Nikon posts record profits (again)

I read on PhotographyBlog that Nikon posted record profits from February to September 2005. The D70’s sequel the D70s and the surprising D50.

I know this sounds like cheerleading, but remember that half of my decision to purchase a D70 was based on which companies would be around after the expected fallout from the impending dSLR smackdown.

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Perfecting Watergate

Comparisons of how the Bush Administration is the the worst part of Nixon’s Watergate are like a bad hooker—cheap and easy.

The “paper of record” has an interesting article about the RNC front-organization, Progress for America. Basically, this group is heavily funded to rubber stamp anything that comes out of the White House—promoting John Robert’s nomination within 7 minutes, Harriet Meiers within 11 minutes, and having Sam Alito’s promotion ready before it was even announced. It’s very easy when half of your “grass roots” funds come from the same top 15 multimillion dollar donors as the President, your board consists of former Bush campaign aides, and your employees are part of the revolving door of Republican lobbyists. They have a term for that stuff in the tech world.

It’s called Astroturfing (as in “fake grassroots”).

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Lorem ipsum

While working on a project at work, I used the Lorem Ipsum text for something and Trevor asked about my use of it. I learned it when I did desktop publishing as a kid. The wikipedia entry explains what Lorem ipsum is much better than I can.

In this case, Lorem ipsum had the opposite of its intended effect and I rewrote the whole thing to avoid using it. The lesson I learned is just as I shouldn’t bother with Hungarian notation in my programming, I should avoid greeking my web pages and text graphics.

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APS-C vs 35mm

Petteri Sulonen has written an article about deciding between dSLR sensor sizes, which is related to my previous entry. He is switching from Canon EOS 20D (1.6x APS) to EOS 5D (full frame) and writes:

My gut feeling when looking at what’s available now and what it needs to do is that the successor to 35 mm film is, indeed, digital APS-C. Full-frame is a little too hot (most lenses at most apertures and most focal lengths can’t quite keep up with the demands of the format, and the chips are difficult and expensive to produce, at least at the current state of the art), while 4/3 is a little too cold (Olympus has been forced to come out with monster f/2.0 zooms to provide even rudimentary available-light capacity, given the comparatively poor high-ISO performance of at least the current 4/3 sensors), while APS-C is just right — the sensors sharp enough and fast enough for almost any purpose, without putting too burdensome demands on the lenses.

I agree with him whole-heartedly. It is not that I wouldn’t jump at a 35mm sensor if I could afford it, it is that I don’t because I can’t.

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D50 or D70?

Since Dru is considering a D50, here is what I wrote a long time ago about the D50.

I read that the D50 is supposed to be more colorful than the the D70. At the time I thought this could be because the default color space is sRGB-IIIa in the D50 and sRGB-III in the D70. This can be set in the custom menu. I set mine to AdobeRGB with the caveat that I have to use sRGB when uploading to the web. In any case, I was wrong. It turned out that Nikon has improved the anti-aliasing filter in front of the CCD. This makes the camera less noisy: according to Popular Photography, the D50 is less noisy than the D70s and the Digital Rebel! One penalty of the new filter is that you can’t do infrared photography with the D50, but since I don’t do IR photography, that’s a non-issue.

Nikon removes the “sub command dial” from the D50? Is that a deal killer? They still have a command dial and an alt key to turn it into a sub command dial—very Canon-like, in my opinion. Maybe if you do bracketing exposures, eyeball depth-of-field, or use gradient ND filters, the D50 seems like too big a compromise. But it takes the same shots as a D70 or a D100 (actually, it performs a little better) and costs less. I can’t say which is best for you.

What would I miss if I had purchased a D50 today instead of a D70 then
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That eternal question: SLR vs. bridge?

Dru is looking to buy a camera. He’s been debating between an SLR and a “bridge” camera.

Coincidentally, The gaming site, FiringSquad, did a head-to-head comparison between the 20D dSLR and the Lumix DMC-FZ30 bridge camera. I thought we were over this “Leica sparkle” crap, but other than that, it was a very interesting article.
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I’ll buy what he’s buying…

A rant based on Flickr threads here and here.

I think my feeling about which dSLR camera someone should purchase is, to apply Louis Armstrong: “Man, if you gotta ask, you’ll never know.” The simple reality is that after a year and a half, the D70 is still too much camera for me. Maybe one day I’ll reach the point where I am limited by the D70 and not my lack of talent, but it hasn’t arrived. Both the Canon Digital Rebel (300D/350D) and the Nikon prosumer dSLRs (70D/50D/70Ds) have electronics even more sophisticated than Nikon F-series cameras up through the early 90’s. Some pretty amazing shots were taken by pros back then. Have they suddenly lost their value because their camera sucked?

No. That’s because at the end of the day, a camera body is just a light-tight box with a adjustable hole and a flap. Digital sensors may be different, but they are more limited by the state-of-the-art during the time it is built and simple physics than by anything else. What is going to be the most important thing is how it feels to the operator.

That’s why I can be a touch short with people who diss a camera choice with one breath and then take cover by calling anyone who disagrees with them as spewing “cult garbage.”

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Hoodman woes

My second D70 FlipUp LCD cap broke.

Hoodman started by making clever hoods for LCD displays. The most ubiquitous use of a Hoodman is when you see NFL referees peering under them during an instant replay review. In a recent DVD produced by Nikon, I saw Life photographer Joe McNally peering under one for instant outdoor 17″-diagnol image reviews. After the initial, “Gee, I wish I had a six-pack of SB-800s controlled by a Nikon D2X tethered via USB 2.0 to my Powerbook,” I thought, “neat stuff.”

I first heard about Hoodman when they made cloth and velcro shades in the early days of pocket digital photography. LCDs were really the suck back then—they make the Canon 5D’s LCD look exceedingly bright by comparison. People like me were often caught holding our hands up against the screen to review shots. The Hoodman was a great idea, sometimes it even came with a magnifier to make the small LCDs review much bigger.

It was only natural that when the FlipUp cap came out, I bought one:

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Judging character

I know I implied I would not link TimesSelect, but this gem from Paul Krugman deserves special mention.

This article is a great introspective on limitations of our ability to judge character (“thin-slicing” in Blink-speak). It makes a great case on how our judgement of character can easily be manipulated by a personal impression created under the right frame. If you aren’t interested in politics, you should read that article for the implications it has on business relationships and interviews and stop reading this one.

Here is what I want to talk about:

Let’s be frank: the Bush administration has made brilliant use of journalistic careerism. Those who wrote puff pieces about Mr. Bush and those around him have been rewarded with career-boosting access. Those who raised questions about his character found themselves under personal attack from the administration’s proxies. (Yes, I’m speaking in part from experience.)

That is an amazing quote.
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