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Apr 18 10


by Jim

A Blog for Photo Ideas

I have put together a few pages on various photo topics that are important to me. Mostly based on my opinion, and experience in photography starting with 35mm film. Hope you like the site, if you do tell others!


Apr 17 10

Do All Roads Lead To FX

by Jim

 DSLR Cameras:

Do you ever look at used camera equipment ads, many now start by saying “selling all my DX gear, moving to FX”. Almost like people are running for their lives to escape a fate worse than death – Having to shoot with DX lenses. The funny thing is most people don’t know why they are going to FX, but it must be better.

Before you sell all your equipment, take the time to know the Pros and Cons of going to a FX body. I have a brief list below that hits some key benefits of each format. It really comes down to the type of photography that you do, and of course the size of your wallet. Digital technology is still emerging, it is not a one size fits all sensor solution yet.

DX Advantages:

  1. Smaller cameras and lenses to haul around, size does matter.
  2. DX  lenses are generally less expensive.  Single zoom lenses can cover a greater focal length range. A big plus when two lenses, a fast 70-200mm and a 17-55mm f2.8 zoom will cover 90% of most shoots.
  3. You get a free teleconverter, also called a crop factor, which means a 200mm lens gives you the equivalent of a 300mm on a APC DX body, great for sports on big fields.
  4. You can enlarge a 12 MP DX file just as much as a 12 MP FX file.
  5. For a given lens and camera to subject distance you get more DOF.

FX Advantages:

  1. No more doing crop factor conversions in your head, you get the field of view you expect from a given focal length.
  2. Wide angle, is really wide angle, and you don’t have to have a super wide angle 12mm lens, because  18mm works just fine.
  3. You have less depth of filed for a given focal length and subject distance, so the bokeh looks a little better, and you don’t have to shoot at f1.4 to have your subject stand out, you get less DOF.
  4. More detail in portraits and close ups with the same lens.
  5. Better high ISO performance due to pixel size, so you have less noise in low light conditions and can leave the flash at home.
Apr 8 10

Nikon 16-35mm f4 Review

by Jim
Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4.0 @ 24mm f5.6

In comparing the recently discontinued Tamron to the new Nikon wide angle zoom. I found that the new Nikon is very sharp across almost the whole range. There is however some distortion at 16mm, and the Nikon is least sharp at the shortest focal length. The Tamron is just the opposite, it is most sharp at 17mm and does a pretty good job at the longer focal lengths. The biggest delta between them is at 35mm where the Nikon is better.

The Tamron is lighter by about 240 grams, is about an inch shorter and takes the same size filter (77mm). The Tamron does not have VR,  nano coating or AFS. It does come in at about one forth the price, focuses fast and is well made. They have identical lens hood, and based on testing with a DX (D300) camera, the two lenses are closer in optical performance then I would have guessed.

I really liked the new Nikon, its close in size to the 24-70mm older brother, but lighter. With the Nikon you get 2 ED elements out of 17 and a high end magnesium barrel. Basically what you would expect for a $1200 product, but the Tamron holds its own against a much more expensive lens. If you are looking for a well made inexpensive travel lens,  I would recommend the Tamron.  At 100% crop you give up very little, and at the wide end the Tamron is just a bit better there. 

As an update to this review, I did receive a second copy of the Nikon  16-35mm f4, and it performed much better in the 16-24mm range compared to my first copy that I returned.

Feb 15 10


by Jim

I have seen a lot of speculation on line about the potential D800. Many sites incorrectly guessed that Nikon would have something to market 18 months after the D700 was announced. Picking PMA as the likely event to announce it to the public.

However, that did not take into account the engineering difficulties of  maintaining high ISO performance and increasing pixel count. A more realistic time frame would be 24 months, roughly two years after the D700 was announced. That time frame  would put the new DSLR announcement around July 2010, with actual availability closer to September 2010.


One year after the original post Nikon has yet to announce the D700 replacement, although some think the release is close, the specs and actual release date are still only rumors. My own guess at the specs has not changed, but  my opinion as to when Nikon will have a press release. It’s at least six months away, my revised date is August 2011, and December 2011 as the target date for  a purchase.

My Choice:

I purchased a D700 in December because after 18 months I was tired of waiting on Nikon to announce the specs for its replacement. Feel that my D800 blog is pretty darn close to what Nikon will announce. I don’t need video, of course more MP in crop mode would be nice, but not needed with the D300 I all ready own. Lastly,  I don’t think a 18 MP D800 will have similar D3s performance ( a 18 MP D4 probably will).

Key new features:

  • High ISO performace at least equal to the D700
  • Pixel count in the 16 to 18 MP range
  • Dual card slots
  • 3 to 5 fps in FX mode
  • 1080 video