Thoughts on the Nikon DF

Having just picked up a DF and playing with it a bit I venture to say what happens on gear is we sometimes get very wrapped up in specs, and that’s perfectly fine because that’s a lot of peoples thing in having and debating the best specs.

However, then there comes a time also where people who make pictures get past the specs and make use of the gear. I’ll get chided but its my belief that great photographers don’t need great cameras to make great images, the cameras are mere tools that can help. I believe photography is more about the minds eye, vision and execution.

I would like to see more reviews from people that actually go out and make images with these cameras, and I don’t always mean pros, I mean people like you and I who see themselves as hobbyist that buy semi-pro gear for the love and passion of photography.

What I can tell you that I saw yesterday in digging deeper into reviews and then looking at real pictures is the D4 sensor rocks! Seriously, its only the sensor in Nikons flagship camera right? And as an added benefit, you don’t have to deal with all the pixels if you don’t need them and the DF works perfectly fine for most shooting that people like me would go out and do.

I say this tongue in cheek as I do have a D810 coming, probably early next month, so I will check back in at that time and tell you how I feel about using the two. While my D700 replacement ended up being rather expensive, two cameras, I am going to guess that since I always keep two cameras anyways, I will be just fine.

Lol, it must have been my lucky day as I got two used primes fresh off the street from a widow of a photographer that the shop sold me with the camera that I had been looking at, a 50 1.4 and 85 1.8, they looked brand spanking new. I need to sell off my D700 now, yup, the DF in just a day got me over it with also knowing I have the pixel machine on the way as well.

Incidentally, while a little awkward, if you aver shot an old film body from Nikon, you’ll quickly find your way with a Nikon DF.  My own experience goes back to my childhood where in my teens I got a Nikon FG. In the early 2000’s I ended up going through lots of digital bodies, each with an open mind and a focus on image making and not so much specs and gear. In short this is my first retro body and I was shooting pics in minutes after charging the battery.

I didn’t have any troubles being able to change settings while looking through the view finder as has been reported in several places. The hollerings I have read all over the internet seem a bit dramatic in my humble opinion. The menus are all Nikoness so there really isn’t any issues there either.

The DF seems like a very easy to use camera with a world class sensor in it, so its funky wrapper I think might be swaying people away from trying one. Even the build quality ramblings seem exaggerated to me as the cameras feels light and substantial in the hands.

My advice to D700 owners in search of a replacement is to go try some of these new cameras, I will guess that you won’t be nearly as disappointed as some of the ramblings make it out to be, my own included at times. I really didn’t want the retro body, had handled one and quickly dismissed it as a viable option. As I said, some real digging and review of images what I saw was in the right hands the DF sensor has that magic that some sensors have had in the past. It reminds me of the D2X sensor except for it obviously has evolved in noise performance.

I think I only have two negative comments so far, the grip is a little strenuous with a heavier lens, so if any DF owners can point me to a nice protective case that doesn’t add weight but does dress it up and make it more comfortable, please let me know.

The other is the power button, a minor gripe.  Having owned 9 other DSLRs you can get rather flexible about bodies, controls ect. That leaves me taking the rather unpopular view that the DF is a perfectly fine camera. I didn’t need to tune any of my lenses so far either.

Here are some of my first DF images, light was rather poor this morning so I was on Auto ISO and some of these are in the 1600-3200 range. These are also web reductions obviously, also, in my opinion, the 39 Point AF seems to have worked fine on these which regrettably all had to be handheld.

I have taken to morning outings on my way to work to scour up photo opportunities,  on this morning  I captured a few. these two were fun to capture… These will be better next time, composition needs a little work and I have some ideas for the next go around.

Looks like if I nail focus the Sigma 50-500 can hold up to the DF sensor.  The first is ISO 320 and the second is 1600.

The DF so far has been a highly fun and capable camera, it pairs well with older lenses as well, I have been using a 18 F/3.5 Manual and a 28 F/2.8 Manual lens and having lots of fun.  The 50 F/1.4 and 85 F/1.8 also work very well on this body.

Your not limited to older lenses by any means, I have used newer ones as well like the Tamron SP 24-70 F/2.8 VC and Nikon 105 F/2.8 VR with wonderful success as well.

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The lake shot is with a Sigma 12-24 ED ASP F/4.5-5.6 lens.  It perhaps shows the best color from the DF as many of these others were not shot in the best of light!

The DF is a very fun and intriguing camera with a truly magic sensor in it and I look forward to many many wonderful pictures with it!

Try one out at your local store, see for yourself!

Mark

Posted in Talking Gear Tagged |

The Abandon House

This post is a work in progress, and there are more photos to come. You can click on the pictures to enlarge them and then use the back button on your browser to continue the story and to the next picture.

In taking to an old habit of spelunking for photo opportunities in the Kansas countryside I found an abandon home.  What follows is a little different approach for me, a series of photos with just a small story to go with them.

I hope you enjoy!

Mark

 

There is always a certain sadness to these wrecks  and a sense of amazement of how things are left behind.

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I could tell that this home had not been left well, or at least by its last occupants who may have even been drifters.

Walking up the porch you could hear the house creaking, and of course, I really had no idea if the house was truly empty, or even safe to enter.  It was rather a bit in the middle of nowhere, off a famous auto tour highway nearby.

There is an element of danger walking into an abandon home.  You do not know who or what you will find inside!

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Peaking in through the broken window I could see various messes strewn here and there, literally piles of some family’s past.

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They way it was left makes me wonder, piles in the far corner, random items left on a cabinet, the place was emptied in large part, but then this minimal subset of unwanted items left behind.

The entryway showed days of past grandeur, all chipped and rotted away now!

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Further down there was the kitchen window and a quick peek inside before turning around and entering the house.

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Leaning in a little more …

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A step inside, a fly strip full of the dead, a buzzing sound!

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A book, some ointment, dominoes and then a paint can!  This made a interesting scene even though it defied the realm of what seemed nonsensical.

It was a mystery as to why these things were left as they were and who once used them!

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A toy pistol lay at the foot of the stairs, just to the left, wanton of a child to run about shooting at imaginary villains.   Maybe the villain this time was life and got the best of this family.

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As compelling as it was, I did not venture up the stairs, I just wasn’t sure how stable the house really was and of course, I was uninvited.

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The windows were all broken up, I was amazed that the house did not smell more of water damage and rot.

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Doors simply ripped from their doorways and strewn upon the floor with other rubble.

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The floor was covered in wood dust, lifes little unwanted leftovers, doors, moldings and all sorts of other things.

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This was may have been at one time a vibrant farm home, with a warped lower standing barn in its backyard and open land out its windows.  On the ledge there in the lower left hand corner sat an open ACDC CD Cover beside a bottle of 409 cleaner, no CD, just laying there perhaps as someone just stared out the window and thought about the music.

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In the next window, a weather tattered bible rest quietly upon the window ledge.

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And back to the first pile I saw upon taking my first peak into the window, the assorted remains of some life past!

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The kitchen was a mess, almost the scene of some pent up anger, with trash and cupboard contents randomly spatter about!

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As you can see there were assorted eclectic food items left, cans, and a heap of trash on the floor and counters.  Spilled beans, 1/4 full bottle of maple pancake syrup.

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The doorway to the basement.

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A peak down the basement stairs, no, not today, not with the condition of this house!

 

Technical Notes

These pictures were taken by two different cameras I entered the house with, The D810 and the Df.  The idea was for a mixture of low light and high resolution possibilities.  The D810 was equipped with a Samyang 14mm F/2.8 lens while the Df sported a Sigma 12-24 ED ASP F/4.5-56 lens.

I will have to return to this house at some point, explore the top and bottom floors and perhaps capture it with a new eye!

House Gallery:

 

Posted in Making Photos Tagged |

The Local Lake

One of the harder aspects of many budding photographers is finding photo opportunities.   This won’t be a long lecture on making things happen, more of an antidote about making images from our everyday surroundings.

I once believed a great photographer could take any subject and turn it into a great photograph.   A fire hydrant, mailbox or something so simple as a pencil, all potential masterpieces to the photographer with the right mindset and sense of art.  This is a hard position to take as it really puts the burden on the photographer verses the subject.  While its true that many a would be photographers have made poor photographs of tremendous subjects, a great subject sure doesn’t seem to hurt!

We never seem satisfied with our own neck of the woods, many say those proverbial words, if I could only go here, or only find this, then I could make great photos.  They are all roadblocks for a person of ordinary means and one will spend far more time focused on what they don’t and can’t have verses what lay before their eyes.

Enter my local lake, its about 2 miles or less from my house.  Its partially residential and partially a small park.   its just big enough that some water foul occupy its banks and since its man made, there are some trees just submerging from its waters that Heron like to perch upon at times.   I have found passing by the certain overlooks that I might be able to photograph some of these herons.  So far the opportunity has afforded me one picture as I would like it with three to four more future possibilities.  It will take the right morning, weather, wind and a cooperative Heron to perch in these spots.   They will be very nice photos when they happen though and so the work is in the chase for now!

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Speaking of Herons and that lake, here is another hap chance.  This is actually a spillway, however, the heron at its top greatly takes notice away from the man made falls.

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In one of its corners is a little access point, a small trash laden path (carefree polluters) and an extraordinary singular view that makes a great landscape.

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When I saw this spot the first time I started to make some pictures and was extremely please upon returning home and reviewing them.  There was potential here and I wanted to tap into it.  This first shot above was from that first visit and it also inspired a vision of catching this when the weather afforded me the right clouds.  I stop here on my morning loop to see if things are right.

Below is the best it has gotten, however, I do have one more better picture of it I can make in my mind.  I had to pick up the trash on the little path for these to get it cleaned up to complete the vision.  Yes, good photos take work of all kinds!

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I hope to get the puffy kind of clouds we get that look like cotton balls in this same light with little to no wind disturbing the waters.  And that is how I will turn a local lake hidden spot into my one of a kind masterpiece.  Well, in my own mind I will! :)

What are you waiting for, go find those spots, work them, make your own magic and pictures you’ll be proud of and cherish for years to come.  There will be extra satisfaction in knowing you worked for them as well!

Till next time!

Mark

Posted in Making Photos Tagged |

Let the light in again!

Its a new life, a new day and time to make images again!

After a very long hiatus, I have returned to one of my favorite passions in life that began at age 9 with a simple Kodak Instamatic 110 camera.

Today I shoot Nikon Digital SLRs and am re-immersing myself back into the fold again with new ideas with both new and old subjects.

I used to drive the Kansas country side for hours exploring back roads and photo opportunities.   There were countless thousands of photos, many which  honestly were junk as I explored my passion somewhat aimlessly.  In retracing some of those roads I am amazed at the structures and places that are changed and or are no more!  Some of those pictures may have been the only or last of what once was and is no longer.

Most good photographs I have made I felt and had a vision for and these days I take a mere fraction of the photos I used to concentrating on ideas and refinement rather than quantity.

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I have been here a few times finally returning this time to catch a sunrise in the cradle of its bent branch.  These are always fun moments when you are behind the lens and making a picture.

Of course there are always photos that arise from opportunity like this one below walking out my front door.

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Seldom are these photos perfect as they arise more out of chance than design, still though, they can truly be fun, emotional and rewarding.

I hope you’ll find the mix of thoughts and images here interesting and entertaining, although, I will be honest in that I am capturing this all for myself rather than public consumption as a primary goal.  Its fun to see how one thought and how those thoughts and how the images change!

You can see some of my older work in the Older Work Gallery here.

Thanks for visiting!

Mark

Posted in Making Photos Tagged |