Salton Sea

Feb 27, 2012

I have been quite busy for the last while after I got back from Calfornia and will update the blog with more posts soon. Here are some images form the Salton Sea.




Nikon D800 / D800E Technical Guide

Feb 19, 2012

Nikon released a technical guide that outlines proper shooting technique with their new D800 series camera. I’m assuming this is to reduce the amount of people who will be dissapointed with the high demands of a 36 megapixel sensor.

The usual sloppy technique that casual SLR shooters have adopted as the norm for years makes it very difficult (if not impossible) to actually get 36 of real resolution from the sensor. Large and most medium format photographers have been shooting on tripods out of necessity for a long time.

The slower approach coupled with the stability of a tripod as well as bigger sensors that put less demands on the optics all help deliver better pixels.

Don’t assume that a 36 megapixel sensor will automatically make your pictures sharper and more detailed. A good tripod that absorbs vibrations (not all of them do), mirror lock up or live view and top notch lenses are an absolute must to get the results you are hoping for. Anything less than that will just produce big files with wasted pixels.

The following guide covers the basics, and keep in mind that all of this holds true even for lower resolution sensors. It’s a waste of money and storage to shoot with a 24mp camera and cheap lenses only to get 12mp of actual resolution in the files. Going to 36mp with the same mindset will be an even bigger waste.


Nikon D800 Technical Guide



Death Valley

Feb 13, 2012

As promised, here are a few more images from death valley.




Nikon D800E vs. Pentax 645D

Feb 7, 2012

I was thrilled with the announcement of the Nikon D800 today. Hearing rumours on various forums and blogs for months that it would have a 36mp sensor made me consider it as a backup body for my 645D kit. I already have some Nikon lenses and the price for the body is relatively inexpensive for the published specs.

My great disappointment came when I viewed the sample images Nikon published here. I already knew that a 36mp sensor would put tremendous demands on 35mm optics but did not realize the combination would create a cell phone photo feel at 1:1.

I’m still hopeful the test images are a mistake done by the Nikon marketing department. Hopefully some skilled landscape shooters will get their hands on one of the units soon and conduct more tests using proper shooting technique and processing.

At the moment the Nikon D4 looks like a much more compelling camera to me. It would not serve as a backup to my 645D, but it would complement it for high speed and low light shooting. Resolution does not matter if you can’t get the shot to begin with.

I’m posting this non scientific comparison of images taken with the 645D at a similar vantage point to the Nikon samples. I realize that I’m risking contact with a lynch mob of Nikon loyalists or pixel theorists by posting this image, and that is all right. To me at first glance the Pentax 645D has more micro contrast and detail compared to the D800E, which is the version of the D800 without an AA filter. It’s also worth noting that the 55mm Pentax lens is not even the sharpest lens in the lineup.

I’m hoping things will get cleared up soon and the D800 proves to deliver 36Mp of resolution and the tonality to match medium format digital. It would be an incredible game changer to get medium format quality at a 3000 dollar price point. Unfortunately the samples Nikon posted seem like a step backwards, hopefully they can prove everyone wrong in the upcoming days.


Pentax 645D samples processed in ACR, default USM settings. Linked file is 16.8mb, please view at 1:1



The best backpack in the universe

Feb 5, 2012

I’m obviously kidding when I say this is the best backpack in the universe, because everyones needs are different. However after travelling all over with various backpacks I must say the Tilopa BC has been designed by photographers who actually get out further than one hundred feet away from their car.





I have had numerous Lowepro and Kata backpacks in the past and found they were able to fit a lot of camera gear. Overall though, I found their design to be very impractical, and they felt uncomfortable on longer hikes.

A lot of places worth visiting are off the beaten path and I typically want some room for extra layers of clothing. Other things I like to take are a flash light, water and assorted snacks as well as a small monarch chair in addition to my cameras and 13″ Mac Book Air. There is enough room to attach a small tent to the side and a fairly sturdy tripod on the rear (or other side) of the pack.

This might sound like a lot of stuff but the harness system and the frame of the backpack keeps everything sturdy. The weight distribution is so good that it’s easy to forget about the backpack altogether, a huge plus when carrying the pack around all day.

The biggest feature for me is the back panel access which prevents getting your back wet or dirty after the backpack has been put down on the ground to access equipment.  This situation occurs so often that I’m actually surprised all backpacks don’t offer this type of design. Even better than this is the ability to swing the backpack to the front (with hip belt fastened) to access all the equipment while standing in water or in mud.  Since the pack acts as a waist level “table” in this position, it’s very easy and safe to change filters, lenses and batteries without having to worry about dropping anything.



The camera compartment is interchangeable and f-stop calls this the ICU (internal camera unit).  You can slide it in from the top and swap it out for a smaller one if you want to take less camera and more camping gear.  I was able to fit a Pentax 645D with a 55mm and 120mm lens and a GH2 body with the 100-300mm, 14-45mm and 20mm lenses, 4 batteries, and a few filters without much hassle into the large ICU.  I suspect if I was going to carry a 400mm 645 lens or a Nikon D4 system the extra large ICU would be more appropriate.

To get more information on the f-stop backpacks visit their website and pick one up for your next photography adventure trip.