I joke that I am a Canon shooter because of genetics: my father shot Canon gear, so I shoot Canon gear. My first SLR was my father's Canon F-1. The first one I picked out was a Canon A-1 in college. My first digital SLR was a Canon Digital Rebel. A couple of years ago I upgraded that body with a Canon 60D.
Last Tuesday I dug up all the Canon gear I had around the house, packed it into as much original packaging as I could find, loaded it all into an Ikea bag, and drove to Glazer's Camera in South Lake Union. When they asked me what they could do for me, I said "I have a bag full of used Canon gear. I'd like to walk out of here with some Nikon gear."
Why did I do that?
I've looked at every digital photo I've got in the last two months and stripped my collection down from over 43K to under 2K worth keeping. Some of those pictures were taken on digital cameras with 640x400 resolution, some on phones, many on the Digital Rebel (6.3 MP), and the vast majority on the 60D (18 MP). Aside from a lot of swearing at myself about getting shots wrong, there's only one thing I said more than once about a photo. It wasn't "I need more pixels". It wasn't "I need a better flash". It wasn't "I need a longer lens" or "I need a faster lens".
It was "I want more Dynamic Range".
I've been planning to upgrade from the 60D to a 5D Mk IV (if it ever comes out) because a full frame camera system is better for landscape photography (which I'm doing more of) and bigger pixel sites are better for taking star photos (which I really enjoy). As the delay went on, I questioned whether I should consider a 5D Mk III or a 5DS instead. Or a 6D. In either case, I was talking about a minimum of $1400 and probably more like $3K or $4K. Plus new lenses. Major investment.
Once I knew I was looking for Dynamic Range, I started Googling. There's this site called DXOMark that has allegedly objective measurements of camera bodies and lenses. It's sortable by measurement. Go check it out and sort the list of camera bodies by Landscape (which is largely a proxy for Dynamic Range). Go ahead. I'll wait.
Six of the top seven (and seven of the top nine) are Nikon bodies. The odd ones out are from Sony, which is the company that Nikon buys sensors from. Nikon, Sony, and Pentax dominate the top ranks with cameras going back five years or so. This is not a flash in the pan. You have to go to the 68th slot to find a Canon, and it's not a DSLR. The Canon 5DS is 94th. The Nikon D810 has nearly 2 1/2 EVs more dynamic range than the 5DS and more than 3 more than my 60D.
If I wanted more dynamic range, I was buying a Nikon. Which meant getting rid of about $6K worth of Canon gear. Which I might get $2500 for if I was lucky.
While we were in NY to see George Takei's Allegiance musical, I visited B&H Photo (which was amazing, BTW -- like Fry's Electronics for photo and optical geeks with the entire staff wearing yarmulke and speaking English) and Adorama and spent perhaps 60 minutes playing with the D810. I read the manual. I researched lenses. I concluded that I was going to be out of pocket over $6K to rebuild my kit, including getting between $2K and $2.5K for my old kit.
But it would be better kit, objectively, as measured by DXOMark.
Here's the planned kit:
Nikon D810 Body
Nikon 20mm f/1.8
Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 VR
Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5
Nikon 70-200mm f/4 VR
Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro Di VC
Sigma 150-600 F/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sport or Contemporary
I ordered the body, 18-35, and 24-85 from B&H with overnight delivery for Wednesday 10/28. My Tekniq modular camera bag (from a Kickstarter I backed in May) happened to arrive. I visited Glazer's on 10/27 and got trade-in money for my Canon gear, which bought the 20mm and the 70-200. The kit packs into the Tekniq like a charm. This is the first time I've ever planned kit instead of buying what I seemed to need as I went along. There were what seemed like a million little details: UV filters, extra lens caps, lens caps retainers (I'm horrible about losing caps and hoods), batteries, chargers, new CF cards (the 60D used SD) and a high speed SD card, card readers, new cables for the remotes, polarizers, step-up rings, monitor protection, and so on.
Here's the first image I was willing to put up on Facebook:
Here's the one that blew me away:
Which is a detail from:
Which is itself about a 50% crop from the original. What blows me away is the sharp detail on the crow where it is in focus (which isn't all of it, not at f/4, but that's not the point). You can see dust on the feathers. There are places where you can see each individual barb! It's not that this is a great image, but the level of detail is, to me, nearly unbelievable.
Which brings me back to those DXOMark numbers. I turned in lenses for my Canon 60D with sharpness values of 7, 8, 8, 9, and 12. I bought lenses which, combined with the D810, have sharpness values of 17, 23, 25, 26, and 29. The crow images are from the 70-200 with a 29 sharpness. I would not have expected to get kit capable of 3x the detail, but I think I may have 2x or more (the average of each new lens' sharpness improvement over the equivalent lens in the old kit is about 2.6x, with the worst being 2.2x and the best being 3.2x).
I'm gobsmacked. And I have no excuses that my equipment can't get a shot. If I don't get a shot, it's my fault -- intent, design, execution, understanding of conditions, understanding of the equipment. The gear can get the shot, if I can figure out what the shot should be.
1) it's a little strange to be wearing a watch again.
2) the apps screen gets full really really fast
3) I want to write complications for it. Complications are the elements that can be configured in watch faces. A quick google search has not turned up any information on creating them.
4) It was obvious that the watch was going to be a relatively simple i/o device attached to my phone. Brief experience bears that out -- with the exception of the watch face and complications (some of which DO depend upon the iPhone -- Weather, for instance) -- it's a new interface into existing apps on your iPhone.
As such, it creates a new category of interactions which used to be folded into your phone -- extremely brief ones for which you might have carried your phone in your hand (e.g., moving to the next song or changing the volume on your music -- exactly what buttons on your headphones or cable were intended to do) -- like incessantly checking the time, or a countdown timer you have in place.
So I'm not quite sure that I like the idea of games on the watch. If you are sufficiently engaged in something to interact with it constantly, why not use your phone, which has a bigger screen and better UX? The only game type I can see working on the watch is something where you make a very simple decision every few minutes or so. Definitely NOT highly interactive systems.
5) Oddly, the watch is more intrusive than the phone for interacting, because it absolutely requires two hands. There are a lot of things I can do on the iPhone with a single hand (the previously mentioned music manipulations, simple short texts or typing with one thumb, swiping, etc.) but I have to have my phone out and in one hand to do it. The watch, which doesn't need to be taken out or put away, must be manipulated with the opposite hand. It sounds small but it it weighing heavily right now -- partly because in each case the primary use hand is my right hand. If i'm holding the phone to do one handed manipulations, it's in the right hand. If I'm manipulating the watch in any way other than just flipping my wrist to the see currently displayed glance or app, I'm doing it with the right hand. I assume that lefties will act correspondingly using the left hand.
Anyway, those are the first thoughts. More later, I imagine.
I'm still too sick to put thoughts together. So is whoever wrote this, but it's hilarious:
ME Jeremy Slater. You know, the awesome screenwriter. I'm a big fan of your work, by the way. Especially the way you directed Jurassic Park. And that other one...what was it called? Snakes on a Something. Bus? Plane? Plane, right?
But I will say that I have a new appreciation for pistolcraft as a martial art, having visited Gunsite Academy in Paulden, AZ for a one week Pistol 250class in January. I would say it took 3-5 years of regular training (2+ hours a night 3-4 nights a week) to feel comfortable in my ability to handle a situation with Kenpo. One week of excellent training on top of years of casual shooting might have done it using a pistol.
Wow. You really think you made THAT much progress? I mean, that much Kenpo is going to make it pretty much instinctive, right?
And here's my (somewhat) long-winded explanation:
They're very different. Consider the decision tree, to begin with. Ed Parker's Kenpo teaches well over 100 different techniques. They are not intened to be used verbatim, but represent examples of self defense motion. If you try to decide which technique to use, you'll spend so much time shuffling position, attack, defense, and environment that you'll get your clock cleaned. There are ways to reduce the combinatorial explosion, including muscle memory, becoming creatively post-technique, and probably others my cold and fevered brain can't come up with right now. The decision tree on a firearm in a typical situation consists of "am I in immediate threat of lethal force? then shoot the threat until it stops". It's a very different thing.
If you are a responsible martial artists, you have to make the determination that it's worth fighting right now. As a student of the arts who is aware of commotio cordis, I understand that any punch thrown is potentially lethal, and that is the bar that I set for fighting: if life is not threatened, walk away. That calculation is the same one that allows for use of a firearm in self defense (generally speaking -- I am not a lawyer):
is the potential victim Innocent of current wrongdoing?
is the threat Imminent?
is the response Proportional?
can the threat be Avoided?
am I being Resonable in evaluating these questions?
Regarding "avoidance", I'm just going to include it and not worry about Castle Doctrine or Stand Your Ground and just assume, from the beginning, that I would prefer not to kill someone if I don't have to -- if I can avoid the situation I should do so. That closes a big can of worms that I'm not going to address while my brain is cold/fever fried.
So for me, the calculation of whether this is worth fighting over is very close to the question of whether this is worth shooting someone over. As such, the decision tree for using a firearm in self defense is much shorter than the decision tree for using Kenpo. Kenpo allows for much more proportionality in response, but as soon as a punch is thrown, the encounter is already potentially lethal.
So that's the decision tree part. Now to the training part. I mentioned that Kenpo teaches more than 100 techniques, plus kata, fighting/sparring techniques, sets, and a large collection of basics (kicks, blocks, punches, parries, stances, movements,....). Gunsite teaches a five-count presentation:
On top of which you must understand stance, sight alignment, grip, and trigger press. All of which are simple if not easy. But the basic "technique" that you will use once you enter a fight is pretty well set. The variables are fewer and their variation generally less. (generally -- I'm sick, so be nice)
There's just a lot less to learn in order to effectively use a pistol. Which is what makes them so useful to people who don't want to spend 8-10 hours per week at the dojo in order to protect themselves. We could require all police officers to spend 3 years getting an effective black belt in martial arts, but instead we send them to the police academy and teach them to shoot. (Yes, they learn hand-to-hand techniques as well). It's just more efficient.
In addition, a handgun is a far better tool for a small, weak, or physically challenged individual than a black belt is. A handgun can be used from a position of disadvantage. It can be used against multiple attackers. It can be used at range.