Picking a winner from our Photo Spots contest that we hosted a while ago has been a big challenge – I did not expect to receive so many great submissions from our readers. We published a total of 420 photo spots, most of which are absolutely stunning both in terms of photography and in terms of the provided information. Big thanks to everyone who participated in this contest! Sadly, we can only pick a single winner for our grand prize, the Fuji X-T10 and our Photography Basics course. We had a big list of finalists, so it was a tough choice to be honest, as I believe that everyone truly put a lot of great effort into this project. Still, with the help of a couple of other judges, we were able to pick one winner:
While the new Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 seems like a wonderful chunk of glass for those who do not mind a 1.35 kg beast, Sigma has just released its new 20mm f/1.4 Art-series lens, which is a much wider lens, while being as fast as the Otus. In fact, Sigma claims this one to be another “world’s first” as far as the focal length and the aperture – the next fastest lens is the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G. With its MSRP of $899, the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art is only $100 more than Nikon’s excellent 20mm f/1.8G, so the big question is, is 2/3 of a stop worth the $100 premium Sigma is asking for? Well, the answer to that question is not so simple, because there is a lot more than just stops involved here. Sigma’s 20mm f/1.4 Art is completely different optically compared to the Nikon. First of all, we are dealing with a lens that has more superior optical glass inside, with 5 low-dispersion, two ultra low-dispersion and two aspherical lenses. One of those aspherical elements is particularly difficult to make, because it is a “double” aspherical lens with a large 59mm diameter. Essentially this element was the reason that Sigma was able to produce a 20mm f/1.4 – something no other manufacturer was able to achieve to date. So in a way, we can consider the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 to be in a different class of its own when compared to the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G. However, there is one major pitfall – due to the large element on the front of the lens, it cannot take any regular screw-on filters!
We have just received the goods today (finally!), so I just wanted to let our readers know that both regular and Sony version of the Sensor Gel Stick are back in stock. We received a total of 800 units and it looks like we will have around 300 units left after fulfilling all the backorders. I apologize for all those who have been waiting for a while – we will try to replenish stock sooner next time.
First, thanks to everybody who weighed in with their strategies to make the image in question. Some very good sleuthing on behalf of our readers and as you’ll see the answer is a combination of a lot of your suggestions and keen observations. The answer to how the life-sized condor print was made was based on biological knowledge, technological application at the DSLR level and use of sophisticated software.
Having been crazy busy with travel, workshops and the launch of our first video, I have not been able to fully keep up with all the latest news and announcements. With Photo Plus 2015 around the corner, there is a lot going on in the industry, so I am planning to catch up with all the newly-released gear this week. The first highlight is Zeiss, which has been very active lately, announcing one lens after another for different systems. Being a Sony partner, Zeiss is currently offering three native mount lens lines: Manual Focus Loxia and Touit and the new line of Batis autofocus lenses. Both Loxia and Batis are specifically developed for Sony’s full-frame E mount, while the Touit line was only targeted at Sony’s APS-C E mount cameras. Although the future of Touit lenses is under question, since Zeiss did not do so well there and there have not been any new announcements, the Loxia and Batis lines are coming very strong, thanks to the increasing sales of the new Sony A7-series cameras. The new 21mm f/2.8 looks like another stellar lens in the Loxia line and both Batis 25mm f/2 and 85mm f/1.8 lenses have been crazy popular (which I am also planning to review, hopefully later this year). In addition to the Sony FE mount lenses, Zeiss made a big surprise earlier last month by announcing a total of six lenses for both Nikon F and Canon EF lines under the new Zeiss “Milvus” name. And the most recent announcement today is another “reference” lens for wide angle lenses, a sharpness monster, the Otus 28mm f/1.4. Let’s take a look at all these lenses in more detail.
I recently purchased a set of Movo Extension Tubes for Nikon 1 as I had been experiencing some quality issues with my Vello tubes (plastic flanges cracking and breaking). I’ve been out the past week or so capturing a range of images with these new tubes and I thought I’d share some images with you. If you are wondering about what extension tubes are and what they are used for, check out this detailed article about extension tubes and how they work.
Just wanted to let our readers know that I have been battling with server slowdown issues during the past few days and I am working on getting these issues resolved. Big thanks to everyone who emailed me and let me know, particularly about all the slowdowns this morning. During the next couple of days, I will be implementing a new caching and balancing system to help with the server load. Our traffic has been steadily growing and it looks like we need to beef up the system again to accommodate all the load.
Big thanks to everyone who supported us in our launch of our very first photography video – PL Level 1 Photography Basics. Since the launch, we have enhanced the video quite a bit by cleaning up the sound, adding more visuals and text to guide our readers better. In addition, we have just added a brand new Chapter 11, with detailed menu guides for four different camera types: Nikon Entry-Level DSLR, Nikon Pro-Level DSLR, Canon Entry-Level DSLR and Canon Pro-Level DSLR. That’s another 3.5 hours of video that we have added to the already extensive 5 hour course! And that’s the beauty of this course – we will continue to enhance it in the future and if we feel that something needs to be added or changed, we will do so, making our courses some of the most thorough, up to date and complete photography courses out there.
I recently hung my show Plight of the Condor at Flagstaff’s High Country Conference Center. It’s an honor being recognized as so talented, egocentric and stupid that I’d dump hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to fill an entire gallery with just my work. As this is my last, er, I mean first, one-artist show, of course I want to make a gargantuan impression. My subject is the California Condor, the largest bird in North America and with a population of only 425, one of the most critically endangered species in the world.
I am finally back from my three week departure to the San Juan mountains of Colorado! This time was a wonderful and very memorable journey, because I got to see our PL team members (more to come) and I met wonderful people in our fall workshops. Although we did not see any snow this year and we were greeted by pretty warm temperatures, the fall colors looked great and I was able to take some great shots of sunrises and sunsets in the area. Here is a grand view of Wilson Peak and the surrounding area at sunset: