Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Light, Low Cost Image Backup Solution

There have been many of these internet posts about how to backup and store your images on the go.

I have quite a few events that I would love to be able to back up my images in the field.  Here are my thoughts and solution.

**NOTE**    Updated 4/11/2018 
As of March 2018, I had to return the Google Pixel C.  While it was an excellent tablet, it had a fatal flaw with the screen.   I returned 5 of them for the same issue, Google finally agreed that a refund was in order.
I have since replaced the Pixel C with a Samsung Chromebook Pro.

The Chromebook Pro can run 90% of the same apps as an Android Phone/Tablet and has 2 USB-C ports.
image © Samsung
Chromebook Pro

Image © Google
Pixel C with Keyboard

I first through that I would just use the free storage on my Android tablet.  This is fine, as I've got a 64GB Pixel C and plenty of space.  The issue is that I might need to store a bunch of other media on the tablet for travel purposes, like movies or music for when there is no streaming connection.

Image © Google
Pixel C side view showing USB-C port

So I started looking around and I found the one thing that I really needed.  A way to interface the memory cards or camera in a common way.

I found it with the Aukey USB-C hub.

Image © Aukey

This hub connects to the Pixel C via its USB-C connector.  The bonus of this adapter is the Ethernet connector on it as well.  So if you wanted to have a wired connection for the Pixel C, you have that option.
As far as I know, you have the option of using this device on anything that accepts USB-C.
Cost:  $24.99

Next, I got a memory card reader. I needed a special one for the Nikon D500, which uses XQD memory cards.  It also comes with a bonus, which is an SD card slot!
I got one on sale for the low price of $20.

Image © Sony
XQD card/SDHC II reader
You can also just use straight up USB cables for transferring directly from the camera as well.

I think you can see the benefit here that you are getting a lot of flexibility.

Now, we get into storage.  At first, I thought of just getting a flash memory stick.  However, looking at the storage sizes, the cost per GB of storage was just not as appealing as a portable hard drive.
As of the writing of this article, a 64GB Sandisk flash drive cost $60.  I was able to score a smaller than a deck of cards Western Digital MyPassport hard drive, size 1TB for $57.

Image © Western Digital
1TB My Passport portable hard drive
While not as small as a flash drive, you cannot deny the better value in amount of storage.

So that is the gear portion of the article.

But how does it perform?

Very quick and honestly faster than I had anticipated.  The WD Hard Drive is 7200 rpm.  I've got SDHC Class 1 and Class 2 cards and the XQD card has a read speed of roughly 132MB/sec.

I had a full 32GB XQD card that dumped onto the hard drive in seconds.  I thought there was a problem, but after inspection the transfer was quick and painless.

Hope this helped some of you.  Not only is this great for my photography needs, but it might be beneficial for you on whatever you may want save or even take with you.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Nikon 28-105 f/3.5-4.5D Lens Review


We are exploring older legacy Nikkor lenses again.  In a quest to find an inexpensive yet quality walk around lens for the Nikon Df, we will look at this wide to medium telephoto.

All images taken with the Nikon Df.


 A mixture of plastic and metal.  To me, it feels very sturdy in hand.  The front filter ring is plastic, the mount metal.

The zoom ring feels good. Not quite like the zoom on a higher end lens, but better than some of the bargain kit lenses of today.

The focus ring moves when you AF, so be aware of that.  The ring is larger than some in it's class which makes for finding and turning the ring easy to do.  However, precise manual focus is a bit of a challenge as the focus throw is rather short.  Manual focus is doable, you just need to get used to the short throw.

When compared to other similar lenses, this one is smaller and lighter, thanks in part to the plastics used as well as the variable 3.5-4.5 aperture.

1/125, f/8. ISO 180 @ 105mm

1/1000, f/8, ISO 1250 @ 105mm

Image Quality

Looking at this lens, it was put up against the other legacy Nikkor lenses I've used in the past.  Those were the 35-135/3.5-4.5 and the 28-85/3.5-4.5.  Both of those lenses performed very well on the Nikon Df and the D700.  The 28-85 being just a bit sharper than the 35-135 in similar focal lengths and apertures.

The 28-105 appears to be every bit as sharp as the 28-85 was, even out to the 105mm focal length.  Yes, the edges are less sharp at wide open, but become more acceptable once stopped down.  The center is very sharp at all focal lengths.

I can see this lens being used quite a bit for every day carry when the Nikon Df is being taken that day.   It should be a great lens for candids, street photography.  It will have a companion lens, the Nikon 80-200/4.5-5.6D for anything that requires more reach.

Since you do not have VR on this lens, be aware of the hand holding rule and make sure that you do not drop below the hand hold-able shutter speeds.

1/1000, f/8.0, ISO 1250 @ 105mm

1/250, f/5.6, ISO 1250 @ 75mm

Auto Focus

Not a blazing fast AF-S pro lens speed, but for an older screw driven design, it performs quite well on the speed front.  There was little to no hunting on the testing runs we did, even in low light.  The lens is a solid AF performer.

Another feature that is a bit quirky, but is there is the built in macro mode.  The quirks are that this only works between 50-105mm.  In order to get out of macro mode, you need to focus on something that is 0.5m or further away.  Instead of messing with that, I just throw the camera into manual mode, turn the focus ring to infinity and then slide the switch back to "normal".

It only does 1:2, but is a nice feature to have as the normal close focusing distance is roughly 2.7ft.

1/200, f/8, ISO 100 @ 28mm

Bottom Line:

Given the current used prices of this lens, you'd be hard pressed to find a better "bang for your buck" than this.  No, it does not have VR, it is not an f/2.8 or constant f/4 aperture lens...but given the great high ISO performance of modern FX DSLRs and the ability to shoot this lens at wide open apertures makes this something that the budget conscious FX shooter should seriously consider.  I found this one locally for $120.  If that is a bit out of the budget and you want to go cheaper, then look to the Nikkor 28-85.  That lens I purchased used a year ago for $62.  The only thing you lose function wise, is the longer focal length and maybe a small bit of AF speed.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Nikon 300mm f/4 PF Lens Review

Image © NikonUSA


Looking for something on the long end of the Nikon line...why stop at the 300mm f/4 PF?

I'm not running 2 "pro" kits anymore.  I was wanting the Olympus Micro Four Thirds system to work for me...but it just did not work out in the end.  Olympus makes good cameras and lenses, however there were some short comings that made me eventually say that I was going to stick with Nikon for all my paid assignments.  I'll get more into that in a later blog.  However, I will tell you that the Olympus gear went toward the lens you see above.

This review was almost one line and a bunch of images.  That one line would have been, "The images will speak for themselves."

However, what fun is that?   Then you would not get a chance to hear me blather on about gear stuff.  lol

All images in this article taken with the Nikon D500.

1/500, f/4.5, ISO 250


 This is one of the great things about this lens.  It is relatively the same size as the Nikon 24-70/2/8.  Yep, that's right.  My understanding is that the PF or Phase Fresnel element in the lens helped to reduce the weight and length of the lens.

Years ago, I had the old 300/4 non-AF-S lens with the aperture ring.  That lens was long and an all metal construction.  It was not something you brought along "just because".  You brought it because you knew you would need it.  That old lens did not have VR either.

Now, this lens is hand holdable.  It doesn't even come with a tripod collar (although one can be purchased for it).

The 300mm balances well on each of the camera bodies I've tested it on (D700/D500).  It's control layout is similar to most modern Nikon lenses, so all the switches and rings are where you'd expect them to be.

The VR has 3 modes, Off, Normal and Active (used for panning).

The AF switch has a/m, m/a, and m modes.  This lens also allows for full tiem MF override just by turning the AF ring.

The animal images you see here were taken at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
1/800, f/4.5, ISO 100

Image Quality

This is where the rubber meets the road and boy, do we have a sweet set of tires!!

At f/4, this lens delivers.  Stopped down shows a slight improvement.   Honestly, unless I need more depth of field or to block out a strong light source, I'm happy to shoot this wide open all the time.

Other reviews have stated that the IQ suffers little with a Nikon TC14E III teleconverter.

On a D500 with the APS-C sensor - you are looking at a field of view with just the lens being 450mm.  Add a 1.4 TC to that and you are into 600mm field of view territory.  You've got a very capable setup to reach out there.

The sample images throughout the article are showing you what this lens has to offer.

1/125, f/4, ISO 4000 VR Normal active
1/320, f/4, ISO 1250 VR active
1/320, f/4, ISO 280

1/320, f/4, ISO 720

1/320, f/4, ISO 2500

Auto Focus

Quick, as you'd want it to be.  I've had no complaints from it on my initial outings.  I'm shooting a sports festival soon, so I will be able to test out the AF-C performance there and will post image from that outing.

I checked the AF accuracy and my copy was spot on.  No adjustments were needed.

Heck, I even used this lens for some street photography!!
1/1000, f/4, ISO 100

1/1000, f/4, ISO 125

1/1000, f/4, ISO 800

Bottom Line:
This is not an inexpensive lens.  You are not getting cheap optics either.  If you need a 300mm lens and f/4 is enough for you, then this is one of the best lenses in its class.  For me and the work I do this lens is looking to be the one long lens that I will bring with me just in case and not only when I know I will need it.

This is one of those lenses where you can believe the hype around it.  Is it perfect...well no, but it will disappoint you rarely and only if you go looking for issues.