Lets tell camera manufacturers what we want

Let me ask you a question. Do you want to carry a heavy camera around with you or do you want something light and easy to use? Do you want to carry lots of lenses around or do you want smaller lenses that cover a large focal range so that the whole thing is easy and you can focus on taking photographs? It’s simple isn’t it. The camera that most of us carry with us everywhere is on our phone. Who wants to be bothered with a heavy camera? Only a small community.

We need small light cameras that give us professional results.

But there are smaller options available. The Micro 4/3 system isn’t getting anything like the coverage in the press that it should. And it should because it’s good and it’s small and the images are great. Let’s take a look.

Lenscraft Photography Olympus M4/3
Small light and amazing quality

We need to look at Micro Four Thirds

The Micro 4/3 system has been around since 2008 when it was first proposed by a consortium of Olympus and Panasonic. The idea was to achieve a range of mirror less cameras with an interchangeable lens system used by both brands. Thus you can take a lens from Panasonic and put it on an Olympus and you can take a lens from Olympus and put it on a Panasonic Micro 4/3 camera. The sensor size is relatively small in comparison to other cameras which are termed full frame. Full frame gives the impression that there is somehow a standard but in reality this is taken from 35mm. There are much larger sensors than full frame however most sensors that are used in photography are considerably smaller than the Micro 4/3 sensor. In reality then Micro 4/3 is actually a reasonable size in comparison to most sensors used in photography.

Lenscraft Photography
Olympus Is Leading This Charge To Small And Light But Professional Images

Most cameras used today use much smaller sensors than micro four thirds. Much smaller! They are in our phones.

Compared to most of the cameras in use today the Micro 4/3 camera has a larger and better sensor. So-called full frame cameras [ and medium format cameras for that matter] are often much more expensive and yield good results but at somewhat of a cost in terms of price and size and weight. You know that you’ve got a full frame in board if you carry it for very long. Personally I am used to carrying rigs but even then I prefer to travel lighter where possible.

The Micro 4/3 sensor and camera uses an electronic viewfinder. The electronic viewfinder has been an absolute revelation for photography and you will doubtless have seen in the news if you follow photography that cameras manufacturers are almost tripping over each other to release mirror less cameras that feature electronic viewfinder’s. 2018 has been a landmark year in this respect.

Lenscraft Photography
Olympus OMD E M1 mark 2

If it were about size why do we get given small cameras and then huge lenses?

It appears to be a somewhat confused market because on the one hand the manufacturers are producing smaller cameras while on the other hand they are producing larger and heavier lenses. When it comes to establishing a lightweight system that gives extremely high quality images then the Micro 4/3 system is an option that you have to take a look at. It is light, fast, produces high quality images and has some simply amazing lenses.

Light and fast. Its what the market wants!

It is true that in low-light situations, and we’re not talking about evening but rather much later into the evening, full frame sensors will have an edge because they will not produce as much noise. Any subjective comparison however of full frame sensors in low-light situations will show that while they do produce a relatively noise free image depending on how careful you are setting them up, they do produce a soft image. Whether this is desirable depends on your type of photography.

The Olympus OMD EM1 Mark 2 is simply amazing

The micro 4/3 answer to this has been to develop industry leading image stabilisation technology within the cameras. For example the Olympus OMD EM1 mk2 has unbelievable image stabilisation and, the company has just released a sports version which takes it even further. Image stabilisation allows you to shoot in lower light with low shutter speeds so that you do not need a high ISO setting for the image and therefore the sensor will not generate the noise that you are trying to avoid. It takes some work to get your head around this approach but once you get used to it you wonder why other companies haven’t really adopted it in the same way. Perhaps they are committed to a specific size of camera or a specific size of sensor. However, the public are voting with their feet when it comes to sensor size.

At a recent beauty spot I watched as people came to take photographs. Only one in 30 were interested in carrying a heavy camera. But most people were taking photographs using their mobile phone and the mobile phone was taking good pictures using a sensor considerably smaller than that found in the Micro 4/3 system. I believe that camera manufacturers are missing out on a major market because of concentrating on producing heavy cameras that produce good quality images but that simply do not find a market among a lot of people. People do want smaller and lighter cameras which is why they are very happy to use their mobile phone. People say that we are a photography society but when they do that they are referring to their phone. So any company that is able to produce smaller and lighter cameras that provide excellent image quality has clearly got a good handle on what the majority of people are looking for. And I would suggest that the majority of people are probably going to be extremely happy with a micro 4/3 camera. They are very very good indeed.

lenscraft photography
Beauty Spot with amazing views and mobile phones dominated photography
Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography

Because there has to be a standard for lenses in terms of establishing a lens size, lenses are based around the 35mm image. Thus a lens may be termed a 50 mm lens or a 135mm lens and this directly relates to a 35mm sensor. If the sensor is smaller then the factor by which the sensor is smaller affects the actual focal length perceived when looking through the viewfinder. So for example when a 50 mm lens is placed on a micro 4/3 camera where the sensor is considerably smaller than the 50 mm lens gives the field of view of a 100 mm lens or exactly double. The 135mm would effectively be a 270 mm lens.

Micro Four Thirds Lenses are amazingly sharp

Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography

In the world of Micro 4/3 the lenses are designed to take advantage of this feature. This allows very small lenses to give an incredible range of focal lengths and interestingly remarkable depth of field and remarkable sharpness of image. In my experience I have never produced images as sharp straight out of the camera as those that I have taken using the Olympus Pro series lenses on a micro 4/3 camera. So Olympus for example produce a 12 to 100 mm lens which in 35mm terms is a 24 to 200 mm lens. Can you imagine a company in 35mm land trying to produce a 24 to 200 mm lens and trying to make it of the same quality as the pro series that Olympus have produced? It would be ridiculously huge and incredibly expensive. Also Olympus have produced a 40 to 150 mm lens rated at F2 .8 which provides the equivalent focal length of an 80 to 300 mm lens at F2 .8. The nearest comparable lens in 35mm world is the 70 to 200 F2 .8 which has nowhere near the reach. And I would have to say in direct comparison of image quality the Olympus lens is simply amazing.

I always have at least two cameras with me and one of them is always micro 4/3. I’ve yet to walk into any situation where the micro 4/3 camera couldn’t get the shot. And it’s light and easy to use. It has the benefit of excellent speed and quality while at the same time everything that I need is right there in my hand. The lenses, are simply amazing and they have a sharp definition and the contrast that I wish some of my other much more expensive lenses could achieve.

Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography

I had the idea that micro 4/3 was the poorer neighbour to the full frame camera. I guess that’s the way that it’s marketed. I tried going with larger and larger sensors and I have shot with some of the most esoteric glass on the market. In some situations I’d have to say that the image quality of the larger sensors leaves the Micro 4/3 sensor behind. But that area of image taking is very small and there were ways of working around it using the Micro 4/3 sensor. I just had to learn a different way of shooting. On a recent trip I took two full frame sensors and one Micro 4/3 and returned from the trip with 900 images taken on the Micro 4/3 system that were easily a match for everything that I’d taken in full frame. And if I’d been taking the full frame equivalent of some of these lenses I would have needed a trolley. I didn’t because micro 4/3 system has amazing lenses that are light and have beautiful character.

Olympus are filling a really important need and people are voting with their feet. We need small cameras or else a lot of them are left on the shelf at home.

Can you imagine a 35mm lens rated at 24-200mm with an F4 constant and with sharp crisp performance? It would be huge and expensive. It would be ideal but it just isn’t there. Yes there are some alternatives but these are quite soft. I’m referring to a lens with pro specs that is sharp and meets the demanding expectations of professionals. Yet Olympus have achieved this with an F4 lens rated at 12 mm to 100 mm. Remember that you double the figures. The 12 mm to 100 mm lens is in effect in 35mm terms a 24 to 200 mm lens. Not only did Olympus produce a lens of amazing optical quality in this focal length, but they also were able to build in image stabilisation. Olympus understand the value of putting image stabilisation into the camera body, but they can also double up by adding image stabilisation to the lens as well and get the two forms of image stabilisation to work together. Using this lens equipped on the Olympus camera we have managed to handhold images in low light at 1/8 of a second that have been perfectly sharp. Something simply not achievable in the handheld form using any other camera system.

One of the most amazing lenses in 35mm photography and that most camera companies like to produce is the 70 to 200 mm lens in F2 .8. Most wedding photographers want this lens equipped on their camera when they shoot a wedding. And I’ve certainly used it myself and achieved excellent results. However, Olympus have been able to produce a pro series lens rated at 40 mm to 150 mm. Now remember that this is doubled which makes it 80-300 mm. And this lens is an F2 .8. That’s right, it gives you the equivalent focal length of the professional lens as produced by the major camera manufacturers but gives you the extra 100 mm of reach while giving you the same optical brightness. What’s more, this lens is incredibly sharp. It can even be equipped with a 1.4 extender which gives it the equivalent focal length of 112 mm to 420 mm. So two lenses in one and interestingly with the optical extender, the lens becomes a constant f4. This makes it a considerably better lens than many of its competitors.

And just how good are the images from the Olympus cameras? They are so good that many wedding photographers have no difficulty whatsoever in using them regularly and we now use an Olympus digital camera, being the Olympus OMD EM1 Mark2 as our reference system for reference for focusing speed and image quality.

Bear in mind that it is a 20 megapixel camera. So its a good size. Don’t let megapixels confuse you. A 40 megapixel image is considerably larger than a 20 megapixel image. Megapixels relates to size of image and not image quality. A 50 megapixel image is not that much better than a 20 megapixel image. It is simply bigger. Once you understand that the megapixel information has been misapplied to quality as opposed to image size, suddenly you have to take a look at the photo industry again and realise that 20 megapixels is enough for anybody. We can easily print images from a 20 megapixel image in large format up to 2 m high, with no discernible difference in quality against larger megapixel images. 20 megapixel is plenty of area to work with. The Micro 4/3 system is well worth considering. And I would recommend that people take another look at it.

As we said in the outset. People are leaving heavy and large DSLR cameras and large heavy cameras per se at home. At one time people got caught up in the hype and bought lots of them, but it’s amazing how many of these cameras languish at home, having been retired from use in favour of the mobile phone. I would argue that if the cameras were smaller and lighter people would probably enjoy using them more. And you can easily put together a Micro 4/3 system which is very small indeed based around the 20 megapixel sensor. Take a look. There are lots of options available. In fact, Olympus make a 12 to 40 mm F2 .8 version of their pro lens, which has an equivalent focal length of 24 to 80 mm. Think about that. While the competitors are giving you a 24 to 70 mm focal length Olympus give you 24 to 80 mm and the lens is very, very sharp. One of the things you quickly learn using the Olympus system is that you don’t need to apply anything like the amount of sharpening to their images than you do with full frame or 35mm sensors.

The micro 4/3 system can easily meet the requirements of most photographers on the market for a camera today. Don’t fall for the full frame 35mm frame hype. Look closely. It may be what you need it, but I’d be surprised if you don’t find that the Micro 4/3 system is much more appropriate. Next time I go to a beauty spot I hope that more than one in 30 will be carrying a camera. Perhaps some will be carrying a small, lightweight camera and getting amazing results because they reinvestigated the world of the Micro 4/3 sensor.

Below I’ve included some full frame images. But most are from the Olympus. Micro four thirds. Look at the quality and you won’t see any step up or down.

Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
The Bridge. Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD E M1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Nikon Z7 S Lens Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Nikon Z7 S Lens Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Nikon Z7 S Lens Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Nikon Z7 S Lens Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Nikon Z7 S Lens Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Nikon Z7 S Lens Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Nikon Z7 S Lens Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Nikon Z7 S Lens Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD EM 1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
Coastal Image Albany Olympus OMD EM 1 Mark 2 Lenscraft Photography
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Whale Ho!

Don’t ever pass up an opportunity to see whales at play.. And always pack a camera…

There are some magical things to do in Western Australia. Whale watching is an experience that will just blow you away.

The first time you see a whale is awesome

There are many places around Western Australia where you can go to do whale watching. Whales migrate up the coast from the Antarctic waters and then return down the coast. There are long seasons when it is easy to book a trip.

You get close

At one time, whaling was a huge industry in Australia as you will see if you visit Albany on the south coast. Now whales are welcomed and the people that go out in boats, go not to slaughter the mammals but to photograph them. And each year it is getting better and better. It’s an experience that we try to enjoy every year.

These days you can be surrounded

In recent times we’ve gone from seeing just one or two whales to seeing pods of whales all around us in every direction. On some occasions we’ve had over 20 whales at different points of the compass. This is an amazing result of the care that has been taken on this subject.

At one time there was just a small boat that headed out from Albany and you heard about it from the tourist bureau or word of mouth. We heard via word of mouth and went out the first time on a very small craft. It was also the start of an addiction to viewing the whales. Today you often see larger boats and you even get morning or afternoon tea served for you.

You can snap the whale tail going under on most trips.

The iconic tail shot still needs a zoom lens

The elusive photograph of course is to try to get the picture of a whale breaching and you have to go out quite often if you want to capture these photographs. Mostly whales like to swim through the water and blow. If you go on a whale watching tour you’re pretty much guaranteed to get an iconic tail shot. You do need to give your gear some thought.

The breaching shot is always a treat
The breaching shot is always a treat
The breaching shot is always a treat

You need a zoom lens

But what to use and what to take with you? It’s an important question. Some people go with 50 mm or 35mm lenses on their cameras and when they come back the whale occupies a little bit half of a smidge in the photograph. While mobile phones are good for photographing people the action shot in the ocean is usually the preserve of something bigger. Having said that whales do come quite close to the boats these days and it is possible to get some very interesting shots using a mobile but it definitely is at the bottom of the list as far as getting real whale images is concerned. This is a zoom lens territory 101. That is if you want something to show for the trip.

We’ve tried a few lens options

Phones are good for some things but….

Over the years we’ve tried a few different approaches. I’ve been whale watching with the Canon 24 to 105 mm lens but it wouldn’t be my recommendation. The 28 to 300 mm and the 100 to 400 mm lenses are much more viable. Probably my all-time favorite lens for shooting whales is the Olympus 40 to 150 mm pro series lens. But you get the picture. You want something long that you can adjust very quickly and you want a camera that locks the focus quickly. On the recent trip we took the Nikon 28 to 300 and it was well worth using because the Nikon focus is so good. As I minimum I suggest a zoom that reaches 2-300mm.

Focus can be a problem in glare conditions and when the colour of the whale can look similar to the ocean. The difficulty of glare on the water can confuse the focus of cameras so setting the shutter and autofocus to continuous is essential. This poses a difficulty with high megapixel cameras as the buffer fills earlier and you can miss the major shot while your buffer is clearing. I suggest buffer depth above 30 for whale shooting.

Action

The Whales come close

Another surprise when taking photos of whales is that they do come very close. They sense that its safe to swim up to, around and under the boats that you are in. So having a fixed telephoto isn’t ideal. You will find yourself adjusting your zoom quite a lot.

Coming right at you!
And they come to check you out as well

Humpback Whales and Southern Right Whales are an amazing sight.

Humpback Whales and Southern right whales are common around Australia. They swim up the coast both on the east and west. Southern Right Whales are a beautiful creature and are as curious about us as we are about them.

Sometimes the whales are on a definite trip and just swim past. But they are often playful and well worth the trip out. Don’t be surprised if you are affected by coming close to such amazing creatures. Some are overcome at the experience.

We recommend seeing the whales from Augusta & Albany. You can also go and see whales from Perth locations such as catching a boat from Hillaries Marina in Perth. We have found that smaller craft are often a better choice which is why we book from places like Augusta and Dunsborough/Busselton etc.

With Auto focus I find that most cameras struggle with reflections. This is common with all brands. I have found that Canon, Nikon & Olympus have performed well for me with misses well down. The Sony cameras that I have used with the exception of the A99 and A9 gave more misses in focus with glare.

The Humpback

What is a humpback whale? The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is the fifth largest of the great whales. Its scientific name comes from the Greek word mega meaning ‘great’ and pteron meaning ‘a wing’, because their large front flippers can reach a length of five metres, about one-third of their entire body length!

Why called Humpback?

They are named humpbacks because of the distinct ‘hump’ that shows as the whale arches its back when it dives.

What do they look like? Humpbacks are ‘rorquals’, whales which have distinctive throat grooves. They also have knobs on their heads known as ‘tubercles’, each of which has a long coarse hair growing from its centre which is believed to act as a sensor. They have very long flippers (more correctly known as ‘pectoral fins’) with knobs on the front edge, and a humped dorsal fin. They are blackish, with white undersides and sides. The underside of the tail fluke is usually white with black patterning, which is unique to each humpback, like a fingerprint, so can be used to identify individual whales!

Sizes

Males average 14.6 metres and females 15.2 metres long. The maximum length is 18 metres and a mature adult may weigh up to 45 tonnes. Humpback whales have a life expectancy of 45 to 50 years.

The Southern Right Whale

What is a southern right whale? Southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) are about the size of a bus. These marine mammals each weigh up to 80 tonnes and may reach 18 metres long. The first time we went out to see the whales we were shocked at their size. Although southern right whales are huge, bulky creatures, they are also agile and active animals, and their acrobatic antics can keep whale watchers amazed and entranced for hours. However, their commonest behaviour is lying around like logs at the surface.

Appearance

What do they look like? Southern right whales have horny growths called callosities on top of the head. Southern right whales harbour large quantities of parasites (small crustaceans known as whale lice), and it is possible that the callosities may serve to reduce the area of the body in which parasites can inhabit. The patterns formed by the callosities are different for each individual, which is useful for researchers collecting information on patterns of movement and behaviour, as they can easily tell which whale is which. The head of a southern right whale is large — up to a quarter of the total length of the body — and the lower jawline is distinctively bowed.

No Fin on the back.

There is no fin on the back. The flippers are broad, triangular and flat and the body colour ranges from blue-black to light brown. There are often white markings, usually on the belly. The twin blowholes produce a high, V-shaped blow.

Where do they live? Southern right whales live in the cooler latitudes of the southern hemisphere, where they were once abundant. Whale watching tours that encounter southern right whales operate from Albany and Esperance in winter. They can also be seen from the shore in places such as Ngari Capes Marine Park (between Busselton and Augusta) and Point Ann east of Bremer Bay in Fitzgerald River National Park. Sometimes during the winter months, people living in the Perth metropolitan area can view them from shore, especially in Marmion Marine Park.

What a marvellous experience and an opportunity not to be missed.

Taking a look right back at you
At play

Other considerations

Glare from the ocean intensifies light and sunscreen is a definite must. The cold wind can give you a chill. I use finger-less gloves and a beanie when I go shooting. Its good to get into position quickly and find a spot where you can wedge yourself in and hold on tight. The boats do move in the swell a lot as to find the whales the boat may head out further than you expect. Not always as the whales can come in close. However I have seen plenty of sick people looking green. Just a thought.

Why Nikon are spot on with the Z range. And where it misses.

Z7 STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA JACARANDA S LENS 24-70
Z7 STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA JACARANDA S LENS 24-70

The Nikon Z7 has been worth waiting for

People waited with growing impatience. What for? For Nikon to come up with a genuine contender in the mirror-less race. And then they did it. They announced the Z range. And suddenly they hit a goal. And apart from the fact that the learning curve has stymied some people the fact is that this is about as good as it gets in full frame high megapixel 35mm Photography. Not that any of the contenders has struck an outright killer blow on the competition as all the current pro cameras are pretty awesome. And all have things that people would change. But you can’t get past the results. They are  good.

Nikon have won a lot of friends with the cameras that they have released recently.

Personally I am one of those people that feel that Nikon have really hit the ground running remarkably well. In recent years they brought the Nikon D850 to the market and frankly it is head and shoulders the best DSLR camera that we have ever used. I agree with those reviewers that say that at present it is easily the best camera in that format available and in many ways in the 35mm field if you want to use a DSLR and your pockets are deep enough it would be the ideal choice. Having said that, size is a factor which is why people are looking at mirrorless.

Z7 Nikon Our Go To Full Frame Mirrorless Camera
Z7  Mirrorless That is Simply amazing

Its about making better lenses.

It’s not the format and size that has got our attention. We don’t mind using DSLR at all. In fact for some applications a DSLR is obviously needed. But mirrorless cameras have their advantages and it’s not simply size.

Both Canon and Nikon appear to see the value of making good lenses even better

What both Nikon and Canon have realized is that better lenses are possible. They chose to attack the problem of mirrorless from two sides. They looked at form and lenses. And that’s brilliant. Digital sensors have the ability to record remarkably fine detail. Sometimes the lenses are the limiting factor though not to the degree that might be argued… Changing the way that lenses are made so that they can be optically better and positioned in a better form on the camera body is a stroke of genius. It really shows that someone has been thinking about this issue carefully. Other companies have approached the issue of better lenses by using smaller sensors and they have achieved remarkable clarity from small sensors using the Micro 4/3 system which, you discount at your peril. It is actually quite amazing and people should stop and look at it. MFT or micro four thirds is a lot better than those that have a fixation on full frame might have you think. We’ll talk about that elsewhere.

NIKON-Z7-ISO-640-S-LENS-LENSCRAFT-MFT
S SERIES 24-70 LENSCRAFT MFT PHOTOGRAPHY

For now though, taking it from the Nikon Z series camera and using a remarkable full frame sensor, then the approach has been to design a completely different mount and make lenses that are remarkably good optically and provide an excellent basis for both still images and video.

Z7 STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA S LENS 24-70
Z7 STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA S LENS 24-70

Image stabilisation built into the camera is always preferable

Then too we are so impressed about the fact that Nikon decided to build the image stabilisation technology into the camera body which we always regard as the very best place to put it. There is no doubt that it is essential in photography and most photographers will tell you that they tend to shoot images at the lowest ISO rating that they can. So for example if you go through a professional catalogue you will probably find that most of the photographs are taken around 200 ISO or less where possible. That is certainly true of our catalogue. Image stabilisation often allows you to get a shot using a lower ISO rating and is therefore essential. However when stabilisation is built into a lens it increases its weight and makes it more complicated. When it is built into the camera body it means that every lens that you fit to that camera is automatically able to take advantage of the stabilisation. It is just fantastic. So for the first time we have a pairing of a high megapixel sensor with inbuilt stabilisation and now we are seeing some amazing lenses of a quality that we haven’t seen in this form before. For me it’s like carrying round a medium format camera that is remarkably small and has all the advantages of the 35mm format. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration but that’s what it feels like and it certainly gives results that are in that ilk. We’ve used a number of medium format cameras and we’ve never been able to achieve the sort of results using any of those cameras up to 50 megapixel that we can get from the Z7 when paired with their new S series lenses when we nail the shot. Rich full images with lots of room to work to bring out the shadows if needed.

Z7 STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA MARINA S LENS 24-70
Z7 STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA MARINA S LENS 24-70

So after trying the Z7 for while how do we feel? The converter for fitting Nikon lenses is good. A great idea well implemented. Adds size but we can understand the thinking behind it. If you have lots of native Nikon glass then the adapter provides an option. For me I’ll just use existing Nikon glass on the DSLR. Coming back to what’s really exciting though. It’s the NEW glass. The lenses are what it’s about. It’s always been important to use good lenses. And this is where Nikon have made amazing advances because the S series lenses are something else. The S series 24-70 is one of the best lenses of that focal range we have ever used. And we’ve used them all. From simple to esoteric. This one is so even and sharp that it takes the camera’s potential to a new level. I like the Z7 generally but I wasn’t feeling all that enamored with it when using the adapter. Don’t know why really but I didn’t feel that the focus when using the adapter with third party glass was exceptional and looking online there appears to be a few that had that experience.. however forget that.. now the S lenses give us something to get our teeth into. And I’m shocked at the improvements.

The quality of image is very good when the focus finds its point. Sadly it misses more times than I am comfortable with.  On a recent evening shoot we shot with two mirror-less cameras The Sony A9 and the Nikon Z7 and the results when compared were startling. In 309 images taken the Z7 focus missed almost 60 times whereas the Sony A9 missed focus just once in over 400 shots. In a further trial against the D850 we got similar results though the D850 missed none. In sunny conditions with glare it gets a lot better but it is a niggling worry. I guess it hunts more than i would like.

The Z7 is frankly close to being the most well-rounded mirror-less camera that I have used in full frame format. But it isn’t.  Its a great overall design and size. But until the focus is better it isn’t up to being in my kit unless shooting in bright conditions or shooting manually. I wish the focus were better but at the moment I am hoping for a firmware improvement. 

Hats off to Nikon for a job well on the way but not yet ready for 5 stars.

Other good things

The grip is superb

The metering is excellent

The weight is great

The EVF is clear and bright

The menu system is simple. [Why do people complain about these things…? Its not rocket science and easy to navigate.]

The ISO rating is great

The images are usable up to 6400 ISO for our purposes [We could easily go higher and get prints up to A3] but as noted we would always shoot below 1000 and mostly our average is 200 so its there but for most photographers it won’t matter that much.

Speaking to other photographers about full frame and the general opinion is that Nikon have really got it right. They were talking about the bodies. But when you add in the S lenses which are priced competitively then you have a system with legs that is already delivering excellent results.

We will add some images here soon.

Nikon S 24-70
Nikon 20-70 F4 S Lens. The best 24-70 mm lens we have ever used to date

Just one caveat with these comments. We have yet to try the Z6 but we understand that it is the same camera with a different 24.5 megapixel sensor. I’m firmly of the opinion that 20 megapixel or there about is plenty for any application up to poster size and beyond. Exposure technique remains much more important than the megapixel count of a sensor. Speed is also important and that is achievable with full frame with a lower megapixel sensor much more easily than with higher megapixels.

A few comments re Lenscraft Photography. When we comment on equipment in these pages the comments are based on use in the field. They are never based on a single use or just a couple of days using the equipment. We try the equipment with at least two disciplines in photography and determine how it performs from there. Lenscraft Photography is a website devoted to photography and sharing experiences with equipment. We are not affiliated with any manufacturer. We have used equipment professionally from Canon, Nikon, Ricoh, Minolta, Sony, Leica, Olympus, Hasselblad, Zeiss, Sigma, Pentax, Zenit, Bronica, Rollei & Kodak.

Some of these companies have been absorbed into others. Currently we regularly use equipment from Olympus, Nikon, Sony, & Hasselblad. [Plus lenses from Zeiss and Sigma]