The Nikon Df: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review

The Nikon Df: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review

Jay Cassario is a wedding, engagement, and portrait photographer with additional passion for landscape and star photography, which has earned him publications by National Geographic. He is a regular contributor to SLR Lounge in addition to the BL Blog. The Nikon Df: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review by Jay Cassario The Nikon Df is a very unique camera. With its vintage look and highly praised sensor, it had a lot of photographers drooling over it before it even hit the shelves. It also had its critics ripping it apart. It can’t be fairly compared to the D800 or the D4 – it’s not meant to be a D800 or D4. Call it a “hipster” camera if you want but there is a lot more to it than just a pretty retro exterior. The Df takes you back to the film days of the 70’s and buried underneath all of those fancy dials is one of the greatest sensors ever produced by Nikon. The sensor used in the Df is the same FX-format CMOS sensor with EXPEED 3 engine that is in the flagship D4 but at about half the price (as of this writing). While it lacks some of the features of the D4, the Df’s combination of exceptional image quality, industry leading low-light capabilities, and vintage looks makes it a special camera that not only takes amazing photos but leaves you feeling a little more like a true photographer, however romantic that may sound, with every click of the shutter. Disclaimer: I shoot both Canon and Nikon but I won’t be making any comparisons to the Canon bodies I own. I actually sold my...
Top 5 Photography Posts on the BorrowLenses Blog

Top 5 Photography Posts on the BorrowLenses Blog

It’s listicle season and we’re celebrating, too, with our top 5 most popular blog posts of 2013! Each one provides a different tip to help make you a better photographer. We hope these tips will help you reach your goals in the coming year! Want more? Visit the blog every week for great advice, tricks, and even special offers on photography, videography, lighting, and more. You can also find great content on our social media pages: Facebook, G+, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and...
BorrowLenses Year in Review: The Cameras of 2013

BorrowLenses Year in Review: The Cameras of 2013

2013 is a record year for new camera models at BorrowLenses.com, which means having the biggest selection of models we’ve ever had. There is something for every kind of photographer, from mirrorless pocket cameras to huge 60+ megapixel medium format DLSRs. We selected a bunch of our favorites from this bountiful season. Discover what’s available for exploration in our year-in-review. Mirrorless/MFT/Compact Panasonic’s GX7 boasts in-body stabilization and Light Speed AF all inside a super stylish design with a comfortable rubber grip. Other notable features include an impressive action-stopping 1/8000th of a second shutter ability and flash syncing at 1/320th of a second and a DSLR-esque twin-dial control system. The fully 90 degree tilting viewfinder is also a welcome feature. The GX7 has this crazy 40 FPS mode when using the electronic shutter. However, to use it you are limited to reduced-resolution JPEGs but it’s still a fun option to have. Autofocus on the GX7 is blazingly fast. AF locks onto the subject immediately even in low light where manual focus is often the only option. Continuous AF, however, still tends to hunt around as one would expect with no phase-detect sensors. Overall, the GX7 is comfortable, cool looking, and accommodates a vast array of MFT-mount lenses that are very fast. Pairs well with: Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 Lumix G Vario Zoom Lens Fuji’s X100 set the gold standard for retro design when it first came out. Since then it has continued that tradition, packing increasingly advanced technology into the classically designed mirrorless cameras that take their cues more from rangefinders of yesterday than anything else. The success to the X100 is the “s” variant of...
The Five Best Lenses For the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC)

The Five Best Lenses For the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC)

I’ve been playing with the BMPCC (Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera) for a few weeks now, and have, after much experimentation, finally narrowed the massive selection available for this camera (especially via adapters of various sorts) down to my 5 essential picks. Here they are, in no particular order… Best General-Purpose Lens: Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 This is one of those lenses that isn’t just good for the BMPCC; it’s awesome for just about any Micro 4/3 camera. Featuring a focal length of 24-70mm on a standard Micro 4/3 camera like the Olympus OM-D EM-1, a fast f/2.8 aperture, and optical image stabilization, this lens lends itself perfectly for BMPCC shooters. Given the Blackmagic’s 3x crop factor, this lens becomes a still-slightly-wide 36-105mm. Moreover, given the fact that the BMPCC has an active M4/3 mount, the image stabilization works just fine. In short, this is your desert island lens; it’ll work for almost every common scenario you might come across. Best Compact Lens: Olympus 12mm f/2.0   You’d think I’d pick one of the pancake lenses available from Panasonic or Olympus, like the 20mm f/1.7 from Panasonic. To be sure, that’s a solid performer, but I chose the 12mm for 2 key reasons. The first is that it’s still a pretty compact lens, and has a nice, fast f/2.0 aperture with the equivalent of a 36mm focal length. The second is that it’s a lens that lends itself a bit better for the BMPCC in terms of focus. Although the Blackmagic Pocket Camera does have a basic autofocus feature, most video shooters will find themselves using manual focus to nail things...
Things to Know about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Raw Update (with Some Sample Footage)

Things to Know about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Raw Update (with Some Sample Footage)

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is one of the newest additions to our inventory, and is already in demand — every single unit we currently have in our inventory is checked out for the next two weeks at least, so get your orders in as soon as possible. This tiny little package packs a wallop when it comes to delivering outstanding image quality, and as of a couple of weeks ago, it is also the smallest camera in the world that shoots RAW video. We decided to put the BMPCC’s RAW chops to an entirely unscientific test (in low-light, no less) as soon as we had a few spare minutes with a unit in-between your rentals, so check out that video after the jump. Suffice to say that RAW video offers all the advantages that still photographers have enjoyed with RAW images for a while now; the ability to shift white balance, increased exposure latitude, and a fat, robust file that stands up to vigorous post-production. Yet it’s not without its challenges either. Shooting RAW video requires some hefty resources on the shooting and post-production end, and so we thought we’d put together a list of a few things you need to be aware of if you’re going to venture into the land of RAW video. First things first – know WHY you want to shoot RAW. The BMPCC’s ProRes codec is plenty powerful – it has more than twice the bit rate of the Canon 5D Mark III’s All-I codec. Know why you think you need RAW before you shoot it. RAW video takes up a LOT of...
What (Else) to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

What (Else) to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

A while back, we did a piece on what to know when renting Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back. Medium format gear is a pretty different creature from your standard DSLR, even your high-end Canon 1Dx and Nikon D4’s. Like my colleague Alex Huff pointed out, it can be “perhaps a little scary.” Here are a few more things you should keep in mind when shooting with the Medium Format gear, especially with the 80MP IQ280 Phase One back. As Alex mentioned, you will need Capture One to read and work with Phase One’s IQF files. While Capture One is available for free for 60 days, here’s something even better – it’s available for free for an unlimited amount of time in “DB” mode. DB mode restricts you to using Capture One with files from Phase, Mamiya, and Leaf digital backs only, but has the full feature set of Capture One Pro. Alex also mentioned the reverse crop-factor for lenses when you use them with this back. That difference is ridiculously stark when compared to APS-C or even full-frame sensors, let alone Micro 4/3 or smaller. Here’s a shot taken with a 24mm lens. As an image, it’s not particularly remarkable – till you realize that I was standing almost under the tree itself. The reverse crop factor gives you some seriously wide angles. The lenses made by Hasselblad are amazing as far as image quality goes. What they are not, is weather-sealed. I can’t stress this enough, folks – do NOT take these out to Burning Man. Or the beach. I did, and we had...
9 Carry On Friendly Photo and Video Accessories for Holiday Plane Travel

9 Carry On Friendly Photo and Video Accessories for Holiday Plane Travel

Plane travel can be a source of anxiety for photographers. Checking bags isn’t safe for most gear and being able to skip the baggage claim carousels is always a bonus anyway – especially around the holidays. There are a lot of small items to shoot with, including high-quality mirrorless cameras, tiny lenses, and small flash gear. However, it is sometimes hard to skimp on support systems, lighting, and storage in order to save space. Rolling bags, tripods, and light stands all tend to be a pain to try and take on a plane. Here are 9 items that you should be able to take on board with you without having to sacrifice your shooting needs. I say “should” because the TSA is a fickle fish – what flies at one airport may not fly at another and, as always, different carriers will be more strict than others. These are my personal favorite items that I have air traveled with for trade shows, overseas vacations, and for smaller gigs without incident (so far!) on both large airliners and regional jets. AlienBees LS1100 Backlight Stand   This little light stand fits into almost any bag – collapsed it is under a foot and a half and extends up to 3 feet. Don’t pack this for lighting portraits of basketball players but for family get-togethers (especially if everyone is sitting around the couch) it is perfect. Think Tank Airport International V2.0 Rolling Camera Bag  This bag is specifically designed to adhere to TSA standards. It combines the soft give of a fabric body (good for inevitable overstuffing) with the protection of a hard...
First Impressions and Sample Photos from the Panasonic GX7 Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless Camera

First Impressions and Sample Photos from the Panasonic GX7 Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless Camera

Panasonic’s GX7 boasts in-body stabilization, up to 40 FPS using an electronic shutter, and Light Speed AF all inside a super stylish design with a comfortable rubber grip. One of BL’s biggest micro four thirds enthusiasts took it out for a spin – check out the results below, along with some personal observations on performance and features. First, the facts: • Sensor: 16.84MP Micro Four Thirds (2x Crop) MOS Sensor • File Format: JPEG, MPO, RAW • Video: 1080p HD • ISO Range: 200-25600 (Extended Mode: 125-25600) • AF Points: 23 • Ports: USB 2.0 • Flash: Hot Shoe, Built-In • FPS: Up to 10 (except when using the electronic shutter feature for 40 FPS) • Live View • WiFi • Weight: 14.18oz Other notable features include an impressive action-stopping 1/8000th of a second shutter ability and flash syncing at 1/320th of a second and a DSLR-esque twin-dial control system. The fully 90 degree tilting viewfinder is also a welcome feature. Manual focus is super easy with the GX7. You can touch the area on the screen where you want to zoom in for manual focus assist. There’s peaking as well. The touch screen is capacitive (responds to your touch). Besides the ability to change key settings while shooting, you can review images by swiping through them with the flick of a finger. As mentioned above, the GX7 has this crazy 40 FPS mode when using the electronic shutter. However, to use it you are limited to reduced-resolution JPEGs but it’s still a fun option to have. As silly as it may look, tilting the EVF to point the...
Nikon D610 Review with Sample Images

Nikon D610 Review with Sample Images

Court Leve, a well-known and respected photographer in Northern California, reviews Nikon’s D610 DSLR. Find out how it compares not only to its immediate predecessor, the D600, but also to the D800, D300s, D700, and D3s. The D600 was famously fraught with controversy surrounding its oil and dust build-up issues and many believe the D610 is a smoke n mirrors release put in place to prevent a formal D600 recall. Find out if the D610 is a true upgrade or merely a less expensive substitute for other full frames on the market. Nikon D610 Review with Sample Images by Court Leve Nikon’s D610 is an updated version of their D600 and includes a couple of internal improvements: • Increase in frame rate from 5.5 to 6 FPS • Installation of an improved shutter mechanism, replacing the version on the D600 that apparently was the point of much contention with regards to oil or dust on the sensor. To any Nikon DSLR shooter, the D610 will feel familiar and I was able to get it up and running without referring to the manual. The dials, buttons, and menus are all easy to navigate, are intuitive, and clearly marked. Here is how it compares to other Nikon cameras: • The D610 is considerably smaller than a D800 and a touch smaller than the D300s. • The shutter is notably quieter on the D610 compared to the D3s, D700, and D800. • Controls are the same as on other D-series cameras with the exception of the center button on playback. Instead of being able to zoom in quickly for a more detailed view, it toggles to...
What to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

What to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

Our new Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back is big, expensive, perhaps a little scary, and worth every penny if using it for the right assignment. We encourage renters to take advantage of Phase One’s training program if you are not already familiar with working with this system. Here’s some advice we’ve collected after using it ourselves. Stay tuned for sample images here on the blog! Difficulty Level Any reasonably seasoned shooter can handle the awesome power of medium format. The settings are just what you’d expect from a camera: AF/MF options, metering options, shutter/f-stop/and ISO control, etc. Working with the RAW files can be a challenge if you don’t have Capture One software. Handling the camera can be a challenge without an assistant because of its delicacy and bulk. In the right environment and with some patience, this camera will definitely introduce you to another level of imagery and is worth getting familiar with. What it Can Do: • Produce 10328 x 7760px images with the massive 80MP sensor. • Sync with strobes and flashes up to 1/800th of a second. • Maintain your focus point throughout camera position changes thanks to True Focus technology. • Shoot at the very low ISO 35. • Make you a sandwich. What it Can’t Do: • Video. • Be super reliable when not tethered. This camera only has 1 CF slot so tethering for image backup is a good idea. Also, the LCD preview isn’t a great visual guide – the Histogram is your friend here if you don’t have access to an external monitor. • Be easily hand-held. It’s...