After reviewing Microsoft’s Surface machines, a number of our readers requested us to also review other competing products that sport enough processing power to run photo applications like Lightroom and Photoshop. Since in my past corporate life I spent quite a bit of time with Dell PCs and servers, it was my first natural selection. Having previously owned a Dell XPS 13 (when it was first introduced a while back), I wanted to take a look at the newest-generation version to see how well it would do for photography needs. Although a more direct competitor to Microsoft’s Surface Pro line would be the XPS 12, once I found out that it was maxed out at 8 GB of RAM and only 256 GB of storage, I had to move up in size. And since my goal was to find something light and compact to travel with, I did not consider the Dell XPS 15, which boasts the most power among the three models and comes with a dedicated GPU. When the Dell XPS 13 finally arrived, I got ready to put it through some tests to see how it would do. After a two-week trip to California and four more weeks of heavy work on the XPS 13, I decided to share my thoughts on the machine with our readers in a detailed review.
John Bosley and I have been working hard on producing our second video course – PL Level 1: Workflow and Post-Processing. While we still have quite a bit of work to do, we are planning to wrap things up by the end of the spring this year. Meanwhile, we thought it would be a good idea to share the below teaser, which shows some of the content that will go into the final production version of the course. We’ve had tremendous feedback on our PL Level 1: Photography Basics course from our readers, so we are really excited about producing the second video. We believe that this particular course will be of great value for many photographers, because it encompasses the entire workflow process, from setting up the camera, shooting and post-processing images, all the way to exporting images for the web or print.
When using telephoto and macro lenses, it is often desirable to get tighter framing on a subject that is being photographed. There can be many reasons for wanting to make subjects appear larger in images, but the main reasons are typically related to enhancing composition, improving subject detail and increasing image resolution (particularly after extensive cropping). For example, photographing a bird with a short focal length lens from hundreds of feet away will result in the bird appearing very small and insignificant, with very little to no detail in the resulting image. But if the same bird is photographed at a closer distance or with a longer focal length telephoto lens, a lot more detail can be revealed about the bird. In addition, making the bird take a larger portion of the image can also enhance the image by reducing the amount of clutter surrounding the bird, allowing for a better overall composition. When conditions allow, it is possible to achieve tighter framing by simply walking closer to the subject or zooming in with a zoom lens. However, what if getting closer is not an option and one is already at the longest focal length of their lens? In such situations, a teleconverter can come into rescue. Teleconverters allow increasing the focal length of lenses by coupling with them and thus essentially magnifying the image, allowing for tighter framing of subjects. While teleconverters can be incredibly useful, they also have a few rather serious disadvantages that can lead to increased blur and loss of sharpness. Let’s take a look at what a teleconverter is and go over its advantages and disadvantages in more detail.
Due to overwhelming emails, comments and response we got on our “How Was This Picture Made #6” post, which went viral and got us over 25 million hits (funds from which we are planning to use for the next team retreat on the beaches of Mongolia), we decided to publish the answer to the last post today and not put our readers through the pain of having to wait.
The title of the article deserves three exclamation marks, because this is one of the best news I have seen in photographic history! Google has just announced that it has made the best plugins for Photoshop and Lightroom, bundled into a single “Google’s Nik Collection” absolutely free (it was priced at $150 per license before). This is awesome, and no, it is not an April 1st Fool’s Day joke! As of today, March 24th 2016, you can download Google’s Nik Collection for free by visiting this page and clicking the “Download Now” button on the top of the page.
With only a week left until our PL + KeepSnap Lens giveaway ends, we wanted to write an article about differences between KeepSnap and PhotoShelter. Since a number of our readers asked about KeepSnap and what makes it different from the already established PhotoShelter, we thought it would be a good opportunity to look into the features of both sites in a bit more detail.
Ever since Nikon debuted the 24mm f/1.4G ED lens five years ago, the lens has been a popular choice among professionals and serious amateurs, thanks to its excellent optical formula and coating technologies that yield crisp and pleasing images. However, its high price point and the relatively heavy weight made it a rather specialized tool, so a cheaper and lighter f/1.8 version of the lens was much needed to complement the 20mm f/1.8G and the 28mm f/1.8G lenses. Nikon filled this gap with the Nikkor 24mm f/1.8G ED in August of 2015, finally addressing the needs of many photographers like me, who had been wanting such a lens for a while now. When I finally received my copy of the lens, I wondered how it would compare optically not only to its older f/1.4G brother (which I used to own and love), but also to other popular 24mm primes such as the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art and the Samyang 24mm f/1.4. After getting a hold of all three, I hit the road with the purpose to find out which lens would serve as my dedicated 24mm prime in the future. In this review, I will not only discuss the Nikon 24mm f/1.8G lens in detail, but also compare it to the above-mentioned 24mm primes.
Today-only, SanDisk is offering huge savings on SD, MicroSD and SSD drives on Amazon USA. These are significant savings, particularly on SanDisk’s excellent Extreme-series SD cards of 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB capacities. These cards are rated at 90 MB/sec read speeds and are suitable for both stills and video (up to 4K Ultra HD video). Savings range from $37 on the 32 GB card (bringing the price down to a mere $12.99) all the way to $155 on the 128 GB, which is currently on sale for $44.99.
For many years, Nikon has been limiting affordable super telephoto zoom lenses above 300mm to the 80-400mm VR lens, while keeping its high-end super telephoto line of zoom and prime lenses available only for those with deep pockets. With Tamron and Sigma pushing great budget-friendly 150-600mm options, Nikon finally decided to release its first constant-aperture super telephoto zoom competitor in August of 2015. Specifically designed for beginner and enthusiast wildlife / sports photographers, the new Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR became the first hand-holdable Nikon lens to reach 500mm at a relatively low price point of $1,399. This offering, coupled with the upcoming Nikon D500 DSLR (see our D500 announcement post) makes a killer combination for action photography. With an equivalent field of view of 300-750mm and the capability to shoot fast action at up to 10 frames per second on the D500, the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E VR is definitely going to become one of the most popular lenses in Nikon’s lens line-up, thanks to its versatility and reach. Although our team at Photography Life has not had a chance to test this particular combination due to unavailability of the D500 in the US, we have been actively using the lens on camera bodies like the Nikon D7200, D750, D810 and D4S for this particular review. We are planning to write a follow-up article covering the use of the lens on the Nikon D500, once we get our hands on the camera. Meanwhile, please enjoy the review of the Nikon 200-500mm VR lens, along with comparisons to Tamron 150-600mm VC, Sigma 150-600mm C / Sport and Nikon 80-400mm VR lenses.
Nikon is bringing back its lens-only rebates in the USA again and this time we have some very nice options, including the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G, 85mm f/1.8G, 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G and 70-200mm f/4G VR lenses getting some nice discounts, with higher-end lenses like the 14-24mm f/2.8G ED and 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II getting $200 off. In addition to these lens-only rebates, Nikon also has the “Buy Together and Save” program going on, where you can get additional discounts when purchasing a camera body.