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on Apr 23, 2014 in Gear Head Wed

GearHead Wednesday 14 -15


Got a gear question you want/need answered? I want to help and answer it. 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. Lots of great questions, somebody must have some tax refund money! Keep in mind the answers are just my $.02 worth and you have to take what works for you and your photography and embrace it and ignore the rest. So here’s this weeks questions ….

First I want to say how much I enjoy following you through your photos.  I had an opportunity to attend one of your seminars at a Photoshop World and it was great.
I am getting ready to go to Iceland in July with the family and I have booked some Photo tours just for me.  I am worried that I won’t bring the equipment that I need and wondered if you had maybe a top 3-5 MUST bring equipment list that you would suggest for an outing primarily for landscape photos.
Thank you for your time and more importantly your great photos.


-John, thanks ever so much for the kind words and support!
As to your question, it’s a doosey! This is a very common question many have and regret I only have the answer for my own photography. If I was in your shoes (which I was lives ago when the boys lived at home), today I would take the Df, 16Fish, 18-35AFS, 24f1.4AFS and 80-400VR3 and that’s it. The reasoning behind this is to have the best possible quality in the least amount of gear while having the greatest versatility. For example the body choice, the Df, it’s light, fast, great high ISO performance (so no flash) and goes unnoticed. I would of course add to this a polarizer and split grad and since all the lenses have the same filter size, you’d only need one of each. Now I don’t know if this helps you at all, but it’s what I would do. Enjoy the family time, and enjoy Icleand!

Thanks for the advice on the 17-55 f2.8 DX lens. I am really enjoying it. I have no buyer’s remorse about spending the money. The next acquisition is a wide angle zoom. I am debating between the 10-24 f3.5-4.5 DX and 12-24 f4 DX. I have done some analysis of the difference in the field of view when each lens is set to the minimum focal length. If my rusty math is correct, here are the results of my analysis. Please feel free to check the calculations. (his chart of analysis not posted).
The difference in the field of view is enough to make the decision for me. My question is: Is there enough difference in the build quality or the optics to justify the 12 – 24 over the 10 – 24? A constant aperture would be nice but at basically 1/2 of a Fstop either way is not a real issue.
Young Son (unfunded Ph.D candidate & hopefully off books soon) has the 10-24. I use it when I can and get great results. But I believe in buying the best quality glass that I can afford. I typically use his lens when on vacation and want to get close to the subject and fill the frame with all of the subject or shooting buildings.
One last question, As a Nikon Ambassador, can you influence Nikon to introduce a fast (f2.8) wide angle prime lens that is not a fisheye for the DX? Granted we can always up the ISO but that can introduce noise.


-Jay, nothing personal, but could you have found a way to use more words to ask the question? 🙂
I think the question is, should you buy the 10-24 or the 12-24 lens, which is the best? Since your son has the 10-24, I would simply rent the 12-24 at the time you have your son’s 10-24 in hand and shoot a test. Wouldn’t need to do any math, you’d see the answer instantly in your viewfinder and images and would know from your own photos which is the best for you. I shot the 12-24 for many, many years and those results I still use to this day to make money and inspire others.
As to being a Nikon Ambassador and influencing Nikon in lens design, I am more than honored to put in the request in your name. Now understand that even if they were to act on this suggestion today, we wouldn’t see the lens for some time. Lens design, construction, manufacture and distribution doesn’t happen overnight.

Kestrel kids before fledging photod in '04 with D2H

Kestrel kids before fledging photod in ’04 with D2H from the ground w/flashfill

We have installed a kestrel box in our yard. I am using the CamRanger with my D4s and 600 VR2 to capture some of my images. The issue I am seeing is even with decent shutter speeds (1/400-1/640) there is camera shake in the shots (all knobs on gimbal and lens locked down). My set up is a RRS TVC-43L tripod with a Wimberly II gimbal. I also use the RRS long lens support on the lens and I hung a ten-pound weight off the tripod to add stability. There was little to no wind. When I shoot using this setup (sans CamRanger and extra weight) I get very sharp images, even at much lower shutter speeds.
I can send a photo of the setup, if that would help. I was only around 45 feet from the kestrel box and it’s a clear morning.
Thoughts, suggestions?


-Mark, you’ve got a great tool in the CamRanger and you’re doing exactly what I hope to be doing within the month with some nests. When you shoot long lenses remotely, your eye is not pressed against the eyepiece and your hand is not resting on the lens barrel. Basic long lens technique, so you need to make up for it. The easiest is to simply attach a brace (2 Section Articulated Arm & Super Clamp) between a tripod leg and the body and place a beanbag on the lens barrel. At least, that’s what I’ve done in the past and it works perfectly.

Moose is the speed of the Autofocus and how fast it acquires focus a function of the camera or the lens. Will newer camera bodies with better technology grab the focus and lock it in faster. Or is this all dependent on the lens with some being better than others?

-Mike, autofocus speed is a product of both body and lens, speed of acquisition being all in the body. Now there are some lenses that are slower in their physical process of focusing (moving of elements) and there are some that are faster. For example in the Nikon lenses, AFS will be the faster focusing lenses with the latest AFS being faster than older AFS lenses (though we’re talking milliseconds in some cases). The body is what’s telling the lens to focus so its speed is very important for the bottom line autofocus speed. So for example, the D1 with the original 80-400AF will be nowhere as fast autofocusing as the D4s / 80-400VR3. We’re talking just a decade between the technologies but it makes a world of difference. Currently, the D4s provides the fastest AF performance I have ever enjoyed which tells me that it will just keep getting better with time. I hope that answers your question.

Good Day Mr. Moose
I just saw the video of you fireside with your Mac Retina and you Wacom 13HD.  That looks like a setup from Photo Heaven!!!  If I was the Great Exulted Ruler of said Photo Heaven and banished the Wacom 13 HD and devices like it, what would you turn to as your preferred equipment in it’s place?


-Vanilla, I think you’re asking if you can’t afford the Wacom 13HD, what would be your next best option? Without a doubt, it would be the Wacom Intous 5. Same pen / tablet performance, just no monitor.

You had a recent article on front filters and not to rehash or go into the pros and cons, but years ago Nikon starting with like the last versions on the MF exotics replaced the front threads with a factory installed “flat piece of glass” to protect the front optical element. My understanding was this was simply protection and not an optically correcting piece of glass – am I wrong about that? So if Nikon saw fit to to permanently install a “clear filter” on their “best” glass the 200mm f2, 300mm f2.8, 400mm f2.8 & 600mm f4 then exactly how bad can it be on other “lesser” lenses? This is rarely mentioned by even some of the most ardent proponents of anything added detracts from the performance of the lens – I hardly think Nikon did something that overall made these lenses worse! Never heard or read of anyone having this “filter” removed from those lenses to improve them – maybe it happens but I doubt it.

-Leonard, Ya, my filter Post brought in a few comments. You are correct, the “big” boys all have a “protective’ front filter built into them which if damaged can be replaced and not effect the lenses’ optical design. Now if you’re asking why don’t they do that for all lenses, I would guess it has to do with price. I don’t think Nikon is putting those protective front filters on the big glass out of the goodness of their heart. I think the price tag covers that expense. So do such for smaller lenses would raise their price and with photographers so price conscience, it just wouldn’t make good sense. In the old days, long lenses would accept filters, 122mm and 160mm and they were bloody expensive!

photo courtesy of Nikon

photo courtesy of Nikon