Out of the blue: New Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 AFS VRII and TC-20E III

How many of us saw this coming? In a very late-year announcement, Nikon have announced two new products: a new 300mm f/2.8G AFS VRII prime and a brand new 2x teleconverter, the TC-20EIII.

The new 300mm lens has the improved VRII system, which is said to offer stabilization equivalent to a shutter speed 4-stops faster.  Based on my initial results with the 70-200VRII, I’d say the VRII system lives up to this claim.
More after the jump…

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Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.G AFS VR II first impressions

I received my new 70-200mm AFS VR II Zoom Nikkor lens last week from Roberts Imaging after being on the waiting list since day one. Here are my first impressions using the new lens.

General Handling
The new 70-200VR is slightly shorter and fatter than the VRI, but doesn’t seem too big.  In fact, I think it feels just right in the hand.  The MF ring is smaller, and this feature, combined with a new A/M AF mode, means that you’ll be unlikely to accidentally engage MF during AF usage by bumping the MF ring.  Gone are the AF activation buttons on the end of the lens barrel (I didn’t use those on my old VRI, anyway).  The tripod foot is the same as the original, and can be replaced with an Arca-Swiss foot from RRS or Kirk— I was able to use my old foot on the new lens.
More after the jump…

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New Nikon D3s, 85mm DX Micro announced

Well, it’s official.  The much-rumored Nikon D3s has now been announced, along with a new DX-format macro (micro) lens. 

The big news on the D3s is that the sensor has been tweaked to offer an in-spec ISO range of 200-12,800!  The Hi-range mode now goes to Hi-3, or the equivalent of ISO 102,400!  Of course, keep in mind that the “Hi” range in all Nikon DSLRs should be considered an “emergency” mode– good for low-res or black and white images when ANY shot is better than no shot at all.
Other cool features of the D3s:
  • HD (720p) movie mode
  • Integrated sensor cleaning (sonic)
  • “Quiet mode” release– I agree that the original D3 is pretty loud compared to other Nikon DSLRs
  • Expanded buffer supports 42 NEFs in continuous shooting
  • 1.2 (8MP) crop mode
  • Better battery life (4200 shots)

Also announced today is a new 85mm VR macro lens dedicated to DX shooters. The 85mm focal length is approximately equivalent to a 127mm angle of view on 35mm cameras, so this new lens is not a 105mm replacement for DX shooters. However, the lens has VR II image stabilization. Because it is a DX lens, it will not cover the full-frame FX format unless you use cropped mode on a D3/D700.
Editorial commentary after the jump.

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Image Doctors workshop a smashing success

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I’m back from four days in Rocky Mountain National Park teaching the “Image Doctors” photo safari.  We lucked into some (mostly) fantastic weather, and everyone came away happy.  More importantly, everyone left the workshop with loads of fantastic images.  If you weren’t on the workshop, here’s what you missed:

Continue reading Image Doctors workshop a smashing success

Heading to the Rockies; Follow me on Twitter

Here’s a quick update of what I’m up to this week.  In case you missed it, I’m leading a workshop with Rick Walker to Rocky Mountain National Park starting tomorrow.  I’m getting ready for fur days of getting up too early, going to bed too late, but hopefully capturing the aspens at their fall peak and the elk in the rut.

You can now follow me on Twitter: jason_odell.  I’ll be posting updates from the workshop if at all possible.
If you can’t travel for a workshop, consider signing up for one of my online training webinars.  These classes are live, interactive sessions where you can talk to me directly as I walk you through Capture NX2 or Nik Silver Efex Pro.  Class size is deliberately kept small so that you have ample opportunity for questions.  All you need is a telephone and a broadband internet connection.  It’s that simple.