Nikon SB-500 Review

Nikon SB-500

The Nikon SB-500 speedlight was announced in September of 2014 together with the Nikon D750 and Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G lens. Sitting above the compact SB-300 and below the larger and more powerful SB-700, the SB-500 is targeted at beginners and enthusiasts, who want something more capable than a built-in flash or a basic speedlight. The SB-500 comes with an interesting list of features, one of which we have never previously seen on Nikon speedlights before – built-in LED lights. Although I personally had very little interest in using the SB-500, as I heavily rely on SB-800 and SB-900 speedlights for my work, ability to run LED lights continuously seemed like an interesting idea. In addition, with the SB-500 abilities of being both a commander and a remote flash unit with full compatibility with Nikon’s CLS system, I thought that perhaps I could use it in combination with my other speedlights. So I decided to check out and do a quick review of the SB-500, to see if it would potentially be a suitable tool for my photography needs.

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Nikon 35mm f/1.8G ED Review

Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G ED

After Nikon introduced the super lightweight and inexpensive Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G lens for DX cameras, many Nikon shooters started requesting a similar lens for full-frame cameras. Those who did not want to spend over $1500 on the professional Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G did not have a lot of options from Nikon aside from either using the 35mm f/1.8G DX lens on full-frame, or using the older Nikkor 35mm f/2D lens. Sigma’s timing on the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art was spot on for a number of people with its lower price point and superb optical performance, but it also came with both size and bulk considerations. On January 6 2014, Nikon finally announced the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G ED lens to fill that gap. At $599 MSRP, the lens is not only significantly cheaper than the f/1.4 version, but it is also twice lighter and more compact. I had a chance to use this lens for a few months this year and although I could not work on a full review earlier due to time constraints and other commitments, I was very pleased with its optical performance.

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FastRawViewer Review: Best RAW Viewer for Your Workflow

FastRawViewer

No matter what software one uses for post-processing photographs, the process of selecting what images to keep and work on, also known as “culling”, can be quite painful when dealing with thousands of images. And this gets even more painful when working with RAW images, because operating systems usually have no built-in capabilities to view and properly render RAW files. Many photographers end up keeping all RAW images on their computers, because they do not want to go through the hassle of deleting bad images they will never use, only to realize overtime that their hard drives get filled up quickly and their post-processing time takes much longer. Those who try to cull images in Lightroom know that if a full size image preview is not generated at the time of import, it can take a long time to render each image. Sadly, Lightroom is quite weak at quickly previewing images, so working pros and enthusiasts usually end up complementing the culling part of their workflow with additional software like Photo Mechanic. At $150, however, Photo Mechanic costs as much as a retail version of Lightroom, becoming a cost barrier for many. Enter FastRawViewer, an amazingly fast and truly inexpensive RAW file viewer that has become my personal choice for culling images. It was developed by the same folks that created RawDigger – one of the best scientific tools for analyzing RAW images. In this review, I will take a closer look at FastRawViewer, go through some of its features and hopefully help you in simplifying both your workflow and your photo backup / storage needs.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Review: Photography and Writing

Microsoft Surface Pro 3_1

Here I am, sitting at a cozy coffee house. Not just some coffee house, too, but a place where a lot of young people hang out – students, mostly. They come here for a cup of coffee much like people do at Starbucks overseas. Like me, they also come here to work – I’ve seen more MacBooks here than I did in iDeal (official Apple product distributor in Lithuania, similar to iStore / Apple Store). But I don’t have a MacBook. Perhaps that is why through the corner of my eye I notice a young girl looking my way. Now, my Julie has no reason to worry. The girl is not interested in me whatsoever. What caught her eye is the computer on my lap. She notices me noticing her and immediately says – “What sort of computer is that? It’s pretty.” Right. So this might not help my self esteem, but the girl is indeed correct. I appreciate a good design and, well, this thing looks the part. Coupled with the bright blue keyboard, certainly good enough to attract attention.

Whether you want it to attract attention or not is a different matter. More importantly, though, it’s not all looks and no substance. Quite the contrary, in fact – Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 is ready to give someone a bloody nose.

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Think Tank Airport Roller Derby Review

Think Tank Airport Roller Derby Camera Bag-10

This is a review of the Think Tank Airport Roller Derby rolling camera bag. When I first saw that Think Tank had released a new 4 wheel camera bag, I was immediately curious. I had been using the Airport 4-Sight since it first came out and was very happy with it, but had filled it with as much gear as could fit in it and simply needed more room. The Roller Derby is a larger bag that looks like it has a few improvements over the 4-Sight. Could it become my new camera bag?

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Outex vs Shape Wave Waterproof DSLR Housings

D_KISH_Clint_Silver-Grotto_Grand-Canyon_DSC_9600

We’re pleased to have one of Arizona’s top professional photographers, Dawn Kish, share her experience field testing two waterproof DSLR housings on a Grand Canyon raft adventure. Dawn is not only a regular shooter for magazines such as National Geographic Adventure and Arizona Highways, but a former river guide as well. For a quick one-minute video review of these two housings in action, scroll to the bottom of this post. For the more detailed analysis, read on.

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Feisol Tournament Tripod and CB-50D Ballhead Review

Feisol Tournament Tripod and CB-50D Ballhead

When I first received the box with my Feisol Tournament Tripod and CB-50D head, it was unbelievably light. I almost wondered if they forgot something in the shipment. When I opened the box I found a very nice looking carbon fiber tripod and ballhead, but how would this super light combo perform in the field? In this review, I will be going over my personal experience with the Feisol system and compare it to my Manfrotto setup that I have been using for several years.

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Nikon 1 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR Review

CX 70-300 review Image 33

The past 12 months has seen some very interesting developments in the ultra-zoom lens market with the launch of the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 VC and two new 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lenses from Sigma. These lenses, combined with the Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 (both the old and new version), Nikkor 80-400 f/4.5-5.6 VR, Sigma 150-500 f/5-6.3, and Sigma 50-500 f/5-6.3 give buyers a larger selection of reasonably affordable long telephoto zoom lens options than ever before. But there is at least one aspect that is shared between all these lenses despite different brands and parameters – they are all enormous. In this particular review, however, I am going to talk about what is the smallest lens of this class for interchangeable lens cameras, and that is the diminutive (in comparison to the others) 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 which has an equivalent field of view of 189-810mm.

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Voltaic Solar Battery Charger Review

Verm-Voltaic-Grand-Canyon-4632

What to do when you are out in the field with amazing scenery to shoot, a handful of exhausted camera batteries, and no electric outlets in sight? Self-disembowlment comes to mind, but wait, there are better options. I was recently on an 18-day Grand Canyon rafting trip and faced with the above dilemma. One option I utilized was a small waterproof solar charging system from Voltaic. The unit I tested was a beta version as far as the waterproof housing went, but other than the housing, it used the components of Voltaic’s 17 Watt Solar Charger Kit ($265 MSRP).

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Nikon D4s Review

Nikon D4s

Exactly after two years since the Nikon D4 announcement, Nikon made the D4s public at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on January 6, 2014. Although the camera was not ready for a full announcement, Nikon wanted to have something to show at the CES, so it only hinted about the development of the camera and its intentions to preview it. The camera was officially announced at the end of February and the first units started to ship shortly after in March. The Nikon D4s is a modest upgrade over the D4, with very slight ergonomic changes, expanded ISO range, faster image processor, faster wired / Ethernet speed, improved battery capacity and a bunch of new firmware options. As an incremental update, the Nikon D4s basically solidified the already superb D4 and made it even better.

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