Welcome to Image Colorado.
Adventures in Colorado photography from the edge of the map.
I managed a color scouting run through the central Colorado mountains this morning (Saturday) and got a good look at how Autumn color was shaping up in the high country of Colorado.
There has been a lot of local speculation, including the tv news, that Autumn is coming in early this year. Nonsense. Autumn begins at the same time each year and this year is no different.
Right now in the central Rockies, color is peaking between 9,000 -10,000 feet. There are a few wind blown trees at higher elevations in exposed areas but overall the trees look to be in good condition with very little black leaf fungus this year. The color in the Aspens is a nice soft yellow for the most part.
I've seen no damage due to the shift in weather this weekend, but a more severe storm could have an affect. Right now, it's not happening as of Saturday afternoon.
New and approaching things.
I'm working on adding Forums to the page. They'll be active in the near future. These things are always slow to take off, so go sign up to participate and lets get the show on the road.
Autumn Photography is ramping up in Colorado. I'm working on plans for the next trip and follow-up article as well.
I've updated my article "Understanding Autumn Color in Colorado"
You can read it here.
I've published a new article, "The Day The Moose Came Out".
A short story about the best day of moose photography ever.
You can read it here.
Moose season comes to an end here in Northern Colorado. I'm working on an article about one of the trips. Stay tuned, I'll be posting it in early September.
Gary's List of Top Ten Newbie Photographers Mistakes
1. Marketing your photography to other photographers. They may not mind looking at your work but it’s not likely they’ll be buying one of your prints. Don’t try selling shoes to a cobbler, he/she probably has that covered.
2. Trying to sell framed prints on a restaurant wall. You see it all the time, photos hanging on the wall in the rustic restaurant. Only $250 framed and signed. They hang there forever for a reason. Nobody goes to a restaurant to buy art. Functionally the same thing as trying to sell hamburgers in an art gallery except hamburgers don’t typically cost $250. If the restaurant owner wants the photos, he/she should buy them outright.
3. Buy cheap lenses to save money then upgrade them because they suck. Now you’re stuck with cheap lenses that cost way more than you’ll get out of them used. You’re solving the same problem twice.
4. Buy a flimsy or cheap tripod only to upgrade it because it sucks. Now you’re stuck with a cheap tripod that isn’t much good and not worth anything used.
5. Take every piece of photographic equipment owned on a photo shoot. A duffle bag full of camera gear to take pictures of a lake isn’t really necessary. Figure out what you’ll need, leave the rest behind.
6. Buy a complete camera kit but ignore the software for editing. Digital cameras are only half the equation. If you can’t edit and print, why are you in to photography in the first place? Finish the effort.
7. Over the top copyright watermarks. A fanciful and dramatic copyright watermark on your images won’t make you a better photographer. The watermark is there to let people know who owns the image, it’s not there as a sales tool to impress potential buyers or ones self. If the copyright watermark commands more attention than your photo, you’re not getting it.
8. Putting UV/Skylight filters on your lenses. The oldest sales trick in the book, it’s become ingrained knowledge that you have to have a filter on the front of your lens for protection. Wrong. Lens cap and lens hood, that’s your protection. Lens pouch, that’s your protection. A filter does nothing for you but degrade your image quality and cost you money. Since 1972, I’ve never taken a photo and said to myself, “If I only had a UV filter on that lens when I took this” Your $50 filter isn’t going to help your $2000 lens in any way. I’ve never had a lens saved from permanent damage by the use of a UV filter.
9. Leaving the stock camera strap on your camera. Okay, you’re a cheapskate or you want to be another advertisement for your favorite camera brand. Those camera straps with Nikon D810 or Canon 5D MK IV written all over them are nothing but billboards for thieves. Put a decent strap on your camera and remove the glowing “steal me” sign from around your neck.
10. Everybody is an expert critic. Critiquing other photos without solicitation. I’ve seen it time and time again. Newbie buys expensive, high quality photographic equipment and the next thing you know they are an expert at everything photographic. Just because you spent $20,000 doesn’t make you an expert in composition, digital imaging, printing or anything else. Learn the trade before you become an expert. It works better that way. The guy at the camera club waving around his expensive camera is probably not an expert. Want to find an expert, look for someone who has been working in the business successfully for 30 years.
Colorado moose photography season is underway and there are plenty to go around. I've been working Northern Colorado hot spots for the past month and I'm happy to report that the Shiras Moose in Colorado is thriving again in 2017. If you'd like to photograph moose in Northern Colorado, you can find out more through my main web site here.
Summer is well underway and I've been busy at Gray Photography rearranging the web sites and behind the scenes business stuff. As you can now tell, I've moved Have Camera Will Travel to a new domain called Image Colorado. Image Colorado has been around for quite a while and for a couple of years it was a quarterly photography magazine. My intention is to reintroduce guest writers and articles, in the spirit of the original site, but with a more complete focus on photography in Colorado.
Stay tuned. The next 10 years could prove to be more fun than the last.
Just back from Monte Vista, Colorado for Sandhill Crane photography. I'll post some photos in the near future.
My first article of the new year, woo hoo.
I've just published a comparison of Nikkor kit lenses. The Nikkor 24-120mm, common kit lens on full frame bodies and the Nikkor 18-140mm, a common kit lens on the DX bodies.
My new article. Mean Time Between Failure has been published. You can find it here.
My new article. Single Point of Failure has been published. You can find it here.
More thoughts on camera values
New or used digital SLR camera values like most other commodities are based on market conditions at any given point in time. Not having the luxury of simply buying what I want, when I want, solving problems by throwing money at them isn’t my first choice. Being a small business owner, I have to weigh the cost/benefit and return on investment for all my photography equipment purchases.
Once I’ve defined my photographic technical requirements for how I wish to run the business, I have to identify the items that meet my technical requirements and also fit within the budget I have for purchasing those items.
A simple and effective tool I use is math. I calculate the cost per retail megapixel and use that result as part of my selection process. You’d be surprised at how closely these costs relate across competing and similar products. I’ll give you a few examples. Keep in mind, my research is based on market conditions from mid-October, 2016. Prices may have changed, but the math stays the same.
Crop sensor bodies
Nikon D7200: $42 per megapixel
Canon EOS 80D: $49 per megapixel
Nikon D500: $95 per megapixel
Canon EOS 7D Mk II: $74 per megapixel
Full Frame Bodies
Nikon D610: $61 per megapixel
Canon EOS 6D: $74 per megapixel
Nikon D750: $78 per megapixel
Canon EOS 5D Mk IV: $115 per megapixel
Nikon D810: $77 per megapixel
Canon EOS 5DSr: $73 per megapixel
Sony A99ii: $75 per megapixel
Now of course, megapixels aren’t everything that defines a camera, but the higher the pixel count, the higher the price and that is not disputable. The market has stratified to a certain extent around megapixels. One has to weigh all factors when deciding which gear to purchase, but once the technical requirements are defined, you can use the cost per megapixel to help you decide which body is a better buy. I’m lucky enough that I can choose any brand of camera, but this little analysis exercise will give you a better idea of what you’re throwing your money at vs what it’s true value may be.
Using this analysis, I’d be looking hard at Nikon D7200’s right now if I was looking for a good Nikon crop body or a completely new kit. It’s by far the best deal on the market now. The Canon 80D is a good camera and competitive but the price per mpix is higher and the image quality is not as good compared to the D7200.
Look at the Nikon D500! You’re paying a premium for those cropped sensor images that aren’t as good quality wise as it’s older and smaller brother the D7200. The selling point of the D500 isn’t pixel counts, it’s performance.
Moving on to the full frame sensor bodies.
Best image quality bang for the buck is the Nikon D610. It’s an entry level full frame body but makes a great photograph. Performance doesn’t stack up to the other bodies in the list. You’re paying for a very good sensor with basic controls.
The Canon 6D is a bit like the D610, but with less image quality and much better low light focusing.
The Canon 5D Mk IV is over the top with pricing at $115 per megapixel, it provides nothing that is best in class performance except for price tag. I’d keep checking these prices until they were in the $75-80 per megapixel range where they will most certainly end up by analyzing past prices. Even if it commanded $80 per megapixel, it would be priced at $2400. Canon is raking people who aren’t willing to do the math in my opinion.
The two big resolution DSLR, Nikon D810 and Canon 5DSr are both relatively inexpensive based on price per megapixel, with the Canon 5DSr being a bargain at $73 per mpix.
I threw the Sony A99ii DSLT in just for comparison. A camera that by all measures is a full generation ahead of Nikon and Canon offerings in the same range. It's priced quite competitively with the other full frame offerings at $75 per megapixel.
One can use this same approach when looking at used equipment as well. I would caution you though, the used market fluctuates a lot more than the retail market. In addition, changes in the retail market often times have large effects in the used market.
Your mileage may vary.
Digital SLR's, best bang for the buck.
I've taken a look at the current market offerings of Canon and Nikon, specifically the higher end cameras, full frame and crop sensor bodies.
Based on my analysis of the current market, here are the best bang for the buck cameras as rated by me.
1. Nikon D7200 24 megapixel, crop sensor, weather sealed body, 6fps. Brand new running less than $1000, deals on used cameras can be found between $700-800. Best image quality of any crop sensor body in either Canon or Nikon lineup.
2. Canon 5Dsr. 50.6 megapixels, improved weather sealing, 5fps. Best resolution on the market. Price is hovering around $3,699 new. Best value above $3,000
3. Nikon D810. 36.3 megapixels, 5 fps weather sealed. Best all around body on the market at $2,800 new.
4. Nikon D750. 24.3 megapixels, 6.5 fps, weather sealed. Outstanding camera with outstanding image quality, more features than the D810. $1,897 new.
Are there other good cameras out there? Of course there are.
We're talking bang for the buck here, meaning some cameras are simply over priced for what you get.
The best example of that would be the Canon EOS 5D MK-IV. By all reports, it's a hell of a good camera. At $3,500 new, is it a better camera than the D810 or D750? For a thousand dollars less, you can get better resolution and a better image quality sensor with the Nikon D810. No brainer in my opinion. The new 30 megapixel Canon body is a slight improvement in resolution over the 24 mpix D750 with an additional .5 fps in max shooting speed. Virtually no noticable difference. Again though, there's a $1,500 price gap between those two cameras. That's enough for a really nice lens to boot.
As for used bargains... For a crop sensor body, I'd be looking at the Nikon D7200 right now and the prices will only be dropping as we move forward.
For full frame used cameras, the D750, 5D-Mk3, D800 are all bargains on the used market. I'd be watching for the Canon 5D3 to drop below $1,000 before I jumped on a used copy. Same with the Nikon D750. The Nikon D800 is a real bargain on the used market now too. Not quite as refined as the newer D810, the D800 still packs a heck of a lot of image quality for landscape photographers at 36 megapixels. Image quality is on par with the D810.
If you are considering picking up a used Canon 5D Mk3, I'd give thought to going after a new Canon 6D instead at around the same price. The 5D Mk3 autofocus is quite superior to the 6D in most regards, but the 6D has a capable autofocus and will work in light as low as -3 ev. I think the 6D image quality is a click above the 5D mk3 as well, despite having almost 2 less megapixels in resolution.
On the used Nikon front, the D600 and D610 are good entry level full frame bodies, with good image quality but they aren't really upper end models and better choices are out there for the money. Still, when the average price of a used D610 is the same as a used D7200, the game changes.
I've begun work on moving the web site to a new server. I apologize for any problems you have while the transition takes place. We hope to have this completed by the end of October.
DXOMark have tested the Canon EOS 5D MK Iv. What does this new Canon body have to offer in the way of image quality. Click here to find out.
Moose photography season has concluded for me this year. I had an abbreviated season this year but it turned out to be a good season regardless. I've had a number of people asking me why I don't do tours past Labor Day. The quick answer, that's when hunting season starts. I don't hunt and I don't want to be prey to some hunter's wayward projectile.
I'll be working up a portfolio of images for your viewing pleasure in the coming days. I've also got a few articles in the works, so stay tuned. I haven't died and life is good.
Mule Deer Combat / Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Autumn 2017