OK, in a perfect world where I'm wildly wealthy and price is no object when it comes to buying the toys I want, add this to the list: Nikon has announced an update of their Nikkor 200mm f/2 lens. The announcement was made at Photokina, the every-other-year trade show held in Cologne, Germany.
I've always been a big fan of prime lenses and this NIKKOR 200mm F2G ED VRII lens is very fast indeed. Fast lenses are somewhat less of a necessity (I think) these days with ISO speeds in the 6400+ range being common, but having such a fast lens still makes it much simpler to see in dark situations (concerts, indoor sports, wildlife at twilight) and that's a big deal to me. Remember, you're always viewing through the lens' maximum aperture.
The biggest news about the update of this lens is the addition of Nikon's VRII stabilization technology. Nikon claims it provides up to four stops of correction and if that's true, zowie. Yes, I still think you should use a tripod, but a lot of times (concerts, for example) that's not possible. And according to the CNET report I read: "The VRII has a Tripod Detection Mode for the tiny vibrations on a tripod, allowing the VR to stay turned on even when on a tripod...It has Internal Focusing(IF), so the barrel of the lens does not change in length as it is focusing."
Price? (You had to ask?): Suggested retail is $5995. "Dear Santa..."
I shot this photo last week at the Guilford Fair in Connecticut. Nothing has been retouched and he's not walking on high wire--want to take a guess what he's doing? That horizontal wire behind him is just an electric wire, the one with flags is rigging for something unrelated.
Photokina, in case you're new to the world of photo trade shows, is the granddaddy of all photo trade shows and is held every other year in the lovely city of Cologne, Germany. It's a massive show that goes on for a week and even at the end of the week, after walking for (no joke) miles of aisles, you feel like you've only scratched the surface of the show. I didn't go to this year's show, but there's a lot of product news starting to come out and so I'll post some of the highlights here and add more in the days to come. By the way, I've been to the show in the past and have to say I had a blast.
One of Nikon's big announcements is the new Nikon D7000 DSLR. The camera represents a brand new DSLR camera generation and falls between the Nikon D5000 and the D90. It is aimed at the serious amateur photographer and offers a full package of camera-settings for creative photography as well as videography.
The Olympus E5 is a 12.3 megapixel camera and the newest Olympus Four Thirds DSLR camera and is the successor to their very popular E3 camera and is designed for semi-pro and professional photographers (or, obviously, anyone else that can afford it). I have always loved Olympus cameras and I think that their grace and beauty gets lost sometimes in the Nikon/Canon wars. One of the coolest features of this camera is a 3" rotating LCD--and until you've used an articulated LCD, you can't imagine how useful they really become (allowing you to hold the camera over your head in a crowd, for example, and still see the LCD clearly).
And lest you should think that there has been any abatement in the ever-blossoming megapixel ascent, there hasn't. Sony has introduced the 16.2 megapixel Sony a580. One of the really interesting features here is Auto HDR! HDR (high-dynamic-range imaging) is the process of recording multiple exposures of a single subject in order to capture an image that handles the full dynamic range of the subject (in other words, a very contrasty subject) without losing either highlights or shadow detail. Normally this is a slow procedure where you set each exposure manually--but Sony has now automated it. Neat! The camera can also fire at a very speedy 7 frames-per-second. The Sony A580 is also able to record Full HD video in 1920x1080i resolution and AVCHD format.
OK, enough equipment talk for now.
Oh, by the way, when you're at the newsstand, pick up a copy of the October issue of Popular Photography, my "Traveling Photographer" column this month is about the monarch butterfly migration. Wow, did I even tell you I'm now writing a monthly column for Pop? I better blog that!
How would you like a guy (or a girl) to dress up in a hotdog costume and dance to the song of your choice and then post a video of it on Youtube? Sounds like a great birthday card to me! And you can get this strange-but-true service done for you for a mere $5.
OK, this isn't necessarily a photo tip, but I have to tell you about one of the coolest, most fun websites I've seen in ages: it's called Fiverr. It's a site that advertises strange things that people will do for you (to promote a business, for example) for $5--just my kind of site!
Here are just a few of the odd things you can get done for a mere five-buck bill:
Get 10 flyers for your business posted around a popular campus in Miami.
Advertise your site on some guy's arm for a week!
Have a guy put on a Spiderman suit and walk around Sydney, Australia all day advertising your site. (Sounds good to me--I have a lot of readers down under!)
Have a really cute babe hold up a sign advertising your website or business. (Let's hope people take time to notice the sign.)
Learn how to get into the music business.
Get five of your photos manipulated in Photoshop.
Have someone help you pick out a Halloween costume (people need help with this?).
This is a memorial to the victims of the World Trade Center attack. It is located on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River in Jersey City. The Manhattan skyline is in the background and it looks out on exactly where the WTC once stood. The memorial was created by an actual beam from the WTC and has been adorned with various mementos, angels, American flags, etc. Ironically, this memorial is just a short drive from Liberty State Park where you catch the ferry to visit the Statue of Liberty. It has always seemed stunning to me that tourists were on Liberty Island, visiting the Statue when 9-11 happened--and from that great monument to liberty, they watched America being attacked.
I've always felt that one of the best ways to improve your photography and to get more out of your picture taking is to join some type of photo community--whether it's a local camera club, taking an adult-ed class in your hometown or an by joining an online community. Online communities are especially appealing because you can participate when you have time and join only activities that are important to you. You can come home after a long day of working (or shooting!) and post your newest images for others to see and enjoy (and critique) and (what else?) talk with others about cameras.
One of the most interesting online communities I've come across is the Digital Image Cafe. One of the neat features of the Cafe is their online-gallery hosting service that comes with membership ($29/year); you can post up to 100 of your images in your own gallery. They also host a number of great contests, including Photo of the Day, Photo of the Month and Photo of the Year contests. And the prizes (that include some of my books) are great--in 2009 they gave away $69,000 in prizes! (In fact, Digital Image Cafe was one of the primary sources for photos for my book Winning Digital Photo Contests (Lark Photography Book -- so you never know where entering a contest can lead!) Plus, every month they give away Lark Photo books just for belonging to the community. There is a full list of member benefits on their site.