Featured Articles and Reviews

Wildlife Photography Tips Part Two

It has taken a little longer than I wanted, but I finally got around to writing this second article on photographing wildlife. The writer in me is … [Continue Reading]

600lb Wet Black Bear

How to Photograph Clouds

Nature often rewards us with incredible opportunities for photographing sunrises, sunsets and sun rays piercing through the clouds, creating stunning … [Continue Reading]

Mt Rainier Sunset

Fuji X-T1 Review

This is an in-depth review of the Fujifilm X-T1, a weather-proof mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera from Fuji that was announced on January 28, … [Continue Reading]

Fuji X-T1

Apple Mac Pro Review for Photography Needs

I never thought that I would be reviewing an Apple Mac Pro, since I have never owned a Mac and was always a PC user. In fact, the last time I really … [Continue Reading]

Apple Mac Pro

How to Photograph Cathedrals

I have been fortunate enough to see some truly spectacular cathedrals in my time, particularly in Europe, and even here in the United Kingdom we are … [Continue Reading]

St Alban's Cathedral

Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Review

This is a detailed review of the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, an ultra-telephoto zoom lens that was announced in November of 2013 for … [Continue Reading]

Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD

Telephoto Setup with Nikon 1 V2, FT-1 and Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G

Grimsby Ontario is on the raptor migration route and every year the town holds an indoor “RaptorFest” event at the local hockey arena during which various presentations of live birds, and educational initiatives are conducted. A fast, mid-range telephoto like the Nikkor 200mm f/2G VR would be the perfect lens to photograph birds during this indoor event. Like most people, I don’t have the $6,000 or so it would take to own the 200mm Nikkor…but I thought I might have a reasonable solution in my camera bag.

Nikon 1 V2 FT1 Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G

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Olympus OM-D E-M1 Review

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This is an in-depth review of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 mirrorless camera that was released on September 10, 2013. Standing above all other Olympus mirrorless cameras, the E-M1 is a flagship model with the most impressive list of features. Built on the success of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 (which we highly praised), the E-M1 reigns over the OM-D line on a number of features – from the design of the camera and its incredibly fast autofocus system to the advanced shutter mechanism, high-end electronic viewfinder, WiFi and amazing weather sealing options. In fact, the E-M1 is one of the very few freezeproof, splashproof and dustproof interchangeable lens cameras on the market today.

Olympus OM-D E-M1

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Tamrac ZipShot Tripod Review

Recently when I was investigating ultra-lightweight and portable tripods I came across the Tamrac ZipShot. This tripod is one of the most innovative, lightweight tripod designs to hit the market in some time. The tripod comes in two sizes: the TR404 mini which extends to 28” in height, weighs 9 ounces and folds up to 9” in length. The larger model is the TR406 which extends to about 44” in height, weighs 11 ounces, and folds up to 15”. Both models are weight-rated by Tamrac to support 3 pounds.

Tamrac ZipShot Tripod

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Weye Feye Review

This is a review of Weye Feye product (usage with Nikon D800 camera, iPhone 5 & iPad 2). Weye Feye is a wireless and remote control unit for a DSLR. This product is made by a company called “XSories”. I think this is a French company with a subsidiary located in Hong-Kong. Another device providing similar functionality (and known better than Weye Feye) is CamRanger. The primary reason why I started looking at an external camera control unit was pretty simple. Prior to purchasing and using the D800, I was using Olympus E-5 cameras (still use them). Olympus E-5 has a fully articulating LCD screen. Having this fully articulating screen was and is very convenient, as I often take shots with strange angles, especially low to the ground. Most of the semi-pro DSLRs (just about all brands) do NOT have articulating screens. The absence of this functionality on semi-pro and pro cameras actually infuriates me, because it significantly limits the artistic ability of the photographer. Why do I have to get down either on all fours or my stomach or in a crouching tiger position in order to get the shot I need? Please, put articulating screens on these cameras! So when I got my D800, I was searching for a long time for a device that could “replicate” the articulating screen of my E-5s. There are many various add-ons available, but all add significant bulk to the camera, require separate batteries and seem very cumbersome. Most of my photography is done in an external, non-studio environments, so I try to limit the bulk of my equipment.

Weye Feye

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Not All Lens Filters Are The Same

The subject of using or not using protective lenses can invoke heated debates among photographers, with both sides often fiercely defending their choices. I am not going to debate whether it is right or wrong to use protective filters – that’s certainly a personal choice. I have been using them for a number of years now to protect my higher-end lenses and make it easier to clean lenses with recessed front elements (such as on Nikon 50mm f/1.4G / f/1.8G). Having had bad experience with purchasing a low-quality no-name brand filter when I just started photography (it was sold to me as a “must-have” at a local photo store), I learned what such a filter can do to my photos the hard way. Since then, I have only been purchasing multi-coated B+W filters that use high-quality Schott glass. I have been very happy with these filters and have been telling our readers to either use the best they can find, or not use filters at all.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a bunch of filters from a new filter manufacturer in Europe. The company wanted me to test their filters and see what I think of them. I asked them if they would be comfortable with me comparing their filters to B+W and they told me that they did not mind. As I was testing a lens in my Imatest lab a couple of days ago, I first shot a test chart without filters at f/5.6, then stacked 4 of my 77mm B+W XS-Pro MRC filters and took another shot, then finally mounted 4 filters from the new manufacturer and took the last shot. Here are the numbers that were produced by Imatest:

Filter Comparison

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Why Zeiss Does Not Make Autofocus DSLR Lenses

One of the frequently asked questions by our readers when we post information on Zeiss lenses (which are often optically stellar), is why Zeiss does not make autofocus lenses for DSLR cameras from Nikon and Canon. As you may already known, Zeiss is currently making autofocus lenses only for two specific mounts – Sony E (for NEX / Alpha series mirrorless cameras) and Fuji X. This line of autofocus lenses labeled as “Touit” is limited to a few lenses at the moment, with full autofocus capability and compatibility with both Sony and Fuji mirrorless cameras. So one might naturally ask why Zeiss has finally started making autofocus lenses and wonder if it has plans to start developing autofocus lenses for Nikon and Canon mounts. Although I have known the reason behind this for a while now, I decided to ask the question again from the Zeiss team at the Photo Plus show in NY last year. Specifically, I wanted to find out if Zeiss is planning to change their strategy in the future in regards to DSLR lenses.

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Lens ZF.2

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The Question of 18-300mm Lenses, Part Deux

This article is written in response to “The Question of 18-300mm Lenses” article written by Romanas Naryškin. I used to like my 18-300mm zoom – I called it my Guilty Pleasure Lens (GPL). It was hands-down the most fun lens I ever shot with. When I wanted to just go out on an adventure outside and had no idea what I’d run into, instead of grabbing my FX body, my 16-35mm zoom, 50mm prime, 105mm macro, 80-400mm zoom and of course a manservant to carry all that gear, I’d grab GPL and my D7000 and blast on down the trail. Sure GPL wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, but neither am I. In our shared ignorance we’d shoot grand vistas or cool nature abstracts or maybe even crawl through the dirt for a close-up or two. What a fool I was thinking I’d found a partner that liked to do all the things I liked to do.

Well, I’ve seen the light and it was time to get even with GPL for deceiving me into thinking we had something special. Before tossing GPL into the dumpster I was going to show it how a real lens behaved. Enter the 10 lb 1 oz Baby Jesus, AKA the Nikkor 800mm, AKA BJ. Yep, the top stud in the Nikon stable. The lens that doesn’t have a MTF curve – it has a WTF curve. And GPL, well suffice it to say we know what gets shoveled up from the stable floor. I figured I’d go out on one last shoot with GPL, ostensibly for “old times sake”, but really to show GPL how a real lens like BJ would handle those situations.

Right off the bat I think GPL knew something was up. GPL insisted we shoot a selfie. This is what it looks like when an 18-300 owner takes a selfie:

Verm-selfie-100-Sunset-Crater-0622

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Leica M7 Review

This is a review of the Leica M7 TTL .72 rangefinder film camera that I used with the Leica 35mm f/2.0 Summicron M Aspherical Manual Focus Lens. I had the two for about a month and had a chance to shoot with the Leica gear in different conditions and shoots. Prior to the M7, I never had a chance to shoot with any Leica gear, but heard so much about them from other photographers and industry peers. So I decided to give Leica a try and see how it would fit my film photography needs. Below is a summary of my findings with the camera.

Leica M7

1) Initial Impressions

I was so excited when the Leica M7 came in the mail.  I put up a post on Instagram and Facebook with an image of the camera and most of my friends commented that they were jealous. I noticed that people regard Leica very highly. So, I was excited to see what all the hype was about.

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Pentax 645Z Announcement

Earlier this week, Ricoh Imaging introduced the Pentax 645Z, a high resolution 51.4 MP medium format DSLR camera. While Nikon has been relatively quiet on the resolution front with its now 2+ years old 36 MP D800/D800E models and Canon has not stepped up above 24 MP, Pentax is stepping in with a larger sensor that provides super high resolution 51.4 MP images. With its 43.8 x 32.8mm size sensor, the 645Z has a smaller version of the medium format (MF) sensor that is similar in size to the Leica S-System, although with a different aspect ratio of 4:3 vs 3:2. Compared to full-frame sensors, the physical size of the 645Z MF sensor is about 166% (or 1.66 times) larger, which is a huge difference. Enough of a difference to allow for relatively large pixel size of 5.3 microns – bigger than 4.8 microns on the Nikon D800/D800E. Why does this matter, you might ask? Well, that’s because the Pentax 645Z comes with a CMOS sensor, which is similar technology as we see on all modern DSLR cameras. Compared to traditional CCD sensors used on medium format cameras, a CMOS sensor is capable of yielding images with very little noise at high ISO sensitivity levels. As a result, the Pentax 645Z has an ISO sensitivity range of 100 to 204,800, which is a mind-boggling number for a medium format camera.

Pentax 645Z

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Thoughts on the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art

Sigma announced the new Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens back in January of this year, but we were left with a couple of big unknowns such as the price. I guess it has become the latest trend to announce early development efforts by a number of manufacturers now – Nikon did the same with their Nikkor 800mm f/5.6 lens and the D4s DSLR camera. A couple of days ago, Sigma finally announced the pricing and availability of the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM “Art” and I must say, after hearing rumors about Sigma challenging the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 in optical quality, I was very surprised to find out that the lens is going to be retailed for $950. As you may already know, I am a big fan of the new revamped line of Sigma lenses. After reviewing the 35mm f/1.4 Art, I was blown away by its sharpness, focus speed / accuracy and color rendition. So when Sigma announced the 50mm f/1.4 Art series, I looked at the MTF charts and knew immediately that the lens will not disappoint.

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art

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