Equipment Update - 2016

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Equipment Update - 2016

I've made a number of changes to what I carry since I last posted to this page so it clearly was time to post some updates.  The big news is that I've sold all of my Nikon equipment after having been a user of Nikon digital camera since the original D100 came out in 2002.  As I've handed over my various Nikon lenses to various buyers here in London over the last 6 months I've certainly felt like shedding a tear on occasion, having grown quite attached the brand and its products.  I bought my most recent Nikon body in 2012, the D800e listed previously and over time I had put together a full set of pro-level F2.8 glass.  About as good as one can get as a non-pro and really met all of my photo needs while stressing my PC with huge 36MP files!  It was a fantastic experience and one I appreciate having had.  

That said, once I got to this point I quickly began to tire of one thing in particular....the weight.  I shoot in a large variety of  conditions, but given that I don't get paid for this hobby, comfort does start to rank relatively highly and given that I do mostly travel photography, airline weight restrictions and simply a lack of enthusiasm for how large and heavy this Nikon equipment had become started to weigh on me both figuratively and literally.  The peak point came on a trip to Petra, Jordan where I carried the D800e with the 24-70, 70-200, and 14-24 Nikors, all F2.8 up and down the hills of the hidden city ultimately loving the results but starting to detest the burden.   

At the same time, much covered in the Photography media has been the rise of Sony and mirrorless cameras generally.  Sony's move to buy Minotla and then become the dominant supplier of sensors in the business, beating Canon for the most part and providing Nikon with all of its best sensors.  I've dabbled with Sony's midrange offerings for some years from the NEX-7 to the A6000 but only following the release of the A7 series and the move to full frame did I start to taking things more seriously.  

I first picked up the 12MP A7s intrigued by the low light capabilities and the highly regarded EVF, not to mention the tiny size and wifi connectivity built in.  Impressed by this I ultimately picked up a used A7r (having the same sensor as my existing D800e) and then a nearly pocket-sized RX-1. also with a huge sensor.   These A7 bodies have allowed me to carry the same sensors I was using from Nikon  around the world at a fraction of the total weight I lugged about before.  

As a result I've had to learn new ways of processing RAW photos, exploring Capture One and leaving the love/hate relationship I had with Nikon Capture NX2.  Lens choices for the A7/FE mount that Sony uses were originally quite small, but now have grown significantly, such that  there is little I still wish for from the still larger Canon/Nikon ranges, and a great deal of Zeiss lenses that are as good as any in their respective classes.       

It seems like many photographers go through a bit of a cycle.  Starting out with entry level equipment, going up the price/performance chain to the extent possible wanting to try and shoot with the best equipment made at that time, whatever the pros happen to be using, etc.  Then having done so the thrill wears off and the photographer decides to slim back down perhaps focusing on a smaller subset of lenses or shooting styles that appeals.  Perhaps I ultimately have followed a similar path and now find myself wanting to shoot these ultra-light bodies pared often with sharp prime lens, forgoing the flexibility and massive weight of pro-zooms for a sort of photographic simplicity.  

Where my photography adventure takes me next I do not know, but I look forward to shooting more along the way and don't see myself straying from what Sony is doing for the foreseeable future! 

Current Equipment List:

Bodies: Sony A7r, Sony A7s, Sony RX-1

Lenses: Sony 35mm F2.8 / Sony 55m F1.8 / Sony 70-200 F4 / Sony 16-35 F2.8

AVOID: Sony 24-70 F4


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What I'm shooting with

When people look at my photos, they always rave on about "What an amazing camera I must have", etc etc.  I'm always kind of surprised that they don't realize that this is mildly insulting...as if the pictures take and process themselves...but so it goes.  So here is what's in my bag as of today:

Nikon D800E

-Nikon's semi-pro 36MP monster, with the anti-aliasing filter removed (for the non tech-savvy that's an extra layer that used to be needed to avoid artifacts from certain backgrounds but had the side effect of reducing sharpness, clearly no longer needed!), probably more camera than 95% of us need as the media likes to prattle on about, and will require a complete computer rebuild or new purchase for many, but arguably the last camera many of us will need for some time.  Add internal GPS to this and I'm pretty much done for 10 years.  I jumped from my D700 mostly because of the extra resolution and handy video features.  

Nikon 14-24 F2.8

-The best ultrawide for SLRs, this is so good Canon people buy adapters to fit it to their DSLRs.  It's a bit of specialty lens being so wide, but if you get up in your target's grill, you'll get good results!

Nikon 24-70 F2.8

-Standard pro wide to mid level zoom, it does everything you can ask of it and more.  While big and heavy like most pro lenses, it is lighter than the bazooka it resembles, and it makes for a great walkaround lens for any FX SLR.  Some complain there is no Vibration Reduction (Nikon's image stabilization  and while it would be nice at night, F2.8 and modern sensor performance goes a long way to making this a non-issue most of the time.    

Nikon 70-200 F2.8

-My newest toy, and the standard pro-telephoto lens.  It's big and heavy and great.  Assuming you don't mind hauling it around you'll get amazing bokeh (the nice blurry backgrounds many covet) and tack sharp performance on modern body.  

Nikon 70-300 F4.5-5.6

-My old zoom lens, a much lighter and more manageable travel lens that actually has more reach than my newer one, but does so in reasonably sharp, if not a dramatic or quite as pretty way.  Basically it works well but won't produce as many keepers as it's bigger cousin.  Also much cheaper to be fair.    

Nikon 50mm F1.4

-My lightest and smallest lens, this is a prime (non-zoom) with massive low-light capabilities, great for carrying around all day and forcing yourself to zoom with your feet and think about composition! It also happens to be great at night and inside and be able to blur the front and back of one's nose while keeping the middle tack sharp!  Get one!

So some mix of the above is my bag at the moment, I"ll try and write a bit more about the other technological wonders that do all the picture taking for me! 

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