No, the 58 Noct isn’t crazy

Since it was announced, the Nikon 58mm Noct lens has drawn its share of criticism. Earlier this year, Alex Coleman at Fstoppers said “Besides trying to grab headlines, I can’t figure out who this lens is aimed at.”

Well, I can tell you who (or what) it is aimed at.

Grabbing headlines.

Plenty of companies do stuff like this. Show cars, hot models of some cars that come in at prices even more ridiculous than the $8000 the Noct cost. This lens exists to prove that it can be done, and to get people talking about it. And they are talking, a lot.

Arguably the promotional value is not needed now, since the other new lenses are already getting plenty of press, but it is a headline grabbing lens, and it’s doing that job well. If I was in charge of such things, I would have announced it early, but not bothered to put it into production until near the end of the current roadmap. I am guessing that the the lens was mostly developed early on in Z-series development, so there wasn’t as much to finish on it, so it was easy enough to release relatively early.

The images I have seen from it look amazing, so it appears they did a great job on it, although I do think they should have made it autofocus.

In short, I doubt they are going to sell a ton of these, but I doubt they ever planned to. It is a lens most people don’t need, but so was the 6mm f/2.8 Fisheye, and we are still talking about that. This is a proof of concept that you can buy (Amazon or Adorama, affiliate links,) not a mass market lens. It is a lens to get people talking, and it has already been quite successful at that.

New Nikon DSLR and Lens

Nikon announced the development of the D6 (which we expected) and a 120-300 f2.8 lens, which I hadn’t seen rumored.

I am not at all surprised that they are releasing a new flagship DSLR. The target market, mainly professional sports photographers, will probably have enough mirrorless holdouts to make it worth it. From my testing of the Z 6, I would not be real fast to use EVF as a sports or other high action shooter, and the D5 autofocus is already generally accepted to be superior to the Z autofocus, and it will probably take some time to get the on-sensor PDAF to be that good. I am not knocking the Z autofocus, I was quite happy with the Z autofocus when I tried a Z 6, but I don’t shoot professional level sports, and for my use the almost complete coverage of the sensor area and video abilities more than makes up for any loss of speed.

I was a little more surprised by the new lens, since there is so much focus on the Z-Series lenses. I personally would not have been shocked to never see any new F-Mount lenses, but this one does seem to fit the sports and wildlife markets that may be more likely to stay with DSLRs for a while longer.

62 Megapixels from a Mavic

One of the features of the Mavic 2 Zoom is the Super Res mode. Super Res creates a multi-row panorama that starts at the wide end of the zoom range to compose, and when you hit the shutter button it zooms in and takes 12 images, stitching them into a panorama that covers the original field of view.

I have not used that much, since it creates a JPEG rather than a RAW file, which among other problems loses too much dynamic range. Unfortunately due to the nature of RAW, it is not really possible to save a panorama in RAW. RAW takes the data directly from the sensor and writes it to a file, and that only really works with one image.

Then, I found buried in the settings: “save originals in RAW|JPEG”

In DJI Go 4, select Camera Settings > General camera Settings > Turn on “Save original panorama”, and then select RAW. 

Eureka!

With this I am able to get access to the full dynamic range of the camera, and really high resolution. 

Super Res image, original is about 62 Megapixels
100% crop, bottom center

So far, my workflow is like this:

Import the images into Capture One (or your favorite editor), and edit one of the images. I usually pick either the image with the most of the main subject in it, or the most contrast to set black and white points.

Once you are happy with this, copy the adjustments to the remaining images. Double check them all to make sure the adjustments look alright across all the images. If any further adjustments need to be made, they need to be copied to all the images. 

I export the images as 16-bit TIFFs, which stores the most data, and gives the final panorama almost RAW-like editing options, but take up more space, so you may want to remove them after the panorama is stitched. 

For stitching, I usually start with Photoshop, which is very good about 80% of the time, and pretty much useless in the other 20%. So far the Super Res panoramas stitch well in Photoshop. 

Once the stitch is done and you are happy with it, crop the image, flatten the it, and do any final color and exposure adjustments in Adobe Camera RAW. 

The final images that I created were around 62 megapixel, since you an get a little more around the edges than the default stitching in-camera.

Having the ability to create high resolution images with reasonable dynamic range in RAW format really adds to the flexibility and value of the Mavic 2 Zoom. 

You can get the Mavic 2 Zoom from DJI or Amazon. (Affiliate links)

MGIC Headquarters Building

 

Designed by Fitzhug Scott-Architects, Inc. of Milwaukee and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill of Chicago, and completed in 1973, the four story MGIC headquarters building is constructed in a unique inverted pyramid design, with each floor extending fifteen feet out from the floor beneath. It is one of several buildings on the MGIC Plaza overlooking Red Arrow park in downtown Milwaukee. 

This photograph was a single ten second exposure, taken on a Nikon D850 at ISO 100, 24mm PC-E tilt shift lens at f/8, and processed in Capture One Pro 11 and Adobe Photoshop (removed a security camera near the roof). Using the color editor in Capture One I was able to tone down the yellow cast in the building from the lights.

Gear and software mentioned (some affiliate links):

Camera: Nikon D850
Lens: PC-E NIKKOR 24mm F3.5D ED
Tripod: 3 Legged Thing Winston
Software: Phase One Capture One Pro

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa, WI.
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa, WI.

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa, WI. The church was designed by Wright in 1956, and finished in 1961, about two years after Wright’s death. While departing from the traditional Byzantine architecture common in Greek Orthodox churches, Wright incorporated the domed structure and traditional colors into his design.

More information about the church is available on their website, http://www.annunciationwi.org/.

This photograph was taken well into nautical twilight, about 45 minutes after the sun set. It was taken with a Nikon D850 at ISO 100, a 24mm PC-E lens at f/5.6,  on a 3 Legged Thing Winston tripod. It is 3 exposures, 1.6, 6, and 25 seconds, and processed with Aurora HDR 2018.

Gear and software mentioned (some affiliate links):

Camera: Nikon D850
Lens: PC-E NIKKOR 24mm F3.5D ED
Tripod: 3 Legged Thing Winston
Software: Aurora HDR 2018

Tips to Clean Your Own Sensor

Few things are scarier to the average photographer than the idea of cleaning your own DSLR sensor, but if you are careful it is not difficult to do safely and successfully. That said, it is possible to damage your camera, so be slow and careful, and I am not responsible for any damage that you do to your equipment. Read any instructions on cleaning supplies and tools, and follow them over this post.
Sensors need to be cleaned when dust, oil, or other residue is left on in. It is natural for this to occur, and needing to clean the sensor occasionally should not be considered a malfunction. Junk on your sensor is most visible against even backgrounds, like a blue sky, and at higher apertures, although in some cases it will be visible even against busier backgrounds.

dust spots on an image.
A sensor that needs a cleaning.

If you see dust spots on your images, it is time to clean your sensor. If you can see the spots in your viewfinder, the problem isn’t in your sensor, it is ether in the viewfinder or the lens.

Continue reading “Tips to Clean Your Own Sensor”

D850 Early Review

I stopped in to the local camera shop over the weekend to put my name on the list for a Nikon D850 (affiliate link), but they actually had one in stock, so I got to take it home immediately. I am normally not on the constant need for the latest and greatest bandwagon, but there were a lot of improvements compared to my D610, and I felt it was worth the upgrade. So far that has definitely been the case.
The headline is the 45.7 megapixel images, but there are a lot of features beyond that to make this a compelling camera.

Continue reading “D850 Early Review”

3 Legged Thing Winston Review

As much as I like a tripod to be small and easily portable, sometimes you want a more stable tripod, especially for things like panoramas, shooting at night, and long exposure photography.

I recently picked up a 3 Legged Thing Winston (buy at Amazon or Adorama, affiliate links), their largest tripod. I picked the 3 Legged Thing for a few reasons, I have one of their Punks Travis  (buy at Amazon or Adorama, affiliate links) tripods, and like it. I use the monopod leg often enough that it is a definite added value. The head also comes with a pano clamp on the QR part of the head, so it can be leveled independent of the tripod, critical for panoramas on uneven terrain. Continue reading “3 Legged Thing Winston Review”

Nikon 70-300 AF-P Preview

Update: The lens is out, but I haven’t picked one up, saving up for a D850 instead. Looks like the optical performance should be better than the AF-S, but I have not had a chance to shoot them both.

Available at Amazon.com (affiliate) or your favorite camera retailer.

I don’t usually do sight unseen reviews, but this lens hit at a time I was interested in it, and I found out some interesting things that would be valuable to anyone else looking at it. I have one of the original AF lenses, and was thinking about upgrading to the AF-S until this came out. So, looking at the lenses, should you wait and pay the extra for the AF-P?

Continue reading “Nikon 70-300 AF-P Preview”