A "selfie" from a client request.

One of the agency people involved with Samsung asked me to send along a selfie with one of the Samsung cameras. At one time last year I was the most knowledgable user of the Samsung Galaxy NX camera anywhere. Since I am vain and constantly self-promoting I got on the assignment right away. I pulled out an ancient, non-connectivity Sony a850 and put on the cheesy 24-105mm Sony lens, grabbed the electronic cable release and fired away. I like the black mock turtleneck and the glasses with the black rim over the top.

Pulling out the Samsung Galaxy NX for the photograph got me investigating that camera anew. I think the gap in my thinking last year was my myopic concentration with the camera's still imaging and still photography handling capabilities. I overlooked the video capabilities of the camera entirely. So yesterday I spent a lot of the afternoon playing around with the Galaxy NX as a video camera.

Now I have an all new respect for the camera. I have always liked the sensor and I was always impressed with every Samsung lens I've shot but now I am a fan of the video capabilities as well.

But first one caveat: The camera is not well set up for recording professional quality sound along with the video. There is an all purpose 3.5mm plug on the side into which you can use EITHER a set of headphones to hear playback, or a microphone to record audio, but you obviously can't use them both at the same time. Another constraint is that the audio set up of the camera doesn't allow for control over the sound levels in the recording mode. You get automatic levels no matter what.

But I will say that they do some good software in the audio region that senses gaps between words and clamps down on levels instead of letting them spike up and create hiss and noise. You can still hear some anomalies but it's pretty workable.  I recorded myself with an inexpensive Olympus stereo lavaliere microphone and while it wasn't bad it also wasn't perfect.

But the video at the highest quality settings, and using the 1080p, 30fps is very good indeed. Unlike the big Sony a99 the video written to the memory card is very sharp and detailed. The color balance, even using the AWB setting is great and it's a lot of fun composing and shooting while using the almost 5 inch screen on the back. It's the production equivalent of having an outboard, large monitor.

A bonus is that the camera provides focus peaking in manual focus settings which worked well with the tests I did using the new 85mm 1.4 lens.

Funny that this is a camera I didn't really warm up to when shooting stills and yet I am very pleased and intrigued to use it as a video tool. I'm shooting some personal work with it over the weekend and I'll be using the Zoom H4n and a shotgun mic to do audio. In one of the recent upgrades to Final Cut Pro X Apple has basically incorporated the same kind of sound matching we used to need PluralEyes to get. Now it can all be done in the program by matching up the outboard audio with the camera scratch track. You really have to shoot live view with a 5 inch monitor to get the appeal but believe me, it's fun and highly productive.

The camera is currently selling for around $1200. We're getting into a more realistic price range. I'll have some footage to show next week. I'm not advising any one to run out and buy one right away. But if you have one sitting around fire up the video setting and do some work. I think you WILL be pleasantly surprised.

Yes, it's this camera:

I meant to get some work done today. I really did. So after my second cup of coffee and a quick read of the New York Times I grabbed the dog and headed out to the studio. I sent a bill to someone and then I sent along 18 enormous 100 megabyte Tiff files to a service in India to have them masked and retouched. I'm gonna say that part qualifies as real work, although I had uploaded the files yesterday....

I read the usual forums and websites (theonlinephotographer seemed strangely off-line today...).  I got all riled up by a crazy person over on the digital pro forum at DPReview (there's always someone stirring the pot over there).

And I sent off some correspondence to people I needed to, well, correspond with.

Then Studio Dog poked me on the leg with her paw and gave me that look that said, "Really? Sitting on your butt for two hours banging on the keyboard? We've got squirrels to corral and important communications with other dogs to perform.  And your butt isn't going to get any skinnier wiggling your paws on the keyboard." She is so right. She always is. So I grabbed a leash and a bag of treats and we set off to look at the neighborhood. We both growled at the lawn guys with the leaf blowers. We had a few moments of silence for the scrape-off houses that have been recently scrapped off to make space for much bigger houses that will dominate once gracious lots.

We practiced walking "steady" and we practiced giving and receiving treats. I gave many lamb treats and got only joyous hand licks in return. After passing an hour ambling through and checking the smell of every letter box and light pole we returned home.

I answered another e-mail. This one from a client who recently asked for a bid on a huge job. The  response and tentative "yes!" by the client was too quick and then, reading further I saw that I would have to sell myself with a dog and pony show to the final client of the ad agency and I would have to finance about $20,000 worth of hard cost for 30 to 60 days if I wanted the job. I like jobs but I don't like them that much. I sent back a note suggesting that if a dog and pony show and financing for agency and client were part of the mix I might not be signing on. We'll see what happens there but I don't really care how slow or hot the market is, 25 years in the business gives one a tingling spider sense for eminent train wrecks and career stoppers. Some business I can live without.

Well, that took us right up to 11:30 am and frankly not much got done. I took the Studio Dog back to the house, grabbed a towel and headed over to the pool for a crowded, kinetic, fast paced master's swim practice. I rarely remember workouts but this one was devious for it's 300 set that went: 50 butterfly, 50 backstroke, 50 butterfly, 50 breaststroke, 50 butterfly, 50 freestyle. Rinse and repeat a number of times. That's a lot of butterfly to repeat. I guess I'll sleep well tonight.

The reward for any hard, noon workout is a good lunch so I headed to Chipotle Grill for a bowl with beans, rice, carnitas, two different salsas and some cheese. Yummy. Now I'm back at the studio with Studio Dog and she's pretty insistent that it's nap time. Dog bed in place. Yoga mat in place.

Commence napping. It's all part of the rich life of the freelance photographer....