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30 October 2010, Saturday

The Moose is Loose!

Moose Peterson: Captured

I just got my copy of Moose Peterson's latest book, Captured. Moose is a living Nikon legend.

It's great to see a brand-new book by Moose. If you like Moose's nature and wildlife work, you're going to love this book. The book is a big (312 pages and 9" square), beautiful work loaded with great photographs as well as text teaching exactly how and where to make images like his.


29 October 2010, Friday

Great shots with the D7000

My D7000 still isn't here, but Aldo Rafael Altamirano just got his, and shared some awesome shots from a trip to New York City.


Kid-Proof camera?

As Ryan loves to play with my D3, S95, and every other camera that people loan me to test, what's a good kid-proof camera?

I think I may need to get Ryan a Canon D10 waterproof powershot, which looks pretty tough. For $250, I think its the ticket.


Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-D

Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-D (New).

NEW: Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-D (New) Review.

Actually, that page has been there for ten years, but it was only today that I fielded the lens, measured new data, re-wrote everything from scratch and expanded the review to ten times its original size.

This 80-200/2.8 has been a professional staple since 1997. It takes the same pictures as the 70-200mm VR II for half the price, with less size and weight, and has better macro performance!

This is why it has always been a very popular lens for over 13 years. Get one before Nikon goes Microsoft/AT&T on us and pulls it out of the catalog.

For my photography of inanimate objects I prefer the plastic 28-300mm VR, while this f/2.8 lens is superior for photography of action, sports and people, since VR can't help you with animate subjects.


27 October 2010, Wednesday

Sigma 150-500mm

Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3.

NEW: Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 Review.


26 October 2010, Tuesday

Canon REALiS WUX4000

Canon REALiS WUX4000 Projector.

NEW: Canon REALiS WUX 4000 Projector.

Intended for professional installations, this projector offers much higher resolution and brightness than consumer projectors, and ought to be of interest to serious photographers who want to show their work in the best possible light.

As I've written before, consumer digital projectors suck, which is why I so love film projectors. The WUX4000 is a professional projector, not consumer.


ProOptic 14mm f/2.8

ProOptic 14mm f/2.8.

NEW: ProOptic 14mm f/2.8 Review.


25 October 2010, Monday

Eastern Sierra Fall Color Report

Tioga Towers

Tioga Towers. bigger.

I was up in Yosemite and the Eastern Sierra all last week.

Yosemite a week ago was a little early, but the Eastern Sierra was at its peak these past few days!

The only bad news is that an apocalyptic windstorm blew through last night, which may or may not have ripped all the leaves from the trees, or trees out of the ground. It's only 6AM as I write this and still dark, so I have no idea what's left.

Yes, I'll be showing a ton of snaps I got while out and about, as well as all the details on the techniques I used for the snap above.


Nikon D7000 User's Manual

I'm still waiting for my own D7000 to arrive, but while we all wait, we should spend this time to read every page of Nikon's D7000 User's Manual so we'll know how to use it properly when it arrives.

Of course I'll be writing my own guide after my D7000 arrives.


Faked Negatives Still Out There

The folks trying to sell photos made by Uncle Earl Brooks as if they were made by Ansel Adams are still in trouble.


21 October 2010, Thursday

Nikon P7000

Nikon P7000.

NEW: Nikon P7000 Review.

(My D7000 ought to be here any day now.)


18 October 2010, Monday

Oh oh: do I need a second 28-300mm VR?

Back in the early days of photography (BCE, or Before Camera Emancipation, which was when the world's first semi-pro do-it-all lens, the Nikon 28-300mm came out last month), most pros carried two bodies everywhere. One had a wide zoom, typically the 17-35/2.8 or 16-35/2.8 L II today, and then the other body had a tele zoom, typically the 70-200 VR II or 70-200/2.8 IS L II today.

This saved having to swap lenses all day, and also ensured a backup body was ready to stand-in if either died.

Well, since the 28-300 VR replaces all those lenses for everything but full-time pro abuse, as I was suiting up to go shooting with two bodies, I had to ask myself:

Since my 28-300 just replaced every other lens I used to carry (except for an 18mm or 20mm ultrawide), am I really going to move my one 28-300mm VR between my D3 and F6 as I shoot all day from shot-to shot?

This dawned on me as I had my 28-300 on my D3, but I still brought a bag of fixed lenses for the F6. Why bother? Why not two 28-300s? As I saw last week in the Eastern Sierra on my F6, the 28300VR works great on Velvia 50.

Criminy, I'm going to need a second 28-300 VR, one for each body, as I shoot both real pictures and "digital capture."

Nikon really ought to have priced the 28-300 VR at $12,999, since once you get one, you won't need to be getting any other lenses. You can stop shopping and start shooting!


15 October 2010, Friday

RSS Feed Guru

Many thanks to Will Fastie, who tweaked my RSS Feed so that it works again for all of us.

Many thanks also to Vince, who originally wrote it for us some years ago.


D7000s start to ship!

Hee hee! Some people are starting to get their Nikon D7000s. (see the video here if that box doesn't play.)

I don't get anything from Nikon. I buy everything myself, usually from Adorama, pay the same price and get mine at the same time everyone else does. Therefore, I'm still waiting for mine!

The only reason I get most stuff first is because I order it the day it comes out to get to the front of the line. I don't get any special treatment.

Because I get everything the same way everyone else does, I know I'm getting what everyone else does, and not something cherry-picked for reviewers. I've never trusted tests of manufacturer-supplied items, especially for zoom lenses, where there can be a lot of manufacturing variation from sample-to-sample.

Thanks for the video, Deedee!


13 October 2010, Wednesday

Update: I got my film back from North Coast Photo, and added a couple of frames to my existing page of last week's Eastern Sierra photos.

Cloud, Rt 6

Cloud, Route 6. bigger.

Shot on Fuji Velvia 50 in a Nikon F6 through a Nikon NIKKOR 18mm f/3.5 AI-s and Nikon A2 filter (frame 10, F6 EXIF file), NCPS process and scan.

Chiaroscuro in Chocolate, East from Route 395

Chiaroscuro in Chocolate, East from Route 395. bigger.

Shot on Fuji Velvia 50 in a Nikon F6 through the 28-300mm VR and Nikon A2 filter at 180mm; f/6.3 at 1/200, hand-held (frame 09, F6 EXIF file), NCPS process and scan.

You've got to hand it to Velvia: these colors and hard contrasts don't come from digital capture, and you've got to hand it to the F6: I simply pointed-and-shot, and its color matrix meter figured out the rest.

The 28-300mm looks awesome on film, too!


NEWS: Nikon 28-300mm shot makes USA Today. (larger.)

The shot, captioned "Ashley Force Hood's Mustang is engulfed in a shower of sparks during a blow-up in Friday's qualifying sessions at Maple Grove Raceway," was shot by Brian Link on his D700 and his amazing new 28-300mm. Where did he get his lens? My link to it at Adorama, of course. (Adorama's lenses take better pictures than lenses bought elsewhere.)

I'm sure plenty of other shots have been published in major media from the 28-300; this is the first one where a reader wrote to tell me his shot got printed with this brand-new wonder lens.

Of course the shot is really all due to Brian's ability, great shot! Thanks Brian!


NEW: Nikon 24-120mm f/4 VR Full Review.

Nikon 24-120mm VR

Nikon 24-120 f/4 VR.

The new 24-120 is a great lens, but no greater than the 28-300mm and missing 180mm on the long end, and costs $270 more, so who cares?

It would have changed the world, except that the 28-300mm is even better, for less money. Until Nikon catches their price swap between the new 24-120mm and 28-300mm lenses, announced in the same press release, the 28-300mm is complete salvation at a bargain price!


Holy Cow! Color Histograms on Canon Powershots!

Reader Doug Knisely made the discovery that the Canon G12 can show RGB histograms on playback, but it's carefully hidden.

I tried this on my Canon S95, and it works perfectly!

Just press the top of the rear dial when you're seeing the monochrome histogram, and bingo!, a color histogram replaces the data display!

The hint is an [ ^ ] icon next to a histogram icon on the top left of the data screen! AHA!


10 10 10, Sunday

Nikon F6

Nikon F6.

Affordable Excellence: Nikon's best full-frame camera, the F6, sells new for $2,400, but since the F6 has been made since 2004, the used price has fallen from $1,600 back when I got mine in 2007 to about $1,250 used today, presuming you know How to Win at eBay.


09 October 2010, Saturday

For Sale: There's NIKON 13mm f/5.6 for sale on eBay, still in the box with case, filters and papers, as a Buy-it-Now for only $12,000.

(as expected, it sold within minutes of me listing this. Sorry!)

That's easily what it's worth without the box, case, filters and papers, so if you want it, don't waste your time trying to haggle with a Make Offer while a serious buyer grabs it. Hey, the seller even offers a 3-day return, so have at it.

From what I see, it's the even more rare original pre-AI version from about 1976 of which only 36 were made, and has been factory updated to AI so it ought to work great on the D700 and everything else. Optically, it was unchanged from 1975-1998.

Of course I don't know this guy and this is purely my take on the way I read the listing, but if I was in the market for one of these lenses, which are otherwise unobtainable, here it is. These only come up for sale once every few years, and always for a lot more money.

See also my review of the 13mm f/5.6.


Nikon Reflex-NIKKOR 500mm f/8

Nikon Reflex-NIKKOR 500mm f/8 N.

NEW: Nikon Reflex-NIKKOR 500mm f/8 N Review.


Cultural Learning: In the course of reporting on this reflex lens, I read Nikon's historical retrospective of this lens' design. It's written by the same guy who is listed as the inventor on all of Nikon's patents of just about everything brilliant Nikon has done optically since the 1990s up through the so-new-it's-not-yet-shipping 35mm f/1.4 G: Haruo SATO.

SATO-san goes on to explain how well his boss handled his liqueur at drinking parties on company trips. SATO-san, inventor of what seems to be everything amazing at Nikon for the past 15 years, describes his boss as putting away the booze as well as MORI-san, the inventor of the 13mm f/5.6 and numerous other great things of previous decades.

The Japanese have no problem drinking. It seems as if drinking inspires greatness and creativity. The Germans even have a minimum daily requirement for Beer drinking, and because Beer is a required nutrient, Germany requires that the word Bier always be capitalized, even in the middle of a sentence.

The Germans, and certainly the Japanese, have no problem drinking at official company functions, and also have cranked out all of the good practical consumer photo equipment this past 50 years.

Why does America only make great optics for commercial and military use? Why is it that some Americans are shy about drinking at work?

Do you think if we started drinking well that we again could be competitive in the world consumer marketplace?

Think about that over the weekend, and bring in a case or two to share on Monday.


08 October 2010, Friday

Update: I added information about focus screens to my Nikon F4 page.


New Artist Link: I just added Massimo Marinucci's new site to my Links page under Artists.

He does real photography with real cameras.


07 October 2010, Thursday

Virginia Creek Settlement

Virginia Creek Settlement: hand-held at 1/8 with 28-300 VR.

NEW: Photos from the Eastern Sierra, with Full-Resolution Sample Images from the Nikon 28-300mm VR.



Blue. original © file.

New: I added full-size sample images to my Canon S95 review.

I only recognized two days later its similar feeling to Peter Gabriel's first solo album's cover art.


06 October 2010, Wednesday

Eastern Sierra Fall Color Report

I was up shooting in California's Eastern Sierra on Monday and Tuesday. All it did was rain and snow, so I bailed for home since the babies missed me.

Everything is mostly still green up there.

If I had stuck around, all I'd do is find the one or two groves that have turned yellow, and shoot them. That's what you always do in news and photography: find the best color and blow it all out of all proportion.

If I hadn't chickened out, I'd be getting all sorts of great cloud pictures. The best images usually come when storms are coming or going, which is also when the weak photographers leave. In my case, I was up shooting sample images for you folks with some of Nikon's newest lenses, and really wanted sunshine and color.

Now that I'm back in my studio, I hope to crank out a few images for you that I shot with the awesome 28-300mm VR.

The 28-300mm VR really does let you dump all your old lenses overboard. I brought loads of different lenses, including the new 85mm f/1.4 G, but never had any reason to bother with them. Old habits die hard; with the 28-300mm, everything else is redundant.

I'm serious: since all I had to do was turn the zoom ring, why bother changing lenses? I prefer the deeper depth-of-field I get for still subjects with the smaller apertures of the 28-300 and hand-held VR than with the larger apertures of faster lenses and no VR.

The two other lenses I did use were the 18mm f/3.5 AI-s and the 500mm f/8n Reflex-NIKKOR.

I used the 500mm for more reach when I was too lazy to move closer, and the 18mm instead of the 16-35mm VR because it's so much smaller, and has better sunstars when shooting the sun in the clouds. The fixed 18mm also has less distortion than the 16-35mm at the 18mm setting. The 18/3.5 sells used for only about $400, if you know How to Win at eBay.

I had the 16-35mm with me, but grabbed the old manual-focus 18/3.5 when I needed is since it does a better job at 18mm and f/11, and feels so much better in-hand than the plastic 16-35mm.

on the road to Benton

On the road to Benton, 11:30AM, 05 October 2010. bigger.

Snapped with a Nikon D3, NIKKOR 18mm f/3.5 AI-s, Nikon 72mm A2 filter (since I was also shooting the F6 and was too lazy to pull it off), f/11 at 1/500 (bottom) and 1/1,000 (top). I set the D3 to Continuous High (CH) and bracket, so in a third of a second it brapped-off three bracketed shots as I held down the shutter in the middle of the street. I don't use tripods; this is hand-held about 8 inches off the deck. I composited them in Photoshop CS5 to lighten the street or darken the sky slightly.

It was easy to calculate f/11 and a focus setting of 6' as giving me the sharpest image for everything from 3 feet to infinity. I simply used the depth-of-field scale of the 18mm f/3.5, and since it read f/5.6 as "good enough," my secret formula told me that f/11 would give the best sharpness. On a zoom, I'd be clueless, since they have no depth-of-field scales! (When is Nikon going to start paying me to push their new products instead of having me run around speaking the truth about how some of their best stuff is in their past?)

To composite, open both JPG files, go to FILE > SCRIPTS > LOAD FILES INTO STACK, click ADD OPEN FILES, check AUTOMATICALLY ALIGN, and then hit OK. You get both images loaded as layers, and perfectly aligned to each other, even though of course I use no stinking tripods.

Add a layer mask to the top layer, and paint it to select which of the two files applies for all the areas of the image. Hit a number key, like "5," to use a partial selection of both images.

If shot with the 16-35mm, in which Nikon makes the big small mistake of using rounded, instead of straight diaphragm blades, we lose the sunstars, and instead get boring white circles where our sun ought to be, thus:

Route 395

Along Route 395, 2:22 PM, 05 October 2010. bigger.

In this snap, the circular diaphragm opening of the 16-35mm VR gave no significant sunstar, even at f/11. This snap on a D3, f/11 at 1/500, at 25mm.


New Nikon Lenses: Wow!

Except in some cases where manual-focus lenses outdo zooms as shown above, I am very impressed at how Nikon has completely hip-checked Canon into the weeds so far this year.

Even though Nikon has introduced no significant camera bodies this decade, what Nikon has done is introduce a complete new set of game-changing lenses that lets us use Nikon's already fantastic bodies to do things we just can't do with Canon.

Sure, the Canon 5D Mark II of 2008 has far superior technical image quality to anything from Nikon brand-new today for anything less than $7,500, and heck, even the original Canon 5D of 2005 still outperforms Nikon's newest D700 and D3s, but Canon doesn't make the wide lenses needed to get the best performance out of their bodies. That's why people use adapters on their 5D Mark IIs to use superior lenses like Nikon's 14-24mm and this spring's new Nikon 16-35mm instead of Canon's last-decade-designs, which are their newest, but inferior, 14mm f/2.8 L II and 16-35mm L II.

Now with Nikon's new Freedom Lens, the 28-300mm VR, we can take just one lens for almost every possible purpose with our FX cameras, just as we've done since 2005 on DX with Nikon's 18-200mm VR. Canon just can't keep up. Canon is over 5 years behind in lens design where it matters. Canon's late-to-the-party 18-200mm IS has no instant manual-focus override, and Canon's 28-300mm IS L is a huge old push-pull beast too big for general use. Canon's old 28-300 weighs almost four pounds, and costs more than twice as much as Nikon's emancipating 28-300mm VR, and it's the best Canon cares to do today. Oh well, Canon; we still love our Powershots like the S95.

Canon's 24/1.4 and LEICA's 24/1.4 are sloppy compared to Nikon's fantastic new 24/1.4G, introduced this spring.

Canon's newest 85/1.2 L II is a slow-focusing, bokeh-impared pig compared to last month's spectacular new optically superior and ultra-practical Nikon 85mm f/1.4 G.

Nikon's newest 24-120mm VR and 35mm f/1.4 G haven't even hit my hands yet. I suspect they also waste Canon's last-decade's offerings.

Even though I poke fun of the Nikon 16-35 VR above, it is the world's highest-performance ultrawide zoom lens, smoking everything that has come before it.

Now if Canon could only make lenses this good for the spectacular 5D Mark II, we'd be all set. We're waiting, just as we are for a high-resolution FX body from Nikon for less than $8,000.


05 October 2010, Tuesday

Nikon 55-300mm VR DX

Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G ED VR DX AF-S.

NEW: Nikon 55-300mm VR DX Full Review.


04 October 2010, Monday

RSS readers: I have no idea why the RSS feeds are not updating, since I don't even know how it updates at all in the first place.

Will is looking into it; if anyone figures out a solution, it will get fixed.



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