A new D-SLR with pro-level resolution and features in a durable body
Whenever a new camera hits the market, there’s an inevitable flood of information and misinformation surrounding the launch. In the case of the Nikon D200, the Internet rumor mills were fueled with all sorts of speculation about the camera’s specifications and capabilities, mostly centered around the image sensor. Would Nikon introduce its first model with a full-frame image sensor? The answer is no. The D200 is built with a Dx-sized sensor just like all other Nikon digital SLRs, but to focus exclusively on that is to miss the forest for the trees. Like the pricier D2x, which debuted in the spring of 2005, the D200 is built with refinements and technology that question the need for the full-frame sensor in the first place.
A well-featured digital SLR drops the price for a full-frame sensor
The new Canon EOS 5D has a lot of photographers talking. What do you get with this $3,300 camera? Is the full frame worth it? How about the 12.8 megapixels? After shooting with this camera in the field, I have a few answers. First, I appreciate the way the camera handles. While the EOS 1D and 1Ds Mark II cameras offer superb image quality, they’re also big and heavy. They’re sturdy and durable, to be sure, but their size isn’t for everyone. The EOS 5D is a more manageable field camera. It’s just a bit larger than the EOS 20D, measuring 6x4.4x3 inches and weighing 28.6 ounces
Lugging around a weighty pack loaded with equipment isn’t the ideal way to experience nature, and hiking long treks with it on your back or shoulders can lead to injury. You don’t want to leave gear behind, but you definitely don’t want to risk ruining the day or your health with a cumbersome load. I’ve limited my equipment to include only the necessities, and zoom lenses have become an essential part of my gear.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year and, with so many good books being published and winter vacations approaching, we think it’s quite the season for book reading, too. If you’d like to lay off the eggnog and candied yams and indulge your senses in something with a little more sustenance and a lot less fat, there’s quite an array of books from which to choose.
Put some distance between you and your macro subject
Close-ups are my favorite part of nature photography. I say that not because I love bugs more than waterfowl or flower parts more than rocky landscapes. I love close-ups because they can connect me with nature anywhere, anytime. I can shoot close-ups of spiders building webs outside my backdoor or of orchids in Peru, of flowering weeds outside of my office or lichens on the rocks of Arches National Park. With close-up gear, I’m good to go whenever I want, wherever I am.I was excited to get a sample of Tokina’s new 100mm ƒ/2.8 macro lens (officially named the AT-X M100 AF Pro D). At 2.9x3.7 inches and 19 ounces, this compact lens offers film and full-frame digital cameras 1:1 at 12 inches. For small-format digital SLRs, you get an equivalent of 150-160mm (still at the fast ƒ/2.8) and more distance to 1:1. The lens includes a newly engineered multi-coating to minimize reflections when using a digital camera’s sensor (which has a shiny protective surface).
Impressive black-and-white prints are within your grasp
This past summer, some friends of mine bought a new condo in Southern California, although they must have promised their first born to the mortgage company with prices the way they are. The condo was a sizable step up from their rental apartment, and in addition to a lot more square footage of floor space, it has a lot more wall space than the former residence (along with a second full bath and a balcony). Suddenly, the collection of wall art that had filled the old place barely made a dent on the walls at the new one. I should have suspected there were ulterior motives when I found myself invited over for a big dinner (with plenty of good wine). Somewhere between grilled salmon and crème brûlée, the innocent question was posed, "So, Chris, do you have any prints of your photographs you could give us for the walls?" I don’t sell them, so why not give them away?
A compilation of our favorite gear, gadgets and accessories
Technology—you can’t stop it, you can only hope to contain it. In the past year, a range of new products has crossed the threshold of the Outdoor Photographer editorial offices. Of that collection, we’ve chosen our favorites and assembled them into this guide. The list of gear ranges from camera bags to color management, software to memory cards, and although it wasn’t easy, we’ve done our best to narrow down the selection to some essential items that we think will help your photography.
Expand your image-making possibilities with a wide-angle lens
Wide-open spaces. One of the best ways to capture this feeling is by using a wide-angle lens. The first time I used a wide-angle, I couldn't put it down. I suddenly was offered a unique way of photographing a scene beyond what a standard focal-length lens could provide. Its versatility allowed me to shoot images in tight spaces as well as compose expansive landscapes.
A 12.8-megapixel full-frame image sensor is at the heart of a new addition to the Canon D-SLR lineup
A full-frame SLR allows you to use your existing 35mm lenses at their native focal lengths with no lens magnification. This provides full use of your wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle lenses while creating a high-resolution digital file.
A new generation of cameras aims to maintain the high quality that medium-format shooters expect and demand
When digital technology first melded with medium-format cameras and lenses, it was in the form of mounted digital backs in place of the traditional film backs. It was a natural way to do things since so many of the medium-format cameras were modular. Many photographers will continue using it for years to come, especially because it offers an advantage of being able to use the same body and lenses for both film and digital photography.
Get superb print quality fast, plus CD/DVD printing capability
A great print is something most outdoor photographers cherish. The Epson Stylus Photo R1800 offers superb printing up to 13x19 inches (13x44-inch panoramas), but, of course, when new printers come out today, many photographers wonder if it’s worth upgrading to the new and improved. They accept the "new," but wonder about the "improved."
This compact D-SLR offers image stabilization with every lens
Do you know what an obsidian dome is? Well, other than knowing that it had something to do with old volcanic activity, I didn’t either. I had noticed a reference to an obsidian dome between Mammoth Lakes and June Lake, Calif., on the maps and I was curious. It turns out an obsidian dome is a huge upwelling of volcanic rock that has solidified into black, glass-like obsidian rock.
Use a spotting scope and a digital camera for wildlife photography
When photographing wildlife, especially small, elusive animals, one of the biggest challenges is having enough magnification to fill the frame with your subject. Most of us have taken a photograph of a bird or a deer where the animal is so small in the frame that it’s difficult to tell what it is. Although a super-telephoto lens of 600mm or longer would help, the price tag for one of these focal lengths can be prohibitive for many.
Flash accessories and lighting concepts to help enhance your photography
I’ve been a studio shooter for quite some time, so when I started getting involved with nature photography, I wanted to bring some of my studio equipment along. As you can imagine, big battery-powered strobes are cumbersome. I decided that I didn’t want to have that burden when hiking and enjoying the wilderness so I opted to leave them at home. There are much easier and lighter ways to achieve a similar look by using small accessory flash units.