Redoubt Reporter Summer photo contest
It’s time for the third Redoubt Reporter, reader-submitted photo contest.
Photos will be judged and winners selected by a three-member panel. After each contest closes, we’ll publish and discuss some of our favorites in the Redoubt Reporter, space permitting. Some of the selected photographers will be invited to frame and hang their photos at a Redoubt Reporter June 2013 group photo show scheduled at the Sterling Highway Kaladi Brothers coffee shop.
The deadline to enter is 11:59 p.m. Aug. 31, 2012. All submissions must be in high-quality digital format. Submit no more than five JPEG images by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Our theme is “Summer on the Kenai” and submissions must fit this theme. Summer is always interesting here in Alaska, with a vast number of photos taken. We encourage you to submit photos of what you observed over the summer. As always, we prefer photos that are fresh and unique. Frequently photographed subjects, like combat fishing, should be avoided.
2. Entrants must be amateur photographers who are residents of the central Kenai Peninsula.
3. Photographs can be of any subject fitting the theme but must have been taken of the Kenai Peninsula on or after June 1, 2012.
4. If you submit photographs in which people are recognizable, you must also provide us with their permission for us to publish any such photographs.
5. Please do not submit portrait photos. Do not submit photographs whose content would not be appropriate for publication in a family newspaper. Do not submit photos of illegal subject matter. All such photos will be deleted immediately without notice to you and at the sole discretion of the editor.
6. Photographers must include their name, telephone number, email address, town of residency and each photo’s date, location and description of subject matter.
7. Submitted JPEG images should be of the best possible technical quality. Good technique and technical quality are important, but originality, creativity, interesting subject matter, artistic merit and good composition are even more important.
8. By submitting photos, you agree to our publication of them in the Redoubt Reporter newspaper and on our website. The Redoubt Reporter will have the right of first publication of your photos. However, you will retain the copyright for all other purposes and your name will be listed if we publish any of your photos.
9. Our decisions about what’s published or selected for exhibition are final and are admittedly subjective. Space is limited, and the judging panel and editor reserve the right to choose photos at their discretion.
10. Retain your original digital files of all submitted images. We are not responsible for preserving copies of your digital images
By Joe Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter
The handwriting’s on the wall for low-end consumer cameras. Olympus and Pentax are merely the most recent major camera makers to flee the consumer camera market as cellphone camera functions take over the low-end market.
That’s not bad, either. The image quality of cellphone camera functions continues to improve and is often good enough, in a pinch, for many purposes. As an example, several of my personal injury clients had the good sense to take out their cellphones and document the icy conditions where they fell, unguarded holes in public walkways, and the positions of crashed vehicles that were moved before the police arrived. That sort of timely photographic documentation is often critical.
At the same time, competition at the low end has forced major camera vendors to move upscale, producing a welter of new high-end cameras, both large and small. Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a first look at already-announced new models. We’ll start with prograde, full-frame cameras that should, theoretically, provide the best image quality. At least six, possibly seven, new full-frame cameras are simultaneously headed toward market, which may be some sort of record for these expensive models.
Canon’s evolutionary 5D Mark III does not replace the 3-year-old 5D Mark II, which remains in production at a lower price. That’s just as well, because the 5D Mark III, although a more polished model, does not significantly improve upon the image quality of the older Mark II.
The Mark III’s critical dynamic range function, measured at 11.7 EV, is surpassed by a fair number of far less expensive digital SLR cameras using smaller APS-C sensors, such as Nikon’s D7000 (13.9 EV) or Pentax’s K-5 (14.1 EV).
Similarly, the Mark III’s low-light capabilities are only about 25 percent better than the Mark II, but significantly lower than Nikon’s existing and new full-frame models. Canon’s even more expensive 1D X, intended for professional photographers shooting sports and other fast action, has not yet shipped and is unavailable for quantitative comparison.
Nikon appears to be this year’s big winner in the full-frame digital SLR sweepstakes. Even though its 36-megapixel D800 and D800E models are relatively affordable as full-frame cameras go, they produce images of exceptional quality. In fact, the D800E images that I’ve seen rival the intricate resolution of images made with much more expensive medium-format cameras such as Leica’s S-2 and Pentax’s 645D cameras, whose sensors are about twice as large.
Despite their higher pixel density, both D800 models show excellent noise, dynamic range and low-light characteristics. Were I in the market for a full-frame camera system, the D800 series would be at the top of my list. There are also persistent rumors of a lower-cost Nikon full-frame camera, allegedly designated as the D600, but no such product announcement seems imminent.
Nikon’s other professional model, the 16-megapixel D4, is oriented toward sports and other fast action. Its low-light capability, surprisingly, seems no better than the D800 series despite the D4’s rather larger pixels. I’m not sure that I see any point in buying the more expensive D4 unless you intend to routinely photograph in pitch-dark conditions.
Sony is poised to introduce the Alpha A99, a full-frame model replacing Sony’s discontinued A900. The A99 reputedly will use the same 36-megapixel sensor as Nikon’s D800. Unlike the traditional moving mirror used by every other camera maker, Sony uses a fixed semitransparent mirror that diverts some of the incoming light away from the imaging sensor to the viewfinder and focus mechanism. That arrangement, while very convenient when shooting videos, results in some slight degradation of still images and loss of low-light sensitivity.
Pentax is reputedly considering introducing its first full-frame digital camera, also based on Sony’s 36-megapixel sensor. If past performance is any guide, Pentax will produce a physically smaller camera that manages to tweak the last possible bit of performance out of Sony’s outstanding new 36-megapixel sensor.
Remember that most affordable, interchangeable lenses are designed to be used with smaller sensor APS-C cameras and likely will not work properly with larger full-frame sensors. Before deciding to upgrade to a full-frame system, carefully consider whether you are willing to discard most of your existing lenses and spend the truly serious money required to buy the new, higher-end lenses needed to do justice to these demanding large sensors.
APS-C dSLR cameras
APS-C cameras use an imaging sensor that’s roughly half the size of those found in full-frame models. Despite their smaller imaging sensors, APS-C cameras often produce comparably good quality images at lower ISO sensitivities. In some ways, most of this year’s APS-C models are rather prosaic evolutionary developments of existing models. Some compact system cameras, like Panasonic’s G5 and Olympus’ OM-D, look and handle like small dSLR cameras, but they’re a topic for another week.
Based upon its excellent measured sensor characteristics and 24-megapixel Sony sensor, I expected Nikon’s new D3200, an entry-level dSLR, to produce crisp, highly detailed photos. However, the samples that I examined consistently showed higher than expected softness, even at low ISO settings. Nikon will probably soon announce a 24-megapixel replacement for its excellent D7000, likely using the same 24-megapixel Sony sensor to better effect.
Sony’s 24-megapixel APS-C sensor is capable of better image quality than we’ve seen so far in the Nikon D3200. Sony’s own 24-megapixel, reflex-style cameras, the A65 and A77, both show somewhat better sharpness compared to the Nikon D3200, while Sony’s NEX-7 compact system camera is noticeably sharper.
My sense is that Sony’s new APS-C cameras remain somewhat hampered by Sony’s use of a partially transparent fixed mirror. Compared to Sony’s NEX-7 compact system camera, which uses the same 24-megapixel sensor but without any intervening mirror, Sony’s SLT fixed mirror models show somewhat reduced sharpness and noticeably decreased low-light and dynamic-range characteristics. Although Sony’s SLT cameras definitely have their fans, I personally believe that Sony’s used of fixed mirrors still introduces too many compromises for my taste.
In the same price range as the Nikon D3200, Pentax’s new 16-megapixel K30d provides comparable or better image quality, along with a more rugged weather-resistant body. Although the K30d uses the same excellent 16-megapixel Sony sensor and image processor found in Pentax’s high-end K-5 model, the K30d replaces Pentax’s entry-level K-r.
It’s likely that the 2010-vintage K-5 will soon be discontinued in favor of a new, prograde APS-C Pentax using some version of Sony’s 24-megapixel sensor. For the moment, though, K-5 kits are selling at attractive prices and are an excellent long-term buy. Pentax digital SLR cameras do not enjoy the massive sales volumes as comparable Canon products but tend to be better, though underappreciated, cameras.
Canon’s new T4i retains Canon’s now-traditional 18-megapixel sensor and is a largely evolutionary model, retaining the same image quality as its predecessor, while polishing its ergonomic, exposure and autofocus features. The T4i has one unusual distinction — some samples have already been recalled because of improperly formulated plastic grips that discolor and allegedly cause allergic reactions in some people.
Surprisingly, the T4i has not received many reviews to date and those that have been published tend to be underwhelmed though mildly favorable. My personal sense is that there’s little reason to upgrade from a T2i or T3i.
Although a successor to Canon’s enthusiast 60D model is overdue, no announcement of a 70D is expected for several weeks. One level up from the 60D, Canon’s semipro 7D digital SLR produces image quality that’s a little better than that of Canon’s own consumer-grade dSLR cameras when using comparable lenses. Although no 7D replacement has been announced, rumors abound. The most intriguing is that the 7D’s successor will be an entry-level, full-frame model comparable to the rumored Nikon D600.
With the exception of Pentax’s aggressively priced, ruggedly built K30d, none of the APS-C cameras announced to date in 2012 seem very compelling. I expect that the most interesting models will be announced between now and mid-September when Photokina 2012 opens its doors. Until then, I suggest deferring purchase of a digital SLR camera built around an APS-C sensor.
On the other hand, Nikon’s D800 series and Olympus’ OM-D E-M5 compact system camera are both outstanding and unlikely to be trumped in the near future. Both are worthwhile, long-term buys.
Local attorney Joe Kashi received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from MIT and his law degree from Georgetown University. He has published many articles about computer technology, law practice and digital photography in national media since 1990. Many of his technology and photography articles can be accessed through his website, http://www.kashilaw.com.