June 16, 2012
Filters in digital photographyDo you know what is most underrated and at the same time also overrated accessories? And what do photographers very often search for straight after they purchase a camera and lens? Well, that is probably tripod, but filters are following closely. But choose the right filter and more important, choose the filter you will actually need and use is not that easy.
April 4, 2012
Profoto Light kit passes Hagen test with flying colors
Nikonians Academy director Mike Hagen recently proved the reliability of the Profoto D1 Studio Kit by taking it straight to an important shoot two hours after he unpacked it for the first time.
The hands-on review shows the flexibility of the Profoto D1 Studio Kit when handled under some challenging conditions.
The background for this particular session, a fundraising event at a museum, consisted of a brushed metal surface, which most photographers might have avoided. Mike used that shiny surface to his advantage, and the Profoto kit delivered.
Mike’s on the spot appraisal:
“The shots from the fundraiser turned out very well. My initial fears were unfounded, which is a true testament to the ease of operation and overall quality of the Profoto equipment.
The equipment performed flawlessly and allowed me to focus on my job – taking photos. There wasn’t a single glitch or failure in hundreds and hundreds of shots. The Profoto gear was reliable, consistent, and excellent.”
Check out the full review for more sample images and details on how Mike arranged his lighting.
Posted by flashdeadline at 7:00 AM
April 3, 2012
What is the best memory card for you?
Posted by hrbaan at 3:29 PM
February 23, 2012
D4, D800 & D800E hands-on report
Being a Nikon Professional has its advantages, besides shooting with great equipment (Nikon), you sometimes get to see products before they are available on the market.
Today I was at Nikon NL to preview the new Nikon flagships, the D4, D800, and D800E. Together with a presentation listing the highlights of these new cameras and their underlying technique, I was able to actually play with them. Very exiting and quite unique as these previews are only available to a select group of Nikon professionals. What makes the event even more unique is the fact that I was holding the only D4, D800 and D800E cameras in the Netherlands!
The rest of the report can be found on my own blog page.
Feel free to comment/ask questions. And yes, you'll want to start saving to be able to buy one of these cameras, they're really that good :-)
January 19, 2012
New Nikon D4 vs. D3s - what's new?
King is dead, long live the king! Actually it won't be that long, because life cycle of the cameras are shorter and shorter, but still... The D3 came to the market in august 2007 which might seems as a long time ago, but it's gone through the facelift in October 2009, and re-name itself to D3s, so in fact the current version had lived only for 2 years. Than there was D3X announced in December 2008 with double mega pixel count, but slower shutter aimed to the market where resolution is a Holy Bible and speed is forbidden. Brothers had lived happily together, until now...
Posted by pkuzmin at 8:43 PM
December 5, 2011
"The Nikonians" iPad App Updated
"The Nikonian" eZine app for the iPad has been updated to Version 1.1. You'll get access to our exclusive newsletters, packed full of equipment reviews, great photos from our ANPAT trip, updates of our Academy classes, and of course, exclusive Nikonians offers! Grab the app now!
Posted by covey22 at 3:02 PM
June 12, 2011
The Nikon D7000 – A New Category of Camera?
The newest book in the NikoniansPress/Rocky Nook series of "Mastering" books: Mastering the Nikon D7000, by Darrell Young is being printed and should be available next month. Darrell's latest book is his largest to date, and he tells us the main reason is the number of surprises he found when digging deep into the D7000 features.
In writing this new D7000 book, shortly after writing Mastering the Nikon D300/D300s and Mastering the Nikon D90—and using each camera extensively—Darrell formed some strong opinions on the three cameras. Now that the author's deadline has passed, he shares some of his thoughts in the following brief preview:
Nikon has upped the game significantly with the Nikon D7000. In fact, it’s basically in a category of its own and costs more accordingly. Why do I say that? Well, compare the Nikon D90’s cost, at US$900 for a body only kit. It’s about the same as the new Nikon D5100, not the D7000. At US$300 higher the D7000 is significantly more expensive. Could the Nikon D5100 be the real replacement for the Nikon D90, and not the D7000?
Compare the D90 and the D7000 and you’ll notice that the D7000 has features more like the semi-pro line (D300S, and D700). In fact, the D7000’s basic operating system is a near clone of the D300S’s functions. There are new items in the D7000 that actually improve on the D300S, and simply blow away the D90. It’s almost like the D7000 is in a new category of camera. Instead of just being considered an “advanced” or enthusiast camera—like the D90—the D7000 is fully capable of shooting commercial work in nearly every way.
I’ve shot two weddings and a graduation ceremony with my D7000 and, let me assure you, this camera is faster and better than the D90 in nearly every way. It is much more robust physically with its mostly magnesium alloy frame, its autofocus system is even better than the D300S in some ways, the image quality is in a class of its own, for sure.
The feature set on the D7000 is very rich, with items not absolutely needed by non-commercial shooters, but required by pros. Some things that come to mind are:
• 100% viewfinder coverage
• 150,000 shot shutter
• 100 shot JPEG image buffer
• 39 point AF system, with 9 cross-type AF sensors
• multiple user settings (U1 and U2) for storing custom camera configurations
• 14-bit color depth
• magnesium alloy frame with weather sealing
• 1/8000 second top shutter speed
• 6 frames per second firing speed
• 2,016 pixel RGB sensor for metering
• Dual SD cards (SD, SDHC, SDXC)
• Ability to meter with and use non-CPU manual focus lenses
• Full Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) control with a Commander Mode
• Full-time autofocus in Live view and movie mode
• Full manual control of the shutter speed and aperture for movies
• 20 minute movie segments
• Stereo sound recording
• Amazingly good noise control in high-ISO shooting
In fact, I am seriously amazed by this camera. Its list of features reads more like a D300S or D700 than a D90. In my opinion the D7000 sets new standards for enthusiasts. It costs a little more, but places the user in almost the same class as the semi-pro line. I wouldn’t be afraid to take this camera any place I shot with my D300S previously. In fact, I have! My D300S has gotten a lot less use since I got the D7000. It’s that good.
If you are on the fence about which camera to buy today, don’t walk … run … to the nearest computer and order your D7000. You can depend on the camera to take more abuse than a D90, last longer than a D90, and provide better quality images than even a D300S—approaching the level of a D700.
Nikon has given us a new class of camera. It’s better than an enthusiast-level camera like the D90, and nearly as robust as a semi-pro level camera like the D300S.
As I’ve said in previous articles, the D7000 is a mature camera. It is made to last and last until N.A.S. gets you and you buy it’s replacement. However, you can wait as long as you’d like, it won’t be necessary to buy again for a long time. Buy new (or old) lenses instead! This camera can use almost any lens that Nikon makes (except non-AI).
This is an excellent time to take advantage of preorders. Amazon currently has a preorder rate of $20.94 USD (saving you $14.01).
All books in the Rocky Nook/NikoniansPress series include a special Nikonians 50%-off voucher discount for a one year Gold Membership in the Nikonians community. This will save $37.50 on Gold Membership.
May 6, 2011
Epson Stylus Pro 4900 - The Nikonians Review
Nikonians Team Member Ernesto Santos (esantos) extensively reviewed the latest 17" wide-carriage Epson Stylus Pro 4900 printer and proclaims it be just about perfect:
"Whether you are looking to upgrade your old and tired 17" pro printer or this is your first venture into the world of wide format printing the Epson Stylus Pro 4900 is an excellent choice to consider."
Posted by covey22 at 6:41 PM
October 4, 2010
Tamron SP70-300 Di VC USD: The Nikonians Review
For most photographers, a telephoto lens is like a specialized tool; you don’t often have need for it, but when you do, you want it to work right the first time. Tamron’s latest telephoto zoom, the SP 70-300 f4-5.6 Di VC USD, is exactly that – a very useful lens that gets you the shot you want when you need it.
Editor's Note: The Samples Gallery is now available.
Tamron is no newcomer to the market. As a third-party manufacturer of still camera and video lenses, the company has been making optical products since 1950. The new 70-300 VC USD reflects their long history and experience in its’ build, handling and performance.
Some of you are probably thinking; “What, another mid-range telephoto zoom?” This isn't just another "me-too" product, it's got some really compelling features, and performance that will surprise you. Let’s quickly walk through the basics:
Ultrasonic Drive (USD) - this is Tamron’s first lens to use a coreless drive motor. Much like Nikon’s Silent Wave motor, the lens is not dependent upon the camera’s internal shaft drive to move the optical elements. Instead, Ultrasonic Drive pulls battery power from the camera and uses a ring motor to silently and swiftly arrive at the desired focus. It’s perfect for fast moving action but discreet enough in events requiring a low noise profile.
Vibration Compensation (VC) – this is Tamron’s fourth lens to feature a form of image stabilization. This is an extremely useful feature when you’re talking about a telephoto lens. Longer focal lengths require sufficiently higher shutter speeds to avoid hand shake effects. Vibration Compensation is rated to give up to four stops of hand-holding, allowing us to shoot in progressively lower light and/or lower ISO at lower shutter speeds, or forgo traditional supports like tripods and still be able to get blur-free photos.*
*If your subject is moving at a pace faster than the shutter speed can freeze the action, it will still be blurred.
Optical Formula – the new lens features an LD (Low Dispersion) and an XLD (Extra Low Dispersion) optical element that helps prevent chromatic aberration (the so-called “purple fringing” effect). The optical formula of 12 groups in 17 elements is considerably more complex compared to Tamron’s previous implementations – the AF 70-300 Macro and the AF 75-300 Macro LD both had 9 groups in 12 elements, and only a single LD element each.
Di Type – Tamron applies a multi-coating to optimize the lens’ use with more reflective Digital SLR sensors, although it is fully compatible with film cameras as well.
The build is quite modern and reassuring. Although it is mostly composed of light-weight materials and a metal mount, the lens is hefty at 1.7 lbs/0.7 kg and feels solid. There is no creak or give whatsoever, and when extended to its full length at 300mm, the lens barrel does not flop or bend. Tamron also includes a deep bayonet-mounted flower-petal hood that is reversible for easy storage. The hood’s length is great as it increases the efficiency of glare reduction. A proprietary rear cap and a pinch front cap round out the package. The pinch cap is very convenient, and is easily mounted and removed even with the hood in place. The filter size is a common and relatively inexpensive 062mm, which is great for photographers on a tight budget. The lens has the normal seals against dust and dirt, but is not waterproof.
As previously noted, this is not a constant aperture zoom, so the maximum aperture at each focal length is as follows:
- 70mm - f4.0
- 100mm - f4.2
- 135mm - f4.5
- 200mm - f5.3
- 300mm – f5.6
The lens has no dedicated aperture ring. Like its modern peers, the mechanical linkage of aperture is now electronically controlled through the lens mount interface, allowing the photographer to set the opening via control dials on the camera body.
There are two ring controls – a very large zoom ring dominates the front two-thirds of the barrel length, while a narrower but easily handed focus ring is placed closer to the mount. The focus ring adequately allows clearance even for larger hands, so you won’t feel cramped while trying to manually focus. A display window on the top closest to the lens mount end shows focus distance in feet and meters. The rings are mechanically sound – both turned with a crisp reassurance, but were tight enough that with some practice, you could move the zoom ring by “feel” to a given focal length and know it would stay there. It takes about a quarter turn to cycle through the whole zoom range. Because of the full-time AF manual override, the focus ring turns freely in either direction and does not hit a stop or detent. Those of us who have struggled with “switchology errors” on lenses will be pleased to see the simplified setup Tamron has created – there’s just two switches, both on the left side; one turns VC ON or OFF and the other switches AF ON or OFF. That’s it. For folks who like to delve into the technical details, it sounds suspiciously like Tamron’s implementation is too simplified, but be reassured, it’s not. We’ll get into that later in this review.
In the field, the lens handles as well as it looks. On lighter bodies such as the D40 or the D3000, the feeling is a little nose-heavy, but using enthusiast and pro cameras like the D200 and the D2 series, the result is a nicely balanced combination. The hood’s length provides a reassuring protection from foreign objects (and kids’ sticky fingers!) as well as glare reduction. I was even able to reach in and manipulate a circular polarizer, but if you have smaller hands, results may vary.
The Ultrasonic Drive was noiseless, and I could not distinguish any difference between its operation and Nikon’s Silent Wave. Autofocus operations were very responsive. The lens locked on to the subjects accurately and with no hesitation. If you’ve never used coreless drive lenses before, you might be slightly surprised the first few times; when looking through the viewfinder, it feels like the image “jumps” into focus because you don’t get the aural feedback from the shaft-drive motor. Full-Time manual focus is available by simply grabbing the focus ring and overriding the AF system.
Many of you have been waiting for this section. So let’s get right into it; the Vibration Compensation works and works well. End of statement. That’s the short story. In typical optical stabilization models, most manufacturers have two modes, one to accommodate normal use – removing up-down and left-right, and another to remove all movement entirely. These modes are defined by a hardware switch on the lens. Most lenses are also equipped with only two axis sensors inside the lens to detect and compensate for those movements. Tamron upped the game by providing a three-axis (i.e., three-coil) system. That means Tamron’s implementation of image stabilization compensates not only for up-down (oscillation) and left-right (lateral) movements, but also compensates for yawing (up-left, down-right), all in a single mode. Think of a “+”sign superimposed over an “x” sign. For those of you who like to pan, there’s nothing to worry about; the three-coil system detects the movement for panning accordingly and only compensates for the up-down and yaw movement.
End-result - you don’t have to think about which mode the lens is in, and can concentrate on other aspects of the photo-taking. As I mentioned earlier, some of us who like to get down into the technical details would be suspicious of a single setting for such a complex operation, but Tamron’s design is simple, efficient and elegant.
Some handling steps that everyone should be aware of when using VC. First, there is no tripod detection mode, so VC should be turned OFF when mounted on a stable support. Secondly, the use of AF-ON button will not activate VC, only the half-press of the shutter button will. VC is more useful when it has more information about the motion it needs to compensate for, so begin the tracking process with the half-press as soon as you possibly can.
And VC really works. The first time you enable it, the image locks down. At low shutter speeds where handshake would be noticeable through the viewfinder, the image stops moving, period. Absolutely stunning and puts VC very much a leg up on Nikon’s Vibration Reduction – in VR, you will still see the image “drifting” even at shutter and ISO combinations where VR is effective – that’s the most noticeable difference in a two-coil versus three-coil implementation.
VC effectiveness lives up to the four-stop specification. My worst cases were a harvest moon at ISO 100, handheld, varying the apertures to get a properly exposed shot. At 1/30th of a second, I was getting very usable photos of the moonscape. In normal use during daylight and low-light scenarios, both the VC and USD functioned perfectly in conjunction with each other. In situations where I would have boosted the ISO just to get a higher shutter speed, I simply flicked the VC switch to ON and kept shooting.
The image quality of the lens is equally impressive. The test cameras were a D200 and D2H, using NEF format. The default color mode selected was Mode I, which savvy post-processors know tend to be low contrast and low saturation in order to maximize for skin tones. But even straight out of the camera, you could already see the rich color fidelity in many signage and street shots. Sharpness was set to Low, but the NEF files already showed depth and detail even without any optimization, such as the architectural details close-ups during a stroll in historic downtown Newport. The LD and XLD elements were doing their job, enhancing contrast and color even on rainy and overcast conditions during a Hurricane Earl photo-trek. I wasn’t able to invoke Chromatic Aberration at all during high-contrast shooting. The nine-blade aperture produced very acceptable bokeh, nicely rendered with no sharp points.
The bottom-line: It was very tough returning the lens once the review ended. The Tamron SP 70-300 f4.-5.6 Di VC USD is an extremely impressive optic and at a going street rate of under USD500, brings a great set of capabilities and image quality, all in a light and well-built package. Nikonians contemplating a telephoto purchase would be well-served to add this lens to the top of their wish-list. After all, the holidays are coming…
Posted by covey22 at 2:16 PM
August 5, 2010
Nikonians Review: Tamron 60mm f2.0 and Think Tank Hydrophobia
Have you seen the latest Nikonians equipment reviews? This month, Thomas Berg gets up close with the Tamron SP AF60mm f2.0 Macro, and Team Moderators Victor Newman and Martin Turner get under the covers with Think Tank's latest weatherproof shield, the Hydrophobia.
Posted by covey22 at 4:38 PM