The ever-raging Canon vs Nikon debate might have you believing users of those particular systems are the most loyal to their brands. From what I’ve seen, though, neither Canon nor Nikon shooters have anything on those who shoot Pentax and swear by it. It’s a very niche system, that. No other DSLR manufacturer has such an array of competitive products priced so aggressively, that are also so compact and, when it comes to high-end models, so brilliantly rugged. No other DSLR manufacturer has such a great lineup of tiny, high quality autofocus prime lenses. And no other DSLR manufacturer has had so much trouble trying to find its identity. For a while now, Pentax has been experimenting with the narrowest of niches, launching boldly styled cameras, or boldly tiny interchangeable lens cameras with even smaller sensors. And yet those loyal to the brand always stuck by it. How happy they must be now that those who always ridiculed the brand will have their most valuable argument brushed away – “Pentax has no FF camera”. It’s true, there is no full-frame Pentax camera. But there will be, and rather soon. And for those who would rather avoid the pointless which-system-is-better debates, it means a new alternative to the best DSLR cameras on the market is soon to present itself.
It seems so long ago I opened an image on a computer for the first time. It was last century, in fact. And, as strange a thing this may be to remember, it is because opening that first image was the first thing I ever did with a computer (an old four-eight-six running Windows 95 for those who know what that means). Strangely enough, I don’t remember the image itself, not even vaguely. What I do remember is the software that was used to do it – it was ACDSee. I remember it from eighteen years ago – this lightweight, snappy, simple, functional image viewer with some mild editing capability.
Oh, how things have changed. ACDSee Pro 8 is not an image viewer, you see. And the editing capability is anything but mild, even by today’s standards. With a few caveats, the Pro 8 is a full-on Lightroom alternative, and that fact puts a lot of pressure on it. Let’s see if it can stand its ground, shall we?
Having spent quite a bit of time talking to many other photographers, one of the discussions that comes up every once in a while has to do with a “perfect camera”, one that does everything you need. I have been thinking about such camera for a while now and I think I have figured out what would be an ideal choice for me personally – it would be a modular camera. While the concept of a modular camera is certainly not new and we can see a living example of it in Red video cameras, those are largely not relevant to photography for high cost reasons alone. What I have in mind is a modular camera that is primarily aimed at capturing stills, but could also be potentially used for shooting videos, and not the other way around. The point of a modular camera is to be able to serve different needs, from consumer to professional, at varying costs depending on the requirements of the photographer. One should be able to afford the most basic modular camera with a smaller sensor at a comparable price to a modern DSLR or a mirrorless camera, while professional photographers should be able to customize their modular camera with say a medium format sensor, fast processor, high capacity battery and other tools / accessories they need. Like the idea? Let’s take a look at this concept in more detail.
Later this week Canon will be announcing its first super high resolution cameras, the Canon EOS 5DS and the EOS 5DS R, which will feature a 50.6 MP sensor. After the current 22.3 MP sensor on the 5D Mark III, this will be quite a jump for Canon, something that many did not expect would actually happen. With Nikon dominating the DSLR market with high resolution 36 MP sensors for a number of years now with its D800, D800E and D810 cameras, Canon has been getting a lot of heat from its loyal fan base for not releasing a true competitor. The 5DS and 5DS R cameras are Canon’s response – with the former sporting an anti-aliasing / low pass filter and the latter not having one, similar to what we had previously seen on the D800 / D800E cameras. With such a high resolution jump, it will be interesting to see where the market will trend in the next few years. Sony and Nikon will probably follow suit, releasing their versions of 50+ MP sensors. The megapixel race is still on…
Since Sports Illustrated’s (SI) announcement that it would lay off its staff of 6 professional photographers last week, there has been the traditional wailing and gnashing of teeth in the media. The responses have ranged from the stereotypical demonization of capitalism to lamentations for a skill set no longer appreciated. Others predict SI’s demise due to the inevitable (so they claim) decline in the quality of its photos that will result from this decision. You may recall a similar outrage when the Chicago Sun Times laid off its entire staff of full-time photographers.
When Canon announced the 7D Mark II in September of 2014, I got quite intrigued by the camera and really wanted to try it out. Like many others, I have been getting pretty tired of waiting for Nikon’s “Pro DX” refresh to replace the D300S, which came out back in 2009 (almost 6 years ago!), so I wanted to see whether such a tool would still make sense for Nikon to release based on specifications, performance and price. Sporting a high-end autofocus system with 65 cross-type focus points, insanely fast 10 fps continuous shooting speed, dual image processors, -3 EV light sensitivity, magnesium alloy construction and weather sealing, the Canon 7D Mark II is specifically tailored at sports and wildlife photographers. And with its price tag of $1799 MSRP, the 7D Mark II sounds much more appealing to budget-conscious photographers who do not want to pay close to 4x more for the much heavier and bulkier EOS-1D X.
As the proud owner of a Lowepro Transit Backpack 350AW and a ThinkTank Retrospective 20 messenger bag, you may well be wondering why I felt the need to add yet another bag to the collection. Well, the only answer I have for you is that my relentless search for the mythical “perfect camera bag” continues.
There is nothing more appealing than grabbing your gear, draining the last vestiges of your current account, and heading off to some distant and exotic location. The more conscientious of us may look into the possible dangers to us or our gear and plan accordingly, even going so far as to take a painful premium on our insurance to cover the additional risk. Not only does this provide you with financial security, it gives peace of mind. Personally the latter is a godsend when I find myself in conditions to which I would normally never subject my equipment. Doing so enables me to get shots I would otherwise have never made. The picture below for example, was taken almost waist deep in a swamp with my old sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM.
The choice of the first camera system is an exciting one. Why would it not be? You get to pick the first camera to buy, the first lens, and you spend so much time reading reviews, forums and asking friends for advice. I know I did – some eight years ago, I was admiring such cameras as the Canon 30D and 40D, and was seriously eyeing the 400D which was then within the budget of a teenager me. Nikon D200 looked out of this world and the then-announced D300 was a camera of dreams. All of these models, now obsolete from a technological standpoint (much like the D700 I now own and love), were as desirable as any current equipment you can think of. Maybe even more so, since the refresh cycle was longer and digital photography in general not as widespread as it is today.
Yes, the choice of the first camera and lens is a very exciting one. But, inevitably and at some point, a different question arises for just about all of us, and one much less pleasant – should you stick with your first decision or is the grass truly greener somewhere else?