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Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art will cost just $1,300, seriously undercuts Nikon

23 Feb

When Sigma announced the 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art lens, the company held off on sharing pricing or availability. Fortunately, Sigma didn’t make us wait long, revealing today that the ultra-wide angle zoom will ship in mid-March for the very reasonable price of $ 1,300.

Sigma is not being bashful about this lens. The press release announcing the price and availability of the new Art lens reads:

Designed for 50-megapixel plus cameras, the 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art achieves the legendary Art lens sharpness with three FLD glass elements, three SLD glass elements, and three aspherical lens elements, including one 80mm high precision molded glass aspherical element. With near zero distortion (less than 1%) and minimal transverse chromatic aberration, flare and ghosting, the new Sigma 14-24mm offers constant F2.8 brightness throughout the zoom range and delivers optimal image quality at every focal length and shooting distance. The high-speed, high-accuracy autofocus allows photographers to capture incredible, in-the-moment images that set a new standard in the era of outstanding high-resolution.

Here are a few sample images from Sigma that purport to show off this optical prowess:

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The lens is available in Canon, Nikon, and Sigma mounts, with the Canon version boasting compatibility with Canon’s Lens Aberration Correction function and the Nikon version featuring a brand new electromagnetic diaphragm. All mount options also feature Sigma’s “Sport line level dust- and splash-proof design.”

It seems Canon users have a new ultra-wide zoom option, while Nikon users have been handed 600 very good reasons to consider the brand-new Sigma over Nikon’s own 11-year-old AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm F2.8G ED that goes for $ 1,900.

Press Release

Sigma Announces Pricing & Availability for Its New 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art Lens

The ultra-wide angle zoom will begin shipping in mid-March for a retail price of $ 1,299.00 USD

Ronkonkoma, NY – February 23, 2018 – Sigma Corporation of America, a leading still photo and cinema lens, camera, flash and accessory manufacturer, today announced that the latest addition to its Sigma Global Vision lens offerings, the 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art, will be available in mid-March for $ 1,299.00 USD through authorized US retailers. Designed for 50-megapixel plus cameras, the 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art achieves the legendary Art lens sharpness with three FLD glass elements, three SLD glass elements, and three aspherical lens elements, including one 80mm high precision molded glass aspherical element. With near zero distortion (less than 1%) and minimal transverse chromatic aberration, flare and ghosting, the new Sigma 14-24mm offers constant F2.8 brightness throughout the zoom range and delivers optimal image quality at every focal length and shooting distance. The high-speed, high-accuracy autofocus allows photographers to capture incredible, in-the-moment images that set a new standard in the era of outstanding high-resolution.

In addition to outstanding optical performance, the 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art features the Sports line level dust- and splash-proof design with special sealing at the mount connection, manual focus ring, zoom ring and cover connection, allowing for the lens to be used during varying weather conditions.

The new Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art lens supports Canon, Nikon and Sigma mounts and works with Sigma’s MC-11 Sony E-mount converter. The Nikon mount features brand new electromagnetic diaphragm, whereas the Canon mount is compatible with the Canon Lens Aberration Correction function.

Full technical specifications can be found on the Sigma website at: https://www.sigmaphoto.com/14-24mm-f2-8-dg-hsm-a.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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PyeongChang 2018: Behind the scenes with Nikon Professional Services

08 Feb
Sixty NPS staff members from 13 countries are gathered to help photographers at this year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

The PyeongChang Winter Olympics offers a chance for athletes to shine on the world’s most prestigious stage, but it’s equally as important an event for the hundreds of professional photographers covering the proceedings. In order to capture the most critical sporting moments, they need everything – camera position, angle and timing – to come together at once. This is no place for gear trouble, and that’s where Nikon Professional Services (NPS) comes in.

NPS can be found at most major worldwide sporting events, including the Olympics, as well as international entertainment fixtures such as film and music festivals. NPS also provides camera support services at smaller domestic events like national sporting championships.

There will be 60 NPS staff members from 13 countries on hand, offering support in around 10 languages.

As preparations gear up for this year’s PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea, we spoke to a senior NPS technician and veteran of 15 Olympic Games about what’s involved.

At the PyeongChang Olympics, there will be 60 NPS staff members from 13 countries on hand, offering support in around 10 languages. Planning for the event started two years ago, and as well as D5 and D850 bodies the NPS inventory will include a range of specialized prime and zoom lenses. The exact figure is confidential, but the total value of all the gear is equivalent to ‘several hundred luxury cars’.

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Located in the main press center, the NPS depot will serve all press photographers, regardless of NPS membership. Services offered will include camera check-ups, cleaning and repairs – as well as technical advice and loaner equipment.

Nikon’s professional DSLRs can keep shooting well below freezing, but the extreme temperature difference between inside and outside shooting environments can still present challenges. Among the services available to photographers will be solving a problem unique to shooting in winter – condensation buildup inside lenses.

It may look like a studio light at first glance, but it’s actually a Robotic POD ? an MRMC robotic motion control rig incorporating an AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens and D5 combination.

The PyeongChang depot is also newly equipped to offer support for robotic remote shooting systems made by Mark Roberts Motion Control (MRMC), a British company that’s now part of the Nikon group.

Major international events like the Olympics are the front lines of technological development

Major international events like the Olympics are the front lines of technological development, and several press agencies will be using MRMC’s Robotic POD (pictured above) at the Winter Games. The latest remote head, it incorporates a D5 body and boasts a less complicated system than conventional models to allow for easier control. With accurate zooming, focusing and rotating, the Robotic POD enables remote shooting in a much wider range of scenarios.

But the depot isn’t just there to help when a photographer has gear trouble – NPS hopes it will serve as an ‘oasis’ amid the high-pressure environment of the games, providing a valuable opportunity for photographers and technicians to talk and share ideas.


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Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Full-frame showdown: Nikon D850 vs Canon 5D IV vs Sony a7R III

31 Jan

Dan and Sally Watson over at Learning Cameras recently put together a really useful comparison video that pits the Sony, Canon, and Nikon fanboys against each other in a series of real-world tests. Shooting with the Sony a7R III, Canon 5D Mark IV, and Nikon D850, Dan and Sally ran the cameras through a variety of tests that cover everything from skin tones, to low light, to dynamic range, to autofocus tracking and more.

We’ll let you dive into the full 20-minute video if you want to see all of the comparisons for yourself, but one that we found particularly interesting—maybe because it confirmed our own tests—was the autofocus tracking comparison.

The Sony and Canon were shot in Auto AF area mode—Sony at 8 fps with live view, Canon and Nikon at 7 fps—and Dan and Sally found pretty much what we did. At 8 fps live view, the a7R III sometimes just goes out-of-focus then snaps back, Canon’s iTR can be very jumpy, and Nikon’s 3D tracking is more or less perfect. For what it’s worth (since Dan and Sally didn’t test this) in our tests, the Sony performed more consistently at 10fps without live view.

For the full breakdown, check out the video for yourself above—it gets the DPReview stamp of approval for being both entertaining and informative. And if you want to see more from Learning Cameras, you can follow the channel on YouTube, or catch Dan on Facebook and Instagram.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Why a Nikon Shooter Bought a Fuji X100F as a Second Camera

31 Jan

In this article (I don’t want to call it a review because) I’ll share my thoughts on why I picked up a Fuji X100F as a second camera alongside all my Nikon gear. And why I love this little camera!

My journey into serious digital photography began in the spring of 2012 when I realized my little pocket camera wasn’t cutting it anymore. After consulting with some friends, my wife and I picked up a Nikon D200 and 50mm prime lens and the rest, as they say, is history.

Over the years our collection of gear has grown to include three Nikon bodies, several lenses, and a host of accessories all of which have come in handy with our family/child/high school senior photography hobby we run on the side. However, after much research and soul-searching (or perhaps you might say goal-searching), I recently added a Fuji X100F to my collection of gear and I thought I’d share some of my reasons why in case you might be going through the same thought process we did.

Why a Nikon Shooter Bought a Fuji X100F as a Second Camera

The Fuji X100F might just be my favorite camera of all time. (Note the camera also comes in retro silver)

Know your needs

Almost any time a club, business, or other organization sets out to improve a particular aspect of its operation the key stakeholders involved perform what’s known as a needs assessment. This is a formal process that aims to help organizations understand gaps or areas of deficiency which can be addressed. They help to guide the improvement so that it is done in a way that matters most. In similar fashion, a needs assessment can make all the difference in the world to photographers as well.

When my wife and I bought that D200 years ago we weren’t exactly sure what our needs were, other than that we wanted better pictures of our newborn son. That camera and lens worked beautifully for a while but soon we started to realize that it had some issues which were hard to overlook.

We learned that the 50mm lens was too restrictive indoors and images that were taken at ISO 800 and above were quite noisy which limited our ability to use this set of gear in challenging lighting conditions. These deficiencies led us to buy a Nikon D7100 and a 35mm lens which enabled us to take pictures at wider angles and in lower-light conditions, and once again our needs were met. For a while.

Why a Nikon Shooter Bought a Fuji X100F as a Second Camera

The Nikon D200 + 50mm lens worked fine, but before too long its limitations started becoming much more apparent and I wanted something more. And as this photo shows, I also needed to work on my photography skills such as composition and light!

Know when to upgrade

As time went on and we became more invested in the Nikon system, I started to once again see some significant limitations of our camera gear. My wife and I were doing more portrait sessions which necessitated the purchase of an 85mm lens and external flash. But at the same time, we felt as though we didn’t quite have the right gear to take the type of pictures of our kids with which we were really happy.

The 35mm lens was nice, but on a crop-sensor body like the D7100 or D200 it wasn’t wide enough for everyday casual use and I often found myself in low-light situations where the high ISO performance of the D7100 just didn’t cut it. Enter the full-frame Nikon D750.

Bear with me, I’m getting to the Fuji X100F!

As we examined our own particular photographic needs we realized that the D750 ticked all the boxes that we had at the time: great low-light performance, superb image quality for portraits, tougher build quality, a larger image buffer, and the list goes on. The D750 seemed like a good logical choice and over time it has only grown more useful. Even my 35mm lens specifically designed for crop-sensor Nikon DX cameras works fine as long as I shoot at about f/4 and don’t mind a bit of vignetting in the corners.

Why a Nikon Shooter Bought a Fuji X100F as a Second Camera

The D750 and a 70-200 lens make family portraits like this possible.

More gear, more problems

Ironically, despite getting more gear, the more limited I still felt in terms of taking everyday photos of our kids – which was the whole reason my wife and I got into digital photography in the first place!

My favorite camera/lens combination quickly became the D750 + 35mm and I found myself using that particular setup almost every time I wanted to just go out and shoot candid pictures of my wife and kids. I took that camera and lens whether we were on vacation, in the backyard, or even on a visit to the park.

The problem was that it is so big and heavy I often found myself leaving it at home and using my iPhone instead, which works fine as long as there’s plenty of light. As soon as the sun goes down or you move indoors, the quality difference between a mobile phone and a larger camera quickly becomes apparent.

Why a Nikon Shooter Bought a Fuji X100F as a Second Camera

The Fuji X100F with 23mm lens is almost exactly the same as a Nikon D750 and 35mm lens, but the sheer size and weight of the Nikon meant I often left it at home. The Fuji gives me almost the same image quality and I can literally take it almost anywhere.

Is yet more Nikon gear the answer?

Professionally, our growing collection of gear brought with it some headaches too. I found myself using the D750 + 70-200mm f/2.8 lens on most of my paid client shoots, but it is really heavy and not at all conducive to close-up shots in small spaces. I had other cameras and lenses but nothing that gave me really good shots with a wider field of view, so for a while, I contemplated getting another D750 and a true full-frame 35mm lens.

However the idea of adding even more gear to my bag, while still not really having a good all-purpose camera I could use with my family, threw me into a bit of a mental slump. I had a clear need that was unmet, but I didn’t want the Nikon gear required to solve the problem.

And then I found the Fuji X100F!

Why a Nikon Shooter Bought a Fuji X100F as a Second Camera

The D750 and a 35mm lens are great for more intimate shots like this, but the size and even the clack-clack-clack sound of the shutter make it somewhat conspicuous.

Form following function

The more I looked at my needs as a photographer the more I realized I was going about things all wrong. Instead of asking myself, “What needs to I have and how can I meet them?” I was stuck in the mindset that I had to stay with Nikon gear because that’s what I already had. I was putting form (i.e. Nikon) over function (what I wanted my gear to do).

Professionally, I had the midrange and telephoto focal lengths covered but I didn’t have anything on the wider end. Personally, I knew I didn’t have a truly portable go-anywhere camera. I was looking for a way to solve these issues with my mind firmly planted in Nikon’s pastures, all the while not realizing that other camera systems might have a much better answer.

Look outside the box

When I discovered the Fuji X100F I realized that it ticked off every single box on my list. Professionally it allowed me to get the kind of close, wide-angle, intimate pictures I couldn’t get with any of my other gear. It was also small and light enough that I could be discrete at events and even carry it as a second body with my heavy D750 and 70-200mm lens doing the heavy-lifting.

The 23mm lens paired with an APS-C sensor meant I would have almost the exact same field of view as shooting at 35mm on a full-frame camera. The wide f/2.0 lens aperture meant that I could get great shots in low light, and even the price was right since the cost of the X100F was less than another Nikon D750 and full-frame 35mm lens.

Why a Nikon Shooter Bought a Fuji X100F as a Second Camera

Finally – the answer was the Fuji X100F

Personally, the Fuji X100F became my go-to camera for almost any situation I found myself in with my family: birthday parties, playing in the yard, going to friends’ houses, taking trips to visit family, and even going on vacations. Prior to getting the X100F, my D750 and 35mm lens were what I used in almost all of those situations. Not only was it heavy and cumbersome, I also felt highly conspicuous taking pictures in casual settings. It’s hard to ignore someone who is wielding a giant DSLR and pointing it in your face!

As an added bonus the leaf shutter in the X100F is almost silent which makes picture-taking in quiet situations much less worrisome. Further, if you want to be really quiet you can enable a fully electronic shutter which lets you take pictures in complete silence. No DSLR can do that, even in Live View, and it’s something I have really come to appreciate about the X100F and other mirrorless systems.

Why a Nikon Shooter Bought a Fuji X100F as a Second Camera

Shot using the X100F’s built-in ACROS black and white simulation mode.

Finally, the wealth of manual buttons and dials on the X100F has been nothing short of a revelation for someone like me who cut his photography teeth long after digital cameras had supplanted most film cameras. Being able to look at my camera and see separate dials for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO means that I no longer have to hunt through menus or assign functions to control dials to get the shots I want.

Add to this the film simulations like Classic Chrome and ACROS, tough-as-a-tank build quality, and the choice to use either an LCD screen or electronic viewfinder and you end up with a camera small enough to take anywhere yet versatile enough to excel in almost any situation.

Finding your solution

I often read articles online about switching from DSLR to mirrorless or vice versa, and there seems to be a persistent debate about which one system better. After my experience with adding a Fuji mirrorless camera to my Nikon DSLR kit, I’ve come to the realization that it’s not about which is better but what gear can meet your needs.

I think the problem that some photographers have, myself included, is that we aren’t good at honestly identifying what problems or needs we have and then working from there to find our answers.

Why a Nikon Shooter Bought a Fuji X100F as a Second Camera

There’s no bad choice – only the right choice for you

Cameras today are so good it’s almost impossible to not get one that doesn’t have great image quality, autofocus, high ISO performance, dynamic range, and so on. What’s much more difficult is finding a camera, lens, or another piece of gear that solves whatever problem you currently have.

There are a time and place for big DSLR cameras, small mirrorless systems, micro-four-thirds models, even mobile phones and computational photography. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, and each can meet different needs and work fine for you as long as you take the time to find out what your needs really are.

Why a Nikon Shooter Bought a Fuji X100F as a Second Camera

High ISO performance of the X100F isn’t quite as good as a full-frame camera, but it’s not too shabby either.

Conclusion

Going forward I see myself using my Nikon gear for more professional shoots and the Fuji camera as a daily driver that will be more for casual shooting, but it’s not an either/or situation. My old crop-sensor D7100 paired with the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is fantastic for getting pictures of my kids playing sports, while the Fuji X00F is ideal for indoor family sessions or times when I just don’t want the heft of a DSLR.

Who knows, my next camera might be something totally different or it might not be a camera at all and instead be some lessons or even just a trip to see and photograph different places.

Why a Nikon Shooter Bought a Fuji X100F as a Second Camera

Shot using the Fuji X100F’s built-in Classic Chrome film simulation mode.

After hearing my story I’d love to get your input too. What kind of gear do you use, why do you use it, and what steps are you planning to take next to address any issues you might have? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The post Why a Nikon Shooter Bought a Fuji X100F as a Second Camera by Simon Ringsmuth appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Review of the Nikon D850 DSLR

24 Jan

The latest addition to the Nikon line up has been a highly anticipated full frame camera. While many other cameras were being updated rumors started circulating 12 months ago that the D810 would be updated. Finally, the news came that the Nikon D850 was being released. It seemed like everyone in the photography industry was looking forward to it. So much speculation – what will it have, and how will it perform?

Review of the Nikon D850 DSLR

The Nikon D850 with the 14-24mm lens.

The Hype

There was similar hype around 5 years ago when Nikon released the D800. It was almost 12 months before I was able to get one, and when the talk started on this one I knew that I would be getting one. The D800 has been an amazing camera and by far the best I’ve ever owned. But it is showing its age and doing long exposures with it was becoming harder. The logical update was always going to be the replacement for the D810.

What I needed was a camera capable of taking long exposures without the problem of dead or hot pixels. I wanted a touchscreen as others I’ve used have been fantastic. I had hoped that with Live View it would be possible to see through ND Filters without having to remove them all the time. While it wasn’t necessary, being able to transfer photos from the camera to the phone would be handy as well.

Once the camera was released and I finally got my hands on one, there was nothing to be disappointed about. It lived up to my expectations, perhaps even more. It is a complicated camera, and the phrase being used, “A game changer” is true. It does a lot and it is going to take some time to learn all that my new camera can do.

Nikon D850 cityscape

An early morning image of the city with reflections.

First impressions of the D850

For most people, it will seem like a gigantic camera. However, those that have been using the D800 or D810 will not be surprised. It is slightly bigger, but not a lot. The weight is around the same as well. Overall it looks almost the same. As you start to study the D850 you can see how some functions have changed positions. I keep pressing the mode button now to change the ISO.

Nikon D850 long exposure

Doing a long exposure on the top of a cliff with the Nikon D850.

45.7 MP Sensor

The big thing to test was going to be the massive 45.7-megapixel sensor. In most of the other Nikon cameras Sony sensors have been used, however, Nikon has developed their own for the D850. It is said to be sharp and create very crisp images. That would appear to be true so far. There is a warning about using low-quality lenses on it, which can create a lot of chromatic aberration. So far, I have noticed that.

Touchscreen

Nikon has given the D850 a touch screen, and I am so happy. Touchscreens make navigating around the menu so much easier. You can flick through your photos very easily, or change a setting in the menu.

With the touchscreen activated, you can also focus the camera and take your photos, whether you are using a tripod or not. With the Bulb setting, you can now touch the screen to open the shutter, and then tap again to close it. This means that when you go out to take long exposures you don’t have to worry so much about a remote shutter release or intervalometer. It doesn’t have a timer or display how much time has elapsed, but there are always ways around that, like using your phone.

Nikon D850 night photography

Capturing a single light trail from a bicycle along Southbank at night.

The LCD Screen can be manipulated

Like other models, you can now manipulate the screen so you can move it to help you take photos in Live Mode, or when using the playback function. If you like taking photos close to the ground you can do that now without having to get on the ground yourself or having to guess at the composition. I’m getting too old to get down on the ground, getting back up isn’t so easy, so this function is one that I’ve been eagerly awaiting.

Nikon D850

The front of the D850, set up for a long exposure.

Using Live View for Long Exposures

One of the frustrating things about doing long exposures with the D800 was having to constantly remove the filters every time you wanted to recompose your image. They were too dark for the camera to see through. The Canon 5D Mark IV is capable of seeing through the filters in Live View, so I was really hoping the Nikon D850 would have that capability as well. I’m happy to report that it does.

It doesn’t quite work the same way, you do have to open the aperture up a bit, but you don’t have to remove the filters. If you can open it up to f/2.8 then it is like there are no filters there at all. It will also make it easier to use graduated filters and polarizers when doing long exposure photography.

Nikon D850 Seascape

The camera photographing the Dragon’s Head.

As someone who loves doing long exposures, this new feature is a very welcome addition to the camera. It is something that I will use a lot. My workflow when shooting has changed from never using Live View, to using it constantly.

One of the major advantages of shooting with Live View is that your mirror is up, so you don’t get those minute vibrations when you are taking an image.

ISO

One of the biggest problems with photography is low light. While in most situations you can use a tripod, there are some situations that mean it is just isn’t possible. With an ISO rating up to 25,600, you can take photos easily without a tripod.

Nikon D850 high ISO

Capturing Christmas windows using ISO 25600.

There will be noise in the images, that is one thing you can’t avoid. However, compared with what you got with the earlier models in the D800 series it’s a big improvement. You could comfortably go up to ISO 2000, perhaps even higher and get images that you would be happy with.

At the other end of the scale, you can go to ISO 64 when you want the best quality images in the right lighting conditions or when using your tripod. Most cameras only go to 100, so having that extra step means finer grain or almost no noise in your images.

Some of the controls are in different places

While the basic setup is very similar to all Nikon cameras, there are some things that have changed from previous models (for me, that is compared to the D800). The Mode button is on the left top buttons with the WB and QUAL. ISO is now over near the Shutter button. The Bracket feature is now set where the flash button used to be.

Overall, the camera is much the same. The menu system remains very similar to previous models and is easy to understand. It is one thing that has always been good with Nikon, you can go from one model to another and still be able to figure out how it works.

Late afternoon in the city of Melbourne.

No flash

One major change from the D800 and D810 is the removal of the built-in flash. For most users, it was not necessary and the flash popping up could create problems. You can still attach an external flash to it, so for most this isn’t going to be a problem as they would use that option anyway.

3 Different RAW sizes

One the main concerns with the camera was the 45.7-megapixel sensor. The more MPs it has the larger the images will be. Storage can become a problem, especially when shooting in RAW. The D850 now comes with three different sizes of RAW files. You can choose to shoot RAW images in Large, Medium or Small. The large will take images that are 8256 x 5504 pixels, while the small will take images that are 4128 x 2752 pixels, similar to a cropped sensor.

Having the choice of deciding how big your image will be is a good function to add. If you know you are going to take a photo for social media, with no intention of doing anything else, then using the small option makes sense. However, if you are going to be taking photos for a client or for printing on a big scale then the large size is the best choice.

Nikon D850 seascape

Doing a long exposure of the Dragon’s Head on the Rye back beach.

Fast frames per second burst mode

I went from a Nikon D300s, that could shoot 6-7 frames per second to the D800 which was capable of only four. It was a shock and possibly one of the biggest disappointments with that camera. It always seemed clunky when you were taking several images at once, especially for bracketing.

It’s good to see they have sped up the frame rate in the D850. It will take around 6 images a second, so it is reasonably fast. When you are bracketing there is less chance of a mistake when taking a series of images. It is great to hear how fast it shoots the frames.

Nikon D850 Bird photography.

Using the Nikon D850 at the zoo to capture birds.

The XQD card

With the release of the Nikon D850, we also see that it has two memory card slots; one for an SD card, and the other for an XQD card. As the file sizes are large, and you can take many images per second, you also need a card that can keep up. The XQD cards are good for writing your images quickly so you shouldn’t have moments where you can’t shoot because the camera is saving your images onto the card.

These cards are quite expensive. Not many manufacturers are making them, the one I got was made by Sony. You also need to get a memory card reader for these as well. I purchased mine from B&H, it was 128GB and cost almost $ 200.

Nikon D850 Waterfall

Capturing a waterfall with a long exposure.

Wifi and Snapbridge

Nikon cameras that have Snapbridge allow you to use your phone with the camera. You can download images to it, for easy loading to social media when you are out and about. There is also the option for your phone to capture GPS data for future reference.

When Snapbridge was first released there was a lot of negative publicity about it. People said it didn’t work properly, and if we are being honest, it wasn’t great. But it has improved a lot. It is now easier to connect your camera to your phone to look at photos. You can have it set up so it automatically transfers the images to your phone. They go into the cloud, so they don’t take up any room on your phone.

The only downside seems to be that to get your images to your phone you have to shoot in jpeg format. Considering the target market of who will be using the D850 (mostly pros), it is a bit disappointing. Most users will be taking their photos in RAW format and won’t be able to do that.

To overcome this, I decided to shoot in RAW and basic JPG. You don’t need high-quality JPGs to share, and basic is fine for social media. Once the files are all downloaded to my computer I select all the jpegs and delete them. It does mean that you will be using more memory on your cards, but I have 128GB cards, so it isn’t going to be an issue that often. I would also only use this selection if I knew that I wanted to capture an image to share, otherwise I would choose RAW only.

Snapbridge will keep the firmware on your camera up to date which is great, otherwise, it only happens if you get it serviced. One thing that is a definitely a plus for someone like me is that the app will also make sure the time and date are correct on your camera by syncing it with your phone. You don’t have to worry about daylight savings and changing the camera settings for it anymore (or when you travel and change time zones).

Nikon D850 macro

The D850 with the Lensbaby Velvet 56 photographing macro flowers.

Battery life

The experience of other cameras has shown that using Live View can drain your battery. Earlier this year I had an opportunity to try out the Canon 5D Mark IV and when using Live View for long exposures the battery did drain very quickly. You would get maybe three hours with it when using that mode. With the Nikon D850, using Live View it doesn’t drain the battery as quickly.

A fully charged battery for normal use will last a few days, with heavy use a day or so. The Nikon batteries are very good, and if you want spares, it is advisable to go for regular Nikon ones over third-party options.

Nikon D850 City image

An image taken at sunrise with the Nikon D850.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, those who described the Nikon D850 as a game changer were not lying. It’s one of the most sophisticated cameras on the market. While hailed as a great camera for landscape photographers, it is also suitable for many other genres of photography as well. One has to wonder what they will do to the next generation of the D5 to make it better than the D850.

For more information on the specifications, click here to go to Nikon. The camera retails on Amazon for $ 3,295.

I would give the camera a rating of 9.9 out of 10, maybe even a 10. I love the Nikon D850, it is the best camera I’ve ever used

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Nikon claimed the #1 spot in the full-frame camera market for December 2017

24 Jan
Nikon says the jump to #1 was due to ‘exceptional demand’ for the D850.

Nikon made a major sales announcement today, revealing that the company achieved the #1 spot in the full-frame camera market for December 2017. More specifically, the company “attained the #1 position for both market share and revenue for December 2017, in the full-frame digital camera with interchangeable lens (DCIL) category in the U.S.” That DCIL term is what we refer to as just ILC here at DPReview, and yes, that includes full-frame mirrorless.

The numbers come from the US retail tracking group The NPD Group Inc., and the result is due largely to what Nikon calls “exceptional demand” for the Nikon D850 DSLR, which launched in August of last year and went on to be one of the most highly demanded cameras of the 2017 holiday season.

Admittedly, the result only covers a single month’s worth of sales, but Nikon is quick to point out that it is the most important sales month of the year.

“December is a significant month for sales because of the large volume of units sold during the holidays,” reads the press release. “Industry-wide, DCIL full-frame unit sales for the month of December 2017 were almost equal to unit sales from January through March of 2017.”

Interestingly, it’s not just the D850 that propelled Nikon into the #1 spot. According to the Japanese camera giant, the top two cameras in the full-frame ILC segment during December were the Nikon D850 at #1 and the Nikon D750 at #2.

This announcement comes hot on the heels of the 2018 BCN camera rankings that had Canon users so excited, and less than a year after Sony announced that it had claimed the #2 spot in the full-frame ILC market from Nikon for the period from January to February of 2017.


Correction: An earlier version of this article said that the D750 probably wasn’t the #2 best-selling full-frame ILC overall, since Nikon specifically used the term ‘DSLR’ in that section of the press release. However, Nikon has since confirmed that the D850 and the D750 were the #1 and #2 best-selling full-frame ILCs for December 2017.


Press Release

Nikon Inc. Achieves #1 Spot in full-frame Camera Market During Important 2017 Holiday Selling Season

Market Bolstered by Exceptional Demand for the Award-Winning full-frame (FX-format) D850 DSLR

Melville, NY (January 23, 2018) – Imaging leader Nikon attained the #1 position for both market share and revenue for December 2017, in the full-frame digital camera with interchangeable lens (DCIL) category in the U.S.1 The overwhelming success of the powerful new Nikon D850 DSLR as well as the acclaimed D750 DSLR helped contribute to the brand’s strong growth within the full-frame camera segment for December 2017. According to The NPD Group, Nikon achieved double-digit unit and dollar sales growth within the full-frame camera segment in December 2017 vs. December 2016.2

This market category comprises all full-frame digital cameras with interchangeable lenses (DCIL), including DSLR and mirrorless cameras. December is a significant month for sales because of the large volume of units sold during the holidays; industry-wide, DCIL full-frame unit sales for the month of December 2017 were almost equal to unit sales from January through March of 2017, according to The NPD Group.3

“Nikon has returned to an emphasis on high-end products for advanced and professional users. These users appreciate Nikon’s full-frame offerings because of their amazing image quality, reliability, low-light capability and high-speed performance,” said Bo Kajiwara, President and CEO, Nikon Inc. “Nikon is an innovative, diversified company with a clear, long-term strategy to thrive into 2018 and beyond.”

Since the beginning of 2017, the camera industry has seen strong growth in the full-frame segment, with consumers gravitating toward Nikon’s innovative offerings for advanced and professional photographers. The month of December alone saw an overall increase of 69% in units and 59% in dollars compared to the same period in 2016.2 Nikon specifically experienced an 81% increase in units, and 88% growth in dollars for this segment.2

For the month of December, the top two selling DSLR cameras in this segment were the Nikon D750 and the Nikon D850.4There has been exceptional demand for the extremely versatile, highly acclaimed D850, which is the ultimate combination of speed and resolution. This 45.7-megapixel full-frame DSLR is a tool for serious photographers with robust construction, unparalleled imaged quality and proven reliability. Both the D850 and the D750 have won a myriad of industry and consumer accolades, and both are perfectly complemented by the vast NIKKOR lens system, which offers the best in optical excellence.

“Premium segments are leading the imaging market, as consumer demand for features like full-frame are on the rise,” said Ben Arnold, executive director, industry analyst for The NPD Group.

Kajiwara also added, “We want to sincerely thank our customers and our fans for making this achievement possible.”

1- The NPD Group Inc., U.S. Retail Tracking Service, Detachable Lens Camera, full-frame, Based on unit and dollar sales, Dec 2017
2- The NPD Group Inc., U.S. Retail Tracking Service, Detachable Lens Camera, full-frame, Based on unit and dollar sales, Dec 2017 vs. Dec 2016
3- The NPD Group Inc., U.S. Retail Tracking Service, Detachable Lens Camera, full-frame, Based on unit sales, Dec 2017 vs. Jan- March 2017
4-The NPD Group Inc., U.S. Retail Tracking Service, Detachable Lens Camera, full-frame, Based on unit sales, Dec 2017

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Nikon D850 firmware 1.01 fixes long exposure green cast and other minor bugs

18 Jan

Nikon has released the first firmware update for its 45.7 MP full-frame D850 DSLR. Firmware version 1.01 comes with fixes for the following issues:

  • Users exiting the Clean image sensor menu entry after adding it to and entering it via My Menu would be returned not to My Menu but to Setup Menu.
  • Photos taken with On selected for Long exposure noise reduction would sometimes have increased noise or shadows with a greenish cast.
  • Slight aperture reset lag would sometimes occur after shooting at shutter speeds under 1/10 s (type E and PC-E lenses excluded).

These all sound like minor issues, but it is reassuring to know Nikon is taking the continuous improvement of its products seriously. If you own a D850 and want to update to the new firmware, you can find all information and download links on the Nikon website. If you are considering the D850 as your next camera, check out our full review bellow:

Nikon D850 Full Review

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‘Water Torture Test’ compares Canon, Nikon, Sony and Olympus weather sealing

10 Jan

As part of their Camera of the Year comparison between the Nikon D850 and the Sony a7R III, Imaging Resource decided to test the cameras’ weather sealing with their very own “water torture test.” And just to spice things up a bit, they threw in the Canon 5D Mark IV and Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II for good measure.

All four cameras were subjected to a “brief, moderately heavy rain shower and misty conditions,” and despite what you may think about all top-tier cameras being more alike than different on the weather sealing front, not all four bodies coped well. You can watch the test above or visit Imaging Resource for an in-depth report on their weather sealing tests, but if you want the TL;DR (or DW), it goes something like this:

  • The Canon 5D Mark IV and Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II both passed without so much as a stutter. No water getting anywhere it shouldn’t have.
  • The Nikon D850 sprung a small leak into the viewfinder unless the Nikon BS-3 hot shoe cover was used. Everything else stayed dry.
  • The Sony a7R III performed the worst by far, leaking a significant amount of water into the battery compartment (seemingly from above), and malfunctioning entirely during IR’s 15-minute ‘heavy mist’ test.

Of course, one should be careful making sweeping generalizations based on testing one copy of each camera, but if this test is indicative of all Sony a7R III’s weather sealing, Sony might want to take note of IR’s results as they go about designing the Mark IV.

Check out the in-depth review for more details on how each of the four models performed.

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Camera Comparison of 3 Popular Nikon Models: D750 – D7100 – D5100

03 Jan

No matter which stage you are into the world of DSLR photography, often the big question comes. Which camera do you buy to start or progress your photography journey and get those creative juices flowing?

In this article, I will compare three widely popular Nikon cameras (the Nikon D750 24 MP FX body – $ 1499, Nikon D7100 24 MP DX body – $ 724, and the Nikon D5100 16 MP DX body – $ 189) of different capability levels and price points. It will give you practical insight into their image quality by using them in real-world shooting scenarios (landscape/social events/sports) that you may want to cover in your photography.

According to statistics from explorecams.com, these three cameras (as of 11 September 2017) rank in Nikon photo-count: D7100 first, D750 second, D5100 sixth. So indeed these are cameras trusted and used by Nikon shooters the world over.

This article is not a photography theory, camera specs, best settings, lenses, or camera technical reviews. There are excellent web resources for that and I do fully encourage you to check these out, both here on dPS and other sites. This comparison will give you real-life examples to see which camera may suit your needs, expectations, and wallet better.

All scenarios will have the following structure:

  • A description of the scene
  • Gear and settings used to ensure comparability
  • The output photographs
  • Summary

Landscape Scenario

The Scene

Most probably you will find yourself at some point outside, camera at hand, wanting to capture the beauty that you see around you. In southern Greece, the picturesque village of Planiteros, with its flowing streams and huge sycamore trees, is the perfect setting for our first scenario.

Gear and Settings

Reasonable companions to this type of photography are a wide angle lens, a tripod, and a remote. The Tokina 12-28 f/4 lens, the Sirui T-025X carbon fiber tripod and the Nikon ML-L3 remote were used. Using the Tokina, which is compatible with both full frame or FX (D750) and crop sensor or DX cameras (D7100 / D5100) allowed photographs of very similar focal lengths to be taken for comparison.

Nikon D5100, capable of handling this situation?

Aiming to give a slightly softer flow rendition of the stream, while maintaining ample depth of field, a longer exposure time and a narrower aperture were desirable. For all three cameras, sensible vibration reducing technique was applied for this type of shooting vision. Mounting the camera on a tripod, using a remote to trigger the shutter, and activating mirror lockup (available on D750 and D7100) or exposure delay (on the D5100, as mirror lockup is not available) are solid steps to getting a good quality landscape photo.

Aperture Priority mode (set at f/8), Matrix Metering, Auto WB, single autofocus mode (AF-S), single point focus, autofocusing on the same point using live view and using the base ISO for each camera (100 for the D750 and D7100, and ISO 200 for the D5100), were the settings applied to extract the best possible quality files from each sensor. Raw files were processed in Lightroom (LR) to produce similar JPGs.

The Landscape Photographs

Look at the photographs below and try to guess which camera produced which picture. The answer comes right after the photographs.

LAND Nikon D750 Nikon Camera Comparison of Three Popular Models: D750 - D7100 - D5100

LAND Nikon D5100 Nikon Camera Comparison of Three Popular Models: D750 - D7100 - D5100

LAND Nikon D7100 Nikon Camera Comparison of Three Popular Models: D750 - D7100 - D5100

Answer: 1) D750 (top), 2) D5100 (middle), 3) D7100 (bottom).

Summary Landscape

If you could not find an edge between one photo over another that makes two of us. I would be glad to hang 12×16″ print from any of them on my wall. Proper technique in this scenario is more important than the camera used and it creates a level playing field for all sensors.

Social Events Scenario

The Scene

Gatherings with friends and family are occasions where you want to grab a candid moment or the ambiance shot that will serve as a memento for many years. Good friends Nikos and Athina were kind enough to invite me and my wife over to their place for a glass of wine. This was the perfect occasion to compare the three cameras in a usual social setting.

Gear and Settings

Contrary to the landscape scenario’s contemplative and slower pace of shooting, social gatherings usually lend themselves more to a handheld, run and gun shooting style. So no particular gear other than the Tokina 12-28 f/4 lens was used here. While this is not a usual focal length for shooting indoors with people, when used from a sensible distance and towards the wider end it can serve the comparison between the three cameras.

Nikon D7100

Aperture Priority mode (at f/4), Matrix Metering, Auto WB, single autofocus mode (AF-S), single point focus, focusing through the viewfinder and using Auto ISO with no High ISO Noise Reduction applied, were the settings used to extract the best possible quality files from each camera.

Using Auto ISO has to do with my individual shooting style. In this scenario, it is actually the same as using ISO 1600 for D5100 and D7100 and ISO 3200 for D750. These are, in my experience, the highest ISO levels that each camera can handle (especially for straight out of camera JPGs) before noise becomes too obtrusive.

Both the out of camera JPGs and those made following similar processing of raw files in Lightroom are provided in the next section.

The Social Event Photographs

Let’s start with the camera JPGs. Which camera produced which photo will come right after both sets of pictures (camera JPGs and LR processed JPGs).

SOCIAL Nikon D7100 CAM Nikon Camera Comparison of Three Popular Models: D750 - D7100 - D5100

SOCIAL Nikon D750 CAM Nikon Camera Comparison of Three Popular Models: D750 - D7100 - D5100

SOCIAL Nikon D5100 CAM Nikon Camera Comparison of Three Popular Models: D750 - D7100 - D5100

And here are the LR processed counterparts in the same order.

SOCIAL Nikon D7100 LR Nikon Camera Comparison of Three Popular Models: D750 - D7100 - D5100

SOCIAL Nikon D750 LR Nikon Camera Comparison of Three Popular Models: D750 - D7100 - D5100

SOCIAL Nikon D5100 LR Nikon Camera Comparison of Three Popular Models: D750 - D7100 - D5100

Answer: 1) D7100 (top), 2) D750 (middle), 3) D5100 (bottom).

Summary Social Events

Again, as in the landscape scenario, you would be hard-pressed to find a winner here. Less than perfect focusing (front or back focus) or camera shake (due to a slow shutter speed) have a lot more impact than the camera model in such shooting environments (e.g. the domestic indoor lighting here).

Sports Scenario

The Scene

Photographing movements, be it your loved ones playing in the backyard or shooting any sport, can generate highly dynamic, catchy, and memorable photographs. Usually, I play football with my friends once a week. For the sake of this article, I put my football gear aside and grabbed my photo kit to shoot the sports scenario.

Gear and Settings

Depending on the sport and the venue, different lenses can be employed in your gear arsenal. The consensus seems to be that a telephoto zoom is an invaluable piece of kit for sports in general. A Tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6 lens was used for this test, as it is compatible with both FX and DX cameras. A Sirui P-224SR Carbon Fiber Monopod and a Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Tripod Head were used to create the support platform.

Hand holding a DSLR camera with a lens attached is achievable for periods of time. However, when shooting sports, perhaps for hours, and consistently following the action as it unfolds requires more support. This monopod and head combination is working very well for me.

Nikon D750 really excels in this situation.

Usually, sports photography lends its self to shutter priority mode. Select at least a 1/500th of a second. Then take it up from there to freeze action as needed (unless panning is used, where perhaps even 1/60th or slower may be sufficient).

Unfortunately, in the available light conditions of this scenario, not even 1/20th was attainable with any of the three camera-lens combinations, while using reasonable ISOs as discussed before. To somewhat combat this, a minimum of ISO 3200 was used for all cameras. This pushed the limits of acceptable noise, but bought a few more precious tenths of seconds of speed.

With this important point in mind, Aperture Priority mode (varying between f/4 and f/5.6 across the zoom range), Matrix Metering, Auto WB, continuous autofocus mode (AF-C), Dynamic-area AF mode (d9 for comparability), autofocusing through the viewfinder and no High ISO Noise Reduction, were the settings used to extract the best possible quality files from each camera.

Both out of camera JPGs and JPGs following similar processing of raw files in Lightroom are shared in the next section.

Finally, to showcase how high ISO performance has evolved over the years, I will include a bonus JPG with Hi-2 (ISO 51,200) straight out of camera from the D750 (only cropped and lens profiled in Lightroom).

The photographs

First up the camera JPGs, then the LR processed ones. Which is which is shown at the end after both sets:

SPORTS Nikon D7100 CAM Nikon Camera Comparison of Three Popular Models: D750 - D7100 - D5100

SPORTS Nikon D5100 CAM Nikon Camera Comparison of Three Popular Models: D750 - D7100 - D5100

SPORTS Nikon D750 CAM Nikon Camera Comparison of Three Popular Models: D750 - D7100 - D5100

And here are the LR processed counterparts in the same order.

SPORTS Nikon D7100 LR Nikon Camera Comparison of Three Popular Models: D750 - D7100 - D5100

SPORTS Nikon D5100 LR Nikon Camera Comparison of Three Popular Models: D750 - D7100 - D5100

SPORTS Nikon D750 LR Nikon Camera Comparison of Three Popular Models: D750 - D7100 - D5100

Answer: 1) D7100 (top), 2) D5100 (middle), 3) D750 (bottom).

The bonus ISO 51,200 file from the D750.

SPORTS Nikon D750 CAM HI 2 Nikon Camera Comparison of Three Popular Models: D750 - D7100 - D5100

Summary sports

Shooting sports is indeed a completely different animal. Gear that will get perfectly adequate photos in normal situations (e.g. nature and social situations as above) simply will not be enough for sports. It is not an accident that you see big glass and pro bodies used in sporting venues the world over.

Having said that, it is possible with any of the three cameras discussed here to get some usable shots by capturing the peak of the athletes’ movement. My learning is also that increasing ISO even well above 3200 may be sensible for all these cameras. The higher shutter speed benefit offsets the increased noise.

The key differentiator between the three Nikon cameras is not the quality of the keeper photos. It is the vast superiority of the D750’s autofocus system, frame rate and ISO performance that will allow you to create a lot more keepers, long after the other two bodies have given up trying.

Conclusion and proposals

You went through a lot of info here. Now it is time to make some sense of it. I will hopefully help by offering my insights following this Nikon camera comparison and my few years of trying to decipher photography principles and gear choices.

Newest and biggest isn’t always necessary

The latest most expensive camera, with more Megapixels, is neither necessary nor is it a guarantor of getting good photographs. The 4/2011 launched DX D5100 coupled with a suitable (i.e. with built-in focus motor) lens, can create the same quality photographs in many situations as its more capable 2/2013 launched DX D7100 or the 9/2014 launched (and much more expensive) FX D750 siblings.

Solid shooting technique and basic gear (e.g. a tripod) is essential no matter which camera body is used.

In some cases, bigger is better

Higher spec bodies do offer tangible shooting benefits other than image quality. This was apparent in the sports scenario. Be it superior focus performance, internal focus motor, larger viewfinder, commander flash capability, AF fine tune, physical buttons for more functions at hand, prosumer (D7100) or semipro (D750) bodies can help you get your photography to that next level of refinement.

Consider carefully your lens purchases. Ensure the best possible compatibility in case you ever decide to move from DX to FX. A few clever purchases can give you great value-for-money FX and DX compatible lenses (hint: Tokina).

However, do rent or try out gear from friends before you commit. I cannot overstate the real-life ease-of-use factor versus any specs’ sheet excellence.

So here are my proposals to you depending on your stage in the photo journey

Just starting out. Don’t feel pressured to get an expensive high-spec body. A sensible approach may very well be to grab a dirt cheap used D5100 and an 18-200mm inexpensive used lens. See if DSLR photography suits you and your lifestyle and take it from there. Give it time and do not splash out immediately on many different lenses. Plus the D5100 can also act as a great video camera thanks to its rotating screen.

The bug has bitten you. It takes an honest discussion with yourself to see if you really need all the bells and whistles of that new body versus an early D5xxx or a D7000 model. If the answer is yes, then my proposal is to hang in there. Skip the D7100 and save the cash to spring for the D750 (new or used), unless the more recent D7xxx series have similar autofocus and ISO performance for a lower price.

You are ready to make money from your photography and turn semi-pro or even full-time pro. Congratulations! By now you have probably outgrown even the D750 for the sake of other pro FX and DX bodies. There’s not much I can offer in terms of advice here, other than a D750 can always be a light backup body, great for both stills and video.

Conclusion

Thank you for the time reading this article and see where your photography passion takes you next!

Do you have and use any of these Nikon cameras? What types of photograph do you shoot? Please share your experience in the comments below.

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The Olympus TG-5 and Nikon Coolpix W300 go to Puerto Rico

16 Dec

José Francisco Salgado is an astronomer, science photographer, and visual artist. His series of Science & Symphony films that have been presented in more than 200 concerts in 15 countries. He is a native of Puerto Rico.

Editor’s note: The events described in this article took place several weeks prior to the arrival of Hurricane Maria, which caused catastrophic damage to Puerto Rico and other islands in the Caribbean.


Last summer I traveled to Puerto Rico to do some night photography for a new Science & Symphony film I’m producing. I was planning to photograph the Milky Way and the ocean at the same time, though it’s difficult to visit tropical beaches and limit yourself to work.

I shoot my time-lapse sequences with Nikon DSLRs, but decided to bring along two ‘rugged’ cameras, the Nikon Coolpix W300 and Olympus TG-5, for casual shooting. These point-and-shoot cameras are shockproof (rated to resist drops from at least 2.1m / 7ft) and waterproof (to depths of at least 15.2m / 50ft), so my motivation was to use them while snorkeling with my fiancée, Paula.

She was more than happy to try these cameras, and since she’s not a professional photographer I thought it would be good to get her impressions of them as well. I wanted to find out how intuitive the controls were myself, so I decided to consult the manuals only when needed.

Olympus TG-5 sample gallery

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One big difference between the cameras that’s worth calling out is Raw support: the TG-5 allows you to capture Raw images, but the W300 shoots only in JPEG. I found myself processing the images from both cameras quite a bit in Adobe Lightroom to get pleasing results, though with the Nikon I was limited to editing out-of-camera JPEGs.

I really like the fact that both cameras have built-in GPS for geotagging photos. (You can read the metadata in the sample galleries if you want to know exactly where these photos were taken.) Unfortunately, after returning from the trip I noticed that the cameras, especially the TG-5, didn’t geotag consistently.

Nikon W300 sample gallery

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Since the W300 doesn’t save Raw files, I’ve included both out-of-camera JPEGs and my edited JPEGs in this sample gallery.

After landing in San Juan, we headed eastward toward our base in Playa Azul in Luquillo. Playa Azul, aka the Costa Azul, is a beach with golden sand and turquoise water. We took some photos along the surf and started to familiarize ourselves with the cameras. Paula noticed how much easier it was to operate the zoom lever on the TG-5, which is sideways and closer to the shutter, than on the W300, which moves up and down. Nevertheless, the optical zoom itself worked well in both cameras. Paula also preferred the grip on the TG-5.

We then headed to Cabo Rojo in the southwest corner of the island to photograph the disk of our Galaxy setting in the Caribbean Sea in the context of the rugged coastline and promontory of Los Morrillos. We returned to the site during the day with our point-and-shoot cameras to photograph the coastline and the popular stone bridge.

Puerto Rico’s Playa Azul has golden sand and turquoise water.
Olympus TG-5
ISO 100 | 1/400 sec. | F8
Photo by Paula Bressman

After Cabo Rojo, we spent a night at the Punta Tuna Wetlands Nature Reserve in Maunabo in order to photograph The Milky Way and the Punta Tuna Lighthouse. We did some scouting around the wetland and Playa Larga, where we appreciated the advantage of shooting in Raw on the TG-5. In the split-screen image below, you can see how much more information I was able to extract by processing the Raw file in Lightroom.

Olympus TG-5 (SOOC) Olympus TG-5 (Processed in Lightroom)

Our next site was Culebra, an island-municipality east of Puerto Rico, which is quickly reached by plane. During the 15-minute flight, Paula captured a nice photo of a young boy transfixed by the view from the small plane using the W300. I was able to pull a bit more shadow detail from the JPEG file, but decided not to so the viewer could focus on the boy’s attentive face.

Then it was finally time to take the cameras underwater, so we took them to a couple of beaches in Culebra, Playa Melones and Playa Tamarindo. (We preferred Playa Melones due to its abundance of coral reefs and marine life.)

To use the cameras underwater all you need to do is secure a lock (or two, in the case of the TG-5) and enjoy! Considering that these cameras don’t float, I recommend using the included straps to avoid accidental loss in deep water. Regardless of how much underwater photography you’re interested in doing, it’s good to know that you can bring these cameras into the water instead of leaving them unattended on the beach.

My fiancée, Paula, captured this photo during our flight to Culebra.
Nikon W300
ISO 400 | 1/1000 sec. | F2.8
Photo by Paula Bressman

The color rendition on the TG-5’s underwater photos was much better, so I decided to shoot more with it while snorkeling. Underwater, colors change based on lighting conditions, depth, water transparency, and amount of sunlight, so I was also intrigued to see how the TG-5’s flash would perform underwater. I found that many of the images came out overexposed or washed out, so I stuck to using the best natural light possible (read waiting for passing clouds).

The TG-5 has an Underwater Mode that, according to the manual, is optimized for underwater photography using natural light, so I decided to use it. According to the manual it should automatically set the ISO sensitivity with a priority on image quality. That is, the camera starts with a low ISO value and sets the corresponding exposure parameters (speed and aperture), then increases the ISO value as needed.

Snorkeling near Playa Tamarindo.
Olympus TG-5
ISO 100 | 1/320 sec. | F2.8
Photo by Jose Francisco Salgado

As sunlight started to diminish, it surprised me that the TG-5 would lower the speed all the way down to 1/60 second while maintaining ISO 100 instead of increasing the ISO! I understand that auto-ISO increases the ISO as a last recourse, but I was shooting in Underwater Mode. This mode should consider that sea currents are moving the photographer, who is often trying to capture moving fish or other animals. A speed of 1/60 second won’t cut it.

I decided to manually change the ISO to a higher value, but alas, it was impossible to figure out how to change this setting without reading the manual, and therein lies my frustration. I can deal with a program mode not giving the results that I expect, however I do expect to be able to look at the buttons and quickly figure out how to change the parameters that I need to change. The problem wasn’t pressing small buttons underwater, but not having an intuitive way to change values. As a result, some of the sea creatures I photographed are motion-blurred. Nevertheless, I’m content the photos I got of the carey de concha (Hawksbill sea turtle).

Throughout a day of snorkeling I got the impression that battery life on the W300 was underwhelming compared to the TG-5.

Shooting underwater with the Olympus TG-5.

On our last day in Culebra, stormy weather moved into the Caribbean. Conditions were windy, but safe, so we hopped into our rented golf cart and ventured out to enjoy two beaches which have been rated among the most beautiful in the world, Playa Flamenco and Playa Zoní.

Upon arrival at the Playa Zoní, it took us sixty seconds to make new friends, Magdamarys, Michelle, and Javier. Michelle, an awesome salsa dance instructor, proceeded to teach Paula how to salsa as seen in the video below, shot with the W300. It was the perfect way to end our stay in Culebra.

I captured this salsa dancing at Playa Zoní, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, using the Nikon W300.

Back on the main island, we used the cameras one last time in El Yunque Rainforest, where Paula enjoyed the cool and refreshing water of the Juan Diego Waterfall.

Video of the Juan Diego Waterfall in El Yunque Rainforest, captured by the Olympus TG-5.

Final Thoughts

Although we didn’t drop or mishandle these cameras, they appear to be very rugged. They’re definitely waterproof, and it was easy to operate them underwater, however the user interfaces could be much simpler. I have apps on my iPhone than can control the camera in a simpler and more intuitive way than either of these cameras. Then there’s image quality. Lack of Raw support on the W300, and the poor image quality of the resulting JPEG files, disqualifies the camera for me.

Although I appreciated having more processing latitude with the TG-5’s Raw files, that doesn’t mean I’m very impressed with the image quality either. Nevertheless, it’s definitely superior to the image quality produced by the W300, even when comparing out-of-camera JPEGs. When processing images from the TG-5 be ready to correct for chromatic aberration, because it can be severe (this wasn’t an issue with the W300).

Although I appreciated having more processing latitude with the TG-5’s Raw files, that doesn’t mean I’m very impressed with the image quality either.

The TG-5 also failed to focus several times under normal indoor lighting conditions, including once outside right after sunset. I didn’t encounter any focusing issues with the W300. I was also happy to see that the TG-5 has a panorama feature, but it completely failed several times and produced horribly stitched images.

These cameras are a great option for you if you’re looking for a rugged point-and-shoot camera that works underwater, which is their main strength. If you’re just looking for a camera that’s more compact than a DSLR, or that has a better zoom range than your smartphone, they’ll work for that as well. However, considering the prices, you might also want to consider other compact cameras or even stick with your smartphone.

Readers wishing to contribute to ongoing hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico are encouraged to visit United for Puerto Rico.


José Francisco Salgado, PhD is an Emmy-nominated astronomer, science photographer, visual artist, and public speaker who creates multimedia works that communicate science in engaging ways. His Science & Symphony films with KV 265 have been presented in more than 200 concerts and lectures in 15 countries.

José Francisco is a seasoned night sky and aurora photographer and filmmaker. If you would like to view, photograph, and learn about the Northern Lights then you can inquire about his Borealis Science & Photo Tours in Yellowknife, Canada.

You can follow him on: Flickr, Instagram, 500px, Facebook, and Twitter

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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