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7 years, 5 months ago 0

I get a ton of questions about; lenses, how much should I spend, is ED glass necessary, is this lens long enough….etc., etc., etc.? Well, buying lenses is tricky, there are so many choices and it’s easy to get really confused. I have been addicted to glass, (what pros call lenses), for a long, long
time, so I’ve studied the subject a great deal. Now working for Nikon for eight years I have learned a lot more from the experts that I work with in our company. Now I’m going to share it with you. Not all of it! You don’t have time, and would loose interest long before I spilled all the beans. But, here are my top tips about buying lenses:

* First a quick caveat, I work for Nikon, and have been a life long Nikon shooter, I know far more about Nikon than any other brand, but most of what I say would apply no matter what your camera brand happens to be.

Rule 1. You get what you pay for, most of the time. If the very top end Pro lenses cost three times as much, or more, they are often worth it. Pro grade lenses are made to stay in specifications under hard and continuous use. Pro grade lenses use ED or other high end glasses and aspherical elements that make them of much higher optical quality. Pro lenses are color matched so you get the same color quality across the spectrum of lenses. Pro grades lenses use the latest and most effective lens coatings like Nikon’s N coatings (Nano technology). Pro lenses are expensive, but worth it.

Rule 2. Always buy the best glass you can afford. If you buy the very best lenses in the first place you will save money. If you get really serious about photography you will probably end up owning them eventually anyway. It’s cheaper to buy the best lenses in the first place.

Rule 3. There are bargains, but be careful. My definition of a bargain is something that has far more value than you’re asked to pay. A good example is the Nikon 70-300 AFS VR lens, at around $550. it is one of the very best telephoto zoom lenses ever made. It is the only long zoom I usually carry. In a mid range zoom, Nikon’s new 24-70 f 2.8 AFS zoom is the sharpest we have ever made. The 24-70 runs around $1,800. and it’s worth it, but if you don’t have that kind of money to spend consider the 10 year old design, 35-70 f 2.8 AF-D lens still available used, often in very good shape for around $300. It is nearly as sharp and has just a little less range, but is lot less expensive. That is what I call a bargain. I own both, by the way. The 35-70 is also a great travel lens being smaller and lighter. See the photo below, right.

Rule 4. Buy only what you will use and can carry.
I don’t own the 600mm AFS VR. I can’t carry it.
Well, I can carry it, I just don’t want to. If I was still
a professional sport shooter I would own it and would
(ugh) carry it. Fortunately I’m not. I’ve found that
most people are not comfortable carrying more than
about twenty pound of gear, except for a few dear
friends I know that are text book masochists! If you
are young and strong and have the right kind of
back pack, or rolling bag you may be able to carry
more. Over time I’ve learned that an aching back
takes away my ability to concentrate on seeing and
composing the shot!

Rule 5. Are any of the less expensive lens any good? Actually, today almost all lenses are computer designed and are surprisingly sharp. The 18-105 kit lens that you can get with a D90 is
a very sharp lens. Many people feel the 18-55 zoom that is the kit lens with several of our lower priced bodies are extremely sharp. I use the 16-85 AFS VR all the time and have found it to be very sharp and contrasty. So why buy an $1,800. 24-70? Easy, it will remain that sharp even after long, hard, abusive use for years. However with reasonable care many of these less expensive lenses can serve you very well indeed.

Rule 6. Learn what your photo interests are, that will help you know what you should own. If you shoot poisonous reptiles you will want to own a 200mm Micro lens. If you shoot interiors of houses and building, you will want the 14-24 AFS f 2.8 wide angle zoom. If you shoot airplanes in flight you will want the 70-300 AFS VR and a DX body (like the D300s or D90). If you like to travel and want a great system at minimum weight and cost, consider a D90, 16-85 AFS VR and 70-300 AFS VR. If you’re a wide angle freak add the 10-24 AFS f 4 wide angle zoom. If you photograph people in very poor light, you might consider a D700 or D3/D3s and the 24 f 1.4, 50 f1.4, 85 f1.4 and 180 f 2.8. As you see, what you do will determine what you need and what you will eventually own.

Rule 7. Never forget, photographers make images, not equipment. As my dear friend and great nature shooter, Rod Planck, always said, “Technique beats equipment every time.”

O.K. I know your question, “what do you carry?” I’m a photo generalist, some travel, some nature, a little close-up work, people, fine art, abstracts, and aviation photography make up the majority of my interests. So I do 95% of my work with following system:

D700 my everyday body – D90 for travel and to stretch my long glass.
17-35 AFS f 2.8 wide angle zoom
24-70 AFS f 2.8 mid range zoom
70-300 AFS VR f 4.5-56 long range zoom
105 f 2.8 Micro Nikkor for close-ups (the older manual focus model – a gift from a dear friend)

I also own for specialized purposes: 200mm Micro Nikkor, 85mm f 1.4, and 15 various other
old lenses that just have sentimental value and can be pressed into service as needed. Keep them mostly to fondle them and remember the old days.

I use products from Lowepro and Think Tank to carry my gear, except when shipped in
Pelican and Lightware cases.

Just for grins, this is my system back in the film days, with Nikon F4/F4s film bodies. Today my
four lens package and D700 and D90 “Replaces all of this!!!!!!” (*Except for the 16mm f 2.8
Fisheye) Capture NX2 and Photoshop have replaced all the filters except polarizers,which I still use today. Still have the same vest……………and it still fits……

Hope this was helpful.

Always remember, God loves you, and He is always ready to talk. Have a great weekend.

the pilgrim

O.K. don’t believe me that the the 70-300 AFS VR is among the very sharpest zooms Nikon has ever made? Here is my proof: Doesn’t look any different @ 24” X 36”

Rest my case……………………..

7 years, 5 months ago 0

In the days that Jesus walked the earth, he came to region of the world where fishing was a mainstay of everyday life, a number of his disciples were fishermen. It would make complete sense that Jesus would communicate to these people in a way they could best understand.

Mark 1:17
And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

How can we become “Fishers of men.” Jesus gave us two key actions, one ours, and one His.
1. Follow Me. It all starts with following Him. Following Jesus means we, accept Him for who He really is, God’s Only Son, the Messiah, the Saviour. It also means that we confess and repent of our sins and ask for His forgiveness. Having accepted it, we now walk step by step, day by day, month by month and year by year with Him. It doesn’t mean we are perfect and that we will never make another mistake or commit another sin, it does mean we are forgiven.

1. I will make you become fishers of men. It doesn’t say you must make yourself into fishers of men, it says “I” will make you become fishers of men. This is a critical point. We cannot make ourselves into something useful to Him. We are not capable of being what He needs. The best thing we have ever done is as filthy rags compared to Him. He, however can transform us into what He needs us to be to go out and fish for men. Why wouldn’t God want us to work hard and make ourselves into something He would consider glorious? Who would be glorified in that? Right, we would. What happens when we take our eyes off of Him and place them on ourselves? You got it again, it’s always a shipwreck.

God wants what is best for us. This is the formula that works, all our plans fail. I don’t know if you have ever been one of a number of fishermen who pulls a net into the boat only to find that it is filled with fish. I haven’t, but I’ve seen a lost brother come to the foot of the cross and give his life to our Lord. That joy, that pleasure, is beyond all others. I want to keep myself positioned with Christ, in a way, that my nets always come back full, for Him.

the pilgrim

7 years, 5 months ago 0

7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, Fox News, lead stories, Someone stole the cross in the Arizona desert devoted to WWI soldiers, after long court battles it had been upheld as legal, Factions fight in Arizona over new Immigration law, genuine anger breaks out, pin the tale on the donkey is deemed dangerous for children.

The world has gone mad.

Philippians 1:29  (New Living Translation)
29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him.
Believing in and following Jesus is not for the faint hearted. It is promised that if we stand up for Him, we will suffer. If God is Love, read that again it didn’t say He Loves it says he “is” Love, the pure embodiment of love. How could this bring about anything but thankful acceptance?

“It is important to remember that the modern world is not focused on a “Christ Centered Faith”. Our self-centered world is suspicious of anyone who claims to “love” others unconditionally.
Secondly, martyrdom is not a thing of the past. Many Christians still are killed in the world for their faith. Our faith is not a shield from suffering.”
Dr. Charles Stanley

So what are we to do? Like the man above, we must loose ourselves in praise of Him. When we are focused on Christ, He can lead us out of danger, or though it. Even if we die for Christ, we are victorious. Those that do not believe that something more exist after this life, have no hope and must hold onto this existence for all it’s worth. If your faith is in Him, and not this world, your life transcends this world.
Christ himself said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” The good news is that he will be walking with us, and the evil in this world has already been defeated at the cross on Calvary.

the pilgrim

*Photo note: Special thanks to my friend Eric Politzer for his touching image for this entry.

7 years, 5 months ago 0

I had a rough night last night. Shoulder pain and a visit from a demon of anxiety and fear was
thrust upon me. It all started in late afternoon when I watched a tv show I watch from time to time.
The predictions for our country and our economy were pretty stark. I must have given it more thought than I realized. I woke up several times during the night each time having dreamed of some form of personal financial disaster. The last time I awoke, probably around 3:30 a.m. I started thinking about the blog entry yesterday and what God expects of us. A quick reminder, here is the scripture again:

Micah 6:8 (The Message Translation)

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, 
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, 
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously.
When I fell back to sleep I had a wonderful dream that answered most all of my questions. You can decide whatever you want about the dream, but I think it will speak to you, as it did to me.
In my dream there was a man named David. He was in his late seventies. He volunteered at my church serving food at the various evening meals and for the Saturday morning fellowship breakfasts. David was a very kind, loving man, with a gentle manner. Everyone loved David and he had many friends among his church family. David had retired and was on a fixed income, but he took delight in serving others, and so he did. A few years ago David lost his wife of fifty years and it would have been a devastating blow where it not for the close friends in the church that surrounded him and ministered to his needs during those difficult days. In spite of his loss he never lost his outgoing love for others. David didn’t have much, but he never missed a meal, and was always warm and dry.
The other day there were two obituaries in the local paper. David’s and man named Frank. Frank had been a very successful business and political leader in the community. He was very wealthy but few people really knew him very well. In fact the greatest emotional turmoil in his family at his passing was the fight that ensued over his vast fortune. Family members that were never close were torn even further apart in their greed. Frank’s obituary read on forever, David’s was short an to the point.
On that very day David arrived at the Gates of Heaven and Jesus was waiting to greet him. When David walked though the gates Jesus embraced him and spoke softly in his ear, “Well done my good an faithful servant, welcome to paradise. It’s so good to have you here with me”
I don’t know where Frank was, I didn’t see him in my dream, but then I would not read too much into that. Frank’s fate is, and always has been, in God’s hands.
What I do know is that David lived by the scripture above, and all his needs were met, he had many people that grieved his loss, and many real friends. He made the lives of many others much better because of his love for them. Now, David is with Jesus. His reward is complete, he is reunited with family and friends and knowing David, from this dream, he will be standing at the gate to greet many of us, that’s just how David is, his love is that genuine.
When I awoke at 5:22 a.m. I knew I had to shower and write this down while every detail was fresh. I know this dream brought me great comfort and understanding, and took away my fears. I hope it does the same for you.
God is good, He loves us so much, He does not want us to be racked with fear and He has already shown us how to win in this life. Thank you Lord for sharing David’s story with me. Please give him a hug for me and thank him for helping one more person down here.

the pilgrim