As the proud owner of a Lowepro Transit Backpack 350AW and a ThinkTank Retrospective 20 messenger bag, you may well be wondering why I felt the need to add yet another bag to the collection. Well, the only answer I have for you is that my relentless search for the mythical “perfect camera bag” continues.
It has been 30 years since Nikon first introduced the original Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 Ai-S lens and long 20 years since the autofocus version, the Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D was released to the market. Since then, the 20mm prime sadly did not receive much attention, so it was about time for Nikon to refresh the line with a modern version. Nikon finally revealed a replacement on September 12, 2014 and the new lens came with a nice surprise – the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED is not only completely revamped in terms of optical design, but it is also 1.3 stops faster than its predecessors. Personally, I have been very interested in checking out the new 20mm f/1.8G lens, because I found the 28mm f/1.8G to be a bit too long for my taste. And although I love my 24mm f/1.4G (see my detailed review here), it is pretty expensive and often quite heavy to carry around. Thus, a wider, lighter and much less expensive lens sounded very appealing to me. I have had the joy of shooting with the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G for the past three months and as you will see in this review, the lens deserves high praises for its superb optical performance. Without giving any more spoilers, let’s jump into the review and see where and how it shines.
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.
It has been close to three years since Nikon announced the D4 and our readers might be wondering why I am only now reviewing the camera, especially given the fact that it has already been replaced by the Nikon D4s. While working on the D4s review, I thought that it would be a good idea to revisit the older D4 – better late than never! Since the camera came out, I have used it on several occasions for both personal and business needs, and a number of our team members have owned or still own the D4. Hence, the information and images that I gathered for this review represent a collective effort between our team at Photography Life.
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.
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.
Years ago after I purchased my first larger lens, a 300 f/2.8, I used it on a tripod with a ball head but it didn’t take me long to realize that this set up was less than ideal. If you shoot frequently with longer telephoto lenses, a gimbal head belongs in your kit. Shooting with a gimbal mount allows more freedom and mobility with the camera/lens than a ball head and it gives your arms a rest from hefting the load. On the other hand, for the price of all the gear you have purchased, you do at least get a free upper body workout. When using a ball head to support a large lens/camera combo, the weight sets on a pedestal on top of the ball head lending itself to having the ball loosen a bit and the lens flopping over. A gimbal allows you to move the gear right to left and up and down all while balanced so as to require minimal effort to maneuver the system as you track your subject. Gimbals can be either side mount or low swing arm/cradle type systems. The side mount gimbals tend to minimize materials and thus size and weight, while the low swing arm/cradle system tends to be larger and heavier with the advantage of being a bit easier to mount and balance. There are also full gimbal heads which will pan both vertically and horizontally and there are gimbal attachments that only tilt in the vertical dimension while relying on a ball head for horizontal panning.
The majority of my videography and photography work is with industrial clients, and I almost always find myself shooting onsite in warehouses, factories, and other indoor venues. In many of the buildings in which I shoot, lighting can consist of a mix of technologies such as high intensity discharge (metal halide, high pressure sodium, mercury vapour, low pressure sodium), fluorescent, and LED. To further complicate things sometimes facilities have had physical expansions and specific parts of a building can be illuminated by a mix of lighting sources. Rather than pull out the few, remaining hairs I have left on my head when having to deal with all of these variables, I try to simplify my shooting by bringing my studio lights with me and creating as much wide angle, controlled light as possible.
Like many photographers and videographers, I’ve found that there have been times when I really could have used a small, highly portable, adjustable light source. This most often occurred when I shooting close-up still images or video clips of industrial machinery where I couldn’t get my regular studio lighting to fit into cramped quarters. I began looking for a solution and came upon the Genaray LED-7100T On-Camera Light.
While I do a fair amount of still photography, the majority of my client work is shooting video with my DSLR and mirrorless cameras. When buying tripods and heads I need to consider their functionality from both perspectives. As I recently added a camera jib to my video equipment arsenal, I started seriously considering a heavier capacity tripod and head. My current tripods, which are capacity rated to 17.6 lbs. (8.8 Kg), were falling a bit short in terms of providing the degree of stability that I need when shooting video. And, my existing fluid video head wasn’t quite able to provide the stability I needed when using my slider kit loaded with my D800 and a heavy FX lens. I also felt that a taller tripod would allow me to get the most out of my camera jib by capturing higher, more dramatic video scenes.