Transformation. Mobile Photos.

My wife and I went on vacation to Japan this year! Whenever I travel anywhere, part of my packing process is figuring out what photography gear I am going to bring to capture our adventures. This vacation’s packing process started out no different. As I started packing up lenses, charging batteries, and gathering memory cards, I started to wonder if I _really_ needed all this stuff.

I tweeted as I was packing:
“Do I really need this many cameras for one trip??”

The amount of stuff I thought I was going to bring was ridiculous! It consisted of the following:
– Sony A7 Body + 4 Batteries
– 50MM f/1.8 Lens
– 35MM f/2.8 Lens
– Sony RX100 III + 2 Batteries
– Small Tripod
– iPhone 6S

As I was getting all this gathered up, I FINALLY figured out that I am going on vacation to enjoy myself, not be a documentary photographer! That is when I decided to cut the above list drastically. And by drastically, I mean the list became this:
– iPhone 6S

That’s it?! Yep! That is the only camera I was going to bring on the big Japan trip.

Every photo that I took was done using my iPhone 6S and no other accessories other than my hands. I have to say, it was a very freeing experience. No lugging around a ton of camera gear, and no pressure to “get the shot”. Using my phone as my only camera made my shooting very versatile as well. When you are using a big camera and lens, it can be intimidating to people, regardless of what you are photographing. When you are using your phone, it is seen as no big deal and no one cares what you are taking photos of.

With all the tech that is inside of your phone, you get some great bonuses on the software side as well:
– Geotagging
– Multiple Photo Modes
– Immediate Review and Edits
– Automatic Backup (iCloud Photo Library)
– Uploading / Sharing Anytime

These benefits continued to pay off once I got home. One thing that didn’t change was that fact that I had a ton of photos to go through once we got back. But, because I took all pictures with my phone and they automatically uploaded to iCloud Photo Library, there was no transferring of images from SD cards. I simply picked up my iPad Pro, opened Photos, and all my photos and videos were waiting for me. This really felt like the future in terms of photography “workflow”. Side note: these photos were already on my iMac as well, due to iCloud Photo Library. To add to the awesomeness, any edits I did on my iPad automatically synced to the iMac, and the opposite was true as well. This means that anything I did, on my iPhone, iPad, or iMac everything was the same and I could manipulate any of my photos anytime, anywhere. To me, this kind of versatility is way more powerful that having a big “pro” app that is dedicated to a single machine.

iCloud Photo Library also allows me to have access to every photo I have ever taken. This means I can search for any photo throughout time and have access to it. That is huge! I have 30,000+ images and can view any of them on my iPhone, iPad, or iMac at anytime.

One final item that confirmed my decision to only use my iPhone was geotagging. The majority of big cameras don’t yet have geotagging capability. When you use your phone, it is a free bonus. Historically, I didn’t really care about geotagging, but I have seen the light on this one. Being able to look at a virtual globe and pick out places you have taken photos is really cool and useful. Also, every picture is going to be tagged exactly where you took it. With big cameras you have to go through some process of adding geotag data, and you might get rough estimates for batches of them, but it’s a pain. This process has gotten much better in recent years, but still requires either special hardware, manual work, or some combination of the two.

So, am I happy with how things turned out? Absolutely!

Do I wish I had brought my other cameras? Nope. (In fact, this trip caused me to sell my Sony RX100 III.)

I got some great memories captured, and quite honestly, probably more than I would have with a larger camera. Most importantly, I was able to experience the whole trip. I spent no time trying to frame shots, setup gear, or charge clunky batteries. The pressure was off to enjoy the experiences with my wife. I am sure she was happy as well to not have to deal with all this camera crap, or holding one lens while I swapped to another.

This was a transformative trip for me in many ways, and one of those ways was how I think about capturing memories with one of these things we call a camera.

If you would like to check out the photos from the trip, head over to my Flickr Album.

User.Space | Sony RX100 III Camera

2014-12-28 15.48.48I love taking photos whenever I can, and that means a wide variety of scenes that could come up. If I am going out for a walk/hike/outing with the specific intent of taking photos, I will bring my beloved Sony A7 body (talked about a few episodes back) with a fixed lens and maybe a zoom to accompany. Although this camera is insanely small for being a full frame mirrorless, there are still times when it is just too big to carry around for the day, or perhaps a larger camera may draw unwanted attention. Generally my second camera is whatever iPhone I have at the time (currently the iPhone 6), and this is often my primary as I never go anywhere without. The iPhone camera really is amazing considering how small it is and integrated into my already being carried phone. There are times however, when a phone camera just doesn’t quite cut it. This is where the mid level camera comes in, these cameras generally fit into the “point and shoot” category”.

Improvements Of Note Through The Model Revisions
RX100 I
– Initial launch of the model.
– 28-100MM Focal Range
– f/1.8 – 4.9
– Max Video Bit Rate: 28Mbps (AVCHD)

RX100 II
– 90/40 degree Tilting Screen
– Optional Electronic View Finder
– WiFi / NFC

– Upgraded Bionz X Processor
– 180/45 degree Tilting Screen
– Slightly Less Focal Range: 24-70mm
– Much improved Aperture Range: f/1.8-2.8!
– Max Video Bit Rate: 50MBps (XAVC S)
– Built in Electronic View Finder
– Built in Neutral Density Filter

New, it retails for just shy of $800. You can find great used ones in the $600-$650 range however. I bought mine used and got a great deal on it! Buying camera gear used is a really great way to save a ton of money and potentially even get an upgraded piece of equipment from what you were looking to spend.

Check out used prices on Amazon-=Episode 0005=-

D600-licious! (I bought a Nikon D600)

Six or seven months ago, rumors began to pop up on various photo blogs concerning a new camera coming up from Nikon. This by itself is nothing special, there are rumors about new cameras all the time. Two things made this rumor more exciting than most, however: it was said to have an FX sensor and be “affordable” (this, of course, was relative). You may or may not know that Nikon sells dSLR camera bodies with 2 different sensor sizes: DX and FX. FX equates to a “Full Frame”, 35mm size sensor. This sensor size has historically only been available in “Pro” level camera bodies, keeping it far out of reach for the majority of us. This is why the rumors of this mysterious new camera body got me so excited!

When I made the switch from using dSLR’s to smaller form factor bodies like micro four thirds and Sony’s NEX line, I knew the only thing that could get me to come back would be an affordable FX body from Nikon. Well, it’s that time! The D600 brought it, and brought it hard! As soon as this body was released I jumped right in asap to purchase. I have to admit that as great as the micro four thirds and NEX cameras are, I always felt I missed looking through a viewfinder and actually seeing through the lens.

It has only been a couple weeks of light use so far, but this camera is really performing well. The feel of a Nikon in my hand again really feels great. The quality and level of features they packed into this camera is extraordinary; from the dual SD card slots, to the little touches like rubber coated command dials. And yes, the command dials are in the right place, unlike Cannon 😉 The image quality this camera produces is staggering. I have never owned a camera that could produce images near this level of quality.

Since I have not owned a Nikon SLR in a number of years, I had no previous lenses. So of course I have to start rebuilding an arsenal. Not that this makes much difference, as all my old lenses were DX lenses anyway. I started off this time around with the super awesome and very solid 50mm f/1.4G. What a beautiful lens this is. Wonderfully sharp, and the fall off at 1.4 is like a dream!

Do I love this camera? Yes
Do I recommend this camera? YES!

Feel free to buy it using these sweet Amazon affiliate links! 😉

Photography Workflow

Just wanted to document my photography workflow in case any one was interested. Everyone should always backup, no matter how “important” they think their files are. You can be the judge of how detailed and fault tolerant your backup scheme is going to be, but please do something when it comes to the backup of your digital life.

I shoot all my photos in RAW (with the exception of shots taken with my iPhone).
1. RAW Files are imported into Apple Photos for processing.
2. Final selection of photos are exported as full res .jpg.
3. Full res .jpg copies are uploaded to Flickr for my web albums.
4. Full res .jpg copies are copied to a Drobo for local backup, and iCloud Photo Library automatically.
6. Entire Photos Library stored on Drobo for local backup.
7. Entire Drobo is copied to Backblaze for offsite backup.

Here is a workflow diagram of how things are moving around. *Updated 10/08/15*

The NEX(t) Big Thing

I have to give Sony huge props for getting this camera right. I have never been a Sony brand fan, but they have made me a fan of their Alpha line of cameras. After leaving SLR land and moving to Micro Four Thirds, I was very happy with the move and didn’t regret it at all. After about a year of shooting with Micro Four Thirds, I began to need just a few things that didn’t seem to be offerred with Micro Four Thirds, namely speed. From shot to shot the speed was just not there. I began doing a little camera research to see if there were any new options out there for compact cameras with interchangeable lenses. Most of what I kept finding were SLRs, one of which was the Sony Alpha A77. This camera looked very interesting, as it had what they were calling “translucent mirror technology”. After researching the A77 quite extensively, I finally caught myself and stopped altogether. The last thing I should do is go back to a big bulky DSLR. This path turned out to not be a total waste, however; a tangent from the A77 was the NEX-7. This camera got me really exited. Small form factor, interchangeable lenses, and get this, the same sensor that was in the big SLR A77! “The same sensor!? But the NEX-7 is so small!” I know! This is what really got me rallying in the Sony camp. The NEX series of cameras have the same APS-C size sensor that you find in all DSLRs which are not full frame. This meant I could have a DLSR quality image from a point and shoot size camera. I was sold! I bought the NEX-5N.

So what were the negatives? So far I haven’t found any negatives. The camera is amazing! The quality of the build is top notch, the feature set is massive, and the price was very reasonable. I got the NEX-5N body, 18-55mm lens, and an additional 16mm f/2.8 lens for right at $800. That is a good bit less than retail, but who pays retail!? 🙂 If you rely heavily on strobes for your shooting, then this camera is not for you, as it does not have a traditional hot shoe or a wide variety of high output flashes.

“Why didn’t you get the NEX-7??” Well, right about the time these new cameras and lenses were going to be released, the terribly devastating flood happened in Thailand. This is where the majority of the NEX line is made, so many of the lenses and the NEX-7 were delayed. As of this writing, the NEX-7 is still not widely available and neither are many of the lenses. Overall, the NEX-7 does have features I very much want, like dual user assignable control knobs. But, with a body price tag that is nearly double that of the 5N, I am not 100% sure it is worth it. The NEX-7 has the same size sensor, but is 24MP vs. the 5N having 16MP. I don’t really need or want 24MP, so the 5N was the best fit for me.

Almost forgot to mention one last awesome feature of the NEX series. The NEX cameras use the Sony E-mount lenes. But, and this is a big one, the NEX line can use ANY of the Sony Alpha A-mount lenses as well! Want to use a giant 70-200mm f/2.8 lens? Go right ahead!


Amazon Link: Sony NEX-5N