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on Feb 5, 2014 in Gear Head Wed

GearHead Wednesday 14-06


Got a gear question you want answered? Send your gear questions to me at Gear Questions and I’ll do my best every Wednesday to answer as many questions 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 ….

Wearing Glasses & Handholding
I went through the same problems wearing glasses and getting older doesn’t help either. I tried contacts and cheaters and they didn’t do the job. Last year a Photoplus expo I was at the Hoodman booth and picked up a pair of titanium frames the the lens will flip up. I had my prescription put in the glasses set the diopter on my camera for my shooting eye so all I do is flip my lens up and press my eye against the rubber cup. It works great.


You bring up a great option Craig, the Hoodman Glasses are a great solution for many! Also, Hoodman makes a HUGE eyecup that I’ve seen many shooters use while wearing their glasses. Great to see a company recognizing photographer’s problems and solving them!!! Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

80-400 & 200-40080-400AFS
I would like to get your thoughts on the pro’s and con’s between the Nikon 80-400 and 200-400 lenses. I am primarily a wildlife and landscape shooter and see that you are hyping the the 80-400 quite a bit. Does the 200-400 buy you a large increase in quality, or just more light?


Fred, I actually have and use quite often the 80-400VR3 and 200-400VR2 and you’re not alone asking this question. Cutting to the chase, I don’t think there is any optical difference between the two lenses. They are both very sharp, very fast AF and simply sexy lenses! I have no hesitation recommending either lens to photogs.

Now as to “hyping” the 80-400, you might be right in that I’m hyping it but I think the reason might not be clear. Until the 80-400 arrived, wildlife photographers didn’t have a super sharp, super fast AF 400mm lens in the Nikon line that is “inexpensive.” For many wanting to get into wildlife photography, the price of the 200-400 can be a deal killer. So for that reason, I want folks to know the 80-400VR3 is a great lens and not anything like the original 80-400.

When it comes to my own personal use, both lenses get the same amount of use but I have very specific applications for both. Aviation, air to air and statics, I use the 80-400 to death. When it comes to ground to air, I use the 200-400. Wildlife when going after birds, the 80-400 is the backup lens to the 800mm. With mammals, it’s the 200-400. And for landscapes, it’s the 80-400. And if you think I’m nuts, you would be 100% correct but that’s how I’m shooting now.

Settings Upsetting the Apple Cart
Hi Moose,
This may or may not qualify, but my problem is what have I done wrong when my menu options on a D4 or a D800 don’t want to let me do what they should?
Both bodies have relatively recently been serviced by Nikon and I assumed that the settings would not be changed by them (BIG Mistake!). So I tried to reset my menu options using your suggestions from your Blog.
However, the D800 just won’t let me “Lock mirror up for cleaning” even though I have recharged both batteries (in-camera and MB-D12), the option is just greyed out.
The D4 does not give me “My menu” but “Recent Settings”.
Finally in a sort of settings mode – is there a way to get notified if Nikon update the firmware?
As always thank you for the immense help and knowledge you provide and the immeasurable inspiration.
Warmest Regards


Richard, setting conflicts can drive a photog nuts! I wasn’t aware though of any in the D800 and only one in the D4. First thing I would look at is the Network setting in the D4 and make sure that is turned off. Next, I would make sure on the D4 the battery doesn’t need to be calibrated which can mess things up some times. The Recent Setting is because you need to change the menu item from Recent to My Menu. But all of my settings are posted on the website so if you follow those, you will have no conflict. And if all else fails, do a Factory Reset of the settings and go through them one more time.

No matter the camera or brand, I highly recommend folks Save Settings to their card prior to sending it off (and keeping that card in a safe place waiting for its return). Save them settings and then check them by reloading them into the camera prior to sending off the camera. Depending on the camera and the service, you might have none or all your settings changed when the camera is returned. By saving them to a card, most of your resetting of settings is dealt with for you but there are some you will always have to do manually no matter what.

When it comes to receiving notifications from Nikon about firmware updates, there is no automated service at this time.


New or Old, that is the Question
Hi Moose!
Love your blog and website. I have you on my daily list of sites to check out. Thank you for all you do to help us amateurs make the most of our photography experience.
My question for GearHead Wed is…
I read on GearHead 14-01 under the post of “Which FX” where you detail the D4, Df, &D610 as the models for the person who asked about which FX model to move to. I too am getting ready to make the move to a FX body and this post was extremely insightful. I have always desired a pro body starting back to the D2 but have not had the funds or real justification for this high of a model. Now as I ponder the move I’m wondering how the older models that are still in the market would stack up to the D4. I really don’t like the looks of the DF and want the video abilities so I’m stuck between settling for D610 or stretching to a D4. Should I be considering the older D3 models (D3, D3S or D3X)?


Mike, first thanks for the kind words. Knowledge only has value when it is shared otherwise the pain in gaining it is a waste.

There are many “older’ bodies that do a great job since, in all honesty, it’s the person behind them that counts. Personally, many images from the original Coolpix from 1998, D1s, all the way up to current bodies I’ve used for my photography are still very much in use, so they produce the quality required. You need to buy the best you can afford, be it new or old and then perfect the most important tool, you! Since I don’t know you, your style of photography or abilities, I can’t just say buy ….. but of the options you list, I would go D4, D610 and then D3s since you want video (most miss the fact the Df doesn’t have video).

Can you Hide a Moose?
Hey Moose,
I was wondering if you had any thoughts about camouflage or blinds. My point being that I almost had an eagle in close until it saw me ease (not jerk) my camera up to get a shot. I did get a heron up close because it flew up river and didn’t know I was around the bend. I was also in shooting position so I did not make any unnecessary movements. However, it ain’t easy staying in shooting position
for 8 hours at 50 years old. LOL Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated.Thanks,


The blind at Rowe Sanctuary for Sandhills on the Platt

The blind at Rowe Sanctuary for Sandhill Cranes on the Platt River

Jeff, blinds or hides are something I hate with a passion! I rarely if ever use them and in fact, in the last five years, I’ve only used a blind a couple of times and that’s with the Sandhill Cranes on the Platt where they are required.

With that said, blinds mask a whole lot that helps the shy critter come in close. And that’s really what they’re for, the shy subject or the photographer who can’t hold still. Blinds can also help you beat the clock. When you don’t have time to do the homework or stay in one location for a while, the blind helps critters come in closer, faster.

As for camouflage, I’ve never been a believer. We’re not talking hunting here, we’re talking photography, so shouldn’t confuse the two. I use myself for an example, there simply is no hiding me or making me blend in, so looking like a six foot tall leaf never made any sense to me. Now knowing and using basic biology which is all I’ve done all my career, I’ve gotten as close to critters as I want to. At the same time, this knowledge not only helps you get the better photograph, but protects the welfare of the subject. There is no one answer that fits all, but this is what works for me.

The Missing Setting
Hi, my name is Joe Spoto. I am a big fan of yours and I learn something new just about every day reading your blog. I just received my Df today and am in hog heaven!! Occasionally I would get out my Nikkormat and my FE and just look at them wishing that there could be a digital version. I have a question for you, if you don’t mind. On my D3s and D700 I have the command dial set to scroll through images during playback. I cannot figure out how to do this with the Df or know if it is even an option? Do you know if it is an option on the Df?
Thank you,

Hi Joe! Glad you like the Df, I am a huge fan of it! It just so happens I posted all my Df settings and what you want is Custom Setting f7 > Menus and Playback > On