TALKING IMAGES 48 – USING THE NIKON Z 6 IN ANGER

 

 

Muntjac stag – its about Fox-sized.  Z 6; 1600 ISO; 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; uncropped; Lightroom; our back garden, Bristol; 3 Apr 2019.

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I posted here about buying the Z 6, one of Nikon’s new full frame mirrorless cameras, giving my initial thoughts.  Since then, I’ve been reading (and using a red biro to scrawl all over) the 247 page instruction manual that (thankfully!) comes with the camera, and configuring the camera to my way of working.  Then I’ve been sitting in my beloved armchair, interminably taking pictures and altering settings, in an attempt to have the layout of the camera’s controls become second nature to me – so that I won’t have to think before altering anything.  And I planned a visit to the Somerset Levels to have a first go with it outdoors, in the real world.  But fate intervened.

I’ve posted before about the Muntjac Deer which frequent our quiet and secluded back garden.  They have been introduced to the UK from China and, quite simply, we delight in their presence.  They are small, decidedly skittish, and we have been especially delighted to see one or two of their fawns.

We’d not seen them for awhile, and so their reappearance caused some excitement – and there was the Z 6 charged and ready, mounted via the FTZ adapter with one of my favourite lenses – the 70-300 AF-S Nikkor.  And so to using this new camera in anger for the first time.  As I said, these animals are very skittish, being spooked by the slightest noise or movement, so that opening the kitchen window was out of the question.  So the pictures had to be taken through the double-glazed window and, because our kitchen window is up above the garden, the camera was looking down at an angle through the double-glazing, rather than horizontally straight through it.  The deer were about 30ft-40ft away.

All images can be enlarged by clicking onto to them to open another version in a separate window, and clicking onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.
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Same animal.  Z 6; 1600 ISO; 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 405mm; cropped; Lightroom.

THINGS TO TALK ABOUT

In terms of handling and ergonomics, the Z 6 works just wonderfully.  It has a large, deep handgrip and a well positioned thumb rest, and just feels completely at home in my hands.  Many of the buttons and dials fall under my fingers or thumb, and many are in the same positions as those on my D800.  It just feels good to use and, with the 70-300, feels very well balanced.

As with my other big Nikons, I’m using an OP/TECH USA neck strap intended for heavy DSLRs.  This is a little overkill for the distinctly leaner Z 6, but I’m still using fairly large Nikon F-mount lenses (esp the 70-300) and I’m not getting any younger: these wide OP/TECH straps really do spread the weight across the shoulders very well, and they’re quite reasonably priced.

I used Aperture Priority mode (as I nearly always do), and 1600 ISO.  The pictures were split between full frame format, where the longest reach of my lens is 300mm, and DX (= APS-C) format, where the reach is lengthened to 450mm; entirely handheld.  Full frame images have 24.5MP; DX format has 10.3MP.  All images used stabilisation.

Some think that Nikon’s images can be a little cold in tone, and so I’m using the new Natural Light Auto white balance, which looks natural.

I’ve taken all focusing functions away from the shutter release, and the large and ideally (and traditionally) sited AF-ON button (back button focusing) works wonderfully.  In this test, through double-glazing, the autofocus was very quick and sharp.
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Same animal.  Z 6; 1600 ISO; 70-300 Nikkor lens used in full-frame format to give 300mm; cropped; Lightroom.

Immediately below the AF-ON button is the joystick and this works well too, again well sited below my right thumb, and enabling me to move the focusing point rapidly around the frame.  I’ve opted for it jumping to every other focus point, for speed of use.  Pushing it locks the exposure.

And immediately below the joystick is the customisable i button, which gives quick and easy access to a very useful range of camera settings.

The exposure compensation button is not so well placed, and so I’ve customised the main command dial, which I can easily reach with my right thumb, to adjust exposure compensation without using the button.

Since I don’t take videos, the movie-record button has been cannibalised to quickly switch the camera between full-frame and APS-C format with the aid of the main command dial.

The camera’s excellent Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) is set to Prioritize Viewfinder mode: looking through the viewfinder turns it on, taking my eye away turns it off; the monitor screen remains off until I review my images (when finger swiping can be used on the touchscreen) or look at the menus.  I’m not using all of the touchscreen facilities, but its reassuring to know that the touchscreen is turned off while the viewfinder is being used.

Firing off 25 or so pictures, with much autofocus use, brought the battery down from full to 84%: a spare battery may be needed for a day out, although Nikon says that 310 shots can be taken on a full charge.

Then a Sony QDA-SB1 XQD card reader gets the images from the camera’s Sony 64GB QS-G64E card onto my PC, where the images are read into Lightroom Classic CCLightroom doesn’t seem entirely at home with the Z 6 yet: there are issues with sharpening parameters, which are addressed here .

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TALKING IMAGES 47 – A NEW CAMERA

 

 

The Z 6 with the FTZ lens adapter and a 50mm Nikkor lens + hood.  Note how the adapter protrudes a little below the camera’s base – the adapter is threaded for use on a tripod.

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I MUST BE MAD!!! I MUST BE REALLY LOSING IT!!!!!!  I can’t believe that in my previous Talking Images post , I was wittering on about the differences of a few grams between the weights of two cameras and lenses!!!  Maybe I’m getting too old – not too far from 70 now – or maybe I’ve just been back in the UK – back from Africa! –  for far too long.   

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I mean, before you know it I’ll be frequenting garden centres, and labelling whole swathes of Highly Enjoyable Things in Life as “inappropriate” >>> and perhaps even watching BBC’s Eastenders soap… I mean, watch enough of that (a program which I have long considered a Crime Against Humanity) and I could start going around looking miserable and being unpleasant or even actually nasty to people, while incessantly muttering “Can I ‘ave a word?”.  The blood runs cold … as Edmund Blackadder would put it, for me, the Renaissance would just be something that happened to everybody else …

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On the right, the big, really good, solid handgrip.  Below the Nikon name, the viewfinder protruding far out beyond the camera’s back.  Not as many useful dials and buttons as on the top of the X-T2, but still very customisable and useful.

Anyway, thing is, I’ve had a lightbulb moment, one of those times when the heart takes over control from the head and, really for the excitement and intellectual challenge of it – the sheer feeling of uncharted territory – I’ve bought one of Nikon’s new, mirrorless, full frame cameras.

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Although late in doing so (Sony has already produced several), Nikon has just produced two full frame, mirrorless cameras; and other large camera manufacturers are following suit.  The Z 7 has a whopping 45.7 MP sensor, which really I don’t need – I mean, the D800’s 39 MP are more than I need – I know just how demanding such high MP models are on camera technique – they show up every little mistake in technique that I make!  So I’ve chosen the 24.5 MP and significantly cheaper Z 6.

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And yes, my MAIN reasons for this choice are excitement, fun, and a sense of going into the unknown a bit!  I’d been considering a Fujifilm X-T3, but then really thought a bit too much like the superb X-T2 that I already use, too comfortable and unexciting maybe >>> and so to the unknown!!!

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My rough and ready pictures of the Z 6, taken with the Olympus TG-5, are shown here: click onto each one and a larger version will open in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.  You can find many more polished pictures (incl the inevitable camera porn) on Google.

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The back of the beast.  The touchscreen tilts, and I’m a complete fan of the large and perfectly sited AF-ON button.  Below this button is a joystick for moving the focus point around, and for navigating menus.  And pressing the top of the joystick locks the exposure, i.e. it acts as a well placed AE lock >>> so just what I want, AF-ON and AE lock right under my right thumb.  DISP cycles through viewfinder options, but does not allow the histogram to be displayed alongside the virtual horizon, which is possible on the X-T2.

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THE Z 6: FIRST IMPRESSIONS

  • Well, first, the handling – the Z 6 is an ergonomic dream: it has a deep and very comfortable handgrip, and essential buttons fall very naturally under the fingers and thumb of my right hand.  This is to be expected from a company that has been making SLR’s and DSLR’s since 1959 – but I never quite trust camera manufacturers, even the best of whom have made some really poor choices in design and functionality before now.  And, also, in a bid to retain their legions of SLR/DSLR users, Nikon has produced the FTZ adapter that allows to use their existing F-mount Nikkor lenses on the new Z-mount of this camera – which means I won’t have to buy any new lenses!  (NB that only Nikkors with their own focusing motors will retain autofocus)  And I find that, since this new adapter protrudes a little downwards, it actually enhances the balance and feel of the camera when my lenses are mounted on it.  NB that this adapter should not be used with lenses weighing over 1300gm, it is not strong enough to support them.

  • There is a wonderfully large and bright electronic viewfinder (EVF), which allows me to see clearly right into the corners with my glasses on.  But this wonderful EVF is not as good as that in Fujifilm’s X-T2 in two ways: the live histogram and virtual horizon cannot be viewed simultaneously in the EVF;  and the virtual horizon, while useable, is simply not as easy to use as the X-T2’s superb example.  I had ruled out buying any camera without an EVF, sometime ago.

  • To help preserve battery power (see below), and also because I find it a good way of working, I have the Z 6’s EVF and rear screen set up as follows.  When the camera is switched on but my eye is not to the EVF, neither the EVF nor the rear screen is on.  When I bring my eye to the EVF, it automatically switches on, but the screen remains off.  The screen only switches on (a) when I’m reviewing images (NB that this function is NOT set to automatic; and that images can also be reviewed via the EVF); and (b) when I’m looking at the menus or the (very handy) i Menu.

  • Having used Nikon’s D700 and D800 DSLR’s for years, I’m a HUGE fan of back-button focusing: the shutter button thus takes no part at all in instigating focusing.  And the Z 6 has a huge AF-ON button sited in exactly the right place – how could I resist that???  The X-T2’s AF-L button is far less easily used and sited (although it can be moved), and that camera’s autofocus is just not up to that on the Z 6.  The X-T2 is excellent for subjects that are not moving too fast, it is compact and a joy to use, and it produces colours to die for – I’ll definitely keep using it.  But the Z 6 is significantly lighter and more compact than the D800, and it balances very well with the lens I’m married to, the 70-300 AF-S Nikkor.  Its quite probable that Nikon’s new Z-mount lenses will autofocus faster than F-mount lenses used with the FTZ adapter, but I’m impressed with the latter so far.

  • Also, I’m not getting any younger, and humping great lumps of photo gear around is becoming less “attractive”.  The Z 6 is lighter than the D800, and a little heavier than the X-T2, but I’m really quite shocked by the photo below – looking at the backs of these three cameras, the Z 6 is really not much larger than the X-T2, which I think really an achievement.

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Three excellent cameras.  On the left, Nikon’s D800 full frame DSLR – big, heavy, eminently capable and built like a tank, this camera really does the business.  In the middle, the Z 6, also full frame but a mirrorless camera, decidedly smaller and lighter than the D800 – and the electronic viewfinder takes away all of the guesswork of the D800’s optical viewfinder – you see exactly the image that you’re going to get.  And on the right the wonderful Fujifilm X-T2, an APS-C format mirrorless camera: this light and compact camera produces images and colours to die for, but its autofocus is not up with that of the Nikons – although that of the new X-T3 may be.  But the real stand out thing here for me is the Z 6’s size – certainly smaller than the similarly full frame D800, and almost the size of the APS-C format X-T2 – which to me is a real achievement. (the Z 6 seems to be sitting up, suspended a little just above the worktop surface – this is because the FTZ lens adapter protrudes down below the camera’s base a little)

 

  • Getting older and more crusty, I’m a great fan of paper – I hate reading large amounts of blurb on-screen, and I like to have something in my hand that I can scrawl on in bright red biro.  So I’m pleased and relieved to find a 247 page user’s manual included, and other Nikon resources online.  And I LOVE the understatement on page 1 of this manual: “Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the names and functions of camera controls and displays.”!!!  Well, I’m an old Nikon hand but it took me more than “a few minutes” >>> but then getting fully to grips with the camera, and availing myself of its myriad customisation possibilities, are two of the enjoyable, even exciting things I’ve been looking forwards to – for me, these aspects are part of what I’m paying for.

  • I think until the end of March, Nikon (via London Camera Exchange and probably other dealers) are doing a special deal: the Z 6, the FTZ adapter and a Sony 64 GB XQD card (the camera only takes XQD cards) for £1,999.99 .  We can’t afford to eat now, of course, so please send food and money parcels soonest.

  • Having a full frame sensor makes it easier to achieve shallow depths of focus, and also bokeh.  Also, of course, it provides greater freedom for cropping – but the files will take up more hard drive space!

  • And being a mirrorless camera, it eats batteries: Nikon estimates 310 shots per charge.  But if this becomes a problem, as with the X-T2 I’ll simply carry an extra battery.

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The three parts of the beast.  On the right the Z 6’s body, with its very protruding viewfinder.  Next left, and almost featureless but with a large white spot, the FTZ lens adapter.  Left again, the 50mm Nikkor lens and its hood.

  • The Z 6 has an (apparently) very useful touchscreen, something which is completely foreign to me.  However, I will try it – of course!  But I’m safe in the knowledge that it can be disabled.  This touchscreen tilts – most useful for someone who, now, finds getting down on his knees and getting back up again, not as easy as it used to be!!!  🙂

  • The Z 6 has a DX (= APS-C size) crop mode, which multiplies the focal lengths of lenses by 1.5 (e.g. my 70-300 telezoom becomes a 105-450).  This produces a useful 10.3 MP file – and I can change from full-frame to APS-C mode at the touch of a button.

  • I’m a huge fan of image stabilisation, as I can rarely be bothered using a tripod.  The Z 6 has in-body lens stabilisation (IBIS), and this works in concert with lenses which have their own image stabilisation built in (what Nikon calls VR), like my 70-300.  While I’m talking about this, it is important to reiterate the fact that all IBIS systems only really work for lenses up to about 300mm in focal length.

  • The Z 6 has an on-demand 4×4 viewfinder grid, which is helpful >>> but which would be so much more helpful compositionally if it were a 3×3 grid, i.e. for the “Rule” of Thirds.

  • Already I’m thinking about a plan for taking the Z 6 out onto the Somerset Levels.  Thus, the 70-300 zoom on the Z 6, which gives the potential for 70-450 if the APS-C format option is used;  and the X-T2 with the 10-24 zoom, which provides the full-frame equivalent of a useful 15-36 zoom.

So, hope this is useful / informative.  Comments / views??????? 🙂

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IS ANYONE ELSE HAVING TROUBLE ACCESSING WORDPRESS’S “DISCOVER” FACILITY???

 

The Discover facility on WordPress is found by clicking onto the Reader menu at the top of the screen and then clicking onto the Discover option.  Discover provides an easy way of reading other bloggers’ new posts, and I use it every day to find images which, if I give them a Like, then appear in the sidebar of my blog.  This is a good way of both pointing my blog’s followers at good images they might not otherwise encounter, and of showcasing other bloggers’ work, which is something I very much believe in doing.

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For several days now, I have not been able to access Discover, which is very frustrating >>> and I’m putting out this post to ask if you are encountering similar problems.  I’m in touch with WordPress Support, and they can’t identify a problem yet – for them Discover is still working fine.  But I’m wondering whether the problem I’m experiencing is either local to the UK, or the southern UK – or just to me.

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Hence, can you PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE !!! send my blog a Comment if you are unable to access Discover?  Comments re Discover working fine and dandy are welcome too.  THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

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Remember, to access Discover, you simply click onto the Reader menu option, and then select Discover.

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Adrian

FATman Photos

 

TALKING IMAGES 46 – THOUGHTS ABOUT GETTING A NEW CAMERA – AND IS THIS THE END OF THE DSLR?

 

Although not exactly drowning in cash(!), I’m thinking about getting another camera, and various thoughts/issues arise, which may be worth passing on.  But, amongst all the marketing hype and the genuinely astonishing technology, the one thing I’m certain of is that whatever camera I buy (if I do take the plunge and buy one), it won’t be a DSLR.  (All links in this post will open in separate windows)

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WHICH CAMERAS DO I ALREADY OWN?

So first, if I’m thinking of buying another one, which cameras do I already have?  Well, an old Canon G11 PowerShot, which only goes up to a (grainy!) 3200 ISO and which rarely gets used now, but which is compact, and sports an unbelievably useful and adaptable, fully articulated screen – which is absolutely wonderful in awkward or tight spots eg on buses, in town, etc etc.  It also has a very useful 24-140 zoom range, something which I’ll return to below.

Then two Nikon full frame DSLRs, the D700 and D800, which are heavy and bulky, but which have wonderful autofocus and big AF-ON buttons (back button focus really is the thing), very good layout of controls and, well – they just deliver the goods, excellently, time after time after time.

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The much bulkier, full frame Nikon D800 DSLR beside the APS-C format Fujifilm X-T1 mirrorless camera.  Note the difference between the wonderfully sited and large AE-L/AF-L and AF-ON buttons, to the right of the Nikon’s viewfinder – really ideal positioning and usability – and the smaller, not so well placed AE-L and AF-L buttons on the X-T1.

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Another shot of the mirrorless APS-C format X-T1 and the bulkier full frame format D800 DSLR, with telephoto lenses giving equivalent telephoto magnifications (roughly 70mm-300mm).

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And, more recent acquisitions, Fujifilm X-T1 and X-T2 APS-C format, mirrorless cameras, which are excellent, more compact than the Nikons, and with really excellent Electronic Viewfinders – and which deliver wonderful images with colours to die for.  The X-T1 is somewhat pedestrian in comparison to the X-T2, but still good enough for my wide angle zoom.  The X-T2 is simply wonderful – but in terms of autofocus just doesn’t quite match the Nikons.  And while both of these Fuji cameras have (just about) well sited AE-L and AF-L buttons, these buttons are significantly smaller and more fiddly than those on the Nikons – and far more difficult to use in the cold and/or dark.

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And while I’m talking about DSLRs and mirrorless  cameras, the following.  I subscribe to Amateur Photographer (AP) which is an excellent weekly photographic magazine that is managing to do quite well in these internet and screen-dominated times.  Why do I like AP?  Well, it has an excellent production team that put out really interesting and relevant material (including really in depth product reviews) week after week, which is simply an incredible achievement – and I enjoy having a real magazine in my hands, I enjoy the tactile, real feel of the thing, I scribble notes all over it in red pen, keep pages that teach me things >>> and, quite simply, AP has taught me vast amounts about photography over the years.  And, like many others, I do not for one single moment miss reading it on some device’s illuminated screen!

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THE END OF THE DSLR??? – Anyway, a recent AP article thinks that the rise of full frame mirrorless cameras that we are now seeing spells the end for DSLRs with their optical viewfinders and (somewhat) larger size and, looking at how technology is howling forwards, I can’t see any reason to disagree.  Certainly Electronic Viewfinders (EVF) provide more, highly relevant information to the photographer – as well as eliminating the guesswork/skill involved when overriding the camera’s setting or using the camera manually.  Ah but, you say, such skills are something of value, something to cherish and preserve.  Well, yes they are, but personally I’d rather let the camera do as much of the work as possible so that my mind is as free as possible to concentrate on equally vital factors that the camera does not give information on like viewpoint, composition and pre-capture cropping.  When I look through a (good) EVF, I’m shown the image exactly as it is going to appear – and I can’t ask for more than that!

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Another shot of the less satisfactory AE-L and AF-L buttons, to the right of the viewfinder on the back of the X-T1.

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The Olympus TG-5 (Photo credit: TrustedReviews)

And finally the Olympus TG-5 TOUGH, which is a diminutive speciality camera, and which I’m using on my Outer Suburbs project.

Here are links to this (ongoing) project’s images.  The first image in the Outer Suburbs series, with context, is here: 1 .  Subsequent images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 53a 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 .  Each will open in a separate window.

 

SO, WHAT ARE MY BASIC REQUIREMENTS IN A NEW CAMERA???

  1. Fast, accurate autofocus, via a (preferably large) AF-ON button (and hopefully for something adjacent and similar to lock exposure – see the D800 in the first of the images here).

  2. An excellent electronic viewfinder (EVF): having used the excellent EVFs in the X-T1 and X-T2, I can see that, for my requirements at least, optical viewfinders (like those in the D700 and D800) are a thing of the past.  The EVFs on the two Fuji cameras are so big, useful and crammed with relevant information that I’m completely persuaded.  The trick is getting a really good EVF on a camera that ALSO has blistering autofocus via AF-ON.

  3. RAW capture; nothing else cuts the mustard if you’re contemplating anything like extensive post-capture processing.

  4. Not too bulky or heavy (I’m not as young as I was!).

  5. Easily accessible controls, so no delving into deep menus for routine requirements – the two Fujifilm cameras in particular are good in this respect.

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WHICH CAMERAS DO I HAVE SPECIFICALLY IN MIND?

Fujifilm X-T3

Nikon Z6

None at all!!!!!!!!!!!

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THE FUJIFILM X-T3

This camera sounds very promising.  Its body is virtually identical to the light and compact X-T2, but it has a new sensor and processor that (apparently!) deliver far better autofocus than the X-T2. The downside is the smaller APS-C sensor but, mostly, I’ve found this sensor size generally fine in the X-T2 – there just isn’t quite the latitude for cropping that full frame sensors give – the X-T3 has rather more pixels than the X-T2, 26MP as against 24MP, so this helps a little – and I’ve found that around 25MP suits my needs just fine.

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Furthermore, Fuji are going to produce a 24-120 (equivalent) zoom lens, which like the Canon 24-140 mentioned above, is to me a very useful and versatile zoom range, covering as it does everything from wide angle up to medium telephoto.  To me, this is the sort of multi purpose lens to take along when the types of images expected during a shoot or day out are uncertain.

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In a nutshell: something externally almost identical to an X-T2, and which works even better than an X-T2 >>> well, that can’t be bad!

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And while I’m talking about mirrorless cameras (and this applies to the Nikon Z6 too), they are heavy on battery use, far heavier than DSLRs.  But to me this is peripheral – when out and about with the X-T2 and/or X-T1, I just take along a spare (Fujifilm) battery or two.  This is certainly not a reason to eschew mirrorless cameras.

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THE NIKON Z6

This is one of two recent models that are Nikon’s initial (and highly impressive) foray into the full frame, mirrorless camera market.  Relevant points are: a huge and excellent EVF; full frame capture; less bulky than Nikon’s DSLRs; fast autofocus; an adaptor (£100) that will enable me to use the Nikon lenses I already have – full frame Nikkors – with full autofocus etc.

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But … yes, there’s always a caveat.  I photograph in three broad settings:

  1. There’s the Outer Suburbs project, walking in south Bristol; and for this the light and diminutive Olympus TG-5 TOUGH camera is ideal – it lacks a viewfinder but shoots RAW, and it sits easily and completely out of sight in my trouser pocket.  And should I get soaked in a storm or whatever, it really is tough, for a start being completely waterproof.

  2. Then I walk in the city centre, with larger cameras, for example with the Going to Work project, and here the relatively light and compact X-T1 and X-T2 cameras have been superb, in fact they really got Going to Work off the ground in the first place.  I have used the Nikons in this environment too and, although heavier, they are superb.

  3. Lastly, I photograph out in the country, most frequently on the Somerset Levels, and, since I’m never too far from the car, camera size becomes less relevant – but for fast moving subjects like birds, I really do need the excellent autofocus and back button (AF-ON) focus activation that the D700 and D800 provide.

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So, the Nikon Z6 sounds good – full frame and fast autofocus in a more compact package – but examining its weight difference from the heavy D800 may suggest otherwise.  The D800 + battery weighs 1,000gm, while the Z6 + battery + lens adaptor weighs around 800gm, so only 200gm difference, which is not a huge amount.  But, OK, the Z6 is more compact than the D800.

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Nikon’s lenses are the other factor.  I’d be using my existing Nikkors, so that there would be no weight difference there.  But, with its new Nikon lens mount, a new series of Nikkors are being developed for these new Z cameras.  These new lenses do not need the adapter, which saves 88gm in weight, BUT in the three new Z lenses looked at so far, they are in fact heavier than their existing Nikkor equivalents!!!  And they are expensive too.  So the Z6 loses some of its charm, and I must think long and deep.

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NONE AT ALL!!!

The third option is not, for the moment at least, to get a new camera, but rather to go using those I already have – especially the X-T2, the D800 (using it more than I do now) and the TG-5.  And to wait and see what new technology and new models the future will bring – and with technology accelerating forward as it is, the wait may not be for too long.

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I hope these points are useful. 🙂

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TALKING IMAGES 45 – SOMETHING THAT REALLY TURNS ME OFF ABOUT THE OLYMPUS TG-5 CAMERA!!!

 

 

Photo credit: TrustedReviews

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LOL!!! the word “TURNS” in this post’s title was actually going to be another word altogether but, well, this is a wholesome, wholemeal, wholeheartedly whole family blog, and so I eased off – but Olympus had just better watch out – and all the more so because this is the company that, all those years ago, produced the truly iconic and wonderful OM-1 film camera, that I loved using and still have.  But, greed is greed, and its everywhere these days, it is a fundamental part of our world’s corporate architecture >>> so what am I getting so worked up about?

Well, its simply that Olympus add the caption “OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA” to every image that the TG-5 captures – and I have a feeling that all modern Olympus cameras do exactly the same.  Why???  I mean, Nikon, Canon and Fujifilm manage to get along just fine not doing this, so why does Olympus have to???

And the thing about this that really gets to me is that if I see an image I particularly like and, brimming with enthusiasm, go at it in Lightroom having forgotten to remove this caption first, and then I export this image from Lightroom as a 16-bit TIFF, which is what I always do, then this caption can be devilishly hard to remove.  I did just this recently and, having processed the image in Silver Efex Pro 2,  managed to remove the caption in the code which underlies these WordPress blog pages – what WordPress calls the “Text”, rather than the “Visual” – I always use WordPress’s old post editor, which still works like a dream.

HOW TO REMOVE THIS CAPTION IN LIGHTROOM (Lr)

Its very simple – and the trick is to make this a rock solid routine part of the way you use Lr – every time!  You simply highlight the image you’re going to work on in Lr’s Library module (or you can enlarge it in the Library module if you wish), and “OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA” appears in the Caption box in the metadata panel on the right on Lr’s screen.  Click onto this caption, which highlights it, press Delete, and it disappears; then go into the Lr’s Develop module and get processing!

These instructions may not apply to all versions of Lr: I use Lightroom Classic CC, and have the right hand Library panel set to show “EXIF and IPTC” metadata.

MY REVIEW OF THE TG-5

This brief review can be found here .

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TALKING IMAGES 44 – HARRIE NIJLAND

 

Before posting an image of my own today, I’d like to draw your attention to the IMAGES I’VE LIKED RECENTLY panel in this blog’s sidebar – the panel is some way down the sidebar, below the Recent Posts listing and the Stats.

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The IMAGES I’VE LIKED RECENTLY panel – logically enough!!! – provides links to other photographers’ posts that I’ve recently added a Like to.  And my hope is that this panel, in its small way, will give more exposure and recognition to other photographers’ work. 

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Harrie Nijland is a blogging colleague based in the Netherlands, and we are often in contact re aspects of photography – we have found that we share many opinions and views about photography, and I both admire his work and find it an inspiration.  You can find his blog here .

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UPDATE:  rather than looking at Harrie’s portfolio via the IMAGES I’VE LIKED RECENTLY panel in my blog’s sidebar, here is the link to take you straight to the portfolio in Harrie’s blog – hold your cursor over the Portfolio 2 title at the top of the page in Harrie’s blog to see the portfolio’s categories

portfolio .

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Yesterday I looked at some portfolios of his earlier work and was very impressed – and so I’m leaving the links to those portfolios in my IMAGES I’VE LIKED RECENTLY panel for a day or two, so that others can look at them too if they’re interested.  I hope you find Harrie’s portfolios interesting, and stimulating too.  And I thank Linda Grashoff at Romancing Reality for giving me the idea of making this post.

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Adrian

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TALKING IMAGES 43 – SOME CORE PHOTOGRAPHIC BELIEFS

 

 

Selfie, probably nude (but try not to think about that, especially if you’re just about to eat), in a hotel room, 28 Apr 2014
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Here are some things that I regard as core to the ways in which I perform and think about photography.  From the outset let’s be very clear: these are my mantras, beliefs, philosophies, ways of working, call them what you will – this is ME, but – and more on this below – it may not be YOU … (clicking onto the images will (mostly!) open larger versions in separate windows)

WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT

To me, the first thing to realise is that we are all different, that we are all individuals, each with his/her likes/dislikes about anything that you care to name – clothes, sausages, cars, furniture, colours, TV programmes, sports, books, etc etc.  I think I realised this before, but seven years of running this blog and talking with all sorts of people have really hammered this home to me.

And, this being the case, it should come as no surprise that we have widely varying visual tastes – so, I hate an image but you love it: nobody is right or wrong here, we are simply different, we are individuals – and that makes for a very interesting (if often turbulent) world.

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Wet flatlands on the Somerset Levels

SUBJECTIVITY

In my view, photography is an art, albeit one that powerfully combines science and technology with the disciplines more usually associated with the arts.  Like all other arts, it is purely subjective and individual.  Hence all photographic “rules” go out the window unless they fit in with – or more correctly, add to –  what I’m doing.  And, in my view, the same applies to all photographic competitions and qualifications (eg RPS), they go out the window too, since judges may well have subjective views that differ from your’s, mine, Great Aunt Maud’s, etc.  So, I don’t enter competitions, I just do my own thing – absolutely revelling in the vast creative opportunities and potential that (for me, digital) photography brings.

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Seascape, Cornwall

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FINAL IMAGE

To me, all that matters in photography is the final image, completely irrespective of how it was captured (camera, pinhole, phone, anything).  And completely irrespective of how much or little it has been subsequently processed.  The resulting image is in the here and now, it is what we are looking at, it is all that matters.

Others hold different views.  For example, never cropping, only using film or digital, only using black and white, never doing any post-capture processing etc etc.  All of these ways forward, and all others, are valid.  What is certainly not valid is the opinion that, unless we use certain photographic equipment or techniques,  we am not practising photography “properly” and that, in some way, our images are invalid, inferior or unworthy of consideration for that reason.

Another real no-no here, in my view, is to try to pass off something that has been highly processed post-capture as something that is straight out of the camera at point of capture.  That is plain dishonesty.

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Going to work, on the early morning bus

CONTENT AND EMOTION COME FIRST

Finally, for me, technicalities, and especially technical perfection, always come some way second to the content of an image – the subject matter, emotions, atmosphere, narrative, and so on.  And that rather than looking for perfect overall sharpness, I definitely think that blurred detail can be of value in many images.

Which leads on to the point that its always worth trying to take a photo, no matter how poor the light and other conditions (although I do draw the line at getting my cameras soaked in the rain).  In particular here, I always use high ISOs where light conditions require it.  The basic tenet, for me, is that its always better to have an imperfect image, rather than no image at all.

So, for better or for worse, this is me. What do you think?  Do you agree???  Views?????????

Adrian

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On a farm in the far west of Kenya

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TALKING IMAGES 42 – ARE FULL-FRAME MIRRORLESS NIKONS ON THE WAY? YES, I’VE JUST FOUND OUT!!!

 

 

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Well, this is indeed A LAUGH!!! >>>  I was just finishing off this short post, when I went over to Amateur Photographer’s website in order to give the web reference to it, below.  >>> And when I got to the AP website, I found that it answers all of the questions I’ve asked below – and more!

So, yes, such a mirrorless Nikon is on the way >>> and you can read all (or at least, some) of the details by following the link given in the next paragraph – scroll down on AP’s page when you get there, and the article is down on the left.  Maybe I’m just losing the race with the Modern World! … 🙂 🙂 🙂 ……………..

Amateur Photographer magazine reports that all Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras have been officially discontinued by the company.  All is shrouded in secrecy of course, but rumours abound that this move precedes the announcement of one or more full frame Nikon mirrorless cameras at the Photokina 2018 show in September.

Well, who knows?  But the fact remains that Nikon is now being assailed on two fronts – by the very popular Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras, and also by the far more portable and compact, quality offerings from Fujifilm (see the X-T1 above, next to Nikon’s D800 DSLR), Olympus and Panasonic.  Continuing to produce heavy, bulky, full frame DSLRs just doesn’t seem a good business model for Nikon, at least for the bulk of the market.

I most probably won’t be able to afford whatever Nikon comes up with but, quite aside from price, a key question for me is whether these new cameras will be able to use Nikon’s vast, existing array of interchangeable Nikkor lenses – even if an adaptor has to be used.  Because, quite aside from the cost of the actual cameras, having to set oneself up with another range of Nikkors is not going to be a cheap business!

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TALKING IMAGES 41 – ADDITIONAL PRESETS FOR SILVER EFEX PRO 2: 2

 

 

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I have been enthusiastically extolling the virtues of plug-in software called Silver Efex Pro 2 (SEP2), which I use for the production of nearly all of my black and white images.  Sometime back, I put out at a post detailing SEP2 presets that were obtainable long ago, but which are not so now: that post, which contains some of these “lost” presets and much context, can be found here.

Then, more recently, I put out a post talking about a new (2018) version of SEP2: that post can be found here.

This post contains details of more of the “lost” presets.

General things to know about SEP2 presets are below:

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THE SEP2 PRESET DATA

Ok, points are:

  1. Each preset has a name.

  2. I’ll list each preset’s SEP2 settings, which you can then replicate in SEP2 and save as your own custom preset (method given below); I’m only going to list non-default settings, leave all the rest of the settings at their defaults.

  3. Most of these presets will simply be percentages or (on a few cases) numbers or degrees. But SEP2’s interface also has two Tonality Protection sliders that lack numerical values, but which have the words “Shadows” and “Highlights” above the sliders – where necessary, I’ll say which letter in these two words that the relevant slider is under.  This is unclear? – well looking at the small Tonality Protection part of SEP2’s manual adjustments panel (to the right of the image being processed) ought to clarify things.

  4. It can be difficult to use the various sliders to exact values, but in most if not all cases you can click onto the sliders’ value box with you mouse and input the exact value straight into the box.  This is extremely handy.

  5. The headings like “Colour Filter”, “Sensitivity” etc refer to headings in the manual adjustments on the SEP2 interface on the far right of the screen.

  6. Further batches of these presets will be featured in due course.

  7. MOST IMPORTANT!!! >>> any questions, any difficulties >>> just ask, and I’ll do my best to help things along 🙂

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HOW TO SAVE A CUSTOM PRESET IN SEP2

  1. Open an image (preferably a colour image) in whatever application you use the SEP2 plug-in with.

  2. Open SEP2: your image appears in black and white within SEP2.

  3. Make the manual adjustments for whatever preset you want to construct eg Faux Infrared.

  4. Locate the CUSTOM tab of the Preset Library in the panel on the left of SEP2’s interface, and click onto its + button – if you hover your mouse over this button, you will see the message Create a new custom preset based off of the state of the current photo.  Clicking onto this + button opens a small dialogue in which you insert the name of your new preset, eg Faux Infrared.  Click OK, and hey presto! the new preset appears in the custom preset panel and can be used at any time.

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THE ARCHITECTURAL PRESET

Contrast 53%.

Structure 68%.

Colour Filter: Hue 120 degrees; Strength 100%.

Toning 1.

Strength 10%.

Silver hue 38 degrees.

Silver toning 10%.

Balance -50%.

Paper hue 50 degrees.

Paper toning 4%.

THE DRAMATIC PRESET

Brightness -7%.

Contrast 34%.

Structure 46%.

Tonality Protection: Shadows slider under the “a” of Shadows; Highlights slider under the “l” of Highlights.

Color Filter: 240 degrees, 62%.

THE FLORAL STYLE PRESET

Brightness 5%.

Contrast 34%.

Structure -53%.

Color Filter: 120 degrees, 50%.

Strength: 8%.

Silver hue: 16 degrees.

Silver toning: 8%.

Balance: 0%.

Paper hue: 50 degrees.

Paper toning: 0%.

Vignette: Off.

Amount 14%.

Circle/Rectangle: Circle.

Size: 49%.

THE LANDSCAPE PRESET

Brightness: -12%.

Contrast: -16%.

Structure 52%.

Color Filter 120 degrees, 100%.

THE SEPIA LANDSCAPE PRESET

Brightness 12%.

Contrast 15%.

Structure 25%.

Sensitivity: Red -7%; Yellow 19%; Green 31%; Cyan -19%; Blue -30%; Violet -21%.

Toning: 1.

Strength: 41%.

Silver hue: 30 degrees.

Silver toning: 41%.

Balance: 0%.

Paper hue: 50 degrees.

Paper toning: 0%.

Vignette: Off.

Amount: -25%.

Circle/Rectangle: under T of Rectangle.

Size: 75%.

 

THE HIGH CONTRAST GREEN FILTER PRESET

Brightness: -10%.

Contrast: 30%.

Structure: 20%.

Tonality Protection: Shadows slider under “d” of Shadows only.

Color Filter: 120 degrees; Strength 150%.

 

THE HIGH CONTRAST ORANGE FILTER PRESET

Brightness: -10%.

Contrast: 30%.

Structure: 20%.

Tonality Protection: Shadows slider under “S” of Shadows and “H” of Highlights.

Color Filter: 30 degrees; Strength 133%.

 

THE HIGH CONTRAST RED FILTER PRESET

Brightness: -10%.

Contrast: 20%.

Structure: 20%.

Tonality Protection: Shadows slider under “S” of Shadows and “H” of Highlights.

Color Filter: 0 degrees; Strength 90%.

 

THE HIGH CONTRAST YELLOW FILTER PRESET

Brightness: -10%.

Contrast: 30%.

Structure: 20%.

Color Filter: 70 degrees; Strength 133%.

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TALKING IMAGES 40 – NEWS: DxO PHOTOLAB 1.2 AND THE NIK COLLECTION 2018

 

 


I’m a great fan of image processing programmes called Silver Efex Pro 2 (which I use for all my black and white images and Color Efex Pro 4. (There are some SEP2 images here – some using its original colour restoration facility, which can be effective) These programmes, which are a part of the Nik Collection, were originally developed by Nik Software, a Nikon company. Then they were bought by Google, which did a little more development – but then Google started giving them away, and many devotees (certainly including me!) had a very nasty feeling that the Nik Collection was simply going to be discontinued by Google, and hence disappear forever. However, the Nik Collection was acquired by DxO last year and, I see two items of good news in Amateur Photographer magazine .

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First, that DxO has updated the seven plug-ins in the Nik Collection, and that they are available right now – AND at a bargain price of £39.99 until 1 July. You can also have a 30-day free trial of this software. AP talks of these being plug-ins for Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, which they undoubtedly are. I’ve been using this software, probably from its Nikon days, and I use it as a plug-in for an old version of Photoshop Elements, version 11. Whether they can be used standalone I don’t know.
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To say that I recommend this software – and especially SEP2 and CEP4 – is vast understatement, I use these programmes – and especially SEP2 – all the time. I don’t know how (if) DxO has improved them, but I’m pretty sure that they are continuing using Nik’s absolutely wonderful U Point technology which, in my view, simply leaves Lightroom’s radial filters far, far behind. You can find out more here .
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The other news concerns an update to DxO’s much praised raw and jpeg processing software, which is now available for £99 as DxO Photolab 1.2 – and which uses Nik’s U Point technology too. I’ve never used this software. At the moment, for just under £10/month, I’m using Adobe Lightroom. I find it slick, it does all I need to do – I have no need to get involved with Photoshop itself – and as long as Adobe don’t get greedy and increase the monthly fee, I’ll probably stick with it – although not at all being convinced by its Catalogue method of working. But I have a feeling that DxO’s Photolab 1.2 is good – you can get further details here .

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But two caveats to make about Photolab. First, one benefit of subscribing to Lightroom is that it is updated for new cameras’ raw files soon after the cameras appear, whereas I’m not sure this is the case with Photolab – so, especially if you’ve just bought a new camera and you shoot raw, check which cameras’ raw files 1.2 is good for – the DxO link given in the previous sentence includes the facility to see whether the software covers your camera’s raw files >>> and, for me, the second, vast caveat is that Photolab does NOT process raw files generated by Fujifilm cameras which use their unique X-Trans sensors >>> like my X-T1 and X-T2. So, not much use for me!!! But I certainly stand by my views on Silver Efex Pro 2 and Color Efex Pro 4 – they’re excellent.

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