|Photokina 2010 | Nikon D7000 | D7K Specs | Notes on Photokina | Pentax 645D | P645D Specs|
Yup!, I’ve been off of the radar for quite a while. We spent most of September in Amsterdam, to meet my first grandchild (and what a grandchild!!), hook up with the family and do all of the tourist-stuff I’d never ever had even dreamed about when I was still living there.
Would you believe that I did not have ANY pictures of my home town in my portfolio? Well, that’s been corrected:
|The houseboat we rented on the Singel Canal|
|Café Hoppe - since 1670. The barman has been there as long as I can remember.|
|Windmills on my mind. Zaanse Schans - Zaandam|
(More pictures here and on my Flickr photostream)
When we were there the last time, in December 2005, I was really set back about the state of the city, but now I’ve fallen back in love again; head-over-heels, may I add.
We rented a lovely house boat on the Singel canal (thanks, Jørn), close to the Dam and Central Station, at the very heart of the city. What a place!
Early in the morning you can see a continuous stream of cyclists, literally, racing by along the canal on their way to work.
The chatter of the tourists, the riquetitac of their suitcases on the bricks of the sidewalk, the girl in the window next door – ignored by everyone, except the Johns – the puk-puk-puk of the small and large boats passing by on the canal, the singing, glass-smashing drunks at the waterhole on the corner, the ringing bells of the nearby churches and the permanent, soft lap of the water made this the perfect place for us to stay.
Amsterdam is a great – if not the best – city I know for walking around, and boy!, did we walk. With everything interesting at walking distance, we went from one attraction to the next and just kept on walking, Johnny.
As said: I had never done Amsterdam “the tourist way”. As a result, I came home with some 3.000 takes of everything more or less worth seeing, and then some.
We also took a day-trip with my son-in-law to Cologne for – both – our first Photokina.
For starters, anybody who goes to trade fairs on a regular basis, knows that cameras are generally a no-no, but not in Cologne, they’re not.
|Mathieu at the entrance of the Koeln Messe|
You won’t believe the amount of gear everybody is dragging around, not for any other purpose than showing off – say I – because at the fair itself there is nothing much to shoot, except for the occasional contest out on the surrounding terraces.
That said, walking around at Photokina without a camera would probably make you feel kind of under-dressed...
I brought the D200, the 18-200 Sigma and the SB-600, but – as far as the fair is concerned – even that is over-heavy.
We got out around four o'clock, to have some time left to put our gear through its real paces in the Cologne city-center, and before getting on the high-speed ICE train back to Amsterdam.
Brief hands-on of the Nikon D7000.
During our morning at the Koeln Messe, we worked our way through a lot of stands, like Canon, Linhof, Phase One, Sigma, Tokina and Lens-Baby – just to mention a few – before landing at the Nikon stand, where I had to elbow my way through a dense crowd to get my long-awaited “hands-on” with the D7000.
I immediately liked the camera. It is smaller than the D200 in weight and size, lies good in the hand and feels very solid thanks to the partially magnesium-alloy body.
The 39 focus points are the first thing that jump out when looking through the viewfinder: a mayor improvement over the 11 available on my D200 and the D7K's predecessor D90.
The camera is very responsive and AF is virtually immediate; although I know the mounted lens was AF-S, I do not recall which one. If you would have me guess, I'd say the 24-120.
Handling is very intuitive for anybody who has ever used a Nikon DSLR – all the right buttons at the right places – while I also liked the new, dedicated buttons for live view and video recording.
AF in video mode seems to work as promised, live view is instantaneous, and that is that for my extremely brief “hands-on preview of the D7K”, because there was an entire herd breathing heavily down my neck to put their own hands on it…
While I was fondling the camera in Germany, our friends at DxO – France – were doing their own, much less primal testing, ranking the D7000 ninth overall with a score of 80, making it the fifth Nikon in the DxO top-ten after the D3 series and the D700.
That turns it also into the first Nikon APS-C in the DxO top-10 ever, even if not the only DX, because Pentax also moved decidedly into the big-boy-league with their K-5, ranking sixth (DxO 82), well ahead of the D7K...
For more information on the D7000 download the product brochure here, the English manual here, and el manual en Español aquí.
IMPORTANT: the Nikon D7000 and D3100 are now supported in the Adobe Camera RAW 6.3 release candidate (CS5 ONLY). You can download it from the Adobe Labs Website, clicking here.
If you do not have CS5, you might want to consider getting the Adobe DNG converter 6.3 RC instead (available as a separate download from the same link). DNG files open in all versions of Photoshop since CS1.
For more information, go here.
Nikon D7000, core specs:
• Sensor: Nikon DX 16,4 Mp. CMOS
• File Formats: NEF (RAW): 12 or 14 bit lossless compressed or compressed, JPEG (Size Priority or Optimal Quality), MOV
• Viewfinder: Eye-level pentaprism single-lens reflex viewfinder, frame coverage 100% (approx.), magnification 0.95x (approx.). Diopter Adjustment: -3 to + 1m
• Graphic Virtual Horizon Indicator
• Focusing Screen: Type B BriteView Clear Matte Mark II with AF area brackets (grid lines can be displayed)
• Depth-of-field Control
• Lens Compatibility: AF-S and AF lenses fully compatible - the camera has a built-in focusing motor - metering with AI lenses is possible (certain restrictions apply, see the manual for more information).
• Metering: Type G, D and DX AF fully supported. Other AF and AI-P Nikkors: all functions supported except 3D color matrix metering II. Non-CPU Nikkors (AI, AI-S): can be used in modes A and M; color matrix metering and aperture value display supported if user provides lens data. Electronic rangefinder can be used if maximum aperture is f/5.6 or faster
• Shutter type: Electronically controlled vertical-travel focal-plane
• Shutter Speeds: 1/8.000 -30 s., in steps of 1, 1/2 or 1/3 EV and Bulb
• Shutter Release Modes: Single-frame [S], Continuous low-speed [CL] 1-5 fps., Continuous high-speed [CH] 6 fps.
• Exposure Metering System: TTL exposure metering using 2,016-pixel RGB sensor
• Exposure Modes: Programmed Auto with flexible Program (P/P*), Shutter-Priority Auto (S), Aperture-Priority Auto (A), Manual (M)
• Exposure Compensation: +/- 5 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV
• Exposure Bracketing: 2 to 3 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 1 or 2 EV
• Mirror Lock Up
• Sensitivity: ISO 100 - 6400, Hi-1 (ISO 12,800), Hi-2 (ISO 25,600)
• D-Lighting Bracketing: 2 or 3 exposures
• AF System: Nikon Multi-CAM 4800DX auto focus sensor module with TTL phase detection
• AF modes: Single-point, dynamic: 9, 21, 39 and 39 AF-points (3D-tracking),auto-area
• Focus Lock: AE-L/AF-L button
• Focus Modes: AF-S, AF-C, AF-A, Face-Priority, Wide, Normal area, MF
• Built-in Flash: i-TTL Balanced fill-in flash, standard i-TTL flash for digital SLR, CLS compatible, Commander Mode
• Guide number: 12/39 m/ft (100 ISO)
• Flash Sync Speed: Up to 1/250 sec., synchronizes with shutter at 1/320s or slower
• FP High Speed Sync: up to 1/8000 s.
• Flash compensation: -3 to +1 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV
• Flash bracketing: 2 to 3 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 1 or 2 EV.
• White Balance Bracketing: 2 or 3 frames
• Live View Shooting
• Movie with sound: HD 1,920×1,080/24 fps., HD 1,280×720/24 fps., HD 1,280×720/30 fps., VGA 640×424/30 fps.
• Movie Audio: built-in microphone, monaural, optional external stereo mini-pin jack
• Monitor: TFT-LCD, 921K dots, 3.0 in. diagonal
• GPS: compatible with Nikon GP-1 and third party GPS's, like the Promote GPS-D90 for example.
• Storage: SD, SDHC, SDXC (Dual card slots)
• Battery: EN-EL15 Li-Ion
• Dimensions (WxHxD): 132x103x77 mm. (5.2x4.1x3.0 inch)
• Weight: 690 g. (24.3 oz.)
The Nikon D7000 is the first of a new generation. It's the first Nikon DX to enter the DxO Mark top 10, the first “consumer” Nikon to support AE metering with non-CPU Nikkors and the first Nikon with what I believe to be “sweet spot” resolution.
If you happen to have $ 1.200 lying around, dying to be invested, I'd be hard pressed to find a better camera to spend it on.
Nikon D7000 review on Dpreview.
A few notes on Photokina
Before moving on to my “hands-on” with the Pentax 645D, a couple of lines about my impressions of the fair.
My biggest surprise at Photokina was not the launch of new camera models, lenses, or how Pentax finally ended the five-year agony of those waiting to finally put their medium-format lenses to good – digital – use.
It is how the Chinese are moving to build a stronghold in camera land, with no less than 99 exhibitors, or 10% of total stands.
They were taking up the best part of the subterranean – and least glamorous – spaces at halls 3, 6 and 9 (numerology, anyone?), pimping battery packs, camcorders, cameras, camera cases -bags and backpacks, filters, lenses and lens adapters, print media, remote controls, tripods and -heads, plus a whole lot of stuff in-between.
Most remarkable, however, was that well over one-third of the Chinese companies at the show manufacture artificial lighting (flash, continuous hot and cold, LED) and other studio-related materials, such as flash tubes, light modifiers (soft-boxes, umbrellas, bounces, screens), backdrops, light stands, tripods and so forth.
They obviously see potential in this area, because – as we all know – they have a remarkable talent for long term thinking.
Thus, everybody – but especially the traditional studio equipment makers – better watch their step…
That said, at the opposite end of the “made in China” spectrum lies “built in Germany”. Germans don’t make things, they engineer them.
We have already witnessed the methodical and steady comeback of the once dominating German optics brands in cameras by Panasonic, Samsung and Sony, among others (teaming up with Leica, Schneider and Carl Zeiss Jena, respectively) while Carl Zeiss also came back to building highly praised – thus expensive – manual focus lenses for Nikon mount.
Simultaneously, Leica are also trying to get back in the game with the “middle-format” S-system, featuring a 30x45 mm. 37,5 Mp. sensor and dedicated lenses, and the 18 Mp. full-frame M9 viewfinder camera, which ranks 30th in DxO Sensor Mark with a score of 69.
True, true…: for $ 5.500 you might expect a little more, but hey, the cameras are drop-dead gorgeous and 5 years ago Leica were all but dead and buried.
Just previous to traveling to Cologne, I had bought a very nice RedGed RMA-432 4-section aluminum mono-pod (probably made in China), so now was the time to start looking for a ball head solid enough to support my camera coupled with the 100-300 mm f/4 HSM Sigma.
After checking out various specialized German brands, like Novoflex for example, I came away with a Berlebach/Cullmann Magnesit 40170 ball head (picture) for a mere 60 Euros.
This very clean piece of workmanship supports up to 4 kilos and delivers up to 10 Nm. of torque on the ball-head, which can be adjusted through a dedicated “friction knob”.
The action on all three knobs, the one mentioned and the two for locking ball and base is very smooth, while the movement on the latter is silky, with cero tolerance.
With all due respect to Manfrotto (which I tried out as well), this level of precision is second to none, and can, apparently, only be achieved in “Deutschland”…
The Novoflex stuff was out of budget, unfortunately, but still, anybody who loves cool tools cannot help but to admire the kind of uncompromising attention to detail their engineers put into every tiny part.
As Japanese wisdom says: the importance of the project shines through in the details.
The Pentax 645D: I just might fall of my faith.
|The Pentax 645D ranks currently 4th. in DxO Mark Sensor Mark|
Having handled Hasselblad, Mamiya, Bronica and Linhof 645, 66 and 67 mid-format cameras at some time or another, the first surprise came when I got handed the Pentax 645D.
It is surprisingly light; including battery and cards it weighs 1.480 grams, approximately a quarter of a kilo (20%) more than the Nikon D3X without batteries (1.220 g.).
The camera also handles very nicely. Accustomed to the flagship Nikons concentrating most of their weight at the bottom part of the body – the battery compartment – the 645D balances its weight much better in comparison.
Holding it from the back-end of the lens, lower end of the hand under the body, the camera exercises virtually no pressure on the hand-grip, rather unlike the Nikons, which give one a serious cramp in the right hand after holding them for an hour or more.
For people with big hands, the grip is also large enough to not give that sensation of “absence” on the low end of the hand, so typical of most DSLR’s, which – in my experience – can only be compensated with a weight-adding battery pack.
Taking a shared fourth/fifth overall in the DxO Sensor Mark (together with the Nikon D3S), the second surprise is the 645D's price point of just under $ 10K, which is only slightly more than the D3X’s launch price of $ 9.500 and considerably less than the $ 20.000 or more you have to plunk down for most of the 645D’s competitors.
The camera features a 40 Mp. 33x44 mm. Kodak CCD, comparable with – for example – the Phase One P40+ (33x44 mm. - $ 19.500), which immediately precedes it in DxO Sensor (3rd), the Mamiya DM40 (33x44 mm. - $ 23.500, including Sekor 80 mm. f/2.8) or the Leica S-system (30x45 mm.) mentioned earlier, for which you are supposed to shell out $ 28.000.
And then we have not even mentioned the prices of the Leica lenses – of which the Summarit-S 1:2.5/70 ASPH is the “cheapest” with a retail price of approximately $ 3.600, while the APO-TELE-ELMAR-S 1:3.5/180 CS goes for around $ 7.500.
Compare that to the new SMC Pentax-FA 645 55mm f/2.8 AF, which streets for about $ 1.200, or the SMC Pentax-A 645 150mm f/2.8 IF-AF, which – according to my research – goes for more or less the same amount.
It was very hard to find anything on Pentax 645 lenses on the web, let alone pricing, but I finally found a comprehensive list at Pentax Canada, with 12 zooms and primes ranging from the SMC 35-55mm f/4.5 AF to the 400mm f/5.6 ED IF-AF, which should do it for most of us.
But, even that site does not include any pricing information, which is doubly sad because, when moving into a new camera system, the price of the glass is – or at least, should be – an essential part of the equation, because the average photographer has a much heavier investment in lenses than bodies.
Supposing that, at the very least, you would need a wide angle (35 mm) standard (55, 70, 75 or 80 mm.) and a short tele (120 or 150 mm.) with Pentax you would probably end up in the order of 5K lighter, and with Leica a whopping 20!
Even though some will consider the 645D’s integrated back a disadvantage, Pentax Product Planning executive Yasuyuki Maekawa explained in this Luminous Landscape interview the advantages of this design decision, and I can’t help but to agree.
Pentax have also incorporated features from their top DSLR's in the 645D, including weather sealing, AF system and multi-segment metering, which can be linked to any of the camera’s 11 AF-points.
Furthermore, all legacy MF, AF and AF2 mid-format Pentax 645 lenses can be used on this camera, while, with the addition of an adapter, 67-format lenses too.
In parrallel with the 645D launch, Pentax has also brought out the aforementioned SMC Pentax-FA 645 55 mm. f/2.8 AF “standard” lens (DSLR full-frame equivalence of 45 mm.), which is – according to Mr. Maekawa – “specifically optimized” for digital, with possibly more glass coming at the wide end.
My only question mark about the 645D is the sensor; I may be biased, but don’t consider Kodak to be exactly at the forefront of camera sensor development.
Even though they have surely moved past their once proverbially noisy chips, it will take a little more than DxO to convince me that they are now up to par.
Moreover, do not let the 645 denomination fool you: 33x44 is not that much larger than full-frame DSLR and a far cry from 45x60...
One can’t help but wonder why Pentax did not go straight to CMOS with their new offering, a future move that Mr. Maekawa is actually hinting at in the LL interview, when asked about the camera's lack of live-view.
Using CCD is seemingly illogical, especially considering that the camera does not have an interchangeable back (read: sensor unit) – like it's competitors – that Pentax's DSLR line is finally moving up the ranks with (Sony) CMOS and that virtually all top brands are now putting CMOS in even their P&S's and entry level DSLR’s.
All that aside, the Pentax 645D is a pleasure to handle; all buttons are well placed and the camera balances extremely well, to a point where weight becomes almost irrelevant.
The viewfinder is – how shall I put this – a revelation? If you liked the viewfinder of the film SLR's of old, wait until you look through this one. So LARGE, bright and crisp.
With 98% coverage and a 62 to 85% magnification – depending on the lens used – it is pretty darn close to anything a DSLR user would ever want to have, but will never get.
With the mounted 55 mm. prime, AF was instantaneous and completely silent, mechanical sounds – (beautiful) MF-mirror slap, shutter – precisely what one would expect, and image review is virtually instantaneous, despite the camera writing a whopping 40 Mp. RAW (PEF/DNG) to the SD memory card(s).
Unfortunately, every dream has to come to an end and my encounter with the 645D ended quite abruptly when the Pentax executive demanded me (in German) to let go and hand it over to another – more serious looking prospect.
He was wrong about my seriousness, though: when inspired like this, I just might fall off my Nikon faith and pony up the 15K required.
After all, which self-respecting photog would not want to get their hands on a – almost – 645-format camera at – almost – the price of a flagship DSLR?
Pentax P645D, specs:
• TTL autofocus, auto-exposure medium format digital SLR camera
• Sensor: 33x44 mm., 40Mp. Kodak CCD with primary color filter, without AA (anti aliasing) filter
• Sensor cleaning by supersonic vibration (DR II), dust alert function
• Dynamic Range: 11.5 EV (Kodak/Pentax spec), 12,6 EV (DxO Mark)
• File formats: RAW (14 bits PEF/DNG), RAW+JPEG, JPEG Basic, Standard, Fine
• Sensitivity: auto 200-1.000 ISO, extendible to 100-1600 (1, 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps)
• Viewfinder: trapezoid prism finder, field of view 98% approx., magnification ± 0,62x (FA645 55mm f/2.8 at infinity), ± 0,85x (FA645 75mm f/2.8 at infinity)
• Focusing screen: Natural-Bright-Matte, interchangeable
• Monitor: 921K dots, 3.0 inch TFT color LCD monitor, wide angle view, brightness and color adjustable, AR coating, tempered glass
• Auto-focus: TTL phase difference detection, 11-points (SAFOX IX+)
• Focus modes: AF-S, AF-C, M; focus points: Auto, Select, Center
• Metering: TTL, open-aperture, 77-segment
• Metering modes: Multi-segment (Matrix), Center-weighted, Spot.
• Program AE modes: Sensitivity-Priority, Shutter-Priority, Aperture-Priority, Shutter plus Aperture Priority, Metered Manual, Bulb, X speed (flash)
• Exposure compensation: +/- 5 EV
• Shutter: Electronically controlled vertical-run focal plane.
• Shutter Speeds: Auto, Manual: 1/4000-30 s. (1/2 or 1/3 EV steps), Bulb
• Drive Modes: Single-frame, Continuous (Hi, Lo), Self-timer (12 s., 2 s.), Remote control (0 s., 3 s.), Remote Continuous Shooting, Interval, Multiple Exposure, Exposure Bracketing, Extended Bracketing
• Continuous Shooting Speed (slot 1 and 2): from approx. 1.1 fps. PEF+JPEG (40 Mp. RAW+JPG fine) up to ± 13 fps., RAW or JPEG (40 Mp., fine)
• Mirror Lock-up with dedicated dial
• Flash sync: Hot shoe or X-sync socket. Sync-speed: 1/125 sec., P-TTL, high-speed-sync and wireless-sync with dedicated Pentax external flash
• Storage: SD, SDHC memory cards (dual slots)
• Power source: rechargeable D-LI90 li-ion battery
• Lens Mount: Pentax 645AF2 bayonet. Usable lenses: Pentax 645AF2, 645AF, 645A
• Dimensions (WxHxD): ± 156x117x119 mm (6.1x4.6x4.7 inches)
• Weight: ± 1.480 g. (52.2 oz.) including battery and two SD memory cards
• Optional accesories: AF540FGZ, AF360FGZ and AF160FC-Macro dedicated auto flashes, 3 focusing screens, 645 adapter for 67-System lenses, 2 wireless remote controls, cable switch, AC-adapter kit
The Pentax 645D – even though not quite up to the 45x60 mm. sensor size it's name suggests – is a break-through, most of all because of it's price point, which brings it straight into the realm of flagship, full-frame DSLR's.
With a host of comparatively cheap or second-hand (as long as stock lasts) 645 and 67-system Pentax AF and MF lenses just sitting around, this camera ought to fly to the top of the Mid-Format list in no-time, as far as I'm concerned.
If I were a rich man, I would place an order for it right now. If you are (a rich man), go check it out. You won't regret it.
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