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Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC Zoom lens: It’s a Keeper!

Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD Lens for Nikon CamerasLike most of you, I’m always a bit skeptical of third party lenses until I get to give them a good workout. The need for a fast, but not insanely large, zoom for my recent gorilla trekking experience led me to the (newish) Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. The specs – lighter and smaller than the Nikon version, with Vibration Compensation included – were appealing. By themselves, that wouldn’t have convinced me to try it. Coupled with its off the charts performance when tested by DxOMark with the Nikon D800e (as close as test as I could find to the Nikon D810 I’d be using it with), I was sold on the idea of using it as my go-to mid-range zoom in Africa. I wasn’t disappointed…


Think Tank StreetWalker HardDrive: The Ultimate vehicle safari backpack

Think Tank Photo StreetWalker HardDrive (Black/Silver/Blue)Regular readers will know that for yours I’ve been searching for the perfect backpack for taking on African safaris – or to other locations where we shoot from vehicles. For international travel, the bag has to meet carry-on requirements, so it can’t be too long. It also needs to either be a roller, like the ThinkTank Airport Takeoff or the LowePro X200, or at least have really nice backpack straps for lugging through connecting airports. At the same time, it needs to be compact enough to fit on the seat in a vehicle and move around in potentially tight spaces on boats or trucks. Plus it needs to accommodate a couple bodies, several lenses including a long one, and a laptop. Enter the Think Tank StreetWalker HardDriveRead more »

The Great Migration: Anatomy of a Crossing

ma_wildebeestcrossing_0513_dxoNo matter how often you’ve watched it on video, or seen those amazing images of Wildebeest herds crashing down the bank of the Mara River, nothing is quite like the experience of watching it in person. Our group was fortunate enough to witness (and photograph) several crossings on our recent trip. Each one was different, of course, but there is much about crossings that isn’t obvious from the photos, and isn’t featured in most video documentaries that’s worth passing along… Read more »

The Nikon D750 should have been called the Nikon D650

Upon my return from Africa, I found my review Nikon D750 waiting for me. As expected from the specs & early looks, it is a sweet (and relatively small) camera that I’ll have plenty of fun shooting with – and writing about -- over the coming weeks. However, it wasn’t quite what I expected from the model number. I was hoping it would be a real upgrade from the Nikon D700, and might make a good twin for my Nikon D810. However, it isn’t…


Is the Canon EOS 7D Mark II the Nikon D400 DX shooters with a Nikon D300 have been waiting for?

Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR Camera (Body Only)It’s no secret that APS-C (aka DX-format) shooters have been given short-shrift by both Nikon and Canon for the last 5 years. The venerable Canon 7D and Nikon D300 (and the almost identical Nikon D300S) have been amazing cameras, but are more than long in the tooth. Canon has fixed that for its smaller-format loyalists in one fell swoop with the awesomely-speced Canon EOS 7D Mark II. That begs the question of whether DX loyalists on the Nikon side should consider jumping ship… Read more »

New Nikon D750: Powerhouse upgrade for Nikon D600, Nikon D610 and Nikon D700 owners

nikon_d750_dslr_camera_body_1082599Nikon’s new Nikon D750 has something for nearly everyone. State-of-the-art Autofocus, improved 24MP sensor, brand-new, high-performance body design, 6.5 fps full-frame, 100% viewfinder, pro-quality video features, tilting LCD, and a fairly sane price tag of $2300. It is going to be a hard camera to resist for current owners of the Nikon D600, Nikon D610, Nikon D700, and even those who have a Nikon D800 but would love a little more speed and are getting tired of super-large files. I’ll be doing a full field-test when I’m back from Africa, but based on the specs, here are my quick thoughts on pros & cons:


10 things you should know about your camera (and your smartphone)!

ev_africamay2011_0221I get asked all the time to give advice about what camera someone should buy. Far less often I sometimes get asked a much more important question – “What do I need to learn how to do with my new camera before I take it on my vacation, or to some special event, and try to use it effectively?” Modern cameras (even many of those found in smartphones) have way too many features for anyone to master them all. But there are 10 basic skills you should learn. If you purchase your camera at a camera store with actual human salespeople (there are still a few), you can probably have them show you most or all of them before you walk out with your new kit:


Nikon D810 field test–Why I’m planning to buy my review unit

pl_lavenderfarms_0037For the past few weeks I’ve been shooting with a Nikon D810 in a variety of situations. I wasn’t enough of a fan of the D800 to purchase one, so I didn’t expect to want to purchase my review Nikon D810 either. However, Nikon has done enough to improve the camera that it is now a winner for me, and this one will likely be staying right here in my camera bag. Here’s why…


Alaskan Bears: One safari, one camera, one lens: Life with the new Nikon 80-400mm AF-S VR Lens

_djc5685Every July I return to Alaska to photograph the amazing Coastal Brown (aka “Grizzly”) Bears. Over the course of 15 years I’ve used over a dozen different cameras, and at least that many lenses to capture images. Typically at least one of my lenses would be a massive telephoto (400mm f/2.8 or 200-400 f/4, or 120-300 f/2.8). This year, as part of my ongoing effort to identify lighter, less expensive alternatives to large and extremely expensive lenses, I decided to shoot for the entire two safaris with “just” a Nikon 80-400mm AF-S VR lens attached to my Nikon D610. My hope was to see whether this new, sub-$3K lens could do a good job of subbing for larger, more expensive alteratives….


ArtRage 4.5: Solid Upgrade for top-notch painting program

CanvasGrids

While having a good painting program isn’t a requirement for most photographers, it can come in handy for sketching out ideas for the “bones” of an image (thanks to John-Paul Caponigro for effectively demonstrating that point to me originally). My favorite when I’m on Windows (or Mac) is ArtRage. The company has just released a solid update to version 4.5. I’ve been using the beta for awhile now and have been quite pleased with the new features…


Who needs artsy filters when you have Raw converters?

_djc0761ps-nxdI’m in the process of comparing the latest versions of various Raw file converters, and as part of that I’ve been rendering the same image in multiple pieces of software and comparing the results. Stay tuned for the scientific version where I use actual color targets and math, but in the meantime, I’ve been trying to get a feel for the differences by eye. However, I found something I didn’t expect…


Nikon D810 architectural Moire Test

_DJC0547psOne of the advances Nikon has made with the Nikon D810 is the complete removal of the low-pass (aka anti-aliasing) filter. The Nikon D800e achieved a similar effect by adding a second filter layer to undo the effects of the anti-aliasing filter, but the move to eliminate it completely in the D810 goes a step further. The concern, of course, is the potential for increased moire, or color interference patterns, in small details. To test out the Nikon D810 for moire in landscapes, I chose the Milwaukee skyline…


Record-breaking Nikon D810 full-frame DSLR now in stock…

nikon_d_810_digital_slr_body_1062499B&H now has the new Nikon D810 in stock. They have a limited supply, and will no doubt sell out soon. As tested by DxOMark, it set the all time image quality record with a score of 97 points (just beating out the D800 and D800e). I’m in the middle of field-testing my review unit, so I don’t have a full report, but wanted to get the word out before the first shipment disappears. As to what I’ve found so far…

Nikon’s Manual Viewer mobile app is a ‘must have’–and it is free

imageRegular readers know that I’m a big proponent of carrying PDF copies of camera manuals while traveling – whether on a laptop, tablet, or both.

Lightening up your photo kit: Lenses I no longer travel with…

The Sigma 300-800 is an excellent and unique telephoto zoom, but it is huge & heavy -- no fun to travel withI’m often asked what lenses I recommend for various photo subjects – typically right before a reader or client is about to head off on a trip. What often goes without saying is what lenses I don’t travel with. In many cases, these were my “go-to” lenses for many years, but a combination of industry trends has helped me lighten up my traveling kit substantially. The changes aren’t for everyone, but they are worth considering for anyone who has begun to dread traveling with all their gear. Before I plunge in, please remember that I’m not saying these lenses aren’t still some of my favorites, or that you shouldn’t rely on them anywhere and everywhere, just that it is always worth thinking about what you are traveling with and why…


Nikon D810: Solid upgrade to Nikon D800 -- Available for pre-order!

imageStarting in late July, Nikon will be shipping its anticipated update to the Nikon D800/e. The Nikon D810 is an upgrade in nearly every aspect of camera and video performance, although each single change is not dramatic. Faster frame rate (5fps full-frame, 7fps DX with battery pack), improved Autofocus, improved sensor with better low-light performance, upgrades for videographers, and a removed low-pass filter (ala the “e”) with improved anti-moire are some of the highlights. The price is the same as the original Nikon D800e price – $3300. The new model will likely be very popular with owners of the current models, and with some D600 owners looking to get more resolution and a few more features. We’ll review the camera when it is available, of course! In the meantime, if you're gung-ho, you can pre-order a Nikon D810 from B&H for $3296.95.


Adobe goes wild with Hardware for artists, Photographer program, and Photoshop 2014 & Suite updates

Adobe fired product salvos on every front today, with a massive set of announcements across its product line. For photographers, the Photo subscription plan has been made permanent at $10/month for Photoshop CC, Lightroom, and mobile apps. Photoshop has also been updated with some cool new tools including Focus-based masking and Path-based blurs – as well as support for Photoshop Mix. You can read more about all of that in my article for Extremetech.com. In the meantime, artists with an iPad will love Adobe’s new Ink & Slide hardware, which I was fortunate enough to be able to use extensively prior to its release. Read more »

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