Adobe Drops Eligibility Requirements for CC Photography Bundle

I received an email from Adobe’s marketing staff today, which basically says that for a limited time, Adobe is now dropping eligibility requirements for its Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Bundle, which goes for $9.99 per month and includes Photoshop and Lightroom. This basically means that you do not have to prove ownership of any Adobe product in order to qualify for the $9.99 per month pricing. As you might already know, the photography bundle started back in September. Since the launch price of $20 per month for each application was too steep for many creative professionals and hobbyists, Adobe’s initially projected goal was not met. So in a desperate measure to increase the number of subscribers, Adobe dropped the price down to $9.99 per month, but with one condition – one had to prove ownership of CS3 or later in order to qualify. While it sounded like a good deal, many were ticked off when they found out that their particular version was not eligible for the photography bundle deal. Now Adobe is in yet another desperate mode to increase the number of subscribers, so it has dropped this requirement completely.

Adobe Photoshop CC

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Upcoming Black Friday Deals

If you are deciding on whether to purchase a camera or lens, I would hold off until next week. As you know, Black Friday is a big day in the US, so we are expecting all major brands including Nikon and Canon to have some killer rebates and instant savings on all kinds of camera gear. As before, our “Current Deals” page will be updated frequently during the holidays. If anything special comes out with a fast time limit, we will post it on the main page.

2013 Holiday Shopping

Nikon will be running a similar “buy together and save” instant rebate program as before, but the list of lenses and cameras will be extensive (yes, the new Nikon Df will be included). As far as I know, up to $300 off will be offered on lenses, some of which are lower-end! So rebates will be very attractive, especially if you stack lenses (you can buy as many lenses as you want, as long as you include a single camera). And I am expecting B&H to be adding those extra 2-4% savings on top of all these again.

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The Sensor Gel Stick is now available in limited stock

Many of our readers expressed interest in buying the Sensor Gel Stick and I am happy to say that our first batch of these wonder-sticks have arrived earlier this week. For now, it is a pretty small batch, but we are planning to order more as soon as possible. Please note that we are only taking orders for the first 70 units right now – once we run out, you will have to wait for a few weeks before you will be able to order again. I set up the system so that it does not allow taking more than the first 70 orders, so it is basically done on a first come first serve basis.

UPDATE: All Sold Out! Please wait for the next shipment – we will let you know as soon as we receive more.

Sensor Gel Stick

To access the product page where you can order the sensor gel stick from, click here. You can also access the page through the “Shop” link on the top of the page. Once you place your order, you will be able to view its status and receive notifications when the product ships.

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The Red Dot Flare Issue

A while ago, I posted a detailed article about a very defined pattern of red dots / artifacts that I saw on the Fuji X-series cameras when shooting against the sun. This was the first time I encountered such a problem, so without fully researching the issue and understanding the real cause, I wrongfully blamed the Fuji X-trans system for creating those patterns (my sincere apologies to all the Fuji fans!). A couple of our readers pointed me to some other links on the Internet that show a similar issue on different camera systems from Sony, Panasonic, Olympus and a number of others. The pattern indeed seemed to be quite similar between those and what I saw on Fuji cameras. I then decided to take my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera for a side-by-side comparison and see if I could reproduce the issue on it as well. Now that I have done enough research to understand the root cause of this problem, I will not only explain the red dot phenomenon in detail, but also show image samples from two different mirrorless systems to illustrate the point.

The red dot patterns can be quite frustrating to see in images. Although this particular phenomenon only happens when the light source is very intense and the lens aperture is small, one would still probably wonder what causes it to happen and how one could minimize or even eliminate it. Before I talk about those things, let me first demonstrate that the red dot flare issue is not related to a particular camera or a lens. When shot in the same conditions, pretty much every modern mirrorless camera will show this and even our DSLRs are potentially prone to the same problems, as discussed below. Take a look at the following image taken by the Fuji X-Pro1 camera and the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 lens at f/22:

Fuji X-Pro1 Red Dots

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Nikon NIKKOR-S Auto 50mm f/1.4 Ai Review

We are back again at reviewing some of the lens classics and this time we have the Nikon NIKKOR-S Auto 50mm f/1.4 (Ai modified), which was first manufactured way back in 1962. One of our readers, Joe Ridley, was kind enough to send a number of Nikkor classics, and this lens is the second one that we are reviewing. Nikon has made so many different 50mm lenses its in 80 years of optical history, that the list of just 50mm lenses can get quite overwhelming. Many of us look at the modern 50mm primes without realizing that among all manufacturers, Nikon has the longest history of making these lenses. In fact, the very first Nikkor 5cm lens was made in 1937 specifically for Canon rangefinder cameras! And it is also worth pointing out that Nikon invented the very first 50mm f/1.4 lens after the World War II. This particular NIKKOR-S classic was designed for Nikon’s rangefinder cameras. Today, it is hard to find a converted version that works on modern DSLRs (mostly non-Ai versions), but you can snatch one for about $50 and get it converted for another $20-30. Or if you bought the new Nikon Df, you will be able to use this lens without having to convert it!

Nikon NIKKOR-S Auto 50mm f/1.4

1) Overview and Specifications

The NIKKOR-S Auto 50mm f/1.4 is one of the early, Pre-Ai Nikkor manual focus wide angle lenses for the F mount. With its standard focal length of 50mm, the lens was designed as a general-purpose lens on early manual focus rangefinder cameras like Nikon S2 and S3, although its fast maximum aperture of f/1.4 also made it very suitable for low-light situations (especially on B/W film). With 7 optical elements in 5 groups, the NIKKOR-H 50mm f/1.4 has a simpler optical design than the new Nikon 50mm f/1.8G. However, similar to some of the old Nikkor classics, this lens is not about top notch sharpness and rich features. Its corner vignetting, beautiful bokeh and a boatload of optical imperfections is what gives the lens a certain “character” that is so hard to find on modern lenses. As one of our readers pointed out, it is interesting that some people try to imitate such imperfections in post-processing today, because their lenses are so sharp and corrected. Still, despite all its flaws, the lens can produce excellent sharpness results even on some of the best DSLRs like Nikon D800E, once stopped down to f/2.8 and smaller, as demonstrated further down in the review.

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Mirrorless Camera Comparison

A number of our readers have been asking our team about our recommendations on different mirrorless cameras. With so many different options on the market today, choosing a mirrorless camera can get very confusing. In the new series of articles, we will compare all the options on the market today starting from entry-level, mid-level to high-end. In this particular article, I would like to start off by comparing mirrorless camera systems that are available today from different manufacturers. This below charts will be updated periodically with new / updated information. Please note that the below comparisons are only for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Discontinued systems such as Pentax K-01 and Ricoh GXR are not included. The list is sorted alphabetically and had to be split into two parts to fit. Also, please keep in mind that some of the benchmarks presented in this article are very subjective, based on our prior experience using the cameras.

Mirrorless Systems #1Canon EOS MFujifilm XFLeica MNikon 1Olympus M43
* Denotes PL Subjective Rating
Lens MountCanon EF-MFuji XLeica MNikon 1Micro 4/3
Announcement DateOct 2012Jan 2012Mar 2004Oct 2011Jun 2009
Mount Diameter58mm42mm44mm40mm38mm
Sensor Size (Diagonal)26.8mm28.3mm43.0mm15.9mm21.7mm
Flange Distance18mm17.7mm27.80mm17mm20mm
Image StabilizationLensLensN/ALensBody
AutofocusYesYesNoYesYes
Autofocus SystemHybridHybridN/AHybridHybrid
Autofocus Speed *34N/A55
Native Lenses Available312261116
Third Party Lenses3839033
Total Lenses Available620651149
System Compactness *44345
Image Quality *45534
Top Model (Manuf. Link)Canon EOS MFuji X-Pro1Leica MNikon 1 V2OM-D E-M1
Top Model Price (B&H)$339$1,199$6,950$796$1,399

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Mirrorless vs DSLR

DSLR cameras by design have some inherent flaws and limitations. Part of it has to do with the fact that SLR cameras were initially developed for film. When digital evolved, it was treated just like film and was housed in the same mechanical body. Aside from the circuitry required for a digital sensor and other electronics, new digital film media and the back LCD, the rest of the SLR components did not change. Same mechanical mirror, same pentaprism / optical viewfinder, same phase detection system for autofocus operation. While new technological advances eventually led to extending of features of these cameras (In-camera editing, HDR, GPS, WiFi, etc), DSLRs continued to stay bulky for a couple of reasons. First, the mirror inside DSLR cameras had to be the same in size as the digital sensor, taking up plenty of space. Second, the pentaprism that converts vertical rays to horizontal in the viewfinder also had to match the size of the mirror, making the top portion of DSLRs bulky.

Mirrorless vs DSLR

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Lightroom 5.3 and Camera RAW 8.3 RC Update

Today Adobe announced the availability of Lightroom 5.3 and Camera RAW 8.3 release candidates. A number of bugs that were present in Lightroom 5.2 were fixed, and new camera and lens profiles have been added. No new features have been added, so this is mostly a camera / lens update + bugfix release. For those that recently purchased the Nikon D610, this release provides full RAW support for the camera! Other new cameras that are supported include the Nikon D5300, Nikon 1 AW1, Fuji X-E2, Olympus OM-D E-M1, Sony A7 and Sony A7R.

Lightroom 5

Camera and Lens Support

Here is the list of newly supported camera models:

  • Canon PowerShot S120
  • Fujifilm XQ1
  • Fujifilm X-E2
  • Nikon 1 AW1
  • Nikon Coolpix P7800
  • Nikon D610
  • Nikon D5300 (*)
  • Olympus OM-D E-M1
  • Olympus STYLUS 1 (*)
  • Panasonic DMC-GM1
  • Phase One IQ260
  • Phase One IQ280
  • Sony A7 (ILCE-7)
  • Sony A7R (ILCE-7R)
  • Sony DSC-RX10 (*)

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Nikon NIKKOR-H Auto 28mm f/3.5 Ai Review

Thanks to your support, we will be publishing a lot more reviews of the old Nikkor classics that we either purchased on auction sites, or loaned from our readers. This is a review of a true classic, the Nikon NIKKOR-H Auto 28mm f/3.5 (Ai modified), which was manufactured way back in 1959. One of our readers, Joe Ridley, was kind enough to send a number of Nikkor classics, and this lens is the first one that we are reviewing. Please note that such reviews of classic lenses will be limited to one page, with a small number of image samples. Still, full lab measurements will be performed on each lens for thorough analysis and comparisons.

Nikon NIKKOR-H Auto 28mm f/3.5

1) Overview and Specifications

The NIKKOR-H Auto 28mm f/3.5 is one of the earliest, Pre-Ai Nikkor manual focus wide angle lenses for the F mount. Initially launched in 1959, this lens went through several iterations overtime with slightly different optical designs. The lens is available in various auction sites including eBay, but an Ai-converted version is really hard to come by. If you do decide to purchase one, you have to get the lens Ai-converted to properly mount on modern DSLRs. If you do not do this, you risk damaging your DSLR, since the non-Ai version could either break the metering tab / lever on the lens mount, or could get stuck on the mount and potentially cause other damage.

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Nikon Df Pre-Order Links

Our affiliates B&H and Adorama are already accepting pre-orders for the Nikon Df. Here are the links for the body-only and body+lens options:

Nikon Df Pre-Order Information

B&H Photo Video:

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