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Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Lloyd Chambers, Eagle on Iceberg from kayak, Alaska’s inside passage, 2002

In a rather shocking turnaround, Lloyd L. Chambers of diglloyd recently announced that the upcoming EOS 1D Mk. III has him convinced. Check out his article "Goodbye Nikon?" As usual, it's an interesting, wide-ranging analysis. Especially interesting is his discussion, in the article, of what he feels is Canon's superior commitment to developing new prime lenses.

This is the most unexpected switcheroo since 2006, when landscape photographer and master dye transfer printer Charlie Cramer switched from his 4x5 Linhof to a $25,000, 39-megapixel PhaseOne medium-format digital back—and zoom lens—that he had tested and found was very close to the quality of the 4x5. Charlie reports that the biggest change in his shooting was that he went from about 500 film exposures per year (at $4 a pop) to 5400!



Blogger Unknown said...

For any of those that did not see the comparison article on LL when the switch was made:
4x5" Drum Scanned Film vs. 39 Megapixel Digital


8:01 AM  
Blogger Dwight Jones said...

My question is whether more volume is a good thing. Probably a qualified "yes". We've gained something and we've lost something. That which we have gained is greater than what we have lost.

I defiantly get out my film camera because I like to work that way. After a day or two, I'm back to digital.

8:08 AM  
Blogger Max said...

The picture on this post is gorgeous, but too tight for my taste. Since photo manipulation has been a recent subject, I'm curious about how'd you feel if the photographer added top space on this one by enlarging the canvas and cloning the sky. It looks doable, even on the water in the lower part, to achieve a natural image but with a wider framing.
How would you consider that kind of manipulation, if in fact it could be done effectively?

8:46 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

I can only speak for myself, but I'd say it would depend on the intended usage. If it were for decoration, let's say to hang in a hotel lobby, then fine. If it were an illustration for, say, a biological text about eagles, then I'd say no. Obviously, per our recent discussions about manipulation, if it were going to run in a newspaper or other editorial outlet, then such manipulation would clearly violate standard guidelines.

Other people may have other thoughts.


9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A close reading of Diglloyd's article reveals that he's not entirely enamored of Canon either. He owns and uses both systems. It's just that he reluctantly come to the conclusion that if he has to choose only one horse to ride it will be Canon. Others may feel differently, but if you're looking for a full-frame sensor and fast wide-angle prime lenses, Canon is pretty much the only game in town.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

My favorite line in the Charlie Cramer essay: "Note to Canon: Please wait three years before introducing something just as good at 1/4 the price."

9:49 AM  
Blogger Player said...

It's always a mistake to count out Nikon though.

10:30 AM  
Blogger herbster said...

Granted I am a contented Nikon user, who can use Sigma fast wide primes without hesitation, but doesn't this migration to an as yet unreleased camera (whose beta testing revealed focus problems) seem just a tad hasty?

12:57 PM  
Blogger Jeff Kott said...

I know people will say you can't wait forever, but my guess is Nikon has a couple of great cameras up it's sleeve and there are expected to be some new lenses announced shortly.

Lloyd may turn out to be like people who wait and wait and wait and then jump into the stock or housing market right before they crash.

1:35 PM  
Blogger dasmb said...

I think this shot is great. I don't need to see more water, I don't need to see more sky, and apparently the photographer didn't either or he'd have taken a step back.

It seems to me that many of the "rules" of composition are dependent on prints being very small.

Case in point: Jeff Wall. One of the reasons his exhibit at the MoMA is so great is that his most engaging pictures deserve to be huge. Many of them tell their stories in details, not in broad lines, and as a result some of them seem pretty bland at 4x6 (or, for that matter, monitor resolution). Trust me: up close, they're breathtaking.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Carsten Bockermann said...

>>All of the autofocus Nikon wide angle primes are f/2.8, exept for the mediocre 35mm f/2D. Who wants an f/2.8 prime lens when the 17-55 f/2.8 DX is optically superior to them all?!

Amen ! I guess Nikon considers the market for fast wide angle primes too small - but then, I know quite a few people who long (just like me) for a 20/2 (or even a 20/1.4) DX prime.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It's pretty sad that Nikon's best medium focal length lenses (35/2, 50/1.4, 85/1.4 or 1.8) are ten years old. As the poster above has noted, they really need to come out with a wide-angle prime for the digital era. A quality 18/2.8 would round out my set. Nikon have obviously decided that there's more money to be made in wonder-zooms made as cheaply as possible. Not everybody wants wobbly zooms or mega expensive zooms that weigh more than the body.

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the challenges of designing fast wide-angle primes for digital sensors is that the lens needs to be rather large (and therefore heavy and expensive) to compensate for chromatic aberrations. I suspect that, given a choice, most photographers who lust for large aperture lenses would rather carry one large, heavy, expensive but fast zoom (i.e., the 17-55mm f2.8) than several large, heavy, expensive but fast primes.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It's for this very reason I went Pentax. I want to shoot with primes, but I'm on a limited budget, so it was the K100 vs. Xti vs. D50 (D40 out of this picture for obvious reasons).

I hated the feel of the Xti, and Nikon just doesn't have many primes I'm interested in. Pentax? I've already got the 43, 21 soon, and I'm scouring Ebay for the 28 (a DA 28/2 would be oh so nice ...)

8:48 PM  
Blogger hugh crawford said...

"but if you're looking for a full-frame sensor and fast wide-angle prime lenses, Canon is pretty much the only game in town."

I'd be interested in a wide prime that's sharp in the corners. Or a wide Zoom that's sharp in the corners. I wouldn't recommend Canon to someone who mostly shoots wide.

Nobody else seems to have a wide lens and a digital body to go with it though although the Sony R1 is pretty nice at the wide end

11:18 PM  
Blogger Ira Crummey said...

It is no longer a simple issue for professionals. As an amateur I am quite happy with the small sensor cameras, but the wide angle issue in particular must sway many professionals.

4:30 AM  
Blogger Ira Crummey said...

Sorry for the second post but I had inadvertantly run out of time with my first post.

I think that current developments in high end DLSRs make for some interesting decisions. Nikon has made some great steps forward in the low and mid range market with the excellent D40, D40X, D80 and D200 but are still behind in the pro end with their D2 series cameras not quite measuring up to the Canon D1 series. In the lens department Canon is capitalizing on their large format sensor cameras by producing fast wide angle primes (easier with the large sensor) while Nikon seems to have put more development into long primes (again, easier with the APS sized sensors).

It is a very tough call, if I were a wildlife photographer I may lean toward Nikon but if my forte were low light interiors I would have to look to Canon.

In my previous post I noted my amateur status and my Pentax ownership. I think Pentax offers an interesting alternative to the amateur because they have been developing some moderate speed, very compact prime lenses (as shown here) and are venturing into the higher end market with the K10D and the upcoming DA* lenses with built in focusing motors.

It seems that amateurs always have more choices than the pros.

7:07 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

Nikon will present 15 new lenses very soon. You have read well, 15. It is an deep renovation of AF Nikon lenses.

8:05 AM  
Blogger jollyoso said...

Nemo, where are you getting this information? I've heard several people (all Nikon owners who have reason to hope that this is indeed true*) mention that Nikon is about to launch several new lenses. Specifics and sources, however, are nowhere to be found.

*As someone who shoots primarily with a 17-55 2.8 on a D80, I count myself as one of them.

The fact that the folks at Nikon HQ have several (pro?) lenses up there sleeves would make sense. Specially when you consider that their pro-level body is overdue for a major update. Whether they take this opportunity to launch some new lenses and introduce a "full-frame" digital camera or stick to their oft-iterated commitment to the DX format has been/can be debated ad infinitum. Or at least until the thing is actually announced.

12:04 PM  

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