Cameras and Photography Explained

Photographer and Writer Thom Hogan's Web site, with pointers to articles that appear on his other sites (e.g. dslrbodies.com and sansmirror.com). On the Web supporting photography for over 25 years. 

May I ask that you start your photographic-related shopping by clicking on any of the B&H links on this site. B&H is this site's exclusive advertiser. Starting a purchase at B&H from any link on this site helps support this site. B&H has taken the prudent action of closing the retail location through March 28th. Telephone and online orders are still being accepted and shipped at this time. (B&H is this site's exclusive advertiser.)

It's stormy outside, so stay inside. There's plenty to do (see below). 

This Week's Articles

Friday —  April 3. 2020

Nikon's April discounts on gear are now in effect. Basically all the DX bodies (including the Z50 two lens kit) have significant but not deep discounts on them this month. The D610 body+lens kit is still out there at US$899. The D750 is at US$1499. The Z6 is US$1799, while the Z7 is a thousand dollars more. The f/2.8 F-mount lens trio all still retain a nice discount. These aren't aggressive prices trying to move gear, they're more like prices trying to keep some volume of product moving through the system without completely destroying margins or inducing supply issues.

A lot of you have asked me about pricing and whether bigger sales will return. We're in a period worldwide where it's difficult to conduct business as usual. I don't think we'll see big breaks on cameras and lenses until such time as the camera companies can determine that things have returned to some sort of normalcy, even if that's in a temporary recession. The big issue that's unresolved is what the Japanese companies do about product that was planned for launch this spring. Not only do they have supply problems to fight through, but there's little demand, too. I wouldn't be surprised to see late this summer be the new launch timing for a lot of expected new products. And, assuming the virus has been tamped down, I expect a highly competitive holiday period this year with a lot of discounting on established gear, as everyone tries to catch their numbers back up.

Software companies have a bit of an advantage at the moment. Because most use downloads and don't incur much in the way of additional cost for each sale due to their virtual nature (other than all those affiliate fees they're piling up), I expect to continue to see everyone try to pile on new users for their software products (I'm surprised Nikon hasn't figured this out and offering Camera Control Pro at a discount, for instance, or to make a bigger play with Nikon Image Space). Moreover, software companies have an easier time with work-at-home practices, including for on-going support. 

Which brings me to business failures. No, we're not going to see the Japanese camera companies fail. They either are part of a much larger company that will shield them, or they have good enough basic financial fundamentals that they're just going to hunker down. Moreover, the Japanese government isn't likely to let significant exporters fail. The software companies, if they're managing their finances right, should all come through just fine. What's worrying is the brick and mortar shops, the companies that make accessories, and even some of the photographers themselves. For instance, those of us who shoot sports have all had talks with our clients where the gist we hear is "we don't know what budget we'll have for that in the near future."

Thing is, where there's crisis, there's also always opportunity. You have to be nimble, creative, and willing to part with the easy known path, because it may not exist in the future. The photography industry may change some from what we've known, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Hang in there. Stay focused ;~).

Thursday —  April 2. 2020

NikonUSA has made all their video classes free for the month of April. NikonUSA also has an active YouTube channel with literally hundreds of short to moderate length videos. All of these have a marketing/sales slant to them, but there's plenty of useful information in there, too. 

Wednesday —  April 1. 2020

Tuesday — March 31. 2020

Stand by. All of your article suggestions have been good ones, and it's got me scrambling creating lots of new and updated material in response. I'm trying not to post things in haste, but work through the details the right way. Some of my reviews are also stuck due to lack of shooting opportunities (the weather isn't cooperating here at the moment, either). Don't worry, there's been a lot of unseen progress, and it'll eventually hit the sites.

Meanwhile, many of you are asking about backup. Turns out, B&H is having a one-day sale [advertiser link] on WD, Glyph, Seagate, Promise, and other hard drive and backup solutions. So a couple of thoughts here. First, I prefer Toshiba hard drives to Western Digital, Western Digital to Seagate. Backblaze publishes regular failure rate information on the 120,000+ drives they use, and their data seems to align with my perceptions. It's not that any hard drive is problematic, it's that some do indeed have lower failure rates over time than others, and I prefer lower to low, since my main storage and backup is running 24/7/365. One of my favorite basic useful drives, the slow but portable bus-powered WD 5TB MyPassport, is on sale for US$99. For many of you, two of those is all you need: use #1 for daily backup of your main drive, use #2 to make a backup once a month and store that offsite. Swap #1 and #2 every month and you have a very simple three-storage routine at a very low price. If you're looking for NAS, the Synology DiskStation DS220j 2-bay works just fine, and is US$150 (without drives). I've had good luck with the G-DRIVEs as well. An assortment of those is what stores and backs up my video work. I'll have more to say about storage and backup soon.

Monday — March 30. 2020

Tamron announced instant savings. Fast aperture G2 primes: US$100; the 150-600mm, the 70-200mm f/4, the 35mm f/1.4, and 45mm f/1.8: US$200; the Sony primes and a few other lenses: US$50. These discounts start today and run through May 3rd.

I'm seeing more "I'll do more live stuff for money" offers from the various photography instructors out there. While I understand the problems inherent in the current crisis, I'm not sure that's the right approach. Do you folk want me to point you to those "for money" instructional things, too? 

Pixelmator Pro 1.6 Magenta (macOS) adds new color choosing methods, a better way to select multiple objects, missing font replacement, and a very long list of minor feature improvements, fixes, and performance enhancements.

Last Week's Articles

Thursday — March 26. 2020

B&H has the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 on sale today only for US$999 (US$500 off), both Canon EF and Nikon F mount [advertiser link]. That's a good price for a very good lens (not up to the remarkable level of the current Nikkor E, but still quite good). 

Which brings me to a small point. A majority of us in the US are now under stay-at-home orders. There's an ethical/moral issue about ordering online you have to come to grips with. On the one hand, you help keep companies in business if you have the money to be able to continue to buy things other than food and health products. On the other hand, packing and delivery personnel are getting more exposure to the virus than you when you do order a physical product. It's a subtle but important balance point you have to come to grips with. 

Of course, downloads only are a different story. I've picked up a few additional software products that were offered to me at good discount in the past week. 

Wednesday — March 25. 2020

Nikon is running 11 hours of their instruction and inspirational content on Nikon Live. Starts Wednesday (today) at 10am to 8:30pm EST, and picks up tomorrow at 10am  to 8:30pm EST.

CanonUSA has shut down servicing in California, Illinois, and New Jersey. The repair center in Newport News, Virginia is still open at this time (but not for walk-in repairs). Use Canon's online system if you need a repair.

Tuesday — March 24. 2020

Add another to the free instruction available:

  • f.64 Elite. Now available for 15 days for free. Offer expires end of Thursday. Note that this is a 15-day free trial, with automatic conversion to payment at the end of the trial if you don't cancel before the 15 days end. Blake is also doing a free live event on Photoshop on Thursday March 26, 2pm CST.

B&H has the MacBook Pro 16" (late 2019) models on sale this week, typically US$200 to US$300 off. I've pointed to the model I think is the best entry point. Don't opt for less RAM or SSD than this. If you opt for more, that's fine, but 2.3Ghz i9, 32GB, 1TB, AMD 5500M 8GB is what I'd consider the minimum you should consider.

Monday — March 23. 2020

Sunday — March 22, 2020

A number of photography teachers are going on-line with free seminars/webinars, which should help pass some of your COVID-19 avoidance isolation hours away:

Previous Weeks' Articles

Saturday — March 21, 2020

"Nikon prioritizes the health and safety of our employees and customers. Due to the impact of COVID-19 and in accordance with mandates issued by the federal government and various state governments, we have temporarily suspended equipment repairs at our service facilities and are not currently accepting equipment. Please contact Nikon customer support at nikonusa.com/support for more information. We apologize for this inconvenience and thank you for your understanding." This is the official word from NikonUSA as of end of day Friday. 

Most registered users also received an email from Nikon Inc. President Bo Kajiwara that read: "We are all experiencing unprecedented circumstances around the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the virus. Nikon’s top priority is the health and safety of our customers, employees and the communities we serve. I am proud of the dedication of our Nikon team who are working remotely, and remain focused on providing the highest level of support possible at this difficult time. We are closely monitoring the situation and following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and federal/state/local health authorities. Nikon Inc. has taken steps to ensure the safety of its employees by instituting office closings and remote work strategies in line with state and federal government mandates. These include the temporary closure of our repair service centers to prioritize the safety of our workforce and help limit the spread of the virus."

Friday — March 20, 2020

ProGrade today announced two new CFexpress readers: one the US$80 SD+CFe dual slot USB 3.2 Gen 2, the other the US$130 CFe+XQD Thunderbolt 3 reader. Note that the former doesn't read XQD, and the latter requires a driver from Sony to read XQD.

Affinity Photo now is offering a 90-day trial, while offering the Mac/PC version for only US$25 and the iPad version for only US$10. This is a darned good Photoshop alternative, and at a now incredible price.

Thursday — March 19, 2020

Well, the software companies apparently aren't yet disrupted. Skylum is pushing Luminar 4.2 even though their landing page hasn't caught up (still on 4.1), DxO has PhotoLab 3.2, ON1 has released Photo RAW 2020.1. So if looking at alternative software is on your self-isolation to-do list, you have some new, improved choices to check out (that's low priority on the things I'll be presenting shortly).

Deal of the day: If you're doing video and you aren't using a backup audio solution beyond what your camera is recording, may I suggest the Zoom H4n? [advertiser link, daily special] This little device is excellent, and usually easy to hide in a podium or other small place. It'll provide you a high quality audio track you can match up against your video should you find the camera's audio recording has issues.

Monday — March 16, 2020

All stop. Reset. Restart. 

Last week was quiet because for the last two weeks I have been in the midst of dealing with a ton of rescheduling and event cancellations due to the COVID-19 virus spread. This week will be quiet, too, as I also am going to pivot the Web sites briefly. 

What's that mean? Well, starting as soon as possible, I'm going to begin a series of articles on "What to do photographically while in self-isolation." As I put it to a friend, all of us have a long series of things that we've been punting down the road in our workflow, image libraries, training, gear maintenance, and more. Now's a perfect time to pay attention to those things and get them all back under control. I'll do my best to help you identify those things and figure out what to do about them. Trust me, there's more you probably should have been doing but weren't than you think.

Plus, there's the issue of what to do photographically. You need to keep your skill set up, too. My event, sports, and more exotic wildlife shooting is completely shut down for the time being, but that's just going to have me find some different projects I can do, so we'll tackle that topic, as well. 

So relax, don't stress out, help others around you that need help, and we'll all get through the disruption soon enough. 

Tuesday — March 10, 2020

Correction: Nikon today announced version 1.01 for the N-Log 3D LUT. This update adds support for D780 video shot in N-Log. If you're unsure of how to use a LUT, see the Professional Technical Guide Nikon produced for the Z6/Z7. It applies to the D780 as well; now, you just use the D780 LUT instead.

The Photography Show (and Video Show) scheduled for later this month in the United Kingdom has been postponed until later in the year—probably September—due to concerns about the Covid-19 virus. 

GraphicConverter updated to version 11.1.3, adding some new features and bug fixes.

Just a reminder that the F-mount zoom trio is discounted at the moment: 14-24mm f/2.8G is US$160024-70mm f/2.8E is US$1900, and the 70-200mm f/2.8E is US$2150 [advertiser links]. Those are good prices for a very good, excellent, and superb lens (in that order). All three lenses also get a 4% reward if you buy from this site's exclusive advertiser.

Monday — March 9, 2020

Nikon announced that the D6 will be delayed until May. Parts sourcing due to the Covid-19 virus were mentioned as the reason. We're going to see a lot more of this from other companies (and for other Nikon products).

Friday — March 6, 2020

We're getting a few "well, we were going to announce this at CP+..." press releases. 

Tokina disclosed that 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm equivalent f/1.4 lenses for Fujifilm FX mount (Autumn) and Sony E mount (Summer) are coming. Also, the 35mm and 50mmm f/1.8 lenses to match the already released 85mm f/1.8 for the Sony FE mount will arrive in Autumn. For DSLR users, the 11-20mm f/2.8 will become available in the reworked ATX-I CF form in the summer.

Meanwhile, Leica finally announced the 64mp medium format S3 DSLR (only US$18,999 should you be interested [advertiser link]). It even has a dual CompactFlash and Secure Digital slot setup for those of you with card nostalgia to go along with your disposable income. Not sure I want easily bent card pins in my US$19k camera, but that's the way Leica rolls. 

Thursday — March 5, 2020

Note that I've been slowly posting new material to my D780 blog as I work with that new camera in professional situations. While a lot of folk discount the D780, it really is quite good.

Monday — March 2, 2020

The number one question in the In Box last week was, by a large margin, "how will the Covid-19 virus impact [fill-in-the-blank]? If the WHO and CDC can't answer that question, I'm not going to give you a better response. This past weekend a case of Covid-19 was reported in Sendai, for example, where Nikon's main Japanese plant is located (where Nikon makes the D6, Z6, and Z7). But what that means is anyone's guess at this point. It might impact Nikon dramatically, it might just slow down deliveries a bit as they adjust plant practices, or it might not really impact Nikon beyond things they were already doing. 

Basically, everyone needs to look at new information daily to see if there are any changes that might impact their plans or any products they're counting on receiving. We're almost certainly going to see delays with some products, plus we are going to also see disruptions to some travel and particularly to large gatherings, such as conventions or sporting events. How long those product delays will be, and how big those disruptions turn out are complete unknowns at this point. The best you can do is to continue with your plans, but develop contingencies. Expect that you might have to deploy some of your contingencies.

If you're not reading the CDC's page on Covid-19 daily (note the Latest Updates link), you should be. Don't let yourself be driven by fear on the unknown. Get the best information you can and stay up to date. You do that for weather, after all. Health shouldn't be any different.


Links to all the previous articles for my sites can be found in the Articles Index.

text and images © 2020 Thom Hogan
portions Copyright 1999-2019 Thom Hogan-- All Rights Reserved
Follow us on Twitter: @bythom, hashtags #bythom, #sansmirror, #dslrbodies