Astro Landscapes

Astro Landscapes

Lives in United States CA, United States
Works as a full-time photographer & gear tester / reviewer
Joined on Mar 31, 2004
About me:

Astro-landscape photographer / adventure photographer. Writes camera gear reviews. Destroyer of cheap tripods.

Comments

Total: 3325, showing: 1 – 20
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In reply to:

justmeMN: "So does this mean you should look for fewer, bigger pixels when you buy your next camera?"

Among other things, you should look for a menu system that doesn't drive you crazy, and good ergonomics.

...and yes, that was all in reference to Sony's ergonomics and menus being abysmal.

Their ergonomics have improved dramatically with their latest models, and I actually prefer the level of customization over Nikon/Canon, even though the default setup is far superior on Canon/Nikon.

However, the redesigned menus on some of their latest cameras has been a big swing-and-a-miss to me, with numerous menu items still in illogical locations, and the tab/page system being flat-out inferior to Canon/Nikon.

Sony will always be at a huge disadvantage though in terms of menus, because they've chosen to put literally *everything* in the menu. 10-20% of the stuff in a Sony menu is something that simply has no place in a menu in general, because in the past it always had a dedicated button on other brands' cameras. Now, with so many options for AF and everything else, Sony almost has no choice but to balloon their menus to an unmanageable size.

Link | Posted on Nov 13, 2021 at 17:01 UTC
In reply to:

justmeMN: "So does this mean you should look for fewer, bigger pixels when you buy your next camera?"

Among other things, you should look for a menu system that doesn't drive you crazy, and good ergonomics.

Not to pour gasoline on the fire, but,

Sony was/is very smart. They have stayed true to one driving motivator for becoming popular and selling cameras, and that is, "solve the biggest 'problems' ​first and hype them up, no matter how terrible everything else is."

That is why their first move was basically a great sensor with virtually nothing else of merit or good quality. Then, they went down the line and gradually solved other problems, such as barely usable autofocus, utterly terrible battery life, and of course, that single, slow SD card slot. (Which, when you realize that Sony racked up SIX bodies with single card slots, kinda explains why both Canon and Nikon initially developed their 1st-gen mirrorless to have a single card slot, too.)

Sony knew they could keep selling cameras as long as they doled out other major improvements, and save the least important metrics for last. Especially since everybody shops online now and doesn't actually pick up a camera before buying.

Link | Posted on Nov 13, 2021 at 16:49 UTC

Wow, 372 comments and no reference to "It's not the size that matters, it's how you use it!"

I'm disappointed in you all. The pen IS mightier...

Sincerely,
Sean Connery

Link | Posted on Nov 13, 2021 at 16:29 UTC as 19th comment | 1 reply
On article DPReview TV: Fujifilm X-S10 vs X-T30 II shootout (293 comments in total)

OK so, wake me up when they make a camera with the X-S10 grip, AND the new AF point control joystick of the two latest GFX cameras.

I'm just shocked that Fuji hasn't yet figured out that you can make a camera still *look* retro, yet upgrade the actual ergonomics for significantly improved operation and comfort.

Link | Posted on Nov 7, 2021 at 18:24 UTC as 19th comment | 3 replies
In reply to:

Astro Landscapes: I still have my 2007 D3 poster of the photo Sandro took of the motorcycle on the 14-24.

It was that "winning combination" that focused a spotlight on the gaping hole in Canon's lineup, since Canon had "only" a 1.3X crop high-speed action-sports body at the time, and no comparable offerings that could truly match either the low-light capability or the focal length. The 1D IV was a "disaster", and the 1DX was "too late"...

If the Z9 is, in fact, a "D3 moment", then it should completely eclipse the A1 and the R3, indeed.

I don't think it will be as good as the D3 was at pointing out a fundamental shortcoming in the competition, however, if the autofocus is even barely as good as, let alone a tiny bit better than, the A1, then yeah, that will send shockwaves through the industry, and the subsequent "D700 moment" will mark Nikon's return to being a truly serious "threat" to all competitors.

Whew, that was a lot of air quotes...

I think you're missing my point. Due to numerous autofocus woes and the fact that both Canon cameras were "still" the 1.3x crop, neither competed with either Nikon.

Simply put: no matter which camera came out in which year, I'd still have rather had a D3 than a 1DIV.

The D3, and its "minor update", marked the end of Canon's total reign of low-light action sports photography, period. Even the 1DX and its successors haven't been as big of a leap forward as the D3 was.

Link | Posted on Nov 1, 2021 at 20:21 UTC
In reply to:

Astro Landscapes: I still have my 2007 D3 poster of the photo Sandro took of the motorcycle on the 14-24.

It was that "winning combination" that focused a spotlight on the gaping hole in Canon's lineup, since Canon had "only" a 1.3X crop high-speed action-sports body at the time, and no comparable offerings that could truly match either the low-light capability or the focal length. The 1D IV was a "disaster", and the 1DX was "too late"...

If the Z9 is, in fact, a "D3 moment", then it should completely eclipse the A1 and the R3, indeed.

I don't think it will be as good as the D3 was at pointing out a fundamental shortcoming in the competition, however, if the autofocus is even barely as good as, let alone a tiny bit better than, the A1, then yeah, that will send shockwaves through the industry, and the subsequent "D700 moment" will mark Nikon's return to being a truly serious "threat" to all competitors.

Whew, that was a lot of air quotes...

I didn't misspeak, though maybe I was too vague.

The Canon 1D IV and 1D III were definitely in a competition to see which could be the worse "disaster" lol. Either way, neither one could truly match the D3/D3s.

Link | Posted on Nov 1, 2021 at 18:31 UTC
In reply to:

3Percent: "And if, for its next trick, Nikon can pull off a D700 moment... well, wouldn't that be something?"

As big as the Z9 announcement is, I think Nikon still need to keep impressing- so yes it would be something, and needed. They have a lot of ground to make up but the Z9 is an incredible start.

I remember when the D3 first came out, and I remember the subsequent moment when "we all" compared the Canon 5D vs the D700.

The D700 truly was the camera that solidified Nikon's presence in the professional market. It made the 5D and even the 5DII seem like oversized Rebel cameras. I literally bought two of them for wedding photography, and used them until the D750 came along.

Here's to hoping that a "Z8" is the "D700 moment" we're waiting for...

Link | Posted on Nov 1, 2021 at 17:31 UTC

I still have my 2007 D3 poster of the photo Sandro took of the motorcycle on the 14-24.

It was that "winning combination" that focused a spotlight on the gaping hole in Canon's lineup, since Canon had "only" a 1.3X crop high-speed action-sports body at the time, and no comparable offerings that could truly match either the low-light capability or the focal length. The 1D IV was a "disaster", and the 1DX was "too late"...

If the Z9 is, in fact, a "D3 moment", then it should completely eclipse the A1 and the R3, indeed.

I don't think it will be as good as the D3 was at pointing out a fundamental shortcoming in the competition, however, if the autofocus is even barely as good as, let alone a tiny bit better than, the A1, then yeah, that will send shockwaves through the industry, and the subsequent "D700 moment" will mark Nikon's return to being a truly serious "threat" to all competitors.

Whew, that was a lot of air quotes...

Link | Posted on Nov 1, 2021 at 17:28 UTC as 38th comment | 4 replies
In reply to:

photo_rb: The lens is a landscapers dream if it's sharp.

It's definitely sharp, I can vouch for that! The minute it was announced I doubted it because the focal range seemed too good to be true as a landscape photographer, but I was able to test/review it over the last year and found it to be truly impressive; on par with any name-brand flagship lens if you're doing your landscapes at f/8-11 etc...

Link | Posted on Nov 1, 2021 at 17:01 UTC

Sponsored content or not, I gotta admit that Panasonic hit the nail on the head when they chose 20-60mm as their "kit lens" focal range, compared to Nikon's less useful 24-50mm, and Sony's downright unattractive 28-60mm range.

As a landscape photographer, I've wanted a "kit" lens that goes a little wider than 24mm for many, many years. Pair this with their 70-300mm and you've really got an ultimate lightweight travel kit, as far as full-frame is concerned. (We all know how much lighter and smaller an equivalent GH5-series would be, of course.)

Link | Posted on Nov 1, 2021 at 16:25 UTC as 95th comment | 8 replies
In reply to:

arspir: What do you think prevents Nikon from making a 16-35 2.8 lens?

@primeshooter,

Thankfully, I'd wager that it's more likely Nikon will make a 14mm f/1.8, or something even wider than 14mm, before they make a "plain" 16-35 2.8. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing for you personally, but since you seem to like primes, I thought I'd mention it. ;-)

Also, for what it's worth, you're not missing anything WRT the Sony 16-35 2.8 GM, it's trash for astro-landscape work and almost un-usable at 35mm unless you're a journalist and only care about dead-center sharpness.

I'd look to Tamron or Sigma to figure out the Z mount before Nikon does something as common as a 16-35 2.8.
Tamron's new 35-150 2.0-2.8 really has my interest piqued. They might have a mirrorless ~16-35mm f/2.0-2.8 up their sleeve!

Again, if you don't care about autofocus, just grab a Sony-to-Nikon adapter and use one of those E-mount lenses on your Z-mount. I just tested the Sony 14 1.8 GM and found it to be impressive, though not flawless, (field curvature) for astro work.

Link | Posted on Oct 27, 2021 at 23:08 UTC
In reply to:

semorg: Nikon's survival depends on the success of Z9. It will signal existing Nikon users (especially pros) Nikon still is a viable company and there is no need to abandon it.

It's not going to convince any Canon/Sony users to switch to Nikon, the same way the D800 did for me (I was long time Canon user). Because both Sony and Canon have pretty solid and comparable enough offerings. I was very tempted by the Sony A1 as I have couple of Sony E lenses from my A7RIII (I never loved it and sold it).

I'm glad the Z9 is coming out making me won't regret investing into the Z5 (hold over) and couple of Z lenses. That said, I want the AF, video capabilities of the Z9 inside the body of Z7. Let's call that the Z8.
I know there are many content creators (travel, wedding) who want the video capabilities and photo capability of the Z9 in a smaller body.
That would have been a better camera for Nikon to release first Looks like they want to keep their holds on the pros. Which makes sense.

Well, considering how well they did in their last great pivotal moment of an all-new top-shelf flagship, in 2007, I'm going to give Nikon the benefit of the doubt on this one.

(In my opinion, it was the Nikon D3 that was the harbinger of Nikon's rise to superiority over Canon in terms of body/sensor technology compared to Canon's 1.3X crop 1D action-sports/wildlife camera lineup, and their surpassing of other overall technologies and market placement. (The Nikon D700 was a far better camera than the Canon 5D, and even "destroyed" the Canon 5D2 in every way besides resolution, etc.)

All in all, Nikon really does like to "get things right the first time". A lot has changed in the last ~14 years, but considering the Canon EOS R3 and the Sony A1, I think Nikon will at least take a big leap up to where the bar has been raised to, even if they don't blow it out of the water in every way.

Link | Posted on Oct 27, 2021 at 20:03 UTC
In reply to:

arspir: What do you think prevents Nikon from making a 16-35 2.8 lens?

@primeshooter,

I'm not sure if you've tried the 14-30 f/4 S, but I've compared it with the Z 14-24 2.8 plus the Sigma 14-24 2.8 DN and Sony 12-24 2.8 GM; I honestly found the Nikon 14-30mm f/4 to be an impressive performer, despite the slower aperture. It might not be wildly impressive on paper or in lab tests, but it's really not much to complain about if you do your nightscapes with just a bit of moonlight to help with your exposure/light-gathering problems.

All in all, If you find 14-24 "limiting" for landscapes, then you are definitely in the minority relative to today's overall style of ultra-wide eye-candy landscapes.

I'm with you, honestly, in that regard: I'd rather have a 16-35 f/2, or a 15-35 2.8, than a 14-24, most of the time. But when I do want to go ultra-wide, there is just no substitute for 14mm or even 12mm.

Suffice it to say, in my opinion, you just can't win. If you shoot both "traditional" and astro-landscapes, you'll end up with 2 wide-angle lenses.

Link | Posted on Oct 27, 2021 at 19:42 UTC
In reply to:

biggercountry: I want this camera to be a success only because I care about the longevity of the Nikon brand. Since I came on board with them two years ago, I’ve become a believer in their M.O. and their design ethos. Whether or not this puts Nikon “on top” is of little consequence to me otherwise. I just like to take pictures.

Nikon will be fine. Imagine Pentax or Olympus, but with however many multiple times more "die-hard, cult-like following" fans who are ready to buy products no matter what.

In other words, even if Nikon "goes under", some giant corporation or holdings company will scoop up all their rights, and the mount itself will live on, just at a much slower pace. Either way, you can always expect Nikon to make solid quality products; they may just slow to a crawl in terms of keeping up with the likes of Sony and Canon...

Link | Posted on Oct 27, 2021 at 19:34 UTC
In reply to:

arspir: What do you think prevents Nikon from making a 16-35 2.8 lens?

HOWEVER, to actually answer the question, "what do you think prevents Nikon from making a 16-35mm f/2.8?" ...I'd have to say that nothing is technically preventing from making one, except maybe the fact that at this point, they could probably do even better!

In other words, they could make a 15-35mm f/2.8, like Canon did. They might even be able to stabilize it. Or, heck, maybe they're trying to figure out a 16-35mm f/2, or a 16-28mm f/2.

Honestly, if they made a "plain" 16-35mm f/2.8, it'd probably be downright tiny, (somewhere between the Nikon Z 14-24 2.8 and, say, the Tamron 17-28 2.8) ...and it might not be attractive enough to be a lucrative investment for Nikon.

So, I hate to say it, but, don't hold your breath for any such Nikkor lens any time in the next 3-5 years, IMO. The bases have been pretty well-covered, and Tamron & Sigma will be figuring out the Z mount in the next 1-2 years, too.

Link | Posted on Oct 27, 2021 at 19:11 UTC
In reply to:

arspir: What do you think prevents Nikon from making a 16-35 2.8 lens?

The "missing" lens has a lot to do with Nikon knowing that, as the underdog, being unique is key.

In the days of the F-mount, Nikon's 14-24 2.8 was truly ground-breaking, compared to its 17-35 2.8 and Canon's 16-35 2.8's, because it was so unbelievably sharp. It actually "destroyed" the 14mm f/2.8 primes at the time, which was a milestone for the whole "primes VS zooms" thing. (This was 2007, IIRC?)

Now, on mirrorless, Nikon must've thought, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" The fact is, Nikon's original 14-24 2.8's was wildly popular. Even my Canon-shooting friends who did nightscapes would use the Nikkor on an F-EF adapter.

(Plus, keep in mind that they were probably working on that optical formula for years prior to its release.)

Throw in the fact that Nikon did also release a 14-30mm f/4, which is incredibly sharp, and the fact that ISO performance has added a couple stops of cleanliness and DR since 2007...

Link | Posted on Oct 27, 2021 at 19:03 UTC
On article Roundup: Six Large Tripods For Heavy Duty Use (120 comments in total)

One of the benefits of such a large, heavy tripod is that you can get in the habit of always extending the lowest (skinniest) leg sections first if you work on the beach or around any substance that is nasty and ought to be avoided no matter how "sealed" those leg locks claim to be.

With ultra-lightweight travel tripods, many photographers get in the habit of avoiding extending that 4th/5th leg section, with all the stiffness of carbon-fiber chopsticks.

Personally, regardless of the tripod size, I prefer to stick with just 2-3 locks per leg. 4 locks (5-section legs) are just a waste of time, a massive compromise on stability, and generally not worth the slight increase in portability.

Whether it's a 2-lb travel tripod that is useless for 200mm shots if there is a light breeze, or a 4+ lb "beast" that you can trust to be rock-steady for your 500-shot 800mm moonrise time-lapse, just be sure you buy a good quality product is made to last. There's too much cheap junk out there.

Link | Posted on Oct 25, 2021 at 21:40 UTC as 6th comment
On article Sony a7 IV initial review (1566 comments in total)
In reply to:

havanna60: I am a Sony fan but since Sony went for left protruding screens, I lost my interest. I am still on the 7-year old original A7, a brutally excellent camera. I used to have A9, if I wanted a great cam, I'd buy an A9 again, but A9 is still brutally expensive even used. Daughter is on A7III another fantastic camera. But with this A7IV, I've zero enthusiasm. A7C might have been interesting but that crazy swingout cheapo screen, no way. Maybe a Nikon Z6, Sony A7ii or A7Rii used. Their (used) prices are reasonable, they have the proper back tilting screen, EVF and IBIS.

@havanna60, Again, if you think the original A7 is built like a tank, then that tells us everything we need to know about your standards for quality. A shame, really, because any current-gen camera with a side-articulating LCD is far less likely to break than your A7, especially at this point. And when that A7 does break, you'll have an un-repairable paper weight, whereas with an A7C or A7 IV you'll be able to get repairs for hopefully the next 5+ years.

The futute is here. Have fun with the outdated ergonomics of the original A9 when it drops below $1500 someday. Unfortunately you'll probably find it impossible to get that camera repaired, too, if/when it breaks.

Link | Posted on Oct 22, 2021 at 22:39 UTC
On article Sony a7 IV initial review (1566 comments in total)
In reply to:

Astro Landscapes: It seems that Nikon is now the leader in VALUE offerings. The Z5 and Z6 II look very attractive now, especially if your balance leans more towards photography.

The reason the Sony A7 IV costs $2.5K is purely based on the price of the A7C, and Sony's desire to continue shipping A7 III's.

If Sony were actually interested in offering a value comparable to Nikon's, the A7C would have been priced at ~$1.3K, the A7 III price would have dropped to ~$1.7K by now, and the A7 IV would be at "just" $2.1K. The Sony A9 II should have dropped to $3.5K at the release of the A1, too, I suppose.

Sony knows they're gobbling up market share, though, and they are well-poised to be able to "get away with" whatever they want. Shocking, now, that a giant corporation might get a little greedy?

Kinda reminds me of the Canon 1Ds era, and how many gaping holes existed in Canon's full-frame lineup.

I'll stick with Nikon as my best recommendation for entry-level value. Or Panasonic/Sigma for video shooters.

It really does depend on what you shoot, though. As I mentioned, I photograph weddings, and I "need" the Tamron 17-28 2.8, Sigma 28-70 2.8, Tamron 70-180 2.8, Rokinon 35 1.8, and Rokinon 75 1.8. But, again, pair that with the A7 IV and you're up to $5K.

If you're "entry-level" and photographing nightscapes, by the way, then Sony still wins, because a landscape/nightscape photographer can get away with the limited ergonomics of the A7C, and you just can't match the value of the Tamron 17-28 2.8 or the Sigma 14-24 2.8 on Nikon, period.

Then again, if you try to compare the Nikon Z5 and Nikon 14-24 2.8 against the Sony A7 IV and the Sony 12-24 2.8, then, yeah, Nikon comes out ahead, again.

Looking for a low-budget telephoto wildlife setup? The Sony A6600 and a Sigma or Tamron E-mount super-telephoto zoom takes the cake.

And so on and so forth. It depends what you shoot, and what your budget is.

Still, Sony can't match the Nikon Z5 and just $600-1000 worth of Nikkor lenses.

Link | Posted on Oct 22, 2021 at 22:33 UTC
On article Sony a7 IV initial review (1566 comments in total)
In reply to:

Astro Landscapes: It seems that Nikon is now the leader in VALUE offerings. The Z5 and Z6 II look very attractive now, especially if your balance leans more towards photography.

The reason the Sony A7 IV costs $2.5K is purely based on the price of the A7C, and Sony's desire to continue shipping A7 III's.

If Sony were actually interested in offering a value comparable to Nikon's, the A7C would have been priced at ~$1.3K, the A7 III price would have dropped to ~$1.7K by now, and the A7 IV would be at "just" $2.1K. The Sony A9 II should have dropped to $3.5K at the release of the A1, too, I suppose.

Sony knows they're gobbling up market share, though, and they are well-poised to be able to "get away with" whatever they want. Shocking, now, that a giant corporation might get a little greedy?

Kinda reminds me of the Canon 1Ds era, and how many gaping holes existed in Canon's full-frame lineup.

I'll stick with Nikon as my best recommendation for entry-level value. Or Panasonic/Sigma for video shooters.

@PAntunes,

You must simply not be grasping my emphasis on value and budget-oriented shoppers.

The Nikon Z5 is a whopping $1,200 cheaper than the A7 IV. (Sony totally shot themselves in the foot with the ergonomics of the A7C, in my opinion.)

For less than the price of the A7 IV body-only, I can get a Z5 and 2-3 Nikon lenses. (Nikon 24-200mm + one f/2.8 prime, or Nikon 24-50mm + two f/2.8 primes or one f/1.8 prime.

For the last time: Sony's options are definitely very diverse. I actually shoot Sony right now, because I am a "budget" f/2.8 zoom shopper, but my Tamron, Sigma, and Rokinon kit still adds up to about $5K.

Still can't beat the entry-level pricing options of Nikon, though.

@james_ yup, I am talking about the future, indeed. That's why I currently shoot Sony. But for entry-level value, Nikon still wins, even without any third-party options.

Link | Posted on Oct 22, 2021 at 22:27 UTC
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