The Nikon D200 Revisited

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One question: What were you doing this time in 2005? Yes, I know that’s such a broad spectrum question that it’s almost impossible to answer. How about if I narrow it down for you by asking…as a camera freak, what were you doing this time in 2005?

If you’re a camera freak, a digital camera geek, chances are very likely that you were waiting with high anticipation for the release of the Nikon D200 digital SLR.

Today we will take a look back at the D200, but let me say this is not a Nikon D200 “review” in the traditional sense. Yes, we will talk about some technical and operational aspects of the camera, but everything you need to know technically about the D200 has probably already been written by many other review sites.

I want to take a look back in time, back in history, to the time before, during, and after the release of the Nikon D200.

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“Smile” 2017. Nikon D200, 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor. Straight out of camera jpeg in “Fine” setting. On my screen the skin tones run a little red but that’s easily fixed.

AS A CAMERA

The Nikon D200 is a 10.2 megapixel DSLR that was marketed as a highly specified semi-pro or “enthusiast” model. Indeed the build quality was, and is superb, even by today’s standards with its durable magnesium alloy body and confidence inspiring heft. Though it was the follow up to the D100 of 2002, the D200 was in a whole different league.

The 10.2 megapixel sensor was APS-C sized with a crop factor of 1.5X and 10 megapixels were big back in them days! The camera has a shutter speed range of 1/30 to 1/8000. Though you may never use it or need it, the 1/8000 or higher shutter speed is always a sign of a high end camera.

The D200 had an ISO range of 100-2500 and 3200 with boost. This was well before the era of ISO 100K plus.

The camera had a built-in flash (Speedlight as Nikon calls it) which comes in handy if you need flash in a pinch. However, back then, some criticized the move fearing it might compromise the structural integrity of the camera. As you know, in the years since, many high end cameras now include built in flash as a common feature and people don’t complain about it as much 🙂

THE ANTICIPATION

Ah, I remember it so well. Yes, once I heard about the D200, once I saw the specs and the “leaked” photos, I knew I had to have it!

Just like many of you, I was probably on fredmiranda.com or photo.net every damn night reading all the speculations about a camera none of us had yet.

Many speculated that the D200 would be the mini D2X we desired at a much lower cost. But we all know if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The D200 most certainly was not the D2X, but take heart that in some ways it was better. I’ll explain later on in the article.

I checked many stores in the NYC area. All of them had long pre-order lines. I got my name on one of the local dealers and eventually got it from them. Here’s a shoutout to the local dealers! There are too precious few left. Please support your local camera dealers!

THE ARRIVAL

So one day in December of 2005, a few days before Christmas, I got that call from my local camera dealer telling me my D200 was in. Hot damn, I was so excited!

It’s kind of sad that I rarely get that kind of excitement these days from any camera I get. I guess it must be “camera saturation” as I call it. After all these years and many, many cameras later, it’s hard to get that excited.

Anyway, needless to say I quickly rushed off to the dealer and picked up that beautiful golden box that said “Nikon D200” 🙂

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From 2005, this boy was sure happy when he received his D200! 🙂

I think I paid around $1800 for the body, which seemed like a bargain at that time for such a highly specified camera.

THE TOUCH, THE FEEL, THE LOVE

After opening the box, going through all the accessories, I finally got to the baby! Upon first touch I knew I was in love. This was a big, beautiful hunk of steel and photographic sex appeal.

I snapped a few shots. The dampened sound of that instant return mirror was like music to my ears.

I could tell by all the features I found in the menu that this was an advanced camera. However, for me, that wasn’t as important as the fact that I was able to figure it out easily without the manual. I could appreciate all the advanced features, and I might eventually get to some of them, but first and foremost what I care about is how quickly I can access the controls, how quickly I could get a shot out of the camera. And after that, as long as it takes a good picture, I’m pretty happy. The D200, build quality and ergonomically speaking, was a Nikon through and through.

The first few shots revealed nice images with some really beautiful colors.

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“Lost In Love” 2005. Nikon D200, 105mm f/2 DC Nikkor, ISO 100. The D200 can produce excellent sharpness and pleasing skin tones.

AFTER THE HONEYMOON

Not long after getting my D200, I started having doubts about the camera. Main issue for me, and apparently most early D200 users were “soft images” and disappointing high iso performance.

Ok, I can hear it now. Someone out there is saying…”I get incredibly sharp images from my D200, this dweeb don’t know what he’s doing!” 🙂

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“Christ Is King” 2006. Nikon D200, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-S Nikkor, Lucban, Philippines.

Ok, I got ya, I hear ya!! But yes, I too have many many sharp images from the D200. Heck, I probably don’t know what I’m doing hah but for your sake, just look up “D200 soft images.” Take yourself back to 2005-2006 and see what I’m talking about.

In the years since the D200 was released till now, for many cameras that came after the D200 (and some before) you will see in camera reviews a lot of something like “jpegs are slightly soft, but sharpen up well.” Today, it wouldn’t bother me much, but in 2005 it did.

Keep in mind, back then I had used a Canon EOS 20D, 5D, Nikon D1X, D100, D2H and D70. All, with the exception of the D100, produced sharper images straight out of camera than the D200.

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“Mr. Bojangles” 2005. Nikon D200, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-S Nikkor. Despite all I’ve said about the D200’s “soft” images, the camera is perfectly capable of producing very sharp images. Just as sharp as Mr. Bojangles 🙂

So I’m not sure if it was just the jpeg processing. I think it’s been stated by various websites that the D200 had a fairly strong AA filter which funny enough has been done away with altogether in many cameras today. Back then, there was such concern over the possibility of moire from a lack of an AA filter. But today, it seems the trend or fad is to sell cameras without the AA filter as a selling point because it may produce “sharper” pictures without the filter. I’m good with that, but when or why did this still conservative industry decide that they were cool with it too?

I’m guessing that, one, the industry saw that a large majority of the people were wanting low pass filter-less cameras, preferring sharpness over the rare possibility of moire. Second, by not including the AA filter, they must be saving money on it.

Anyway, I know I’m drifting off topic, but the D200 images did not have that “pop” I was getting with my other cameras, at least not without some post processing work. All the images here from 2005-2006 were post processed and resized as I was posting to online photo sites at that time. Unfortunately, I do not have the original files any longer. So much for digital files lasting forever, although you can blame me for this 🙂

The high iso performance was also disappointing to me at that time. Anything over 1000 or 1600 seemed noisy. I had a 5D at the time and it set a new standard for high iso performance. Sure, you may say today that the 5D is not great either at high ISO’s but you’re saying it from today’s perspective. In 2005, it was considered great! And for me, it is still better than a lot of other cameras, but that’s another topic.

In hindsight, it was unfair to compare the D200 to the 5D as the 5D was using a full-frame sensor which in itself is usually an advantage for high iso capabilities and also in hindsight, the D200 wasn’t all that bad at high ISO’s.

The AF was fast, but slightly slower than I had been used to from the D1X and D2H, but I could’ve lived with it.

Today, with the power of hindsight, I guess I was expecting 2017 performance from the D200 back in 2005! 🙂

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“Atlas” 2005. Nikon D200, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-S Nikkor, ISO 1000. The D200 was much better at ISO’s higher than ISO 800 than I thought twelve years ago. Unfortunately, I don’t have the original files to post here.

THE D200 REVISTED

Well, I should say revisited again. And again. Let me explain.

In 2007, I got that itch and thought that maybe I was a bit too hard on the D200. I decided to get another one.

After using it for a while, and trying hard to like it, I came to the conclusion that no, I just don’t like the images I get from it. Not really sure why. Maybe because my first impressions of the camera in 2005 weren’t so good? Maybe because in 2007, it was still rather expensive? Maybe my perceived “soft” images? Perhaps I pixel-peeped too much back then?

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“Smile” in B&W. Processed the image for a filmic look. The slight softness in the original image actually helps when you want to emulate the look of film.

Again, don’t be mad for me constantly mentioning the D200’s supposed “soft images.” It’s not that they didn’t sharpen up well, they did. The images just seemed to lack bite. Even when using it with top glass such as the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens, the images lacked the “snap” I’d gotten from my other cameras.

I’m sure some of you are asking “Did you try shooting RAW brother?” Sure I did! I spent many nights using Nikon Capture to open those big, slow NEF (Nikon RAW) files. Anything to convince myself to keep the camera! Unfortunately for me, that didn’t help much. Yes, it was better but the time it took my slow computer to process the files were just too much to handle.

I sold the camera and never looked back. Until last month! I got a used one for around $85 shipped. Wow, a huge difference from the $1800 I paid for a new D200 in 2005. Such is digital right? This is a great time to buy these old digital classics!

I look at the D200 images I’ve taken recently and even back to the ones from 2005-2006 and even though I had to process those images to where I wanted them to be, I think now that I may have been too hard on the poor D200. Considering it’s a camera from 2005, it’s a stellar performer!

Remember I said the D200 was not the D2X but in some ways better? Well, first it’s not the D2X because the AF is not nearly as fast, at least from my experience. I used a D2X from around 2008-2010. The AF on the D200 is accurate, but the D2X is very slightly better but don’t let that scare you. On the whole, D200 will deliver in autofocus.

Where the D200 betters the D2X is in the sensor. But “better” is relative though. I mean, if you want higher resolution, the 12.4mp D2X has it. The 2mp difference is not really a big deal, but the D2X just takes sharper looking photos in my opinion. But the D200 I feel has a more flexible and forgiving sensor.

The D2X has a very particular sensor that can produce superb results but does not do very well once you go past ISO 400. Yes, I’ve gotten great pics from the D2X at ISO’s higher than 400, but if you’ve shot with a D2X you know what I mean. It’s almost like slide film but more extreme, there’s little room for negotiation with your exposures. The D200 has a gentler transition as you move up the ISO scale and has more headroom to work with.

What about the “measely” 10.2 megapixels? Come on friend, you should know by now 10 megapixels is just enough to be good for nearly anything right? 🙂

Ok yes, it’s not 36 ot 42 or even 50 megapixels but seriously do you need that much? If you’re not printing for huge billboards I would safely say you really don’t. Ok, I will speak only for myself…I don’t! 🙂

Yes, I still believe there is a certain “softness” in the images compared to a lot of other cameras, but they do sharpen up very well. The D200 taught me a lot about post processing. And a slightly softer image is almost always better for portraits, especially for female portraits.

In some ways, that softness helps when trying to create that mythical and oversold “film-like” image. Despite what many film afficianados might want to believe, a film image, or shall I say a 35mm film scan usually comes out softer than what you’d get from a typical digital camera but that’s where the beauty of film comes in. The rolloff from sharp to soft is usually a bit smoother and not as harsh in the film images and so too it is with the D200.

In 2005, digital photography was just coming into its own. Now in 2017, I can tell you that there are many cameras I wouldn’t have given a chance then, that I would today. Many cameras that produce images that look horrible pixel-peeped at 100 percent, but look great when printed. The D200 did NOT look horrible when pixel peeping at 100 percent and prints up beautifully. Therefore, I’d say now that it’s a winner!

Also, I stated it once but probably not enough in this article, the D200 produces beautiful colors. Yes, skin tones can still lean towards the typical Nikon warm, but for the most part images are wonderfully saturated and balanced.

THE BOTTOM LINE & THE FUTURE

The future? What future you might say! What future for a 12 year old obsolete digital camera?

Well, I look forward to using the D200 a lot more and with the power of hindsight and experience, I can appreciate this camera much more than I did back in 2005 or 2007.

The Nikon D200 is a Camera Legend that upped the game for cameras in the semi-pro/enthusiast category. It was loved by many as well as criticized (rather unfairly) by many others (myself included).

So let me make a public apology to the D200…D200, my friend, I was too harsh on you. I’m sorry if I wronged you. Third time is the charm and I’ll make it up to you! 🙂

In hindsight, the D200 is a very complete package that is capable of shooting almost anything you might want it to. And in today’s world, it’s a bargain of a powerhouse camera for what you pay for it.

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

The D200 fortunately is plentiful on the used market and prices have been trending from around $90-150 with an average of around $120.

Please buy from our affiliates through our links and support Camera Legend so we can continue bringing you more of your favorite superstar as well as forgotten Camera Legend cameras! Thank you.

***NEW CAMERA ALERT***

So you say you’re not interested in oldies like the D200? You want the latest and greatest? Well, the Sony a7R III Mirrorless Digital Camera Body is here!! This 42.4mp monster has it all…10fps, 5 axis optical stabilization, ultra high resolution 4K video? Heck man this will probably take over the Nikon D850 as the hottest camera out right now! It’s probably going to be sold out, but if you want the chance to be one of the first on the streets with one, please click on the link above to pre-order this Sony mega-monster camera!

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The Contax TVS Digital

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In its time, Contax/Yashica made some very fine film cameras and lenses which continued after its acquisition by Kyocera. The company struggled for a few years during the early days of digital but were making some interesting cameras such as the Contax TVS Digital. Unfortunately, Kyocera halted production of all Contax cameras in 2005.

THE CONTAX TVS DIGITAL

The Contax TVS Digital is a 5 megapixel point and shoot digital camera introduced by Kyocera of Japan in 2002.

The camera uses a 1/1.8″ CCD sensor and features a Carl Zeiss (35mm equivalent) 35-105mmm f/2.8-4.8 lens. The camera has a shutter speed range of 8 seconds to 1/2000 seconds and an ISO range of 80 to 400.

Close focus is around 2 ft and goes to infinity. Macro range is around 5.9 inches. The camera has an optical viewfinder that has about 85 percent coverage and a tiny 1.6″ LCD for composition and playback.

The camera has a built in flash and runs on a proprietary lithium ion battery that must be charged in camera via AC adapter.

The camera uses standard SD cards up to 2gb. That was a lot back then! And in all honesty, it’s more than enough for a 5mp camera that shoots jpegs. There is no RAW option.

IMPRESSIONS

Let me be blunt…I was never interested in the Contax TVS Digital.

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Why? Well, early on I saw that the specs were very similar to the Kyocera Finecam S5 and I picked up that camera in 2008 or 2009 for $10 dollars.

Considering that the TVS Digital was selling for around $400 or so at that time, I kept it out of my head. I said to myself…why would anyone pay $400 when you can get (possibly) the same camera for $10?!

Flash forward to 2016. Saw a TVS Digital for under $100. I said…DEAL!! 🙂

Right off the bat, it must be said that the chances are unlikely that many people are looking for, let alone thinking of the Contax TVS Digital in 2017. But you my friends, you are NOT the masses, that’s why you’re reading Camera Legend! You come here for those old, decrepit and forgotten cameras 🙂

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“You Are Special” 2017. Contax TVS Digital. The TVS Digital’s automatic flash can be overpowering at times, but it still manages to produce flash images with pleasing color. Just like Baby Zay (and Barney), I would say that if you are seeking a Contax TVS Digital in 2017, then you my friend, you are special 🙂

Ok, so I’ve had a little time with it and I’m sharing my opinion with you. First, the Titanium Black version is beautiful. It feels well built, solid, much like the TVS film camera it emulates but perhaps lighter than the film version.

IN USE

The controls are well laid out. Sometimes, scrolling through the ancient 2002 menu system can be a little confusing but you get used to it.

The optical viewfinder is small and dinky and I almost never use it. The 1.6 inch old school LCD is not much better, but I use it as it’s better than nothing.

Though the camera gives you an in focus indication, it’s hard to tell from either the optical viewfinder or the LCD that the camera is truly in focus. However, for a camera with the typical tiny sensor you really needn’t worry because in most situations, you’ll have ample depth of field for everything to be sharp. Only when in macro range or doing close-ups do I worry but more often than not the TVS Digital gets sharp focus.

The autofocus is decent, but slow. Considering it’s from 2002, we’ll forgive it! Writing to the sd card as well as playback are also slow.

IMAGE QUALITY

In all honesty, I did not have high expectations of this camera. In my opinion, the original Contax TVS film camera, while beautiful, had a pretty average lens and was clunky to operate. The TVS Digital is almost a mirror image of its film cousin in image quality, perhaps a bit better.

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“Shadow Cloud Rider” 2016. Contax TVS Digital.

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“Shadow Cloud Rider Revealed” 2016. Contax TVS Digital. The built in flash of the TVS Digital fires by default (can be turned off) and provided nice fill flash for this shot.

The lens is sharp enough, but doesn’t strike me as one of those stellar, super-sharp lenses. It is not, but it’s good enough for most purposes.

“Bill Haley And His Comets” 2017. Contax TVS Digital. This is a crop from the TVS Digital at its widest setting. Barrel distortion can be seen, but the colors are very good especially for a camera from 2002!

Compared to the $10 Finecam S5 with similar specs, the images look as sharp but perhaps more contrasty. I’m not sure if it’s really the T* coatings doing their thing or if it’s just my imagination. Perhaps a more rigorous comparison should be done.

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“Pot” 2017. Contax TVS Digital. I’m not referring to the plants, I’m referring to the “thing” the plants are in, it looks like an ancient pot to me! The TVS Digital shows nice colors and crisp details here.

Anyway, the images are sharp with nice color and contrast. The colors lean a bit towards cool rather than warm. Don’t fool yourself, this camera is not going to do better than an equivalent modern day point and shoot. The 5mp resolution is limiting. The colors can go wonky at times. It’s sharp, but not the sharpest lens I’ve ever seen. Yet, when taken on the whole, I like the pics I get from this camera!

There’s a certain kind of quality to it. I’m not going to say “film-like” or “filmic” but it’s something similar and very pleasant to my eyes. Actually, yes, when viewing some of my photos at 100 percent, the “grain” did seem reminiscent of color film grain. It kind of makes up for the lack of details or low resolution.

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“Sun” 2017. Contax TVS Digital.

The nifty macro mode is very good. In once instance, it did better than a Sigma DP2 Quattro I was testing. No, not in sharpness or resolution but in the fact that the TVS Digital got several sharp shots where the DP2 Quattro misfocused on the same shots, even though it gave me an in focus indication. That was a good example to me of getting the shot vs not getting the shot. What would you take, a 29mp blurry shot? Or a 5mp sharp, in-focus shot? 🙂

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“All Mine” 2017. Contax TVS Digital. Macro mode. The TVS Digital has a very useful macro mode that works well in capturing shots such as this. This large butterfly seems to be claiming all this “food” for itself and no one else 🙂

With a limiting top ISO speed of 400, the TVS Digital is not a camera one would likely use for low light shots. However, I found one pleasant surprise; when shooting in low light with no flash, the camera still produces surprisingly good color under these circumstances.

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“Empire State” 2017. Contax TVS Digital. The TVS Digital does surprisingly well for night shots such as this one at ISO 400.

Check out the photo below. It looks well lit, but in reality, the room was dark and only the hallway light lit the subjects. With these circumstances, many cameras, even modern ones will usually produce reddish or yellowish colors, but the TVS Digital produced colors so natural here it puts a lot of cameras to shame! This was shot handheld, but this leads me to believe the TVS Digital could do better than I thought in low light conditions, especially if a tripod is used. This fact that the whole picture did not turn into mush is a pleasant surprise!

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BOTTOM LINE

As one of the last cameras introduced by the now defunct Contax line of cameras from the Kyocera era, the Contax TVS Digital is seen these days as collectible and that it is, I suppose.

In use, the TVS Digital in many ways mimics the TVS film series. It carries very good optics into an all purpose point and shoot digital camera. Its performance can be good to very good, but not earth shattering. It’s a good basic point and shoot camera that happens to carry the prestigious Contax name.

Considering that the Contax brand of its era is gone, the TVS Digital is one of the few digital remnants that keeps the Camera Legend of Contax alive and as a Contax fan I would say that’s a good thing!

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

Unlike the Contax N Digital DSLR, the TVS Digital is almost always available on eBay. And also unlike the N Digital DSLR, prices have been trending downwards in the past few years, settling to around $175-300 with an average around $250. This indicates to me that even buyers know this is not a standout collectors item like the N Digital.

In my opinion, even at its current price, it’s is still too much for this camera. Again, for me, it all goes back to the Finecam S5, the Kyocera camera with similar specs. You can find this camera if you look for $10-30! But though they share similar specs, the S5 looks and feels a lot different from the TVS Digital. The TVS Digital is better in this respect.

If you are a Contax fan like me, and you don’t mind paying current prices, then I suppose it’s not an out of this world price to pay.

But buy carefully. As I mentioned many times before, Contax electronics are prone to failure. Make sure you buy from a place with a good return policy because if it breaks on you, there’s really no hope of repair.

If interested, try one of the links here and support Camera Legend at the same time. Your support will help me continue to bring you reviews on forgotten cameras such as the TVS Digital and many more film and digital classics of yore. Many thanks!!

Contax TVS

7/29/17: ***DEAL ALERT***

Our good friends at Adorama have some great deals this weekend on some hot new Rokinon lenses! For a very limited time (this weekend) you can save a bundle on these awesome Rokinon lenses.

Photo Of The Day: “Classic Junker”

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I shot this a couple of weeks ago. I was driving to see some friends when I spotted this “classic” junker underneath some spring blossoms. The contrast of the old car and the color of the buds struck my eyes. Right away, I said HO! I have to get some shots! 🙂

I actually had to turn the car around to come back and take the shot. I’m not so good on cars, but it looked to me like a Ford? If any of you out there can identify it, please do so! I did not come out of my car to take this shot. I respect people and did not want anyone freaking out! I know I probably would be disturbed if I saw someone coming up and taking shots of my car. But this is a vintage old car and it stands out in today’s world, so if I were the owner, I would probably have to expect it.

I shot this with my trusty and old Epson R-D1 and 40mm f/2 Summicron-M. I got this camera in 2006 and if you had told me then that ten years later I’d still be shooting with it, I’d probably say you were crazy! For one, I didn’t think I’d hold on to it for this long. Secondly, I didn’t think it would last this long. But I still have it, and it’s been surprisingly reliable.

I guess I’m still one of those crazy guys (and there’s lots of us out there) who still carries a camera with them everywhere, even when a good cell phone camera will do. I don’t know, I guess I’m still old school.

The Epson R-D1 is the world’s first digital rangefinder camera. It was introduced in 2004. Somehow, Epson beat Leica (well known as THE rangefinder icon) to the punch with this digital body which was made by Cosina and based on their own line of Voigtlander Bessa rangefinder film cameras.

The R-D1 sports a 6.1mp sensor. It is, or is a variation of the very popular Sony sensor found in the Nikon D70/D70s, Pentax *ist D series, Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D/5D series and more. It may be digital, but no it’s not like an outdated computer where it’s unusable. It is a very dated sensor, but it was one of the best of its era and it still produces beautiful pictures.

If you look to at the brick wall to the right of the car, you can see very nice and subtle shadow detail transitions. Very smooth, not harsh. This might have more to do with the 40mm Summicron as well, but I have to give the sensor credit too.

So if you don’t have an R-D1, don’t worry. Just get one of the above mentioned cameras cheap and you’ll have pretty much the same sensor. The thing you won’t have is the ability to use Leica M lenses and the wonderful tactile feel of the R-D1, plus its glorious optical viewfinder.

I’ve spoken, written, referenced this camera many many times, though I’ve never done a full or even partial review of it. As I’ve told many people, this camera truly feels and looks like its film camera equivalent (the Bessa R/R2/R3). It’s kind of funny because compared to a Leica, the Bessa film cameras do feel kind of cheap.

Yet, in digital form, it feels better and more substantial than most digital cameras out there! It’s just normal with digital/analog camera comparisons, and I’ve come to accept it. As an example, take the Olympus OM-1 film camera and then hold a OM-D camera next to it. As much as I love the OM-D’s image quality and shooting capabilities, there’s just no comparison. The OM-1 feels solid and hefty, the OM-D feels light and dinky. And the OM-1 was actually one of the lighter film SLR cameras.

The 40mm f/2 Summicron has always been one of my favorite performers. It provides beautiful sharpness and tonal range. The lens is beautifully small, much like a pancake lens. Normally I find the 40mm focal length, especially the pancakes a little boring, but that’s because most pancakes start at f/2.8. The 40mm Summicron gives me an extra stop of light which opens up more possibilities, not only for the low light shots I take, but for the shallow depth of field I need for portraits. On the R-D1 it’s equal to around 60mm which makes it a little longer than a 50mm standard lens.

It was introduced with the Leica CL, which was a collaboration with Minolta in the 1970s. The Summicron is made by Leitz although a Rokkor-M version, made by Minolta in Japan, is also available. Due to this collaboration, there has always been some debate among camera nerds as to whether the lens is really a Minolta or a Leica? All I can say is that it’s a great lens and that’s all I need to know.

As you can see, I’m actually shooting more than I’m writing, which I guess is a good thing in some ways. If this was ten years ago when I was a single man with no family or responsibilities, I’d probably be doing this blog like crazy. These days, I do it when it strikes my fancy, though I really should be doing it more. Ah, sorry for the rambling. Have a good day friends and happy shooting always! 🙂

***IN STOCK ALERT***

I have been notified by my good friends at Adorama that the Nikon D5 and D500 are now in stock!! If you’ve been waiting patiently for these awesome cameras, here’s your chance to grab one before they sell out the first batch. You may find them in the links below. Thanks for supporting Camera Legend and enjoy your new camera, I’d sure love to hear about it!

Nikon D5 (CF Version)

Nikon D5 (XQD Version)

Nikon D500

Nikon D500 with 16-80 f/2.8-4E VR lens

 

 

Tuesday Titans: The Original 11mp Canon EOS 1Ds The Camera That Killed Film

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“The Mountaintop” 2005. With the 1Ds in 2005. Please excuse this funky pic! At that time, I felt I had been to the “mountaintop” and wanted to show that I, the “Ghetto-Blaster” and a mere mortal, could also hold in my peasant hands, the Camera Legend that is the Canon EOS-1Ds.

The Canon EOS-1Ds is an 11.1 megapixel full-frame digital SLR, released by Canon Inc 2002.

While not the first 35mm full-frame digital (the Contax N Digital I also reviewed is), the Canon EOS-1Ds ruled the roost as the “King” of digital photography and had a segment of the market all to itself for quite a few years.

Why? Because to have 11 megapixels and a full-frame sensor in 2002 was totally and utterly mind blowing!

It’s hard to appreciate this in today’s flooded market of 24 to 42mp full frame cameras, especially if you’re relatively new to all this. You should try to “transport” yourself back to 2001, even before the 1Ds came to market, but even then it’s not as mind-blowing as having lived through this era.

In 2002, we were still barely out of the 3mp range when it came to high end cameras. The 2.7mp Nikon D1 and the 3mp Canon EOS-D30 were the hot cameras of the day. Six megapixel cameras were coming to market. But the EOS-1Ds was on another plane altogether.

I still remember it well. The 1Ds was at a level where very few “mere mortals” like myself could reach. Not only was it incredibly expensive at $7999, but there was such an aura around the camera that made it seem untouchable for many like myself.

THE 1Ds AS A CAMERA

Since this is not meant to be a full throttle review, I will just state some of the key features and deficits of the 1Ds.

The 1Ds, as with all EOS-1 series cameras, has an impressively tough build quality and iconic looks. You know a 1D series camera when you see one, you can’t mistake it for anything else.

The 1Ds is an autofocus camera with 45 AF points. The AF system was similar to all 1D series cameras of its time (1D Classic, 1D MKII) and is derived from the EOS-1V film camera, the last and most advanced pro EOS film camera.

The AF is quick and accurate in all but the lowest of low light settings. Canon’s 1 Series cameras have always had excellent autofocusing abilities and I have nothing bad to say about this.

The 1Ds has a shutter range of 30 seconds to 1/8000 and an ISO range of 100-1250, plus a special ISO 50 (L) that can be used though it is not part of the native ISO range for the camera. The viewfinder is bright with 100 percent coverage.

Compared to today’s cameras, the 1Ds lacks amenities such as focus peaking or any other focusing aids for manual lenses. Unlike many Nikons, the 1Ds will not give you electronic focus confirmation using manual lenses. You can however buy adapters with built in focus confirmation chips on them.

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“After The Fall” 2015. Canon EOS-1Ds, Zuiko 35-80mm f/2.8

The back LCD is small and low resolution at 2″ and 120,000 pixels. Image playback magnification was available, but had to be done through a two step process that was clunky to use.

For a film camera lover, this kind of digital camera is quite appealing, despite its drawbacks and flaws. The 1Ds with manual lenses is as close you can get to a 1V film camera with manual lenses. It will make you work for that shot!

A TRUE CLASSIC

If there was a candidate for a “classic” digital camera, the original 1Ds is it.
In fact, today people refer to it as the 1Ds Classic.

That is true, and it is a digital classic, but the main reason people refer to it as the 1Ds Classic is to differentiate it from the couple of incarnations that came after it, ie, the 1Ds Mark II, and the 1Ds Mark III.

The 1Ds had a huge impact at the time of its introduction. It is often considered the camera that “killed” off film as the professional photographer’s medium of choice.

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“The Champ” 2013. Canon EOS-1Ds, EF 85mm f/.12L. The 1Ds Classic became the “Champion” of digital photography in 2002.

As a film lover, I have to say that filmed being “killed” by the 1Ds may be a bit of an overstatement. I mean, of course, film is still here with us, thank God, nearly fifteen years later.

However, in some ways, it is not an overstatement at all. When you look back to 2002, the 1Ds really did have a huge impact on the perception that digital was not able to compete with film yet. It changed that notion for many photographers.

Eleven megapixels was huge in those days, kinda like 36 megapixels today, so keep that in mind when enjoying your new 42mp camera 🙂

Many who used the 1Ds back in the day were saying that not only was it as good as film, they were saying the 1Ds surpassed film in overall quality. Professional photographers who were shooting 35mm and medium format film took to the 1Ds in droves.

THE RISE OF DIGITAL AND THE LEGACY OF THE 1DS

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“Rise” 2013. Canon EOS-1Ds, EF 85mm f/1.2L. The 11.1mp EOS-1Ds helped usher in the rise of digital photography while driving film into the niche market that it is today.

I remember back in 2002-2003, many non professional photographers (myself included) were day-dreaming about owning the 1Ds and imagining the detail possible with that “titanic” 11 megapixel resolution.

The 1Ds was one the first digital cameras that really showed the true potential of digital photography. I truly believe it is one of the cameras that pushed film photography into the niche market that it has become.

The 1Ds took digital image quality to another level. You can search and find all the photographers, including very hard to please landscape photographers raving about it. Fashion, portrait, and advertising photographers also took to it.

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“Swan Lake” 2015. Canon EOS-1Ds, EF 135mm f/2L

But the 1Ds also reminds us that with digital cameras, you’re King for the day, and a has-been by tomorrow.

Swing over to today and think of the 36mp, 42mp, and 50 plus megapixel cameras we have now. Take the lesson from the 1Ds that eventually these “high” resolution numbers will seem like nothing 🙂

BOTTOM LINE

I sold everything to buy my first 1Ds in 2005. I bought it from a professional fashion photographer who swore by it and took some really awesome shots with it.

But for me, as a street and available light shooter? Sold it in two weeks. Hated it! Why? I was shocked at the noise in nearly all iso settings. The 12mp 5D had just been released and I had such buyer’s remorse. Got a 5D afterwards and was much happier.

I was able to get a 1Ds in 2012 as part of a trade deal, and having more experience with post-processing, as well as  appreciating “grain” I have come to love the 1Ds. Thanks to a relatively weak AA filter, it produces images with great sharpness, and the noise can actually be used as a creative part of the image. I hate to say the overused cliche “film-like” but this is one of those cameras where you can coax that elusive film-like digital image with some work.

To this day, there are people who swear the 1Ds can produce “magic” that few
cameras can. I’m not sure it can defy the laws of digital nature, but it certainly is one of the few cameras out of the many that I have used, that has an undeniably powerful aura about it. The original Canon EOS-1Ds is a true Camera Legend that had a titanic impact on the world of photography.

WHERE TO BUY?

Make no bones about it. Compared to today’s cameras, the 1Ds is severely out-dated and out performed.

But it has a few things going for it. It is a full-frame camera, which still keeps it in the top tier, even for an older digital camera. It has a weak AA filter, which I mentioned. It has 11.1 megapixels, which may not be incredible for today, but is still plenty good enough. I’ve always said anything ten megapixels and up is usable for almost anything, except for that high budget ad campaign where you need a Hasselblad H4D 60mp, that you and I won’t be doing 🙂

The great news for all camera lovers is that the 1Ds has gotten quite affordable. If seeking one of these, prices are trending at $300-450.

I would highly recommend buying from a place where there is a good return policy because the 1Ds is really old on the market. Canon no longer services these cameras and I don’t know who does. The good thing is that these cameras were built to last for a very long time. The bad news is that, as with all electronic cameras, they can fail tomorrow. For a safe purchase you may try HERE and HERE.

Photo Of The Day: “Near Miss”

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“Angry Bunnies” 2015. Canon EOS-1Ds Classic, Zuiko 35-80mm f/2.8

Easter weekend to me is about reflecting and celebrating the victory of Jesus. It’s also about spending time with the family.

Number one, Jesus, I need to work on. I need to go to church more often. I believe, I respect, and I love Jesus, but maybe that’s not enough.

Number two, I have no problem with. I’m always spending as much time as I can with my family, specifically my girls, although they may sometimes find Papa annoying, as you can see in this photo 🙂

Anyway, here’s a good example of missing the moment because you’re fiddling with equipment. I was playing around with my 11mp EOS-1Ds Classic (2001) and one of my favorite zoom lenses, the Zuiko 35-80mm f/2.8 OM lens when all of a sudden my eight year old (with a piece of gum dangling out of her mouth) and my (then) six month old went into “angry” mode!

The 1Ds is old school. It doesn’t have focus peaking or any fancy way to help with manual focus, other than your eyes. The shot wasn’t in critical focus, but I got it just enough where I could use it on Facebook or send to family. I would’ve preferred it if it were in critical focus and if I had my trusty EF 50mm f/1.8 on the 1Ds, I probably would have gotten that.

But since I was fiddling around with a manual focus lens, I barely got the moment which as you can imagine with kids, was gone right after I took the shot.

Anyway, I’m just glad I got this funny moment enough where I can have a good memory of it.

Have you ever missed a shot because you were fiddling around with a new (or old) lens? Fiddling around with a new camera or its settings?

Hey, have a blessed Easter weekend good people! 🙂

Photo Of The Day: “That Smile”

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My little “Country Bumpkin” in 2008.

This could be considered a “Flashback Friday” post. This is my elder daughter in 2008, just a little more than a year old.

Shot with an Epson R-D1 and a seventy plus year old 50mm f/2 Leica Summar lens. I had just gotten this lens in rough condition on eBay for under $100. I was so enamored that it was giving me these (to me) beautiful soft/sharp images, just what I’d been looking for!

The Epson R-D1 was a 6.1mp camera, the world’s first digital rangefinder, and one of my favorite old school digital cameras ever. I’ve been meaning to do a flashback review of this camera, but this is one of those cameras that I love so much, I would need a lot to time to do it justice. Time I simply don’t have tonight. But I’ll get to it, eventually 🙂

Have a good Friday and a good weekend everybody!

Best, Sam

The Casio QV-10

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The Casio QV-10 is a digital point and shoot camera released by Casio in 1995.

Even with a paltry resolution of 320 x 240 dots, the QV-10 consistently comes up on lists and polls of the “most important” digital cameras of all time.

And the reason for that is simply because the QV-10 is considered the first digital camera with an LCD on it. Wow, why didn’t anyone think of that?! 🙂

All kidding aside, I’m sure someone must have, but the ever quirky and interesting Casio, better known for their watches, were the first to put one on a mass market consumer digital camera and as you know, that back LCD changed digital cameras forever.

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The back LCD of the Casio QV-10. A feature that has become standard on all digital cameras and as the first camera to feature an LCD for composition and playback, it is the LCD that made the QV-1o a Camera Legend.

As a camera, the QV-10 features a 5.2mm (60mm full frame equivalent) f/2.8 lens that swivels, another innovation in 1995. The revolutionary LCD viewing screen is a 1.8 inch TFT screen with a resolution of 61,380 pixels.

The camera runs on four AA batteries and stores about 96 images on the built in 2mb flash memory.

You need a special serial cable to transfer these images, and with today’s technology, you probably need an adapter too for viewing these low resolution images.

I don’t have one unfortunately, but trust me, viewing these super low resolution images would simply be fun for novelty and nothing else.

If seeking one of these, be aware that there is a QV-10A and QV-10B. I couldn’t find much about the differences, if any, online. Just know that the QV-10A is the one you want for camera collecting purposes.

Prices on these are trending at $10-60 and the only place I’ve ever seen them is on eBay. While not particularly valuable monetarily, they are somewhat rare, but they do show up sporadically.

The Casio QV-10 was the first digital camera to feature an LCD that could be used to compose and playback pictures. This is a feature that has become standard and expected on all digital cameras. As a pioneering camera in the history of digital photography, the first to implement the now essential digital camera LCD, the Casio QV-10 is without hesitation a Camera Legend.

***DEAL ALERT***

Some new and exciting Leica lenses have been released! They are:

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 28MM F/2.0 ASPH BLACK.

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35MM F/2.0 ASPH BLACK.

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35MM F/2.0 ASPH SILVER.

LEICA 28 2.8-M ELMARIT-M ASPH BLACK.

For any Leica M shooter, this is awesome stuff!