Nikon has just announced a couple of new products during the Consumer Electronics Show 2015, among which is a lens that many of us have been waiting for a long time. I will start the coverage with this lens, because after seeing the details of the announcement earlier today, I knew that it was something to be truly excited about. As many of our readers know, the Nikkor 300mm f/4D AF-S lens has been my favorite budget telephoto lens for many years now. It is optically superb, has amazingly fast and accurate autofocus, works really well with 1.4x and now even with 1.7x teleconverters (with the new generation Nikon DSLRs like D750), it is compact, lightweight and priced just right. In short, it is a lens with amazing value for many wildlife and sports photographers. Despite all these strengths, the lens has not been updated for 15 years and it lacks image stabilization. Although rumors about an update have been circulating on the Internet for a few years now, it has not seen the light of the day, until today. The all-new Nikkor 300mm f/4E PF ED VR is not just an update though, it is a completely different lens.
This is an in-depth review of the manual focus Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2.0 ZF.2, a second generation 35mm f/2 prime lens from Zeiss for Nikon and Canon mounts. The lens samples I tested were for the Nikon F mount, although you can get the same lens for the Canon EF mount. The Zeiss 35mm f/2.0 ZF.2 is a professional-grade fixed wide-angle lens targeted at enthusiasts and professionals that need high quality optics for different types of photography, including landscape, architecture, portrait and astrophotography. Similar to other Zeiss prime lenses, the lens is designed to work on both FX and DX sensor cameras (equivalent field of view of approx 52.5mm on DX) and yields amazing clarity and contrast throughout the frame.
It has been 30 years since Nikon first introduced the original Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 Ai-S lens and long 20 years since the autofocus version, the Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D was released to the market. Since then, the 20mm prime sadly did not receive much attention, so it was about time for Nikon to refresh the line with a modern version. Nikon finally revealed a replacement on September 12, 2014 and the new lens came with a nice surprise – the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED is not only completely revamped in terms of optical design, but it is also 1.3 stops faster than its predecessors. Personally, I have been very interested in checking out the new 20mm f/1.8G lens, because I found the 28mm f/1.8G to be a bit too long for my taste. And although I love my 24mm f/1.4G (see my detailed review here), it is pretty expensive and often quite heavy to carry around. Thus, a wider, lighter and much less expensive lens sounded very appealing to me. I have had the joy of shooting with the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G for the past three months and as you will see in this review, the lens deserves high praises for its superb optical performance. Without giving any more spoilers, let’s jump into the review and see where and how it shines.
The Nikon SB-500 speedlight was announced in September of 2014 together with the Nikon D750 and Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G lens. Sitting above the compact SB-300 and below the larger and more powerful SB-700, the SB-500 is targeted at beginners and enthusiasts, who want something more capable than a built-in flash or a basic speedlight. The SB-500 comes with an interesting list of features, one of which we have never previously seen on Nikon speedlights before – built-in LED lights. Although I personally had very little interest in using the SB-500, as I heavily rely on SB-800 and SB-900 speedlights for my work, ability to run LED lights continuously seemed like an interesting idea. In addition, with the SB-500 abilities of being both a commander and a remote flash unit with full compatibility with Nikon’s CLS system, I thought that perhaps I could use it in combination with my other speedlights. So I decided to check out and do a quick review of the SB-500, to see if it would potentially be a suitable tool for my photography needs.
By now you have probably heard of the Nikon D750 issue that some describe as “flare” or “internal reflection issue”. Thanks to some websites and forums, the issue is now blown out of proportion, with some people claiming the D750 to be another “fiasco” from Nikon. Since many of our readers have been requesting feedback from me regarding the issue, I decided to write an article that describes the issue in detail, along with my opinion on the matter. The thing is, I have known about this particular problem for a while now, probably after the very first complaints started rolling in a few months ago. I never wrote about it, because I consider it to be a non-issue for 99.9% of situations and not even applicable for most photographers out there, which is why I never wrote about it. At the same time, I understand there might be concerns from current and future owners of the D750, who are probably wondering about the severity of the problem. In this article, I will show you what the issue looks like, when it occurs and provide my personal feedback on the matter.
Since neither “flare”, nor “internal reflection” correctly describe the issue (as shown below), I went ahead with “flare shading issue” title instead.
UPDATE: Nikon will be servicing all affected Nikon D750 cameras free of charge. See this announcement for more details.
I have been a fan of infrared photography for a while now (largely thanks to Bob Vishneski’s amazing infrared work), but I have not had a chance to explore that side of photography yet. After I bought the D810 to replace the D800E, I first thought about selling the D800E. But seeing how much the D800E was going for on eBay and other sites, I decided to keep it and convert it to an infrared camera instead. After some research and a few email exchanges with Bob on who he recommends, I picked the folks at Kolari Vision, who effortlessly converted my D800E to an IR camera. I did not want a full IR B&W conversion, so I opted for the thinner 720nm filter that allows some colors to come through. Have not experimented yet, as it is really cold and snowy outside, but there are some great news for our readers – my future lens reviews will now include infrared ratings and hot spot reports! So if you already enjoy infrared photography or want to start exploring it (I highly would recommend reading Bob’s excellent introduction to infrared photography article), then you will find the IR section of the reviews particularly helpful!
As you might already know, Adobe and Microsoft announced partnership plans earlier this year to improve touchscreen experience on devices like Surface Pro 3 when using Creative Cloud applications. One of our readers sent me an email earlier this week (thank you Morgan Cole!), letting me know that he received an email from Adobe with the subject line “Exclusive offer for Creative Cloud members”, detailing a $479 discount on the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (see our detailed Surface Pro 3 review and coverage), as shown below:
One of our readers, who is a very busy professional wedding photographer, asked me if proactive maintenance with the manufacturer is worth the money or not. After a busy wedding season, she sent one of her Canon 5D Mark III cameras to Canon service center for cleaning. Shortly after the service center received the camera, she was told that her 5D Mark III had over 200,000 images, which was way above the shutter life of the camera, which is rated at 150,000. For a $600 fee, the Canon service center suggested to replace the shutter mechanism with a brand new one, promising that the camera would keep on clicking. Since $600 sounded better than paying $3K for a replacement camera, the reader asked advice from me, to see if it was indeed worth paying for the shutter replacement as proactive maintenance. I recommended not to do it for the following reason: shutter mechanism failures are completely random and it is best to replace the shutter when it actually fails.
I am currently in the process of testing the Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL lens in my Imatest lab and I am simultaneously also measuring the performance of the new Nikon TC-14E III teleconverter and comparing it to the older TC-14E II. Although I am planning to review the teleconverter separately, I decided to give our readers a glimpse of the teleconverter performance when compared to its predecessor in terms of sharpness. To make it easy to compare differences, I converted all numbers to percentages (detailed numbers will be posted in the reviews).
Looks like both Nikon and Canon are not very happy with their holiday sales, since the two just announced aggressive price drops on their high-end cameras. The Nikon D810 has been dropped by $300 to $2,996.95 (regularly $3,299) and the already discounted Nikon D610 has been dropped by another $100 to $1,496.95 (regularly $1,999). Full-frame has never been cheaper! And here is the bonus part – these price drops are available with Nikon’s Buy Together and Save promotion, so you can get additional discounts on lenses. The icing on the cake is free expedited shipping, along with plenty of goodies worth up to $120 from B&H.