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Andrew L (gryphon1911)

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Andrew L (gryphon1911) last won the day on 20 February

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About Andrew L (gryphon1911)

  • Birthday 19/05/1974

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    street, portraiture, events, sports
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  • My Favourite Camera
    Nikon Z f
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    Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4
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    Columbus, OH
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  1. @Dallas, exactly right on the suppliers. A lot of what I’m hearing is eBay, AliExpress and Amazon purchases. I buy from actual camera stores locally or online - although B&H Photo out of New York had a bad run for a while where they got a bad batch of fake memory cards from one of their retailers.
  2. I think it is 2 fold. One is that I'm hearing from other photographers and internet sources that I trust that they are seeing a lot of failures in recently purchased Sandisk cards and hard drives. Some are because there are quite a few very cleverly disguised fakes out there trying to pass themselves off as authentic Sandisk media (much like we see with fake batteries - a lot on the Nikon side that I've seen myself - which is why I think that Nikon started going with the chipped batteries starting with the Z9/Zf/Z8). Others have verified that they have original Sandisk cards/SSD drives and such and are having either write failures or out right device failures. My Sandisk cards in my possession are probably no newer than 3-4 years and have been flawless for me.
  3. Introduction The Nikon Z f – this review will in many ways mimic what we said and felt about the DX Nikon Z fc. We will however, also be pointing out some of the differences as well and when you may actually prefer the Z fc over the Z f. Over time, I’ve come to understand that I have an affinity for the process of making images and not just the final image itself. The camera is a part of that process and cameras can be either a tool that is a means to an end. A camera can also be a type of experience. We are going to review the new FX sensor, IBIS enabled Nikon Z f camera. We will look at it from a tool perspective as well as from the perspective of it from a “feelings” type mode. A review like this would not be complete without also comparing it to the now “little sister” that is the Nikon Z fc. I’ve owned the Nikon Df for a long time and it is an excellent camera. It harkens back to the SLRs of old, with actual dials with exposure markings for ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation. When I heard that Nikon was bringing out the Z fc, I really was intrigued by what it was going to be and what it could possibly be. That camera is a DX sensor without IBIS. Basically a re-shelled Nikon Z50. Not that this is a bad thing. To be totally honest, I prefer the tactile feedback of the twisty dials over the control wheels. The Z f however, takes everything that there is to love (and/or hate, depending on your feelings) about the Z fc and refines it and then also enhances other areas almost to flagship levels – akin to the Nikon Z8/Z9. Let’s start walking this journey of Z f discovery together. Enjoy the read and the images below and feel free to leave you questions, comments and views in the reply section below. About the images in this review: All images are either straight out of camera JPG or processed from RAW in Lightroom to my liking. I process files from cameras to see what is capable. There are plenty of other sites that go deeper into the technical aspects of cameras. We strive to provide a review of the camera use experience here. Tech Stuff Body The camera is about the same overall style and look as the Nikon Z fc. It is about 9cm roughly larger in height and width than the Z fc Comparing it to a Fuji camra, it is more along the lines of the size of an XT-x. I think this is a better size than the Z fc. It gives you a little bit more real estate to hang on to. It does have a small lip on the right side that allows for your finger tips to grab hold of something. Having tested this out with primes and zooms, I will say that without an extended grip, using zoom lenses (I tried the Z 28-75/2.8, 24-120/4 and the 70-180/2.8) is a bit of a chore. Not impossible, but also not fun either as I was constantly fighting on holding the camera by having to pinch more with my hand. Now, juxtapose that with using a prime lens like the Z 28/2.8, Z 50mm f/1.8 S or my Meike 85mm f/1.8 for Z (You’ll be surprised how well that lens works on this camera and on Z cameras in general!) and the lack of having to pinch so much makes it a joy to use. Much less pinching is required. It also allows for me to use my left hand to support the camera when shooting as I need not use that hand to adjust the zoom ring. Needless to say, I have already ordered the Smallrig L grip for Z f and it should be here sometime in early November ’23. If you have a smaller lens like the new 28mm f/2.8 SE lens or the Z 24-50mm pancake-ish lens, the camera is well balanced. Even the larger primes, like the Z 35/50 the balance is fine. Even the 28-75 and the 24-120 don’t feel too unbalanced as much as it is just difficult to hold the camera as mentioend above. I would like a bit more of a grip on the body. When using zoom lenses or larger aperture primes, you’ll want to help support the weight with your left hand. When you first touch the camera, I get an initial sense that the camera is metal and so solid. This is one of the big differences in feel between the Z f and the Z fc. The Z fc felt “solid but hollow”, where as the Z f gives me vibes of the old FM metal cameras. On the top, you still have the controversial PASM switch. I personally like it. There is a buzz out there with both the Z f/Z fc about that control scheme being “stupid” or “not intuitive”. I consider it different. You may not appreciate it, but once you understand it, in real world use there is a lot to like about it. In my experience, I shoot in Aperture priority mode mostly. However, when I need to shoot shutter priority, I can leave the shutter speed dial at my pre-determined speed and with just one flick of the mode switch, go to shutter priority, be 100% where I want to be when coming from aperture priority and vice versa. That is just one example. There is also an AUTO setting, which are good for the times when you may give the camera to someone that is not a photographer and you want them to use it. Shutter Speed – full stops from bulb and time, 1 sec up to 1/8000. 1/3 stops can be adjusted with a command dial if you so choose by putting the shutter dial on 1/3 step. You’ll notice that the Z f has one extra stop of shutter speed – the Z fc only went to 1/4000. In actual usage, I rarely ever bumped up against the 1/4000 on the Z fc, but another difference that some that shoot wide open on fast glass in brighter scenes may appreciate. Exposure Compensation – You have a +-3 stops of exposure compensation as well as a “C” setting. If you need up to +-5 stops of exposure comp, set the dial to “C” and use the command dial to set the desired levels. The Z f and the Z fc share this setup. The exposure comp dial is easy to find with the thumb and I have no issues adjusting it and keeping my eye in the viewfinder. ISO Dial – The ISO Dial goes from 100 to 64000. It does spin freely around when not in the “C” position. To get it out of the “C” position, you must depress a button on the top. If using auto ISO, the lowest ISO setting on the dial is the base ISO and the max ISO is set within the menus. If you leave it in “C” the camera will use the base ISO and highest ISO set in the menu. This is where I had my first handling issue. I would have preferred a lock at each aperture or at last a toggle on/off lock to prevent the accidental changes. Not sure how that happened, it was bumped from ISO 100 while carrying on the Black Rapid strap or if I bumped the dial unknowingly when removing the camera from the camera bag. I do not remember having this issue on the Z fc. Shutter Release – you have a standard shutter release with an old school thread that allows for you to attach a shutter release cable to it. Power switch is found around the shutter release. The thing about this shutter release is the fact that it sits higher than what you’ll find on a DSLR or the Z6. I’m a fan because I like putting soft releases on my cameras that have threaded shutter releases. The shutter release does sit further back than a DSLR style camera. If you don’t like where the release sat with the Z fc or a camera like the Nikon D f, Fuji X-Pro or Leica M – you’ll probably not like this either. I found the transition to it relatively painless, but your mileage may vary, as they say. Rear LCD – this is a flip out, tilt screen. Feels very robust and sturdy and easy to see. The rear LCD has one other benefit to it…touch sensitive! Set to AF only or let it trip the shutter! Don’t want to do either – set it to off! There is a small aperture number display on the top plate, same as the Z fc. Something new! B&W option on the stills/video switch. Nikon has provided a dedicated position on this switch to be able to jump right into a monochrome mode. The monochrome picture control it uses is the one that was last set while in the picture control menu. There are 3 presets that come from Nikon and you can create custom picture controls as well. The picture controls are not as robust as what you may find on a Fuji or Ricoh GR II/III, but serviceable enough. Viewfinder/EVF The EVF is great. I had no problems seeing what I needed to see, even in bright sunlight. The eye sensor is under the viewfinder which helps make the EVF activation more accurate in bright conditions. Performance So how does it perform? The simplest way to describe it is a Z fc styling in a slightly larger body with 90% the AF performance of the Z8 and a better IQ than the Z6 II. Overall System Performance The camera fires up quickly. The touch screens are very responsive. The menus, the “i” menu is quick to come up. Even from sleep, the camera is one of the quickest mirrorless to wake and be ready to fire the first shot. Auto Focus The AF is similar to the Nikon Z8/Z9. It has the all the same settings and options. I honestly never had any issue with the AF on the Nikon Z cameras. Yes, the AF system is different than the DSLRs, but they are capable once you get used to them. For what I used them for, and it was a wide and varied set of situations, I could get the Z fc and the Z6 to do what I wanted. The Z8 is more capable in the sense that I don’t have to try as hard to get the AF to stay on target and the Z f inherits those enhancements from the flagship cameras. I’ve been using the single point small AF mode mostly and it has been very fast and accurate. Of all the images I’ve taken in that mode, I don’t think that I’ve missed a single shot. The focusing is very confident and if you have used the Z8/Z9, you’ll be right at home. The AF-C is capable as well. It feels like a Z8 level AF. One thing missing from the Z f is no AF joystick. This means that you’ll have to use the D-Pad or the rear LCD screen to pick AF points. No issues with this camera in low light either – just check out the Halloween images in this review to see how well it works in low light! The only time I had any issues was when there were strobing lights. Not sure that a DSLR would have faired any better, but in that situation I did not have a DSLR to verify. Manual Focus I will use manual focus on occasion, but I’ve had a hate relationship with fly by wire manual focusing. It will get you where you want to be, but being used to the old Nikon manual focus lenses, it is hard to appreciate the fly-by-wire implementations. It is getting easier, but I still prefer a good mechanical linkage for manual focus. Even with that being said, I do like the focus aids (punch in zoom, peaking) that Nikon provides. On the interchangeable lens bodies, I use focus peaking for adapted lenses. My preference is using yellow peaking. Battery Life With the introduction of mirror less cameras, I’ve been wanting the CIPA rating to change from number of images taken to “power on time”. By this I mean that most mirror less cameras deplete the battery more so when they are powered on than the number of shots taken. For example, I’ve had the same mirror less camera in one outing net me 200 shot before I needed to switch the battery and then again on another I got close to 1000. I started to analyze why and it came down to how long the camera is actually on. To that end, the camera does well with the EN-EL15c. The EN-EL15c can be charged in the supplied wall charger or in camera with a USB-C cable. This would allow you to use a power bank to charge the camera remotely if needed. One thing to note is that since the Z9, third party EN-EN15 batteries no longer work. The Z8 and Z f require batteries with appropriate chips in them to communicate with the camera. Right now the only batteries that are guaranteed to fully function are OEM Nikon. Z fc uses the EN-EL25 battery which is smaller and less capacity than the Z f EN-EL15c. The EN-EL15b is also usable in case you have a hard time sourcing the ‘c’ variant. CIPA rating on the Z f is around 380 shots. Memory Cards This is a point of discussion amongst many out there. The Z fc had one card slot, SDHC UHS Type 1. The Z fc has 2 card slots, but in an unusual configuration. One SDHC UHS type 1 and a second card slot that is micro SD or SDXC UHS type 1. My plan is to use the micro SD slot as an emergency backup/overflow for the main SD card. Since it appears that Sandisk is having a bit of a quality control issue here recently, I’ve opted to go with a Samsung 256GB microSD. It is not officially supported on the Nikon website, but will test it out to see if it works ok. Many were hoping for 2 UHS-II SD or maybe even a CF Express/XQD and SD combo. I’m not one that really kneels at the alter of needing 2 card slots, for me it has always been a nice to have but not a requirement. I’ve been shooting professionally for 20 years and have yet to be hampered by some cameras I’ve used only having one card slot. IBIS / VR This camera does have a built in IBIS system like the Z5/Z6/Z7/Z8/Z9 do. Nikon is claiming in their spec sheet a whopping 8 stops of IBIS stabilization. I’ve yet to test this out fully, but a bold claim none the less and one that I’m sure a lot of people will try and see if they can max out! For the Z fc, if you need stabilization, you’ll want to look at getting the stabilized lenses like the Z12-28, Z16-50, Z18-140 and the Z50-250, or adapt f-mount VR lenses to the Z fc as the camera body does not have IBIS. New to the Z f is focus point VR. normal IBIS adjusts the sensor for the entire scene or the center of the frame. focus point VR adjusts the sensor for the part of the scene that the AF point is sitting. This should help keep a lower blur on subjects that are not at the center of the frame. Nikon Europe has a video that explains this well: Ergonomics For me, the size of a camera is important. There is a point of diminishing returns on size. You can only go so small before the controls are hard to reach and the camera is difficult to hold. Feel in The Hand I already mentioned a little bit about the camera, but will get into more detail now. Grip wise, I would say that it is not really slippery, but I would have liked a bit more of a pronounced ridge on the right side, more than what is already there when using longer and heavier zoom lenses. Smallrig makes a grip for the Z f and I have already ordered it. Without the grip attached, you do need to hold the camera a little differently, but if you like the way that the old FM/FE type Nikon cameras felt, then this is something you’ll probably like too. The dials are easy to reach and after a short time, I was able to change them without taking my eye off the viewfinder. I did have some time to work with the camera and the Nikon Z28-75/2.8, 24-120/4 and 70-180/2.8. Wrangling the camera can be a bit more of a chore without an extended grip. It is workable in landscape orientation. Once you switch to portrait orientation, it becomes apparent that larger lenses will need a grip of some kind to be optimal in handling. Image Quality – Stills The 24.5mp (FX) sensor is a back side illuminated (BSI) chip using the newest Expeed 7 processor. We have classic Nikon files here. Plenty of latitude to push/pull highlights and shadows, even in the JPG files. The colors are fantastic. If you remember from the handling section above, I mentioned having accidentally bumping the ISO dial from 100 to 640. When I looked at the files on the computer, the JPG I shot were so clean and the gradations in tones so smooth, I would have never guessed that the images were not from base ISO! This sensor is very good and the processing pipeline that Nikon uses is stellar. Basically everything I had hoped and wanted. The Z f will not only replace the Z fc but also the Z6 in my camera stable, so having something as good or better than those was a requirement – all expectations exceeded. Lenses make all the difference here and I love using the Nikon Z primes on this camera for a small and travel friendly package. To reiterate, the primes work just fine with the camera as is, zooms are usable, but will benefit from the added on grip. This is the same as how I felt about the Z fc. Quality glass (of which Nikon has plenty) makes this sensor shine, from primes to zooms, there is something for everyone. Bottom line – if you like the Nikon color science, then you’ll love this. If you want malleable files, you’ll like this. If you want great low light performance…you’ll love this too. As usual – check out the sample images here to make the determination for yourself. Image Quality – Video You have the same 4k and 1080p options here as you have on the other non-flagship Z cameras. It is good video, much better than most people will give it credit. There is an audio input as well as a headphone out to monitor. I think Nikon could do a better job at selling the video chops of their mirrorless cameras. Final Thoughts The Nikon Z f is one of those cameras that is polarizing. It is either for you or its not and it will all come down to ergonomics, really. In all other aspects it is capable and then some. It is a capable camera, a fun camera that gives you tactile feel and use of the exposure settings while giving you state of the art internals that will satisfy 99% of users for years to come. It is one of those cameras that you bond with and love to use because of the process you go through with it, much the same as you would the Z fc or the Nikon D f. So there you have it. A capable vintage style, FX camera from Nikon with retro vibes and the great image quality and auto focus capabilities of a flagship. If the retro body style is your thing and you are not into the Fuji system, then this camera will certainly be of interest to you. If you are wanting more modern styling – then the Z5/6/7/8/9 will be the body for you. BONUS CONTENT How about some extras that are not normally part of the usual review! Let’s look at the Smallrig grip/plate as well as how the Z f works with a adapted m-mount glass – specifically the Voigtlander 12mm f/5.6 rectilinear! Smallrig Grip One of the biggest handling issues the Z f will give to a lot of users, even me is the lack of protruding grip. Now, the prime lenses are no problem, but I did not have a “fun time” trying to use the Z f with any of the Z zooms like the 24-120/4, 28-75/2.8 or the 70-180/2.8. I usually like to add on bottom plates to my cameras to protect them when I set them down. For the Zf/Zfc, they benefit with zooms having the grip. Believe me when I say that the grip makes all the difference! Adapted Lenses One of the nice things about the Z mount is the slim distance from the lens flange to the sensor. This opens up the ability for adapting almost any lens from any manufacturer to the Z cameras. I do like and use the FTZ for Nikon AF-S lenses, but manual focus lenses are also plentiful! I do have a Leica M 240, and one of the most fun lenses to use, when appropriate, is the Voigtlander 12mm f/5.6. I prefer focus peaking, setting it to low intensity and the yellow color. Super easy and super fun to be able to use those manual focus lenses on the Z f, where they look at home!
  4. Introduction You don’t always want to carry around a system camera or a larger camera – heck, sometimes there are places that do not allow interchangeable lens cameras and only point and shoot or fixed lens models. Being interested in older or vintage gear, I decided to start looking into smaller sensor system or fixed lens cameras. These include 1″, 1/1.7″, 1/2.3″ and 2/3″ sensor cameras. After much searching, the first camera that I found, held in high regard is the Pentax MX-1. Let’s look into why this was highly recommended and what it is capable of providing! Disclaimer – sample images represent was is possible to get from the specific camera used. The images are not straight from camera JPG and have most likely been post processed in Lightroom or other software to get them to the vision I wanted. Tech Stuff Body. Picking up this body, you feel the quality construction right off the bat. This 1/1.7″ sensor camera comes with a fixed 28-112mm field of view powered zoom lens with an aperture range of f/1.8-2.5. Styling wise, it takes its queues from the Pentax MX SLR. Looking at it, and it is very close the the SLR, just with the viewfinder hump removed. The top and bottom of the camera are brass, and the body has a nice rubbery leatherette looking wrap. Dials. Top plate has 2 dials, one for modes and scenes and the other is a +-2 exposure compensation dial. Also on the top is the shutter button and around the shutter button is the wide to tele rocker for the zoom. Power and movie buttons on top as well. This camera has no EVF, but it does have a pop up flash if you are in need of it. It does lack a hotshoe. On the rear is a rear wheel / command dial for changing aperture/shutter speed. Buttons. There are a lot of buttons with a D-Pad setup on the rear plus a whole bunch more. Just about everything you’d want is a button, so menu diving is kept to a minimum. No buttons are found on the front of the camera, only the auto focus assist lamp and the MX-1, SR logo. Shutter Release – The shutter release has a positive feel between activating the auto focus and actuating the shutter. It requires the lightest of presses to actuate focus, then a little more pressure and it trips the leaf shutter. Rear LCD – It has a decent size display, which flips up and down. The LCD is perfectly fine indoors or during an overcast day or at night. Where there are some struggles – bright daylight. You have plenty of visibility to make framing possible, but trying to see if focus is accurate or exposure is on point is harder to do. Also of note – this is not a touch screen LCD. Flash This little camera does have a built in flash. I would have preferred that they got rid of it and instead used that internal room to have an EVF. Weather Sealing Pretty sure that is not a feature on this camera. A small sprinkle may not hurt it, but you need to make your own judgements on what kind of weather you use your gear. Lens As mentioned previously, the lens is a 6-24mm f/1.8-2.5 lens. Given the sensor size, this gives you a field of view of 28-112mm. I remember how much I liked this range back when I had a Fuji X10. Very nice for everyday shooting. With the sensor being as small as it is, you’ll be happy to hear that this lens is very sharp even wide open – so feel free to shoot it at f/1.8 through f/2.5. This will help to keep the ISO down and provide for optimal image quality. Sharpness of the lens is also top notch, with the ability to use the lens wide open. Performance Overall System Performance This camera was released in 2013. While the performance is not up to the same standard as cameras of 2023/2024, but it is very responsive in most areas. Jumping into menus or changing settings is nice and peppy. The only place you’ll find that the speed is not there is in shot to shot speed and saving RAW files. It takes a half second to one second. Start up times are quick too and you’ll be ready to shoot within a second of hitting the power button so long as you leave the “remember last zoom position” turned off. Autofocus Here, you have 2 options. AF-S and AF-C and then 4 types of Auto, Spot, Tracking and Select. I’ve been happy with and exclusively using the AF-S and Select mode. The AF point is selected by using the d-pad on the rear of the camera. Focus seems to be very accurate as I cannot remember a time when it missed! It is only contrast detect, but even in low light, it is slower and hunts more – but still nails it! Focus point coverage is about 80% of the frame. Battery and Battery Life When I first got the camera, it came with 1 OEM Pentax battery. Not truly knowing how long the battery would last, I ordered a few more third party batteries. I’ve been out for many a day trip, in the cold Ohio winters and have yet to deplete the one battery. It seems to do very well. Stabilization (IBIS/AS) This camera does have stabilization. It seems to be effective, but I cannot give you a “number of stops” that it is – just that I know it does work for the few times the shutter speed dipped low! Ergonomics For me, the size of a camera is important. There is a point of diminishing returns on size. You can only go so small before the controls are hard to reach and the camera is difficult to hold. Feel in The Hand The camera feels solid, not a bit of flex to it. If a camera is too small it is hard to get to the buttons that are on the camera body. This camera feels very good to me for what it is. There really is no grip to speak of but the rubber covering does help. It is not a tall camera, my ring and pinky finger don’t even touch the bottom of the camera. Still, given what it is, I put on a small wrist strap and pinch it to hold it in position and support it with my left hand. The shutter button, rear dial, and exposure comp dial all fall into place. 99% of the time, I am shooting in Aperture priority mode, so rear dial changes aperture, dedicated exposure comp, shutter button are there! I’m good to go! If you need to change any settings that do not have a button, tap the info button to get to a quick menu to change the most common features you’ll need. Image Quality Having experience with Ricoh GR, Pentax Q7 and Pentax K-5 and K-3 cameras in the past, we knew what we may be getting into with this Pentax point and shoot. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because this camera has a 1/1.7″ sensor (same size as the Pentax Q7) that it cannot be any good. The MX-1 is surprisingly good. Do you like Pentax color science? It’s here! I especially like the reversal film and B&W modes – and yes to the next question – the JPG are very usable, up through ISO 3200! If you want even more control – shoot in RAW – or have the best of both worlds and shoot RAW + JPG! You can even process the RAW files in camera with presets if you choose. As you’ll find with the images in this post – the image quality is there. Is it a 2024 DSLR or mirrorless? No, but it has a very good sensor and if you take care to protect the highlights from getting blown out, the dynamic range and post processing capability will surprise you. Final Thoughts For me, there were a few things that were strikes against the MX-1 for me. Viewfinders a must is usually one of them. I’m trying to be more open minded about that. So far, I’ve resigned myself to using my experience to judge exposure and demote the LCD in bright sunlight to rough framing only. Power zooms are also a negative to me. Also trying to be more open minded, with the approach being to only use the zoom when necessary and treat the MX-1 like it has a prime lens attached. With that out of the way – the MX-1 just works well, even for an 11 year old camera. Yes, it is a little slow – but the Pentax processing on the sensor is really wonderful! The lens is sharp and bright. The system responsive. As a main camera, that would be a no for me…however, as a supplementary camera or a small take anywhere, it can still fill that role quite nicely. Final Verdict = Highly Recommended! Some additional images for your viewing pleasure!
  5. Background When I swapped out the Nikon Z f/1.8 primes (35/50/85) for the Z f/2.8 zoom (28-75), I did find myself looking for something small and light for the Z fc. Still having the Z 28/2.8, I was thinking of perhaps a less expensive option for the 40-60mm focal length, possibly third party. Instead, I decided to give the Z 40mm f/2 a shot. At the time, I found a good price on a used standard version. I really wanted to get an SE to match the 28/2.8 and the Z fc styling. I may still some day. The 40mm is not an S line lens, so how does it fair against the S line primes? Let’s dig in and find out! Disclosure – images were post processed to my liking and in various styles. Some were processed from RAW and others may be out of camera JPG. Handling/Size/Weight/Build This is a nice, small lens. Plastic, yes, but that helps keep the cost and weight down. There is just one ring, by default it controls manual focus. It is small enough to drop into a camera bag and take up very little space, similar to the Z 28/2.8. I found it handled just fine on any of the Z bodies tested – the Z fc, Z6 and Z8. Weather Sealed Nikon rates this for dust and drip resistance. Not to the same level as an S line lens, but some protection is there. Image Quality So here is what most want to know. Sharpness is here! Is it as good as a Z 35/1.8 or 50/1.8 S prime? No. Center sharpness is excellent even at f/2, but you can see where the optical design needed to make compromises. The edges and wide open is it’s weakest…however, stopping down a little starts bringing the whole image together. What it lacks in edge to edge sharpness, it does make up for in color, contrast and character. Images speak louder than any of my words, so please judge the results I’ve been able to get from this lens. This lens is perfectly usable, but if you are a perfectionist or pixel peeper, you’ll probably want to stick with the 50mm f/1.8 or faster aperture 50mm Z lens. Focusing Focusing is quick and confident for both stills and video. No complaints. VR (Vibration Reduction Stabilization) This lens has no VR. If VR or stabilization is needed/desired, pair this lens with the IBIS equipped Z bodies. Bottom Line the Z 40/2 is a good, if not great, small prime. If you want exceptional, then look to the Z-line lenses. Please note though that you have to look at the descriptive words I’m using here. The Z lenses, primes or zooms are all more than “normal” in their image quality. We really are splitting hairs here when we look at that they are capable of providing in output. Bottom Line = Recommend. If you value smaller, lighter and cost effective over optimal IQ, then this is a good lens for you. If you want the nth degree and edge to edge sharpness, don’t mind paying possibly double or more of the Z 40/2 then the S line primes are where you want to be.
  6. I’m still waiting for a digital version of a mamiya 7 or a Fuji gw690! 😜
  7. The weather here lately has been rather blah...so did a little visual push-up in the house last night - K-5, 70/2.4 Limited - 2 dogs 1 - SOOC Monochrome JPG (grain added in post) 2 - RAW processed in Lightroom
  8. Also, just announced today - Nikon released firmware update for the Z f. Adding slow motion video and a fix for some kind of rare issue with the display. https://downloadcenter.nikonimglib.com/en/products/624/Z_f.html
  9. Finally got my Smallrig grip for the Z f. It makes all the difference in the world for those larger lenses and zooms. Closer to a grip experience for the Z6. The Z f grip is not as deep, but enough as to when shooting in portrait orientation, you no longer have to use a lot of hand strength to pinch the body to support the rear of the kit. Goes on without tools, arca swiss, but minimal bottom plate. Pair this Z f setup with a 24-200 or the 24-120 and you have a really good EDC carry in FX that is not a whole lot bigger (to me anyway) than the EM1 Mark II and the 12-100/4. The Nikon kit is still heavier and the 24-200 is not a constant aperture and lags behind in some areas as the 24-200....but I doubt anyone but us photographers would be able to tell the difference.
  10. Introduction For grins and giggles, the local camera store still had the Pentax K-5, so I decided to take in a little trade and snag it to, comparing it against the K-3 we got just a few months ago. It was a decent price and included the battery grip. A lot of this review will echo the K-3 review, as they are not that far off. Images processed for this review were done to my desires on how I wanted them to look. Some are straight out of camera JPG, others are RAW processed in Lightroom and some were also processed to monochrome in post as well. Tech Stuff Body Right off the bat, the camera body has a solid feel in the hand. Without the grip, it is almost too small…reminding me of the time that I was considering a Nikon D7000 series camera as an ASP-C backup to the D500. Most of the buttons are in the same place as the K-3, but a few are different, like the movie/still switch not being on the K-5. The K-3 does have a switch in the back to choose between single point, select and auto select focus points. The K-3 has that function mapped to a button on the side just above the AF/MF selector lever. Selecting to use the d-pad to move AF points is different as well. On the K-3, there is a dedicated button on the back bottom right to select the focus point or use the functions mapped to the d-pad buttons. The K-3 uses the center “OK” button on the d-pad as the device to change the above mentioned features. Most of the major dials are where you would expect them to be so getting used to the basic shooting ergonomics was adopted fast. The viewfinder is good, much bigger than I had anticipated for an APS-C camera. Dials. This is very similar to many other DSLRs. Main and sub command dials fall naturally under index and thumb. Setting them up like the way I shoot my Nikon’s makes the transition to it easy! The power switch is around the shutter release and is easy to find. As an interesting difference to other camera makers power switches, the depth of field activation is the third position on the power switch, same as on the K-3. There is also a mode dial lock switch. This switch in the off position allows for the mode dial to me moved freely. In lock position, the mode dial can be moved, but it would take you pressing down the button on the top of the mode dial itself. Kind of the best of both worlds in control scheme. Shutter Release – The shutter release has a positive feel between activating the auto focus and actuating the shutter. It is pretty standard feeling. Rear LCD – Bright and fully usable even in bright sunlight. You have to use the Info button on the camera body to switch between the different LCD views and turning it off completely. I’m used to having to dive into the menus to change those settings. I kinda like it, but not sure if that is because it is different and I hate going into menus for stuff like that. At the end of the day, let’s just say it’s different – not better or worse than other makers offerings. Top LCD Again – much like that on other DSLRs with top LCDs – You get a lot of great exposure and shooting information and it is backlit. Basically the same setup as the K-3. Viewfinder The viewfinder is large and bright and not what I was expecting from and APS-C camera from this time. Usually they are small and dark in all but the brightest of light. Actually a very good experience all-around for its 95% coverage. Weather Sealing Pentax weather sealing is legendary and I have no doubt that the K-3 lives up to that. As always, you make the decision for yourself on how you wish to treat your gear and if shooting in inclement weather is the right one for you. Lens Line Up You have access to the full lineup of K mount lenses I’ve just started dipping my toes into the mount. Performance Overall System Performance Once the camera is powered on, everything runs smooth and snappy. There is a weird delay from the power switch going from off to on. Seems a little longer than I would have anticipated from a DSLR. However, the battery is ample and this is one of those cameras that you can just leave switched on when out shooting. Really a non-issue, but something to be aware of if you are someone that prefers to have the camera powered off in between shooting sessions. Autofocus Single Point 11 auto focus points (auto – camera chooses the best focus point for you). I had some struggles early on with the AF (firmware version 1.12) and I didn’t think it was accurate. It was accurate most of the time, but it did have a lot more false positives – so it is crucial to double check what you see in the viewfinder looks reasonable. Where things changes was when I updated the firmware to version 1.16. This firmware definitely helped the auto focus. It is much more accurate and more confident when locking onto subjects. Being used to the K-3 and tempering my expectations to reality, my conclusion on the auto focus is that it works and with the firmware update is much closer to the performance of the K-3 than I expected it to be. These older Pentax DSLRs are not as precise, accurate or quick as Nikon’s DSLRs of similar vintage nor against modern mirrorless cameras. Tt does lag a little behind the K-3 as well, but not by a lot. It has that hesitancy and the final micro adjustments at the end of the focusing cycle that we’ve experienced with the K-3. It will be adequate for general photography, but I don’t think that I would want to rely on it for difficult subjects or mission critical work. I’ll need to test it and the K-3 out for some street photography as well and see how it does tracking subjects Continuous Having used some of the best auto focus on APS-C (Nikon D500), my initial thoughts were that this may very well be a futile and frustrating exercise. I tried using the continuous auto focus when shooting some insect shots and it just felt clunky and imprecise – I didn’t trust it. Manual Focus I will use it rarely. There is a focus confirmation dot on the bottom of the finder. Battery and Battery Life I believe I read in the manual that the CIPA rating is 720 shots using flash and 980 shots without flash for the D-LI90 battery in the K-5. Pretty good and you’ll probably get way more than that out of it in the course of a days shooting. I’ve personally experienced excellent battery life in all day shooting excursions. This is the same, roughly as the battery life expectancy on the K-3. In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) – SR (Shake Reduction) Pentax calls the IBIS in their DSLRs Shake Reduction (SR). In use, it seemed to work well, even out to 135mm (~202mm field of view). Longer focal lengths found on the Pentax 55-300, may prove to be less effective, but in our use it did a good job. Reminder that the lenses used are the 21/32/70 Limited primes. Ergonomics For me, the size of a camera is important. There is a point of diminishing returns on size. You can only go so small before the controls are hard to reach and the camera is difficult to hold. Feel in The Hand The K-5 feels solid. Grip is comfortable without the extension but may be a little small for some peoples hands. I do teeter on the verge of the camera being a bit too small as my pinkie does rest right on the bottom edge of the grip. During extended use, there are some quirks. First, if using a standard neck strap and the camera rests with its back LCD facing your body, it is possible for the ISO, white balance, and exposure compensation to get changed around without you realizing it. Luckily, I was shooting in RAW+JPG, so the white balance changes did not affect me, but the jpg were very difficult to try and recover. Some other items that I’m not sure I like in the handling is changing between ISO and Auto ISO. Without digging into the manuals, its not intuitive that the ISO button must be pushed and then the green button on the back pressed to cycle the option. Having the focus point change be shared between various options like jpg profiles, white balance, etc and activated / switched between the 2 modes by a button…just not very smooth and clean. Image Quality Keep into perspective the age of the camera now based on the options we have at the time of the review here. This sensor is capable of providing decent sharpness and details. 16mp sensor used in the K-5 seems relatively capable for its age. Without any exposure aids, it does struggle with blowing out highlights in bright sunlight and high contrast scenes. It does seem to lag a little behind the current sensors of the day (2022/2023) in dynamic range and in noise at higher ISO – but that is to be expected. No surprise – keep in mind that technology moves along quite rapidly in the camera world, especially in sensors. Initial testing was shooting with the highlight and shadow correction turned off. Subsequent testing was done with it turned on/low respectively. Please look at the images you see here in this review and use them to make judgements for yourself. Final Thoughts Pentax’s K-5 is another fun experiment and a secondary dive into the world of K mount. I can see with its handling quirks and the pokey AF why it may not be someone’s first option as a do everything camera. For portraits, general photography – if the price is right – it might make sense for you. Another thing to consider is if you already have a catalog of k-mount lenses, manual focus, film, etc – the digital k-mount might make sense. For me, if I had to pick between this and the Minolta Maxxum 7D, I’m still picking the Minolta. May seem strange, but all the issues I described earlier in handling, the Minolta does not suffer from. Also, even though the Minolta lags behind in high ISO capability and megapixels (6mp CCD), it does rather well for itself in the dynamic range department. With modern post processing, you can easily upscale a 6mp image to an equivalent 24mp with very little penalty. Given the choice between the K-5 and the K-3, I’d still be picking the K-3. Even though they are not really that much different, it is noticeable and you might as well get the 24mp sensor, the better IQ and better highlight/shadow correction. Most likely, I’ll be keeping the Pentax K-3 for a while – but I may not keep it for the long term. The K-5 falls in the same category. I do like having 2 bodies to run 2 different primes. I’d still recommend the Pentax as a system, but with a lot of consideration on what is already out there. You may find that the quirks that give me hesitation may not be an issue for you. Again, a more modern K-3 or the KP if you are wanting APS-C. Now – please also keep in mind that the K-5 is succeeded by 2 other upgrades in the Mark II and Mark IIs (lacks the AA filter for sharper images). I’ve no experience with the newer models but did consider the Mark IIs – but found none locally. A lot of my issues with some of the performance may be addressed with those cameras. Feel free to share your Pentax experiences with me in the comments section below! Final Thought: Barely Recommended, with caveats.
  11. Spent a little time in a small town's downtown area. Olympus EM1.2 Olympus 12-100/2 Pro OIS Used this setup as a I wanted a small, but capable all in one package as I did not know exactly what subjects I might run into and didn't want to take a lot of gear.
  12. Agree and it is a pleasure to shoot. I like those body styles and prefer purpose specific devices when available. I still shoot with a Minolta Maxxum 7D. It just handles so nice and I’ve had no issues getting great images from the 6mp sensor and the Minolta AF lenses.
  13. Yes it does. I’ve just played with it a bit, nothing extensive. I probably won’t use it as I’d prefer to have the images merged in camera. As it stands now you have to use the Nikon NX software to merge which I hate. there is some decent improvements in noise reduction at higher ISO and the colors and gradients can see a boost in fidelity and smoothness. I also have a Z8, so if I want high res, I’ll go that route. not sure why they opted for an external hi res. Olympus has been doing in camera merging for years. It should be an option to do in camera or to have the multiple images to manually merge.
  14. Yes, the FX sensor, retro styled camera. I sold my Z6 and Z fc for it. So far, no regrets. Have only had it a few days, but man is it nice. I will say with the caveat that you like the retro style camera bodies, of which I do! The IBIS is fantastic. As is, the camera works great with prime lenses. It is a bit of a struggle with zooms and larger lenses. I have a Smallrig extended grip coming to help with that. I ran into the same situation with the Z fc, so figured this would be necessary. I will say that Smallrig only charged me $35 shipped, so gotta appreciate that. I remember that the cheapest I could find a grip for the Fuji X-Pro2 was $70 and most I saw they were asking $150. From what I know, Nikon partnered with Smallrig on the grip. It is not "official", but they were ready to ship a week after the release. A few snaps of the camera in my office. If you know the top plate of the Z fc - you got the same here: The front of the camera has the name on the right side instead of the left like the Z fc A controversy - dual card slots, but one is SDHC UHS-1 and the other is microSD (SDXC) UHS-1. I appreciate this as I was able to get a Samsung microSD 256GB card for $15 from my local camera store and I have a whole ton of reliable Sandisk Extreme Pro cards from 16GB to 128GB. The microSD will be the in camera backup/overflow and the regular SD card will be the main recorder. I'm fine with this setup. Two last things 1. Nikon has included a B&W mode position on the stills/video switch. When moved there, you can invoke the last monochrome profile used. No menu diving! 2. Focus Point VR - normal IBIS uses the center of the sensor as the anchor point of stabilization. As an option, you can couple the IBIS with the focus point. This helps if you are shooting off center focus points and keeps the edges from moving as intensely and makes those subjects less blurry. I've not had to shoot anything to that degree to compare, but there is a video on the Nikon Europe Youtube channel that explains it with sample images. A few samples:
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