Answering a comment with a post – photography equipment

A comment by OneOwner on my last post is responsible for this post. I started answering his comment and before I knew it, I was at 1,000 words worth of answer and I wasn’t done . . . so, this is the resultant post.

See what you get if you interact with me? . . . hmm . . . not sure if that’s an incentive or a detractor.

Also, it may seem at times I’m making the case for the P1000. I’m not. I’m just pointing out what the camera is suited for. Were money not an object, I would be shooting with $70,000 worth of photography equipment . . . when just fooling around. And, when serious, I would fall back to my $150,000 worth of equipment. But money is a consideration as well as what I plan to do with the photos

In between segments, I’ll add small galleries of my DSLR photos from a few years ago (just to have some images), like so:

Anyway, here’s the entirety of OneOwner’s comment (in blue) with my answers added in between :

I was just looking at the P1000 and, as cool as I think it is, I’m not sure there is anything in the gallery that would convince me to part with almost $1,000 (US) for one, especially if I had a P900.

This is where the intended use comes into play. When you post photos on your blogs (which I hope you will start doing again soon) you’re not giving the viewers the opportunity to pixel gaze. The photos you post are relatively small and any pixel problems an anal viewer might object to are outside of their ability to discover.

One of the reasons the P1000 is in play is that the majority of the photos I share are taken with either the phone of the P900. And, if I am to hear my readers, the photos are just fine. BUT . . . I seldom share the original (full-size) files because they are not suited for man or beast once you get down to looking at pixels because said pixels look like misshapen mosaic tiles.

The photo of the bird on a wire at 539mm was the deal breaker (for me). I just don’t think the combination sensor size and focal length has reached a level of sharpness I would want, especially after spending an additional $1ooo.

I consider that particular photo well inferior from the other offerings I showed (and there are a few even lesser photos in the linked sample galleries) both in quality and subject matter. I’m willing to sacrifice a bit of quality for the photo of the deer because the photo is interesting.

The dove on the wire would have to have something else going for it for me to overlook the quality of it, but that begs the question . . . what’s the point of going full zoom to capture a photo of a common (and annoying) bird? For them, it was a test of the camera’s reach.

Contrast the other full zoom photos. It’s difficult finding fault with the picture of the girl even at the pixel level. Sure, it won’t compare to a prosumer camera with a good lens but it’s pretty darn good. The photo with the monkey is one that’s of worse quality than the photo of the dove but the subject matter is interesting and hence the picture worth taking and sharing.

I have many, many photos I shot with the DX cameras where the subjects are just too far away for the photos to be useful. I consider that monkey photo, as crappy as it looks in the minute details, a useful photo.

On another point, I shot for several months with my file saving setting on the camera to save both the RAW and jpg files. When I was happy with the processing of the RAW files, I tried to duplicate the look with the jpg files. This is all in Lightroom and no plugins were used.

My conclusion was that it became very difficult to tell which file formats they were without looking at the extension. This, of course, doesn’t take into account printing the files, which would be another test.

My conclusion was that it became very difficult to tell which file formats they were without looking at the extension. This, of course, doesn’t take into account printing the files, which would be another test. 

Also, my files were shot on a D610, your mileage may vary. Point is, how much weight does the RAW file format have for you in your decision?

I tried these RAW files precisely to compare the editing limits of RAW to JPG straight out of the camera. I’ve only shown one of the ten JPGs I processed and all were more of a pain to edit and none ended up indistinguishable to the RAW image, at least the way I processed them.

That’s my current complaint with the P900; despite having tried different settings combinations, the JPGs out of the camera are not “smooth” and “uniform”; you can see the processing and loss of detail.

Not so with the P1000 RAW files. Having seen what I saw, I’d love to have the RAW option with the P900. If for nothing else, to make it easier to process the photos.

The P1000’s RAW files come in at 25MB (with minor variation) whereas the JPGs come in between 4MB and 8MB. That’s a lot of extra data. If they offered the P900 with Raw capabilities, I’d buy it over the P1000 . . . but, it would probably cost more than what I paid for the current P900.

Now, you are correct . . . on my DSLR I could shoot JPGs and not miss RAW for most of the photos. But, like guns, I rather have them and not need them than need them and not have them.

I sold my printer when we moved to Hawaii and I’m still debating whether I’ll buy a quality printer (for quality prints) because I don’t have the need to print all that much.

When I do the calculations, it’s much cheaper to order a print in whatever format and medium you want than to pay for the printer, ink, and quality paper. When and if we buy a house, it’ll be my photos I’ll turn to for decorating and I’ll probably send them out to print.

Also, I have many thousands of photos to pick from so I’m not dependent on future photos.

So, to answer your question, I prefer having the RAW file if given the choice. If not, I’ll make do without them (and I have for two years now).

Since $1,000 is a lot of money (to me), I would definitely rent one if I could before I buy. If you do rent one, you should formulate a test plan before the camera arrives so that you will be able to try all the critical features that you are interested in.

Get all the shots and process later after you return the camera. Fortunately, the metadata keeps track of all the camera settings.

Let me begin by saying that while I might have a bit more budget latitude than most people, $1,000 is a lot of money for me as well, especially if it doesn’t meet my needs. The thing with the rental is this: aside from the impracticality at the moment, to test out what I want to know (see later discussion about equipment) ends up being not cheap.

If it were only the P100, I could rent it for $80 (with insurance), but that’s not the only consideration. If I add all of the equipment I’m trying to include in the decision, the cost begins to mount . . . $400 excluding tax.

I’d rather put that toward the cost of the equipment.

The research and samples I’m evaluating are based on the assumption I should be able to do at least as well as what I see in the samples with whatever camera or camera/lens combination I end up with.

Yes, I admit it; I pixel gaze . . . but, I’m doing less of it.

Much less, in part because I don’t have to crop to the extent that I used to with my DX lenses. Meaning, the “cheap” long zoom lens gets me a photo that is equivalent in size to the cropped version of the output from the “expensive” combination of equipment, and usually, with more information.

Sure, the P900 and P1000 can shoot something four miles away . . . but that’s not how I use the P900 (other than to go “wow, look at that!“).

The question:
is the uncropped photo from a P1000 equivalent to a highly cropped photo from my D7000 with the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens? It depends on the photo. It’s not like I don’t get crappy photos from the DX combo.

I have plenty of examples where shots I took of distant objects don’t have the quality and amount of data necessary to get a passable photo that I can use. In those instances, the P900 and (I assume even more so) the P1000 pick up the slack and then some, especially with the post-processing tools currently available. And, with improvements in the AI algorithms, I expect even better results in the near future (before I die).

It used to be so easy buying a camera.

Warning: a glimpse of my overthinking mind ahead.

Notice I said the 70-200mm and not the 80-400mm. As much as I like the 80-400mm lens, it suffers from the same problem as the P1000. When you push it, you quickly hit limits.

Meaning, it has a certain range where the performance is great but it degrades quickly when you push past it. I understand the new version — the 80-400mm G lens — is much better than my “D” lens but, and this is a big BUT, it needs to be because the cameras have become more demanding.

On the D100, the 80-400mm D-lens is still very good. It’s very good on the D200 as well. By the time I get to the D7000, the lens just can’t keep up and the result suffers. Meaning, the camera gathers more information and the additional information shows where the lens has shortfalls. I don’t get as good photos with the D7000 than I did with the earlier cameras.

That sounds weird and counterintuitive especially when I say the following: Using the 80-400mm “D” lens, I would never attempt certain shots with the D100 that I would take without worries with the D200 and I would never attempt certain shots with the D200 that I would take without worries with the D7000 . . . but that’s where the combination starts to fall apart. You don’t gain anything — and even lose — as you advance to more capable cameras unless the lenses keep up.

The 80-400mm D-lens is not recommended for anything newer than my 2011 D7000 whereas my 70-200mm f/2.8 is still recommended even on the D500; that would become my go-to lens for quality zoom shots if I upgrade the D7000 to either a D7200 or D500.

The D7000 — while still very capable — has minor irritants when it comes to acquiring and holding focus. Not usually a problem but when you miss a shot you want and don’t have a backup, it sucks. Let me be clear; I’ve been very happy with the camera but it has frustrated me on a few occasions. Also, THIS; I trust the guy’s opinion. To be clear, I found that advice after I had decided to upgrade so I wasn’t swayed by it.

Consider my many hawks photos; they were taken with the 80-400mm lens until I purchased the D7000. Then, I got better results with the 70-200mm f/2.8 but that meant I had to either get closer or crop tighter.

Anyway, let me review what I know right now and what I’m thinking about. Also, let me repeat . . . $1,000 is a lot for me as well but I’m looking at keeping anything I buy for a long time.

Meaning, my budget is higher yet because I’m looking at a yearly cost and not the lump sum of it. Same with cars and nearly everything else I buy. That’s why I still wear some clothes I bought in the 90s . . . but, that’s another story.

So, just for the sake of argument let’s use a budget of around $3,500 (I haven’t decided on an amount yet and that seems like a large amount unless I do a lot more with my photography hobby). To be clear, that’s a big budget . . . but whatever I buy has to keep me happy for the next 10 years plus. This budget assumes me selling the D7000, the P900, and the 80-400mm lens.

The cheapest option:
A D7200 and a P1000 combination would run me about $1,800 and would give me an improvement at the low end and would allow for those long-range photos I wouldn’t normally even attempt unless I had a much more expensive lens/camera system.

The question to answer is this: what will I use the photos for? Well, that setup would take care of everything I produce for the blog (at blog-quality or better) and still allow for high-quality photos of anything I want to shoot with my other lenses.

The D7200 would be an uptick in both resolution, performance, and capabilities from my D7000 and the P1000 would replace the P900 as my everyday camera and travel camera and add RAW capabilities. It does lose a few things I like, namely, battery performance and GPS.

The next cheapest option:
For $400 more ($2,200), I swap out the P1000 and buy the highly rated 200-500mm lens which when combined with the D7200 produces excellent results. BUT . . . I give up portability. I end up with a very capable camera/lens combo that weights 7-8 pounds and is pretty unwieldy.

I’ve been there before; I traveled everywhere with 20 pounds worth of camera and lenses. Only, I would now just have the D7200, 200-500mm lens, and my phone with me. That covers most close-up photography (phone) and even macro-like shots if I absolutely have to use the big camera and, of course, landscape as long as I’m willing to stitch multiple photos into a panorama (been there, done that, no big deal).

The more expensive option:
For an additional $700 ($2,900), I can buy the D500 and the P1000. That gives me a workhorse camera that will last 10+ years, is excellent for action photography, pairs very well with the 70-200mm lens and my other lenses, has a 200-photo buffer shooting at 10fps, and has excellent picture quality (limited only by the operator) and focusing prowess.

Again, high-quality photography is back in my stable and I also have the P1000 to carry around when I don’t want to lug a crapload of camera equipment around.

The most expensive option:
Add another $400 ($3,300) and I can buy the D500 with the 200-500mm lens and have what many people swear by when talking about action and nature photography.

Again, massive weight and interchangeable lenses but aside the problem of lugging around lots of equipment, an enviable set-up that would match a lot of what I shoot and it would give me a 750mm equivalent lens and camera combination that should let me get photos that I can crop (essentially, adding a digital zoom option).

I suppose I don’t have to sell the P900 but then I’m having to put in more of my existing money so that’s a consideration as well.

As you can see, there are many ways this can go. Heck. I could even buy nothing,  sell the 80-400mm, and make do with what I have (the status quo).

As an aside, I’m doing tests shots with the 80-400mm with both the D200 and the D7000 and comparing those shots to what I can get with the P900.

Basically, I’m testing if I can get at least as good a photo of something far away with the 80-400mm as I can with the uncropped P900. That will give me an idea of what I might be able to expect from the 200-500mm lens paired with a better camera.

The mind reels at all the possible permutations . . . or, at least, mine does. One last comment . . .

My photography needs are driven by the kind of photography I do:
I tend to shoot either low zoom or high zoom with very little in between. All of my animals and birds end up being shot at as high a zoom as I can get. Nearly 2/3 of the 2015 photos were shot at the higher zooms. That makes sense because I shoot a lot of birds from a distance.

Almost everything I shoot these days is at least above 100mm and mostly close to 200mm or higher. Hence why I keep looking at long zooms (I already have wide angle and macro capability in the lenses I own).

And, if anyone has read this far . . . here’s a final gallery for you:

 

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at DisperserTracks.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
This entry was posted in About Photography, Photography Stuff and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Answering a comment with a post – photography equipment

  1. oneowner says:

    The justification process never really makes sense to me sometimes. One photographer can seldom anticipate the needs of another. In the end, one must be happy with the tools they use. One last piece of advice: the 200-500 could be difficult to hand-hold. Maybe a nice tripod, too?

    Like

    • disperser says:

      I seldom give advice to anyone without first understanding what they want . . . and, since I don’t even know what I want, that part is difficult to pin down when it comes to other people.

      In my case, I’m torn between quality and practicality (with money thrown in just to further complicate things).

      Right now, I don’t “need” high-quality (whatever that means) but I “want” as much quality as needed when I need it (with consideration to price). The process I’m undergoing aims to define all them nebulous terms.

      Like

  2. It’s been a l-o-n-g, cold, busy day and just looking at these photos brings joy and warmth and smiles! Love all the vibrant colors, beautiful, interesting subjects, details, motion, textures, animals, insects, ETC! Thanks, Emilio! :-)
    OH, that little bird hangin’ upside down reminds me to hold on! (in life)
    HUGS!!! :-)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. AnnMarie says:

    Ooooooh what lovely photos! Hard to believe, but some I don’t recall seeing . . . I may have to start from Post 1 again . . . but first I have to continue where I left off, which is 21November2015. And then I’ll have forgotten all the ones from your earliest posts . . . and I’ll start all over again! What fun!

    Like

    • disperser says:

      All of those are from 2014. I built the galleries by starting in January and choosing photos as I slowly made my way to December.

      You were going through some posts pretty fast there for a while. Easy to miss stuff especially when photos are often different versions of the same subjects.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. renxkyoko says:

    The photos are really nice…. you know, you can post just one of your beautiful photos and I’m sure you’ll get more than a hundred views and likes per photo. Those photos of the birds, for example…..

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Thanks, but xperience tells me otherwise . . . now, if it were a cat photo, maybe.

      Wait . . . are you saying I shouldn’t write anything? That my writing is the problem?

      hmm . . . that would explain so much . . .

      Liked by 1 person

      • renxkyoko says:

        ugh !

        There are bloggers that post just one nice photo ( yours are even nicer) , but get over a hundred Likes. Eh. Of course , you should write something ! ! Well, you know what I mean…

        Like

        • disperser says:

          I knew what you meant. I just like to kid.

          Seriously, the 100 likes has nothing to do with posting 1 or 87 photos and everything to do with how active one is in the blogging community.

          If I engaged more people, I’d get more likes.

          All one has to do is spend ten minutes hitting the little star for each post they scroll past on the Reader. You can easily “like” 300 or 400 posts and about a third will respond with a like of one of your posts.

          Note that you don’t have to read their posts and they likely won’t read yours.

          I much prefer the four (on a good day) people who actually read what I post and comment about what they read.

          Also, even with people I know, I’m aware not everyone has the time to read, really read, 2000-3000 words and look, really look, at 87-93 photos.

          But then, I’m not writing these posts to get likes. If I did, I’d post photos of kittens and food and parrot whatever popular opinion is all the current rage.

          Ultimately, there’s only one person I’m trying to please, and he’s a peculiar sort whose very particular about what he likes.

          . . . and he kids around something fierce . . .

          Liked by 1 person

        • renxkyoko says:

          Yes, I get it. But your photos deserve to be appreciated and seen by more people. You put in so much effort, y’know.

          Like

        • disperser says:

          You’d be amazed at what little effort is involved. It looks like a lot of work because I do a lot of them but, individually? Rarely do I spend much time on each photo.

          As far as deserve . . . that’s a trickier concept. Honest, go to SmugMug and type in almost anything; Flowers, Birds, scenery, landmarks . . . Amazing photos will show up and, amazingly, none are mine. There are some seriously talented and dedicated people out there deserving of the title of photographers.

          Me? It might look OK but I’m a casual hobbyist. Sometimes I push myself but 90% of the time I’m just goofing around.

          Understand, this is no false modesty. It’s an accurate assessment of where I’m at and what I do.

          . . . I don’t argue the point much because people who think I’m good and who think I’m better than they are would be disappointed and dejected finding out just how far down the ladder we are from true artists.

          My role is to show other schleps what just a little effort can accomplish. If they looked at a real photographer, they’d give up and never snap another photo.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. calmkate says:

    Stunning cheerful shots, you lost me with the technical stuff but impressed with your talent!

    Like

  6. John says:

    I bought a P900 when it first came out, pre-order even. I liked that it was a single lens camera that shot RAW files. Let me say I agree with you about RAW: it’s my preferred choice, but with cameras being more advanced and the .jpg files being larger, basic editing is just as good on a .jpg vs RAW. I think the .jpg vs RAW debate comes down to what you’re planning to do with the images you take. If you’re shooting for social media, or to make a photo album when you’re printing 5x7s, then jpgs are perfect. It’s when you’re selling them as larger images where the differences can be more noticeable (as you mentioned). Before I sold some prints of my own, I ordered some at various sizes, printed on various media (canvas, metal, etc), and the RAW images turned out better. But, I think for most people, .jpgs are fine.

    That wasn’t really my main point though. It was things you said in this and the previous post about the quality of the zoom. I think we all seem to have a bird on the wire (in my case it’s a woodpecker on top of a telephone pole). The zoom on my photo is 196mm, the light is good, and the detail of the feathers is good. My other bird on the wire is a dove, on a wire, at 125mm. In this case, the lack of detail in the feathers is quite noticeable. The 900 is good for closeup photos, but, I’m more of a macro guy. The quality of the 900 is good (I have a nice autumn leaf shot at 10mm, and the entire frame is perfectly focused and every detail in the leaf is visible.

    I bought the camera thinking it would be a good, every day, carry-around camera. A single camera/lens, instead of carrying around my D7100 and a few lenses. I think it is a good camera for someone who isn’t looking to sell their photos but who wants to have good quality images to send to their family or post on social media. For me: it sounded great on paper yet it didn’t live up to my expectations (partly because I think I had higher expectations than they designed the camera for).

    I used the 900 for several months, off and on. Now it’s packed in a case. I’ll probably get rid of it soon. I think my takeaway from it was that I prefer the multi lens approach, even if it can be cumbersome carrying around multiple lenses (I generally don’t carry all my lenses, unless I’m on vacation and will be going lots of places where various lenses are helpful). Around town, I carry my new camera (a Nikon Z7) and 2-3 lenses (my 50mm prime, my 105mm macro -which is great for non macro shots too, and my 70-300mm, which is a great all-purpose lens.) For me, at least, the ability to capture the shot as best I can, with the best resolution, I think I need a body/lens variety combo. The single lense (unless the digital zoon gets better and sheds way less pixels) is what feels right to me. But, I’m also with you: I vacillate constantly between the idea of a single fixed lens camera or the camera body and lenses. I imagine most of us with a more serious interest in photography wrestle with that.

    I really enjoyed reading your thoguhtful posts and the images you shared.

    Liked by 1 person

    • disperser says:

      Thanks, John, for your input.

      One thing . . . did you mean P1000? The P900 doesn’t have the capability for RAW.

      As for the P1000 JPG vs RAW debate — at least for the examples I saw in the galleries — there is an obvious visual difference between the JPG and the RAW file as it comes out of the camera. Specifically, the grain is more uniform in the RAW file.

      Meaning, the JPG shows — as all JPGs do — signs of sharpening, noise reduction, and compression. It manifests itself “clumping” of detail at the pixel level versus the smooth grain present in the RAW file.

      As a result, there is a difference when editing the files. The photo of the two rhinos is a good example. You can download both the JPG and the RAW version and look at the details of the eyes. The JPG I output from my editing of the RAW file is “better” than the JPG output from the camera. On the P900, I would have to start with the already processed JPG.

      I absolutely agree that for a blog or casual photo sharing there’s no functional difference between processing the JPG and the RAW file hence my internal conflict about what to buy.

      The Z7 is a $4,000 46MP FX camera. Well outside my arbitrary budget. The question I’m trying to answer is what you touch on . . . for posting photos on the blog, is there an obvious difference in quality that readers would care about? The related question is “what will I be doing with the photos I shoot?”

      You mention getting the “best shot you can” but that’s independent (somewhat) of the intended use of the photo.

      Sure, I could judge a photo strictly at the pixel level, but can readers (or even you) tell me which of these are shot with which lenses and cameras? (no fair looking at the file name of Exif data).

      Again, thanks for the input and yes . . . we all struggle with deciding what makes sense but more than that, what exactly we want to accomplish with our passion for photography.

      Like

      • John says:

        I did mean the 900, however, you rightly point out it isn’t RAW compatible. I was thinking of one of my other cameras (Canon Powershot G9). Got my 9s crossed. :) With the exception of the RAW comments on the P900, everything else still stands regarding image quality.

        When I first started posting my photos (on an old blog that no longer exists), I used .jpgs. My Nikon D80 takes RAW files, but I was just beginning, and didn’t know anything about anything. I discovered, as I went along, that on a blog, when you’re posting pics with smaller dimensions 600×600 or 800×800 (resized for longer edge), that no one really noticed things. I don’t think most people see things that more serious photo enthusiasts see. But at a small dimension, with a 300 pixel resolution, you get a great display for social media or a blog (unless you’re looking to post really large sized images.

        These days, even pics from a phone can be fixed up well in Lightroom or Photoshop. The technology is so much better than it was a decade ago when I first got into digital photography.

        I’m a gadget kind of guy. Can’t always afford things I want – I did save up for the Z7, but that’s an extravagence for me. But, I still like to look around. I still watch videos about taking photos and editing software. I read reviews, etc. It seems to me that over the last few years most photo talk seems to say that unless you’re taking photos for professional use, today’s .jpg files are great for what most people use the photos for: Instagram, Facebook, blogs, making holiday cards, or prints to send to family.

        Ultimately, though, I think it comes down to how you see the photos. If you’re going to take photos and notice some of the fine little details that others might notice, you’ll still know they’re there and will see them every time you look at the image. That’s what it came down to for me. I shoot and edit in RAW; for pics I want to share on Facebook, I just export it as a small .jpg file. I think what’s important is what you want from your images, and what fits into your budget.

        Like

      • disperser says:

        Yeah . . . it’s what I’m trying to nail down.

        Like

  7. Mark Rothko says:

    wow beautiful photos.i like this :)

    Like

  8. mvschulze says:

    A fascinating read – all of it. I’m not yet ready for a camera upgrade as my allocated time is now concerned with “moving,” (sound familiar?) and, any day now …replacing my 9 yr old computer, …that multifunctional asset that not only is the basis for my ever expanding digital imaging hobby, but also as the reference library for exceptional, relevant posts like these. M :-)

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Moving as in not sitting on the sofa or moving as in going to live in a different location?

      As for computers, I now have four+ months into using this laptop (A Dell Inspiron 17 5000 series I bought at Costco for about $800). I have to say that while I’d still prefer having my large screen back, this thing handled everything I threw at it. It’s only marginally slower than my (now six years old) PC and I’ve had few issues with it; just some minor stuff when Windows wants to do something I don’t like.

      I’m now rethinking the whole 60-lb worth of desktop. Once I have a proper office, I’ll try driving my big monitor as a second screen from this laptop.

      As for the camera, I too am now on hold until I get things settled with the house.

      Like

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