Although Tamron pioneered the release of the first 150-600mm lens, Sigma followed suit by releasing two versions of lenses with exactly the same focal length and aperture ranges. The smaller and lighter version, the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary (the one we are reviewing today), targets the same market as the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, while the much larger and heavier “Sport” version is something unique to Sigma, with no other equivalent competing offers from any other manufacturer. Being able to reach 600mm without spending a lot of money has been a big dream of many wildlife photographers on a budget, because anything close to the 600mm range typically translates to a very large expense – as much as $12K for the latest generation 600mm f/4 lenses. While the current 150-600mm lenses cannot offer the maximum aperture of f/4, they give a huge focal range to work with, which can be particularly useful when photographing subjects at varying distances. As many 600mm prime lens owners know, shooting with long glass is not an easy task due to both weight and atmospheric haze concerns. Such lenses can be quite limiting when the action is close, such as when photographing bears in Alaska, or taking pictures on an African safari. For such occasions, many pros love the 200-400mm f/4 lenses, because they give that flexibility to shoot action at both close and long distances. However, the high cost and the weight concerns are still there, making such lenses prohibitive for budget-conscious enthusiasts and pros who prefer shooting hand-held. And that’s when the 150-600mm lenses come to the rescue, offering great performance in a lightweight and relatively low-budget package. At just over $1K and a total weight of 1930 grams (4.25 pounds), the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary is a very attractive lens for sports and wildlife photographers. In this review, we will be taking a closer look at this lens and compare it to the Tamron 150-600mm lens that we previously reviewed and loved.
With the Black Friday and Cyber Monday super-sale days approaching, manufacturers and retailers have been making advanced preparations to make it more than just a single day or two-day sale event. Today, both Nikon and Canon are offering something truly appealing for those who are just starting out. The Nikon D3200 combo with two kit lenses is discounted by a whopping $480 to bring the deal down to $396.95, which is a steal! If you have family members who are interested in photography (I am thinking of buying this kit for my son), this would make a very nice holiday gift. And price-wise, the 55-200mm VR II alone retails for $350 and if you add the price of the 18-55mm VR II, you are already at $600, so in this case, Nikon is not only giving away the D3200, but you are also getting a $200 reward for buying this entry-level kit!
Ever since I published my JPEGmini review and subsequent articles like the last one on reducing backup storage needs, I have received some emails and comments from concerned readers, who do not understand the point of using JPEG compression software, particularly when there are other existing commercial or free tools available. In this article, I would like to address some of these concerns and explain the strengths and weaknesses of the JPEGmini software.
Determining the ideal JPEG quality setting in both Photoshop and Lightroom can be challenging, because we often see two different values to choose from. Photoshop gives us compression levels from 0 to 12 when saving JPEG images through the “Save” or “Save As” dialog, while Lightroom only allows us to input a percentage. While percentages are easier to understand than numbers from 0 to 12, as we relate to 100% being the “best image quality” easier, Adobe also created a confusion as to what number represents what percentage, since the ranges of numbers are not provided in any of the help documents. The truth is, the percentages we see in Lightroom do not really scale from real 0 to 100 in single digits. Adobe simply mapped the 0 to 12 scale to the percentage scale. This ultimately means that changing from one number to another, like from 85% to 90% might make no difference whatsoever in compression or image size, while changing from 84% to 85% would make a big difference.
One of the biggest issues many of us photographers face is the gigantic size of our photo libraries, which creates a lot of issues for backing up and restoring images. While we have written a number of articles on properly backing up images, with a recent article on a backup workflow, we have not spent much time on managing the backup size and reducing it. After-all, if the backup size itself is significantly reduced, the time it takes to back up those images improves drastically as well! Let’s talk about some of the tips, techniques and potential changes to your workflow you can administer today in order to reduce your backup needs in the future.
After a huge backlash from its user base when Adobe released a very buggy Lightroom update featuring its new Import tool, the company officially apologized and promised not only to address the bugs, but also to bring back the old Import tool and all the features it previously had. It took a bit of time, but the update is finally out! After testing the new CC 2015.3 release, I am pleased to see much better performance, particularly when using a dual monitor setup (the previous release was extremely buggy in a dual monitor setup). In addition to fixing a slew of bugs, Adobe also provided a rather big list of newly supported cameras and lenses.
With Adobe Lightroom being the most popular post-processing tool on the market, one might wonder how good the software really is in processing RAW images. After-all, that’s what we use Lightroom primarily for – to post-process our images and get the best out of them. Having been using Lightroom since the early release versions (dating back to Lightroom 1), I have seen the software grow from a simple RAW editor to a pretty complex piece of software for both image management and powerful RAW processing. While there have been many great additions to Lightroom over time, Adobe certainly has had its share of rather disappointing problems, from typical bugs and stability issues to poor handling of RAW files. True, the software has gotten much more complex and with that complexity, it is surely expected to see potential bugs and issues. But one would hope that things would get better with each new release and bugs would eventually get taken care of. Sadly, the direction where Adobe is heading with Lightroom has just not been looking good. It appears that with every update, instead of getting proper fixes, all we are getting is additional bugs and new features that are not ready for prime time.
Data loss is a very painful experience that unfortunately many of us go through at some point of our lives. In my workshops, lectures and this website, I spend quite a bit of time advocating the need for a well-established workflow that incorporates solid backup strategies to prevent data loss. And during this process, I came across many different backup routines practiced by other photographers, some of which I found to be downright scary. You have probably heard of horror stories of professional photographers losing their life’s work, or wedding photographers losing images of weddings that they were not able to deliver to their clients yet. It sure happens, and it usually happens at the worst possible time too! It is one thing when you lose your personal data / photos and totally another when you are dealing with a client who paid you money. I cannot imagine how one could even handle a situation with lost wedding photos, as it would be impossible to recreate those precious moments. Sadly, for many of us, it seems like data loss has to take place in order for us to seriously consider a solid backup strategy and workflow. But it does not have to! In this article, I will walk you through two scenarios for establishing a good photography backup workflow: a low-cost and painless workflow for hobbyists, and a much more serious workflow for enthusiasts and professionals. For the second scenario, I will reveal my own backup strategy.
What is Nikon’s best DSLR? This is perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions that many of us Nikon shooters get. Having been using Nikon gear for close to a decade, I have been fortunate to use pretty much every Nikon DSLR produced since I started – from low-budget entry-level cameras to high-end professional DSLRs. While my overall experience with Nikon DSLRs has been mostly positive, I surely did criticize Nikon heavily a number of times (and sometimes very harshly) – all with good intentions of course. As a company, Nikon has had its ups and downs for sure, but its track record of delivering solid cameras and lenses cannot be denied. Looking back and thinking about every Nikon DSLR camera I have used so far, I came to realize that some cameras just really stood out from the bunch. For example, for a long time, I picked the Nikon D700 as Nikon’s best overall camera for a reason – it was and still is an absolutely brilliant DSLR in many ways. At the time of its peak popularity, it was a very well-balanced DSLR, appealing to many enthusiasts and pros. And many of them even today, still believe that the camera never had a proper replacement. I sold mine a couple of years back and although it was difficult to let go of it, I eventually found something that I truly think presents the same amazing balance of image quality, features, ergonomics and value today. For me, it is the Nikon D750. I wrote a detailed review of the D750 last year and since then, it has surely become one of my most favorite Nikon DSLRs. Let’s take a look at the reasons why I picked the D750 over others as Nikon’s best overall camera.
It has been a while since I published my first article on an Ultimate PC Build for Photography Needs. With close to 300 comments, it surely attracted many of our PC readers, who have been contemplating about upgrading their current machines to something incredibly fast. At the time of publishing the article, Intel had not yet announced the Skylake microarchitecture with its sixth generation processors. After looking at all the available options at the time, I decided to go with the Haswell system using a powerful and proven CPU, Intel Core i7-4790K (a.k.a. Devil’s Canyon). But since then, most of the hardware has been discontinued, Skylake and some new hardware came out, so I decided to refresh the article, this time focusing on a very powerful Skylake build. Now if you have already built a PC using my previous guide, you have nothing to worry about – your machine is still a speed demon and you are set for a while. However, if you have not yet built one, my recommendation would be to go with Skylake and the hardware I recommend below. This machine should be able to handle anything you throw at it, including processing of 4K video.