Nikon DSLR Map July 2010

Posted by on Jul 2, 2010 | 3 Comments

Interested in when new Nikon DSLRs will arrive? I know I get asked often, so I sat down and had a look to see if I can extrapolate what will arrive when based on the design trends and release patterns that Nikon have used.

In short the soonest we should get:

  • D4 – Q311
  • D3Xs – Q410
  • D4X – Q412
  • D700X or D700s or both – Q310
  • D800 – Q312
  • D400 – Q111
  • D90s or D90 replacement – Q310 or Q112
  • D5000 replacement – Q410 but this troubles me
  • D3000 replacement – Q111

Want to see why? Have a read of the full article to find out.

Nikon DSLR Map, July 2010

Nikon DSLR Map, July 2010

Back to Basics…

Posted by on Jun 17, 2010 | 3 Comments

So we have all accumulated a whole lot of gear. The better camera body, the nice glass…but have we turned around and looked what all this spending has allowed you to achieve?

In the last few years I have made a whirlwind transition from my first SLR that I owned (my sorely missed Nikon D40X + AF-S DX Zoom Nikkor 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G ED IF) to buying a D300, adding a S5 Pro and enough glass to make most people cry. However, in recent months I have returned back to the smaller, lighter, simpler form factor with the addition of the D60 and more recently the AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G. Don’t worry, I am not getting all “Ken Rockwell” on you all.

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I have really missed the inconspicuous nature and the creative freedom that such the smaller lighter bodies allow. But more importantly I have found myself using less, carrying less and spending less time worrying about what to use and spending more time taking photos. Most importantly I have in a sense recaptured some of the spontaneity in my photos that I lost when I moved to larger and heavier gear. In retrospect, I was happier with more of my work from the D40X compared to the work I did with the D300 and co. This is actually no fluke, restricting oneself forces us to think about what we do, makes us stop to compose, forces us to consider the chance of success of a shot.

I recently added the AF-S DX Zoom Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED IF VR into my kit bag. This lens harks back to the limitations of my 18-135mm but with a more restrictive range. The combination of the D60+16-85 is very reminiscent of the D40x+18-135 in size so it is in many ways a homecoming for me. Although I didnt bring home as many keepers on my last trip up to the Gold Coast where I ONLY brought this kit, I felt so free when I was using it. In short, I did not feel painfully restricted. I would happily travel again with only this kit.

This draws me to my main point: there is an innate sense of satisfaction in using simple gear. At the present I am happiest when I have a fast prime attached to my camera. In saying this, I do not mean an exotic prime, but the lowly 50mm f/1.8 or the 35mm f/1.8. Why? The answer is simple, with a fast, inexpensive prime I can enjoy all the benefits of my large, heavy, expensive f/2.8 lenses in a package that is not a pain to carry around. I have sharpness equal to professional zooms, I have great depth of field control and all in a tiny package that no one runs away from.

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So what primes? I have mentioned two lenses, one that has been in my kit longer than any other lens, and the other an addition that I have found hard to remove from my cameras.

The first is the traditional 50mm f/1.8 (aka “fast fifty”, “nifty fifty”), a lens that is cheap to make, superbly sharp and regardless of the manufacturer always one of the best. These lenses were traditionally the lenses sold in kits with film SLR’s. The lowly 50mm f/1.8 is what is termed a “normal” lens, meaning it gives us a field of view similar to that of what we see, however digital throws a curve ball at us as the field of view is cropped. This leaves us with a 50mm f/1.8 that has the field of view of a traditional 75mm (but not the same compression though). So on APS-C (DX in Nikon terms) the 50mm f/1.8 has proven to be a bit too “long” to be a useful walk around, this has not stopped many from buying and loving this lens (and it’s f/1.4 and even f/1.2 brothers). For me, the AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D represents the first extra lens I bought, and since the day I picked it up it has been in the kit bag even though I had to focus it manually on the D40x. It proves to be a great low light lens and due to the crop a fairly good portrait lens.

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The 2nd lens in question here is the AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G. I bought this lens on a whim, when I was woken by a very good friend who happened to be in New York and wanted to ask me which lens to buy (the 35mm or the 50mm mentioned earlier), I advised the 35mm and was quickly asked if I wanted one as well…the rest is history. Since I received my lens it has not really left the camera body. Traditionally the 35mm focal length is a bit wider than normal but not very wide, however on APS-C (or DX) 35mm provides a 52.5mm field of view….maybe you can see something here. For those who have not worked it out, 35mm is the digital 50mm, the normal field of view! Like a traditional 50mm f/1.8, Nikon’s DX 35mm f/1.8 is a small, lightweight package that offers supreme sharpness and depth of field control. I have found that this lens has just enough width of most everyday candid and street photography, therefore it has been constantly on one of my cameras (usually the D60).

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Between the 50mm and the 35mm (or digital 50mm) we have two simple lenses that are both fulfilling to use and inexpensive. For those of you who are not using Nikon: 4/3rds have the 25mm pancake, and Canon sounds to be making a cheap 35mm f/1.8 as well, not to mention the 35mm primes (also available for Pentax). Everyone should try a “fast 50” of some description. It is these basics that make photography fun and you’ll be surprised with what they can teach you!

For added versatility, consider coupling one of these lenses with a set of extension tubes, or even close up filters, (available here) for a handy macro solution!

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Exmor R vs SuperCCD HR an Incomplete Comparison

Posted by on Apr 3, 2010 | 2 Comments

Firstly I have to apologise for the lack of activity lately. I present the excuses of a higher than normal workload followed by some pretty nasty sickness. However, I did put together the beginnings of a comparison between Sony’s Exmor R (circa 2010) sensor and Fujifilm’s 8th Generation SuperCCD HR (circa 2008).

Fuji’s SuperCCD technology has long been the benchmark setting sensor in the compact camera market, producing the amazing F30/F31 (2006) compacts that have ISO performance that the compact cameras of 2010 are only starting to match. The technology has evolved quite greatly over the years culminating in the major redesign in 2008/9 to produce the current generation SuperCCD EXR, but the oversized octagonal photosites aligned at 45 deg remain.

Sony’s Exmor R sensor takes traditional CMOS and puts it on its head, literally. Traditional CMOS sensors have layers of circuitry overlaying the photosites, as you can imagine this is rather inefficient in capturing light. The Exmor R sensor has this reversed, it is the first backlit CMOS (ie. the circuitry in under the photosites) that has been mass produced.

These two technologies promise better light gathering abilities. As a long time Fuji user and the owner of a Fujifilm Finepix F100fd which utilises an 8th generation SuperCCD HR, I was keen to test the abilities of Sony’s Exmor R sensor, as a result I found myself the owner of a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX5. Unfortunately I have yet been able to source a SuperCCD EXR sensor for comparison, but lets see how 2yr old SuperCCD technology stacks up against Exmor R…..more

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The Wishlist….

Posted by on Oct 15, 2009 | No Comments

As with most people, there are a number of items that I lust for, and another set of items that simply dont exist but I would love to see. SO I thought I would share my wish list with you all…..more

UPDATE: Using a SB-400 off camera

Posted by on Jun 3, 2009 | No Comments

I have finally managed to get the combination of a SB-400 and a Su-4 optical trigger tested, unfortunately we have now confirmed that the SB-400 will not work with an optical slave.

For the full article about using the Nikon SB-400 off camera please refer to here…

REVIEW: Nikon SB-400: good things come in small packages

Posted by on May 24, 2009 | No Comments

The SB-400 is the baby of Nikon’s speedlight line up, designed to be cheap, compact, light and easy to use. Lacking CLS (Creative Lighting System) compatibility, restricted manual controls, zoom and only tilting in one direction, a lot of people overlook this diminutive flash in preference for the large and more versatile SB-600, SB-800 and SB-900, and this is not an entirely bad move to make. BUT the SB-400 should not be written off as a flash that was designed to hit a price point, as it caters for a very important target market, who would really benefit from this flash if they considered it for what is does….more

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