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Nikkor Z Mount Lens – Roadmap

Image from https://nikonrumors.com/2021/01/17/updated-nikon-nikkor-z-mirrorless-lens-roadmap-2.aspx/

Building out a new system is hard work. For those already in the Nikon system the adapter to use our existing F mount lens goes a long way, but until a few key more lens are released, Nikon is playing catch up on the lens.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8, Profoto flash with CTO Gel and a shoot through Umbrella.

I’ll forgive Nikon somewhat, as the lens they have released have been out of this world, the 70-200mm f/2.8 is close to being the best zoom lens ever, and there is nothing standard about the 50mm f/1.2.

Everyone has their own idea of the ideal lens set, and Nikon are offering us the standard trinity of zooms, the f/2.8 set that take us from 14mm to 200mm.

I want to see a high quality 70-200mm f/4 but also a 24-105mm f/4. Canon already have a great 24-105mm f/4 and it makes a great all purpose lens.

I would be happy with a 24-105mm f/4, a 50mm f/1.2 and a 85mm f/1.4 for my needs. In fact I would happy trade the 24-105mm for a high quality 35mm f/2 and use that as my general day to day lens, with the 50mm and the 85mm used for studio and location portrait shoots.

The system is growing nicely, complete a nice set of f/4 zooms and the 400mm and 600mm telephotos and its well on the way, and more professionals who are currently not Nikon users but want to go mirrorless would consider it.

With these lens, give me a body that matches the D850 in features with the latest sensor tech and I may jump myself from my DSLR.

Getting Colour Temperature – do we need to get it right?

White balance card

If you shoot jpeg then yes get it right in camera, but for us RAW shooters why should we bother?

Its easy to fix it post but come on, who wants to have to colour correct all the images you took on your last shoot, yes with Adobe Lightroom you an fix one and then replicate it across, but its just another job you have to get done.

Get it right in camera.

Once you have everything correct its then easy to work from a common starting point and colour grade to how you want it.

How card slots do you need in a camera

CF Cards were relatively physically robust, SD cards less so. Many pros and amateurs like having two card slots. Writing RAW to one and Jpg to another for backup. A few recent cameras have had a lot of flack for not having two card slots but card technology has improved a lot recently.

While CF and SD cards are prone to failure the new designed XQD and CFexpress have had no recorded failures due to hardware. Now all cards have a recommended number of read writes, and it is when you exceed these you start to get errors. Errors with these new cards are due to exceeding these recommendations.

If your camera uses one of these new types of card I would be less worried about needing two slots for safety. Some photographers who after a shoot hand a card to a third party but also need a copy for themselves then yes there are ways cases for two slots, sometimes event photographers will print out a quick jpg and sell to the client on the day so having jpegs to one card and raw to the other is handy from a work flow perspective, but for many of us one card slot is now enough.

No matter how many card slots you have I would recommend you replace your cards regularly. It is likely now age and exceeding the number writes that will get you rather a the card failing early.

Focus Stacking

Fountain Pens

When shooting still life or macro, depth of field is limited. This was shot with daylight, and a little bit of fill flash from a low power studio flash head and a shoot through umbrella.

I wanted to shoot at f/8 which would give me reasonable quality, depth of field and not have the shutter speed drop too much. But even f/8 would not give me enough depth of field. so I decided to have a go at a technique that I had read about and see a landscape photographer user on a Youtube video but never tried my self.

A technique I do use is to merge several images together to create large panoramic. The technique I chose to use this time was to create more depth of field. Its called photostacking and is automated now in Photoshop.

I took several images in succession but focused at different points in the image. After a quick edit for colour, contrast and exposure. I imported these as separate layers into Photoshop.

Once in Photoshop, the first step is to make sure they are all aligned correctly. Now I was shooting on a tripod, but sometimes even the best lens do something called ‘focus breathing’ and the field of view changes ever so slightly.

With each layer selected go, Edit , Auto-Align Layers and I chose Auto. This will then line up everything to the best of its ability.

Now you are ready to merge the layers into a single image layer taking the parts that are in focus from each layer. Its quite easy and automated.

Again with all layers selected, go to Edit and select Auto-Blend Layers.

Select Stack Image and ensure that the Seamless and Content Aware tick boxes are selected.

It will now generate a new layer based on the parts in focus. It will do a reasonable job but will not be perfect, you may have to tweak the layer masks it generates slightly. Save it and go back into Lightroom for a final edit.

Still Life – Macro Photography

Macro with Elinchrom Flash

While we were in lockdown due to COVID-19 and I could not shoot at all, not even outdoor shoots, I have been shooting a few still-lifes.

Watch Macro with Profoto A10

With macro photography getting the focus and having enough depth of field are all big issues. These shots were taken handheld, the top shot with one of my Elinchrom flash heads and a small brolly, the second a little hotshoe flash on a light stand and a shoot through brolly.

They could all be better, I should have used a tripod, and the objects I chose to photograph were not perfectly clean, but I encourage you to have a go.

Location Shoots – Wind and Weather

Sophie in Hartsholme Park – Snow included.

Last week was warm and sunny. I had a free day to shoot this week, so booked a model and took them to Hartsholme Park for a sunny days shooting.

After this was all arranged the weather forecast came in; -1 C wind chill with snow showers. Bang goes the idea of a model in a summer dress by the lake. Instead I need to borrow my wife’s long warm wool coat.

For outdoor shoots it always pays to have alternative ideas.

The day was also a learning experience. I was using a small light weight light stand, with a small high powered hotshot flash, and a radio trigger. The light modifier was a 90 cm shoot through umbrella. With the wind and weather this proved tricky, I should have brought a heavy lightstand, sandbags and switched out the umbrella for a small soft box.

Modular Camera – Sigma fp L

Modular cameras have always been a big part of professional gear. Large and Medium format cameras were always highly modular as was the film based Canon F and Nikon F ranges.

Recently Sigma produced their very exciting fp modular camera. With the L mount from the L alliance you have access to the best Leica glass and more affordable glass from other manufactures. It is an interesting concept that deserves to succeed. This new model at 60 MP is quite a beast, and I can see if attracting landscape photographers and maybe a few product and studio cameras.

Nikon Doomed / On the way Up!

There is so much press over the last year that Nikon is doomed. Finally their recent results has resulted in their share price increasing and it was nice to see Nikon sweeping the board in the German Foto Community & Colour Foto awards.

Nikon D200 10 MP DSLR

Its difficult for large companies like Canon and Nikon who are market leaders in digital SLR’s switch to mirrorless, and many would say they are too late to catch Sony, but for existing Canon and Nikon users there is much to temp them with the current mirrorless bodies available from these two big brands.

For myself with a big investment in Nikkor glass, knowing it works well on the mirrorless Z system is something I’ll consider if I jump from the DSLR world.