The Winter That Never Was

Good morning everyone. Wow it seems the world as we knew it has changed profoundly since the last posting.

The fear and anxiety surrounding the current COVID-19 Coronavirus has gripped the world. In this current state it seems to me that doing another camera review would be trivial.

People are pretty much fearing for their lives at this point. Not only the possibility of getting sick but also the disruption to the normalcy of everyday life.

In countries hardest hit like China, where the outbreak began, people in specific regions such as the Wuhan epicenter have been under a mandatory lockdown. Italy, also hard hit with the coronavirus, has done the same. Now Spain and perhaps a few other countries.

In the USA and specifically here in New York, it’s just beginning to get bad. I’ll tell you something, in my five decades on the planet I’ve never experienced anything like this.

I thought 9/11 was the worst I’ve seen but this coronavirus pandemic may be even more scary because it’s possible to catch this virus anywhere.

We all know the theories about how this started. It’s thought that the virus was born in a Wuhan wet market where exotic animals were being slaughtered for customers willing to pay for superstitious beliefs not based in science.

If true, I say come on man! Leave those bats and pangolins alone! They were not meant to be eaten by human beings. For God’s sake stop this nonsense.

I also wonder if climate change has opened up an environment where germs and viruses could thrive.

“Cold” 2020. Leica M8, 7Artisans 35mm f/2. The only snowfall we had in New York so far was in January.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to preach about the environment to you. I don’t know if human activities lead to climate change. For all we know, the Sun could have grown just minutely and even that could be enough to affect our climate.

What I do know is that here in NYC, this was the mildest winter I’ve ever experienced. I’m not a fan of the snow so I can’t really complain but I do find it very disturbing. When you think of the long term effects it’s downright scary.

I mean, back in the 80s and 90s when I was growing up, the winters were cold and sometimes brutal but there was a rhyme, reason, and predictability to the seasons that made it a beautiful thing.

“Slash” 2020. Leica M8, 7Artisans 35mm f/2. Not sure if you agree, but the kid reminds me a little of Slash from Guns ‘N Roses in this picture! 🙂

Today, just like everything else it seems, the weather patterns here on Earth seem like a “play it by ear” thing. Now you never know from one day to another what the weather will be like.

To me it’s obvious the climate is changing and pretty rapidly. Friend, if you can’t see it and feel it, I think you’ve got your head in the sand.

Anyway I’ve never been one moved enough to write about it but after only one sprinkling of snow this winter I’m more inclined than ever to do my part to save the environment and to help our planet from this downward spiral.

Anyway, everybody please stay alert and be vigilant about minimizing your chances of catching this notorious COVID-19 Coronavirus. It’s so far the biggest worldwide crisis I’ve ever seen.

Technical Note: These two images were taken with the Leica M8 and 7Artisans 35mm f/2 lens which has been touted by some as a “Summicron” copy but for under $300. I’m not ready to make any conclusions but I will say the lens has been impressing me! More pics to come!

Sunday Morning Reflections: Canon 1DX MK III, Nikon D780, Nikon D6 Plus New YouTube Video

Good morning everybody! Well there was a lot of big news last week. Canon announced their newest flagship, the EOS-1DX Mark III a 20.1mp professional DSLR offering the latest advancements Canon can muster up including a 191 point AF system, “Head Detection” (wtf?) technology, 4K video and 5.5K Raw video, just to name a few of the things available in this jam packed camera.

Nikon also announced the D780, a 24.5mp DSLR in the legendary D700 line and the successor to the very popular D750. Perhaps destined to be the greatest, and some say the last, in this line.

Nikon also showed, under protective glass, the Nikon D6 flagship DSLR. No specs were given however but we can guess it will have enough of the things it needs to make it competitive with the 1DX MKIII.

It seemed to be a big week in the camera world last week and Sunday morning is a great time to talk about it so let’s start!

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“Sunday Morning” 2017. Fuji X100 12.3mp. Anyone still using their original X100? 🙂

LATEST YOUTUBE VIDEO

Here’s a video I made earlier in the week. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to post it, but I decided to do it just to get something out for you guys. The video starts out with a “new” old school singer you never knew existed! 🙂

It’s really a bit silly, but that’s just me being me. Hey listen, I love cameras! I know there’s so much serious work that goes into the manufacture of these cameras. The serious electrical and optical engineering have already been done, I don’t need to add to that seriousness. The worst thing I could do is act like a pretentious dweeb who knows it all so I’ll just be the dweeb who don’t know nothing 🙂

Also in this episode, I reflect on the “low budget” look of my videos. You guys know I tell it like it is and I know my early videos on YouTube had cringe worthy production, and hey I’ll admit they’re still cringe worthy but we’ll continue to improve. The majority of early YouTube efforts are cringe worthy anyway so learn from me and make better videos if you want to try YouTube!

When I was a kid my Dad always said “Don’t make fun of people” because as he noted, it always comes back to you. Well, of course I didn’t listen and I’m paying for it now!

When we were kids, we would stay up with Dad and watch the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, David Letterman, then Jay Leno, etc. But once in a while, we’d scan the channels (there weren’t that many in the 80s and early 90s) and we would see a man named Joe Franklin on WWOR, Channel 9 in NYC.

Joe Franklin was the king of vaudeville and nostalgia and pretty much started the late night, late show genre but never got his just desserts because he wasn’t national like Johnny Carson, he was local to the NYC area. Later on, he eventually got more of the recognition he deserved when Billy Crystal imitated him on Saturday Night Live.

Mr. Franklin had a really low budget look to his shows and if you weren’t paying attention you might have even thought his show was “boring” because of his low key speaking style but if you actually paid attention to his shows, they were actually quite entertaining.

Towards the end of his television run, they started using “Axel F” from Beverly Hills Cop as the theme song for his show and when they did that, I just about lost it! I thought it was the funniest thing ever!

Anyway, at the end of my YouTube video, I’ve included a clip that I posted only to social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook last year and it’s called “Joe Franklin’s Revenge” because when we were younger, my friends and I would record ourselves making fun of his shows and now he has come back to get the last laugh! 🙂

I know this is not what you expect when you are watching a “camera review” site but as I mentioned in the last article, camera reviews are passe man! I want to do things differently. I will continue to keep you guys informed and share my experiences with you but I believe that whenever you put yourself out there in these videos is you got to remember the bottom line is that is stuff is strictly for your entertainment 🙂

LONG LIVE THE DSLR!

So with all the talk of the imminent death of the DSLR why did Canon and Nikon come out with these cameras when it seemed like they finally embraced Mirrorless? As I mentioned in my DSLR VS Mirrorless YouTube video last year, the “Big Dawgs” Canon and Nikon are very comfortable making these “big ass” cameras 🙂

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Today’s mirrorless cameras are just as capable as the huge DSLRs but you got to admit some of them sure look wimpy compared to these “big ass” cameras 🙂

 No seriously, these two companies have been eternally embraced in a legendary rivalry. While both are on the cutting edge of camera technology and while both offer some of the best and most advanced cameras on the market, both camera companies are also philosophically old school to the bone.

The big DSLR flagship cameras represent their greatest. It represents strength, it represents power. The big bodies can be traced back to many models including the Nikon F and the Canon F1, the F5 vs EOS-1, the D1 vs the EOS-1D, and so on and so on.

And let’s face it, even though making cameras as big as these pro models are really unnecessary with today’s technology, they still represent an undeniably powerful and maybe even fearsome look. Just like the huge SUV’s that nobody needs, it tells people that the person driving it is the Big Daddy, the Bull of The Woods! And that’s what Canon and Nikon want with their HUGE DSLR cameras!

Now imagine if Canon came out with the big bad 1DX MKIII and Nikon’s F6 were to be a smallish mirrorless looking camera? Nikon would never live it down how “wimpy” their flagship might look if that were the case. It may sound silly, but I think this is real folks as you can see by this week’s introduction of these two new behemoths.

MY PERSONAL OPINION OF THE NEW DSLRs

While I can understand why Canon kept the 1DX at a relatively low 20.1 megapixels, I personally believe they had room for just a bit more megapixels. I understand that the camera is aimed for those people who really need to get the shot, ie, sports photographers, photo journalists, wedding, etc, and that 20 megapixels is plenty. Heck, I said myself most of us won’t need more than ten megapixels!

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The original EOS-1DX as seen at the PhotoPlus Expo 2011 in NYC.

I mean yes, in reality not many people will need more than 20 megapixels but still, in a world of 30-50mp and even 100mp in some medium format digital cameras, surely they could’ve squeezed in a few more quality pixels for us!

In 2020, 20mp is a bit too low for me. Not because I need more mps but because I would want more for my money if I had the money to buy one! Even their own mirrorless EOS R has 30.3 megapixels!

My old Sony A7R, released in 2013, has 36 megapixels and yes if I’m deliberately looking for it, I can see a difference in details between 36mps and the 16-24mp cameras. Not all the time mind you, but if I’m looking for it, I can see it.

The original 1DX was released in 2011 and had 18 megapixels, so come on Canon this is 2020, you should have made the 1DX MKIII at least 25-30 megapixels. Just my take on this! What do you think?

As for the Nikon D780? I think it’s going to be a great camera but I’m not really sure it’s going to be an image quality improvement over what they’ve already put out with the D600/D610, D750, D800, D810, D850, etc, etc. At this point, it seems like just a product refresh.

The D6 I’m curious about! As I said, no one yet knows the specs, but it’s not hard to guess a 20-25mp pro DSLR with all the amenities you’d expect like 4K video, etc.

Really, at this stage, we have such an abundance of great and capable cameras on the market and on the used market that these cameras are not really necessary as far as image quality is concerned but probably only being put out to keep the market alive.

It almost seems as if the Canon R and Nikon Z mirrorless, while successful, are still not at the heart of Canon and Nikon’s game. Like they just made them because that’s what the market and the masses are demanding they make. But it’s not their true love.

It may take them a little more time for Canon and Nikon to fully cross over into Mirrorless territory but at this point, the big bad assed DSLR still remain what these two Camera Legend companies love most.

What do you think of the 1DX Mark III? The D780? The D6? Feel free to drop a comment and happy Sunday good peeps!

 

Pre-Order The NEW Canon EOS-1DX MK III Now!!

The rest of us mere mortals could probably get by on the hot new and way more affordable Canon EOS 6D MKII!

January 2020 Camera Talk: The Number One Thing That Happened To The Camera Industry Since The Last Decade

Good January morn you happy war torn camera loving people and a belated Happy New Year! The New Year is always a good time for reflection but it’s also a time for moving forward.

Well, I was getting a little misty about the end of 2019 and the end of that decade but this year I resolve to be less nostalgic (if that’s possible!) so let’s dive right in…

THE NUMBER ONE MOST SIGNIFICANT THING TO HAPPEN TO THE CAMERA WORLD IN THE LAST DECADE

Perhaps the most significant thing I have seen in the photography world as we end the years from 2010-2019 and enter the new decade of the 2020’s is this:

Smartphone and the cameras in them have taken over as the most popular means of taking pictures. It seems that Steve Jobs vision of doing everything with our phones has more wide ranging implications than anyone ever thought possible! From shopping to dating to photography, we can do it all on our phones.

It’s something you probably already know but perhaps had not thought deeply about its implications and effects. Here’s the first effect:

“REAL CAMERAS” ARE BECOMING PASSE!

Now some might even say that “real cameras” are not just becoming but are passe! And what do I mean by “real cameras?”

I saw a report on a major NYC  television station about this a few months ago. The reporter spoke of how “traditional cameras” as they called it, are disappearing in light of the capable smartphone cameras. First thing I thought of when I saw the report was, oh this must be a slow news day 🙂

But secondly, I thought the reporter was just stating the obvious. Even when walking around a big city like New York, I see less and less of what I call “real cameras.”

Well, first off I’m not even talking about film cameras at this point. To the vast majority of the general public, film photography and film cameras truly are a thing of the past and so far out of their train of thought that it’s not even a consideration. It’s really only relevant to us hardcore camera geeks and their importance to us shows that we just live in our own little world.

Cameras like the Sony A7 series or Canon 5D series are awesome but to the general public, “real cameras” such as these are becoming passe as smartphone cameras get more capable.

When I speak of “real cameras” I mean anything that could be perceived as a real camera vs a cell phone camera. It could be a DSLR, a mirrorless, a digital point and shoot. Basically anything that can be viewed as a real camera is becoming passe.

“Snap Shooter” 2005. Canon EOS-20D, EF-S 18-55mm. In 2005 I posted this photo to one of the photo sharing sites and joked that one day the cell phone camera may take over the world of photography. Fifteen years later, it’s not a joke any more! 🙂

This is not just my observation, I think anyone can see that the cell phone cameras have taken over the world. They are the reason for the decline in camera sales worldwide. They just keep getting better and better and to a large majority of the world the best cell phone cameras have gotten to the point where it’s “good enough.”

THE “GOOD ENOUGH” ERA

Friends we are living in the “Good Enough” era. Just like someone told me how much better the vinyl record is versus the compact disc and I told the next person how much better the cd is from their mp3 and it went in one ear and out the other, a large majority can get by on “good enough” because of one factor: Convenience.

Just like streaming music and movies have become so popular because of their convenience so too has mobile photography. And I’m not trying to sell the people short. People are smart. They still want quality but unlike true camera fanatics the general public can stop obsessing at a certain point. Camera fanatics cannot.

The fact is, just like streaming movies and music, the quality is “good enough” for most consumers. The convenience tradeoffs between having to physically put a vinyl record on the turntable and having to sit down and listen to it, versus just downloading it and listening to your music anywhere is too great for a large majority. However I firmly believe, if the quality of the downloads really sucked it wouldn’t be as popular. But to the contrary, the quality of the downloaded movies or music are extremely good. Certainly better than anything we had in the VHS days 🙂

In 2005 or 2007 or even 2012, cell phone cameras were nowhere near good enough. That’s why cameras like the Canon EOS 7D or Nikon D7000 we’re so popular and seen often on the streets and everywhere in the real world. But today, for many people, they don’t feel the need for “big ass” (excuse my language!) cameras. The best of the cell phone cameras have gotten good enough.

***BREAKING NEWS***

January 7 2020: Oh you say you like “Big Ass” DSLR cameras? Well today Canon has announced the EOS-1DX Mark III, perhaps the greatest DSLR ever! Check out the specs and pre-order from our trusted affiliates below!

Pre-Order The NEW Canon EOS-1DX MK III Now!!

The rest of us mere mortals could probably get by on the hot new and way more affordable Canon EOS 6D MKII!

In 2016, I wrote an article on how good the cell phone cameras have become. I mentioned that I have already recommended to anyone who asked to just keep their point and shoot digital home because I felt the cell phone cameras even then could get the job done. I said it was “getting close.”

With last year’s release of phones such as the iPhone 11 and Google’s Pixel 4, it’s gotten even closer. You can now shoot low light with these phones the way a few years before people would be looking at an APS-C point and shoot like the Ricoh GR series. Plus you can now do even more with these phones, 4k video, slow motion, time lapse, etc, etc. Plus you can with some simple steps process the images or even make whole movies on the phone then upload them very quickly to your favorite social media platform. The “real cameras” are still quite clumsy in this way.

“Pine” 2020. Take a look at this night exposure from an “old” 2015 model iPhone 6s Plus. It used to be that you had to use big “serious” cameras to get this! Sure the faces are dark, but it was dark outside. I could have easily lifted it post process but that would take away from the night mood.

Now I’m not saying these phones will beat the best from Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc. Of course, if you blow up the photos, print them large or pixel peep you are going to see a difference. But a large majority of the world are not doing that.

They like what they see from their phones. They are not printing. Or if they do, it’s primarily 4×6 greeting cards. They don’t care if the bokeh is fake, they just like that they can now (in the latest phones) blur the background using some clever processing that the phones can do automatically. They like that they can use a myriad of filters on their phones to give the images are different look and feel. And they love that they can share this within minutes or seconds.

“Fire & Brimstone” 2019. Apple iPhone 6s Plus and some in camera processing made for an easy and dramatic photo.

I’m not just saying all this stuff from a generalized view of things. I see this in the real world with friends, family, coworkers etc. People I know who used to be big time DSLR shooters. You are probably seeing the same things.

And in all honesty, the phones have gotten good enough where in small prints you will not see a lot of differences. A good example, recently a friend showed me an 8×10 print from a Nikon D3300 with the 18-55mm Nikkor kit lens vs an 8×10 from an iPhone 11 of the same subject. It was really hard to spot the difference. Now if  it was one of Nikon’s better lenses, maybe the differences would be more obvious but as it is I can see why to a lot of people out there, the phones have gotten “good enough.” The scary thing is that this is just beginning. The smartphone cameras will get even better!

Of course, the phone cameras still cannot compete for wildlife or sports but these are specialty segments. For a broad range of shooting, ie, street, portraits, parties, even product shots, a modern cell phone camera in the hands of a skilled photographer can get the job done.

So this explains why we see less and less people carrying around big camera gear or even little mirrorless camera gear. Especially with a big DSLR and big lens, you will look like a fossil from 2005! 🙂

I admit that I myself am guilty of not bringing out my serious gear as often these days. I’m more selective on where and when to bring them. If I’m going to a wedding or important event, I’ll bring it. For a house party with friends, I keep it home.

And the second and sad byproduct of the rise of the cell phone camera is something most other bloggers won’t tell you.

Shhh…Can you keep a secret? If yes, ok then, come closer. Let me whisper in your ear:

CAMERA REVIEWING IS PASSE!

Ok, I said it, now let’s keep it a secret ok?! Alright, in all seriousness, I’m being serious. I mean, it’s hard for me to say such a thing because this is a camera review site after all and yes from time to time I do review cameras and even more so, I’m just a camera and lens fanatic.

Even if I’m not posting as often, cameras and lenses are my passion, other than my family or music. And I’m an old school camera guy to boot.

That said, I’m realistic and I’m on with the times. I see what’s going on. The camera review thing is just getting outdated. It’s overdone, over saturated, and just too much these days.

Every day a new kid on the block is reviewing cameras and lenses. I’ve lost track and everyone begins to look and sound the same. Talking about the same cameras, same lenses. I should know. Five years ago I was the new kid on the block! A new old kid I should say 🙂

When I first showed up on YouTube in 2018 I’m sure people felt the same way about me. Like, who is this guy? Who is this jerk? 🙂

The “Night Stalker?” The “Midnight Rider?” Who is this jerk? 🙂

Funny thing is this is actually not new to me. In the mid 90s I was leaving comments which were basically like “mini reviews” on sites like photo.net because in those early days of the internet, it was something new and I found it really engaging to interact with people who had the same interests.

Photo.net was one of the original “Granddaddy” photography sites and some great reviewers like Thom Hogan come out of that site. I remember when he was just posting his opinions there! I then started sharing pictures and reviewing cameras and lenses on sites like Pbase in the early 2000s where I remember guys like Steve Huff and Sylvain Halgand starting what would eventually lead them to their current blogs or websites right now, so I’ve been around. I just haven’t gotten as famous or successful as those guys 🙂

But that’s ok. I’ve never been driven by the need to make money out of this. But in 2020, camera reviews to me seem passe. I’m not saying it’s over. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it. I’m just saying I don’t see it as something all that interesting any more in its current state. I mean, how many reviews of the Canon R or Nikon Z do we need? Similarly, how many times can we read or look at a review of the Canon AE-1? Leica M6? Contax T2? It’s all been done folks!

The truth of the matter is the majority of the world shoots with their phone cameras or mobile devices. And if I review a relatively uncommon camera, say a Polaroid 110B or Speed Graphic who is going to be reading or watching? Two, maybe three people max? Needless to say, it doesn’t give me a lot of motivation to put the work into it, especially when I have family and other businesses to tend to.

GOING FORWARD

So if camera reviews are passé what will I do going forward. Well, for one I’m always going to try and give you guys a different perspective on things. I mean, it’s not going to be any better than any one else, but I want to use my experiences to give you a somewhat different take on things. For example, the one time I spoke of the Canon AE-1, I didn’t dwell on what a great camera it is. Everyone it’s a good (if not great) camera. Instead, I spoke of how the prices were going up because as I said…You guys are buying them up! 🙂

Same for the Contax T2. I didn’t review it in the traditional sense. I spoke of five reasons why you don’t need it. And I’m going to keep on doing it like this whenever applicable! I don’t need to repeat what all the other great reviewers have already said.

In the same token, I’d love to learn from YOU. I read a lot of blogs but don’t necessarily comment on them. I should really comment more than I do but despite looking like a guy with the gift of gab, I’m painfully shy. The great Lou Mendes, the famous NYC street photographer with the trademark Speed Graphic, once gave me his phone number and said call him and we can go out shooting. I never called. Not because I didn’t want to, of course I do! But what would I do in the presence of a true Camera Legend? I still bump into Lou every now and then so we’re good 🙂

This year I plan on going back to the roots of this blog, going back to the Camera Legends that this blog is built upon. More Contax, more Rolleis, more Leicas, more Olympus more Nikons, more Pentax, etc, etc. Plus more oddball cameras that you never knew!

Cameras and lenses like the Olympus Pen-F and the 42mm f/1.2 Zuiko are still high on my review list.

And more rare cameras. In the early days, this site was built upon cameras not many have reviewed such as the Contax N Digital and the Minolta XK Motor for example. There’s not many rarities left in my stash but there might be one or two 😊

I also plan on reviewing or spotlighting more digital cameras too. I have been neglecting them as I concentrated on film cameras, but I’ve never been a digital hater. I grew up on film but was young enough to appreciate digital when it came around. I also plan to do more lens reviews.

And speaking of YouTube, I hope to continue growing the channel. Hopefully, better production, more content. But honestly, while I love watching YouTube, I don’t necessarily enjoy producing content for it.

And lastly, above anything else, I plan on doing more personal shooting. I enjoy photography, I love photography! But I have learned over the past few years that the thought of producing content for this blog and for YouTube gets in the way sometimes. If I’m out shooting, I’m now always thinking…maybe I should write an article about this. Or maybe I can turn this into a video. With that frame of mind, I find that some of the joy of photography gets lost and that is a sad thing.

My main goal for 2020 is back to roots shooting, and maybe get more sleep 🙂

What do you think? What are your plans for 2020? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment if you wish. Many thanks for your support and I wish every one of you a Happy Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Unboxing What I Got For Christmas: Leica Summicron Destroyer? 😀

Good day you guys! Well, they always say all your best laid plans can go awry. And yes, that is what happened to your buddy Sam here!

Just when I was on a roll cranking out three videos in a month (a lot for me!) and working on the next one, I came down with either a nasty cold or a mild flu. I don’t know because I didn’t go in to have it evaluated. All I know is it started up slow, and then all of a sudden BAM! Coughing, sneezing, fever, etc.

It’s funny because a couple of months ago, I got the flu shot, which I needed for work. Now in the years when I didn’t get a flu shot, I never got sick. So is it because of the flu shot? Or is it perhaps, as a friend said to me, perhaps I’d be sicker if I didn’t get the shot? Food for thought!

Today, I feel much better but still not quite 100 percent. This whole episode taught me the value of not taking your health for granted. I mean, I was always somewhat health conscious but one thing I took for granted was sleep. I always got by on very little sleep. Like less than four hours a night sometimes.

But I would see friends get sick, catch the cold or flu, etc, and I never did so I wondered if it was just genetics. Anyway, I found myself up late editing videos for YouTube. I mean my Contax T video is like 95 percent done yet I found myself continually editing and reediting parts. And it’s not like it’s going to be a masterpiece video or anything!! I’m kind of like Kanye when he dropped the last album, haha, just edit and reedit till the last minute. But the lack of sleep caught up to me and my immune was down I guess.

Anyway, needless to say, all the videos I was planning have been pushed back a bit. But to make it up to all who read the blog and subscribe to the channel on YouTube, here’s a video you didn’t see coming! Why do that? I don’t know, I like throwing things out of left field, keeps it interesting I think! 🙂

YOUTUBE UNBOXING VIDEO

Here’s my Christmas gift unboxing video! In order to save time, and also to keep me from getting sick again, I’m going to keep this article short because everything is in the video already.

WHY AN UNBOXING VIDEO?

I have done a couple of unboxing videos but in general, I do not do a lot of them. That’s because I usually don’t buy my photo gear new, so I don’t usually have the box and its extra contents. But on the rare times I do buy new I figured someone might like to see it.

Now, I was never a big fan of unboxing videos. I don’t really get the appeal. Yet, there must be something to it because there’s a guy on YouTube with millions of subscribers who does nothing but unbox stuff! Granted, his videos are very nicely produced, but I guess he has the money now and the time to do that.

WHAT AM I UNBOXING?

The 7Artisans 35mm f/2 in Leica M mount has gotten a lot of press with some calling this $289 lens a real challenger to the legendary Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron. Is it a true Summicron killer? Stay tuned to find out!

Well, since you guys who follow the blog are the backbone of my world, I’ll let you know what it is. It’s the 7Artisans 35mm f/2 lens in Leica M mount. If you look online people have been comparing it to the Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron ASPH or IV versions! For a lens from China that cost $289 (I got it for $260) that is a mighty high complement!

Anyway, I’ve always been curious about the lens, but I needed another 35mm lens like I need another camera so I waited until the right moment. I sold my 35mm Summicron IV “King Of Bokeh” a long time ago and didn’t hold on to it too long because I already had the 40mm f/2 Summicron and the 50mm f/2 Summicron. And at that time in my life I was fascinated with bokeh lenses and a 35mm f/2 lens just doesn’t give you dreamy backgrounds like a 0.95 lens.

Anyway just like you guys I go through thick and thin times, financially, and this was a “thin” year. Money’s tight.

So I sold off a bunch of stuff just to make sure I had enough to buy gifts for my loved ones, and with the money left over (which wasn’t a lot) I got myself this lens. You know when Sam is happy about a $260 lens, it’s a “thin” year! 🙂

In all seriousness, I do understand that $260 is a lot for many people, and in hard times, it’s a lot for me too.

But as photographers, camera lovers, etc, we ALL know that photography is no doubt an expensive hobby but $260 for a lens that is supposed to rival the $2000 plus Leica Summicron is a steal. If it can even approach the Leica in any way, it has done its job and done it well!

I have already put the lens on my trusty Leica M8, a camera which I’ve had since 2010, and am comfortable with. It’s my only digital Leica in fact. Anyway, I am using it first on my M8 so I can get results to you guys sooner so stay tuned.

Can this lens compete with the Leica at a steal of a price? I know what other people have said, but as always, I’m curious to find out for myself. We’ll see. Thanks for reading and catch you in the new year camera lovers!

CURIOUS? GET YOUR OWN, IT’S CHEAP!

If you would like to try this lens for yourself, click on the link from our trusted affiliate below. You will find it for the usual price of $289. But if you browse around a little bit, you might still be able to find it for $260!

***USED CAMERA TRENDS***

I have noticed that the 50mp Hasselblad X1D-50C has gone down in price and you can now find them used for around $3000 USD! That is a heck of a deal for a camera with superlative image quality. If you ever wanted to get into high fidelity imagery and try your hands at Medium Format digital, this might be it!

Hello from…

Good morning you guys! I know I have been away far too long this time even by my standards but I was gone for about a month and took the opportunity to not only take photos but also to take a digital detox. Didn’t sign on to WordPress once during my trip, sorry to say!

I went to Thailand and the Philippines. Two very colorful countries that appear similar on the surface but couldn’t be more different culturally. The one thing that ties them together really are the wonderful, friendly people.

I was almost always on the move. But on the positive side, I got a lot of rest at night. More sleep than I’ve had in months! On the negative side, I now have bad jet lag and my whole system is all messed up.

On this trip, I brought with me the Hasselblad X-Pan that you saw on the most recent video review. Just because I reviewed a camera doesn’t mean I stop using it! I also brought a couple other film cameras, including an Olympus Stylus Epic and Contax cameras. But which Contax? 😀👍🏻

On the digital side I brought my Ricoh GR 16mp. I’ve never really warmed up to this camera simply because I’ve always been partial to my beloved original GRD 8.1mp but I took the GR to “break it in” even though I’ve had it for a few years.

A crab found on the beach in Marinduque Island, Philippines. Of course, it was set free afterwards 🙂

Well, I don’t have any of the film developed yet so it will take some time. All of these photos are either from my iPhone or Ricoh. I just haven’t had the time to sort them out.

Guardians at one of the many spectacular temples in Thailand’s Wat Phra Kaew, the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand.

The amazingly funky Mahanakhon building in Bangkok.

I searched for film cameras and film and found them in the Quiapo section of Manila, one of the very few places where you can find film or film cameras in the Philippines!

A simple and undeveloped, unspoiled beach on Marinduque Island, Philippines.

No need for a title, but if I were to give this photo a title, I guess you could figure out what it would be 🙂

Surely there’s a lot of work left to do but I hope these photos give you a glimpse of where I’ve been and hopefully there’s more to come. And definitely, there’s a lot of catching up to do!

Hope you all are doing well, and catch you guys again soon! 😎📸👍🏻

Reflecting On The 50th Anniversary Of The Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Fifty years ago today, July 20th, 1969, NASA achieved what many still consider mankind’s greatest achievement; landing a man on the moon.

Now, trying not to give away my age, all I can say is I don’t remember the actual lunar landing 🙂

However, as a geeky kid growing up in the 70s and 80s, astronomy was always a passion even as a child. And it remains so today.

So if you grew up in the same era as I did, I’m sure you can agree with me that almost nothing makes you feel as old as knowing it’s been fifty years since that first moon landing! I still remember watching the nightly news when it was the twentieth anniversary! Damn man 😦

CAMERAS USED ON APOLLO 11

The above photo was taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II at prime focus on a Meade 90mm f/11 ETX Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope. But what were the cameras used on that first historic lunar landing?

According to NASA itself, the cameras used were three Hasselblad 500EL cameras. One was used in the command module Columbia, and the other two were taken to the moon on the Eagle lunar module.

These had special modifications to minimize what the astronauts had to do. Basically, they made it as “point and shoot” as possible. The lenses from what I have read were the 80mm f/2.8 Planar and the 60mm f/5.6 Zeiss Biogon. A Kodak Stereo Camera was also used for close ups of the lunar surface.

The film was a specially formulated Kodak 70mm film. I’ve often wondered what the ISO rating was for the film, and it seems like there are a lot of educated guesses but nothing official. I guess only us geeky photo nuts would be interested in knowing this 😀

At any rate, many skeptics over the years have mentioned how could the astronauts have possibly taken such fine photographs in their bulky cumbersome spacesuits.

The only thing I can say is…hey, in addition to the cameras being modified for ease of use, don’t you think they worked all that out? Practiced countless times?

This was not just a trip of a lifetime, it was a trip for the ages!

HOW FIFTY YEARS CAN CHANGE YOUR VIEWS

Can you believe that something so technologically astounding and complex as landing a man on the moon was something that was done fifty years ago? Are you kidding me?!

And can you believe that after that series of Apollo moon landings that I believe ended in 1972 with astronaut Eugene Cernan as the last man on the moon, we’ve done nothing ever since!

Of course, I’m speaking tongue in cheek but you know what I’m trying to say. When Neil Armstrong  said “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” as he became the first man to step foot on the moon, I think we all can relate to that statement even today.

Yes, I know that out of space technology we have so many things that have helped humanity. Lasers, GPS, microwaves, and many more things we probably don’t even know about.

But what I’m talking about when I say we’ve done “nothing” since, is this; where are the colonies on the moon? Where is the promised man on Mars?

Yes, I know putting a man on Mars has been gaining a lot of momentum in recent years. The way they’re talking, it seems it will happen in the next decade. But the older I get the more skeptical I’ve become. Sadly, I now feel I won’t see a man on Mars in my lifetime.

But even more than that, I now wonder why would we even bother getting a man to Mars? Let me explain further. As a child with endless fascination, and all throughout my young adult years I would have been all for a manned Mars mission.

But now, with all the probes that NASA and other space agencies have sent to Mars, I think it’s very clear that there is no significant life there. Note, I didn’t say there is no life on Mars. I wouldn’t rule that out. But based on all I have seen, Mars is as barren a world as you can imagine.

There is no hint of an ancient civilization. No buildings. No drawings. No artifacts. No animals. No vegetation. No nothing. Just a cold, barren world with a very thin atmosphere not suitable for human beings.

I am a man of science at heart so I marvel at all the discoveries they have made on Mars. Yet at the same time, I believe all the Mars missions have done is to finally take away the romanticism of Mars.

The Martian “canals” of Giovanni Schiaparelli and Percival Lowell, the notion of desperate Martians building a canal system to save their planet, all just imagination. The invading Martians of H.G. Wells, just imagination.

They talk about terraforming Mars. To terraform the planet would take centuries, and would humans be able to survive even with all our best laid plans?

A trip to Mars will be a one way trip and most people who want to go there know this. They may know it, but how many would actually be able to deal with this frightening reality once the spacecraft heads off to Mars?

Anyway, I’m drifting too far off! What I say is, if they plan to go to Mars, they probably should start first with the Lunar colonies. The Moon is a lot closer than Mars. If an issue or emergency arises, it’s possible with our technology today to do something about it.

If an emergency arises on Mars, or on the way to Mars, forget about it!

THE LUNAR LEGACY

All my skepticism about Mars aside, I just want to say that it still amazes me to this day, whenever I look up at the moon and get lost in deep thought. I say to myself, wow, people actually walked up there!

Now even though neither I nor anyone I know personally has walked the moon, the fact that those brave men walked the moon, I think it makes us all united. They didn’t just walk the moon for themselves. It really was an achievement for all mankind.

And it helps to make an otherwise totally alien world seem a little more friendly. More than just a moon that happens to be locked in orbit with our home planet the Earth.

In a time today when celebrities are paid millions for just looking good, the brave men and women (in Mission Control) of the Apollo missions are to be admired.

Can you imagine dealing with the discomforts of doing in outer space, even the simple things such as eating, going to the bathroom (in their spacesuits I think!) and facing such unknowns, not knowing if you’ll ever make it home?

These astronauts and the people who worked behind the scenes are heroes for making one of mankind’s oldest dreams come true. As I said, they are to be admired, respected, remembered. Not just then, but now, and for always.

If you lived through that first historic Apollo 11 mission, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Tuesday Trends: DSLR vs Mirrorless…Is The DSLR About To Go Extinct?

The “trend” we will be looking at today is the topic of the Digital SLR (DSLR) versus Mirrorless cameras and the prevailing thought that the DSLR may be going into extinction soon.

I read the same articles and watch the same videos as you guys do and I saw that this topic was trending on YouTube for a couple of weeks.

Funny thing, I had thought of doing an article about this some time back as part of my “Tuesday Trends” series but I hesitated to post the video because I thought people might not find it relevant. It’s actually a topic of debate that’s been going back for several years!

I’m guessing what might have reignited this debate was this article on Petapixel in which Ricoh marketing general manager Hikorki Sugahara decided to buck the trend and stated that “mirrorless is a newcomer” and seems to imply that because of this people are flocking to these new systems but he predicts that the same people will return to the Digital SLR in 1-2 years. It’s an interesting article of which you can read in full here:

Ricoh Thinks Mirrorless Shooters Will Switch Back to DSLRs in 1-2 Years

I have my own views on this which I will share with you here, but first let’s look at what each system is.

WHAT IS A DSLR?

As mentioned above, a DSLR is a “Digital Single Lens Reflex” camera. The word “reflex” basically means it has an optical system of mirror, ground glass, prism, and eyepiece to form an image.

WHAT IS A MIRRORLESS CAMERA?

A Mirrorless camera is just that. It does not make use of a mirror between the lens and sensor. There is no mirror to move up and down. Some models may use mirrors elsewhere such as for the viewfinder but the important thing for “mirrorless” cameras is that there is no mirror between the lens and sensor.

The image is transferred electronically to the rear LCD. Higher end mirrorless cameras sometimes also have an EVF or electronic viewfinder.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

Here’s the accompanying video I made for this article. While the written article you are reading contains more information, the video makes up for it with raw grit and candid humor 🙂

I didn’t want it to go on so long, but I guess I yak too much! Anyway, in this video I introduce some new “videography techniques” if you can call it that lol 🙂

I will attempt to refine these production techniques in future videos. Remember folks, this is all for your entertainment!

DSLR PROS & CONS

The DSLR has been taking a beating recently by the “experts” and mirrorless proponents but still has a lot of things that make it highly desirable.

First off, it is the last link to actual film SLR cameras. Despite the “film vs digital” thing, a Digital SLR is in many ways an extension of the film SLR in the digital realm,

The most obvious link is the optical viewfinder. While DSLR’s may have sensors and other electronic elements, the good old optical viewfinder is built upon the same concept and engineering as your good old fashioned film cameras SLRS.

Before I start drifting off, let me just put the pros and cons into a more easy to follow numerical scheme:

DSLR PROS:

  1. Optical Viewfinder The view from a large, high quality optical viewfinder is still hard to beat, especially if focusing in daylight. “Ain’t nothing like the real thing baby!” as the song once said 😊
  2. If the LCD ever fails, and sometimes it does, a DSLR with an optical viewfinder can still function for picture taking. A mirrorless camera with a broken EVF or LCD will be completely useless.
  3. Usually fast shot to shot times, less lag.
  4. Battery life is better on the newer DSLR cameras because it does not need to continually supply the LCD or EVF with power.
  5. Very fast AF possible.
  6. Focus Peaking may be available, depending on model, via Live View
  7. There are a ton of native lenses available for the DSLR and for potentially lower prices if buying used.
  8. A large DLSR balances better with long and/or heavy lenses
  9. This is subjective, but many people report that the DSLR feels more solid or better built than their mirrorless counterparts.
  10. Superb video options available on today’s DSLRs
  11. Choice of APS-C and Full-Frame options
  12. Superb image quality possible.

Nothing compares to using a true optical viewfinder especially outdoors!

DSLR CONS:

  1. DSLRs are often large, heavy, and bulky
  2. Lenses are often larger than the equivalent mirrorless lenses
  3. Many older DSLR lenses were optimized for film cameras, not digital sensors.
  4. The Optical Viewfinder cannot support focus peaking
  5. Contrary to what I’ve read, I find it harder to focus manual lenses at night or low light through the optical viewfinder.
  6. Focus confirmation chips not as accurate as focus peaking with fast lenses
  7. Limited ability to adapt lenses due to mirror being in the light path between lens and sensor
  8. Not inconspicuous or stealthy
  9. Potential shakiness at low shutter speeds due to mirror slap.
  10. You look old and unhip with a DSLR!

“Roar!” 2019. Canon EOS-1Ds, EF 85mm f/1.2L. DSLR’s can shoot fast and offers tons of options for native lenses at more affordable prices on the used market. For example, Canon’s new 85mm f/1.2 RF for their R Mirrorless cost $2699 new. The 85mm f/1.2L in EOS mount versions I & II can be found on the used market from $1000-1500 respectively.

Ok, next up is mirrorless…

MIRRORLESS CAMERAS PROS & CONS

Mirrorless cameras have a lot of virtues and benefits but they also have their shortcomings. Here are some pros and cons for mirrorless:

MIRRORLESS PROS:

  1. Smaller and lighter than their DSLR equivalent cameras.
  2. The easier it is to carry, the more likely you will take it with you and use it.
  3. Image Stabilization in body more common in mirrorless cameras than DSLRs.
  4. Lenses are also smaller and often lighter, but still of high quality.
  5. Very fast AF possible, but usually with higher end models.
  6. Focus peaking. Very useful with manual focus lenses
  7. Easier to focus at night or in low light due to LCD or EVF “gain” which makes for a brighter image in the viewfinder or on the LCD.
  8. The ability to use many more legacy lenses through the use of adapters. The absence of a reflex mirror in the light path makes this possible.
  9. Potentially less vibration at low shutter speeds due to no mirror slap.
  10. Superb video options available.
  11. Choice of APS-C or Full-Frame or even smaller 1″ sensors.
  12. Superb image quality possible.

Mirrorless cameras such as the Sony A7r above are incredibly popular for use with adapted legacy glass.

“Autumn Leaves” 2014. Sony A7r, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Rangefinder “Dream” lens. Focus peaking and the EVF on the mirrorless A7r made it much easier to achieve sharp focus with fast lenses. In fact, I find it invaluable for this purpose.

MIRRORLESS CONS:

  1. May feel too light and flimsy, depending on model.
  2. EVF may still feel like looking at a computer screen vs the DSLR optical viewfinder.
  3. Lag time. I find both my Olympus OM-D EM-5 and Sony A7r to have slow startup times and sometimes a lag after a shot is taken. This might be due to the “refresh” of the screens but it could make a difference between getting the shot and losing the shot.
  4. Potentially shorter battery life as battery is needed for everything.
  5. Native lenses, while growing, is still limited compared to DSLR lenses thus less native options, but plenty of alternative options if you’re willing to use adapters.
  6. Does not balance as well with larger lenses.
  7. Because of the small size, controls can feel cramped and ergonomics can suffer.
  8. You look like a modern day camera geek with a mirrorless camera! 🙂

CONCLUSION

Wow, that was a mouthful! And more than I ever wanted to write! I even missed on one of the main points I wanted to make and that is…

If we do not see a Canon 1DX Mark III or Nikon D6 for the Olympics or even in a couple of years, then it is very possible that the big badass PRO DSLR bodies will go extinct. But I still think the DSLR will survive in the from of the “little” cameras such as the Canon Rebel series, Nikon D35xx series, and maybe even the mid-tier 7D or D7000 bodies.

Personally I say, have one of each! Now you might say something like “That’s too rich for my blood,” to which I would say come on now, you know photography is an expensive hobby but with the options you have these days, especially on the used market, you could easily have a good quality DSLR and mirrorless for under $500. It doesn’t need to be the latest and greatest folks.

DSLR or Mirrorless? Life is short, have both! 🙂

I’d love to hear your opinion on this topic so if you have one, feel free to leave a comment! Happy shooting folks! 😎👍🏻

***TOP SELLING DSLR & MIRRORLESS CAMERAS ON SALE!***

Canon T6i Kit

Nikon D850

Nikon D750

Sony A7III

Olympus OM-D EM-10 MKIII Kit

Olympus OM-D EM1X Ultimate Olympus!