8.22.2016

post-Olympics silver

I compete with no one when I use cameras.. well perhaps with myself, as I have owned so many cameras in the past several years. Do they give out medals for that?  I am probably not top-10 in any case so -- never mind.

Anyway.
Financial pressure is substantially less now on our household, yet going full-bore with $2500 in camera gear is not something I can justify. However, the K-3ii in silver spoke to me rather strongly, and now I have responded. This is a major step forward in capabilities, and hopefully I can both understand and make good use of these additional features.


image from ricoh-imaging.co.jp
What are those additional features?
  • improved SR of ~4.5 stops for steadier, sharper images
  • 24Mpix sensor for additional detail
  • removed AA/lowpass filter, but with SR-based remedies for too much sharpness
  • composite multiple-exposure mode with several ways to accumulate light
  • inbuilt GPS / AstroTracer subsystem
  • PixelShift 'true color' mode, with motion correction available on my computer
  • 24 AF points for more precise tracking, three f/2.8 AF points and -3EV capture
  • multi-pattern white balance, focus peaking and 'improved' video capabilities
No doubt a few more items are in there as well that I'm overlooking.  The big ones to me are lack of AA filter, composite multi-exposure, PixelShift abilities, and better captures of astronomy shots after dark & moving birds in the daytime.

So: a silver camera with black grip. That sounds a lot like my 1970s and '80s cameras in the time when only Pros used all-black bodies. The digital era reversed that trend for no particular reason, and silver is now the rarity. Pentax has issued several of their high-end cameras in silver and one in gunmetal grey (plus their mid- and low-end models in 120+ color combinations, of course!) but this will be my first 'special'; this one commemorates Ricoh's seventy years in photography (ironically the Ricoh nameplate on the back is gone on the II model!).

image from ricoh-imaging.co.uk
Silver lenses are as rare as the bodies nowadays. Pentax makes several lenses in a similar silver color, most especially their Limited models. The black ones tend to be less expensive on the used market though, so I've contemplated the appropriate lens for some weeks once the silver body looked likely.  This evening I found the ideal match, a 20-40 Limited zoom. While the HD 16-85 does more overall it's also more bulk and can do things I don't need as often, so the silver 20-40 plus the 50-200wr that I have in hand will do very nicely as an imaging trio.

I owned the 20-40 briefly last year - and I liked it quite a bit. 
The image I took of Lake Sacagawea on that post is very nice for both colors and sharpness.  Despite the modern view of things, maximum sharpness from edge to edge does not guarantee an excellent image. Limited lenses have always stressed image character as a balanced item, with color contrast sharpness and physical attributes all having their place. This lens will perform very well on the new camera, and the silver pairing will be quite a sight! While I don't buy cameras to win medals (as I mentioned earlier), I am willing to answer questions from onlookers - and a camera with such a distinctive look could provide a few questions.


8.19.2016

timetable shift!



As I mentioned in this pentax-forums post, I needed to accelerate my next-camera timetable today.

I planned to update my camera gear around Christmas-time.  First thoughts were a K-3 but the news that pixel-shift images can be corrected with computer software moved me toward the model II instead.  When I learned that silver bodies were available at the Pentax webstore, I was certain I had chosen my next camera..  and the last one for quite a while!


Then it struck me today.  Pentax seldom makes a lot of silver bodies, and when they run out it's over.
Sure enough, websites aplenty announced this was a limited run of 500 to commemorate Ricoh's eighty years in the camera business - and assuming those would last until December just wasn't a safe bet.

So it ends.
All my recent work to acquire some big-ticket items is done, and especially camera gear needs to settle for several months.
  • I sought out smaller cameras and ended up with a GM1 and the YoCam
  • I sought out a new vehicle for our rural home and found a used Ford Expolrer SportTrac
  • We replaced washer, dryer & refrigerator with efficient new Samsung models
  • The dream of a Pentax K-1 became a more practical but similarly impressive APSc option -
  • and we paid down a bunch of debt!
Now to figure out how to delete those ads for used cars and K-1 cameras..

tiny white cameras

A trio of little white cameras are here now: the GM1 
(shown here with 9mm fisheye 'body-cap' lens), YoCam and Motorola cellphone. 

Image taken with my HUUUGE K∙50.



Each has its place. I really dislike cell phone cameras, but a visit to Mt. St.Helens forced me to give it a workout. In HDR mode images were okay, somewhat - though the brightening haloes in some shots were really annoying. It's definitely the emergency camera.

The YoCam is the miniscule adventure camera. It can do HD+ video, still shots, live feed to the phone (e.g. backup cam for the car), and go 30 feet underwater.  I must test this before we go anywhere important, but for unusual shooting it definitely has its place. Its wide angle f/2 lens is handy too.

The GM1 is smaller than our old Q, most especially with this lens attached - yet it has a full 4Thirds sensor inside, no pinkie-fingernail sensor here. It will be a challenge to adapt to an advanced camera so small, but the touchscreen can handle most of the controls.

Why are they all white ones?  Simply because I'm tired of black (phone, YoCam) and the used GM1 came this way. I'd have taken red or some other shade if the choice were mine, as white items hide nearly as well as black inside a house with papers strewn about.

Oh wait, I forgot my wife's white NX300 - another shot coming soon, but I'll wait for her pancake 16mm lens to arrive later today!

8.14.2016

micro's last stand

I've tried and enjoyed the micro 4:3 gear, but it's clear that Pentax gear fits my hand and brain just right. I've tried Lumix at least 3 times, and recently gave Oly gear a full workout. Since the NX300 is my wife's clear choice I let all that go, so we're pretty locked down for small-body big-sensor imaging.

from imaging-resource review
 A post recently spread around about the demise of the Lumix GM series. It's since been clarified to mean that Panasonic is redefining the product lines and only the letters "GM" may be demising. Anyway, the GM is truly as tiny as can be with the 4:3 sesnor, and especially when paired with the 12-32m, owners have really liked it.

As I was unable to sell all of my micro gear, a used GM1 is coming soon in order to make use of the 'spare parts'. It can be the telescope cam (with my 1¼" eyepiece to m43 adapter), the ultra-tiny cam (with 9mm body-cap fisheye lens), and a true pocket camera.

I chose to skip is the 12-32mm collapsible lens though. It's wonderful and all that, but the 20mme difference for longer shots is too much to bear. I found a 14-42mm lens at a great price - but which one is it?? It was labeled as the 14-42 II, which I've tried and liked; the shipping order shows the X-Vario 14-42, another collapsible design that would be handier for pocket travel & also gets good reviews. I won't lose as either 14-42mm will serve nicely.

In Samsung news the 16-50 PZ now has a 50-200 III to keep it company, and the 16/2.4 will be here in a bit. Other than the 30/2 that should be enough fun for that setup. Easy to say, now prove it..

8.07.2016

playing with color - NX lenses

Samsung's NX system cranked out many great little primes before going dormant.  (Not that their zooms were bad, but I don't wish to lug around their fast zoom pair - the 16-50pz is just right though!) In the past I've owned the 16 20 and 30mm pancakes and found them to be talented lenses and handy enough to carry any time.

The other curious thing about Samsung is that they do several things similar to Pentax - and that includes colors!  Several bodies came with color options (the NX300 came in silver-trimmed black, brown and white) and other NX and NX-mini bodies also played with colors.  The fun part is that they made several lenses to match the bodies.

I didn't think of color-coded pancakes until my wife asked about a pink lens, and I showed her the NX 16/2.4 prime in a pearly pink. She thought it was cool, but I also showed her white and black primes like the 30/2.0 that many camera folk feel is the best of the pancake primes (they probably did not try Pentax Limiteds, but other than build the NX30 is excellent). We ordered a pink 16 - and now I think about a time when their 10mm fisheye and 30/2 join us. The 3 pancakes look almost identical.. but not if I buy each in a different color! That would force me to buy the 10mm next as it's the hardest to find, and its color would determine the 30's. Or we could just get the Samyang 7.5mm which is easy to distinguish!
  
our new 16/2.4 (via eBay) 30/20/16mm trio from B&H 2012 website

In Pentax news, no surprise: I was just outbid on a 20-40 Limited. I expect it to go over $420 before it's over (in 4 hours) which is too much right now for us to deal with.

Our next priority is not a lens but a heat-pump, which will both cool us in summers (well in typical summers, it's drizzling here now!) and will be a much more efficient heat source than our 1980s furnace. With a wood-stove to supplement in chilly weather, it's a nice set of choices.