Tamron 24-70 f2.8 G2

Tamron G1 vs G2 Comparison

I had a owned a Tamron 24-70 f2.8 G1 lens for two years and just traded it in on a G2 version. This post will focus on some of differences between the two lenses, so it’s not intended to be a complete review of the Tamron 24-70 f2.8 G2. More of answering the question, is it a worthwhile update, that you should consider.

Both versions have basically the same optical formula, my G1 needed about +6 AF fine tune to obtain the best images at 70mm @ f2.8. The new G2, is at 0 AF fine tune in camera. I tweaked it just a little with the Tamron docking station, mainly because I wanted to try it out. You can set AF fine tuning at four focal lengths – 24, 35, 50  and 70mm, with three distances at each focal length. I added +3 at mid distance for the 70mm end only. Tamron lets you adjust how the VC works, you can set focus limits if you need to tweak the focusing performance. It also lets you update the firmware, but currently there is only version one.

The G2 version focuses at least 50% faster compared to the G1. Just slightly slower than the Nikon 24-70 version one (which I also owned), but fast enough for most action. When I first purchased the Tamron 24-70 G1, I tested it at home in low light at home using static objects with my D700, and I didn’t have an issue with hunting. I have not tested either version in extreme low light, but specific bodies and AF settings would probably have a big impact on low light performance.

Regarding bokeh, in looking at a background image I shot of a tomato plant on the patio. I wasn’t actually testing bokeh at the time, just wanted a closer subject to shoot. I don’t really see harsh onion rings, just a smooth out of focus area. If bokeh is important in what you photograph, you may want to rent a copy and perform additional testing, but I don’t think you will be disappointed.

On VC, I can say that it’s at least a stop better compared to the G1. At 70mm with the G1 version, I still needed to be at 1/30 sec. The new G2 can get pretty consistence 70mm results at 1/15 a second. At 50mm I am getting good results at 1/8 sec with VC on, so it’s comparable to the VR on most Nikon lenses. There is stabilization in the view finder, and this can be adjusted with the dock, to bias it more toward the view finder or the subject. It’s set in the middle by default, so both the subject and the view finder benefit equally.

Tamron @ 24mm, f5.6, ISO-200, D700
Tamron @58mm, f5.6, ISO 200, D700

Handling, filter size, length and weight are all about the same. So while it isn’t a small lens, it feels fine on a FX body with a grip like the D700 or D810. The zoom ring on the G1 was ok, but the G2 zoom ring is much smoother. Overall the build quality is better, and it has weather sealing. Plus you can use the dock with it, if you do need specific fine tuning, just keep in mind that dock tuning would need to take into account any other bodies. It’s a combination of all those small improvements that I believe make it worthwhile to upgrade to the G2 version.

However, if VR / VC and AF speed are not a big deal to you, the G1 version can be very good value at something like $600 used, if you don’t already own a copy. I compared both lenses on a D700 side by side in the store for about 30 minutes, and optically they are close. In fact, I hesitated for a couple of hours, before I returned to the store and traded in my old lens on the G2.

Nikon D850

Nikon D850

On 08/24/2017 Nikon officially announce their new FX upgrade to the D810.

Welcome D850!

All the specs are now on Nikon’s web site: http://www.nikonusa.com/en/nikon-products/product/dslr-cameras/d850.html#tab-ProductDetail-ProductTabs-TechSpecs

The cool thing is that Nikon finally combined a lot of features into one camera, that historically they made you purchase at least two separate bodies to get. It’s lighter than a D700 and maybe just a few grams heavier than a D810. Nikon now seems to have higher frame rates sorted out with the both the D500 and now the D850 hitting 10 and 9 FPS respectively. Yes the D4 / D5 were up there too, but every other model was stuck in the 5-6 FPS range for about 5 years.

Good Stuff!

The D850 uses the same field-proven ultra-accurate AF system as the flagship D5. Nikon included the Advanced Multi-CAM 20K autofocus sensor module with TTL phase detection and fine-tuning, with 153 focus points, 99 cross-type sensors and a dedicated AF processor. The D850 has 45.7 MP performance and is capable of shooting in low light to -4 EV.

  • Nikon has included a new BSI CMOS sensor with no optical low pass filter. This sensor should be good for an additional stop at higher ISO’s over the D810 Body (with comparable noise).
  • Expeed 5 that processes 45.7 MP images with wider dynamic range, high-speed continuous shooting and full-frame 4K UHD movie recording. Data through put is obviously very high, along with a buffer that can handle 1.8x more 14 bit RAW and 3.6x more 12 bit RAW images before the buffer fills up.
  • Seamlessly switch between RAW sizes of Large (45.7 MP), Medium (25.6 MP), and Small (11.4 MP), whichever fits your need or workflow. The camera will average RAW data, but not compressed all the way into jpeg (8 bit). So you obtain smaller batch (12 bit) files in camera, but still retain most of the DR and the other benefits of the RAW format.
  • Focus peaking- Focus peaking works by detecting edges of highest contrast in your scene (and therefore most in focus) and highlighting them in a bright color.  The camera will use red, blue, yellow, or another color that allows photographers to recognize what is in focus and what isn’t. Also, when using manual lenses stopped down, it can also help show you how much of the scene is in focus at those apertures for checking your current depth of field.
  • Focus stacking- Is a digital image processing technique which combines multiple images taken at different focus distances to give a resulting image with a greater depth of field (DOF) than any of the individual source images.
For a more in depth look, see Nikon’s and Photographylife’s web sites:

Nikonusa.com

Photographylife.com

ON1 Effects Review

Effects for LR now free!

ON1 is a very powerful tool that works with Lightroom v5 & v6, as well as Photoshop CS6 (note: The plug-ins do not work with CS5). Effects provides multiple presets and filters to help edit your photo.

The screen shots show the filter options that can be combined with presets. You can also add and edit with layers. I have not tried using layers in Effects, but I did try the mask brush, which works pretty much like the brush in LR to add or subtract an effect from a portion of the image. Below is a comparison shot with a little warming and texture, versus the original photo.

Each preset is grouped into categories, and each category has several different presets. The bottom screen shot shows the editing tool. On my link page I mention that by selecting “save as a smart photo”, you end up with a fully supported new PSD file, this is true for both LR and PS. There is also an option to stack the Effects edits with the original photo already in LR. You can turn that off, if you don’t like having stacked photos.

ON1 is a company located in Portland, Oregon – USA and the website is: https://www.on1.com/products/effects10/

 

RRS Pocket Pod Review

The Mini Tripod – Pocket Pod

I had a RRS BH-25 mini ball head shown on top, and came across this Really Right Stuff Pocket Pod. It’s small about six inches high without the ball head, light and very well made. As with most of RSS products, the parts of various ball heads and clamps all inter change.

The leg positions can be adjusted independently, if the surface isn’t flat. It has a fully open, fully closed and two intermediate  leg positions. The Pod has a load rating of 15 lbs, more than the BH-25, which I believe is rated at 8 lbs. That still is pretty strong and lets you attach a normal DLSR camera body and a small to medium size lens.

The ball head (not included) has one dedicated vertical slot and can be adjusted for virtually any angle. So for table top work or self portraits, it does allow you to manipulate the camera / lens safely. I know that I often don’t carry a tripod, unless I know I am going to use one, as in I am shooting video or have something specific in mind.

The pocket Pod let’s you hedge your bets, because it takes no room in your bag, so your more likely to have it with you. Specifically for those times when you didn’t plan to use a tripod, but suddenly find yourself thinking, I wish I had a tripod!
Really Right Stuff
Specs:

Material: 6061-T6 black anodized aluminum
Load Capacity: 15 lbs
Leg Positions: Vertical, plus 2 positions and also fully open
Thread: 1/4-20 with 3/8-16 adapter
Folded Lenght: 5.9″ (with stud)
Height Fully Spread: 1.5″ (without ball head)
Weight: 4.8 oz

Nikon 300F4E PF Review

Nikon 300mm F4E

My review is a brief summary of what works and what does not work for me related to VR. Nasim Mansurov from Photography Life has an extensive review, with excellent comparisons to other lenses completed in 2015 at the link below:

https://photographylife.com/reviews/nikon-300mm-f4e-pf-ed-vr/

Unfortunately the VR issues reported two years ago in different reviews have not improved, no new firmware or design changes.  Nikon officially acknowledged the problem with only the D800 series bodies, and indicated that lenses with serial numbers below 205101 were affected (Nikon did issued a firmware fix for those lenses, but it was only slightly effective in reducing the problem).

It seems like Nikon really doesn’t want to face the reality that many other bodies are also impacted in that same shutter speed range. Hello – Nikon, it’s now 2017 and my recently purchased lens has a serial number that starts with 226XXX. I don’t own a D800 series body, so why would my D7200 and to a lesser extent on my older D700 body have the exact same VR issues with my new lens?

My bodies are only affected in a limited shutter speed range of 1/100 sec to about 1/160 of a sec. However down at 1/80 of a sec, VR works well, yielding sharp images. Also, images taken over 1/200 of a sec with VR on are very good. Note: Images with VR off at 1/160 sec are better than with VR turned on.

I happen to be shooting some test shots of a rabbit in my back yard one morning and my shutter speed fell to 1/160 of a second.  So a pretty normal use case in my opinion, not trying to find or doing anything unusual. Viewing shots in the camera at 100%, I could easily see the VR blur. Once I pushed the ISO to 3200, to get the shutter speed high enough (1/320 sec) to overcome the VR limitation, the images look nice (see the bunny below).

D7200 with 1.4TC, f5.6 @ ISO 3200, 1/320 sec

As an update I did a little more testing the next morning (after the bunny shots) and found a couple of interesting things at lower shutter speeds. Specifically with my system of the D7200 and 300 f4E, it seems that with VR on 1/160 of a second is the worst possible shutter speed for IQ. Going up slightly to 1/200 sec or faster solves the issue. Also, reducing shutter speed below 1/100 sec helps a good deal.

Again, a 300mm lens advertised with 4 stops of VR should do fine at 1/160 sec. In fact, VR actually works well at 1/60 – 1/80 sec, indicating the lens can provide 3 stops of stabilization from one over the 300mm focal length. In my case, I just need to avoid 1/100 sec to 1/160 of a second at all cost if VR is turned on. In the bad range it’s better to simply leaving VR turned off and the hand held images improve. So counter intuitively, if I cannot go to a higher ISO,  I should lower the shutter speed to obtain better images with good IQ at around 1/80 sec with VR on.

D7200 with 1.4TC, f5.6 @ ISO 800, 1/2500 sec

In the above photo, it had been partially foggy that morning, and at times the shutter speed would drop. However, it was a little brighter during the above photo, and the fact that I had left VR on, did not seem to affect IQ. Outside of the VR limitation, it’s a nice lens, close in sharpness to the 300 f2.8G. It focuses fast with 1.4TC, and is generally fun to shoot with. On the D7200 with a 1.4TC, you get a very good effective crop focal length of a 600mm lens at f5.6 that you can easily carry with one hand. Just learn the VR specific limitations with your bodies.

Tamron 10-24mm VC HLD Review

Tamron 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 VC HLD Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

   I have been shooting more with my DX camera, and was missing an ultra-wide lens, in my kit. In the past I had used a wide angle FX setup, but it’s not always convenient to take two bodies and multiple lenses with me. During a quick search online, I discovered the new Tamron 10-24 VC HDL lens had just came out and while not widely reviewed seems to be very nice.

Tamron list the optics as: “The optical design includes 16 elements in 11 groups. A new large aperture aspherical lens and LD (Low Dispersion).”

But does it work? – Well, after using it a couple of days the short answer is yes. I am impressed with this lens. I have owned the older Nikon 10-24mm f3.5-4.5G AFS and the 12-14mm f4G AFS lenses in the past. In looking at test shots from those lenses, I have two general comments. The new Tamron is sharper than the Nikon 12-24 f4G at f4, and has less distortion than the 10-24 f3.5-4.5.

Its body style is very close to the new Sigma “C” Contemporary series lenses. I also own the Sigma 17-70mm Dc f2.8-4, and it would be hard to tell them apart from the side. They both use 77mm filters, and have the same texture and sleek black poly carbon body. It does come with a lens hood, but no pouch. If anyone is interested, a Tamrac Goblin 1.4 lens pouch fits this lens with the hood attached.

The lens is impressively sharp at 10mm and very good at 24mm wide open. I do not have the TAP-IN console at this time, so I did a little AF fine tune on my D7200, and use +2, which seems to work pretty well across the zoom range, but probably not ideal at 24mm. The TAP-In would allow you to set different fine tune setting at different focal lengths, something that Nikon has yet to offer.

Note: “The optional TAP-in Console™ provides a USB connection to your personal computer, enabling you to easily update your lens’s firmware as well as customize features including fine tune adjustments to the AF.”

10-24 @ 15mm f5.6, 1/200 sec, ISO 200

10-24 @ 10mm f5.6, 1/200 sec, ISO 200

The AF motor is very fast and very quiet, basically silent, no complaints at all. Also the AF motor is equipped with a Full-time Manual Focus override mechanism that enables the user to freely select the focus point. One could ask does having VC on an UWA lenses makes sense?  If you’re trying to grab a quick shot in low light, I think it definitely helps. I was able to get an acceptable hand held shots at 24mm @ ¼ sec even though it was underexposed by one stop.

10-24 VC at 24mm F8 ¼ sec, ISO 100

The above low light photo was edited for exposure only in LR, no sharpening. I was in manual mode to force the shutter speed lower, and wasn’t paying attention to the exposure. One additional comment related to VC, is that above 1/100 sec it is simply is not needed, and by 1/125 sec, VC actually degrades the image slightly if left on. So if you’re shooting at faster shutter speeds, I would recommend leaving the VC off, until you need it at 1/30 sec or slower, where it does a good job.

In conclusion the lens seems like a very good value at $500 (USD). I plan on keeping my copy and using it on my D7200 along with my Sigma 17-70 Contemporary lens. The two make a great , very sharp and inexpensive travel kit that you can take anywhere, with minimal weight. I may eventually get the optional USB TAP-IN to try, but I am happy with the results I have seen so far.

Presets and Links:

While you can create your own presets in Lightroom, sometimes it’s nice to use plug-ins.

    • Google release the Nik collection about a year ago for free, the link to the down load site: https://www.google.com/nikcollection/
    • ON1 Effects 10.5 has a free version of their product that works with both Lightroom and Photoshop.  It can use smart photos, so while the side car file it self isn’t updated, it works really well. If your in Lightroom, call the ON1 plugin, it opens the effects program, you then have a large suit of excellent presets and filters that you can apply as needed.

When your happy with the result, you apply the settings (saving the edits). If you go the smart photo route with the import, you end up with a fully supported new PSD file that re-imports into Lightroom with all your original LR edits plus the new ON1 presets. ON1, Inc. is headquartered in Portland, Oregon:  https://www.on1.com/products/effects10/

Lesson Plan

What a Lesson Plan might look like:

If you are wondering what a private lesson could look like, here is an example of how I might build a lesson plan for a new student:

After responding to the initial email, I would follow-up with a phone call, and discuss the type of things you’re looking to cover in a session. Once I understand your goals, I will put together a draft plan, and have you review it to make sure I am on track. Please keep in mind that it’s important not to be rushed, and not to attempt too many new things, then leave feeling over whelmed.

Once we have an agreed upon plan, we find a time that is mutually convenient to schedule the lesson. I am able to travel to venues within Ventura County. So we could meet at the beach if its camera related, your office, home, Starbucks or a local restaurant. If we are reviewing software or work flow it would be helpful if you brought your own laptop, storage, SD cards, card reader etc. That way we are working with tools that you will be using in your digital work flow.

I can bring a laptop, if you do not currently have one available and would like private lesson on Lightroom. But, I want you to be comfortable working with your own tools. If we are reviewing importing, there is no need to start with 1000 photos, we just want to pick a few test shots and go through the process from start to finish. Beginning with a SD card containing some images and finishing with editing, then exporting your work to either the cloud or an external USB 3 drive.

The actual learning process would typically start with me reviewing you current level of comfort with the subject, and then a short demonstration of the topic. For example I could show you how to import, review files and tag them. Next, I would have you perform the same steps that I just demonstrated, while answering any questions that you may have. Lastly, I would have you describe back to me what we just covered and how the process worked. If all went well, we move on to the next item with the same process.

Say you have never used Lightroom, and want to learn the basics. That would probably take multiple lessons, and we would break down the pieces into manageable parts, based on your comfort with technology and each of the components. I would start with a summary of the tool itself and what it does well, followed by the first steps of using Lightroom. Certainly importing, viewing, editing and exporting can be covered in different sections of the lesson plan.

I hope that provides an over view of what a lesson could look like, please email me if you have any questions, and I would be happy to answer them.

Using LR and Windows

Here is a couple of things that I learned about LR, Laptops and Windows 10.

While Microsoft has made photo codecs for every version of Windows from XP on, they apparently no longer make photo Raw codec’s for Windows 10. In their defense Microsoft does have some photo App’s as shown below, which work to open NEF images, they are available to download from it’s online “store”, but the latest RAW photo codec will not work on Windows 10.

If your trying to edit in LR or Photoshop, a laptop touch pad seems really hard to use. I typically use a workstation at home and in my office, so it could be I am just more familiar with mice. But I much rather use an old fashion mouse any day of the week. It’s much easier for me to be precise with the pointer and right click when needed with a mouse.

Ran into an issue with LR creative cloud running on a laptop, would not recognize CR2 Raw images and import them. The only time I have seen this is with an older software version trying to import images from a newly released camera body. Not the case here since it was creative cloud licensed, and similar images from the same camera had been imported a week earlier.

Two possibilities come to mind, one is the Raw module in LR became corrupt or LR is ok; but the Raw files on the SD card became corrupt. A new SD card with different “good” Raw images would help to determine if it was the Raw images on the first card (possibly the SD card itself). If not something with the first card, I would to try and apply any new updates again or reinstall the LR software.

Helpful Lightroom tips:

http://lessons.esp-sportsphotos.com/lessons/lightroom/

Additional Windows computer tips can be found here:

http://lessons.esp-sportsphotos.com/lessons/computer-options/

 

Travel Setup

So you want to take a bunch of exciting travel photos with your new DSRL camera.

Say you are going to be gone for a while and will need to bring a laptop anyway. Can you edit those images in your travel down time before you return?

Why yes you can!  Adobe allows you to install Lightroom (LR) on two devices, with one user license, as long as the same person is using them both. So if you have a copy for your workstation, you can also install the same software and license on your travel laptop.

How should you merge edits done on the road with those you already have at home?  Well there are a couple of ways, one being just use an external USB 3 drive for both your laptop and workstation. Share the same image storage and catalog. I personally like USB 3 drives to augment laptop storage and for use in multiple backups.

But, I don’t like the idea of using a USB 3 drive full time as the primary storage for your images. So while that could be done, it’s not the process that I would recommend. A better approach would be to use a different “travel” catalog on the laptop. When you return home, plug the USB 3 drive in and copy your images to the PC’s hard drive.

Hopefully, you have an additional internal drive for storing images.

If you have done some editing on the road, you can import the edits from the travel catalog to your main home catalog. In LR under “File” at the top, simply select – import from another catalog. Then update the folder location in LR if the path changes between drives. That way you don’t lose edits done on the road, and your home catalog will be a complete set.

Tip: If you have cloud storage, using it while on the road makes a lot of sense. That way you have an extra copy of those images, no matter what happens to your luggage, or say the USB 3 drive was stolen during the journey. While images can be re-edited, if the source photos are lost, you’re in trouble right, so protect them multiple ways!