Tag Archives: Nikon

The demographics of camera users

The author, at the link below, notes that those under 30 predominately use their smart phone to take photos.

Older travelers use compact point and shoot cameras, and middle aged and older often shoot with higher end DSLRs.

One thing I noticed on my trip to the UK , specifically London, was the abundance of cameras.

Source: Cameras, Cameras, Everywhere | Garden Walk Garden Talk

A recent Nikon item said that 55% of their DSLR sales are now going to consumers upgrading from smart phones.

My observations are in line with those of the linked article. I noticed this summer an increase in the number of travelers using an actual camera, rather than a smart phone. “Bridge cameras” – which look a bit like DSLRs but have a built-in, non-interchangeable lens, are popular.

The market is shifting a bit back towards real cameras. My hunch is many consumers will start out with larger cameras but eventually retreat to smaller cameras as they find the size and weight becomes cumbersome.

I suspect the 1″ cameras, with excellent image quality and good low light performance, may be the sweet spot for size, quality and convenience.

As the next blog post notes, post processing software is enabling small cameras to begin to rival their big cousins’ features. Software tools today provide high quality noise reduction, enabling small sensor cameras to work more like big sensors, and software tricks can even simulate bokeh.

Gear Acquisition Syndrome – always needing the next best camera or lens

Fascinating first hand story:

I used to be a real photography gear head, I bought and sold cameras right and left, I was left broke and miserable, here’s what you can learn from my ordeal

Source: Confessions of an ex-gear addict

When I stopped at a beach overlook recently, I was surprised at how many very expensive cameras and lenses I saw being carried along the trails. Then I saw a photo, shared on Facebook, of a crowd of people in Yosemite, with very expensive cameras, sometimes several of them, all taking the exact same photo of the annual Horsetail Falls orange-lit “fire fall”. The last time I was in Zion National Park, I saw a long line of tripods and expensive cameras and long lenses set up to take the same photo of the sunset. Same thing in Yellowstone – and worse, where individuals were carrying professional video gear, including RED cameras.

What struck me was just how much money so many people have (or had!) that they can afford to spend tens of thousands of $s on cameras and lenses. Sure, some are professional photographers, some are semi-pro (a hobby that sometimes makes money), then serious amateurs and then those who just buy really expensive gear.

The linked article is well worth reading – its a self confession by one photographer who suffered badly from Gear Acquisition Syndrome, buying and selling one or more cameras, lights, reflectors, after another, after another.

The greatest fear for camera makers is that at some point, a whole lot of people decide to downsize their camera and lens arsenal!

Using the Olympus TCON 17 1.7x teleconverter with a Nikon 1

These three photos were taken with a Nikon 1 V2, the 1 Nikkor 30-110mm zoom, and an Olympus TCON-17 1.7x teleconverter. I am extremely pleased with the results using the teleconverter.

On the Nikon 1, I use a 55 to 52mm adapter ring, and then a 52mm to 40.5mm adapter ring to mount on the Nikon 1. (I could not find a 55 to 40.5 mm adapter).

I bought the TCON17, used, on Ebay, for $15. That is not the normal price – prices are usually closer to $80 to $110 U.S. I think the person who sold this one did not know what they had.

Olympus had made 4 teleconverter lenses that appear to be essentially identical – the B300, the unlabeled TCON17, the TCON-17, and the TCON-17x. I have what I believe is the “unlabeled” version. I understand the early models did not include the TCON-17 model # on the lens.

I also did tests on a micro four thirds camera using the TCON17 with the Olympus f/1.8 45mm lens – works great (makes a 150mm FF equivalent). I tried the Lumix 45-200mm, but the TCON17 made the images soft and with much chromatic aberration.

DSC_3148

DSC_3161

The shot below was to test for chromatic aberration, by having the high contrast areas of the branches against the gray background. DSC_3160

Not surprisingly, contrast is a little soft with the teleconverter, but that is easily corrected either in camera or using Lightroom.

I will post more photos in the future, but it is hard to get out taking photos right now as we live in a rainy climate.

Using a Computar c-mount lens on the Nikon 1

These photographs were taken with a Nikon 1 V2 and a Computar f/1.2 12.6-75mm c-mount television camera lens. For improved sharpness, I usually shoot this lens at f/4 as it is soft at f/1.2. I also use a 0.6 ND filter so that I can use the lens wide open.

The lens is used with a c-mount to Nikon 1 mount adapter ring. The lens is primarily useful only at the long end of the lens, otherwise there is vignetting. However, for the used price, this produces a rather excellent, fast telephoto lens for the Nikon 1.

Click on any photo for a larger version.

DSC_2476

DSC_2439

DSC_2485

 

Low light image quality test: Nikon 1 V2 and J1, Lumix GH-2 and GH-4

I tested the low light image quality of the Nikon 1 J1 (electronically the same as the Nikon 1 J2 and the Nikon 1  V1), the Nikon 1 V2, the Lumix GH-2 and the Lumix GH-4.

The Nikon 1 is a 1″ sensor camera with a 10 MP image resolution and the V2 has just over 14 MP. The Nikon 1 is also an interchangeable lens camera.

The Lumix cameras are micro-four thirds sensors. In the 3:2 ratio in which these photos were taken, both have just over 14 MP of image resolution.

The Nikon 1 camera images were shot with the 1 Nikkor 18.5mm lens, at f/1.8 to f/2.5. The cameras were set to Program mode. White balance was set to Auto.

The Lumix cameras were shot with the Lumix 14-42mm kit lens, at 25mm (equivalent to the Nikon 18.5mm lens field of view) at about f/5.6. The cameras were set to Program mode and white balance was set to Auto. I realized afterwards the GH-4 was also set to a “Custom” photo setting that I use to reduce the highlights so it was not quite identical to the GH2.  The 1 Nikkor prime lens is also sharper than the Lumix kit lens.

These are 1:1 extractions of RAW images from Lightroom 5.x. All shots are at ISO 800 as my goal was to test low light situations.  Noise reduction and sharpness setting were what ever the default was at – thus, no attempt was made to clean up the noise. These tests are not laboratory quality – but the kind of tests that us hobbyists do to better understand our gear!

You can click on any photo to see the full size image.

LOWLIGHT EXAMPLES AT ISO 800

Nikon 1 J1

J1-800

Nikon 1 V2

The V2 shows a slightly higher noise grain than does the J1 (V1 equivalent).  However, the J1 is a 10 MP sensor and the image enlargement is not the same. When the J1 is resized to match the V2, the noise grain is closer in appearance to the J1.

Also note that in the smaller sensor J1 and V2, magenta chromatic aberration is apparent at lower left. This is easily fixable in Lightroom.  Also, those faint pink splotches captured in the V2 images were captured to some degree with all the cameras. There is a reflection from something going on – I just never noticed it before.

V2-800

Lumix GH-2

Interesting to see that the GH-2 had a lower exposure selection. Not shown, but an open window to the left of this section of the photo was bright for all of these photos.

There appears to be a very slight bit of chromatic aberration at lower left or at least some slight flaring at the high contrast points.

Lumix800

Lumix GH-4

The GH-4 did better on the auto exposure, white balance and the chromatic aberration. Even though the GH-4 is using the exact same lens as was used on the GH-2 photo above. That implies the GH-4 is doing some image processing on this RAW file that the GH-2 does not do. While there are differences in white balance making the grain harder to see in the GH-2, manually adjusting the exposure in Lightroom showed fairly similar levels of grain.

GH4-800

LOWLIGHT COMPARISON J1 VERSUS V2 AT ISO 1600

J1 ISO 1600 RAW

J1-ISO1600

J1 ISO 1600 RAW processed with LR noise reduction

J1-ISO1600-Processed

V2 ISO 1600 RAW

V2-ISO1600

V2 ISO 1600 RAW processed with LR noise reduction

V2-1600Processed

IMAGE RESOLUTION 1:1

The following is not a fair test. The Nikon 1 cameras used the 18.5mm prime lens while the Lumix used the 14-42mm kit lens. Unfortunately, I do not have a Lumix prime lens (25mm) which is needed to make this test fair.

What this does show is that the Nikon 1 with the prime lens is very sharp – perhaps sharper or at least on par with the 4/3ds camera with the kit lens. Each photo taken with the lowest ISO setting.

Nikon 1 J1 – ISO 100

J1-100

Nikon 1 V2 ISO 160

V2-160

Lumix GH-2 ISO 160

GH2-160

IMAGE RESOLUTION 3:1 ENLARGEMENT

Nikon 1 J1 – 10 MP sensor

J1-100-3

Nikon 1 V2 14+ MP Sensor

Because the J1 has fewer pixels, the 1:1 image above shows a wider area. Still, it is surprising how good the 10 MP image looks compared to the 14+ MP image.

V2-160-3

J1 ISO 100 Resized

With the images reset to roughly equal sizes, the greater resolution of the V2 becomes apparent. Here, the J1’s 10 MP image is enlarged to match that of the higher resolution V2. Bear in mind that these are really bad case/low light situations too.

J1-100-3-equal

V2 ISO 160 

If you look carefully, you can see slightly more detail on the ceramic cup, at left, and you can see more detail in the writing on the spice container in the middle.

V2-160-3-equal

J1 3:1 on the Creole seasoning container

J1-equal

V2 3:1 on the Creole seasoning container

While the resolution improvement in the V2 is visible, it does not have nearly as much visual impact as you would expect in going from 10 MP to 14 MP. Note the word “Original” in the yellow band area – the word “Original” is readable in the 14 MP version but not so well in the 10 MP version. Still … not a lot of difference, is there?

V2-equal

Lumix GH-4 ISO 400 3:1

Even at ISO 400, the GH-4 looks slightly better than the Nikon 1 V2 at ISO 160  (above). I did not shoot this test photo at ISO 200 (or using the expanded ISO setting on the GH-4, I could go as low as 100 – but there is apparently no improvement in image quality at that setting).

GH4-400-3

I did not shoot the test photo with the GH-2.

Conclusions

Small sensor cameras are doing better and better as each new product is announced.

The Nikon 1 J1 is already up to the J5 generation with 20+ MP and a better low light sensor. The V2 is presently up to the V3, with the V4 rumored to appear soon (and assumed to be similar to the J5 sensor).

The Lumix GH-2 is now up to the GH-4 generation.

In well lit areas, the Nikon 1 V2 appears to hold its own very well against the larger 4/3d sensor (the GH-2 and V2 are roughly comparable in that they were both sold around the same time). I have generally avoided shooting at ISO 800 and have probably never shot at ISO 1600! However, after these tests, I am comfortable that I can get decent results on any of these cameras at ISO 1600.

In low light, the larger sensor of the GH-2 and the GH-4 cuts the noise. You can probably shoot the GH4 at an ISO setting double that of the V2, for the same noise level. Not a big surprise.

The 4/3ds sensor also has noticeably wider dynamic range but none of these tests demonstrate that feature.

None of these cameras compete directly with full frame sensor cameras and their better low light capability. But then, they cost a tiny fraction of the cost of the full frame camera. If you are not shooting extreme low light situations, the smaller sensors may be entirely fine – which is the case for me.

I did these tests because I am thinking I may carry only the Nikon 1 V2 on some future trips. Not only is the camera small, but the lenses are small too and weigh very little compared to larger formats.

In the real world where most of us post photos to FB or Flickr, the image resolution we look at with this detailed pixel peeping just does not matter. These photos will all look fine on line.

As long as I am not shooting a lot of low light situations, there is not a big difference in image quality and I can usually control for the slightly narrower dynamic range of the 1″ sensor by shooting RAW and if necessary, using exposure compensation to control for bright highlights and dark shadows.

Deals on Nikon D750 and Nikon 1 J5 Mirrorless cameras

I do a lot of shooting with the Nikon 1 cameras and love’em.

Adorama is featuring package deals on the newly announced Nikon cameras:

Red tulips, yellow daffodils and more!

Click any image to click through to Flickr for larger sizes including the original full size uploads.

Photo taken with Nikon 1 V2 and Nikkor 30-110mm lens.

Red tulip

 

Photo taken with Nikon 1 V2 and Nikkor 30-110mm lens, with -0.7 ev exposure compensation.

Yellow daffodils in the setting sun

 

Photo taken with Panasonic Lumix GH-2 and Lumix 20mm f/1.7 lens.

Closeup of Rose, Lumix GH-2

 

Photo taken with Olympus XZ-2 “point n shoot”!

Bleeding heart flowers and rain drops

 

Using a c-mount lens on a Nikon 1 J2 camera

The Nikon 1 cameras – J1, J2, J3, J4, V1, V2, and V3 – use a “1 inch” sensor that is about the same size as “Super 16mm” film. The small’ish sensor is ideal for working with old 16mm lenses (I have one) or with various c-mount lenses. Ideally, the c-mount lens should provide a “1 inch” coverage. However, the photos below were shot using a Tamron 4-12mm f/1.2 lens having a 1/2 inch coverage. Except when zoomed in, in which case it covers the full frame with a very tiny amount of vignetting.
These macro photos amazed me – shot on an inexpensive Nikon 1 J2 with a CCTV c-mount lens! You can click on the photos for larger version, although these were uploaded at about half the horizontal resolution. The extremely narrow depth of field is pretty neat for a small sensor camera using an inexpensive wide angle lens!
The c-mount lenses I have used are often quite soft when the aperture is fully opened. Stopping the aperture down a bit improves sharpness. They also tend to have softness in the corners, or vignetting. This particular lens is very good for these close macro shots – the edge softness is obviously not a problem as it is supposed to be out of focus! But I would not recommend this lens for general purpose shooting of non-close subjects. I also have a Computer 12.5-75mm f/1.2 lens. This is useful mostly in full zoom (75mm end) but at f/1.2 it is very soft. Stopping it down to f/2 to f/4 greatly improves the image quality – and with the telephoto effect, does a good job for creating certain types of narrow depth of field. I would not use it as a general purpose lens, however.
DSC_1415 (Custom)
DSC_1403 (Custom)
DSC_1388 (Custom)
DSC_1393 (Custom)

Using old camera lenses on micro four thirds cameras

Not that long ago, I used some old Minolta film cameras. These cameras used lenses with the Minolta MC/MD mounting system and I have several old lenses that can be used on micro four thirds cameras with an appropriate adapter.
Here’s my informal judgement as to work works well and what does not when using these old lenses on modern micro four thirds cameras. All of my tests were done on my Lumix GH-2, shooting JPEG images and evaluating the JPEGs as they came straight out of the camera. I did not do any tests in RAW mode.
Minolta 50mm prime f/1.4

  • f/1.4 – At f/1.4, this lens is soft, almost fuzzy, and with low contrast. Not recommended at f/1.4
  • f/2.0 – At f/2.0, this lens is clean with good contrast. I would rate this excellent for my own purposes at f/2.0 and above.

Minolta 50mm prime f/1.7

  • f/1.7 – At f/1.7, this lens is also very soft.
  • f/2.8 – I rate this aperture as “pleasant”. Its not really soft but its not quite a sharp either – but overall provides a pleasing, smooth quality to the image, yet with a very nice narrow depth of field.
  • f/4 – At f/4.0 the lens becomes very sharp.

Sigma 28mm prime f/2.8

  • This lens just does not work well at all until probably f/4, then its fine. The lens is useful, however, since it is a macro focus lens. The 28mm works like a 56 mm full frame equivalent lens on the micro four thirds format – but focuses down to about two inches (5 cm)!

Sigma 28-70mm UC Zoom f/2.8

  • f/2.8 – At both the 28 and 70mm zoom settings (56 and 140mm FF equivalent on m43ds) the lens is noticeably soft, probably better at the 70mm end than the 28mm end.
  • f/4 – At f/4 and above the images are excellent.

This Sigma 28-70mm lens is probably one of my favorite lenses on my Lumix GH2. Its great for shooting when I want a narrow depth of field, but provides excellent sharpness and contrast.
Other Lenses
Another popular old lens is most any Canon FD glass. I have not tested these but the reviews I have read of Canon FD lenses similar to those above, also perform similarly – such as the Canon FD f/1.4 lens being soft at f/1.4 but nicely sharp by f/2. These can be found on eBay for $30 to $70, sometimes including the m43 adapter ring. Older Nikon lens are also excellent and popular and available used.
Keep in mind that to use an old lens you need to ensure your camera can operate with a “no electronics” lens. The Lumix GH-2, for example, has a menu setting to let the camera operate even if “no lens is attached”.  I use this setting and then put the camera in “A” Aperture mode, and set the aperture and focus manually. My Nikon 1 camera only works in “M” mode when a non-Nikkor lens is attached – this works, but is not as convenient as using the “A” mode and letting the camera meter and choose a shutter speed for me.
Newer lens systems, like the Canon EF series can also be made to work but with limitations – these lenses do not have an aperture ring and the lens, by default, will also be in the wide open aperture setting. There is a trick to get around this but its cumbersome – mount the lens on an actual Canon camera, set the aperture using the camera settings, remove the lens and put it on the m43d camera and it retains the aperture setting. But why go to that trouble? Better off getting an original all manual lens like the Canon FD.
Both of these two photos were taken with the Lumix GH-2 and the Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 lens at f/2.8 to create the narrow depth of field look. You can click on these images – twice, in fact – to zoom in to larger versions. Both are reduced in size and compression from the originals, however.
P1030698 (Custom)
P1030696 (Custom)

Are video capable DSLRs really smaller and lighter “run and gun”?

Numerical Reflex Digital Camera
Image via Wikipedia

vDSLRs are not smaller & lighter, nor cheaper. « I E B A Tech Thoughts.

The picture at the link says it all 🙂

Enhanced by Zemanta