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Mekanie Hoogvliet 04-2017

Wishlist

1953 Volkswagen,

Saanichton Fairgrounds Swap Meet,

Saanichton, B.C.

My automotive Photostream:

www.flickr.com/photos/organized_chrome/

Every 2 weeks at work they swap out the plants in the reception area... I sometimes get some of them... I brought this home last night... was taking macro shots (yeah shocker).. and lo and behold!!! I had this on the floor of my Jeep sideways... heat on it a little too and this little guy latched on the whoole way!!! HAPPY FRIDAY!

Friday

Entry One

 

Flew out of work, the fleet flight of Friday before a holiday weekend. Everyone cracks a smile upon stepping out of the concrete and glass coffin of the corporate work week. The motorcycle is quickly gassed and loaded, I leave Washington DC at three-thirty, vowing not to check the time for the rest of the adventure. Adventure, the American adventure of the open road is what I seek. The road, my cameras, and escape.

 

Right turn off of 15th St. NW and I’m motoring past the Washington Monument and the White House. Harleys and clones are already lining the Mall for the annual Memorial remembrance that is Rolling Thunder. I’m soon over the bridge and on I-66 west. I plan on avoiding major highways when at all possible. Preferring scenic byways to drab highways. 66 is a necessary evil to flee the DC metro area as quickly as possible. At the start, 66 is a good quick run, for awhile anyway. Loads of Rolling Thunder riders are heading in 66 eastbound.

 

I keep the ubiquitous two fingers down to the side salute to fellow bikers out for extended stretches of time. In my experience, HD guys return the acknowledgement about 30-40% of the time. No big deal, some animosity exist though between different bike cultures. Motor-ism two-wheel stereotypes. However with the Rolling Thunder guys there is a noticeable increase in response, perhaps due to no longer just one biker acknowledging another, but a patriotic sharing of support and remembrance for those left behind, POW-MIA.

 

Traffic worsens further out 66 and I come up on a full HD dresser. Screaming Eagle back patch worked in with POW-MIA covers his vest and is topped by a “Run for the Wall” patch. I keep back a pace and we adopt the natural offset positioning of multiple riders.

 

After some 66 backup, stop-and-go, we strike up a staccato conversation in the pauses of the traffic flow. Where you been, where you going, see the rain coming? I tell him I’m headed out to the mountains, Skyline Drive and West Virginia. He says he’s just in from there recently, was in DC for Rolling Thunder for the day and will be coming back in on Sunday again. His license plate is obscured by luggage, so I’m unsure of his port of origin.

 

Later on we part ways and my thoughts turn. Of my parents friends only my step-dad was drafted for Vietnam. Luckily, for us, he only went as far as Ft. Hood, TX, and came back with some good stories about army life and venturing into Mexico (at least the ones he’s shared with me). I think about all the life he’s lived since then, all his experiences and joys. Thinking about what all those who didn’t return gave up, lost, when they didn’t come home. The loss felt by those who loved them, families that have a name on the Wall.

 

Rain is sprinkling before Manassas. Enough to cool you off but not enough to get you worried yet, at least for a bit. Whooooo. Then come the big drops. I head off the ramp to gear up with the rain paraphernalia under the gas station pavilion. Finally get it all on and get strapped back up and out pops the sun and the rain stops. Too funny. Now I have wet clothes on under the raingear. Rain gear now keeping the wind out that would dry me. I motor on as more rain is promised on the horizon.

 

This brings up a point about rain. People always ask, “What do you do when it rains and your on the motorcycle”. I reply simply, “I get wet”. Duh. Rain riding has never bothered me. On the straight highways it’s no big deal. Just give more cushion to the cars in front of you. Drive like grandma on the exit ramps.

 

My turning point is finally reached. Off of 66 west and onto 647, Crest Hill Rd. at The Plains, VA. Crest Hill Road is my first slice of motorcycle heaven to be had this weekend. I’m delighted to find that the squiggly line I traced out on the map when planning this trip has translated so well in reality. The road is still wet from the passing rain clouds, and I give a small rabbit and then a chipmunk a near death experience. My first of many animal crossings this weekend. The road is fantastic. A mixture of hilltop road and tree lined canopies that create forest tunnels. Speed limit is 45mph, 55-60 feels comfortable on most parts. Keeping an eye out for a hilltop barn to photograph that I’ve seen in my minds eye, lit by the sun breaking through the clouds and backed by the mountain vista. No luck on any of the barns actual placement to fit the mental picture I have framed.

 

Crest Hill Road and Fodderstack Rd is a long stretch. I take shots of a church and other buildings along Zachary Taylor Highway. Fodderstack gives more of the same as Crest Hill, just a narrower road. The asphalt is of my favorite variety, freshly laid. Washington, VA is a tiny town of historic bed and breakfasts. Local wineries appear to be an attraction here too. Right after Washington the rain returns while I’m in route to Sperryville. Then it really starts to come down, a full on summer thunderstorm. Visibility is down. Road and parking lots soon resemble rivers. Rain drops of the monster variety explode on the pavement, and you know it hurts when they hit you.

 

I quick soaking circuit of Sperryville confirms there are no local hotels. I duck into a barn shaped restaurant to wait it out. My drenched gear takes on bar stool and I occupy another. There’s a few flying pigs about. The bartender get me a hefeweizen, and recommends the angus burger. Locally raised and grass fed, we exchange jokes about my passing the burgers relatives on the way in.

 

Don’t freak about the beer. I have a one only rule when riding. It was followed by a meal (best burger of the weekend!), several coffees, and this bar top journal entry.

 

Somewhere along Crest Hill road I decided to keep the cell off for the weekend. In addition no tv, newspapers, internet, or e-mail sound like a good idea. Of course I now am studiously avoid eye contact with the two beautiful plasma’s above the bar.

 

Entry Two

 

Hazel River Inn, Culpepper, VA, has the coolest street side seating in town.

 

The downpour let up at the Shady Farms bar in Sperryville and due to the deficiency in local lodging I quiz the bartender for options. Over the other side of the mountain, the opposite side of Skyline Dr via 211 is Luray with lots of motels, but I want to save the mountain for the morning. The waitress suggest Culpepper, there being a Holiday Inn etc.

 

Stepping outside the sun has broke through the clouds again. Enough for some shots of Shady Farms Restaurant and a bridge. Heading down 522, the Sperryville Pike, I keep an eye out for photo ops to catch the next morning as I’ll be rerouting back through. Following the mantra of Dale Borgeson about tour riding in the US, I aim to avoid large chain establishments, whether they are restaurants or hotels, and explore the mom-and-pop local variety businesses. I have a dive-ish roadside motel in mind, Culpepper comes through with the Sleepy Hollow Hotel.

 

Before check in I ride through downtown historic Culpepper. It’s a cool place. The Shady Farm bartender had recommended the Culpepper Thai restaurant. I see it but don’t visit, still full from the meal earlier. Cameron Street Coffee looks like a great place, located in an old warehouse. Unfortunately their closed for the night.

 

Shower and changed, room 102 at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel. I hop back on the bike, refreshed and dry and ride through the warm night air back downtown. The coffee at the Hazel River Inn comes with a sweet fudge confection on the side. The peach and blackberry cobbler with vanilla sauce is divine.

 

The reconfigured plan for this getaway is to shed. Shed worries about the job, career, housing, and relationships. My motorcycle is therapeutic. It’s 600cc’s of Zoloft on two wheels. The road lifts my spirits. This wasn’t supposed to be a solo run, and there are stretches of road where I feel the emptiness behind me.

 

The cobbler is finished and I can hear the sound of a band doing their sound check. The banging of the drum requires investigation.

 

Entry Three

 

I found Brown Bag Special in the cellar pub of the same restaurant I was in. On my way to the door the noise of the sound check floated up the stairs and directed my feet downward. Brown Bag Special opened the set, appropriately enough, with “I drink alone”. The ol’ man, Big Money, would have loved it. Drink alone started off a Big Money Blues trifecta to include “The Breeze” and “Mustang Sally”. Then they made the mistake a lot of bands make that have a great lead guitar player. They let him sing. The lead guitarist karaoke sucked his way through a Tom Petty hit. He was so off key in his singing it made you appreciate the guitar solo’s all the more for the relief they provided. Thankfully the regular singer soon resumed his duties and the night went on. More good stuff from the band.

 

Freebird

Folsom Prison Blues

Cheap Sun Glasses

 

“can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, what she’s done to me”

 

Off to bed now at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel with the ghost and shades of dead hookers and overdoses past.

 

150 miles today.

  

Saturday

 

Entry Four

 

Morning breaks on the Sleepy Hollow Hotel, a hot shower and I’m back on the bike. A quick stop downtown to shoot the Hazel Inn, then it’s back on the Sperryville Pike. More stops to capture some sights seen yesterday. Mr. & Mrs. Pump. The open mouth caricatures are an accurate representation of the current gas cost and the pumps eating your wallet.

 

I keep telling my daughter that her first car, college car, will be a hybrid. She thinks they are ugly. The bike isn’t so bad, averaging around 40mpg. At about 180 miles on the tripometer I start to look for a refill, although I’ve pushed it to 211 miles before.

 

A quick left in Sperryville on 211 and up into the mountain, Blue Ridge Mountains and Skyline Drive. Heading up the mountain I get the first bite of the twisties I’ve been craving. The $10 fee at the gate to Skyline Drive is well worth the price. Great scenery and fantastic views. The only drawback is the 35mph speed limit that is well enforced by the park rangers.

 

I shoot some self-portraits at Pollock Knob overlook. They’re funny in that with all the scrambling and hurrying to be the camera timer, then trying to effect a relaxed pose. I’ve also broke out my old friend this trip, the Lubitel 166, a medium format, 120mm film, twin lens camera. I’m like Jay-Z with this camera, I have to get it in one take. There is no digital review after the click for instant gratification. As a fellow photographer it’s “Point, Push, and Pray”. I’ll be interested to see the results. Not that I’ve left digital behind. Carrying both cameras, I’m an analog/digital double threat.

 

After the self-portraits and some dead tree shots I’m about to pack back on the bike and leave when I meet the preacher and his wife. He offers to shoot me with my camera and I return the favor with theirs. Conversation flows and in a ‘small world’ moment it turns out that he works for same Hazel family that owns the restaurant I was at last night for his Monday thru Friday job. I get a friendly “God bless” and I’m heading south on Skyline Drive. I make several more stops and break out the cameras again at Big Meadow.

 

There is a gnarly dead tree in the middle of the meadow. It has burn damage at the base, either the result of some wild fire or perhaps a controlled burn done to maintain the field. I spot and shoot a few deer, they probably won’t turn out as they’re to far away for my lens on the D100. I shoot a bunch of shots of the tree with the D100 and then totally switch processes with the Lubitel. The picture setup with the Lubitel takes about a minute-and-a-half. Manual zoom, i.e., walking back and forth to get the framing I want. Light meter reading. Then dealing with the reversed optics of the look-down box camera. It is fun though, to switch it up, change the pace and the dynamics. Just one click though, hope I caught it.

 

It’s a long but enjoyable ride to the south end of Skyline Drive. Unless you really like slow cruising I would suggest picking which third of Skyline Drive you’d like include in your trip and leave the rest. I drop off the mountain and into Waynesboro. Finding Mad Anthony’s coffee shop for a late breakfast. I overhear that it’s around noon. The Italian Roast coffee is good, in fact, it would prove to be the best coffee of the trip.

 

One of the pleasures of traveling by motorcycle is that it’s an easy conversation starter. People ask you where your coming from, where you’re heading, ask about your bike, tell you’re about their bike or the one they wish they had. One of the peculiarities of these conversations is that if the person even remotely knows of anyone that has died on a motorcycle, they will be sure to share this fact along with details. These stories usually involve a deer, a car pulling out, or someone taking a corner to fast. The conversation goes something like this:

 

Stranger“nice bike”

You“thanks”

Stranger“my cousin Bob had a friend that hit a deer and died on his bike”

 

Short silence.

 

You“yeah, deer are dangerous, got to be careful”

 

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve held variations on this conversation many times. Luckily this isn’t the conversation I have with the owner of Mad Anthony’s. He’s a former sailboat instructor who now finds the same release and head clearing on his motorcycle that he used to get from his sailboat.

 

This brings to mind the same wave – don’t way dynamic that occurs between sail boaters and power boaters, very similar to the sportbike & HD crowd.

 

The proprietor is a coffee guru, we discuss roasting (my Italian roast was just roasted Wednesday this week). We talk about the good and the evil of Starbucks. We’re both in agreement that they over roast their regular coffee, but I think their foo foo drinks are tasty. He has in his shop both the Bodum press and the Bodum vacuum coffee pot that I got my mom for x-mas. A shameless plug here, the Bodum vacuum coffee pot makes the best home coffee ever. It’s also an entertaining crowd pleaser, no joke.

 

Leaving Waynesboro the plan was 340 northward to 33, then into Harrisonburg, VA (home of the Valley Mall and JMU). 340 proved to be boring so I jumped on 256, Port Republic Road, for a better ride to Harrisonburg. I don’t know if the coffee wore off or if I was just worn out. I pull over at Westover Park, pick out a spot of grass, and take a good nap in the sun.

 

I had my motorcycle bug handed down to me by my step-dad. My kindergarten year of school we moved right at the end of the school year. Rather than switch schools at this inopportune time my Dad stuck me on the back of his Honda and rode me to school and back again for the last month or two. Even earlier than that I have a great photo of me in 1973-4 sitting on his chopper with him. Me in a diaper and him with his long hippy hair. The wild side of the Reverend indeed.

 

Refreshed from my nap it’s back on 33 westbound. Heading out of the Shenandoah Valley and Rockingham County is more glorious twisty roads and the George Washington National Forest. GW is a beautiful tree canopy lined road with a river off to one side. Franklin, WV is the destination, a return to the Star Hotel.

 

I stayed at the Star a few years prior when they first re-opened the historic Star Hotel. The owner, Steve Miller, is a great guy, friendly and conversational. I told him I’d be back again, but it’s been a few more years than I thought. Late lunch at the Star is pesto grilled chicken on ciabatta bread with roasted red peppers. Not the type of fare one might associate with West Virginia, but people have misperceptions about everywhere. Steve promises a prime rib later at dinner tonight to die for.

 

So that there is no misunderstanding, in as much as the Sleepy Hollow Hotel was a dive, the Star Hotel is a dream.

 

Dump the gear in the room back on the bike for some roaming around. I head back to explore a river road I passed on the way in, Rock Gap. It’s a gravel affair and I follow it back a little ways. Photo some river shots. Down further there is a large cliff face with some college aged kids de-gearing after a day of climbing. I’ll try to stop back in tomorrow and shoot some climbing action, as well as some fly fishing.

 

I pick up a bottle of Barefoot Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, and drop it off with Steve at the Star to keep for later. I’ll enjoy that bottle later tonight from the 3rd floor front porch. South out of town I head, into some very secondary roads. I shoot an old decrepit cabin that would be right up Bobby Sargent’s alley. I put it in the metal folder for a possible future model shoot location, along with the river spots I’ve seen.

 

There are a couple more stops on this little ride. Once for what appears to be a feral chicken, and then for middle of the road stare down with a young doe. She’s camera shy though and is off before I can get a shot. Sportbike probably isn’t the best conveyance for nature photography. The pavement stops and gravel begins, I motor on. Rick & I once spent a full day just about on gravel roads, crisscrossing the back country around Cumberland, MD. So I’m comfortable with the less than ideal riding surface. A few miles on the road dead ends at a pair of chicken houses (source of the feral chicken’s ancestors perhaps?) and I turn around and survey the valley I’ve just ridden through. I have to stop the bike and soak in the scene. A picturesque farm is nestled in the corner of the valley, up against the hills. I meet some inquisitive cows, along with the farmer and his wife.

 

It seems that when you are in WV and you pass a sign that says “snow removal ends here” that the already suspect road conditions are going to quickly deteriorate and will soon resemble somewhat more of a logging road. I motor on through some back country, no houses, no farms, just mountains, steep roadside cliffs, and wicked gravel switchback curves. The part that gives you the willies are the downhill corners where the road grade is slanted to the outside of the curve and to the drop below. Yikes!

 

I creep along where a four wheeler would be much more functional. Although I still hit it a bit in the straights. Pavement arrives again and I’m unsure of my exact location. I follow the chicken farmers directions and soon discover myself back in Brandywine, intersecting the same stretch of 33 I rode on my way into Franklin.

 

Back at the Star Hotel it’s a shower and fresh clothes before heading down for dinner. Downstairs I find the prime rib to be as good as promised.

 

Entry Five

 

How beautifully staged is this. Barefoot on the 3rd floor patio, wine to ease the back and the ache in the knee.

 

205 miles today, the last 30 after check in, just to explore.

  

Sunday

 

Entry Six

 

Out early in the morning. I find no climbers at Rock Gap, unsure of the hours they keep. Out of Franklin on 33 west, looking for another squiggly line I had seen on a map. Bland Hill Road name is a misnomer. A single lane country road winding through German Valley. I got a few shots of German Valley from the 33 overlook before turning on Bland Hill. Now I find myself in the same location I had shot from above.

 

The road cuts through some open pasture land and I meet some cows standing in the road after rounding one bend. They’re pleasant enough, if in no particular hurry to cross, and don’t mind posing for a shot or two before meandering on. People talk about the danger of hitting a deer, a cow would really ruin your day! Off of Bland Hill and on down into the valley. I come up on the rock formation I had seen from the overlook previously. It’s not Seneca Rocks, but a formation of the same ilk. I get some more photos, then onto German Valley Road. I’m still staying at the Star, there is no real destination today. It’s relaxing to stop as much as I like.

 

German Valley Road puts me back on 33 west and not long after I’m ordering breakfast at the Valley View Restaurant. Dale Borgeson warns of places that advertise home cooking, but that’s about all you see in these parts. There are a fair number of cars here and that’s usually a good since the food will be alright. Hell, even the Army could make a good breakfast. It all works out and it’s a hell of a deal, $4 for toast, two eggs, hash browns, bacon, and coffee.

 

From 33 I hit 28 and turn off on Smoke Hole Road, just because it’s there and looks interesting. Boy, what a find it is. Combining the curvy one lane country road with nice wide smooth pavement (gravel free in the corners). It’s great. Smoke Hole Road turns out to run from 28 across the Seneca Rocks National Forest to 220 on the other side. Going west-to-east it starts out all curves and hills, then ends by winding along the south branch of the Potomac. There are lots of fly fishermen here enjoying the catch-and-release section of the river.

 

Up 220 to Petersburg, I run into some Ducati guys at the gas station. We swap riding info and I’m soon on 42 north towards Mayville. Hanging a left when I see a sign for Dolly Sods. I’m back on secondary roads and I soon pass another prophetic ‘no snow removal’ signs. It’s gravel the rest of the way up the mountain til it breaks out on top at Dolly Sod.

 

I’m real happy with today’s roads, as both Smoke Hole Road and Dolly Sods were unplanned ‘discovered adventures’. I do some rock scrabbling at Dolly Sod and enjoy the cliff top views. A fellow tourist snaps a shot for me an I hike out well past the distance that the casual tourist and families go. Shot some more shots of the rock formations with both the digital and film camera. Do some more self-portraits. I then sit down to relax in the sun with the cliff side breeze steadily blowing and update this journal.

  

Entry Seven

 

Well, fellow traveler, if you’ve made it this far I am duly impressed. I thank you for your perseverance. The rest of the day was spent riding without incident. Just more fantastic roads. You don’t have to be an explore on par with Lewis & Clark to find great rides in West Virginia. Just be curious in nature and unafraid to leave the beaten path. Drop off the numbered roads and take the route less traveled. Soon you’ll be in your own undiscovered country. Blah blah blah.

 

Out of Dolly Sod and I find myself on 32. Rough calculations put the dirt road travel around 25 miles for the day. While we are on stats, here’s today’s animal road count:

 

1 rooster

1 dead fox

2 cows

8 chipmunks

7 alive

1 dead

3 dead possums

1 squirrel

1 dead blob (undistinguishable)

No fearsome deer

1 dog

 

I guided myself today by a rather non-descript map put out by mountainhighlands.com

 

Leaving Dolly Sod on 32 puts me in Dry Fork and back on familiar 33 west to Elkins. I cruise around Elkins on the off chance I’ll run into a guy I know named Dallas. Now all you need to know about Dallas is the following:

 

I don’t know his last name

I once gave him a hair cut with dog grooming clippers

I know he works at a bike shop making choppers

 

You figure the odds of me finding him, near zero.

 

If your curious it wasn’t the first time I cut hair, albeit the first time using dog shears. In Korea I cut in the latrine for $2 a cut or for a 6 pack. Everything was barter in the Army. We had a cook that would make you a great custom birthday cake for a case of beer or feed you food out of the back of the chow hall at 3am when you staggered in drunk from the ville for the promise of a future round to be bought. Korea stories could fill another journal.

 

Anyway, out of Elkins and south to Beverly. Scott, if your reading this you were on my mind as I went through town, never forgive, never forget.

 

So far I’ve only tried to write about the positive food experiences of the trip without throwing anyplace under the bus. C&J in Beverly however, served only barely functional burgers and the vanilla shake was of the worst chemical prefab variety. There are some things that I am stuck on, good vanilla ice cream is one. The others that I’m picky about are beer, whiskey, steak, cheese-steak, and coffee. It’s just so disappointing when something you usually enjoy turns out to be sub par.

 

After C&J it’s 250 east to 28, which heads back towards Seneca Rocks and Franklin. It’s a good haul through the Monongahela National Forest. A road of the scenic variety, with good twisties up the mountain and through the scenery. These type road have become quite a common occurrence here in WV. Back in Seneca Rocks and 33 east into Franklin. I never shoot Seneca Rocks, the light is never right, number one can tell you how I get about my light.

 

The Star’s restaurant is closed on Sunday, dagger, so I shower and head into Franklin by foot. About Franklin, WV. It’s a nice little town, quiet and sleepy. No bars other than the VFW that I could see. Everybody I’ve met and spoken too has be pleasant, friendly and conversational, both here in Franklin and elsewhere in WV. I’m sure there are a variety of characters much as anywhere, this is just my observation from the tourist level.

 

Following last night precedent I grab another vino from the Shell station. The Star being closed is a dilemma; I’m in need of a cork screw (having borrowed the restaurants the night before). I wander back down to the hotel, wine in hand, and past the hotel just a bit til I meet an old man sitting out front. I explain my situation, wine without access, and he says he’ll sell me a corkscrew. He goes in the house, shortly to return with the necessary implement in hand. I figure I have it for $3-4 or maybe rent it for a one time use for $1. That proves unnecessary however, he says just to take it, and keep it for any future need.

 

The sole booking for the hotel tonight, I’m like a wraith as I glide through the halls. On the front porch with my bottle of vino in hand. I have some cheap cigars I also picked up and there’s nothing to do but kick back and watch the sunset.

 

It’s been a great trip. Somewhat lonesome at times. The lack of someone to talk to surely let to the length of this journal. It was a trip to getaway, to reflect. There was no great revelation or anything, just time to get to know yourself. The road gives you time to think. I know who I am and I like being me. I know what’s missing.

 

I’m resolved to take more bike trips in the future. It’s definitely my preferred way to travel and vacation. Motorcycling is the way to go.

 

Tomorrow I have my route generally planned out, more scenic byways for a winding route home.

 

Miles today, 240.

 

Monday

 

Entry Seven

 

Just a short postscript. 20 miles east of Washington DC, on 66, the chain popped off the bike. It’s never easy.

           

i hope these sing to ya!! now to pick the surrounding hexie color??? thoughts???

 

blogged

alamodefabric.blogspot.com/

The coming death of Nikon 22

Is it really already too late for Nikon?

Recently, there was a long lasting thread on this issue at NR site that seemed to be started with Thom Hogan's article called,"Thom Hogan explains why Nikon’s late entry to the mirrorless market could actually be a good thing".

Well it is a real complicated issue. I do not think it is a good thing, but the question is: is it really too late for Nikon to enter into so-called mirrorless market?

It is quite obvious while there is not even one good future-proven mirrorless mount system existing yet, most of these systems are now coming to almost the point we can call it state of maturity with lots of lenses and many third party flash systems, or at least nearing to it.

And it seems like the later they enter into the serious mirrorless market, the higher the hurdle bar raised up. The longer they wait to get into the market , the more demanding the minimam set of features and requirements for their first mirrorelss camera will become, and they must do it right at the very first try.

That said, they already try out the water with the Nikon One, and in fact, despite of extreme negative view of the series you read in many forums just because the Nikon One series has had a tiny sensor, it was actually very advanced system already from the very first Nikon One V1(of couse besides the sensor). At least the AF and video feature set were quite good for the time, and maybe the AF is still one of the very best in the mirrorless world.

Therefore, they do not need to change the direction dramatically, nor do they need totally new tech to actually make a decent big sensor mirrorless system from scratch: I mean they just need to swap the One sensor to FF or APS-C and improve the video part of it to the current level of the Panasonic , then it is already one of the best mirrorless out there.

If they can make it completely sealed and not just water resistant or weather selaed but water proof like the Nikon One AW1but with a big sensor and decent 4k, then it already is a quite sensational camera release.

And many of us (at least those who are in this industry here in Japan) already know that Nikon has produced a few (at least 4) FX mirrorless prototypes and one of which almost made it to the actual shop shelves, but Nikon suddenly canceled it just a few days before the original announcement day they planned for it. And many of us speculated it was because of the A7R2 announcement.........so I am sure it was originally planned for June or July 2015 but canceled out or postponed.

At the time, we all thought they should have actually released it even though it was not up to the level of the Sony A7R2. Then they would have been able to improve it from there on with many many experiments.

But now it seems like they must do it right at the very first try according to many mirrorless biased rumor sites. However, is it really as difficult as those rumor sites think it is for Nikon to beat the all existing mirrorelss systems?

Let's examin it here carefully:

1> the Sony E mount system......is it already considered to be a quite complete system? is its position already consolidated in Sony's long term business plan?

and is it really an intuitive system for photographers and videographers?

I think it is already a good system, but still far from what we call a complete system.

Why? cause there are no tilt and shift lenses, there are no weather sealed bodies, there are no powerful enough big bodies that comfortably take a big super tele prime, etc.

But for most of normal use cases, it is already at least as good or near as good as the state of the art best D-SLRs.

Well it is not close to the state of maturity as a whole system, as of this time of writing this just yet, but I think it is nearing to the point with about 32 lenses already released for this system and full Godox flash support and full Capture One and DXO support for it, and in case of C1 Sony users can download it for just 50 bucks, and we must admit that it is a big sales point for the A7X and the A6XXX series.

Then is it really intuitive ? Not yet, but it is getting better each iteration and Sony seems to be seriously committed to FW updates. Now both my A7R2 and A7M2 are on FW V4.0...and none of my Nikon got more than 3 FW updates.......to get as far as to FW4.0...

Nikon and Canon guys always trash Sony for its complete lack of user support or after sales support for its own cameras........but the reality is Sony has been one of the most user freindly and user supporting camera manufactures. Sony has already issued 5 major FW updates for the A7X2 series and each of these was really a huge update, not just fixing bugs but added many features that did not originally existed.

Nikon and Canon have never done this. So while I have to admit the current Sony A7x system is not as intuitive as it should be, I am sure it will slowly get there since Sony seems to have been seriusly committed to this system. But it takes a bit of time, and I think it will be more than a few more iterations, that means it will probably need about a several years at least to get the state of maturity.

So Nikon seems to still have some time to get it all right.....

2> m43...........first of all, I do not consider this system is a serious system for stills or hybrid work now, I used to think it as a such system, though.

I mean compare the file quality of it to a decent FF or even to a decent APS-C system like the X-T20 or the A6300, or anything better. The m43 IQ is really sad, pathetic......although I really want to love it since I love it for video work and I like the concept of the system: it is small as a whole system, it is fast and very intuitive(especially Panasonic ones), it has incredible lowlight AF, it shoots great video, it has incredible stabilization system, it has very effective self sensor cleaning system, etc...with m43 I never need to worry about sensor dust issue and for me it is a huge plus.

But the 43 sensor at the current level of tech is simply not acceptable for any serious stills work, IMHO. The high ISO output quality is terrible, the blue gain noise seems really bad...the color depth is so poor and therefore the files out of any m43 camera including the best ones like GH5 and EM1MK2 cannot be really malleable at all, it cannot take much software manipulation, and therefore it is useless for stills.

There is a rumor that Olympus will come out with a new big 43 sensor format system.

If it is true, I am very happy and I think it might be my dream system, but I doubt it actually materialized.

So I think here again, Nikon seems to still have some time, or I have to be more honest the m43 is an irrelevent system for many of us who actually enlarge our images to over A2 size or larger.

To me it is an irrelevant system at least for stills. I am using it for video but I think I will replace it with the A7SMK2 since I shoot video in extreme lowlight most of times.

3> Fuji X........still not even close to the state of maturity yet, simply there are too many missing lenses such as macros , TS, super wide primes, etc.

But just like Sony, Fuji has been really seriously committed to this system and I am sure they will get there eventually, but just takes a bit of time, I am guessing it maybe at least a couple of iterations more, and so roughly, in 4 -5 years.

So here it goes again Nikon seems to still have some times to build a nice system to compete with the rest.

4> Fuji GFX, well it is not a mainstream budget system, many of those who have growing boys and girls cannot afford........plus it has just a several or so lenses.

And I think it is not in the same market as Nikon is trying to get into......although I think this system will succeed since Fuji seems to has been really committed to this system...and they have the needed resources to get it going.

5> Canon M, well it also has only 5 or 6 naive lens selections, and so it is totally irrelevant to most of us who do not own any Canon lenses or dislike the adapter concept.

Plus, no one knows Canon is really committed to this system, if Canon really is, then why is Canon not designing a set of serious L class lenses for this system?

 

So maybe Hogan is right this time Nikon seems to still have some time left for themselves, but like even Hogan admits, Nikon must do it right at the very first try next time with at least the same level of AF, EVF and metering system as the A9 or be better.

I think the more important question here is: what mount should they choose?

Continue on the F mount? As many of Hogan followers have suggested or seem to have supported......or they need a completely new mount?

I think if they choose the easier F mount route that means that is the end of Nikon as a camera manufacture. Choosing the F mount for the next generation camera system is a fatal mistake and I am sure Nikon knows it. That is why we have been getting so many E type of lenses from them recently......only the E and P type of lenses are usable for video or LV work without too many usability related issues.

And the all new E type lenses they've released in the last 2 or 3 years are amazing, if not simply outstanding.

Anyway, many many Sony, Fuji, and Canon fanboys underrate Nikon LV technology just because the current F mount system has terrible LV and video mode. I was one of them but I realized that it is not because Nikon has no tech in this area or Nikon has intentionally crippling their D-SLRs for video or LV use, but the F mount and its mechnical aperture control system is the real issue here. That is why, Nikon must design a new mount that takes full advantage of fully electronic mount design and also release a fully F mount compatible mount adapter.

But even then, they can just re-use the E type lenses, they must ditch the G type and the other older D and AF lenses for the better future compatibility to fully electro-magnetic mount control system of their new mirrorless mount......

And they must design their future mount with a bit wider than the EF mount throat design to take full advantage of the 35mm sensor, if they can do this then their mirrrorless system will be the best IQ system in the 35mm format camera class..

I think Sony's only one major mistake was having re-used physically squeezingly narror E mount for their FF E mount system, e.g., the FE system........the E mount is obviously a bit too narrow for a 35mm format sensor, the amount of shadow cast we get from a lenses like the 16-35mm f4, the 24-70mm f4, the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5, Samyang 14mm f2.8AF, and Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8 shows it clearly and it is an undeniable fact.

 

Many many current form of mirrorless fanboys online cliam Nikon has not technology to develop super fast mirrorless AF off the sensor, but is this really true?

No. They have already shown they can do it with the Nikon One.

Many Fuji and Sony fanboys do not realize why Sony and Fuji both suddenly got fast AF tech in their mirrorless, but it is actually from one of many Aptina patents that was originally co-developed with Nikon. Now Sony has been accepted to cross license most of their patents with Aptina(actually their parent company On Semi) and as a result Sony and Fuji've suddenly got the fast OSPDAF in their own cameras. But it was the Nikon One that got it first, way before Sony and Fuji.

So I think it is not too late for Nikon to enter into FF mirrorless market, but they must need a new lens mount.

Then do I sell my Sony to get the new hypothetical Nikon ?

No. I do not sell my A7R, A7R2 , A7MK2 and A6500, but I may add the Nikon in addition if it is really good with new wide FF optimized mount.

That said, I am no longer a gearhead, that means I do not collect cameras that I do not need, I focus on my priorities and ROI. So the cheapest body that can handle all my odd needs the most practical and cost effective solution, and thus it is the best camera out there for me. And it seems like the original A7R is that camera for me.

I do not need high frame rate, I do not need 4k in my stills camera(I own dedicated 4k cameras already), I do not need IBIS(it is actually a minus for me as it increases heat noise significantly). I also prefer the cheap A7R body over anything heavier than it since I already know it can take a lot of abuse after I have used it for 4 years or so.

I wish the next A7R would be smaller without all unneeded gimmicks such as IBIS, 8k(useless considering the current strange tech and internet speed),high frame rate(who wants it in a high resolution camera, that is completely beyond me), fast action AF(the A7R series was originally a slow camera and no need action AF), 650 AF points(who needs it? for me one point AF is fine if it is accurate).

In any case as I said it many times all digital cameras or products are a racket, and no need to get emotional about any of those digital toys(or tools).

  

The coming death of Nikon 22

Is it really already too late for Nikon?

Recently, there was a long lasting thread on this issue at NR site that seemed to be started with Thom Hogan's article called,"Thom Hogan explains why Nikon’s late entry to the mirrorless market could actually be a good thing".

Well it is a real complicated issue. I do not think it is a good thing, but the question is: is it really too late for Nikon to enter into so-called mirrorless market?

It is quite obvious while there is not even one good future-proven mirrorless mount system existing yet, most of these systems are now coming to almost the point we can call it state of maturity with lots of lenses and many third party flash systems, or at least nearing to it.

And it seems like the later they enter into the serious mirrorless market, the higher the hurdle bar raised up. The longer they wait to get into the market , the more demanding the minimam set of features and requirements for their first mirrorelss camera will become, and they must do it right at the very first try.

That said, they already try out the water with the Nikon One, and in fact, despite of extreme negative view of the series you read in many forums just because the Nikon One series has had a tiny sensor, it was actually very advanced system already from the very first Nikon One V1(of couse besides the sensor). At least the AF and video feature set were quite good for the time, and maybe the AF is still one of the very best in the mirrorless world.

Therefore, they do not need to change the direction dramatically, nor do they need totally new tech to actually make a decent big sensor mirrorless system from scratch: I mean they just need to swap the One sensor to FF or APS-C and improve the video part of it to the current level of the Panasonic , then it is already one of the best mirrorless out there.

If they can make it completely sealed and not just water resistant or weather selaed but water proof like the Nikon One AW1but with a big sensor and decent 4k, then it already is a quite sensational camera release.

And many of us (at least those who are in this industry here in Japan) already know that Nikon has produced a few (at least 4) FX mirrorless prototypes and one of which almost made it to the actual shop shelves, but Nikon suddenly canceled it just a few days before the original announcement day they planned for it. And many of us speculated it was because of the A7R2 announcement.........so I am sure it was originally planned for June or July 2015 but canceled out or postponed.

At the time, we all thought they should have actually released it even though it was not up to the level of the Sony A7R2. Then they would have been able to improve it from there on with many many experiments.

But now it seems like they must do it right at the very first try according to many mirrorless biased rumor sites. However, is it really as difficult as those rumor sites think it is for Nikon to beat the all existing mirrorelss systems?

Let's examin it here carefully:

1> the Sony E mount system......is it already considered to be a quite complete system? is its position already consolidated in Sony's long term business plan?

and is it really an intuitive system for photographers and videographers?

I think it is already a good system, but still far from what we call a complete system.

Why? cause there are no tilt and shift lenses, there are no weather sealed bodies, there are no powerful enough big bodies that comfortably take a big super tele prime, etc.

But for most of normal use cases, it is already at least as good or near as good as the state of the art best D-SLRs.

Well it is not close to the state of maturity as a whole system, as of this time of writing this just yet, but I think it is nearing to the point with about 32 lenses already released for this system and full Godox flash support and full Capture One and DXO support for it, and in case of C1 Sony users can download it for just 50 bucks, and we must admit that it is a big sales point for the A7X and the A6XXX series.

Then is it really intuitive ? Not yet, but it is getting better each iteration and Sony seems to be seriously committed to FW updates. Now both my A7R2 and A7M2 are on FW V4.0...and none of my Nikon got more than 3 FW updates.......to get as far as to FW4.0...

Nikon and Canon guys always trash Sony for its complete lack of user support or after sales support for its own cameras........but the reality is Sony has been one of the most user freindly and user supporting camera manufactures. Sony has already issued 5 major FW updates for the A7X2 series and each of these was really a huge update, not just fixing bugs but added many features that did not originally existed.

Nikon and Canon have never done this. So while I have to admit the current Sony A7x system is not as intuitive as it should be, I am sure it will slowly get there since Sony seems to have been seriusly committed to this system. But it takes a bit of time, and I think it will be more than a few more iterations, that means it will probably need about a several years at least to get the state of maturity.

So Nikon seems to still have some time to get it all right.....

2> m43...........first of all, I do not consider this system is a serious system for stills or hybrid work now, I used to think it as a such system, though.

I mean compare the file quality of it to a decent FF or even to a decent APS-C system like the X-T20 or the A6300, or anything better. The m43 IQ is really sad, pathetic......although I really want to love it since I love it for video work and I like the concept of the system: it is small as a whole system, it is fast and very intuitive(especially Panasonic ones), it has incredible lowlight AF, it shoots great video, it has incredible stabilization system, it has very effective self sensor cleaning system, etc...with m43 I never need to worry about sensor dust issue and for me it is a huge plus.

But the 43 sensor at the current level of tech is simply not acceptable for any serious stills work, IMHO. The high ISO output quality is terrible, the blue gain noise seems really bad...the color depth is so poor and therefore the files out of any m43 camera including the best ones like GH5 and EM1MK2 cannot be really malleable at all, it cannot take much software manipulation, and therefore it is useless for stills.

There is a rumor that Olympus will come out with a new big 43 sensor format system.

If it is true, I am very happy and I think it might be my dream system, but I doubt it actually materialized.

So I think here again, Nikon seems to still have some time, or I have to be more honest the m43 is an irrelevent system for many of us who actually enlarge our images to over A2 size or larger.

To me it is an irrelevant system at least for stills. I am using it for video but I think I will replace it with the A7SMK2 since I shoot video in extreme lowlight most of times.

3> Fuji X........still not even close to the state of maturity yet, simply there are too many missing lenses such as macros , TS, super wide primes, etc.

But just like Sony, Fuji has been really seriously committed to this system and I am sure they will get there eventually, but just takes a bit of time, I am guessing it maybe at least a couple of iterations more, and so roughly, in 4 -5 years.

So here it goes again Nikon seems to still have some times to build a nice system to compete with the rest.

4> Fuji GFX, well it is not a mainstream budget system, many of those who have growing boys and girls cannot afford........plus it has just a several or so lenses.

And I think it is not in the same market as Nikon is trying to get into......although I think this system will succeed since Fuji seems to has been really committed to this system...and they have the needed resources to get it going.

5> Canon M, well it also has only 5 or 6 naive lens selections, and so it is totally irrelevant to most of us who do not own any Canon lenses or dislike the adapter concept.

Plus, no one knows Canon is really committed to this system, if Canon really is, then why is Canon not designing a set of serious L class lenses for this system?

 

So maybe Hogan is right this time Nikon seems to still have some time left for themselves, but like even Hogan admits, Nikon must do it right at the very first try next time with at least the same level of AF, EVF and metering system as the A9 or be better.

I think the more important question here is: what mount should they choose?

Continue on the F mount? As many of Hogan followers have suggested or seem to have supported......or they need a completely new mount?

I think if they choose the easier F mount route that means that is the end of Nikon as a camera manufacture. Choosing the F mount for the next generation camera system is a fatal mistake and I am sure Nikon knows it. That is why we have been getting so many E type of lenses from them recently......only the E and P type of lenses are usable for video or LV work without too many usability related issues.

And the all new E type lenses they've released in the last 2 or 3 years are amazing, if not simply outstanding.

Anyway, many many Sony, Fuji, and Canon fanboys underrate Nikon LV technology just because the current F mount system has terrible LV and video mode. I was one of them but I realized that it is not because Nikon has no tech in this area or Nikon has intentionally crippling their D-SLRs for video or LV use, but the F mount and its mechnical aperture control system is the real issue here. That is why, Nikon must design a new mount that takes full advantage of fully electronic mount design and also release a fully F mount compatible mount adapter.

But even then, they can just re-use the E type lenses, they must ditch the G type and the other older D and AF lenses for the better future compatibility to fully electro-magnetic mount control system of their new mirrorless mount......

And they must design their future mount with a bit wider than the EF mount throat design to take full advantage of the 35mm sensor, if they can do this then their mirrrorless system will be the best IQ system in the 35mm format camera class..

I think Sony's only one major mistake was having re-used physically squeezingly narror E mount for their FF E mount system, e.g., the FE system........the E mount is obviously a bit too narrow for a 35mm format sensor, the amount of shadow cast we get from a lenses like the 16-35mm f4, the 24-70mm f4, the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5, Samyang 14mm f2.8AF, and Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8 shows it clearly and it is an undeniable fact.

 

Many many current form of mirrorless fanboys online cliam Nikon has not technology to develop super fast mirrorless AF off the sensor, but is this really true?

No. They have already shown they can do it with the Nikon One.

Many Fuji and Sony fanboys do not realize why Sony and Fuji both suddenly got fast AF tech in their mirrorless, but it is actually from one of many Aptina patents that was originally co-developed with Nikon. Now Sony has been accepted to cross license most of their patents with Aptina(actually their parent company On Semi) and as a result Sony and Fuji've suddenly got the fast OSPDAF in their own cameras. But it was the Nikon One that got it first, way before Sony and Fuji.

So I think it is not too late for Nikon to enter into FF mirrorless market, but they must need a new lens mount.

Then do I sell my Sony to get the new hypothetical Nikon ?

No. I do not sell my A7R, A7R2 , A7MK2 and A6500, but I may add the Nikon in addition if it is really good with new wide FF optimized mount.

That said, I am no longer a gearhead, that means I do not collect cameras that I do not need, I focus on my priorities and ROI. So the cheapest body that can handle all my odd needs the most practical and cost effective solution, and thus it is the best camera out there for me. And it seems like the original A7R is that camera for me.

I do not need high frame rate, I do not need 4k in my stills camera(I own dedicated 4k cameras already), I do not need IBIS(it is actually a minus for me as it increases heat noise significantly). I also prefer the cheap A7R body over anything heavier than it since I already know it can take a lot of abuse after I have used it for 4 years or so.

I wish the next A7R would be smaller without all unneeded gimmicks such as IBIS, 8k(useless considering the current strange tech and internet speed),high frame rate(who wants it in a high resolution camera, that is completely beyond me), fast action AF(the A7R series was originally a slow camera and no need action AF), 650 AF points(who needs it? for me one point AF is fine if it is accurate).

In any case as I said it many times all digital cameras or products are a racket, and no need to get emotional about any of those digital toys(or tools).

  

Friday

Entry One

 

Flew out of work, the fleet flight of Friday before a holiday weekend. Everyone cracks a smile upon stepping out of the concrete and glass coffin of the corporate work week. The motorcycle is quickly gassed and loaded, I leave Washington DC at three-thirty, vowing not to check the time for the rest of the adventure. Adventure, the American adventure of the open road is what I seek. The road, my cameras, and escape.

 

Right turn off of 15th St. NW and I’m motoring past the Washington Monument and the White House. Harleys and clones are already lining the Mall for the annual Memorial remembrance that is Rolling Thunder. I’m soon over the bridge and on I-66 west. I plan on avoiding major highways when at all possible. Preferring scenic byways to drab highways. 66 is a necessary evil to flee the DC metro area as quickly as possible. At the start, 66 is a good quick run, for awhile anyway. Loads of Rolling Thunder riders are heading in 66 eastbound.

 

I keep the ubiquitous two fingers down to the side salute to fellow bikers out for extended stretches of time. In my experience, HD guys return the acknowledgement about 30-40% of the time. No big deal, some animosity exist though between different bike cultures. Motor-ism two-wheel stereotypes. However with the Rolling Thunder guys there is a noticeable increase in response, perhaps due to no longer just one biker acknowledging another, but a patriotic sharing of support and remembrance for those left behind, POW-MIA.

 

Traffic worsens further out 66 and I come up on a full HD dresser. Screaming Eagle back patch worked in with POW-MIA covers his vest and is topped by a “Run for the Wall” patch. I keep back a pace and we adopt the natural offset positioning of multiple riders.

 

After some 66 backup, stop-and-go, we strike up a staccato conversation in the pauses of the traffic flow. Where you been, where you going, see the rain coming? I tell him I’m headed out to the mountains, Skyline Drive and West Virginia. He says he’s just in from there recently, was in DC for Rolling Thunder for the day and will be coming back in on Sunday again. His license plate is obscured by luggage, so I’m unsure of his port of origin.

 

Later on we part ways and my thoughts turn. Of my parents friends only my step-dad was drafted for Vietnam. Luckily, for us, he only went as far as Ft. Hood, TX, and came back with some good stories about army life and venturing into Mexico (at least the ones he’s shared with me). I think about all the life he’s lived since then, all his experiences and joys. Thinking about what all those who didn’t return gave up, lost, when they didn’t come home. The loss felt by those who loved them, families that have a name on the Wall.

 

Rain is sprinkling before Manassas. Enough to cool you off but not enough to get you worried yet, at least for a bit. Whooooo. Then come the big drops. I head off the ramp to gear up with the rain paraphernalia under the gas station pavilion. Finally get it all on and get strapped back up and out pops the sun and the rain stops. Too funny. Now I have wet clothes on under the raingear. Rain gear now keeping the wind out that would dry me. I motor on as more rain is promised on the horizon.

 

This brings up a point about rain. People always ask, “What do you do when it rains and your on the motorcycle”. I reply simply, “I get wet”. Duh. Rain riding has never bothered me. On the straight highways it’s no big deal. Just give more cushion to the cars in front of you. Drive like grandma on the exit ramps.

 

My turning point is finally reached. Off of 66 west and onto 647, Crest Hill Rd. at The Plains, VA. Crest Hill Road is my first slice of motorcycle heaven to be had this weekend. I’m delighted to find that the squiggly line I traced out on the map when planning this trip has translated so well in reality. The road is still wet from the passing rain clouds, and I give a small rabbit and then a chipmunk a near death experience. My first of many animal crossings this weekend. The road is fantastic. A mixture of hilltop road and tree lined canopies that create forest tunnels. Speed limit is 45mph, 55-60 feels comfortable on most parts. Keeping an eye out for a hilltop barn to photograph that I’ve seen in my minds eye, lit by the sun breaking through the clouds and backed by the mountain vista. No luck on any of the barns actual placement to fit the mental picture I have framed.

 

Crest Hill Road and Fodderstack Rd is a long stretch. I take shots of a church and other buildings along Zachary Taylor Highway. Fodderstack gives more of the same as Crest Hill, just a narrower road. The asphalt is of my favorite variety, freshly laid. Washington, VA is a tiny town of historic bed and breakfasts. Local wineries appear to be an attraction here too. Right after Washington the rain returns while I’m in route to Sperryville. Then it really starts to come down, a full on summer thunderstorm. Visibility is down. Road and parking lots soon resemble rivers. Rain drops of the monster variety explode on the pavement, and you know it hurts when they hit you.

 

I quick soaking circuit of Sperryville confirms there are no local hotels. I duck into a barn shaped restaurant to wait it out. My drenched gear takes on bar stool and I occupy another. There’s a few flying pigs about. The bartender get me a hefeweizen, and recommends the angus burger. Locally raised and grass fed, we exchange jokes about my passing the burgers relatives on the way in.

 

Don’t freak about the beer. I have a one only rule when riding. It was followed by a meal (best burger of the weekend!), several coffees, and this bar top journal entry.

 

Somewhere along Crest Hill road I decided to keep the cell off for the weekend. In addition no tv, newspapers, internet, or e-mail sound like a good idea. Of course I now am studiously avoid eye contact with the two beautiful plasma’s above the bar.

 

Entry Two

 

Hazel River Inn, Culpepper, VA, has the coolest street side seating in town.

 

The downpour let up at the Shady Farms bar in Sperryville and due to the deficiency in local lodging I quiz the bartender for options. Over the other side of the mountain, the opposite side of Skyline Dr via 211 is Luray with lots of motels, but I want to save the mountain for the morning. The waitress suggest Culpepper, there being a Holiday Inn etc.

 

Stepping outside the sun has broke through the clouds again. Enough for some shots of Shady Farms Restaurant and a bridge. Heading down 522, the Sperryville Pike, I keep an eye out for photo ops to catch the next morning as I’ll be rerouting back through. Following the mantra of Dale Borgeson about tour riding in the US, I aim to avoid large chain establishments, whether they are restaurants or hotels, and explore the mom-and-pop local variety businesses. I have a dive-ish roadside motel in mind, Culpepper comes through with the Sleepy Hollow Hotel.

 

Before check in I ride through downtown historic Culpepper. It’s a cool place. The Shady Farm bartender had recommended the Culpepper Thai restaurant. I see it but don’t visit, still full from the meal earlier. Cameron Street Coffee looks like a great place, located in an old warehouse. Unfortunately their closed for the night.

 

Shower and changed, room 102 at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel. I hop back on the bike, refreshed and dry and ride through the warm night air back downtown. The coffee at the Hazel River Inn comes with a sweet fudge confection on the side. The peach and blackberry cobbler with vanilla sauce is divine.

 

The reconfigured plan for this getaway is to shed. Shed worries about the job, career, housing, and relationships. My motorcycle is therapeutic. It’s 600cc’s of Zoloft on two wheels. The road lifts my spirits. This wasn’t supposed to be a solo run, and there are stretches of road where I feel the emptiness behind me.

 

The cobbler is finished and I can hear the sound of a band doing their sound check. The banging of the drum requires investigation.

 

Entry Three

 

I found Brown Bag Special in the cellar pub of the same restaurant I was in. On my way to the door the noise of the sound check floated up the stairs and directed my feet downward. Brown Bag Special opened the set, appropriately enough, with “I drink alone”. The ol’ man, Big Money, would have loved it. Drink alone started off a Big Money Blues trifecta to include “The Breeze” and “Mustang Sally”. Then they made the mistake a lot of bands make that have a great lead guitar player. They let him sing. The lead guitarist karaoke sucked his way through a Tom Petty hit. He was so off key in his singing it made you appreciate the guitar solo’s all the more for the relief they provided. Thankfully the regular singer soon resumed his duties and the night went on. More good stuff from the band.

 

Freebird

Folsom Prison Blues

Cheap Sun Glasses

 

“can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, what she’s done to me”

 

Off to bed now at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel with the ghost and shades of dead hookers and overdoses past.

 

150 miles today.

  

Saturday

 

Entry Four

 

Morning breaks on the Sleepy Hollow Hotel, a hot shower and I’m back on the bike. A quick stop downtown to shoot the Hazel Inn, then it’s back on the Sperryville Pike. More stops to capture some sights seen yesterday. Mr. & Mrs. Pump. The open mouth caricatures are an accurate representation of the current gas cost and the pumps eating your wallet.

 

I keep telling my daughter that her first car, college car, will be a hybrid. She thinks they are ugly. The bike isn’t so bad, averaging around 40mpg. At about 180 miles on the tripometer I start to look for a refill, although I’ve pushed it to 211 miles before.

 

A quick left in Sperryville on 211 and up into the mountain, Blue Ridge Mountains and Skyline Drive. Heading up the mountain I get the first bite of the twisties I’ve been craving. The $10 fee at the gate to Skyline Drive is well worth the price. Great scenery and fantastic views. The only drawback is the 35mph speed limit that is well enforced by the park rangers.

 

I shoot some self-portraits at Pollock Knob overlook. They’re funny in that with all the scrambling and hurrying to be the camera timer, then trying to effect a relaxed pose. I’ve also broke out my old friend this trip, the Lubitel 166, a medium format, 120mm film, twin lens camera. I’m like Jay-Z with this camera, I have to get it in one take. There is no digital review after the click for instant gratification. As a fellow photographer it’s “Point, Push, and Pray”. I’ll be interested to see the results. Not that I’ve left digital behind. Carrying both cameras, I’m an analog/digital double threat.

 

After the self-portraits and some dead tree shots I’m about to pack back on the bike and leave when I meet the preacher and his wife. He offers to shoot me with my camera and I return the favor with theirs. Conversation flows and in a ‘small world’ moment it turns out that he works for same Hazel family that owns the restaurant I was at last night for his Monday thru Friday job. I get a friendly “God bless” and I’m heading south on Skyline Drive. I make several more stops and break out the cameras again at Big Meadow.

 

There is a gnarly dead tree in the middle of the meadow. It has burn damage at the base, either the result of some wild fire or perhaps a controlled burn done to maintain the field. I spot and shoot a few deer, they probably won’t turn out as they’re to far away for my lens on the D100. I shoot a bunch of shots of the tree with the D100 and then totally switch processes with the Lubitel. The picture setup with the Lubitel takes about a minute-and-a-half. Manual zoom, i.e., walking back and forth to get the framing I want. Light meter reading. Then dealing with the reversed optics of the look-down box camera. It is fun though, to switch it up, change the pace and the dynamics. Just one click though, hope I caught it.

 

It’s a long but enjoyable ride to the south end of Skyline Drive. Unless you really like slow cruising I would suggest picking which third of Skyline Drive you’d like include in your trip and leave the rest. I drop off the mountain and into Waynesboro. Finding Mad Anthony’s coffee shop for a late breakfast. I overhear that it’s around noon. The Italian Roast coffee is good, in fact, it would prove to be the best coffee of the trip.

 

One of the pleasures of traveling by motorcycle is that it’s an easy conversation starter. People ask you where your coming from, where you’re heading, ask about your bike, tell you’re about their bike or the one they wish they had. One of the peculiarities of these conversations is that if the person even remotely knows of anyone that has died on a motorcycle, they will be sure to share this fact along with details. These stories usually involve a deer, a car pulling out, or someone taking a corner to fast. The conversation goes something like this:

 

Stranger“nice bike”

You“thanks”

Stranger“my cousin Bob had a friend that hit a deer and died on his bike”

 

Short silence.

 

You“yeah, deer are dangerous, got to be careful”

 

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve held variations on this conversation many times. Luckily this isn’t the conversation I have with the owner of Mad Anthony’s. He’s a former sailboat instructor who now finds the same release and head clearing on his motorcycle that he used to get from his sailboat.

 

This brings to mind the same wave – don’t way dynamic that occurs between sail boaters and power boaters, very similar to the sportbike & HD crowd.

 

The proprietor is a coffee guru, we discuss roasting (my Italian roast was just roasted Wednesday this week). We talk about the good and the evil of Starbucks. We’re both in agreement that they over roast their regular coffee, but I think their foo foo drinks are tasty. He has in his shop both the Bodum press and the Bodum vacuum coffee pot that I got my mom for x-mas. A shameless plug here, the Bodum vacuum coffee pot makes the best home coffee ever. It’s also an entertaining crowd pleaser, no joke.

 

Leaving Waynesboro the plan was 340 northward to 33, then into Harrisonburg, VA (home of the Valley Mall and JMU). 340 proved to be boring so I jumped on 256, Port Republic Road, for a better ride to Harrisonburg. I don’t know if the coffee wore off or if I was just worn out. I pull over at Westover Park, pick out a spot of grass, and take a good nap in the sun.

 

I had my motorcycle bug handed down to me by my step-dad. My kindergarten year of school we moved right at the end of the school year. Rather than switch schools at this inopportune time my Dad stuck me on the back of his Honda and rode me to school and back again for the last month or two. Even earlier than that I have a great photo of me in 1973-4 sitting on his chopper with him. Me in a diaper and him with his long hippy hair. The wild side of the Reverend indeed.

 

Refreshed from my nap it’s back on 33 westbound. Heading out of the Shenandoah Valley and Rockingham County is more glorious twisty roads and the George Washington National Forest. GW is a beautiful tree canopy lined road with a river off to one side. Franklin, WV is the destination, a return to the Star Hotel.

 

I stayed at the Star a few years prior when they first re-opened the historic Star Hotel. The owner, Steve Miller, is a great guy, friendly and conversational. I told him I’d be back again, but it’s been a few more years than I thought. Late lunch at the Star is pesto grilled chicken on ciabatta bread with roasted red peppers. Not the type of fare one might associate with West Virginia, but people have misperceptions about everywhere. Steve promises a prime rib later at dinner tonight to die for.

 

So that there is no misunderstanding, in as much as the Sleepy Hollow Hotel was a dive, the Star Hotel is a dream.

 

Dump the gear in the room back on the bike for some roaming around. I head back to explore a river road I passed on the way in, Rock Gap. It’s a gravel affair and I follow it back a little ways. Photo some river shots. Down further there is a large cliff face with some college aged kids de-gearing after a day of climbing. I’ll try to stop back in tomorrow and shoot some climbing action, as well as some fly fishing.

 

I pick up a bottle of Barefoot Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, and drop it off with Steve at the Star to keep for later. I’ll enjoy that bottle later tonight from the 3rd floor front porch. South out of town I head, into some very secondary roads. I shoot an old decrepit cabin that would be right up Bobby Sargent’s alley. I put it in the metal folder for a possible future model shoot location, along with the river spots I’ve seen.

 

There are a couple more stops on this little ride. Once for what appears to be a feral chicken, and then for middle of the road stare down with a young doe. She’s camera shy though and is off before I can get a shot. Sportbike probably isn’t the best conveyance for nature photography. The pavement stops and gravel begins, I motor on. Rick & I once spent a full day just about on gravel roads, crisscrossing the back country around Cumberland, MD. So I’m comfortable with the less than ideal riding surface. A few miles on the road dead ends at a pair of chicken houses (source of the feral chicken’s ancestors perhaps?) and I turn around and survey the valley I’ve just ridden through. I have to stop the bike and soak in the scene. A picturesque farm is nestled in the corner of the valley, up against the hills. I meet some inquisitive cows, along with the farmer and his wife.

 

It seems that when you are in WV and you pass a sign that says “snow removal ends here” that the already suspect road conditions are going to quickly deteriorate and will soon resemble somewhat more of a logging road. I motor on through some back country, no houses, no farms, just mountains, steep roadside cliffs, and wicked gravel switchback curves. The part that gives you the willies are the downhill corners where the road grade is slanted to the outside of the curve and to the drop below. Yikes!

 

I creep along where a four wheeler would be much more functional. Although I still hit it a bit in the straights. Pavement arrives again and I’m unsure of my exact location. I follow the chicken farmers directions and soon discover myself back in Brandywine, intersecting the same stretch of 33 I rode on my way into Franklin.

 

Back at the Star Hotel it’s a shower and fresh clothes before heading down for dinner. Downstairs I find the prime rib to be as good as promised.

 

Entry Five

 

How beautifully staged is this. Barefoot on the 3rd floor patio, wine to ease the back and the ache in the knee.

 

205 miles today, the last 30 after check in, just to explore.

  

Sunday

 

Entry Six

 

Out early in the morning. I find no climbers at Rock Gap, unsure of the hours they keep. Out of Franklin on 33 west, looking for another squiggly line I had seen on a map. Bland Hill Road name is a misnomer. A single lane country road winding through German Valley. I got a few shots of German Valley from the 33 overlook before turning on Bland Hill. Now I find myself in the same location I had shot from above.

 

The road cuts through some open pasture land and I meet some cows standing in the road after rounding one bend. They’re pleasant enough, if in no particular hurry to cross, and don’t mind posing for a shot or two before meandering on. People talk about the danger of hitting a deer, a cow would really ruin your day! Off of Bland Hill and on down into the valley. I come up on the rock formation I had seen from the overlook previously. It’s not Seneca Rocks, but a formation of the same ilk. I get some more photos, then onto German Valley Road. I’m still staying at the Star, there is no real destination today. It’s relaxing to stop as much as I like.

 

German Valley Road puts me back on 33 west and not long after I’m ordering breakfast at the Valley View Restaurant. Dale Borgeson warns of places that advertise home cooking, but that’s about all you see in these parts. There are a fair number of cars here and that’s usually a good since the food will be alright. Hell, even the Army could make a good breakfast. It all works out and it’s a hell of a deal, $4 for toast, two eggs, hash browns, bacon, and coffee.

 

From 33 I hit 28 and turn off on Smoke Hole Road, just because it’s there and looks interesting. Boy, what a find it is. Combining the curvy one lane country road with nice wide smooth pavement (gravel free in the corners). It’s great. Smoke Hole Road turns out to run from 28 across the Seneca Rocks National Forest to 220 on the other side. Going west-to-east it starts out all curves and hills, then ends by winding along the south branch of the Potomac. There are lots of fly fishermen here enjoying the catch-and-release section of the river.

 

Up 220 to Petersburg, I run into some Ducati guys at the gas station. We swap riding info and I’m soon on 42 north towards Mayville. Hanging a left when I see a sign for Dolly Sods. I’m back on secondary roads and I soon pass another prophetic ‘no snow removal’ signs. It’s gravel the rest of the way up the mountain til it breaks out on top at Dolly Sod.

 

I’m real happy with today’s roads, as both Smoke Hole Road and Dolly Sods were unplanned ‘discovered adventures’. I do some rock scrabbling at Dolly Sod and enjoy the cliff top views. A fellow tourist snaps a shot for me an I hike out well past the distance that the casual tourist and families go. Shot some more shots of the rock formations with both the digital and film camera. Do some more self-portraits. I then sit down to relax in the sun with the cliff side breeze steadily blowing and update this journal.

  

Entry Seven

 

Well, fellow traveler, if you’ve made it this far I am duly impressed. I thank you for your perseverance. The rest of the day was spent riding without incident. Just more fantastic roads. You don’t have to be an explore on par with Lewis & Clark to find great rides in West Virginia. Just be curious in nature and unafraid to leave the beaten path. Drop off the numbered roads and take the route less traveled. Soon you’ll be in your own undiscovered country. Blah blah blah.

 

Out of Dolly Sod and I find myself on 32. Rough calculations put the dirt road travel around 25 miles for the day. While we are on stats, here’s today’s animal road count:

 

1 rooster

1 dead fox

2 cows

8 chipmunks

7 alive

1 dead

3 dead possums

1 squirrel

1 dead blob (undistinguishable)

No fearsome deer

1 dog

 

I guided myself today by a rather non-descript map put out by mountainhighlands.com

 

Leaving Dolly Sod on 32 puts me in Dry Fork and back on familiar 33 west to Elkins. I cruise around Elkins on the off chance I’ll run into a guy I know named Dallas. Now all you need to know about Dallas is the following:

 

I don’t know his last name

I once gave him a hair cut with dog grooming clippers

I know he works at a bike shop making choppers

 

You figure the odds of me finding him, near zero.

 

If your curious it wasn’t the first time I cut hair, albeit the first time using dog shears. In Korea I cut in the latrine for $2 a cut or for a 6 pack. Everything was barter in the Army. We had a cook that would make you a great custom birthday cake for a case of beer or feed you food out of the back of the chow hall at 3am when you staggered in drunk from the ville for the promise of a future round to be bought. Korea stories could fill another journal.

 

Anyway, out of Elkins and south to Beverly. Scott, if your reading this you were on my mind as I went through town, never forgive, never forget.

 

So far I’ve only tried to write about the positive food experiences of the trip without throwing anyplace under the bus. C&J in Beverly however, served only barely functional burgers and the vanilla shake was of the worst chemical prefab variety. There are some things that I am stuck on, good vanilla ice cream is one. The others that I’m picky about are beer, whiskey, steak, cheese-steak, and coffee. It’s just so disappointing when something you usually enjoy turns out to be sub par.

 

After C&J it’s 250 east to 28, which heads back towards Seneca Rocks and Franklin. It’s a good haul through the Monongahela National Forest. A road of the scenic variety, with good twisties up the mountain and through the scenery. These type road have become quite a common occurrence here in WV. Back in Seneca Rocks and 33 east into Franklin. I never shoot Seneca Rocks, the light is never right, number one can tell you how I get about my light.

 

The Star’s restaurant is closed on Sunday, dagger, so I shower and head into Franklin by foot. About Franklin, WV. It’s a nice little town, quiet and sleepy. No bars other than the VFW that I could see. Everybody I’ve met and spoken too has be pleasant, friendly and conversational, both here in Franklin and elsewhere in WV. I’m sure there are a variety of characters much as anywhere, this is just my observation from the tourist level.

 

Following last night precedent I grab another vino from the Shell station. The Star being closed is a dilemma; I’m in need of a cork screw (having borrowed the restaurants the night before). I wander back down to the hotel, wine in hand, and past the hotel just a bit til I meet an old man sitting out front. I explain my situation, wine without access, and he says he’ll sell me a corkscrew. He goes in the house, shortly to return with the necessary implement in hand. I figure I have it for $3-4 or maybe rent it for a one time use for $1. That proves unnecessary however, he says just to take it, and keep it for any future need.

 

The sole booking for the hotel tonight, I’m like a wraith as I glide through the halls. On the front porch with my bottle of vino in hand. I have some cheap cigars I also picked up and there’s nothing to do but kick back and watch the sunset.

 

It’s been a great trip. Somewhat lonesome at times. The lack of someone to talk to surely let to the length of this journal. It was a trip to getaway, to reflect. There was no great revelation or anything, just time to get to know yourself. The road gives you time to think. I know who I am and I like being me. I know what’s missing.

 

I’m resolved to take more bike trips in the future. It’s definitely my preferred way to travel and vacation. Motorcycling is the way to go.

 

Tomorrow I have my route generally planned out, more scenic byways for a winding route home.

 

Miles today, 240.

 

Monday

 

Entry Seven

 

Just a short postscript. 20 miles east of Washington DC, on 66, the chain popped off the bike. It’s never easy.

           

The coming death of Nikon 22

Is it really already too late for Nikon?

Recently, there was a long lasting thread on this issue at NR site that seemed to be started with Thom Hogan's article called,"Thom Hogan explains why Nikon’s late entry to the mirrorless market could actually be a good thing".

Well it is a real complicated issue. I do not think it is a good thing, but the question is: is it really too late for Nikon to enter into so-called mirrorless market?

It is quite obvious while there is not even one good future-proven mirrorless mount system existing yet, most of these systems are now coming to almost the point we can call it state of maturity with lots of lenses and many third party flash systems, or at least nearing to it.

And it seems like the later they enter into the serious mirrorless market, the higher the hurdle bar raised up. The longer they wait to get into the market , the more demanding the minimam set of features and requirements for their first mirrorelss camera will become, and they must do it right at the very first try.

That said, they already try out the water with the Nikon One, and in fact, despite of extreme negative view of the series you read in many forums just because the Nikon One series has had a tiny sensor, it was actually very advanced system already from the very first Nikon One V1(of couse besides the sensor). At least the AF and video feature set were quite good for the time, and maybe the AF is still one of the very best in the mirrorless world.

Therefore, they do not need to change the direction dramatically, nor do they need totally new tech to actually make a decent big sensor mirrorless system from scratch: I mean they just need to swap the One sensor to FF or APS-C and improve the video part of it to the current level of the Panasonic , then it is already one of the best mirrorless out there.

If they can make it completely sealed and not just water resistant or weather selaed but water proof like the Nikon One AW1but with a big sensor and decent 4k, then it already is a quite sensational camera release.

And many of us (at least those who are in this industry here in Japan) already know that Nikon has produced a few (at least 4) FX mirrorless prototypes and one of which almost made it to the actual shop shelves, but Nikon suddenly canceled it just a few days before the original announcement day they planned for it. And many of us speculated it was because of the A7R2 announcement.........so I am sure it was originally planned for June or July 2015 but canceled out or postponed.

At the time, we all thought they should have actually released it even though it was not up to the level of the Sony A7R2. Then they would have been able to improve it from there on with many many experiments.

But now it seems like they must do it right at the very first try according to many mirrorless biased rumor sites. However, is it really as difficult as those rumor sites think it is for Nikon to beat the all existing mirrorelss systems?

Let's examin it here carefully:

1> the Sony E mount system......is it already considered to be a quite complete system? is its position already consolidated in Sony's long term business plan?

and is it really an intuitive system for photographers and videographers?

I think it is already a good system, but still far from what we call a complete system.

Why? cause there are no tilt and shift lenses, there are no weather sealed bodies, there are no powerful enough big bodies that comfortably take a big super tele prime, etc.

But for most of normal use cases, it is already at least as good or near as good as the state of the art best D-SLRs.

Well it is not close to the state of maturity as a whole system, as of this time of writing this just yet, but I think it is nearing to the point with about 32 lenses already released for this system and full Godox flash support and full Capture One and DXO support for it, and in case of C1 Sony users can download it for just 50 bucks, and we must admit that it is a big sales point for the A7X and the A6XXX series.

Then is it really intuitive ? Not yet, but it is getting better each iteration and Sony seems to be seriously committed to FW updates. Now both my A7R2 and A7M2 are on FW V4.0...and none of my Nikon got more than 3 FW updates.......to get as far as to FW4.0...

Nikon and Canon guys always trash Sony for its complete lack of user support or after sales support for its own cameras........but the reality is Sony has been one of the most user freindly and user supporting camera manufactures. Sony has already issued 5 major FW updates for the A7X2 series and each of these was really a huge update, not just fixing bugs but added many features that did not originally existed.

Nikon and Canon have never done this. So while I have to admit the current Sony A7x system is not as intuitive as it should be, I am sure it will slowly get there since Sony seems to have been seriusly committed to this system. But it takes a bit of time, and I think it will be more than a few more iterations, that means it will probably need about a several years at least to get the state of maturity.

So Nikon seems to still have some time to get it all right.....

2> m43...........first of all, I do not consider this system is a serious system for stills or hybrid work now, I used to think it as a such system, though.

I mean compare the file quality of it to a decent FF or even to a decent APS-C system like the X-T20 or the A6300, or anything better. The m43 IQ is really sad, pathetic......although I really want to love it since I love it for video work and I like the concept of the system: it is small as a whole system, it is fast and very intuitive(especially Panasonic ones), it has incredible lowlight AF, it shoots great video, it has incredible stabilization system, it has very effective self sensor cleaning system, etc...with m43 I never need to worry about sensor dust issue and for me it is a huge plus.

But the 43 sensor at the current level of tech is simply not acceptable for any serious stills work, IMHO. The high ISO output quality is terrible, the blue gain noise seems really bad...the color depth is so poor and therefore the files out of any m43 camera including the best ones like GH5 and EM1MK2 cannot be really malleable at all, it cannot take much software manipulation, and therefore it is useless for stills.

There is a rumor that Olympus will come out with a new big 43 sensor format system.

If it is true, I am very happy and I think it might be my dream system, but I doubt it actually materialized.

So I think here again, Nikon seems to still have some time, or I have to be more honest the m43 is an irrelevent system for many of us who actually enlarge our images to over A2 size or larger.

To me it is an irrelevant system at least for stills. I am using it for video but I think I will replace it with the A7SMK2 since I shoot video in extreme lowlight most of times.

3> Fuji X........still not even close to the state of maturity yet, simply there are too many missing lenses such as macros , TS, super wide primes, etc.

But just like Sony, Fuji has been really seriously committed to this system and I am sure they will get there eventually, but just takes a bit of time, I am guessing it maybe at least a couple of iterations more, and so roughly, in 4 -5 years.

So here it goes again Nikon seems to still have some times to build a nice system to compete with the rest.

4> Fuji GFX, well it is not a mainstream budget system, many of those who have growing boys and girls cannot afford........plus it has just a several or so lenses.

And I think it is not in the same market as Nikon is trying to get into......although I think this system will succeed since Fuji seems to has been really committed to this system...and they have the needed resources to get it going.

5> Canon M, well it also has only 5 or 6 naive lens selections, and so it is totally irrelevant to most of us who do not own any Canon lenses or dislike the adapter concept.

Plus, no one knows Canon is really committed to this system, if Canon really is, then why is Canon not designing a set of serious L class lenses for this system?

 

So maybe Hogan is right this time Nikon seems to still have some time left for themselves, but like even Hogan admits, Nikon must do it right at the very first try next time with at least the same level of AF, EVF and metering system as the A9 or be better.

I think the more important question here is: what mount should they choose?

Continue on the F mount? As many of Hogan followers have suggested or seem to have supported......or they need a completely new mount?

I think if they choose the easier F mount route that means that is the end of Nikon as a camera manufacture. Choosing the F mount for the next generation camera system is a fatal mistake and I am sure Nikon knows it. That is why we have been getting so many E type of lenses from them recently......only the E and P type of lenses are usable for video or LV work without too many usability related issues.

And the all new E type lenses they've released in the last 2 or 3 years are amazing, if not simply outstanding.

Anyway, many many Sony, Fuji, and Canon fanboys underrate Nikon LV technology just because the current F mount system has terrible LV and video mode. I was one of them but I realized that it is not because Nikon has no tech in this area or Nikon has intentionally crippling their D-SLRs for video or LV use, but the F mount and its mechnical aperture control system is the real issue here. That is why, Nikon must design a new mount that takes full advantage of fully electronic mount design and also release a fully F mount compatible mount adapter.

But even then, they can just re-use the E type lenses, they must ditch the G type and the other older D and AF lenses for the better future compatibility to fully electro-magnetic mount control system of their new mirrorless mount......

And they must design their future mount with a bit wider than the EF mount throat design to take full advantage of the 35mm sensor, if they can do this then their mirrrorless system will be the best IQ system in the 35mm format camera class..

I think Sony's only one major mistake was having re-used physically squeezingly narror E mount for their FF E mount system, e.g., the FE system........the E mount is obviously a bit too narrow for a 35mm format sensor, the amount of shadow cast we get from a lenses like the 16-35mm f4, the 24-70mm f4, the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5, Samyang 14mm f2.8AF, and Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8 shows it clearly and it is an undeniable fact.

 

Many many current form of mirrorless fanboys online cliam Nikon has not technology to develop super fast mirrorless AF off the sensor, but is this really true?

No. They have already shown they can do it with the Nikon One.

Many Fuji and Sony fanboys do not realize why Sony and Fuji both suddenly got fast AF tech in their mirrorless, but it is actually from one of many Aptina patents that was originally co-developed with Nikon. Now Sony has been accepted to cross license most of their patents with Aptina(actually their parent company On Semi) and as a result Sony and Fuji've suddenly got the fast OSPDAF in their own cameras. But it was the Nikon One that got it first, way before Sony and Fuji.

So I think it is not too late for Nikon to enter into FF mirrorless market, but they must need a new lens mount.

Then do I sell my Sony to get the new hypothetical Nikon ?

No. I do not sell my A7R, A7R2 , A7MK2 and A6500, but I may add the Nikon in addition if it is really good with new wide FF optimized mount.

That said, I am no longer a gearhead, that means I do not collect cameras that I do not need, I focus on my priorities and ROI. So the cheapest body that can handle all my odd needs the most practical and cost effective solution, and thus it is the best camera out there for me. And it seems like the original A7R is that camera for me.

I do not need high frame rate, I do not need 4k in my stills camera(I own dedicated 4k cameras already), I do not need IBIS(it is actually a minus for me as it increases heat noise significantly). I also prefer the cheap A7R body over anything heavier than it since I already know it can take a lot of abuse after I have used it for 4 years or so.

I wish the next A7R would be smaller without all unneeded gimmicks such as IBIS, 8k(useless considering the current strange tech and internet speed),high frame rate(who wants it in a high resolution camera, that is completely beyond me), fast action AF(the A7R series was originally a slow camera and no need action AF), 650 AF points(who needs it? for me one point AF is fine if it is accurate).

In any case as I said it many times all digital cameras or products are a racket, and no need to get emotional about any of those digital toys(or tools).

  

The coming death of Nikon 22

Is it really already too late for Nikon?

Recently, there was a long lasting thread on this issue at NR site that seemed to be started with Thom Hogan's article called,"Thom Hogan explains why Nikon’s late entry to the mirrorless market could actually be a good thing".

Well it is a real complicated issue. I do not think it is a good thing, but the question is: is it really too late for Nikon to enter into so-called mirrorless market?

It is quite obvious while there is not even one good future-proven mirrorless mount system existing yet, most of these systems are now coming to almost the point we can call it state of maturity with lots of lenses and many third party flash systems, or at least nearing to it.

And it seems like the later they enter into the serious mirrorless market, the higher the hurdle bar raised up. The longer they wait to get into the market , the more demanding the minimam set of features and requirements for their first mirrorelss camera will become, and they must do it right at the very first try.

That said, they already try out the water with the Nikon One, and in fact, despite of extreme negative view of the series you read in many forums just because the Nikon One series has had a tiny sensor, it was actually very advanced system already from the very first Nikon One V1(of couse besides the sensor). At least the AF and video feature set were quite good for the time, and maybe the AF is still one of the very best in the mirrorless world.

Therefore, they do not need to change the direction dramatically, nor do they need totally new tech to actually make a decent big sensor mirrorless system from scratch: I mean they just need to swap the One sensor to FF or APS-C and improve the video part of it to the current level of the Panasonic , then it is already one of the best mirrorless out there.

If they can make it completely sealed and not just water resistant or weather selaed but water proof like the Nikon One AW1but with a big sensor and decent 4k, then it already is a quite sensational camera release.

And many of us (at least those who are in this industry here in Japan) already know that Nikon has produced a few (at least 4) FX mirrorless prototypes and one of which almost made it to the actual shop shelves, but Nikon suddenly canceled it just a few days before the original announcement day they planned for it. And many of us speculated it was because of the A7R2 announcement.........so I am sure it was originally planned for June or July 2015 but canceled out or postponed.

At the time, we all thought they should have actually released it even though it was not up to the level of the Sony A7R2. Then they would have been able to improve it from there on with many many experiments.

But now it seems like they must do it right at the very first try according to many mirrorless biased rumor sites. However, is it really as difficult as those rumor sites think it is for Nikon to beat the all existing mirrorelss systems?

Let's examin it here carefully:

1> the Sony E mount system......is it already considered to be a quite complete system? is its position already consolidated in Sony's long term business plan?

and is it really an intuitive system for photographers and videographers?

I think it is already a good system, but still far from what we call a complete system.

Why? cause there are no tilt and shift lenses, there are no weather sealed bodies, there are no powerful enough big bodies that comfortably take a big super tele prime, etc.

But for most of normal use cases, it is already at least as good or near as good as the state of the art best D-SLRs.

Well it is not close to the state of maturity as a whole system, as of this time of writing this just yet, but I think it is nearing to the point with about 32 lenses already released for this system and full Godox flash support and full Capture One and DXO support for it, and in case of C1 Sony users can download it for just 50 bucks, and we must admit that it is a big sales point for the A7X and the A6XXX series.

Then is it really intuitive ? Not yet, but it is getting better each iteration and Sony seems to be seriously committed to FW updates. Now both my A7R2 and A7M2 are on FW V4.0...and none of my Nikon got more than 3 FW updates.......to get as far as to FW4.0...

Nikon and Canon guys always trash Sony for its complete lack of user support or after sales support for its own cameras........but the reality is Sony has been one of the most user freindly and user supporting camera manufactures. Sony has already issued 5 major FW updates for the A7X2 series and each of these was really a huge update, not just fixing bugs but added many features that did not originally existed.

Nikon and Canon have never done this. So while I have to admit the current Sony A7x system is not as intuitive as it should be, I am sure it will slowly get there since Sony seems to have been seriusly committed to this system. But it takes a bit of time, and I think it will be more than a few more iterations, that means it will probably need about a several years at least to get the state of maturity.

So Nikon seems to still have some time to get it all right.....

2> m43...........first of all, I do not consider this system is a serious system for stills or hybrid work now, I used to think it as a such system, though.

I mean compare the file quality of it to a decent FF or even to a decent APS-C system like the X-T20 or the A6300, or anything better. The m43 IQ is really sad, pathetic......although I really want to love it since I love it for video work and I like the concept of the system: it is small as a whole system, it is fast and very intuitive(especially Panasonic ones), it has incredible lowlight AF, it shoots great video, it has incredible stabilization system, it has very effective self sensor cleaning system, etc...with m43 I never need to worry about sensor dust issue and for me it is a huge plus.

But the 43 sensor at the current level of tech is simply not acceptable for any serious stills work, IMHO. The high ISO output quality is terrible, the blue gain noise seems really bad...the color depth is so poor and therefore the files out of any m43 camera including the best ones like GH5 and EM1MK2 cannot be really malleable at all, it cannot take much software manipulation, and therefore it is useless for stills.

There is a rumor that Olympus will come out with a new big 43 sensor format system.

If it is true, I am very happy and I think it might be my dream system, but I doubt it actually materialized.

So I think here again, Nikon seems to still have some time, or I have to be more honest the m43 is an irrelevent system for many of us who actually enlarge our images to over A2 size or larger.

To me it is an irrelevant system at least for stills. I am using it for video but I think I will replace it with the A7SMK2 since I shoot video in extreme lowlight most of times.

3> Fuji X........still not even close to the state of maturity yet, simply there are too many missing lenses such as macros , TS, super wide primes, etc.

But just like Sony, Fuji has been really seriously committed to this system and I am sure they will get there eventually, but just takes a bit of time, I am guessing it maybe at least a couple of iterations more, and so roughly, in 4 -5 years.

So here it goes again Nikon seems to still have some times to build a nice system to compete with the rest.

4> Fuji GFX, well it is not a mainstream budget system, many of those who have growing boys and girls cannot afford........plus it has just a several or so lenses.

And I think it is not in the same market as Nikon is trying to get into......although I think this system will succeed since Fuji seems to has been really committed to this system...and they have the needed resources to get it going.

5> Canon M, well it also has only 5 or 6 naive lens selections, and so it is totally irrelevant to most of us who do not own any Canon lenses or dislike the adapter concept.

Plus, no one knows Canon is really committed to this system, if Canon really is, then why is Canon not designing a set of serious L class lenses for this system?

 

So maybe Hogan is right this time Nikon seems to still have some time left for themselves, but like even Hogan admits, Nikon must do it right at the very first try next time with at least the same level of AF, EVF and metering system as the A9 or be better.

I think the more important question here is: what mount should they choose?

Continue on the F mount? As many of Hogan followers have suggested or seem to have supported......or they need a completely new mount?

I think if they choose the easier F mount route that means that is the end of Nikon as a camera manufacture. Choosing the F mount for the next generation camera system is a fatal mistake and I am sure Nikon knows it. That is why we have been getting so many E type of lenses from them recently......only the E and P type of lenses are usable for video or LV work without too many usability related issues.

And the all new E type lenses they've released in the last 2 or 3 years are amazing, if not simply outstanding.

Anyway, many many Sony, Fuji, and Canon fanboys underrate Nikon LV technology just because the current F mount system has terrible LV and video mode. I was one of them but I realized that it is not because Nikon has no tech in this area or Nikon has intentionally crippling their D-SLRs for video or LV use, but the F mount and its mechnical aperture control system is the real issue here. That is why, Nikon must design a new mount that takes full advantage of fully electronic mount design and also release a fully F mount compatible mount adapter.

But even then, they can just re-use the E type lenses, they must ditch the G type and the other older D and AF lenses for the better future compatibility to fully electro-magnetic mount control system of their new mirrorless mount......

And they must design their future mount with a bit wider than the EF mount throat design to take full advantage of the 35mm sensor, if they can do this then their mirrrorless system will be the best IQ system in the 35mm format camera class..

I think Sony's only one major mistake was having re-used physically squeezingly narror E mount for their FF E mount system, e.g., the FE system........the E mount is obviously a bit too narrow for a 35mm format sensor, the amount of shadow cast we get from a lenses like the 16-35mm f4, the 24-70mm f4, the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5, Samyang 14mm f2.8AF, and Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8 shows it clearly and it is an undeniable fact.

 

Many many current form of mirrorless fanboys online cliam Nikon has not technology to develop super fast mirrorless AF off the sensor, but is this really true?

No. They have already shown they can do it with the Nikon One.

Many Fuji and Sony fanboys do not realize why Sony and Fuji both suddenly got fast AF tech in their mirrorless, but it is actually from one of many Aptina patents that was originally co-developed with Nikon. Now Sony has been accepted to cross license most of their patents with Aptina(actually their parent company On Semi) and as a result Sony and Fuji've suddenly got the fast OSPDAF in their own cameras. But it was the Nikon One that got it first, way before Sony and Fuji.

So I think it is not too late for Nikon to enter into FF mirrorless market, but they must need a new lens mount.

Then do I sell my Sony to get the new hypothetical Nikon ?

No. I do not sell my A7R, A7R2 , A7MK2 and A6500, but I may add the Nikon in addition if it is really good with new wide FF optimized mount.

That said, I am no longer a gearhead, that means I do not collect cameras that I do not need, I focus on my priorities and ROI. So the cheapest body that can handle all my odd needs the most practical and cost effective solution, and thus it is the best camera out there for me. And it seems like the original A7R is that camera for me.

I do not need high frame rate, I do not need 4k in my stills camera(I own dedicated 4k cameras already), I do not need IBIS(it is actually a minus for me as it increases heat noise significantly). I also prefer the cheap A7R body over anything heavier than it since I already know it can take a lot of abuse after I have used it for 4 years or so.

I wish the next A7R would be smaller without all unneeded gimmicks such as IBIS, 8k(useless considering the current strange tech and internet speed),high frame rate(who wants it in a high resolution camera, that is completely beyond me), fast action AF(the A7R series was originally a slow camera and no need action AF), 650 AF points(who needs it? for me one point AF is fine if it is accurate).

In any case as I said it many times all digital cameras or products are a racket, and no need to get emotional about any of those digital toys(or tools).

  

The coming death of Nikon 22

Is it really already too late for Nikon?

Recently, there was a long lasting thread on this issue at NR site that seemed to be started with Thom Hogan's article called,"Thom Hogan explains why Nikon’s late entry to the mirrorless market could actually be a good thing".

Well it is a real complicated issue. I do not think it is a good thing, but the question is: is it really too late for Nikon to enter into so-called mirrorless market?

It is quite obvious while there is not even one good future-proven mirrorless mount system existing yet, most of these systems are now coming to almost the point we can call it state of maturity with lots of lenses and many third party flash systems, or at least nearing to it.

And it seems like the later they enter into the serious mirrorless market, the higher the hurdle bar raised up. The longer they wait to get into the market , the more demanding the minimam set of features and requirements for their first mirrorelss camera will become, and they must do it right at the very first try.

That said, they already try out the water with the Nikon One, and in fact, despite of extreme negative view of the series you read in many forums just because the Nikon One series has had a tiny sensor, it was actually very advanced system already from the very first Nikon One V1(of couse besides the sensor). At least the AF and video feature set were quite good for the time, and maybe the AF is still one of the very best in the mirrorless world.

Therefore, they do not need to change the direction dramatically, nor do they need totally new tech to actually make a decent big sensor mirrorless system from scratch: I mean they just need to swap the One sensor to FF or APS-C and improve the video part of it to the current level of the Panasonic , then it is already one of the best mirrorless out there.

If they can make it completely sealed and not just water resistant or weather selaed but water proof like the Nikon One AW1but with a big sensor and decent 4k, then it already is a quite sensational camera release.

And many of us (at least those who are in this industry here in Japan) already know that Nikon has produced a few (at least 4) FX mirrorless prototypes and one of which almost made it to the actual shop shelves, but Nikon suddenly canceled it just a few days before the original announcement day they planned for it. And many of us speculated it was because of the A7R2 announcement.........so I am sure it was originally planned for June or July 2015 but canceled out or postponed.

At the time, we all thought they should have actually released it even though it was not up to the level of the Sony A7R2. Then they would have been able to improve it from there on with many many experiments.

But now it seems like they must do it right at the very first try according to many mirrorless biased rumor sites. However, is it really as difficult as those rumor sites think it is for Nikon to beat the all existing mirrorelss systems?

Let's examin it here carefully:

1> the Sony E mount system......is it already considered to be a quite complete system? is its position already consolidated in Sony's long term business plan?

and is it really an intuitive system for photographers and videographers?

I think it is already a good system, but still far from what we call a complete system.

Why? cause there are no tilt and shift lenses, there are no weather sealed bodies, there are no powerful enough big bodies that comfortably take a big super tele prime, etc.

But for most of normal use cases, it is already at least as good or near as good as the state of the art best D-SLRs.

Well it is not close to the state of maturity as a whole system, as of this time of writing this just yet, but I think it is nearing to the point with about 32 lenses already released for this system and full Godox flash support and full Capture One and DXO support for it, and in case of C1 Sony users can download it for just 50 bucks, and we must admit that it is a big sales point for the A7X and the A6XXX series.

Then is it really intuitive ? Not yet, but it is getting better each iteration and Sony seems to be seriously committed to FW updates. Now both my A7R2 and A7M2 are on FW V4.0...and none of my Nikon got more than 3 FW updates.......to get as far as to FW4.0...

Nikon and Canon guys always trash Sony for its complete lack of user support or after sales support for its own cameras........but the reality is Sony has been one of the most user freindly and user supporting camera manufactures. Sony has already issued 5 major FW updates for the A7X2 series and each of these was really a huge update, not just fixing bugs but added many features that did not originally existed.

Nikon and Canon have never done this. So while I have to admit the current Sony A7x system is not as intuitive as it should be, I am sure it will slowly get there since Sony seems to have been seriusly committed to this system. But it takes a bit of time, and I think it will be more than a few more iterations, that means it will probably need about a several years at least to get the state of maturity.

So Nikon seems to still have some time to get it all right.....

2> m43...........first of all, I do not consider this system is a serious system for stills or hybrid work now, I used to think it as a such system, though.

I mean compare the file quality of it to a decent FF or even to a decent APS-C system like the X-T20 or the A6300, or anything better. The m43 IQ is really sad, pathetic......although I really want to love it since I love it for video work and I like the concept of the system: it is small as a whole system, it is fast and very intuitive(especially Panasonic ones), it has incredible lowlight AF, it shoots great video, it has incredible stabilization system, it has very effective self sensor cleaning system, etc...with m43 I never need to worry about sensor dust issue and for me it is a huge plus.

But the 43 sensor at the current level of tech is simply not acceptable for any serious stills work, IMHO. The high ISO output quality is terrible, the blue gain noise seems really bad...the color depth is so poor and therefore the files out of any m43 camera including the best ones like GH5 and EM1MK2 cannot be really malleable at all, it cannot take much software manipulation, and therefore it is useless for stills.

There is a rumor that Olympus will come out with a new big 43 sensor format system.

If it is true, I am very happy and I think it might be my dream system, but I doubt it actually materialized.

So I think here again, Nikon seems to still have some time, or I have to be more honest the m43 is an irrelevent system for many of us who actually enlarge our images to over A2 size or larger.

To me it is an irrelevant system at least for stills. I am using it for video but I think I will replace it with the A7SMK2 since I shoot video in extreme lowlight most of times.

3> Fuji X........still not even close to the state of maturity yet, simply there are too many missing lenses such as macros , TS, super wide primes, etc.

But just like Sony, Fuji has been really seriously committed to this system and I am sure they will get there eventually, but just takes a bit of time, I am guessing it maybe at least a couple of iterations more, and so roughly, in 4 -5 years.

So here it goes again Nikon seems to still have some times to build a nice system to compete with the rest.

4> Fuji GFX, well it is not a mainstream budget system, many of those who have growing boys and girls cannot afford........plus it has just a several or so lenses.

And I think it is not in the same market as Nikon is trying to get into......although I think this system will succeed since Fuji seems to has been really committed to this system...and they have the needed resources to get it going.

5> Canon M, well it also has only 5 or 6 naive lens selections, and so it is totally irrelevant to most of us who do not own any Canon lenses or dislike the adapter concept.

Plus, no one knows Canon is really committed to this system, if Canon really is, then why is Canon not designing a set of serious L class lenses for this system?

 

So maybe Hogan is right this time Nikon seems to still have some time left for themselves, but like even Hogan admits, Nikon must do it right at the very first try next time with at least the same level of AF, EVF and metering system as the A9 or be better.

I think the more important question here is: what mount should they choose?

Continue on the F mount? As many of Hogan followers have suggested or seem to have supported......or they need a completely new mount?

I think if they choose the easier F mount route that means that is the end of Nikon as a camera manufacture. Choosing the F mount for the next generation camera system is a fatal mistake and I am sure Nikon knows it. That is why we have been getting so many E type of lenses from them recently......only the E and P type of lenses are usable for video or LV work without too many usability related issues.

And the all new E type lenses they've released in the last 2 or 3 years are amazing, if not simply outstanding.

Anyway, many many Sony, Fuji, and Canon fanboys underrate Nikon LV technology just because the current F mount system has terrible LV and video mode. I was one of them but I realized that it is not because Nikon has no tech in this area or Nikon has intentionally crippling their D-SLRs for video or LV use, but the F mount and its mechnical aperture control system is the real issue here. That is why, Nikon must design a new mount that takes full advantage of fully electronic mount design and also release a fully F mount compatible mount adapter.

But even then, they can just re-use the E type lenses, they must ditch the G type and the other older D and AF lenses for the better future compatibility to fully electro-magnetic mount control system of their new mirrorless mount......

And they must design their future mount with a bit wider than the EF mount throat design to take full advantage of the 35mm sensor, if they can do this then their mirrrorless system will be the best IQ system in the 35mm format camera class..

I think Sony's only one major mistake was having re-used physically squeezingly narror E mount for their FF E mount system, e.g., the FE system........the E mount is obviously a bit too narrow for a 35mm format sensor, the amount of shadow cast we get from a lenses like the 16-35mm f4, the 24-70mm f4, the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5, Samyang 14mm f2.8AF, and Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8 shows it clearly and it is an undeniable fact.

 

Many many current form of mirrorless fanboys online cliam Nikon has not technology to develop super fast mirrorless AF off the sensor, but is this really true?

No. They have already shown they can do it with the Nikon One.

Many Fuji and Sony fanboys do not realize why Sony and Fuji both suddenly got fast AF tech in their mirrorless, but it is actually from one of many Aptina patents that was originally co-developed with Nikon. Now Sony has been accepted to cross license most of their patents with Aptina(actually their parent company On Semi) and as a result Sony and Fuji've suddenly got the fast OSPDAF in their own cameras. But it was the Nikon One that got it first, way before Sony and Fuji.

So I think it is not too late for Nikon to enter into FF mirrorless market, but they must need a new lens mount.

Then do I sell my Sony to get the new hypothetical Nikon ?

No. I do not sell my A7R, A7R2 , A7MK2 and A6500, but I may add the Nikon in addition if it is really good with new wide FF optimized mount.

That said, I am no longer a gearhead, that means I do not collect cameras that I do not need, I focus on my priorities and ROI. So the cheapest body that can handle all my odd needs the most practical and cost effective solution, and thus it is the best camera out there for me. And it seems like the original A7R is that camera for me.

I do not need high frame rate, I do not need 4k in my stills camera(I own dedicated 4k cameras already), I do not need IBIS(it is actually a minus for me as it increases heat noise significantly). I also prefer the cheap A7R body over anything heavier than it since I already know it can take a lot of abuse after I have used it for 4 years or so.

I wish the next A7R would be smaller without all unneeded gimmicks such as IBIS, 8k(useless considering the current strange tech and internet speed),high frame rate(who wants it in a high resolution camera, that is completely beyond me), fast action AF(the A7R series was originally a slow camera and no need action AF), 650 AF points(who needs it? for me one point AF is fine if it is accurate).

In any case as I said it many times all digital cameras or products are a racket, and no need to get emotional about any of those digital toys(or tools).

  

The coming death of Nikon 22

Is it really already too late for Nikon?

Recently, there was a long lasting thread on this issue at NR site that seemed to be started with Thom Hogan's article called,"Thom Hogan explains why Nikon’s late entry to the mirrorless market could actually be a good thing".

Well it is a real complicated issue. I do not think it is a good thing, but the question is: is it really too late for Nikon to enter into so-called mirrorless market?

It is quite obvious while there is not even one good future-proven mirrorless mount system existing yet, most of these systems are now coming to almost the point we can call it state of maturity with lots of lenses and many third party flash systems, or at least nearing to it.

And it seems like the later they enter into the serious mirrorless market, the higher the hurdle bar raised up. The longer they wait to get into the market , the more demanding the minimam set of features and requirements for their first mirrorelss camera will become, and they must do it right at the very first try.

That said, they already try out the water with the Nikon One, and in fact, despite of extreme negative view of the series you read in many forums just because the Nikon One series has had a tiny sensor, it was actually very advanced system already from the very first Nikon One V1(of couse besides the sensor). At least the AF and video feature set were quite good for the time, and maybe the AF is still one of the very best in the mirrorless world.

Therefore, they do not need to change the direction dramatically, nor do they need totally new tech to actually make a decent big sensor mirrorless system from scratch: I mean they just need to swap the One sensor to FF or APS-C and improve the video part of it to the current level of the Panasonic , then it is already one of the best mirrorless out there.

If they can make it completely sealed and not just water resistant or weather selaed but water proof like the Nikon One AW1but with a big sensor and decent 4k, then it already is a quite sensational camera release.

And many of us (at least those who are in this industry here in Japan) already know that Nikon has produced a few (at least 4) FX mirrorless prototypes and one of which almost made it to the actual shop shelves, but Nikon suddenly canceled it just a few days before the original announcement day they planned for it. And many of us speculated it was because of the A7R2 announcement.........so I am sure it was originally planned for June or July 2015 but canceled out or postponed.

At the time, we all thought they should have actually released it even though it was not up to the level of the Sony A7R2. Then they would have been able to improve it from there on with many many experiments.

But now it seems like they must do it right at the very first try according to many mirrorless biased rumor sites. However, is it really as difficult as those rumor sites think it is for Nikon to beat the all existing mirrorelss systems?

Let's examin it here carefully:

1> the Sony E mount system......is it already considered to be a quite complete system? is its position already consolidated in Sony's long term business plan?

and is it really an intuitive system for photographers and videographers?

I think it is already a good system, but still far from what we call a complete system.

Why? cause there are no tilt and shift lenses, there are no weather sealed bodies, there are no powerful enough big bodies that comfortably take a big super tele prime, etc.

But for most of normal use cases, it is already at least as good or near as good as the state of the art best D-SLRs.

Well it is not close to the state of maturity as a whole system, as of this time of writing this just yet, but I think it is nearing to the point with about 32 lenses already released for this system and full Godox flash support and full Capture One and DXO support for it, and in case of C1 Sony users can download it for just 50 bucks, and we must admit that it is a big sales point for the A7X and the A6XXX series.

Then is it really intuitive ? Not yet, but it is getting better each iteration and Sony seems to be seriously committed to FW updates. Now both my A7R2 and A7M2 are on FW V4.0...and none of my Nikon got more than 3 FW updates.......to get as far as to FW4.0...

Nikon and Canon guys always trash Sony for its complete lack of user support or after sales support for its own cameras........but the reality is Sony has been one of the most user freindly and user supporting camera manufactures. Sony has already issued 5 major FW updates for the A7X2 series and each of these was really a huge update, not just fixing bugs but added many features that did not originally existed.

Nikon and Canon have never done this. So while I have to admit the current Sony A7x system is not as intuitive as it should be, I am sure it will slowly get there since Sony seems to have been seriusly committed to this system. But it takes a bit of time, and I think it will be more than a few more iterations, that means it will probably need about a several years at least to get the state of maturity.

So Nikon seems to still have some time to get it all right.....

2> m43...........first of all, I do not consider this system is a serious system for stills or hybrid work now, I used to think it as a such system, though.

I mean compare the file quality of it to a decent FF or even to a decent APS-C system like the X-T20 or the A6300, or anything better. The m43 IQ is really sad, pathetic......although I really want to love it since I love it for video work and I like the concept of the system: it is small as a whole system, it is fast and very intuitive(especially Panasonic ones), it has incredible lowlight AF, it shoots great video, it has incredible stabilization system, it has very effective self sensor cleaning system, etc...with m43 I never need to worry about sensor dust issue and for me it is a huge plus.

But the 43 sensor at the current level of tech is simply not acceptable for any serious stills work, IMHO. The high ISO output quality is terrible, the blue gain noise seems really bad...the color depth is so poor and therefore the files out of any m43 camera including the best ones like GH5 and EM1MK2 cannot be really malleable at all, it cannot take much software manipulation, and therefore it is useless for stills.

There is a rumor that Olympus will come out with a new big 43 sensor format system.

If it is true, I am very happy and I think it might be my dream system, but I doubt it actually materialized.

So I think here again, Nikon seems to still have some time, or I have to be more honest the m43 is an irrelevent system for many of us who actually enlarge our images to over A2 size or larger.

To me it is an irrelevant system at least for stills. I am using it for video but I think I will replace it with the A7SMK2 since I shoot video in extreme lowlight most of times.

3> Fuji X........still not even close to the state of maturity yet, simply there are too many missing lenses such as macros , TS, super wide primes, etc.

But just like Sony, Fuji has been really seriously committed to this system and I am sure they will get there eventually, but just takes a bit of time, I am guessing it maybe at least a couple of iterations more, and so roughly, in 4 -5 years.

So here it goes again Nikon seems to still have some times to build a nice system to compete with the rest.

4> Fuji GFX, well it is not a mainstream budget system, many of those who have growing boys and girls cannot afford........plus it has just a several or so lenses.

And I think it is not in the same market as Nikon is trying to get into......although I think this system will succeed since Fuji seems to has been really committed to this system...and they have the needed resources to get it going.

5> Canon M, well it also has only 5 or 6 naive lens selections, and so it is totally irrelevant to most of us who do not own any Canon lenses or dislike the adapter concept.

Plus, no one knows Canon is really committed to this system, if Canon really is, then why is Canon not designing a set of serious L class lenses for this system?

 

So maybe Hogan is right this time Nikon seems to still have some time left for themselves, but like even Hogan admits, Nikon must do it right at the very first try next time with at least the same level of AF, EVF and metering system as the A9 or be better.

I think the more important question here is: what mount should they choose?

Continue on the F mount? As many of Hogan followers have suggested or seem to have supported......or they need a completely new mount?

I think if they choose the easier F mount route that means that is the end of Nikon as a camera manufacture. Choosing the F mount for the next generation camera system is a fatal mistake and I am sure Nikon knows it. That is why we have been getting so many E type of lenses from them recently......only the E and P type of lenses are usable for video or LV work without too many usability related issues.

And the all new E type lenses they've released in the last 2 or 3 years are amazing, if not simply outstanding.

Anyway, many many Sony, Fuji, and Canon fanboys underrate Nikon LV technology just because the current F mount system has terrible LV and video mode. I was one of them but I realized that it is not because Nikon has no tech in this area or Nikon has intentionally crippling their D-SLRs for video or LV use, but the F mount and its mechnical aperture control system is the real issue here. That is why, Nikon must design a new mount that takes full advantage of fully electronic mount design and also release a fully F mount compatible mount adapter.

But even then, they can just re-use the E type lenses, they must ditch the G type and the other older D and AF lenses for the better future compatibility to fully electro-magnetic mount control system of their new mirrorless mount......

And they must design their future mount with a bit wider than the EF mount throat design to take full advantage of the 35mm sensor, if they can do this then their mirrrorless system will be the best IQ system in the 35mm format camera class..

I think Sony's only one major mistake was having re-used physically squeezingly narror E mount for their FF E mount system, e.g., the FE system........the E mount is obviously a bit too narrow for a 35mm format sensor, the amount of shadow cast we get from a lenses like the 16-35mm f4, the 24-70mm f4, the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5, Samyang 14mm f2.8AF, and Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8 shows it clearly and it is an undeniable fact.

 

Many many current form of mirrorless fanboys online cliam Nikon has not technology to develop super fast mirrorless AF off the sensor, but is this really true?

No. They have already shown they can do it with the Nikon One.

Many Fuji and Sony fanboys do not realize why Sony and Fuji both suddenly got fast AF tech in their mirrorless, but it is actually from one of many Aptina patents that was originally co-developed with Nikon. Now Sony has been accepted to cross license most of their patents with Aptina(actually their parent company On Semi) and as a result Sony and Fuji've suddenly got the fast OSPDAF in their own cameras. But it was the Nikon One that got it first, way before Sony and Fuji.

So I think it is not too late for Nikon to enter into FF mirrorless market, but they must need a new lens mount.

Then do I sell my Sony to get the new hypothetical Nikon ?

No. I do not sell my A7R, A7R2 , A7MK2 and A6500, but I may add the Nikon in addition if it is really good with new wide FF optimized mount.

That said, I am no longer a gearhead, that means I do not collect cameras that I do not need, I focus on my priorities and ROI. So the cheapest body that can handle all my odd needs the most practical and cost effective solution, and thus it is the best camera out there for me. And it seems like the original A7R is that camera for me.

I do not need high frame rate, I do not need 4k in my stills camera(I own dedicated 4k cameras already), I do not need IBIS(it is actually a minus for me as it increases heat noise significantly). I also prefer the cheap A7R body over anything heavier than it since I already know it can take a lot of abuse after I have used it for 4 years or so.

I wish the next A7R would be smaller without all unneeded gimmicks such as IBIS, 8k(useless considering the current strange tech and internet speed),high frame rate(who wants it in a high resolution camera, that is completely beyond me), fast action AF(the A7R series was originally a slow camera and no need action AF), 650 AF points(who needs it? for me one point AF is fine if it is accurate).

In any case as I said it many times all digital cameras or products are a racket, and no need to get emotional about any of those digital toys(or tools).

  

The coming death of Nikon 22

Is it really already too late for Nikon?

Recently, there was a long lasting thread on this issue at NR site that seemed to be started with Thom Hogan's article called,"Thom Hogan explains why Nikon’s late entry to the mirrorless market could actually be a good thing".

Well it is a real complicated issue. I do not think it is a good thing, but the question is: is it really too late for Nikon to enter into so-called mirrorless market?

It is quite obvious while there is not even one good future-proven mirrorless mount system existing yet, most of these systems are now coming to almost the point we can call it state of maturity with lots of lenses and many third party flash systems, or at least nearing to it.

And it seems like the later they enter into the serious mirrorless market, the higher the hurdle bar raised up. The longer they wait to get into the market , the more demanding the minimam set of features and requirements for their first mirrorelss camera will become, and they must do it right at the very first try.

That said, they already try out the water with the Nikon One, and in fact, despite of extreme negative view of the series you read in many forums just because the Nikon One series has had a tiny sensor, it was actually very advanced system already from the very first Nikon One V1(of couse besides the sensor). At least the AF and video feature set were quite good for the time, and maybe the AF is still one of the very best in the mirrorless world.

Therefore, they do not need to change the direction dramatically, nor do they need totally new tech to actually make a decent big sensor mirrorless system from scratch: I mean they just need to swap the One sensor to FF or APS-C and improve the video part of it to the current level of the Panasonic , then it is already one of the best mirrorless out there.

If they can make it completely sealed and not just water resistant or weather selaed but water proof like the Nikon One AW1but with a big sensor and decent 4k, then it already is a quite sensational camera release.

And many of us (at least those who are in this industry here in Japan) already know that Nikon has produced a few (at least 4) FX mirrorless prototypes and one of which almost made it to the actual shop shelves, but Nikon suddenly canceled it just a few days before the original announcement day they planned for it. And many of us speculated it was because of the A7R2 announcement.........so I am sure it was originally planned for June or July 2015 but canceled out or postponed.

At the time, we all thought they should have actually released it even though it was not up to the level of the Sony A7R2. Then they would have been able to improve it from there on with many many experiments.

But now it seems like they must do it right at the very first try according to many mirrorless biased rumor sites. However, is it really as difficult as those rumor sites think it is for Nikon to beat the all existing mirrorelss systems?

Let's examin it here carefully:

1> the Sony E mount system......is it already considered to be a quite complete system? is its position already consolidated in Sony's long term business plan?

and is it really an intuitive system for photographers and videographers?

I think it is already a good system, but still far from what we call a complete system.

Why? cause there are no tilt and shift lenses, there are no weather sealed bodies, there are no powerful enough big bodies that comfortably take a big super tele prime, etc.

But for most of normal use cases, it is already at least as good or near as good as the state of the art best D-SLRs.

Well it is not close to the state of maturity as a whole system, as of this time of writing this just yet, but I think it is nearing to the point with about 32 lenses already released for this system and full Godox flash support and full Capture One and DXO support for it, and in case of C1 Sony users can download it for just 50 bucks, and we must admit that it is a big sales point for the A7X and the A6XXX series.

Then is it really intuitive ? Not yet, but it is getting better each iteration and Sony seems to be seriously committed to FW updates. Now both my A7R2 and A7M2 are on FW V4.0...and none of my Nikon got more than 3 FW updates.......to get as far as to FW4.0...

Nikon and Canon guys always trash Sony for its complete lack of user support or after sales support for its own cameras........but the reality is Sony has been one of the most user freindly and user supporting camera manufactures. Sony has already issued 5 major FW updates for the A7X2 series and each of these was really a huge update, not just fixing bugs but added many features that did not originally existed.

Nikon and Canon have never done this. So while I have to admit the current Sony A7x system is not as intuitive as it should be, I am sure it will slowly get there since Sony seems to have been seriusly committed to this system. But it takes a bit of time, and I think it will be more than a few more iterations, that means it will probably need about a several years at least to get the state of maturity.

So Nikon seems to still have some time to get it all right.....

2> m43...........first of all, I do not consider this system is a serious system for stills or hybrid work now, I used to think it as a such system, though.

I mean compare the file quality of it to a decent FF or even to a decent APS-C system like the X-T20 or the A6300, or anything better. The m43 IQ is really sad, pathetic......although I really want to love it since I love it for video work and I like the concept of the system: it is small as a whole system, it is fast and very intuitive(especially Panasonic ones), it has incredible lowlight AF, it shoots great video, it has incredible stabilization system, it has very effective self sensor cleaning system, etc...with m43 I never need to worry about sensor dust issue and for me it is a huge plus.

But the 43 sensor at the current level of tech is simply not acceptable for any serious stills work, IMHO. The high ISO output quality is terrible, the blue gain noise seems really bad...the color depth is so poor and therefore the files out of any m43 camera including the best ones like GH5 and EM1MK2 cannot be really malleable at all, it cannot take much software manipulation, and therefore it is useless for stills.

There is a rumor that Olympus will come out with a new big 43 sensor format system.

If it is true, I am very happy and I think it might be my dream system, but I doubt it actually materialized.

So I think here again, Nikon seems to still have some time, or I have to be more honest the m43 is an irrelevent system for many of us who actually enlarge our images to over A2 size or larger.

To me it is an irrelevant system at least for stills. I am using it for video but I think I will replace it with the A7SMK2 since I shoot video in extreme lowlight most of times.

3> Fuji X........still not even close to the state of maturity yet, simply there are too many missing lenses such as macros , TS, super wide primes, etc.

But just like Sony, Fuji has been really seriously committed to this system and I am sure they will get there eventually, but just takes a bit of time, I am guessing it maybe at least a couple of iterations more, and so roughly, in 4 -5 years.

So here it goes again Nikon seems to still have some times to build a nice system to compete with the rest.

4> Fuji GFX, well it is not a mainstream budget system, many of those who have growing boys and girls cannot afford........plus it has just a several or so lenses.

And I think it is not in the same market as Nikon is trying to get into......although I think this system will succeed since Fuji seems to has been really committed to this system...and they have the needed resources to get it going.

5> Canon M, well it also has only 5 or 6 naive lens selections, and so it is totally irrelevant to most of us who do not own any Canon lenses or dislike the adapter concept.

Plus, no one knows Canon is really committed to this system, if Canon really is, then why is Canon not designing a set of serious L class lenses for this system?

 

So maybe Hogan is right this time Nikon seems to still have some time left for themselves, but like even Hogan admits, Nikon must do it right at the very first try next time with at least the same level of AF, EVF and metering system as the A9 or be better.

I think the more important question here is: what mount should they choose?

Continue on the F mount? As many of Hogan followers have suggested or seem to have supported......or they need a completely new mount?

I think if they choose the easier F mount route that means that is the end of Nikon as a camera manufacture. Choosing the F mount for the next generation camera system is a fatal mistake and I am sure Nikon knows it. That is why we have been getting so many E type of lenses from them recently......only the E and P type of lenses are usable for video or LV work without too many usability related issues.

And the all new E type lenses they've released in the last 2 or 3 years are amazing, if not simply outstanding.

Anyway, many many Sony, Fuji, and Canon fanboys underrate Nikon LV technology just because the current F mount system has terrible LV and video mode. I was one of them but I realized that it is not because Nikon has no tech in this area or Nikon has intentionally crippling their D-SLRs for video or LV use, but the F mount and its mechnical aperture control system is the real issue here. That is why, Nikon must design a new mount that takes full advantage of fully electronic mount design and also release a fully F mount compatible mount adapter.

But even then, they can just re-use the E type lenses, they must ditch the G type and the other older D and AF lenses for the better future compatibility to fully electro-magnetic mount control system of their new mirrorless mount......

And they must design their future mount with a bit wider than the EF mount throat design to take full advantage of the 35mm sensor, if they can do this then their mirrrorless system will be the best IQ system in the 35mm format camera class..

I think Sony's only one major mistake was having re-used physically squeezingly narror E mount for their FF E mount system, e.g., the FE system........the E mount is obviously a bit too narrow for a 35mm format sensor, the amount of shadow cast we get from a lenses like the 16-35mm f4, the 24-70mm f4, the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5, Samyang 14mm f2.8AF, and Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8 shows it clearly and it is an undeniable fact.

 

Many many current form of mirrorless fanboys online cliam Nikon has not technology to develop super fast mirrorless AF off the sensor, but is this really true?

No. They have already shown they can do it with the Nikon One.

Many Fuji and Sony fanboys do not realize why Sony and Fuji both suddenly got fast AF tech in their mirrorless, but it is actually from one of many Aptina patents that was originally co-developed with Nikon. Now Sony has been accepted to cross license most of their patents with Aptina(actually their parent company On Semi) and as a result Sony and Fuji've suddenly got the fast OSPDAF in their own cameras. But it was the Nikon One that got it first, way before Sony and Fuji.

So I think it is not too late for Nikon to enter into FF mirrorless market, but they must need a new lens mount.

Then do I sell my Sony to get the new hypothetical Nikon ?

No. I do not sell my A7R, A7R2 , A7MK2 and A6500, but I may add the Nikon in addition if it is really good with new wide FF optimized mount.

That said, I am no longer a gearhead, that means I do not collect cameras that I do not need, I focus on my priorities and ROI. So the cheapest body that can handle all my odd needs the most practical and cost effective solution, and thus it is the best camera out there for me. And it seems like the original A7R is that camera for me.

I do not need high frame rate, I do not need 4k in my stills camera(I own dedicated 4k cameras already), I do not need IBIS(it is actually a minus for me as it increases heat noise significantly). I also prefer the cheap A7R body over anything heavier than it since I already know it can take a lot of abuse after I have used it for 4 years or so.

I wish the next A7R would be smaller without all unneeded gimmicks such as IBIS, 8k(useless considering the current strange tech and internet speed),high frame rate(who wants it in a high resolution camera, that is completely beyond me), fast action AF(the A7R series was originally a slow camera and no need action AF), 650 AF points(who needs it? for me one point AF is fine if it is accurate).

In any case as I said it many times all digital cameras or products are a racket, and no need to get emotional about any of those digital toys(or tools).

  

The coming death of Nikon 22

Is it really already too late for Nikon?

Recently, there was a long lasting thread on this issue at NR site that seemed to be started with Thom Hogan's article called,"Thom Hogan explains why Nikon’s late entry to the mirrorless market could actually be a good thing".

Well it is a real complicated issue. I do not think it is a good thing, but the question is: is it really too late for Nikon to enter into so-called mirrorless market?

It is quite obvious while there is not even one good future-proven mirrorless mount system existing yet, most of these systems are now coming to almost the point we can call it state of maturity with lots of lenses and many third party flash systems, or at least nearing to it.

And it seems like the later they enter into the serious mirrorless market, the higher the hurdle bar raised up. The longer they wait to get into the market , the more demanding the minimam set of features and requirements for their first mirrorelss camera will become, and they must do it right at the very first try.

That said, they already try out the water with the Nikon One, and in fact, despite of extreme negative view of the series you read in many forums just because the Nikon One series has had a tiny sensor, it was actually very advanced system already from the very first Nikon One V1(of couse besides the sensor). At least the AF and video feature set were quite good for the time, and maybe the AF is still one of the very best in the mirrorless world.

Therefore, they do not need to change the direction dramatically, nor do they need totally new tech to actually make a decent big sensor mirrorless system from scratch: I mean they just need to swap the One sensor to FF or APS-C and improve the video part of it to the current level of the Panasonic , then it is already one of the best mirrorless out there.

If they can make it completely sealed and not just water resistant or weather selaed but water proof like the Nikon One AW1but with a big sensor and decent 4k, then it already is a quite sensational camera release.

And many of us (at least those who are in this industry here in Japan) already know that Nikon has produced a few (at least 4) FX mirrorless prototypes and one of which almost made it to the actual shop shelves, but Nikon suddenly canceled it just a few days before the original announcement day they planned for it. And many of us speculated it was because of the A7R2 announcement.........so I am sure it was originally planned for June or July 2015 but canceled out or postponed.

At the time, we all thought they should have actually released it even though it was not up to the level of the Sony A7R2. Then they would have been able to improve it from there on with many many experiments.

But now it seems like they must do it right at the very first try according to many mirrorless biased rumor sites. However, is it really as difficult as those rumor sites think it is for Nikon to beat the all existing mirrorelss systems?

Let's examin it here carefully:

1> the Sony E mount system......is it already considered to be a quite complete system? is its position already consolidated in Sony's long term business plan?

and is it really an intuitive system for photographers and videographers?

I think it is already a good system, but still far from what we call a complete system.

Why? cause there are no tilt and shift lenses, there are no weather sealed bodies, there are no powerful enough big bodies that comfortably take a big super tele prime, etc.

But for most of normal use cases, it is already at least as good or near as good as the state of the art best D-SLRs.

Well it is not close to the state of maturity as a whole system, as of this time of writing this just yet, but I think it is nearing to the point with about 32 lenses already released for this system and full Godox flash support and full Capture One and DXO support for it, and in case of C1 Sony users can download it for just 50 bucks, and we must admit that it is a big sales point for the A7X and the A6XXX series.

Then is it really intuitive ? Not yet, but it is getting better each iteration and Sony seems to be seriously committed to FW updates. Now both my A7R2 and A7M2 are on FW V4.0...and none of my Nikon got more than 3 FW updates.......to get as far as to FW4.0...

Nikon and Canon guys always trash Sony for its complete lack of user support or after sales support for its own cameras........but the reality is Sony has been one of the most user freindly and user supporting camera manufactures. Sony has already issued 5 major FW updates for the A7X2 series and each of these was really a huge update, not just fixing bugs but added many features that did not originally existed.

Nikon and Canon have never done this. So while I have to admit the current Sony A7x system is not as intuitive as it should be, I am sure it will slowly get there since Sony seems to have been seriusly committed to this system. But it takes a bit of time, and I think it will be more than a few more iterations, that means it will probably need about a several years at least to get the state of maturity.

So Nikon seems to still have some time to get it all right.....

2> m43...........first of all, I do not consider this system is a serious system for stills or hybrid work now, I used to think it as a such system, though.

I mean compare the file quality of it to a decent FF or even to a decent APS-C system like the X-T20 or the A6300, or anything better. The m43 IQ is really sad, pathetic......although I really want to love it since I love it for video work and I like the concept of the system: it is small as a whole system, it is fast and very intuitive(especially Panasonic ones), it has incredible lowlight AF, it shoots great video, it has incredible stabilization system, it has very effective self sensor cleaning system, etc...with m43 I never need to worry about sensor dust issue and for me it is a huge plus.

But the 43 sensor at the current level of tech is simply not acceptable for any serious stills work, IMHO. The high ISO output quality is terrible, the blue gain noise seems really bad...the color depth is so poor and therefore the files out of any m43 camera including the best ones like GH5 and EM1MK2 cannot be really malleable at all, it cannot take much software manipulation, and therefore it is useless for stills.

There is a rumor that Olympus will come out with a new big 43 sensor format system.

If it is true, I am very happy and I think it might be my dream system, but I doubt it actually materialized.

So I think here again, Nikon seems to still have some time, or I have to be more honest the m43 is an irrelevent system for many of us who actually enlarge our images to over A2 size or larger.

To me it is an irrelevant system at least for stills. I am using it for video but I think I will replace it with the A7SMK2 since I shoot video in extreme lowlight most of times.

3> Fuji X........still not even close to the state of maturity yet, simply there are too many missing lenses such as macros , TS, super wide primes, etc.

But just like Sony, Fuji has been really seriously committed to this system and I am sure they will get there eventually, but just takes a bit of time, I am guessing it maybe at least a couple of iterations more, and so roughly, in 4 -5 years.

So here it goes again Nikon seems to still have some times to build a nice system to compete with the rest.

4> Fuji GFX, well it is not a mainstream budget system, many of those who have growing boys and girls cannot afford........plus it has just a several or so lenses.

And I think it is not in the same market as Nikon is trying to get into......although I think this system will succeed since Fuji seems to has been really committed to this system...and they have the needed resources to get it going.

5> Canon M, well it also has only 5 or 6 naive lens selections, and so it is totally irrelevant to most of us who do not own any Canon lenses or dislike the adapter concept.

Plus, no one knows Canon is really committed to this system, if Canon really is, then why is Canon not designing a set of serious L class lenses for this system?

 

So maybe Hogan is right this time Nikon seems to still have some time left for themselves, but like even Hogan admits, Nikon must do it right at the very first try next time with at least the same level of AF, EVF and metering system as the A9 or be better.

I think the more important question here is: what mount should they choose?

Continue on the F mount? As many of Hogan followers have suggested or seem to have supported......or they need a completely new mount?

I think if they choose the easier F mount route that means that is the end of Nikon as a camera manufacture. Choosing the F mount for the next generation camera system is a fatal mistake and I am sure Nikon knows it. That is why we have been getting so many E type of lenses from them recently......only the E and P type of lenses are usable for video or LV work without too many usability related issues.

And the all new E type lenses they've released in the last 2 or 3 years are amazing, if not simply outstanding.

Anyway, many many Sony, Fuji, and Canon fanboys underrate Nikon LV technology just because the current F mount system has terrible LV and video mode. I was one of them but I realized that it is not because Nikon has no tech in this area or Nikon has intentionally crippling their D-SLRs for video or LV use, but the F mount and its mechnical aperture control system is the real issue here. That is why, Nikon must design a new mount that takes full advantage of fully electronic mount design and also release a fully F mount compatible mount adapter.

But even then, they can just re-use the E type lenses, they must ditch the G type and the other older D and AF lenses for the better future compatibility to fully electro-magnetic mount control system of their new mirrorless mount......

And they must design their future mount with a bit wider than the EF mount throat design to take full advantage of the 35mm sensor, if they can do this then their mirrrorless system will be the best IQ system in the 35mm format camera class..

I think Sony's only one major mistake was having re-used physically squeezingly narror E mount for their FF E mount system, e.g., the FE system........the E mount is obviously a bit too narrow for a 35mm format sensor, the amount of shadow cast we get from a lenses like the 16-35mm f4, the 24-70mm f4, the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5, Samyang 14mm f2.8AF, and Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8 shows it clearly and it is an undeniable fact.

 

Many many current form of mirrorless fanboys online cliam Nikon has not technology to develop super fast mirrorless AF off the sensor, but is this really true?

No. They have already shown they can do it with the Nikon One.

Many Fuji and Sony fanboys do not realize why Sony and Fuji both suddenly got fast AF tech in their mirrorless, but it is actually from one of many Aptina patents that was originally co-developed with Nikon. Now Sony has been accepted to cross license most of their patents with Aptina(actually their parent company On Semi) and as a result Sony and Fuji've suddenly got the fast OSPDAF in their own cameras. But it was the Nikon One that got it first, way before Sony and Fuji.

So I think it is not too late for Nikon to enter into FF mirrorless market, but they must need a new lens mount.

Then do I sell my Sony to get the new hypothetical Nikon ?

No. I do not sell my A7R, A7R2 , A7MK2 and A6500, but I may add the Nikon in addition if it is really good with new wide FF optimized mount.

That said, I am no longer a gearhead, that means I do not collect cameras that I do not need, I focus on my priorities and ROI. So the cheapest body that can handle all my odd needs the most practical and cost effective solution, and thus it is the best camera out there for me. And it seems like the original A7R is that camera for me.

I do not need high frame rate, I do not need 4k in my stills camera(I own dedicated 4k cameras already), I do not need IBIS(it is actually a minus for me as it increases heat noise significantly). I also prefer the cheap A7R body over anything heavier than it since I already know it can take a lot of abuse after I have used it for 4 years or so.

I wish the next A7R would be smaller without all unneeded gimmicks such as IBIS, 8k(useless considering the current strange tech and internet speed),high frame rate(who wants it in a high resolution camera, that is completely beyond me), fast action AF(the A7R series was originally a slow camera and no need action AF), 650 AF points(who needs it? for me one point AF is fine if it is accurate).

In any case as I said it many times all digital cameras or products are a racket, and no need to get emotional about any of those digital toys(or tools).

  

close-up of the little bug from meg :)

The coming death of Nikon 22

Is it really already too late for Nikon?

Recently, there was a long lasting thread on this issue at NR site that seemed to be started with Thom Hogan's article called,"Thom Hogan explains why Nikon’s late entry to the mirrorless market could actually be a good thing".

Well it is a real complicated issue. I do not think it is a good thing, but the question is: is it really too late for Nikon to enter into so-called mirrorless market?

It is quite obvious while there is not even one good future-proven mirrorless mount system existing yet, most of these systems are now coming to almost the point we can call it state of maturity with lots of lenses and many third party flash systems, or at least nearing to it.

And it seems like the later they enter into the serious mirrorless market, the higher the hurdle bar raised up. The longer they wait to get into the market , the more demanding the minimam set of features and requirements for their first mirrorelss camera will become, and they must do it right at the very first try.

That said, they already try out the water with the Nikon One, and in fact, despite of extreme negative view of the series you read in many forums just because the Nikon One series has had a tiny sensor, it was actually very advanced system already from the very first Nikon One V1(of couse besides the sensor). At least the AF and video feature set were quite good for the time, and maybe the AF is still one of the very best in the mirrorless world.

Therefore, they do not need to change the direction dramatically, nor do they need totally new tech to actually make a decent big sensor mirrorless system from scratch: I mean they just need to swap the One sensor to FF or APS-C and improve the video part of it to the current level of the Panasonic , then it is already one of the best mirrorless out there.

If they can make it completely sealed and not just water resistant or weather selaed but water proof like the Nikon One AW1but with a big sensor and decent 4k, then it already is a quite sensational camera release.

And many of us (at least those who are in this industry here in Japan) already know that Nikon has produced a few (at least 4) FX mirrorless prototypes and one of which almost made it to the actual shop shelves, but Nikon suddenly canceled it just a few days before the original announcement day they planned for it. And many of us speculated it was because of the A7R2 announcement.........so I am sure it was originally planned for June or July 2015 but canceled out or postponed.

At the time, we all thought they should have actually released it even though it was not up to the level of the Sony A7R2. Then they would have been able to improve it from there on with many many experiments.

But now it seems like they must do it right at the very first try according to many mirrorless biased rumor sites. However, is it really as difficult as those rumor sites think it is for Nikon to beat the all existing mirrorelss systems?

Let's examin it here carefully:

1> the Sony E mount system......is it already considered to be a quite complete system? is its position already consolidated in Sony's long term business plan?

and is it really an intuitive system for photographers and videographers?

I think it is already a good system, but still far from what we call a complete system.

Why? cause there are no tilt and shift lenses, there are no weather sealed bodies, there are no powerful enough big bodies that comfortably take a big super tele prime, etc.

But for most of normal use cases, it is already at least as good or near as good as the state of the art best D-SLRs.

Well it is not close to the state of maturity as a whole system, as of this time of writing this just yet, but I think it is nearing to the point with about 32 lenses already released for this system and full Godox flash support and full Capture One and DXO support for it, and in case of C1 Sony users can download it for just 50 bucks, and we must admit that it is a big sales point for the A7X and the A6XXX series.

Then is it really intuitive ? Not yet, but it is getting better each iteration and Sony seems to be seriously committed to FW updates. Now both my A7R2 and A7M2 are on FW V4.0...and none of my Nikon got more than 3 FW updates.......to get as far as to FW4.0...

Nikon and Canon guys always trash Sony for its complete lack of user support or after sales support for its own cameras........but the reality is Sony has been one of the most user freindly and user supporting camera manufactures. Sony has already issued 5 major FW updates for the A7X2 series and each of these was really a huge update, not just fixing bugs but added many features that did not originally existed.

Nikon and Canon have never done this. So while I have to admit the current Sony A7x system is not as intuitive as it should be, I am sure it will slowly get there since Sony seems to have been seriusly committed to this system. But it takes a bit of time, and I think it will be more than a few more iterations, that means it will probably need about a several years at least to get the state of maturity.

So Nikon seems to still have some time to get it all right.....

2> m43...........first of all, I do not consider this system is a serious system for stills or hybrid work now, I used to think it as a such system, though.

I mean compare the file quality of it to a decent FF or even to a decent APS-C system like the X-T20 or the A6300, or anything better. The m43 IQ is really sad, pathetic......although I really want to love it since I love it for video work and I like the concept of the system: it is small as a whole system, it is fast and very intuitive(especially Panasonic ones), it has incredible lowlight AF, it shoots great video, it has incredible stabilization system, it has very effective self sensor cleaning system, etc...with m43 I never need to worry about sensor dust issue and for me it is a huge plus.

But the 43 sensor at the current level of tech is simply not acceptable for any serious stills work, IMHO. The high ISO output quality is terrible, the blue gain noise seems really bad...the color depth is so poor and therefore the files out of any m43 camera including the best ones like GH5 and EM1MK2 cannot be really malleable at all, it cannot take much software manipulation, and therefore it is useless for stills.

There is a rumor that Olympus will come out with a new big 43 sensor format system.

If it is true, I am very happy and I think it might be my dream system, but I doubt it actually materialized.

So I think here again, Nikon seems to still have some time, or I have to be more honest the m43 is an irrelevent system for many of us who actually enlarge our images to over A2 size or larger.

To me it is an irrelevant system at least for stills. I am using it for video but I think I will replace it with the A7SMK2 since I shoot video in extreme lowlight most of times.

3> Fuji X........still not even close to the state of maturity yet, simply there are too many missing lenses such as macros , TS, super wide primes, etc.

But just like Sony, Fuji has been really seriously committed to this system and I am sure they will get there eventually, but just takes a bit of time, I am guessing it maybe at least a couple of iterations more, and so roughly, in 4 -5 years.

So here it goes again Nikon seems to still have some times to build a nice system to compete with the rest.

4> Fuji GFX, well it is not a mainstream budget system, many of those who have growing boys and girls cannot afford........plus it has just a several or so lenses.

And I think it is not in the same market as Nikon is trying to get into......although I think this system will succeed since Fuji seems to has been really committed to this system...and they have the needed resources to get it going.

5> Canon M, well it also has only 5 or 6 naive lens selections, and so it is totally irrelevant to most of us who do not own any Canon lenses or dislike the adapter concept.

Plus, no one knows Canon is really committed to this system, if Canon really is, then why is Canon not designing a set of serious L class lenses for this system?

 

So maybe Hogan is right this time Nikon seems to still have some time left for themselves, but like even Hogan admits, Nikon must do it right at the very first try next time with at least the same level of AF, EVF and metering system as the A9 or be better.

I think the more important question here is: what mount should they choose?

Continue on the F mount? As many of Hogan followers have suggested or seem to have supported......or they need a completely new mount?

I think if they choose the easier F mount route that means that is the end of Nikon as a camera manufacture. Choosing the F mount for the next generation camera system is a fatal mistake and I am sure Nikon knows it. That is why we have been getting so many E type of lenses from them recently......only the E and P type of lenses are usable for video or LV work without too many usability related issues.

And the all new E type lenses they've released in the last 2 or 3 years are amazing, if not simply outstanding.

Anyway, many many Sony, Fuji, and Canon fanboys underrate Nikon LV technology just because the current F mount system has terrible LV and video mode. I was one of them but I realized that it is not because Nikon has no tech in this area or Nikon has intentionally crippling their D-SLRs for video or LV use, but the F mount and its mechnical aperture control system is the real issue here. That is why, Nikon must design a new mount that takes full advantage of fully electronic mount design and also release a fully F mount compatible mount adapter.

But even then, they can just re-use the E type lenses, they must ditch the G type and the other older D and AF lenses for the better future compatibility to fully electro-magnetic mount control system of their new mirrorless mount......

And they must design their future mount with a bit wider than the EF mount throat design to take full advantage of the 35mm sensor, if they can do this then their mirrrorless system will be the best IQ system in the 35mm format camera class..

I think Sony's only one major mistake was having re-used physically squeezingly narror E mount for their FF E mount system, e.g., the FE system........the E mount is obviously a bit too narrow for a 35mm format sensor, the amount of shadow cast we get from a lenses like the 16-35mm f4, the 24-70mm f4, the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5, Samyang 14mm f2.8AF, and Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8 shows it clearly and it is an undeniable fact.

 

Many many current form of mirrorless fanboys online cliam Nikon has not technology to develop super fast mirrorless AF off the sensor, but is this really true?

No. They have already shown they can do it with the Nikon One.

Many Fuji and Sony fanboys do not realize why Sony and Fuji both suddenly got fast AF tech in their mirrorless, but it is actually from one of many Aptina patents that was originally co-developed with Nikon. Now Sony has been accepted to cross license most of their patents with Aptina(actually their parent company On Semi) and as a result Sony and Fuji've suddenly got the fast OSPDAF in their own cameras. But it was the Nikon One that got it first, way before Sony and Fuji.

So I think it is not too late for Nikon to enter into FF mirrorless market, but they must need a new lens mount.

Then do I sell my Sony to get the new hypothetical Nikon ?

No. I do not sell my A7R, A7R2 , A7MK2 and A6500, but I may add the Nikon in addition if it is really good with new wide FF optimized mount.

That said, I am no longer a gearhead, that means I do not collect cameras that I do not need, I focus on my priorities and ROI. So the cheapest body that can handle all my odd needs the most practical and cost effective solution, and thus it is the best camera out there for me. And it seems like the original A7R is that camera for me.

I do not need high frame rate, I do not need 4k in my stills camera(I own dedicated 4k cameras already), I do not need IBIS(it is actually a minus for me as it increases heat noise significantly). I also prefer the cheap A7R body over anything heavier than it since I already know it can take a lot of abuse after I have used it for 4 years or so.

I wish the next A7R would be smaller without all unneeded gimmicks such as IBIS, 8k(useless considering the current strange tech and internet speed),high frame rate(who wants it in a high resolution camera, that is completely beyond me), fast action AF(the A7R series was originally a slow camera and no need action AF), 650 AF points(who needs it? for me one point AF is fine if it is accurate).

In any case as I said it many times all digital cameras or products are a racket, and no need to get emotional about any of those digital toys(or tools).

  

This image now available via Getty Images

 

www.gettyimages.com/Search/Search.aspx?assettype=image&am... Clow Photography - Annapolis, MD

   

Friday

Entry One

 

Flew out of work, the fleet flight of Friday before a holiday weekend. Everyone cracks a smile upon stepping out of the concrete and glass coffin of the corporate work week. The motorcycle is quickly gassed and loaded, I leave Washington DC at three-thirty, vowing not to check the time for the rest of the adventure. Adventure, the American adventure of the open road is what I seek. The road, my cameras, and escape.

 

Right turn off of 15th St. NW and I’m motoring past the Washington Monument and the White House. Harleys and clones are already lining the Mall for the annual Memorial remembrance that is Rolling Thunder. I’m soon over the bridge and on I-66 west. I plan on avoiding major highways when at all possible. Preferring scenic byways to drab highways. 66 is a necessary evil to flee the DC metro area as quickly as possible. At the start, 66 is a good quick run, for awhile anyway. Loads of Rolling Thunder riders are heading in 66 eastbound.

 

I keep the ubiquitous two fingers down to the side salute to fellow bikers out for extended stretches of time. In my experience, HD guys return the acknowledgement about 30-40% of the time. No big deal, some animosity exist though between different bike cultures. Motor-ism two-wheel stereotypes. However with the Rolling Thunder guys there is a noticeable increase in response, perhaps due to no longer just one biker acknowledging another, but a patriotic sharing of support and remembrance for those left behind, POW-MIA.

 

Traffic worsens further out 66 and I come up on a full HD dresser. Screaming Eagle back patch worked in with POW-MIA covers his vest and is topped by a “Run for the Wall” patch. I keep back a pace and we adopt the natural offset positioning of multiple riders.

 

After some 66 backup, stop-and-go, we strike up a staccato conversation in the pauses of the traffic flow. Where you been, where you going, see the rain coming? I tell him I’m headed out to the mountains, Skyline Drive and West Virginia. He says he’s just in from there recently, was in DC for Rolling Thunder for the day and will be coming back in on Sunday again. His license plate is obscured by luggage, so I’m unsure of his port of origin.

 

Later on we part ways and my thoughts turn. Of my parents friends only my step-dad was drafted for Vietnam. Luckily, for us, he only went as far as Ft. Hood, TX, and came back with some good stories about army life and venturing into Mexico (at least the ones he’s shared with me). I think about all the life he’s lived since then, all his experiences and joys. Thinking about what all those who didn’t return gave up, lost, when they didn’t come home. The loss felt by those who loved them, families that have a name on the Wall.

 

Rain is sprinkling before Manassas. Enough to cool you off but not enough to get you worried yet, at least for a bit. Whooooo. Then come the big drops. I head off the ramp to gear up with the rain paraphernalia under the gas station pavilion. Finally get it all on and get strapped back up and out pops the sun and the rain stops. Too funny. Now I have wet clothes on under the raingear. Rain gear now keeping the wind out that would dry me. I motor on as more rain is promised on the horizon.

 

This brings up a point about rain. People always ask, “What do you do when it rains and your on the motorcycle”. I reply simply, “I get wet”. Duh. Rain riding has never bothered me. On the straight highways it’s no big deal. Just give more cushion to the cars in front of you. Drive like grandma on the exit ramps.

 

My turning point is finally reached. Off of 66 west and onto 647, Crest Hill Rd. at The Plains, VA. Crest Hill Road is my first slice of motorcycle heaven to be had this weekend. I’m delighted to find that the squiggly line I traced out on the map when planning this trip has translated so well in reality. The road is still wet from the passing rain clouds, and I give a small rabbit and then a chipmunk a near death experience. My first of many animal crossings this weekend. The road is fantastic. A mixture of hilltop road and tree lined canopies that create forest tunnels. Speed limit is 45mph, 55-60 feels comfortable on most parts. Keeping an eye out for a hilltop barn to photograph that I’ve seen in my minds eye, lit by the sun breaking through the clouds and backed by the mountain vista. No luck on any of the barns actual placement to fit the mental picture I have framed.

 

Crest Hill Road and Fodderstack Rd is a long stretch. I take shots of a church and other buildings along Zachary Taylor Highway. Fodderstack gives more of the same as Crest Hill, just a narrower road. The asphalt is of my favorite variety, freshly laid. Washington, VA is a tiny town of historic bed and breakfasts. Local wineries appear to be an attraction here too. Right after Washington the rain returns while I’m in route to Sperryville. Then it really starts to come down, a full on summer thunderstorm. Visibility is down. Road and parking lots soon resemble rivers. Rain drops of the monster variety explode on the pavement, and you know it hurts when they hit you.

 

I quick soaking circuit of Sperryville confirms there are no local hotels. I duck into a barn shaped restaurant to wait it out. My drenched gear takes on bar stool and I occupy another. There’s a few flying pigs about. The bartender get me a hefeweizen, and recommends the angus burger. Locally raised and grass fed, we exchange jokes about my passing the burgers relatives on the way in.

 

Don’t freak about the beer. I have a one only rule when riding. It was followed by a meal (best burger of the weekend!), several coffees, and this bar top journal entry.

 

Somewhere along Crest Hill road I decided to keep the cell off for the weekend. In addition no tv, newspapers, internet, or e-mail sound like a good idea. Of course I now am studiously avoid eye contact with the two beautiful plasma’s above the bar.

 

Entry Two

 

Hazel River Inn, Culpepper, VA, has the coolest street side seating in town.

 

The downpour let up at the Shady Farms bar in Sperryville and due to the deficiency in local lodging I quiz the bartender for options. Over the other side of the mountain, the opposite side of Skyline Dr via 211 is Luray with lots of motels, but I want to save the mountain for the morning. The waitress suggest Culpepper, there being a Holiday Inn etc.

 

Stepping outside the sun has broke through the clouds again. Enough for some shots of Shady Farms Restaurant and a bridge. Heading down 522, the Sperryville Pike, I keep an eye out for photo ops to catch the next morning as I’ll be rerouting back through. Following the mantra of Dale Borgeson about tour riding in the US, I aim to avoid large chain establishments, whether they are restaurants or hotels, and explore the mom-and-pop local variety businesses. I have a dive-ish roadside motel in mind, Culpepper comes through with the Sleepy Hollow Hotel.

 

Before check in I ride through downtown historic Culpepper. It’s a cool place. The Shady Farm bartender had recommended the Culpepper Thai restaurant. I see it but don’t visit, still full from the meal earlier. Cameron Street Coffee looks like a great place, located in an old warehouse. Unfortunately their closed for the night.

 

Shower and changed, room 102 at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel. I hop back on the bike, refreshed and dry and ride through the warm night air back downtown. The coffee at the Hazel River Inn comes with a sweet fudge confection on the side. The peach and blackberry cobbler with vanilla sauce is divine.

 

The reconfigured plan for this getaway is to shed. Shed worries about the job, career, housing, and relationships. My motorcycle is therapeutic. It’s 600cc’s of Zoloft on two wheels. The road lifts my spirits. This wasn’t supposed to be a solo run, and there are stretches of road where I feel the emptiness behind me.

 

The cobbler is finished and I can hear the sound of a band doing their sound check. The banging of the drum requires investigation.

 

Entry Three

 

I found Brown Bag Special in the cellar pub of the same restaurant I was in. On my way to the door the noise of the sound check floated up the stairs and directed my feet downward. Brown Bag Special opened the set, appropriately enough, with “I drink alone”. The ol’ man, Big Money, would have loved it. Drink alone started off a Big Money Blues trifecta to include “The Breeze” and “Mustang Sally”. Then they made the mistake a lot of bands make that have a great lead guitar player. They let him sing. The lead guitarist karaoke sucked his way through a Tom Petty hit. He was so off key in his singing it made you appreciate the guitar solo’s all the more for the relief they provided. Thankfully the regular singer soon resumed his duties and the night went on. More good stuff from the band.

 

Freebird

Folsom Prison Blues

Cheap Sun Glasses

 

“can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, what she’s done to me”

 

Off to bed now at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel with the ghost and shades of dead hookers and overdoses past.

 

150 miles today.

  

Saturday

 

Entry Four

 

Morning breaks on the Sleepy Hollow Hotel, a hot shower and I’m back on the bike. A quick stop downtown to shoot the Hazel Inn, then it’s back on the Sperryville Pike. More stops to capture some sights seen yesterday. Mr. & Mrs. Pump. The open mouth caricatures are an accurate representation of the current gas cost and the pumps eating your wallet.

 

I keep telling my daughter that her first car, college car, will be a hybrid. She thinks they are ugly. The bike isn’t so bad, averaging around 40mpg. At about 180 miles on the tripometer I start to look for a refill, although I’ve pushed it to 211 miles before.

 

A quick left in Sperryville on 211 and up into the mountain, Blue Ridge Mountains and Skyline Drive. Heading up the mountain I get the first bite of the twisties I’ve been craving. The $10 fee at the gate to Skyline Drive is well worth the price. Great scenery and fantastic views. The only drawback is the 35mph speed limit that is well enforced by the park rangers.

 

I shoot some self-portraits at Pollock Knob overlook. They’re funny in that with all the scrambling and hurrying to be the camera timer, then trying to effect a relaxed pose. I’ve also broke out my old friend this trip, the Lubitel 166, a medium format, 120mm film, twin lens camera. I’m like Jay-Z with this camera, I have to get it in one take. There is no digital review after the click for instant gratification. As a fellow photographer it’s “Point, Push, and Pray”. I’ll be interested to see the results. Not that I’ve left digital behind. Carrying both cameras, I’m an analog/digital double threat.

 

After the self-portraits and some dead tree shots I’m about to pack back on the bike and leave when I meet the preacher and his wife. He offers to shoot me with my camera and I return the favor with theirs. Conversation flows and in a ‘small world’ moment it turns out that he works for same Hazel family that owns the restaurant I was at last night for his Monday thru Friday job. I get a friendly “God bless” and I’m heading south on Skyline Drive. I make several more stops and break out the cameras again at Big Meadow.

 

There is a gnarly dead tree in the middle of the meadow. It has burn damage at the base, either the result of some wild fire or perhaps a controlled burn done to maintain the field. I spot and shoot a few deer, they probably won’t turn out as they’re to far away for my lens on the D100. I shoot a bunch of shots of the tree with the D100 and then totally switch processes with the Lubitel. The picture setup with the Lubitel takes about a minute-and-a-half. Manual zoom, i.e., walking back and forth to get the framing I want. Light meter reading. Then dealing with the reversed optics of the look-down box camera. It is fun though, to switch it up, change the pace and the dynamics. Just one click though, hope I caught it.

 

It’s a long but enjoyable ride to the south end of Skyline Drive. Unless you really like slow cruising I would suggest picking which third of Skyline Drive you’d like include in your trip and leave the rest. I drop off the mountain and into Waynesboro. Finding Mad Anthony’s coffee shop for a late breakfast. I overhear that it’s around noon. The Italian Roast coffee is good, in fact, it would prove to be the best coffee of the trip.

 

One of the pleasures of traveling by motorcycle is that it’s an easy conversation starter. People ask you where your coming from, where you’re heading, ask about your bike, tell you’re about their bike or the one they wish they had. One of the peculiarities of these conversations is that if the person even remotely knows of anyone that has died on a motorcycle, they will be sure to share this fact along with details. These stories usually involve a deer, a car pulling out, or someone taking a corner to fast. The conversation goes something like this:

 

Stranger“nice bike”

You“thanks”

Stranger“my cousin Bob had a friend that hit a deer and died on his bike”

 

Short silence.

 

You“yeah, deer are dangerous, got to be careful”

 

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve held variations on this conversation many times. Luckily this isn’t the conversation I have with the owner of Mad Anthony’s. He’s a former sailboat instructor who now finds the same release and head clearing on his motorcycle that he used to get from his sailboat.

 

This brings to mind the same wave – don’t way dynamic that occurs between sail boaters and power boaters, very similar to the sportbike & HD crowd.

 

The proprietor is a coffee guru, we discuss roasting (my Italian roast was just roasted Wednesday this week). We talk about the good and the evil of Starbucks. We’re both in agreement that they over roast their regular coffee, but I think their foo foo drinks are tasty. He has in his shop both the Bodum press and the Bodum vacuum coffee pot that I got my mom for x-mas. A shameless plug here, the Bodum vacuum coffee pot makes the best home coffee ever. It’s also an entertaining crowd pleaser, no joke.

 

Leaving Waynesboro the plan was 340 northward to 33, then into Harrisonburg, VA (home of the Valley Mall and JMU). 340 proved to be boring so I jumped on 256, Port Republic Road, for a better ride to Harrisonburg. I don’t know if the coffee wore off or if I was just worn out. I pull over at Westover Park, pick out a spot of grass, and take a good nap in the sun.

 

I had my motorcycle bug handed down to me by my step-dad. My kindergarten year of school we moved right at the end of the school year. Rather than switch schools at this inopportune time my Dad stuck me on the back of his Honda and rode me to school and back again for the last month or two. Even earlier than that I have a great photo of me in 1973-4 sitting on his chopper with him. Me in a diaper and him with his long hippy hair. The wild side of the Reverend indeed.

 

Refreshed from my nap it’s back on 33 westbound. Heading out of the Shenandoah Valley and Rockingham County is more glorious twisty roads and the George Washington National Forest. GW is a beautiful tree canopy lined road with a river off to one side. Franklin, WV is the destination, a return to the Star Hotel.

 

I stayed at the Star a few years prior when they first re-opened the historic Star Hotel. The owner, Steve Miller, is a great guy, friendly and conversational. I told him I’d be back again, but it’s been a few more years than I thought. Late lunch at the Star is pesto grilled chicken on ciabatta bread with roasted red peppers. Not the type of fare one might associate with West Virginia, but people have misperceptions about everywhere. Steve promises a prime rib later at dinner tonight to die for.

 

So that there is no misunderstanding, in as much as the Sleepy Hollow Hotel was a dive, the Star Hotel is a dream.

 

Dump the gear in the room back on the bike for some roaming around. I head back to explore a river road I passed on the way in, Rock Gap. It’s a gravel affair and I follow it back a little ways. Photo some river shots. Down further there is a large cliff face with some college aged kids de-gearing after a day of climbing. I’ll try to stop back in tomorrow and shoot some climbing action, as well as some fly fishing.

 

I pick up a bottle of Barefoot Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, and drop it off with Steve at the Star to keep for later. I’ll enjoy that bottle later tonight from the 3rd floor front porch. South out of town I head, into some very secondary roads. I shoot an old decrepit cabin that would be right up Bobby Sargent’s alley. I put it in the metal folder for a possible future model shoot location, along with the river spots I’ve seen.

 

There are a couple more stops on this little ride. Once for what appears to be a feral chicken, and then for middle of the road stare down with a young doe. She’s camera shy though and is off before I can get a shot. Sportbike probably isn’t the best conveyance for nature photography. The pavement stops and gravel begins, I motor on. Rick & I once spent a full day just about on gravel roads, crisscrossing the back country around Cumberland, MD. So I’m comfortable with the less than ideal riding surface. A few miles on the road dead ends at a pair of chicken houses (source of the feral chicken’s ancestors perhaps?) and I turn around and survey the valley I’ve just ridden through. I have to stop the bike and soak in the scene. A picturesque farm is nestled in the corner of the valley, up against the hills. I meet some inquisitive cows, along with the farmer and his wife.

 

It seems that when you are in WV and you pass a sign that says “snow removal ends here” that the already suspect road conditions are going to quickly deteriorate and will soon resemble somewhat more of a logging road. I motor on through some back country, no houses, no farms, just mountains, steep roadside cliffs, and wicked gravel switchback curves. The part that gives you the willies are the downhill corners where the road grade is slanted to the outside of the curve and to the drop below. Yikes!

 

I creep along where a four wheeler would be much more functional. Although I still hit it a bit in the straights. Pavement arrives again and I’m unsure of my exact location. I follow the chicken farmers directions and soon discover myself back in Brandywine, intersecting the same stretch of 33 I rode on my way into Franklin.

 

Back at the Star Hotel it’s a shower and fresh clothes before heading down for dinner. Downstairs I find the prime rib to be as good as promised.

 

Entry Five

 

How beautifully staged is this. Barefoot on the 3rd floor patio, wine to ease the back and the ache in the knee.

 

205 miles today, the last 30 after check in, just to explore.

  

Sunday

 

Entry Six

 

Out early in the morning. I find no climbers at Rock Gap, unsure of the hours they keep. Out of Franklin on 33 west, looking for another squiggly line I had seen on a map. Bland Hill Road name is a misnomer. A single lane country road winding through German Valley. I got a few shots of German Valley from the 33 overlook before turning on Bland Hill. Now I find myself in the same location I had shot from above.

 

The road cuts through some open pasture land and I meet some cows standing in the road after rounding one bend. They’re pleasant enough, if in no particular hurry to cross, and don’t mind posing for a shot or two before meandering on. People talk about the danger of hitting a deer, a cow would really ruin your day! Off of Bland Hill and on down into the valley. I come up on the rock formation I had seen from the overlook previously. It’s not Seneca Rocks, but a formation of the same ilk. I get some more photos, then onto German Valley Road. I’m still staying at the Star, there is no real destination today. It’s relaxing to stop as much as I like.

 

German Valley Road puts me back on 33 west and not long after I’m ordering breakfast at the Valley View Restaurant. Dale Borgeson warns of places that advertise home cooking, but that’s about all you see in these parts. There are a fair number of cars here and that’s usually a good since the food will be alright. Hell, even the Army could make a good breakfast. It all works out and it’s a hell of a deal, $4 for toast, two eggs, hash browns, bacon, and coffee.

 

From 33 I hit 28 and turn off on Smoke Hole Road, just because it’s there and looks interesting. Boy, what a find it is. Combining the curvy one lane country road with nice wide smooth pavement (gravel free in the corners). It’s great. Smoke Hole Road turns out to run from 28 across the Seneca Rocks National Forest to 220 on the other side. Going west-to-east it starts out all curves and hills, then ends by winding along the south branch of the Potomac. There are lots of fly fishermen here enjoying the catch-and-release section of the river.

 

Up 220 to Petersburg, I run into some Ducati guys at the gas station. We swap riding info and I’m soon on 42 north towards Mayville. Hanging a left when I see a sign for Dolly Sods. I’m back on secondary roads and I soon pass another prophetic ‘no snow removal’ signs. It’s gravel the rest of the way up the mountain til it breaks out on top at Dolly Sod.

 

I’m real happy with today’s roads, as both Smoke Hole Road and Dolly Sods were unplanned ‘discovered adventures’. I do some rock scrabbling at Dolly Sod and enjoy the cliff top views. A fellow tourist snaps a shot for me an I hike out well past the distance that the casual tourist and families go. Shot some more shots of the rock formations with both the digital and film camera. Do some more self-portraits. I then sit down to relax in the sun with the cliff side breeze steadily blowing and update this journal.

  

Entry Seven

 

Well, fellow traveler, if you’ve made it this far I am duly impressed. I thank you for your perseverance. The rest of the day was spent riding without incident. Just more fantastic roads. You don’t have to be an explore on par with Lewis & Clark to find great rides in West Virginia. Just be curious in nature and unafraid to leave the beaten path. Drop off the numbered roads and take the route less traveled. Soon you’ll be in your own undiscovered country. Blah blah blah.

 

Out of Dolly Sod and I find myself on 32. Rough calculations put the dirt road travel around 25 miles for the day. While we are on stats, here’s today’s animal road count:

 

1 rooster

1 dead fox

2 cows

8 chipmunks

7 alive

1 dead

3 dead possums

1 squirrel

1 dead blob (undistinguishable)

No fearsome deer

1 dog

 

I guided myself today by a rather non-descript map put out by mountainhighlands.com

 

Leaving Dolly Sod on 32 puts me in Dry Fork and back on familiar 33 west to Elkins. I cruise around Elkins on the off chance I’ll run into a guy I know named Dallas. Now all you need to know about Dallas is the following:

 

I don’t know his last name

I once gave him a hair cut with dog grooming clippers

I know he works at a bike shop making choppers

 

You figure the odds of me finding him, near zero.

 

If your curious it wasn’t the first time I cut hair, albeit the first time using dog shears. In Korea I cut in the latrine for $2 a cut or for a 6 pack. Everything was barter in the Army. We had a cook that would make you a great custom birthday cake for a case of beer or feed you food out of the back of the chow hall at 3am when you staggered in drunk from the ville for the promise of a future round to be bought. Korea stories could fill another journal.

 

Anyway, out of Elkins and south to Beverly. Scott, if your reading this you were on my mind as I went through town, never forgive, never forget.

 

So far I’ve only tried to write about the positive food experiences of the trip without throwing anyplace under the bus. C&J in Beverly however, served only barely functional burgers and the vanilla shake was of the worst chemical prefab variety. There are some things that I am stuck on, good vanilla ice cream is one. The others that I’m picky about are beer, whiskey, steak, cheese-steak, and coffee. It’s just so disappointing when something you usually enjoy turns out to be sub par.

 

After C&J it’s 250 east to 28, which heads back towards Seneca Rocks and Franklin. It’s a good haul through the Monongahela National Forest. A road of the scenic variety, with good twisties up the mountain and through the scenery. These type road have become quite a common occurrence here in WV. Back in Seneca Rocks and 33 east into Franklin. I never shoot Seneca Rocks, the light is never right, number one can tell you how I get about my light.

 

The Star’s restaurant is closed on Sunday, dagger, so I shower and head into Franklin by foot. About Franklin, WV. It’s a nice little town, quiet and sleepy. No bars other than the VFW that I could see. Everybody I’ve met and spoken too has be pleasant, friendly and conversational, both here in Franklin and elsewhere in WV. I’m sure there are a variety of characters much as anywhere, this is just my observation from the tourist level.

 

Following last night precedent I grab another vino from the Shell station. The Star being closed is a dilemma; I’m in need of a cork screw (having borrowed the restaurants the night before). I wander back down to the hotel, wine in hand, and past the hotel just a bit til I meet an old man sitting out front. I explain my situation, wine without access, and he says he’ll sell me a corkscrew. He goes in the house, shortly to return with the necessary implement in hand. I figure I have it for $3-4 or maybe rent it for a one time use for $1. That proves unnecessary however, he says just to take it, and keep it for any future need.

 

The sole booking for the hotel tonight, I’m like a wraith as I glide through the halls. On the front porch with my bottle of vino in hand. I have some cheap cigars I also picked up and there’s nothing to do but kick back and watch the sunset.

 

It’s been a great trip. Somewhat lonesome at times. The lack of someone to talk to surely let to the length of this journal. It was a trip to getaway, to reflect. There was no great revelation or anything, just time to get to know yourself. The road gives you time to think. I know who I am and I like being me. I know what’s missing.

 

I’m resolved to take more bike trips in the future. It’s definitely my preferred way to travel and vacation. Motorcycling is the way to go.

 

Tomorrow I have my route generally planned out, more scenic byways for a winding route home.

 

Miles today, 240.

 

Monday

 

Entry Seven

 

Just a short postscript. 20 miles east of Washington DC, on 66, the chain popped off the bike. It’s never easy.

           

I hope you like it partner! Otherwise it would be pretty sweet on my craft room wall!

The coming death of Nikon 22

Is it really already too late for Nikon?

Recently, there was a long lasting thread on this issue at NR site that seemed to be started with Thom Hogan's article called,"Thom Hogan explains why Nikon’s late entry to the mirrorless market could actually be a good thing".

Well it is a real complicated issue. I do not think it is a good thing, but the question is: is it really too late for Nikon to enter into so-called mirrorless market?

It is quite obvious while there is not even one good future-proven mirrorless mount system existing yet, most of these systems are now coming to almost the point we can call it state of maturity with lots of lenses and many third party flash systems, or at least nearing to it.

And it seems like the later they enter into the serious mirrorless market, the higher the hurdle bar raised up. The longer they wait to get into the market , the more demanding the minimam set of features and requirements for their first mirrorelss camera will become, and they must do it right at the very first try.

That said, they already try out the water with the Nikon One, and in fact, despite of extreme negative view of the series you read in many forums just because the Nikon One series has had a tiny sensor, it was actually very advanced system already from the very first Nikon One V1(of couse besides the sensor). At least the AF and video feature set were quite good for the time, and maybe the AF is still one of the very best in the mirrorless world.

Therefore, they do not need to change the direction dramatically, nor do they need totally new tech to actually make a decent big sensor mirrorless system from scratch: I mean they just need to swap the One sensor to FF or APS-C and improve the video part of it to the current level of the Panasonic , then it is already one of the best mirrorless out there.

If they can make it completely sealed and not just water resistant or weather selaed but water proof like the Nikon One AW1but with a big sensor and decent 4k, then it already is a quite sensational camera release.

And many of us (at least those who are in this industry here in Japan) already know that Nikon has produced a few (at least 4) FX mirrorless prototypes and one of which almost made it to the actual shop shelves, but Nikon suddenly canceled it just a few days before the original announcement day they planned for it. And many of us speculated it was because of the A7R2 announcement.........so I am sure it was originally planned for June or July 2015 but canceled out or postponed.

At the time, we all thought they should have actually released it even though it was not up to the level of the Sony A7R2. Then they would have been able to improve it from there on with many many experiments.

But now it seems like they must do it right at the very first try according to many mirrorless biased rumor sites. However, is it really as difficult as those rumor sites think it is for Nikon to beat the all existing mirrorelss systems?

Let's examin it here carefully:

1> the Sony E mount system......is it already considered to be a quite complete system? is its position already consolidated in Sony's long term business plan?

and is it really an intuitive system for photographers and videographers?

I think it is already a good system, but still far from what we call a complete system.

Why? cause there are no tilt and shift lenses, there are no weather sealed bodies, there are no powerful enough big bodies that comfortably take a big super tele prime, etc.

But for most of normal use cases, it is already at least as good or near as good as the state of the art best D-SLRs.

Well it is not close to the state of maturity as a whole system, as of this time of writing this just yet, but I think it is nearing to the point with about 32 lenses already released for this system and full Godox flash support and full Capture One and DXO support for it, and in case of C1 Sony users can download it for just 50 bucks, and we must admit that it is a big sales point for the A7X and the A6XXX series.

Then is it really intuitive ? Not yet, but it is getting better each iteration and Sony seems to be seriously committed to FW updates. Now both my A7R2 and A7M2 are on FW V4.0...and none of my Nikon got more than 3 FW updates.......to get as far as to FW4.0...

Nikon and Canon guys always trash Sony for its complete lack of user support or after sales support for its own cameras........but the reality is Sony has been one of the most user freindly and user supporting camera manufactures. Sony has already issued 5 major FW updates for the A7X2 series and each of these was really a huge update, not just fixing bugs but added many features that did not originally existed.

Nikon and Canon have never done this. So while I have to admit the current Sony A7x system is not as intuitive as it should be, I am sure it will slowly get there since Sony seems to have been seriusly committed to this system. But it takes a bit of time, and I think it will be more than a few more iterations, that means it will probably need about a several years at least to get the state of maturity.

So Nikon seems to still have some time to get it all right.....

2> m43...........first of all, I do not consider this system is a serious system for stills or hybrid work now, I used to think it as a such system, though.

I mean compare the file quality of it to a decent FF or even to a decent APS-C system like the X-T20 or the A6300, or anything better. The m43 IQ is really sad, pathetic......although I really want to love it since I love it for video work and I like the concept of the system: it is small as a whole system, it is fast and very intuitive(especially Panasonic ones), it has incredible lowlight AF, it shoots great video, it has incredible stabilization system, it has very effective self sensor cleaning system, etc...with m43 I never need to worry about sensor dust issue and for me it is a huge plus.

But the 43 sensor at the current level of tech is simply not acceptable for any serious stills work, IMHO. The high ISO output quality is terrible, the blue gain noise seems really bad...the color depth is so poor and therefore the files out of any m43 camera including the best ones like GH5 and EM1MK2 cannot be really malleable at all, it cannot take much software manipulation, and therefore it is useless for stills.

There is a rumor that Olympus will come out with a new big 43 sensor format system.

If it is true, I am very happy and I think it might be my dream system, but I doubt it actually materialized.

So I think here again, Nikon seems to still have some time, or I have to be more honest the m43 is an irrelevent system for many of us who actually enlarge our images to over A2 size or larger.

To me it is an irrelevant system at least for stills. I am using it for video but I think I will replace it with the A7SMK2 since I shoot video in extreme lowlight most of times.

3> Fuji X........still not even close to the state of maturity yet, simply there are too many missing lenses such as macros , TS, super wide primes, etc.

But just like Sony, Fuji has been really seriously committed to this system and I am sure they will get there eventually, but just takes a bit of time, I am guessing it maybe at least a couple of iterations more, and so roughly, in 4 -5 years.

So here it goes again Nikon seems to still have some times to build a nice system to compete with the rest.

4> Fuji GFX, well it is not a mainstream budget system, many of those who have growing boys and girls cannot afford........plus it has just a several or so lenses.

And I think it is not in the same market as Nikon is trying to get into......although I think this system will succeed since Fuji seems to has been really committed to this system...and they have the needed resources to get it going.

5> Canon M, well it also has only 5 or 6 naive lens selections, and so it is totally irrelevant to most of us who do not own any Canon lenses or dislike the adapter concept.

Plus, no one knows Canon is really committed to this system, if Canon really is, then why is Canon not designing a set of serious L class lenses for this system?

 

So maybe Hogan is right this time Nikon seems to still have some time left for themselves, but like even Hogan admits, Nikon must do it right at the very first try next time with at least the same level of AF, EVF and metering system as the A9 or be better.

I think the more important question here is: what mount should they choose?

Continue on the F mount? As many of Hogan followers have suggested or seem to have supported......or they need a completely new mount?

I think if they choose the easier F mount route that means that is the end of Nikon as a camera manufacture. Choosing the F mount for the next generation camera system is a fatal mistake and I am sure Nikon knows it. That is why we have been getting so many E type of lenses from them recently......only the E and P type of lenses are usable for video or LV work without too many usability related issues.

And the all new E type lenses they've released in the last 2 or 3 years are amazing, if not simply outstanding.

Anyway, many many Sony, Fuji, and Canon fanboys underrate Nikon LV technology just because the current F mount system has terrible LV and video mode. I was one of them but I realized that it is not because Nikon has no tech in this area or Nikon has intentionally crippling their D-SLRs for video or LV use, but the F mount and its mechnical aperture control system is the real issue here. That is why, Nikon must design a new mount that takes full advantage of fully electronic mount design and also release a fully F mount compatible mount adapter.

But even then, they can just re-use the E type lenses, they must ditch the G type and the other older D and AF lenses for the better future compatibility to fully electro-magnetic mount control system of their new mirrorless mount......

And they must design their future mount with a bit wider than the EF mount throat design to take full advantage of the 35mm sensor, if they can do this then their mirrrorless system will be the best IQ system in the 35mm format camera class..

I think Sony's only one major mistake was having re-used physically squeezingly narror E mount for their FF E mount system, e.g., the FE system........the E mount is obviously a bit too narrow for a 35mm format sensor, the amount of shadow cast we get from a lenses like the 16-35mm f4, the 24-70mm f4, the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5, Samyang 14mm f2.8AF, and Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8 shows it clearly and it is an undeniable fact.

 

Many many current form of mirrorless fanboys online cliam Nikon has not technology to develop super fast mirrorless AF off the sensor, but is this really true?

No. They have already shown they can do it with the Nikon One.

Many Fuji and Sony fanboys do not realize why Sony and Fuji both suddenly got fast AF tech in their mirrorless, but it is actually from one of many Aptina patents that was originally co-developed with Nikon. Now Sony has been accepted to cross license most of their patents with Aptina(actually their parent company On Semi) and as a result Sony and Fuji've suddenly got the fast OSPDAF in their own cameras. But it was the Nikon One that got it first, way before Sony and Fuji.

So I think it is not too late for Nikon to enter into FF mirrorless market, but they must need a new lens mount.

Then do I sell my Sony to get the new hypothetical Nikon ?

No. I do not sell my A7R, A7R2 , A7MK2 and A6500, but I may add the Nikon in addition if it is really good with new wide FF optimized mount.

That said, I am no longer a gearhead, that means I do not collect cameras that I do not need, I focus on my priorities and ROI. So the cheapest body that can handle all my odd needs the most practical and cost effective solution, and thus it is the best camera out there for me. And it seems like the original A7R is that camera for me.

I do not need high frame rate, I do not need 4k in my stills camera(I own dedicated 4k cameras already), I do not need IBIS(it is actually a minus for me as it increases heat noise significantly). I also prefer the cheap A7R body over anything heavier than it since I already know it can take a lot of abuse after I have used it for 4 years or so.

I wish the next A7R would be smaller without all unneeded gimmicks such as IBIS, 8k(useless considering the current strange tech and internet speed),high frame rate(who wants it in a high resolution camera, that is completely beyond me), fast action AF(the A7R series was originally a slow camera and no need action AF), 650 AF points(who needs it? for me one point AF is fine if it is accurate).

In any case as I said it many times all digital cameras or products are a racket, and no need to get emotional about any of those digital toys(or tools).

  

My mini-quilt for Liz (ollie.kate). I had so much fun using my Ross stash for this project. It feels good to USE fabric instead of just hoarding it. :) I hope Liz like this one.

 

18"x16.5" (kind of a weird shape, I know.) And I did simple straight horizontal lines of quilting to accent the lines of the patchwork. But to add a little something different, each colored row uses a coordinating colored thread for the quilting. So the yellow row has yellow thread, the purple row uses purple thread etc.

 

The quilt Liz made for me (which I adore) is here: www.flickr.com/photos/30303848@N06/3920224945/in/pool-118...

 

I love how both of our quilts seem like they could have been planned together!

my dewy-eyed disney bride, what has tried

swapping your blood with formaldehyde

monsters

 

whiskey-plied voices cried fratricide

jesus don't you know that you could've died, you should've died

with the monsters that talk, monsters who walk the earth

[andrew bird]

  

welllll hm, I've never taken any pictures like this before.....

 

I've been crazy under-inspired these past couple days. and it's all rainy and not summer-like outside. I just haven't been feeling any pictures. I don't like it.

 

details

 

Today I went to the airport to pick up my friend who's visiting from Italy. She can't understand why I take a picture every day. haha

  

Friday

Entry One

 

Flew out of work, the fleet flight of Friday before a holiday weekend. Everyone cracks a smile upon stepping out of the concrete and glass coffin of the corporate work week. The motorcycle is quickly gassed and loaded, I leave Washington DC at three-thirty, vowing not to check the time for the rest of the adventure. Adventure, the American adventure of the open road is what I seek. The road, my cameras, and escape.

 

Right turn off of 15th St. NW and I’m motoring past the Washington Monument and the White House. Harleys and clones are already lining the Mall for the annual Memorial remembrance that is Rolling Thunder. I’m soon over the bridge and on I-66 west. I plan on avoiding major highways when at all possible. Preferring scenic byways to drab highways. 66 is a necessary evil to flee the DC metro area as quickly as possible. At the start, 66 is a good quick run, for awhile anyway. Loads of Rolling Thunder riders are heading in 66 eastbound.

 

I keep the ubiquitous two fingers down to the side salute to fellow bikers out for extended stretches of time. In my experience, HD guys return the acknowledgement about 30-40% of the time. No big deal, some animosity exist though between different bike cultures. Motor-ism two-wheel stereotypes. However with the Rolling Thunder guys there is a noticeable increase in response, perhaps due to no longer just one biker acknowledging another, but a patriotic sharing of support and remembrance for those left behind, POW-MIA.

 

Traffic worsens further out 66 and I come up on a full HD dresser. Screaming Eagle back patch worked in with POW-MIA covers his vest and is topped by a “Run for the Wall” patch. I keep back a pace and we adopt the natural offset positioning of multiple riders.

 

After some 66 backup, stop-and-go, we strike up a staccato conversation in the pauses of the traffic flow. Where you been, where you going, see the rain coming? I tell him I’m headed out to the mountains, Skyline Drive and West Virginia. He says he’s just in from there recently, was in DC for Rolling Thunder for the day and will be coming back in on Sunday again. His license plate is obscured by luggage, so I’m unsure of his port of origin.

 

Later on we part ways and my thoughts turn. Of my parents friends only my step-dad was drafted for Vietnam. Luckily, for us, he only went as far as Ft. Hood, TX, and came back with some good stories about army life and venturing into Mexico (at least the ones he’s shared with me). I think about all the life he’s lived since then, all his experiences and joys. Thinking about what all those who didn’t return gave up, lost, when they didn’t come home. The loss felt by those who loved them, families that have a name on the Wall.

 

Rain is sprinkling before Manassas. Enough to cool you off but not enough to get you worried yet, at least for a bit. Whooooo. Then come the big drops. I head off the ramp to gear up with the rain paraphernalia under the gas station pavilion. Finally get it all on and get strapped back up and out pops the sun and the rain stops. Too funny. Now I have wet clothes on under the raingear. Rain gear now keeping the wind out that would dry me. I motor on as more rain is promised on the horizon.

 

This brings up a point about rain. People always ask, “What do you do when it rains and your on the motorcycle”. I reply simply, “I get wet”. Duh. Rain riding has never bothered me. On the straight highways it’s no big deal. Just give more cushion to the cars in front of you. Drive like grandma on the exit ramps.

 

My turning point is finally reached. Off of 66 west and onto 647, Crest Hill Rd. at The Plains, VA. Crest Hill Road is my first slice of motorcycle heaven to be had this weekend. I’m delighted to find that the squiggly line I traced out on the map when planning this trip has translated so well in reality. The road is still wet from the passing rain clouds, and I give a small rabbit and then a chipmunk a near death experience. My first of many animal crossings this weekend. The road is fantastic. A mixture of hilltop road and tree lined canopies that create forest tunnels. Speed limit is 45mph, 55-60 feels comfortable on most parts. Keeping an eye out for a hilltop barn to photograph that I’ve seen in my minds eye, lit by the sun breaking through the clouds and backed by the mountain vista. No luck on any of the barns actual placement to fit the mental picture I have framed.

 

Crest Hill Road and Fodderstack Rd is a long stretch. I take shots of a church and other buildings along Zachary Taylor Highway. Fodderstack gives more of the same as Crest Hill, just a narrower road. The asphalt is of my favorite variety, freshly laid. Washington, VA is a tiny town of historic bed and breakfasts. Local wineries appear to be an attraction here too. Right after Washington the rain returns while I’m in route to Sperryville. Then it really starts to come down, a full on summer thunderstorm. Visibility is down. Road and parking lots soon resemble rivers. Rain drops of the monster variety explode on the pavement, and you know it hurts when they hit you.

 

I quick soaking circuit of Sperryville confirms there are no local hotels. I duck into a barn shaped restaurant to wait it out. My drenched gear takes on bar stool and I occupy another. There’s a few flying pigs about. The bartender get me a hefeweizen, and recommends the angus burger. Locally raised and grass fed, we exchange jokes about my passing the burgers relatives on the way in.

 

Don’t freak about the beer. I have a one only rule when riding. It was followed by a meal (best burger of the weekend!), several coffees, and this bar top journal entry.

 

Somewhere along Crest Hill road I decided to keep the cell off for the weekend. In addition no tv, newspapers, internet, or e-mail sound like a good idea. Of course I now am studiously avoid eye contact with the two beautiful plasma’s above the bar.

 

Entry Two

 

Hazel River Inn, Culpepper, VA, has the coolest street side seating in town.

 

The downpour let up at the Shady Farms bar in Sperryville and due to the deficiency in local lodging I quiz the bartender for options. Over the other side of the mountain, the opposite side of Skyline Dr via 211 is Luray with lots of motels, but I want to save the mountain for the morning. The waitress suggest Culpepper, there being a Holiday Inn etc.

 

Stepping outside the sun has broke through the clouds again. Enough for some shots of Shady Farms Restaurant and a bridge. Heading down 522, the Sperryville Pike, I keep an eye out for photo ops to catch the next morning as I’ll be rerouting back through. Following the mantra of Dale Borgeson about tour riding in the US, I aim to avoid large chain establishments, whether they are restaurants or hotels, and explore the mom-and-pop local variety businesses. I have a dive-ish roadside motel in mind, Culpepper comes through with the Sleepy Hollow Hotel.

 

Before check in I ride through downtown historic Culpepper. It’s a cool place. The Shady Farm bartender had recommended the Culpepper Thai restaurant. I see it but don’t visit, still full from the meal earlier. Cameron Street Coffee looks like a great place, located in an old warehouse. Unfortunately their closed for the night.

 

Shower and changed, room 102 at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel. I hop back on the bike, refreshed and dry and ride through the warm night air back downtown. The coffee at the Hazel River Inn comes with a sweet fudge confection on the side. The peach and blackberry cobbler with vanilla sauce is divine.

 

The reconfigured plan for this getaway is to shed. Shed worries about the job, career, housing, and relationships. My motorcycle is therapeutic. It’s 600cc’s of Zoloft on two wheels. The road lifts my spirits. This wasn’t supposed to be a solo run, and there are stretches of road where I feel the emptiness behind me.

 

The cobbler is finished and I can hear the sound of a band doing their sound check. The banging of the drum requires investigation.

 

Entry Three

 

I found Brown Bag Special in the cellar pub of the same restaurant I was in. On my way to the door the noise of the sound check floated up the stairs and directed my feet downward. Brown Bag Special opened the set, appropriately enough, with “I drink alone”. The ol’ man, Big Money, would have loved it. Drink alone started off a Big Money Blues trifecta to include “The Breeze” and “Mustang Sally”. Then they made the mistake a lot of bands make that have a great lead guitar player. They let him sing. The lead guitarist karaoke sucked his way through a Tom Petty hit. He was so off key in his singing it made you appreciate the guitar solo’s all the more for the relief they provided. Thankfully the regular singer soon resumed his duties and the night went on. More good stuff from the band.

 

Freebird

Folsom Prison Blues

Cheap Sun Glasses

 

“can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, what she’s done to me”

 

Off to bed now at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel with the ghost and shades of dead hookers and overdoses past.

 

150 miles today.

  

Saturday

 

Entry Four

 

Morning breaks on the Sleepy Hollow Hotel, a hot shower and I’m back on the bike. A quick stop downtown to shoot the Hazel Inn, then it’s back on the Sperryville Pike. More stops to capture some sights seen yesterday. Mr. & Mrs. Pump. The open mouth caricatures are an accurate representation of the current gas cost and the pumps eating your wallet.

 

I keep telling my daughter that her first car, college car, will be a hybrid. She thinks they are ugly. The bike isn’t so bad, averaging around 40mpg. At about 180 miles on the tripometer I start to look for a refill, although I’ve pushed it to 211 miles before.

 

A quick left in Sperryville on 211 and up into the mountain, Blue Ridge Mountains and Skyline Drive. Heading up the mountain I get the first bite of the twisties I’ve been craving. The $10 fee at the gate to Skyline Drive is well worth the price. Great scenery and fantastic views. The only drawback is the 35mph speed limit that is well enforced by the park rangers.

 

I shoot some self-portraits at Pollock Knob overlook. They’re funny in that with all the scrambling and hurrying to be the camera timer, then trying to effect a relaxed pose. I’ve also broke out my old friend this trip, the Lubitel 166, a medium format, 120mm film, twin lens camera. I’m like Jay-Z with this camera, I have to get it in one take. There is no digital review after the click for instant gratification. As a fellow photographer it’s “Point, Push, and Pray”. I’ll be interested to see the results. Not that I’ve left digital behind. Carrying both cameras, I’m an analog/digital double threat.

 

After the self-portraits and some dead tree shots I’m about to pack back on the bike and leave when I meet the preacher and his wife. He offers to shoot me with my camera and I return the favor with theirs. Conversation flows and in a ‘small world’ moment it turns out that he works for same Hazel family that owns the restaurant I was at last night for his Monday thru Friday job. I get a friendly “God bless” and I’m heading south on Skyline Drive. I make several more stops and break out the cameras again at Big Meadow.

 

There is a gnarly dead tree in the middle of the meadow. It has burn damage at the base, either the result of some wild fire or perhaps a controlled burn done to maintain the field. I spot and shoot a few deer, they probably won’t turn out as they’re to far away for my lens on the D100. I shoot a bunch of shots of the tree with the D100 and then totally switch processes with the Lubitel. The picture setup with the Lubitel takes about a minute-and-a-half. Manual zoom, i.e., walking back and forth to get the framing I want. Light meter reading. Then dealing with the reversed optics of the look-down box camera. It is fun though, to switch it up, change the pace and the dynamics. Just one click though, hope I caught it.

 

It’s a long but enjoyable ride to the south end of Skyline Drive. Unless you really like slow cruising I would suggest picking which third of Skyline Drive you’d like include in your trip and leave the rest. I drop off the mountain and into Waynesboro. Finding Mad Anthony’s coffee shop for a late breakfast. I overhear that it’s around noon. The Italian Roast coffee is good, in fact, it would prove to be the best coffee of the trip.

 

One of the pleasures of traveling by motorcycle is that it’s an easy conversation starter. People ask you where your coming from, where you’re heading, ask about your bike, tell you’re about their bike or the one they wish they had. One of the peculiarities of these conversations is that if the person even remotely knows of anyone that has died on a motorcycle, they will be sure to share this fact along with details. These stories usually involve a deer, a car pulling out, or someone taking a corner to fast. The conversation goes something like this:

 

Stranger“nice bike”

You“thanks”

Stranger“my cousin Bob had a friend that hit a deer and died on his bike”

 

Short silence.

 

You“yeah, deer are dangerous, got to be careful”

 

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve held variations on this conversation many times. Luckily this isn’t the conversation I have with the owner of Mad Anthony’s. He’s a former sailboat instructor who now finds the same release and head clearing on his motorcycle that he used to get from his sailboat.

 

This brings to mind the same wave – don’t way dynamic that occurs between sail boaters and power boaters, very similar to the sportbike & HD crowd.

 

The proprietor is a coffee guru, we discuss roasting (my Italian roast was just roasted Wednesday this week). We talk about the good and the evil of Starbucks. We’re both in agreement that they over roast their regular coffee, but I think their foo foo drinks are tasty. He has in his shop both the Bodum press and the Bodum vacuum coffee pot that I got my mom for x-mas. A shameless plug here, the Bodum vacuum coffee pot makes the best home coffee ever. It’s also an entertaining crowd pleaser, no joke.

 

Leaving Waynesboro the plan was 340 northward to 33, then into Harrisonburg, VA (home of the Valley Mall and JMU). 340 proved to be boring so I jumped on 256, Port Republic Road, for a better ride to Harrisonburg. I don’t know if the coffee wore off or if I was just worn out. I pull over at Westover Park, pick out a spot of grass, and take a good nap in the sun.

 

I had my motorcycle bug handed down to me by my step-dad. My kindergarten year of school we moved right at the end of the school year. Rather than switch schools at this inopportune time my Dad stuck me on the back of his Honda and rode me to school and back again for the last month or two. Even earlier than that I have a great photo of me in 1973-4 sitting on his chopper with him. Me in a diaper and him with his long hippy hair. The wild side of the Reverend indeed.

 

Refreshed from my nap it’s back on 33 westbound. Heading out of the Shenandoah Valley and Rockingham County is more glorious twisty roads and the George Washington National Forest. GW is a beautiful tree canopy lined road with a river off to one side. Franklin, WV is the destination, a return to the Star Hotel.

 

I stayed at the Star a few years prior when they first re-opened the historic Star Hotel. The owner, Steve Miller, is a great guy, friendly and conversational. I told him I’d be back again, but it’s been a few more years than I thought. Late lunch at the Star is pesto grilled chicken on ciabatta bread with roasted red peppers. Not the type of fare one might associate with West Virginia, but people have misperceptions about everywhere. Steve promises a prime rib later at dinner tonight to die for.

 

So that there is no misunderstanding, in as much as the Sleepy Hollow Hotel was a dive, the Star Hotel is a dream.

 

Dump the gear in the room back on the bike for some roaming around. I head back to explore a river road I passed on the way in, Rock Gap. It’s a gravel affair and I follow it back a little ways. Photo some river shots. Down further there is a large cliff face with some college aged kids de-gearing after a day of climbing. I’ll try to stop back in tomorrow and shoot some climbing action, as well as some fly fishing.

 

I pick up a bottle of Barefoot Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, and drop it off with Steve at the Star to keep for later. I’ll enjoy that bottle later tonight from the 3rd floor front porch. South out of town I head, into some very secondary roads. I shoot an old decrepit cabin that would be right up Bobby Sargent’s alley. I put it in the metal folder for a possible future model shoot location, along with the river spots I’ve seen.

 

There are a couple more stops on this little ride. Once for what appears to be a feral chicken, and then for middle of the road stare down with a young doe. She’s camera shy though and is off before I can get a shot. Sportbike probably isn’t the best conveyance for nature photography. The pavement stops and gravel begins, I motor on. Rick & I once spent a full day just about on gravel roads, crisscrossing the back country around Cumberland, MD. So I’m comfortable with the less than ideal riding surface. A few miles on the road dead ends at a pair of chicken houses (source of the feral chicken’s ancestors perhaps?) and I turn around and survey the valley I’ve just ridden through. I have to stop the bike and soak in the scene. A picturesque farm is nestled in the corner of the valley, up against the hills. I meet some inquisitive cows, along with the farmer and his wife.

 

It seems that when you are in WV and you pass a sign that says “snow removal ends here” that the already suspect road conditions are going to quickly deteriorate and will soon resemble somewhat more of a logging road. I motor on through some back country, no houses, no farms, just mountains, steep roadside cliffs, and wicked gravel switchback curves. The part that gives you the willies are the downhill corners where the road grade is slanted to the outside of the curve and to the drop below. Yikes!

 

I creep along where a four wheeler would be much more functional. Although I still hit it a bit in the straights. Pavement arrives again and I’m unsure of my exact location. I follow the chicken farmers directions and soon discover myself back in Brandywine, intersecting the same stretch of 33 I rode on my way into Franklin.

 

Back at the Star Hotel it’s a shower and fresh clothes before heading down for dinner. Downstairs I find the prime rib to be as good as promised.

 

Entry Five

 

How beautifully staged is this. Barefoot on the 3rd floor patio, wine to ease the back and the ache in the knee.

 

205 miles today, the last 30 after check in, just to explore.

  

Sunday

 

Entry Six

 

Out early in the morning. I find no climbers at Rock Gap, unsure of the hours they keep. Out of Franklin on 33 west, looking for another squiggly line I had seen on a map. Bland Hill Road name is a misnomer. A single lane country road winding through German Valley. I got a few shots of German Valley from the 33 overlook before turning on Bland Hill. Now I find myself in the same location I had shot from above.

 

The road cuts through some open pasture land and I meet some cows standing in the road after rounding one bend. They’re pleasant enough, if in no particular hurry to cross, and don’t mind posing for a shot or two before meandering on. People talk about the danger of hitting a deer, a cow would really ruin your day! Off of Bland Hill and on down into the valley. I come up on the rock formation I had seen from the overlook previously. It’s not Seneca Rocks, but a formation of the same ilk. I get some more photos, then onto German Valley Road. I’m still staying at the Star, there is no real destination today. It’s relaxing to stop as much as I like.

 

German Valley Road puts me back on 33 west and not long after I’m ordering breakfast at the Valley View Restaurant. Dale Borgeson warns of places that advertise home cooking, but that’s about all you see in these parts. There are a fair number of cars here and that’s usually a good since the food will be alright. Hell, even the Army could make a good breakfast. It all works out and it’s a hell of a deal, $4 for toast, two eggs, hash browns, bacon, and coffee.

 

From 33 I hit 28 and turn off on Smoke Hole Road, just because it’s there and looks interesting. Boy, what a find it is. Combining the curvy one lane country road with nice wide smooth pavement (gravel free in the corners). It’s great. Smoke Hole Road turns out to run from 28 across the Seneca Rocks National Forest to 220 on the other side. Going west-to-east it starts out all curves and hills, then ends by winding along the south branch of the Potomac. There are lots of fly fishermen here enjoying the catch-and-release section of the river.

 

Up 220 to Petersburg, I run into some Ducati guys at the gas station. We swap riding info and I’m soon on 42 north towards Mayville. Hanging a left when I see a sign for Dolly Sods. I’m back on secondary roads and I soon pass another prophetic ‘no snow removal’ signs. It’s gravel the rest of the way up the mountain til it breaks out on top at Dolly Sod.

 

I’m real happy with today’s roads, as both Smoke Hole Road and Dolly Sods were unplanned ‘discovered adventures’. I do some rock scrabbling at Dolly Sod and enjoy the cliff top views. A fellow tourist snaps a shot for me an I hike out well past the distance that the casual tourist and families go. Shot some more shots of the rock formations with both the digital and film camera. Do some more self-portraits. I then sit down to relax in the sun with the cliff side breeze steadily blowing and update this journal.

  

Entry Seven

 

Well, fellow traveler, if you’ve made it this far I am duly impressed. I thank you for your perseverance. The rest of the day was spent riding without incident. Just more fantastic roads. You don’t have to be an explore on par with Lewis & Clark to find great rides in West Virginia. Just be curious in nature and unafraid to leave the beaten path. Drop off the numbered roads and take the route less traveled. Soon you’ll be in your own undiscovered country. Blah blah blah.

 

Out of Dolly Sod and I find myself on 32. Rough calculations put the dirt road travel around 25 miles for the day. While we are on stats, here’s today’s animal road count:

 

1 rooster

1 dead fox

2 cows

8 chipmunks

7 alive

1 dead

3 dead possums

1 squirrel

1 dead blob (undistinguishable)

No fearsome deer

1 dog

 

I guided myself today by a rather non-descript map put out by mountainhighlands.com

 

Leaving Dolly Sod on 32 puts me in Dry Fork and back on familiar 33 west to Elkins. I cruise around Elkins on the off chance I’ll run into a guy I know named Dallas. Now all you need to know about Dallas is the following:

 

I don’t know his last name

I once gave him a hair cut with dog grooming clippers

I know he works at a bike shop making choppers

 

You figure the odds of me finding him, near zero.

 

If your curious it wasn’t the first time I cut hair, albeit the first time using dog shears. In Korea I cut in the latrine for $2 a cut or for a 6 pack. Everything was barter in the Army. We had a cook that would make you a great custom birthday cake for a case of beer or feed you food out of the back of the chow hall at 3am when you staggered in drunk from the ville for the promise of a future round to be bought. Korea stories could fill another journal.

 

Anyway, out of Elkins and south to Beverly. Scott, if your reading this you were on my mind as I went through town, never forgive, never forget.

 

So far I’ve only tried to write about the positive food experiences of the trip without throwing anyplace under the bus. C&J in Beverly however, served only barely functional burgers and the vanilla shake was of the worst chemical prefab variety. There are some things that I am stuck on, good vanilla ice cream is one. The others that I’m picky about are beer, whiskey, steak, cheese-steak, and coffee. It’s just so disappointing when something you usually enjoy turns out to be sub par.

 

After C&J it’s 250 east to 28, which heads back towards Seneca Rocks and Franklin. It’s a good haul through the Monongahela National Forest. A road of the scenic variety, with good twisties up the mountain and through the scenery. These type road have become quite a common occurrence here in WV. Back in Seneca Rocks and 33 east into Franklin. I never shoot Seneca Rocks, the light is never right, number one can tell you how I get about my light.

 

The Star’s restaurant is closed on Sunday, dagger, so I shower and head into Franklin by foot. About Franklin, WV. It’s a nice little town, quiet and sleepy. No bars other than the VFW that I could see. Everybody I’ve met and spoken too has be pleasant, friendly and conversational, both here in Franklin and elsewhere in WV. I’m sure there are a variety of characters much as anywhere, this is just my observation from the tourist level.

 

Following last night precedent I grab another vino from the Shell station. The Star being closed is a dilemma; I’m in need of a cork screw (having borrowed the restaurants the night before). I wander back down to the hotel, wine in hand, and past the hotel just a bit til I meet an old man sitting out front. I explain my situation, wine without access, and he says he’ll sell me a corkscrew. He goes in the house, shortly to return with the necessary implement in hand. I figure I have it for $3-4 or maybe rent it for a one time use for $1. That proves unnecessary however, he says just to take it, and keep it for any future need.

 

The sole booking for the hotel tonight, I’m like a wraith as I glide through the halls. On the front porch with my bottle of vino in hand. I have some cheap cigars I also picked up and there’s nothing to do but kick back and watch the sunset.

 

It’s been a great trip. Somewhat lonesome at times. The lack of someone to talk to surely let to the length of this journal. It was a trip to getaway, to reflect. There was no great revelation or anything, just time to get to know yourself. The road gives you time to think. I know who I am and I like being me. I know what’s missing.

 

I’m resolved to take more bike trips in the future. It’s definitely my preferred way to travel and vacation. Motorcycling is the way to go.

 

Tomorrow I have my route generally planned out, more scenic byways for a winding route home.

 

Miles today, 240.

 

Monday

 

Entry Seven

 

Just a short postscript. 20 miles east of Washington DC, on 66, the chain popped off the bike. It’s never easy.

           

The coming death of Nikon 22

Is it really already too late for Nikon?

Recently, there was a long lasting thread on this issue at NR site that seemed to be started with Thom Hogan's article called,"Thom Hogan explains why Nikon’s late entry to the mirrorless market could actually be a good thing".

Well it is a real complicated issue. I do not think it is a good thing, but the question is: is it really too late for Nikon to enter into so-called mirrorless market?

It is quite obvious while there is not even one good future-proven mirrorless mount system existing yet, most of these systems are now coming to almost the point we can call it state of maturity with lots of lenses and many third party flash systems, or at least nearing to it.

And it seems like the later they enter into the serious mirrorless market, the higher the hurdle bar raised up. The longer they wait to get into the market , the more demanding the minimam set of features and requirements for their first mirrorelss camera will become, and they must do it right at the very first try.

That said, they already try out the water with the Nikon One, and in fact, despite of extreme negative view of the series you read in many forums just because the Nikon One series has had a tiny sensor, it was actually very advanced system already from the very first Nikon One V1(of couse besides the sensor). At least the AF and video feature set were quite good for the time, and maybe the AF is still one of the very best in the mirrorless world.

Therefore, they do not need to change the direction dramatically, nor do they need totally new tech to actually make a decent big sensor mirrorless system from scratch: I mean they just need to swap the One sensor to FF or APS-C and improve the video part of it to the current level of the Panasonic , then it is already one of the best mirrorless out there.

If they can make it completely sealed and not just water resistant or weather selaed but water proof like the Nikon One AW1but with a big sensor and decent 4k, then it already is a quite sensational camera release.

And many of us (at least those who are in this industry here in Japan) already know that Nikon has produced a few (at least 4) FX mirrorless prototypes and one of which almost made it to the actual shop shelves, but Nikon suddenly canceled it just a few days before the original announcement day they planned for it. And many of us speculated it was because of the A7R2 announcement.........so I am sure it was originally planned for June or July 2015 but canceled out or postponed.

At the time, we all thought they should have actually released it even though it was not up to the level of the Sony A7R2. Then they would have been able to improve it from there on with many many experiments.

But now it seems like they must do it right at the very first try according to many mirrorless biased rumor sites. However, is it really as difficult as those rumor sites think it is for Nikon to beat the all existing mirrorelss systems?

Let's examin it here carefully:

1> the Sony E mount system......is it already considered to be a quite complete system? is its position already consolidated in Sony's long term business plan?

and is it really an intuitive system for photographers and videographers?

I think it is already a good system, but still far from what we call a complete system.

Why? cause there are no tilt and shift lenses, there are no weather sealed bodies, there are no powerful enough big bodies that comfortably take a big super tele prime, etc.

But for most of normal use cases, it is already at least as good or near as good as the state of the art best D-SLRs.

Well it is not close to the state of maturity as a whole system, as of this time of writing this just yet, but I think it is nearing to the point with about 32 lenses already released for this system and full Godox flash support and full Capture One and DXO support for it, and in case of C1 Sony users can download it for just 50 bucks, and we must admit that it is a big sales point for the A7X and the A6XXX series.

Then is it really intuitive ? Not yet, but it is getting better each iteration and Sony seems to be seriously committed to FW updates. Now both my A7R2 and A7M2 are on FW V4.0...and none of my Nikon got more than 3 FW updates.......to get as far as to FW4.0...

Nikon and Canon guys always trash Sony for its complete lack of user support or after sales support for its own cameras........but the reality is Sony has been one of the most user freindly and user supporting camera manufactures. Sony has already issued 5 major FW updates for the A7X2 series and each of these was really a huge update, not just fixing bugs but added many features that did not originally existed.

Nikon and Canon have never done this. So while I have to admit the current Sony A7x system is not as intuitive as it should be, I am sure it will slowly get there since Sony seems to have been seriusly committed to this system. But it takes a bit of time, and I think it will be more than a few more iterations, that means it will probably need about a several years at least to get the state of maturity.

So Nikon seems to still have some time to get it all right.....

2> m43...........first of all, I do not consider this system is a serious system for stills or hybrid work now, I used to think it as a such system, though.

I mean compare the file quality of it to a decent FF or even to a decent APS-C system like the X-T20 or the A6300, or anything better. The m43 IQ is really sad, pathetic......although I really want to love it since I love it for video work and I like the concept of the system: it is small as a whole system, it is fast and very intuitive(especially Panasonic ones), it has incredible lowlight AF, it shoots great video, it has incredible stabilization system, it has very effective self sensor cleaning system, etc...with m43 I never need to worry about sensor dust issue and for me it is a huge plus.

But the 43 sensor at the current level of tech is simply not acceptable for any serious stills work, IMHO. The high ISO output quality is terrible, the blue gain noise seems really bad...the color depth is so poor and therefore the files out of any m43 camera including the best ones like GH5 and EM1MK2 cannot be really malleable at all, it cannot take much software manipulation, and therefore it is useless for stills.

There is a rumor that Olympus will come out with a new big 43 sensor format system.

If it is true, I am very happy and I think it might be my dream system, but I doubt it actually materialized.

So I think here again, Nikon seems to still have some time, or I have to be more honest the m43 is an irrelevent system for many of us who actually enlarge our images to over A2 size or larger.

To me it is an irrelevant system at least for stills. I am using it for video but I think I will replace it with the A7SMK2 since I shoot video in extreme lowlight most of times.

3> Fuji X........still not even close to the state of maturity yet, simply there are too many missing lenses such as macros , TS, super wide primes, etc.

But just like Sony, Fuji has been really seriously committed to this system and I am sure they will get there eventually, but just takes a bit of time, I am guessing it maybe at least a couple of iterations more, and so roughly, in 4 -5 years.

So here it goes again Nikon seems to still have some times to build a nice system to compete with the rest.

4> Fuji GFX, well it is not a mainstream budget system, many of those who have growing boys and girls cannot afford........plus it has just a several or so lenses.

And I think it is not in the same market as Nikon is trying to get into......although I think this system will succeed since Fuji seems to has been really committed to this system...and they have the needed resources to get it going.

5> Canon M, well it also has only 5 or 6 naive lens selections, and so it is totally irrelevant to most of us who do not own any Canon lenses or dislike the adapter concept.

Plus, no one knows Canon is really committed to this system, if Canon really is, then why is Canon not designing a set of serious L class lenses for this system?

 

So maybe Hogan is right this time Nikon seems to still have some time left for themselves, but like even Hogan admits, Nikon must do it right at the very first try next time with at least the same level of AF, EVF and metering system as the A9 or be better.

I think the more important question here is: what mount should they choose?

Continue on the F mount? As many of Hogan followers have suggested or seem to have supported......or they need a completely new mount?

I think if they choose the easier F mount route that means that is the end of Nikon as a camera manufacture. Choosing the F mount for the next generation camera system is a fatal mistake and I am sure Nikon knows it. That is why we have been getting so many E type of lenses from them recently......only the E and P type of lenses are usable for video or LV work without too many usability related issues.

And the all new E type lenses they've released in the last 2 or 3 years are amazing, if not simply outstanding.

Anyway, many many Sony, Fuji, and Canon fanboys underrate Nikon LV technology just because the current F mount system has terrible LV and video mode. I was one of them but I realized that it is not because Nikon has no tech in this area or Nikon has intentionally crippling their D-SLRs for video or LV use, but the F mount and its mechnical aperture control system is the real issue here. That is why, Nikon must design a new mount that takes full advantage of fully electronic mount design and also release a fully F mount compatible mount adapter.

But even then, they can just re-use the E type lenses, they must ditch the G type and the other older D and AF lenses for the better future compatibility to fully electro-magnetic mount control system of their new mirrorless mount......

And they must design their future mount with a bit wider than the EF mount throat design to take full advantage of the 35mm sensor, if they can do this then their mirrrorless system will be the best IQ system in the 35mm format camera class..

I think Sony's only one major mistake was having re-used physically squeezingly narror E mount for their FF E mount system, e.g., the FE system........the E mount is obviously a bit too narrow for a 35mm format sensor, the amount of shadow cast we get from a lenses like the 16-35mm f4, the 24-70mm f4, the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5, Samyang 14mm f2.8AF, and Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8 shows it clearly and it is an undeniable fact.

 

Many many current form of mirrorless fanboys online cliam Nikon has not technology to develop super fast mirrorless AF off the sensor, but is this really true?

No. They have already shown they can do it with the Nikon One.

Many Fuji and Sony fanboys do not realize why Sony and Fuji both suddenly got fast AF tech in their mirrorless, but it is actually from one of many Aptina patents that was originally co-developed with Nikon. Now Sony has been accepted to cross license most of their patents with Aptina(actually their parent company On Semi) and as a result Sony and Fuji've suddenly got the fast OSPDAF in their own cameras. But it was the Nikon One that got it first, way before Sony and Fuji.

So I think it is not too late for Nikon to enter into FF mirrorless market, but they must need a new lens mount.

Then do I sell my Sony to get the new hypothetical Nikon ?

No. I do not sell my A7R, A7R2 , A7MK2 and A6500, but I may add the Nikon in addition if it is really good with new wide FF optimized mount.

That said, I am no longer a gearhead, that means I do not collect cameras that I do not need, I focus on my priorities and ROI. So the cheapest body that can handle all my odd needs the most practical and cost effective solution, and thus it is the best camera out there for me. And it seems like the original A7R is that camera for me.

I do not need high frame rate, I do not need 4k in my stills camera(I own dedicated 4k cameras already), I do not need IBIS(it is actually a minus for me as it increases heat noise significantly). I also prefer the cheap A7R body over anything heavier than it since I already know it can take a lot of abuse after I have used it for 4 years or so.

I wish the next A7R would be smaller without all unneeded gimmicks such as IBIS, 8k(useless considering the current strange tech and internet speed),high frame rate(who wants it in a high resolution camera, that is completely beyond me), fast action AF(the A7R series was originally a slow camera and no need action AF), 650 AF points(who needs it? for me one point AF is fine if it is accurate).

In any case as I said it many times all digital cameras or products are a racket, and no need to get emotional about any of those digital toys(or tools).

  

Danger - Cows in the road, hit the brakes quick on this one!!

   

Friday

Entry One

 

Flew out of work, the fleet flight of Friday before a holiday weekend. Everyone cracks a smile upon stepping out of the concrete and glass coffin of the corporate work week. The motorcycle is quickly gassed and loaded, I leave Washington DC at three-thirty, vowing not to check the time for the rest of the adventure. Adventure, the American adventure of the open road is what I seek. The road, my cameras, and escape.

 

Right turn off of 15th St. NW and I’m motoring past the Washington Monument and the White House. Harleys and clones are already lining the Mall for the annual Memorial remembrance that is Rolling Thunder. I’m soon over the bridge and on I-66 west. I plan on avoiding major highways when at all possible. Preferring scenic byways to drab highways. 66 is a necessary evil to flee the DC metro area as quickly as possible. At the start, 66 is a good quick run, for awhile anyway. Loads of Rolling Thunder riders are heading in 66 eastbound.

 

I keep the ubiquitous two fingers down to the side salute to fellow bikers out for extended stretches of time. In my experience, HD guys return the acknowledgement about 30-40% of the time. No big deal, some animosity exist though between different bike cultures. Motor-ism two-wheel stereotypes. However with the Rolling Thunder guys there is a noticeable increase in response, perhaps due to no longer just one biker acknowledging another, but a patriotic sharing of support and remembrance for those left behind, POW-MIA.

 

Traffic worsens further out 66 and I come up on a full HD dresser. Screaming Eagle back patch worked in with POW-MIA covers his vest and is topped by a “Run for the Wall” patch. I keep back a pace and we adopt the natural offset positioning of multiple riders.

 

After some 66 backup, stop-and-go, we strike up a staccato conversation in the pauses of the traffic flow. Where you been, where you going, see the rain coming? I tell him I’m headed out to the mountains, Skyline Drive and West Virginia. He says he’s just in from there recently, was in DC for Rolling Thunder for the day and will be coming back in on Sunday again. His license plate is obscured by luggage, so I’m unsure of his port of origin.

 

Later on we part ways and my thoughts turn. Of my parents friends only my step-dad was drafted for Vietnam. Luckily, for us, he only went as far as Ft. Hood, TX, and came back with some good stories about army life and venturing into Mexico (at least the ones he’s shared with me). I think about all the life he’s lived since then, all his experiences and joys. Thinking about what all those who didn’t return gave up, lost, when they didn’t come home. The loss felt by those who loved them, families that have a name on the Wall.

 

Rain is sprinkling before Manassas. Enough to cool you off but not enough to get you worried yet, at least for a bit. Whooooo. Then come the big drops. I head off the ramp to gear up with the rain paraphernalia under the gas station pavilion. Finally get it all on and get strapped back up and out pops the sun and the rain stops. Too funny. Now I have wet clothes on under the raingear. Rain gear now keeping the wind out that would dry me. I motor on as more rain is promised on the horizon.

 

This brings up a point about rain. People always ask, “What do you do when it rains and your on the motorcycle”. I reply simply, “I get wet”. Duh. Rain riding has never bothered me. On the straight highways it’s no big deal. Just give more cushion to the cars in front of you. Drive like grandma on the exit ramps.

 

My turning point is finally reached. Off of 66 west and onto 647, Crest Hill Rd. at The Plains, VA. Crest Hill Road is my first slice of motorcycle heaven to be had this weekend. I’m delighted to find that the squiggly line I traced out on the map when planning this trip has translated so well in reality. The road is still wet from the passing rain clouds, and I give a small rabbit and then a chipmunk a near death experience. My first of many animal crossings this weekend. The road is fantastic. A mixture of hilltop road and tree lined canopies that create forest tunnels. Speed limit is 45mph, 55-60 feels comfortable on most parts. Keeping an eye out for a hilltop barn to photograph that I’ve seen in my minds eye, lit by the sun breaking through the clouds and backed by the mountain vista. No luck on any of the barns actual placement to fit the mental picture I have framed.

 

Crest Hill Road and Fodderstack Rd is a long stretch. I take shots of a church and other buildings along Zachary Taylor Highway. Fodderstack gives more of the same as Crest Hill, just a narrower road. The asphalt is of my favorite variety, freshly laid. Washington, VA is a tiny town of historic bed and breakfasts. Local wineries appear to be an attraction here too. Right after Washington the rain returns while I’m in route to Sperryville. Then it really starts to come down, a full on summer thunderstorm. Visibility is down. Road and parking lots soon resemble rivers. Rain drops of the monster variety explode on the pavement, and you know it hurts when they hit you.

 

I quick soaking circuit of Sperryville confirms there are no local hotels. I duck into a barn shaped restaurant to wait it out. My drenched gear takes on bar stool and I occupy another. There’s a few flying pigs about. The bartender get me a hefeweizen, and recommends the angus burger. Locally raised and grass fed, we exchange jokes about my passing the burgers relatives on the way in.

 

Don’t freak about the beer. I have a one only rule when riding. It was followed by a meal (best burger of the weekend!), several coffees, and this bar top journal entry.

 

Somewhere along Crest Hill road I decided to keep the cell off for the weekend. In addition no tv, newspapers, internet, or e-mail sound like a good idea. Of course I now am studiously avoid eye contact with the two beautiful plasma’s above the bar.

 

Entry Two

 

Hazel River Inn, Culpepper, VA, has the coolest street side seating in town.

 

The downpour let up at the Shady Farms bar in Sperryville and due to the deficiency in local lodging I quiz the bartender for options. Over the other side of the mountain, the opposite side of Skyline Dr via 211 is Luray with lots of motels, but I want to save the mountain for the morning. The waitress suggest Culpepper, there being a Holiday Inn etc.

 

Stepping outside the sun has broke through the clouds again. Enough for some shots of Shady Farms Restaurant and a bridge. Heading down 522, the Sperryville Pike, I keep an eye out for photo ops to catch the next morning as I’ll be rerouting back through. Following the mantra of Dale Borgeson about tour riding in the US, I aim to avoid large chain establishments, whether they are restaurants or hotels, and explore the mom-and-pop local variety businesses. I have a dive-ish roadside motel in mind, Culpepper comes through with the Sleepy Hollow Hotel.

 

Before check in I ride through downtown historic Culpepper. It’s a cool place. The Shady Farm bartender had recommended the Culpepper Thai restaurant. I see it but don’t visit, still full from the meal earlier. Cameron Street Coffee looks like a great place, located in an old warehouse. Unfortunately their closed for the night.

 

Shower and changed, room 102 at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel. I hop back on the bike, refreshed and dry and ride through the warm night air back downtown. The coffee at the Hazel River Inn comes with a sweet fudge confection on the side. The peach and blackberry cobbler with vanilla sauce is divine.

 

The reconfigured plan for this getaway is to shed. Shed worries about the job, career, housing, and relationships. My motorcycle is therapeutic. It’s 600cc’s of Zoloft on two wheels. The road lifts my spirits. This wasn’t supposed to be a solo run, and there are stretches of road where I feel the emptiness behind me.

 

The cobbler is finished and I can hear the sound of a band doing their sound check. The banging of the drum requires investigation.

 

Entry Three

 

I found Brown Bag Special in the cellar pub of the same restaurant I was in. On my way to the door the noise of the sound check floated up the stairs and directed my feet downward. Brown Bag Special opened the set, appropriately enough, with “I drink alone”. The ol’ man, Big Money, would have loved it. Drink alone started off a Big Money Blues trifecta to include “The Breeze” and “Mustang Sally”. Then they made the mistake a lot of bands make that have a great lead guitar player. They let him sing. The lead guitarist karaoke sucked his way through a Tom Petty hit. He was so off key in his singing it made you appreciate the guitar solo’s all the more for the relief they provided. Thankfully the regular singer soon resumed his duties and the night went on. More good stuff from the band.

 

Freebird

Folsom Prison Blues

Cheap Sun Glasses

 

“can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, what she’s done to me”

 

Off to bed now at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel with the ghost and shades of dead hookers and overdoses past.

 

150 miles today.

  

Saturday

 

Entry Four

 

Morning breaks on the Sleepy Hollow Hotel, a hot shower and I’m back on the bike. A quick stop downtown to shoot the Hazel Inn, then it’s back on the Sperryville Pike. More stops to capture some sights seen yesterday. Mr. & Mrs. Pump. The open mouth caricatures are an accurate representation of the current gas cost and the pumps eating your wallet.

 

I keep telling my daughter that her first car, college car, will be a hybrid. She thinks they are ugly. The bike isn’t so bad, averaging around 40mpg. At about 180 miles on the tripometer I start to look for a refill, although I’ve pushed it to 211 miles before.

 

A quick left in Sperryville on 211 and up into the mountain, Blue Ridge Mountains and Skyline Drive. Heading up the mountain I get the first bite of the twisties I’ve been craving. The $10 fee at the gate to Skyline Drive is well worth the price. Great scenery and fantastic views. The only drawback is the 35mph speed limit that is well enforced by the park rangers.

 

I shoot some self-portraits at Pollock Knob overlook. They’re funny in that with all the scrambling and hurrying to be the camera timer, then trying to effect a relaxed pose. I’ve also broke out my old friend this trip, the Lubitel 166, a medium format, 120mm film, twin lens camera. I’m like Jay-Z with this camera, I have to get it in one take. There is no digital review after the click for instant gratification. As a fellow photographer it’s “Point, Push, and Pray”. I’ll be interested to see the results. Not that I’ve left digital behind. Carrying both cameras, I’m an analog/digital double threat.

 

After the self-portraits and some dead tree shots I’m about to pack back on the bike and leave when I meet the preacher and his wife. He offers to shoot me with my camera and I return the favor with theirs. Conversation flows and in a ‘small world’ moment it turns out that he works for same Hazel family that owns the restaurant I was at last night for his Monday thru Friday job. I get a friendly “God bless” and I’m heading south on Skyline Drive. I make several more stops and break out the cameras again at Big Meadow.

 

There is a gnarly dead tree in the middle of the meadow. It has burn damage at the base, either the result of some wild fire or perhaps a controlled burn done to maintain the field. I spot and shoot a few deer, they probably won’t turn out as they’re to far away for my lens on the D100. I shoot a bunch of shots of the tree with the D100 and then totally switch processes with the Lubitel. The picture setup with the Lubitel takes about a minute-and-a-half. Manual zoom, i.e., walking back and forth to get the framing I want. Light meter reading. Then dealing with the reversed optics of the look-down box camera. It is fun though, to switch it up, change the pace and the dynamics. Just one click though, hope I caught it.

 

It’s a long but enjoyable ride to the south end of Skyline Drive. Unless you really like slow cruising I would suggest picking which third of Skyline Drive you’d like include in your trip and leave the rest. I drop off the mountain and into Waynesboro. Finding Mad Anthony’s coffee shop for a late breakfast. I overhear that it’s around noon. The Italian Roast coffee is good, in fact, it would prove to be the best coffee of the trip.

 

One of the pleasures of traveling by motorcycle is that it’s an easy conversation starter. People ask you where your coming from, where you’re heading, ask about your bike, tell you’re about their bike or the one they wish they had. One of the peculiarities of these conversations is that if the person even remotely knows of anyone that has died on a motorcycle, they will be sure to share this fact along with details. These stories usually involve a deer, a car pulling out, or someone taking a corner to fast. The conversation goes something like this:

 

Stranger“nice bike”

You“thanks”

Stranger“my cousin Bob had a friend that hit a deer and died on his bike”

 

Short silence.

 

You“yeah, deer are dangerous, got to be careful”

 

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve held variations on this conversation many times. Luckily this isn’t the conversation I have with the owner of Mad Anthony’s. He’s a former sailboat instructor who now finds the same release and head clearing on his motorcycle that he used to get from his sailboat.

 

This brings to mind the same wave – don’t way dynamic that occurs between sail boaters and power boaters, very similar to the sportbike & HD crowd.

 

The proprietor is a coffee guru, we discuss roasting (my Italian roast was just roasted Wednesday this week). We talk about the good and the evil of Starbucks. We’re both in agreement that they over roast their regular coffee, but I think their foo foo drinks are tasty. He has in his shop both the Bodum press and the Bodum vacuum coffee pot that I got my mom for x-mas. A shameless plug here, the Bodum vacuum coffee pot makes the best home coffee ever. It’s also an entertaining crowd pleaser, no joke.

 

Leaving Waynesboro the plan was 340 northward to 33, then into Harrisonburg, VA (home of the Valley Mall and JMU). 340 proved to be boring so I jumped on 256, Port Republic Road, for a better ride to Harrisonburg. I don’t know if the coffee wore off or if I was just worn out. I pull over at Westover Park, pick out a spot of grass, and take a good nap in the sun.

 

I had my motorcycle bug handed down to me by my step-dad. My kindergarten year of school we moved right at the end of the school year. Rather than switch schools at this inopportune time my Dad stuck me on the back of his Honda and rode me to school and back again for the last month or two. Even earlier than that I have a great photo of me in 1973-4 sitting on his chopper with him. Me in a diaper and him with his long hippy hair. The wild side of the Reverend indeed.

 

Refreshed from my nap it’s back on 33 westbound. Heading out of the Shenandoah Valley and Rockingham County is more glorious twisty roads and the George Washington National Forest. GW is a beautiful tree canopy lined road with a river off to one side. Franklin, WV is the destination, a return to the Star Hotel.

 

I stayed at the Star a few years prior when they first re-opened the historic Star Hotel. The owner, Steve Miller, is a great guy, friendly and conversational. I told him I’d be back again, but it’s been a few more years than I thought. Late lunch at the Star is pesto grilled chicken on ciabatta bread with roasted red peppers. Not the type of fare one might associate with West Virginia, but people have misperceptions about everywhere. Steve promises a prime rib later at dinner tonight to die for.

 

So that there is no misunderstanding, in as much as the Sleepy Hollow Hotel was a dive, the Star Hotel is a dream.

 

Dump the gear in the room back on the bike for some roaming around. I head back to explore a river road I passed on the way in, Rock Gap. It’s a gravel affair and I follow it back a little ways. Photo some river shots. Down further there is a large cliff face with some college aged kids de-gearing after a day of climbing. I’ll try to stop back in tomorrow and shoot some climbing action, as well as some fly fishing.

 

I pick up a bottle of Barefoot Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, and drop it off with Steve at the Star to keep for later. I’ll enjoy that bottle later tonight from the 3rd floor front porch. South out of town I head, into some very secondary roads. I shoot an old decrepit cabin that would be right up Bobby Sargent’s alley. I put it in the metal folder for a possible future model shoot location, along with the river spots I’ve seen.

 

There are a couple more stops on this little ride. Once for what appears to be a feral chicken, and then for middle of the road stare down with a young doe. She’s camera shy though and is off before I can get a shot. Sportbike probably isn’t the best conveyance for nature photography. The pavement stops and gravel begins, I motor on. Rick & I once spent a full day just about on gravel roads, crisscrossing the back country around Cumberland, MD. So I’m comfortable with the less than ideal riding surface. A few miles on the road dead ends at a pair of chicken houses (source of the feral chicken’s ancestors perhaps?) and I turn around and survey the valley I’ve just ridden through. I have to stop the bike and soak in the scene. A picturesque farm is nestled in the corner of the valley, up against the hills. I meet some inquisitive cows, along with the farmer and his wife.

 

It seems that when you are in WV and you pass a sign that says “snow removal ends here” that the already suspect road conditions are going to quickly deteriorate and will soon resemble somewhat more of a logging road. I motor on through some back country, no houses, no farms, just mountains, steep roadside cliffs, and wicked gravel switchback curves. The part that gives you the willies are the downhill corners where the road grade is slanted to the outside of the curve and to the drop below. Yikes!

 

I creep along where a four wheeler would be much more functional. Although I still hit it a bit in the straights. Pavement arrives again and I’m unsure of my exact location. I follow the chicken farmers directions and soon discover myself back in Brandywine, intersecting the same stretch of 33 I rode on my way into Franklin.

 

Back at the Star Hotel it’s a shower and fresh clothes before heading down for dinner. Downstairs I find the prime rib to be as good as promised.

 

Entry Five

 

How beautifully staged is this. Barefoot on the 3rd floor patio, wine to ease the back and the ache in the knee.

 

205 miles today, the last 30 after check in, just to explore.

  

Sunday

 

Entry Six

 

Out early in the morning. I find no climbers at Rock Gap, unsure of the hours they keep. Out of Franklin on 33 west, looking for another squiggly line I had seen on a map. Bland Hill Road name is a misnomer. A single lane country road winding through German Valley. I got a few shots of German Valley from the 33 overlook before turning on Bland Hill. Now I find myself in the same location I had shot from above.

 

The road cuts through some open pasture land and I meet some cows standing in the road after rounding one bend. They’re pleasant enough, if in no particular hurry to cross, and don’t mind posing for a shot or two before meandering on. People talk about the danger of hitting a deer, a cow would really ruin your day! Off of Bland Hill and on down into the valley. I come up on the rock formation I had seen from the overlook previously. It’s not Seneca Rocks, but a formation of the same ilk. I get some more photos, then onto German Valley Road. I’m still staying at the Star, there is no real destination today. It’s relaxing to stop as much as I like.

 

German Valley Road puts me back on 33 west and not long after I’m ordering breakfast at the Valley View Restaurant. Dale Borgeson warns of places that advertise home cooking, but that’s about all you see in these parts. There are a fair number of cars here and that’s usually a good since the food will be alright. Hell, even the Army could make a good breakfast. It all works out and it’s a hell of a deal, $4 for toast, two eggs, hash browns, bacon, and coffee.

 

From 33 I hit 28 and turn off on Smoke Hole Road, just because it’s there and looks interesting. Boy, what a find it is. Combining the curvy one lane country road with nice wide smooth pavement (gravel free in the corners). It’s great. Smoke Hole Road turns out to run from 28 across the Seneca Rocks National Forest to 220 on the other side. Going west-to-east it starts out all curves and hills, then ends by winding along the south branch of the Potomac. There are lots of fly fishermen here enjoying the catch-and-release section of the river.

 

Up 220 to Petersburg, I run into some Ducati guys at the gas station. We swap riding info and I’m soon on 42 north towards Mayville. Hanging a left when I see a sign for Dolly Sods. I’m back on secondary roads and I soon pass another prophetic ‘no snow removal’ signs. It’s gravel the rest of the way up the mountain til it breaks out on top at Dolly Sod.

 

I’m real happy with today’s roads, as both Smoke Hole Road and Dolly Sods were unplanned ‘discovered adventures’. I do some rock scrabbling at Dolly Sod and enjoy the cliff top views. A fellow tourist snaps a shot for me an I hike out well past the distance that the casual tourist and families go. Shot some more shots of the rock formations with both the digital and film camera. Do some more self-portraits. I then sit down to relax in the sun with the cliff side breeze steadily blowing and update this journal.

  

Entry Seven

 

Well, fellow traveler, if you’ve made it this far I am duly impressed. I thank you for your perseverance. The rest of the day was spent riding without incident. Just more fantastic roads. You don’t have to be an explore on par with Lewis & Clark to find great rides in West Virginia. Just be curious in nature and unafraid to leave the beaten path. Drop off the numbered roads and take the route less traveled. Soon you’ll be in your own undiscovered country. Blah blah blah.

 

Out of Dolly Sod and I find myself on 32. Rough calculations put the dirt road travel around 25 miles for the day. While we are on stats, here’s today’s animal road count:

 

1 rooster

1 dead fox

2 cows

8 chipmunks

7 alive

1 dead

3 dead possums

1 squirrel

1 dead blob (undistinguishable)

No fearsome deer

1 dog

 

I guided myself today by a rather non-descript map put out by mountainhighlands.com

 

Leaving Dolly Sod on 32 puts me in Dry Fork and back on familiar 33 west to Elkins. I cruise around Elkins on the off chance I’ll run into a guy I know named Dallas. Now all you need to know about Dallas is the following:

 

I don’t know his last name

I once gave him a hair cut with dog grooming clippers

I know he works at a bike shop making choppers

 

You figure the odds of me finding him, near zero.

 

If your curious it wasn’t the first time I cut hair, albeit the first time using dog shears. In Korea I cut in the latrine for $2 a cut or for a 6 pack. Everything was barter in the Army. We had a cook that would make you a great custom birthday cake for a case of beer or feed you food out of the back of the chow hall at 3am when you staggered in drunk from the ville for the promise of a future round to be bought. Korea stories could fill another journal.

 

Anyway, out of Elkins and south to Beverly. Scott, if your reading this you were on my mind as I went through town, never forgive, never forget.

 

So far I’ve only tried to write about the positive food experiences of the trip without throwing anyplace under the bus. C&J in Beverly however, served only barely functional burgers and the vanilla shake was of the worst chemical prefab variety. There are some things that I am stuck on, good vanilla ice cream is one. The others that I’m picky about are beer, whiskey, steak, cheese-steak, and coffee. It’s just so disappointing when something you usually enjoy turns out to be sub par.

 

After C&J it’s 250 east to 28, which heads back towards Seneca Rocks and Franklin. It’s a good haul through the Monongahela National Forest. A road of the scenic variety, with good twisties up the mountain and through the scenery. These type road have become quite a common occurrence here in WV. Back in Seneca Rocks and 33 east into Franklin. I never shoot Seneca Rocks, the light is never right, number one can tell you how I get about my light.

 

The Star’s restaurant is closed on Sunday, dagger, so I shower and head into Franklin by foot. About Franklin, WV. It’s a nice little town, quiet and sleepy. No bars other than the VFW that I could see. Everybody I’ve met and spoken too has be pleasant, friendly and conversational, both here in Franklin and elsewhere in WV. I’m sure there are a variety of characters much as anywhere, this is just my observation from the tourist level.

 

Following last night precedent I grab another vino from the Shell station. The Star being closed is a dilemma; I’m in need of a cork screw (having borrowed the restaurants the night before). I wander back down to the hotel, wine in hand, and past the hotel just a bit til I meet an old man sitting out front. I explain my situation, wine without access, and he says he’ll sell me a corkscrew. He goes in the house, shortly to return with the necessary implement in hand. I figure I have it for $3-4 or maybe rent it for a one time use for $1. That proves unnecessary however, he says just to take it, and keep it for any future need.

 

The sole booking for the hotel tonight, I’m like a wraith as I glide through the halls. On the front porch with my bottle of vino in hand. I have some cheap cigars I also picked up and there’s nothing to do but kick back and watch the sunset.

 

It’s been a great trip. Somewhat lonesome at times. The lack of someone to talk to surely let to the length of this journal. It was a trip to getaway, to reflect. There was no great revelation or anything, just time to get to know yourself. The road gives you time to think. I know who I am and I like being me. I know what’s missing.

 

I’m resolved to take more bike trips in the future. It’s definitely my preferred way to travel and vacation. Motorcycling is the way to go.

 

Tomorrow I have my route generally planned out, more scenic byways for a winding route home.

 

Miles today, 240.

 

Monday

 

Entry Seven

 

Just a short postscript. 20 miles east of Washington DC, on 66, the chain popped off the bike. It’s never easy.

           

Friday

Entry One

 

Flew out of work, the fleet flight of Friday before a holiday weekend. Everyone cracks a smile upon stepping out of the concrete and glass coffin of the corporate work week. The motorcycle is quickly gassed and loaded, I leave Washington DC at three-thirty, vowing not to check the time for the rest of the adventure. Adventure, the American adventure of the open road is what I seek. The road, my cameras, and escape.

 

Right turn off of 15th St. NW and I’m motoring past the Washington Monument and the White House. Harleys and clones are already lining the Mall for the annual Memorial remembrance that is Rolling Thunder. I’m soon over the bridge and on I-66 west. I plan on avoiding major highways when at all possible. Preferring scenic byways to drab highways. 66 is a necessary evil to flee the DC metro area as quickly as possible. At the start, 66 is a good quick run, for awhile anyway. Loads of Rolling Thunder riders are heading in 66 eastbound.

 

I keep the ubiquitous two fingers down to the side salute to fellow bikers out for extended stretches of time. In my experience, HD guys return the acknowledgement about 30-40% of the time. No big deal, some animosity exist though between different bike cultures. Motor-ism two-wheel stereotypes. However with the Rolling Thunder guys there is a noticeable increase in response, perhaps due to no longer just one biker acknowledging another, but a patriotic sharing of support and remembrance for those left behind, POW-MIA.

 

Traffic worsens further out 66 and I come up on a full HD dresser. Screaming Eagle back patch worked in with POW-MIA covers his vest and is topped by a “Run for the Wall” patch. I keep back a pace and we adopt the natural offset positioning of multiple riders.

 

After some 66 backup, stop-and-go, we strike up a staccato conversation in the pauses of the traffic flow. Where you been, where you going, see the rain coming? I tell him I’m headed out to the mountains, Skyline Drive and West Virginia. He says he’s just in from there recently, was in DC for Rolling Thunder for the day and will be coming back in on Sunday again. His license plate is obscured by luggage, so I’m unsure of his port of origin.

 

Later on we part ways and my thoughts turn. Of my parents friends only my step-dad was drafted for Vietnam. Luckily, for us, he only went as far as Ft. Hood, TX, and came back with some good stories about army life and venturing into Mexico (at least the ones he’s shared with me). I think about all the life he’s lived since then, all his experiences and joys. Thinking about what all those who didn’t return gave up, lost, when they didn’t come home. The loss felt by those who loved them, families that have a name on the Wall.

 

Rain is sprinkling before Manassas. Enough to cool you off but not enough to get you worried yet, at least for a bit. Whooooo. Then come the big drops. I head off the ramp to gear up with the rain paraphernalia under the gas station pavilion. Finally get it all on and get strapped back up and out pops the sun and the rain stops. Too funny. Now I have wet clothes on under the raingear. Rain gear now keeping the wind out that would dry me. I motor on as more rain is promised on the horizon.

 

This brings up a point about rain. People always ask, “What do you do when it rains and your on the motorcycle”. I reply simply, “I get wet”. Duh. Rain riding has never bothered me. On the straight highways it’s no big deal. Just give more cushion to the cars in front of you. Drive like grandma on the exit ramps.

 

My turning point is finally reached. Off of 66 west and onto 647, Crest Hill Rd. at The Plains, VA. Crest Hill Road is my first slice of motorcycle heaven to be had this weekend. I’m delighted to find that the squiggly line I traced out on the map when planning this trip has translated so well in reality. The road is still wet from the passing rain clouds, and I give a small rabbit and then a chipmunk a near death experience. My first of many animal crossings this weekend. The road is fantastic. A mixture of hilltop road and tree lined canopies that create forest tunnels. Speed limit is 45mph, 55-60 feels comfortable on most parts. Keeping an eye out for a hilltop barn to photograph that I’ve seen in my minds eye, lit by the sun breaking through the clouds and backed by the mountain vista. No luck on any of the barns actual placement to fit the mental picture I have framed.

 

Crest Hill Road and Fodderstack Rd is a long stretch. I take shots of a church and other buildings along Zachary Taylor Highway. Fodderstack gives more of the same as Crest Hill, just a narrower road. The asphalt is of my favorite variety, freshly laid. Washington, VA is a tiny town of historic bed and breakfasts. Local wineries appear to be an attraction here too. Right after Washington the rain returns while I’m in route to Sperryville. Then it really starts to come down, a full on summer thunderstorm. Visibility is down. Road and parking lots soon resemble rivers. Rain drops of the monster variety explode on the pavement, and you know it hurts when they hit you.

 

I quick soaking circuit of Sperryville confirms there are no local hotels. I duck into a barn shaped restaurant to wait it out. My drenched gear takes on bar stool and I occupy another. There’s a few flying pigs about. The bartender get me a hefeweizen, and recommends the angus burger. Locally raised and grass fed, we exchange jokes about my passing the burgers relatives on the way in.

 

Don’t freak about the beer. I have a one only rule when riding. It was followed by a meal (best burger of the weekend!), several coffees, and this bar top journal entry.

 

Somewhere along Crest Hill road I decided to keep the cell off for the weekend. In addition no tv, newspapers, internet, or e-mail sound like a good idea. Of course I now am studiously avoid eye contact with the two beautiful plasma’s above the bar.

 

Entry Two

 

Hazel River Inn, Culpepper, VA, has the coolest street side seating in town.

 

The downpour let up at the Shady Farms bar in Sperryville and due to the deficiency in local lodging I quiz the bartender for options. Over the other side of the mountain, the opposite side of Skyline Dr via 211 is Luray with lots of motels, but I want to save the mountain for the morning. The waitress suggest Culpepper, there being a Holiday Inn etc.

 

Stepping outside the sun has broke through the clouds again. Enough for some shots of Shady Farms Restaurant and a bridge. Heading down 522, the Sperryville Pike, I keep an eye out for photo ops to catch the next morning as I’ll be rerouting back through. Following the mantra of Dale Borgeson about tour riding in the US, I aim to avoid large chain establishments, whether they are restaurants or hotels, and explore the mom-and-pop local variety businesses. I have a dive-ish roadside motel in mind, Culpepper comes through with the Sleepy Hollow Hotel.

 

Before check in I ride through downtown historic Culpepper. It’s a cool place. The Shady Farm bartender had recommended the Culpepper Thai restaurant. I see it but don’t visit, still full from the meal earlier. Cameron Street Coffee looks like a great place, located in an old warehouse. Unfortunately their closed for the night.

 

Shower and changed, room 102 at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel. I hop back on the bike, refreshed and dry and ride through the warm night air back downtown. The coffee at the Hazel River Inn comes with a sweet fudge confection on the side. The peach and blackberry cobbler with vanilla sauce is divine.

 

The reconfigured plan for this getaway is to shed. Shed worries about the job, career, housing, and relationships. My motorcycle is therapeutic. It’s 600cc’s of Zoloft on two wheels. The road lifts my spirits. This wasn’t supposed to be a solo run, and there are stretches of road where I feel the emptiness behind me.

 

The cobbler is finished and I can hear the sound of a band doing their sound check. The banging of the drum requires investigation.

 

Entry Three

 

I found Brown Bag Special in the cellar pub of the same restaurant I was in. On my way to the door the noise of the sound check floated up the stairs and directed my feet downward. Brown Bag Special opened the set, appropriately enough, with “I drink alone”. The ol’ man, Big Money, would have loved it. Drink alone started off a Big Money Blues trifecta to include “The Breeze” and “Mustang Sally”. Then they made the mistake a lot of bands make that have a great lead guitar player. They let him sing. The lead guitarist karaoke sucked his way through a Tom Petty hit. He was so off key in his singing it made you appreciate the guitar solo’s all the more for the relief they provided. Thankfully the regular singer soon resumed his duties and the night went on. More good stuff from the band.

 

Freebird

Folsom Prison Blues

Cheap Sun Glasses

 

“can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, what she’s done to me”

 

Off to bed now at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel with the ghost and shades of dead hookers and overdoses past.

 

150 miles today.

  

Saturday

 

Entry Four

 

Morning breaks on the Sleepy Hollow Hotel, a hot shower and I’m back on the bike. A quick stop downtown to shoot the Hazel Inn, then it’s back on the Sperryville Pike. More stops to capture some sights seen yesterday. Mr. & Mrs. Pump. The open mouth caricatures are an accurate representation of the current gas cost and the pumps eating your wallet.

 

I keep telling my daughter that her first car, college car, will be a hybrid. She thinks they are ugly. The bike isn’t so bad, averaging around 40mpg. At about 180 miles on the tripometer I start to look for a refill, although I’ve pushed it to 211 miles before.

 

A quick left in Sperryville on 211 and up into the mountain, Blue Ridge Mountains and Skyline Drive. Heading up the mountain I get the first bite of the twisties I’ve been craving. The $10 fee at the gate to Skyline Drive is well worth the price. Great scenery and fantastic views. The only drawback is the 35mph speed limit that is well enforced by the park rangers.

 

I shoot some self-portraits at Pollock Knob overlook. They’re funny in that with all the scrambling and hurrying to be the camera timer, then trying to effect a relaxed pose. I’ve also broke out my old friend this trip, the Lubitel 166, a medium format, 120mm film, twin lens camera. I’m like Jay-Z with this camera, I have to get it in one take. There is no digital review after the click for instant gratification. As a fellow photographer it’s “Point, Push, and Pray”. I’ll be interested to see the results. Not that I’ve left digital behind. Carrying both cameras, I’m an analog/digital double threat.

 

After the self-portraits and some dead tree shots I’m about to pack back on the bike and leave when I meet the preacher and his wife. He offers to shoot me with my camera and I return the favor with theirs. Conversation flows and in a ‘small world’ moment it turns out that he works for same Hazel family that owns the restaurant I was at last night for his Monday thru Friday job. I get a friendly “God bless” and I’m heading south on Skyline Drive. I make several more stops and break out the cameras again at Big Meadow.

 

There is a gnarly dead tree in the middle of the meadow. It has burn damage at the base, either the result of some wild fire or perhaps a controlled burn done to maintain the field. I spot and shoot a few deer, they probably won’t turn out as they’re to far away for my lens on the D100. I shoot a bunch of shots of the tree with the D100 and then totally switch processes with the Lubitel. The picture setup with the Lubitel takes about a minute-and-a-half. Manual zoom, i.e., walking back and forth to get the framing I want. Light meter reading. Then dealing with the reversed optics of the look-down box camera. It is fun though, to switch it up, change the pace and the dynamics. Just one click though, hope I caught it.

 

It’s a long but enjoyable ride to the south end of Skyline Drive. Unless you really like slow cruising I would suggest picking which third of Skyline Drive you’d like include in your trip and leave the rest. I drop off the mountain and into Waynesboro. Finding Mad Anthony’s coffee shop for a late breakfast. I overhear that it’s around noon. The Italian Roast coffee is good, in fact, it would prove to be the best coffee of the trip.

 

One of the pleasures of traveling by motorcycle is that it’s an easy conversation starter. People ask you where your coming from, where you’re heading, ask about your bike, tell you’re about their bike or the one they wish they had. One of the peculiarities of these conversations is that if the person even remotely knows of anyone that has died on a motorcycle, they will be sure to share this fact along with details. These stories usually involve a deer, a car pulling out, or someone taking a corner to fast. The conversation goes something like this:

 

Stranger“nice bike”

You“thanks”

Stranger“my cousin Bob had a friend that hit a deer and died on his bike”

 

Short silence.

 

You“yeah, deer are dangerous, got to be careful”

 

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve held variations on this conversation many times. Luckily this isn’t the conversation I have with the owner of Mad Anthony’s. He’s a former sailboat instructor who now finds the same release and head clearing on his motorcycle that he used to get from his sailboat.

 

This brings to mind the same wave – don’t way dynamic that occurs between sail boaters and power boaters, very similar to the sportbike & HD crowd.

 

The proprietor is a coffee guru, we discuss roasting (my Italian roast was just roasted Wednesday this week). We talk about the good and the evil of Starbucks. We’re both in agreement that they over roast their regular coffee, but I think their foo foo drinks are tasty. He has in his shop both the Bodum press and the Bodum vacuum coffee pot that I got my mom for x-mas. A shameless plug here, the Bodum vacuum coffee pot makes the best home coffee ever. It’s also an entertaining crowd pleaser, no joke.

 

Leaving Waynesboro the plan was 340 northward to 33, then into Harrisonburg, VA (home of the Valley Mall and JMU). 340 proved to be boring so I jumped on 256, Port Republic Road, for a better ride to Harrisonburg. I don’t know if the coffee wore off or if I was just worn out. I pull over at Westover Park, pick out a spot of grass, and take a good nap in the sun.

 

I had my motorcycle bug handed down to me by my step-dad. My kindergarten year of school we moved right at the end of the school year. Rather than switch schools at this inopportune time my Dad stuck me on the back of his Honda and rode me to school and back again for the last month or two. Even earlier than that I have a great photo of me in 1973-4 sitting on his chopper with him. Me in a diaper and him with his long hippy hair. The wild side of the Reverend indeed.

 

Refreshed from my nap it’s back on 33 westbound. Heading out of the Shenandoah Valley and Rockingham County is more glorious twisty roads and the George Washington National Forest. GW is a beautiful tree canopy lined road with a river off to one side. Franklin, WV is the destination, a return to the Star Hotel.

 

I stayed at the Star a few years prior when they first re-opened the historic Star Hotel. The owner, Steve Miller, is a great guy, friendly and conversational. I told him I’d be back again, but it’s been a few more years than I thought. Late lunch at the Star is pesto grilled chicken on ciabatta bread with roasted red peppers. Not the type of fare one might associate with West Virginia, but people have misperceptions about everywhere. Steve promises a prime rib later at dinner tonight to die for.

 

So that there is no misunderstanding, in as much as the Sleepy Hollow Hotel was a dive, the Star Hotel is a dream.

 

Dump the gear in the room back on the bike for some roaming around. I head back to explore a river road I passed on the way in, Rock Gap. It’s a gravel affair and I follow it back a little ways. Photo some river shots. Down further there is a large cliff face with some college aged kids de-gearing after a day of climbing. I’ll try to stop back in tomorrow and shoot some climbing action, as well as some fly fishing.

 

I pick up a bottle of Barefoot Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, and drop it off with Steve at the Star to keep for later. I’ll enjoy that bottle later tonight from the 3rd floor front porch. South out of town I head, into some very secondary roads. I shoot an old decrepit cabin that would be right up Bobby Sargent’s alley. I put it in the metal folder for a possible future model shoot location, along with the river spots I’ve seen.

 

There are a couple more stops on this little ride. Once for what appears to be a feral chicken, and then for middle of the road stare down with a young doe. She’s camera shy though and is off before I can get a shot. Sportbike probably isn’t the best conveyance for nature photography. The pavement stops and gravel begins, I motor on. Rick & I once spent a full day just about on gravel roads, crisscrossing the back country around Cumberland, MD. So I’m comfortable with the less than ideal riding surface. A few miles on the road dead ends at a pair of chicken houses (source of the feral chicken’s ancestors perhaps?) and I turn around and survey the valley I’ve just ridden through. I have to stop the bike and soak in the scene. A picturesque farm is nestled in the corner of the valley, up against the hills. I meet some inquisitive cows, along with the farmer and his wife.

 

It seems that when you are in WV and you pass a sign that says “snow removal ends here” that the already suspect road conditions are going to quickly deteriorate and will soon resemble somewhat more of a logging road. I motor on through some back country, no houses, no farms, just mountains, steep roadside cliffs, and wicked gravel switchback curves. The part that gives you the willies are the downhill corners where the road grade is slanted to the outside of the curve and to the drop below. Yikes!

 

I creep along where a four wheeler would be much more functional. Although I still hit it a bit in the straights. Pavement arrives again and I’m unsure of my exact location. I follow the chicken farmers directions and soon discover myself back in Brandywine, intersecting the same stretch of 33 I rode on my way into Franklin.

 

Back at the Star Hotel it’s a shower and fresh clothes before heading down for dinner. Downstairs I find the prime rib to be as good as promised.

 

Entry Five

 

How beautifully staged is this. Barefoot on the 3rd floor patio, wine to ease the back and the ache in the knee.

 

205 miles today, the last 30 after check in, just to explore.

  

Sunday

 

Entry Six

 

Out early in the morning. I find no climbers at Rock Gap, unsure of the hours they keep. Out of Franklin on 33 west, looking for another squiggly line I had seen on a map. Bland Hill Road name is a misnomer. A single lane country road winding through German Valley. I got a few shots of German Valley from the 33 overlook before turning on Bland Hill. Now I find myself in the same location I had shot from above.

 

The road cuts through some open pasture land and I meet some cows standing in the road after rounding one bend. They’re pleasant enough, if in no particular hurry to cross, and don’t mind posing for a shot or two before meandering on. People talk about the danger of hitting a deer, a cow would really ruin your day! Off of Bland Hill and on down into the valley. I come up on the rock formation I had seen from the overlook previously. It’s not Seneca Rocks, but a formation of the same ilk. I get some more photos, then onto German Valley Road. I’m still staying at the Star, there is no real destination today. It’s relaxing to stop as much as I like.

 

German Valley Road puts me back on 33 west and not long after I’m ordering breakfast at the Valley View Restaurant. Dale Borgeson warns of places that advertise home cooking, but that’s about all you see in these parts. There are a fair number of cars here and that’s usually a good since the food will be alright. Hell, even the Army could make a good breakfast. It all works out and it’s a hell of a deal, $4 for toast, two eggs, hash browns, bacon, and coffee.

 

From 33 I hit 28 and turn off on Smoke Hole Road, just because it’s there and looks interesting. Boy, what a find it is. Combining the curvy one lane country road with nice wide smooth pavement (gravel free in the corners). It’s great. Smoke Hole Road turns out to run from 28 across the Seneca Rocks National Forest to 220 on the other side. Going west-to-east it starts out all curves and hills, then ends by winding along the south branch of the Potomac. There are lots of fly fishermen here enjoying the catch-and-release section of the river.

 

Up 220 to Petersburg, I run into some Ducati guys at the gas station. We swap riding info and I’m soon on 42 north towards Mayville. Hanging a left when I see a sign for Dolly Sods. I’m back on secondary roads and I soon pass another prophetic ‘no snow removal’ signs. It’s gravel the rest of the way up the mountain til it breaks out on top at Dolly Sod.

 

I’m real happy with today’s roads, as both Smoke Hole Road and Dolly Sods were unplanned ‘discovered adventures’. I do some rock scrabbling at Dolly Sod and enjoy the cliff top views. A fellow tourist snaps a shot for me an I hike out well past the distance that the casual tourist and families go. Shot some more shots of the rock formations with both the digital and film camera. Do some more self-portraits. I then sit down to relax in the sun with the cliff side breeze steadily blowing and update this journal.

  

Entry Seven

 

Well, fellow traveler, if you’ve made it this far I am duly impressed. I thank you for your perseverance. The rest of the day was spent riding without incident. Just more fantastic roads. You don’t have to be an explore on par with Lewis & Clark to find great rides in West Virginia. Just be curious in nature and unafraid to leave the beaten path. Drop off the numbered roads and take the route less traveled. Soon you’ll be in your own undiscovered country. Blah blah blah.

 

Out of Dolly Sod and I find myself on 32. Rough calculations put the dirt road travel around 25 miles for the day. While we are on stats, here’s today’s animal road count:

 

1 rooster

1 dead fox

2 cows

8 chipmunks

7 alive

1 dead

3 dead possums

1 squirrel

1 dead blob (undistinguishable)

No fearsome deer

1 dog

 

I guided myself today by a rather non-descript map put out by mountainhighlands.com

 

Leaving Dolly Sod on 32 puts me in Dry Fork and back on familiar 33 west to Elkins. I cruise around Elkins on the off chance I’ll run into a guy I know named Dallas. Now all you need to know about Dallas is the following:

 

I don’t know his last name

I once gave him a hair cut with dog grooming clippers

I know he works at a bike shop making choppers

 

You figure the odds of me finding him, near zero.

 

If your curious it wasn’t the first time I cut hair, albeit the first time using dog shears. In Korea I cut in the latrine for $2 a cut or for a 6 pack. Everything was barter in the Army. We had a cook that would make you a great custom birthday cake for a case of beer or feed you food out of the back of the chow hall at 3am when you staggered in drunk from the ville for the promise of a future round to be bought. Korea stories could fill another journal.

 

Anyway, out of Elkins and south to Beverly. Scott, if your reading this you were on my mind as I went through town, never forgive, never forget.

 

So far I’ve only tried to write about the positive food experiences of the trip without throwing anyplace under the bus. C&J in Beverly however, served only barely functional burgers and the vanilla shake was of the worst chemical prefab variety. There are some things that I am stuck on, good vanilla ice cream is one. The others that I’m picky about are beer, whiskey, steak, cheese-steak, and coffee. It’s just so disappointing when something you usually enjoy turns out to be sub par.

 

After C&J it’s 250 east to 28, which heads back towards Seneca Rocks and Franklin. It’s a good haul through the Monongahela National Forest. A road of the scenic variety, with good twisties up the mountain and through the scenery. These type road have become quite a common occurrence here in WV. Back in Seneca Rocks and 33 east into Franklin. I never shoot Seneca Rocks, the light is never right, number one can tell you how I get about my light.

 

The Star’s restaurant is closed on Sunday, dagger, so I shower and head into Franklin by foot. About Franklin, WV. It’s a nice little town, quiet and sleepy. No bars other than the VFW that I could see. Everybody I’ve met and spoken too has be pleasant, friendly and conversational, both here in Franklin and elsewhere in WV. I’m sure there are a variety of characters much as anywhere, this is just my observation from the tourist level.

 

Following last night precedent I grab another vino from the Shell station. The Star being closed is a dilemma; I’m in need of a cork screw (having borrowed the restaurants the night before). I wander back down to the hotel, wine in hand, and past the hotel just a bit til I meet an old man sitting out front. I explain my situation, wine without access, and he says he’ll sell me a corkscrew. He goes in the house, shortly to return with the necessary implement in hand. I figure I have it for $3-4 or maybe rent it for a one time use for $1. That proves unnecessary however, he says just to take it, and keep it for any future need.

 

The sole booking for the hotel tonight, I’m like a wraith as I glide through the halls. On the front porch with my bottle of vino in hand. I have some cheap cigars I also picked up and there’s nothing to do but kick back and watch the sunset.

 

It’s been a great trip. Somewhat lonesome at times. The lack of someone to talk to surely let to the length of this journal. It was a trip to getaway, to reflect. There was no great revelation or anything, just time to get to know yourself. The road gives you time to think. I know who I am and I like being me. I know what’s missing.

 

I’m resolved to take more bike trips in the future. It’s definitely my preferred way to travel and vacation. Motorcycling is the way to go.

 

Tomorrow I have my route generally planned out, more scenic byways for a winding route home.

 

Miles today, 240.

 

Monday

 

Entry Seven

 

Just a short postscript. 20 miles east of Washington DC, on 66, the chain popped off the bike. It’s never easy.

           

The coming death of Nikon 22

Is it really already too late for Nikon?

Recently, there was a long lasting thread on this issue at NR site that seemed to be started with Thom Hogan's article called,"Thom Hogan explains why Nikon’s late entry to the mirrorless market could actually be a good thing".

Well it is a real complicated issue. I do not think it is a good thing, but the question is: is it really too late for Nikon to enter into so-called mirrorless market?

It is quite obvious while there is not even one good future-proven mirrorless mount system existing yet, most of these systems are now coming to almost the point we can call it state of maturity with lots of lenses and many third party flash systems, or at least nearing to it.

And it seems like the later they enter into the serious mirrorless market, the higher the hurdle bar raised up. The longer they wait to get into the market , the more demanding the minimam set of features and requirements for their first mirrorelss camera will become, and they must do it right at the very first try.

That said, they already try out the water with the Nikon One, and in fact, despite of extreme negative view of the series you read in many forums just because the Nikon One series has had a tiny sensor, it was actually very advanced system already from the very first Nikon One V1(of couse besides the sensor). At least the AF and video feature set were quite good for the time, and maybe the AF is still one of the very best in the mirrorless world.

Therefore, they do not need to change the direction dramatically, nor do they need totally new tech to actually make a decent big sensor mirrorless system from scratch: I mean they just need to swap the One sensor to FF or APS-C and improve the video part of it to the current level of the Panasonic , then it is already one of the best mirrorless out there.

If they can make it completely sealed and not just water resistant or weather selaed but water proof like the Nikon One AW1but with a big sensor and decent 4k, then it already is a quite sensational camera release.

And many of us (at least those who are in this industry here in Japan) already know that Nikon has produced a few (at least 4) FX mirrorless prototypes and one of which almost made it to the actual shop shelves, but Nikon suddenly canceled it just a few days before the original announcement day they planned for it. And many of us speculated it was because of the A7R2 announcement.........so I am sure it was originally planned for June or July 2015 but canceled out or postponed.

At the time, we all thought they should have actually released it even though it was not up to the level of the Sony A7R2. Then they would have been able to improve it from there on with many many experiments.

But now it seems like they must do it right at the very first try according to many mirrorless biased rumor sites. However, is it really as difficult as those rumor sites think it is for Nikon to beat the all existing mirrorelss systems?

Let's examin it here carefully:

1> the Sony E mount system......is it already considered to be a quite complete system? is its position already consolidated in Sony's long term business plan?

and is it really an intuitive system for photographers and videographers?

I think it is already a good system, but still far from what we call a complete system.

Why? cause there are no tilt and shift lenses, there are no weather sealed bodies, there are no powerful enough big bodies that comfortably take a big super tele prime, etc.

But for most of normal use cases, it is already at least as good or near as good as the state of the art best D-SLRs.

Well it is not close to the state of maturity as a whole system, as of this time of writing this just yet, but I think it is nearing to the point with about 32 lenses already released for this system and full Godox flash support and full Capture One and DXO support for it, and in case of C1 Sony users can download it for just 50 bucks, and we must admit that it is a big sales point for the A7X and the A6XXX series.

Then is it really intuitive ? Not yet, but it is getting better each iteration and Sony seems to be seriously committed to FW updates. Now both my A7R2 and A7M2 are on FW V4.0...and none of my Nikon got more than 3 FW updates.......to get as far as to FW4.0...

Nikon and Canon guys always trash Sony for its complete lack of user support or after sales support for its own cameras........but the reality is Sony has been one of the most user freindly and user supporting camera manufactures. Sony has already issued 5 major FW updates for the A7X2 series and each of these was really a huge update, not just fixing bugs but added many features that did not originally existed.

Nikon and Canon have never done this. So while I have to admit the current Sony A7x system is not as intuitive as it should be, I am sure it will slowly get there since Sony seems to have been seriusly committed to this system. But it takes a bit of time, and I think it will be more than a few more iterations, that means it will probably need about a several years at least to get the state of maturity.

So Nikon seems to still have some time to get it all right.....

2> m43...........first of all, I do not consider this system is a serious system for stills or hybrid work now, I used to think it as a such system, though.

I mean compare the file quality of it to a decent FF or even to a decent APS-C system like the X-T20 or the A6300, or anything better. The m43 IQ is really sad, pathetic......although I really want to love it since I love it for video work and I like the concept of the system: it is small as a whole system, it is fast and very intuitive(especially Panasonic ones), it has incredible lowlight AF, it shoots great video, it has incredible stabilization system, it has very effective self sensor cleaning system, etc...with m43 I never need to worry about sensor dust issue and for me it is a huge plus.

But the 43 sensor at the current level of tech is simply not acceptable for any serious stills work, IMHO. The high ISO output quality is terrible, the blue gain noise seems really bad...the color depth is so poor and therefore the files out of any m43 camera including the best ones like GH5 and EM1MK2 cannot be really malleable at all, it cannot take much software manipulation, and therefore it is useless for stills.

There is a rumor that Olympus will come out with a new big 43 sensor format system.

If it is true, I am very happy and I think it might be my dream system, but I doubt it actually materialized.

So I think here again, Nikon seems to still have some time, or I have to be more honest the m43 is an irrelevent system for many of us who actually enlarge our images to over A2 size or larger.

To me it is an irrelevant system at least for stills. I am using it for video but I think I will replace it with the A7SMK2 since I shoot video in extreme lowlight most of times.

3> Fuji X........still not even close to the state of maturity yet, simply there are too many missing lenses such as macros , TS, super wide primes, etc.

But just like Sony, Fuji has been really seriously committed to this system and I am sure they will get there eventually, but just takes a bit of time, I am guessing it maybe at least a couple of iterations more, and so roughly, in 4 -5 years.

So here it goes again Nikon seems to still have some times to build a nice system to compete with the rest.

4> Fuji GFX, well it is not a mainstream budget system, many of those who have growing boys and girls cannot afford........plus it has just a several or so lenses.

And I think it is not in the same market as Nikon is trying to get into......although I think this system will succeed since Fuji seems to has been really committed to this system...and they have the needed resources to get it going.

5> Canon M, well it also has only 5 or 6 naive lens selections, and so it is totally irrelevant to most of us who do not own any Canon lenses or dislike the adapter concept.

Plus, no one knows Canon is really committed to this system, if Canon really is, then why is Canon not designing a set of serious L class lenses for this system?

 

So maybe Hogan is right this time Nikon seems to still have some time left for themselves, but like even Hogan admits, Nikon must do it right at the very first try next time with at least the same level of AF, EVF and metering system as the A9 or be better.

I think the more important question here is: what mount should they choose?

Continue on the F mount? As many of Hogan followers have suggested or seem to have supported......or they need a completely new mount?

I think if they choose the easier F mount route that means that is the end of Nikon as a camera manufacture. Choosing the F mount for the next generation camera system is a fatal mistake and I am sure Nikon knows it. That is why we have been getting so many E type of lenses from them recently......only the E and P type of lenses are usable for video or LV work without too many usability related issues.

And the all new E type lenses they've released in the last 2 or 3 years are amazing, if not simply outstanding.

Anyway, many many Sony, Fuji, and Canon fanboys underrate Nikon LV technology just because the current F mount system has terrible LV and video mode. I was one of them but I realized that it is not because Nikon has no tech in this area or Nikon has intentionally crippling their D-SLRs for video or LV use, but the F mount and its mechnical aperture control system is the real issue here. That is why, Nikon must design a new mount that takes full advantage of fully electronic mount design and also release a fully F mount compatible mount adapter.

But even then, they can just re-use the E type lenses, they must ditch the G type and the other older D and AF lenses for the better future compatibility to fully electro-magnetic mount control system of their new mirrorless mount......

And they must design their future mount with a bit wider than the EF mount throat design to take full advantage of the 35mm sensor, if they can do this then their mirrrorless system will be the best IQ system in the 35mm format camera class..

I think Sony's only one major mistake was having re-used physically squeezingly narror E mount for their FF E mount system, e.g., the FE system........the E mount is obviously a bit too narrow for a 35mm format sensor, the amount of shadow cast we get from a lenses like the 16-35mm f4, the 24-70mm f4, the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5, Samyang 14mm f2.8AF, and Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8 shows it clearly and it is an undeniable fact.

 

Many many current form of mirrorless fanboys online cliam Nikon has not technology to develop super fast mirrorless AF off the sensor, but is this really true?

No. They have already shown they can do it with the Nikon One.

Many Fuji and Sony fanboys do not realize why Sony and Fuji both suddenly got fast AF tech in their mirrorless, but it is actually from one of many Aptina patents that was originally co-developed with Nikon. Now Sony has been accepted to cross license most of their patents with Aptina(actually their parent company On Semi) and as a result Sony and Fuji've suddenly got the fast OSPDAF in their own cameras. But it was the Nikon One that got it first, way before Sony and Fuji.

So I think it is not too late for Nikon to enter into FF mirrorless market, but they must need a new lens mount.

Then do I sell my Sony to get the new hypothetical Nikon ?

No. I do not sell my A7R, A7R2 , A7MK2 and A6500, but I may add the Nikon in addition if it is really good with new wide FF optimized mount.

That said, I am no longer a gearhead, that means I do not collect cameras that I do not need, I focus on my priorities and ROI. So the cheapest body that can handle all my odd needs the most practical and cost effective solution, and thus it is the best camera out there for me. And it seems like the original A7R is that camera for me.

I do not need high frame rate, I do not need 4k in my stills camera(I own dedicated 4k cameras already), I do not need IBIS(it is actually a minus for me as it increases heat noise significantly). I also prefer the cheap A7R body over anything heavier than it since I already know it can take a lot of abuse after I have used it for 4 years or so.

I wish the next A7R would be smaller without all unneeded gimmicks such as IBIS, 8k(useless considering the current strange tech and internet speed),high frame rate(who wants it in a high resolution camera, that is completely beyond me), fast action AF(the A7R series was originally a slow camera and no need action AF), 650 AF points(who needs it? for me one point AF is fine if it is accurate).

In any case as I said it many times all digital cameras or products are a racket, and no need to get emotional about any of those digital toys(or tools).

  

(PLEASE WATCH THE ELIMINATION VIDEO FOR THEME 2 'WINTER WEAR' FIRST: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFVTvBFAjcw)

 

Hello girls! Congratulations on making it into another week of the competition.

 

Because there is now only 10 of you, the competition is going to start getting more harder and much more challenging. It will really start to test your skills as a model. Remember, being a model isn't just about standing there looking pretty, you need to make a fashion something of its own!

 

Now, are you ready for your third theme?!

 

Well, its time to get down to the ugly bug ball as you girls will be posing as high-fashion creepy crawlies! This theme is to test you on how will you interpret a insect into a fashion style.

 

Each of you will be given a chosen insect in which you have to change into a fashion style. Remember, you don't have to be the insect yourself, you can make the fashion you pose in into the chosen insect.

 

~ Esmée xoxo

 

REQUIREMENTS:

~ MUST be a full body shot. I need to be able to see the full fashion you come up with!

~ MUST have the style of the insect you are given. Do not swap or change your insect. If you are really struggling, FM me.

~ REMEMBER, this is a FASHION shot. Not a fancy dress costume advertisement.

~ You can shoot your photo inside or outside. Its your choice!

 

HINTS:

~ If you like, you can put insects into your photo. For example, if you have Spider, you may want to but plastic spiders onto your outfit or background.

~ Don't go over-board. Remember to keep it HIGH FASHION.

 

Examples;

- 3.bp.blogspot.com/_PN9GixX-nfE/R78felhzwmI/AAAAAAAAADc/49...

- www.thefashionables.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/fashio...

- 4.bp.blogspot.com/_c1hhRYj9kUQ/TFFJN9rdWNI/AAAAAAAAAGo/HP...

- www.corridor40.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/ir1-535x400...

  

The Insect Models:

 

1. Sharidan - Beetle ~ www.flickr.com/photos/punkbratz/6609228815/in/contacts/

2. Maya - Spider ~ www.flickr.com/photos/48160182@N07/6650230541/in/contacts/

3. Emma - Dragonfly ~ www.flickr.com/photos/btyler96/6556516637/in/contacts/

4. Payton - Ladybird ~ www.flickr.com/photos/bntm/6562345029/in/photostream/

5. Kiki - Moth ~ www.flickr.com/photos/my_eddited_photos/6560425779/in/con...

6. Jenny - Caterpillar ~ www.flickr.com/photos/39167011@N05/6642063315/in/contacts/

7. Ariianna - Wasp & Bee ~ www.flickr.com/photos/47127787@N07/6554469311/in/photostr...

www.flickr.com/photos/47127787@N07/6554468913/in/photostr...

8. Piper - Butterfly ~ www.flickr.com/photos/59617170@N06/6642205573/in/photostr...

9. Tylula - Fly ~ www.flickr.com/photos/66850425@N04/6553891269/

10. Marium - Worm ~ www.flickr.com/photos/39922688@N04/6644779777/

 

Photo's are due: 5th January 2012 (Its a hard theme so I'll give you a longer amount of time)

 

If facing problems with the theme please FM me! c:

 

The coming death of Nikon 22

Is it really already too late for Nikon?

Recently, there was a long lasting thread on this issue at NR site that seemed to be started with Thom Hogan's article called,"Thom Hogan explains why Nikon’s late entry to the mirrorless market could actually be a good thing".

Well it is a real complicated issue. I do not think it is a good thing, but the question is: is it really too late for Nikon to enter into so-called mirrorless market?

It is quite obvious while there is not even one good future-proven mirrorless mount system existing yet, most of these systems are now coming to almost the point we can call it state of maturity with lots of lenses and many third party flash systems, or at least nearing to it.

And it seems like the later they enter into the serious mirrorless market, the higher the hurdle bar raised up. The longer they wait to get into the market , the more demanding the minimam set of features and requirements for their first mirrorelss camera will become, and they must do it right at the very first try.

That said, they already try out the water with the Nikon One, and in fact, despite of extreme negative view of the series you read in many forums just because the Nikon One series has had a tiny sensor, it was actually very advanced system already from the very first Nikon One V1(of couse besides the sensor). At least the AF and video feature set were quite good for the time, and maybe the AF is still one of the very best in the mirrorless world.

Therefore, they do not need to change the direction dramatically, nor do they need totally new tech to actually make a decent big sensor mirrorless system from scratch: I mean they just need to swap the One sensor to FF or APS-C and improve the video part of it to the current level of the Panasonic , then it is already one of the best mirrorless out there.

If they can make it completely sealed and not just water resistant or weather selaed but water proof like the Nikon One AW1but with a big sensor and decent 4k, then it already is a quite sensational camera release.

And many of us (at least those who are in this industry here in Japan) already know that Nikon has produced a few (at least 4) FX mirrorless prototypes and one of which almost made it to the actual shop shelves, but Nikon suddenly canceled it just a few days before the original announcement day they planned for it. And many of us speculated it was because of the A7R2 announcement.........so I am sure it was originally planned for June or July 2015 but canceled out or postponed.

At the time, we all thought they should have actually released it even though it was not up to the level of the Sony A7R2. Then they would have been able to improve it from there on with many many experiments.

But now it seems like they must do it right at the very first try according to many mirrorless biased rumor sites. However, is it really as difficult as those rumor sites think it is for Nikon to beat the all existing mirrorelss systems?

Let's examin it here carefully:

1> the Sony E mount system......is it already considered to be a quite complete system? is its position already consolidated in Sony's long term business plan?

and is it really an intuitive system for photographers and videographers?

I think it is already a good system, but still far from what we call a complete system.

Why? cause there are no tilt and shift lenses, there are no weather sealed bodies, there are no powerful enough big bodies that comfortably take a big super tele prime, etc.

But for most of normal use cases, it is already at least as good or near as good as the state of the art best D-SLRs.

Well it is not close to the state of maturity as a whole system, as of this time of writing this just yet, but I think it is nearing to the point with about 32 lenses already released for this system and full Godox flash support and full Capture One and DXO support for it, and in case of C1 Sony users can download it for just 50 bucks, and we must admit that it is a big sales point for the A7X and the A6XXX series.

Then is it really intuitive ? Not yet, but it is getting better each iteration and Sony seems to be seriously committed to FW updates. Now both my A7R2 and A7M2 are on FW V4.0...and none of my Nikon got more than 3 FW updates.......to get as far as to FW4.0...

Nikon and Canon guys always trash Sony for its complete lack of user support or after sales support for its own cameras........but the reality is Sony has been one of the most user freindly and user supporting camera manufactures. Sony has already issued 5 major FW updates for the A7X2 series and each of these was really a huge update, not just fixing bugs but added many features that did not originally existed.

Nikon and Canon have never done this. So while I have to admit the current Sony A7x system is not as intuitive as it should be, I am sure it will slowly get there since Sony seems to have been seriusly committed to this system. But it takes a bit of time, and I think it will be more than a few more iterations, that means it will probably need about a several years at least to get the state of maturity.

So Nikon seems to still have some time to get it all right.....

2> m43...........first of all, I do not consider this system is a serious system for stills or hybrid work now, I used to think it as a such system, though.

I mean compare the file quality of it to a decent FF or even to a decent APS-C system like the X-T20 or the A6300, or anything better. The m43 IQ is really sad, pathetic......although I really want to love it since I love it for video work and I like the concept of the system: it is small as a whole system, it is fast and very intuitive(especially Panasonic ones), it has incredible lowlight AF, it shoots great video, it has incredible stabilization system, it has very effective self sensor cleaning system, etc...with m43 I never need to worry about sensor dust issue and for me it is a huge plus.

But the 43 sensor at the current level of tech is simply not acceptable for any serious stills work, IMHO. The high ISO output quality is terrible, the blue gain noise seems really bad...the color depth is so poor and therefore the files out of any m43 camera including the best ones like GH5 and EM1MK2 cannot be really malleable at all, it cannot take much software manipulation, and therefore it is useless for stills.

There is a rumor that Olympus will come out with a new big 43 sensor format system.

If it is true, I am very happy and I think it might be my dream system, but I doubt it actually materialized.

So I think here again, Nikon seems to still have some time, or I have to be more honest the m43 is an irrelevent system for many of us who actually enlarge our images to over A2 size or larger.

To me it is an irrelevant system at least for stills. I am using it for video but I think I will replace it with the A7SMK2 since I shoot video in extreme lowlight most of times.

3> Fuji X........still not even close to the state of maturity yet, simply there are too many missing lenses such as macros , TS, super wide primes, etc.

But just like Sony, Fuji has been really seriously committed to this system and I am sure they will get there eventually, but just takes a bit of time, I am guessing it maybe at least a couple of iterations more, and so roughly, in 4 -5 years.

So here it goes again Nikon seems to still have some times to build a nice system to compete with the rest.

4> Fuji GFX, well it is not a mainstream budget system, many of those who have growing boys and girls cannot afford........plus it has just a several or so lenses.

And I think it is not in the same market as Nikon is trying to get into......although I think this system will succeed since Fuji seems to has been really committed to this system...and they have the needed resources to get it going.

5> Canon M, well it also has only 5 or 6 naive lens selections, and so it is totally irrelevant to most of us who do not own any Canon lenses or dislike the adapter concept.

Plus, no one knows Canon is really committed to this system, if Canon really is, then why is Canon not designing a set of serious L class lenses for this system?

 

So maybe Hogan is right this time Nikon seems to still have some time left for themselves, but like even Hogan admits, Nikon must do it right at the very first try next time with at least the same level of AF, EVF and metering system as the A9 or be better.

I think the more important question here is: what mount should they choose?

Continue on the F mount? As many of Hogan followers have suggested or seem to have supported......or they need a completely new mount?

I think if they choose the easier F mount route that means that is the end of Nikon as a camera manufacture. Choosing the F mount for the next generation camera system is a fatal mistake and I am sure Nikon knows it. That is why we have been getting so many E type of lenses from them recently......only the E and P type of lenses are usable for video or LV work without too many usability related issues.

And the all new E type lenses they've released in the last 2 or 3 years are amazing, if not simply outstanding.

Anyway, many many Sony, Fuji, and Canon fanboys underrate Nikon LV technology just because the current F mount system has terrible LV and video mode. I was one of them but I realized that it is not because Nikon has no tech in this area or Nikon has intentionally crippling their D-SLRs for video or LV use, but the F mount and its mechnical aperture control system is the real issue here. That is why, Nikon must design a new mount that takes full advantage of fully electronic mount design and also release a fully F mount compatible mount adapter.

But even then, they can just re-use the E type lenses, they must ditch the G type and the other older D and AF lenses for the better future compatibility to fully electro-magnetic mount control system of their new mirrorless mount......

And they must design their future mount with a bit wider than the EF mount throat design to take full advantage of the 35mm sensor, if they can do this then their mirrrorless system will be the best IQ system in the 35mm format camera class..

I think Sony's only one major mistake was having re-used physically squeezingly narror E mount for their FF E mount system, e.g., the FE system........the E mount is obviously a bit too narrow for a 35mm format sensor, the amount of shadow cast we get from a lenses like the 16-35mm f4, the 24-70mm f4, the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5, Samyang 14mm f2.8AF, and Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8 shows it clearly and it is an undeniable fact.

 

Many many current form of mirrorless fanboys online cliam Nikon has not technology to develop super fast mirrorless AF off the sensor, but is this really true?

No. They have already shown they can do it with the Nikon One.

Many Fuji and Sony fanboys do not realize why Sony and Fuji both suddenly got fast AF tech in their mirrorless, but it is actually from one of many Aptina patents that was originally co-developed with Nikon. Now Sony has been accepted to cross license most of their patents with Aptina(actually their parent company On Semi) and as a result Sony and Fuji've suddenly got the fast OSPDAF in their own cameras. But it was the Nikon One that got it first, way before Sony and Fuji.

So I think it is not too late for Nikon to enter into FF mirrorless market, but they must need a new lens mount.

Then do I sell my Sony to get the new hypothetical Nikon ?

No. I do not sell my A7R, A7R2 , A7MK2 and A6500, but I may add the Nikon in addition if it is really good with new wide FF optimized mount.

That said, I am no longer a gearhead, that means I do not collect cameras that I do not need, I focus on my priorities and ROI. So the cheapest body that can handle all my odd needs the most practical and cost effective solution, and thus it is the best camera out there for me. And it seems like the original A7R is that camera for me.

I do not need high frame rate, I do not need 4k in my stills camera(I own dedicated 4k cameras already), I do not need IBIS(it is actually a minus for me as it increases heat noise significantly). I also prefer the cheap A7R body over anything heavier than it since I already know it can take a lot of abuse after I have used it for 4 years or so.

I wish the next A7R would be smaller without all unneeded gimmicks such as IBIS, 8k(useless considering the current strange tech and internet speed),high frame rate(who wants it in a high resolution camera, that is completely beyond me), fast action AF(the A7R series was originally a slow camera and no need action AF), 650 AF points(who needs it? for me one point AF is fine if it is accurate).

In any case as I said it many times all digital cameras or products are a racket, and no need to get emotional about any of those digital toys(or tools).

  

Let me tell you how this shot works.

 

This image would not exist without my friend Scott being a faithful and willing assistant. We go for these shots and we think them of in our heads.

But getting that shot is usually much harder than we saw in our minds eye. Anyone reading this who works at the HDR craft knows what I'm talking about. This one is a special place.

 

There's this fantastic semi submerged cave in Black Canyon below the Hoover Dam known as The Emerald Cave. It's very pretty and you can see it from the river,

Google it. .

There are many pictures of it online, all of them shot from Kayak's or Canoes floating inside of it. All of them single frame images as well.

 

About a year ago after the Cabo insanity I began thinking about this cave and how to shoot proper multi frame HDR inside of it.

More of my 'Extreme Amphibious Landscape' "EAL"series.

 

But how to get this shot?

EAL.

 

The emerald water was calling to me...

Here's what I came up with in my head:

1. First I'd paddle into the cave in a Canoe or Kayak and set the tripod and camera up somehow affixed to the cave wall. I intended to use climbing gear for this purpose or find a ledge, but it had to be secure.

2. Next I'd leave the gear, paddle back out of the cave, secure the boat around the corner, and wearing a wetsuit and fins, jump into the cold water and swim back around the corner into the cave and catch the shot, with no boats or people in the foreground. (brilliant huh? yeah, I know, he he he).

3. Then I'd swim back out, get the boat, go back inside the cave and retrieve my gear..

Hey, it could work, dunno?

 

Several friends who know what I do (crazy stuff) have been bugging me for a couple years now to go see this location.

 

Finally my buddy Scott took me into Black Canyon the other day in his little 'Jet Mate' boat which barely seats two people and some gear but goes like a bat our of hell.

We saw the cave early in the day and it was full of kayaks and people, it can hold about 5 double kayaks, it's a big space and now with the river running high it's also about 10 feet deep, so there's nowhere to stand in the water and catch sets. Later we came back by and gently pulled the Jet Mate inside the cave for a closer look.

 

Turns out there's a tiny little grotto/ledge right in the back of the cave, big enough for one person to barely fit onto it..So, once I got out of the boat onto this tiny ledge, I had Scott hand me the Carbon Fiber Tripod which I spent a minute or two splaying out and finding good purchase. Scott very gently handed my my Camera and L Glass Prime lens.

 

Then he left me there, alone..

 

As he gently backed the boat out and pulled away I had a brief moment of "The Creep": the feeling that I really didn't belong here but it quickly faded and I set to work. Hey I think I'm getting better at this..I was alone again and it got very quiet.

 

The only sound being the mighty Colorado River flowing softly past against the rocks just outside of the cave's entrance.

 

I had the wrong lens for the job on the body, "s**t" whoops, so when Scott came back 15 minutes later to check up on me we swapped out for the 14mm prime. He left me again on my tiny ledge and that's when I captured this image..I need to go back in here when the light is better but I just wanted to post this little test shot to show you guys what I've been up to, chasing the light.

 

Many of us take Landscapes from the side of the road, or even up on the ridge as do I.

This my friends is the "Next Level of S**t:" the NLS combined with EAL.

No one's getting this, not like I did. And if you try then getting it requires a willing assistant ready to do whatever it takes, even if THEY don't really understand what it is we're doing.

 

THANK YOU SCOTT. This image would not exist with your help.

Wait till you see this with the light 'just right'!

It WILL make your eyes bleed.

Hope you like it, love to all, C....

This is my pouch for the dumpling pouch swap organized by Rockislander.

I'm willing to swap at least a fat quarter...

 

My Wish List:

 

Alexander Henry - Robots

Japanese prints

Munki Munki

HR Pink flowers

 

Friday

Entry One

 

Flew out of work, the fleet flight of Friday before a holiday weekend. Everyone cracks a smile upon stepping out of the concrete and glass coffin of the corporate work week. The motorcycle is quickly gassed and loaded, I leave Washington DC at three-thirty, vowing not to check the time for the rest of the adventure. Adventure, the American adventure of the open road is what I seek. The road, my cameras, and escape.

 

Right turn off of 15th St. NW and I’m motoring past the Washington Monument and the White House. Harleys and clones are already lining the Mall for the annual Memorial remembrance that is Rolling Thunder. I’m soon over the bridge and on I-66 west. I plan on avoiding major highways when at all possible. Preferring scenic byways to drab highways. 66 is a necessary evil to flee the DC metro area as quickly as possible. At the start, 66 is a good quick run, for awhile anyway. Loads of Rolling Thunder riders are heading in 66 eastbound.

 

I keep the ubiquitous two fingers down to the side salute to fellow bikers out for extended stretches of time. In my experience, HD guys return the acknowledgement about 30-40% of the time. No big deal, some animosity exist though between different bike cultures. Motor-ism two-wheel stereotypes. However with the Rolling Thunder guys there is a noticeable increase in response, perhaps due to no longer just one biker acknowledging another, but a patriotic sharing of support and remembrance for those left behind, POW-MIA.

 

Traffic worsens further out 66 and I come up on a full HD dresser. Screaming Eagle back patch worked in with POW-MIA covers his vest and is topped by a “Run for the Wall” patch. I keep back a pace and we adopt the natural offset positioning of multiple riders.

 

After some 66 backup, stop-and-go, we strike up a staccato conversation in the pauses of the traffic flow. Where you been, where you going, see the rain coming? I tell him I’m headed out to the mountains, Skyline Drive and West Virginia. He says he’s just in from there recently, was in DC for Rolling Thunder for the day and will be coming back in on Sunday again. His license plate is obscured by luggage, so I’m unsure of his port of origin.

 

Later on we part ways and my thoughts turn. Of my parents friends only my step-dad was drafted for Vietnam. Luckily, for us, he only went as far as Ft. Hood, TX, and came back with some good stories about army life and venturing into Mexico (at least the ones he’s shared with me). I think about all the life he’s lived since then, all his experiences and joys. Thinking about what all those who didn’t return gave up, lost, when they didn’t come home. The loss felt by those who loved them, families that have a name on the Wall.

 

Rain is sprinkling before Manassas. Enough to cool you off but not enough to get you worried yet, at least for a bit. Whooooo. Then come the big drops. I head off the ramp to gear up with the rain paraphernalia under the gas station pavilion. Finally get it all on and get strapped back up and out pops the sun and the rain stops. Too funny. Now I have wet clothes on under the raingear. Rain gear now keeping the wind out that would dry me. I motor on as more rain is promised on the horizon.

 

This brings up a point about rain. People always ask, “What do you do when it rains and your on the motorcycle”. I reply simply, “I get wet”. Duh. Rain riding has never bothered me. On the straight highways it’s no big deal. Just give more cushion to the cars in front of you. Drive like grandma on the exit ramps.

 

My turning point is finally reached. Off of 66 west and onto 647, Crest Hill Rd. at The Plains, VA. Crest Hill Road is my first slice of motorcycle heaven to be had this weekend. I’m delighted to find that the squiggly line I traced out on the map when planning this trip has translated so well in reality. The road is still wet from the passing rain clouds, and I give a small rabbit and then a chipmunk a near death experience. My first of many animal crossings this weekend. The road is fantastic. A mixture of hilltop road and tree lined canopies that create forest tunnels. Speed limit is 45mph, 55-60 feels comfortable on most parts. Keeping an eye out for a hilltop barn to photograph that I’ve seen in my minds eye, lit by the sun breaking through the clouds and backed by the mountain vista. No luck on any of the barns actual placement to fit the mental picture I have framed.

 

Crest Hill Road and Fodderstack Rd is a long stretch. I take shots of a church and other buildings along Zachary Taylor Highway. Fodderstack gives more of the same as Crest Hill, just a narrower road. The asphalt is of my favorite variety, freshly laid. Washington, VA is a tiny town of historic bed and breakfasts. Local wineries appear to be an attraction here too. Right after Washington the rain returns while I’m in route to Sperryville. Then it really starts to come down, a full on summer thunderstorm. Visibility is down. Road and parking lots soon resemble rivers. Rain drops of the monster variety explode on the pavement, and you know it hurts when they hit you.

 

I quick soaking circuit of Sperryville confirms there are no local hotels. I duck into a barn shaped restaurant to wait it out. My drenched gear takes on bar stool and I occupy another. There’s a few flying pigs about. The bartender get me a hefeweizen, and recommends the angus burger. Locally raised and grass fed, we exchange jokes about my passing the burgers relatives on the way in.

 

Don’t freak about the beer. I have a one only rule when riding. It was followed by a meal (best burger of the weekend!), several coffees, and this bar top journal entry.

 

Somewhere along Crest Hill road I decided to keep the cell off for the weekend. In addition no tv, newspapers, internet, or e-mail sound like a good idea. Of course I now am studiously avoid eye contact with the two beautiful plasma’s above the bar.

 

Entry Two

 

Hazel River Inn, Culpepper, VA, has the coolest street side seating in town.

 

The downpour let up at the Shady Farms bar in Sperryville and due to the deficiency in local lodging I quiz the bartender for options. Over the other side of the mountain, the opposite side of Skyline Dr via 211 is Luray with lots of motels, but I want to save the mountain for the morning. The waitress suggest Culpepper, there being a Holiday Inn etc.

 

Stepping outside the sun has broke through the clouds again. Enough for some shots of Shady Farms Restaurant and a bridge. Heading down 522, the Sperryville Pike, I keep an eye out for photo ops to catch the next morning as I’ll be rerouting back through. Following the mantra of Dale Borgeson about tour riding in the US, I aim to avoid large chain establishments, whether they are restaurants or hotels, and explore the mom-and-pop local variety businesses. I have a dive-ish roadside motel in mind, Culpepper comes through with the Sleepy Hollow Hotel.

 

Before check in I ride through downtown historic Culpepper. It’s a cool place. The Shady Farm bartender had recommended the Culpepper Thai restaurant. I see it but don’t visit, still full from the meal earlier. Cameron Street Coffee looks like a great place, located in an old warehouse. Unfortunately their closed for the night.

 

Shower and changed, room 102 at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel. I hop back on the bike, refreshed and dry and ride through the warm night air back downtown. The coffee at the Hazel River Inn comes with a sweet fudge confection on the side. The peach and blackberry cobbler with vanilla sauce is divine.

 

The reconfigured plan for this getaway is to shed. Shed worries about the job, career, housing, and relationships. My motorcycle is therapeutic. It’s 600cc’s of Zoloft on two wheels. The road lifts my spirits. This wasn’t supposed to be a solo run, and there are stretches of road where I feel the emptiness behind me.

 

The cobbler is finished and I can hear the sound of a band doing their sound check. The banging of the drum requires investigation.

 

Entry Three

 

I found Brown Bag Special in the cellar pub of the same restaurant I was in. On my way to the door the noise of the sound check floated up the stairs and directed my feet downward. Brown Bag Special opened the set, appropriately enough, with “I drink alone”. The ol’ man, Big Money, would have loved it. Drink alone started off a Big Money Blues trifecta to include “The Breeze” and “Mustang Sally”. Then they made the mistake a lot of bands make that have a great lead guitar player. They let him sing. The lead guitarist karaoke sucked his way through a Tom Petty hit. He was so off key in his singing it made you appreciate the guitar solo’s all the more for the relief they provided. Thankfully the regular singer soon resumed his duties and the night went on. More good stuff from the band.

 

Freebird

Folsom Prison Blues

Cheap Sun Glasses

 

“can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, what she’s done to me”

 

Off to bed now at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel with the ghost and shades of dead hookers and overdoses past.

 

150 miles today.

  

Saturday

 

Entry Four

 

Morning breaks on the Sleepy Hollow Hotel, a hot shower and I’m back on the bike. A quick stop downtown to shoot the Hazel Inn, then it’s back on the Sperryville Pike. More stops to capture some sights seen yesterday. Mr. & Mrs. Pump. The open mouth caricatures are an accurate representation of the current gas cost and the pumps eating your wallet.

 

I keep telling my daughter that her first car, college car, will be a hybrid. She thinks they are ugly. The bike isn’t so bad, averaging around 40mpg. At about 180 miles on the tripometer I start to look for a refill, although I’ve pushed it to 211 miles before.

 

A quick left in Sperryville on 211 and up into the mountain, Blue Ridge Mountains and Skyline Drive. Heading up the mountain I get the first bite of the twisties I’ve been craving. The $10 fee at the gate to Skyline Drive is well worth the price. Great scenery and fantastic views. The only drawback is the 35mph speed limit that is well enforced by the park rangers.

 

I shoot some self-portraits at Pollock Knob overlook. They’re funny in that with all the scrambling and hurrying to be the camera timer, then trying to effect a relaxed pose. I’ve also broke out my old friend this trip, the Lubitel 166, a medium format, 120mm film, twin lens camera. I’m like Jay-Z with this camera, I have to get it in one take. There is no digital review after the click for instant gratification. As a fellow photographer it’s “Point, Push, and Pray”. I’ll be interested to see the results. Not that I’ve left digital behind. Carrying both cameras, I’m an analog/digital double threat.

 

After the self-portraits and some dead tree shots I’m about to pack back on the bike and leave when I meet the preacher and his wife. He offers to shoot me with my camera and I return the favor with theirs. Conversation flows and in a ‘small world’ moment it turns out that he works for same Hazel family that owns the restaurant I was at last night for his Monday thru Friday job. I get a friendly “God bless” and I’m heading south on Skyline Drive. I make several more stops and break out the cameras again at Big Meadow.

 

There is a gnarly dead tree in the middle of the meadow. It has burn damage at the base, either the result of some wild fire or perhaps a controlled burn done to maintain the field. I spot and shoot a few deer, they probably won’t turn out as they’re to far away for my lens on the D100. I shoot a bunch of shots of the tree with the D100 and then totally switch processes with the Lubitel. The picture setup with the Lubitel takes about a minute-and-a-half. Manual zoom, i.e., walking back and forth to get the framing I want. Light meter reading. Then dealing with the reversed optics of the look-down box camera. It is fun though, to switch it up, change the pace and the dynamics. Just one click though, hope I caught it.

 

It’s a long but enjoyable ride to the south end of Skyline Drive. Unless you really like slow cruising I would suggest picking which third of Skyline Drive you’d like include in your trip and leave the rest. I drop off the mountain and into Waynesboro. Finding Mad Anthony’s coffee shop for a late breakfast. I overhear that it’s around noon. The Italian Roast coffee is good, in fact, it would prove to be the best coffee of the trip.

 

One of the pleasures of traveling by motorcycle is that it’s an easy conversation starter. People ask you where your coming from, where you’re heading, ask about your bike, tell you’re about their bike or the one they wish they had. One of the peculiarities of these conversations is that if the person even remotely knows of anyone that has died on a motorcycle, they will be sure to share this fact along with details. These stories usually involve a deer, a car pulling out, or someone taking a corner to fast. The conversation goes something like this:

 

Stranger“nice bike”

You“thanks”

Stranger“my cousin Bob had a friend that hit a deer and died on his bike”

 

Short silence.

 

You“yeah, deer are dangerous, got to be careful”

 

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve held variations on this conversation many times. Luckily this isn’t the conversation I have with the owner of Mad Anthony’s. He’s a former sailboat instructor who now finds the same release and head clearing on his motorcycle that he used to get from his sailboat.

 

This brings to mind the same wave – don’t way dynamic that occurs between sail boaters and power boaters, very similar to the sportbike & HD crowd.

 

The proprietor is a coffee guru, we discuss roasting (my Italian roast was just roasted Wednesday this week). We talk about the good and the evil of Starbucks. We’re both in agreement that they over roast their regular coffee, but I think their foo foo drinks are tasty. He has in his shop both the Bodum press and the Bodum vacuum coffee pot that I got my mom for x-mas. A shameless plug here, the Bodum vacuum coffee pot makes the best home coffee ever. It’s also an entertaining crowd pleaser, no joke.

 

Leaving Waynesboro the plan was 340 northward to 33, then into Harrisonburg, VA (home of the Valley Mall and JMU). 340 proved to be boring so I jumped on 256, Port Republic Road, for a better ride to Harrisonburg. I don’t know if the coffee wore off or if I was just worn out. I pull over at Westover Park, pick out a spot of grass, and take a good nap in the sun.

 

I had my motorcycle bug handed down to me by my step-dad. My kindergarten year of school we moved right at the end of the school year. Rather than switch schools at this inopportune time my Dad stuck me on the back of his Honda and rode me to school and back again for the last month or two. Even earlier than that I have a great photo of me in 1973-4 sitting on his chopper with him. Me in a diaper and him with his long hippy hair. The wild side of the Reverend indeed.

 

Refreshed from my nap it’s back on 33 westbound. Heading out of the Shenandoah Valley and Rockingham County is more glorious twisty roads and the George Washington National Forest. GW is a beautiful tree canopy lined road with a river off to one side. Franklin, WV is the destination, a return to the Star Hotel.

 

I stayed at the Star a few years prior when they first re-opened the historic Star Hotel. The owner, Steve Miller, is a great guy, friendly and conversational. I told him I’d be back again, but it’s been a few more years than I thought. Late lunch at the Star is pesto grilled chicken on ciabatta bread with roasted red peppers. Not the type of fare one might associate with West Virginia, but people have misperceptions about everywhere. Steve promises a prime rib later at dinner tonight to die for.

 

So that there is no misunderstanding, in as much as the Sleepy Hollow Hotel was a dive, the Star Hotel is a dream.

 

Dump the gear in the room back on the bike for some roaming around. I head back to explore a river road I passed on the way in, Rock Gap. It’s a gravel affair and I follow it back a little ways. Photo some river shots. Down further there is a large cliff face with some college aged kids de-gearing after a day of climbing. I’ll try to stop back in tomorrow and shoot some climbing action, as well as some fly fishing.

 

I pick up a bottle of Barefoot Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, and drop it off with Steve at the Star to keep for later. I’ll enjoy that bottle later tonight from the 3rd floor front porch. South out of town I head, into some very secondary roads. I shoot an old decrepit cabin that would be right up Bobby Sargent’s alley. I put it in the metal folder for a possible future model shoot location, along with the river spots I’ve seen.

 

There are a couple more stops on this little ride. Once for what appears to be a feral chicken, and then for middle of the road stare down with a young doe. She’s camera shy though and is off before I can get a shot. Sportbike probably isn’t the best conveyance for nature photography. The pavement stops and gravel begins, I motor on. Rick & I once spent a full day just about on gravel roads, crisscrossing the back country around Cumberland, MD. So I’m comfortable with the less than ideal riding surface. A few miles on the road dead ends at a pair of chicken houses (source of the feral chicken’s ancestors perhaps?) and I turn around and survey the valley I’ve just ridden through. I have to stop the bike and soak in the scene. A picturesque farm is nestled in the corner of the valley, up against the hills. I meet some inquisitive cows, along with the farmer and his wife.

 

It seems that when you are in WV and you pass a sign that says “snow removal ends here” that the already suspect road conditions are going to quickly deteriorate and will soon resemble somewhat more of a logging road. I motor on through some back country, no houses, no farms, just mountains, steep roadside cliffs, and wicked gravel switchback curves. The part that gives you the willies are the downhill corners where the road grade is slanted to the outside of the curve and to the drop below. Yikes!

 

I creep along where a four wheeler would be much more functional. Although I still hit it a bit in the straights. Pavement arrives again and I’m unsure of my exact location. I follow the chicken farmers directions and soon discover myself back in Brandywine, intersecting the same stretch of 33 I rode on my way into Franklin.

 

Back at the Star Hotel it’s a shower and fresh clothes before heading down for dinner. Downstairs I find the prime rib to be as good as promised.

 

Entry Five

 

How beautifully staged is this. Barefoot on the 3rd floor patio, wine to ease the back and the ache in the knee.

 

205 miles today, the last 30 after check in, just to explore.

  

Sunday

 

Entry Six

 

Out early in the morning. I find no climbers at Rock Gap, unsure of the hours they keep. Out of Franklin on 33 west, looking for another squiggly line I had seen on a map. Bland Hill Road name is a misnomer. A single lane country road winding through German Valley. I got a few shots of German Valley from the 33 overlook before turning on Bland Hill. Now I find myself in the same location I had shot from above.

 

The road cuts t