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
Remotes are a part of my photography, have been since the very beginning. So when PocketWizard announced their new PocketWizard III, I was very excited to get my hands on them. The biggie is if you know PocketWizard, you’ll notice that there is no Pre-Focus cable attached. Just a standard 3.5mm to 10pin cable (not included). That’s now part of the unit! What I really like is the smaller size, greater range, WakeUp/AF operation with a half push of the Test button and camera firing with full depression. They work with other PocketWizards like the Flex (but not TTL). A unit can be set to transmit, receive, Relay, very versatile. They have 32 channels and 4 groups, and for someone like me, damn simple to use. Be it for camera or flash remotes, I can’t recommend these enough to you!
When I saw the announcement for the new Nikon 18-300AFS DX lens, I thought it might be an ok knock about lens. I mean really, that’s a huge zoom range! I’ve never been a big fan of these zooms, the normal tendency is vignetting and less then tack sharp results. To say I’m more then pleased is an understatement. Being a DX lens, I shot with it on Sharon’s D7000 and for the last week, been having fun with it. First thing you’ll notice, it doesn’t vignette.
OK…it has a huge range…now what? The one thing I needed to know before moving forward, it is sharp? At 18mm, sharp really is a relative thing because at 18mm, things look sharp because they are small, you can’t really tell. Here’s the Sunday scene at Lake Mary, pretty typical for Mammoth in the summer.
Zoom out to 300mm and shoot the colorful kayaks in the center of the frame (that is an impressive range!)…
Is it really sharp? You can’t tell from these kinds of test posted on the web. You have to take the work of the reviewer. I think it’s sharp, I’m actually surprised to be saying that. Now it’s not a true zoom, you focus on a object at 18mm and then zoom out to 300mm, the focus point is not retained. The lens really expands at 300mm (there is a 18mm lock and that front does move when extended). But that’s not the point of this lens. It’s meant to be a one lens does all so you will focus every time you compose. But is it sharp? On our Sunday walk, we had a Bald Eagle grab a trout on the other side of the lake and even though it was an ugly eagle, it was a viable field test to see if the lens is sharp.
See, an ugly eagle. To give it its due, it just fledged its young for the year, it earned the right to look tired. When it flew overhead, I zoomed out to 300mm and shot. That’s what you see above. Pretty small image size but when we crop in 200%, we get this…
To be honest with you, those are results I simply did not expect. I’m totally impressed by the results of the 18-300AFS! I have no problem recommending it to you, being a great first lens, only lens or additional lens to any camera system!
I mean really, $500 to make it feel right? Ouch! The price as come down, you can find the MB-D12 for around $400 now but still, $400? Muscle memory is something you relate to a lot of activities but personally, not one I would have attached to holding a camera body. That’s until the D800 arrived in the office and I had to get to know it, fast. I’m here to tell you, I simply had a helluva time liking the photographic experience with the D800 when it came to shooting with the body only. It felt like it was going to squirt right out of my hands. But the point of a smaller body is to have a smaller body. Adding bulk to a small camera body defeats the purpose of being a smaller body. But I just couldn’t get past the muscle memory, my hands wanted and needed the bulk to function. The D4 feels perfect, the D800 by itself, totally foreign. That left me no choice, I love the file from the D800 so I got the MB-D12.
Then there came that price tag and like so many others, I swallowed real hard when I saw the price. The knock offs are out there at a fraction of the price. I even had many say they can’t see, feel or in operation find a difference between the Nikon and the knock off. So why buy the Nikon over the knock off, why spend the extra $300? Damn if I have a good reason for you, I just know for myself why I went with Nikon. While I don’t like the price, I rather give my money to the company that not only stands behind the product but keeps creating new and better products. Now I have seen two knock offs “die” in the field, one stopped working and the other, well, was kinda comical when it imploded on itself sending parts all over the desert floor. There are plenty of times to go DIY to save money, but I just don’t think this is one.
One other question that keeps coming is, why did I go with the D800 over the D800e especially when I first thought I the 800e was the obvious choice? First reason, I could get the D800 before the D800e and I don’t know about you, but I’m not good at waiting to get new gear. I get very impatient. Once the D800 was in my hands, the files where big enough, the quality basically overkill for what I need as it is. Getting more and having the possibility of moire issues just didn’t make sense. With that all said, the D4 is still my principle body. The D800 is always with me in the bag but the body I reach for the majority of the time is the D4.
One of the best, most affordable for ink, fastest printers, the Epson 3800 has a $300 rebate going until the end of the month. The main stay in our office until the 4900 appeared, this is a money making machine! If you head to Moose’s Print Lab and read the PDFs, you’ll find out even more about what I think of this printer and how I use it. Hurry though, rebate ends the end of the month!
This highly specialized piece of gear makes a world of difference in recording sound with the D4/ D800. The DXA-SLR Pro is a phantom power source needed with a number of different mics. You have the same two options I had when delving into this thing, you can either go and learn all your can on the subject or just trust someone and dive in. I trusted my good friend Scott and dove in. Darn if he wasn’t right, this thing rocks!
Protection of your images, especially when on the road is essential. I’ve gone through my fair number of external hard drives in my search for the right one. ioSafe produces a series of hard drives that are the ultimate hard drive protection! The ones I have latched on to and really, really love are the ioSafe 500GB Rugged Portable. Just how rugged are they? How about you can drive your vehicle on them, being able to withstand 5000lbs? Or being dropped from 20′ or being immersed up to 30′ up to 3days? What about data recovery service up to $5000 included in the price even if the damage is your fault? I saved the best part for last. They are sexy!
A couple of the nice things about the ioSafe is it is USB3 and comes with a nice, thick, long cable not going to break in the first month. I have two, one my primary and the other my backup for my digital files while I travel. And if you’re looking for other secure storage, check out their IoSafe 2TB Solo which is fire and waterproof. I do not have them yet but they are on my bucket list. That fire and waterproof feature for someone who lives in a forest is mighty attractive! With the speed and security the Portables are providing me, I’m excited by the possibility!
A forecasted small meteor shower got my attention so I decided to set up The Box with the D4 and give it a go. This was the first Time Lapse (old fashion way with Jpegs & Photoshop) I had done with the D4, 24f1.4AFS and The Box and the new EP-6 AC adapter. I used all the same settings as before and while the Milky Away doesn’t appear until late at night, I like the results very much. This is a 1680, 8.5hr time lapse captured from our deck. Enjoy!
Interestingly since I posted a month ago I was doing sound recording tests, I’ve been asked numerous times what’s the best mic I found. This is it, the Rode NTG-3-B, it simply does a great job recording. Now in that previous blog posting, I said I was going to have a sound test for folks in the upcoming (being released Thursday I’m told) iPad version of the BT Journal. Well, like anything photographic, nothing was as simple as I first thought. It was quite a learning curve and luckily I have friends like Gabe & Scott who helped me through the process. So what I’m doing here is cutting to the chase and telling you what I found was the best mic, the Rode NTG-3-B. Now how I got there, well you’ll have to just download the Journal when it’s out and find out
Here’s a side by side comparison of two video go cameras, the GoPro Hero (on the left) and Wingman HD (on the right). Both were in there housings attached to the hoods of our rental cars as we cruised Custer State Park. You can make up you own mind which does the better job. I didn’t have the Contour at the time to add it to the comparison but I’m still liking its results and operation the best. You might notice the time stamp, that is accurate
As for creating the actual side by side, that was done in Photoshop CS6. Enjoy!
HDSLR video is here and one thing you can’t miss is the focus. Until we have video viewing through the viewfinder, we have to use the LCD. If you’re going to use the LCD and LiveView, then you simply gotta have a Zacuto ZFinderPro!
Note: just received an email from someone who did not put eyepiece cap back in place and while walking and sun hit Zacuto and burnt hole in LCD!
I’ve been hooking up DSLR ever since they first came out and for the most part, I’d rather dance with a porcupine. The connections were just that painful. Well, not is such the case with the new WT-5A for the D4! I so remember making the tech calls in the past trying to getting the camera to talk to the network, no calls required with the WT-5A. You screw it into the side, follow the instructions step by step and 3min later, I can’t believe that, 3min later and I could see the images appear on my iPad!
You might be wondering and you should be asking why a wildlife photographer would want a WT-5A? If you look back, you’ll see I have a huge track record of trying to shoot remotely while having control. It started by with the F3AF and the special prism that permitted wired remote operation. It hasn’t stopped and now that the WT-5A, the possibilities are amazing. The WT-5A just arrived in the office between trips so I’ve only been able to confirm set up is a snap. But the fact that WT-5A makes the D4 it’s own “hot point” gives the meaning of remote firing all new possibilities. I can’t wait to get back and field test this unit!
Many have said and rightly so, it’s expensive. I’ve yet to see a worthy camera accessory that wasn’t expensive. Many of emailed me about some of the inexpensive units that seem to work with the D4. I’ve not seen them and probably won’t. While they might work, I will stick with the WT-5A if for no other reason, it works perfectly the first time I plugged it in. Seriously, Live View viewing and operation right on the iPad…sick! I can’t say that about any other unit in the past that I tried. You can learn more about the WT-5A here and watch the blog, more’s to come I’m sure!