturers call them macro. Anyhow… I would suggest a lens no shorter than 90mm if your going to photograph insects and the like. They will spook  if you get too close to them.

How about Astrophotography?

With the nights drawing in now I thought that’s it even less hours for photography. But…. why not take advantage of that. Explore the Astro scene. Of course that is weather dependent, but we do get clear skies in the winter. Now and again.

My first attempt – may not win any prizes but it’s certainly got me interested.

Are there better ways than spending a dark cloudy evening curled up in front of a wood burner with a hot chocolate and an iPad searching for astrophotography on safari?😀

Go on then what do you fancy – new genre or new gear?

I decided to go the Astro route this winter and see what would happen. I already have some suitable lenses and a decent tripod that I can use. There we are – minimal or no outlay for a whole new interest.

It also renews a long dormant interest in astronomy that I had since looking through a telescope as a kid. Boy that was a long time.

Anything else?

Well now you mention it…. when people ask me what sort of photography I do, my immediate response is landscape. Fair enough loads of photographers enjoy shooting landscapes.

Crummock Water
Clouds and shade – Crummock Water

When I go through my images on the computer, which I do quite often, I could say that actually I do a lot of macro as well. The amount of macro photos I take compared to landscapes is a lot closer than I thought.

Close up of a wasp
Example of one of my macro shots – Close up of a wasp

Should you specialise in a particular genre? Some people do and some don’t. You might find something  that takes you in a completely new direction.

I’m currently considering what I should do. I live in a beautiful part of England that naturally lends itself to landscapes. To get the best of that your really looking to be up early (I’m not a morning person) or catch the golden and blue hours at the other end of the day.

I quite like macro work and it’s not always about bugs.

I’m going to try to do some Astro ( or maybe some night landscapes) at least until next Spring and see if I end up with stars in my eyes.

So new genre or new gear?

 

Edit: it appears this scheduled post has unintentionally overlapped with the release of The Astronomy Photographer of the Year results. You can find the overall winners of the competition at rmg.co.uk.

 

Fuji film won’t go full frame

Several websites have reported that Fujifilm won’t go full frame. Apparently the news has come about after Photokina. I hope they stick to that philosophy.

I tried Fujifilm for a while with an XE-1 and the 18-55 lens. It wasn’t too bad but for various reasons I ended up selling it and the 50-230 XC lens I used for the telephoto end of things. It was a bit unfortunate as at the time I was contemplating a photo kit comprising  XE series and XT series bodies. Alas it was not to be.

I don’t have any problem with the APSC format at all. In fact for what I  do I think it is somewhat of a sweet spot. For most amateurs the APSC size sensor is enough. My current DSLR is Nikon DX (Nikon’s version of APSC). Thinking about it all my DSLRs have been DX and I haven’t had the urge to go any bigger in sensor size.

Portmeirion, North Wales
Portmeirion, North Wales – Fuji XE-1 with 18-55mm F2.8-4 lens.

I don’t trust Nikon

After the Nikon series 1 debacle I’m not sure we can trust them to continue with their DX line. Nikon have alluded to the premise of less units and more value. In other words fewer cameras at higher prices. This seems at odds with the mass market consumer end DX is aimed at.

The fact that Nikon never really filled out the DX lens line properly doesn’t earn them any points. They iterated consumer zooms unnecessarily. At the same time the DX bodies received what can only be described as ‘meh’ upgrades. You also get the feeling they were forced to release the DX body they didn’t want to do. The D500.

Lets keep APSC going

So long term I hope Fujifilm keep to their promise statement that they won’t go full frame and instead keep the APSC format going together with their version of medium format.

Why?

Because the m43 market will be squeezed by smartphones. This would also imply any smaller format will be equally squeezed.

The full frame mirrorless wars are just starting. At a time when camera sales are falling there appears to be a Dodo like rush to get more fish into a shrinking pond. When the splashing stops there could well be some casualties.

If you’ve spent your R&D and tooling budgets gambling on full frame mirrorless and the sales don’t come to recoup those costs…well there may not be enough left in the piggy bank to change direction again.

But you’ve said Fujifilm are expensive.

Yes I have. I consider the lenses overpriced. You could argue they hold their value well though 😀.

The XT-3 is currently £1349 here in the UK (as of date of post) body only. For me that’s a lot of money for an APSC body.The XE-3 body only is £699. Compared to other APSC body offerings Fujifilm do seem to command a premium.

It’s a long game though.

If by charging these prices Fujifilm stay in for the long game that can only be a good thing. A camera is part of a system. If the system gets neglected by one manufacturer while another produces what people want that could well be worth paying a bit extra for.

Should Nikon (or any other manufacturer) continue to neglect part of their range the consequences are obvious. Others will step in to fill the void. It’s no good producing cheaper bodies with a mediocre lens line up hoping you can encourage people to move up a model or three. It might have worked years ago but I’m not so sure it works now.

If Fujifilm can keep their system offerings compelling I think their future in the APSC market could be a good one.

The caveat is whether they have the will to control their pricing strategy to remain competitive.

 

 

Return to Albert Docks

An anniversary visit provided an opportunity to return to Albert Docks, Liverpool. This wasn’t a photography visit Per Se, so I just used my phone and added to the 12 Pics series here.

Albert Docks, Liverpool

 

You can see that in some of the images the phones camera was starting to struggle a bit. Perhaps a flagship model would have coped better?

On the one hand the images are OK as record shots. On the other, the photographer in me thinks I should have used one of my cameras rather than my smartphone.

Nobody pays any attention to people using smartphones to take pictures, but in some places using a ‘big’ camera would have security guards twitching. You cant help thinking if you were doing anything untoward you would blend in better with a phone.

Normally I would have brought my Nikon V1 as my travel camera, but for this weekend I left it at home. There could still be an argument for something more capable than a phone but not the size of a DSLR.

I hope the race towards full frame mirrorless doesn’t leave a gap in the smaller more portable camera category. The trend at the moment seems to be mirrorless full frame with big expensive lenses.

Just when people need a smaller alternative it looks like that option could have less choice in the future.

 

Will DX become the new CX?

It took Nikon three years to kill off the 1 series, so will DX become the new CX?

Nikon released their last 1 series camera in 2015. This year after all the speculation Nikon 1 owners were finally put out of their misery with the officially discontinued announcement. The lack of love for CX lenses was there all along, We were in denial.

Nikon 1 V1 with 10mm CX lens
Nikon 1 V1 with 10mm CX lens

Unfortunately there could be some parallels with DX here. Why on God’s green earth did Nikon put so much effort into 18-something zooms.

Surely some of those resources could have been put to better use. Like a couple of wide angle primes that people were begging for. But no…let’s do another zoom… just in case we don’t have enough.

Then the piece d’resistance – the AF-P series. Let’s release more of the same but this time we’ll nobble the backwards compatibility. Score.

Nikon couldn’t produce or didn’t have the will (your choice) to proactively run three lens lines. But they have backed themselves into the same corner again.

I am a CX shooter. I am a DX shooter. For me DX (or Aps-c) is a sweet spot of value, size and quality. I don’t need a £2k (or £3k)  mirrorless or DSLR or even full frame camera, my photography is more of a hobby.

I fear that Nikon will eventually ‘pull a 1 series’* on their DX range and ignore them out of existence. Maybe not straight away but in the next three to five years.

The problem then becomes a familiar experience. At which point do you say enough is enough and refrain from buying new bodies and lenses.

A bit doom  and gloom? Yes, but that is what Nikon 1 owners went through.

Learning from the past do we really want to [have to] go through it again with DX?

 

* ‘pull a 1 series’ – adj- to totally ignore telling people then discontinue. Pertaining to cameras, lenses etc  🙂

It’s bananas I tell ya!

It’s bananas…. Here in the UK, Tesco managed to get them themselves some free publicity on the BBC news website over bananas.

Apparently their inner city stores (due to increased rents) are now charging by the banana rather than weight. Effectively this means the price of said bananas has increased from between 10 and 15p to 25p each according to the article.

bananas
Are we more worried about bananas?

Now let’s put that in some photographic context:

A Nikon D850 body only was less than £3000 in May of this year. It is currently between £3249 and £3499. There is a similar price range for the Canon 5Dmkiv. A Nikon D7200 is now £150 more than in May. (Source camerapricebuster.co.uk, today’s date).

I’ve written before that camera prices have been nudging up slowly without anyone really noticing.

The new mirrorless offerings from Canon and Nikon are starting around the £2k bracket. With what appears to be at first sight an accompanying bump upwards in lens prices.

I’m not sure I could bring myself to spend the larger sums of money now being asked for the current mirrorless cameras AND the lenses. No matter how good they are, you are going to need deep pockets.

Hopefully prices of used gear will remain sensible.

It’s interesting how the price of bananas gets people riled up, but the £2k+ prices of new cameras just seems to be accepted.

The mirrorless offerings still seem evolutionary rather than revolutionary. They only took the mirror box out and that took Nikon 19 years.

I’m still thinking this won’t be enough to encourage ‘new’ people to jump onto the band wagon and give a much needed increase to sales.

From what I’ve seen so far, camera manufacturers are still largely ignoring the kind of workflow improvements needed to attract the smartphone buyers.

Eventually the big camera companies may cotton on and stop the ‘ we need to release a new product that’s good but won’t cannibalise our current models’ syndrome.

Until then will photographers quietly put up with increasing prices for not a lot more?

Cos if we do ….it’s bananas I tell ya 😀

 

 

 

 

Nikon Y series

Nikon Y series to be released early next year (from an unconfirmed source).

It would appear Nikon are on a roll at the moment. Hot on the heels of the Z series cameras and lenses, a new source hints at the early 2019 release of the next new Nikon mirrorless – the Y series.

Rumored to fill the current gap at the consumer end of the Nikon line up prices and specs are understandably scarce.

Here what we know so far:

Nikon Y series of cameras:

Y only one slot

Y no eye af

Y use another different battery

Y have they used this mount

Y didn’t they build in gps

Y isn’t there a battery grip

Y will this replace dslrs

Y doesn’t it use the ml-l3 remote

Y did they leave the lcd off

Y are the lenses so expensive

Y did it take so long to release the consumer models

Y is everyone going to expect it to be perfect

Y will people get so upset – it’s only a camera

😀

Enjoy what you have.

Nikon full frame mirrorless released

Nikon full frame mirrorless released… and for some it is disappointing. Well that was always going to happen. You just can’t please everyone.

Initial disparaging comments seem to centre around the lack of a second card slot. I have mixed feelings about this. If Nikon are aiming at the enthusiast market I am not sure a second card slot matters that much. If on the other hand the Z’s are aimed at professionals as a back up or 2nd camera then, yes, maybe it is a bad omission.

Reported battery life has also met with some criticism.

So who are Nikon aiming the new mirrorless at? Based on the specs I would say it’s an enthusiast market (for those with a lot of money). Your view maybe different.

One thing is sure. Nikon are certainly aiming at higher values for their new gear. The Z6 is listed at  £2099 body only. The Z7 is £3399 body only, with the 50mm F1.8 at £599. That is one expensive nifty fifty. The 35mm F1.8 will set you back £849. For comparison the current 35mm af-s F1.8 G is £479. Hopefully someone with the appropriate testing resources will be able to say if one lens is worth £379 more than the other.

Time will tell if these prices are considered reasonable.

On the bright side….we got a lens road map 😀

 

I’m bored with the Nikon teasers

I’m bored with the Nikon teasers now…….

For the gear heads there’s lots of excitement building, we are getting a reasonable idea of the looks and the big question on everyone’s mind…where will they go with that huge mount?

It now clear that Nikon will release two cameras and three lenses later this month. If the rumours are right we are looking at a zoom and a couple of primes for starters.

On the basis my DSLRs won’t self destruct when the mirrorless models are out I have to admit I’m not in the market for one. In fact I don’t see myself buying any camera in the proposed price range, so it’s nothing against Nikon per se.

Lets hope the “take my money” crowd actually pony up something and Nikon have a hit on their hands. In the name of fairness let’s say the same for Canon. Perhaps Sony will respond with an improved offering as well. Competition and choice should be good for everyone.

It will be interesting to see who actually buys the new cameras and whether there will be an increase in used pre owned models for trade in. The same might apply to the Canon camp as well.

I appreciate just because I’m bored (perhaps a month of teasers is too long for me) others are not. That’s fine it takes all sorts.😀

For Nikon we have to wait just over a week.

Canon fans will have to wait a bit longer.

 

If your into rumours and Nikon take a look at nikonrumors.com that’s  where most sites get their info anyway 😉

Where will Nikon stop?

Where will Nikon stop? With the 1 series and the Keymission discontinued will Nikon stop there or is a bigger repositioning coming?

No this isn’t about their new mirrorless camera and teaser campaign.

Nikon as well as other manufacturers have stated they want to sell more higher value items. It would appear the consensus is to sell fewer units at a higher price. Whether you agree or not there is a subtle shift in nudging prices higher.

Nikon have effectively discontinued their Keymission and 1 series cameras. DX hasn’t really seen a lot of love lately either. They seem to have an issue running three different lens ranges at the same time. CX, DX and FX fought against each other. People in the FX camp didn’t like resources being used on DX 18-xxx zooms. To be honest people in the DX camp would have liked some primes instead of those zooms as well. Same for the CX camp.

Now we have a potential new mount for the upcoming mirrorless cameras. That puts us back to three different ranges again. DX, FX and what everyone seems to be calling Z mount.

I cannot see how Nikon would be able to manage to satisfy the conflicting demands this will cause. They will want to put resources into a new release – fair enough. They will also want to maintain the FX range (for now) and keep those shooters happy.

That brings us to DX.

Has the APS-C format had its time as far as Nikon is concerned? Anything smaller and you have a comprehensive range of m43 gear to choose from with various body styles and lenses. Fuji provide a good APS-C alternative. Larger formats are also provided for. Do Nikon want or even need to compete in this market segment anymore? There is certainly volume but are the margins still there? Will they just neglect the DX range like they did with the 1 series?

Nikon D70
Nikon D70 – The camera that started my DX path.

If Nikon wanted to stop their presence in the APS-C arena, now would seem like a good time to do it. R & D effort and manufacturing could be assigned to the newer mount and mirrorless range. Production resources may also be freed up and diverted to a range that could have potentially greater rewards for Nikon. Time will tell if they are going to give up on DX, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a shift in focus away from the smaller format. On a side note – did / has Sony done a similar thing with their A mount?

Prices are going up.

Gear prices are rising across the board. Some consumer bodies have gone up by £100 in a year. New releases appear to be asking higher and higher premiums. Lenses are seeing increases as well. We have enjoyed an era of low(ish) costs unfortunately that is now coming to an end.

Photography is getting more expensive at a time of falling sales in the industry. For pros  it could mean putting prices up to cover costs. For the other end of the market there could be a shift to secondhand rather than new. As pre owned values increase even more people could call it a day and just use their phone. Camera manufacturers still seem to be dragging their feet around the connectivity / workflow issues. Will the new Nikons address this?

I’m not convinced that the upcoming mirrorless offerings from Canon and Nikon (or the response from competitors) will be enough to reverse the downward trend on a sustained basis. Sure there is going to be some excitement for a while, but longer term who knows? Younger generations prefer a smartscreen to a focussing screen (or EVF).

Makes you wonder what we will be saying in a couple of years.

Whatever gear you have – or are about to get – enjoy your photography….

Highlands 2018 gallery added to 12 Pics series

Highlands 2018 gallery has been added to the 12 Pics section after a recent visit.

You never really know what sort of weather you will get in Scotland. You could get rain, sleet, snow and sunshine all in one day.

Our last trip saw some lovely sunshine with warm temperatures.

We also had some cloud making for very overcast conditions. As the light changed the colour of the water also changed from a nice blue to a dull grey.

Not much you can do about the weather so enjoy what light there is and if doubt click away. You can always hit the delete button later 🙂

Highlands 2018 can be found here.

 

 

New pictures added to Eyes Down Gallery

There’s some new pictures added to the Eyes Down gallery here.

Here is an example:

 

My son Andrew takes all the images in the Eyes Down gallery.  He has Down Syndrome and some communication difficulties but enjoys going out and taking pictures with his father. He is also has a gift to make people smile.

It’s fascinating to see what Andrew finds interesting. He liked the ducks on the water above, sometimes he takes pictures of paths other times its signs.

Nikon 1 V1 macro

I’ve added a Nikon 1 V1 macro picture to the macro gallery. The image below was taken with the 30-110mm Nikon 1 lens with attached Raynox DCR250 adapter. A previous article here gives more examples of what this setup can do. It’s a lot lighter and more portable than my dedicated DSLR  lens and can give some amazing results.

 

OK…. so I clipped the wing on the right hand side a little, but I did manage to get a reasonable amount of eye detail. If you’ve ever tried getting this close to flies you’ll appreciate how difficult it can be. They don’t tend to stay still very long 🙂