Saturday, November 30, 2013

Just Amazing!!! The Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC

Took a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo and decided to really stress out the VC on the new Tamron lens.  All I can say is that the VC not only works, but really surprised me in just how well it worked!!

I've had other VR lenses in the past and they have all worked well.

Look under the sample images below and check out the EXIF data.  Yes, these are not "fast" aperture lenses, but my goodness the VC on this thing is miraculous!!

Gear loadout was the Nikon D700 and the Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC, attached to a BlackRapid sling strap.  No tripod, no leaning on a wall or pole for support.  Straight hand held.

1/60f/5.6 ISO 640 300mm

1/20 f/4.5 ISO 1250 125mm
The ones above, numbers wise are good, but check these next few out.  CRAZY!!

1/8 f/4.8 ISO 1250 160mm
1/4 f/4.0 ISO 1600 80mm
Yeah, 1/4th and 1/8th of a second.  Those are not typos and I'm not pulling your leg.  I did not doctor the EXIF info in any way.  I'm still a little shocked looking at the last 2 images and seeing the EXIF data numbers.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC - Gear Review

As most follows of the BLP blog know, we have switched back to an all Nikon shop.  All the Fuji gear we had sold and the proceeds gone to the Nikon Df.

Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC
Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR
The Nikon Df will be our new take everywhere and travel gear.  To that end, we like to keep our travel and EDC(every day carry) kit to a minimum.  To that end we are going with 2 great zoom options.  The wide to medium telephoto will be the Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 VR(on order and coming this week - review to follow) and the newly acquired Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC.

Sabre In The Backyard
1/250, f/5, ISO 200 @ 160mm
Aperture Priority
Barn Door
1/100, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 70mm
Aperture Priority

Squash(left) = 1/20, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 70mm (VC active) Aperture Priority
Water Pump(right) = 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 800 @ 260mm (VC active)  
Aperture Priority

 This gear review, we will concentrate on the Tamron lens and compare it some to the tried and tested Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens, which was in tight contention with the Tamron.

Cow #1
1/80, f/8, ISO 200 @ 240mm (VC active)
Aperture Priority
Lets look at the this lens compared to the Nikon and why I chose it.

I was lucky enough to get into Midwest Photo Exchange and worked with Sonnie on comparing these 2 lenses.

Broken Wagon Wheel
1/60, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 250mm (VC active)
Aperture Priority
What we had to work with:
Nikon - refurbished
Tamron - factory new

Test Platform:  Nikon D700

Size:  The Tamron was slightly smaller in length, but larger in diameter than the Nikon.  The Tamron has a larger lens hood as well.

Handling:  They both handled about the same.  Because of the plastic construction, the zoom was a little sticky at times on each.  Nothing like the pro 80-200mm f/2.8 or the 70-200mm VR lenses...but then again, we are not even in the same price range or size here.

AF speed:  Slight advantage to the Nikon, but not by much.  Sounds wise, they were both whisper quiet.  They both also have the full time manual override of the AF, just by turning the manual focus ring.

Optical quality:  Pretty close to even, I don't think I could give a nod one way or the other.  They both were very good.

Image Stabilization:  Both worked as advertised.  I was getting relatively good hand held shots in the shop at 200mm, f/5.6, 1/25 and 1/50 of a second.  I did notice a little different "activation" of the VC compared to the Nikon.  Not better or worse....just different.  Noise wise, the Nikon VR was more noticeable, but only from the shooter at the camera.  In real world application, no one would notice.

Mama Cow
1/30, f/4.2, ISO 800 @ 86mm (VC active)

Other Thoughts:
I own/have owned other Tamron lenses in the past and they have all performed very well optically(Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 and Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro).  I'm not opposed to using their lenses on professional shoots at all.

FYI - The sample images I took were either from my back yard or from Slate Run Living Historical Farm.

What swung me to the Tamron:
  • f/4 at 70 on the Tamron versus f/4.5 on the Nikon.  It doesn't seem like much, but when these lenses are that close you start to get really nitpicky.
  • Price.  Midwest Photo had a refurbished Nikon($386) or a new Tamron($449 - $100 mail in rebate = $349).  Slightly better price, nod to the Tamron(6 year warranty is great as well).
Some things I'll need to get used to:
  • Weight.  I'm so used to the weight and size of the Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 that this thing seems very light.  Not a bad quality for a travel/take everywhere  telezoom.
  • Zoom/focus ring switched.  Every lens I'd had up to this point have been the more traditional zoom ring closer to the mount and the focus ring toward the front of the lens.  Both lenses were designed that way, so it would take some adjustment either way I went.

Monday, November 11, 2013

How I Got TheShot #37 - Chamberlain College of Nursing Induction Shoot

Chamberlain College of Nursing has an annual induction ceremony that we have been invited to for capturing images of the night as well as getting portraits of the inductees into the Sigma Theta Tau society.

We wanted to run you through the night and give you some insight on how we got these shots.

Creative Process:
We had 2 parts to this job.  The first was to get some grab shots of the groups and then get individual portraits of all the inductees.  We ran this one pretty straight forward.

We were located inside a ballroom style area with very low ambient lighting levels.
Luckily, the walls and ceiling were white, so that helped us out a lot when were getting the grab shots during the event.  It also helped us out for the portraits as well.

Nikon D700
Nikon 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5
Alien Bee B400
Nikon SB-26
Nikon SB-600
Umbrella Box
Radio Popper JrX Studio transmitter/receiver
Light stand
White Reflector

EXIF Info:
Shot in manual mode
Camera quality setting - JPG fine
exposure: 1/250, f/5.6, ISO 200(portraits), ISO 800-1600, f/3.5 to f/4.5, various shutter speeds(walk around)

Alien Bee power 1/4
SB-26 Power 1/8 power
(walk around)
SB-600 CLS -1EV

Lighting Setup:
For the walk around images, we used the Nikon SB-600.   I mentioned earlier about the walls and ceilings. We did not use straight flash, instead, we used bounce flash.  Either off the ceiling or we angled the flash head behind us and used the rear wall as a large light source.
In these situations, the room is too large to light the whole thing so you light what you can and let the rest of the ambient fall where it may.

Bounced the SB-600 off the wall behind me and into the forefront.  The rest of the room we "drag the shutter" and let it pull in the ambient.
For the portraits, we setup our lighting to stage left.  We had the AB400 in an umbrella box to the right of the subjects and at your standard 45 degree angle.  When we did the test shots, we were liking the light on the face, but we were not liking the dark shadows under the models chin.  We used a light filling technique where we place a round, white reflector on the floor and shot the SB-26 into it.

We had 36 portraits to get in a quick few minutes.  So we did not want to do anything too complicated   These portraits were done while the induction was going, so we did not want to have anything too disruptive.

Post Processing:
We did our standard portrait retouching using onOne Software's Perfect Portrait 8 beta.  We did a little blemish control and popped the eyes and teeth.  Nothing more.
We then did some basic contrast, sharpness, color boosting and then threw in a vignette to make the subjects stand out.

We Are Back To Being An All Nikon Shop! Find Out Why Inside.

The New Kid On The Block - Coming To Us Early December 2013

For those of you have that have been following the blog, you know that we have been using Fuji's new X series cameras for some of our work and for personal projects.
Through out the post here, we will show you some of the great moments we captured with this gear.

Hubbard Bar and Grill
Fuji X-E1, Fuji 35mm f/1.4R
It has been a very good run but in the end Nikon is going to win out. The Fujifilm gear is great with a good sensor and a spectacular ergonomics. The lenses are top notch and you should expect nothing less from Fuji as they make great medium format lenses and have done so for years.
There has always just been something with Nikon that has always resonated and felt right for me. With the recent announcement from Nikon regarding their new DF camera, this will be the one for me that I wish the Fuji would have been.

Dee Snyder Zombified
Fuji X-E1, Fuji 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 OIS
While I was certainly able to get some really great images from the Fuji gear,  there were always some lingering deficiencies that kept it from being the number one camera in our kit.
These included such things as slow wake up times and non-traditional continuous focusing system and a slow response contrast detect auto focus.  We here at Best Light Photographic do a lot of sports and action photography, and while the Fuji gear produced excellent image quality, at the end of the day Fuji could just not fit all of our needs the way that the Nikon DSLR gear and the new DF camera can.

Hat Shop
Fuji X-E1, 18mm f/2
Please know that the Fuji cameras are great for what they can do and are great for those that can get the best out of them. We have nothing but love and respect for the time and the images that the X series camera gave to us. You never know, in the future there may be room in our camera bag for maybe an X100s or even an X20!

Helping Prepare For The Cold
Fuji X-E1, 35mm f/1.4R
So really, the big announcement is we are all back to being 100 percent Nikon cameras.
This was not a decision that was made lightly,  and while the Fuji X cameras were an 8 out of 10 for our perfect take everywhere camera the Nikon DF is a 9 out of 10. There's just so much great Nikon glass out there that it makes the decision to go back to all Nikon the best logical choice.
If you want to learn more about the new Nikon DF camera here's a link to their official website with all the details.

Ohio State Fair
Fuji X-E1, Fuji 18mm f/2
For years we have been looking for a camera the harkins back to the days of simple image creation. Something uncluttered by extra features that we just simply don't need and a control structure that is simple to use has all of the exposure options readily available and not buried in menus and is in a small form factor that can go everywhere and anywhere. Most important is image quality and the ability to get the shot with minimal fuss. While we think that Fuji has hit a homerun in this regard we feel that Nikon hit a grand slam. The fusion of the classical control scheme from their original F and FM series cameras with the new DSLR digital format and exceptional Nikon D4 sensor make this an almost perfect still image making machine. 

If you want to see more of out X-E1 images, check out our Flickr stream.

This is really just our opinion and you may feel the same or you may feel different.
At the end of the day all we want is a masterfully crafted tool to help us create the best possible images for our own personal satisfaction and to the satisfaction of our clients.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Art installation at 5 Bean Coffee continues!

Just an f.y.i to everyone that our art installation at 5 bean coffee shop will continue on through the end of November. 1 item has already sold and it has been replaced with a new item. Please feel free to stop in and patronize this establishment and check out all the great art that is up for sale there.