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Archive for the ‘Equipment’ Category

Nikon D4 Announced

The technical blog engadget has posted about the forthcoming Nikon D4.

Wimberly Replacement Foot for Nikon 600

A few months ago I was (finally!) able to purchase a Nikon 600mm F4 lens. My first few trips with this lens involved using my Gitzo monopod because I didn’t purchase an adapter for the lens in order to fit it on my Wimberly tripod head, and my older Bogen would not safely support the weight. Officially the monopod was a bit overwhelmed by the weight as well, but it did the job for a short term.

While shopping for an adapter to fit the lens on my Wimberly head I found this:

These custom low-profile replacement feet replace the factory foot on the rotation collar of your lens and also serve as the Arca-Swiss style quick-release plate for your lens. No additional quick-release plate is needed. It makes your lens handle better on a conventional tripod head, such as a ball head, and also makes it easier to pack.

Using our replacement foot on your large lens decreases the overall height of the lens, lowering the center of gravity so that it achieves proper balance when used on a gimbal head such as the Wimberley Head…

Basically it’s a replacement foot made by Wimberly (part number AP-452) that is designed to completely replace the stock foot on the lens, rather than an adapter plate that would bolt on when needed. With my first 600mm lens I purchased an adapter and basically just left it on the lens all the time. This is a far better solution as it basically gives a more stable platform (one less connection) and still allows me to use my lens on a monopod if desired.

Wimberly makes a version for both of my big lenses, but I just purchased one for now (for my 600mm F4). Based on the success I plan to order one for my 200-400 zoom as well. For some reason shipping for the replacement foot for the 600 was free, but it’s not for the other. :? I decided to just get one to try it out first, and will wait a while and see if anyone runs a special for free shipping on the other.

Nikon 600mm F4 VR Finally Available

I started saving money for a Nikon 600mm F4 about five or six years ago; I don’t remember exactly when. The lens carries a five-figure price tag so I expected to have to save for more than a couple of years, and in fact it took a bit over three years before I was ready to pull the trigger on a purchase. At that point I went to several different web sites and tried to place an order, but everyone had the lens listed as out of stock. I went back a month later and the lens was still out of stock. Two months, same story. Five months… six months… still no stock. I finally gave up and signed up on one site, asking them to notify me when the lens was in stock. (I should point out at this time that the same thing happened when I tried to buy the Nikon 200-400 F4 zoom. When it finally came in I was too late on my order and they had already run out. The next time it came in stock I didn’t wait.)

A few years later I decided that they must have lost my notification subscription so I logged in and tried to subscribe again. They said I was already subscribed so obviously their system was working. :) That was over a year ago. I tweeted to Nikon asking for details, and they simply said to be patient, that they were working on them. Apparently the front lens takes several months to make because the glass has to cool very, or shall I say extremely, slowly in order to maintain the optical quality.

Finally a few months ago I got an email notification saying that the lens was in stock again. I immediately went to a couple of different sites (including Amazon) and found that at least two of my typical sources for photography equipment both had the lens in stock. The price was basically the same and both offered free shipping so I ordered from Amazon. (Interesting aside: if you spend that much on an order, Amazon assigns an “order concierge” to make sure everything goes well with your order.) Amazon only had 7 of the lenses in stock then, and when I checked today they were down to 5. My lens came in a few days later, and I was able to take it out for some soccer pictures. While this is not intended to be a full review, I can say a couple of things right away.

The lens is heavy. I knew that going in, but seeing it on paper and experiencing it live are two different things.

The lens is fast! Focus is fast, and quiet due to the silent wave motor technology Nikon uses in their advanced lenses.

The lens is sharp. I was able to take pictures half-way across the youth soccer field and still read the lettering on their uniforms when viewed at full size. Here’s a sample image:

youth soccer image

The label on the shorts reads ADIDAS and in the full-size image it’s very clear. As I was looking at the picture I also noticed that the fingers on the soccer gloves were already worn down to some degree, and the gloves had not even been used for an entire season yet…

Finally, the lens attracts a lot of attention from other photographers but non-photographers as well.

I am not highly technical when it comes to evaluating lenses, so my reviews are somewhat subjective. I know what I’m looking for, and from there decide if a lens is meeting my requirements. So far this lens is exactly as advertised. I can hardly wait to take it out for some serious wildlife photography.

Future of Compact Flash

Interesting article shared by a friend:

Lens Case Replaced

Thanks to a tweet from Neothermic I found out the soft case for my Nikon 200-400 lens was subject to failure. :shock: I sent the lens case in last Saturday via the provided FedEx return shipping label. I have the lens sitting on my desk at the moment, waiting for the replacement to arrive. I hope it doesn’t take too long, the lens doesn’t travel well without the case.

I’m planning a trip to Alaska at the moment. It’s not a true photography trip (more of a family vacation) so I’m not sure if I will be able to justify taking it or not. I may end up with the 70-200VR 2.8 and a converter or something instead.

I will post back when I get the replacement case in, and let everyone know how long it takes.

New Equipment

I got some new toys tools near the end of last year, including a new Nikon D700 digital body. As luck would have it, life has been really really busy over the past few months (as evidenced by lack of activity on this blog) so I have not had time to shoot very much with it yet.

I hope to rectify this shortly. 8-)

Memory Card Rebates Available at B&H Photo Video

My favorite online e-tailer for photography related equipment is offering rebates on Sandisk memory cards through October 11th, 2008. For example you can get a $75 rebate on an Extreme IV 8GB card. The rebate strategy is interesting… you don’t get cash back, you get a prepaid VISA card instead. This is the second time I have seen this. I got a prepaid VISA card instead of a check for the rebate on my new cellphone too.

Gitzo Twist Now a Thing of the Past

I have a Gitzo “Mountaineer” tripod that I purchased several years ago. It’s a great tripod, but it’s a pain to use. As a result, I will often end up lugging around the heavier but more user-friendly Bogen unless I need to use the Wimberly head. Gitzo has fixed all of that, and I’m really pleased.

I just received my latest order from B&H and it included a monopod… specifically the Gitzo GM3551 Carbon Fiber. It uses the new 6x technology to make it lighter and stronger, but what’s really special is the new “twist lock” feature. No more Gitzo twist! Now you can twist to lock or unlock with one hand. I opened and closed it twice and was already making plans to replace my older Gitzo tripod with the newer 6x “twist lock” model. I think it would become my only tripod at that point.

I got the monopod to use with my Nikon 200-400 f4 VR lens. With VR you would think I would not need a tripod or monopod, and truthfully I don’t. I have managed to get some very good pictures without a support. Then why the monopod? Then lens is simply heavy. :) The monopod is more for supporting the weight while I’m using the lens rather than for providing stability. I have a soccer game this weekend and might try it out.

I also picked up a new VR lens, the Nikon 70-300 VR. This is not a fast lens or a fix aperture. But I have always liked the reach of the 70-300 lenses, and with VR it’s certainly going to be fast enough. I am going to take this to the soccer game this weekend too. If it works, it’s certainly going to be a lot easier to cart around, even if it is a bit slower I’m betting it will be more than adequate for soccer pics.

Stay tuned for more details as I get to start using my new toys. :)

Missed. Again. <sigh>

I got an email from B&H Photo Video the other day saying that they had some Nikon 70-200 VR lenses in stock. A few hours later I hit the site, and they were sold out. Yes, just that fast.

I have been told that the 70-200 VR will be re-released this fall as a VRII model anyway, so perhaps I’ll just wait until then. My 80-200 2.8 works quite well so the VR feature would be a bonus but not a requirement.

In any case, it’s amazing how quickly these lenses sell out. Maybe they’re just getting two or three at a time into their stock. :lol:

DX Lenses Becoming Obsolete

A 35mm camera has, interestingly enough, a data collection mechanism (film) that is 35mm. Most of the digital SLR cameras (from Nikon or otherwise) on the market today have a sensor that is smaller than 35mm. The net result is that if you use a 35mm lens on a digital SLR the lens focal length is increased, and in some cases the image quality is sharpened at the same time. [1] For many lenses this is a positive result as a 400mm film lens becomes a 600mm lens when used with the smaller sensor. For wide angle lenses (anything below 50mm for a film lens is considered wide angle) this is not such a good thing. [2]

As a result Nikon came out with a line of DX lenses that were designed for the size of the sensor used in their digital SLR bodies. These lenses were smaller and less expensive and made it easier for new folks to get involved with digital SLR photography. But the problem is they’re already becoming obsolete. Continue…

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