Showcase: July 2017

Alsek Lake Iceberg
Alsek Lake Iceberg By Gilbert Stetson

“On the 11th day of a 12-day rafting trip down the Alsek River in Alaska with a small group of three other photographers and our river guides, we had finished setting up camp along the shores of Alsek Lake in a steady rain. When the weather cleared up, we took the rafts and ventured out on the lake to check out and photograph the many odd- and abstract-shaped icebergs. When we came across a huge iceberg that had an opening in the center, our guide maneuvered the raft for a closer look. The clouds lifted in the distance to reveal the mountain, and I waited until it was centered in the opening and the iceberg framed it.”

Pentax *ist DS, Continental Optics MC Auto 28mm f/2.8. Exposure: 1/15 sec., ƒ/29, ISO 200.

See more of Gilbert Stetson’s photography at gilbertstetson.com.

Echo Canyon
Echo Canyon By Harry Lichtman

“During my first visit to Zion National Park, I hiked through Echo Canyon and noticed this pine nestled in a notch in the canyon walls. The lighting partially backlit the tree and back wall and wasn’t optimal, so I hiked on. I made a mental note to return to the canyon and catch the tree when the side lighting isolated it more from the shaded surrounding canyon. Two years later, I was able to return to Zion and make the image I had visualized years earlier. A zoom lens was used to emphasize the tree.”

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, Gitzo Traveler tripod, Really Right Stuff ballhead and L bracket, B+W polarizing filter. Exposure: 1/6 sec., ƒ/16, ISO 100.

See more of Harry Lichtman’s photography at HarryLichtman.com.

King Of The Hill
King Of The Hill By Jack Donachy

“Along with a friend, my wife, Barbra, and I were aboard Gillie, our C-Dory Angler 22, out for a day of wildlife viewing in Alaska’s maritime crown jewel, Kenai Fjords National Park. The day was filled with Dall’s porpoises zipping through our bow wake, breaching and spy hopping humpback whales, a pod of majestic orcas chasing salmon, pudgy harbor seals hauled out on ice, rafts of inquisitive sea otters and almost unfathomable numbers of kittiwakes, murres, puffins and other sea birds. In early morning, a splash of sunlight spilled onto the group of Steller sea lions in this photo.”

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II. Exposure: 1/1000 sec., ƒ/4.5, ISO 800.

See more of Jack Donachy’s photography at cutterlight.com.

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Nikon D850

The Nikon D850 is finally here! After months of speculation, and Nikon itself teasing us last month that the camera actually existed and was in development, the D850 has been officially announced – and boy, has it been worth the wait.

Replacing the brilliant 36.3MP D810, the D850 certainly has big shoes to fill, but with a specification as impressive as this we're sure there's plenty here to get photographers excited. We were lucky enough to get some hands-on time with the camera, which included shooting with it, so here's what you need to know.

Features

  • Full-frame CMOS sensor, 45.4MP
  • 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 2,359,000 dots
  • 4K video capture

While the updated D810 retained the same 36.3MP resolution as the ground-breaking D800/D800e, that camera has been eclipsed by both the 50.6MP Canon EOS 5DS and 42.2MP Sony Alpha A7R II. The D850, though, gets an all-new 45.7MP full-frame back-illuminated sensor, which is a hefty increase in pixels over the D810, and only marginally behind the 5DS. 

What the 5DS can't do, though, is offer a 1.5x crop mode, which the D850 can. In the camera's DX Crop mode, the perimeter of the frame can be masked to provide a view equivalent to that of an APS-C-format DSLR. The resolution drops because you're only using a portion of the sensor, but thanks to the D850's huge resolution you'll still be able to shoot 19.4MP files. That's not far off the 20.9MP resolution on both the D500 or D7500. Impressive stuff. There's also a new 1:1 aspect ratio as well at 30.2MP.

Compared to the D500 (and, for that matter, the D5), the D850 has quite a modest ISO ceiling of 25,600, with a native base sensitivity of ISO64. This is no surprise really when you consider how densely populated the sensor is, but there is an extended sensitivity range up to an ISO equivalent of 108,400 (Hi2). And something that should keep landscape photographers happy is the fact that the D850 also has a Lo1 setting equivalent to ISO32.

The D850 sports a new 0.75x optical viewfinder – that's the largest magnification factor ever on an FX Nikon DSLR, and also a touch bigger than the 0.71x viewfinder on the 5DS. Unlike the D810, the D850 also features a tilt-angle, 3.2-inch 2,359,000-dot touchscreen. It's similar in spec to the one on the D500, but offers greater touch control, enabling you to navigate the menus as well as touch to focus, trigger the shutter and review images. 

The D850 can shoot 4K UHD in FX format with no sensor cropping at up to 30p, allowing you to take full advantage of the field of view of your lenses. Lower-resolution video modes are also available, including Full HD footage in 60p, while 8K UHD timelapse movies can be created in-camera. There's also an electronic Vibration Reduction system to reduce the impact of camera shake when shooting movies handheld, and there are ports for external microphones and audio monitoring.

The D850 drops the CompactFlash card slot that was on the D810 in favor of an XQD slot, and the performance advantages that brings (although at the moment Nikon is the only manufacturer to take up this storage format on its cameras), while the SD card slot supports cards up to UHS-II. 

In terms of connectivity, the D850 gets SnapBridge for wireless transfer of images and remote camera control.

Build and handling

  • Magnesium alloy body
  • Comprehensive weather-sealing
  • Weighs 1005g

As on the D500, Nikon has omitted the pop-up flash from D850 in an effort to make the camera even sturdier. Some may be sorry to see this feature disappear – we've found it useful in the past for triggering remote Speedlights – but it's always felt like a bit of a weak link on a pro-spec DSLR.

The D850 sports a magnesium alloy body, and as you'd expect for a camera designed for professional use is protected from the elements by a host of weather seals. The grip is incredibly comfy, and the overall feel is excellent. 

As we've seen with the D500, you can set the majority of the controls on the D850 to light up (along with the top-plate LCD) by rotating the on/off switch beyond the 'on' position, making it much easier to quickly change settings in poor light.

Nikon has also altered the D850's control layout from the D810, with the top-plate arrangement now matching that of the D500, which for those intending to use the two cameras side-by-side should make the transition between bodies pretty seamless.

This means the ISO button now sits just behind the shutter button, which makes it easier to adjust single-handed, an improvement on the slightly awkward positioning on the D810, where it sat in the cluster of four buttons above the drive mode selector.

The other notable addition is a small AF joystick that enables you to quickly toggle through the D850's array of AF points (more on the AF in a moment), although you can still use the eight-way controller on the back of the camera if you prefer.

Autofocus

  • 153-point AF, 99 cross-type AF points
  • User-selected array limited to 55 points
  • Impressive coverage across the frame

The 51-point autofocus system in the D810 is still one of the best performers out there, but Nikon has equipped the D850 with the same Multi-CAM 20K AF module as its flagship D5. 

In our book this is one of the best, if not the best, autofocus systems we've seen on any camera to date. It features an impressive 153 AF points, of which 55 are user-selectable and 99 are the more sensitive cross-type points for even greater precision. That's not all – AF sensitivity goes all the way down to -4 EV, which should enable the D850 to focus pretty much in almost complete darkness.

Shot using the D850’s Group Dynamic AF system

As we've experienced with the D5, the system is excellent, with sports and action photographers unlikely to be disappointed by the D850's autofocus performance. From the time we had with the D850 there's no question its AF performance is very fast, and very accurate, and we're looking forward to exploring its comprehensive tracking capabilities further in our full review.

As in the D5 (and the D500), Nikon has included its clever automated procedure for fine-tuning lenses on the D850, but it's been tweaked for improved set-up. 

Performance

  • 7fps burst shooting (9fps with battery grip)
  • 51 shot raw file buffer
  • 1,840-shot battery life

Despite the decent increase in pixels compared to the D810, the D850 features an increased burst shooting speed, up from 5fps to 7fps, making it an even more versatile piece of kit. Furthermore, put the MB-D18 battery grip on the bottom of the D850 with a large EN-EL18B battery fitted, and that rate will increase to 9fps. This certainly compares favorably with the 5fps shooting speed of both the EOS 5DS and Alpha A7R II, and considering the size of files the D850 has to process, the 51 shot buffer (at 14-Bit raws) is also very impressive.

Something that is bound to appeal to wedding and social photographers is the D850's ability to utilize an electronic shutter to shoot silently at 6fps in Live View mode. Need more speed? Select the DX crop mode and shoot 8.6MP pictures at a speedy 30fps.

The D850 employs a 180K-pixel RGB sensor (the same as the D5), offering metering down to -3 EV. This might not sound like a big deal, but those shooting long exposures with ND filters can now rely fully on the D850’s AE and AF without needing to detach the filter. 

The D850 features three types of auto white balance to deliver more options: Auto 0 should faithfully render whites under any light sources, Auto 1 maintains a balance of the original subject color and ambient lighting, while Auto 2 renders color with a natural sense of warmth, retaining the color of incandescent lighting.

Image quality

  • ISO64-25,600 (expandable to ISO32-108,400)
  • Additional 25.6MP Medium and 11.4MP Small raw file sizes
  • Built-in focus stacking

We could only shoot JPEG files with the cameras at the launch, so we'll reserve judgement on the D850's image quality until we've shot more with the camera and looked at the raw files. From what we've seen though, the 45.7MP sensor doesn't disappoint – even high-ISO shots appear to handle noise well and deliver a good amount of detail.

This is straight out of the camera at ISO11,400

Early verdict

It's felt like a long time coming, but the Nikon D850 has definitely been worth the wait. To say the specification is comprehensive is an understatement – the D850 is packed with features, while it's not handicapped when it comes to performance either. The 153-point AF system is one of the best around, and the 7fps burst shooting makes it a much more versatile proposition than the D810 (and its closest rivals). 

The D850 is bound to appeal to a wide range of photographers, from wedding and landscape shooters to those capturing action and wildlife. We'll be bringing you our full review soon, but for now the D850 looks like it could be the most complete DSLR we've ever seen.

  • The 10 best full-frame DSLRs you can buy right now 

Why a laptop will be your most important purchase for university

Going to university is one of the biggest things that can happen in anyone’s life. It’s liberating, exciting and, let’s face it, a tiny bit scary too. To make sure that you have the best possible start, you need the best possible tools – and an essential part of your brand-new student set-up should be a laptop.

Just like universities, there are many different types of laptops to choose from, all offering something slightly different.

Whether you are a savvy saver and want something on a budget, are looking for a stylish statement, or want something super speedy, there’s a model for you and they are all available in one place – John Lewis.

Which laptop is right for you?

The following laptops are just an idea of the fantastic range of devices available to you. But it’s worth bearing in mind that no matter which one you choose, buying a laptop offers up so many things for you.

It will mean you have the freedom of writing essays on the go, it will offer home comforts like the ability to chat to your loved ones on a big screen and, when studying all gets too much, you have the ultimate device for relaxing with by watching movies and listening to music.

If it’s style and substance you are after, then you can’t go wrong with the Apple MacBook Pro. It may well be at the top-end of any student budget but choosing a MacBook Pro will help with all-manner of things. For a start, it’s an absolute must if your course is media or film related. The Retina display is great for pin-point accuracy when editing and designing, while its Intel’s 7th-generation i5 processor will make light work of data-intensive tasks such as transferring large files, editing high-res video and photos and music mixing.

Then there’s the all-new TouchBar, which acts as the ultimate shortcut and the fact it’s extremely light means that you won’t do yourself an injury carrying it around.

If MacOS isn’t your thing, then the Microsoft Surface laptop is for you. Microsoft has worked hard to make Windows 10 one of the best operating systems around the Microsoft Surface compliments this with a sleek, great-looking laptop.

Again, there is a 7th-generation i5 processor on board, but this time it powers a fantastic 13.5-inch PixelSense touchscreen display. It also comes equipped with a fantastic keyboard that’s both ergonomically and aesthetically pleasing, thanks to it being covered in Signature Alcantara.

For those not quite sure whether to go for a laptop or a tablet, then the ASUS Chromebook Flip C100 is for you. Whether you have it as a tablet or a laptop, it’s the ultimate note taker – its 360-degree hinge allowing for the ultimate in flexibility.

As it’s a Chromebook, it comes equipped with Google’s ChromeOS, an always on, always connected operating system that allows lightning-fast access to Google’s apps – and others – and it’s touchscreen too.

That’s just a small selection of the amazing range now available at John Lewis, so have a look for yourself and find the best laptop that’s right for you – it maybe the most important decision you make as a student, closely followed by where best to hang that retro movie poster, buying that ‘1001 Ways To Cook Pasta’ book and figuring out all the places near you that take student discount.

Find out more on Choosing The Best Student Laptop or see the laptops and Macbooks at John Lewis

Apple could announce the next iPhone on September 12

 Mark down September 12 in your calendar as Apple could be unveiling the next iPhone at 9 AM on that day. Mac4Ever wrote a report saying that it confirmed with telecom companies that Apple should hold a press event on September 12. This wouldn’t be a big surprise as Apple has been announcing new iPhones every September since 2012. Apple also always holds press conferences on Tuesday for… Read More