POTD: House Finch

I always make a point of testing out new gear and settings before using it in the field. I’m still getting comfortable with the Nikon D500, which has a few new nuances in the autofocus system, before I head down to Texas next week for my annual South Texas Birding Safari. So here’s a house finch from the backyard, cropped to actual pixels (100%).

House Finch
Backyard house finch captured with Nikon D500 and 200-500mm f/5.6E VR (click to see full size image).
Tech Specs

Nikon D500 with AFS 200-500mm f/5.6E VR Nikkor zoom lens
1/600s f/7.1 ISO 800 (auto ISO)


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Backyard Shootout: Nikon 500 f/4 VR vs. 200-500 f/5.6 VR

Can a $1400 zoom compete with a $8000 prime telephoto lens?

That’s the $64k question, isn’t it? When I saw that the new Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E VR was announced at under $1400 (check price here), I figured that either: a) I read that wrong, or b) it must be a compromise. Seeing as how I own the 500mm f/4 AFS G VR Nikkor, I figured I’d do the obligatory comparison, so here’s my backyard shootout:

Continue reading Backyard Shootout: Nikon 500 f/4 VR vs. 200-500 f/5.6 VR

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Hands-on Review: Nikon 300mm f/4E PF AFS VR Nikkor

A Lightweight, Compact Telephoto Lens from Nikon Perfect for Sports and Wildlife

The Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4E PF ED VR Nikkor lens is perfect for hand-held shooting.
The Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4E PF ED VR Nikkor lens is perfect for hand-held shooting.

I’ve always considered Nikon’s 300mm f/4 lenses to be underrated for sports and wildlife photography. They are sharp, focus fairly close, and can handle a teleconverter. Because these lenses are fairly compact, they just scream to be hand-held. The only thing missing was image stabilization (VR). Nikon released a completely redesigned 300mm f/4 lens that includes the latest VR stabilization, and I was able to get a demo lens from B&H Photo for evaluation.

The Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR Nikkor is an interesting lens. It features:

  • E designation: Electromagnetically controlled diaphragm for consistent exposures
  • PF: Phase Fresnel lens design (This lens uses a Fresnel element, which drastically reduces chromatic aberration).
  • AFS: Silent wave internal focusing motor with full-time manual focus override
  • ED: Extra low-dispersion glass element
  • VR: Image stabilization
  • Nano-Crystal coating

Continue reading Hands-on Review: Nikon 300mm f/4E PF AFS VR Nikkor

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Tripods for under $500

A good tripod is one of the most critical photographic accessories. A solid tripod enables you to shoot long exposures, use lower ISOs, and get sharp images. However, I think the first time any of us went tripod shopping, we had a bit of sticker shock. Good tripods, like my recommended Gitzo Series 3 Systematic, can cost nearly $1000. For most of us, that’s just a ton of money to spend on a tripod, even if it will last for years.

Fortunately, there are some good tripods out there for under $500. Many of these are aluminum models, but you can also find some carbon fiber ones at this price point. I had the opportunity to try out three tripods courtesy of B&H Photo, and all of these would be excellent options for outdoor photographers. Continue reading Tripods for under $500

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Opening for Colorado Wildflower Workshop

Colorado wildflower & macro workshop July 20-23, 2016

Due to a cancellation, I now have an open seat for my Colorado Wildflower & Macro Workshop, July 20-23, 2016 in Crested Butte, Colorado. Summer wildflowers are always a wonderful subject here in Colorado; I hope you can join me!

Update 10 May: The workshop is currently full. Contact me to be added to the waiting list.

Register here via Meetup.com 

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