Recently, my wife and I headed to the Texas hill country near San Antonio for a brief getaway at the Block Creek Bed and Breakfast. This trip offered me a chance to spend some time using the new Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E VR zoom and it has changed my opinion of it. I’m now pleasantly surprised at how good this lens is for the money. On the trip we used both the 200-500mm f/5.6E VR and the 500mm f/4G VR lenses interchangeably with Nikon D750 and D4 bodies. In this brief post, I will share a few photos to show why I am impressed with this new lens.
We previously invited our readers to visit Colorado and join Russ Burden and me August 22-28, 2015 on Russ’ Goats and Gods Tour of Garden of the Gods and Mount Evans. As we indicated in that post, one day will be spent at Garden of the Gods photographing the beautiful red rock formations typical of the American Southwest.
Colorado boasts beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife photographic opportunities so I want to share some information on an upcoming tour that I will be assisting with that some of you might be interested in. A good friend of mine and accomplished photographer Russ Burden, will be leading one of his Goats and Gods Tours, August 22-28, 2015, to photograph the wildlife found on Mount Evans as well as a trip to Garden of the Gods for impressive red rock formations similar to those found in the American Southwest.
Years ago after I purchased my first larger lens, a 300 f/2.8, I used it on a tripod with a ball head but it didn’t take me long to realize that this set up was less than ideal. If you shoot frequently with longer telephoto lenses, a gimbal head belongs in your kit. Shooting with a gimbal mount allows more freedom and mobility with the camera/lens than a ball head and it gives your arms a rest from hefting the load. On the other hand, for the price of all the gear you have purchased, you do at least get a free upper body workout. When using a ball head to support a large lens/camera combo, the weight sets on a pedestal on top of the ball head lending itself to having the ball loosen a bit and the lens flopping over. A gimbal allows you to move the gear right to left and up and down all while balanced so as to require minimal effort to maneuver the system as you track your subject. Gimbals can be either side mount or low swing arm/cradle type systems. The side mount gimbals tend to minimize materials and thus size and weight, while the low swing arm/cradle system tends to be larger and heavier with the advantage of being a bit easier to mount and balance. There are also full gimbal heads which will pan both vertically and horizontally and there are gimbal attachments that only tilt in the vertical dimension while relying on a ball head for horizontal panning.
Our friends at NeroTrigger, the talented team of engineers that created the multipurpose high speed camera trigger that we had fun reviewing previously, is planning a new and much improved tool that can be controlled by smartphones or tablets. To get this new and exciting product called MIOPS to the market, the company is inviting you to join them on Kickstarter and save a few bucks before it is officially released.
Nikon has announced a new Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens which will be loved by wildlife and sports photographers. As you know from Nasim’s review of the previous version of the Nikkor 400mm f/2.8G lens, this is one sharp lens but weight was a big drawback. Nikon has taken action to reduce the weight by almost 2 pounds and is now actually 3 ounces lighter than the 500mm f/4G, making it hand-holdable for many of us! Some of the weight savings is from using 2 Flourite lens elements. The new 400mm f/2.8E is also lighter than the legendary Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II.
Nikon has just announced the Nikon 1 V3, an update to the existing Nikon 1 V2 mirrorless camera that was released two years ago. Unlike many of the recent camera introductions which have been relatively small improvements over previous versions, the Nikon 1 V3 is a substantial rework and renewal of the Nikon 1 V2 and frankly, the changes appear to be exciting. First, is a new sensor with more resolution (18.4 MP), better ISO sensitivity (12,800) and a new EXPEED 4A processor to accompany it. Second, there is an improved hybrid autofocus system which incorporates 171 autofocus points (171 points for contrast detection and 105 points for phase detection) for fast and accurate focus acquisition and tracking. For comparison, the V2 uses 135 focus points (135 for contrast and 73 for phase-detect). These alone would be nice improvements, but Nikon went further and improved the frame rate to a WHOPPING 20 fps at full resolution AND full autofocus. To put that into perspective, the new D4s which costs $6500 “only” shoots at the rate of 11 fps. Why stop there? How about a new tilting touch screen monitor with higher resolution than the previous V2? Finally, throw in built-in WiFi and you’ve made not just an incremental upgrade, but a totally new camera.
We recently reviewed the Sport Strap from BlackRapid which we really liked, but for some people straps are still too bothersome. There are alternatives that allow the photographer to clip their cameras to a belt and avoid the strap altogether if they so desire. The Capture Clip Pro from Peak Design and the SpiderPro Camera Holster from Shai Gear are both strapless camera carrying systems that give you the feeling of stepping back in time to the days of the wild west but instead of gunslinging, you’re a camera toting cowboy. In this head-to-head review, we will examine the Capture Clip Pro vs the SpiderPro Camera Holster and try to help you know which system might be best for you.
Our friends over at Fstoppers.com posted this funny review of the Nikon Df yesterday. Regardless of which side of the Df debate you’re on, you will find this video entertaining. While we don’t typically re-post other people’s work here at PL, we enjoyed this one so much that we thought we’d share it with our readers:
Today Nikon announced that it will preview its next “professional flagship D-SLR”, the D4s, at this week’s CES show. How much will be previewed at the show remains to be seen since today’s announcement was thin on details. In fact, it only said that the D4s is “currently in development” and one could interpret that to mean that final specs are subject to change. Nikon did give a little insight to what the new model will offer over the existing D4. First they state the new pro body will feature “improved image quality with the adoption of a new image-processing engine” and second, the press release promises more advanced autofocus performance. That is about all Nikon revealed with this “currently in development” announcement.