Waterproof, shockproof, mirrorless and with a 14mp sensor larger than most point-and-shoot sensors, the Nikon 1 AW1 (MSRP $799.95) is the only camera in its class. It seemed an ideal choice for a photographer with a bad case of pixelitis who was going to ride an overgrown innertube down the raging rapids of the Grand Canyon. To quote from Nikonusa.com: “At last, stunning images from a camera you don’t need to baby. From kayaking to mountain climbing, keep the rugged Nikon 1 AW1 by your side. Waterproof to 49 feet without a bulky protective housing—carry it rafting, swimming or snorkeling.” Okay.
Like most photographers I have a few different gear bags and none of them seems to be the perfect solution to meet all of my needs. I further compound this problem by buying more gear, then kicking myself in the butt when my storage and transport issues get even more complicated.
Many people who own Nikon 1 camera gear have an interest in close up photography. Unfortunately at the time of writing of this article there was no 1 Nikon macro lens available. Photographers can use their DX or FX Nikkor macro lenses on their Nikon 1 bodies by using an FT-1 adapter. I’ve done this in the past with my Nikkor 105mm Micro f/2.8 and found that the resulting set-up felt unbalanced as the lens dwarfed my V2 body. The autofocus on my macro lens tended to hunt quite a bit when used with the FT-1 I for close up work. As a result I typically used it on a tripod and manually focused the lens.
Right before the big Photokina show in Germany, Nikon introduced another full frame DSLR in 2014, the Nikon D750. Packing the newest and the most advanced 51-point Multi-CAM 3500 FX II autofocus system, a 24 MP sensor, 6.5 frames per second continuous shooting speed, built-in WiFi and a very lightweight and weather-sealed construction, the Nikon D750 sits between the entry-level D610 and the high-megapixel D810 lines. And with its price point of $2,299 MSRP, the D750 is an attractive choice not only for hobbyists and enthusiasts who want to move up from a DX or an older FX camera, but also for working professionals, who have been leaning away from higher resolution or more expensive cameras like D810 or D4S. Although the Nikon D750 did not replace the older D700 in terms of body build, ergonomics and features, it has a lot more resolution, much faster processor, significantly faster and superior autofocus system, a tilting LCD screen and impressive video capabilities. Thanks to these changes and improvements, the D750 hits the sweet spot in a number of areas and has the potential of becoming the most popular full-frame camera in Nikon’s current DSLR line-up.
When it comes to ultra wide-angle lenses, the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G is an outstanding choice, thanks to its top notch corner to corner sharpness, amazing colors and superb performance throughout the focal range. The lens has become a legend, outperforming most ultra wide-angle primes on the market in terms of resolution. As I have revealed in my in-depth Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G review, even Canon shooters have been using this lens with adapters since it is so good (and I have seen Sony A7/A7R users with this lens as well). The only downfall of the 14-24mm is its lack of a lens filter, which makes it impossible to use regular circular polarizers and filter holders. Thanks to the popularity of the lens, a number of manufacturers developed larger filter holder systems that allow mounting both polarizing and rectangular filters (such as neutral density and graduated neutral density filters). One such manufacturer is FotodioX, which developed the most popular filter system for the lens, the WonderPana FreeArc, which I am reviewing here. Although the review sample I received is for the Nikon 14-24mm lens, the FotodioX WonderPana is in fact available for a number of lenses from different manufacturers. For example, those that shoot with the Canon 14mm f/2.8L II lens can also use the same system using slightly different adapters.
The battery grip has to be the most overpriced accessory in photography. Think about it – it’s a plastic/composite case filled with batteries and a few switches – that’s it. How come a Nikon MB-D12 costs $399 and the batteries aren’t even included? The Nikon D3300 body costs a bit more and it comes with a battery (and a 24mp sensor + EXPEED 4 processor, etc. etc). Heck, for 50 bucks you can buy a similarly-sized plastic case filled with batteries and switches that has 16 programmable modes, multiple movable parts and will do a heck of a job massaging your back when you are in pain, post-processing those wedding photos from the couple that will probably get divorced before you are done. So why use a battery grip?
A fortunate event took place a couple of weeks ago – my wife Lola lost the eyecup from her Nikon Df camera (see our in-depth review of the Nikon Df). She wasn’t sure how, but it most likely just got unscrewed while she was busy photographing a wedding. Why fortunate? Because I started to look for a replacement, something I have never done before. Indeed, those eyecups usually stay attached securely on cameras and practically never come off, so this was the first. During my search, I came across the Nikon DK-17M magnifying eyepiece – something I have seen before, but never cared to use. As I was ordering the replacement eyecup for the Df (and I was getting the superior “Anti-Fog” version), I decided to also get the DK-17M and give it a try. Since I enjoy using the Nikon Df with older Nikkor prime lenses, I thought it would be a good idea to try it with those manual focus lenses. When the package arrived, I mounted it on the Nikon Df that already had Lola’s favorite Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens attached and I was immediately blown away! The 1.2x magnification made the viewfinder appear much larger and I could see everything so much clearer, that I wondered why I had never even tried one of these before. After a couple of days of using the DK-17M, I ordered a few more for each of our cameras and now I cannot imagine using my DSLRs without these handy little magnifiers!
Being a professional photographer, I constantly deal with a large flow of photographs that need to be imported, processed and backed up as part of the workflow process. Although I do everything I can to keep several copies of my photo library on different computers and storage devices, it is still a lot of data to keep track of continuously. Every time I revisit my backup strategy and make changes to it, whether by altering the process or introducing new software or hardware, the thought of potentially losing all of my images scares me to death. Years of hard work, client files and resulting terabytes of data make me nervous whenever I think about potential failures and disasters. Taking backups off-site is not something one can easily do continuously and transferring gigabytes of freshly photographed RAW material to the cloud is not only impractical, but can also get quite costly. And despite our attempts in keeping multiple copies of data at home or in our business offices, what if a real disaster takes place? Floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and fire could strike any time and can be very costly to recover from. What if you had a storage solution that offered fire and water protection, with the capability to withstand temperatures up to 1550°F and protect data from floods up to 10 feet deep, submerged fully in water for 3 days straight? What if this storage solution offered scalability, incredibly fast performance and RAID-level protection utilizing the best of the breed platform? That’s where ioSafe products come in, which are specifically built for protection against such disasters. These unique solutions are powered by the award winning Synology DSM, the platform that I have been a fan of for the past few years.
When providing high resolution images to our clients, or uploading images to this website, I often extract JPEG images between 70%-85% quality. Although some photographers often do extract their images at 100% quality, I rarely felt the need to do it, since file sizes get outrageously big, while the differences in quality are too small (and often impossible) to notice. I recently came across an interesting product by JPEGmini called “JPEGmini Pro“, which is specifically targeted at photographers like me that are looking for a good way to save space without losing image quality. By design, JPEG is a pretty compressed image format that was designed for the web in mind. It applies compression algorithms to reduce massive images in other formats like TIFF and offers the ability to use different compression levels. So when I first looked at JPEGmini Pro, I wondered how different it was compared to the JPEG engine used in Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, the two programs I use the most to extract images. In this review, I will be exploring the Lightroom version of the JPEGmini Pro, which seamlessly integrates into my workflow without adding any complexity or unnecessary overhead.
In the past we have been using a self-sealing cutting mat, Olfa knife, and a steel edge safety ruler to do all of our custom trimming of posters and prints. Fortunately the vast majority of our work has not required any custom trimming since we design all of our standard posters around 17” (43.18 cm) roll paper, and posters come off our printer trimmed to size and ready to ship.