You know me, I gotta play with the new stuff when it comes out and I have to tell you, the new 60AFS micro is fun to play with! My first look at the lens was during our Redwoods DLWS event. I was so impressed I begged the NPS rep who had the lens to send it to me for a couple of days for a project (he’s a real nice guy for a suit).
When first announced I wondered why come out with a new one since the original 60micro is so tack sharp. Well, the first thing you notice with the lens is the fact that it has IF (internal focus). This means there is no expanding or contracting when you focus. This is HUGE in my book. The AFS isn’t a really big deal to me since I manually focus most of the time when working with the 60micro. You will love the sharpness of the lens, it is tack corner to corner. But lastly, you’ll love the price, it’s pretty darn inexpensive. Check it out, you might just find a place for it in your camera bag!
This is one cool tool! The WT-4a brings to digital photography the ability to finally see on our computer monitor exactly what the camera is seeing, wirelessly! That’s right, using Camera Control Pro 2, D3 or D300 and the WT-4a, you can use Live View wirelessly!
As good as this sounds, like everything involving computers, there’s a hitch or two. I’ve been working these out for my own upcoming projects this spring (nesting birds). In the process, I wrote down what I found worked for me which will be available shortly in the upcoming BT Journal.
But this brings up an important part of wildlife photography. There are new tools coming out for the digital photographer on a nearly daily basis. Some are great, some are pure junk. Checking them all out and running their problem solving abilities through your own photographic tasks and you might find one that makes the difference between getting the photo or not.
Lenscoat has some cool new protection for our gear just in time for summer travels with TSA. Their new BodyBag Pro is cool because it really takes up no room yet provides a barrier between your camera body and the outside world (the body is faded in above so you can see how easily and custom the BodyBag Pro fits a D3). You can even use this with the body attached to a neckstrap. The FlashKeeper does the same thing for your flash unit while providing an extra compartment for batteries or gels. It easily holds the SB-800 with the 5th battery chamber attached. And the BeamerKeeper is super for holding the Better Beamer. I rely on all of these products to protect my gear when I’m flying and when it’s being shipped in the Pelican to locations. It’s never let me down!
It’s here! We’re quite happy to tell the world (well sort of, it’s in our current BTJ) about our latest photopack, the MP-7. In my mind, I call it the Joe McNally pack because it can easily carry 4 SB-800s and all the other gear I’ve seen my hero take out when he works his magic. To learn more and to place your order, head here. The majority of our first shipment is already gone, so new orders might not be shipped for two-three weeks. But it’s well worth the wait. This is the photopack I was carrying around Photoshop World a couple of weeks ago that many were asking about.
As promised, here’s some trivia on the new 24PC-E lens. I’ve shot with it for about a month now, starting at the March Moab DLWS event. It can be used as a “regular” 24mm lens with manual focus put that’s not truly how it’s meant to be used. Simply put, it’s an amazing piece of optical technology. Its Tilt is vastly more than what I expected, the Shift is what I expected. The panos it produces are stunning. It is a very sharp lens with amazing edge to edge quality.
It’s purpose, operation and shooting tips I’ve written up in a four page PDF you can find here. Hope it helps.
Started receiving a number of emails asking, “Where on your blog are these videos?” Finally, someone said they heard them mentioned at PSWTV. If I didn’t have this or that micro site, it probably would be easier to keep track of all this “stuff” I’ve put out there (I have a paper map on my desk so I can find stuff). Anyways you can find the D3 videos here. Will I be doing the same thing for the D300? I won’t. As time has gone by, I’ve gone to just shooting with the D3 with its FX sensor for everything so I don’t know the D300 that well. Many of the settings on the D3 like those for the AF translates to the D300 though just fine. Will I be coming out with more videos? Heck yeah…just watch the blog next week. Remember that McNally posting about me a while back….pay back time
This has been a common question of late, “what about flash and the D3?” and it’s a darn good question. What about using iTTL flash with the D3? What about using flash with the 600VR? What about using flash with wildlife? All darn good questions that I’m trying to produce new content as quickly as I can to help answer. I have two of the three answers up for you now. We’ve just posted TWO NEW videos on D3 flash. You can find them here. I’ve posted a new paper on the basics of using iTTL flash in the D3 and flash in general you can find here.
Hopefully while I’m on the road the next couple of weeks (in part filming Wildlife Photography videos for Kelby Training), I can get some content written on flash for wildlife. Flash for wildlife is different from what you’ll learn from the greats, the Strobist or Joe McNally because we have no control over our subject so it requires a little different approach.
What you see pictured here is the flash set up I use with the 600VR (which you’ll notice is wearing its “coat“) when photographing birds. The 600VR is mounted on a Whimberley Head with the Whimberley F-9 Flash Arm holding a SB-800. There is a shortened SC-29 cable connecting (using this) the flash to the D3. There is a SD-8a powering the SB-800 with a BetterBeamer (to increase DOF) attached to the SB-800 head.
At every DLWS event, I demo the power of Capture NX numerous times. That’s because it’s an important tool in my finishing of images. The makers of Capture NX, Nik, have now brought that power, U Point Technology, to Photoshop in a pluggin called Viveza (a name that rolls off the tongue). Your digital darkroom time has just been cut to nothing!
Here’s a photo of Chatham Lighthouse in MA in the Viveza UI inside of Photoshop. You can see in the lower right corner the before and after of the roof. The vibrant color on the right comes from the Control Point I’ve dropped on the tile roof and than yanked over the slider on Saturation, Brightness and Contrast. This is the exact same thing you can do in NX working on a Raw file (NX can also so this to a Jpeg & Tiff) but now in Photoshop.
I actually dropped a total of three points on this photograph. One on the roof to make it pop, one of the green window casings to make them darker and a third on the sky to make it darker, stormier. And in less than 30 seconds, without selecting, masking or brushing, I was able to take this image from bla to colorful to say the least.
as you can see in this comparison, it’s quite a difference (the roof color from the UI isn’t accurate, not sure what was going on with the screen captures).
As I see it, Viveza brings the power of U Point technology to a whole lot more now, especially Canon users (a common question at NX demos). Personally, I still prefer NX because I can make these changes (plus others) to a raw file, but I won’t hesitate to use Viveza if I miss something in NX. Viveza should be available pretty darn soon, like in April. You can pre-order it or get even more information from the Nik website and sign up to be notified when it is available. And yeah, it will be demoed at DLWS now that we can talk about it.
Oh yeah, the 600VR II is very sharp! And it focuses nice and close. This is a photo of a Clark’s Nutcracker perched outside my office (photo taken literally from my desk chair) as it was grabbing a bite of suet (a “here it is” shot). Shot with a 1.7x attached and focused at its MFD, the lens performs very sweetly. The majority of the 600VR II write up is done, should be posted Thursday.
I thought I would start the weekend with a little teaser. You’re staring down the barrel of my 600f4G ED AFS VR II lens. I’m about half way through my initial testing (official sounding term for playing and lusting) period and I have to tell you, I’m impressed. The connoisseur of fine glass, Joe McNally, had told me months back it was well worth obtaining (he shot with it during his shooting for the D3 brochure). Just the closer minimum focusing distance gets your attention, real fast. The VR focuses down to 15.7′ (MF) compared to the AFS II’s 18.7 (MF), a huge improvement! That three feet makes a world of difference with small dickie birds for example. And to obtain this closer focusing distance without using extension tubes is to me in itself, well worth the price. In the next week or so, I’ll have the new page with pics and trivia up so you can make the right choice for your own photography. Until then, I’ll be out testing (playing).
Nikon announced a new body and three new lenses. You’ve got the D60, the 16-85DX, the 60f2.8AFS micro and the very exciting 24f3.5PC-E. I’m very excited to receive the 24PC-E and create some ultra wide panos with the D3. In case it wasn’t on your radar screen, PMA is this weekend.
(photos courtesy of Nikon)
Update: Since I haven’t seen these lenses, I wanted to double check facts before posting more info. The E in PC-E stands for Electromagnetic Diaphragm. Since most photographers don’t use a PC lens, this doesn’t mean much. On the D3 & D300 (only at this time) you can use a PC-E lens in any exposure mode, A, S or P just like you would with any lens. Why is that special? PC lenses “break” in half to achieve their PC and when you do that, you loose any mechanical links to the aperture so previously, all PC lenses were preset lenses. No more, that’s darn cool! The 45 & 85 had the soft release because they aren’t ready for prime time yet. You should see the three lenses as early as March.
We’ve been hammered of late with questions in regards to the 600VR lens. I just got word mine is in route so once I have it and have shot with it, I’ll post some thoughts here.
With the shipping of the Wacom 12WX and my first blog, I’ve had a number of emails of just how to make the most of this cool tool. I’m pretty sure there are many who want to know how to make this work as a 2nd monitor. I don’t know the recipe for Macs and needed the help of my dear friend Joe Sliger to get this right, but here you go.
The recipe for the Photoshop with the 12WX is:
I start by making the 12WX the Primary display in Display Properties (Windows defaults back to normal when the 12WX is not plugged in). Open Photoshop and configure it to your likings and workspace ON the 12WX. Open the image you want to work on; Hit the “F” key until the image appears in a window, not using any of the 3 full screen modes. Than Window Menu > Arrange > New Window for “image name” a duplicate of the original image will show up on top of the original. Drag the duplicate image to the notebook monitor (you can do this by hitting the top express key on the side of the 12WX, which will map the pen across both displays until you click it again). Hit the “F” key until your preferred background shows up (use can use Fullscreen mode now). Hit “CTRL+ALT+0″ to go to fill the monitor with the largest possible preview. Hit the top express key again, which should bring the pointer back under the pen. Select the image that is on the 12WX by clicking anywhere in its window. And hit the F key again with the image on the 12WX selected to select your preferred view. At this point any retouching you do on the 12WX will show up on the larger second display in full view. This enables you to see what Micro retouch is doing to the overall image and Color corrections for small areas and the effect it is having on the whole image.
I hope this helps you make the most of this killer tool!
We left Mammoth yesterday and arrived in West Yellowstone this evening and the entire 1100 mile drive we were in snow. That’s a first and it was gorgeous! All across the NV desert and UT salt flats, snow. What you see here is not our 1st class lodging for DLWS but the old railroad station across the street. Walking to dinner after sunset in the blustery snow, the sliver of the windows in the snow bank caught my attention. The D3 always goes with me and easily handled the exposure and captured all the detail in the old wood sides. Using the 12WX and my secret filter in Color Efex 3.0, I quickly processed the image without even to have to take my feet down from the fire.
Tomorrow it’s off to the geyers, more fun to blog all this next week.
Photo captured by D3, 24-70AFS on Lexar UDMA digital film
With the hwy open again, Mr FedEx & UPS were able to make deliveries and one of them was the new Wacom 12WX. Dang sweet! It’s a real pretty image this baby puts forth. No matter where I travel to now, I can lounge and be a couch potato and work on my images in total comfort and, AND in complete control of my images. We can work in Capture NX or Photoshop and almost without ever having to touch a keyboard key, finish an image. I highly recommend you spend the day capturing some great images than put your feet up with your computer and 12WX and enjoy some of the finer things of life. I’m way too comfortable in my favorite chair, so here’s some of the spes to chew on.
Overall Dimensions: 16″ W x 10.5″ H x .67″ D
Display Area: 10.3″ W x 6.4″ H
Screen Size: 12.1″ diagonal
Native Resolution WXGA (1280 x 800)
Weight: 4.4 lbs with video control unit
Aspect Ratio: 16:10
Pressure Levels: 1,024 on pen tip and eraser
Stand Adjustability: Flat on desktop, 25° to 60°
Rotation: 360° flat position on pivot
Warranty: 2 years
You might want to head here and read how much Terry loves his 12WX as well!
Lexar’s new Professional UDMA Dual-Slot USB Reader is out. It’s a dual slot reader, well, a slot for SD and a slot for CF cards. This is great for Canon shooters, not so hot for D3 shooters. The new reader supports UDMA speed, too bad USB2 doesn’t carry it through. Us Win folks now have a UDMA reader (fatest available) but it’s nowhere the speed of Firewire800, not even in the same neighborhood. Unless you install a Firewire800 card in your computer can you take advantage of UDMA blistering speed. (Update: I’ve just been told I might have a bad prototype reader, so the numbers posted were wrong. New reader coming, will post times when I have it in hand.) Add to this needing to load multiple CF cards, you’re back in the dark age I feel. So here’s the deal.
You’ll find below a simple Email Petition. I’m calling on YOU to email Lexar (where this petition goes directly) to petition for a single multi slot CF card reader be designed with blistering UDMA speed. Lexar does have the Pro CompactFlash Readers, but they are anything but compact especially when you have to add the Hub to make it all work. But this is still what I prefer because with 1 click I can upload up to 4 CF cards. With the D3 having dual slots, it only makes sense we have 1 CF card reader with multi slots. So here’s your opportunity to ASK Lexar to make your life a little easier by requesting a single, multi-slot CF reader!
The GPS craze has hit big time, must have been a favorite stocking stuffer this year. That’s cool! I’ve received a number of emails in regards to the di-GPS especially about it just “dangling” when you have something else in the camera’s hot shot. Here’s my solution.
I rarely work with flash on camera, it’s mostly off camera so I’m using an SC cable, either the SC-28 or SC-29. The SC-28 is the cord I use for general photography; the SC-29 I’ve cut down and is used just with the Wimberley F-9 Flash Arm when I’m shooting with the 600f4 on a tripod. I have a number of “hot shoe” receivers lying around in the drawers, so I have attached them to the tops of the SC cable foot that slips into the camera’s hot shoe. You can just Crazy Glue them on, but they tend to snap off. Using Pilot Point drill bits (not pointed tips), I’ve drilled holes into the top of the SC foot and screwed in as well as Crazy glued the hot shoe receiver. They never snap off, but drilling holes into your cords is not for the weak of heart and it most definitely voids the warranty.
What about when I have a SU-800 attached? I’ve not had the nerve to drill into the side of mine yet to attach a hot shoe receiver. That’s where I draw the line. But, I’m still looking for a solution to when it’s attached to the hot shoe. There are times when the SU-800 is in a SC cable and those times, the problem is solved.
One last note. The hot shoe receivers don’t always snuggly hold the di-GPS. I simply used a couple layers of electrical tape in the base of the hot shoe receiver to build it up and hold the di-GPS foot in tight. Hope this helps, have fun!
Nikon has posted the 40pg brochure for the D3. It includes some great images by Joe McNally & Dave Black, two mighty fine photographers!
In addition, you might want to check out this new
little comprehensive D3 micro site Nikon has posted. You can see more images from the 3 photographers in the brochure and read a little bit behind their D3 shooting experience. There is also a lot of tech info available at this site.