Nikon F65 F75 Canon 500N

Nikon F65 F75 Canon 500N
'I bought these three film cameras, Nikon F65, Nikon  F75 and Canon 500N in quick succession on ebay. They cost me £65 in total for all three. Which is strange because there is this film revival going on (supposedly). Also strange because theses cameras have autofocus, auto film wind and programme modes.
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Canon Landscape

Canon 5D
Canon 5D 

Over the years we had a number of Canon DSLR's. While appreciating their all round capabilities we have never used them very much for landscape.

Canon 350D
Canon 350D

The large heavy "pro" models are somewhat difficult to carry for any length of time. The memory of taking a 1DS MkII plus 3 lenses up to the summit of a very steep sea cliff is still with me.

Canon 1DS MK II
Canon 1DS Mk II

We have used many of the cheaper cameras as backups and usually tried them for landscape work. This has often been unsatisfactory, as up to the 500D we have generally found the images from these cameras to produce slightly soft results.

Canon 400D
Canon 400D

The 500D was an improvement, and seemed to have both brighter colour straight out of the camera and more bite to the images.

Canon 500D
Canon 500D

We liked both the 5D and 5D Mk II, and the full-frame sensor produced excellent results. The Mk II seemed like it could almost be the perfect camera, but was somewhat hampered by its noisy shadow area performance even at low ISO's.

Canon 5D MK II
Canon 5D Mk II

Both the 7D and 550D are the best yet in terms of all round image quality. The 18MP sensor produces excellent images at low ISO's. The 550D is also a very light camera and provided we don't carry heavy lenses is very usable as a landscape camera.

Canon 550D
Canon 550D

Canon 7D
Canon 7D

Many Landscape Photographers use Canon's as a matter of choice. One of our favourite photographers David Clapp is a long term Canon user and he gets superb results. And certainly we are pleased with the images posted here, though many needed a fair amount of work to make them representative of the reality. We are certainly very impressed with the 550D as a portable high quality camera and our somewhat ambivalent attitude may be becoming more positive. It is a camera that we have been very enthusiastic about ever since we got it. 

We haven't done much testing of the 7D as a landscape camera, mainly because of the weight, but have seen nothing from the results so far that indicate that its any better than the 550D. Since for landscape work we don't need the 7D's speed and all-round responsiveness, the 550D will be fine.

So we have a mellowing attitude towards the brand in general. 

Now if they would like to work on a mirrorless AF version of their old rangefinder designs with the 7D/550D sensor with some small light fast lenses..............

Words - A
Images - D & A

New Kit

Its interesting how different people react to new kit. Some rush in, can't wait to get their hands on it, find it stimulating and offering creative possibilities. Some dither, weighing up the pro's and cons and like to integrate it as slowly as possible without disrupting what's already there.

I find how I react depends on the kit. I'm very much in the second group when it comes to computer equipment and IT. It takes me ages to change equipment and software and I often put up with less than ideal equipment for longer than I should just to avoid the hassle of having to change.

With cameras however, I'm the complete opposite. Several times I have been the first to order cameras in the UK. I've taken "early adopting" to new levels!!

I've probably got these the wrong way round. Since I spend way more time in front of the computer, having a bang up to date system would save me lots more time and result in a far more efficient workflow. But hey, nobody's perfect! And that does sound suspiciously like common sense.

I've always been wary of common sense. I have this somewhat distorted view that says,
Common sense = Dull, therefore non-creative. Flaky = Exciting, therefore creative. Since I value my creativity above all else, I cultivate flaky!!! Make sense? No of course it doesn't, but I include it so that you may understand some of the inconsistencies in these daily ramblings.

So where is this going? Oh yes - getting really excited about the Canon 550D. Those of you have read any of my comments on Canon previously may be experiencing a bout of eyebrow raising.
I hesitate to repeat some of my comments about the brand, but lets just say it hasn't been flattering.

So why all the enthusiasm now? Well mainly because of the spec/price ratio of the thing. I cannot see how it can fail to be an incredibly successful camera. It offers an enormous amount in terms of still photography and especially video, and at a price point that has had many people picking their jaws off the floor. My talents as a business analyst and predictor in the photographic market are somewhat erratic (thats wrong most of the time!) but this camera must surely signal a change. Think what Canon have crammed into this thing - 18MP, Excellent High ISO performance, Serious Video capability. All for £800.

We (D & B) spent yesterday afternoon watching all the promo videos on the 550D and were particularly impressed by the video footage the thing can produced. Have Canon solved the rolling shutter/jello effect?
Its obviously too early to say, but from some of the footage we saw, they might well have done just that.

So its going to be an impatient wait for it to arrive.

These are some images taken with the 500D - A camera I liked in terms of image quality, but not in terms of build and video capability. I hope that Canon have kept that excellent, punchy somewhat non-Canon look, to the images that I liked so much. I know that the 550D is going to look and feel "plasticky" but you can't have everything. ?????

Words - D
Pictures - D & A

As ever this is a personal commentary and is not intended to influence or criticise others personal preferences.

"This is a blog, not a novel"- Philip Bloom

All change - again!

Anyone who has ever dropped in on this blog from time to time will notice that I change cameras often. This is partly to do with the nature of digital photography, in that the camera makes so much difference because it contains the sensor. Back in my film days I kept cameras for years and only occasionally bought new lenses.
The second reason is because I CAN change cameras. Being a working photographer means I get certain tax advantages, e.g. I can claim the VAT back, I get tax relief on the depreciation etc. This means that I can take advantage of new developments without loosing large sums of money.
By buying cameras new and selling them relatively quickly I can almost get my money back.
Its like hiring something really, though with the cost of hire the way it is its probably cheaper, and you also don't have to worry what the person who had it before you did to it!
Thirdly I'm fairly ruthless & non-forgiving about camera performance. If a piece of equipment doesn't do what I want then its on its way to ebay!

So whats gone/going?

The Pentax K-7. I was always unimpressed by the quality of the stills, but had decided to keep it because it functioned very well as a video camera. However last weekend at a wedding it demonstrated banding under certain kinds of lights. As I said I'm pretty unforgiving about camera performance. Since my nephews GH1 produced perfectly acceptable images, the K-7 has gone. Put on Ebay and sold within 1/2 hour.

The D3X is going, as is my Leica M8. To be replaced by a Leica M9, for which I am waiting impatiently. I love the D3X images, but hate the weight & bulk. Everything I've seen of the M9 impresses me. I love my M8, but once I saw that the sensor was similar on the M9 in terms of sharpness and colour AND added full frame & a few tweaks here and there, I knew it was for me.
My M8 images easily interpolate up to 48MB (The minimum size for high end picture libraries) so M9 images will easily match the D3X for resolution. I've downloaded a few images from the web & they do indeed look superb.

Also going are my Olympus E-420, which I really never use & a Canon 500D which is a lovely stills camera but truly horrible to use. Canon make this lovely sensor & then put it in a cheap plastic body & stick unwelcome curves all over it. It feels & looks like a toy & I am unable to "bond" with it at all.

Its also going to help pay for another GH1. I sold my first one to my nephew, who is my business partner in the event/wedding business we run & I've missed it. I really like micro four cameras & their ability to use my favourite Voigtlander & Nikon lenses. Its a great stills camera & an even better video camera. It performed wonderfully well at the wedding we shot recently & I can also use it as a light carry around camera. I am waiting to get my hands on the 20mm F/1.7 Panasonic are bringing out, which is getting rave reviews. In the meantime I'll use the 14-140 kit zoom lens which is a technological marvel plus my aforementioned Voigtlanders & Nikons.

So the plan is:- to work with 3 cameras.

Leica M9 with 15mm, 50mm F/1.1, & 75mm lenses plus my Zeiss Biogon 28mm F/2.8.
I'm looking forward to the wide angles in all their full-frame glory!

Panasonic GH1 with 14-140 & 20mm F/1.7 Panasonic lenses plus the M fit lenses plus some Nikons I'm keeping. 35mm F/2.8, 50mm F/1.2 MF, 85mm F1.8 & 135mm F/2.8 MF.

Canon 5D MkII with 28-135 IS zoom, 20mm F/2.8, 28mm F/1.8, 50mm F/1.8, 85mm F/1.8 & a 90-300 zoom. I can also use the Nikons with my Nikon F > Canon EOS adapters.

The Leica for my stock work with the Panasonic as a backup & the Panasonic & Canon for Events/Weddings/Commercial Work.

Finally a word of praise for my 5D MkII. I've not always been a great fan of Canon but this is a beauty. It worked flawlessly at the recent wedding. I shot jpgs only & every shot was on the money. It was fast & the low light performance was incredible. I used to think my Nikon D3 & D700 were good, but this is better & at 21MP too. Hope I haven't jinxed it. Its almost a record for me keeping a digital camera - 10 months & counting.

This won't be the end of my buying and selling but it clarifies what I want for the moment & gives me 3 cameras that I will use and more importantly enjoy using.

Canon 500D

In complete contrast to the K7 - this is a real surprise.
The K7 was bought as I needed a stills/video backup for my 5DM2 - as the GH1 is now in the hands of my partner and nephew Ben.
Since the K7 turned out to be such a disappointment I started looking around at alternatives. I'd seen the 500D but have not had good experiences with this level of Canon cameras.
However I didn't really want to buy another 5DM2 and I could use my existing Canon & Nikon lenses with it.
When it arrived I took it for my usual test spin round the garden. Loaded the files onto the iMac & was prepared to (not be) amazed.
To my surprise I WAS amazed. The images were very good. Sharp with great colour and contrast. A serious trip with 28mm F/1.8, 50mm F/1.8 & 85mm F/1.8 confirmed my initial results.
This camera punches way above its weight. Its fast to operate & works well in my hands - unlike the K7. Its ugly - like most Canons are to my eyes - & its very "plasticky" but it does the job. Canon have come up with a great sensor and haven't crippled it by a strong AA filter or by software noise reduction.
The jpgs are nice too & essential at the higher ISO's, where Canon apply their NR. Done very well I might add. The movie function looked OK but I need to spend more time on that.
All in all a nice (Cheap!) surprise.