Nikon 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II Announcement

Nikon has just announced the new AF-S Nikon 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II, which replaces the legendary 2004 model. Nikon has been updating their line of super telephotos with VR II lately and this 200-400mm lens is an expected update. The last lens to get VR II was the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II that was announced in December of 2009.

Nikon 200-400mm f/4 VR II

[Read more...]

Red-Winged Blackbird

Red-Winged Blackbirds are very common in Colorado. They are permanent residents in most local parks, including Cherry Creek State Park, where I captured one of them while it was singing to attract a female. Spring is a great time for birds in Colorado, except when it gets very cold. It snowed today in Denver and the temperatures dropped below 40F, which is not abnormal for Colorado in April :)

Red-Winged Blackbird

Red-Winged Blackbird

Hoping for a sunny day next week, so that I can get out and do some spring birding!

Captured with Nikon D3s and Nikon 300mm f/4.0 AF-S + 1.4x TC.

Nikon 70-300mm VR Review

« »

This is an in-depth review of the Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR lens that was released back in August 2006 together with the Nikon D80. The Nikon 70-300mm VR lens is targeted towards sports, nature and wildlife photographers that need a lightweight, versatile telephoto lens with great optics and vibration reduction technology, at an affordable price. The lens works on both Nikon FX (full-frame) and DX (cropped) sensors and has an equivalent field of view of approximately 105-450mm on DX sensors, which makes the lens particularly good for reaching distant subjects. The Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ID-ED VR lens features two “ED” (extra low dispersion) glass elements that are used in all Nikon professional lenses, providing higher contrast, lower chromatic aberration and higher resolution, due to less air bubbles and glass deformities within the glass elements. In addition, the lens sports the latest vibration reduction “VR II” technology, giving up to 4 full stops of advantage over non-VR lenses at low shutter speeds. Vibration Reduction, especially the latest VR II generation, makes this lens particularly useful for hand-held shooting while hiking and traveling. Autofocus is practically silent, thanks to the Silent Wave Motor (AF-S) within the lens.

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR

[Read more...]

How to Obtain Maximum Bokeh

In photography, the term bokeh represents the quality of the magical out-of-focus blur that makes it look like the subject is isolated from the background. It is visually appealing for us to see a photograph with a soft, creamy and beautiful background. It helps concentrate our eyes on a single area and creates a sense of depth and dimension on an otherwise flat-looking image. Let me share a few tips on how you could obtain maximum bokeh from your camera setup.

85mm f/1.4 Image Sample (5)

1) Use a large aperture

Bokeh is not created by the camera – it is your lens and its optics that are responsible for rendering the out-of-focus areas. Therefore, the first thing you should do is set your lens aperture to its lowest value, also known as “maximum aperture”. You can do this by changing your camera mode to “Aperture Priority” and setting the “f” number to the lowest value your camera will permit. On Nikon DSLR cameras, this is typically done by rotating the front dial towards the left (counter-clockwise).

[Read more...]

Corporate Photography Tips

There are two types of corporate photography – event photography and portrait photography. Event photography means taking pictures of employees and guests in corporate events such as conferences, birthday parties, Christmas parties, receptions and sales events. Corporate portrait photography means taking formal pictures of employees for websites, magazines and other various publications. In this article, I will provide some tips on how to photograph corporate events.

Corporate Photography

[Read more...]

Nikon 70-200mm VR II Review

« »

This is an in-depth review of the new professional Nikon AF-S 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VR II lens that was released in July of 2009. The Nikon 70-200mm lens is a professional-grade lens that was introduced by Nikon in early 80′s in a shape of 80-200mm f/2.8 constant aperture lens for professional news, sports, wildlife and portrait photographers. Since then, Nikon has been enhancing and redesigning the lens every 4-5 years, making it faster, sharper and more versatile by enhancing the optics and introducing new features.

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Review

The latest generation of the 70-200mm lens is no exception – Nikon completely redesigned the lens, adding more “ED” (Extra-Low Dispersion) optical elements, making this lens sharper than the previous version. Nikon also added the new “N” (Nano Crystal Coating) to this lens, which is supposed to minimize ghosting and lens flare. Other new features include a brand new “VR II” vibration reduction system, which provides a four stop benefit over non-VR systems and a new “A/M” focus mode for auto-focus priority.

[Read more...]

Nikon 300mm F2.8 G ED VR II and AF-S TC-20E III

Nikon has just released an update to the superb Nikon 300mm f/2.8 lens, along with an update to the TC-20E teleconverter. The new lens is now called “AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II” and the TC is “Nikon AF-S TC-20E III”. Both are targeted for professional sports, nature and wildlife photographers that need the best of the class. The Nikon 300mm f/2.8 lenses have always been the sharpest lenses in Nikon’s arsenal – that’s why Nikon calls them the “pinnacle of image quality”. There is a big reason why the teleconverter was released together with the 300mm f/2.8 lens, because normally 2x teleconverters substantially degrade image quality on most lenses, but not this one. The 300mm line is known to work best with all teleconverters, including the 2x TC.

[Read more...]

How to Photograph the Moon

If you own a DSLR or a point and shoot with an optical zoom, I’m sure that every once in a while you see a beautiful moon and you think about taking a picture of it, especially when the moon is full and beautiful. There are other times when you spot a news announcement about a Lunar Eclipse and you think about capturing the moment, but do not know how to do it right. Or you want to capture the moon together with a foreground object such as a house or a lone tree, but the picture is not coming out right because the moon is much smaller and looks like a white blob. If you had any of these situations or simply want to find out how to take a picture of the moon with a digital camera, then this guide is for you.

Waning Gibbous

[Read more...]

How to Photograph Birds

Bird photography, especially wild bird photography can be quite challenging. There are many articles on the Internet that cover everything from “bird photography tips” to “the art of bird photography”, but I found that many of them are not detailed enough and do not contain as much information for an amateur bird photographer. After several years of photographing birds, I decided to write this “How to photograph birds” guide and include everything I know about taking good pictures of birds. Since most of the bird photography nowadays is done on digital, the instructions below would work great for digital cameras. If you are still shooting film, just skip the parts that do not apply to film (such as RAW format, etc). Parts of this article also apply to birding or bird watching, so if you like birds and just want to be able to approach and watch them closely, read the Locating Birds and Approaching Birds sections only.

Note: This guide will work for any DSLR camera, but since I am a Nikonian, I will only cover settings for Nikon DSLRs and provide detailed information on Nikon lenses that are best for bird photography. This guide could be used for any type of wildlife photography, but I will be concentrating on fast-moving birds and birds in flight, so if you are taking a picture of a fast-moving animal, feel free to use the same camera settings.

How to photograph birds or
A photographer’s step-by-step guide to bird photography

How to photograph birds - Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

1) First things first – Your camera equipment

Unfortunately, camera gear is the most important part of wild bird photography. Forget about taking pictures of birds with a point and shoot or a DSLR with a wide angle lens, unless you are standing close and photographing ducks and geese that are not afraid of people. If you want to shoot wild birds, prepare yourself to invest in a fast DSLR camera and one or more telephoto lenses.

[Read more...]

Nikon D300 vs D300s

Nikon has just announced the new Nikon D300s, so I decided to post a quick comparison between the old Nikon D300 and the new Nikon D300s.

Nikon D300s

Nikon D300s

Basically, the new D300s is exactly the same camera as the D300 in terms of features, except for the following:

  1. D300s shoots HD movies at 720p resolution, 24 FPS with stereo audio. Maximum length is 5 minutes for 720p and 20 mins for lower video resolutions.
  2. D300s is slightly faster than the D300, shooting 7 FPS in Ch mode (Nikon D300 is 6 FPS). With MB-D10 battery pack, it will shoot 8 FPS.
  3. A new release mode “Q” (quiet shutter-release) is added to the dial right after Ch (continuous high speed).
  4. Dual card slots – the Nikon D300s features dual card slots to work with both CompactFlash and SD (SDHC-compliant) cards. Either card can be used as the primary card. Secondary card can be used for overflow or backup storage, or for separate storage of NEF (RAW) and JPEG images and images can be copied between cards.
  5. Active D-Lighting now has “Auto” and “Extra High” added. “Auto” is something expected, as both D700 and D90 have this mode. The “Extra High” is something new though.
  6. Nikon D300s is slightly heavier than the D300, adding 15 more grams of weight, weighing total 840g total.
  7. Nikon D300s has a dedicated “Lv” (LiveView) and “Info” buttons on the back of the camera.
  8. Nikon D300s has a virtual horizon now (D300 did not).
Nikon D300s Back

Nikon D300s Back

Along with the new Nikon D300s, Nikon released an entry-level Nikon D3000 (which replaces D60) and two updated lenses – Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 DX and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II. I really don’t care about the 18-200mm lens update, since I sold mine and I’d rather be shooting with quality primes instead, but the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II is definitely a worthy update that everyone has been waiting for. However, the 70-200mm price point left me scratching my head…$2,400 is too darn expensive! That’s $500 over what the current version of 70-200mm f/2.8 is selling for.

Is D300s worth the upgrade? If you already have a D300 and do not care about the video feature (which kind of sucks, since I was expecting full HD at 1080p), it is not worth the upgrade. The sensor of the new D300s is basically identical to the older D300. It is nice that the D300s has dual slots and faster frame rate, but it is nothing extraordinary.