Three things I can think of that would improve my ride photos.

  1. Shoot at dawn and at sunset when landscapes look best. Difficulty to implement – Medium, I like getting off the bike early in afternoon. Cost – Zero. Possible improvement – 100%.
  2. Get a drone and shoot otherwise impossible compositions. Difficulty to implement – High, too many drone restrictions in Japan. Cost – $1000. Possible improvement – 50%.
  3. Update my camera. Difficulty to implement – Zero. Cost $200 to Skies the Limit. Possible improvement – less than 5%.

It’s not the camera, it the photographer and I lack sufficient skill for camera specs to make a difference – but that’s ok it’s been my hobby buying/selling 2nd hand cameras to see what each does. Limiting myself to non professional models has kept changeover costs to a minimum. Actually for awhile I could buy cameras in Tokyo on holiday and sell back in Australia later on with no loss.

Nikon Museum

I was passing close so took the opportunity to visit Nikon in Shinagawa.

There is a lot to see here, the above is only a portion of the photography gear on display. Then also you may look at their telescope and microscope sections. Optics are certainly Nikon’s forte.

Due to Covid the ‘hands on’ displays and audio tours were unavailable. Still highly recommended.

Diffraction

Lately with small compacts I’ve been struggling to get landscape photos sharp which is my lack of talent however shooting small apertures with a 20mp M4/3 sensor that’s cropped by it’s lens doesn’t help me.

What is diffraction? Good explanation here. Short version – light diffraction causes softness in photos when using small apertures – particularly affected are high density sensors having small pixel pitch.

Camera (and bike) reviews contain lots of padding now. Pages of specs you already know, a simple test and a meaningless rating. I’ve been a reader of the highly influential DPReview since it started but lately I feel press release material and personal bias fluff up it’s reviews.

I came upon a site printing what cameras like mine can actually resolve – PCMag. From a modest ceiling at f4 it falls 30% by f11, which aligns with what I see trying to have foreground to distance in focus.

Thus I find myself wandering into Bic Camera on my afternoon walks.

Viewfinder games

“Your brain won’t know the difference” said Bob McClane in Total Recall and it was true for that movie but same cannot be said for claims about Panasonic’s field sequential LCD viewfinders. Instead of illuminating all three colour dots in each pixel they rapidly alternate between them thus claiming 2.76m dots, but the clarity is lacking.

Wait a minute, three dots per pixel… yes 2.36 million dots implies high resolution but it’s just 1024 x 768. Yet this low resolution can work sometimes. Olympus’s E-M1 EVF with 0.74 magnification is good example.

Other end of the EVF scale is Sony’s new A7C which is like viewing a phone screen other side of room through a toilet roll. Canon’s tiny 0.39 magnification EVF I also find impractical.

Moving to the 3.69 million dot 1280 x 960 viewfinders in the Nikon Z5 (0.80 magnification) and Fuji X-T4 (0.77 magnification) I find the Fuji nice but impossible to get the Z5 EVF sharp with dioptric adjuster for my eyesight. I experience same with Nikon Z6/Z7 that have identical EVF.

Via Camerasize.com

But at this point I’ve left the realm of compact motorcycle tour camera behind and am holding things big and heavy that I’d never take anywhere. Why am I even in this section of the shop?

Fear of missing out (FOMO). It’s a driver in camera gear (and $40K ADV motorcycles). I’m affected like everyone to some degree. There is a tsunami of full frame (FF) sensor hype now that swells with every ‘forum expert’ chiming in.

Some voices of common sense remain. A photographer I followed for years Ming Thein wrote how modern camera’s potential has become much greater than ours and a recent piece on Peta Pixel how 30 professional photographers could not accurately pick if 43″ prints were from an APS-C or FF sensor gives perspective.

Arriving back to Nikon, next to the Z5 was the Z50 which I ignored each visit as it had been sort of dismissed on DPReview.

Wonderful to be able to try out any camera as much as you want

Combining a revised sensor from the D500, a camera possessing excellent imaging, with Nikon’s latest Z system processor and 16-50 (24mm-75mm) lens that is rated very sharp it seems a great package.

However you require an adaptor to access Nikon’s DX lens catalogue. For me that is a non issue, I have no need for different lenses but for reviewers an adaptor seemed a big deal. Instead I find it comical another camera aimed at people coming from smartphones has no ability to share images to social media or do panoramas or hand held night shots. Can’t help thinking manufacturers have their heads stuck in the sand.

More important to me is size and viewfinder, the later is 2.36, 0.68 with surprisingly good optics that can be corrected to my eyesight. I have been pointing every camera at same zoom reach towards a small sign other side of store and I can only decipher the sign with the Fuji X-T4 and Z50 EVF’s.

Ergonomics are a mixed bag. Its a joy to hold and operate, very light easy to slip into my walk around bag, however too big for a bike jacket so will need to live in corner of my tour bag. My camera resides there already when I wear a summer jacket or on damp days but pocket is better.

After trade the Fuji combo is $2500 Aud while the Z50 will be $400 which seems reasonable enough to be my new distraction in 2021 while global travel remains somewhere off on the horizon.

2 Comments

  1. Warren
    I follow many photography youtube channels. They all say that camera manufacturers are falling behind in tech, especially transfering images. Taking out an sd card and putting into a pc is so 1990s. Some have tried to make solutions. Nikon have snapbridge app to transfer from camera to phone but its still clunky compared to phone.
    One of the pro photogs i know well bought a Z50 and he loves it, and this guy owns D5 D800, D500 D750 and a few others. Nikon we ergonomics are yhe best of the lot. Z50 is pretty compact mirrorless and would probably be great to take on the bike.
    Xt4 is also meant to be a good camera. Many small option coming out now with mirrorless cameras.

    • After a number of visits to shop I decided to pull the trigger and ordered a used Z50 from Map Camera.

      I liked the X-T4 too but once that lovely 16-18 is attached it becomes too large and heavy.

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