Sunday, January 30, 2011

SK Grimes improves the Linhof Technikardan

A common complaint with the otherwise noteworthy Linhof Technikardan is the fact the the front and rear standards are “L” shaped and as such there can be a tendency for movement during long exposures or sagging when using heavy backs. As shown in the illustration below, the rear standard (as ingenious and well-engineered as it is) allows quite a bit of movement both forward/backward as well as up/down.

This of course is not a problem for most ordinary photographs where the exposure is measured in fractions of a second. However, this behavior is particularly troublesome when using a heavy scan back like the BetterLight which requires a rock-solid platform during its typical 3-7 minute exposures.

Rather than sell my beloved TK 45 for the likes of an Arca Swiss, I contacted S.K Grimes in Woonsocket RI to modify my camera so that it would be rock-solid, yet allow full control, and also be removable on those rare cases when I needed 100% movements.

Based on a design sketch I provided them, they worked diligently to improve my camera as shown in the photograph at left.

To test the mod, I took my camera with me on a trip to Ireland last year to see how it would behave when creating large-format, digital panoramas. It took some getting used to remembering to unscrew the RIGHT side of the rear standard, but after a few tries it became second nature to me. The mod performed flawlessly providing a very stable platform to shoot in the windy Irish weather.

The result is a camera that is as solid as ANY other field camera, yet offers complete movements and no downsides. To say I’m happy with the result is an understatement!

Shown at left is the camera with the support removed for those rare times when I require full movements. It takes nothing more than an allen wrench and about 1 minute to remove it.

All in all, a simple, elegant solution that I’ll bet the Linhof engineers wish they had thought of!

J Michael Sullivan

You can contact S.K Grimes at


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Nikon Predictions 2011-2012

My Predictions: Nikon DSLR Roadmap 2011-2012

I've been a long time Nikon user. Recently I rented a D7000 and it got me thinking as to where these guys are going. So herein are my predictions for Nikon over the next 18 months. Please note that all of these are merely guesses and in some cases reflect what I WISH Nikon would do with their forthcoming system. Enjoy!

PREDICTION #1: the D7000 will get a companion camera with the name of D9000. In spite of what all the other sites are saying, after using the D7000 I've come to the conclusion that the D9000 will be the true replacement for the D90, not the D7000. Or more to the point: this camera will represent the high-end offering from Nikon for the advanced amateur/prosumer. The D9000 will use the same sensor as the D7000 and the D400.

PREDICTION #2: the D400 and D800 will share the same body and offer identical features except for the sensor. Why would I make this prediction? My observation is that 80% of on-location and event photographers now use two bodies while on assignment. Further, the new sensor on the D7000 is the equal of the D700 which is universally accepted as the standard in quality for on-location and event work. Given the extra reach that the cropped APS-C format offers, having a full-frame and cropped-frame camera in your kit only makes sense. Especially if they use the same accessories and have the same features. Given that the D7000/D9000 will offer the same quality as the D400, why would pros not pick up the cheaper D7000 or D9000? Simple: compatibility with pro-accessories as well as using the same layout, features, and controls. I'll go ever further: I think this combination of D400 + D800 will be the new killer combination.

PREDICTION #3: in keeping with the above two predictions, the new D5100 will be the "brother" camera to the D3100, sharing accessories, features, button layout, as well as the 14Mp sensor of its brother, the D3100.

PREDICTION #4: The D4s will leapfrog Canon will and after high-end video. I'm not talking about HD video either, but rather HD+ video like the RED digital camera (see In keeping with Nikon's historic conservative nature, I'll bet that the D4s camera will "only" be 16Mp, but be able to capture 24fps full-res images (in video/live view mode)! How will they pull this off? They will drop CF card technology and go to SDXC technology with RAID. Yup, Nikon will (hopefully) put 4 SDXC card slots and offer various RAID 0-5 configurations.

PREDICTION #5: The D4x will be positioned as a direct competitor to medium format digital cameras from Leaf, Hasselblad, and Mamiya. Thus we are talking 32Mp. To compete, Nikon will need to add more extreme high-res lenses to their line-up. Additionally they will probably have to bite the bullet and offer a 17mm tilt/shift lens to respond to Canon's offering.

The following table shows a comparison of features I'm hoping to see from Nikon. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

My Predictions: Nikon DSLR Roadmap 2011-2012