Category Archives: equipment

A Learning Experience

how Google helped me solve a problem

As an avid outdoor-nature photographer, I’ve always believed in the saying: “you can never have too many mm’s between you and a distant subject”.

Recently I decided to add more mm’s to my camera bag and purchased a Sony 200-600mm lens to accompany the Sony A7 III.

My first opportunity to use the new lens was on a trip a few weeks ago to Florida.

This is one of the first images that I snapped. As I closely reviewed it in the viewfinder I could tell that it was obviously out of focus.

The first thing I did was to immediately check the lens setting to use autofocus. It was.

I then checked the camera menu to see if it all settings were correct for autofocus.

Next I took several more photos but no luck.

They were all severely out of focus.

Disappointed, I decided to set this lens aside for the reminder of my time in Florida.

Upon returning from this trip I planned to send the lens back to the vendor for repair or exchange.

However, before calling the vendor for a return authorization, I spent a few minutes googling “Sony 200-600mm autofocus problem”.

To my surprise I found a post that was identical to my problem. When I purchased the lens, I also purchased a circular polarizing filter (huge 95mm) to help reduce glare. The individual who wrote the google post explained that his filter interfered with the lens’ autofocus mechanism. By removing the filter, his images were no longer out of focus.

So I took the filter off my lens to see if this solution applied to my problem.

BINGO. The autofocus mechanism worked perfectly and produced this image.

I’m happy that Google helped me solve my problem.

I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to take advantage of the extra mm’s during my stay in Florida. And I’m reminded that I need to test out new equipment before I’m in the field. I’ll continue to search out for a filter which may not interfere with my camera’s autofocus. Perhaps a different brand has properties that enable the autofocus to perform correctly. We’ll see.

Anyway, I’m ready for my next opportunity to get outdoors with this lens.

Happy shooting!

Sony A6000

I’ve been a proponent of Sony’s NEX mirrorless cameras since they first appeared three years ago. The reason is simple. The NEX series produce images comparable in quality to conventional DSLRs, accept interchangeable lenses yet are very compact. They are substantially smaller and lighter than DSLRs.

Sony’s newest model is the A6000. Although Sony has dropped the NEX moniker, the A6000 retains the same compact footprint as the earlier NEX6 and NEX7 models.

A few days before our recent extended vacation, an A6000 arrived in the mail. I used it heavily on our extended family vacation. Instead of writing a wordy review, I put together a “photo review” that demonstrates the versatility of the A6000. If you’re on the hunt for a feature packed, technically advanced and affordable camera, you should look at the A6000.

You’ll find this quick and dirty “review” on my blog over at Stay Focused. Please click here to go to my online magazine.

Written by: Arnie Lee

Not Afraid of the Water

There’s a few weeks still left on the summer calendar so jump on in – the water’s fine.

After seeing a demo of this camera last January, I took the plunge and ordered this Nikon 1 AW1.

What’s unique about this camera is that it uses interchangeable lenses and can be submersed – the specs say down to 50 feet. But I’m not a diver so I haven’t used the camera that deep. Instead, I wanted a camera for snapping the family on the beach or in the water.

A sandy beach isn’t a problem – just dip the camera into the water to clean it off. Underwater shots are easy – especially if you’re wearing a pair of goggles – the LCD screen is very visible beneath the surface.

This camera is also built to be rugged. Nikon says that it can withstand a fall from 6 feet, but I didn’t test out this “feature”. When winter arrives it can withstand freezing temperatures down to 14 degrees.

The camera with an 11-27.5mm interchangeable lens sells for about $750. I bought the orange silicone protective sleeve which makes it easier to hold underwater.

The AW1 is mirrorless with a 14.2MB sensor. It’s very compact. Two lenses are submersible: the 11-27.5mm zoom and a fixed 10mm. You can mount other Nikon 1 lenses but they are not submersible. The built-in flash works underwater too so you can add light should you find the subsurface water dark.

This is a lightweight, compact camera that takes good quality images and as you can see is really a blast to use. And a lot of splashing won’t hurt a bit.

Listen Closely

A Glance at the Nikon D4s

I got a peek at Nikon’s new D4s camera today and it’s a doozie.

Although it’s lighter than the D4, it has a remarkable 16MP sensor that’s superb at high ISO settings. It sacrifices a higher pixel count in exchange for superior noise reduction. In fact we saw an amazing demonstration at ISO 25600 with virtually no noise.

Its high speed, rapid fire capability is sure to attract the following of sports and action photographers. The D4s is rated at about 11 fps with continuous autofocus and autoexposure.

Here’s a short recording that I made at Nikon’s booth today. The shutter sounds like a miniature machine gun.

Press the play button

That’s an amazing speed.

Although it’s a better performer in several respects, the new D4s is lighter weight than the predecessors D4 and D3s.

That’s the teaser for today for Nikon fans.

Nikon’s rep Paul Van Allen tells me that today is the first day that the D4s is on sale. Price for the D4s body is $6,500.
 
 
Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 
 


 
 
 

It’s Personal

Camera Brands Are Like Religion

Not a week goes by without someone asking me what brand of camera they should buy, a Canon or a Nikon.

Most of the time they’re wanting to replace their good quality point-and shoot camera. They’re looking for more advanced equipment along the lines of a DSLR.

Having owned or used literally dozens of cameras, especially in the past five years, I have a definitive answer which I’ll share with you shortly. But what I find interesting is that so many photo enthusiasts also have very definite answers to this question.

Let me back up a bit and explain why I’m writing this.

A Facebook friend wrote that he was looking for a new DLSR. “Should I buy a Canon or a Nikon?”, he posted. I replied “or a Sony?”. The point I was trying to make was that there are more choices than only Canon and Nikon.

A few minutes later there were many more replies on his Facebook status: “Nikon”; “CanonCanonCanon”; “I shoot Nikon”; “I use a Nikon D90”; “Canon definitely”; “I have a Nikon 5000”; etc.

 

 

It’s not surprising that a camera brand is a very personal choice. It is as though each photographer is pleading with my friend to heed only his or her suggestion. Isn’t proselytizing their brand like forcing a person’s religion onto another?

Yet when I think about it I was doing the same. I was suggesting that a Sony NEX camera is similar to DSLR but without the weight and bulk. And since I am very fond of carrying lightweight equipment, I frequently use a Sony NEX camera.

Of course I could have chosen a different way to respond to his initial post by asking a few qualifying questions: will he be taking lots of sports or action; are movies part of his photography repertoire; how much money does he have to spend.

But frankly these qualifying questions don’t matter much.

Here’s my answer to his question: it doesn’t matter if you choose Canon or Nikon. Both have equally capable cameras in the various price ranges. And Sony also has equally capable cameras. One could argue that Pentax and Olympus also offer quality models too.

There’s too many slanted opinions for my friend to make his choice based on all of the Facebook replies. I hope my friend makes his choice based on how the equipment feels in his hands; getting the most features for the price; availability and affordability of additional lenses; past experience with previous purchases.

What do you think? Any comments?

Written by: Arnie Lee

MakerBot’s 3D Printer

At this year’s Consumer Electronic Show I became quite interested in 3D printing technology. A couple of months later, I visited MakerBot’s store in New York City for a one-on-one demonstration. When I left, my wallet was lighter (to the tune of $2500).

Since then I’ve become a fan of this relatively new technology. Having used it for a few months, I think these amazing devices will be commonplace in a few years.

If you’d like a little background information on the model which I bought – Replicator 2, I’m going to send you over to my other Stay Focused site for some quick reading.

Read about MakerBot’s Replicator 2