Last Chance for Year End Savings

Nikon’s “Buy Together and Save” instant rebate program is expiring today (it will not be extended anymore), so B&H is offering a free UPS Next Day Air shipping for orders to arrive to your home before the end of the year. If you want to see a detailed list of cameras and lenses that are available for this rebate program, along with our recommendations, please take a look at this article that I posted on Black Friday. In short, this particular rebate program applies to all current and older Nikon DSLRs and a long list of DX and FX lenses. Once you add a camera body to the cart, you can stack as many lenses as you want, increasing the total savings.

Nikon Buy Together and Save

Refurbished Nikon D800 DSLR has dropped down to $2,399.

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Nikon D610 / Canon 6D / Sony A7 Giveaway Winner

Thanks to our friends at Fstoppers, we also organized a Nikon D610 / Canon 6D / Sony A7 Giveaway, which ended on Christmas, just like our Fuji X-E1 kit giveaway (congrats to Charles Lennox once again!). This giveaway was much bigger than the Fuji one, because we received a total of 33523 entries (Facebook and non-Facebook participants combined). Actually, the number was much bigger than that (over 40K), but all those were fake accounts that were disqualified. With all the fake email addresses from yahoo.de, inbox.ru, mail.ru, bk.ru, gmail.com and hotmail.com, and a boatload of freshly created Facebook accounts, it took me a while to clean up the list to make it fair to all real participants.

Well, it is now time to announce the lucky winner, who gets to pick his favorite camera. Once again, we are using the services of random.org to pick the lucky winner and it looks like the winner is…

Fstoppers PL Winner

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And the Fuji X-E1 Kit Winner Is…

Our giveaway for the Fuji X-E1 + 18-55mm lens kit is now over. While I thought I could manage to pick a winner last night, sorting through all the comments (for non-Facebook participants) and entering them into a spreadsheet and then eliminating all the fake entries (there were many!) took me a while for both giveaways that are taking place. Lastly, I had to contact the winners and get their response for confirmation purposes. As before, I used the services of random.org to pick a random winner among all of our readers and Facebook fans. The total number of entries for this particular contest were 9373. So with the drums rolling, let’s see who the winner is:

Fuji X-E1 Winner

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Merry Christmas!

To those of our readers that celebrate Christmas, on behalf of the Photography Life team, we would like to wish you a very merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

May your home be filled with joy, love, health and happiness!

P.S. Don’t forget that we will be giving away two big presents tonight. The Fuji X-E1 + 18-55mm lens kit, along with a full-frame DSLR/mirrorless of choice (Canon 6D, Nikon D610 and Sony A7). Stay tuned for the big news and good luck to everyone!

Sony A7 and A7R Red Dot Flare Issue

Just as I have suspected, the Sony A7 and A7R cameras are not immune to the Red Dot Flare issue, thanks to the short flange distance. The effect of the red dot flare can be significantly reduced if the rear lens element has non-reflective coating applied to it. In the case of the two below, the Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 ZA handles flare a little better due to its optical design, but the red dots are still all over the place. Both shot at f/16, pointing directly at the sun.

Sony A7 and 28-70mm Red Dot Flare

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How to Use the Sensor Gel Stick

In this video, I decided to cover a couple of important aspects of using the sensor gel stick. First, I wanted to show what the product looks like when shipped and what it comes with, then answer some of the most frequently asked questions by our readers (see below for the text version), before actually showing how to use the product on a camera sensor.

DISCLAIMER: Not responsible for any potential damage of the camera due to misuse of the product! Please watch the video carefully and follow the instructions step by step.

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New Fuji Firmware Update for X-Pro1, X-E1, X-E2 and X100S

As we have mentioned before, Fuji planned to release a major firmware update to most of its X series cameras on December 19, 2013. Well, today is the 19th, which means that you can download the latest firmware and apply it to your Fuji camera! I am very excited about this release, because it brings very important and key features to the X-Pro1 and the X-E1 cameras that have been rolled to the X-E2 and X100S cameras. The first key feature is Auto Gain control. As I have mentioned in my Fuji X-E2 review, auto gain is something that controls the brightness of the LCD and forces it to always show average brightness, no matter what settings are set on the camera. In short, it is an inaccurate representation of the actual exposure. While the feature can be very useful in low-light situations or when working in a studio, it is not something that I personally like to use 90% of the time. With the new firmware, you can now turn Auto Gain off, which will show the correct exposure on the LCD!

Fujifilm X-Pro1 vs X-E2

Another key feature that is added is Auto ISO. Yes, finally, we now we have Auto ISO on all X-series mirrorless cameras! While I am still waiting for Fuji to add automatic ISO control based on the focal length of the lens (Nikon nailed it on its latest DSLRs), the current implementation is surely better than nothing. The last big change is the ability to change aperture and shutter speed when AE lock is engaged. There are a couple of other changes added to each firmware release and you can find additional info from the below links.

  1. Fuji X-Pro1 v3.10 Firmware Update
  2. Fuji X-E1 v2.10 Firmware Update
  3. Fuji X-E2 v1.10 Firmware Update
  4. Fuji X100S v1.10 Firmware Update

Kudos to Fuji for making this happen. They keep going back and adding such huge changes to existing cameras, making existing owners very happy. Imagine how great it would be if Nikon issued firmware updates with major changes to 2-3 year old cameras, or added features to lower-end cameras. I would love to get the latest Auto ISO implementation on my Nikon D3s, but I have a suspicion that it will never happen…and that’s after paying over $5K for it!

Nikon Df + 58mm f/1.4G – A Match Made In…

Lothlórien or Mordor, depending on whether you consider Nikon “the dark side” I guess! Been shooting with this combo for about a week now and I am amazed by the results. The Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G (see our lens page in the database) is just one of a kind…very few Nikkor lenses are capable of rendering such beautiful images. Lots of depth, color and beautiful bokeh, as illustrated in some of the images below. Sharpness in the center is also excellent when you nail focus, even wide open. Lola was a bit hesitant about the Df at first (she rarely parts with her Nikon D3s + Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G combo), but once she used it a couple of times on commercial shoots, she quickly changed her mind.

Nikon Df Image Samples (5)

Image quality is stunning, especially when shooting in low light situations. Armed with a fast f/1.4 lens, you could literally shoot in dark with the Df and get amazing results. These are some of the images that we have captured so far and I am planning to take the Df to much more challenging lighting conditions this weekend and within the next couple of weeks. I am currently busy writing the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G review (now published). By now I have plenty of image samples to showcase its performance, along with other accompanying lab test data. The Nikon Df review should be posted within the next 2 weeks.

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Fuji X-E2 Review

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This is an in-depth review of the Fujifilm X-E2, a second generation mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera from Fuji that was released on October 18, 2013 before the 2013 Photo Plus Expo event in New York. After the success of the X-E1, which I ended up picking as my mirrorless camera of choice, as explained in my detailed review, Fuji decided to update the camera with more features to make it even more compelling. Considering that the X-E1 was only a little over a year old and the high-end X-Pro1 had not been updated since it was initially released back in March of 2012, the X-E2 was a good indication of Fuji’s future plans to keep the mid-range product line updated every 12 to 18 months, while the high-end line will probably be updated every 24+ months. In this Fuji X-E2 review (based on initial firmware 1.00), I will provide detailed information about the camera along with some image samples and compare it to the X-E1 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1.

Fuji X-E2

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What is the Sensor Gel Stick?

I have shot this video a couple of weeks ago and have not had a chance to post it due to my crazy schedule. Basically, it is some detailed information and history about the Sensor Gel Stick and how it works when compared to other sensor cleaning solutions. Since our readers have been wondering about the tool and asking questions about it, I thought it would be a good idea to share it. This is the first part of the video, where I talk about the stick. The second part on how to actually use it will be posted tomorrow, with some detailed instructions for reference.

If you have already purchased yours, you might want to watch the second instructional video before you attempt to use it on your sensor. And to those that are waiting for their shipments – we have been busy inspecting each sensor gel stick and preparing all the shipping materials so that we could get everything out on Monday morning. All orders heading out to US should arrive before Christmas, while orders going to Canada might take a little longer due to customs, etc.

Hope you enjoy the videos!