From the BlogSubscribe Now

10/16/17 Nikon still has a long way to go with the D850–B&H still has not fulfilled all the orders placed 1 hour after open order window.

The mysterious Nikon D850 does it really exist for the rest of the world or just NPS members.

The mysterious Nikon D850 does it really exist for the rest of the world or just NPS members.

 

My high hopes for a 2017 arrival of the D850 were dashed today after my call with B&H.  My first day order was placed at 7:00 am on 08/24/17.  B&H opened the window at 3:00am.  I had tried at 1:00am, but the window was not open.  However I guess the real go getters just stayed top and kept trying and kudos to them.  I got my order in at 6:00am Central 7:00 to B&H.  B&H customer service told me that now after 3 separate shipments from Nikon, they have not yet even filled the orders that were placed in the 1st hour.  NET, it’s going to be a very very long time before B&H gets to my order close to 4 hours later.

 

I had some hopes for the Nikon D850 and from what I have read from the few either lucky owners, or NPS shooters (who did not dump the camera on eBay) it will be a significant improvement over the D810.  Resolution differences between the 36mp of the D810 and 46/47mp of the D850 are not that much.  However some of the other features like:

  1. Full Electronic shutter
  2. Tilting LCD
  3. 2x resolution on LCD
  4. Vastly improved AF and Low light AF
  5. Focus stacking built in (similar to the Phase One approach)
  6. Slightly improved high ISO (but this appears not to be a full stop as expected)
  7. 7 to 9 fps depending on use of grip (but you have to use the D5 battery, battery not expensive, charge is @ $500.00)
  8. Touchscreen for image preview and live view
  9. Improved color rendering over the D810, especially blues and greens

Just having a tilting LCD makes the upgrade worth it for me, and the full ES also.

The fact that Nikon is having financial trouble is very clear to me now.  It’s been almost 2 months since Nikon announced the D850 and lets be totally honest the camera had been talked about for over a year, and everyone knew it was coming in 2017.  Nikon started to ship in the U.S on 09/07/17, to mainly NPS orders (don’t get me started on NPS) and a few others.  Then there has been two other official releases.  It’s also apparent that B&H expected a lot more cameras than they received in the 2nd round as I had been told to expect mine D850 by the end of September.  There was a release which covered that time frame but nowhere near enough cameras.

With B&H only covering the 1st hour, it’s going to be a long time before Nikon gets the camera in ready stock, more than likely 1st quarter 2018.   I fully understand it’s a new product, but really so what.  Nikon is manufacturing company which apparently has no clue on how to forecast supply and demand.  Folks there wasn’t an earthquake this time or tsunami to stop Nikon, just poor planning.  It’s too bad as they do make great cameras and it appears that the D850 is no exception.

Written on 10/15/17 for www.paulcaldwellphotography.com and copy write protected

Paul Caldwell

 

09/07/17–Nikon Still has not learned how to ship a new camera the D850

As anyone who is a Nikon photographer knows, the highly anticipated D850 finally started to ship today worldwide.  But instead of a flood of new cameras hitting the stores, it appears that Nikon was barely able to ship enough cameras to even cover the NPS orders.  So the common folk like myself are left holding the bag once again, just like with the D800.  To add insult to injury, I received this email from Nikon this afternoon.

Nikon D850

Stupid Nikon Ad

Lets see, the wait is over? Really? What a Joke!!, when actually the wait has just begun.

It’s really amazing that a company such as Nikon can’t figure out how to cover a first day shipment of a new camera.  They had the same issue with the D800 and D800e when they were announced.  At first the D800 was hard to get, and the D800e next to impossible but after about 4 months the supply started to free up.

Lets move forward 2 years, Nikon announces the D810, possible the best DSLR they have ever made, but again there were supply issues and quality issues.  So those like myself who paid in advance, received a camera and had to turn it right around to Nikon to have the white dot issue fixed.

Now Nikon can’t even ship enough cameras to cover the NPS orders.  NPS, (Nikon Professional Services) is next to impossible to get into now as you have to have 2 other professional photographers sponsor you.  Ever try to get your competition to sponsor you?  Leaving NPS alone, it’s amazing to me that Nikon was not able to ship enough cameras to cover 1/3 to 1/2 of the first day orders.

Did Nikon just announce this camera, NO, it’s been in the works now for over 3 years.  Nikon has toyed with users for the past 6 months maybe longer talking this new camera up.  They pre-announced the announcement and received a ton of good press.  NOTE TO NIKON, when you start to see a lot of good talk on the photography forums, you might WANT TO START making some cameras.  NOT wait until the 24th of August of 2017 to start making cameras to cover all the orders you have received.

This is not a revolutionary camera, like the D800 was or the D810.  It’s just a upgrade to an already great platform with some nice updates to AF, LiveView, High ISO, and LCD (there are more for sure).  But either way, Nikon should have been more in touch with what they needed to manufacture.

There has not be an earthquake or a tsunami or any other type of catestrophic event that Nikon had to work around.  I have to wonder who is in charge over there.  It’s well known that Nikon is not doing the best financially, so this issue doesn’t make things look very good for them.  Surely someone in such a large company understands what forecasting is about?  Don’t they? Maybe not.

But of course cameras are showing up in places like Best Buy (really go figure) or Amazon (NPS cancellations), etc.  This happens every time, but just makes this process all the harder to understand.

I guess the best policy is to just keep the order out there with B&H, and hope that something frees up sooner than later.

Written by Paul Caldwell for paulcaldwellphotography.com 09/07/17

 

11/27/15 Recent problems with US Nikon Repair Center

Normally with Nikon repairs, either under warranty or outside of warranty I have not had any problems.  The process is simple, you log on, get a ticket for your lens or camera and send it in for repair.  The process has always been straight forward.  But the last two repairs I have needed, my D810 and brand new 200-500 lens, have been anything be straight forward.  Lets start with the 200-500 lens.

This is of course a brand new lens from Nikon, so new that it’s not even in stock as of this date 11/27/15 at B&H Photo.  I was able to get a pre-order in at Bedford photo, my local camera store in Little Rock, AR.  The lens arrived in great shape and I was able to use it during the last few weeks of October.  However on the last trip out, the rubber ring around lens mount pulled out.  This surprised me as in 35 years of using NIkon and Canon lenses, I have never had this type of failure.  The rubber gasket had partially separated from it’s mount.  This made mounting or removing a lens difficult as the rubber piece tended to get twisted up against the camera’s mounting plate.

I took the lens back to Bedford, and they returned it to Nikon for a warranty repair.  I was a bit concerned that parts might be in short supply since this lens is in short supply.  However that turned out to be the least of my issues.  I sent the lens in on 11/04/15, it’s now the 27th of November.  I had Bedford check on the repair on the 25th.  The response that Bedford got from Nikon was that the lens had been dropped!! and that Nikon wanted a credit card to cover the cost of the repair.  OK, lets just say I was a bit surprised.  No I did not drop the lens, period.  Optically the lens was working fine when I sent it in, and Bedford also checked the lens out before they sent it off to Nikon for repair.  What bothers me about this is that:

  1. Nikon did not contact Bedford Photo, who is one of Nikon largest regional dealers in the mid-south when the lens was received to verify if it had been dropped.
  2. If I had not had Bedford call Nikon about the status, nothing would be happened, the lens would have been just sitting there.

To me this is not the way this should have been handled period.  Either the lens was damaged in shipping, or Nikon dropped it at the repair center, either way it left Bedforod Photo in good condition.

I have yet to here anything new from Bedford in regards to a resolution on this issue, but will update this post when I do.  Net, the lens had a warranty failure with the rubber seal on the rear of lens mount.  I am not sure how extensive the actual repair would have to be, but that particular gasket probably cost a few pennies.  I have to say, possible poor construction on the 200-500 F 5.6 also.

The second issue with Nikon repair was with my D810.  This was a problem I started as I dropped the camera while putting in the soft case.  At the time, I had my 24-120 on the camera and the impact damaged the lens mount.  Simple process, logged on to Nikon repairs, and received both a ticket and an estimate for the repair.  I sent in the camera body and Nikon received it into repair.  Here is where things broke down a bit.  I waited 2 weeks to see if anything had updated to my repair ticket  Not seeing anything I called Nikon’s repair center and the tech I spoke to claimed the camera had been repaired and shipped back to me.  They were going to update the ticket with the tracking information later in the day.  Checking back the next day, I found no tracking information, so I called Nikon back.  The tech I spoke with this time told me the camera was still in for repair and there was estimate on the time for the repair.  This I found a bit surprising so I asked to speak with a manager.

After hold of 35 minutes, a manager came on the phone, and I started all over with the issue.  She told me that she would personally look into the problem, and find out where the camera was in the repair cycle and update the ticket/email me.  This did not happen, so the next day, I called in again, 3rd time for the same issue.  Again asking for a manager, again waiting over 30 minutes, again having to explain everything.  This person seemed a bit more focused and put me on hold and made some calls.  Net, the camera was still on the repair bench. The repair had been made, but Nikon needed to make some adjustments to the AF.  The manager told me that it would ready in 2 days and ship out.  This time I did receive an email from the manager and within 24 hours tracking information.

The last surprise, when the camera arrived back at my business, it was packed in a box that was just a bit larger than the camera itself. The camera was wrapped in a bag, I guess to prevent water damage during shipping, but only wrapped in a single layer of bubble wrap.  There were about 10 foam peanuts also in the box.  Compared to the box I had sent the camera off in, this was not what I expected.  Luckily the camera seemed fine, and has worked OK since.  But looking back on my 200-500 lens, where Nikon has been sitting on it for almost 3 weeks claiming it had been dropped, it surprises me they would return a camera in such a poorly packed box.

Nikon gear works great, but it seems if you have problems, either within or out of warranty, you may experience some disappointments.  I guess if you are lucky enough to have NPS status, then things might be different, but as we all know getting into NPS takes an act of congress.

11/15/15 New Filter information from Lee and HiTech

I have been trying to get a simple filter solution for both a 28mm HR Rodenstock and the 32mm HR-W Rodenstock.  Also, now that Phase One is shipping their new wide lenses, the Schneider 35LS and 40-80LS which have 105mm filter threads.  The 105mm size is large for sure, but these lenses all use coarse threading which makes things more difficult.  Most of your traditional filter companies are not using coarse threads, but instead medium threads.  Medium threads are used on most DSLR lenses, and so coarse threading is not required near as often.

The Center Filter for the 28mm Rodenstock is outside threaded to 95mm, and these are coarse threads, as are the 105mm threads on the CF for the 32mm Rodenstock.

I have used the following CL-PL filters on both of these CF’s,

Lee 105mm (new filter, a bit warm, but excellent glass and very very thin)
Heliopan 105mm, Huge filter by far the thickest piece of glass/frame I have ever seen
B+W 105mm is in between the Lee and Heliopan

All of these 105mm CL-PL filters will fit with ease on the Coarse threads of the Rodenstock 95mm and 105mm openings on their Center filters. I believe it’s safe to assume that the outer threads on the 35mm LS and 40-80mm LS Schneiders are coarse threaded. So any of the filters I listed should work without binding. Note, I used the Heliopan 95mm to 105mm step up ring on the CF for the 28MM HR to get to the 105mm opening. Still no issues.

Currently I know of no ND filters in the 105mm size that are SHIPPING and are of a good quality glass. HiTech has listed their Firecrest in 105mm for over a year and I have had 2 on order that long. Last I heard they will ship sometime in late 2015 or Jan 2016. I am not holding my breath. However I will assume these filters will come with coarse threading. BTw, the firecrest glass is AMAZING. No tints at all and they do have an IR coating. By far the best ND I have used in 25 years of usage. The Hitech is shipping these filters in the the large SW-150 size for Lee and the 100 x 100 also that fit the Lee holders.

Lastly, by far the best news, Lee is going to make a 86mm, 95mm and 105mm Ring to allow you to use the SW-150 holder on lenses with these larger openings!!!!!!!!!!!!. This was officially announced at the NY Photoexpo show by LEE. Now when they will start to ship anyone’s guess. However I am assuming that they will be some form of a wide angle design. The SW-150 mounts totally differently than how the 100 x 100 Lee holder mounts, as the inside has a smooth round opening, which the ring fits into. You then screw down a pinch screw that holds the adapter into place. Lee also is using a much improved Light shield on the SW-150, and this will retro fit to the older SW-150’s if you have one. I have all three of these rings on order from the filterconnection, www.2filter.com but still have not heard when they will ship.

Note, due to the weight of the massive front element of the 32mm Rodie, adding a 2 filter SW-150 might not be a great idea, but in theory if Hitech gets off their A** and finally starts to ship the 105mm Firecrest, you have that option. The Lee SW-150 should be a perfect fit for a 35mm LS or 40-80LS as you ain’t going to hurt those massive pieces of glass with a SW-150. I believe that the 28mm HR with a CF (a must for that lens) will work great with the SW-150 and 2 filters. But you can also just take the 95mm to 105mm Helipan step rings and use the HiTech firecrest if they ever ship.

Just wanted to pass this on.

Paul C

02/14/14 Why I didn’t purchase a Sony A7r–Thoughts from a Nikon shooter

Sony A7r 36MP sensor view

Sony A7r viewed from the front showing full sized sensor

When Sony Announced the A7r I was very impressed.  In the past Sony has produced some very impressive camera solutions and I was almost moved enough by the A99 DSLR to purchase one.  However my local dealer, Bedford Photo in Little Rock Arkansas, pointed me toward the fact that Sony was working on a full frame Nex style camera.  A camera that was going to revolutionize the market.  It was enough to make me wait a bit.  

It’s now been about 4 months since the initial roll out of the A7 family of cameras.  Sony ended up producing the A7r without a low pass filter at 36MP and the A7 with a low pass filter at 24MP.  Both cameras are mirrorless and were put into a very compact mostly all metal body.  I was in line at Bedford’s when they had their Sony day in late December 2013 and was able to work with an A7r.  My reaction was different as I did not purchase one.  Instead I backed off to evaluate the entire A7r solution and after giving it some consideration, I found for me it did not make much sense.  Here are the main reasons:

  1. Sony FE lens support current and future
  2. Concerns of current Sony Alpha (A) lens support for the A7r
  3. Nikon lens support issues on the A7r
  4. No on Chip image stabilization on the A7r
  5. Concerns with non-Sony lens adapters
  6. Sony history of 1 and done firmware updates
  7. Weight of body with larger lenses
  8. Lack of intelligent remote or intervalometer

Let me give a bit more detail behind each of these.

Sony FE lens support current and future: 

With the new Nex A7r, Sony also announced a new line of Full Frame lenses, the FE lineup.  Currently there are 4 lenses announced with more to come. 

  1. Sony FE 28-70mm F3.5-F5.6
  2. Sony FE 35mm F2.8 (Zeiss optics)
  3. Sony FE 24-70 F2.8 (Zeiss optics)
  4. Sony FE 55 F1.8 (Zeiss optics)

This is a start but only one of these four lenses has OSS (image stabilization).  With a 36MP sensor in such a slim body, there are going to be situations where vibration may cause some overall sharpness issues.  I used the Sony Nex-7 for over 2 years with many of the older E lenses before moving to the Fuji X cameras.  The E mount lenses are mainly plastic bodies and on the Nex-7 they were not the best solution.  Fine for video work, but detailed sharp landscape images, I was not impressed.  It seems that Sony is moving up in overall quality with their newer FE glass, but however these lenses will only work in full mode on a Sony A7 family camera body.  They won’t work on a Alpha body even though they are full frame.  I also don’t see much movement in the ultra wide solution for this camera.  In the field for my work, I most often lead off with a 14mm lens and so far I have not seen anything from Sony showing a platform with a 14mm in the native FE mount.

Concerns of current Sony Alpha (A) lens support for the A7r

With my Sony Nex-7 I used the Sony LA-EA2 adapter which allowed me to have the ability to mount standard Sony Alpha lenses.  This adapter had the translucent mirror technology that Sony uses in the A99.  Of course Sony puts OSS on the sensor on their DSLR bodies which is a great idea.  So all of the Alpha lenses I used would not have any OSS (image stabilization).  The AF with the Sony LA-EA2 adapter was good, a bit slow but most times accurate.  The adapter added a lot of mass to the Nex-7 but with the Alpha 16-80mm lenses it was a good solution.  When I demoed the A7r I used this same adapter and the Sony Alpha 16-80mm lens.  I found that with AF on, almost all of the shots were just a bit out of focus, but when I switched to manual focus and peaking I was able to produce some very sharp images.   AF is important in my work and many times I would prefer to lead with AF instead of a manual focusing option.  My medium format solution is a Arca rm3di which is always manual focus so I when I work with cameras like the Sony A7r, I want a rock solid AF solution. 

Sony also announced a new Alpha lens adapter when they brought the A7r to market, the LAE4.  I was not able to try this adapter to see if it produced more consistent results with AF. 

Nikon lens support issues on the A7r

I should have listed this closer to the top.  With Nikon lenses, there is no current adapter that allows for AF or VR.  This is a huge deal for me since most Nikon lenses really aren’t designed with precision manual focus in mind.  This is especially true with the new G lenses.  It’s possible the the manual focus rings are just not that well calibrated and just a tiny amount of movement can make a major change.  Since Sony did not put any stabilization on the A7 cameras sensor,  you will need to rely on the stabilization in the lens.  Several of Sony’s new FE lenses will have OSS (Sony lens stabilization), however all the Nikon lenses I have with VR, the VR and AF will not work.  This is only true with Nikon lenses, as Metabones makes an adapter for Canon that allows the use of both IS and AF on the Canon lenses.  If I was still heavily invested in Canon lenses, the Sony A7r would make perfect sense especially since Canon has yet to announce any new full frame DSLR with any more than 21MP. 

A view of the Sony A7r showing the tiltable LCD screen

A view of the Sony A7r showing the tiltable LCD screen

No on Chip image stabilization on the A7r

Many users of the A7r are reports issues with vibration from the focal plane shutter on the A7r.  It appears that the A7 has a different shutter design that does not cause this problem.  However depending on the lens and selected shutter speed, the A7r can impart a slight blurring that may or may be able to be recovered in post.  This oversight should have been expected with such a high megapixel count sensor in such a lightweight body.  Some photographers are bothered by this worse than others, depending on the equipment they are using and shutter speed ranges selected.  It’s a bit of a disappointment since Sony has such a good implementation of the sensor based image stabilization on their pro DSLR bodies, like the A99.  I don’t see this being fixed via a firmware update.

Concerns with non-Sony lens adapters

Currently there any many different brands of adapters on the market to allow the use of non-Sony lenses on the A7 family of cameras.  These range from exotic Lecia lenses to more common Canon and Nikon.  The problem with many of these adapters is that they don’t seem to maintain the correct tolerances so that within a brand two of the same adapters may not reach the same degree of focus accuracy.  Also it seems that some of the adapters can create either reflection issues or contrast issues when shift lenses are used.  These issues may be worked out over time, but currently it poses just another problem that may or may not be correctable in post processing.   For example the Metabones adapter for Canon lenses has shown definite problems contrast shifts when any of the Canon TS-E lenses are used, especially the excellent 17mm and 24mm TS-E2 lenses.  Some people are fixing this by gluing a non reflective material inside the adapters, which is not an easy task due to the interior layout of the Metabones adapter. 

Sony history of 1 and done firmware updates

Sony has a history of not releasing any major firmware updates to a camera once it ships, similar to how Nikon operates.  This implies to me a pretty closed system and is unlike Fuji, Canon or Phase One.  An example of this is the Sony Nex-7 which was shipped in early 2012.  This camera had a huge issue for most shooter, myself included, where the video button was just too easy to engage while shooting stills.  It took Sony at least 9 months to release a firmware to allow the user to change the button from always on.  Sony seems not to release firmware updates that have any effect on image quality.  The Nex-7 was a great camera in the ISO range of 100 to 400, however after than the amount of noise that developed became destructive to the image and by ISO 1600, the files were so noisy to make them only equivalent to 16MP images.  I had hoped that Sony would add some firmware enhancements that would allow for some improvements on the higher ISO ranges for the Nex-7, but it never happened.  Canon and Fuji both have had several major firmware enhancements to several of their camera lines that allowed for major improvements in image quality.  I like to see a company continue to develop a camera’s capabilities after the initial announcement, and this is not a practice of Sony.

Weight of body with larger lenses

The body of the Sony A7r is so light that most modern 35mm lenses seem to unbalance it.  If you are only using a older prime lens this might not pose much of a problem, but try placing the Nikon 14-24 on the A7r!.  The weight of the lens totally outweighs the camera’s small mass and it makes it pretty much impossible to just shoot by holding the camera.  So both hands are occupied in holding the lens/camera and you really don’t have a free hand to switch a setting once you are lined up for a shot.  If you are using the camera/lens combination on a tripod, then most definitively the lens will need a tripod mount (which none of the current FE lenses do) or the lens adapter (like a Metabones or Novoflex) will also need a tripod foot.  The lens mount flange on the Sony A7r cannot handle the sheer mass of many of the lenses you might want to use and long term you will either bend the flange or pull it out of alignment.  Either way the fix will be out of warranty and depending on how the mount flange is installed may or may not require an entirely new A7r body.

Lack of intelligent intervalometer for A7r

As with all Sony DSLR’s and Nex cameras, there is no intervalometer for this camera.  Sony once again is depending on a app called Timelaspe that will run on the iOS or Android OS.  This tool limits you to the power left on your phone and since it requires the phone to be on for an extended period of time, it will drain the phone’s battery.  The timelaspe app is designed to give the user the ability to create the actual video on the camera so for the night photographic use I would need it’s not a tool I could use.  I much would prefer to use a cabled intervalometer that will let me set the time of the necessary exposure and the interval needed, removing all of this from the camera.  I have also not found any built in timelaspe tool that will let you take a shot longer than 30 seconds since they all are dependent on the camera’s built in set shutter speed of 30 seconds.  This is the longest shutter speed that most cameras will allow.  Sony once again has used their proprietary port for a wired remote so that none of the third party intervalometers will work.  This limits tremendously the use of the camera in night photographic applications and even limits it in the more traditional timelaspe applications.  Personally I don’t want to be tied to my iPhone for any type of intervalometer use.  The amount of heat that may build up in the Sony A7r may preclude it from night photographic operations anyway.

The Sony A7r is a great concept and for many photographers, it’s a great way to reach the 36MP threshold, especially a Canon shooter.  In my situation, I already have the Nikon D800 and find it’s mass/weight are a benefit in keeping everything in sharp focus.  I love the idea of a EVF that allows 100% magnification at the viewfinder level like Sony has along with the excellent focus peaking that Sony has had for several generations of DSLRs and Nex series cameras.  However the inability to use my current lineup of Nikon lenses (with AF and VR) is a huge issue for me.   This is a first round release for Sony and no doubt they will follow up with a more refined product either later this year or early 2015.  I can also hope that Nikon improved their Nikon1 lineup of mirror-less camera to include either the Sony 24MP or 36MP sensors as then I should be able to use all of my excellent Nikkor lenses to their best capabilities.

08/02/13 New article on strange sensor behavior with D800 and night photographic work

Possible reticulation results with D800 and night photography

Possible reticulation results with D800 and night photography–Click on image for a larger view

I have written a brief article on a problem I had with my Nikon D800e on a night shoot back in May of 2013.  You can read the detailed article here:

Back in May of 2013 on a night shoot, I noticed a strange problem with my D800e images.  I was shooting for night star trails and using the stacking method of shooting.  Normally this will help reduce overall noise since the sensor does not have to stay on for a single long period.  On this night I was working a 1 minute 50 second stack series of images and when I previewed the files on the D800, I immediately noticed a large number of small white dots.  These were not from planes or any other man made device, and were very random through the image, very similar to how noise will look.

In post I found that Lightroom 4.4 had definitely more trouble when working with the raw files.  I did not take any jpgs during this shoot.  I also learned that Capture One Vr. 7, Phase One’s raw conversion software did a much better job overall of the files.  I was able to correct for all the small dots in Capture One, but never really was able to get all of them taken care of in Lightroom.

My D800e is a standard setup, with the Nikon Grip.  I have 1 Nikon Li-0n battery in the camera and the the grip has (8) Ni-MH batteries installed.  I have not had any issues before with this setup.  I will always run off the batteries in the grip first and then the battery in the camera.  Most times in about 4 hours of constant shooting and checking exposures, I will go through all of the power in the grip cells and then use up about 1/3 of the Li-on cell in the camera.  This particular night was not that hot, ambient temperatures were about 78 degrees and the humidity was low about 30 percent of less.  I have not had a chance to do another night shoot since the one in May but hope to get out soon and see if this is going to be a constant problem or a  one time occurrence.