Thursday, June 14, 2012
Heh. I just saw that I had 177 page views last month. Thom Hogan's ByThom.com website probably generates more than that every ten minutes! If you need to know more about the Nikon cameras, he is da man! I have to publicly thank him for help in diagnosing my Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX DG HSM OS issues last week. It turns out my three-month-old lens lost all of its internal programming. It went from focusing on-point all of the time to requiring +5 AF Fine Tune at 85mm and 100mm, and -15 at 200mm! C.R.I.S. Camera in Chandler, Arizona is now looking at it under warranty. I expect to have an update on it today. Hopefully it doesn't require parts (AF module) from Sigma, but I fear that will be the case. When an electronic device loses its internal pre-programmed memory for some unknown reason, it is almost a sure bet that simply stuffing the programming back in will not work. My first Sigma 70-200mm lens did the same thing, and the work order from Sigma indicated they had to replace the module. I do find it interesting that the lens can be programmed to automatically correct for front/rear focus issues. This suggests to me that there is an internal group of elements which has its own small motor drive, which is used to tune the lens on a sliding scale from 70mm to 200mm. Maybe with a zero point at 105mm or something like that. I'm truthfully not sure how they do it but I find it fascinating! I also want it to work properly from now on. There's not much worse than getting home from a single day car show and finding out that some of your shots that you thought were fine were instead complete garbage. It is hard to make a living that way.
So today we get newly leaked D600 photos... Where's the D400? Where's the 24mp, 8fps, weather-sealed, magnesium body D400 with its EXMOR-R technology-enhanced sensor? I want the low chroma noise of the D800 in a DX sensor with the pixel density of a 54mp FX sensor, Nikon! Oh, and you can leave off the AA filter at that resolution for a super-crisp image. I'm waiting, Nikon! Was the D400 being stored downstairs at the Sendai factory? Were boxes and boxes of them (or their component parts) trashed by the tsunami in March 2011? I figured that this Sendai-built body would have appeared by now. Then again, the Sony A77 took a much longer time to appear after the earthquake then I thought it would. It is only just available now, and I expected it before Christmas last year, just like the D400. After seeing just how much low ISO shadow detail can be recovered from the EXMOR-R sensor in the D800, and how litle chroma noise is evident in the images, I am genuinely interested in both the D600 and the D400. C'mon Nikon! Show us your hand!
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
I forgot to note in my last post the issues with simply buying a new camera right now. 1. The D300S is long in the tooth and only has 12mp. It also may be plagued by the same AF sensor degradation issue I'm having now. 2. The Canon 7D is attractive, but has been on the market for a while and is due for a replacement very soon. Buying one now would simply leave me with a competent-yet-obsolete body I'd have to use for the net three or four years. Plus, I'd have to buy lenses and flashes for it. 3. The new Sony A77 is brilliant in some areas, and not so brilliant in others. Panning at the full frame rate would be difficult due to the EVF blackout. The aggressive noise reduction could be a problem too. 24 megapixels would be nice on a DX sensor, but shorter battery life would not be appreciated at all. And then there's the need to buy very good glass to make the most of the sensor's resolution. 4. New cameras are on the way from Nikon. Everyone knows this. Therefore buying a D300S or D700 now would result in a HUGE dent in resale value even as early as next year. Buying something else would lock me into having to use that camera for a few years in order to cost-justify the purchase (aside from the obvious need since my current body has this AF issue). That means when the new cameras do arrive this fall, I would be unable to purchase one of them (the D400 or D600) again leaving me behind the times in terms of resolution and other improvements. This is a very frustrating conundrum...
In further testing, I have confirmed that my D300 body only shoots three or four properly-focused pictures for every ten that I attempt. This even with shooting at a high enough ISO, shutter speed, and using only the one central AF point. This issue masks itself with shorter focal length lenses because the distance between proper focus and out-of-focus areas isn't as great as it is with my Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX DG HSM OS lens. Clearly, this is an issue with the AF sensor and as such, cannot be resolved by further adjustments of the AF and main mirrors. Since the D400 and D600 have yet to be announced, prices have not dropped on used D300S or D700 models. The wonderful D800 is so far above the D700 as to be in a class all of its own; its release has not really affected the D700 prices as much as I'd hoped. The Sony A77 looks encouraging, but reports of an overly-aggressive noise reduction element in the programming scares me a little. I like to work with JPGS and not RAW files as it eases my workload and makes me more profitable, and having overly-soft JPGS would be discouraging. Also, I'd have to change lenses again, something I REALLY don't want to do. So c'mon Nikon, get your act in gear and get these new cameras out on the market soon!