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 🙂

 

Nikon 1 mirrorless officially discontinued

Nikon 1 mirrorless is officially discontinued reports Nikonrumors. Well technically the cameras are listed as discontinued on the Nikon Japan website without as yet, an official announcement.

It is almost a year ago since  I wrote a similar article here.

It’s a shame Nikon didn’t have the kuhunas to say something. They just left it to the point of embarrassing. You can imagine it became the elephant in the room during management meetings.

I hope that the new mirrorless cameras will not be treated with the same contempt. It would be good if lessons were learnt and Nikon publishes a lens road map at the very least. Will they? Anyone’s guess,  but based on past experience it probably won’t happen.

I’ll continue to use my Nikon 1 gear until it fails and then think about options. Secondhand asking prices in the UK  have gone up since the beginning of the year. Will they carry on going up or drop like a stone? Will even less people be interested?

Well at least we know now….

 

Nikon 1 V1
Nikon 1 V1

 

Edit: dpreview reports they have had confirmation from Nikon Inc that the 1 system is no longer in production.

Nikon mirrorless rumours ramping up

After a short break due to family commitments and a holiday where I was effectively off grid (yes that can happen in the UK😀) I’m back posting.

The Nikon  mirrorless rumours are ramping up with a potential announcement for the end of the month.

As with all rumour sites the comments manifest pure speculation into fact and as I said before there will be considerable room for disappointment.

If we believe current trending items the Nikon mirrorless offerings will be more upmarket than consumer orientated. Some are even thinking that Nikon may surrender the consumer end of things.

I’m not sure about that. People are forgetting the consumer end is where the volume comes from. Should Nikon reposition themselves in the higher end of the market only that would be a brave move.

Although if you go back around the 1980’s Nikon cameras were aimed more at professionals and journalists. Both in terms of price and specs. The consumer end being catered to by Canon, Minolta, Olympus and Pentax. The original big four. Nikon did release the cheaper  Nikon EM in 1979 with a range of more affordable, half a dozen or so E series lenses. Neither the EM or it’s E series lenses gained any traction against the competition.

I’m staying with my flapper™️

I’m not going to immediately trade in my flapper™️ DSLR for a mirrorless. I’ve already got a V1 that complements it. Unfortunately Nikon have and still remains officially quiet about the future of that system. That’s a shame, with many me included, lamenting what could have been.

Even with cargo shorts on in the recent hot weather, I could carry a body (V1) and the equivalent of 28-300mm focal lengths in my pockets. I think you could be hard pushed to try that with m4/3. A large battery means all day shooting is guaranteed, unless your a compulsive chimper seeking help for an addiction.

Lets hope that both Canon and Nikon offer some complementary models and we have even more choice at sensible prices.

Where are Nikon and Canon aiming?

Where are Nikon and Canon aiming? High end mirrorless, high price, low volume or will they go the other way and have a low price high volume offering?

Putting aside the lens mount argument (which is already decided we just don’t know what it is yet), another decision to make is which end of the market to aim for.

Most talk on the internet seems to favour something on the high end. I’m not sure that would be a good idea. Price it too high and you will take sales away from your similarly priced DSLRs. Your replacing one sale with another.

Aim for the mid price market and your aiming at the competition. Keep DSLRs high end and look to complement or replace your mid and consumer products.

Of course this is arguably harder now Fuji have released their X-T 100. It offers a low priced entry into their retro mirrorless system. But is it the old printer and ink situation? Virtually give away one and make it up on the other. In Fuji’s case offer a low(er) priced camera but you’ll have to spend money on the lenses. I think that is the Fuji weak spot. The lenses maybe good but they are not cheap and I doubt if Fuji will ever enjoy the volumes of the other two.

Talking of lenses will Canon and Nikon produce a new range of lenses with their mirrorless cameras? If they do it sort of resets the playing field a bit. Not to mention incurring the wrath of all the legacy lens owners.

How long?

Interestingly I was reading a website where the Fuji ambassador had been testing the X-T100 for two months. I wonder if Canon and Nikon do the same? The implication being that any new model would have been out for testing way before an announcement. Take into account production lead times and it makes you think how long is it between committing to a design and final release. A quick google search came up empty handed in respect of camera lead times. Although I did manage to find a non specific electronics lead time of 26 weeks. That’s 6 1/2 months. Having worked in an environment with lead times of 1-2 months (non electronic manufacturing), you start to get a feel for the time scales involved.

Hopefully we will see some juicy information soon. Then the rumor sites will really light up, sort of like an internet aurora 😀