Recently I’ve been experiencing one of those existential photo crises. Low motivation, cliché results, slumping Instagram likes. When I get bummed about my photography I do what any self-respecting unprofessional photographer would do – put on some soft jazz, pour myself a fine single malt, then pull out my favorite Zeiss lens chart results and pleasure myself. But even that didn’t make me feel better. What’s a listless soul-wrenched photographer to do? Ha, I know what will do the trick – no better way to demonstrate my photographic élan and self-assurance than to dis on a kit lens.
You know the drill. You pick up a magazine or browse a website and flip through the photos. Most you look at for less than a second, but a select few grab your attention and demand a longer look. What’s different about these select photos? What makes some photos great and others mediocre?
Lost in all the recent excitement of the Nikon D5/Nikon D500/Canon 1DXMkII/Pentax K-1/Sony a6300 and Fuji X-Pro 2 announcements was Nikon announcement of their new DL “premium compact” camera line-up. The DL line-up consists of three models all sporting fixed lenses, 1.0” 20.8 megapixel sensors and the new EXPEED 6A processor. The Nikon DL18-50 ($850) with its 18-50mm equivalent lens is there to tempt the landscape and architecture shooters. Street ‘togs and all-rounders are offered the DL24-85 ($650) with a 24-85mm equivalent lens. For nature and wildlife buffs the DL24-500 ($1000) sports a 21x superzoom 24-500mm equivalent lens.
At long last they’re all out, in stock and making every aspiring wildlife photographer on a budget scratch their head and wonder which one they should own? Of course I’m talking about the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 VC, the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG Contemporary and the Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E VR. These three budget super telephoto zoom lenses compete with each other directly at their price points, reach and heft; but the big question remains – how do they stack up optically? This was my quest when looking at the three lenses: I wanted to find out which of the three deserves the crown as the best budget-friendly super telephoto zoom. Let’s take a look at the lenses in more detail.
Jack Dykinga can punch you in the gut with a photo, like he did with his 1971 Pulitzer-winning portfolio, or he can seduce you with his understated yet thoroughly evocative landscape images. He’s one of the rare photographers who has excelled in multiple genres, has adjusted to multiple technological revolutions, and has successfully weathered the ups and downs of the photo industry. After over five decades in the business, Jack Dykinga’s photos remain relevant. Jack Dykinga’s photos endure.
Better technique and appropriate gear can help you take better photos, but that will only take you so far. To reach the next level in this pursuit you need to become a student of photography.
A student of photography is somebody who dives into the pool of photo history, soaks in the images of the masters, and seeks out the best work and wisdom of his or her contemporaries. A good student realizes that observing the work of others is crucial to one’s own development as an artist, not to copy those he or she studies, but to discover his or her own eye. I’m a ruthless tech geek, soaking in as much info as I can about reciprocity failure, signal to noise ratios, circles of confusion and the like. But I spend just as much time pouring over photo books from the great photographers. The kind of books I’m talking about don’t have exposure metadata listed with the pictures. That isn’t important – only the emotional impact of the image counts. A good photo makes you wonder about the subject, not the exposure settings.
Noise is the sleet storm Satan drenches our photos in when we stupidly leave our tripod in the trunk thinking VR will save our lazy butt, but instead we end up shooting at quadruple digit ISOs. In this article, we will take a look at a couple of techniques on how to reduce noise and how to avoid it in the first place.
There are two kinds of photographers. Those who admit they crop, and those who claim they don’t. The latter are glistening bastions of photographic purity whose souls glow at a constant Zone 10. They graciously lecture us heathens on the evils of cropping and try to exorcise the post-processing devils from our souls. They abhor us croppers, whom they consider inferior photographers – low down scum worse than fixer stains or a piece of grit in a bulk loader. They realize that cropping leads to even more sinful behavior, such as high speed bursts and shamelessly shooting above base ISO. I could go on, but they’ll pick up where I left off in the comments section.
This is an in-depth review of the new Nikkor 500mm f/4E FL ED VR lens that Nikon introduced on July 1, 2015. I wrote the initial preview of the lens in a post titled “Is Nikon’s new 500mm FL too sharp?“, where some of our readers got engaged in interesting discussions and even talked about anti-aliasing filters and Nyquist frequency. Stuff that can melt your brain for sure! Today, we will be taking a closer look at the Nikon 500mm f/4E VR and see what this beast is all about.
One of the perks of being on the Photography Life team is all the new gear we get to test. One of the downsides is when a piece of new gear comes along and you fall in love with it and don’t want to give the review copy back. This can get expensive fast. The new Nikkor 500mm f/4E FL VR is that kind of product. My old 500mm, Edie, caught me and Flo in the act and you know how that goes – time for us to part ways.
Edie is one incredibly luscious hunk of well-cared for glass. How well cared for?