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Member Since 05 Dec 2013
Offline Last Active Dec 17 2018 03:54 PM

#258248 Nikon 24-70 f/4 S

Posted by ericbowles on 09 December 2018 - 10:23 AM

Here is a link to Thom Hogan's review:



The conclusion from Thom - "...this is an excellent kit lens." and "...when bundled with a Z6 or Z7 camera is a very modest US$600. At that price, this lens is a clear bargain."


I've been using the lens on the Z6 for about two weeks and it is excellent - sharp, easy to use, light, no significant optical issues - and probably as sharp or sharper than my Nikon 24-70 f/2.8.

#257931 Backcountry Gallery - The Secret Power Of Crop Modes

Posted by ericbowles on 27 November 2018 - 11:15 AM

Good article.


With a DSLR, the FX viewfinder does not change so a DX crop mode uses a smaller portion of the viewfinder and the subject may still be hard to see.  You effectively have a smaller viewfinder view by about 50%.
In comparison, using the mirrorless cameras - the Z7 and Z6 - when you choose a crop mode, the image in the new size fills the viewfinder.  So a DX crop is larger or more magnified than an FX size image.  In addition, you can still zoom in through the viewfinder for a closer view - all the way to 100% if desired.  That can be useful for precise focus or for critical timing of a distant subject.  With mirrorless, even though the viewfinder may magnify the image with a crop or zoom, the AF sensor coverage or size is unchanged.  The Z7/Z6 have pinpoint AF which does allow a smaller AF point and with precision of zooming through the viewfinder, can be useful.

#257695 First Z7 Firmware Update

Posted by ericbowles on 16 November 2018 - 03:53 PM

There is a second update now.  Still just bug fixes.



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#257496 Scary Thought - The Future of the DSLR!?

Posted by ericbowles on 07 November 2018 - 05:14 PM

I would be worried about having to use reading glasses to focus on it, to make sure the correct part of the photo will be in focus. If the screen is large enough it might not be an issue.


I handled the Z7 and Z6 today.  The EVF is much better if you use reading glasses.  You just adjust the diopter if needed, and everything you can see on the LCD is visible through the EVF.  There is no more taking reading glasses on and off.  I hate using LiveView because I have to put on my glasses - but with a diopter adjusted EVF, you can see clearly without glasses.

#256952 Scary Thought - The Future of the DSLR!?

Posted by ericbowles on 12 October 2018 - 08:50 AM

Art makes a great point. For the advanced/pro market, image quality is a huge benefit of the bigger mount - and mirrorless facilitates a bigger mount.  For the amateur market - and for the volume markets - small size and light weight with good ergonomics is important.  For some of that market, a consumer camera is the entry point for a future advanced/pro customer.


The D3500 body is still 38% lighter than the Z7/Z6.  The D3500 only weighs 21 grams more than a Sony A6000 mirrorless - less than the 31 grams of change in my pocket or my 37 gm car key and remote.  But the D3500 is 10% cheaper and newer technology.  I can't imagine a consumer would understand the difference - or care unless they are buying based on marketing rather than specs and real world use.


I think a consumer will consider choosing Nikon or Canon based on high end image quality, but the photos they produce are still consumer level.  So what they really need is great software in the camera to overcome mistakes and make their photos look better.  That's the big thing that the iPhone cameras have done.  Full Auto mode with default settings needs to be exceptional - and overcome the dozens of potential novice mistakes without a lot of complicated scene modes.  I can't tell you the number of times I've stood next to someone with a D850 and had them remark their iPhone produces a better photo.  They know why - and can make the edits needed - but the average consumer buyer might not understand or care.

#256894 Scary Thought - The Future of the DSLR!?

Posted by ericbowles on 11 October 2018 - 07:57 AM

I can't think of anything you said that is far off the mark.  Maybe the timeline as I see a bit longer life for DSLR cameras, but that is more related to lens needs rather than fundamentals.


I see the big advantage of mirrorless in two area - optical performance and software.  Light weight is coming, but could be delivered with a DSLR and is not unique to mirrorless.  Optical performance is more at the wide end than the long end.  The new lens mount allows faster lenses with better optical performance across the frame.  With longer lenses - 100mm and longer - the difference is much smaller since the field of view is smaller and light is already more directly entering the lens.  Software improvements are much more important with an EVF.  The ability to zoom tighter through the viewfinder for precise timing and focus is a big advantage.  The EVF is better in low light.  Expanded Dynamic Range is likely to be delivered with RAW images.  The heads up display aspect of an EVF is already making its mark with focus peaking, but could go further with focus and exposure.


I expect to see the consumer DSLR line shift to mirrorless in the near future.  The DX camera line could shift in the same time frame, but could take longer due to the D500 and the crop factor benefits with longer lenses.  It's very hard to justify 3-4 sets of interchangeable lenses, but there are cost and price advantages for DX lenses compared to FX.  But either way, you need a consumer or economy lens lineup for the Z-mount.


The Coolpix lineup seems to be a slam dunk for mirrorless.  

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#256854 Durango & Silverton Train

Posted by ericbowles on 09 October 2018 - 09:53 AM

Thanks, everyone!


Gary - you're right about the rainy image.  It was right before arriving in Silverton.  There was an unmarked dirt road heading back toward my shooting location.  I found it from the edge of the road high above a little before the train arrived.


The nice thing about this train is that it travels on a regular schedule and there is just one train track.  If you are in the area, you can follow the train or figure out the approximate times.  I was able to get pretty good photos in 5 locations along the route.

#256834 Durango & Silverton Train

Posted by ericbowles on 08 October 2018 - 09:30 AM

I just returned from leading the Nikonians ANPAT to western Colorado.  One of the activities was a train ride on on a steam train from Durango to Silverton.  I dropped off everyone in Durango and drove the van to Silverton to meet the group at the end of the ride.  The benefit was a chance for some great train photos along the way.


The day started in bright sun with light clouds, but by the end of the ride three hours later, we had hard rain, sleet, and a little thunder.



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#256631 Tiger Woods at PGA Tour Championship

Posted by ericbowles on 28 September 2018 - 06:12 AM

Nice work Eric.



Did any of the news feed use your pics?


Hi Dennis


I was shooting for the tournament and the PGA - not for media.  So my photos will be used in promoting the event and for volunteer communications for next year.


This photo from last year's event was in the fan guide.  I had another photo that was provided as an autographed promotion for ticket sales.

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#256577 Tiger Woods at PGA Tour Championship

Posted by ericbowles on 25 September 2018 - 12:54 PM

I just finished a hectic week photographing the PGA Tour Championship and FedEx Cup.  This is the culmination of the professional golf season, and Tiger Woods won it with wonderful play.  Huge crowds followed him in person and on TV - more than double normal crowds.  The Sunday broadcast with his win was the highest rated FedEX Cup event ever.


Here are a few photos from the 18th hole and the awards ceremony.  I was using a Nikon D850 with a 24-70 f/2.8 and a Nikon D500 with a 70-200 f/2.8 VR II plus the SB-910 flash moving between bodies.  The biggest photographic challenge was they left the trophy stand and risers in front of the people and they really got in the way.  The fast frame rate was great for action - both Tiger coming out of the crowd and him hugging his caddie lasted just 2 seconds or less.

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#256365 Nikon has Updated Capture NX-D - Ver 1.5.0 includes Control Points

Posted by ericbowles on 13 September 2018 - 01:14 PM

Nikon has released updates to Capture NX-D and View NX-i.  The new version of Capture NX-D has brought back Control Points - essentially the same feature that was in Capture NX2 developed by Nik and known as U Point.
Here is a link to combined updates for both programs:
I've downloaded the program and done some quick testing.  It works quite well.  As before, it's not the most intuitive program and edits are maintained in a proprietary sidecar, but you can always export to other formats and continue using a TIFF in LR, Photoshop, or other programs.
You open the Control Point Panel and click on the Control Point icon on the right side of the panel to activate new control points with a click of your mouse.  You can right click to duplicate or delete control points.  You can also right click to show the areas affected.
The control points cover more than just Hue, Saturation and Brightness. You just need to click on the small arrow below the sliders (for advanced controls) to expand the adjustments to include all eight sliders - Hue, Saturation, and Brightness plus Contrast, Red, Green, Blue, Warmth.
You can adjust the size of the control point and how much area is impacted. It works fine even at a 100% zoom or more.
As with earlier versions of Capture NX2, you can apply a neutral control point to prevent adjustments spilling over into unwanted areas.
I've been avoiding NX-D, but control points are excellent and easier to use than Lightroom adjustment brush for some edits.
The Retouch Brush in Capture NX-D has a nice feature in that you can go over the same area multiple times to improve coverage. Sometimes it works nicely while other times you need the adjustments of Lightroom or Photoshop.
This update is a big improvement in the free software.  It's definitely worth giving NX-D a try and using it when appropriate.

#256328 Nikkor 500mm F5.6 PF

Posted by ericbowles on 07 September 2018 - 08:08 PM

It's a remarkably functional lens at  reasonable price.


The size is not much bigger than my 70-200, which makes it easy to handhold and use for travel.  Optics are reported to be great.  While I have a 200-500, this one is definitely sharper.  I might drop my 200-400 and use the 70-200, a 1.4 teleconverter, and the 500 f/5.6 for the longer things when mobility or travel is important.  The 600 f/4 would still get the not when weight is not an issue.

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#256315 Planet Nikon Official: Nikon Mirrorless Announcement and information

Posted by ericbowles on 06 September 2018 - 05:01 PM

Great post, Art - thanks for the update with your impressions.


That's very consistent with what I have heard from others.  Hunt's Photo had a couple of events and a friend got to spend 3 hours with gear in his hands.  His comments were similar - just wowed by the image quality.  He had a chance to use the new 24-70 f/4 lens on the Z7 and was raving about it.   The 24-70 is very close focusing - with a minimum focus distance of 11 inches - or about 5.5 inches from the end of the lens.  That provides magnification of 1:3.3 - not macro but great for closeup work.  He also was very positive about the EVF and IBIS.

#256311 Nikon 24-70 f/4 S

Posted by ericbowles on 06 September 2018 - 09:50 AM

I'm hearing some great reports on the 24-70 f/4 S lens that was introduced for the Nikon Z cameras.  The image quality is great according to MTF charts with better sharpness in the center and all the way to the corners than the current f/2.8 lenses.  It's sharper across the frame at both 24mm and 70mm.  


The other interesting thing is that at 70mm the lens focuses at very close distance and is a near macro lens.  It focuses around 5 inches from the end of the lens - and maintains focus as you recompose (minimum focus distance 11.81 inches).  Stabilization in the body is a huge help for this close focus work.   I understand the Nikon rep indicated that Nikon will only consider a lens a "Macro" lens if it provides 1:1 focus, and this one is not that magnified at 1:3.3.  But it seems to do the job nicely.


The specs on the lens are pretty good.  It's 3.5 inches long with a 72mm filter size.  The weight is just 500 g - 1.1 pounds or about .75 pounds lighter than the 24-70 f/2.8 lenses.  The lens has 14 elements in 11 groups with 7 rounded aperture blades.  Several elements have Nano Crystal or Super Integrated coatings.  The control ring can be used for manual focus or to adjust aperture or exposure comp settings.


All in all, the kit lens is far more than a kit lens.  It's a high quality lens that you would want whatever your mount.  The person who tested this lens at Hunt's demo on the Z7 was planning to wait but changed their mind and placed an order.

#256284 Planet Nikon Official: Nikon Mirrorless Announcement and information

Posted by ericbowles on 04 September 2018 - 08:59 AM

Good report, Dennis.  I won't see one for a while - the nearest roadshow location is 800 miles away.


I have the D850 covering my high resolution camera needs.  For me, the Z7 was too much of a duplicate of the D850 I own.  But - I do think the Z7 is better.  I like the EVF over the optical viewfinder.  You can "chimp" without ever taking your eye from the viewfinder.  You can zoom as with live view for precision.  And it is brighter in moderately low light.


The AF system has to be different.  Historically, every new AF system from Nikon has increased my keeper rate by at least 10-15%.  But you have to learn to use the new system, and if you use it incorrectly - or inappropriately - your keeper rate may drop.  It takes a few weeks with a camera to learn to optimize AF performance.


The frame rate will be fine.  9 fps without a grip is better than the D850.  If you are increasing your ISO to freeze action, you are effectively at 12 bit anyway - so there is no disadvantage of being at 12 bit for action.  The Z7 buffer clears in just 3 seconds with the current card.  There is a chance the camera will be faster with CFExpress and may never fill the buffer.  The D850 buffer holds 26 images (burst length is 39 images), but takes 6.5 seconds to clear.  If you use the grip, the D850 gets fewer images and fills faster.


Based on MTF charts and feedback from users, every new Nikon S lens is sharper than any existing lens of similar focal length.  They are sharper in the center, sharper across the frame to the corners, and have less CA and distortion.  They are sharper wide open and stopped down.  The 24-70 is sharper at both ends of the zoom range.  While they are more expensive, they are comparable to similar high performance lenses.  If you don't need a really sharp lens, you can use any F-mount lens and the adapter and save money.  The premium price is for the improved design and sharpness.  The 24-70 is a great lens for a kit lens.


I've been frustrated with the lack of a solid 24 mp FX camera.  The D850 is still a solid camera, but the D750 is an older design, uses different cards, and lacks a number of features.  The Z6 provides all the latest features plus a starting point for mirrorless.  The price is reasonable.  The 24-70 f/4 and Z6 are 730 grams (1.4 pounds) lighter than my D850 and 24-70 f/2.8.  


Both of the Z cameras have improved video, but the Z6 is probably a little better if video is an important need.  There are a lot of features that are better for video than any other camera.


The Z7 is the D850 in a mirrorless body.  Lots of people will use both cameras.  The Z6 is a big step up from the D750 and a great compliment to the D850.

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