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James E. Maynard RSS Feed (Seattle WA USA)

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Nikon 50mm f/1.2 Nikkor AI-S Manual Focus Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
Nikon 50mm f/1.2 Nikkor AI-S Manual Focus Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
6 used & new from $469.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect lens for the serious traditional photographer, May 23, 2014
I have been a serious amateur photographer for over 60 years, beginning in the late 1940's with an Exacta SLR, then progressing through Pentax and Nikon. I have always loved the feel and operation of the the well built SLR with all mechanical controls easily at hand and the feeling that I, rather than the camera, am in total control. This is why I jumped at the chance of buying the retro featured Nikon DF, with its incredible D4 sensor, fantastic color rendition and incredible low light sensitivity. You can imagine that I was intrigued by the still living retro non CPU 50 mm f 1.2 Nikkor from the late 80's, a manual focussing lens, still made in Japan in small quantities and available in the U.S. with full Nikon warranty. Imagine taking a photo by candle light that is sharp and noise free without a flash!
Since they always seem to be back ordered, I had to search several dealers before finding one available. When it arrived, I was smitten by the looks and feel of this product, an all metal gem with silky smooth short throw focussing and a satisfying click of F stoops right on the barrel. Being a non CPU lens with AI capability, there are no electronic contacts on the lens and EXIF data must be produced by registering the lens through a menu function on the DF. Once done, the camera is put in aperture priority and the camera operates just like a Pentax Spotmatic, Nikon FE or a brand new Leica M240. Set the F stop on the lens barrel and the ISO on the top dial of the DF and away you go.The fact that it is an AI lens means that it focusses and meters wide open.
Manual focussing is just great. There is always the focus confirmation light in the viewfinder to comfort you. But I tried focussing without it in a number of lighting conditions, then pressed the shutter half way to activate confirmation, and the light always lit up. The bottom line is this in an easily manually focussed lens. I am now back to my nostalgic photographic years. But wait!
This is a fantastically sharp lens wide open and even better at F 2. My non technological source of evaluation is the red brick wall on the house across the street. At F2, this lens yields crisp sharp pictures at 10X crop and I can pick out the imperfections in the mortar between the bricks. By the way, this lens allows me to take great noise free pictures in candlelight at F 1.2 and ISO values of 12,800.
So there you have it: a great lens on a great camera and a joy to my retro heart. But also with modern low light capabilities that a 1980's photographer could never dream of. I also own an Olympus OMD EM1 with a number of excellent lenses. So I am not an antiquarian. However, when I head out with a camera, it seems to be the DF with the Nikkor F 1.2 50mm lens that mostly accompanies me.

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
Price: $586.95
92 used & new from $298.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent long telephoto for the Nikon DF, May 11, 2014
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I purchased this lens as a long telephoto for hand holding with the Nikon DF. Because of the noise free high ISO capability of the D4 sensor, I felt that speeds of 250th of a second and above, plus the VR capability of the lens would permit me to shoot sharp high quality pictures at 300 mm. I was right. The lens is definitely hand holdable with the DF and I was able to get very sharp center focus pictures at 300 mm in a variety of light situations at various high ISO settings and speeds over a 250th of a second. Center sharpness is more important to me than edge sharpness because I almost always crop my photos in CS6. Anyway, pictures taken at 300 mm are almost always of centered far away objects, so I don't really understand the critics who criticize long telephotos because of image edge issues. This is a great lens for the purpose with my DF: light enough to carry and hand holdable. This makes a great 2 lens outfit for all purposes: the 24-85 VR Nikkor, together with this 70-300 mm lens. The price is reasonable too, when compared with the new Nikkor 80-400 lens at $2600. An extra 100 mm of reach doesn't really get you all that much more to be worth the large price difference.

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey Season 1
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey Season 1
Price: $25.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, March 29, 2014
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Wonderful. a must see and a stunning rebuttal to creation science and intelligent design. The awe of it all is clearly present. But pseudo science is given a real kick in the posterior.

Rokinon 14mm F2.8  Ultra Wide Angle Lens with Automatic Chip for Nikon (Black)
Rokinon 14mm F2.8  Ultra Wide Angle Lens with Automatic Chip for Nikon (Black)
Price: Click here to see our price
38 used & new from $263.19

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The 14mm F2.8 Rokinon AE lens for nikon exceeds expectations., January 15, 2014
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As a long time prosumer photographer, I immediately fell in love with and purchased the new Nikon DF camera that so much resembles the old Nikon SLR's that I have used throughout the years. I decided to use the camera only with prime lenses to keep weight down and also to mimic my earlier years. My kit has consisted of the 50mm and 28mm Nikon F 1.8 lenses and the 105mm F2.5 Nikon macro lens, the latter being at the limit of weight that I want to carry. I have found a specialty need for an extreme wide angle lens and was looking at the Nikon 14mm F 2.8. Considering the limited use I would make of it, I decided it was too expensive. This led me to read some of the reviews of the new Rokinon 14 mm AE lens, which has largely replaced the older poorly reviewed non AE product. This Korean manufactured lens had received some excellent reviews. Although I was a bit embarrassed to consider putting a "cheap" lens on the expensive Nikon, I decided to buy it at the under $400 price, thinking I could sell it at no more than a $100 loss if it didn't work out.
I find the lens to be extremely well constructed of light weight metal, with a metal attachment base, that, although
not weather sealed, mates very snuggly with the camera. Focussing is extremely smooth, very similar to my more expensive Nikon lenses. The focus confirmation dot in the view finder works well, as does the automatic metering in P, A, and S modes. This is a lens that only requires confirmable manual focussing and otherwise works well automatically. The focussing throw is a bit long at shorter distances, but we need to remember that zone focussing is quite efficient when, at this focal length, everything from about 3 feet to infinity is in focus at F8. My only criticism is the absence of a depth of field scale on the lens barrel that could give instant information on focus range at F stop. This could have been very easily engraved in the space on the lens which is now occupied by lens description engravings.

I find this lens to be very sharp, not only at the center of the image, but also well into the periphery. Since I almost always do some image cropping in CS6, edge sharpness is not critical for me and I have not evaluated it. Distortion at this wide angle is quite minimum, and I have no problem producing reasonably straight horizontal and vertical lines if the camera is held on a level plane. The colors produced by the lens are quite pleasing to my eye, and, in my hands, flare has not been a problem. To summarize, I have been quite impressed with this lens and intend to keep it as part of my kit. For this lens, low price does not signify cheapness of construction or poor performance. I would have given it 5 stars except for the lack of a needed depth of field engraving on the lens barrel. I hope the manufacturer will correct this in future output.

Panasonic H-FS100300 Lumix G Vario 100-300mm F/4.0-5.6 MEGA O.I.S. Lens
Panasonic H-FS100300 Lumix G Vario 100-300mm F/4.0-5.6 MEGA O.I.S. Lens
Price: $597.99
20 used & new from $490.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very well built and incredibly sharp, September 19, 2013
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Before largely switching to the micro 4/3rds system, I have been a full frame photographic prosumer, using a Canon 5D MK 3 and carrying around a hefty canon L 100-400 mm lens. As I have gotten older, this equipment has become heavier and heavier to lug around. Wanting something lighter, but of high quality, I bought a Panasonic GH3 with 12-35 and 35-100 Lumix lenses: a high priced combination, but a light weight miracle of picture taking quality.

Still needing a long telephoto for animal and bird shots, I decided to try the 100-300mm Lumix lens, even though I was wary of the relatively low price when compared with the 12-35 and 35-100 flag ship lenses. When the lens arrived, I found that it was manufactured in Japan ( a good sign for quality), was well constructed with smoothly sliding barrel, was substantial, despite the relatively low weight and fit ergonomically well with the GH3 in a manner that allowed easy hand holding, even at its fully extended length . More amazing was that I was able to take extremely sharp hand held pictures at full barrel extension (600 full frame equivalent) at 1/250th of a second. This indicated to me that the in lens stabilization system really works.

However, the real advantage of this lens is its incredibly high resolution in the center areas of focus. Since I almost always crop images in Photoshop CS6, as I digitally taylor my raw photos, I have had no chance or real need to evaluate sharpness at the periphery of of my images. Suffice it to say that I can make excellent 11 by 17 enlargements of 50% crops at full 600 equivalent from hand held shots, an amazing feat for this lens.

No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent screen protector, January 18, 2013
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This screen protector fits the Canon 5D mk III perfectly.As with all these schott glass protectors, the quality is excellent. I have used them on all my previous digital slr's. They apply easil;y and are as easiuly removed with a little heat from a blow drier.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 16MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3.0-Inch Tilting OLED Touchscreen [Body Only] Silver
Olympus OM-D E-M5 16MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3.0-Inch Tilting OLED Touchscreen [Body Only] Silver
Price: $599.00
20 used & new from $380.00

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Olympus OMD. a new pro sumer choice, October 12, 2012
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I purchased my first OMD as a kit, with the 12-50 Zuiko lens and immediately became convinced of two things. First, the camera, itself, was a new wonder, which elevated the 4/3rd's format to a real prosumer semi professional level. Second, the kit lens it came with did not do justice to the camera, being too slow to allow the low light performance that this camera is truly capable of, For this reason, I soon discarded this lens in favor of several single focal length primes by both Olympus and Panasonic and the wonderful 7-14 and 12-35 Panasonic Lumix multi focals. Anyone interested in using this camera as a light weight semi professional instrument to handle the vast majority of serious photographic needs should purchase it as a body only and then add the desired additional lens (es).

The new 16 mp sensor is really impressive. It captures great detail and allows 10 X crops when used with incredibly sharp lenses like the 25mm Leica-Panasonic f1.4 summilux. It's high ISO capture qualities with impressively low noise allows ISO use as high as 6400 without significant loss of detail. In camera image stabilization is a wonder. I was able to hand hold the 40-150 small, light weight Zuiko lens at it's 300mm full frame equivalent length at 125th of a second and get sharp results, something I can never do with the 70-200 Canon lens on my 5D Mk 3. This allow great use of light weight Zuiko lenses without the heaviness of built in lens image stabilization. And speaking of the Canon 5 D and lenses, they are heavy to carry around all day, while the OMD with several lenses are light and easy to carry.

The camera alone has excellent ergonomics when used with such small light weight lenses as the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 and the 45mm f1.8 Zuiko. However, the 25mm Leica Panasonic lens begins to over balance the camera and this problem is really accentuated with the 12-35, 7-14mm Panasonic's and the 75mm Zuiko lenses. For this reason, and in order to use these excellent lenses, I believe that the ergonomic improvement given by the accessory hand grip is essential. This is an expensive 2 piece product, for which I use the single piece without the battery pack almost exclusively. It is well worth the price for the additional flexibility in lens use it gives.

Since I am used to SLR mirror cameras, I have always felt that EVF system cameras have been difficult to use in bright light, The OMD's EVF is actually quite easy to use in bright light, particularly if the extended accessory rubber eye piece is added. It costs less than $20 and facilitates ease of use, particularly to those who compose using eye glasses.

The camera provides great flexibility in available controls, with 2 function buttons and 2 dials. This allows me to control ISO and metering area in either shutter or aperture modes, giving the same sense of personal control that I have with my Canon 5D Mk III. In sum I give this camera an excellent rating. I am now using it for most of my shooting needs. By the way, the 40-150 Zuiko is a wonder, even if poorly built. It is low cost, sharp, but more importantly, I can carry around a 300mm full frame equivalent lens in my pocket: not possible with the 70-200 Canon lens. I really love the camera and its high quality available lenses.

The Secret Magdalene: A Novel
The Secret Magdalene: A Novel
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $9.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Well written novel with a poorly crafted ending, September 16, 2012
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This novel purports to tell the story of Jesus (Yeshu) from a secular viewpoint expressed by the heroine Mary Magdalene. The story line involves the development of an attempt by Yeshu and his former militant Jewish followers to create a Messiah story based on suffering and resurrection as described in older Egyptian cult writings The whole idea is to fake the crucifixion death by drugging Yeshu through the wine soaked sponge and then resurrect him after his removal from the tomb. Unfortunately for the plot, the author inexplicably kills Yeshu through the medium of the Roman's sword, which pierces his side. This leaves a finely crafted plot entirely in the lurch. The author then quickly ends the book without ever mentioning the resurrection stories, which she had originally sought to explain through the medium of the faked death. This leaves the reader, whatever his/her religious persuasion might be, completely unsatisfied, having read a plot, whose logical conclusion is to have a live Yeshu walk again and then disappear into a monastery at Carmel, which she has expressly implied in the text to be used for that purpose. Even if the author had wanted the reader to ponder whether or not the resurrection ending was miraculous, she has done an injustice to the plot by failing to even once mention the stories of Jesus walking again after he had been crucified. I came to the conclusion that by the end of the story, the author had simply grown tired of writing it, cutting it off simply to get rid of it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2012 3:23 PM PST

Fujifilm X-Pro 1 Assist Grip
Fujifilm X-Pro 1 Assist Grip
Price: $74.00
12 used & new from $69.00

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fuji x-pro1 hand grip review, June 12, 2012
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I ordered this hand grip because I found the ergonomics of my x-pro1 to be quite poor in my hands. Specifically, when I gripped the camera with my right forefinger over the shutter release, the ball of my thumb would often activate the Q button, thus ruining composition of the shot. I don't know what I was expecting from the handgrip, certainly something more substantial, like the Leica m9 hand grip, which is a robust item and allows a firm grip with your fingers completely around the grip. What I found with the Fuji grip was something quite the opposite, a light insubstantial product, which only allows the tips of my fingers to get around it and does not do much to prevent accidental Q button activation. Of course, everything depends on the size and shape of one's hand and the product might work well for some, who have small hands. I consider my hand to be average size. For me, the grip is better than nothing. But it leaves me quite disappointed.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 23, 2012 1:57 AM PDT

Economics of Good and Evil: The Quest for Economic Meaning from Gilgamesh to Wall Street
Economics of Good and Evil: The Quest for Economic Meaning from Gilgamesh to Wall Street
by Tomas Sedlacek
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.70
55 used & new from $4.61

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars economics as moral philosophy, February 9, 2012
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Sedlacek's book on the Economics of Good and Evil is a thoughtful and largely readable attempt to place economics and ethics in the framework within which he claims they have always been, that is, the framework of moral philosophy. This issue becomes critical in our modern day American capitalist environment, deriving from the neo-liberal philosophies of the Chicago School, espoused by Milton Friedman, who believed that economics was a morally neutral science that describes the world as it is, not as it should be. This view placed Adam Smith's Capitalism in a realm where individual self interest should naturally be left to play out in a realm unfettered by government regulation. Friedman's search for Smith's "invisible hand" that would inevitably harness greed for the betterment of society, sent his students at Chicago on a quest for the underlying Newtonian laws of economics, which they believe underlie this invisible hand. They have never found them and have been rewarded in their efforts only by numerous statistical models.

Sedlacek's sense that the interweaving of ethics and economics is as old as recorded history begins with civilization's oldest extent written document, The Epic of Gilagmesh, in which Gilgamesh is found building a wall around his city, employing workers laboring under the most dire conditions of existence. At the end of the story, Gilgamesh abandons this effort, realizing the the search for happiness within the realm of human friendship is more important than wall building drudgery. This foundation points Sedlacek's survey forward to include surveys of Greek, Jewish and Christian economic philosophies, moving inexorably to the time of Adam Smith and beyond, culminating in Fukuyama's faith, in his "End of History", in the climactic victory of democratic capitalism as the final form of world government. Even in Adam Smith, who was a moralist before he was an economist, Sedlacek clearly points out that moral concerns enter into Smith's "Wealth of Nations", a reality with which the economic moral neutralists have found it difficult to deal.

For all those readers who are concerned with the current political and moral conflict between defenders and critics of the current growing economic inequality in the U.S., an issue, which will undoubtably affect the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election, the reading of Sedlacek's book is a must. It is not always an easy go in reading, but it is a lot more readable and enjoyable than many philosophical surveys. I highly recommend it.

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