Category Archives: Gear

Review: Metabones Speed Booster Nikon F to Fuji X-Mount Adapter

If you are transitioning to a Fuji X-mount camera system, there may be times when you want to use your existing glass. For this, you need to get a lens mount adapter.

While a lens mount adapter lets you use your Nikon (or Canon) lenses with the Fuji X-mount bodies, there are some major limitations. You will have to use manual focus and set the aperture using a ring on the adapter barrel. Vibration reduction (VR) will not function, either. In my opinion, the reason you get one of these adapters is because you have a particular use for one of your existing lenses. In my case, I like to be able to combine my infrared-converted Fujifilm X-E1 body with my Nikon glass when traveling so that I don’t need to pack two sets of lenses. I have two adapters that I have tested with my Nikon lenses. Continue reading Review: Metabones Speed Booster Nikon F to Fuji X-Mount Adapter

New DSLRs from Nikon and Canon

The new Canon 5DS cameras have 50 megapixel resolution. That ought to up the ante for landscapes and fashion photographers.

There have been a couple new cameras in the news lately. For Canon shooters, the new 5DS and 5DS R models deliver 50-megapixel (8688 x 5792 pixel) full-frame (36x24mm) images. I know many Canon shooters who have been waiting for something to get them over the 20 megapixel barrier, and these two cameras should do the trick. Canon is doing something similar to what Nikon did with the D800/e variants. The “R” model uses a software cancellation trick to eliminate the effect of the optical low-pass (anti-aliasing) filter.  Both models are expected to be shipping by June 2015.

My take: I know many Canon shooters who have switched to the Sony system not necessarily because they wanted a mirrorless camera, but because they wanted to use their L-glass on a 36MP camera. With the aggressive price points of the 5DS (under $4k), the competition just got going again between Nikon and Canon. I’m very interested in seeing how well Canon has done increasing the dynamic range of their sensors, which has been fairly stagnant for the last few years.

Nikon also announced a new D810 variant for astrophotography, the D810A. This camera has the same sensor as the normal D810 (36MP), but offers a different kind of filter over the sensor; one with an Infrared cut filter. The idea here is to allow for better astrophotographic captures of nebulae, as the filter lets these unique wavelengths of light (H-alpha reds) through (see image samples from Nikon). The D810A also offers more flexibility in manual exposure for capturing long exposures (you can set times up to 15 minutes).

My take: This camera is a specialty item, designed for amateur and professional astronomers. The new camera offers great features for astronomy, but it isn’t at all suited for general-purpose work. I think it’s great that Nikon has the resources to release a camera such as this, because it means that they are doing well enough elsewhere to warrant the production of a specialty camera. But man, I still hope to see a 20+MP camera capable of 8fps for my birding work!

Nikon 500mm f/4 VR: Hands-on first impressions and images

Male house finch, Fountain Colorado. Nikon 500mm f/4 AFS G VR lens and Nikon D810. 1/1600s @ f/4.5, ISO 360.
Male house finch, Fountain Colorado. Nikon 500mm f/4 AFS G VR lens and Nikon D810. 1/1600s @ f/4.5, ISO 360.

Spring is still a ways off here in the Rockies, but I did take advantage of some recent nice weather to field test my new Nikon 500mm f/4 AFS G VR Nikkor telephoto lens. In case you missed it, I switched to this lens recently after selling my 600mm f/4 VR. You can check out my podcast to hear about my rationale for switching.

I hit up the local nature center, where numerous bird feeders are set up. We don’t get much in the way of colorful birds here at this time of year, but the small ones are out in force, including chickadees, house finches, juncos, and the occasional woodpecker. Continue reading Nikon 500mm f/4 VR: Hands-on first impressions and images

Why Fast Cards Matter: Nikon D810 Performance

The Hoodman Raw Steel USB 3.0 card reader delivers fast download speeds from CF and SD cards.
The Hoodman Raw Steel USB 3.0 card reader delivers fast download speeds from CF and SD cards.

I won’t be the first one to tell you that fast cameras need fast memory cards. However, even the fastest cards differ in their read/write speeds between the theoretical and the actual achieved speeds. Read/write times not only depend on the tech specs of your card, but also your camera and transfer devices.

In the field, card read/write speed affects not only how fast the camera’s buffer can clear, but also how fast you can copy images to your computer. When transferring your images to a computer, the following factors are important to consider:

  • Card Speed
  • Reader Speed
  • Reader Interface (eg. USB/Firewire)

D810 Performance with CF Cards

I compared download speeds for 27 images (14-bit, lossless compressed) from the Nikon D810 using two different cards:

I tested each card using the Hoodman Raw Steel reader via USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 interfaces.  I downloaded my images to my computer using Photo Mechanic 5 and my typical settings. These settings included file renaming and adding IPTC data to each image as it was copied.

I tested the buffer performance by setting the D810 to capture 14-bit lossless compressed full-size raw images (NEF format) in continuous high-speed release mode (5fps). I determined the number of images I could capture before the buffer was full, and I timed how long it took for the buffer to clear. With these settings, the buffer count shows 19 frames. Continue reading Why Fast Cards Matter: Nikon D810 Performance

Just announced: Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR Nikkor lens

The Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR lens incorporates a phase-fresnel element and weighs half as much as its predecessor.
The Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR lens incorporates a phase-fresnel element and weighs half as much as its predecessor.

Talk about alphabet soup! Nikon has announced a completely redesigned 300mm f/4 lens to replace its aging 300mm f/4 AFS model. The new lens is called the 300mm f/4E PF ED VR, and is available for pre-order here. The lens should start shipping by early February. It is an FX lens, meaning it will work on both FX and DX Nikon DSLR bodies. On DX bodies, the angle of view would be equivalent to 450mm.

I had the previous version, Nikon’s 300mm f/4 AFS IF-ED lens, and I can honestly say it was an under-appreciated component of the Nikkor lineup. It was sharp, handled teleconverters well, and was very easy to hand-hold. My only complaint with it was its lack of vibration reduction (VR), which would have made it perfect for many situations where I didn’t want to use a tripod. Continue reading Just announced: Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR Nikkor lens