Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Nikon Df and Low Light Photography

Last month, I posted my thoughts on the new Nikon Df.  I should emphasize here that as of yet I have not been able to handle or even view this camera inasmuch as Nikon did not make it available to those photographers who attended October's NYC Photo Expo, this even though the company was at the same time extensively posting a series of "teaser" videos.  I have only followed the news and reviews available elsewhere on the web.

One item that particularly caught my attention was a recent DXO Mark review of the Df's performance at high ISO's.    While much was made of the camera's retro design when it was first released, less was said of its components.  In many ways, the Df is a hybrid of existing Nikon DSLR's - it not only features the same autofocus system found in the D610, it also contains the same sensor used in the D4.  It's the latter that's of particular interest.  Though it is capable of a maximum image size of only 16.2 mpix (compared to the D800's 36.3 mpix), the sensor has an ISO range that goes from 100 to 12,800, expandable to an astonishing 204,800 (compared to the D800's 100 to 6,400, expandable to 25,600).  A chart supplied by DXO makes the advantage immediately obvious to anyone interested in nighttime or low light photography.

Up to now, photographers seeking a Nikon capable of shooting in low light have have had limited options.  Unless they can locate a used D3s or D700 (both discontinued), they've had little alternative but to spend $5,999.95 for a D4.  The Df, at $2,749.95 (body only) is less than half that price.  This makes it a viable purchase for those "enthusiasts" (that wonderful euphemism for non-professionals) who prefer to shoot without flash.  It should be noted, though, that the Df will not serve as a replacement for the D4 among professionals.   The Df does not have video capabilities, cannot match the D4's 11 fps burst rate (the Df offers only 5.5), does not have dual memory card slots and is not as ruggedly built.  These are not necessarily critical considerations, though, if the user is not doing photography for a living.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Film Photography: Lomography Partners with Kodak Alaris

A recent article in Popular Photography announced that Lomography and Kodak Alaris are combining forces to keep film photography a viable medium.  For those photographers, such as myself, who continue to work with analog photography and who experience constant frustration as favorite films and papers are discontinued by their manufacturers on an almost daily basis, this is welcome news indeed.  While no one would dispute the convenience of digital photography, it is important for many photographers to be able to express their vision by means of analog methods.

The specifics of Lomography's joint venture with Alaris are lacking.  As the Pop Photo article notes:
"What this will practically mean, we're not really sure. But at the very least, it hopefully means that Kodak will do its utmost to keep what films it already has in-print, and Lomo will keep trying to come up with weird and whacky variants."
Lomography has been extremely innovative in creating new film stocks over the past few years while Alaris has stated its intention to keep in production the classic Kodak films, or at least those (such as Kodachrome) that have not already been discontinued.  It would seem that a joint venture between the two companies could result in a range of new film products, some of which might even be exciting enough to lure a few photographers back to the darkroom.