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Merry Christmas from the Rockwell Family!

 

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio
I use these stores. I can't vouch for ads below.

30 November 2010, Tuesday

D700 or D7000?

A reader asks "If cost isn't a concern, what's the bottom line: D700 or D7000?"

My reply:

Picture quality is the same. Choose the:

 

D7000 for carrying all day, eternal battery life, small size, quiet operation and travel.

Get the D7000 if you shoot more then one kind of thing: its U1 and U2 modes make resetting everything about the camera, say to go from photographing people to photographing scenery, easy.

 

D700 if you prefer the bigger finder and don't mind the size, weight, power consumption and acoustic noise. Get the D700 if you need to have it in-hand for Christmas.

The D700 is in-stock and down to $2,349.95 at Adorama; it was $3,000 when it first came out.

 

If you already have a slew of lenses, get the camera which fits them. (Don't use the D700 with DX lenses; it's a huge waste of the D700, and with DX lenses, the D7000 works much better anyway.)

 

Deal

The 28-300mm VR is down to $979 at Adorama. Heck, it was $1,000 yesterday.

 

29 November 2010, Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is the day after Thanksgiving that everyone gets back to their offices, and starts doing their real shopping online.

In this spirit, here are some hot spots:

Adorama's Cyber Monday Specials

Amazon's Cyber Monday Specials

 

D7000 Battery Life

After shooting all this four-day holiday, I got off 758 shots and still have 75% of my charge left, which suggests that I'd get just over 3,000 shots on this charge.

 

1980s Kodachrome Still Works!

NEW: Dwayne's Photo Kodachrome Review.

For a roll of film that expired 25 years ago, and that never looked that good even when new, I'm amazed!

RYan on Kodachrome

Ryan on 25-year-old Kodachrome.

 

27 November 2010, Saturday

Nikon D7000 Battery Life and Lenses

As I use my D7000 more, the battery lasts longer because I'm shooting more than playing around with settings.

Today, I've got 89% of charge left after 325 shots. High-school Algebra therefore predicts 3,000 shots by the time the battery dies.

People keep asking, and honestly, for the few weeks I've had my D7000, the 35mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/1.8 are all I've felt any need to use on it. I put on other lenses to test them, but for my own shooting, the 35 and 50 are all I need, and I go all day with either one, not both, with me. I grab whichever is closest, and I'm good.

For $120, you can get the 50/1.8, and you're good to go on your D7000. The $120 50/1.8 is among Nikon's sharpest lenses, period, and is also spectacular on FX and 35mm formats as well.

 

Tokina 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5

Tokina 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 AF (FX).

NEW: Tokina 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 AF Review.

Good gosh, this FX lens, popular back in the late 1990s, is as good optically as Nikon's professional lenses of its era, and better than Nikon's plastic 18-35mm sold today!

Tokina's even tougher AT-X f/2.8 20-35mm, which cost three times as much and was tested last week, isn't as good optically as this lens.

 

25 November 2010, Thanksgiving

Clik Elite Seeker 10

Clik Elite Seeker 10.

NEW: Clik Elite Seeker 10 Review.

I recall my favorite thanksgiving about 15 years ago when some friends and I went out to Lake Powell photographing during our long 4-day weekend.

I would have loved one of these packs back then, as it's optimized for running and active sports on the part of the photographer, as opposed to most packs which are designed for idle photographers to photograph others actually doing the sports.

 

24 November 2010, Wednesday

 

Nikon D7000

I added a bunch of small tips and observations to my Nikon D7000 Review. For those of you who see this page each day, you've already seen most of what I added.

 

Congratulations, Steve Sasson

Last Wednesday, US President Obama honored the inventor of the digital camera, Steve Sasson of Kodak, with a National Medal of Technology and Innovation award.

 

23 November 2010, Tuesday

The Rockwell Family Gets Down!

Oh my gosh - check this out live from The North Pole!

It's going to be a great Christmas, and we haven't even passed Thanksgiving yet!

iPod and iPhone note: My immensely talented wife made this for all you using an obsolete old program called "Flash," so it won't play on the newest devices like iPods and iPhones. You'll have to wait until you get to a laptop to see it, har har. Flash was used mostly to make annoying animated website ads, so good riddance. Of course you can make your own elf dance at that link, too, just as she did, but it's still only in "Flash."

As a consolation, I have some hot tips to write up on how to get almost unlimited battery life under iOS 4, and how to turn our iPod Touches into telephones, completely bypassing the old cell-phone companies, that actually works easily, exactly like a real phone! Verizon, AT&T, bye bye! It's not Skype; this actually works like a real phone. More later.

 

22 November 2010, Monday

Adorama rules in Australia!

A reader from Australia just wrote to thank me for the tip; he ordered his Tokina 100mm Macro from Adorama on Saturday, and it arrived in Australia on Thursday morning. Heck that's usually faster than it makes it to California, since I use the free ground shipping option.

 

Updated

I rewrote the Pocket Camera section of my Recommended Cameras page.

I also updated my Lens Suggestions and Flash Suggestions for the general public.

 

New Book

The Art of Photography is a superb book by Bruce Barnbaum with unusually good advice to help you create great photographs. I have the old 1994 edition, which wen t out of print and was selling for hundreds of dollars used until this new edition came out today.

 

Awesome Photo Issues!

I had an eyeful this weekend reading.

First, Arizona Highway's December 2010 issue was an-all photo issue. Arizona Highways is already the best source of awesome landscape photography, along with articles about Arizona today and yesterday.

They pulled out all the stops this issue, and it was a portfolio of the favorite photos of about 34 of the world's greatest landscape photographers – and no written articles. It's loaded with pictures. Better than a book, this issue showcased each image, along with a paragraph by the photographer about how he got the shot.

These explanations mean a lot. There were only a couple of technical references (including Velvia in 4x5,") and the rest of them usually explained how the photographer had to hike in a few days during a storm, after having already identified the location previously. Landscape photography is all about keeping your eyes peeled around you, and all about the patience to wait long enough to get striking light and storm conditions.

It's never about the gear. It's always about keeping your imagination open, and the patience to wait and to return later. You never can force an image; it has to come to you. The best you can do is be prepared.

The next awesome thing I read was Wildlife, the National Wildlife Federation's magazine showcasing the winners of this year's photo contest.

As always, these images were hair-raising. They aren't just record shots of sleeping animals; they are shots capturing the most incredible peaks of action, activity and interaction, as well as incredible nature and landscape shots. Wow!

I subscribe to both of these, as well as National Geographic. I'm unsure how you can get a copy of these specific issues; they are probably on newsstands and at your library.

 

Amazon Black Monday Camera Deals come a Week Early!

Amazon doesn't screw around, so starting this Monday (today), Amazon's deals start rolling to get ahead of all the other online deals.

Check them out, starting today.

Actually, plenty of others are running Black Monday starting today, too, instead of next Monday.

Back in the days of retail, the Friday after Thanksgiving was a big shopping day, and often the day where a retail store's profits went from negative (red) to profitable (black), thus the name Black Friday. In this case, it was a good thing, unlike Black Tuesday, when the stock market crashed in 1929.

Anyway, starting about ten years ago, people would go shopping at retail on Black Friday to see what they wanted, and then actually order it online for less on Black Monday when they got back to their offices with fast internet connections. Black Monday is a big day online. Amazon is still calling it Black Friday, as "Black Monday" is still more of an insider's phrase used by people like me who earn their livings online.

Now that retail, like film, is little more than a fond memory for most people, there's no longer any reason to delay Black Monday until after Thanksgiving, so most operations have moved it up to today. This is also a huge help to the environment, saving our environment (and traffic) all the driving people used to do to get out to "stores" after Thanksgiving, especially when all the items they order today are already in their hands before Thanksgiving. It doesn't matter what people drive; selfish people who still drive to "go shopping" are the problem.

Retail is like vacuum tube CRTs and film. Some of us still love CRTs and film, and CRTs and film will always be there for we who love them, while most of us have moved on to what's relevant for today.

I joined for Amazon Prime years ago, so all my stuff shows up with 2-day free shipping. If I order anything today, it will be here on Wednesday, no charge, and with no minimums for free 2-day shipping.

 

21 November 2010, Sunday

Photographic Mastery

Stoneman Meadow

Stoneman Meadow, Morning, 19 October 2010. bigger.

I just got my film back from my Canon 110ED: professional perfection! Who hoo! This shot on Fuji 200 print film, run at Swan Photo.

Technically, the Canon 110ED and its professional 26mm f/2 lens is the modern equivalent of the LEICA M7 and LEICA 50mm f/2 SUMMICRON-M: both are electronically-controlled aperture-priority rangefinder-focus cameras with lenses of the same speed and angle of view. Which is more discrete for reportage? The Canon has about only one-third the frontal area; you decide. The Canon also winds faster and more easily, loads, rewinds and unloads ten times faster, has a date-imprint function, and its shutter makes automatic exposures out to many minutes long, completely automatically.

Let's forget the technical superiority of one over the other: artistically, the professional 110 format preserves the correct aspect ratio of the world's finest fine art (5:4), while the LEICA (and today's DSLRs which descend from it) still suffers from The Prophet's fatal flaw of simply using two 35mm cine frames to give a flawed 3:2 aspect ratio that only an engineer could love. 3:2 is too darn skinny; you always have to crop the top and bottom for verticals, but not with professional 5:4.

Another article I need to scribble is how no matter what sort of camera you give someone, the same pictures come out. It's the same as someone's signature; give a photographer a camera — any camera — and he'll figure out the best way to get pictures out of it. I don't care what kind of camera I have; I always get the same pictures.

PS: that same roll of film had been sitting in that 110 camera — in the heat – for well over a year and a half, and I have no idea when it expired. The photos at the beginning of the roll show my son when he's tiny!

 

19 November 2010, Friday

The best light meter is free!

La Valencia 16 Nov 2010

La Jolla's La Valencia, Tuesday. bigger.

I've been using Pocket Light Meter on my iPod Touch.

It works great, and I just got back a roll of Velvia from my 1952 LEICA IIIf that looks great, shot entirely with my iPod.

What? I used my iPod as the light meter for this manual 35mm camera to set exposure.

This snap was at 1/100 at f/11, with a 50mm SUMMICRON-M (borrowed from a collector) and B+W 81A MRC filter. Ah, another crummy day in La Jolla while I waited for my wife's dental appointment.

Better than an old-fashioned dedicated light meter, this one lets me see the results of different exposures on its screen, I can make screen-grabs to log the times and exposures I used for what image (hold main button and tap the top button), and most importantly, I'm already carrying my iPod.

Check your exposures before you commit to a big project, iPod cameras vary, and I set my meter to +1 to agree with how I want my film to look. Of course this is a light subject, so I had to add exposure that my compensation took away.

 

Demolition is usually for adults. I love America, and when my kids are a few years older, I'll be letting them work on these sorts of commercial jobs, too. Listen for the "uh-oh."

Demolition is a tough job, it takes a lot of work to get things to fall exactly as you want them to. Things only fall straight-down into a nice, neat pile when a demo job has been planned and simulated for months. For large structures, it takes months of super-computer simulations, and even then, things don't always work-out as planned. Nothing ever falls straight-down all by itself, so it's always impressive when a demo job comes off nice and neat..

We applaud the local businesses for giving kids a chance! Mistakes are the best way to learn, and no one got hurt.

(sorry about the crummy flash video format that only plays on old-style computers, not iPods and iPads - it's not my video, unfortunately.)

 

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio
I use these stores. I can't vouch for ads below.

Get Out!

I was just looking at Chris Morrison's site again.

You don't make photos like that on a computer; he actually had to hike out there and shoot Velvia at dawn and dusk to make it happen.

 

Idolatry

Americans love to poke fun of primitive cultures who assign animate characteristics to inanimate objects. Americans find Cargo Cults, those who presume that the airplanes in the sky are bringing objects eventually to them, hilarious.

We big-brained American Ph.D.s know that objects can't think, don't have feelings, and aren't alive. Anyone who worships an object or idol must be crazy. In fact, we so-called-by-ourselves developed people have had laws on the books against worshipping idols for longer than we've had history. Long before the Ten Commandments, God gave Adam and Eve an even simpler set of only six laws, and rule number one was simply "No Idols."

So from where do so many people get the idea that buying a better, more expensive camera will somehow take better pictures all by itself? I find this hilarious!

Pictures come from our imaginations and vision, not from a camera.

 

Photo Fun

Not that I'm happy that it happened, but if it does happen, my American sense of humor finds this hilarious. This reminds me of a fireman friend telling me that it's always unfortunate when something catches fire, but if it's going to happen, he sure hopes it's while he's on duty!

No comments from you wiseacres about the kind of guy who shoots whatever brand of camera; remember, we're all in this together.

 

Shipping and Shopping in Australia

A reader down under was concerned that he couldn't help me here by ordering from my Links because none of them shipped to Australia

But they do!

Adorama ships worldwide.

For Amazon, simply scroll to the bottom of Amazon's page, click on your country, and go (Amazon doesn't ship everywhere).

B&H Photo Video even has a calculator to show you the complete, exact costs of shipping, taxes and duties for the items delivered to your door before you purchase. All you do is put things in your cart, go to your cart, select your country from the drop-down. You'll see the shipping expense options, and keep going to see the rest.

Easy!

 

1X Photobook 2010

1X has available their newest Photobook, a collection of the world's greatest photography, and one shot by me as well.

 

Who's got a sense of humor?

See if you can keep a straight face with this one, recorded live in high-fidelity on my iPod Touch.

 

Busted with my Canon 110ED

Hee hee, I found a photo of myself on the "Internet," shooting my usual camera, the professional Canon 110ED, at Tunnel View in Yosemite a few weeks ago.

The useless ballast around my neck is a D3 with 28-300 VR and a Tiffen grad filter, and the other is a Nikon F6 with Voigtländer 40mm f/2. My Speed Demon carries the extra film.

 

There goes Hasselblad

Hasselblad, as LEICA, was the undisputed tool of professionals for decades. Today, things have gotten so bad that many clients will accept work shot even on Nikons or Canons.

As LEICA's professional market was won over by Nikon in the 1960s, it forced LEICA to stoop to the level of offering "commemoratives" and "special editions" instead of innovative new camera designs. 50 years later for instance, Leica viewfinders still can't change their magnification to suit different lenses. Just like Harley-Davidson, its 50 years of tradition unhampered by progress.

Now Hasselblad has a Ferrari edition. Is it lights-out for Hasselblad? Actually, Hasselblad has been doing whacky commemoratives for a while, as well as Leica.

Laugh as loudly as I do at special editions, especially at Hasselblad's colorful reference to "the passion of two men," but this crazy stuff is what keeps these companies in business.

Most people look at things like the $30,000 LEICA M9 TITANIUM and just scratch their heads at such crazy stuff that no one would ever want to buy. "No wonder Leica is always going out of business," we observe. Leica must be a bunch of idiots today.

Why doesn't Leica make things people can afford, and maybe people would actually buy them and the company could thrive and stay in business?

Here's where business reality steps-in, hard.

Minolta always made things people could afford. Read the Minolta ads of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, when they were probably the most popular and biggest-selling brand of both SLR and conventional cameras, when Minolta stressed how everything they do is centered around making good cameras affordable.

It worked, and cameras like the SR T-101 were the world's biggest selling SLRs of all time. I know I had an SR T-102 in 1974, and still have it in New York.

Leica must be absolutely nuts making $30,000 cameras no one can afford. Who are they kidding?

Here's the real story: it is precisely this crazy stuff that no one will buy that keeps them in business!

That Titanium M9? It was sold out in an hour! Most people can't afford these, but a guy I know who can bought two. No one who actually buys these things cares about the price, that's not relevant.

The regular LEICA M9 isn't an investment. Don't save or scrimp to buy one; you'll hate it, and it will only be worth less tomorrow if you sell it. The guys who buy LEICA M9s usually have a few of them in each color, honestly. It's just a lifestyle accessory, and not a big deal.

So here's where Leica's genius steps in: that $30,000 camera? Its limited edition of 500 copies sold out in an hour and brought in 15 million dollars! I have no idea how fast the Neiman-Marcus edition will sell out. That's just a retail camera and not that special.

The people who can afford this stuff keep their mouths closed about it, but they're out there, and buying as much of it as they can. Remember, the LEICA M9 TITANIUM sold out in an hour; Leica could have sold a lot more if they had wanted to make them. There are more buyers for these things than the products to fill the orders.

These special editions are what fund all the research, and keep the company in business.

Call Leica stupid, but they are still around selling great cameras and the world's best lenses that no one can afford, while Minolta vanished a decade ago. In fact, Leica is so stable that Leica has been around long enough to watch its competitor Contax go out of business twice, once in the 1950s and again in 2006. In each case, Contax made far more advanced cameras, but lacked Leica's ability to sell itself.

Marketing and salesmanship are far more important in business than the final product. This is even more true in photography, where the successful photographers are those who can market and sell themselves, while those who think they can get by on the quality of their images are working desk jobs instead.

 

D7000 Video

I tried the video mode this weekend; it's awful for general family use. It can't focus worth a darn.

If you're a Hollywood DP with a focus puller working for you on-set, great, but if you want video of your kids, an iPod Touch makes much better video.

Why? The D7000's AF system can't possibly keep up with action, and with the tiny depth-of-field of a DSLR, everything is lost if it's not in perfect focus.

With an iPod Touch, it's always in focus, and likewise with compact camera video as from a Canon S95 — plus the S95 is in glorious s-t-e-r-e-o as well.

 

18 November 2010, Thursday

Updates

I just updated:

Recommended Cameras

The D5000 just got discontinued, thus the D3100 and D7000 are my top picks. For us folks, the D7000 is the cat's meow, but as that page is also written for people like my mom, the D3100 is excellent for everyone.

 

The DX Dream Team

I added the 55-300mm VR, and the potent 10-24mm and 28-300 VR package.

 

Lost Files

Whoops, I had forgotten to include photos of the rear of Nikon's 70-200mm VR II in its review. I just added them.

More good news: $2,400 when introduced in 2009, the 70-200mm VR II now sells for only $2,169. Yippee!

 

Tokina 20-35mm f/2.8 AT-X PRO

Tokina 20-35mm f/2.8 AT-X PRO.

NEW: Tokina 20-35mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro Review.

 

17 November 2010, Wednesday

D7000 IMAGE COMMENT Busts Retail Store

I mentioned the other day about how a woman bought a supposedly new Nikon D3 with my name and phone number in its EXIF.

I wouldn't have believed it, but I just got off the phone with Bay-Area (Cupertino) software developer Rohit, who phoned me wondering why my name and number was popping up in his new D7000.

I laughed so hard they heard me a mile away.

A day ago, Rohit was with his wife returning something to a big-box store in San Jose (they asked me to remove their name for the moment as they resolve this to Rohit's satisfaction, and then I'll tell you all about it). Rohit saw a D7000 in the customer service counter, and asked if it was for sale. It was, and it was the only one in the store, so he bought it.

Obviously someone else had had bought it, took it home, loaded my settings into it, hated the results with my color settings, and returned it.

This big retail chain store apparently resold a used D7000 as if it were new! Of course I have no idea who would return a D7000, considering that they are so hard to find that it could have been sold at a profit on eBay, but in any case, this big electronics store apparently resold an open-box or used D7000 for full price.

Busted by the IMAGE COMMENT settings!

Now you know another reason why I won't buy at retail. I'd be happy to buy an open-box or returned unit at a steep discount, but would never pay full retail at retail because Nikon and Canon don't seal their boxes, so you never know what you're getting. Adorama and Amazon ship from automated warehouses where no one's opening the boxes first, or letting customers fondle it at a counter.

Funnier still is that I only posted my D7000 settings file about 24 hours ago, so one of you are the one who returned it (I wonder why), or maybe the store help figured they'd play with it while no one was looking before selling it — but then why was it at the customer service counter?

I don't mean to beat on retail, but I haven't paid retail since the 1970s, be it from mail-order, (800) numbers, or lately, the Internet. Why bother driving someplace to pay more for a very limited selection, with no competent sales help and risking the great likelihood of buying customer returns, floor models or open boxes dusted-off and sold as new, when someone will drop this stuff at my door with one-click, for less money? (Yes, I've been paying my use taxes.) As a man, I just want this stuff to appear, not waste my time going out shopping for things. Shopping retail is for my wife and 2-year-old princess, not for adult men.

But wait - that store charges 15% for restocking when something is returned, and turned-around and resold it at full price. Now I know how retail stays in business! Adorama not only charges no restocking fee, you've for 30 days to return something for a full cash refund, so long as you get it back to them in the same condition it got to you.

 

37th Anniversary

Minolta SR-1

Self-portrait, 1974.

It was 37 years ago today, November 17th, 1973, that I bought my very first advanced camera from Mark Fishman at Morton Village Camera in Plainview, Long Island, New York on Old Country Road, across from the library. It was a used Minolta SR-1 with 53mm (yes, 53mm) Auto-Rokkor PF f/2 lens and Meter-2. I loaded it with a roll of Kodachrome-X, and started shooting.

Believe me, after 37 years of bargain hunting, I've got this down.

 

50mm DR

1957 LEICA SUMMICRON 50mm f/2 mit near-focusing range.

NEW: LEICA SUMMICRON 50mm Guide.

A summary of these 50mm f/2 lenses, 1953 - present.

 

LEICA SUMMICRON-M 50mm f/2, M39 LTM Screw mount (1999)

SUMMICRON-M 50mm mit Schraubgewinde M 39 (1999).

NEW: LEICA M39 Screw-Mount SUMMICRON-M 50mm f/2 Review.

In 1999, Leica made a few of today's newest 50mm f/2 SUMMICRONs in the traditional M39 Schraubgewinde (screw-mount). I added photos and usage notes for this variation to my existing review.

 

Too many RSS Updates?

If you see 27 updates per day, it's because I updated this page 27 times.

If you prefer only one update per day, use my Daily RSS Feed instead.

If you use my Continuous Live as-it-happens RSS Feed (not recommended), you'll get 27  — or 127 — updates as I update this page all day. It's not even 5:30 AM as I write this, and it's going to be a long day.

 

Rollei P66S Projector

I have a Rollei P66S for my medium-format slides, and it works great.

If anyone's been looking for an autofocus, corded-remote projector for 6x6 and 645 slides, I see one for sale on eBay that looks reasonable.

 

Oh-Oh

I hadn't realized it, since I get just about everything from Adorama (Photo) and Amazon (computer and everything else), but when you try buying cameras from computer stores, even if well-rated for electronics, you still can get screwed.

Apparently, New-Egg, which was rated good, but not as good as B&H Photo Video in Consumer Reports' December 2010 ratings of electronics stores, sells Nikon, but may not be an authorized dealer.

See the details. Yikes!

If buying from anyone not an authorized dealer, whether from a guy in a dark parking lot or a huge corporation, it's the same thing: you're buying used.

There's a very good reason I've been getting my cameras from Adorama and B&H Photo Video since the 1970s: they are the best. As one of them pointed out so truly when I was visiting, they may not always have the very lowest price, but they always have the lowest price that gets you what you actually thought you were buying.

 

16 November 2010, Tuesday

NEW: My Nikon D7000 Settings File.

These are the settings I used this weekend.

Copy them to the root directory of an SD card, pop it in your D7000, hit MENU > SETUP > Save/load settings > Load settings, and your D7000 ought to be setup exactly as is mine.

If that file works for you, I use U1 for nature and landscapes, and U2 for family and kid shots.

If you use my settings file, this will also set your D7000's Image Comment and Copyright Info as I set my D7000, so be sure to set your own messages unless you want my name and address in your files.

What's funny about all this is that I had a phone call from a lady some time back who had just bought a brand-new Nikon D3, and wanted to know why my phone number was in her EXIF data. Aha! Even though she bought from a retail dealer local to her about whom I've heard good things, obviously someone bought the camera, loaded my settings into it and played around, and then returned it to the store, and some how it got then to her, as a "new" camera at full price. Ha!

 

Nikon 85mm f/3.5 Micro-NIKKOR Review.

Nikon 85mm f/3.5 Macro DX.

NEW: Nikon 85mm f/3.5 Micro-NIKKOR Review.

This lens is funny. With all the zillions of products for which you great people solicit my opinion, I can't recall anyone actually asking me to review this DX macro lens.

Just as well; it's Nikon's worst macro lens. The Tokina 100 2.8 is better, for less money.

 

15 November 2010, Monday

NEW: The Gray Market: Look Out! (USA only)

See also How and Where to Buy Photo Equipment.

Back in the 1980s when I first started buying new Nikon gear, I bought all my lenses gray market, because with the US Dollar buying 300 Yen, and the fact that mechanical lenses never need service, it made sense.

I've never bought camera bodies, or AF or VR or IS lenses, as gray-market, because these high-tech items need support and firmware updates, which you don't get when cheaping-out buying gray-market products.

Today, with the dollar only bringing-in 80 Yen, I haven't heard anything about gray-market items for a decade, since the exchange-rate advantage went away as the Dollar fell as American workers spend more working hours on Facebook and YouTube than actually working or producing anything.

Frighteningly, I've heard now from several readers who got screwed buying locally and were sold undisclosed gray-market Nikon products. Worse, these shifty retail dealers most emphatically represented these illegitimate items as if they were legitimate USA products.

These dealers kept the small savings for themselves, and are hoping that you won't have a warranty problem and discover that you got hoodwinked until after they've moved on.

In this spirit, I just wrote The Gray Market, complete with explicit samples to help you see if you got screwed.

I've never had these problems buying from legitimate dealers like Adorama, Amazon, B&H, Calumet, Ritz or J&R, but for people still bothering to pay retail prices, it looks like old problems are returning.

I'm not kidding about Adorama, Amazon, B&H, Calumet, Ritz and J&R being the good dealers. My December, 2010 copy of Consumer Reports just rated electronics dealers, and B&H Photo Video was rated as the best. Amazon is also way up there. Adorama, "The Photography People," didn't get rated with these electronics stores, as they are specialized in photography, not also in pro audio, surveillance and everything else as is B&H Photo Video. (PS: B&H now offers delivery by Purolator in Canada, very inexpensively, as well as shipping all over the world. For many countries, like the UK and Canada, the B&H website calculates all shipping, tax, VAT, duties and all the other BS to give you a final delivered-to-your-door landed cost before you place the order.)

Adorama also ships worldwide.

I've been sharing all this since 1999 and buying from Adorama and B&H since the 1970s (over thirty years), and they've always treated me right, even when I was a 12-year-old buying my pre-paid Kodachrome.

 

13 November 2010, Saturday

Kodachrome

I haven't shot Kodachrome for over 20 years, ever since I saw what I could do on my first roll of Velvia.

With Dwayne's giving up on Kodachrome, too, I figured it was time to clean out the freezer, and snap a roll of it (expired in 1986) that was given to me by my friend Bill in the Photo Club, send it to Dwayne's before they pull the plug in a month, and see what happens. These rolls have been in the deep freeze since new, so they are probably fine. I know I've shot ten-year-expired frozen Velvia, and it's been like new.

If you've got Kodachrome lying around, now is the time to blow it out, since there will be no way to process it in a month.

I shot it in my F5 with an SB-600, and the Tokina 100/2.8 or Nikon 50/1.8, and took photos of my kids yesterday. Only with Kodachrome, as well as real black-and-white, do we have proof since the 1930s that these photos will last 75 years or more. I want to be able to give my kids some photos of themselves as babies that I know they'll be able to pass on when they pass on.

I loved Kodachrome mostly because it's what the pros shot until the 1990s, as well as it's designation. "RVP" only means Velvia, but "KR," Kodachromes' designation, meant more to me, and of course I'm always sucked-in by the warm-yellow and red boxes.

I never liked the look of Kodachrome's images; only later did I realize that the main reason pros shot Kodachrome is because they were for publication, not for making prints or for projection. Print-shop color separators all knew how to get rid of Kodachrome's green highlights that you couldn't when projecting it, so pros shot KR because it always looked good when printed in books, ads and magazines, not because it looked good on-film. Kodachrome has always had a green color-crossover problem, so good riddance.

My 20+ year-old Velvia still looks exactly as it did when it came from the lab, too, and Velvia looks a whole lot better to me than Kodachrome ever did.

Fuji's newest chrome films, like Velvia 100 and Astia have even better stability than Velvia, and look so much better than Kodachrome ever did.

For whatever it's worth, I dropped off a roll of 110 film for processing yesterday, too. I found a lab that does a lot of 110. They also sell 110 film, and process a lot of it.

110 was popular in the 1970s; Kodak's smaller version of 126 Instamatic cartridge film.

 

12 November 2010, Friday

Big Deal Discount

Want Nikon's two hottest new products, at a $300 discount?

A reader pointed me to this kit with the D7000 and 28-300mmVR, for just $1,949.95 for both. I wish I knew about that one; I paid full price!

I use my 28-300 on my FX cameras; it also works great on the D7000, especially with an ultrawide zoom like the 10-24mm to complete the set, and when you get an FX camera, you've already got the 28-300mm you'll want.

 

Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro

Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro AF.

NEW: Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro Review.

Goodness! I didn't expect it, but this $400 lens is probably the world's best 100mm or 105mm macro lens, depending on how you set your priorities. This lens does everything right!

It works great on the D7000; one of the lenses that can use the D7000's resolution to the fullest.

 

11 November 2010, Veterans' Day

A million thanks to all of you who've served. If it wasn't for your service, for instance, stopping Japan and Germany in WWII, Nikon would still be making optical tools for terrorists instead of cameras for consumers. As Canon fans are quick to point out, Canon has always been a consumer company.

As always, thanks to everyone in the military and public safety, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Without your constant personal sacrifices for total strangers like me, we wouldn't all be having nice days today — we'd have been forced into speaking German, Japanese, or worse.

Thank you!

 

D7000

My Nikon D7000 Review is now reasonably complete.

 

Shoot-out

Load up, sit-down and hang on: it's a Texas shoot-out!

 

10 November 2010, Wednesday

Today I'm working again all day on my Nikon D7000 Review.

If you do have a D7000, I just posted how to tell if you got a legitimate USA version, or if you're in the USA, got screwed with an unwarranted, unauthorized import.

Psssst: No one has the D7000 in stock, so why not order your 28-300mm VR today, which is in stock, and then you'll have it. I still have a bunch of photos I have not yet shared from Yosemite I shot with it the other week, and I expect that when I get to showing how great it is, the Rockwell Effect may sell them all out quickly.

The 28-300 VR is the 18-200 DX for FX, and the 28-300 VR also works great on the D7000, and is a very useful range, if you don't mind the size, especially for use with a 10-24, 11-16 or 12-24mm DX on the D7000.

 

09 November 2010, Tuesday

NEW: Nikon D7000 Sharpness versus FX.

Holy cow! I need to change my trousers! The D7000 is visibly better than almost every Nikon FX camera! I didn't expect it to be this obvious.

 

Nikon D7000 Day

As yesterday, I'm spending all day adding to my D7000 Review.

Uh oh, it's already sold-out everywhere, and scarily, gougers have already started to try to make a killing on the D7000's popularity. The D7000 (body) is supposed to sell for just $1,199.95. Don't pay a gouger; just order yours through Adorama, Amazon or Ritz and wait like I did. Mine came from Adorama. I hope we don't have another fiasco on our hands as the 18-200 VR was sold-out for about three years, and thankfully, the 28-300 VR still seems to be in good supply.

The 28-300VR is big for the D7000, but if you insist, the 28-300 pairs with the 10-24mm as a killer pair for DX.

Yes, I think it's the best Nikon DSLR ever, considering weight and price. I like a couple of things about my professional D3 or the D700, especially the big D3 for use on a table in my studio, but I'd much rather carry and shoot a D7000 in the field.

Hey, pardon my enthusiasm, but the D7000 is the best new camera from Nikon since the D700 back in 2008. I've not had any problem calling the losers, like the D3000, Nikon's worst DSLR.

I'm ticked that the D7000 is so good. I used to be able to recommend the D40, Nikon's least expensive DSLR, but today, I want to suggest the D7000, but it's not the cheapest. Hmm. Worse, the D3100 is a swell camera, but about the same price as the D5000. The D7000 is the best thing there is short of, well, any other Nikon DSLR (note how I use the weasel word DSLR to exclude Nikon's very best camera today, the F6), but I now have to ask myself if it's what's best for soccer moms, as was the D40.

With the D7000, Nikon has leapfrogged their other cameras, which is why they took so long to introduce it.

Is this the end of FX? As far as noise is concerned, yes, but you haven't seen what Nikon has in store for FX in the near future for more money than the D7000.

Yes, for most people, the D7000 does what the D700 does, but so did the D300 three years ago. I've already shown that even the D300 is indistinguishable from FX, in good light.

Battery life? I've been running my D7000 ever since Friday, and its battery is still at 72% after 521 shots!

The D700 is a mature camera. It sells today for a lot less than when it was new in 2008, and it is an awesome camera today; probably Nikon's best FX camera after the F6.

Is FX dead? Of course not! You don't even want to know what Nikon has in store for the next generation of FX.

 

Price Drop

The Nikon ML-L3 remote is now only $14.95 at Adorama.

Even at $20, this remote, which works on the D7000, D40, and most of the less-expensive cameras, is the best $20 you'll ever spend with Nikon.

More deals.

 

08 November 2010, Monday

NEW: Nikon D7000, D300, D3 (D700) and Canon 5D Mark II High ISO Comparison.

 

Reader Eric Ackerman, Ph.D., and shot this at the airshow this weekend with his D7000, after the shuttle launch got postponed.

 

07 November 2010, Sunday

D7000 Clock Reset

Dadblast it; my D7000 arrived yesterday, and it's already time to reset its clock.

Actually, it's time to reset every clock except the automatic ones in your Mac and iPods.

If we don't make a point of actively finding our every digital camera and resetting its clock (As well as any camera with a data back, like the Nikon F6), all the photo we make for the next month are going to have the wrong time in their EXOF until we eventually notice it!

 

06 November 2010, Saturday

D7000 Update

Mine arrived last thing last night. Whoo hoo!

I'm updating my review page from the top; that's where you can see my comments as they develop.

Overall: the D7000 RULES. Now I know why Nikon hasn't introduced any significant new cameras in a year or two: they were working on the D7000, which is way ahead of anything else they've ever done. It's awesome!

 

NEW: Fuji Velvia 50 Review.

Sometimes the things closest to our hearts are those, which by their familiarity, are the ones about which we speak in the least detail.

Fuji Velvia 50 is what I've been shooting for over 20 years to get "my look" for my most important images, and my review has been nothing but fluff for quite a few years.

Velvia's importance is so obvious to me that I never put it down on paper, so here you go.

 

Ruin

Ruin, 1996, shot on 4x5" Velvia.

 

Antigua

Antigua, Guatemala, 1998, shot on 4x5" Velvia.

 

Contrail, Zion

Zion, 2001, shot on 6x7cm Velvia.

 

Supai

Supai Motel, 2010, shot on 35mm Velvia 50.

 

05 November 2010, Friday

Mono Lake, 1993

Mono Lake, 25 July 1993, shot on Velvia.

NEW: It's Not About Your Camera.

What it takes to make a good shot, quite different from the classic Your Camera Doesn't Matter.

 

D7000 Video Audio

The D7000 has only voice-grade mono audio, as least as heard here at the Roger Waters concert. Most of the music is missing; there's no low end. The Canon S95 is so much better, with glorious wideband stereo.

I'll listen to Pink Floyd all day over a 2" speaker and love it, but it's not as much fun through the cell-phone grade recording of the D7000, or hopefully it's just the way the recording came out and was distributed by YouTube. I hope there is a manual gain control to avoid the heavy AGC heard here.

Nikon isn't giving us stereo audio, at least as I hear it there, so that they can reserve it for a year to put in the D7000s.

Maybe it's not that bad, but this is so far what I expect, based on previous Nikons. My D7000 ought to be here in a few hours.

People tell me the D7000's battery life is incredible: 2,000 shots, half-hour of video, and battery is still pumping!

 

Mac Trick

I just discovered that I can have my music playing over my big monitors, and divert the system noises, like the eMail burps, to the 2" speaker in my Mac so they don't play at 110 dBA over the main monitors.

In APPLE > System Prefs > Sound > SOUND EFFECTS, select "Internal Speakers" for "Play sound effects through", and under OUTPUT, select your preferred output method to your main monitors.

Duh; I bet that's been there since 1984.

You can control the sound levels independently, too.

What I still haven't figured out on OS 10.6.4 is how to get my SAVE AS boxes from all of my applications to open-up full-screen, instead of showing just a 3 x 5" panel view menu window in the middle of my dual 30" screens.

 

I also can't figure out why after I come back from Mac sleep, my volume control now controls my built-in speaker instead of my main output. I have to go back into the audio output control panel and select the main output again.

 

04 November 2010, Thursday

New source for AI-P Conversions

Check out Legacy2Digital.com/nikon. They will add a chip to manual-focus Nikon lenses so they give full matrix metering and Program, Shutter, Aperture and manual exposure modes on all Nikons, including the cheapest digitals and real cameras like the F5! Who hoo!

 

D7000 Countdown

Reader Eric Ackerman, Ph.D., got his D7000, and loves it. Here's what he shot at the zoo the other day. Nice snaps for a first try; I doubt my stuff will be that good! He says the autofocus is worlds beyond his D300.

My D7000 ought to be here any day, yay!

 

1955 LEICA M3 and LEICA SUMMILUX 50mm f/1.4.

1955 LEICA M3 and LEICA SUMMILUX 50mm f/1.4.

NEW: LEICA M3 Review.

NEW: LEICA M3 Buyer's Guide.

NEW: LEICA M3 User's Guide.

I remember back when I had a real job, and I had just given a presentation at a sales meeting in my usual style.

The boss, the great Pete Alexander (the world's best sales manager), asked me "gee Ken, why don't you tell us how you really feel." I took this at face value, and tried to make my point again, this time a little more emphatically.

The room laughed.

What I hadn't realized until then is that I always express my like or dislike very strongly. I don't pussy-foot around.

I sort of like the LEICA M3. I'm not sure if this comes across clearly in my review. The LEICA M3 sells for about the same price as a Nikon D90, so it's no longer a rich-man's toy.

Enjoy for now; my Nikon D7000 ought to be here in a few days. I hope there are some great Rockwellisms in these latest reviews.

For you graphic designers, be sure to activate Corporate S regular and bold on your Macs, in which case, these Leica Reviews will display in Corporate S, the same font Leica and Porsche use in their PR materials.

 

03 November 2010, Wednesday

LEICAMETER MR-4 atop a 1963 LEICA M3.

LEICAMETER MR-4 atop a 1963 LEICA M3.

NEW: The LEICAMETER.

To make sure I talk about something relevant while awaiting the arrival of my Nikon D7000, here is a full report on all you'd want to know about your metering options for most LEICAs.

Honestly, these semiautomatic coupled meters make shooting real LEICAs a breeze. All you do is look at the meter, and set that on your lens, and everything else is already taken care of for you.

 

D7000 Update

My D7000 is on its way to me; stay tuned.

 

For Sale: BMW R100S

1977 BMW R100S

1977 BMW R100S. bigger.

The world's nicest 1977 BMW R100S is for sale on eBay, for only the third time in over three decades. (see How to Win at eBay if you want it.)

I know: I owned it for over 20 years, and then sold it to reader Grant in North Carolina in 2005, whose family now wants him to do as my family asked in 2005, and pass it on to the next able rider.

It was sold new by the dealer in in Brattleboro, Vermont in 1977. Its first owner never drove it; it had 7,000 miles on it when I bought it pretty much unused in 1984. My dealer told me in 1984 that the best thing I could do is drive the Hell out of it, as a 7-year-old bike as nice as this that's never been ridden is a travesty. Heck, they aren't even broken-in until abut 50,000 miles.

I rode it all over from 1984-1988, and put about 10,000 miles on it riding extensively with Long Island, New York's South Shore Motorcycle Club. I was known as Rocket-Fuel Rockwell, for my taste in high-octane leaded fuel.

I moved to California in 1985, mostly to have better twisty roads on which to ride it.

Of course California has no weather, and with every day being like the first day of Spring, I rarely wanted to suit up in full leathers to putt around, when I'd rather ride my bicycle.

Thus I rode little after moving to sunny California. When I got a job with a free company car in 1995, the BMW got pushed to the side of the garage, as my 190D took the second space next to my fleet-issue Dodge Caravan.

After I got married in 2005, the wife wanted me to sell the scooter, mostly because she thought I'd get killed, and I had no problem with that considering that it had not been started in over ten years. Sitting on the side of the garage, the only way I could ride it is if I pulled out one of my two cars first, which is too much effort when I'd rather ride my bicycle instead. Thus it never got so much as turned-over for over ten years.

I asked the dealer for advice, and was told to change the oil and fuel, charge the battery, and if it lit up, drive it in for service. The fuel was fine, as I ran it on a mixture 100LL aviation fuel I get at the airport. I'm all about authenticity, and even though the R100s runs great on ordinary premium today, it's born to run on high-octane leaded fuel, just like your 1967 426 Hemi.

I did that, expecting to take about five minutes of cranking to get it running, and scared the beJesus out of myself when it lit-up on the very first stroke. Boom! It thundered to life instantly, exactly as if it were warm. These BMW guys don't screw around when it comes to making good machines.

I drove it to the dealer and had it serviced. I replaced the original 1977 front tire for the first time in almost 30 years, and heard from reader Grant, who wanted to buy it.

I sold it to Grant for exactly what I paid for it in 1984. I never modified anything; it was exactly as it came from the dealer, and lived in the garage all day and all night if it wasn't actually being driven.

Grant has spent the past couple of years fine-tuning everything, and now his family wants him to pass it on, so for only the third time in history, you too can own the nicest R100S on the planet.

The 1977 R100S is so good because it's the first year of the 1,000cc engine, and the last year before any sort of emission controls. When I rode it, it had instantaneous throttle response; one quick flick and it was like the bike getting hit from behind by The Hammer of Thor.

It's a real motorcycle with real gauges and all-mechanical everything, not the look-alike junk BMW ships today. To use the disparaging words BMW used in reference to other bikes in the 1980s, today BMWs mostly look like they were all squeezed from the same tube of multi-colored toothpaste, as have the Jap bikes since the 1980s.

The R100s even runs on points, not electronic ignition. After a small, friendly nuclear exchange, when every other vehicle's electronics are rendered useless from EMP, you'll be riding proud and strong through the wasteland like you're Mad Max.

The reason I mention all this is that I hope one of you pick it up from Grant, because I'd like to know where it is! I took better care of it for 20 years than I do my own kids today!

Grant forgot to mention that this bike still has its own domain name: R100S.com. No, I haven't seen the R100S personally since I sold it to Grant, but we stay in touch, as I hope whoever owns it next does. You can tell how much I don't like this bike.

 

What Was New in:

October 2010

September 2010

August 2010

July 2010

June 2010

May 2010

April 2010

March 2010

February 2010

January 2010

2009 back to 2005

 

Help me help you

I support my growing family through this website, as crazy as it might seem.

If you find this as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.

If you've gotten your gear through one of my links or helped otherwise, you're family. It's great people like you who allow me to keep adding to this site full-time. Thanks!

If you haven't helped yet, please do, and consider helping me with a gift of $5.00.

The biggest help is when you use any of these links to Adorama, Amazon, B&H, eBay, Ritz, Calumet and J&R when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It costs you nothing, and is this site's, and thus my family's, biggest source of support. eBay is always a gamble, but all the other places always have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

Thanks for reading!

Ken

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