Markus Jais Photography Just another WordPress weblog Mon, 03 Aug 2009 18:12:55 +0000 en hourly 1 Leica S-System: Will it be successful? Mon, 03 Aug 2009 18:12:55 +0000 Markus Jais Recently, Leica has announced the prices for the new S-System. The S-System is a new camera system from Leica with a new sensor which is bigger than current full frame sensors in cameras like the Nikon D3x or Canon EOS 5D Mark II. The sensor has a size of 30×45 mm and 37.5 megapixels. The new camera, called S2, will have Autofocus – something Leica never introduced into it’s legendary R-System.
The new System will require completely new lenses as the lenses for the R system won’t fit on the bigger lens mount of the S2.
For the start of the systen, the following four lenses will be available from Leica (more lenses will probably follow soon):


Now the new S-System will be available soon. The question is: Will this be a success? Leica had it’s problems in recent years, probably because they misjudged the almost complete takeover of digital photography.

The move to a larger sensor and a completely new system has surprised many but is also considered the right direction for professional photography by many photographers.
There is no doubt that the new lenses will be extremely good and will deliver outstanding sharpness. I am sure at least some photographers have already ordered the system and can’t wait to take the first pictures with the S2 and a new Leica lens.

But to be a success, Leica must sell more cameras and lenses than just a few. The development of the whole system took quite some time and therefore, was probably pretty expensive.

I really hope that Leica will be successful with the new system. I won’t get one for myself, but I have always liked Leica products – I own a great pair of Leica binoculars.

But there are several reasons, why this might not be successful. Please keep in mind that this is must my personal opinion. Let’s look at the different reasons:

Probably the biggest obstacle for most photographers. At a price of more than 20.000 US dollars for the camera body alone, only professionals and maybe some amateurs who always wanted to have a Leica will think about getting this one. If you get all the four new lenses, you will have to pay more than 40.000 dollars!!!
In the current economic situation, most professional photographers will think at least twice before spending that much amount of money on a new camera system. For a lot less money, you can get a complete full frame camera system from Nikon or Canon which produces amazing quality. Even some medium format cameras are cheaper than the new Leica S-System.

Competition with the current full frame cameras from Nikon and Canon
For about 1/3 of the price you can get a Nikon D3X which already delivers 24.6 MP and Nikon has recently produced some awesome lenses full frame cameras. The difference between the 24.6 MP of the D3X and the 37.5 of the S2 is not as big as it might look it is.

Nobody doubts that the new Leica lenses will be outstanding. Leica has always produced excellent lenses which where often the best on the market.
At the moment, only 4 lenses will be offered. More will follow, probably soon. But right now, 4 lenses is not much. With the current lenses, the S-System is mostly suitable for studio photography and landscape work which are probably the primary targets for the S-System. There are no really long telephoto lenses or macro lenses yet. And today, people want zoom lenses. Hopefully Leica will soon offer more lenses, otherwise the whole system will not be very interesting for most photographers.

The sensor:
It will be interesting to see how the sensor in the S2 performs. The current sensors in high resolution full frame cameras like the Nikon D3X or the Canon EOS 5D Mark II are of very high quality.
The sensor in the S2 must match the quality of sensors in those cameras and not just at ISO 100 but also at higher ISO values. The D3X and EOS 5D Mark II are good at high ISO settings like ISO 800 or even above. If the S2 sensor is significantly worse than the Nikon or Canon cameras, many photographers will probably prefer a Nikon or Canon camera.

Future models by Canon or Nikon
Canon and Nikon make the most money with entry-level and mid range cameras like the Nikon D90 or D300(s).
But for the professional market, they may decide to develop new cameras with larger sensors as big as the sensor in the S2 or even bigger. In a few years, a 45 MP sensor twice the size than the current sensor in a D3X may be available for only a few thousand dollars and even amateur photographers might think about getting such a camera. The reason why we have not yet seen such cameras from Nikon or Canon is the fact, that the current lenses won’t fit on such a camera. Nikon and Canon would need to build a whole new line-up of lenses for the new cameras. And this would mean a significant investment many photographers won’t be willing to make.
But I am sure Canon and Nikon are at least thinking about such a move. And they have the knowledge and probably the financial resources to do it. And then they may be much faster than Leica building such a system. Canon and Nikon probably could build a complete lens line-up much faster than Leica. And they could reuse much of current camera technology. It shouldn’t be to difficult to take the body of a Nikon D3 or a Canon EOS 1D Mark III and put a larger sensor in it. And stuff like flashes probably could be used with the current cameras and the one with the larger sensor as well.
Just imagine Nikon would offer a similar camera like the S2 but with all the power of the D3(X), including the great AF system and all the other great features. They could probably make it available a lot cheaper than Leica.
And Nikon and Canon are also capable of building high quality lenses. I think that if Canon or Nikon (or both) decide to build a system similar to the S-System from Leica and if they aggressively advertise for it, Leica won’t have much chance against them.

As I already wrote, this is just my personal opinion. I recently had the chance to hold a prototype S2 in my hand. I feels great and I really wanted to take it, together with the new lenses, and try it out for a few days but that was, of course, not possibly.

I with Leica good luck with the new system but only time will tell if it will be successful or not.

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Book Review: Michael Freeman’s Top Digital Photography Tips Sat, 25 Jul 2009 11:59:04 +0000 Markus Jais There are many books on the market that offer a collection of tips for the digital photographer. Not all of them are worth reading. The book reviewed here is different and I think is one of the better tip collections on the market.

This is not a book for the complete beginner. You should at least know some basic terms like aperture, ISO or shutter speed.

The book is divided into 9 chapters.

Chapter one covers the basics. Some of the advice here may seam trivial like to shoot RAW or to just shoot when you see something interesting – instead of waiting and missing the shot. But it’s worth reading through the tips as the author has good arguments in most tips.

Chapter two covers exposure, something many photographers have problems with. The author covers important topics here like dynamic range and how to find out what the dynamic range of your camera is or how to judge the dynamic range of your subject. I also liked the tips on histograms and how to shoot for the highlights.

Chapter three covers color with topics like how to make white balance simple, color contrast, hot to shoot for black-and-white and more.

Chapter four is about technical details. Here, Michael Freeman explains how to best check for dust on your sensor, how to clean it or how to check if a picture is sharp. He also explains proper hand holding techniques. Many beginning and intermediate photographers may think they already know how to handhold a camera but I definitely learned something new here. Wrong hand holding technique probably leads to more out of focus pictures than anything else. Other tips are how to weather proof your camera or how to handle your camera in cold weather.

Chapter five covers composition. Composition is complex and easily a topic for a whole book alone. So in this chapter it is not possible to completely cover photographic position. But the author manages to explain many important points like how to look for rhythm or how to apply verticals or curves.

Chapter six is a rather specific chapter and it covers stitching. The author explains what possibilities are there for stitching and how to photograph a scene to get the most out of the stitching process. If you plan to do a lot of stitching, you will find great advice here. If you haven’t considered stitching an option so far, this chapter may give you some interesting new ideas.

Chapter seven explains how to use multiple shoots to get the best out of one picture, for example by blending exposures or using HDR technique to increase the dynamic range or to get rid of noise.

Chapter eight covers photography in low light and how to best deal with and avoid noise.

The last chapter covers some basic digital processing techniques. Of course this is not a complete Photoshop or Lightroom manual but has some great ideas in it.

I like the book and I although I already know many of the topics covered in the book, I nonetheless learned a lot and also got some new ideas for topics I thought I had already understood completely.
The images throughout the book are great for explaining the theory in the text and are always beautiful to look at. But Michael Freeman is not only a very skilled photographer but also a great writer. The text is always interesting to read and easy to follow.
I highly recommend this book to beginning and intermediate photographers and I think even professionals can find something interesting in the book.

Buy the book from amazon:
(The book has different coves in Europe and the US but it is the same book)

]]> 0 New Hybrid IS from Canon Wed, 22 Jul 2009 07:16:26 +0000 Markus Jais Canon has announced a new image stabilization (IS) system that can correct both angular camera shake and shift camera shake. The new system will be built into an upcoming lens that will be released before the end of 2009.
Click here to read the full press release from Canon.

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Video about the Nikon 200-400VR Lens by Moose Peterson Mon, 20 Jul 2009 08:58:44 +0000 Markus Jais Today I came across a very interesting video about the amazing Nikon 4/200-400 VR lens by famous wildlife photographer Moose Peterson.
Moose explains why he loves the lens so much and how best to use it either hand hold or on a tripod. He also explains how to use the VR in different situations.
If you are a Nikon shooter and just bought this lens or think about buying one, make sure to watch this video.
If you shoot with Canon (as I do) go to your phone and call Canon and tell them you want a Canon EF 4/200-400L IS!!!

Also check out the other videos Moose Peterson has on this website which are very interesting and cover different subjects like other lenses, cleaning your gear or how to get sharp images.

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Great interviews with Michael Reichmann and Alain Briot Sun, 12 Jul 2009 19:19:03 +0000 Markus Jais I’ve just come across two great interviews of two photographers I admire. One interview is with Michael Reichmann, creater of the wonder Luminous Landscape website, the other with Alain Briot ( Both inteviews are on Smibs TV. The interviews are about photography, art, business, the career of those two photographers and on how to live your dream.
Both interviews are very interesting and inspiring. I highly recommend watching them. Here are the links to the interviews:
Interview with Michael Reichmann
Interview with Alain Briot

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Nikon 2009/ 2010 DSLR Product Roadmap Leaked ? Fri, 10 Jul 2009 07:17:47 +0000 Markus Jais According to this link from the entire Nikon 2009/ 2010 DSLR Product Roadmap has leaked.

For me this sounds more like a wish list of a Nikon shooter but Nikon has put out a lot of great stuff during the last three years so maybe at least some of this may actually be true. I hope it is although I shoot Canon and have no plan to switch (just way too expensive). But new great stuff from Nikon will put even more pressure on Canon to produce great cameras. So far, in my opinion, Canon still doesn’t have a real competitor to the awesome Nikon D300 (the EOS 40D and 50D are no match for the D300 in many ways, for example AF).

What I didn’t find in the list is a really powerful telephoto zoom like a 4/200-500 VR or a 5.6/200-600 VR. I am sure many wildlife and sports photographers would love such a lens.

Canon will probably also announce new cameras soon. At least a successor to the EOS 1D Mark III should be out soon.
Interesting times!

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Canon Speedlite Wishlist Thu, 09 Jul 2009 10:11:07 +0000 Markus Jais I just read Syl Arena ’s Canon Speedlite Wishlist. It’s a very interesting and detailed list of things that could be improved in Canon’s Speedlite flash system.

I agree with many points there. One thing I would add is to build a makro flash like the Twin Lite MT-24EX without the annoying cables. The flash is a wonderful tool but the cables often get in the way. The Nikon system does work without cables.
As so often in the last years it took Nikon a few years longer to offer something similar as Canon but when they finally made it, they got it 100% right and in that case better than Canon.

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Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop, Camera Raw, and Lightroom, 2nd Edition coming soon Wed, 08 Jul 2009 08:24:33 +0000 Markus Jais The best book on sharpening will soon be published in a new edition covering all the latest aditions to Photoshop, Camera Raw and Lightroom. Lightroom coverage is very important for me as I use this program as much as possible before moving to Photoshop.

According to the publisher’s website for the book the publication date is August, 14th. I hope to get a copy soon after that and then I will publish a review on this website.

Preorder the book from, or
]]> 0 Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 reviews Mon, 29 Dec 2008 08:06:50 +0000 Markus Jais The Sony Alpha A900 has genereated a lot of interested since it’s introduction. A large full frame sensor and a competitive price make this an interesting camera.
In this post, I’ve collected a bunch of interesting and detailed reviews of the Sony A900. If you are not sure if you should by the camera, read those reviews and then you can make an informed decision.

Sony A900 review at

Sony A900 review at always has very good and detailed reviews. Definitely worth reading.

Sony A900 review at

Studio comparision of Sony A900, Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Nikon D3X

Noise comparision of Sony A900, Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Nikon D3X by Michael Reichmann

Sony A900 review by Michael Reichmann

Comparision of Sony A900, Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Nikon D700

My personal conclusion: The A900 seems to be a great camera. If you are a Sony user and want a full frame camera, the A900 offers great image quality (up to ISO 800) at a reasonable price.
If you are a Canon user, I wouldn’t switch. The 5D Mark II is another great camera at an even better price and Canon offers much more lenses and other tools than Sony does at the moment.

Nikon users who want more than 20 MP have to pay (at the time of this writing) a lot more than Canon and Sony users. The D3X is a better camera in many ways (but lacking video and sensor cleaning) but the much higher prices makes it unattractive for many photographers. Maybe Nikon will introduce a lower priced 24 MP DSLR in 2009.

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Sony A900 Field Review by Michael Reichmann Thu, 04 Dec 2008 09:02:43 +0000 Markus Jais Michael Reichmann has published a very detailed review of the new Sony A900.
If you are considering buying this camera or just want to now what Sony’s first full frame DSLR has to offer, this very good and detailed report makes a very interesting read.

More information:
Sony A900 Field Review by Michael Reichmann

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