Having owned a (used) Leica M3 since the late 1970’s I can attest to the charms of working with a Leica camera. There is a certain heft and solidity of construction that speaks to its obvious longevity, which is juxtaposed with a deftness of operation, characteristics on display in the M3 in the stroke of the film advance lever and the sound and feel of the shutter release. For those who have experienced a Leica, that “aha that’s why” moment is quite unmatched by other cameras and it spoils you, in a way. Yet, working with a Leica for me has always had a certain awkwardness—witness the film loading in the M3, at least when compared with a sleek Nikon or Canon of the day, and the rangefinder focusing system, almost arcane in the world of autofocusing speed and accuracy. Yet, that awkwardness is not a true impediment and almost becomes part of the charm.
The Fujifilm Finepix X100 is designed like a classic viewfinder camera yet it offers state-of-the-art digital technology and some brand new and innovative systems. The Hybrid viewfinder, for example, is an example of a sophisticated enhancement of a classic concept. First of all, there’s a very bright and large optical viewfinder onto which the camera will overlay exposure information (aperture, shutter speed) and a parallax marker. Instead of using an optical system to create these overlay elements, as done in classic viewfinders of analog cameras, it uses a high resolution LCD. This results in detailed information and a very crisp look.
With the recent announcement of the third PEN in this series from Olympus, which is now in Shutterbug test, the not yet discontinued E-PL2 has dropped in price to $599 (from Olympus, with 14-42mm kit lens), about $200 less than when it was first introduced and to me a good deal for what you get while you can get it. The 12MP (effective pixels) Live CMOS sensor Olympus E-PL2 adds to the charms of the first in the “PEN” digital series, the P1. (See Joe Farace’s excellent review of that camera at http://www.shutterbug.com/content/olympus-e-p1in our Jan, 2010 issue) The PL2 adds a larger and higher resolution viewing screen, expanded accessories using the special plug-in adapter, an enhanced control setup and expanded Scene and Art filter modes.
Perhaps the most versatile of all moderate tele zoom focal lengths, the 70-200mm or thereabouts range is a hallmark and standard-bearer for many optical companies. Being a constant aperture (fast) zoom, this lens opens up numerous focusing, depth of field and perhaps as important low light shooting possibilities that make it a lens most Canon photographers aspire to own. Introduced last year, we got a chance to work with one and were so impressed we thought we’d revisit it with a quick review.
Photography and travel have always been intertwined. Ever since photography was invented photographers have been exploring the world, both locally and globally, with images. The camera becomes motivator and instigator, witness and commentator, of the social, natural, and wondrous sites that surround us. And while many of the articles and images in this issue deal with particular projects undertaken by a wide range of photographers, there’s no reason to think you have to travel far and wide to discover what that magical combination of camera and travel can do for you.
Feeling very much in hand like a pro camera, with magnesium alloy top and rear body construction, the Nikon D7000 (list: $1199, body only) has all the bells and whistles of a modern D-SLR, including a high megapixel count CMOS sensor, a new image processor to handle all the data it can capture, including 14-bit NEF, a high ISO 6400 “normal” (expandable two stops), and the currently requisite 1080p HD movie capability. This DX (APS-C) format camera also features dual SD card slots, with spillover or format sort capability, a nice and speedy 6 frames-per-second (fps) shooting capability for up to a 100 frame burst (JPEG), and full-time AF with video and Live View. The monitor is bright and highly readable in just about every lighting condition. Unfortunately, it is fixed and does not articulate, but the penta-prism finder makes one pray that Nikon will never go EVF (electronic viewfinder), yielding 100 percent coverage and being a pleasure to view through, especially after suffering some recent EVF obscuring experiences.
Inkjet printmakers have nothing to complain about when it comes to paper choices. There are glossy, semigloss, and matte surface papers galore, each with their own charm and cachet. Regarding the latter aspect, Somerset is no slouch, having
established a reputation in both inkjet and other art papers many years back.
Their latest entry into the inkjet market is Somerset Museum Rag, distributed by Moab. This 100 percent cotton, 300 gsm paper displays a smooth matte surface, a considerable, but not yellowish warm tone, and while strong and fairly thick, is actually quite supple. The paper is single-sided, which means the tooth is on one side only, and telling the printable from the backing side is not something that will be immediately apparent. For that reason the packaging comes with a stick-on label that says “printable THIS SIDE.” You would do well to keep the original cellophane packaging until you get a good feel for the surfaces. I found that if you rub your thumb along the surface the differences become clear, with the printable surface evoking somewhat of a higher pitch.
The Samsung NX11 is the follower of the NX10. Like the NX10 it is a compact system camera with an APS-C-sized sensor and a nominal resolution of 14.6 MP. The most important difference to the NX11 is the “i-Function” technology, which allows the user to set up image parameters very quickly and intuitively. The NX11 offers this technology right out of the box; the NX10 now offers “i-Function” via a firmware update.
For the past few months I have been slowly cataloging prints I’ve made over the past years. This entails signing, dating and numbering the prints and then making an Index. I decided the easiest way to maintain and expand the list as I continued cataloging would be a blog. That was only the beginning of the project, it turns out.