Thursday, December 30, 2010

Time for some new photos!

Ok, I promised new photos from the Tamron SP 70-300mm f-5.6 DI VC USD, so here they are! BTW-memo to Tamron; please shorten the name of your lenses!

BTW-DXOMark has tested this lens and doesn't think very highly of it. I feel they may have had a bad sample because it tested just so-so on every Nikon body. I've tried it on my D300 and a friends D700 and was amazed at how well it worked with the full frame sensor and giant light-gathering pixels. It's almost enough to sway me to buy a D700!

Clicking on a photo will bring up a larger version of the photo. The eyes are cropped 100% from the first photo. All were shot on my D300 in 14-bit RAW and converted to JPG by Photoshop CS4.

What makes a camera "great"?

On the eve of the CES show, I've been giving some thought to the weighty topic of what, exactly, constitutes a "great" camera body. It's not the sheer number of pixels a manufacturer can cram on one sensor (although the ad people would have you believe that). What use is 21 or 24 megapixels if the AF is so slow that you miss the shot? Or if the frame rate drops so slow in 14-bit RAW as to nearly make the camera as slow as a point-and-shoot? Of course, I'm exaggerating for effect, as none of the higher-end prosumer or professional camera bodies are nearly this bad, but it highlights a point; camera MFGs are driven by what they think photographers need, or more importantly, will buy. And they're also governed by their own corporate culture, which is a big factor in Japan.

My needs are interesting at the moment. On one hand, I'd love to have high megapixels, for high detail capture. On the other hand, I want the cameras to blast off a high frame rate. Finally, I want incredible clarity and sharpness from my images. The D300, on paper, looks mighty capable. 12.3 megapixels, with a lot of color capturing potential, and decent resolution. What it does not deliver is speed (falls to around 2.5 FPS maximum in 14-bit RAW color mode) or clarity (have you seen straight from the camera JPGS?). So... I can shoot slowly in RAW, and take forever converting each image by hand (no, CaptureNX does not do a great job with batch-processing RAW files; blacks get blotchy), or I can shoot relatively fast (5-6 fps) in 12-bit color and suffer the wrath of camera-butchered JPGs. Thom Hogan assures me that Nikon camera bodies are the sharpest, when shot in RAW. But what happens when I need faster performance. Nikon has no answer for that.

Then there's Canon, whose current pro bodes, the 1D MarkIV and the 1Ds MarkIII, are the fastest things out there. A burning 10 fps for the 1D model, and 5 fps for the 1Ds (which is processing 21 megapixels!). The Canon D700 is marginally faster in JPG mode, but has 9 megapixels less on it's full-frame sensor. Where the Canon's deliver sharp, clear JPGs from the camera, the Nikons don't.

So, if I am to move from the D300, which way do I go. Either way, for a pro-level body, it's a ton of money. If I stick with Nikon, I don't have to swap out my lenses (although I wouldn't mind because Thom also assures me that AF speed and accuracy will improve if I'm using Nikon lenses). If I go to Canon, the price goes up, especially for image-stabilized "L" lenses.

What about a combination of older Canon "1D" body and a sharp L lens like a non-IS f2.8 70-200mm lens? Both can be had for less than the cost of just one new Nikon D700. If I'm dealing with these questions, how many others are too? Tax time is right around the corner, and camera MFGs need to realize this, and begin to time new camera releases for this important time. Will there be any fantastic new camera bodies from Canon or Nikon at the CES show? I sure as heck hope so, and that the prices will be more in line with our new world economy. My career is hanging on it

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Nothing much to say. This is good.

Anyone at all who follows my little blog knows I typically have a lot to say about any subject, however, lately, I haven't felt like saying much at all. There's work to be done, and the D300 it focusing well now, so I haven't had cause to complain. In truth, I should be complimenting that little bugger. It's robust, produces amazing colors, exposes photos generally well, if a little on the light side (I think the shutter is slowing down now), and offers adjustments for almost every possible feature a person can think of... except... fully-customizable AF points. There should be more AF point options. Like a diamond-shaped box of points, a straight-line of points, or three vertical lines of points. My point being, simply having 51 schizo points in a 3D self-predicting matrix, or 51 "dumb" points, or 21 or 9, all arranged in rectangular orientations, is not adequate.

My first digital camera had just one AF point. My first DSLR, an old Canon D60, had three. My Konica-Minolta 7D bodies had 11, but some were wider than others, which worked better for diagonally-framed panned shots of cars. The D300 takes the cake for the body with the most useless AF points. Only the 9 in the center are super-sensitive cross points, able to pick up both vertical and horizontal lines for contrast. The other 42 points are like an NFL team's Special Teams unit. Sure, they're useful occasionally, but if you depend on them to win the game you're going to be sorely disappointed.

What I find myself doing, is simply using only one point. Period. Why? Because I control it fully. It doesn't migrate around the image, choosing semi-random spots based on similar contrast and brightness to the original focus point. Nor, do I ever have to wonder "Did I nail the focus on that critical image? Should I shoot it again?". Light is fleeting. Doing what I do involves shooting cars at sunset or sunrise, in sometimes less than optimal conditions, and doing so in a rapid manner. Reshooting photos because the 3D-Tracking 51-point AF mode missed the key point in the photograph is silly and time-consuming, which then wastes light I can never get back. Does this make me a control freak? I sure hope so!

The next time you go to purchase a camera, ask yourself, does it have the capability to focus EXACTLY where I need it to focus, time after time? You'll find you'll be making far better photos with a camera with just one AF sensor, than a camera with one hundred!

New Tamron lens; Hubba hubba!

Just got the new Tamron SP AF 70-300mm LD Di VC, and I've got to say, this is the first time I've had a "Wow!" moment with my Nikon D300 body. I had the chance to shoot some models in Texas last month (November 2010) and all I can say is, "What is Tamron thinking selling this lens for as little as they do? Every review says that the image stabilization is like "magic" but until you try it, I guarantee you've never seen anything like it before. One caveat, it does not work as well for slower speed panning as you might think. There's a good reason why (I suspect). When the camera body refocuses, as it does in Continual AF mode, the VC system attempts to "recenter" on the new point. If you're using just one AF point, it's not too bad, and the image only jumps occasionally in the viewfinder. But, if you, like many people, like using the 51, 21, or 9 point AF modes, the action of the VC becomes a bit helter-skelter. Often, it jumps right as the shutter is released, causing just a little bit of unnecessary blur in the resulting image. I found the best panned images came from turning off the VC, at the 1/125 and 1/160th second shutter speeds I was using as a test. It badly needs a panning mode switch.

With that said, however, it is pure magic for kids, people, pets, and anything much slower moving. Image sharpness and contrast is excellent, even wide open, on the Nikon D300 APS-C sensor. Don't look at this as an expensive consumer-grade zoom lens. Consider it a very sharp, image-stabilized 70-200mm f4.5 lens with the added benefit of another 100mm of focal length. A viable alternative to Canon's 70-200mm f4 "L" IS lens which has just come out, but at less than half the street cost. THAT is money you can take to the bank!

I'll have some photos to share, posted in a little bit.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tired of Waiting!

Well, I guess I'm like most of the former Minolta users now. I'm tired. The formula was very simple initially; take the latest sensor and install it in a 7D body. We liked the 7D body. It was robust. It was ergonomic. It had everything conveniently placed, designed as it was by people who actually take photographs. The AF system worked well, and could PREDICTIVE FOCUS on moving objects. It's downside was that it "only" had 6.1 megapixels when it debuted.

Simple, right?

Evidently not, if Sony's chosen to discontinue the A900 and A850 cameras, along with the APS-C sized A700 body, all during the same 10 month span, without introducting any sort of replacement at all. See, I didn't buy an A850/900 because I didn't like them. I didn't buy one because life got in the way of those plans, and I've had two new, hungry little mouths to feed over the past two years. In 2008, the A900 debuted. By mid-2010, it's gone. For those of us starting to get our feet back under us, this effectively removes Sony from any consideration at all for a new camera purchase.

Way to go and shoot yourself in the foot. Is this what your marketing geniuses told you to do?

So that's it for me. I'm done waiting. I'm going to sell all of my Minolta gear. Minolta is no more, and the only ghost which remains is clearly uninterested in the needs of a professional photographer.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Sony, what is wrong with you?

Well, the word I've read and the photos I've seen this morning from Sony's Photokina 2010 booth have been semi-disappointing. HOWEVER... there was one interesting thing I noted. The "prototype A700 replacement" is listed as using "translucent mirror technology"! It wasn't listed that way at the PMA show this spring, though it looks as if they're using the same model mock-up.

As I'd thought once before, out loud, in this blog, it is easier and cheaper to build boxy cameras without all that flappy-mirror nonsense inside. If they have chosen to revamp their A750 to take advantage of the new EXMOR-R sensor's "double light gathering sensitivity" by installing it in a pellicle mirror camera, I say "Bravo!" to them. That might give them the capability to debut an 18mp body which will shoot 10 frames per second in 12-bit color. Even if the sensor and processor can do 14-bit color, I don't see Sony adding the memory or processor speed to crunch those kinds of numbers to the A7xx series. Perhap in an A9xx body, maybe. In fact, if they're doing this for the A7xx, it's as close to a sure bet as it possibly can be that the A9xx will also share this pellicle design, as it will undoubtedly have the 36.4mp Full-Frame EXMOR-R sensor they developed, or a variant thereof. 35 or 36 megapixels with 10 frames per second speed would trump everyone's current and forecast DSLR bodies.

I can see a sizeable increase in battery life coming, without the mirror assembly. I can also see an increase in autofocus precision, though overly bright subjects might cause a problem due to a lack of contrast if they don't reflect properly off the pellicle mirror.

Of course, this is all just conjecture on my part, but my guess about the pellicle mirror design reaching the A7xx appears to be on the mark. I'll go out on a limb and state that I think this will definitely reach the A9xx body too, and this is the reason there's no A9xx or A7xx ready for Photokina. Disappointing for me, as I was expecting there to be some sort of progress displayed in the Alpha area this week. At this moment, it appears Sony's not ready to completely tip their hand.

It's clear that Sony wants some sort of technological advantage over its rivals in the DSLR market, more than simply a megapixel advantage, and that they're unwilling to compromise on their ideas just to have a better display at a popular show.

So here's my guess as to the updated A7xx specs:
New name- the Alpha A75 (fits with the current A33/A55 nomenclature)
18.2mp or higher pixel count from the EXMOR-R design APS-C sensor
Pellical mirror with constant Phase-Detection focusing
10 FPS or better
Magnesium body with seals (why not if the body's cheaper to make without the mirror assembly)
1080p movie mode (like I care about that, I'm a photographer!) with real-time focusing for SSM lenses (3rd party lens makers had better step up their lens programming updates! Sigma, I'm looking at you!)
Dual card memory options, Compact Flash and Memory Stick Pro

Let's see if my crystal ball is correct.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Okay, so Photokina starts tomorrow in Germany, and Sony's been so tight-lipped about their upcoming introductions that no one has any info on the web today, at all! No leaks, no "here's what they're going to introduce", etc. How do they expect us to get all crazy about their new cameras if they don't release any teaser information? Will Photokina serve as the "teaser" and no cameras will be available for 6 more months? While this would give me time to save for a full-frame A950, or APS-C frame A750 body, it doesn't make me very happy. I hate waiting.

Why the long wait? Do they simply want to milk the most out of the A900/A850 platform while they're still in stores? Does Sony's marketing arm know that they're losing sales every day their new cameras aren't on the market, and the offerings from Canon and Nikon are? I'm sure they must. Inventory Management 101 must have been in their college course curriculum somewhere! Wil the cameras instead be instantly available as soon as Photokina is over? In time for Christmas 2010?

All of this puzzles me, as word came out recently that the A580 wouldn't be available until the first quarter of 2011! Yikes! They introduced that camera in August! That makes for a 5 month ramp-up time in a hotly-contested category! Perhaps this is normal in the industry, and other makers simply wait until they have the cameras ready to ship before releasing the news. Still, weren't bodies made available to reviewers for testing? Hmmmmmm, phased roll-out around the world? I really don't know, and am simply asking a ton of questions aimlessly in hopes that someone at Sony might actually read this and respond to me.

I won't hold my breath!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Adjusting the Nikon D300 Auto Focus system

Caution: I am not a repair technician. This is just what I did on my own D300 body.

First, there are two hex screws inside the mirror box on the left side (right side as you're look face-on at the camera). The one closest to the mounting ring adjusts the focus of the AF-focused image on the viewfinder's screen. It provides the mirror's stop position. The second, and more important screw is behind the main mirror, and adjusts the stop for the AF system mirror. This is the main one you'll want to adjust if you're having a focus issue.

Use a fixed focal length lens. Use a fixed focal length lens. Use a GOOD fixed focal length lens. If you don't have one (which is known to be properly calibrated) go and rent one. I had months of trial-and-error using my reasonably-expensive Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 lens until I realized that it was subject to about a 1.5" focusing error at 6 feet (minimum focusing distance for that lens). Using my 50mm f1.4 was a cinch, and I ended up finally nailing the focus in just a few minutes time with it. Once you have it set at a small, but sharp f-stop (I used f2.0 on my f1.4 lens, it still has very narrow depth of field), check it with all of your lenses (and teleconverters).

The hex screws work on eccentric-shaped pins. Moving the hex wrench up moves the pin back, moving the hex wrench down moves the pin forward. There is a VERY small range of adjustment needed to move the focus point quite a bit. For the front hex head, up on the stop pin moves the focused image closer to your eyeball. Down on the stop pin moves it farther from your eyeball. It is a reflected image off the mirror, after all. Attention: Do not adjust this until AFTER the camera is taking sharp photos, confirmed on your monitor. For the rear hex head, down on the pin moves the focus FARTHER from the camera, while up moves it CLOSER to the camera. In this case you are moving the image forward and back on the focus sensors mounted in the floor of the mirror box. Hopefully your lens is doing its best to resolve the image properly at the sensor plane.

If you find you're taking big swings at it, something is wrong with your lens (as I figured out somewhat late). Any focusing error up close will be grossly magnified when shooting in the distance. If you optimize your AF system witha front-focusing lens, shooting at infinity will be impossible (it will all be blurry).

On the bright side, if you've gotten to the point where you want to try this and you simply cannot send your camera to Nikon for 3 weeks, give this a shot. It's fairly difficult to massively screw up your camera beyond the point it already is, and if you do, there's always Nikon Service to fix it.

BTW-I used both the "Sensor Cleaning Mode" to adjust the screws and occasionally simply lifted the mirror carefully with my finger and used the allen key on it. Be prepared to have to dust off your sensor if you use the "Sensor cleaning mode" as all sorts of dust will land on it while the shutter is open.

Good luck!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More Nikon Autofocus thoughts

First, never attempt to reset your focusing with a zoom lens. My 70-200mm f2.8 Sigma has a close-focusing error at minimal focus distance, and this was causing me to screw up my attempt to reset my AF system on my D300. I was zooming in on something close (to better see where the area of sharp focus was). Once I went to the Nikon 50mm f1.4 body, things went much smoother. Now I'm getting pretty much laser-like images, all the way down to wide open settings, so I'm much happier.

Second, using single-point AF in the dark sucks on the D300. Cars in the darm (on a lit track) must not offer as much contrast for a single point to grab onto. Eventually I went to the 9-point grouped sensor setting and began to get sharp photos. It's very frustrating switching through the modes and getting shot after blurry shot. The 51-point "3D mode" simply does not work well for cars. There's too much area covered by the points, and it often grabs focus on a point outside the area the car occupies, resulting in out-of-focus photos. At a track, where there's often a white wall visible in the dark, the Nikon AF will CONSISTENTLY find that white wall in 51-point mode. Grrrrrrrrr. 9-point AF works well. I'd love to see Nikon add a 15-point mode, where it adds 3 more sensors to the left and right of the 9-point square, for a more horizontal configuration friendlier to cars. I don't need the additional 6 vertical points of the much slower-to-focus 21-point mode. Pretty please, Nikon? Can I have this in the next software update? I'm sure no one is reading this blog.

Third, though my 50mm f1.4 is the sharpest lens I own by far, its incredibly-slow focusing system will NOT capture cars in real-time. I discovered this in Long Beach in April, at the Formula Drift event, and rediscovered it in Las Vegas last weekend. My cheap 18-55mm Nikon "kit" lens is faster (though not by much). As a result I wound up using my much heavier Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 lens through the night. Boy did this make my arms tired!

That's all for now!

Misc. Sony thoughts

Photokina is nearly here and what this? Finally! A hint, a sniff, a wiff of something juicy coming from Sony!

An A750 to be announced at Photokina! An A950 coming too? Possibly with 32mp and four processing Bionz processing engines? Well, that would just float my boat! Also rumored, an A820 which is essentially a rebadged A900? Hmmmmmm, this would be a very good lineup, if all of these cameras hit their marks.

My guess at prices:
A750 $1,199 USD 16.2 APS-C frame, dual-Bionz (translucent mirror and high frame rate of 8-9 FPS?)
A820 $1,699 USD full-frame, 24.6mp dual-Bionz (translucent mirror and 5 FPS again?)
A950 $2,250-2,500 USD 32 megapixels?!?! (translucent mirror, 5 FPS frame rate?)

What would wedding photographers pay for a high-res photo tool which doesn't go KER-THUNK when a photo's been snapped? I know noise was a criticism rightly leveled at the first generation of Alpha full-frame bodies so perhaps this is an example of Sony thinking "outside the box"?

Whatever the case, I'm getting excited for news from Photokina now. Just a month away! Sony, don't let me down!

Of the bunch I'm the least confident in my guess about the A950's price. I can only see Sony as being very aggressive at this point, due to the economy and market forces. If, like Thom Hogan suggests, they're killing off the 24mp FF sensor, and have some to use up, then the A820 could be the last that we see of that one. On the other hand I do think it's likely that they could introduce a significantly faster A950 using this same sensor, but with more processing power behind it, to take the old A900 chassis and launch it into the frame rate of the D3/D3X bodies.

But what about the translucent mirrors they're using on the A560 and A580 bodies. Hmmmmmmm. Those are quite interesting. Canon used to do that a long time ago with their "N"-denoted film bodies (as a high speed, sports-ready camera). I might be VERY interested in an A750 with 16.2mp (though only APS-C sized) and a really high frame rate with continuous auto focusing. That's something they have an issue with in the A700/A850/A900 bodies as I've pointed out before. For all sorts of "normal" photography, they're fine. For motorsports, not so fine.

From the mechanical standpoint, it would be FAR less expensive to go to a translucent mirror on the FF bodies. Quieter, cheaper to produce, and possibly the first with "electronic shutter" rather than an actual blade shutter. The shutter might not get the axe with this series of cameras, but certainly this shows that Sony is thinking about doing away with the shutter altogether.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Recent Learnings

First, my Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 doesn't focus right up close. It close-focuses. When I adjust the D300's focusing system to work up close, then it far-focuses on far subjects. The problem is in the lens, not the body.

Second, I learned from Thom Hogan (Nikon shooter par excellence and camera gear writer) that the D3/D700 uses Nikon's first in-house developed sensor. I thought it was a Sony sensor. Nikon is rumored to be doing a new sensor for an upcoming "D4" body, and won't use the 24mp Sony sensor from the D3X, so Sony's rumored to be considering dropping full frame camera bodies completely. The A900 is out of production, and the A850, while still available, is not currently in production either. No idea what Sony's going to do for a replacement. Thom has some very good guesses on his website so look him up if you want to know more.

This news makes my upcoming camera purchase decision just that much more difficult. Will there be any A900/A850 bodies I can buy? Will there be a better "D700" coming out this fall? Will the new Sony A700 replacement be of sufficient quality and construction to tempt me to an APS-C sensor of 15.2mp?

Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Still no new Sony A7XX?

Hmmmmm, I've read on a couple sites now that Sony might have something like an A950 coming down the pipe this fall, with a 32MP EXMOR sensor. I wonder if that will be the new "back-lit" design that the Sony technology newletter was talking about?

Sony, if you happen to ever read this blog (unlikely) I'd sure appreciate an A900 body with the sensor from the Nikon D3/D700 cameras. That's it. That's all I need. If you're feeling the urge to be competitive, you could stretch it to 14 or 15MP on a full-frame sensor, but don't do that if you're going to dramatically increase image noise.

Thatisall. You are dismissed! LOL!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nikon D300 focusing system flaw?

After working with my camera for the last 4 days I have to ask; does the Nikon D300's AF system have a focusing flaw? If I shoot my Nikon 50mm f1.4D from f1.4 to f2.0 (one and a half stops) it will consistently focus ahead of the point of aim (POA for shorthand). At 2.2 it's reasonably sharp for its very shallow depth of field (DOF). From f2.5 and on up, it's fantastic! Now that I have the AF system placing the point of focus and POA together at the sensor plane I can finally see some terrific results at wider apetures. Prior to my readjustment, f5 or f5.6 was the minimum I could use on my big Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 lens. Forget about f2.8-f3.5... they don't exist! Now, however, even f3.2 is on the mark, though just a tad soft. I was practicing in the middle of the day. In low light I'm sure f3.2 would be fine.

But this leads me to the great "focus shift" or "aperture shift" question... Is the D300 flawed? I get the same behavior with two high-quality, wide-apeture lenses. One is just a D lens, but it's a well-respected, tack-sharp lens. The other is expensive because it's got big glass elements inside and zooms to 200mm. In my book, both should be useable all the way to their minimum apetures. Through the viewfinder, the images look sharp when focused (don't forget this is with the lens wide open) but when exposed, what you get at the imager varies wildly with changes in the f-stop. If you adjust the camera so that f1.4-2.0 is useable on the 50mm D lens, then the AF is massively pushed too far back at f5.6-f8. I've been doing this for four long days now, in the CA desert heat, confirming results on my laptop, and as sure as a bear craps in the woods, I can reproduce this one hundred percent of the time. I even know exactly how far to turn the AF mirror stop to make the point of focus walk closer or farther.

Now my "kit lens" an 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 lens will do just a little bit of this, but it's wide open values aren't as great as the f2.8 of the Sigma or the massive f1.4 of the Nikon D prime. The only other lens I have to try is a Tokina 12-24mm f4 which has to be "pushed" +20 in the AF Fine Tune setting even AFTER the AF system's been adjusted! It clearly has an issue which will probably require going in for service. Truthfully, I use this lens for precisely two photos with ever car photo shoot. I'm not going to miss it very much while it's away having its tiny electronic brain fiddled with. Besides, it does actually work at +20 and f4, and I gain a ton of depth of field at f8 to f11, so it's not really troubling me. It's the 50mm and the big Sigma I use ninety percent of the time.

So why does the D300 do this? I originally bought a 50mm f1.8 for this body back in 2008, and sold it in 2009 because it had this same trait. I thought it was just a flaw with that Chinese-made plasticky-cheap Nikon lens. Has anyone else noticed this with their D300 or D700 (which uses the same AF system)?

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone!

File this under Camera Gripes v3.0: Eye-start auto-focusing... Not something you really think about if you don't have it. The camera starts focusing when you squeeze the shutter button down, right? Well, have you ever thought about the motion this induces into the camera body? Probably not. I hadn't, until I was trying to reset my Nikon D300's AF system, and was shooting a ton of photo each day with my big, heavy Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 lens attached. That's quite a handful on the already-stout D300 body! Squeezing down on the shutter with tired fingers, by the third day I was noticing a dramatic amount of camera shake. That's when it dawned on me, Minolta knew this years ago! My 700si film body has it. My Konica-Minolta 7D digital camera had it. I just didn't think it was something I'd really miss all that much. Guess what? I do. I really do miss it. I'm tired of my hands hurting from gripping this heavy body while squeezing a shutter button at a wierd angle (it's the right angle for fingers, but the wrong angle for camera shake) or having to squeeze the AF-ON button on the back of the camera. Eye-start was bloody brilliant!

And there's STILL no word from Sony about a replacement for the A700. Yes I've seen the photos and vids of the camera from the PMAs. It looks nice, but a bit underwhelming. For once it would be fantastic if Sony produced that body for the "pro-sumer APS-C" crowd, and unleased a full-frame-with-pop-up-flash body for the pros who'd like to use the Minolta wireless flash system. That Minolta system DOES work better than the Nikon variant, I must say honestly. More range, more control, easier activation, no hidden menus in each flash unit. I can see advantages to both systems though.

Am I going to be stuck buying a Sony A900 when my taxes come in next February? 24MP is enticing, but unnecessary compared to a light- and color-sensitive FF sensor like the D700 has. Doesn't Sony want to be in that market or do they have some sort of "exclusive" deal with Nikon for a sensor that they themselves produce?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Life's little irritations!

Politics: Get off GW Bush's back, everyone. He had a Dem Congress since 2006 (currently the lowest approval rating of any Congress ever!), and all of this country's fiscal problems can be traced directly to Democrat-enacted laws and policies. Democrats control the bankrupt states, and bankrupt cities and yet, somehow Obama got elected by promising "Change". He has totally failed to deliver "Change" from the crap which has gotten us into the hole we're in. He promised no new taxes, budget cuts, pay-as-you-go, pre-bill-signing "sunlight" periods, and has reneged on all of these promise so far. Obama fans, how long will you continue carrying the water for this embarrassment of a President?

Sony: Get off your conceited butts and deliver a full-frame replacement for the A700 already! Geez! The KM 7D was a brilliant camera which was released about two years too late to save Konica-Minolta. You are continuing that disastrous trend. The A750 needs to be released TODAY in order to compete with the Nikon D700 and whatever Canon makes in the cheap full-frame market. Oh wait, neither Canon nor Nikon make a "cheap" full frame camera anymore, unless the Nikon F6 can be counted.

On focusing: Why is it so difficult to have a camera which focuses properly 100% of the time. With tiny viewfinders and no cross-prism focusing aids, it's impossible to hand-focus a DSLR. AF systems need to recognize this fact and step up the game!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Camera Gripes, V 2.0

Newbies shoot in bright sunlight, and overexpose everything. Pros want to shoot in as low a light level as they can possibly get, and want to underexpose to create "mood". Newbies outnumber professionals by at least 10:1, if not more. As a result, we get the Sony a550; a camera which answers none of the questions that professionals ask while solving problems newbies never knew they even had.

Sony, where's the A700 replacement and will it have the full-frame sensor you make for the D700, and a handy pop-up flash so it can control the wireless flash system?

On the other end of Sony's schizophrenic lineup is the A850/A900 cameras. So close in specs that they might as well be the very same camera, yet one sells for $1900 and the other for $2699. Neither one will control the wireless flash system. Just a hint guys, Minolta built film cameras for at least two DECADES with full-size viewfinders which could control the wireless flash system!

So, please build a full-frame 12.4 MP camera with pop-up wireless flash control! Soon!

Monday, June 7, 2010

So things are hectic with 3 kids here...

Yeah, my blog's become like an orphan lately. There's really no good excuse I can offer except to say by the time 9 PM rolls around each day, I'm fairly well exhausted. The kids just suck energy right out of you with their needs, whining, and constant messes. When they smile it's heavenly. When they scream it's ear-shattering, and not conducive to coherent writing. Ah well, there will have to be some changes happening this summer, that's for certain. With all three kids and my wife home all day long, my nerves will be toast!

In other news, oil is still leaking into the Gulf. (C'mon BP, get your act together before Obama bans all oil-fueled devices!) Helen Thomas just got herself canned by being incredibly-insensitive to Israel's desire not to be bombed into oblivion by neighboring arab populations. I saw a great quote the other day. "If Musims laid down their weapons, there would be peace. If Israelis laid down their weapons, there'd be no Israel." Fact: rockets were shipped by Iran to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Fact: Hamas bombed civilian populations in Israel with these rockets. Where's the condemnation for that? Israeli commandos boarded a ship running a legitmate maritime blockade of WEAPONS; all other aid gets through to Hamas and the Gazans.

In acts of unbetold transparency, the Obama White House has offered positions to at least two individuals running in Federal elections. That's a big-time felony, but will it ever be investigated? Nope. Making this even better is the fact that Rep. Sestak wasn't eligible to hold the "non-paying advisory position" on the WH security council because he's a sitting politician! So were they simply stupid, or did they offer him a sweeter, paying position in the WH, and he told them where to stick it? Are they lying about it now? They cannot blast him in the media though because NOW that he beat Arlen Specter in the Dem Primary, they need him to win that seat. He's going to run on an anti-Obama platform this fall. Just watch and see...

Obama went to PA last week, and only one politician came out to meet him at the airport. Heh. Sarah Palin goes ANYWHERE and people flock from all over to hear her speak, including politicians! Heh! November will be fun.

Baby Jack's now 5 months old, and eating constantly. I've never seen a child eat so often at 5 months old. No, he's still not sleeping through the night, as much as I'd like him to start doing that very soon. My wife Betsy's just happy she gets to go through a summer without being pregnant for the first time in two year! Yes, we live in a desert, and yes, summers are predictably miserable. Evidently they're worse if you're pregnant, or so she says. LOL

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New month, new post!

Ah ha! April is here, and with it, warm spring weather in the desert. Just a few months away from the start of the summer Monsoon season! Yay! Okay, so I do enjoy lightning storms. So sue me.

On another note, my business is finally picking up again. There's the Formula Drift opening round to shoot in Long Beach this coming weekend, the Full Race R14 to shoot next week, more cars in LA being finished currently, and the 25th anniversary of the Fabulous Fords show in LA on April 25th (I don't think that's a coincidence). Must "write like the wind" now! Heh.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Going to Buttonwillow Raceway

I'm off to the track this weekend. Unfortunately, not behind the wheel of a fun car. I'll be shooting other peoples' fun cars. Not fun. Work, truthfully. I'm hoping it won't be too hot, and that I can avoid serious sunburn while there.

On a happier note, my baby boy, Jack, has doubled in weight since his birth January 4th! Way (weigh?) to go, Jack!

Obamacare or Else!

Well, they've passed it, but is it Constitutional? Can the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution be used to FORCE someone to participate in commerce under the penalty of taxes or jail time? It all depends on who you're asking. Liberals see no problem with government expansion into this facet of their lives. Conservatives have a huge problem with it, and want nothing to do with being forced to buy anything.

Disingenously, Dems are claiming that this is like having to purchase car insurance. No one is forced to buy a car. Likewise, no one is forced to drive. You can own a car WITHOUT having a driver's license, and simply never drive it. You can have a driver's license and never own a car. It is the ACT of driving the car on the road which requires insurance, and that happens to be a STATE requirement in order to protect anyone you might hit with your car while driving. So, being forced to purchase insurance, for no other reason other than being alive in the United States today is like being required (by a State) to have valid insurance in the event you wreck and cause serious harm to someone else's life or property. Um, that doesn't compute, guys. Try again.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Do Democrats "Get It"?

I don't think that they do. Several members of the House and the Senate have gone on record last night and this morning, after Scott Brown's historic victory, and have said that they need to "rethink the health care bill". That's not what I heard voters saying in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts. That's not what the tea party rally in Washington DC, in front of the Capitol building said when we filled the streets and the Memorial grounds with bodies holding signs. We didn't say "go back to the drawing board". We said "NO"!

Perhaps it's something in the liberal mindset which prevents them from connecting with the people they seek to rule? It's the old "we're better educated, better funded, and more experienced, so we'll tell you what to do" approach. And guess what? It's just been rejected thrice.

I'm sure a wiser man than I could draw a lengthy parable about Jesus and Peter's thrice-heard denial, and the the rejection of the policies of Barack Obama by the independents, and some conservative Blue-Dog Democrats. I won't.

I don't simply want Barack Obama to fail. I want him to go away, and take his Socialism with him. I think the people of Massachusetts feel the same way. I'm beginning to suspect that the Dems in both Houses of Congress might soon share this view too.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Climate Change: When It's Cold, It's Hot!

Winning the award, by a mile, for the stupidest "Climate Change Claim" I've ever heard has to be "All of this cold is due to Global Warming." Now, for those who follow the AGW craze, you already know that warm ocean currents control our climate. This is nothing new. Al Gore and his minions have all claimed that we've been warming the oceans, melting the ice caps, and causing unusually-severe weather world-wide.

Only we haven't. Yes, the El Nino/La Nina swings from warm to cool in the Pacific do drive changes in the Jet Stream, but it has always done this, and likely always will. Just because we've recently learned about a process doesn't mean it hasn't been doing it for years. But, according to AGW scientists, apparently THIS winter's Modiki (Japanese for "different") El Nino is not in the same location as past El Nino's were. So the Jet Stream has changed position wildly, bringing stinging cold and snowstorms to the US.

The AGW nuts are chanting "See, we told you so!" They're claiming "extreme weather" because, lately, there just hasn't been much of that. No crazy Category 6 hurricanes. No "Night of the Twister" tornado outbreaks. Just lots of cold air blowing down from the northlands. They're claiming this "cold" is because we're just "too hot".

I have observed, in my life, that it is the Sun which warms us. No Sun, no warmth. Now, if the Sun happens to be doing something funky (and it is at the moment, with the lowest solar output since we've been monitoring it) it would be prudent to perhaps examine the relationship between the Sun and the warmth on this planet.

Naw, that would just be too easy.

Here's my theory... As the Sun's output (and solar wind) has dropped, the upper atmosphere has contracted significantly. It's gone from 400 miles deep down to about 250 or so. Don't quote me on the exact figures. Sure the Sun's output has gone lower, but now the light has less depth to bounce through, and diffracts less, possibly warming the mid-latitude oceans more. Translation? Hot summers still, and freaky winter weather caused by the length of time it takes the ocean to cool back down as winter comes on. The El Nino pools cause the jet stream to go crazy, and it's the Jet Stream's path which scooped up the cold and brought it south. The Pacific is in a cool PDO (look it up) phase, as is the Atlantic's AMO too. This, if the sun continues to heat the oceans in the same way next year, could lead to a repeat of this year's winter.

And a general cooling trend for the planet overall. Hey, I didn't say it was a great theory, but it's miles better than saying "AGW causes harsh winters"!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Hubris of Mankind

It dawned on me the other day that we really have not seen what sort of weather this planet is capable of unleashing. How do I know this? I'm not a "climateologist" or highly-trained meterologist. I'm just an orginary guy, not that much different from the rest. So, what makes me so certain that we haven't seen the whole picture yet? Three words; ice core data.

You see, in case you didn't know this, we've been drilling cores of ice out of the ground in Antarctic and Greenland for years. Each year's new layer of ice tells us a great deal about the climate of the Earth, going back millions of years. It's, in fact, the ONE reason we should know that we have nothing to fear from the "global warming craze". This link reveals some interesting charts:

Forget the 800-year lag in CO2 results, that's just a red herring. Look instead at the temperature. The bottom of the page shows the entire 420,000 year record from the 1998 Vostok ice cores (Vostok is the Russion Antarctic station near the South Pole). Notice how the temperature goes up briefly every 100,000 years? There's a total of 5 peaks on the graph, including our own brief modern history in the last 8,000 years. The peaks are ALL warmer than out modern phase! Every single interglacial period has been AS WARM or SIGNIFICANTLY WARMER. They've also always been followed by a rapid decline in temperatures once more. Always.

So... to sum this up succinctly. The last 8,000 years have been an unusual abberation in our climate. All of the weather patterns we've observed in the history of mankind have been a part of this abberation. If each interglacial period is roughly 10k years in length, and there have been five in the last 420k years, then we've not witnessed 370,000 years worth of weather patterns which CAUSE ice ages.

Yet, somehow, we're supposed to believe that we're the "kings of the Earth" as far as weather and climate predictions go? I do believe that we're in for a very rude awakening some day.