I recently sat down with my good friend and fellow Image Doctors Podcast host, Rick Walker, to chat about our thoughts on the new Nikon Z Mirrorless system [see specs] that was announced recently. These discussions are a really great way for us to see how we each view new cameras and imaging technologies and how they fit in with our current photographic styles.
Before we get into it, we just wanted to mention that there is a TON of talk out there on discussion boards and social media sites regarding the new Nikon mirrorless system, the Nikon Z. Neither of us have even seen one of these cameras in person, and as of now even people testing them are still using pre-production models. As such, we are not willing to discuss or speculate on any performance features of these cameras until they become available to the general public. It would be wholly inappropriate for us to discuss or speculate on features that we haven’t actually tested in person. Ok, enough of that… let’s sit down and talk mirrorless cameras!
Gnarbox Product Review: A Wireless Portable Hard Drive for Mobile Workflow
As I find myself exploring the world with my camera, my need to “go light” has ramped up. While I still prefer to use my DSLRs, one area where I can really save some space and weight is by exchanging my laptop for an iPad for overseas travel. My mobile workflow on the iPad is still evolving, but Lightroom CC (formerly Lightroom Mobile), is quite competent for most travel photography. The Gnarbox portable hard drive is a potential complement to the traveling photographer looking to stay light and use a tablet instead of a laptop.
The Achilles heel of most tablets is storage space. While the iPad Pro can be configured with 512GB of memory, that’s not a lot when it comes to RAW capture with my Nikon D850. In the field, it would be nice to not only have a file back-up solution that integrates with the tablet, but also a way of previewing and triaging images before moving them to the tablet to use in editing apps. Enter the Gnarbox, a portable hard drive with WiFi connectivity.
Gnarbox (gnarly name, dude) is a portable solid state hard drive (SSD) that connects to your mobile device via its own local WiFi hotspot. This means you can use it with mobile devices that do not support USB drives, like the iPad. I got my hands on a Gnarbox from B&H Photo to test, and what follows is my experience with it using iOS mobile devices. Continue reading Review: Gnarbox WiFi Hard Drive→
I recently started using monopods again for bird and wildlife photography. Monopods provide stability in the field yet are far easier to pack and maneuver when shooting. I wanted to try out something less expensive than my older Gitzo monopods, so I looked at options and found the Oben CTM 2500.
Here’s a pretty standard shot of a Western Gull, which I captured a few weeks ago while leading my San Diego Birding photo safari. Gulls are relatively easy targets for practicing your bird shots, and while this shot isn’t remarkable by any means, my choice of gear still made a difference.
First, I was using the Nikon D850 DSLR. The outstanding dynamic range of this camera allowed me to capture the entire gamut of shadows and highlight details in a single exposure. Should I decide to print this image, I could go as large as 24×34 without any resampling.
Second, I used the versatile Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 VR zoom lens. For a “consumer” lens, it’s really hard to beat. But why this lens was perfect for this shot was because it was not only light enough to hand-hold, but also that it’s minimum focus distance of 7.2′ (2.19m) allowed me to get really close to my subject and create a really smooth out of focus background.
For my last two birding safaris, I’ve eschewed my heavy tripods for the flexibility of a monopod with tilt-head and shoulder-stock. The monopod is lightweight and mobile, but when combined with my Arca-Swiss shoulder stock, I get a very stable configuration in the field, with my legs replacing a tripod. This isn’t easy to do with a monopod alone; the shoulder-stock creates a solid contact point between my camera and my body.
Finally, because processing the final image is just as important to me as the capture itself, I used Adobe Lightroom Classic CC to fine-tune the exposure, tone, and detail in the RAW image. I leveraged Adobe’s Nikon Camera Neutral profile to open the shadows and protect highlights while giving me maximum control over global and local tone and color.
I’m trying out a new camera accessory designed to make capturing birds in flight easier. The (BIF) BullsEye™ Arca-Swiss camera stock is a lightweight aluminum shoulder stock that makes tracking flying subjects smooth and steady. I mounted my Nikon D850 with the surprisingly sharp Nikon 200-500 VR lens to the (BIF) BullsEye and took it into the field in Florida. Here are some of the shots I’ve gotten with it so far. I love being able to stay mobile without a tripod using this rig!