30 November 2012

Why use a lens hood?

When out photographing, I see a lot of people who do not use one of the basic lens accessories: the lens hood. Worse, some people keep it “reversed” on their lens while photographing, making handling the lens more difficult as well…

My advise is to always use a lens hood when photographing. Most lenses come with a lens hood, but if yours doesn't (I know some of the cheaper Canon lenses don't come with a hood), buy one. They are usually not too expensive and they will certainly improve your photography.

Here are three good reasons for using a lens hood on your lens:
  1. Contrast improvement – The lens hood will keep out stray light from entering the lens. Stray light that isn't part of the scene, but which does remove some of the contrast. You can visualise this easily yourself: look at a scene without your eyes shielded and than look at the same scene and shield your eyes by holding your flat hand above your eyes. You’ll notice the difference in contrast immediately. The brighter and the more “into the light,” the more dramatic the increase of contrast.
    Note that while e.g., inside or in a studio there is probably less “stray light,” my advise is to also always use a hood there too, just in case.
  2. Less chance of lens flare – By keeping out the stray light, you will also lower the chances of flare. This is also easily visible.
  3. Lens protection – A lens hood also offers very good lens protection, way better even than any protective filter will (for even more protection, you can also mount the lens cap, of course).
Happy photographing!

27 November 2012

Firmware update A1.03 for the Nikon D4 DSLR

Nikon today released a firmware update for the Nikon D4 DSLR camera. This new update brings your firmware A to level 1.03, firmware B stays at level 1.02.

From the release notes:
  • Focus accuracy when a lens and teleconverter with a combined maximum aperture of f/8 is used has been increased

As always, you can download the new firmware from the Nikon support sites:

21 November 2012

Important notice for Nikon software users thinking about upgrading to Windows 8

If you are using Nikon software and you're thinking about upgrading to Windows 8, please be aware that Nikon does not plan to update all its software to support Windows 8. This could mean your software no longer works once you update to Windows 8.

Nikon's official statement
We plan to test Windows versions of the following software applications for compatibility with Windows 8. We will announce our plans regarding full compatibility once testing is complete.
  • ViewNX 2
  • Capture NX 2
  • Camera Control Pro 2
  • Short Movie Creator
  • Nikon Message Center 2
  • Wireless Transmitter Utility
  • Thumbnail Selector
  • NEF codec
  • NRW codec
  • PC-PJ Transfer
  • nik Color Efex Pro 3.0
  • IPTC Preset Manager
  • GP-N100 Utility
We do not intend to provide compatibility with the following applications:
  • Capture NX Ver. 1.x
  • Camera Control Pro Ver. 1.x
  • Nikon Capture series
  • ViewNX Ver. 1.x
  • Nikon Transfer Ver. 1.x
  • PictureProject
  • Nikon View series
  • Nikon Scan series
  • PictureProject COOLPIX Remote Control
  • WT-3 Setup Utility
  • Wireless Camera Setup Utility
  • Wireless Connecting Utility
  • nik Color Efex Pro 2.0
  • my Picturetown Utility
  • USB driver for GP-1
  • Image Authentication Software
We also do not plan to provide compatibility for other software, or for products utilizing a SCSI or serial connection.

Please be aware, that even though your software is in the first category, it is not guaranteed Nikon will update it to work under Windows 8, if necessary, just that they will be consider doing so.
For more information, please see Nikon's support website.

6 November 2012

New Nikon DSLR Camera: D5200

Nikon has announced the D5200, the third camera in the D5x00 series. The new Nikon D5200 offers a big upgrade in image-quality. In addition to a high resolution 24.1-megapixel DX-format sensor, the new EXPEED 3 image processor provides high-speed operation and excellent, rich colour reproduction – as well as enhanced movie recording. The ISO sensitivity range of 100-6400 can be further extended to 25600, allowing you to take great shots in dark or poorly lit environments. These higher ISOs also allow you to use faster shutterspeeds helping you to capture fast moving subjects.

The Nikon D5200 shares an AF system, metering sensor and scene recognition with the Nikon D7000 series, giving this camera a new level of performance and much enhanced image quality. The superior accuracy of the 39-point AF system and nine cross-type sensors delivers razor sharp images by focusing precisely on the subject you choose. Meanwhile, the 2,016-pixel RGB metering sensor provides precise data to the camera’s Scene Recognition System, which optimizes exposure, autofocus and white balance immediately before the shutter is released.

As all D5x00 cameras, the D5200 LCD monitor can be tilted, flipped, and turned to view it at almost any angle.

Two new Canon lenses: EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM and EF 35mm f/2 IS USM

Canon adds two new models to their EF lens series, the EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM and the EF 35mm f/2 IS USM.

The EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM is the latest addition to Canon’s elite L-series, and expands the range of standard zoom EF lenses available for both professional and amateur photographers. Ideal for reportage and wedding photography, it combines an essential everyday focal range with a premium quality L-series construction, delivering consistently sharp, professional-quality stills in a range of different situations. A new macro function also optimises the placement of lens groups during macro photography, allowing shooting at a maximum magnification of 0.7x – reducing the need for photographers to carry a dedicated macro lens.

The EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM also features a newly designed IS system, delivering blur-free images throughout the zoom range. Canon’s advanced optical IS offers a 4-stop light advantage, while Hybrid IS effectively compensates for angular and shift shake during macro shooting for stable close ups.

Additionally, a dust and drip-proof construction is resistant to dust and moisture, a lock function protects lenses from knocks when travelling, while fluorine coating minimises the amount of dust, dirt and fingerprints that adhere to the front and rear lenses – helping to maintain superior image quality and reduce the need for cleaning.

The new EF 35mm f/2 IS USM is Canon’s first-ever 35mm prime to feature optical Image Stabilizer technology. The 35mm focal length provides the ability to capture everything from close-up portraits to wide-angle landscapes, making it an ideal companion for travel or general reportage photography.

A bright, fixed f/2 aperture also allows photographers to employ a shallow depth of field, and optical IS offers users a 4-stop light advantage, allowing the capture of blur-free images in low light conditions when shooting handheld. Intelligent detection of panning motion is also supported, with Panning IS mode automatically engaged to enable photographers to capture movement with greater accuracy.

Together with the new lenses, Canon also introduces a new lens cap, finally allowing you to pinch the cap from the middle. This design (which Nikon has had for ages now), makes it much easier to add or remove the cap when you carry your lens with the hood attached (which I fully recommend you always do by the way).