Tagged: Nikon 1 J5
Walking with the Nikon 1 J5
As you will read in a later post I have been simplifying my camera gear. One of my hardest decisions was whether or not to keep the Nikon 1 J5 and the 3 lenses I have for it. Since I got a Fuji X-T1 I have been using it and the Nikon has been resting in a drawer and I needed to refresh my memory of the pros and cons of the J5 and its one-inch sensor. One of the ways I did that was to take the camera for a walk. The above pictures are a few that I made from the walk. My previous two posts also contain some pictures taken with the J5.
Even though I like the pictures above and even though it has the only long focal length lenses that I now have, I have decided to sell it. I’ll write about why, along with other changes that I’m making with my photography and blog, in another post at a later date.
No More Long Focal Length Pictures?
I am in the throes of trying to decide whether to totally give up taking pictures of wildlife with long zoom lenses. I have made the decision to change to a lighter weight camera with prime lenses to reduce the size and weight of my gear … at least for the events I photograph here at Homewood. If all works well, I will be using a Fuji X-T1 with two or three prime lenses to replace my Canon 70D with lenses between 17 mm and 255 mm.
I have two options that I’m considering for my other photography. First is to keep my Nikon J5 and lenses as my second camera. If I go that route I could still use my Nikon one inch sensor camera for wildlife and flower images like above which were all taken with it at 110 mm and then cropped and resized. The second option is to sell the Nikon 1 system and keep my Leica X2 or Ricoh GR primarily as a backup camera and use my X-T1 with a few prime lenses for all of my photography. If I take the second route I will have no long focal length lenses for wildlife. The first option gives me more opportunities for different types of pictures and the second option retains a higher quality camera and forces me to learn how to get the most out of wide-to-normal prime lenses and photograph exclusively with them.
It is coming down to sticking to what I have mostly done in the past when I used long focal length zoom lenses, but with lower quality, or forcing myself to learn what I can photograph exclusively with wide-to-normal prime lenses with a better camera and lenses. My long zoom capability has been my crutch in the past when I didn’t know what I was going to photograph. I always seemed to be able to extract an image from a distance out of the overall larger view. Prime lenses would force me to get up close.
I am waiting for the new camera to be delivered so that I can spend some time using it and see which choice I prefer to make: only using shorter prime lenses with better image quality, or keeping an option for longer focal length images albeit with lower image quality.
Future Changes in my Camera Gear
It was a noisy morning wakeup for some on Friday. They showed up outside my Villa at 6 am. I waited until it got lighter to make these images. You can’t see it was noisy, but it was. You can see the dust they were stirring up. They were cleaning the roads before they seal them.
I used my Leica X2 with its 24 mm lens to make the above images. I really like that focal length and camera, but I am not sure about the future. I miss having a viewfinder and a tilt LCD on the Leica X2; therefore, I am thinking about replacing it with a Fuji X-T1 with a prime lens.
I am also planning to sell my Canon 70D and all of its lenses. It just isn’t fun to walk around using the camera due to the size and weight. I am going to try replacing it with the Fuji X-T1 with prime lenses rather than heavier zoom lenses. That will create a big change in how and what I photograph as well as reduce the amount of gear I use.
If I get the X-T1 and use it to replace both my Canon 70D and Leica X2, I have been thinking about getting three primes lenses and no zoom lenses. The prime lenses I had been thinking about were the Fuji 18 mm, 35 mm, and 60 mm. I could also get the 23 mm f/1.4 R lens with an effective focal length of 35 mm, but I don’t want too many lenses. The 23 mm focal length has been a good all-around focal length for many pictures and it could possibly be a one lens compromise for the 18 and 35 mm lenses.
The above dithering about what lens focal length I should get wasn’t getting me to a decision, so I took a step back and thought about why I’m making a change in cameras. I feel that it is necessary to reduce the size and weight since it is hard to walk around with a cane and a camera and sometimes with a bag; therefore, I need something lighter and smaller, but with good image quality. From this perspective, smaller and lighter, both the Fuji 23 mm and 35 mm lenses are medium in size; but, the Fuji 27 mm F2.8 lens is a smaller and lighter lens and is also a focal length compromise between the 23 and 35 mm lenses. It also has a better price, so I plan to try it as a better compromise due to weight and size. I have ordered the X-T1 with the 27 mm lens. I will use that lens while seeing if I like the X-T1 in terms of size, weight, and ergonomics. If I keep it and sell the Canon and Leica, I will then probably eventually get the 18 mm and 60 mm lenses.
As you have probably already figured out, this change in my cameras and lenses will create changes in what and how I photograph. I am going to let the “tail wag the dog” so to speak; i.e., adjust my photography to fit lighter and smaller gear. I will be writing about that after I get the X-T1 and am sure that I’m keeping it. I tried the Olympus E-M5 with the 14 – 150 mm lens and ended up not keeping them. The ergonomics and image quality weren’t quite what I’m looking for. Note that I haven’t mentioned how the Nikon 1 J5 camera and lenses fits into my future scheme. I’m still pondering that.
Definition of perspective: “the technique or process of representing on a plane or curved surface the spatial relation of objects as they might appear to the eye; specifically : representation in a drawing or painting of parallel lines as converging in order to give the illusion of depth and distance.”
I named my blog “Everchanging Perspective” to serve as a catch-all title for my changing ways of viewing life. I wasn’t limiting my blog to the main definition as noted above, but it is a part of my personal perspective relative to how I see things. I like to use long focal length lenses to collapse the visual space and that affects the illusion of depth and distance. I also like to use my articulated LCDs to get down low and look at common everyday things in ways that not all people would look. This gives them a different perspective on everyday objects. I have also changed my perspectives relative to photography in terms of what cameras and lenses I use.
There was a time that I preferred prime lenses rather than zooms because the prime lenses were faster and lighter and had better image quality. In needing to go with lighter and more ergonomic systems I started using shorter and shorter lenses to cut weight. It finally reached the point where I considered giving up photography with long focal lengths and started thinking more and more about taking my pictures with prime lenses and fixed lens cameras like the Fuji X100 series and the Leica X2. Cameras with only a few normal prime lenses worked well for me while traveling when I really needed to cut the weight … but then I stopped traveling internationally. In addition those cameras work great for street photography in dense urban areas. I don’t walk crowded streets.
When the bulk of my photography was done close to home, I went back to bigger and heavier cameras with relatively faster zoom lenses. I still have my Canon 70D and mostly use it with the Sigma 17 – 70 mm, f/2.8 – 4 zoom lens for photographing events, etc. here. I also still have my Leica X2 which I sometimes use on local trips when I need a light-weight camera. Neither of the cameras was of much value to me when I took walks so I gave up most of my flower, local landscape, and other photography normally made with long focal length lenses while walking. I also gave up most of my collapsed perspective images … until recently.
I acquired a Nikon 1 J5 camera with the 30 – 110 mm lens and have returned to making many of my personal images at an effective 297 mm focal length. I like them and I plan to continue with them for a while. If you have followed my blog for several years, you have noted that I often change my cameras and lenses, so my current situation, perspective, etc. might not last for long. I like to change; need to change.
I took these pictures early on the 1st of August. The first moon image was made after I had breakfast at around 5:45. The others were made going and returning from the market a little after 6 am.
I used my Nikon J5 with the 30 – 110 mm lens for these images. I have been rapidly reaching the point where it is my favorite camera and lens for walking and driving about around sunrise and sunset. Its’ small size and light weight have won me over. Those attributes overcome the not as good image quality of the small one-inch sensor. The image quality is good enough if the system enables me to have it with me and enables me to make the longer focal length pictures that I like.
The Little Things with Nikon J5 and 30 – 110 mm Lens
This was another experiment to see how my J5 with the 30 – 110 mm lens performed when capturing the little things. Most of these flowers were very small. Many of them were only about one-half to three-quarters of an inch in diameter. I took all the pictures at maximum zoom of 110 mm, an effective 297 mm, while focusing as close as I could. I then cropped them some more since I could have really used a longer focal length lens or at least one that focused closer.
Waiting & Experimenting
I was waiting in the car when I made these. I was photographing through the glass with the Nikon J5 and the 30 – 110mm lens. I am still in the mode of trying different types of photography with this set-up. I really like the small size and weight but I’m still not sure about the image quality. I might decide that it is good enough for a “take with me system” for just-in-case I see something or for when I know I will need the longer focal lengths; but probably only in good light.
We had a lifting fog and I was standing out front when I took the first two pictures as Misty and I were starting our morning walk. The last picture was taken when we got back to the Villa and I switched from the Canon 70D to the Nikon 1 J5 with the 30 – 110 mm lens to get a picture of the morning sun shining through the high fog.
Conflicted … What Camera, What Photography?
I am still conflicted when it comes to which camera I prefer to use and a bit of the problem is that I don’t know what I will be photographing. Out of the cameras I’m currently using, the Leica X2 is the easiest to carry, next is the Nikon 1 J5, and then the Canon 70D. In terms of image quality the Leica X2 is best (used to make the above picture), then the Canon 70D, with the Nikon 1 J5 at the bottom. In terms of versatility the Leica X2 is the most limited.
The differences really come to the front when I look at which lenses I use with them as well as what I photograph. If I am photographing with a fixed equivalent 35 mm focal length, there is no question to the all-around best. It is the Leica X2. The only problem I have with the Leica is using it out in the sun since I have trouble seeing the LCD to compose. That could be remedied if I purchased an add-on optical viewfinder.
For long-range photography at focal lengths beyond an equivalent 80 mm I can use the Nikon J5 with the 30 – 110 mm lens when the lighting is adequate. It is so much easier to carry than the Canon 70D with longer lenses, that the weight and size advantages out-weigh the better image quality of the 70D for long focal lengths. This wouldn’t necessarily be the case for others, but I walk with a cane or walking stick when going further distances and often need to shoot with one hand. My main problem with this choice is that I have to use the LCD to compose and I have the same problem as with the Leica X2. If the LCD is in the sun it is hard to compose with it.
It is somewhat limiting, but I can usually resolve the sunlight on the LCD issue by only photographing when the LCD is adequately shaded. I find that trying to shade it with my hand doesn’t work, so I usually need to use if from within the car or in a heavily shaded location or during the hours close to sunrise and sunset.
I have not decided on what I will do when photographing inside when I need focal lengths other than an effective 35 mm. The Nikon 1 J5 with the two zoom lenses might work if I don’t pixel peep; i.e. look too closely at the digital noise. So far, when photographing something critical for others, I have used the Canon 70D with the Sigma 17 – 70 mm lens. It isn’t light or small, but I’m not walking much when shooting inside so I have been able to use it; but that might not continue.
There are other issues that haven’t affected me too much yet. One is that it takes two hands to shoot with a zoom lens. The lenses in the Nikon CX format are very easy to turn to zoom and I have managed; but often times, since I primarily shoot at either end of the zoom range, I pre-zoom it and leave it there. It is another reason that I prefer to shoot with prime or fixed lenses like with the Leica X2.
The second remaining issue is camera control. I like the Canon and Leica controls and ease of using them. I can set and use them in any manner I prefer. The Nikon is somewhat limiting, but I have been working around most of them … not all. The third issue can be real limiting depending on what I am shooting. That is needing to use an articulated LCD for some work. The Canon 70D has a fully articulated LCD and I can shoot with it in various ways. The Nikon has a tilting LCD and that suffices. I just don’t bother to use the Leica X2 down close to the ground since the LCD doesn’t move and I have trouble bending.
Another issue I have is switching back and forth between different camera systems, controls, etc. It has always been my dream to have and use only one camera for everything I photograph. So far that hasn’t been possible; but there is a potential solution that solves most, if not all, of the above conflicts and issues.
The solution is to limit what I photograph and use only one or two of my cameras. I have been gravitating in that direction since it is the least costly solution; but, I have been doing it mostly by only using one camera for a period of time and not switching frequently. I have been using the J5 with the 30 – 110 mm lens for my outdoor shooting while photographing flowers, wildlife, etc.; but using the Leica X2 whenever I plan to only photograph with an effective 35 mm focal length and/or I desire the smallest setup just in case I see something.
My current plans are to primarily use the Canon 70D when I’m not walking much and/or while inside. I am also thinking about getting the hand grip and the optical viewfinder for the Leica X2. To a degree, my expanded uses of either the Nikon 1 or Leica X2 (or to using only one of them) also depend upon the style of processing I use as well as subjects that I photograph and on my desired image quality. I am not sure of what I will be photographing in the future and this is my primary issue. If I had ample opportunity subject-wise, I would prefer to just photograph with the Leica X2. If it had a viewfinder, articulated LCD and a normal zoom lens it would be perfect.
Using the Nikkor CX 30 – 110 mm Lens Inside
I took this test image inside at ISO 3200 at 1/80 sec. and f/5.6 at 110 mm focal length with the Nikon 1 J5 camera. That was at the extreme end of the little lens. The image quality isn’t great but certainly useable for most of my applications. I experimented using different settings but found that these were the best settings when I was photographing in shutter mode.
In the past with other cameras, I often found that I had problems with the white balance (WB) when photographing in this location, but that wasn’t the case with this camera. That was another pleasant surprise for me. Use of this camera and lens in this manner goes against the guidance of others, but with this new sensor in the J5 and by shooting in raw format and then working the images in LR6 I am finding that a lot is possible.
The question facing me now is “Do I use the Nikon 1 camera instead of my Canon 70D for my Homewood photography?” It is a lot smaller and easier to carry around; but the issue is “Does the increased versatility of being able to use a long zoom lens offset the effects of a small sensor?”