How to Use the Full Dynamic Range of Your Camera

Suppose you have read somewhere that the dynamic range of your camera at a certain ISO setting is 11 stops. And here comes the immediate question – how can one use such a treasure to its full potential? Optimal exposure for RAW is the answer. But now we need to explain what we mean when we say, “optimal exposure for RAW”. Let’s start with one of the problems, which arises as a result of non-optimal exposure for RAW. Here is a typical wide dynamic range low-light scene. According to Sekonic spot-meter, it is wider than 11 stops:

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How to Choose the Right Lens Set

There are very few decisions in photography more personal than picking a set of lenses to use. With the incredible number of options available – no matter which brand of camera you use – it can seem impossible to find the right lenses for your needs. Personally, I have switched out my entire lens kit at least four times in the past four years, and many photographers have done so even more often than that! There are no perfect answers for someone looking for what lenses to buy, but I hope that the tips in this article can shed some light on some of the variables that you need to consider for a set of lenses, whether you use Nikon, Canon, Sony, or any other lens manufacturer.

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Nikon 1 J5 ISO-6400 test images at Bird Kingdom

I had a small break in my hectic schedule today and I used it to spend a bit of time at Bird Kingdom in Niagara Falls capturing some high ISO test images with my Nikon 1 J5. While I wouldn’t normally use ISO-6400 for all of my images purposely, I did so today at Bird Kingdom. As you look at the sample images some of the EXIF data will look quite strange in terms of using a high ISO setting along with a fairly fast shutter speed. These rather bizarre settings are simply products of the test conditions and my goal to purposely shoot at ISO-6400. [Read more…]

Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR Review

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It has been 15 years since Nikon produced the last iteration of its budget 300mm lens, so the new Nikkor 300mm f/4E PF ED VR was something many enthusiasts and professionals have been patiently waiting for. Although the previous generation Nikkor 300mm f/4D AF-S is an excellent lens optically, it lacks image stabilization, new generation coating and other new technologies that Nikon has been integrating into modern lenses. I have personally been a huge fan of the 300mm f/4D AF-S lens and have owned it for many years, loving the lens for its superb optical performance, fast autofocus, light weight and compact size, making it my ultimate travel lens for wildlife photography – a perfect companion for hand-held shooting. Because it was so good with the 1.4x teleconverter, I practically always kept the teleconverter attached to the lens, making it a very nice 420mm f/5.6 combination. When Nikon finally announced the new 300mm f/4E VR lens, I got very excited, because Nikon completely redesigned the lens. In fact, with close to a 50% reduction in weight and a 30% reduction in physical size, we are not dealing with another redesign or update – this is a completely different lens.

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Nikon D5 Preview with Sample Photos

I got my Nikon D5 a week and a half ago and have been itching to try it out on some real world wildlife photography, but this time of year is tough for wildlife where I live and also the weather here has been insanely difficult the last week or so. This has really hampered my chances to try and get some photos with this new camera.

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A Few Thoughts About the Camera Market

I recently spent some time looking at CIPA data and wrote a few articles on my blog pertaining to these camera industry statistics. I thought Photography Life readers may find some of the data of interest. What follows are a few thoughts about the camera market, based on my interpretation of CIPA data. It should be noted that data is simply data and two people can look at the same information and arrive at differing interpretations. For folks who find the data of interest you can pop over to my blog to read a bit more. If you want to see the actual data reports I would encourage you to visit the CIPA website and access the data directly…then put on a pot of coffee, grab a calculator or open up Excel on your computer…and have some fun!

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What is a Teleconverter?

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.

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Nikon 24mm f/1.8G ED Review

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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.

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Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E VR Review

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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, 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.

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