The last few weeks have been crazy busy for me personally, since we are in the process of creating our first comprehensive video, which is something we are really excited about (more on this later). Because of this and other parallel engagements that I am involved in, I have not had a chance to work on some of the projects I have started a couple of months ago, including the Photo Spots project. I apologize for not being able to post updates on our Photo Spots Contest and I know that many of our readers have been waiting for us to announce the winner. As I started going through submissions, I got a bit overwhelmed by the response – we had over 400 submissions that I had to go through, edit and post. I posted a total of 351 photo spots from all the submissions and tried to be less picky about the photos and the content. So unless you posted a really bad photo or your submission did not meet our requirements (little to no text / description, or just vertical images), most of what you have submitted should have been posted by now.
Although discussing the topic of Nikon vs Canon can lead to unnecessarily long and emotional debates between photographers and I personally find such discussions silly, there are some distinct differences between the two systems that might be worth pointing out for those who consider investing into either system. Some of the differences are related to current technology and it might be a matter of time before either company catches up. For example, Nikon and Sony shooters often brag about the amazing dynamic range their cameras are capable of capturing, pointing out how bad Canon DSLRs look in comparison. And it is currently holds true – Canon has not done well in direct comparisons with other brands on the market, scoring consistently lower in dynamic range performance on each new iteration of its modern DSLRs. However, this is something that Canon could potentially address in the future with newer sensor technologies that provide greater dynamic range performance. On the other hand, other differences might not be possible to address. One such difference is the lens mount – both companies use mounts of different sizes. Which one is better and why? Let’s talk about the differences between the Nikon F and Canon EF mounts in detail.
Nikon’s last announcement today is the new Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, a super telephoto zoom lens designed for sports and wildlife enthusiasts. This lens is a very interesting announcement, because it is very different from all other super telephoto Nikon lenses we have seen in the past – it is Nikon’s first zoom lens with a fixed aperture that covers such a long range. Many enthusiasts have been asking for a 400mm f/5.6 lens and one wonders if this lens could address such needs. The 200-500mm f/5.6E VR supposedly can work with all three teleconverters and if it proves to be as versatile as it sounds, this might be something many wildlife photographers have been waiting for. The best part is the price – at $1,399.95 MSRP, it certainly falls into the “affordable” category when compared to other super telephoto lenses. Let’s take a look at this lens in more detail.
Being a huge fan of the 24-70mm f/2.8G for many years now, I am well aware of its strengths and weaknesses. It is a superb lens for landscape and many other photography needs, but its rather weak wide open performance in the corners, heavy weight and lack of image stabilization have been leaving me wondering if there would be a replacement coming out soon from Nikon. Today, Nikon finally revealed such a replacement – the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR is finally out and it is a monster of a lens! Looks like Nikon has completely changed the optical design of the new 24-70mm f/2.8E compared to its predecessor. Not only does it look a lot more beefed up, with its huge 88 x 155mm barrel and 1,070 grams of total weight (compare that to 83 x 133mm and 900 grams on the 24-70mm f/2.8G), but it also comes with a large 82mm filter thread diameter, which might present additional expenses for working pros for purchasing new filter holders and filters. Speaking of expenses, the updated 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR will leave a lot of people scratching their heads, since it is one of the most expensive zoom lenses made by Nikon, at $2,399.95 MSRP. Let’s take a closer look at this lens and see what Nikon has changed and why there is such a high price tag attached to this 24-70mm f/2.8E VR.
Today Nikon revealed another addition to the f/1.8 family of prime lenses, the Nikkor 24mm f/1.8G ED. This fast, enthusiast-level prime lens fills the gap between the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G and the Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G, giving Nikon shooters yet another excellent wide-angle choice in a lightweight and affordable package. While the professional Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G has been out for over 5 years now, its high price point and heavy weight have been deterring many photographers, who have been waiting for a lighter and cheaper option ever since. The wait is finally over – at only 355 grams and $749.95 MSRP, the new Nikkor 24mm f/1.8G ED will surely satisfy many photographers who have been craving for such a lens.
This week Microsoft released the long anticipated Windows 10, the latest, the greatest and the last “operating system of the future”. Why the last? Microsoft claims that Windows 10 will be the last operating system with a version number, so we won’t be seeing a Windows 11 or 12. Apparently, the company has no plans for future iterations of the operating system, and instead plans to focus on providing continuous updates to the Windows 10 platform. That’s probably why the company skipped Windows 9 altogether, since 10 sounds more “complete”. Microsoft is tired of trying to convince its customer base to buy the next version of the operating system every time it is released, and the costs of ongoing maintenance and support for each OS iteration has been getting out of control. So it makes strategic and business sense to move everyone to the Windows 10 platform, and focus on selling a single operating system instead. But how do you move everyone to Windows 10? Microsoft found an easy solution – to allow every licensed user of Windows 7 and Windows 8 / 8.1 to upgrade for free. A great strategy in my opinion, which I believe will work in Microsoft’s favor in the long run. And we get the best of the breed at no cost, so we cannot complain, can we? So if you have been thinking whether to upgrade to Windows 10 or not, I don’t think it is the question of “if” anymore, but a question of “when”. Microsoft’s generous offer has a time limit – you must upgrade before July 28th 2016, if you want to take advantage of the free upgrade offer. In this article, I want to provide some information on upgrading to Windows 10 from a prior version of Windows based on my last two days running the operating system on my main desktop and two Microsoft Surface Pro 3 laptops.
Thanks to the super high-resolution sensors we see today in digital cameras, a fast computer is absolutely essential for an efficient post-processing workflow when working with RAW images. If a few years back a standard PC or a mid-range laptop were good enough for post-processing images, 30+ MP RAW files can put a huge burden on processing power and make a high-end machine seem obsolete. In addition, most commercial software targeted at professionals has also gotten pretty heavy, requiring more memory, faster storage and high-end CPUs and GPUs for a smooth, delay-free experience. Having spent most of my adult life in information technology, I have always been building my own PCs. In my recent articles and reviews of storage equipment, a number of our readers asked me to share my preferences for a solid, future-proof PC build that could take pretty much anything you throw at it for post-processing large numbers of RAW images and video. In this article, I want to talk about my ultimate PC build for photography and other needs, and discuss my personal preferences for working with Lightroom catalogs and RAW files in terms of file management and performance optimization.
Note: An updated version of this article for Intel’s latest Skylake CPU has been published.
Lexar has been long known for making different type of memory cards for hobbyists, enthusiasts and professionals. Whether you need microSD, SD, CF or the newer memory card technologies like CFast and XQD, Lexar makes lines of products with different quality levels and speeds to satisfy pretty much every still camera or video storage needs. One area you might not be very familiar is Lexar’s excellent line of memory card readers. I have been personally using the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader for years and I find it to be the best solution when working in the field and need to access or back up my data, as stated in my earlier review. But what about a professional memory card reader for a desktop? Since I have always built my own computers, I have had a strong preference for internal readers that I can install in one of the 5.25″ bays, with the AFT PRO-77U being my top choice. And although I am pretty happy with this reader, it does have a couple of disadvantages. First, it only comes with the most common media formats like CF, SD and microSD. If I wanted to attach the newer XQD or CFast cards, I would have to get a separate reader for each one of those. Second, there is only one reader per card type – if I wanted to transfer from two cards simultaneously (and yes, you can do that in Lightroom), then I am left out without options. Luckily, Lexar makes a superb product to address such particular needs (and more) in the form of the Lexar Professional Workflow readers. Today, I am reviewing the HR1 version, which has a USB 3.0 interface. If you are a Mac user and prefer Thunderbolt, there is an HR2 version of the same reader, which has support for both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0.
We are continuing our coverage of memory card readers this week and this time I want to talk about my personal preference for internal memory card readers, or the ones one would have to install in an empty / available bay in a computer. Since I have always been building my own PCs, picking the best components for the fastest performance, I am comfortable with installing internal devices without resorting to external help. Having a memory card reader always integrated into a PC means that I don’t have to fiddle with external devices and wires dangling off my PC, which helps in keeping my work area nice and clean. In addition, it allows me to choose an all-in-one memory card reader that can read pretty much any format out there and potentially offer additional USB slots that I can use for other devices. The Atech Flash Technology PRO-77U gives me exactly that. For years I have been using the previous-generation PRO-57U model and I have recently moved up to the PRO-77U in my latest PC build and I have been happy with my decision.
One question I get asked a lot by other photographers or workshop participants, is the type of reader I prefer to use when traveling or when using a laptop. Over the years, I have tried many different types of readers and I have had my share of dead readers, bent pins, unreadable cards and other problems. After trying out the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader when it just came out, I have been very pleased with its performance. It turned out to be the best memory card reader I have had to date not just because of its amazing performance, but also because it has a solid build and the cable easily detaches from the back of the reader, making it an amazing travel companion.