Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sigma 24mm 1.4 DG HSM Art Review

Sigma 24mm 1.4 DG HSM Art

This is the Sigma 24mm 1.4 DG HSM ART lens. It costs less than the equivalent Nikon or Canon, and is just as or is nearly as good. For many people, that is enough to know....

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Nikon Coolpix P900 Review

Nikon COOLPIX P900

Here's an idea: the Nikon Coolpix P900 is the digital camera equivalent of the Simpsons' character, Sideshow Bob.

...No, Really. Watch as I try to explain....

Friday, April 10, 2015

Standard-Zoom Lens Guide for Nikon D7000, D7100 and D7200

The old saying goes that pros don't use normal zooms. Yes, the lenses that  pros supposedly don't use because they are too busy trying to make their pictures not look like they were taken by normal people with normal zooms. Concession to rationality... real people using stand zoom lenses is a thing.Also: pros are real people.

There is some truth to the saying, though... but it's a subtle truth. Professionals most certainly do use stand-zooms; it's almost unthinkable to work a wedding with a D810 without a 24-70mm f/2.8 in the kit. What the saying should mean is that professionals don't use normal-zooms in the way that amateurs do. The actual truth is that if you are using a standard zoom and are contentiously thinking about quality photography, you will be gravitating towards either the towards the longer or wider ends of the lens, and using the middle portion of the zoom less. Conversely, if used thoughtlessly, normal zooms can encourage a certain amount of sloppiness in controlling subject perspective

Note that this is primarily concerned with DX-specific lenses. It goes without saying, pairing the Nikon D7100 or D7200 with an AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 ED will be awesome, but not having a real wide angle option with that combination will get tiresome eventually. With Nikon's tepid love for DX  many people might be thinking off accumulating full frame lenses for an eventual jump to FX, possibly a DD750, maybe a D810 if they are really ambitious. This is not an inherently bad idea, but you tend to get more joy out of the equipment by matching DX specific focal lengths to DX equipment rather than trying to make FX focal lengths work. You may, in fact, never make the switch to FX, but you will always be using whatever equipment that you have in the here and now.

 (Updated April 2015.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sigma AF 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM OS Review (Canon/Nikon Mounts)

Nikon D7200 and Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 HSM OS

The Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II LD IF was one of most venerable lenses in the crop sensor DSLR world. For a fraction of the cost of the Nikon and Canon alternatives, a photographer can have a f/2.8 normal lens with almost all of the sharpness of the first-tier lenses... albeit sacrificing a bit in terms of vignetting and lateral chromatic aberration, but not enough to matter in most situations. The Sigma AF 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM OS in many ways is the spiritual successor to that particular Tamron... even more so than Tamron's own VC update of that lens, which traded away some image quality at wider apertures in exchange for image stabilization.

Constant f/2.8 zooms are always popular, especially when they are as small as these third-party alternatives. So, is the Sigma 17-50mm OS the proverbial walk-around, go-anywhere normal-zoom that so many photographers are looking for?

April 2015 Update: Additional information about compatibility with different Nikon bodies added. 

tl;dr: This lens does not display the infamous "scroll bug" and accelerated battery drain when mounted on a D7200 or D5500.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Nikon D7200 Review

Nikon D7200 Body

In the most fitting way possible, we begin the this review of the apparently not-so-changed  D7200 by recycling the opening to the D7100 review from 2013:

"It must have been something of a sinking feeling for those waiting for a successor to the Nikon D300s to see the arrival of the very well spec’d D7100.  Though some may argue against, I hold that the D7000 was indeed the commercial successor to the D300s whether or not Nikon admitted to it and that the D7100 is now the second camera to carry the line forward."

Wash, rinse and repeat. Along this line of reasoning, the D7200 is now the third "successor" to the D300s. There may be yet a full-metal body pro-spec serious DX camera yet that can assume the mantle of the D300, but if it ever comes it will be so late as to be likely called the D500, especially given how often the number "5" is creeping into the Nikon's current model names. Until then, Nikon was iterated the D7100 in the most literal way possible; by recycling the core concept and apparently much of the packaging. The specs are:

  • 24MP APS-C sensor
  • Larger expanded ISO range (to ISO 102,400)
  • 6 fps burst, larger buffer 
  • 51-point MultiCAM 3500DX2 autofocus system
  • Improved low light focusing to -3EV, one stop better than D7100
  • 2,016 pixel RGB sensor exposure sensor (like D610, unlike D750)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC
  • Upgraded video (like D810 and D750), including Flat Picture Control
  • 1080p video at 60fps, but it 1.3x crop mode only
  • Battery life up from 950 to 1110 shots per charge
  • Body only price: $1,199.95 USD (Unchanged from D7100)

The problem with modern discourse... of any kind... is that subtlety is a dying art. In the way that things are perceived, they are either superlative or they are lacking. That is to say, in the vernacular of the internet, things either rock or they suck. (Cue George Orwell: Double plus good, comrade!) This is unfortunate, as reality always falls in between these two extremes. This is very much the case with the Nikon D7200. It's not  full frame, it's not smaller and lighter and to be quite honest, it's barely a change over its predecessor.  And yet, it's a good camera. A very good camera. Expectations shape perceptions of course. If you perceive the D7200 as being a letdown, then it's because you have a certain set of expectations. If you approach the D7200 with no expectations, then it's a great performance bargain, just as the serious Nikon DX cameras before it.