Random Brain Waves, vol. 11

Yesterday was the 111th anniversary of the birth of Ansel Adams. A belated happy birthday, good sir. I know some folks get tired of people constantly referring to Mr. Adams, but there’s a reason he’s an icon. Just browse around his gallery.

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For the last few days I’ve been shooting with the Panasonic G5. I wanted a backup m4/3 body, and the G5 seemed like the best bargain at the moment. Initial impressions are very positive. I’m still in the very early testing stage, but so far the G5 seems like a fun little camera. From my perspective, the user interface is superior to that of the E-M5. I’ve also been shooting with the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 on the E-M5. Does the 75mm live up to the hype? I’ll let you know, but it’s looking pretty good so far. More on this new gear in the weeks ahead.

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A few more thoughts about the Nikon D7100 introduction…

In it’s quest to supplant Canon, Nikon finds itself in a similar position as Sony. Sony has been trying for the last few years to crack the Canon/Nikon duopoly, with little success. In that time Sony has released some very fine cameras, like the A77 and their recent full frame A99. The problem for Sony is that neither of these cameras is a game changer. They don’t offer a dramatic increase in performance, nor features that transform the way we make images, compared to similar offerings from Canon and Nikon. Just as importantly, they don’t offer any price advantage. In other words, the Sony cameras, good as they may be, do not offer a compelling reason for a Canon or Nikon user to switch to Sony. That’s the problem with the D7100, from my perspective. As I stated in my previous post, the D7100 will no doubt be a fine camera. I’m sure many of the Nikon faithful will be thrilled with it’s features and performance. It may even wind up being better than the coming Canon 70D/7D II, or however Canon chooses to respond. Yet when viewed in the context of a release intended to further Nikon’s goal of passing Canon as the market leader, the D7100 falls short. It offers, at least on paper, nothing “disruptive,” either in terms of features or performance – no compelling reason for a Canon shooter to switch to Nikon.

How will the D7100 fare against other competitors? Allow me to use a golf analogy. During their illustrious careers in the 1960s and 70s, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus frequently battled each other head-to-head. As Mr. Nicklaus once recounted, occasionally they would become so focused on beating each other that someone else in the field would slip by both of them to victory. Canon and Nikon have been playing tit-for-tat for some time now. Each new camera release seems to be a direct response to a release by the other. That’s why the whole Canon/Nikon fanboy debate is so silly – the two manufacturers are constantly leap-frogging each other. One may be slightly better today, but rest assured that they’ll be surpassed in a year or two or three by their arch enemy, only to regain the lead agian a little further down the road. Meanwhile, the rest of the field toils away in semi-obscurity, but for how long will they remain obscure? The Olympus E-M7 is coming later this year, as is the Panasonic G7. Sony is set to offer a refreshed NEX-7 quite soon, and it’s looking very likely that a full frame NEX camera is in the works, with a release date somewhere between late this year and early next. What if the E-M7, or Sony FF NEX crack the continuous autofocus/tracking problem that’s held back mirrorless cameras up till now? Smaller, lighter, cheaper, with equivalent or better performance? Is that enough to turn the slow trickle away from DSLRs into a full-on flood? Maybe. At the very least, it’ll widen the crack in the damn. Sooner or later someone is going to come up with a significantly better alternative to the DSLR. Message to Canon and Nikon – once again, if you don’t eat your own lunch, someone else will.

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