Anacostia meets the Potomac, DC

Anacostia meets the Potomac, DC

[Nikon Coolpix S9100 > Gimp]

Wow, somehow this got downsampled, at least with the 500x400p version. I wonder if that’s why this Rocket3.0 is so…"fast"? Well the original is 1900×1200.

…just a quick shot I took driving across the South Capitol Street bridge in DC, holding the CoolPix S9100 out of the passengers’ window. It’s a bit dark, I edited this a while ago. Unfortunately the original was rotated at about 45deg.

So it looks like I’ll be shooting film for a while yet, as the A850/D700 retreats a little further in front of me and I grow less and less interested in buying an A700 as a holdover. I’m much more inclined to buy a non-VC 28-300 for the D70…unless I can get an A700 for next to nothing, but still I’m not buying a $1200+ A850 anytime soon, and the D700 is up to $2k now on eBay as Nikon hasn’t really made any for the past several months or so, due to the tsunami and flooding in that part of the world.

Meanwhile I just got 20 rolls of 36-frame ISO200 Fuji Superia and another 20 of 24-frame regular Fuji color negative off eBay for $55 delivered [that’s $1.10/roll averaging 30 shots/roll and $2.25/roll in development, assuming 25% shooting "efficiency" about 40 cents an image]. And it’s late December and not a happy time financially in the household, so no buying new cameras and not much to shoot anyway unless I get in the car and go for some weekend trips. But I will be able to work on a fair number of old film shots and now I don’t have to worry about getting them on Flickr in their full glory as I couldn’t really use the Internet at work and I didn’t have a steady broadband connection at home. Now I have the Rocket 3.0 so let’s put it to the test, shall we.

…see, it does make sense to buy a subframe, financially, as the IQ is generaly acceptable shooting raw at ISO100 certainly, the film is "free" and you can shoot fullframe lenses on one. But not at $500+ just for the body, not for an amateur, especially not in a world of decent *Canon* subframes not to mention Sony and Nikon subframes. If it’s not making money for you then it’s not worth the money…the more it costs, the worse the deal. It’s that simple. So you have to balance the options, film, subframe, fullframe, (ok p&s, cellphone) in order to get a deal that "isn’t so bad" yet still meets most if not quite all of your needs for a decent camera. I don’t find p&s’s so small and "complete" that they are so much easier to carry than a (D)SLR that I have no need to carry a backpack. They need an extra battery (because getting stuck out in the field with a dying battery sucks ass), you need a safe place to carry it (because breaking a $300 p&s by banging it against a solid wall while it’s in your cargo-pants pocket sucks ass) and then there’s the inevitable cable and maybe a small tripod. All that I usually carry in my backpack. The display obviously sucks and I’m not doing any post-processing in the camera. I can’t even get broadband to work on my unlocked Blackberry 9550, and the display is quite awkward even for WiFi…though I have set up multiple bank-accounts on it, it’s a true PITA. It’s an issue of whether I carry my laptop or not. If I do, I have the 500si and two lenses (and some film) because they live in the bottom pouch, along with a mouse and some lens-wipes and a tire patch-kit (which I really need to put in my bike, but that’s another issue). The weight in my backpack is mainly from my notebook and its converter. And I’m typing on that notebook right now. I should then drop another $300 on an "iPad" or 10" laptop just to knock-off a pound or two of weight? I would still have to carry an "iPad" in something, plus a keyboard most-likely. Plus a power-supply. All in my backpack. I would appreciate the loss of weight but not at that price, just as I would appreciate the virtual "film" (especially with good color, DR and noise) but not at that price. I’ve still got dozens if not a hundred film-shots to edit from this year not to mention the ones that I’ll take next year. And this year I plan to do more than drive around and take landscape shots while of course planning to do a fair amount of that.

I *might* buy an A700, I could possibly buy an A850, there’s a larger chance that I’ll get the 28-300 in F-mount and a slim chance of getting a D700 this year. I can’t see taking much in the way of "test shots", even with film, this year. Now it’s time to take this whole philosophy-hardware thing out and soak it in the real-world.

…but with some old shots mixed in, as always I guess.

Sooner or later you have to get your head out of the books, so to speak, and see how you make it in the real world. With the one caveat that when shooting film at night, you’re always shooting F8 manual with one shot each at 2, 4, 8 and 16s until you know what you’re going to get out of a given-speed film. And I haven’t really sat down and done that systematically for ISO100, 200, 400 & 800, and likewise I have yet to get any good shots out of the ISO1600 that I have (Probably it’s all fried by either X-rays or the wrong processing at CVS as the leading two reasons) or the ISO1600 that I could buy new (which would be prohibitively expensive). And I need to make a chart of recommended development for each speed of Fujifilm and check with the guy at CVS to see what he’s using. Is the ISO1600 film going to beat either an A700 or D70 in IQ? Probably not. Might be close might be slightly better but it’s going to stay in the camera too long and be too hard to get into it. I doubt that I will buy any more ISO800 even though it’s not bad, and I haven’t shot any ISO400 in a year now. I don’t see such an improvement in grain from ISO200 to ISO100 that it’s worth the loss of speed, it’s like driving at 30MPH on the highway, is it really so much safer and enjoyable that it’s worth the extra time lost? No. But you don’t want to drive at 100MPH for an hour vs driving 55MPH for an hour unless you’re way out in the desert somewhere. So the pull to ISO200 is really strong because it’s a good average speed for film (and likewise the D70 won’t go below ISO200). Meanwhile CVS and Kodak and so forth are pushing ISO400. ISO200 film is hard to buy in the stores. But why take fast shots on film? I can get decent ISO400 shots with a subframe all day long, as long as they are not low-aspect landscape shots. Of course the color will not be so great (especially relative to ISO100 with the same camera) but is the answer ISO400 film? No. That’s for *very* occasional shooters who refuse to upgrade to digital gear because "they don’t take a lot of shots, don’t see spending all that money on digital gear, and are perfectly happy with their old SLR". I wouldn’t shoot landscape shots with ISO400 because it’s not worth the risk in grain for the benefit in speed for all but the longest handheld shots. Likewise ISO100 gets too slow too fast especially at F8-F11, +1eV evaluative for shooting handheld at short focal-lengths even in moderate "shadow". And spare me the old song & dance about how shooting digital eliminates that problem entirely. Shooting digital locks you into borderline-acceptable color, at best. Face it: that is why the pros are all chasing megapixels on MF gear, because it takes about 36MP of MF image-data off a Bayer-sensor camera to provide the color resolution of 12MP of scanned MF film. You get plenty of green but relatively-little blue and red and in no case do you get close to a true "36MP" of real resolution, so to get close to a natural color-balance along with true resolution you have to have a *lot* of pixels. You have to "overscan", essentially. If you want a good 24MP shot you have to shoot at 3x that in terms of a Bayer-sensor camera. Then hope that the customer is so impressed with the large print & lack of film-grain and processing anomalies that they don’t notice the remaining imbalance in the color-resolution and the image and color artifacts that result from anti-aliasing, the double-conversion from analog to digital and back again, and then the demosiacing. With film you just shoot it, develop it, scan it, and then fix the watermarks, dust-bunnies and vignetting that occurs from scanning film that isn’t lying flat on top of the normal vignetting from the lens. But good color and resolution are right there, you just need a decent scanner to get it off the film.

The idea of really high-resolution large-sensor gear is that it does a good "film" job of capturing the a natural image in terms of color and resolution without introducing the surface- and exposure-related issues of film. It does, however, mean buying even larger and much-more expensive cameras and lenses just to get the same shots that I can get well with a cheap old 35mm SLR rig. You’re just not going to beat a film rig for overall effectiveness unless you either take a lot of shots or need really *great* shots or a high rate of "keepers" or maybe all three. Or ok you don’t have any more film to shoot, but your digital gear still has charge and storage for more shots. A loaded answer. And I’ve charged a Coolpix S9100 off my laptop running it off the battery while lying on the floor of my car…in front of a Best Buy…which probably did not have the special battery that my 500si requires. I’ve replaced it twice and stumbled on one once in Rite-Aid and another time in Radio Shack. It ain’t easy to find them in retail stores. The S9100 would charge off any USB port if it was set up to do that. But then I’ve had to change the 500si battery twice, once when I got it and again maybe 9 months later, while I had to charge the S9100 every 24hrs or so. Seems like I was always charging that sucker, it only got about 150 shots off a full charge. For a new p&s in my hands, that’s at most a day of shooting…in "normal use" that would last a week or so simply because the battery would drain itself anyway.

…still an S9100 camera-jpeg vs 35mm scanned film.
There just are no really good, solid digital options that cheaply and effectively replace 35mm film in terms of everything that is important to the "avid amateur". The Facebook Generation, maybe. The "point, snap and upload" Flickr crowd, possibly. But not us old guys who don’t want to spend all day looking at computer-monitors, who aren’t in a rush to post pictures of themselves partying at the beach with their friends or downtown touring in a modern city or of some bug on a leaf, and who are willing to take time to develop & scan film and do decent post-processing. Because you can’t get the color shooting digital that you get with film, in small to medium-format color counts more than the absence of film-grain and other film-related surface defects, and at low shot-counts the price, time and extra effort required by film isn’t prohibitive. The extreme cases are a cellphone vs a 35mm SLR or a 60MP MF camera vs a 35mm SLR. Head on over to Luminous Landscape and see what is going on in the world of $60k MF digital backs that go on $5k MF cameras and $1500 prime lenses to match.

So anyway. Yes, we know enough, for the most part.
The gear is good enough, for the most part.
Now more shots and less talking. Hopefully.

Posted by touristguy87 on 2011-12-18 21:39:14

Tagged: , Nikon Coolpix S9100 Gimp Washington D.C. Anacostia River S.E South Capitol Street Bridge USA