John Bosley and I are attending the PhotoPlus Expo in New York this week and after meeting our friends Lee and Patrick from Fstoppers at the show, we decided to organize a little joint get together tomorrow evening (10/21/2016). If you are in the area, please join us at 8 PM at the Cromton Ale House located at the following address: 159 W 26th St, New York, NY 10001 (map details below). It is a pretty big building, so we should be able to accommodate a large crowd of fellow photographers. John and I are also planning to organize a photo walk on the weekend (a free event), if the weather permits – so join us tomorrow to help us plan the photo walk!
Every seven to ten years, Nikon updates its top-of-the-line, flagship lenses with the most current technology and tries to push the performance envelope of new lenses to their new technical limits. We have been waiting for this update for a long time and Nikon finally delivered the new AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR. As expected, this lens looks absolutely stunning in every way. Nikon completely redesigned the lens from the ground up and delivered a true stunner – the new 70-200mm f/2.8 now features a fluorite element to make it roughly 100 grams lighter (which is a huge achievement for this type of a lens). The lens is now of “E” type with an electronic diaphragm, instead of the traditional mechanical lever to change aperture. Vibration Reduction / Image Stabilization has been reworked and vastly improved over its predecessor, with up to 4 stops of compensation. The lens is now comprised of a total of 22 elements, with all the latest coating technologies, including Nano and fluorine coating applied to lens elements, with lens optimized for incredible sharpness across the frame. And based on improvements towards maximum reproduction ratio, it looks like Nikon took efforts to significantly reduce the focus breathing issue that was present on the VR II version of the lens. All this does not come cheap though – the new Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR will retail for $2,799.95 MSRP, which is $400 higher than what its predecessor sold at when it was announced.
Camera shake can be a real hassle and pain when shooing off a tripod. Sometimes camera shake can be completely eliminated with a couple of simple steps and other times, it can be quite painful and sometimes even impossible to deal with. How does one reduce camera shake? Are remote shutter releases helpful in reducing camera shake? Is it possible to eliminate it completely? Since I see this issue so often in the field, I decided to write a detailed article that deals specifically with the challenges of dealing with camera shake when shooting from a tripod.
If I were to tell you that there is a website out there that steals photos you post on the Internet and sells them without your permission, how would you react? I bet you would not be happy. Earlier this week, our very own Thomas Stirr reached out to me, asking what I would do with a website called “WallPart.com” that sells posters of my photographs. At first, I didn’t think it would be bad, since my photos get taken without permission all the time and they often end up being on some unknown sites (mostly outside of the USA). But this one did tick me off a bit more than usual, since not only did it contain a boatload of my images sold at a ridiculous price of $5.59 for a 6×4 print, but it also contained images of pretty much every photographer I typed into the search field. And based on the Alexa rank of the website, the site has been growing at an incredibly fast rate, with close to 60% of hits coming from search engines. That’s pretty alarming, given that the majority of people ending up on the website are coming from the USA. So if you have been posting your work online, it is either already on this website, or fairly soon it will end up there. So what should you and I do about these thieves?
Without a doubt, Sony has been flooding the camera market with camera and lens announcements in the past few years. It has not even been a year since the company announced the Sony A6300 back in February and we already have another iteration of the camera in the form of the Sony A6500. I am not sure what the deal is with skipping iterations, but Sony went from A6000 directly to A6300 (skipping both A6100 and A6200) and it looks like there won’t ever be a Sony A6400 either. So why did Sony announce the A6500 this early? Based on the camera specs, one might think that Sony rushed with the A6300 in the first place, but looking at the price and the list of features, it appears that the A6500 isn’t meant to be a replacement for the A6300, but rather an introduction to a higher-end mirrorless camera. If we had NEX-3, NEX-5 and NEX-7 series cameras before, with a clear difference in features and price, now the higher model number is the indication of a superior camera. At $1,400, the A6500 is priced $400 higher than the A6300, but what exactly does the camera gain in comparison? Let’s take a look at all the new features.
In addition to the A6500 mirrorless camera, Sony has also announced an update to the RX100 and the new iteration is now called Sony RX100 V, as expected. While most of the camera specifications stayed the same (20 MP 1″ sensor and 24-70mm equivalent f/1.8-f/2.8 lens), the new RX100 V gains on-sensor phase-detection system to improve its autofocus performance. With a total of 315 phase-detection autofocus points spreading to over 65% of the frame, the camera snaps into focus almost immediately, at record-breaking 0.05 seconds.
Although the Pentax 645Z medium format DSLR has been out for a few years, I only had a chance to try it out earlier this year, during my trip to Death Valley. I have been wanting to try the 645Z for quite some time, since I heard so many good things about it. With medium format digital being traditionally out of reach in terms of cost for most photographers out there, including myself, I did not really have much interest in trying out cameras that are as expensive as some nice cars. However, the Pentax 645D changed the game back in 2010, by being the first sub-$10K medium format digital camera at launch.
More Photokina announcements are rolling in today and this time it is Sigma, with its headline-grabbing releases of upcoming Art and Sport-series lenses. With stellar lens designs such as the 35mm f/1.4 Art and 50mm f/1.4 Art lenses, we have been waiting for Sigma to release an 85mm f/1.4 Art lens for quite sometime now, so Sigma has finally delivered. The new 85mm f/1.4 Art promises to be a superb lens both in terms of sharpness and bokeh. Although Sigma is yet to provide MTF charts and lens construction images, the fact that there is no aspherical element in the lens design is an indication of the lens being optimized to yield pleasant-looking bokeh without onion rings, something that has plagued other Art-series Sigma lens designs. Its price is a bit steep at $1,199 MSRP, but it is still $400 cheaper than its Nikon counterpart.
Today is a big day for Fuji, because the company unveiled its first digital medium format mirrorless camera with a 51.4 MP sensor, the Fuji GFX 50S. And not only that, but also a total of 6 medium format “G” mount lenses specifically designed for the new GFX 50S: GF 23mm f/4 R LM WR (18mm equiv), GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR (32mm equiv), GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR (50mm equiv), GF 110mm f/2 (87mm equiv), GF 120mm f/4 Macro (95mm equiv) and GF 32-64mm f/4R LM WR (25-51mm equiv) zoom lens. Both the camera and the lenses are in development and they are not finalized yet, but we can expect the company to start shipping the camera with a couple of lenses in early 2017. Although the pricing has not been announced yet, the company promised that the GFX 50S will be well under $10K, which will put it in competition with the Hasselblad X1D-50c. Many would consider this announcement to be groundbreaking and I believe it really is – Fuji decided to skip full-frame mirrorless altogether, focusing heavily on APS-C cameras and now medium format. With Fuji’s ability to design superb lenses with impressive sharpness, color and contrast characteristics, I have no doubt that the GFX 50S will be in demand.
It has been a while since I posted the “How was this picture made #11?” article, where I showcased a very high resolution image of sand particles with tons of detail. The image was massive in size and resolution when I extracted it out of Lightroom. In fact, the image was so big, that I had to downsize it to 4096 pixel long resolution in order to keep the size at less than 10 MB with as much JPEG optimization as I could. When dealing with so much detail, even the highest JPEG compression levels will still yield large files, since there is so much pixel-level data. And that’s what you get when you have an image produced from a sensor that moves one pixel at a time in order to create a super high resolution image! And combined with the power of focus stacking multiple images, you get insane levels of detail from a macro shot like this. So how did I do it? Let’s talk about the specifics of this particular shot.