Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why did I switch from Canon to Nikon ?


This was shot in 2011 using 65MP-E
Ponte Vecchio, Firenze Italy 2011
I’ve been using Canon DSLRs for almost a decade, starting with an entry level Canon EOS 350 and on. Canons were improving and leading the way back then. I upgraded to a couple of Canon DSLR bodies before hooked up to a 7D in 2009. 

I then started playing the waiting game to upgrade to a full frame sensor. I was a bit hesitant to move on to a full frame body; since I enjoyed the cheap zoom offered by 7D's crop sensor. ;)


Vaduz castle, Liechtenstein 2014
The desire to take macros inspired me to buy a full frame Canon DSLR and I was eyeing a Canon 5D MkIII. Unfortunately, the 5DMkIII failed to keep up with Nikon in terms of image quality. Specially in the areas of dynamic range, low light sensitivity, sharpness, contrast and color noise at higher ISOs. 


Canon produces great camera bodies and lenses. Many good photographers use Canon around the world and serves them very well. However I figured Canon isn’t the perfect camera body for my specific requirement, that’s taking photos under low lit conditions. Canon cameras generated a bit too much color noise at higher ISOs, which is a major deal breaker, given the nature of photos I’ve been taking.

I was waiting to buy a Canon 5DS or a Canon 5DMkIV but the leaked images proved that Canon hasn't done much to improve image quality. It was a no brainer to pick a Nikon D750 although it offers just 24 mega pixels where as Canon’s flagship 5DS offers 50 mega pixels.


This does not mean I have become a Nikon fanboy. I hate fanboys. Fanboys are just idiots who keep wasting words to prove ‘A’ is better than ‘B’ where there is no clear winner.

Chateau de Chillion,Veytaux,Switzerland
What matters isn’t the tool someone uses but the end result. It doesn’t mean a thing if someone taking crap photos using the best equipment such as Leica or Hasselblad. Equipment does not matter but the person pressing the shutter is. I started using a Nikon for their bodies serve a specific need in my photography way better than Canon does.

Evian Les Bains, France 2014

Canon and Nikon have their own strengths and weaknesses and I would continue to use my Canon 7D and might upgrade to another Canon in the due course for macros. Nikon does not have proper tools to support macro photography.

Russian war memorial, Berlin 2014

I have captured most memorable moments using my Canon gear and I still love that. However, I started using a Nikon since Canon failed to cater my specific need, not that it’s bad. 

It’s been a couple weeks since I started using my first full frame camera, Nikon D750 and I started loving the images it has captured so far and what it’s capable of.

It's a complete new ballgame, let's hope I could keep taking good photos in the days to come using the new gear and I could beef up my gear with a few more premium Nikkor lenses. :)

PS:
These photos were taken by my old Canon gear. My flickr photo stream can be accessed here : https://www.flickr.com/photos/twtechlist/

Friday, March 6, 2015

Album Review : I love you honeybear - Father John Misty

I purchased my fourth Subpop record making my records tally closer to one hundred. A record that carries an interesting title “I love you honeybear” by Father John Misty (Joshua Tillman). This is undoubtedly the best album I purchased since December 2014.

This is a funny, melodic, cold yet harmonic album with cruel lyrics showcasing what Misty had become since Fleet Fox. A touch of 70s, 80s a bit of synths are all in there with realistic yet harsh lyrics. It is indeed a great record and I love each of Misty's artistic work.

I bought the 2LP standard vinyl set, not the deluxe edition. The deluxe edition consists two picture discs with one or more booklets inside than the standard release, which complimented to warp the picture discs unfortunately. The amount of wear tear is slightly higher on picture discs so does the high fidelity quality deterioration. I'm not a huge fan of picture disks due these valid reasons.

I must give credit to Subpop records for compiling this album into two 12” 45rpm disks. It's an audiophile grade pressing although the disks aren’t anywhere near 180g. Subpop records are known for their quality pressings and signing good artists to their label. If you’re a vinyl lover, this is a must have in your collection, one such album that sounds warm and nice on the deck, in vinyl.

The 2LP vinyl standard edition carries a nice album artwork with a tiny booklet to play around. The vinyl edition carries a digital download code for the tone-deaf losers. Subpop has quite correctly watermarked the words ‘LOSER’ on the download coupon.
 

The eleven tracks run for a fraction over 46 minutes, a great compilation. The producers at Subpop have done a great effort arranging the tracks in a nice rhythmic flow. The first few songs are catchy enough to make anyone fall in love with the album. That said I wouldn’t comment on individual tracks as music is perceptual.

I love the overall work. The pink coloured graphical illustrations on the cover stands out on the shelve, making it quite easy to pick next time you run to the record store. The album has entered the charts promising a huge commercial success.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Throw away CDs and MP3s folks, vinyl revival is here!!!

Why vinyl records again ?
This is the digital age, one might wonder why do we need to go back in time. Why do we need to listen to vinyl records again ?  The truth is vinyl records never died but it was just that were a bit distracted. There's a huge difference in terms of audio quality and accurate sounds on vinyl compared to "modern day CDs", not just a nostalgia as many tone deaf thinks.



Is this is just a trend ? is there's a real benefit on records ?

Music lovers, the audiophiles moved away from CDs towards vinyl records over the recent years due to this thing called "loudness war" (also known as loudness madness/loudness mania). The CD manufactures over the years "increased the amplitude in CDs to make the CDs sound a bit louder to compete with other CD manufactures. We call this ugly competition as "loudness war", which killed the dynamic range that the music has. The record companies achieved this by compressing the music "further more" on a CD. 


What does the loudness war mean ?
Ortofon 2M Bronze Cart in action
Well, it's quite simple, record companies increased the amplitude of the lows and brought the highs down to make the waveform even and then increase the amplitude altogether; thus resulting the music sound a bit louder but flatter. You might think this is pretty cool, since you'll get to hear music a bit louder at a lover volume. But unfortunately it is not. This process kills the dynamic range of the music and make everything in a song sound flat, muddy and distorted. The range of the drums, depths of the vocals and the clarity of individual instruments are all gone during this process. This makes all instruments and vocals to sound at the same range/level. The "loudness war" distracted those who listen to real "music". (ie this doesn't have any impact on those who plug their ipods with Apple provided headphones or beats/bose crap)

For an example, if you listen to Sade's original recording of the "Promise" album and the recently remastered CD, the latter sounds a bit flatter and dull. The difference is like day and night. Metallica's "Death magnetic" album known to be the loudest album ever produced, which sparked a protest against the "loudness madness" and many fans requested a re-release of the album with the dynamic range ie without the loudness mania but that never happened.


Why can't make vinyl's sound louder ?

The limitations on the media itself prevent record manufactures applying same principles of the loudness war on vinyl records. That said, I have seen badly pressed vinyl records that aren't distant from CDs. But overall, the vinyl records win hands down in terms of sound quality and there would be no fatigue for long hours of listening to the analogue music since waveforms aren't computed as in digital media. The new vinyl records aren't cut from CDs or digital master copies often but from the analogue sources. The new 180gram pressings sound awesome and promised to last a few generations making record warp a thing in the past. The records do have a higher sampling rate compared to digital media.


Can records last longer like CDs ?
Well, the answer is yes and no. The vinyl records would indeed last for generations. I haven't seen any CDs last the way vinyl records so. My vinyl collection consists records older than 45 years. Recently one of my mates brought a 45 years old Simon & Garfunkle record and it sounded brilliant without any hiss or pop after giving it a bit of clean. The vinyl records however wear out over a period of time but that's insignificant and there are ways to minimise the record wear, which I'm planning to explain in another article. In a nutshell, if you configure correct tonearm height, stylus pressure and anti-skating correctly you could make the record wear to be very minimal. In worst case scenario, the records would still play and generate music no matter how many times you've used it or how badly they have been used. I've got a mate having a collection of records some have been played to death yet sounds great.

I think I stopped buying CDs about 6-7 years back and I blogged my experience here. That said, I bought a few CDs where there's no vinyl counterpart and some were original releases. In general, you need to take a good care of vinyl records to make them last generations. A clean before dropping the needle, a periodic stylus clean are just a few basics steps to ensure a longer life span among many other. One might think this as an annoyance compared to playing a CD. Well, absolutely not. Playing a record involves a bit of human effort, which makes the individual a part of the listening experience. In return, vinyl records have more presence to the music, warmer, natural yet detailed sounds. The dynamic sounds are there to enjoy all day along.

 

Why should I go through this hassle to play a record ?

It's like using a DSLR camera vs a point and shoot crap; both take photos. The DSLR in manual mode needs a bit of effort at each photo shoot; you need to set the correct aperture, shutter speed, film speed, white balance, configure the focus point etc,. However, the end result justifies the efforts you've put at each click. Just like listening to music over vinyl record. To conclude, if you're given a manual 1987 Ferrari 288 GTO and an a 2015 plated Toyota Hybrid Camry with all the bells and whistles, what would you pick to drive ?