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  • Current Instant Savings on Select Nikon Digital Cameras, Including Lens Add-Ons

    Nikon Coolpix S3100
    Nikon Coolpix S4100
    Nikon Coolpix S80
    Nikon Coolpix P7000
    Nikon Coolpix S6100
    Nikon Coolpix L120
    Nikon Coolpix P500
    Nikon Coolpix P7000
    Nikon D5100 18-55mm VR Kit
    Nikon D5100 18-55mm VR Outfit
    Nikon D3100 18-55mm VR Kit
  • First Impressions of the New Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens

    Nikon has been going through some of their most popular lenses and updating them with enhanced features like, but not limited to, SWM (silent wave motor, designated by the AF-S), the addition of an aspheric lens element (to help correct spherical and optical abberations), and full-time manual focus override (allowed by the SWM). The AF-S 85mm f/1.4 and AF-S 50mm f/1.4 are a couple of other lenses that I can quickly think of that have also gone through this type of updating. The latest to this updating is the very popular Nikon 50mm f/1.8. We recently received the new Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G lens, and were curious how it stacked up.

    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens

    The older version Nikon 50mm f/1.8 was considered a must-have lens, if for no other reason than the $134 price tag. The new AF-S 50mm f/1.8G is over 60% more expensive, but still very reasonably priced at $219. There aren't many quality lenses out there in this price range. We've been seeing a lot of more modern, inexpensively priced lenses being made with plastic lens mounts. Although this will not hinder the image-making performance of the lens, we've seen a lot of broken lenses having to go out for repair due to the plastic mounts cracking, snapping, or wearing over time to a state of being loose from mounting and unmounting the lens to camera bodies. The new 50mm f/1.8 to our excitement has a shiny, all-metal mount:

    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G LensWhile staying on the topic of build quality, the build quality of this updated lens is great. The focus ring is larger and more burly than the previous version, making for an easy grip for manual focusing, and the overall design and finish of the lens is clean. This lens even has a rubberized gasket around the metal mount to help keep out dust and moisture when mounted to a camera body.

    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G LensThis Father's Day weekend, I had my nephew's birthday party to attend, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to take the new 50mm f/1.8 for a stroll. I gave the lens a test drive with the Nikon D7000. I was extremely impressed with the results.

    The first thing I noticed with this lens is that it was still very sharp wide open, especially for a lens in its price range, and provided an excellent overall wide-open image quality with the D7000. This lens is compatible with FX cameras (full frame digital and film cameras), and it would be interesting to see how the corners look there. But, on a DX (crop) camera, I was impressed.

    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens

    Lens set at maximum aperture: f/1.8

     

    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens

    Same image with 100% crop on in-focus area

    The silent wave motor was fast and silent. I was able to pop off several shots of my 6 year old nephew (who, like any 6 year old, changes his expression every fraction of a moment), and I couldn't even hear the lens working. Although I did not test the video much, anyone shooting video with the autofocus engaged will appreciate the silence of this lens, instead of hearing the whir-clink-whir-clink-whir-clink of a more noisy, non-SWM lens.

    Stopping down the lens to f/5.6 made for some extremely sharp images. In a couple of cases (do I dare say it?), the images were so sharp I felt it detracted from the photograph. Sometimes seeing every nook and cranny is not the most aesthetically pleasing experience for a photograph.

    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens

    Lens set to f/5.6, 100% crop of portrait

    Overall I was very pleased with my experience over the weekend of using this lens. Compact, quick, silent, sharp, overall pleasing bokeh, with minimal aberrations for my lighting conditions, and good build quality...all at an affordable price.  Throughout the day I kept looking at my images and thinking, these look really good, which, to me, makes for a worthwhile lens. Please see some more examples below to get a better overall feel for the lens:

    For the money, I really don't see how you could go wrong with this lens. For full-frame users, it might be a different story, if the edges fall completely apart. All of the images shown in this article are unaltered, except for the 100% crops, which were cropped...of course. I didn't need to apply any unsharp mask, etc., although I was using the D7000 saving to JPG, so there was some sharpening going on there. In conclusion, I would recommend this lens to a friend.

    If you have any questions about the lens, please feel free to comment on this post. If you are interested in purchasing this lens, please visit our website by clicking on this text.

  • PocketWizard ControlTL Products for Nikon Now Available

    It's been a long time coming, but the PocketWizard MiniTT1, FlexTT5 and AC3 ZoneController for Nikon have started shipping and are now in stock (for now, at the time of this writing).

    As powerful as the Nikon Creative Lighting System is, it has its disadvantages and limitations. The biggest setback is the line-of-sight requirement. Want to hide a speedlight behind a wall, tree, or any other obstacle? Well,  sorry, but it probably won't fire. Also, in bright sunlight, or at greater distances, you'll be out of luck too.

    PocketWizard took the advantages of a wireless TTL flash system like the Nikon Creative Lighting System and gave it more guts. Instead of using the visible spectrum of light for communication, PocketWizard was able to make it work on a radio frequency. This improves the working distance, and obstacles no longer become...obstacles.

    Also, the AC3 ZoneController is an awesome accessory. It puts the power of being able to change lighting ratios at your fingertips. Have a couple lights all on the same system, but want to change their effective exposure? The AC3 allows you to quickly make that change right at your camera.

    For a more in-depth look at how the system works, make sure to check out this video. Please note, it was produced at a time when the ControlTL products were not available for Nikon, so the host only mentions Canon. No need to worry because--as you now know--they're available for Nikon too, and you can purchase them here.

  • Nikon Coolpix P7000 Real World First Impressions

    We've had the Nikon Coolpix P7000 in the store now since September, but we've been so busy we haven't had time to really try the camera out. Yes, there are always the moments in the store when we have a few minutes between customers and we sneak a chance to play with the latest and greatest, but it wasn't until this weekend that we really got to try out the new P7000.

    Nikon Coolpix P7000 High-End Digital Point & Shoot

    For those who are not aware, the Nikon Coolpix P7000 is Nikon's high-end digital point and shoot. This relatively compact digital camera has a lot of advanced features, and many external buttons for the advanced user who wants quick manual control over their picture taking experience.

    The P7000 features a 1/1.7" 10.1 megapixel CCD image sensor. It also features a very useful 28-200mm (35mm equivalent) zoom lens with a maximum aperture range of 2.8-5.6. Some of the advanced features include a 1/4000 sec. maximum shutter speed and the ability to shoot in RAW. Unfortunately the RAW file type is not the same as Nikon's D-SLRs (NRW instead of NEF), so Nikon D-SLR users won't find it a seamless process editing the P7000, and their D-SLR RAW, files. For a full list of specifications, please feel free to visit Nikon's website, www.nikonusa.com.

    This weekend we took a few pictures of a barn being built in Milton, VT, and a couple other shots during a short walk in the woods in Williston, VT. First, we will show you the images, and then we will talk about real world first impressions.

    Overall we found the P7000 to be a great, relatively compact digital camera. The image quality is impressive for a point and shoot, and we found the lens to be very sharp. As you can see, we really enjoyed the in-camera black and whites. The camera is extremely light, and especially for how rugged it feels, so carrying it around was a breeze.

    The P7000 offers a lot of external buttons, and at first we found this to be a drawback. The number of buttons, and the overall button layout seemed to slow us down during our picture taking. Of course, and as with anything, once we got familiar with the button configuration, handling the camera was a lot more fun. We did find the exposure compensation dial to be one of the most useful external controls, and the camera seemed to react quickly once the exposure compensation was adjusted, and the LCD instantly displayed a preview of what we could expect. The dial on top of the camera that controls ISO and other functions was unlike the exposure compensation. Using this dial felt "laggy", and changing the ISO seemed to take longer than it really should.

    As mentioned above, we found the lens to be impressively sharp. In addition, the zoom range is very useful. We never really found ourselves wanting more, be it wider angle or more telephoto. For a compact, the 28-200mm zoom range seems to hit a sweet, useful spot for us. We did find the autofocus to overall be very quick for a compact camera, but when we were taking a picture of a darker scene, or something without a lot of contrast, the autofocus had a difficult time. In low light or low contrast we often had the camera hunt for focus, stop, and then give us a blank screen with a message that the lens was initializing. We can see how this could be extremely frustrating, especially if something important was waiting to be captured.

    When taking digital photographs we usually like to take advantage of the instant feedback at our fingertips. So, we often review our photographs, checking for sharp focus. With the P7000 we did find this to be a slower process. Zooming in during playback was "laggy", and then zooming back out just doubled that effort. What we saw when we did zoom in made us happy, however; because there we saw accurate, sharp focus.

    Overall we really enjoyed the P7000. We really liked its light, rugged feel. Carrying it on us wasn't a chore, at all. We thought the bulkier size for a point and shoot would be noticeable, but the light weight kept it from being a drag. Our only qualms with it didn't really have to do with image quality. For a point and shoot, it is definitely at the high-end. We did notice reduced color saturation in dimmer lighting, but this is to be expected. The combination of a longer zoom lens that is also very sharp helped with our creativity. As you can see, we really enjoyed the in-camera black and white functionality of this camera, and thought it made some really dramatic black and whites, which, for us, is the joy of black and white photographs. Many photographers looking for a high-end point and shoot will want this camera to function like an SLR. The reality is that this camera is still a point and shoot, and, therefore, very portable, so it should not be expected to handle like an SLR. For those not expecting it to handle like an SLR, but are still looking for a very high quality, portable camera, we definitely recommend the P7000.

    Interested in purchasing the Nikon Coolpix P7000? Find it by clicking here.

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