Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Olympus Pen E-PM2 Review

Olympus Pen E-PM2 Review
July 2014, Carl Garrard
Olympus Pen E-PM2 Review: Poor Olympus. They seem to be a company that are always climbing a mountain but never near reaching the top. Fortunately, they do seem to gather and procure a very committed crowd of photographers that buy their equipment. There are some very good reasons for that, especially these days. But before I get off on a tangent- I'm not here to talk about the company as a whole. Well, not directly at least.  Recently I've come to acquire the little Olympus Pen E-PM2. This is a camera that many of my readers may think I'd not be interested in considering that I love myself a camera with a ton of external controls. We'll to them I say: sometimes there is more to a camera than meets the eye. More...

Olympus E-PM2- Who Needs A Lens?
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pentax K5IIs - Extreme Low Light Shooting (ISO 204,800)

Pentax K5IIs - Extreme Low Light Shooting (ISO 204,500)
July 2014, Carl Garrard
Today's test is about shooting in extremes. Occasionally we all mess up exposure, some of us more often or less than others. Look, it happens. When it happens, you can only hope your equipment is good enough to help salvage an image beyond your mistakes. This is why I tested the K5IIs in extreme circumstances to see how much real time/real life exposure latitude the sensor has. In other words, I wanted to see how well the K5IIs raw files could stand up in extreme underexposure at the camera's highest ISO setting. The image to the left was shot two stops underexposed at ISO 51,200 and developed from raw. More...


You've Entered: The Pentax K-5 IIs Zone
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Monday, July 14, 2014

PENTX XG-1 Announced Today (with pricing for the US Market)

Pentax XG-1 Announced Today (with pricing for the US Market)
July 2014, Carl Garrard

Today a new Pentax 52x superzoom replaces the Pentax X-5 (the K5 DSLR look alike), Pentax's XG-1. This camera is shooting for the consumer/beginner crowd and aims to be a relatively affordable but versatile package. It should go for about $399.00 USD initially, but this price is likely to be adjusted. The XG-1 looks more like the K50 DSLR this time around, instead how the X-5 was a knock off of Pentax's highly popular K5 camera. The press release for the XG-1 is below the basic information below. Some stand out specs are its HD video capability, dedicated af assist lamp, good macro capability, and host of digital filters. It's 16mp BSI CMOS sensor is widely shared among many different digital cameras, and it's decent for its intended market. Since this is a camera intended for beginners/consumers, it does not come with raw file capability. In my mind, a decently priced/spec'd camera for vacationers and for making family memories. It might be nice to see Pentax stand out a bit more by offering something different than other manufacturers, but alas...the XG-1 is the current superzoom model that comes from the new Ricoh ownership.

PENTAX SUPERZOOMS

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Monday, June 30, 2014

24 Shots- A Roll of Practice

Today's exercise is about getting back to basics. Of late I'm on a big 35mm film kick but of course I'm still shooting digital like most people. In between rolls of film I like to keep my skills and awareness sharp for the use of film, because I get lazy shooting with digital (as many of us do. admit it). When shooting with film, you just naturally tend to concentrate a lot more on the subject matter, composition, and exposure than you need too with digital- yet the result is unusually high keeper rates as a matter of practicing good habits. Practicing inbetween rolls of film is easy to do with digital. If you use a DSLR try this simple technique.


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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Minolta Dynax 9/Maxxum 9- A Look Back In Time

One of the commercials for the Dynax 9/Maxxum 9 legendary film camera. Someone was nice enough to post this on YouTube yet, at the time of my posting, only had 17 hits. For shame! The Maxxum 9/Dynax 9 is arguably one of the best professional film cameras designed ... ever. Enjoy. Minolta Maxxum 9


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pentax K5IIs Review

Pentax (Ricoh) K5IIs DSLR Review
June 2014, Carl Garrard
Pentax (Ricoh) K5IIs DSLR Review
My preview is already up here on this site so I'm going to cut right to the chase with this review. I have a big history with the K5, so any and all changes made to the K5IIs have immediately become apparent to me while using it. Other than the changes noted in this review, a comprehensive review on other features etc. is available in my K5 review. Oddly as this may sound, I do want to note right away that I think it's stellar that Ricoh/Pentax still include a real comprehensive printed manual with this camera. I'm getting rather tired of the the cost cutting going on with other manufacturers to the point that they aren't including one with the camera. That said, the differences between the K5IIs and the K5 is a short list, but an important one, so lets get started.

Pentax K-5 IIs Body Only Easy Price Check

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

K5IIs Review Update

K5IIs Review Update
May 2013, Carl Garrard

We'll as promised, the K5IIs has arrived for testing and the project it will take on will certainly do just that. Here it lies unopened yet in its box, thanks B&H for excellent delivery! My new Raven project starts immediately which will push the limits of the K5IIs's dynamic range, focusing ability, and detail retention. After spending a lot of trigger hours on my K5 and other Pentax's as well, it's going to be interesting to see how this new camera stacks up to the task and my expectations. I'm a huge fan of my K20D's handling and for the most part that camera takes care of all of my DSLR needs, however the K5IIs is undoubtedly more prepared to take on this task and give me several advantages over the K20D- which is why I bought it.


Pentax K-5 IIs Best Price Check
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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pentax K5IIs Review Forthcoming

Pentax K5IIs Review- It's forthcoming!
May 2014, Carl Garrard
Pentax makes some kick ass DSLR's, one of them in fact got my DSLR of the Decade award, the highest honor I've ever given any camera, let alone a DSLR- the K5. The K5IIs may be old news (late 2012), especially compared to the much fussed about K3, but it remains a very much capable camera. I've chosen it as a personal purchase to begin a photo project on ravens and crows I'm about to ebark on. Why? Two reasons mainly, it's phenomenal sensor is one of the best in the dynamic range department (14 stops is insane in the digital category at this price), namely the shadow areas, and it's lack of an anti-aliasing filter means more detail on crops. It's improved auto focus will definitely be welcomed as well. It's price right now is like insanely tempting and I couldn't resist it. The bang for the buck factor here is extremely high- bargain hunters you better take notice. I've also got an investment in Pentax lenses and the one's I've chosen are also great performers for the dollar. We'll see if the K5IIs's auto focus improvements live up to their promise with its Safox X af system.

Pentax K-5 IIs Best Price Check
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II Preview

Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II Preview
April, 2014 Carl Garrard
Today's Low Price - Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II
It's been quite a while since my last post, but, the lab is back in action and I'll be posting again much more often. Thank you for your emails and support for my blog! Today I'll be discussing Canon's recently announced G1X Mark II. Ever a fan of the G series PowerShot cameras, I was eager to get the new G1X Mark II in my hands. This camera is basically a completely new redesign, and probably would be better named as the G2X, but alas, it isn't. The G1X Mark II has a faster lens, better magnification for macro work, smaller body and a forgone optical viewfinder in favor of a plug in and optional EVF. While any new camera design that goes through a radical re-design will draw criticisms, I tend to think that the G1X Mark II has refined itself over it's predecessor as a whole.

Today's Low Price - Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II
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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ricoh GR Review

Ricoh GR Review
March 2014, Carl Garrard

Ricoh's GR is fast becoming my go too camera for almost all applications. A photographer and busy father with a career often seeks the pleasure and companionship of a camera that is portable yet highly capable. I have many cameras that can suit this task well, but of late the Ricoh GR is the one I've been naturally grabbing for on the go photography. It is slowly replacing all of my other portable cameras, zoom or not for reasons I shall outline below. Quick specs- APS-C size 16mp filterless sensor, 28mm f/2.8 aperture, full manual controls, art filters galore, and extremely customizable and capable menu system unlike any other compact on the market .


Ricoh GR Best Searched Price
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Friday, November 15, 2013

Pentax K20D - Still Loving It

Pentax K20D - Still Loving It

Yeah it's five years old, and this is my third K20D. And yes, Pentax has the new  K-3 out there now. There are those that wonder why I still hold onto some older DSLR cameras when there are so many new and shiny DSLRS's available on the market, especially with the Pentax K-3flagship dangling in front of me. The answer in short, is that I reserve the right to have specific tastes. I've liked many cameras and have loved but a few. I won't talk about the one's I've hated- it's pointless. My needs are as specific as anyone else's and, just as unique. Sometimes we photographers agree on our tastes/needs and sometimes we don't. That's life. With that said, I find great satisfaction in sharing my opinion with others, and, at the same time, I find equal satisfaction in listening to theirs. Humans can be a fickle species, and I'm no different. Needs and desires change all the time, admittedly desires more than needs, but nevertheless we all have that in common to one degree or another.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Nikon Df- First Impressions

Nikon Df- First Impressions
November 2013, Carl Garrard
 Yesterday Nikon announced an interesting camera- about a week after a buzz campaign had been on the net for all to watch. The camera to the left is touted to be many things by Nikon, but I'm not here to discuss what they think of the camera. I'm going to give my raw impressions on what this campaign and camera have left on me. The Nikon Df  is certainly a striking camera by any measure. The exterior exudes functionality first in design, that in the minds eye of this writer, also exudes beauty. Practically designed cameras have always seemed beautiful to me, because it is very obvious the design is meant to appeal to a working photographer.

Nikon Df Information Page
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sony Cybershot RX10- A Wolf in Wolf's Clothing

Sony Cybershot RX10- A Wolf in Wolf's Clothing
October 2013, Carl Garrard
Sony's Cybershot division hard at work, again. This time making an impressively spec'd fixed lens digicam with an optimized 24-200mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss T* lens in front of a 1" sized sensor. The price? $1,299.00 SRP.  While that price is steep from any angle, you need to consider what you are getting for that price. First of all, there's no DSLR lens available with a 24-200mm equivalent focal range and constant f/2.8 aperture anywhere on the planet. Also, this is a Carl Zeiss lens with T* coating optimized in front of one of the best mid sized sensors I've ever tested. Add too a manual aperture ring w/detent switch for purists. That is the star of the show here. Also the camera body itself is also pretty impressive in build with a magnesium and high tech composite frame. There's a top mounted LCD, a slew of external controls, a big tiltable LCD, and very nice big EVF at 1.4 million dots with .7X 35mm equivalent view (basically the same view size you see in expensive full frame digital SLRs). Still a lot of money for you? Don't read on. Sound like a good deal? Have a peek further... (specs first, commentary below them).
Sony RX Cameras Best Prices

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1- Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 Review
October 2013, Carl Garrard
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 Review
The GX1 made waves not too long ago and after a bit of time with one I can see why. This little GX1 is really growing on me. It's not the most comfortable camera to use one handed, but I'm learning to live with it and get around its shortcomings in handling. What I like about this camera is that it's small and completely pocketable with a 17mm pancake on it.  I can use every ISO setting in raw confidently, and it has accurate and blazing fast auto focus. It's controls are adequate, and so is its menu system. Neither blow me away but it doesn't get in my way when shooting stills either. If you want a more detailed review, read on.


Search Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 Best Price
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Pentax K-50 Review (Part 1)

Pentax K-50 Review
October 2013, Carl Garrard
Pentax K-50 Review: You'd think that enthusiasts would be uncontrollably jumping for joy because of the kind of DSLRS we get today for the prices they are set at. But alas, I still see comment after comment about pricing and lack of features and all sorts of other nonsense. Pentax seem to be throwing the gauntlet at those customers with the K50. It's both reasonably priced and spec'd to the hilt, and even comes with a class leading weather resistant kit lens to boot. There's simply no arguing that the K50 is a lot of camera for the price, by anyone. And when you dig deeper than looking over spec sheets and price, you'll find that there's even more to like about this camera. Interested? Read on.


Pentax K-50 Best Price Three Colors
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New Pentax K3 DSLR Announced

New Pentax K3 DSLR Announced
October 2013, Carl Garrard
Pentax has announced its highest level DSLR to date, the new Pentax K3 DSLR. It sits above the similar styled Pentax K5 II/S models and features the most advanced auto focus system and highest resolution sensor from any Pentax camera before it. Pentax has long been a favorite of mine in that they make cameras that provide nearly every item an enthusiast wish list could want, and every year they keep adding to that list. The K3 adds quite a few substantial upgrades over the K5 including more resolution (24mp vs 16), higher frame rate (8.3fps vs 7fps), larger viewfinder view (.95X vs .92X), larger LCD screen (3.2 " vs 3"), and much more enhanced video options for those who do that stuff.




Pentax DSLR Sale Prices
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Monday, September 16, 2013

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC1: When Will I Ever Learn?

What a looker.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC1: When Will I Ever Learn? As a reviewer, cameras come in and out of my hands often faster than I have time to review them- that is just the nature of the game. My digital experience goes back to 2001, when digital cameras were just really starting to make head way into the camera market and film was making a gracious exit from the saloon. In all this time, there are few cameras that I've used, even reviewed, and in this case owned twice or three times that no matter what I try to do- cannot shake them from my fond memories. And in the case of the Panasonic DMC-LC1, I can't shake my desire to use it- no matter how many times I've owned it (counting it's twin brother, the Digilux 2 as well here).



Panasonic DMC-LC1 Availability and Price Check
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Friday, September 13, 2013

Sony Cybershot RX100 M II - Full Review

Sony Cybershot RX100 M II Review
August 2013, Carl Garrard
Sony Cybershot RX100 M II Review- Sony's Cybershot RX100II (mark II) camera adds some upgrades (minor or major depending on their value to you) to the RX100 and sells for about $100.00 more than the RX100 at introductory resale prices. For those that have lived under a rock, it sports a 1" size 20mp BSI CMOS sensor, a 28-100mm f/1.8-4.9 Vario-Sonnar branded Zeiss lens (bye bye Carl...) w/auto lens cover, tilting LCD, multi-interface hot shoe, add on grip option, user customizable front control ring, all metal case, near field wi-fi, full video compliment, and much more. Take a look at what I think of the second version of this camera.


  

Best RX100 II Instant Price Check
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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Adobe Cloud- Don't Be Fooled

ADOBE CREATIVE SHROUD
Today Adobe announced a new cloud based subscription price on certain Adobe products. I'm not going to link to Adobe or mention the pricing scheme. Fact remains that Adobe isn't listening to their consumers. Enthusiast and Professional photographers largely do not want to pay a subscription for software they should own. They don't want to have their work on a cloud. And it's simple why Adobe isn't abandoning this nutty idea right away- they've invested a lot of money and time into this project. They want it to succeed. They also want to earn more profit by creating less workforce. I'm not a supporter of this idea at all. For those of you who think its a good price- just remember that price now and the price later are a totally different ballgame. For those of you who need a push: Think long term and don't be suckered into this shroud scheme. Adobe pretends to care about you now, so this project will gain enough traction to start a chain reaction an dependence on this way of doing business. Don't do it.


Adobe CS6 Standard Edition NOT CLOUD BASED
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ricoh HZ-15 Announced

Ricoh HZ-15 Announced
August 2013, Carl Garrard

The blend of companies that is now "Ricoh" is starting to show fruit of the labor that merging creates. Ricoh now adorns the HZ-15, in a new camera that is Ricoh's first compact superzoom. It's got quite a spec sheet for a camera of this type, but certainly isn't alone in the world of superzoom compacts. Still, it's nice to see a Ricoh logo on a camera like this and I rather like the style. More on the HZ-15 below. This camera has been ignored in today's announcements, so I wanted to bring it to light for my readers. Ricoh UK published the press release, so it's apparently fair game! RICOH HZ-15 SEARCH

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Upcoming Dual Review- Sony Alpha A58 DSLT and 18-55mm SAM II Lens

Upcoming Dual Review- Sony Alpha A58 and 18-55mm SAM II
August 2013, Carl Garrard
Yep tis time for another Sony review, this time a dual camera and lens review in one. The camera and lens comes to our doorsteps here tomorrow and then the evaluation begins. This is likely Sony's last A-Mount camera to be made, future cameras are going to be hybrid mount cameras (if you believe the believable rumors out there), so I didn't want this one to escape our claws. As some of my readers know, I cut my teeth on reviewing cameras with Sony cameras exclusively- so I know them probably better than any other cameras out there. The Sony A58 is the latest edition and the new kit lens promises internal focusing and optical improvements. Price? Check here: Sony A58 and 18-55mm Kit or here..... (below)


Sony A58 and 18-55mm Kit
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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sony Cybershot RX100 II- In for Review

Sony Cybershot RX100 II- In for Review
August 2012, Carl Garrard
Sony's RX100 II is now at Photographic-Central for review! As many readers know I wasn't quite sold on the implementation of the original RX100 but this model, although more expensive, addressed some of the design decisions that I criticized. Obviously one person's opinion does not shape a camera design, but it's obvious to me that my criticisms weren't alone on the RX100 since the successor incorporated those very criticisms into the next design. Good for Sony to do just that!

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Minolta Dynax 800si Project- A Review of Film Fundamentals (updated)

Minolta Dynax 800si Project- A Review of Film Fundamentals
July 2013, Carl Garrard
Minolta Dynax 800Si
The Minolta Dynax 800si project started with an idea heavily inspired by the great Steve McCurry (who's photography you are more familiar with than you might be aware). For those who don't know, Steve is the only person to shoot the last roll of legendary Kodak Kodachrome film, and he had only 36 exposures to make. You can view this wonderful documentary here and see the images here, I highly recommend both. Steve is a perfectionist and his exposures were absolutely spot on (no technical errors that I spotted), which is a huge inspiration for me.



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Panasonic Lumix G5- Full Review

Panasonic Lumix G5- Full Review
August 2013, Carl Garrard
Panasonic Lumix G5- Full Review: Panasonic's Lumix G5 has been out for quite some time but represents excellent value for the dollar. It sports the same sensor in its high end GH2 camera with 16 megapixels, and has most of the features that it's newest cameras have as well. The kicker is the price, down to $300.00 body only at Amazon and a couple of other online retailers. On paper the Lumix G5 represents the best deal going for m4/3 users so if you've been waiting to try out a micro four thirds camera set up, the Lumix G5 just may be your affordable ticket into the show. Like I said, the Panasonic Lumix G5 is loaded with features and my review will attempt to cover how this camera performs from my usual photographer first perspective.



Panasonic Lumix G5 Body Only Price (Instant Search)
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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Panasonic Lumix GX7- Review Coming!

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7- Review Coming! Announced!
August 2013, Carl Garrard
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7- Review Coming! So here it is, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7- officially. This is a camera that Panasonic users have been waiting for. Design wise, it's a fusion of the GX series with a nod to the older DMC-LC1 and DMC-L1 cameras at least in spirit and is the only interchangeable camera in the world to have two fixed tiltable displays.  The GX7 is loaded with features and a new sensor, and has a ridiculous host of specifications (read press release below). Notable is that it is the first camera from Panasonic to have in body image stabilization - so any lens attached is now stabilized. It will be offered in 3 variations- two with different kit lenses.


Panasonic GX7 Best Price Search
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