What Was New in 2004?
February 29, 2004
Mike Johnston's Sunday Morning column for this week is titled Set Yourself Free!
If you're a fan of his writing I would like to remind you that Mike is requesting support for his efforts. If you look forward to reading Mike each week the way I do, consider lending him your support. You'll find a link at the bottom of his article.
There is now just one place left on Steve Kossack's Grand Canyon Rafting Workshop. This trip is a private charter created exclusively for doing photography along the Colorado River through the heart of the Grand Canyon. It lasts 10 days, and is one of the most thrilling photographic adventures imaginable. I've rafted the Colorado on shoots twice in the past several years and would do it again in a heartbeat.
Steve is the most knowledgeable photographic guide to the American Southwest that I know of, and he is also a very fine teacher. He teaches with me on almost all of the workshops that I conduct. I recommend this trip highly.
There is a review of the new Leica Digilux 2 in preparation for this site, and it will likely be published later this week or early next. But Wai-Shan Lam in Hong Kong now provides us with his first look at the Leica's black-finished clone — the Panasonic LC1.
On my Tanzanian Safari Workshop in January I tested a prototype gimbal mount from Jobu Designs, called the Black Window. I have just received an updated and improved version of this mount and there are have been some considerable improvements. If you're in need of a sold yet reasonably priced gimbal mount for your heavy 300mm — 600mm lens, this is one to definitely consider.
February 28, 2004
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, "Should I buy the current whatever, or wait for the next model", I'd be able to buy that Phase One P25 digital back that I'm lusting after. But, no one pays for my advice (except on workshops), so I'll give it to you for free in my new essay entitled Waiting for the Next Model.
According to a just published Infotrends survey of 1,000 professional photographers in the United States, 79% of professional photographers are now using digital cameras. Of those that are not, apparently nearly half plan on purchasing a digital camera in 2004. That implies that by the end of this year some 90% of pros will be shooting digitally. Surprised?
February 26, 2004
The good-news / bad-news with being the first born, is that one gets paid a lot of attention. This has been the case with Sony's F828 8 Megapixel crossover digicam. First announced in the summer of 2003, and then shipped in late November, it has become something of a cause celebre. Some people hate it. Some people love it. (I'm schizophrenic on this. I love it and hate it).
I have so far published three separate reports on this camera, my initial review, an essay on the concerns that it raised, and also a report on my use of the F828 on Safari in Africa in January. Probably more than most people wanted to read. But, hey — it interested me, and that's the sole arbiter of what appears on these pages.
Now the F828 is the first target of my soon-to-become regular optical lab tests using DxO Analyzer. The Sony is put though its paces, with reports on its Distortion, Chromatic Aberration, Vignetting and Blur measurements. You may find the results of my new Sony F-828 Optical Evaluation surprising.
An additional word is warranted on this entire new generation of 8 Megapixel crossover digicams. I believe that they are the most interesting segment of the camera market at the moment. 16-22 Megapixel Medium Format backs and cameras like the Canon 1Ds are of interest to many Pros, and lots of well-heeled photographers and hobbyists are buying expensive DSLRs. But for a large segment of the market I believe that these new digicams offer tremendous value. The are relatively small, can produce excellent image quality in large print sizes, have great features (more than most people will ever use), and don't cost an arm and a leg.
I therefore intend during the next month or so on testing all of the new 8MP models coming to market. In addition to the Sony F828 I have already begun testing the Olympus C-8080 and Konica-Minolta A2. The Canon Pro 1 and Nikon 8700 are also on their way. These tests will all be in the form of my typical hands-on field reports as well as lab tests with DxO Analyzer.
And lest anyone think that this is going to turn strictly into an equipment test site — fear not. The usual blend of travel reports, photo essays, editorials, essay, and rants will always have their prominent place.
And — while I still have your attention — have you considered subscribing to The Luminous Landscape Video Journal? Join the thousands of photographers around the world who have. It's the world's only video "magazine" about photography, with the same mix of great content as this web site, but in broadcast quality video, published quarterly on DVD.
February 24, 2004
Today see the publication of my tutorial on how to read and interpret DxO Analyzer test reports. DxO Analyzer was announced to the industry at PMA earlier this month. It is a major new testing system for digital cameras and lenses. After working with it for several months in both alpha and beta stages, I have adopted it as my new testing standard. It will be utilized it from now on whenever I review new camera and lens systems. Of course my empirical hands-on tests and field reports will still form the backbone of my testing methodology.
My first full DxO test report will be on the Sony F828 camera, and will appear later this week. Additional camera and lens tests will follow in the weeks and months ahead. At this time it appears that a number of photography magazines and web sites will be adopting DxO Analyzer, which is good for both the industry and for photographers. We will at least have a generally available test system that produces consistent results regardless of who is doing the testing. Find out more here.
February 22, 2004
Mike Johnston's Sunday Morning column for this week is titled Parameters of Lens Specification and the Properties of Lenses. It's actually a lot more interesting than it sounds. Really.
This coming week will see the beginning of my publication of lens and digital camera system optical tests using DxO Analyzer. I will start with an overview of the testing methodology in the form of a reference page and tutorial, and then later in the week will publish some initial optical performance tests of the Sony F828 and the about-be-be-released Olympus C-8080. This particular report will be part of an overall review of this new camera.
In the weeks ahead I will also be publishing reviews and DxO tests of each of the other new crossover 8MP cameras from Nikon, Canon and Minolta. I will eventually be publishing tests of a broad cross-section of cameras and lenses, but since producing these is a great deal of work it will take some time. Lots to look forward to though.
UPDATE: The DxO Analyzer test results for the Sony F828 won't be online until later this coming week. But, while completing the report, the results seen when measuring chromatic aberration help explain why some people sometimes see CA, and others sometimes don't. The appearance of CA with the camera is very much tied to the focal length at which the zoom is set. A dramatic demonstration of the value of scientific testing vs. speculation. A table of test results and brief discussion has now been added to Part 2 of my original report on this camera.
February 19, 2004
Adobe's Camera Raw plug-in was updated this month to Version 2.1, and became available for free download (for Photoshop CS owners) just a few days ago. I now have a report on this new version online. It includes a list of all cameras and backs supported (officially as well as unofficially), descriptions of some new features, and some hints on getting the most from this almost universal Raw file converter.
A reminder that the opening of my gallery exhibit in Toronto takes places this evening (Thursday), from 6-9pm at the Pikto Gallery in Toronto, Canada. The public is cordially invited. If you live in the Toronto area I hope that you can make it. The show runs through March 14th.
February 18, 2004
There are as many styles and types of people photography as there are photographers. These range from formal portraits to surreptitious street shoots. But there's also something in between. Something that I call Found Portraits.
Mark Baker and Richard de Lhorbe are starting a Large Format Camera Society for the Toronto and surrounding area in Ontario, Canada. While they are mainly interested in landscape and nature photography, other large format aficionados are also welcome. They are looking for like minded photographers to meet for discussions, technical exchanges, photographic outings, print viewings and critiques, and when possible seminars with guest speakers. If you are interested contact either one of them at the links above.
February 16, 2004
I've just learned that PC Magazine has published their new book by Don Willmott titled Best of the Internet. This 450-page guide to the Web features 1,000 sites in about 100 categories. I'm pleased to note that The Luminous Landscape was selected as the top pick in its category.
This is as good a time as any to remind new visitors that in addition to this independent and unsponsored site we also publish the world's only DVD-video publication about photography — The Luminous Landscape Video Journal. Containing on-location shoots in some of the world's most exciting locations, live reviews of the latest products, Photoshop and shooting tutorial, interviews with famous photographers and more, each issue has some 2 hours of professionally produced broadcast-quality video programming. Why not subscribe to this unique publication and also support this site? While you're at it, you could win attendance at a workshop with Michael Reichmann in Iceland this summer — a prize worth U.S. $6,000.
We want you to subscribe. We offer a money-back guarantee. What are you waiting for?
My PMA page was last updated at 4:00 pm EST.
February 15, 2004
Mike Johnston's column for this week is titled Digital Sizzles in the Desert. In it he gives us his thoughts on the latest camera introductions at PMA. And people say I'm opinionated. Cheech!
A friend of mine, well known architectural photographer Steven Evans, is also a collector and dealer in vintage photographs, including daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, salt, albumen, carbon and platinum prints. He now has a new web site online where these works can be seen and purchased.
The site's new home-page photograph is also now my Miscellaneous Moment for February.
On the June 18-19 weekend there will be a seminar titled Photoshop Soup2Nuts given in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Such Photoshop luminaries as Thomas Knoll, Jeff Schewe, Katrin Eismann and others will be offering numerous sessions of interest to photographers of all skill levels. Proceeds from this event will go to worthy educational causes.
February 13, 2004
Today is a travel day — returning home from Las Vegas. My PMA report for today consists of a few observations about some industry players, the upcoming 8 Megapixel digicam wars, and my preliminary thoughts on which of the five new 8 Megapixel digicams might win the gold medal.
WARNING — this report contains opinions rather than recycled press releases. Reader discretion is advised.
Two reminders: My one-man show on Toronto at the Pikto Gallery begins next Thursday, Feb. 19th, and runs through March 14th. The opening is on Thursday evening from 6-9pm. If you're in town I would enjoy seeing you there. My fine-art printing seminar offered by the Canadian Photographic Centre in Toronto on March 1st is now sold-out. I am talking with them about conducting another one some time in the Spring, and will announce it here as soon as plans are finalized.
February 12, 2004
On this, the opening day of PMA in Las Vegas, when we are focused on equipment rather than photography, what better time to shine a bit of light on the growing problem of defective products. All those shiny new baubles carry with them the lurking curse of potential failure and the disappointment of design defects. In my latest essay, titled Clearing the Air — An essay on product quality, and why it's often missing, I show that I am an equal-opportunity grouch, finding fault with the products from at least 15 different companies. Did I include your favourite?
The first day of PMA is now over, and my show report is online. There were a number of new products, though most were already announced or hinted at previously. Tomorrow is spent flying home and resting my feet.
February 11, 2004
I'm now off to PMA in Las Vegas for a couple of days. I'll report from there as I can on new products that are of interest, both traditional as well as digital.
If you own an Epson 2100/2200 printer you may want to download new profiles that have just become available on the Epson web site. I won't be able to test them myself until I'm back from the show, but I've been told that they are very good — better than the original profiles provided by Epson.
February 10, 2004
Can a large-format fine-art landscape photographer find happiness on a trip to Paris, while shooting with a consumer DSLR? Find out in Alain Briot's new article — A Rebel in Paris.
February 8, 2004
Mike Johnston is taking the week off. His Sunday Morning column will resume next week.
Studio, event and technical photographers will rejoice at the recent release of DSLR Remote Pro, a new remote camera control program from Chris Breeze. This Windows program, available for all Canon DSLRs, allows you to directly operate your camera's controls and take photographs from your PC. My review is now online.
February 7, 2004
The printing seminar in Toronto which I had to cancel due to my emergency travels last month has now been rescheduled. It will take place on the evening March 1st. This seminar is offered by the Canadian Photographic Centre. A few space are still available.
February 6, 2004
In 2002 I wrote about how to use 35mm full-frame rectangular fisheye lenses along with image correction software. This allows reduced frame DSLRs to achieve really wide-angle coverage. Today I review the MC Arsat 30mm f/3.5, a full-frame rectangular fisheye lens for medium format cameras that accomplishes the same thing, and it's cheap like borscht.
Imaging Resource, a highly respected equipment review site, has just updated their Sony F828 camera review. Here is a link to their newly revised conclusion page. I won't write another word on the subject :-)
February 5, 2004
Two weeks from today, on Thursday, February 19th, the opening reception will take place for a one-man gallery exhibition of my work at Pikto Gallery in Toronto, Canada. This is the first gallery exhibition of my work in several years. It consists of 24 prints, each 20X30” or larger, comprising photographs created during the past three years.
The Pikto Gallery is located at 55 Mill Street, Toronto, Canada; in the historic Distillery District. The show runs from February 19th through March 14th.
The opening reception is on Thursday, Feb. 19th from 6pm to 9pm. The public is cordially invited. Refreshments will be served, and I'll look forward to seeing you there. More details can be found here.
The January, 2004 semi-finalist in our Iceland Workshop Give Away is Robert A. Kelley of New York state. Congratulations Bob.
Several people have written to find out which DSLR and private workshop location Randy Vestal of Royston, UK chose. Randy was the winner of our previous give-away. For personal reasons Randy opted to take the prize as cash — $5,000. Your could be the next winner. Someone will. All you need to do is subscribe to The Video Journal.
February 4, 2004
Specialized types of photography require specialized tools. On my recent Safari in Tanzania I brought along and used for the first time, the Kirk Window Mount and Jobu Black Widow Gimbal. If you shoot with large heavy lenses from inside a vehicle, as many wildlife photographers do, these tools are must haves.
Regular readers will have noted my enthusiasm for DXO Analyzer, first reported on in my PMA 2004 page several days ago. This is a high-end optical test system designed for reviewers and photo magazines, as well as lens and digital camera manufacturers. I have been involved with DO Labs in the development of this test suite, and now note that the highly respected French photography magazine Chasseur d'Image has announced that they are adopting this new tool, and will have a number of "explosive" initial test results in their Feb. 12th issue.
I have just returned to my office after being away for some 5 weeks. This will allow me to resume a number of projects which have been on hold since before Christmas, one of which is beginning my series of lens and digital camera tests using DXO Analyzer.
February 2, 2004
Photography in remote places has always been difficult. But Digital Photography in the Wilderness presents a whole range of new challenges. Today's new article by contributor Jean-François Maïon looks at this issue from the perspective of someone whose been there and done that.
My essay on Digital Bridge Cameras and Cognitive Dissonance of a couple of weeks ago has elicited more feedback from readers than anything that I've written in the past year. Today I have added a letter from Mike Sims on the topic, because of the interesting perspective that it adds.
February 1, 2004
Mike Johnston shares his thoughts on SUVs, rock and roll, movies and stereo equipment, and oh yes, cameras, in this week's essay titled Of Old Dogs and New Tricks.
If you've read my recent Tanzanian Safari commentary you may be wondering — how can I do a shoot like that? We'll, you can this summer with Andy Biggs on his July 6 - July 17, 2004 African Photographic Safari.
My Featured Image has been selected for January. It is from Tanzania, and I describe how it was made, and almost not found.
January 30, 2004
Today sees the publication of my Tanzanian Safari portfolio and commentary. The wildlife and landscape photography opportunities on this 10 day trip done earlier this month were remarkable, and this article discusses both the location and the equipment used.
January 29, 2004
My PMA 2004 page was updated at 8 am EST.
January 28, 2004
The annual PMA show is now just around the corner, and new product announcements (as well as "leaks") have started. As in past years I have created a page on which I discuss new products that I find to be of interest. I'll be updating this page regularly for the next two weeks, and through the show. Please note that this isn't intended to be comprehensive coverage — just the things that I find interesting, and which therefore I think that you might as well. My PMA 2004 page is now online.
January 27, 2004
I was reminded recently of some lessons learned during my days as a photojournalist. These topics are explored in a new essay titled Telling the Story, in which I look at the issues of shooting enough, and also immersing oneself in the moment.
Another photograph from my recent Tanzanian Safari is now on the site's Home Page.
January 25, 2004
To grow as photographers we need to do three things; take photographs, look at photographs, and read about photography (photography — not equipment). In this Sunday's column Mike Johnston reviews a book of essay about photography by Washington Post columnist Frank Van Riper titled Talking Photography.
January 24, 2004
While most people believe that the Canon 1Ds and Kodak 14n were the first full-frame DSLRs, indeed they were not. They were preceded by almost a year by the Contax N Digital, a 6 Megapixel camera based around the well-known Contax N1 film-based camera.
The Contax N Digital was withdrawn from most markets around the world not that long after it was introduced, and Contax did its best to prevent either online or print reviews from appearing. Consequently hardly any ever did.
But Russian photographer and reviewer Irakly Shanidze, who writes for both American as well as Russian publications, now provides The Luminous Landscape with some historical perspective through an exclusive review of the Contax N Digital.
January 23, 2004
Did you know that this site is 100% commercial free? No pop-up ads, no sponsors. But we do have something to sell — The Video Journal — the world's only video magazine about photography. We publish four times a year on DVD video, and each issue contains approximately 2 hours of broadcast-quality programming, including product reviews, travel segments, tutorials and interviews with famous photographers. It is fun, irreverent, informative and beautifully filmed at some of the world's greatest photographic locations around the world.
For this free and non-commercial web site to continue we need your support via subscriptions to The Video Journal. Watch some of our preview video clips. Read what subscribers are saying. Support the Luminous Landscape though subscribing to our unique DVD-video format publication.
The Video Journal DVDs will play on any PC, Mac or set-top DVD player anywhere in the world. We have subscribers in more than 40 countries worldwide. We also offer a money-back guarantee. And remember, when you subscribe you are automatically entered in our contest to win attendance at a photography workshop in Iceland this summer; a prize worth U.S. $6,000. Thanks for your support.
I am slowly working on my image files from Tanzania and will be putting a new one on the Home Page every few days. One of my favourites so far is now online.
January 22, 2004
Part II of my Sony F828 review is now online. This report is based on 10 days of use under the demanding conditions of a safari shoot in Tanzania, East Africa. The bottom line is — the things that I first liked about the Sony I now like even more, while the things that I disliked haven't gotten any better. It's still a "flawed jewel", but a great travel camera.
January 21, 2004
Due to a family member's health emergency I am forced to be out of town for the rest of the month. Therefore, my seminar on fine-art inkjet printing at the The Canadian Photographic Center in Toronto, scheduled for Wednesday, January 28th, has been postponed. I have also had to cancel a presentation to the Toronto Camera Club scheduled for Thursday the 29th.
I am working with both organizations to reschedule for the near future, and wish to apologize for any inconvenience that these cancellations may have caused.
January 20, 2004
Both Alain Briot and I have been traveling a lot during the past month, and so the latest installment of his nine-part series on Aesthetics and Photography has been delayed. I'm pleased to publish today Part 5 of the series titled How to Select the Best “film” for a Specific Image with both Film and Digital Capture.
Alain has a series of weekend
workshops taking place in the Phoenix area this winter
and spring. He also has a special
workshop in Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon
plus Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend, Anasazi Petroglyphs, Wutpaki National Monument, and The Hoodoos coming up in early May.
Steve Kossack's Death Valley workshop is now sold out, but his Grand Canyon Rafting Workshop still has two places available. These are all excellent opportunities to develop your photographic skills, learn from talented teachers, and meet like-minded photographers.
My Miscellaneous Moments photograph for January is now online, and I have updated the Home Page photograph with another one from Tanzania. The shot was blurred by heat shimmer due to the use of a 500mm lens over a long distance, so I added a bit of Gaussian Blur to enhance the effect.
A word of thanks to the literally dozens of people that have written in support of my recent essay on Digital Bridge Cameras and Cognitive Dissonance. At the moment I am dealing with a family member's health situation in another city, and so have limited time to reply personally — but to those who have written, thanks for your thoughtful comments. And, for the two people who wrote to say that they thought I was an "asshole" for what I wrote, well, I'm glad you've gotten that off your chests :-)
Sign of The Times: According to Rob Galbraith Kodak has informed its Pro dealers that the DCS Pro Back line of medium format digital backs has been discontinued. As regular readers know, for the past 6 months I have been reviewing the available MF digital backs and ended up last Fall buying a Kodak back for my own use. It could well be that discounts will soon become available as dealer inventories deplete, and thus a good time to buy one if such a device is on your shopping list. The DCS Pro Back is still the most portable and lowest cost MF back on the market.
January 18, 2004
There will be two Sunday Morning colums by Mike Johnston this week, since I was away and didn't publish last Sunday. The first is titled Working For Pay, and I urge you to extend your support to Mike, as he is one of the only authentic and literate voices writing about photography on the Net today.
The second article, with today's date, is enigmatically titled Lost in the Gutter.