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Nikon 1 V2 Review

Nikon 1 V2 is the latest mirrorless camera from Nikon. The letter V in the model name indicates it’s the high end model that is targeting users who wants more features than the base J and S models. While the V2 has inherited a number of internal features from it’s predecessor V1, Nikon has also made a number of changes internally and externally such as a new image sensor, different button/dial layout…etc and made it quite a different camera to the V1.

The most obvious difference between the V2 and the previous Nikon 1 cameras is it’s much larger grip and a more industrial look. While the larger grip does make the camera quite a bit larger, holding the camera especially with one hand also feel a lot better and more secure. Nikon has also redesigned the button layout, and make it more similar to it’s DSLRs. There are also two big dials on the top of the camera which makes changing mode and settings a lot easier. With the big grip and changes in the button/dial layout, the Nikon 1 V2 is definitely the most comfortable Nikon 1 camera to hold.

V2 has a new 14.2MP CMOS sensor. ISO range is from 160-6400. From low to mid ISO up to around 800, the picture quality is really good, the photos have very nice colours, and decent dynamic range. At ISO 3200, you can see the noise reduction algorithm is starting to remove quite a bit of finer details but overall the picture quality is still ok. ISO 6400 is for emergency use only. While it’s high ISO performance is definitely nothing like a full frame sensor, it’s still very good for a 1” sensor and can easily challenge a few mirrorless cameras with slightly larger sensor.

As a top end model, the Nikon 1 V2 has a built-in Electronic View Finder (EVF) in additonal to the main LCD screen. The EVF is pretty bright, smooth and has decent resolution. The lag is minimal so I can take action photos using the EVF easily. While I still prefer full frame DSLR’s good old optical viewfinder, the latest EVF like the one in the V2 is getting very close to the quality of the OVF and you have the advantage of WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) when you are adjusting settings like exposure or white balance. Having said that, I did notice that sometimes the brightness of the image I see in the EVF is quite different to the final image captured by the camera and i can’t figure what is causing that. But apart from that, I enjoy taking photos using V2’s EVF.

One thing that can make or break a camera is it’s autofocus system, and V2’s Autofocus system is simply amazing. It’s a hybrid autofocus system that combines both phase and contrast detection. There are a total of 73 phase detection AF points and 135 contrast detection AF points that gives you a total of… 200+ AF points. Yes crazy! And it does work very well in real life too! Not only autofocus is lighting fast when shooting static object, (somehow i feel it’s even faster than my D800!), the autofocus accuracy is also very good. And when I was shooting moving object, the tracking works quite well too. I tried using the V2 to take photos of cars, birds or my daughter running around, and I was really amazed by the very high percentage of good photos that the V2 managed to capture. In comparison, my Olympus OM-D, which is also pretty fast and accurate when shooting static objects, performs very poorly once the object starts moving. V2 with it’s hybrid autofocus is definitely the best mirrorless camera for shooting moving objects.
Just a note, the V2’s autofocus system is basically the same as all the other Nikon 1 cameras, so V1, J1, J2, S1..etc they should all have the same amazing autofocus capability,

V2’s mechanical shutter speed has a maximum speed of 1/4000s which is similar to most cameras in this class. But it also has an additional electronic Shutter with a maximum shutter speed of 1/16,000s! And if you switch on the “Silent” mode, the camera makes no shutter sound at all when you are taking photos. This is really great when you want to take photo at a quiet place and don’t want to create any noise. Like taking photos of your baby and not worry about waking him up from his sweet dream.

Nikon put a lot of creative features into it’s 1 system camera and the V2 is no exception. The V2 not only inherits a lot of features from its predecessor like the Smart Photo Selector , it also has some new features like the Best Moment Capture Mode. The Best Moment Capture mode allows you to use slow view a moment you are capturing in real time. You just need to half press the shutter button and the camera will start capture live action (approx. 1.33 seconds). At the same time, the camera plays it back at five times slower than normal speed (approx. 6.66 sec) and you can pick the best moment you want. This action is replayed repeatedly as long as the shutter-release button is half-pressed.

Another big selling point of the V2 is it’s high burst rate. V2 can take photos at 15fps, with autofocus and at full resolution! It’s faster than the Nikon D4! But if 15fps is still not fast enough, you can increase the speed to 60fps if you don’t need autofocus between the continuous shots. And you still get the full resolution files (RAW/JPG). It means the camera is capturing 840 megapixels per second!! Crazy!

With the V1, a lot of people have complained that it doesn’t have a built-in flash, so you have to use the accessory port to plug in an external flash. But it means you can’t connect another external accessory (e.g. GPS) when you are using a flash. Good news is, the V2 now has an built-in flash as well as the accessory port.

Another cool feature of the Nikon 1 cameras, including the V2 is it’s ability to capture slow motion video at either 400fps or 1200fps. And tell you what, slow-motion videos are super fun! 1200fps is amazing and reveal things you never see with your naked eyes. But at 320 x 120, the resolution is really a bit too low for any real use.. The 400fps 640x 240 video is a better compromise in terms of speed and resolution. And is a LOT OF FUN! We spent a lot of time running around taking random slow-motion videos instead of photos when we were reviewing the camera. A lot of ordinary scenes suddenly look very interesting when captured at 400fps!

You can check out our youtube channel for some more slow motion video we captured using the V2:
http://www.youtube.com/user/NikonJin

For more advance video users, you can have full manual exposure controls when shooting in the Advance Movie Mode. And the camera also has a external mic input port.
Another cool feature is that you can capture high resolution photos when you are capturing full HD video. You won’t be missing a great photo opportunity anymore just because you are taking video.

If you compare the Nikon 1 cameras with other brand mirrorless cameras, you may notice the Nikon 1 camera bodies is a bit smaller, but not significantly smaller. But with any interchangable lens system, the size of the body is only part of the equation. Some of the large sensor mirrorless cameras may have a very slim and smallish body. But then once you mount a lens onto the camera, all of a sudden the camera is not really any smaller than a small DSLR anymore. Fortunately this is not the case with the Nikon 1 cameras. The loan unit I got from Nikon consist of a V2 + 4 different lenses: 2 zoom and 2 prime lenses. Everything fit inside a very small camera bag and total weight is next to nothing. Or I can easily put the camera with a prime or even zoom lens attached in my trouser pocket and put one or two more lenses in another pocket. The Nikon 1 lenses are really small and in my opinion that’s one of the biggest advantage of the 1” CX sensor. Among the 4 lenses I’ve tried, I especially love the 18.5mm f/1.8 lens. It’s nice, small, fast and picture quality is pretty good.

While the V2 doesn’t have wifi built-in, there is an optional WU-1b wifi adaptor. With the wifi adaptor and a iOS or Android device, you can have control the camera and take photos from your smart device. You’ll have realtime liveview, and ability to download photos through wifi. The wifi is pretty easy to setup, and the remote liveview has almost no delay, this is a lot better than the GoPro3 I recently tried which has a 3-4 second delay with it’s remote liveview display.. The only thing is, make sure you don’t lost the WU-1B as it’s really quite tiny. It would be good if Nikon can make the wifi module built-in for it’s future cameras.

During the review, I noticed the left side of the camera gets a bit warm after the camera’s being used continously for a while, especially after I took a number of slow motion videos. I am guessing the heat is generated by the cameras EXPEED 3A processor. The heat won’t make you feel uncomfortable but the camera is reminding you it’s got a really powerful processor and it is processing a lot of data!

But even with the powerful EXPEED 3A processor, battery life seems not too bad and is similar to most of the mirrorless cameras I’ve used in the past.

Conclusions:
For a camera that is small enough to carry with me almost all the time, the image quality from the V2 is really pretty good. The Nikon 1 V2 has an amazing autofocus system, very fast 15fps (or 60fps) burst rate, 400fps slow motion video, wifi remote control..etc make this camera a lot of fun! My biggest concern for this camera is it’s price. The camera is not available for sale here in NZ yet when I’m doing this review so I don’t really know the street price. But looking at the V1’s price, I have a feeling it won’t be cheap when it’s finally available for sale. There will be a lot of really strong competitors at the same price range, most of them are mirrorless or even DSLRs with a much larger sensor. So will the market prefer V2’s very impressive feature list and compact size, or will people prefer a larger camera with larger sensor? I guess it’s a really personal choice. If you want a good small camera that is easy to operate, and with lots of cool innovative features, you definitely should check out the Nikon 1 V2.

Pros:
Amazing Autofocus system.
Long list of innovative features
Capture full resolution photo at up to 60fps!
Slow motion video up to 1200fps
Compact size, that includes the lenses too.

Cons:
EVF brightness is different to the image captured occasionally.
Retail price could be higher than what people want to.
Wifi could be built-in instead of external

Sample Photos
(All sample photos are RAW file converted to JPG using Adobe Lightroom)


Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8


Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8


Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8


Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8


Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8


Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8


Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8


Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8


Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8


Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm VR

Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm VR


Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm VR


Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm VR


Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm VR

Reviewer: Richard Wong

Richard is an award winning wedding/portrait Photographer based in Auckland, New Zealand. Richard is also a contributing writer for the D-Photo magazine. (www.dphoto.co.nz)

Richard’s website is www.photobyrichard.com and his facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/pages/Photo-by-Richard/113755425305636

 

All photos and text Copyright© 2012 www.nikonjin.com. All photos and text may not be copied or reproduced in any format without obtaining written permissions

Nikon D600 Review

After releasing the D800, D800E and D4, Nikon has released it’s 4th full frame FX DSLR this year, the Nikon D600. Unlike the previous full frame cameras, the D600 is mainly targeting the enthusiast user market. It’s Nikon’s smallest, lightest and also cheapest full frame DSLR so far.

 

When I first saw the D600, I nearly mistaken it is a D7000! It’s design looks very similar to the D7000 and it’s only slightly bigger and heavier. The D800 is quite a bit bigger, taller and heavier than the D600.

D600 and D800 size comparison (Left: D800 Right: D600)

It shares the same metering system 3D color matrix metering II 2,016 pixel RGB sensor as the D7000.
And the autofocus system is based on D7000’s 39 point AF system. 9 of the autofocus points are cross type and seven of them can now focus at f/8. Like all the Nikon FX camera, all the focus points are within the central DX crop area and spot metering is linked to the active AF point. While I haven’t really spend much time testing the AF tracking or use some test chart to test the autofocus accuracy, the AF system seems pretty accurate and responsive when I was shooting real life photos.

The D600 also shares a lot of improvements and new features with it’s bigger brother, the 36MP FX D800. For example, the LCD screen is the same as the D800, it uses the same Expeed 3 processor, it has very similar video mode including uncompressed HDMI output, headphone out, external mic in and 1080p30 mode…etc


Videographers would love all these ports!

 

The camera has a partially magnesium metal body. The shutter rating is 150,000 and I was told the weather seal is same as the D800. So while it’s not as heavy or solid as a D4 or a D800, it is still a very solid and reliable camera that you can take it anywhere, and shoot it under pretty much any weather condition.

There are also infra red sensors on the camera so you can use an infra red remote trigger to trigger this camera. In additional to that, you can use the optional wifi module and control it with an Android or iOS device. Unfortunately there is no 10 pin remote Connector so you can’t use a normal remote shutter cable with the D600.

The camera is pretty responsive because of the Expeed3 processor. Going through the camera’s menu is quick and easy.

If you are a street photographer, you would also love the D600’s quiet shutter sound. It is a lot quieter than the other Nikon full frame cameras and won’t draw as much unwanted attention when you are taking photos. I’ve used the D600 to take some photos of a newborn baby during the review period. The little one was only 1 day old and was sleeping peacefully when I arrived. I switched the camera to the quiet mode, and took probably a dozen photos at short distance. The shutter sound didn’t upset the baby at all. I’m pretty sure it would be a different story if I was shooting with my D700 or D800 as those camera have a much louder shutter sound.

And for those of you who care about how the camera look, I think it’s a very good looking camera. It’s not too boxy nor too curvy, and with a medium sized zoom or prime lens attached, it looks and feels very nice and balanced.

 

As i’ve said in the beginning, the D600’s design is very similar to the D7000, but with some new changes. For example, the new live view control, the position of the video record button is the same as the new one on D800. There are now 5 buttons instead of 4 on the left hand side of the main LCD screen. The ISO button is now moved to the buttom most, allow user to adjust ISO easily when you are shooting. Auto ISO can now be enabled by pressing the ISO button and turning the front dial, just like the D800. So you don’t have to go into the menu to turn the auto ISO on/off anymore!


Zoom in at top, Zoom out at bottom. It just makes more sense isn’t it?

 

The D600 has dual SD card slots. You can assign the second slot to act as overfill, backup or storing a JPG. Just a few years ago, the only camera that has dual card slot was the flagship camera like the D3!

While the D600 doesn’t have the circle shape viewfinder like other FX cameras, it’s viewfinder is a 100% pentaprism and is really bright and large! There are also tonnes of information displayed in the viewfinder. And if you are using the Auto ISO mode, the actual ISO the camera selects is now also shown in the viewfinder.

 

The camera has a built-in RAW converter and some postprocessing ability. It also has a built-in HDR mode. The camera creates a “HDR” style image using 1 or multiple shots automatically for you. The HDR JPG output captures a wider dynamic range then normal photo. It works pretty well especially when you are shooting a high dynamic range scene, for example part of your photo is indoor and part of it is outdoor. Just don’t expect the crazy Photomatrix style effect as it’s designed for more subtle HDR effect.


Normal Mode


HDR Mode – Smooth Setting = low

 

But you need to remember the HDR mode can only be enabled when you are shooting in JPG mode with bracketing turned off. The camera will only grey out the HDR option unless you met all the requirements. I wish Nikon can improve this in the future and either offer to adjust all the settings to allow HDR mode, or at least tell you explicitly what is causing the HDR mode disabled. It’s not only the HDR mode, there are also a few other menu options that could grey out depends on other settings/conditions and if you are not familar with the camera it really can take you a bit of time to find out how to re-enable it.

 

D600’s live view mode is pretty much the same as the D800 and D4 and uses the new live view button/level design. It’s a lot easier to use when compare to the older live view design, The autofocus in live view mode while not as fast as some of the fastest mirrorless system, is still quite fast and doesn’t hunt too much. Unlike D800, you cannot adjust the aperture size once you are in liveview mode, unless you are using a AF lens with mechanical aperture ring. Unfortunately, the live view display’s framerate also drops quite a bit when you zoom in the picture, just like the D800. It makes manual focus using live view harder than it should be.

 

To differentiate the D600 from their own and more expensive D800, Nikon has to tune down some of the otherwise amazing D600 spec list. Fortunately, most of the missing things (when compare to the D800) like limited number bracketing frames, or the lack of AF-ON button I mentioned earlier..etc are minor and there are usually some workarounds. But the slower maximum flash sync speed of 1/200s (which can actually be boost to 1/250s) and the max shutter speed of 1/4000s are probably the biggest complains from me. If you are a landscape photographer or street photographer then you most likely don’t care but if you shoot a lot of sports, or you are a strobist, then the lower max sync and shutter speed (also with the lack of PC Sync jack) could really annoy you. But then Canon’s newly announced 6D (which is D600’s direct competitor) also has the maximum shutter speed of 1/4000s and max sync speed is even slower at 1/180s. So maybe I shouldn’t really complain too much?

 

When I first pick up my D800, I found that it requires me to pay a lot more attention to my shutter speed, aperture setting, lens selection and also I need to try to be steady as possible if I want to get maximum quality photos. With the D600, probably because of it’s lower 24MP resolution, I find it is a lot more forgiving as it doesn’t reveal every tiniest mistake I’ve made. The smaller image size probably is more computer friendly too for most people that doesn’t have the latest and fastest computer with the biggest storage space.

 

During the review period, 90% of the time I was using the camera with the 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G VR kit lens. The 24-85VR is one fantastic kit lens! While it’s a little bit plasticky, it’s also a lot more compact and lighter (and of course cheaper) than the 24-70mm f/2.8G and the picture quality is nearly as good under most situtations. And at f/3.5-4.5 it’s not too much slower neither. Some of the photos I took at wide open, look awesome even when viewed at 100%. A short review of the 24-85 lens will come soon!
So if you are upgrading from DX and need a standard full frame zoom lens, I would highly recommend you to check out the 24-85G.

 

So how’s the image quality?

 

After using the camera for about a week, under daylight, moonlight, shooting various kind of photos, I’ve to say I’m really impressed by the photo comes out from the D600.

The dynamic range is very good, a lot better than the D700 and probably just as good as the D800 which is the current king of DR according to DXOMark.
Combined with the clean image it generates, you have a extremely large amount of freedom to push the shadow details or recover highlight during post processing especially if you are shooting at low ISO.


Left Half: RAW -> JPG in Lightroom, all default settings
Right Half: RAW -> JPG in LR Exposure increased 6 stops, otherwise default settings, no noise reduction applied

For the photo above, the Correct Exposure should be around 1/15s but I shot the actual photo at 1/1000s so this photo was 6 stops underexposed. I pushed +6EV in post processing I’m guessing if I didn’t tell you the original photo was 6 stops underexposed you probably wouldn’t know.

Yes 6 stops!

 

When Nikon released their first FX DSLR Nikon D3. It’s high ISO performance completely blown everyone away. Maximum 5 digit ISO was something we never thought of being possible and it started the new high ISO war between different camera manufacturers. D700 uses the same sensor as D3 and it was the camera of choice for low light shooting for many professional and enthusiast users. So how does the new D600 and D800 perform when compare to the original low light king?

I did some quick tests to compare the picture quality of these three cameras at different ISO.

I tested each camera from ISO 100 all the way to 25600. All cameras were in manual Mode, all the photos were shot with the same lens, same shutter speed and aperture for each ISO setting. Same white balance was used and the camera was on a tripod. The RAW file is then loaded in Adobe Lightroom 4.2 , all default settings, no noise reduction, no sharpening, output to 10MP JPG to allow us to compare the results at same zoom level.

This is the test photo:

And here are the 100% crop results from the 10MP JPG.

[CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE FULL SIZE]

Crop 1: Green Box


Crop 2: Blue Box

 

All test photos were taken indoor during daytime within an approx 10 minutes period. It was a partly cloudy day and the sun went behind the cloud from time to time, so the ambient light varies slightly. If you are wondering why some images are brighter than other, this is probably the main reason.

Up to ISO 800, there is virtually no visible difference between the three cameras. The D700 starting to show a little bit more noise at ISO 1600 but it’s not until ISO 3200 then the difference become very apparent. At higher ISO, the D800 still managed to retain a lot of fine details. But while D600’s photo has slightly less details, the chromatic noise seems to be much better controlled compare to the D800. So overall, I would say the D600 and D800 is pretty similar overall at high ISO.
The D700, which was once the best high ISO camera just not too long ago, really got beaten by his younger brothers. It’s approximately 1 stop behind the D600 and D800 in terms of overall image quality. Looking at the performance at ISO 25600 (remember these are photos with no noise reduction applied), I felt Nikon can easily push another 1 or maybe 2 stop and claim a maximum ISO of 51200 or 102400 if they want. But they probably want to be a bit more conservative and therefore limited the maximum ISO at 25600.

 

 

Conclusions

Nikon has released some really nice DSLRs this year, the latest D600 doesn’t disappoint either. In some way it’s probably the most exciting release this year as it’s the most affordable full frame camera that still comes with a very impressive spec list. And more importantly, the actual performance of the camera in real world is just as good as the spec sheet.

If you are a strobist, the lack of sync port, 1/200s sync speed may annoy you a bit. But for most of it’s target users, it’s really hard to find any major thing to complain about.

It’s probably the best ever camera for enthusiast photographers.

Even for the professional photographers the D600 would be a great lightweight 2nd camera to go with their D4 or D800. If someone is offering to swap my D700 (which is my 2nd camera at the moment) with a D600, I would accept his offer immediately! Anyone?

Now Nikon has completely refreshed the complete full frame DSLR line up and also their entry level DSLR this year. I wonder what the next DSLR release will be like?

 

Pros
– Fantastic dynamic range
– Great high ISO performance
– Small and light but still with decent build quality and weather protection
– Decent autofocus system and metering system
– Lots of features for a enthusiast level camera: Dual SD card, 100% viewfinder, mic in, headphone jack, uncompressed video out…etc. hm… my D700 doesn’t have any of them!
– More forgiving and computer friendly than the D800 because of it’s lower resolution
– Great quality kit lens

Cons
– 1/200s sync speed and the lack of PC Sync jack would disappoint strobists
– Cannot adjust aperture size once live view mode is turned on (unless you are using a AF lens with mechanical aperture ring)
– Live view mode still low framerate when you zoom in.

 

 

Sample Photos
(Nikon D600 + AFS 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G VR, all photos are unedited JPG straight from camera)

 

[CLICK ON A PHOTO TO SEE THE LARGER VERSION]


f/6.3 1/800s ISO100

f/7.1 1/400s ISO100

f/7.1 1/400s ISO100

f/7.1 1/500 ISO720


f/6.3 1/13s ISO1600

 f/4.5 1/30s ISO1600


f/18 0.3s ISO100 (Handheld, don’t you love VR!)


f/9.0 1/0s ISO100


f/4.5 1/200 ISO180

f/6.3 1/13s ISO1600

f/4.2 1/1000 ISO100


f/6.4 1/100s ISO6400

f/4.5 1/200s ISO1400


f/7.1 1/13s ISO3200


f/8.0 1/400s ISO100

f/5.6 1/200s ISO220

 


f/7.1 1/132 ISO3200

 

NikonJin is also on Facebook now, here is our FB page:

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Reviewer: Richard Wong

Richard is an award winning wedding/portrait Photographer based in Auckland, New Zealand. Richard’s website is www.photobyrichard.com and his facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/pages/Photo-by-Richard/113755425305636

All photos and text Copyright© 2012 www.nikonjin.com. All photos and text may not be copied or reproduced in any format without obtaining written permissions

Review: Phottix Odin TTL flash triggers

 

Updated 2012/10/11  We did a quick test of the Odin with the newly released Nikon D600. From what we can see, everything seems to be working perfectly. All the basic controls, high speed sync…etc It’s good to see the Odin is working great with new cameras without the need  to wait for new firmware.

 

Nikon has a pretty decent camera flash system called CLS (Creative Lighting System) that allows you to trigger and control remote speedlights from your camera. It’s pretty easy to use and most of the Nikon DSLR can use it’s built-in flash as the commander to control the remote speedlights. Unfortunately because it’s an infra red based system, it requires direct line of sight and the working distance can be quite limited. While there are tricks and workarounds, a lot of photographers also use aftermarket radio based trigger system when the Nikon CLS is not the perfect solution.

There are two major types of radio based triggers: Non-TTL triggers and TTL triggers

Non-TTL triggers pretty much do only one thing, trigger the remote speedlight(s). The Non-TTL triggers are generally more simple, more reliable and cheaper.

TTL triggers on the other hand are more sophisticated. They don’t only allow you to trigger the remote speedlights, you can also adjust the power and some other speedlight settings remotely. TTL triggers doesn’t mean you have to fire the flash in TTL mode, you can control the power in the good old manual mode as well. The obvious advantage with the TTL triggers is that you can adjust the power of the remote speedlights quickly and easily. Imagine if you have mounted multiple speedlight(s) behind a softbox, up on a light stand. If you are using non-TTL trigger, you have to bring the speedlights down to adjust the power and put them back up when you are setting it up. Not only it takes time, and you may have changed the position or angle of your speedlights when you are adjusting the power. If you are using TTL triggers, you can just press a few buttons on your camera’s transmitter unit. Unfortunately, the TTL triggers are usually quite expensive and a lot of them are not that reliable as well.

Phottix has released their Odin TTL flash triggers for Canon system last year and just a while ago they have also released the Nikon version as well (They have just announced the Sony Alpha version recently too). After reading some positive feedbacks on our forum and some other websites, I have decided to try out the Phottix Odin TTL triggers and see how good or bad these TTL flash triggers are.

The Phottix Odin TTL Triggers

The Phottix Odin TTL Triggers consist of two main components, the Transmitter and Control Unit (we’ll just call it the TCU) and the receiver unit (we’ll just call it the receiver).

So this is the Phottix Odin “Flash Trigger” set:

And this is what you can find inside the box:

Phottix did a pretty good job and included most if not all the accessories you’ll need. My only complain is that the User manual is only a PDF file on the CD. It may have saved a little tree, but I personally always prefer a printed version that I can take and read anywhere easily.

The Odin TCU looks very similar to the Nikon SU800. It has a decent size LCD at the back and a group of buttons below the LCD.

The LCD displays all the important information, like the channel, flash mode, battery level indicator ..etc The LCD and buttons on the TCU are all backlight.

This is how the Odin TCU looks like when mounted on a camera: (Front View)

(Rear View)

The TCU doesn’t have any hotshoe mount so you cannot attach a speedlight on top of it. It is probably partially because of the shape of the TCU (which is quite tall). It is a bit of a shame as it means users can’t mount a on camera flash for a bit of fill flash, and you have to remove the TCU every time you want to use a on-camera flash. Personally I would prefer the TCU and the receiver to be a bit smaller but at least they all use AA batteries so it’s easy and cheap to replace them. I am using rechargable AAs on both the transmitter and receiver and they seem to work great.

The receiver doesn’t have any LCD screen, instead it has a small LED light, it will light up in different colour under different conditions. The receivers can also be powered by 5V power supply if you want.

If you have more than 1 speedlights, you will probably want to order some additional receivers:

The Odin triggers operates at 2.4GHz frequency so there is only 1 version for every country in the world and you don’t need a special radio license to use them. This is great for photographers who travel to different countries regularly.

Both the TCU and receiver are mostly made of plastic but feels reasonably solid (for a plastic device anyway), maybe just a little bit too light. When I placed the Odin TCU and receiver next to my Nikon SB900 speedlight, the build quality of the Odin is almost as good as that of the SB900. While I haven’t drop or tested how strong the hotshoe mounts are, it seems strong enough and doesn’t have too much play when the Odin units are mounted onto the camera/speedlights/lightstand.

 

Using the Odin

The Odin Triggers are quite easy to setup. When I received the Odin triggers, I haven’t actually read the manual (as it was a PDF file and I was not in front of a computer). Basically I just took them out from the box, insert the battery, mount the TCU on the camera, mount the receiver onto a flash. Turn everything on, set both to the same channel (and remember set the flash to normal TTL mode) and it just worked straight away! You don’t need to link/sync the pairs or do any other setup steps. If you have used a SB900 or SB910 before, you should know how to setup the Odin TCU as they have a very similar user interface. You should have everything working within a few minutes or even seconds.

While the big LCD makes the system quite easy to understand and use, I personally actually prefer the mechanical dials on Pocketwizrd’s AC3 control unit and believe it is faster than having to go through the menus on the LCD screen. But it’s a personal preference and the disadvantage of the smaller Pocketwizard AC3 unit is that it doesn’t have a LCD display which also displays a few other important information.

With the Odin triggers, you assign your remote speedlights in one of the three different groups. And then you can fire each group in either TTL mode or Manual mode. You can adjust the power in 1/3 stop steps (either in TTL or manual mode). Or you can set the power of your remote speedlights in A:B ratio if you want. You can adjust the speedlight’s zoom as well. Either set it to follow your len’s focal length or you can set the zoom manually between 20 – 200mm.

The remote speedlight’s focus assist light can also be switched on if you want. There is also a modeling light mode which flashes all the speedlights for 1 second. That helps you to preview the lighting setup or help you do the focusing under dark environment when the built-in AF assist light is not enough.

When you are changing the settings on the Odin TCU, the remote speedlight would update immediately, just like they are directly attached to the camera. For example, when I change my camera’s ISO setting from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. I can see my remote SB900’s display updated pretty much at the same time.

Phottix claims the Odin TTL triggers support high speed sync so you can shoot at maximum shutter speed of 1/8000s (but it depends on camera/speedlight). This is a very important feature and I will test it and see if it works a bit later in this review.

 

Working Range Test

Phottix claims the Odin’s working range is 100m+ which is quite a long distance. So I took my camera, SB900 speedlight and Odin triggers outdoor to see whether the claimed 100M+ range is true or not

I connect my SB900 to an Odin receiver. The TCU was mounted on my Nikon D800. And set the flash firing mode to MANUAL.
I started the test by standing at approximately 15m from my remote speedlight. 3 consecutive shots was fired and I reviewed each photo to see if the flash was triggered successfully in all of the 3 photos. If true, then I walk a bit further away and repeat the test. Although the radio base trigger like the Odin doesn’t require a direct line of sight to work, the trigger signal strength will be reduced if there is any object in between the TCU and the receiver. And the signal strength reduced will depend on the size, shape, material of the object in between. So to keep things simple and consistent, I made sure there is a direct line of sight with the receiver during the working range test.

So the flash got triggered successfully 100% at 15m, 30m, 45m (which the CLS would normally stop workng), then 60m, 75m, 90m.

Then at 105m, eveyrthing still worked perfectly. So the claimed 100m distance is true. I decided to conitnue the test and see how the Odin response.

So 120m, 135m, the flash was still triggered 100%

And this is the results at 150m:

In case the photo is too small to see, the remote SB900 150m away was triggered successfully in every one of the three test shots.
Unfortunataely I ran out of space and couldn’t really continue the test.

 

Working Range Test 2

In the previous test, I found out the triggers still working perfectly in an open area up to 150m away. I want to see how much further away can I go, so I went to another bigger outspace and retest the maximum working range.

I started at around 150m distance. Just like the previous test, the trigger worked perfectly at that distance:

So I continue walk further and further away from my remote SB900. And repeated the test every 15-20m. Very soon, i couldn’t see my speedlight anymore (partly because it was quite dark already) while the trigger was still working 100%.

And this is the last photo I took before i ran out of space again!

The distance from my speedlight at that point? 350m !!!!

Yes I was 350m away,and the trigger was still firing the remote speedlight perfectly at that distance!

I don’t know how much futher I can go before the trigger will stop working, but to be honest, at 350m away, I can’t even see my remote speedlight anymore and the output from the speedlight was really pretty weak even I was shooting at ISO3200 and f/1.4 already. So yes I’ll probably have to come to the conclusion that the Odin’s working range is more than anyone ever needed!

 

Hi Speed Sync

Phottix claims the Odin TTL flash triggers support hi speed sync and the maximum shutter speed is 1/8000s. This is a very important feature if you are a wedding photographer  as it’s very difficult to keep the shutter speed before your normal sync speed (e.g. 1/250s) when shooting outdoor at daytime at large aperture.  So I want to test and see if it really works. I’ve assigned my speedlights to 3 remote groups. And I shot a number of different photos at very high shutter speed (up to 1/8000s) to see if the hi speed sync really works.

The result?

Yes it works.

I’ve took around 50 photos, most of them at 1/8000s, with my speedlights at different distance and position. And every single photo the speedlights light up the scene sucessfully from one corner to the opposite.

1/8000s? Not a problem for the Phottix Odin!

 

TTL Mode

To see if the TTL mode really works, I’ve assigned my speedlights to different remote groups, all in TTL mode. And then I placed the speedlights in different position and I shot a number of different photos and at different TTL power settings.
So does TTL works? Yes it works, even at hi speed sync mode. But my testing seems to suggest the Odin fires the remote speedlights at different power than the Nikon CLS would do. Usually I got a brighter image with the Odin. But at least the result is fairly consistent so it’s still very usable.

 

Apart from the testings I didabove, I’ve also used the Odins at a dozen of weddings and portrait sessions. Overall my result is very positive. My remote speedlights (that is triggered by Odin) fire and at correct power 99% of the time. I did have some occasional issues with one of my receiver. But apart from that, the Odins are very reliable.

 

Conclusions

When I first heard Phottix has released the Odin TTL triggers, I was a bit skeptical. I was skeptical because even the TTL flash triggers from some big name companies are not reliable and have many issues. So i told myself no way Phottix could just release a good and reliable TTL flash trigger. Turned out i was wrong. The Odin TTL triggers have lots of features, easy to use but most importantly, they are very reliable! The 350m+ working range is unbelivable, shooting at 1/8000s works perfectly and the TTL mode also works quite well. Apart from a few minor complains, the Odin flash trigger is almost perfect! So if you want some good and reliable TTL flash triggers, you definitely need to have a look at the Phottix Odin!

 

Pros

It works! And it works consistently!
Very long working distance, works perfectly at 350m+
Use AA batteries on both the TCU and receiver
Decent Build Quality
Firmware upgradable by USB
High Speed sync up to 1/8000s
Lots of features, e.g. modelling light, remote AF assist lamp, flash zoom adjustement
Works perfectly with the latest cameras like the Nikon D800 straight out of box

 

Cons

The size of the transmitter and receiver can be a bit smaller
TCU doesn’t have a hotshoe mount so you can’t attach any on camera flash when using the Odin system
TTL mode seems to fire the remote speedlights at different power compare to the Nikon CLS
While it’s not the most expensive TTL triggers, buying a set of Odins with multiple receivers can still be quite expensive.

 

Welcome to  add your comments, experience and discuss about the Phottix Odin trigger on our forum:

http://www.nikonjin.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=1801&pid=13555#pid13555

 

 

 

Reviewer: Richard Wong

Richard is an award winning wedding/portrait Photographer based in Auckland, New Zealand. Richard is also a contributing writer for the D-Photo magazine. (www.dphoto.co.nz)

Richard’s website is www.photobyrichard.com and his facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/PhotoByRichard

 

All photos and text Copyright© 2012 www.nikonjin.com. All photos and text may not be copied or reproduced in any format without obtaining written permissions

Battle of the small full frame cameras: Nikon D600 vs Canon 6D

Just few days after Nikon announced their small full frame DSLR, the Nikon D600, Canon has respond with their EOS 6D Full frame DSLR. Both cameras have very similar specs and obviously are targeting similar user group.

We had a quick play with the Nikon D600 a few days ago and we’ll be doing a full D600 review very soon. But it’ll be probably be a few months before we can get our hands on a 6D, so we have summarised some of the key features and specs of these two cameras in the following table for you to compare the two camera.

While Canon has not officially announced the price of the 6D yet, it appears the 6D will be selling at same or very similar price as the Nikon D600.

So are you considering upgrading from a cropped sensor DSLR, or buying your first ever DSLR, which one would you buy?

[UPDATED: correction – the 6D doesn’t actually have a touch screen LCD]

For discussions and comments please visit our forum:
http://www.nikonjin.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=1791

Nikon D600 Quick Hands on Impression

So Nikon has finally announced the Nikon D600 DSLR camera, the smallest full frame DSLR camera Nikon has ever made. It’s the first full frame DSLR that is targeting the consumer market as well as professional users.

We had a quick play with a sample D600 and let us share with you some of our first impressions. Unfortunately we were not allowed to show you photos of/from the camera, but we’ll be doing a more in-depth review with a production model very soon.

When we saw and hold the D600 in our hands, the first impression was, it’s very similar to a D7000! If it’s not the FX badge and the D600 logo at the front , we would have mistaken it as a D7000! It’s slightly bigger, and heavier than a D7000, but not by much. And when we put it side by side with a D800, the D800 is obviously bigger, taller and heavier.

The D600 has a full frame 24 megapixel sensor. The ISO range is from 100 – 6400 (native, expandable to 50-25600). The D600 can do 5.5fps at full resolution without any external aid. While we did not test it’s dynamic range in
this preview, we’ve took a few photos at high ISOs from 6400 up to max 25600 and the result looks pretty impressive. At ISO 6400, the amount of noise is still keep at reasonable level and there is still a good amount of fine details in the photo. We’ll do a more detailed comparison when we are doing the full review, but in the mean time, we can tell you you wouldn’t be disappointed if you want a camera that can shoot under low light. It’s not a D4, but the high performance should be at least as good as a D700.

The D600’s autofocus system is basically the same as the D7000’s AF system. It has 39 AF point with 9 of them are cross type and seven of them can focus at f/8. Like all the Nikon FX camera, all the focus points are within the central DX crop area.

The metering system is the same 3D color matrix metering II 2,016 pixel RGB sensor as the D7000 as well.

It’s obvious Nikon wants to sell this camera to a lot of consumer users who’s upgrading from a DX camera, but the D600 also has a (partly?) magnesium metal body. And I was told the weather seal is same as the D800, and the shutter rating is 150,000 so professional photographers should still be happy to use it as their work camera and take it anywhere, and shoot it under any weather condition.

The D600 also shares a lot of improvements and new features with it’s bigger brother, the 36MP FX D800. For example, the LCD screen is same as the D800, it uses the same Expeed 3 processor, it has very similar video mode including
uncompressed HDMI output, headphone out, external mic in and 1080p30 mode…etc

We noticed there are infra red sensors on the camera, so that means you can use a cheap infra red remote trigger to trigger this camera. This is something we haven’t see on a higher end Nikon DSLR before. In additional to that, you can use the optional wifi module and control it with an Android or iOS device.

The camera is pretty responsive, just like the D800 or D4, probably because of the Expeed3 processor. Shutter sound is more quiet than the D800 or D4.

And for those of you who care about how the camera look, I personally think it’s a very good looking camera. It’s not too boxy nor too curvy, and with a medium sized lens attached, it looks and feels very nice and balanced .

So right now, we are pretty impressed by this latest full frame camera, and we’ll be giving you a full review once we got our hands on a production model.

The D600 will be available locally (New Zealand) around end of next week.
Retail price is expected to be around mid $3k NZD

For more information of the Nikon D600, please go to Nikon NZ website:

http://www.nikon.co.nz/productitem.php?pid=1528-606ea4f9d2

Reflex-Nikkor 500mm f/8 C Review

The Nikon F-mount is basically the same since 1959. You can get some classic Nikkor SLR lenses and just mount it on your latest Nikon DSLR and shoot straight away!
The Reflex-Nikkor 500mm f/8 lens is one of those classic lens from the film age.

Reflex lens (or catadioptric lenses or mirror lens) has quite a distinctive look. There is a small circular plate at the center of the front element. If you are wondering how it works, basically, incoming light first gets reflected by the main mirror located at the back of the lens, then goes towards the secondary mirror at the front (that’s the small circle plate you see from outside). Then it finally reflects back towards the image sensor. If you are interested, you can read more about mirror reflex lens on wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catadioptric_system

Nikon has made a number of reflex lenses in the past. The first 500mm reflex lenses was made back in 1960s and the latest version, the 500mm f/8 N was still in production until 2005.
Not surprisingly, the latest 500mm f/8 N is the best of them. It is not only the smallest and with the best optical quality, it also allow you to focus as close as 1.5m (which gives you a very good magnification ratio of 1:2.5). Unfortunately they are extremely rare and when one finally pops up, it also comes with a very high price tag.
The one we are reviewing here is the Reflex-Nikkor 500mm f/8 C. The “C” version is one of the later model, just before the latest “N” version. It has multi-coating, but is not as compact as the “N” and the minimum focus distance is around 4m.

Like most of the old Nikkor lenses, the Reflex-Nikkor 500mm f/8 C is made of metal and it feels like a tank, yes it’s very solid! Obviously, being such an old lens, it has no autofocus, no VR or any fancy features like Nano coating.

The metal focus ring is pretty smooth and the tension is just about right, with quite a long travel. The long focus ring travel is essential as the 500mm lens has a very narrow depth of field so you’ll need to adjust the manual focus ring very carefully and precisely. With the small f/8 aperture, the camera’s viewfinder is quite dim even during the day and that makes it hard to see if you object is in focus or not especially if you are shooting it with a DX camera. Good luck if you want to shoot under low light as you will have a very hard time just trying to locate your target through the very dim viewfinder. If you are like me shooting with a full frame DSLR like the D800, the larger viewfinder with the AF arrow indicators together would make the manual focus a bit easier and quicker. But still, I got a large number of shots that were out of focus. Using the liveview to zoom in would be a good way to improve the focus accurarcy. Unfortunately when you are shooting in liveview mode, it is really tricky to keep the camera steady. I have to use a tripod or monopod if I’m shooting in liveview mode.

Because of it’s long focal length and lack of VR, it’s also quite hard to keep the camera steady without help from a tripod or monopod. I need to keep the shutter speed above 1/500s when I’m not using a tripod/monopod. As a result, I am regularly shooting at ISO 800-1600 or above during a bright day.

Since it’s not easy to have the focus 100% correct and have virtually no camera shake, a large number of photos I took with this lens were blurry (either camera shake, or misfocus). But if I manage to nail the focus and keep the camera shake to minimal, the photos can be pretty sharp. Just don’t expect every single photo to be tack sharp unless you are shooting static objecct with a solid tripod.

The CAT design means the aperture is fixed. It means two things:
1. We can’t use the aperture to adjust the exposure. Since we have to keep the shutter speed quite high to reduce camera shake, most of the time we can only use ISO to control exposure.
2. We can’t control the depth of field and the depth of field is always very shallow. This is a bigger limitation than #1 as it greatly limits our photo composition and also what kind of photo we can take. For example, you cannot take photos of a group of people and have everyone in focus unless they all line up in a straight line perpendicular to you.

The lens comes with a pair of beautifully made metal lens cap and lens hood. The metal lens cap screws onto the metal lens hood, which can then screws onto the lens. So you can either just remove the flat lens cap and leave the lens hood on, or remove both together. I quite like this design but I can see the disadvantage is that the lens hood were made shorter than it should to minimse the lens’s overall length.  There are really a lot of interesting designs in the  older generation Nikkor lenses, for example, the Nikkor AF 135mm f/2DC has a built-in retractable metal lens hood which i quite like as well.


Lens cap and lens hood both attached to the lens


Lens cap removed, leaving the lens hood on the lens.


Both the lens cap and lens hood removed.

One of the biggest advantage of the reflex lenses is that they are a lot smaller and lighter than the traditional lenses with the same focal length. For example, the Nikkor AFS 500 f/4VR lens is nearly 4kg and 400mm long, while the Reflex-Nikkor 500mm is less than 1kg and the length is about 150mm. So the Reflex-Nikkor 500 f/8 is not really a small lens, but it’s small and light enough for me to carry and walk around and shoot handheld whole day. Don’t think I can say the same thing if I’m carrying the AFS 500mm f/4VR.

The lens also comes with a set of 39mm rear filters. If you are shooting digital, the L37C UV filter is probably the one you’ll use. I remember reading somewhere saying you have to install one of the rear filter as it’s part of the optical design. Personally I haven’t take off the L37C and check if that is true or not. But if you are looking at buying a second hand one, it’s safest to make sure the 39mm filter is included as well.

 

The most special characteristic of this lens, or any mirror reflex lens in general, is it’s bokeh. The bokeh matches the shape of the front element, looks like a donut ring. If you have any bright light source in the background, you can easily get that funny looking O ring bokeh in your photos which look very very busy. So if you don’t want a distracting background, you need to try find a smooth low contrast background when shooting with this lens.
But the funny bokeh is actually a double-edged sword. Try to be creative and the unique bokeh can help you create some interesting photos.

Be creative, and turn the enemy into your best friend

 

Most of the photos from this lens has low contrast, and the colour doesn’t seem to be as vibrant as well, especially when compared to the photos from the latest nano coating lenses. Fortunately, with DSLRs, this can be fixed easily by increasing the contrast/saturation settings either in camera or in post processing. You also have to be careful and try avoid any bright light source in front the camera as it’ll lower the contrast even more. The contrast can become so low that you can’t even fix it in photoshop. But if you are looking for that “artistic low contrast film” look, then you may see the low contrast as a good thing.


Unedited JPG straight out of camrea, notice the low contrast.

There is a hot-spot near the center of the image due to the catadioptric optical design, fortunately this is not really visible in most of the photos.

On the positive side, I didn’t notice any chromatic aberration at all, even when i was shooting some high contrast scenes.

The lens has an integrated metal lens mount that can be rotated but cannot be removed.

The reflex-Nikkor 500mm f/8 is a very special lens. It’s not suitable for everyone as it has a lot of limitations and it’s not easy to create nice and sharp photos. You will probably be frustrated if you are trying to use it to shoot a evening sports game. But if you understand what are the limitations and be careful and creative, this 500mm lens can become one great, low cost telephoto lens.

Pros:
– A lightweight, small and affordable 500mm lens
– no chromatic aberration
– Decent sharpness, but only if you got everything right.
– Funny bokeh
– Solid build quality and interesting lens hood/cap design

Cons:
– Manual focus, with very narrow depth of field
– Fixed aperture, which means you cannot increase the depth of field by stopping down.
– No VR, tripod/monopod is essential to keep the camera steady under low light.
– Low contrast, especially when there is strong light source in front of the camera
– Funny Bokeh

Feel free to discuss or add your comments on our forum:
http://www.nikonjin.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=1706&pid=12775

Sample Photos
(Edited to taste with Adobe Lightroom, click to enlarge)

Reviewer: Richard Wong

Richard is an award winning wedding/portrait Photographer based in Auckland, New Zealand. Richard’s website is www.photobyrichard.com and his facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/pages/Photo-by-Richard/113755425305636

All photos and text Copyright© 2012 www.nikonjin.com. All photos and text may not be copied or reproduced in any format without obtaining written permissions

Samyang 35 mm f/1.4 AS UMC Review – Part 2

In the first part of the review , we had a look at the build quality, general look and feel of the Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC lens. We also included some real world unedited samples shot with this lens.

Now we’ll have a closer look and examine the photo quality. When we were taking the real world samples, we already noticed the lens has excellent optical quality so we want to see how good it actually is by comparing it with one of the best 35mm f/1.4 lens available, the Nikon AFS 35mm f/1.4G. The autofocus Nikon AFS 35mm f/1.4G’s price tag is more than 3 times that of the manual focus Samyang so can the Samyang give the Nikkor a good fight?

 

The Sharpness Test
First let’s look at the sharpness.

We’ll compare both the center image qualtiy and corner image quality. Red rectangle is the centre crop area, Blue rectangle is the corner crop area.

All test photos were shot with a D700. Camera on a Manfrotto 055 MF3 tripod with 804RC2 head. Manual Focus with liveview at maximum magnification. Camera in timer mode to minimise camera shake. Fine JPG.

Let’s look at center image quality first. Below is the 100% crop at different aperture. Left is from the Nikon AFS 35mm f/1.4G, right is from the Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC

Both lenses are excellent and output great quality images even at f/1.4. The Samyang seems to be slightly better at wide open, a little bit sharper than the Nikkor and also less CA as well. The image quality improves when we stop down. The best image quality seems to be at around f/5.6.

Now what about the corner image quality? Below is the 100% crop near the image edge.

Surprisingly, the Samyang is still the better performer at the corner. Even at f/1.4 the image is very sharp with lots of details. The Nikkor’s f/1.4 corner image quality is actually quite good when compare to most other fast prime lenses. Stop it down to around f/4 and we get very good image quality. But even at f/8, the Nikkor still can’t matches the Samyang’s ability to resolve fine details at corner.

So I think we can say the Samyang is the slightly sharper lens, but a lens isn’t just about how sharp it is, what about the out of focus i.e. bokeh quality?
The Bokeh Test
For this test, we set the focus distance to 1 m and took the same set of photos with these two lenses, and there is a 100% crop to show the difference in bokeh.

The Nikkor’s bokeh is beautiful. It’s quite smooth, round (thanks to it’s rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm) and bokeh remain round even when stop down to f/5.6. The Samyang’s bokeh is not bad at all, but it’s slightly nervous. And while the bokeh is quite round at wide open, once you stop down to f/2.8, the bokeh from the 8 (slightly curved) blade aperture is not round anymore. The transition is also not as smooth as the Nikon. It’s not horrible, just not as good as the Nikkor.
The Vignetting
So how about the vignetting? Here are the results.

Both lenses has very noticeable vignetting at f/1.4 (but normal when compare to other fast prime lenses), you have to stop down to f/2.8 for the vignetting to become not so visible. And comparing the two lenses, it appears to me the Nikon AFS 35mm f/1.4G has slightly less vignetting at wide open than the Samyang. But the difference is so small that i don’t think it really matters under normal use.
The Rest
The Nikkor has a big golden “N” label on the lens. It means Nano coating, Nikon’s secret weapon to reduce flare and maintain good contrast when you are shooting towards bright light source. It makes a huge difference when you are shooting towards a strong light source and you get very very little lens flare and contrast remains very high. The Samyang doesn’t have the Nano coating but surprisingly the flare resistance is still very good. I have took at least a dozen photos where there is a very strong light source visible and shinning towards the camera but I never get much flare and contrast never drops too low. If you have check out the sample photos from part 1 of this review, there is one photo that i shot directly towards the sun and i only get very little flare and the contrast is still quite good. It’s clearly that the Nikkor is definitely the better in this area but the Samyang is not bad at all when there is a strong light source in front of the camera. It’s flare resistance performance is probably one of the best among all the non-Nano coating lens I’ve ever used.
The Nikkor seems to be slightly better than the Samyang in terms of light transmission. When I compare the photos from each lens with exact same settings, the image from Samyang appears to be slightly dimmer. The difference is actually quite small, but is enough to be noticeable when you put two photo side by side.
The Conclusions
The Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC is simply an amazing lens! The build quality is good, i love how smooth the manual focus ring and it feels very solid when you hold it in your hands. But not only does it feel good when you hold it, the image quality is also excellent as well. Even when we compare it to the Nikon AFS 35mm f/1.4G, one of the latest and best 35mm f/1.4 lens, the Samyang’s performance is on par in almost every single area (and better in some areas!) Bokeh is probably this lens’s weakest area but having said that, it’s weakest only because it’s exceptional performance in all the other areas and there is not much else i can complain.
Obviously for a lot of people, there is one biggest short coming with this Samyang lens, it’s a manual focus lens. But if you don’t shoot too many fast moving objects, and want a wide fast prime lens with first class optical quality, a pretty good build quality and don’t want to sell a leg and an arm to pay for it, you really have to have a look at the Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC. Currently it’s the #2 lens at DxoMark’s lens ranking chart, beating all those expensive Sony Zeiss, Canon L, and Nikkor gold ring lenses! And I think our test results definitely agree with that.

And before we finish, here are a few some more real world samples, all shot at wide open (f/1.4), again all are unedited JPG straight from camera.

For comments and discussions, please go to the forum:
http://www.nikonjin.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=1565

Reviewer: Richard Wong

Richard is an award winning wedding/portrait Photographer based in Auckland, New Zealand. Richard’s website is www.photobyrichard.com and his facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/pages/Photo-by-Richard/113755425305636

All photos and text Copyright© 2012 www.nikonjin.com. All photos and text may not be copied or reproduced in any format without obtaining written permissions

 

Comparing the two high resolution Nikon DSLRs: D800 vs D3x

The 24MP Nikon D3x was the Nikon flagship DSLR camera and also the highest resolution DSLR available. That is until Nikon recently announced the 36MP D800.
While everyone is busy comparing the D800 with the D4 and the Canon 5D mk3, we thought it would be a good idea to see how the D800 compares with the D3x as well.
We have summarise some of the most important features and differences in this table below:

So while D3x’s build quality, shutter life and a few other things are still superior to the D800, the D800 has improved on so many areas. It has a higher resolution, better performance sensor (check dxoMark for the sensor review), much more powerful processor, improved autofocus system, a brand new metering system, can do full HD videos, a slightly bigger LCD screen  and a few other upgrades. It also has the 100% viewfinder and dual card slot which was previously only available on the full frame flagship model.

The D3x was and still is a very impressive camera, but the new D800 shows us very clearly how much technology has advanced in a short 3.5 year time.

And look at the price difference between the two cameras!

For discussions and comments, please visit the forum:

http://www.nikonjin.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=1561