Posted In:Digital Cameras | Page 2 of 2 | Greyscalegorilla


Best Lenses for the D700, D3, and D3x

August 10, 2008 - By 

So, you just bought your first full frame Nikon camera? Congratulations! Now, throw out that kit lens and put some REAL glass on that beautiful new camera. These three lenses are my favorites.

1. Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S

I bit the bullet and bought the expensive, and heavy, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S. It has been totally worth it so far. I would recommend this lens to any full-frame Nikon user. It is sharper and more contrasty than any of my primes. You can leave this on your camera for almost everything. The widest angle (24mm) is plenty wide for gorgous landscapes and the 70mm zoom is just enough to get a nice portrait. The only time it has come of my camera is to put on my other favorite lens…

2. Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF

Fun for walkabout trips, this lens is great to shoot just about everything. The 1.4 aperture allows the background to really blur to a beautiful wash of color. It’s also a great lens for shooting in extremely low light. The 50mm view has that perfect “not too wide, not too close up” feel to it on a full frame sensor. This shot shows this great lens shooting hot bokeh background action.
UPDATE: The new AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G has been announced and will be hitting the market soon. It will be more expensive, but the new curved diaphragm design should help keep that beautiful bokeh when stopping the lens. down. I will update this post when I get my hands on one.

Nikon 85mm f/1.4 D AF

This lens has quickly become my favorite for portraits. It’s extremely shallow depth of field throws everything out of focus except for the subject making it perfect for isolating people from the background. The bokeh is the best looking and smoothest of any Nikon lens I have uesd. Be careful though, or that shallow DOF will come back and bite you. I have lost TONS of shots to bad focus with this thing. Just make sure to shoot a ton (especially with kids) and check your focus on your shots with the zoom function on your camera and you will get great shots over and over with this lens.

Are these lenses expensive? Yea… But you bought a great camera body, don’t put cheap glass on it. Still can’t justify the cost? Nikon Lenses are investment. Your brand new full frame Nikon body will be obsolete and almost worthless in a few years, but you Nikon Glass will hold their market value and give you beautiful shots on ANY body for years to come.

If you choose to get these lenses, I recommend getting them new at Amazon or used at KEH.

Amazon Links
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor Wide Angle Zoom Lens

Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

Nikon 85mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras


Got My D700

July 28, 2008 - By 

I got my D700 from Calumet on Saturday. It is a HUGE leap from the D70. Nothing but great image quality and fun shooting so far. The FX sensor is exactly what I have been waiting for. The bad news is, neither Photoshop nor Aperture can read the RAW files. Looks like I gotta wait for some updates before I can really go crazy. Meanwhile, I have been shooting RAW and JPG together and just use the JPG for viewing and playing. I also posted my first D700 photo on my photoblog. I will be posting larger images now; partly because of the larger format, but also because many of us are getting larger and larger LCD screens that can handle larger images.


Nikon D700 Is Announced!

July 1, 2008 - By 

The rumors were true! It’s available in July and dpreview already has a hands on preview. I have been waiting for a “5D killer” from Nikon. The D3 is great and all, but its size was too large to carry around on my bike all day. I’m glad that nikon has decided to put the wonderful D3 chip in a smaller body. I haven’t bought a camera since my D70. I am putting my order in tomorrow for sure. I’ll let you know as soon as I get one. Now… What new lens should I buy? Who else is getting one?

Update: I just put my order in at Calumet. They told me that I should have it by the end of the month. Stay tuned for some sweet hands on camera action.


Nikon DX 17-55mm f/2.8G (My New Lens)

March 19, 2008 - By 

I finally bought it. I mentioned on my photoblog a while back that I was looking at getting a new main lens. My kit lens (18-70mm f3.5-4.5G) was not as fast or as sharp as I needed, and it was frustrating to constantly switch between my 20mm prime and my 50mm prime. I wanted a lens that could stay on my camera and allow me to do wide angle shots (20mm) AND low aperture, narrow depth of field portraits (50mm). This piece of glass fit the bill. It is expensive and HEAVY, but so far I am happy with it. I’m excited to be able to walk around with one fast lens that will do 90% of what I need for every day photography. I haven’t been able to shoot much with it yet, but I will post some examples soon.

EDIT: Todays photoblog post is from my first night of shooting. It was great to take a shot with the sun down this far and still get detail in the shadows. So far so good. Ill post more as I shoot.


Lightroom Vs Aperture

March 12, 2008 - By 

Prompted by the comments in my last post about Aperture 2.0, I downloaded the Adobe Lightroom trial and used it for about a week. “It has Curves!” people screamed. My decision to get Lightroom was instantly made as I gleefully grabbed the curve and stretched it around just like in Photoshop… or so I thought. I looked around the interface for the switch or menu item that would let me access the Red, Green, and Blue Curve adjustments, and was severely disappointed to see that there was no such button. Using the RGB curves to tone the image is a large part of my workflow when it comes to landscapes and skies. It’s great to use the RGB curves separately to fake a cross processed look or pull some red out of the mid-tones easily. It looks like a round trip to Photoshop is needed for curves with Adobe Lightroom. I was back to square one.

After that fiasco, I was starting to see that neither of these programs would be able to do what Photoshop does for me. I’m not naive to think that either would be a TOTAL Photoshop replacement, but there are some things that I thought would have been a no brainer like fully functioning curves. I began to think of these programs as management tools to be used to separate the good from the bad and begin to find the best photos, to be ultimately corrected in photoshop. But how is this unlike my Bridge/Photoshop workflow that I have now? Now that RAW converter is built into Bridge, I am starting to wonder if I really need one of these tools. I already have a fully organized hand-made file structure where I can find what I’m looking for relatively easily. What good is bringing my library into a proprietary system that only allows me to see my photos if I open a HUGE application like Aperture? Bridge can Rate my photos, collect multiple versions, copy and paste changes between multiple photos, make web galleries, and help organize a round trip to Photoshop. What am I gaining by moving every photo I take to Aperture?

I totally understand the need for a tool like Aperture when doing a large photo shoot where I need to quickly go though, rate and process dozens of images for the day. I can see how a pro can use these tools when a deadline is looming they have to aggregate their best shots from a specific shoot in record time. But, as a daily photoblogger it’s hard for me to imagine loading EVERY photo I take into Aperture. I shoot in small bursts every day. I shoot different objects all day long so keywording is rather useless unless I tag everything with “Chicago” or “Street”. Also, I use Photoshop for everything that goes on my site. So, why not just use bridge to sort everything by day, pick the best photo and load it into Photoshop?

Well this wouldn’t be a Lightroom vs Aperture review if I ended up using Bridge for everything. Luckily, my mind came to a slightly different conclusion. I will be using my existing file structure to organize all of my day to day shots and I will use Aperture as my Project/Vacation based organization tool. In other words, all of my every day, walking around the street photoblog photography will be processed as is, through Bridge and Photoshop. However, when bigger projects come along, or when I need to load up themed sessions like vacations or large daily event photo shoots, I will use Aperture.

Why did I decide on Aperture over Lightroom? It was the ease of use, and overall feature set that brought be back to Aperture over Lightroom. The full frame mode is GREAT. I can flip through all the images and quickly rate and process the best ones checking for focus. The full RGB levels editor in Aperture is actually MORE flexible than Lightroom’s curves. HOW? The ability to adjust the “quarter points” on the levels graph allows one to emulate curves. It’s a little tricky to get used to, but after I figured it out, it all became clear. And, with the ability to adjust the red green and blue separate, I can do 90% of what curves can do. Lastly, I trust Apple as a company to make a clean sleek piece of software more than Adobe right now. Adobe is getting better lately, but they have always had a knack of making bloated software with 90s sensibility just because thats how they have always done it.

My hope is that as I become more comfortable with Aperture, I will allow myself to use it for more and more projects. As always, I’ll get back to you with any more updates.

If you liked the review and want to buy either packages, please use these Amazon links. Thanks.

Aperture 2.1.1

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2

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Apple Aperture 2.0 First Impressions

March 5, 2008 - By 

Apple’s Aperture promises to be the end all photo management tool for rating, adjusting, cropping, processing and exporting your photos. However, because of a few missing features and its high price tag, I never got around to trying it.

Version 1 Started off at $499 and it forced the user into Apple’s “my way or the highway” way of archiving, similar to iTunes or iPhoto. Forgoing my hand managed, dated, key-worded, five-year photography archive for Aperture’s brand new way of putting it all in one file was not in the cards. Aperture 1.5 fixed a few things. The price was now only $299 and it allowed photographers’ existing archives to play nicely with Apertures. But now with the ability to manage thousands of old photos came the downfall of 1.5… It was SLOW. Load up the archive with a few thousand photos (not a lot in today’s digital world), and expect Aperture 1.5 to come to a screeching halt. On top of all of this, the application has been missing the feature I use most when processing my photos… CURVES! More than any other tool, I reach for curves when color correcting or adding contrast to my photos. Any photo management tool without that feature was completely useless to me.

Meanwhile, my old way of archiving my photos was becoming tedious with large projects. My existing workflow includes hand placing images in folders that have the date and the project in the folder name. I use Adobe Bridge to rate and keyword my photos and to help manage multiple versions. I open every photo I need to adjust in Photoshop and adjust accordingly. I then save the PSD files in bridge along with the JPG versions for Flickr and my blog. This structure is fine when working on one or two photos at a time, but this workflow becomes VERY tedious when working on large projects like a large photo shoot, or event based projects where I need to adjust dozens or even hundreds of photos. Opening every shot in Photoshop, is not only overkill for most of the small adjustments I needed to do, but saving out a PSD for all of those photos was turning a photo shoot into a huge hard drive clogger. Needless to say, a real photo management tool was becoming more of a necessity and less of a desire.

When Aperture 2.0 came out. I was pleasantly surprised to see that apple had dropped the price to $199. Early reviews of the software claimed that the speed issues were also solved, and the the new version was super fast. So far, so good. When I go take a closer look at the specs however, I am astonished to see that Apple Aperture still had no Curves. Thanks right, after all the criticism, Apple still decides to leave out the most flexible color correction tool available. I understand that Aperture is not supposed to be a full replacement for Photoshop. I don’t expect Aperture to have some esoteric Photoshop feature like Gradient Map, or be able to execute complicated layer based photo editing, but I am talking about Curves here.

With a large photo shoot looming, I dreaded opening all those photos in photoshop and manually saving them through bridge again. I decided to dedicate my Saturday to downloading the Aperture 30 day free trial and give it a go despite the lack of Curves. I hoped that most shots would only need a minimum of fine tuning and color correction and that I wouldn’t miss the flexibility of curves.

After quickly loading in all of the photos from the day, and checking the Apple site for a few quick tutorials, I went to work. I rated my favorites and started to do basic color correction. As I reluctantly started to use levels to fine tune my colors and contrast, I found a switch to set the levels sliders to use quarter tones as well as half tones. This helped immensely and gave me enough freedom to adjust my contrast with some real control. Now I could do some very specific “looks with Aperture without having to load up Photoshop.

After spending about an hour with Aperture, I started to see how much power a program like this could give me. I could easily load my photos and store them in a way that makes my old stuff easier to find and that makes my new photos easier to rate and sort. It allows me to make 80% the corrections I usually need very quickly, without the time and extra hard drive space that my Bridge/Photoshop workflow had. The vignette feature was simple and gorgeous. Cropping and straightening is so much simpler than even Photoshop. It even has a cloning/healing brush to clean up dirty lens dots and blemishes. Overall, I am pleased with Aperture and am excited to spend more time with the program. I will probably be using the fully functional demo for the time being, but when the time comes, I can see myself plunking down the $199 for the full version. Stay tuned for an in depth review when I become more comfortable with the program.

Have any of you had experience with Aperture? What has your experience been? Anyone use Adobe Lightroom more? I would love to hear from you.