December 14, 2019

If you’re curious about how fast a lens can focus, a great way to measure it is to use slow-motion video. I previously used my smartphone video to do this job, but now I can use my Nikon D850.

The D850 is capable of 120 fps video in DX crop-mode. This will allow you to time events down to a resolution of .0083 seconds. This is plenty accurate to measure your lens focus speed (lens is mounted on another camera body).

D850 setup f...

November 30, 2019

You can see wildly-varying lens resolution measurements for the exact same lens model out there on the internet. Do manufacturers really make lenses with that much variation? I think not.

Many (most) internet sites that show lens resolution measurement results don’t divulge how their measurements are done. Some sites actually state that they use jpegs of their resolution target straight out of the camera. Those same sites don’t...

November 16, 2019

I have always read that you must turn off your lens vibration reduction when shooting on a tripod. So what happens if you don’t? Are your shots hopelessly blurred? Do all lenses behave equally badly if you forget to turn VR off?

Is Vibration OFF mandatory for tripod use?

I tend to reject just accepting what I’ve read or been told at face value. So, naturally, I decided to conduct a test to find out for myself. I already know tha...

November 4, 2019

If you have a lens that generates that dreaded hotspot in the middle of your photos when you try infrared photography, you may want to try this trick.  LightRoom offers the “radial filter”, which you can use to make that hotspot disappear.

Most modern lenses are quite poor at infrared photography, because manufacturers no longer take care to use proper internal anti-reflection coatings that are effective against infrared light....

July 27, 2019

Many people have a fundamental confusion about Nikon memory banks on their “pro” model cameras.  Nikon keeps the distinction as clear as mud.

The “Photo shooting menu bank” is found in the “Photo Shooting Menu” (the little camera icon). You can assign up to four of these (A,B,C,D) to have unique settings in each. You can also name these banks to be something meaningful. I have settings for “Sports”, “Landscape”, “Manual”, and “...

July 11, 2019

Did you ever wonder how they decided upon camera lens f-stop numbering?  Are there any other numbering schemes that could be useful?  And did you know that the ‘F’ stands for “focal ratio”, which is “the ratio of the system's focal length to the diameter of the entrance pupil”. 

Nikkor Noct f/1.2 (half-stop faster than f/1.4)

F-stops by the numbers

F-stop progression

Did you know that the standard F-stop numbering scheme come...

June 19, 2019

The more you understand about how stuff works, the more amazing it is. I had heard long ago that lenses with optical stabilization use “gyros”, but I never gave it much thought.  I had heard of “gyroscopes”, but spinning wheels aren’t what we’re talking about. The name gyro has the Greek root gyros, meaning rotation.

A typical lens optical stabilization unit (a Canon lens)

The picture above shows a stabilization unit, which move...

June 5, 2019

There’s a Lightroom mask called “Radial Filter” that seems like something that is of little use. There are times, however, when it is exactly what you need.  Have you ever seen something that was essentially in silhouette, and you wished you had a giant spot light to illuminate it?  The “Radial Filter” may be for you.

Washington Monument with a giant fake spotlight

The shot above shows my vision of the Washington Monument,...

May 19, 2019

If you buy Sigma’s USB dock to reprogram their lenses, it gives you the option to not only update their lens focus firmware, but also which focus algorithm(s) to choose.  It’s almost like buying a new lens.

If you have never programmed your Sigma lens using their dock, then your only focus choice is “Standard AF”.  You get to choose among three different “AF Speed Settings” if you program their lens via the “Sigma Optimization...

May 1, 2019

If this idea hasn’t occurred to you, it’s possible to make a rugged and perfectly functional flash diffuser for free.  It won’t even take much time.  What have you got to lose?

Flash diffusers are a really good idea to soften your harsh flash output. Even with a diffuser, it’s a good idea to still tilt the flash head for a bounce flash.

You can buy diffusers that are essentially a plastic bottle, but why not just try a plas...

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