We all get "the bug" from time to time -- and I admit, I do as well. "The Bug" being GAS; gear acquisition syndrome. Over the years, I have read about this on various websites. Canon or Nikon releases a new camera body or lens into the wild, and shortly thereafter you see craigslist or eBay flooded with yesterdays' gear.

There is nothing bad about this -- for those of us that never buy new gear, this is a perfect time to buy. I just scored a D700 with a $100 grip, $90 cable release and $100 bag for $1500. Sold all the extras and got a body that sells for $1500-1800 currently, for $1200. Not bad, considering the same camera sold for $2200 just this past May.

Of course there are downsides to GAS. The main misconception with "latest and greatest" gear is that it will make a photographer automagically 100% better. I mean, a photographer is only as good as the weakest link, right? Well yes, this is true -- but the "weak link" is not the gear; it is the photographer. The capabilities are misplaced into the gear, and not skill of one self. Don't believe me? That is perfectly fine. Here is my story.

As those of you that have read this blog before (many thanks to all 3 of you!), you may have recalled that I shot film for the last 6 months or so. For those that do not know the story, here is a quick run down. In May 2012, I sold my Canon 1Ds and promptly bought a Nikon F5. Having really never shot film, I wanted to get back to basics. No reliance on any of the advances of photography in the last 5 years to help guide me; Live View, no LCD screen, etc.

The first roll of film I shot really didn't render anything of visual value, so to speak. It did, however, help me pre-visualize a scene. The film process really slowed me down. I had to think about what I was shooting, and make sure I nailed the exposures -- because it wouldn't be weeks until I knew if I did well or not. It was pretty funny now that I think back, the first roll of film I changed out. Took me like 10 minutes to change out that roll :). We all have our moments, okay..

All said and done, I put through maybe 5 rolls of film through the F5. From May until October. I traveled to Seattle, Central Oregon, Mt. Rainier National Park - and some amazing waterfalls in the middle of nowhere, that took 4 hours to reach. That is around 170 exposures, give or take a few. I have buddies that burn through that many exposures in 3 hours in The Gorge.

Sadly, I bought a D700 and the exact same day, my F5 wouldn't power on. She is getting worked on right now. Only camera I have ever had that needed repairs, and it is the least technologically advanced camera I have shot seriously with. Go figure. I hope to get it back in the next few weeks.

Here is an image that I am super happy with. I get asked ALL the time about the details of this photo, ie; the scanning method, developing, etc. BlueMoon Camera here in Portland, Oregon did the developing and scanning. I do not know what scanner they used specifically - however I think it might be the Nikon Coolscan 9000 ED, as I have some scans done with that scanner.

This is a shot of Lower Lewis River Falls, taken mid October of this year. Same lens I have used for the last 20 months. I still don't use filters, and I took all of 3 exposures of this spot.

In closing, there is the proof that the Limiting Factor is indeed the photographer. There are limitations with any tool, and cameras are exactly that - a tool to get the job done. The job of a photographer is to work within these limits.


Posted by dustin gent | File under :
After several years, I decided to sit down and put together a calendar. It took quite a bit of work to put this thing together, and found out I actually like doing that stuff. Also put together a calendar for my buddy - which took a while as well.

The calendars should be available in a week, hopefully. I did realize that I need to get out this winter to get more winter scenes. Working at REI has its benefits :). Here is a preview of the calendar. Contact me if you have any questions/comments, etc.


Posted by dustin gent | File under : , , , ,
Having used an older (2002) digital camera for years and then film -- it was a real interesting experience using the D700 this first time. It is the newest camera I have owned (2008). Since about 2004 I have shot with Canon exclusively, and the transition to Nikon was complete with the sale of my 1Ds and the purchase of the F5.

Canon has some really nice lenses, and the ability to use some "alternative" glass on the Canon bodies was super appealing to me. Canons' lens mount is larger than that of Nikon, so it allows for the use of Pentax, Olympus Zuiko and yes, even Nikon --  among others on a Canon via an adapter. With Nikon, really the options are limited due to the smaller mount. 

This is not a deal breaker, as Nikon didn't hose their customer base on this front. Their older lenses are both FABULOUS and you can use them on all F mount cameras. Nikon did hose their customers with the new repair policy that went into effect in July of this year -- but I won't get into that now (hopefully I won't need any repairs also).

My Tokina lens, as mentioned in previous posts, is Nikon based. I had been using that on my Canon via a fotodiox adapter. It worked fine, and I discovered a fabulous lens - and probably drove the resale up on it. Sorry people! This made the transition a bit more "natural" to Nikon - as I didn't need to mess with the adapter, even though it really is no pain. 

When I was in the market for a film body, I looked at the EOS-3, 1V, Nikon F5 and F100. The EOS-3 supposedly didn't meter correctly for manual focus glass and the EOS 1V is still $500+. No thanks. I was looking at the F5 and F100. The F100 is a superb camera, and I actually had an F100 and 2 F5s in my "stable" at one point in time. I kept the F5 as the F100 didn't have mirror lock up, and I liked the form factor of t he F5 better than the F100. The F100 is a beast, and built better than the EOS-3. 

Nikon really nailed the design and function with the F5. Many people say the F3 is the most amazing 35mm film camera on the planet, with the F5 close behind it. The F5 feels great in the hand. Yes it is heavy, but you know it is up to any task you ask of it. The experience I had this summer with the F5 swayed my decision to stick with Nikon, when the time came to get back into the digital realm. 

After about a month of research on cameras, I decided on the D700. Canon really fell asleep at the wheel on their bodies the last 3-4 years. I looked at the Canon 1Ds2 when looking at cameras, but it simply was not an upgrade enough for me. The IQ is outstanding on the 1Ds2, but it still is nearly 8 year old technology, uses old bulky batteries, ISO maxes out at 1600 (usable up to 800), no Live View or useful LCD. 

The 1Ds3 is a great camera, but it is still nearly 3 grand on the used market. The 5D2 has amazing IQ, but lets get real; the build quality is pretty embarrassing -- especially for a camera that was aimed squarely at landscape and wedding photographers. It is basically the build of a 40/50D with the same 9 point AF and a FF sensor. No thanks. I don't shoot in a bubble, so I need something that can fall a few feet and not miss a beat. In my research for durability and such on the Nikon, I came across this nice  article. Pretty much sealed the fate of the 5D2. 

I decided against the D3 mostly because of the cost. Sure the D3 has the larger form factor that I like and a brighter viewfinder, but other than that, it was pretty much the same camera. When i picked up my D700, I didn't know what to expect. You see, hadn't even touched a D700 prior to this purchase. First thing I noticed was the heft of this thing. With the lens attached, it weighs as much as my F5, without the 8 AA batteries. 

This is the first camera I have owned that has had Live View and a beautiful LCD. When I took this out to shoot, I noticed a few things that are thoughtfully laid out. I shoot in manual mode 100% of the time and use Mirror Lock-up 95% of the time. With Canon, MLU was buried in the menus. With the D700, it is on the control dial, as is Live View. Very convenient! Another thing I noticed is that with non AI-S lenses, you can add a lens profile. You simple enter the largest aperture the lens is and what focal length, and save the profile. My camera knows what aperture I am shooting at, and my lens is fully manual -- and you change the aperture via the barrel of the lens! Pretty smart, if I do say so my self. 

Live View, while I am still a very novice at using it, looks like it will come in handy when the composition calls for a rather interesting perch of the camera. SO instead of contorting my body to see through the viewfinder like I used to, I can simply use Live View to "cheat"! Gotta love technology. 

Lastly, the lens is probably the real star of the show. This lens impressed me immensely with the 1Ds, blew me away with my film experiment, and now - even when I thought I knew how good this lens was, I am besides myself. Gets me giddy to think I can get even better results with a higher grade lens! 

If you read through all that, you impressed me! I hope you found this somewhat informative. Here is a photo from yesterday. Until next time.. 


Posted by dustin gent | File under : , , ,
Haven't posted anything here in quite a while, which there a few reasons for that. Being busy with work hindered my shooting schedule. It is always a good thing to busy with work (most of the time), but not such a good thing when it cuts into my shooting time.

Since selling my 1Ds in May and picking up an F5 in late May, I have shot maybe 5 rolls of film. From June until mid October, 5 rolls of film was enough. My film experiment taught me a few things. Firstly, I learned to really slow down, and not shoot haphazardly, so to speak. Obviously with digital, other than the initial cost of the camera and memory cards, it really doesn't cost anything to take pictures. Only thing you expend is memory capacity and energy.

Second thing I really came to appreciate is patience. I already was a fairly patient person, but with film, you HAVE to know you can nail an exposure before you even hit the shutter. You will not know what the "results" are for at least a week after dropping off the roll - and there are no re-dos. With digital, you simply look at the LCD and reshoot if need be.

When I was at a waterfall this past summer, it was raining practically for an hour straight; and the flow from the creek was running high. The spray from this falls was impressive. Not only did I have to wait until it stopped raining, I had to wait out the wind, as there was so much spray from this falls; and I was a good 100 yards downstream. The result of my patience is this image - Little Niagra Falls

That was shot with my Nikon F5, Fuji Pro 160S (discontinued, sadly) and my Tokina lens. 2 or so weeks ago, I decided to get back into digital. A few reasons for this decision. Biggest factor was the discontinuation of film. Reala was discontinued a ways back, and even finding it on eBay was scarce - and it was not cheap. $7-$12 a roll is not economical. Once you factor in scanning and developing, the cost easily exceeds $30 a roll. Another reason to slow down when shooting.

Another reason was the amount of time it was between when I dropped off the film until I received it back. Sometimes it was a few weeks. I also couldn't just finish off a roll for the sake of getting it developed. For example, I had a new roll of film in my camera when I went to Mt. Rainier National Park, and when I left a day later, I still had 20 frames left. The next time I was able to shoot was a good 3 weeks later. Even the next time I shot didn't always guaranty I would finish off the roll.

So mid October this year, I picked up a mint Nikon D700 for a smoking deal! I finally got out to shoot with it yesterday and I am blown away by the results thus far. I will give my "review" in my next post. For now, here is a shot taken yesterday.