Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fujifilm X-T1 Launch Review: First Impressions

via Fujifilm Canada

By now you will have seen the announcement of the Fujifilm X-T1. Though the X-Pro1 remains in the Fujifilm lineup, the de facto top tier camera is now the X-T1. The king is dead, all hail the king.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 USM L IS II Review

Canon's "white lenses" in the 70-200mm range run the gamut from the somewhat affordable to the ostensibly expensive. If you pay more you get more:

  • 70-200mm f/4
  • 70-200mm f/4 IS
  • 70-200mm f/2.8
  • 70-200mm f/2.8 IS

Of course, it's the last one that gets all of the attention. Let's put it this way: most photographers don't aspire to own a full frame camera to shoot with a basic f/4 lens...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fujifilm X20 Review

I'm going to be honest with you. The last two times that I went on vacation, I left the DSLR behind and took my compact camera. Did I miss the image quality? Yes, but...

Updated  January 2014.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Metabones Nikon G to Sony E-mount Speed Booster Review

Photography is all about compromises. If you want long, it's not going to be light. If you want fast, it's probably not going to be cheap. If you want a smaller crop-frame camera system, then you're going to give up depth of field control....unless, of course, you have a Speed Booster.

Metabones Nikon G to Sony E-Mount Review

A lot has been made of the fact that the Sony A7 and A7r cameras are essentially the everyday equivalent of "digital backs," but the truth is, the Sony NEX lineup (and for that matter the Micro Four Thirds cameras) have always been great "universal receivers" of non-native lenses. The short distance between the lens mount and the sensor means that there is plenty of room to slip an adapter in between the camera body and almost whatever lens of your choosing. There are many adapter choices, but the simplest out there to reduce camera operation to an all-manual affair; manual focusing and exposure control. The Metabones G to E-Mount adapter overcomes the lack of an aperture ring on G-type Nikon lenses by adding a mechanical aperture control ring on the adapter itself; there is a cam on the inside of the adapter barrel that articulates with the aperture control lever on a Nikon lens.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM ART Review

Sigma 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM A on Canon EOS 6D

It's hard to talk about Sigma's new 24-105mm "standard-zoom-plus" lens without also mentioning Canon's ubiquitous EF 24-105mm IS L. Canon's multipurpose full frame standard zoom is everywhere thanks to frequent bundling with their full frame cameras. There's virtually no point to buying the Canon 24-105L by itself as it costs so much less when bundled, and because there are so many good quality used copies available on the secondary market. However, there is palpable interest in having a better lens in this in this focal range, as neither the Canon nor the Nikon 24-120VR seem to set photographer's pulses racing. 

Into this mix comes the Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM "A." Ever since the introduction of the 35mm f/1.4 ART, Sigma's lenses have had increasing expectations heaped upon them, and this lens is no different. Given the both Canon and Nikon are competent (even good lenses), can Sigma move the bar towards the "stellar" and "excellent" end of the spectrum?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Canon T5i/700D vs T4i/650D vs T3i/600D vs SL1/100D

Canon SL1, T3i and T5i (aka EOS 100D, 600D and 700D)

When you think mass market DSLR, you are probably imaging the Canon EOS Rebel lineup. Canon is to Toyota, as Nikon is to Honda. Canon is an industrial conglomerate like Toyota and serves a larger market; in other words, leaning towards the fat middle of the mass-market. Nikon, like Honda, is a smaller independent company, and tends to emphasize performance and handling over ubiquity. So inevitably, with this analogy you'll come to the conclusion that the entry level Canon DSLR's are camera versions of the Toyota Corolla.... which doesn't have to be taken as a slight if you are considering who the cameras are made for. The Corolla serves millions of people worldwide, and does so faithfully and reliably. That wouldn't be a slight at all.

Updated January 2014

Nikon 55-200VR vs 55-300VR vs 70-300VR

Nikon 55-200VR, 55-300VR and 70-300VR
Nikon has graciously segmented the lower end of their telephoto-zoom lens range into neat price increments, making the task of extending the reach of a DSLR possible for different people with different needs.Three commonly available lenses: pay a little more, get a little more. Beyond this, the price jump is considerable if you aren't a serious enthusiast, with the  Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D ED AF-D starting above the $1000 USD mark. The question then, which (affordable)zoom lens is right for you? 

Nikkors: 55-200VR, 55-300VR and 70-300VR

Updated January 2014 


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Craigslist Used Nikon DSLR Postings, U.S., January 2014

This is a rundown of Craigslist asking prices for Nikon bodies across the U.S. for January 2014. There aren't many surprises, but overall, prices are trending downward across the country (See the May 2013 survey for past results). The number of listings tends to go up during and after Christmas due to the the number of people who have bought new equipment who want to recoup the value of there existing gear. If you are buying or selling used Nikon camera equipment, hopefully this write-up will help you determine your target price and get you closer to your goal:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM C Review

The Holy Grail of DSLR normal-zoom lenses is to have lots of zoom with lots of wide open aperture. That of course, necessitates "lots of cost." Good, light, cheap: pick two but you can't have all three. To that end, the Sigma 17-70mm in its various incarnations has always been a modest blend of all three of those qualities, being reasonably good, moderate in weight and fairly priced... having all three but not excelling in any one particular area. So then, can the "C" version improve on that formula?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Nikon D5300 Review: Comparison with D5200

Nikon D5200 and D5300

Even though the D7000 and D7100 earn the most DX attention on internet forums, its the D5200 and D3200 that sell in larger numbers for Nikon, and for good reason. For all of the benefits of having the higher end bodies, the D5xxx series just plain offers more value for the money. Consequently, the lower-tier models are refreshed more frequently than the serious-enthusiast cameras, as the competition in this part of the DSLR market is fierce between Canon and Nikon. This doesn't mean that Nikon expects D5200 owners to go out en masse  and upgrade to the newer model. Rather, what this means is that anybody stepping into this level of camera can expect to benefit from the constant (if incremental) tinkering that goes on. As such, the most obvious differences between the D5300 and the D5200 are:

  • New Sony 24mp sensor, no anti-aliasing filter
  • Video recording to 1080p at 60fps
  • New 3.2" LCD (3:2 aspect ratio)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS
  • Improved battery life.

"Boring" is likely to be the word over used to describe the transition to the D5300, but many small improvements make for a better camera. You might wonder why the D5xxx series seems to be on a one year refresh cycle whereas the D7xxx series gets refreshed every 2. That's because the consumer end of the market is more spec-driven, where as the serious-enthusiast market is more capability-driven. Said another way, the D5300 is marketed on specs, but the D7100 tends to trade on reputation. However, the D5300 is not a simple upgrade of the D5200. Launched during the 2013 Christmas season, Nikon focused their sales efforts on the D5200 as the value proposition in their lineup. The D5300, though announced and available on store shelves, was set aside by Nikon during the holiday season in the traditional push for the value DSLR shopper. This was not unlike the launch of the D5200, with was announced in late 2012 but didn't ship in North America until January 2013. If a value-oriented customer came into a camera shop to look at the D5300 but bought a discounted D5200 instead, then the D5300 would have done its job. In such a situation, the store would not need a large stock of the newer camera, just enough to lure people into drawing down their old stock while meeting the needs of anybody would insist on having the D5300 because it was newer. If present trends hold true (and there's no guarantee of that in a contracting global camera market) then the the D5300 will be an economically important camera for Nikon for the 2014 holiday season.