Many photographers who want to upgrade their tripod are stuck choosing between high-end aluminum tripods and low-end carbon fiber models. These two types of tripod tend to be similar in price, which makes the decision even more difficult. I have been trying out the carbon fiber Oben CC-2461 tripod over the past few months, along with the accompanying BE-126T ballhead. This review covers my experiences and recommendations for photographers trying to decide on a tripod at this price point.
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.
While Nasim is busy traveling, I am going to try to fill in for a few days and post some articles. Although there are a number of reasons why I have not been writing for PL for a while now, one of the main reasons has been simply lack of time! I hope our readers can forgive me for that, but going forward, I will do my best to show up a bit more often, since we need more female content here :) Anyway, since I get a lot of questions and requests from our readers regarding food photography (many of whom are novice photographers and food bloggers), I decided to do a quick review of Nicole S. Young’s book titled “Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots” that I bought a few years back for my own personal use.
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.
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.
Perhaps the best-known hosting website for photographers is SmugMug, a platform that has been around since 2002. SmugMug acts as an online gallery space, letting you display your photos easily and – relatively – inexpensively. I have been using SmugMug exclusively for almost a year, and I have grown very familiar with its range of tools and capabilities. In general, I have been very impressed by SmugMug; for this review, I will cover some of its main uses and features, as well as the positives and negatives of using SmugMug to host your online gallery.
Having been using the Microsoft Surface Pro for several years now, I was psyched to see the launch of the Surface Book, along with the Surface Pro 4. When I first heard about the Surface Book, I thought “here goes another laptop again”…until I saw the screen detach from the keyboard, revealing that it was a two-in-one hybrid machine. That was certainly unexpected. A laptop and a touchscreen tablet hybrid with a powerful 6th generation dual core Intel CPU, dedicated NVIDIA GPU, up to 1 TB of SSD memory and up to 16 GB of RAM. A true powerhouse in a very compact form factor, ideal for traveling and photo editing on the go. I knew it was something I had to test and review.
Every once in a while, I come across gadgets that sound promising, because they serve a specific purpose that I have needs for. When browsing the web last July, I came across a post on a popular site that praised a smart tracker called ANKR. The post started out by talking about stolen gear and how unfortunate the incidents were. Then it went on to introduce ANKR and how amazing of a find it was to be able to “geolocate” (those were the words used) items such as the camera bag in case it got stolen. It all sounded really good, because it seemed to address my particular fear of getting my gear stolen, especially when traveling overseas.
Although Sony has already made the fourth iteration of its RX100 camera, sadly, I have not had a chance to test and review any of the earlier models. After the Sony RX100 IV was announced, I told myself that I had to give this camera a try. Partly because our readers have been asking about it and partly because it looked like a killer camera based on its long list of features. Right before my trip to Death Valley, I was able to obtain this little monster of a camera for a real field test. I am really glad I did, because I have been really impressed by the Sony RX100 IV – it turned out to be the best pocket-friendly point and shoot camera I have used to date. Let’s take a look at this camera in more detail and see what it has to offer in its tiny body.
I still remember the first time I met Elia Locardi. I was busy passing through the vendor exhibits of the Photo Plus show in New York, when I saw a small crowd of people watching a presentation. What attracted me was not the crowd, because people were everywhere – it was the large LCD screen with some stunning imagery. At first, I stood there and paused for a moment, enjoying the fine scenery in front of my eyes and as I continued to hear the story behind each photograph, I came closer to the seating area and sat down. It was the Fujifilm booth and the young man with long blonde hair giving the presentation seemed to be very enthusiastic about his story and his technique of blending photographs. I did not even notice how quickly time went by – I probably sat there for at least 30 minutes, getting myself immersed into the presentation. At the end of the presentation, most people left and I just sat there. I really wanted to meet the man face-to-face and get to know him. As I started talking to Elia, I realized that he was not just an amazing photographer, but also a very down to earth guy. I also got to know his equally friendly and welcoming wife Naomi Locardi, who was there to support her husband every step of the way. At the end of our chat, I had a feeling that I had known Elia for years: that’s the type of a person he is. Since then, I have met Elia a number of times and I have been wanting to post about Elia and his work at Photography Life. Sadly, due to Elia’s crazy busy schedule and continuous travel all over the world, that project never materialized, but I am still hopeful that he will share some of his experience with our readers (Elia, it is never too late!). Fast forward to last July, when I found out that my good friends Patrick Hall and Lee Morris at Fstoppers.com collaborated with Elia Locardi in creating a brand new tutorial called “Photographing the World: Landscape Photography and Post-Processing“. Having seen some of the tutorials that Patrick and Lee produced in the past, I knew this one was not going to disappoint.