Monday, May 18, 2009

New Photo Blog from The Times

The New York Times has jumped on the photo blog bandwagon with its new photojournalism blog called "Lens: Photography, Video and Visual Journalism."

In one of the initial essays, photographer Fred R. Conrad pulls out his 8x10 camera to shoot some amazing Black&White shots. In the essay, entitled "Slow Photography in an Instantaneous Age," he explains why he prefers large format cameras and Black&White film.

I hope that film and large-format cameras stick around for a while. I love the results and I cherish the process. More importantly, when I have the time and opportunity to shoot big film, I feel a connection with photographers who came before me. That may be the most important reason.
Conrad says he shoots Fuji Neopan and Efke 25 and develops them in Rodinal.

With exposures that may take as long as an hour, you really don’t know what the end result will be. There is a little bit of faith involved, and a lot of imagination. That, and the fact that you have to wait to develop the film, just adds to the excitement.
The Times notes that in Lens, it not only will showcase its own extensive library of photographs, but that of other magazines and newspapers as well.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cokin Must Think We're Stupid

One of the very few complaints about Nikon's great new 14-24mm 2.8G ED super-wide angle zoom lens is that the bulbous front element precludes the use of filters without severe vignetting. Nikon marketed the lens as a great landscape lens, but you couldn't use it with filters. To many landscape photographers, shooting without a filter is not even a consideration.

Enter Cokin, the French filter manufacturer. They have come out with the X-Pro Series Circular Polarizer filter kit to fit the Nikon lens. The kit consists of a X499-N Universal Filter Holder Ring, X-Pro Holder and a #164 Circular Polarizer filter.

Finally, you say. Now I can use filters on my beloved 14-24mm (which by all accounts is one of the best lenses Nikon has ever produced).

Well, not so fast. The Cokin Filter System for the lens retails for a whopping $625. That's right, over $600 for a plastic filter ring and holder. And, get this, the filter system does not -- I repeat -- does not preclude vignetting with an FX camera at any setting below 18mm. So basically, the filter system is only usable at 18mm, 20mm and 24mm on Nikon FX like the D700 or the D3. You can't use it at 14mm or 16mm without vignetting. But, hey, what do you expect for $625 anyway?

Cokin, which is a French company, must think we're morons. Who would pay $625 for a filter system that doesn't even work most of the time? Of course, you won't have this problem on a DX camera. But who buys the 14-24mm for a DX camera (even if it works reasonably well on one, though it's the equivalent of 21-36mm -- hardly super-wide angle across the full length)? It's an FX lens after all.

So let's put this in perspective. To be able to use filters (some of the time) on the Nikon 14-24mm lens, which costs about $1,800, you have to pay an additional $625 -- for a total cost of $2,425.

For that price you could buy a Nikon D300 body and a who slew of filters. Heck, you can probably find a new D700 body for that price if you look hard enough.

(edited to correct equivalent mm in paragraph five. -- D.T.)