D to the f – Nikon Df

D to the f – Nikon Df

All, Gear Reviews, Photography
Never would I ever dream of getting a 55/1.2 from 1867, but even more so never would I ever imagine getting a silver Df with as little as 620 clicks straight from Japan! Incidentally it may even appear like I got it solely to match my 45/2.8 AI-P and it would not be a wrong assumption, but in reality - the full tactile controls and the inconspicuous appearance that house a powerful D4 sensor at the fraction of the price are absolutely the deal-breaker here. Everything feels solid, as expected of a simplified top-shelf camera, and the next biggest surprise is that it does squeeze semi-pro amount of shots off of a mere EN-EL14/a battery found in the beginner bodies. With 55/1.2? Stellar! With 70-200/2.8 VRI + Kenko 2x DGX…
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Yongnuo 568EX vs Nikon SB-910

Yongnuo 568EX vs Nikon SB-910

All, Gear Reviews, Photography
Head to head or neck to neck, on paper these 2 perform VERY close to one another with only noticeable differences being the recycle rate and commander mode. Both have hotshoe and wireless TTL, full support for Nikon's CLS system, etc. I finally got a chance to try the 568 in a relatively poor lighting environment as both on-camera and off-camera, TTL and manual, and here is how it stacked up against the 910: 1) I needed roughly 1/2 power for successive exposures of 1-2 seconds in between. -568 could not keep up with the recycle rate nor would it properly expose (with a reasonable margin for error) in TTL mode. -910 got the job done and put out enough useable light even in-between cycles unlike the pitch-black Yongnuo. Would…
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Incase Designs – DSLR Pro Pack Camera Backpack

Incase Designs – DSLR Pro Pack Camera Backpack

All, Gear Reviews, Photography
Now that this pack served me a good couple of months, it's time to review how excellent its been! I'll begin with the fact that it seems more of a black sheep, literally and figuratively, since most stores I've been to lacked this brand entirely and even B&H I got it from did not have this guy in their main camera bag section on the 2nd floor. I had a very particular idea for the ergonomics I was looking for and this bag only surfaced via employees suggestion and some bringing it on the floor magic. With how well it's made, I'm surprised that the brand isn't clearly displayed while far cheaper ones get plenty of floor space, but anyways onto the criteria and review! As you can see, this…
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Nikkor AF-S VR 70-200 f/2.8 G IF-ED

Nikkor AF-S VR 70-200 f/2.8 G IF-ED

All, Gear Reviews, Photography
At long, long last a true professional quality lens enters my life and just in time for the busy fall season musings. This lens looks, works, and feels completely awesome and blows everything below it completely out of the water. It will proudly take place of my trusty 70-300 VR and I will ponder getting a 1.4 or 1.7x teleconverter to add some range to this beast for some wildlife. So, why this guy over say, a 24-70? My logic was quite classic - a short zoom, typically indoors, will need a flash regardless of aperture capability, so the stock 24-85VR I have has been doing a great job. Now, if I wanted some reach, flash would definitely get in the way and 70-300VR simply does not have the aperture…
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Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 AF Macro ( E72 ) 1:1

Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 AF Macro ( E72 ) 1:1

All, Gear Reviews, Photography
Last gen of the non-Di Auto Focus (AF) incarnation of Tamron's 90mm macro that is now internally capable of 1:1, aka life size, reproduction of the subject. The main reason driving me to write a proper review/impression of this lens is because it is a CPU, AF lens that's said to be practically optically identical to it's Di version aside from esthetics and the name, and ~$100-150 price difference. I took a chance from reading that it is so, and here are my finding from shooting with it for a couple of days. I shot both manual and semi-auto with both aperture settings and focusing as well as both the standard D600 jpeg picture control as well as my custom preset (Vivid with +9 sharpening, +1 saturation and +1 to…
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Dolica GX650B204 Proline GX Series 65 inch Tripod

Dolica GX650B204 Proline GX Series 65 inch Tripod

All, Gear Reviews, Photography
So my quest for previously unattainable night cityscapes pushed me towards finally getting a tripod. Dilemma was not to spend more than a beginner-intermediate level is worth as well as not over $100. After some homework, I decided to try this Dolcia after reading an awesome review over at Str8ShotPhoto. The current price tag of mere $55 considering all of the features this rig has sure beats anything found in retailers like Best Buy or Caulmet right now. I wanted a solid, light tripod without leg connectors to be able to set it as high or as low as I'd want, a quick release plate, and a dedicated panning swivel joint and this Dolcia has all of these and then some. So it comes with a very nice carrying bag,…
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Yongnuo WJ-60 Macro Photography LED Light

Yongnuo WJ-60 Macro Photography LED Light

All, Gear Reviews, Photography
Decided on my truly last piece of affordable gear to put an end to my/camera's struggle to focus in very low light/pitch-black situations with this wonderful ring LED rig. Decided to go with Yongnuo again since 565 EX I got was a VERY solid flash, so I trust this little brand. This guy uses 3xAAA batteries; has a hard on/off switch; and a left and right buttons that cycle through brightness modes, half-on modes, or turn it off (ready to be turned back on via another press of either button). It has 60 LEDs in two rings and a total of 6 modes- all on, half off, left half fully on, left half half off, and likewise for the right half. Not too shabby for a $30 rig. It can…
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Nikkor 45mm f/2.8 AI-P

Nikkor 45mm f/2.8 AI-P

All, Gear Reviews, Photography
Finally got this gem/dream lens after long deliberation regarding its ridiculous cost. Despite my hunt for a black version, silver will have to do for now as a workhorse. This guy is a modern remake of the old Guide-Number Nikkor 45mm f/2.8 whose forte was being able to set the old flashes to the optimal output per focal distance using the guide numbers written on the opposite side of the focusing ring than the distance scale. Today, that was replaced with a CPU chip and better lens coating, but the old Zeiss Tessar design remained and made this the only true and smallest pancake lens in Nikon's (and well, Canon's) lineup to-date. Haven't had a chance to really put this guy to work yet, but some snaps I took thus…
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Sigma 24mm Super-Wide II f/2.8 Macro (Manual) (1981)

Sigma 24mm Super-Wide II f/2.8 Macro (Manual) (1981)

All, Gear Reviews, Photography
Got this sucker in my quest for a wider and closer-focusing lens for indoor events, in vintage/all-manual variety. Only ran me an incredibly lucky $41 plus shipping for a mint condition piece with original leather case and the crappy snap-on hood (that's broken, but nothing superglue can't fix). It is also an AI lens, so it's compatible with all Nikons off the bat. The build is full metal with the exception of the rubber grip on the focus ring and a full plastic aperture ring. Focus ring feels tight, but I would guess that it would loosen up and become very smooth, yet still solid just like my Nikkor-H 50mm. Disassembly looks fairly simple in case the need for repairs arises. For history, based on the Japan Camera Inspection Institute…
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Yongnuo 565 EX for Nikon (YN-565 EX)

Yongnuo 565 EX for Nikon (YN-565 EX)

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Very last piece of gear on my list is now in the house. Retails for ~ $150 and sports excellent features for its price. Usual free diffuser gift from Chinese ebay stores, and essential accessory for these big guns. Package is simple, but very nice - detailed manual, quick reference card, nice storage pouch and the stand for using this off-camera. And now some shots with it. These two were at low and high power at I believe f/11 and ISO100, which is a ridiculous number for anything indoor and hand-held. iTTL mode works perfectly and ev compensation on-the-fly is easy and works great. Manual mode is 1 button away and even easier to work with. Diffuser does real magic. Shot of a bumblebee at ISO100, f/11 outside. Slightly edited…
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AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED

AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED

All, Gear Reviews, Photography
At loooooong last I got my hands on this beauty, and from only playing with it for less than an hour in the dusk, I'm impressed! Mad kudos to Exe163 on FM Forums for an awesome deal that helped me pull the trigger on this one. First off, lens itself shots with my 50mm f/2: (Quick note on this shot- it really shows the full focal plane of the 50mm f/2 @ f/2 since the very bottom of the shot is blurred as is the rest about 1/3 across the 70-300's front element.) And now for the quick test. Mostly did shots at 70mm end and then 300 end to see how both turn out. 300mm indoors. Pretty good quality considering ISO wasn't that high, and VR worked incredibly in…
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Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G

Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G

All, Gear Reviews, Photography
On my quest for a wider field of view than my 50mm f/2 I was debating what lens to try and get. Most budget, full-manual, excellent quality old geezers wouldn't fit sports nor low-light sports shooting for their inherit lack of auto-focus and metering on my D5100. This sadly narrowed down my choices to either 24 or 28mm D series lenses and being stuck with manual focus, or the 35 DX. Price point is neck-a-neck with some D lenses' used prices exceeding the 35's new price, so I went ahead and bit the bullet. Build is naturally utter crap compared to the oldies, but it does help shave weight and balance out the addition of all the electronics and the Silent Wave Motor. I can live with that, I think.…
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