'The Man maketh the image (or women)'. 

I know many of us  megageekles like to point out the benefits of pixelcount and distortion ratio and Zeiss vs this or that. Sufice to say way back In 2001 Professionalas all salivated over the Nikon D1X and its 5.3 effective mega-pixels. Everything proffesional fashion, Sports, Social documentary, whatever was shot using it so end of story. 

Now that gripes out of the way, and we all agree great pictures have been taken on below par equipment (compared to todays standards), I will say, sometimes 'Equipment does Maketh the Man (or women) kinda'  

Sam Herd is one talented photographer and although he primarily does weddings, he just nails a Portrait whenever he has the oportunity. One part of his kit is an interesting one, a Nikkor 50mm f/1.2. It has helped create a style and look like a fingerprint on his pictures. His diliberate choice of the Manual Nikkor definetly 'Maketh the Image'

Gary Sinise by Sam Herd

The Story

I overslept. A long night the previous evening judging a print competition for the Capital Hill Photographers group had me in bed way later than usual. I knew Gary Sinise would be speaking at the National Press Club 9am-10am for a breakfast luncheon, but had completely forgotten that driving down from Baltimore to DC in the mornings can be Amrgeddeon (see what i did there…?!). Out the door at 8:15am and who pulls in my driveway? None other than the electrician that was going to be doing work on my house the entire day! He needed me to run through the detailed list I had e-mailed him of all the work. So, there goes another 15 mins. 8:30am and I’m in my car. Pulling out I hear the nicest sounding nightmare I could imagine – gas alert sound came on as I was running on empty. Pull around to my closest gas station and it’s totally full. Pull around to the second closest and I finally put $20 in and speed away. Traffic is looking dicey. Puts me where I need to be at 10:11am – 11 mins after Sinise is done addressing the press and supposed to be doing photos. Tapping up my collection of Waze, Tom-Tom, Google Maps, and Apple Maps I decide that Tom-Tom would be the best approach and head on.


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The Top 8 Reasons Why I’m a Big Believer in 35mm Lens Photography

by Frank McKenna

After two years of testing, renting, buying and selling just about every level of Nikon and Canon lenses and cameras, I have learned quite a bit about what works and what doesn’t. Pretty much you can’t go wrong with Canon or Nikon, and just about everything they make is top notch.

You can buy one or the other and in the end you’ll have a great product (though, I do give Nikon a slight advantage in most categories). One thing I have learned is that the more you spend the better the quality of the lens, the camera and the final pictures you take.

Well, that is until this week. This week I discovered the Nikkor 35mm manual focus lens.

This lens has been around so long that it has reached legendary status (I believe it has been around since 1982 which is amazing considering how much technology and cameras have evolved from that point).


WONDER LENS Asahi Pentax Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm f1.4

8 Lens Element Version *updated 1/2/15

A mate of mine (Bicycle Stu) who constructed a new Auto 2 Speed hub for my single-speed dropped the wheel off a few days ago. I only just decided to get it sorted and found he had left a nice surprise in the Hub box. A old leather lens case and a lens hood. I opened the lens case to find a mint condition  'Asahi Pentax' Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm f1.4 lens. My jaw dropped ... Sweet baby Jesus, this was a Holy Grail of manual 50mm lenses which many a SLR Videographer would give their right foot for.

The lens came in 2 varieties a 7 element version and a 8 element version. I have the 8 element version and once the adapter arrives will add a few personal words of my own. I most likely will not purchase the 7 element version so for now here are a couple of interesting differences noted from various online sources. 

Just something I noted in real life pictures but I forgot to add:
the S-M-C Takumar (7-elements) has a lot more depth of field and each stop than the Super-Takumar (8-elements).
Focused at infinity at f/1.4, for example, the S-M-C will render objects at 15-20 meters soft but sharp enough, while the 8-elements will render the same objects really blurry. The difference is definitely here, and it's striking. I have to yet measure this for the S-M-C, but the Super-Takumar at f/1.4 and at close distance (2-3 meters) has a depth or field of maybe 4-5 millimeters! 

Gianluca Bevacqua (

image by Priit Siimon

image by Priit Siimon

Bokeh wise, I prefer the 7 elements as it is a bit rounder. Apart from the yellow in the 7 elements, the 2 versions are pretty similar. You'd really need to be pedantic or look at them with a microscope to not be satisfied with either.

Oliver Sutton (

image by Paul Aningat

Yes, this is a great lens. Yes, the vast majority of users will love it. 

Now that that's out of the way, let's dispel some myths:

1) Myth #1: The image quality is substantially better than the 7-element version.
The truth: I have probably owned or handled hundreds of 50mm tak 1.4s over the years. And the truth is, the difference in image quality between this and the 7 element Super Tak is vanishingly small. There's maybe a bit more smoothness in the bokeh, but this version is certainly less sharp wide open - although some people like that effect. By the time you compare it to the SMC, any advantages the 8 element has are outweighed by improved contrast and flare resistance.

I've yet to see a lens shoot-out putting this lens at the top that has been done blind, and I'd wager that given such conditions, 9 out of 10 users wouldn't be able to consistently differentiate this lens from a de-yellowed sample of the 7 element version.

2) Myth #2: The build quality is substantially better in this version.
The truth: I am familiar with all versions of this lens, inside and out (literally, as I've CLA'ed several versions of them). Aside from the additional element, the design and build of the 8 element version is virtually identical to those of the 7 element Super Tak. In fact, ALL Super Tak primes and most SMCs share the same fantastic build quality. I suspect that those who are blown away by the fit and finish are those for whom this is their first vintage Tak, and the others are fooled by the slightly greater heft of the 8 element than the 7 element, stemming from the extra glass.

3) Myth #3: The 8 element lens was destroying Asahi's finances. 
The truth: My inside sources familiar with Pentax history tell me this is complete rubbish. While the 8 element version was slightly more expensive to produce, it's ridiculous to think that one additional piece of glass per lens would threaten the solvency of the company. Asahi engineers realized they could achieve comparable image and build quality and slightly lower production costs by changing the design, and the suits at top made the decision to go with the less expensive version, as any profit-conscious executive would. No major drama involved.

4)Myth #4: The 8 element version doesn't yellow. 
The truth: I myself have owned two samples of this lens that have exhibited substantial yellowing that cleared up under UV light. While most samples do not, some (I expect newer) samples apparently do have thorium glass in them.

All in all, this is a very nice lens, approaching the Zeiss Planar 1.4 in image quality, and with unbeatable Takumar build. But so are the 7 element versions of this lens! Indeed, the biggest advantages this one has are bragging rights due to its relative rarity, and the fact that you will get 50-100 bucks extra if you sell it on the used market.


...cheers for those informative words of wisdom internet community, much appreciated.

image by Anna Pawełczyk

What does seem to be consistent when looking at the images above is what a fantastic lens this really is. A BEAUTIFUL fall away and a stunning render really make this an inexpensive gem of a lens. For any serious shooter portrait or social documentary photographer I urge you to track one down and give it a try. I promise as soon as my adapter arrive I will post an update.

Like the early Nikkor lenses of the 70's and 80's the Pentax is very sort after within the DSLR Video world. Below is great example of what is possible for this sub $100 lens. Paired with Either a 'Nikon 810' or 'Canon 5D iii' the lens is true enjoyment to use and simply a match made in visual Heaven..

If you decide to grab this fantastic lens you most probably will need to get it mounted onto your DSLR/Film Nikon or Canon camera. There are various lens adapters* available for both Nikon & Canon  via Ebay & Amazon to mention just 2. Have a Google search for

Lens Mount Adapter, Black M42  Lens to Canon or Lens Mount Adapter, Black M42 Lens to Nikon

You should not have much trouble getting an inexpensive option to suite your Camera of choice, and once you do the world of Takumar 50mm f1.4 is your Oyster. Mine is on it's way as I write this so definitely will give you guys a heads up when it arrives. SO until then enjoy the great images below, they are some great examples of what this lens is capable of when in the right hands.

*UPDATE The adpater I purchased from eBay was dissapointing. Although it stated it coupled properly, it did not, when mounted to the lens it refused to coupe correctly to the camera body. So it basically redered the lens unuseable as focusing was out and not possible. SO purchase a genuine adapter and avoid the eBay cheepies.

More to come soon ...

image by Piotr Grudzień

image by ogy

Nikon D810 vs Nikon D3s – Sharpness + Resolution Test

Hey guys, I picked up the new Nikon D810 the other day for my headshot/portrait work and I wanted to share some images and 100% crops from both cameras.. 

What you'll see in this example is how much more resolution you get to play with in the new Nikon D810. 

The Nikon D3s is a 12mp full frame camera originally designed for low light high ISO shooting for things such as sports with its 9fps high speed shooting and shooting incredibly dark available light settings like you would find in a dimly lit church at a wedding being able to shoot comfortably up to 12,800 ISO.

On the other hand, enter the new Nikon D810, a 36mp behemoth that has so much resolution and sharpness that it will cut off your fingers if you're not careful. This camera has been improved from the D800 and D800E to increase the high speed frame rate to a base of 5fps and 7fps with the additional Nikon MD-D12 Battery Grip. The D810 now also has an ISO range from 64 ISO to 12,800 ISO making it a big step up for a camera with this sort of resolution.

Nikon D810 + Nikon 85mm f1.4 G @ f2.8 – Full image – Click image to zoom

Nikon D810 + Nikon 85mm f1.4 G @ f2.8 – 100% Crop – Click image to zoom

Nikon D3s + Nikon 85mm f1.4 G @ f2.8 – Full image – Click image to zoom

Nikon D3s + Nikon 85mm f1.4 G @ f2.8 – 100% Crop – Click image to zoom

Leica M9-P vs Fuji X100s vs Nikon D40

35mm Lens Shoot-Out Yeeeehhaaaaaa

Nikon D40 Kit-lens 18-55 f/5.6 / Fuji X100s f/5.6 / Leica M9-P/35mm f/5.6 Summocron / ALL ISO 400

"Why?!" You ask.

"Why not!" We say.

So I had about 5 minutes to kill before a job and had all 3 cameras in my bag; the Leica M9-P, Fujifilm X100s and the always charming Nikon D40. How could I not do a crazy comparison just for the hell of it. They all had 35mm equivalent lenses and I had some time to spare so away we go!

  • I quickly set all cameras to the following settings: raw format, ISO 400, f/5.6. I grabbed the nearest tree & a friend and fired one shot each. Unfortunately the framing and distance was a little off for each which is my mistake but this isn't meant to be a scientific test.
  • Next I imported the files into Lightroom 5.4 and saved the untouched files as they were rendered by default.
  • I then took them strait into Photoshop CC, and applied a custom Silver Efex Pro 2 preset.
  • Back in Lightroom, I adjusted the exposure, highlights and shadows slightly to get a basic match (VERY BNASIC) then saved the files.
  • In Photoscape I ran Auto Exposure, Auto Contrast and sharpening at 0.8 (for the portrait no sharpening) then saved and combined with originals to create the image above and below.

A very tech savvy comparison to say the least. I just wished to see what the simple differences with a quickly adjusted and filtered image would look like for each. I hadn't bothered doing crops or anything as the process was hardly ideal for the likes of DXO .... but then I changed my mind and did a crop section of each any way. 

A Detailed Crop

Above are the three raw and untouched images cropped as close as I could in Photoscape. 1. Nikon D40 2. Fuji X100s 3. Leica M9-P

The 3 final images above have been processed in Silver Efex Pro 2 using the Kodak Tri-X preset with no other adjustments, taken into Photoscape for Auto Exposure, Auto Contrast & 0.8 sharpening applied then saved at 72dpi as a JPEG. If you click on the images you can see them in full screen to get a better look at the detail. The same applies for the crops below.

Morgan also took 3 shots of James with each of the set ups we mentioned earlier. only change to the setup was using a 'Kodack TMax 400' preset in 'Silver Efex Pro 2' with no sharpening in 'Photoscape'.

Nikon D40 Kit Lens | Raw File - Processed File

Fukifilm X100s |  RAW File - Processed File

Leica M9-P  35mm Summicron | RAW File - Processed File

So there you go, a really quick look at three totally different cameras and their 35mm equivalent focal lengths / lenses. Totally unrelated really but I had them all with me and thought hell, why not. One thing I thought about while doing this test was how well the old Nikon D40 held up. Considering it has only 7 megapixels and relatively old sensor technology and, we used the kit lens. What a gem, so much so that I am actually going to do a portrait test with the Nikon DF and the Nikon D40 using the same lens a Nikkor 105mm f/1.8 so stay tuned.

Cheers again and just remember to take this review test thing with a grain of salt. It was done for fun and in no way is an accurate technical test of the cameras and their lenses against each other. However, it may get you thinking about the gear you use and the practical quality and abilities of so called "out of date" equipment. If all you'r doing is posting things to Facebook or Flickr, then as they say, "The best camera is the one you have with you."

Gear Review // Nikon Df

I had big ideas for my post entitled "A week with the Nikon Df". I had even been toying with the idea of selling my current setup for two of them, but I wanted to try it out and see how it worked. I was lucky enough to be able to borrow it from a friend of mine and use it on a couple of small jobs, and shoot heaps of personal work with it.

Honestly, the camera has been reviewed to death by heaps of other people, and for every well reasoned review there are 100 idiots screaming how terrible it is. Most people who slam it have never actually touched it, let alone used it... so, whatever. These are my personal thoughts on the camera and where it sits in the Nikon lineup.


First impressions

I'll just come out and say it - I really like this camera. I like the way it fits in my (small) hands, I love the way it sounds, I love the image quality. Anyone that knows me will understand there will be no pixel peeping here. The Df has the same chip as the Nikon D4, so everyone knew what to expect there  - fantastic. I shot almost exclusively with the Sigma 35/1.4 and the Nikon 85/1.8G, both very nice lenses. I use these two lenses for my work 90% of the time and I'm used to using them on a D3s, so the Df size and weight was a nice change.

Speaking of size:

I love cricket, sorry. #notsorry

I love cricket, sorry. #notsorry


Left to right: Kookaburra Red King, Nikon FM, Nikon Df, Nikon D3s. The two comparisons I feel are really important - the Df being a considerably smaller full frame body than D3/D4 size cameras, but also not necessarily achieving the compact size of the venerable FM series from the 70's and 80's. Many people felt the Df was meant to be a kind of 'digital FM2' and whilst Nikon did a great job keeping the size down, there are still some ways to go before they can manufacture a digital camera of that size for the 36x24mm format.  Having a full frame sensor requires rather large amounts of electronics and heat sinks, so there are always going to be limitations like this, remembering that even though Sony seems to have done it the A7 is a mirrorless camera.




 I really liked having a small 35mm format camera that gave incredible image quality, instead of choosing between the small but slower x100 and a D3s. The retro styling in manual mode did slow me down, and for some photographers this could be a really nice thing, but I used it mostly in aperture priority. At the end of the day, the best thing you can do when purchasing any camera is to pick it up and see how quickly you can find your way around the controls, because this will make or break it for a professional or anyone who takes photography somewhat seriously.

I liked it. Some people hated it. You're never going to please everyone, but I don't see many people complaining about how most other Nikon cameras handle the way I've seen some people hate on this one. When I first picked it up, I hated the front command dial which is the default for Aperture control, but these can be swapped. In the end I got used to it, and enjoyed that I never bumped the value up or down by accident. The camera is really light, and I think this is a fantastic achievement. The D-pad is a little close in to the right hand side, but it's not a huge issue for me.

Most of the other buttons are where you'd expect, but there is also a manual ISO/Exposure comp. dial on the top left, and of course the shutter speed dial. There is also a P/A/S/M dial on the far top right which I'll talk about later. The first two are a little odd to get used to, but they make sense. You're never going to accidentally over or under-expose your shots, but it might be worthwhile to muck around with the custom dial settings in the menus.

Now... let's talk about the shutter speed dial.

The photos in this review don't necessarily match the content every time. You may have noticed.

The photos in this review don't necessarily match the content every time. You may have noticed.

Nikon should have incorporated P/A/S/M into this dial, instead of yet another dial on the top right which can be a little odd considering it's right next to the shutter release. Firstly, fuck P mode. If you use P mode on this camera, or anything else that costs this much money, take it back and buy a D3300. My alternative is a bit like this -  If the shutter speed dial is on a shutter speed, the camera should be on manual, super-duper simple. Then replace the 'X' flash sync dial with an  'A' setting for Aperture priority, like most manufacturers (inc. Nikon) have been doing since Aperture Priority was a thing. Put a little X and an alternatively coloured '250th' symbol so that people know that it's the fastest sync speed, if that's really necessary.

Now, I might be going out on a limb here, but really don't think the shutter priority crowd would bother with this camera. Or perhaps the other way around. Manual would suffice. I think the setting has its uses, but perhaps make it a menu option? Nikon cut movie out for the purists, why not make a few more ballsy decisions while they're at it!

Nikon df guitar


Meh, it's pretty good. The Df uses the same AF system as the D600/D610, and in normal conditions it's fine. Even though the area isn't as wide as a D800 or D4, it's not bad - I often use centre point and recompose, but the left and right most points aren't that far off the better model cameras. It's one of those things people will see on paper and bitch about, so let them complain. Nikon needed to cut costs somewhere to keep the camera at about the $3000 mark, and most people don't realise that AF modules actually take up a fair bit of room in a traditional SLR, not to mention some processing capacity. In the image above it took me a couple of attempts to grab focus on the face, and I know my D3s would have had far less trouble. Them's be the breaks I guess.

The AF tracking isn't bad either. It's not an action camera, but I this plus a few frames after this in sequence with the 85mm @ 1.8 and they're pretty sharp.

One area where the AF module really shows its shortfalls is low light. Even using the centre point I needed to open the curtain to let some light in, now that meant for a nicer shot too... but it was doing a fair bit of hunting. That room is really dark and monotonal though, unless the curtains are open or the light is on.

simon with x100S df review

Other Stuff

I don't just take photos of my own family. I'm starting to do some documentary style family sessions, and the Df was really handy for this one, mostly for the quiet drive mode on the shutter. Something that really bugs me about Nikon is that they as yet have not been able to make a shutter as quiet as a Canon 5DMkIII.... the silent mode on that is amazing. 


The battery life is great for the size of battery, about 1000-1500 shots to a charge. I don't use live view much, and I don't review images heaps. My biggest gripe with this camera is probably the lack of dual card slots. I just don't see why it's not possible, when it was a brand new design, that Nikon couldn't make it work. The only explanation I can come up with is purely one of marketing, where keeping it at one slot would discourage that user base from opting for a Df rather than a D4. The Df is not that kind of camera anyway, and in many other areas having 'non-pro' versions of things isn't so critical when you use the camera within its limitations. Dual slots for me is just one of those really be-all, end-all things.

Now, Street photography - I didn't shoot heaps of street with this camera, I really wanted to though. The Sigma 35/1.4 is front heavy and a little big for a walk around lens for this camera, but a 35/2D or something like that would be fantastic for street and general walk around shooting. The quiet shutter mode is handy for this too.

Well then.

This is a great camera. I think it would make a lovely second body, or perhaps backup/personal camera. Primarily, Nikon have positioned it in their lineup as a retro-style 'purists' camera, and in places I think they have taken it too far. Look to Fuji for ways to do this 'right', without being caught up in the vaseline-coated romance of years gone by. While it's most redeeming features make it a fantastic camera for travel and portrait photography, in some aspects it just doesn't give the whole package for me in terms of a primary camera for a professional photographer. And... it's not meant to! I've seen a few wedding photographers use them as their main camera, but I find a D3s or similar to be better because of things like AF, battery life, frame rate and of course dual card slots. For me it's important to have those things for a 12-14 hour day.

Ultimately, I think the camera does what it set out to do. I've been borrowing a D3s for recent weddings but I'll be soon purchasing a D3 as my second body for all the reasons I've explained above. For portrait and general photography where AF and speed is not paramount, the Df sings. It really does. I use my X100 for street for obvious reasons, but for my third DSLR (sounds excessive, but this is my job) I would buy a Df without second thought.

The Nikon Df. The camera you deserve, but not the one you need right now.

Gear Review // THE IMMORTAL NIKON D700 vs D610?

by Dennis Berti

5-01-2014 12-54-22.jpg

I will try to explain in a few words my experience after using my new Nikon D610. Note: this is not a formal and detailed review of the camera, if you are looking for something like that, just type the magic words on Google and you will find it.

Chio and I have shoot for 5 years with the Nikon D700 and we love it, actually we still own two D700 bodies that we don’t want to sell, don’t take me wrong and and still love them. When I get older, I would love to show to my grandchildren, how was this camera and how it worked, just like my grandfather showed my father the old Nikon FMs

The D700 will forever be an amazing camera, the colors (it doesn’t matter if you shoot RAW or JPEG’s), are simply wonderful and have never seen such an amazing results with other cameras, even between the more expensive ones.


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