10
Aug 17

Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Long Term Review

I have been using this lens as my go to wide angle zoom since 2011. I own many other Nikon mount lenses yet continue to use this lens because it is has outstanding build, sharpness, rendering and value. Wide angle lenses are a Nikon specialty and the 16-35 f/4G ED VR is a fine example of that tradition.

The 16-35 f/4G ED VR was announced in February 2010 and was originally intended to be used for travel, architectural photography and photojournalism. It is a full frame G type lens featuring a metal barrel and weather sealing consistent with Nikon’s professional series of lenses. There is a rubber gasket on the rear where the lens attaches to the camera via the Nikkor F bayonet mount. The lens is 3.2 inches (82.5 mm) in diameter and 4.9 inches (125mm) in length. It weighs 24 ounces or 680 grams, has internal focusing, and a constant f/4 aperture with 9 rounded blades. The VR II image stabilization gives up to 2.5 stops of increased low light hand hold ability.

Venice, Italy. 2017. Nikkor 16-35 f/4G ED VR and Nikon Df.

So how does the lens feel and function? It’s comfortable in the hand and balances well on both the D810 and Df bodies. The AF-S autofocus is smooth and reliable while autofocus speed is average, a lot of this depends on the camera. I don’t shoot fast moving sports or wildlife so I can’t tell you how fast it would be on a D5 or D500. The VR II works great and I love to shoot it in dim interiors and low light. The f/4 maximum aperture is plenty for a full frame wide angle lens for it’s intended use. I own the 24mm f1.4G and rarely if ever shoot it wide open under those conditions and if I did need that particular rendering and shallow depth of field, the 24 is the lens I would use. I might also take along a tripod, but that’s a different style of shooting and defeats the purpose of having a stabilized wide angle zoom.

Paris, France. 2017. Nikkor 16-35 f/4G ED VR and Nikon Df.

For the sake of argument let’s take that f/4 maximum aperture and apply 2.5 stops of increased hand hold ability, f/4  f/2.8  f/2  f1.4. We end up at the same place. The f/4 with VR II has the same low light hand hold ability, under the same circumstances as the f1.4 prime. The question you have to ask yourself is “what are you trying to say with your photographs?” Which lens better suits your intended purpose under the conditions you intent to shoot?

Tomb Raider, Cambodia. 2017. Nikkor 16-35 f/4G ED VR and Nikon Df.

The 16-35 f/4G ED VR is a walk around lens, it’s designed for shooting on the move and in this role it functions very well indeed. I’ve used it extensively for travel, architecture and street photography. In low light, no light, crap light, in the dust of the Sahara desert, on moving boats, in the rain, the back alleys and jungles of North Africa and India and just about everywhere in between. The lens just works and does what I want it to do.

Toymaker, Morocco. 2017. Nikkor 16-35 f/4G ED VR and Nikon Df.

Because I travel and photograph often under adverse conditions I value the fact that this lens is weather sealed and can stand up to heavy use. Are there better lenses on the market? Sure, I have access to several superb Nikkor and Zeiss primes, but then I’d be changing lenses more frequently and carrying more bulk and weight. The value of a rugged sealed zoom is that I don’t have to swap lenses and expose the interior of my camera to all the environmental junk that can foul things up. Certainly there is a time and place for gorgeous primes but I try to pick the appropriate tool for the job at hand.

Venice, Italy. 2017. Nikkor 16-35 f/4G ED VR and Nikon Df.

The 16-35 f/4G ED VR has a 77mm filter diameter. I always use B+W XS-Pro UV filters on the front of all my lenses. The only other filter is use is a B+W XS-Pro Kaesemann Polarizer. I have two of them in different sizes. I have not had any vignetting issues on this lens with the XS-Pro filters.

All images in the post are hand held available light photographs.


17
Feb 17

Comprehensive Long Term Nikon Df Review

Kind of Blue. Essaouiria, Morocco. 2015. Nikon Df, Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 ED VR, ISO 100

I’ve decided to take all of my experience of using the Nikon Df while traveling around the world and using the camera in all conditions and turn it into a comprehensive long term review. This review will be updated with information and photographs and real life use as I continue to use this lovely little camera. This camera is becoming more prescient especially when we consider that Leica M10 2017 = Nikon Df 2013.

The Nikon Df article is here.

 


01
Apr 16

Nikon Df, long term Impression

The Nikon Df, introduced at the end of 2013 sits calmly in the eye of the storm while megapixel wars and mirrorless insurgencies swirl around it. Still the smallest and lightest full frame DSLR and heir to the vast legacy of Nikkor and F mount Zeiss glass, the Df goes about it’s work taking stunning images and serving as an example of simple traditional ergonomic principles. In the age of the Leica 262 and Sony A7s, the Nikon Df remains my elegant companion. We have traveled the world together, from Battleship Island in Nagasaki harbor to the deserts of Morocco, my elegant companion never fails to excite with superb low light performance and beautiful tonality. The Df is a true travelers camera and after all this time, I can’t imagine using anything else. For more information on my travel kit go here.

Artisan, Kyushu, Japan. 2014. Nikon Df, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4, ISO 400.

Artisan, Kyushu, Japan. 2014. Nikon Df, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4, ISO 400.

Lone Cloud. Death Valley, California. 2015. Nikon Df, Nikkor 70-200mm f/4 ED VR, ISO 100.

Lone Cloud. Death Valley, California. 2015. Nikon Df, Nikkor 70-200mm f/4 ED VR, ISO 100.

Hakata Ramen Shop. Hakata, Japan. 2014. Nikon Df, Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED, ISO 1600.

Hakata Ramen Shop. Hakata, Japan. 2014. Nikon Df, Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED, ISO 1600.

Restoration. Venice, Italy. 2015. Nikon Df, Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR, ISO 1600.

Restoration. Venice, Italy. 2015. Nikon Df, Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR, ISO 1600.

Kind of Blue. Essaouiria, Morocco. 2015. Nikon Df, Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 ED VR, ISO 100

Kind of Blue. Essaouiria, Morocco. 2015. Nikon Df, Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 ED VR, ISO 100


22
Apr 15

Death Valley in Spring Workshop Review

Landscape has been a real hit and miss pursuit for me and I want to be a better landscape photographer. It’s not for lack of trying. I’ve logged countless hours in classes, workshops and in the field trying to learn this aspect of the photographers craft.  Not to be deterred, Christy and I signed up for a landscape workshop through High Sierra Workshops. We’d never heard of this outfit, the location and timing of the workshop were the primary reasons we selected it. I’ve been wanting to photograph Death Valley in the spring for years and I wanted to share my love of Death Valley with Christy.

The instructors turned out to be two terrific guys. Our lead instructor was Michael Mariant, he was assisted by Aaron Lambert. Both were informative, knowledgable and capable. I fact, I have to say that Michael is one of the best photography instructors I have had. That’s the thing that distinguishes this High Sierra workshop from the other workshops I’ve attended. Michael specifically structures his workshops with academic goals and standards, each demonstrated by an accompanying photo shoot. For instance, elements of design we’ve all learned such as texture, line and shape are experienced first hand in the field as the sun peaks over the horizon. At dawn, the light dances and infuses the sand with light and life, subtle and sublime. Shadows breathe, line, texture, it’s all there in front of your lens.

Death Valley sand dunes at Sunrise

Death Valley at Sunrise

And so it went over each of the four days of the workshop. Best of all I finally felt like I was making progress, I was learning! When we drove to the ghost town Rhyolite I reached in to my own bag of tricks and tried to find a happy medium with my daily “assignment.” It was hot, really hot, so like like any other mammal I found a shady spot to while away the midday heat, drank some water and took this image.

Ghost town Rhyolite as seen from the bottle house.

Ghost town Rhyolite as seen from the bottle house.

As our “final” we traveled by jeep over rutted roads reminiscent of Tanzania, except these were covered with a fine chalky dust with an almost talcum powder like consistency that wanted to work its way into every nook and cranny of our gear. The trip and dust was worth it. We were at the Racetrack, an iconic locale for photographers. I spent a lot of time searching for my rock, naming my rock and lying on my stomach photographing my rock. I hope you like it.

Meet Trixie, my rock at the Racetrack. Named after the character from Speed Racer.

Meet Trixie, my rock at the Racetrack. Named after the character from Speed Racer.

I consider this Death Valley workshop a success. The locations were well scouted and selected to help participants practice a specific skill. Instructors Michael and Aaron were knowledgeable and approachable. They presented information in a novel way that reinforced practical applications. Both Christy and myself had a fantastic time, we met new friends, had a great adventure and expanded our photographic toolsets. We enjoyed this workshop so much we signed up for another to photograph the giant Redwoods of Northern California.