Featured Articles and Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is Moiré?

Moiré pattern occurs when a scene or an object that is being photographed contains repetitive details (such as lines, dots, etc) that exceed the sensor resolution. As a result, the camera produces a strange-looking wavy pattern as seen below:

Moiré

(Image courtesy of photo.net)

See how noticeable the moiré pattern is on the jacket? That’s moiré for you, at its worst. Moiré is almost never seen in nature, but is very common in everyday objects and items around us – you might see it in all kinds of fabric, straight hair, architecture, etc. You might have even seen it on your television. In photography, moiré happens mostly because of the way light reaches the sensor and how the sensor interprets the light through the bayer interpolation filter.

While there are methods to effectively reduce moiré, there is no easy way to completely remove it in post-processing software. Lightroom 4 will ship with a moiré reduction tool and Nikon will also ship its next version of Capture NX with built-in moiré reduction functionality, but neither one will be able to fully get rid of the worst moiré pattern occurrences.

Here is a comparison between the Nikon D800 and D800E (the latter is prone to moire), which clearly shows Moiré on the Nikon D800E (Image courtesy of Nikon):
Nikon D800 vs D800E Moire

See “How to Avoid Moiré

What is a Low-Pass Filter?

A low-pass filter, also known as anti-aliasing or “blur” filter, was designed by camera manufacturers to eliminate the problem of moiré by blurring what actually reaches the sensor. While extreme details are lost in the process, the problem of moiré is completely resolved. Since most cameras are designed to be used for day-to-day photography, where moiré pattern is very common, most cameras on the market today use a low-pass / anti-aliasing filter. While this surely benefits most photographers out there, it is a big blow on landscape photographers that never see moiré and yet end up with blurred details. Because of this problem, some companies on the market started specializing in removing the low-pass / anti-aliasing filter from modern DSLR cameras, specifically targeting landscape photographers. Most digital medium-format and some high-end cameras do not have a low-pass filter, because they want to deliver the best performance from their sensors. While those cameras are affected by moiré, manufacturers leave it up to the photographer to decide on how to avoid it or deal with it in post-processing. Below you will find two examples of low-pass filters used on typical Nikon DSLRs and on the Nikon D800E.

A typical low-pass filter contains of 3 or more different layers, as shown on the top illustration below:

Nikon D800 vs D800E Low-Pass Filter

As light rays reach the first “horizontal low-pass filter”, they get split in two, horizontally. Next, they go through an infrared absorption filter (illustrated in green color). After that, the light rays go through the “second vertical low-pass filter”, which further splits the light rays vertically. This light ray conversion process essentially causes blurring of the details.

With the Nikon D800E DLSR model, Nikon took a different approach. The full low-pass filter cannot be completely removed, because it would cause the focal plane to move; plus, the camera still needs to be able to reflect infrared light rays. Instead of making a single filter with one layer, Nikon decided to still use three layers, but with two layers canceling each other out. As light rays get split into two with a vertical low-pass filter, then through the IR absorption filter, those same light rays get converged back when passing through a reversed vertical low-pass filter. Hence, instead of getting blurred details as in the first illustration, we get the full resolution.

I am not sure if the above method is the best way to deal with the issue, but I suspect that Nikon decided to take this route for cost reasons. It would probably be more expensive to produce a single IR absorption filter layer coated on both sides, than continue to use the same layers, but in a different configuration.

Here is a sharpness comparison between the Nikon D800 and D800E (Image courtesy of Nikon):
Nikon D800 vs D800E Sharpness

Nikon D3s Review

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Just a few days before Nikon D4 is announced at CES, I decided to write a review of the Nikon D3s DSLR that I have been shooting with for the past two plus years. I have been putting off writing the review for a while now, because I wanted to first review all the gear that I have been testing lately, while the gear I use every day for my photography has been just sitting at the end of my long “to-do” list. The Nikon D3s has received numerous awards, including “best product / camera” from various reputable organizations and websites. And it did for a reason – its image quality, high ISO performance, superb autofocus, fast speed and rich features make it a phenomenal camera – truly one of the best cameras in the world.

Nikon D3s

I clearly remember the day I ordered the D3s. For a while we were quite happy with our two cameras – the Nikon D700 and the D300. I would normally shoot with the D700 and Lola was doing most of her work, including food photography, with the D300. As Lola started to shoot more weddings and events, I was often left with the D300. After a short while, neither Lola nor I wanted the D300 anymore. Yup, we both got spoiled by the full-frame sensor. Realizing that we would eventually fully move to full-frame, I got rid of all DX lenses by then and using lenses like the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G or the standard Nikon 50mm f/1.4G on DX just did not feel right. By then, Lola was already in love with the Nikon D700 + 50mm f/1.4 combo and she would simply refuse to use the D300 with the 50mm lens. With her wedding work and my passion for nature photography, it was clear that we did not need another DX camera. That’s when Nikon announced the D3s. After seeing image samples and camera specifications, it did not take long before both of us realized that we needed it for our work.

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Best of 2011 – Landscapes (Part 1)

Happy New Year! The Mansurovs are back after a short holiday, with some photos to share from 2011. At the end of each year, I go back and start reviewing what I have photographed. It is a very long and painful process, because I have to sort through tens of thousands of images and pick the ones that I think are worthy of getting published as wallpapers on our website, in addition to being featured in our portfolio (I know, the images in the portfolio are very old, but I am working on updating it). While the process is very time consuming, if you have not gone back and reviewed your images from last year, I highly recommend that you do. It is a great exercise to re-evaluate your work and understand your weaknesses. You should be a better photographer now than you were a year ago, so see what you like and you don’t about your pictures. Are you seeing a significant improvement in your work? How do the images from last year compare to the images from the year before? Once you pick your favorites (which you should limit to 100 images max and don’t forget to flag them in Lightroom), invite your friends and family to look at your images. If you have any photographer friends, ask them to help you out with this. Tell them to be very critical and only pick the images that communicate with them. Let them vote on each images and give a star rating from 1 to 5. Walk out of the room and come back when they are done. Filter Lightroom by 5 stars and see how many images you are left with. Then ask your friends/family to tell you why they chose those particular images, find out what they felt about each photo. Also ask them what they feel is missing in each image they picked – perhaps there are some things they see that you did not see before. Trust me, this kind of feedback is invaluable. It is OK if the feedback is very harsh – you should welcome any criticism. In fact, you need to learn to be very critical of your work.

This is the first part of my 2011 landscape favorites. Please note that some of the images you will be seeing in the “Best of 2011” wallpaper collection have already been posted earlier last year in various articles, but in much smaller resolution. If you are looking for technical data, like Camera type, Lens and Exposure information, you will find it in the EXIF data. Enjoy!

Sunset Rainbow

1) Sunset Rainbow 1920×1200 Widescreen Wallpaper

Mono Lake Sunrise

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Nikon 1 30-110mm VR Review

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This is an in-depth review of the new Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 VR lens, also known as “1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6″ that was announced on September 21, 2011 specifically for the new Nikon 1 system, together with three other lenses and the new Nikon V1 and J1 cameras. The Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 VR is a consumer-grade telephoto lens designed for the new Nikon 1 camera system to complement the Nikon 1 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 VR kit lens. With its focal length of 30-110mm on the Nikon 1 CX sensor (2.7x crop factor), its coverage is equivalent to a 81-297mm lens in 35mm format. The variable aperture of f/3.8-5.6 means that its maximum (largest) aperture changes between f/3.8 to f/5.6, depending on the focal length. It is a very lightweight lens, and similar to interchangeable lenses from other compact mirrorless camera manufacturers, the lens is collapsible, which also makes it quite compact for travel and transportation.

1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6

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Happy Holidays!

On behalf of the Mansurovs family, I would like to wish Happy Holidays to our readers and friends that celebrate! May peace, love, health, happiness and prosperity always follow you and your family! Thank you for keeping us constantly busy and motivated, inspiring us to do more. This site would not exist without your support.

Happy Holidays from Mansurovs

Merry Christmas and a Happy New upcoming 2012 Year!

Nikon 1 10-100mm VR Review

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This is an in-depth review of the new Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens, also known as “1 Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM” that was announced on September 21, 2011 specifically for the new Nikon 1 system, together with three other lenses and the new Nikon V1 and J1 cameras. The Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 VR is versatile 10x superzoom lens specifically designed for shooting movies on the new Nikon 1 camera system. It is the first Nikkor powered zoom lens with a voice coil AF motor that makes no audible noise when zooming in and out while recording videos. Unlike other Nikon 1 system zoom lenses, the Nikon 1 10-100mm VR lens has no zoom ring; zoom action is controlled by a switch on the side of the lens with three adjustable zoom speeds. This is done to prevent any additional lens shake that is caused by rotating a zoom ring on regular lenses. With the Nikon 1 10-100mm VR lens, you can get closer or further away from your subject very smoothly and naturally – the new AF motor is designed in such a way, that it prevents abrupt stops. Plus, the latest generation of Vibration Reduction technology further helps to keep the camera and lens steady, preventing jittery movements and reducing blurry images. With its focal length of 10-100mm on the Nikon 1 CX sensor (2.7x crop factor), its coverage is equivalent to a 27-270mm lens. The variable aperture of f/4.5-5.6 means that its maximum (largest) aperture changes between f/4.5 to f/5.6, depending on the focal length.

1 Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM

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Nikon 1 J1 Review

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This is an in-depth review of the Nikon 1 J1 mirrorless camera that came out on September 21, 2011 along with the Nikon 1 V1 camera and three 1 Nikkor lenses. The Nikon 1 J1 and V1 cameras are Nikon’s first attempt to produce a mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses, which took 5 years of careful design and development by Nikon’s engineers. Why did Nikon decide to enter the mirrorless market and where is the mirrorless technology positioned relative to the DSLR and point and shoot market? How does the Nikon 1 mirrorless system compare against the competition? In this review, I will provide answers to these questions, along with comparisons of the Nikon 1 J1 against the Sony NEX-5n and the Olympus E-PL3 mirrorless cameras.

Nikon 1 J1

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Best Nikon Lenses for Landscape Photography

What are the best Nikon lenses for landscape photography? After I posted my last article on “Best Nikon Lenses for Wedding Photography“, I have been getting many requests from our readers to also talk about lenses for photographing landscapes, nature and wildlife (another post on best Nikon wildlife lenses will be published soon). In this post I will not only talk about which Nikon lenses I believe are the best for photographing landscapes, but also when I use a particular lens, along with plenty of image samples from each lens. Please keep in mind that the information I present below is a personal opinion based on my experience so far, which is subject to change. No third party lenses are presented either, although some Zeiss, Sigma, Tamron and Samyang lenses are phenomenal for landscapes. If you have a favorite lens of yours for landscape photography that is not listed below, please feel free to add a comment on the bottom of the page with some information and links to pictures (if you have any that you would like to share).

1) Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G

I want to start out with a lens that I have a love and hate relationship with. On one side, the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G is one of the sharpest lenses ever produced by Nikon. It has phenomenal optics (center to corner, throughout the frame and aperture range), beautiful colors, super fast autofocus and an extremely useful focal range for wide-angle photography. On the other hand, it is a heavy, bulky and expensive lens that cannot accommodate filters. Sadly, not just circular filters and filter holders but pretty much any kind of hand-holdable filter. Its round front element shape and the built-in lens hood just make it impossible to use filters. Sure, you can buy a filter holder system from Lee and other manufacturers for this lens to accommodate filters, but it is not cheap and you would have to purchase a set of large 150mm filters, so forget about using your existing filters. I really wish Nikon allowed us to use small replaceable filters close to the lens mount, just like on telephoto lenses and this lens would have been irreplaceable.

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

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Nikon 1 10mm f/2.8 Review

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This is an in-depth review of the new Nikon 1 10mm f/2.8 CX pancake lens, also known as “1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8″ that was announced on September 21, 2011 specifically for the new Nikon 1 system, together with three other lenses and the new Nikon V1 and J1 cameras. The Nikon 1 10mm f/2.8 is a consumer-grade pancake lens designed for the new Nikon 1 camera system. Designed to be an ideal companion for the compact Nikon J1 and V1 camera bodies, it is currently the smallest and the lightest lens from Nikon. With a fixed focal length of 10mm on the Nikon 1 CX sensor (2.7x crop factor), its coverage is equivalent to a 27mm lens in full-frame format.

1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8

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