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on Jan 15, 2014 in Gear Head Wed

GearHead Wednesday 14-02

It’s pretty simple, you send your gear questions to Gear Questions and every Wednesday, I’ll answer as many as I can. Keep in mind the answers are just my $.02 worth and you have to take what works for you and embrace it and ignore the rest. So here’s this weeks questions ….

Hey Moose, I have 2 short & silly questions, but I’d be glad if you’ll answer them. They are not about improving photography skills or techniques, but only about satisfying my curiosity. I’m not sure other people might be interested in that kind of questions, but on the other hand I dont’t consider myself unique in this world 1) How often do you change your camera bodies, due to shutter releases limits & high amount of photographs you shoot every year? 2) Do you have tiny dust particles stuck on the focusing screen of your cameras or do you have always a clear viewfinder when shooting? Thanks in advance,

Eduard, there are no silly questions, only thing silly is not asking those questions you need answers to in order to move your photography forward!

I’ve never changed bodies because of shutter actuations, I personally don’t believe is that stuff as being relevant in our DSLRs. I’ve never even looked at the numbers for my bodies but my primary D4 in 2013 filed 387k images (and that’s its 2nd year!) and is still going quite strong as my primary body. I only “upgrade” my bodies when a new tool comes out that solves problems my current tools don’t.

I don’t have any dust on the top of the screen in my camera, that’s because I have them instantly cleaned if that happens! It drives me nuts even though I know it won’t effect the image, it’s distracting visually. I have an angled brush that permits the careful wiping of the underside, exposed part of the screen but if it’s on top, up in the viewfinder that I can’t reach, I send it into Nikon to have it cleaned.

Gear Head Question:
Since both Nikons (DF and D4) have the same sensor size, can the Nikon DF capture 6 stops of usable dynamic range just like the D4?
Thank you,


Pat, this is a great question! Yes, amongst many other good things, the Df share this amazing quality as well since both cameras have the SAME sensor. In fact, you check out the quick lesson I recently posted on Behance shot with the Df, you’ll see this in action. Understand you have to know about these six stops and expose accordingly. For example, prior to the D4 / Df, I could honestly say I never went to Plus Exposure Compensation. Now I’m there pretty often and that’s because of the sensor / processing system of the D4 / Df. And at the same time, the file is processed in ACR 8+ which does a great job with all that info. It’s also why I rarely if ever do HDR anymore which makes photography just that much more funnier for me. Smart man to pick up on that!

I have recently upgraded my venerable D7000 to a D600 and notice one glaring difference that is very bothersome. With the D7000, I used the Live View function fully zoomed in for critical sharpness. When I use this function on the D600, all I get is an atrocious noise level and am unable to achieve the sharpness this way. I have asked our Pro’s at my Camera Club and they say that is the way it is with higher rez sensors. My question then, is there a work-around for this, or do I need to rely on auto-focus?
Thanks and love your work!


Joe, thanks for the kind words! You’re doing a technique I personally have never attempted nor even thought of. Being of the old school, I do it all in the viewfinder so my eye never leaves the subject and relying on AF 90% of the time, manual focus the rest for a sharp subject. Obtaining critical focus is very important which is why so many folks use the Hoodman Loops, chimping after the fact to check focus. Long ago, prior to the modern LCD monitors we enjoy today, I was given a white paper saying that the LCD was not capable of displaying critical sharpness. So you might go with the Hoodman Loop for a solution, best I can come up with for you.

Hi Moose –
I have some cheap light stands that aren’t very stable using a soft box. Can you recommend some light stands that are good quality and won’t break the budget. Or, are light stands more like tripods: buy the best you can afford? At the moment, I’m looking to use these in a home studio and outdoors for portraits.


Steve, there is nothing worse than “cheap” stands (or tripods for that matter). And like you, I’ve gone through a few. My good friend Gabe at B&H recently turned me onto the Manfrotto 5001B Nano Stands and I love them!!! I use them with the Westcott Rapid Box Octa/ SB-910 / PocketWizard FlexTT5, Nikon SD-9 or Westcott Strip Box / SB-910 / PocketWizard FlexTT5,Nikon SD-9 mounted on them no problem (you can see them in use here)! Now if you need beefer, I go right to the big boys, Avenger C Stands which I have four of and use quite often.

Recently got a Nikon V2 and FT1 adapter with the idea of trying it with my 300mm f2.8 AF-I lens. However with the latest firmware in both camera and adapter it does not recognize lens to allow AF only MF. However on my D300 & D7000 bodies the AF works just fine and is recognized as AF-I. My TC-14E converter is also an AF-I labeled model and while I understand that the TC-14EII AF-S model is the same wonder if I get a AF-S lens such as a 70-200 VR if use of converter will cause same issue. Unfortunately I have no AF-S lenses that work with the converter but those that I have work fine with V2/FT1 combo without converter. Find little about this on web and what little is out there claims AF-I lenses should work – so is it my lens, the latest firmware, V2 vs V1. If anyone could provide hands on experience it would be greatly appreciated.

Leonard, in the week since you wrote this question, I have found no answers for you. I also regret that while I could get my hands on the FT1, I could find no older AFI lens to test on. I do know the AFI and AFS computer chip that resides in the lens do communicate different info so hearing your AFI does not work does not surprise me. Sorry I couldn’t find a definitive answer for you though.


I have a D7000 & Nikon 70×200 VRII. I wish had more reach sometimes, 400mm would be great. I’ve thought about adding a Teleconverter, but I know you sacrifice quality and speed and I didn’t wait two years to buy my 70×200 just to dumb it down. My gut says limit the damage and go with a Tc-14Ell, but my desire says go for the range & get the new Tc-20Elll. I know teleconverters perform differently on different set ups that’s why I included what I’m using. I’m just a hobby shooter who loves tack sharp images. I shoot portraits, landscape and wildlife. I can’t justify getting a 400mm yet. Which one would you recommend for me if any?

Mark, I’ve used all three of Nikon’s teleconverters on the 70-200VR2, the 1.4x, 1.7x and 2x with great success. In fact, the 70-200 / 1.7x was my main set up for my air to air photography until I acquired the 80-400. I did not see any loss in sharpness because of the teleconverter. While many say they do, the problem lies not with the combo, but what we like to say nicely as, pilot error. With the increase in focal length and the change in balance point, many have an issue with proper handholding and getting a sharp image. But personally, can easily recommend the combo!