B&H got into my hands the new 80-400AFS just prior to my leaving (again) and I’m so glad they did! I was always a fan of the original 80-400, the sharpness, not its focusing speed. The flexibility this lens with its focal length range demanded that I get the new one and test it. So on my drive around MN today, I gave it a quick, initial test drive and first opinion is, damn, schweet!
The lens is not inexpensive but I think you more than get your money’s worth. The one big issue with the original was its focusing speed and that was the first thing I wanted to test drive. In MN, it wasn’t hard to find something moving by really fast. There isn’t an inch of snow here without sled tracks! Well, shooting with the D4, the 80-400 had NO problem locking on, staying locked on and delivering sharp images frame after frame. Now this is not a conclusive test of its focusing speed, but I know that old 80-400 couldn’t even have done this subject. I have more speed tests coming but my results so far encourage me to push the limits further. (both photos taken at 400mm, f5.6)
When it comes to the lens itself, it’s quite the lens, more than I was expecting! Its ALL metal housing while heavy feels great. The best part is when mounted on the D4, the 80-400 is perfectly bounced. I really like that! The tripod collar is a winner and like the original 80-400 or 300f4, you can rotate it 40 degrees and remove it. The shade, well I’m not really thrilled by it but that’s a little nit. The zoom is smooth but I don’t think from first testing, it’s a true zoom. Its minimum focusing distance is good, not great.
The reason though why I acquired the 80-400AFS was for wildlife & aviation photography. Yes, I have the 200-400VR2 and it’s not leaving my bag. But this lens which is 1/3 the price and who knows what fraction the size, it a great option for lots of photographers! You could have this one lens and cover a WHOLE lot of subjects and that’s why I’m shooting it. As more unfolds, I’ll post but I am very impressed by the 80-400 so far!
Like I always do with a new lens, I live and shoot with it 24/7 and I’m here to tell you, the new Nikon 18-35AFS is blowin my socks off! Shooting on just the D4 today, and it’s performance is simply not what I was expecting. The corner to corner sharpness is gorgeous. Its focusing split, lickity split! But the thing that really blew me away that unlike the 18f2.8AF, you can use a polarizer or screw-in split grad and NO vignetting! Ya, from 18mm to 35mm, no issue! At $750, this lens blows away everything else!
Oh ya baby, B&H came through again, putting the brand new Nikon 18-35AFS in my hands for my Yosemite & Bermuda shoots! I’ve shot a little with it so far and I’m kinda impressed. To be honest with you, more than I thought I would be (that’s because the lens is only $750). I was hesitant to get the lens because of the f/3.5-4.5, being used to my 18AF constant f/2.8 but the corner to corner sharpness so far is impressive. I’ve just begun shooting with it so I’m not ready to say it’s a “gotta have” lens yet, but it’s going in the right direction. My one hesitation right now is the all “composite” lens barrel. That said, the zoom ring is sexy smooth and it attaches to the camera with a solid click. It make the lens weigh a whole lot less than my 18f2.8 but the feel, I’m not so sure. Stay tuned, more to say!
NOTE: Shot all morning with this lens, point blank…I’m blown away by the results! It’s not what I was expecting at all!!!
I love the IoSafe Rugged Portable 1TB Drives as well! You can RUN OVER these things with you vehicle and they still running. They can get wet, frozen, vibrated to pieces and it doesn’t even phase their operation! They run on USB3, wish they updated to Thunderbolt. They are heavier then most external drives but that’s because of their built. Since they are going back and forth from the MacBook to the Win7 machine, I use Folder Sync Pro on the MacBook to backup my images files. These are great drives that for the outdoor photographer, are a must in my book!
I’ve been asked if I really see a difference using the Buffalo 1TB MiniStation Thunderbolt. I most definitely do! I have been using them with the MacBook Retina for the last four months. They easily extended the small capacity SSD I have in my MacBook with no sacrafice in performance. I load video onto the Thunderbolt and can edit them in realtime with NO delays in performance in Premiere easily! There is only one little erk I have and that’s not with the drives but using in cross platforms. In simple language, just can’t plug a drive formatted on a Mac into a Win machine and they talk. What I have found that works is format on the Mac to ExFat and then the Win machine will can read the drive. Because of this, I use Folder Sync Pro on the MacBook to backup my images files. The small physically size, the speed with Thunderbolt and ability to use with USB3 on the Win machines makes these great drive!
Ya baby, the new iMac is on my desk and hummin right along! The new Apple 21.5″ iMac Desktop Computer is simply an amazing marvel! Its Retina display, speed, ease of set up an bloody small size has made a believer out of me. For the last four months, the mighty MacBook Retina has been my main business machine and done a great job. I still have a Dell Win7 machine running our digital library but desperately needed a desktop for taking care of everything else. My bud Yechiel at B&H saved my tucus by getting first the MacBook Retina and now the iMac in my hands. And in case you’re not aware of the iMac, the entire computer is integrated into the monitor housing. The keyboard and mouse run on Bluetooth seamlessly. This is the basics of the iMac I got:
2.7GHz Intel Core i5 Quad-Core
8GB of 1600Hz DDR3 RAM
1TB 5400rpm Hard Drive
nVIDIA GeForce GT 640M Graphics (512MB)
21.5″ HD LED-Backlit IPS Display
1920 x 1080 Native Resolution
802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, SDXC Card Reader
720p FaceTime HD Camera, Dual Mics
Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion (64-bit)
In the process of now getting it all set up and data migrated over from dead desktop. The one thing that I find inconvenient is all the USB ports are on the back side of the monitor. I simply grabbed a USB ext cable so I have access to one port from where I sit for plugging in a Lexar Jump Drive
. As I use it more and get more software loaded, I’ll post a progress report. In the meantime, it’s back to work finally with both desktops!
When the 70-200f4 VR3 was announced, I was excited to read the specs. While I have the 70-200f/2.8 VR2, its MFD and f/22 max aperture were two aspects of the lens the new 70-200VR3 improves on. I wanted the 2′ MFD of the 70-200VR3 for photographing nesting birds. I wanted the f/32 for my air to air work. The fact the VR3 model is lighter (by nearly a pound!) and smaller in diameter wasn’t as important, just those two features. Well I’ve had the lens a couple of weeks now, shot a bunch with it and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a sweet lens! It’sharp across the plane, doesn’t have any vignetting, AF is nice and fast. It’s nice its shade is flat so I can go back to setting it down without it falling over. I’m not thrilled it doesn’t come with a tripod collar. And the “carbon” barrel next to the body doesn’t excite the senses but it doesn’t effect operation at all. And you might be asking why I’m not saying anything about the new VR3 technology. Using proper handholding works the best for me. For the task I wanted the tool for, I more than highly recommend it!
What you see here is really a pretty simple click, one I’ve wanted for quite some time (and I’m not done yet). Out our kitchen window is one of our many bird feeders. It is really popular with our Mountain Chickadees. The feeder is no more than perhaps 9″ from the side window/side of the house. The icicles that form are perhaps 2′ from the house and when they form and don’t get too big in diameter, the Chickadees use them as a perch prior to coming into the feeder. In the past, I’ve had to stand in the middle of the kitchen to shoot. That’s really not a good place to be working in any household. The 70-200 VR3 attached to the D4 though worked perfectly! The VR3 was at 200mm and at its MFD and was spot on for shooting right at the window frame! A single SB-900 w/Lumiquest was on a Justin Clamp attached to a post on the outside of the house providing the lighting. A Pocket Wizard was used to control the flash and a Pocket Wizard used to fire the camera (stayed warm by the fire as it snowed outside). So as I sat by the fire writing, I simply watched the icicle and when the Chickadee landed, I pushed the button on the Pocket Wizard. And that’s really the point of having the right tools, making photography not only successful, but fun!
I am still without my desktop computer and it hurts! While the new iMac is finally on the way, for over two months I have been without what was the most important computer to my business. All the data is safe, it’s the ability to multi task to get work done that is the killer. So when my friend Yechiel at B&H said I should try the MacBook Pro Retina, he didn’t know it at the time but he saved my butt! There is no doubt that my Dell m4500 would have worked, it just wouldn’t have saved my butt. I would have limped by with it and that would have really made my 3 month road trip on the business side, hell! The speed of the Retina and its ability to set up quickly with the all of “stuff” that my old desktop functioned with so effortlessly was a treat. Now the Retina is not perfect, Mac is not perfect. I have crashed it, stressed it and when it comes to presenting, it stil sucks. Nothing is perfect but all I know is, that if Yechiel hadn’t put the Retina in my hands when he did, I would be in a world of hurt. Thanks my friend!
Here’s what I have:
MacBook Pro Retina
Buffalo 1TB Thunderbolt x3
ioSafe 1TB USB3
Lexar USB 3 Reader
Master Suite – Photoshop / Bridge CS6 Extended
Photo Mechanic 5
Nikon Capture NX 2
Nikon Camera Control Pro 2.0
Keynote (App Store)
ScreenFlow (App Store)
Folder Sync Pro (App Store)
CyberDuck (App Store)
SuperDuper (App Store)
Disk Doctor (App Store)
When Mr UPS dropped off my box from B&H this week with the new 70-200f4AFS, it also contained the new Nikon 1 V2. I had a fun and interesting time shooting with the J2 mirrorless and while it produced good images, I really didn’t enjoy the platform. So with I opened the V2 box, I went through the actions but didn’t really expect any better an experience. Man, was I BIG TIME wrong! For the last 24hrs now, I can’t put it down and in fact, I’ve totally ignored the 70-200f4 I’m having so much fun with the V2. The image quality is bloody amazing, it’s close focusing outrageous and being able to “see” through the lens and ability to properly handhold, outstanding! I’ll get some images posted this week. I just wanted to mention this cool little camera in case you’re looking for a stocking stuffer. Ya, it’s that small!
Now that I’m moving more and more towards a Mac office space (ordered the new iMac for my desk for basic office stuff), I’m more in tune with Mac deals. With all the “new” stuff coming in, the “old” stuff is being blown out. Of course, a month ago, the “old” stuff was the “new” stuff. Well, you might be able to take advantage of some of the savings I just found so check it out. Price drop in the iPad3 and MacBook Pro makes these great tools just a little more affordable.
77mm Filter adptr
Back in August, I told your about the new Hitech filter system. The lack of water in the Sierra kept me from really doing much with their Big Stopper. Well on our K&M Adventure, ME, I had plenty of water so pulled out the Big Stopper. Attached to the D4 and 18AF, I went out as far as I could on the rocks safely and started to shoot. First, you manually focus and lock that in place with gaffers tape. Then it’s finding the exposure. I ended up shooting at 120sec, f/8 using the MC-36 as a timer. I have to tell you, I wasn’t thrilled with what I was seeing on the LCD.
My bud Kevin was shooting next to me and on his LCD, we saw a normal color with his Big Stopper. On my, looked like I was shooting in moonlight. Everything was blue. No matter, I kept on shooting figuring I could deal with the color cast in post. That is what I did, in ACR, simply took the Color Balance tool and clicked on the lighthouse to get the color you see here. What I do like is the blur to the clouds the long exposure. While the Hitech Big Stopper does have the color cast, I don’t hesitate using it just know on the camera’s LCD, the moon will be out.
Well…I’ve been shooting with the J2 w/10-30 lens and have to admit, it’s fun! Will mirrorless be replacing my D4? I don’t think so! Do I see why folks like shooting with it? Hell ya…it’s fun! The shutterlag is really non-existant. The exposures rich and pretty damn sweet. This is a Raw (10.3mb) file processed with ACR 7.2. So I only have a little time so far shooting with it but I can say I like
Our dear friends Flydaddy and is beautiful bride paid us a visit and then kidnapped us for a little photowalk, Mammoth Style. Since they had never been here before, we took them first up to an old ghost town, Pine City and then to a true high sierra lake and then to a favorite of mine, the Ghost Forest. I travel light, D4, 18AF and the High Tech split grad (HiTech Filter Holder with 4×4 Master Kit). The clouds were great and the split grad did a great job of capturing the subtleness of the sky. It was a delightful couple of hours with good friends and then a great dinner talking about our walk and future adventures. Thanks for kidnapping us…do it again real soon!
I’m here at Photoshop World this week giving the MacBook Pro Retina it’s first road test. It’s doing the usual stuff like emails, blog postings and presentations just fine, nothing spectacular compared to the old Win notebooks. What I am doing that is blowing my mind is dealing with images and video. I’m ingesting my images using Photo Mechanic and that does a good job but what’s blowing my mind is the speed! I’m use to hittin the button and coming back later and watching the upload finish. Not with the Mac! I no sooner click the key and I have thumbnails on the monitor and a heartbeat later, I’m good to go. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s the amazing speed of the Buffalo 1TB Thunderbird! I am able to edit video on the Buffalo in real time! I can’t even tell I’m working with an external. I am lovin the speed, it’s givin me time I didn’t have before and that’s great!!!
I’ve had a number of folks email and ask if I’ve found a remote method for starting video capture with the D4 / D800. What I do is use the Pocket Wizard III and it works great! Is there something special you have to do to make this work? The only trick is on the D4 / D800, set Custom Setting g4 to Record movies. When you do that, when the D4/D800 is in Movie Mode (lever on the back of the camera) the shutter release starts and stop the video recording. With this, you partially depress the Test Button on the Pocket Wizard, the camera will focus, depress fully and the recording begins. To stop, depress the Test button again. I have added CS g4 to My Menu because I use it so much. Hope that helps.
This is GREAT gear folks and it might just solve a problem that we share. Great filters, affordable and instock. Here are the links to them:
77mm Filter adptr
4×4 Master Kit
I can’t recommend these enough to you!
I’ve spent the last few weeks with the new Nikon 24-85VR Lens. It’s a really compact zoom with a really nice range. Keeping with that spirit, I took the MB-D12 off the D800 and went shooting with it. alot! I really like the zoom range of 24 to 85mm, the VR was attractive because I could make use of that in my aviation. I wasn’t really concerned with its “slow” aperture because I wasn’t buying it for that speed. I really wanted it to work because it has a greater range then the 24-70AFS in a smaller package with VR. So Sharon & I got on our MtnBikes and went for a ride.
I think the lens does an excellent job. I was very pleased to see the lack of vignetting and its sharpness. I think the lens is better than the 24-120VR but not as good as the 24-70AFS. Like the 24-120VR, the lens expands and contracts with zooming, something you don’t have with the 24-70AFS. So while I like the lens, it does not replace the 24-70AFS so I won’t be adding it to me camera bag. But if you’re looking for an expensive, compact zoom in this range, the lens will serve you well.
On a side note, while Sharon & I were riding our bikes, we came across this old guy. With the pot belly of a campground bear, it was just strolling through the forest between campsites looking for a pic-a-nic basket. He was upset with the guy with the camera (me) when I wouldn’t let him get anything. Don’t think it hurt his physique any, I’m sure it scored after I left. It was taken at the 85mm end of the 24-85VR