I brought a group of four photographers to south Texas, where we had the opportunity to photograph birds and wildlife from private blinds. In wildlife photography, the challenges are numerous. For birds, especially, it is extremely difficult to get close enough to fill the frame, even with a super-telephoto lens. Here are the main challenges with wildlife/bird photography: Continue reading
Yesterday, Nikon announced a long-awaited (overdue?) replacement to its 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens. The the original 80–400mm VR has been around since 2000, and for as long as I can remember, enthusiasts have cried out for and AFS replacement. Why? Despite very good optics and excellent zoom range, the AF-D model of the 80-400mm was slow to focus and as such sub-par for many action and wildlife photographers. Despite its limitations it remained popular lens because it was the least expensive Nikkor with a focal length of 400mm. On a DX-format DSLR body, that translates to an effective field of view of 600mm, making the 80-400 the enthusiast’s choice for wildlife photography. The relatively compact size of this lens made it an ideal option for travel photographers or people wanting to have extra reach on a reasonable budget. Continue reading
The D7000, to me, has always been a “close but not quite” camera. By all accounts, its sensor is really good. However, the smaller form factor and diminished performance (AF, frame rate, bracketing limitations) dissuaded me from getting one as a D300s replacement. The biggest surprise to me when I read Nikon’s announcement was the subheadline:
“Nikon’s DX-format Flagship Provides Agility, Amazing Image Quality and Wireless Connectivity“
You read that right; the DX-format Flagship. In my opinion, this means what I’ve been hearing (and thinking) for some time. DX is for enthusiasts, FX is for pros. Continue reading
If you’ve followed my or my photography over the years, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of Nikon cameras and also Capture NX2 editing software. You’ve probably also noticed that I’ve been experimenting with Lightroom 4 recently, and I started teaching classes on it.
I made the move to digital photography from film in 2005. At that time, there were raging battles between Nikon and Adobe over things like “encrypted White Balance” and such. At that time, converting NEFs (Nikon RAW format) images with software other than Nikon Capture 4 (or later, Capture NX) was potentially risky. Early versions of Adobe Camera RAW and other programs sometimes created artifacts and rendered colors differently than what Nikon’s converter did.
The beauty of processing RAW files is that every setting is plastic and reversible. However, the initial conversion parameters set the baseline for exposure, contrast, and color rendition and differ with each RAW converter application. One thing that Nikon photographers point out is that they like their default (starting point) conversion to match the “as-shot” look (as viewed on the back of their camera) as closely as possible. This makes sense. If you like the look of Nikon’s Picture Control “Standard,” then it’s very convenient to see the initial image rendered this way when you open the RAW file. After that initial conversion, you can do whatever you want to process your image. Continue reading
The first question that comes to my mind is “why would anyone want this lens, when you can use a 600mm + 1.4x teleconverter and effectively have an 840mm f/5.6 lens?” Well, I suppose there are a couple of things at play here. First of all, Nikon has quietly implied that only FX-format cameras are their top-end. The D300s, the only “pro” Nikon DX camera, was released in 2009, and other than adding video, it’s the same sensor as the D300 which was released in 2007. Nikon is basically saying, “if you want an action camera, you need a D4.” The only cameras in Nikon’s current lineup that can shoot over 6fps are the D300/s (with grip), D700 (with grip) and the D3s/D4 flagships. Which means if you are a wildlife or extreme sports photographer who wants to take advantage of a modern sensor, you need a long lens to pair with your FX format body. Secondly, sometimes a company needs to produce something this impressive just to demonstrate their engineering excellence. This new lens definitely does that. Continue reading