Monday, December 30, 2013

Sony A7 Review

Given the critical success of the RX1 (and RX1r variant), it was only a matter of time before Sony proliferated the concept of a compact full-frame camera into the more mainstream interchangeable lens format. Fujifilm first tested the waters with the X100 only to expand to a full line of X-System cameras, and now Sony has done so with the A7 and A7r. Predictably, Sony has done full frame in their own style. For many photographers, the lure of having a full frame system is an irresistible draw, so does packaging a large sensor in a smallish) body make for a winning combination?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

It's time to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas (and happy holidays), as well as all the best in the New Year. There has certainly a lot to have been a lot to be thankful for this year.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sony A7 and Nikon Df

Launched within weeks of one another, the Nikon Df and the Sony A7/A7r could not be more different cameras. Even though they are conceptually "smaller" full frame cameras, the design that each camera is built off of shows that there is more to a camera than just its sensor. The differences are quite stark when the two cameras are put side-by-side with their respective kit lenses.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX Review

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX on D7000

The Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX is as close to a no-brainer purchase as there is in all of Nikon's DX lens catalogue. It's the modern day equivalent of the nifty-fifty that graced film era cameras, and is something of antidote to the kit zoom lenses with restricted apertures. Given those qualities, the typical buyer will likely be interested in two things: shedding weight and shooting in low light.

Updated March, 2014

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Buyer's Remorse: Leica X2 À la Carte

File this under inauspicious purchases... The follow post showed up on our local Craigslist this week; it's likely that the purchasing wisdom (or lack thereof) speaks for itself:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nikon Df Review

The Nikon Df is an odd duck in the Nikon DSLR lineup. It's certainly a premium product, at the $2,999 kit price that Nikon is asking for, but it's definitely not a professionally-oriented camera. However, there's no denying that it's a pretty camera, the silver/black version even more so than the all-black. Hence, the all-black tester; our hosts were long since out of the silver version by the time I got around to trying the new camera.

That in itself is indicative that Nikon nailed the marketing for the Df. It's aimed at the traditional high-end camera buyer... though the D4-evolution sensor at this price point is impressive, Nikon has been fairly consistent since launch about de-emphasizing the specs of this camera and selling purely on emotional appeal. Hence, why silver has been the more popular colour since launch; it's the one that creates the most emotional appeal when lined up with the rest of Nikon's basic black cameras.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Nikon 1 AW1 Review

When considering a vacation camera, the first choice for the shooter is to decide between quality or portability, with many people concluding that a DSLR is too heavy to bring on a family vacation. However, when it comes to durability and ruggedness, there isn't much choice at all. Almost all of the waterproof cameras on the market are small point-and-shoots like the Pentax WG-3, Canon D20 or the Nikon AW110. For better image quality, there aren't a lot (if any) choices, except to use a specialized underwater case with a DSLR. The Nikon 1 AW1 comfortably bridges that gap, being a completely submersible camera that is also somewhat drop proof as well. It has two compatible waterproof lenses, an 11-17mm f/3.5-5.6 standard zoom and a 10mm f/2.8 prime. The camera itself will also take standard Nikon 1 lenses, with the provisio that the camera would no longer be waterproof. The headline specs are:

  • 14.2mp sensor
  • 15 fps burst rate
  • Waterproof to 15m for up to 60min
  • Can operate in temperatures to ‐10°C 
  • Can be dropped from a height of 2m

Needless to say, there are a lot of caveats surrounding how much abuse this camera can take. Nikon does not guarantee that the camera will be completely damage-proof if you do take it into these conditions. Complete details regarding the durability of the camera can be found on Nikon USA's website.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sony DSC-RX10 Review

Super-zooms occupy an awkward in the market. Cameras like the Fujifilm HS50EXR and the Panasonic DMC-FZ200 gives loads of flexibility, but compete in an uncomfortable position with the entry-level DSLR cameras which often cost the same or less. Sony has found a way around that problem with the DSC-RX10... by pricing it much higher... $1,299 USD high, that is. Problem solved.

That strategy, is of course, classic Sony. The RX100 II is already an expensive camera, but because of it's unique value proposition of having loads of horsepower in a tiny body, some people are willing to forgive it that. Taking the same sensor and tacking on a Carl Zeiss 24-200mm f/2.8equivalent lens...does that make it worth almost double the money?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Canon EOS 70D vs Nikon D5300 vs D7100 vs Pentax K-3: Banding and Pattern Noise (Updated)

Banding (pattern noise in deep shadows) is a mildly contentious issue for Nikon D7100 users. For the most part, it's only visible... and faintly so... in deep shadows, but it does becomes apparent if files are aggressively manipulated in post processing. Exposed properly, the D7100 produces clean image files that clearly have more detail than the D7000, but those files aren't as malleable as those from the older camera. The Pentax K-3 is an interesting alternative to the D7100 in that it closely matches the Nikon in terms of sensor specs, but is apparently a Sony design rather than a Toshiba design. This has given reason for some people to take a second look at the K-3, especially those looking for more post-processing wiggle room. The following is a quick visual comparison of the read/dark current noise of the Canon 70D, Nikon D7100 and Pentax K-3.

Dec 3, 2013 Update: Now includes the Nikon D5300.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G Review

Some people can never have enough. Not enough resolution. Needs more high ISO power. Dynamic range is inadequate.  Bokeh is not creamy enough. The Nikon AF-S 58mm f/1.4G is not for those kinds of people. Many people overbuy... you find D800 oweners that would have been better off with a D610, or a full frame user that would have miles to go with a D7100. On the face of it, the 58mm f/1.4 seems like an amped up version of the 50mm f/1.4G, but that's not the case. These are two different lenses with two different purposes. Nikon advertises that this lens has almost no sagittal coma or light falloff. It's a lens that can be used wide-open with no reservations. Though it is very good at many things, it is excellent at one particular thing, and for that reason, this is truly a "noct" lens.

Pentax K-3: High ISO

The Pentax K-3 is an interesting, albeit, off-the-beaten path alternative for any long-suffering photographers waiting fore the fabled Nikon D400 or Canon EOS 7D Mark II. However, this latest APS-C DSLR from Pentax (now owned by Ricoh) has many headline features that appeal to aficionados of semi-professional crop sensor cameras:

  • 24.4 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Sensor-shift image stabilization, including rotational compensation
  • Anti-aliasing can be turned on/off 
  • 27-point AF, 25 of which are cross-type
  • 8.3 fps continuous shooting

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Nikon Df Hands On First Impressions (Pre-Production)

This week I had a chance to see pre-production samples of the Nikon Df. In the weeks since its announcement, the Df has been something of a contentious topic in the Nikon community, with some praising it for its return-to-basics aesthetic while others have derided it for being an expensive nostalgia trip.  The truth is that its a little bit of both, but even more so, the Df is its own camera, There is a lot about this camera that feels familiar, yet distinct from the rest of the Nikon lineup, and what is hard to convey in words is this tactile sensation of familar, yet different that the camera gives the user once placed in his/her hands.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sony DSC-RX100 M2 Review

The great thing about iteration is that it has a tendency to repeat itself. The original RX100 might have ended up as a well-regarded one-time offering, but with the 2013 refresh, Sony seems poised to carry the big camera in a small body concept forward into the future. This is the best fixed-lens compact camera on the market, and as is expected, Sony has priced it that way. The RX100 MII not only costs more than all other compacts, it costs more than its APS-C NEX-3 and NEX-5 siblings. Does it live up to it's price tag?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Olympus PEN E-P5 versus Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7

Sometimes, having the best camera does not equate to having the best image quality. That is certainly true of the Micro Four Thirds cameras which trade sensor area for overall camera portability. However, giving up on outright image quality does not mean that a camera has to be any less usable, and to that end Olympus and Panasonic have created two of the most feature-laden mi-tier cameras on the market in the PEN E-P5 and the DMC-GX7. This review covers the E-P5 with the M.Zuiko Digital 17mm F1.8 prime lens and VF-4 electronic viewfinder along with the GX7  equipped with the G Vario 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6 lens

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How to Buy Your First DSLR

Most photography blogs assume a certain level of proficiency from their readers, but few (if any) cater to the camera neophyte. For most camera enthusiasts (nerds), a trip to the camera store is like going to the candy store; its all smiles and grins. However, for the uninitiated, buying a DSLR can be an intimidating experience if it's the first one and there's no prior experience with cameras of this sort. However, there are still some good reasons to buy a DSLR like a Nikon D3200 or a Canon SL1; speed of operation and lens selction being the biggest ones. As 2013 winds down, there will sure to be Black Friday and Christmas deals, making it one of the busiest times of the year for people to step up to a DSLR. To that end, here are a few tips and tricks to get through the buying process:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Full Frame Bokeh (Part 1): Nikon D610 with AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G

One of the headline features of a full frame camera is the extra amount of bokeh that you can achieve at a given aperture. That is to say, the depth of field will narrow by the equivalent of one stop compared to a DX system. There's more to good foreground/background isolation and composition than outright shallow depth of field, but let's be honest.... a creamy obliterated background is a satisfying thing. To that end, here is what the bokeh looks like as you go through the aperture range on a Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G mounted on a D610:

Monday, November 11, 2013

In Rememberance

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Nikon AF-S DX 18–140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Review

It's been a long standing rule of thumb, but one that still stands true: a quality zoom lens should ideally have no more than a 3:1 ratio of its longest and widest focal lengths. The AF-S DX 18–140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR obviously exceeds this, but this type of lens is about balancing convenience against value and performance. The new 18-140mm lens replaces the long serving Nikkor f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX lens that was the kit lens on the D90, D7000 and early D7100 units. In fact, it's pretty much a modern version of the 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 G IF-ED DX kit lens that came packaged with the D80. That was an unusually sharp lens for the it's price range, but it suffered from high degrees of distortion, vignetting and lateral chromatic aberration. In many ways, the 18-105VR was a tamed version of the 18-135; by backing off on the focal length, a slightly better compromise could be made optically. Does the new 18-140mm give back the range of the first extended zoom kit lens while improving on the image quality of the second.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sony A7r Hands On (Pre-Production)

Yesterday I had the chance to play with a pre-production Sony A7r. Just some quick first thoughts about this camera. Though it's far from pretty and looks a bit angular, it sits comfortably in your hand as though it were a slightly bigger Sony NEX camera. Mounted with the kit 28-70mm lens for the A7, the overall package is roughly the size of a Leica X Vario, but nowhere near as chunky. It looks positively Lilliputian next to the A99 SLT.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Nikon Df Launch Review: Cheap(er) Full Frame, Take Two

When the D3s launched, many people were asking for the same sensor in a smaller body. That never happened; what we got was the D800. When the D4 launched, the same people were again asking for that 16mp FX sensor in a smaller body. That hasn't happened.... until now. This probably wasn't what they had in mind.

If the D600 program had gone to plan, it would be difficult to imagine that Nikon would have come up with the Df at all. Unfortunately, a year of troubled publicity set Nikon back in advancing the lower end of its full frame lineup, and in many ways the Df is a second stab at advancing this market segment. There's a feeling that this isn't business as usual, but rather, that Nikon is pushing especially hard to try to make "affordable" full frame work:

  • An extended teaser campaign, which is historically unusual for them. The D600 launch built up through word of mouth and expectation, but the Df is a bit unusual in the effort put into the slick "Pure Photography" teaser campaign
  • Consider also that Nikon does not normally do "retro." If anything, they've consistently had a "conservative but looking forward" mentality when it comes to their design language. This isn't unusual for many Japanese companies; "retro" design isn't something that is used as often as in North American or European design.  Consider how the Porsche 911 changes glacially over the years, or how the Ford Mustang recalls a bygone era. Neither Toyota nor Honda have shown much interest in maintaining retro-styling cues in their mainstream products.

What's more unusual about the Df is that it doesn't slot cleanly in Nikon's lineup. The design makes it's operation and handling different from any other device that Nikon puts out. It might have a capable sensor, but its control layout doesn't make it ideal as a backup camera to either the D4 or the D800. So how does the Df fit into Nikon's lineup?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM (Canon Mount) Review

The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM has been a hard lens to find since it became available a month ago on the Canon mount. The Nikon version, as I write, has still to hit store shelves. There was a lot of interest created by the constant f/1.8 aperture, but beyond the headline spec, does this lens deliver?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nikon Camera DSLR Comparison Updated

The comparison article between the D5200, D7000 and D7100 has been updated to include the D5300. Though the D5xxx series has always been the value-performance line in Nikon's consumer DSLR range, that seems to be less the case with the D5300. Why? It's the way the kit lenses are bundled. More discussion in the the respective links.

Monday, October 28, 2013

How to Improve A Cheap Tripod

Here's an easy way to improve the performance of a cheap tripod. The example above is with an old Optex camcorder tripod, which is woefully under spec'd compared to what you should be using to support a DSLR.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Book Review: Photography: The New Complete Guide to Taking Photographs - John Freeman

Can a photography book from 2003 be of any use to the modern digital photographer? Yes, most definitely yes. John Freeman, along with Tom Ang and Michael Freeman, is one of those authors that is likely to be regularly stocked in your local bookstore. This particular title dates back to the early dawn of the digital age, but was written in a manner about photography that has withstood the passing years. Like many of the classic "how to" books,  Photography: The New Complete Guide to Taking Photographs maintains its focus on picture taking rather than mere camera operation.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Shooting at Night in the Fog with a Nikon D7000

Nikon D7000, ISO 100, f/8, 30s

For the past week, Vancouver has been blanketed by fog. A little bit of fog this time of year is normal, but every so often we get what amounts to a fog tsunami; think pea soup that blankets the whole city. It makes for treacherous driving, as it can produce white-out conditions during the day time and reduces visibility to only a few car lengths at night. However, fog is one of the most interesting times to go shooting. As Ansel Adams said, "Bad weather makes for good photography." That said, fog is like most things; a little is good,  a bit more is interesting but too much is, as always... too much. However, the above image has potential...

Monday, October 21, 2013

How Easy is it to Switch Between Canon and Nikon?

Though camera systems by design lock consumers into particular lens mounts, there are the intrepid few who will switch whole systems... more so if their professional earnings depends on it. However, buying a new camera every two years is one sort of expense, but changing over a collection of lenses is another issue... or is it?

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Nikon D600 is Not This Bad...

This Craigslist wanted post took some gumption...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Launch Review: Nikon D5300 First Impressions

Another year, another new iteration of the D5xxx series. Though it may seem boring now, the D5200 was a closely watched camera launch at the end of 2012, as may though that it would bear the sensor to the eventual (and still mythical) D400. Fast forward a year, and it's back to boring. The differences between old and new cameras are:

  • Same sensor as the D7100, no anti-aliasing filter
  • Video recording to 1080p at 60fps
  • New 3.2" LCD
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS
  • Improved battery life.

Update: Since the D5300 was launched, we now know that the sensor is not the same as  in the D7100, and has different deep shadow noise characteristics.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Launch Review: Sony A7 and A7R First Impressions

Given the critical success of the RX1 (and RX1r variant), it was only a matter of time before Sony proliferated the concept of a compact full-frame camera into the more mainstream interchangeable lens format. Hence, the A7 and A7R:

Update (October 26, 2013): Supplies will be very limited for the latter portion of 2013. I've heard word that general retail units won't be hitting store shelves until December, and supply will be limited, if not already spoken for. Translation: If you want one in time for the 2013 holidays, you have to pre-order. Chances of just pulling one off the store shelf when it rolls out will be slim.

Key Features:

  • A7: Has a 24mp sensor with phase detection, similar to the SLT-A99
  • A7R: 36mp variant of the Nikon D800e sensor, no AA filter 
  • A7R sensor has offset microlenses like the Leica M
  • New FE-mount. Short sensor-flange distance, compatible with adapters
  • Tilting 3" display
  • Weather sealed magnesium body
  • Electronic diffraction correction

What's Not Included:

  • In-body image stabilization: OIS in lens only
  • No built in flash
  • No intervalometer for timelapse shooting

These cameras are being priced aggressively, at $1,700 and $2,300 USD respectively for body only. Some of the cost savings comes from the fact that Sony is the manufacture of the sensors (i.e., they aren't charging themselves the profit margin that they would in providing sensors for Nikon). Cheap for full frame? Not quite:

Friday, October 11, 2013

How Were Used Nikon D600 Prices Affected by the D610?

Now that that D610 has been announced, it's not hard to see that used prices for the D600 will be depressed. However, it's arguable that the used value was already affected by the much publicized excess-debris issue. In the wake of of the D610 announcement, the benchmark price for a used D600 on Craigslist is clear, as the retailers have now been given free reign to price their remaining units as they see fit. The more interesting question is: how did D600 owners respond to the impending news of a replacement camera?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Is it Safe to Buy a Repaired Nikon D600?

If you are wondering whether replacing the shutter on an affected Nikon D600 solves the problem of excessive debris/oil accumulation. I'll skip straight to the answer. Yes, it seems to be the case; there is now a documented instance of the fix 'sticking.'

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Would the Nikon D600 be Subject to a Class Action Lawsuit?

Because of the way that the transition of the Nikon D600 to the D610 has been handled, the inevitable talk of a class action lawsuit is making it's rounds on the internet. Is this a case for it?

Updated February 2014

Monday, October 7, 2013

Launch Review: Nikon D610: This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things... err, make that a D400

The Nikon D610: It's "1" better....

Going back to Photokina 2012, Nikon made the biggest splash in the year of "affordable full frame." Canon had also announced the EOS 6D and the Sony the DSC-RX1  but those cameras shipped months later. Nikon was the most prepared; they had retail units of the D600 in mass circulation within days of the announcement. This proved to be the culmination of a year-long push to move the high-end DX crowd into full-frame camera systems. The FX lens set had already been refreshed, but curiously, there were no significant DX lens upgrades, nor was the mythical D400 anywhere to be seen despite multiple rumors and hints of what the company had been testing.

The answer to this was obvious; "low-end FX" and "high-end DX" have a measure of overlap, and ostensibly, Nikon wanted to keep their marketing message clear to anybody who was going to spend $1800-$2000 USD that the camera to have would be the D600 and not a DX camera.  If everything had gone according to script, this should have been mission accomplished; Nikon got into this market space first, they had a well-featured camera that was cheaper than any other full-frame camera before it, and they had fleshed out the more affordable end of their FX line to support the camera. New product category created, back to our regularly-scheduled programming and on with the D400. If only it were that easy....

In short, this is what's new for the D610:

  • Presumably a new shutter
  • Improved automatic white balance
  • New 3fps silent mode

Note the inclusion of the word "presumably" in the first point. How Nikon is describing the D610 is that it has new features, faster overall fps and a new 3fps silent mode. I think this emphasis is deliberate on their part; the words "improved shutter" raise too many uninvited questions about what was going on with the D600.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Mirror-Slap Versus Shutter Shock

via Wikimedia Commons

Seasoned DSLR enthusiasts will be familiar with the phenomenon of mirror-slap, which is the vibration caused by the mirror swinging out of the way of the light path during an exposure. The problem with this is that it occurs while the shutter is open and the sensor is recording an image. If the exposure time is very long, then the vibration generally has little impact as the light is too faint to record during the time that the vibration's are subsiding. If the shutter speed is very fast, the exposure finishes before a cycle of the vibration frequency completes; again, the camera body movement is not recorded. However, within a certain shutter speed range, mirror-slap can be recorded, and will be exacerbated if the camera is mounted on a rigid surface like a tripod or a table top. Depending on the camera and the mounting, mirror slap's effects are most pronounced between exposures of 1s-1/60s. However, when performing long exposures, it's important to watch for bright light sources, which 'expose quickly':

Mirror slap. Note the 'dancing' street lights.

Given the improving quality of mirrorless cameras, many DSLR owners have been tempted into the possibility of shedding the weight of their systems for something lighter. One might be lead into thinking that the grass is greener with a Micro Four Thirds or Fujifilm X-System camera because there isn't a mirror to (literally) slap around. Lower safe shutter speeds for hand-holding, right? Nope, it's another case of "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Olympus, the Medical Company

Most laypeople know Olympus as the champion of Micro Four Thirds, but those in the know are familiar with the fact that Olympus is actually a better medical device company than it is a camera company. In a stark dichotomy of fortunes, Olympus has been struggling to earn profits in the competitive digital camera landscape, but has remained the long-time market leader in endoscopes and endoscopic-related surgery equipment. In its 2012 fiscal year, Olympus reported a loss of $235 million USD for its camera division while producing net earnings of $890 million USD in medical related sales.  Remember, this was in a "renaissance" year for the camera division, while it was riding the success of the OM-D E-M5 and Sony imaging sensors were breathing new life into their products.

In the wake of the accounting scandal of early 2012 many thought that Olympus would have spun off their camera division to preserve the profitable medical division, and were it not for a helping hand from Sony this might have been the case. Yet, despite all of this, Olympus still maintains a reputation as a "camera" company in the general public's mind. The fact is, most of the major Japanese camera companies have medical divisions, with the exception of Nikon, which at one time did serve the ophthalmic community, but no more. As you would expect, Olympus' commercial activities in the medical field revolve around optics and scopes, but extend far greater than that. Even more off the beaten-path, there are fewer still who are familiar with Olympus the medical company being involved in orthopaedics, which is another step removed from cameras and optics.

What's also surprising to the uninitiated is that Olympus, despite its reputation in optics, is not a "medical imaging" company: it's a full-blown surgical services supplier. When you think of imaging devices like X-rays, CT scanners and MRI machines, the actual dynamics of the market change and you're in the territory of companies like Siemens and GE. However, when you look at the most frequently performed surgical procedures such as colonoscopies and laproscopic hernia repair, Olympus is often the company supplying the tools used in the diagnosis and treatment. Olympus is also something of a model for other Japanese camera companies. As the world market for digital cameras continues to weaken, other companies are looking enviously at Olympus' continued performance in the medical sector.

Updated June 2014

Sunday, September 29, 2013

How to Use DotTune AF Fine Tune Calibration For Nikon Cameras

Autofocus fine-tuning (calibration) basically falls into two categories: distance-scale methods and everything else. Distance-scale methods involve aiming the camera at a target and measuring the distance from true that the the actual focus deviates by. You can shoot a set with different adjustment values and pick out the best one, or you can skip all of that and use math. Under the "everything else" category, you have methods like the moiré fringe and DotTune, which don't rely on distance scales.

DotTune was first proposed by veteran DPR forum member Horshack (Snapsy on Fred Miranda) in this post in early 2013. It works by taking advantage of the fact that the familiar AF adjustment value of +/-20 is applied on the input side of the AF operation. Plainly stated, this means that the adjustment value is added to the AF system's sensory input before the processor calculates distance rather than having it added afterwards to adjust the distance value. In other words, the adjustment factor essentially "tricks" the AF system into thinking that the distance to subject is different from what it actually is.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Binocoluar Review: Sierra by Tasco 8x25 Compact Roof Prism (TS825D)

Compact binoculars are a dime a dozen, or more literally, $20 by hundreds. Just about any sporting goods, drug store, big box.. you name it... seem to carry the ubiquitous 10x25 compact folding binoculars. For most people, the lower quality of the optics isn't pertinent, considering how infrequent the average person uses binoculars, but the price and convenience of small size make up for it.

If you can look past the numbers, it helps to go to the 8x25 size. The magnification is slightly less, but the objective diameter is the same at 25mm. This makes for a brighter and clearer image, and with binoculars, brighter beats more magnification all of the time. The Sierra by Tasco 8x25fits this bill, and is pretty much a proper and sorted-out version of the 10825 cheapy special.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

iPhone 5s Review: Camera

Since the launch of the 4s, Apple has delved deeper and deeper into photography with each generation, turning "iSight" into a branded concept so that the consumer is not left with the more pedestrian concept of  "iPhone camera." Though there were a few software feature additions (burst mode, square format pictures, filters), there were two big additions this year: improved flash white balance and electronic image stabilization. Few were expecting a new flash system, but many were hoping for image stabilization. A final improvement was not in the camera itself, but in the new iOS7 camera app, which moved to a more user-friendly gesture-based interface.

Much has been said about how the mainline camera companies seem to be caught in a rut, constantly iterating, but seldom innovating. DSLR users have been accepting of this; until recently, camera performance had yet lived up to people's wildest expectations, so constant improvement was something most DSLR users looked forward to. Apple faces a different dynamic; as a consumer electronics company, it's not enough to say that something is better. These days, it's not even enough to say how it is better.... instead companies now must tell as the name of the thing that makes it better.  So with that said, do the two biggest new features deliver?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How to Calculate AF Fine-Tune for Nikon Cameras

Autofocus fine tuning is one of the most powerful, misapplied and frustrating things that you can do to try to improve your camera. It's powerful because it can make a mediocre slightly out-of-tune lens into a stellar in-tune lens performance-wise. It's often misapplied because too many people resort to it before first checking to see if they are using appropriate camera settings and/or have adequate hand-holding technique. It's frustrating because for the most part, the act of determining focus calibration is a trial-and-error process. Shoot. Examine. Adjust. Repeat... until you get it right.

However, if you understand the theory behind AF fine-tuning, then you can adjust your focus in one-shot without the repeated hit-and-miss attempts. The following is based off of a post from the redoubtable Marianne Oelund as posted on Jan 26, 2011. Note: The following can't be used with the Moiré Fringe method of focus calibration, as it requires the absolute distance in mm by which focus is deviating.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Survey of Used Canon Prices on Craigslist Across the US

This is a rundown of Craigslist asking prices for Nikon bodies and lenses across the US for the month of September 2013. There aren't any surprises, as used prices have held steady through the summer, but overall, prices are trending downward on most of the commonly owned older items. If you are buying or selling used Canon camera equipment, hopefully this will help you to determine your target price.

Note: For a similar sweep of used Nikon equipment on Craigslist, go here.