What To Buy?

So, what camera to buy if you want to shoot both great stills and HD video? It can be quite confusing so I’ll break it down for you. Note that I am only going to list DSLRs, and out of those, only the ones that allow you to manually control the exposure – an absolute must feature in my opinion. You will notice that I left out Pentax and many of the Nikons. They just haven’t stepped up to the plate to offer manual exposure control – the notable exception is the impressive Nikon D3s.

First of all, here’s a sensor size comparison chart to help visualize the differences.

Nikon D3s

The D3s gives you a full frame sensor that produces beautiful images in both stills and video. The low light capability of this camera in video mode out performs all the Canon DSLRs by a huge margin. Unfortunately, you only get to shoot 24p at 720 – no 1080p resolution. Also, it records in MJPEG format which is not ideal and you can only record at 5 minute clips. And like many others, no manual audio control.

PROS: Full frame, incredible low light in video.

CONS: Expensive, 24p – 720p only, 5 minute clips, MJPEG recording format, no audio control.

Canon Rebel T2i

This is the newest offering from Canon and it is taking everyone by surprise. For it’s price, it gives you plenty…and at great quality. Some say the video image rivals that of it’s big brother, the Canon 7D. The LCD is surprisingly the best resolution of all the Canon DSLRs. With an APS-C chip in it, you get a 1.6x crop of a full frame

It has the same crappy audio options, as in no manual control. But does have the full range of recording options. 24p, 25p and 30p in full HD and 50p and 60p in 720p mode. This means you get to shoot great slow motion.

PROS: Inexpensive, great image in video mode, full list of video modes to record in, nice big APS-C sensor, great LCD screen.

CONS: Not weatherproof, missing top LCD screen, missing second dial, no audio control, no intermediate ISOs, no ability to dial in your white balance.

Canon 7D

This camera came out after the success of the 5D and Canon added some great features not offered in the 5D – mainly a better button layout to get to video mode and more shooting modes. It uses the same sensor as in Rebel t2i but in a much better body – completely weather-sealed.

With the 7D, you can shoot at 24p, 25p, and 30p in 1080p mode and 50p and 60p in 720p mode. It has the same audio limitations that we run into again and again. No manual audio controls.

PROS: Great price, superb weatherproofing, stunning image, good in low light, switch for video mode, nice LCD screen.

CONS: Not as good as the 5D and 1D Mark IV, not full frame, crappy audio options, 12 minute record limit.

Canon 5D Mark II

This is the camera that started it all just a short 18 months ago. The full frame sensor produces beautiful images capable of extremely shallow depth of field with fast lenses. Canon also came out with a few firmware upgrades that gives the 5D more frame rates and manual exposure control and manual audio control. Unfortunately, no 60p is offered, some say it will never happen due to over heating issues.

PROS: Beautiful full frame image, manual audio levels, very good in low light, great build quality

CONS: No 720p mode, no overheating warning, 12 minute record limit, not as good weatherproofing as 7D and Mark IV

Canon 1D Mark IV

This is the camera of choice among sports shooters and photojournalists and for video, it does quite well. The 1.3 crop sensor produces beautiful low light video images although it does not come close to the Nikon D3s. It offers all the frame rates of the 7D including 50 and 60p 720, but no manual audio control.

PROS: Incredible build quality, beautiful image, superb low light, great long life batteries.

CONS: Expensive, heavy, crappy audio, 12 minute time limit.

So there you go…plenty to choose from. Keep in mind however, these are all just tools. It’s how you use them that counts the most. Also, as soon as you buy one, it will be outdated and soon replaced with something better but that’s technology for you! Also keep in mind that your big investment should be in the lenses. Those will rarely be outdated.


(8/19/2010) Nikon just announced the D3100 at a price-point of $700. which includes a kit lens. It will shoot 1920 x 1080 24p, and 1280 x 720 24, 25, and 30p. No 60p unfortunately. But, autofocus is possible in video mode (!) which is something Canon does not offer currently.

(8/25/2010) Canon just announced the long rumored EOS 60D. 18 megapixel APS-C sensor, hinged, variable angle LCD screen and all the video features of the 7D.

Adobe Releases Lightroom and Camera RAW updates

Camera RAW update:


The Camera Raw plug-in provides easy access within Photoshop to the raw image formats produced by many leading professional and midrange digital cameras.

Lightroom 3.2Update: 


Fixes include: New Functionality, New Camera Support, New Lens Profile Support,  and some Bugs Corrected in this Release.

M9 Firmware 1.138 available for download

New M9 Firmware
Version 1.138

1. Camera Performance:
• Improved compatibility of SDHC cards. Nevertheless, we recommend our customers the “Extreme
III” cards from the leading brand “SanDisk”.
• Improved Auto White Balance in conditions with power saving lamps and tungsten light.

Notice: The choice of SD and SDHC cards in the market is already very big and is constantly growing. Therefore, Leica Camera AG is not able to do comprehensive compatibility- and quality testing with all available
cards in the market. We recommend leading brands such as “SanDisk”. Using other card types, will not
damage camera or card, but as especially “no name” cards do not respect the full SD or SDHC standards,
Leica Camera AG cannot warranty full function with those cards.

2. Bug fixes:
• Saving user profiles has been improved (changing from one profile to another did sometimes
cause problems)
• Time display in “American” format corrected.
• Auto power off bug fixed (camera did turn off automatically while using the Play Mode or scrolling
through the menu).

Download Here

Elephant Seals at Piedras Blancas · January 21-23 2011

 Elephant Seals at Piedras Blancas · January 21-23 2011

Join Jason Bradley at the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery just North of San Simeon and Hearst’s Castle. Every winter female elephant seals come ashore to raise their young and males battle for control of the beaches. It is one of the most dynamic wildlife spectacles in North America.  We’ll be in the field in the morning and discussing image development in the evening in Lightroom and in Photoshop.

The Lost Negatives

Don’t know how many of you have been following the supposedly found lost Ansel Adams negatives but briefly, a guy bought the negatives ten years ago at a garage sale in Fresno of all places for $45. Subsequently, the buyer did some research and came to the conclusion that the negatives were taken by the late Ansel Adams. He hired experts to testify that they were in fact Adams’ work and that his $45. investment is now worth $200 million. The photographer’s family and friends however remain skeptical. Anyway, it’s now becoming an interesting legal battle.
Here is a recent article explaining what has taken place.
Meanwhile, I leave you with this Ansel Adams photo I found from the Library of Congress collection to illustrate a point. It was taken when Ansel visited the japanese internment camp at Manzanar, California during WW II. It’s from an authentic Ansel Adams negative but it’s certainly not an Ansel Adams print.
Adams performed magic in the darkroom, making his photographs come alive. It’s that magic along with his signature that give value to his work. Not just a handful of negatives.