Six Reasons Why I Won’t Be Buying the New Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 VR Lens (PART II)

nikon_af_s_nikkor_24_70mm_f_2_8e_1438671107000_1175033My previous post was simply my reasoning as to why I personally won’t be buying this lens (at least as of now).  That said, if when it comes out and it seems to be kissed by the hands of God, I might be convinced to make the upgrade.  With the information I have now, I won’t be making a pre-order as I don’t think it will make my images any better than the ones I create with my current 24-70.

Some say that the current lens is over 10 years old and, therefore, can’t hold up to the newer 36mp sensors.  That could be a valid point, but, again for me, I don’t see any issues with this lens.  I’ve used it on every camera since the D50 including the d90, D7000, D7100, D800, and my current cameras.  I’ve never had an issue with this lens.  On my D810, the images look crisp and the bokeh is sweet.  Again, the new lens could surprise me.  But…. let’s face it…. it might turn out to be less sharp, or have worse bokeh.  I can happen.

Now, let’s look at the facts that we do have:

  • Both have maximum aperture of f/22.
  • Both have minimum focus of 1.25 feet.
  • Current version has 15 elements in 11 groups.  New one has 20 elements in 16 groups.  This could be good or bad depending on the glass and configuration.  We’ll have to wait and see.
  • Both have 9 rounded diaphragm blades.
  • The new lens has image stabilization.  I personally don’t feel that I need it.  If you have a consumer level camera or shaky hands, the extra stops that come with VR could be a benefit.  On the other hand, you can pick up the fantastic 24-120 f/4 and only lose one stop of light but pick it back up with the VR plus save $1400.  With that money, you could pick up one or two f/1.8 lenses for when you need extra speed.
  • 77mm front thread vs. 82mm.  For me, that means another $200-500 for new filters.  A B+W polarizer is $200-230 for an 82mm filter.
  • 1.98 pounds vs. 2.35 pounds.  Not a huge deal, but with everybody going to mirrorless to shed the weight, this could be an issue for some.

Of course, all this is speculation.  The lens could come out in August or September and be a downgrade… who knows.  It’s Nikon afterall.  If, on the other hand, it comes out and appears that it will help me make better images, then I’m in.  All I’m saying is that, for now, I won’t be ordering this lens as it may not be a big enough get for my needs.

Six Reasons Why I Won’t Be Buying the New Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 VR Lens

  1. I already have the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 lens.  This lens has been the workhorse of the Nikon line for years.  It is one of the best performing, sharpest lens in the Nikon lineup.  There’s nothing a newer 24-70 is going to give me that will make my photographs better.
  2. Cost.  At $2400, the new lens is at least $500 more than a new copy of the current 24-70.  That’s a ton of money.  Plus, once the new lens gets into the hands of many, there will be a lot of nice, used 24-70’s hitting the market at $1200-1500.  This is a savings of over $1000.
  3. Don’t really need the VR.  The biggest claim to fame on this lens is the addition of vibration reduction which is not available on the current lens.  While this may be a plus for videographers who want the sharpness of this lens with some vibration reduction, it’s not an issue for still photographers.   Firstly, the range of 24-70 can be easily hand held for most.  Now, if you have shaky hands, perhaps the VR will help.  But for most, you can hand hold the original lens to fairly slow shutter speeds.  Yes, the VR claims to give you several stops slower, but with today’s camera bodies, you can raise the ISO high enough to compensate.  With my D4s, I can shoot all day long at ISO 6400 without any loss of detail and get fast shutter speeds in difficult lighting situations such as concerts or dark event spaces.
  4. Size.  The new lens is even bigger and heavier than the current model.  It outweighs the current version by almost 1/2 pound (200 grams).  While this doesn’t seem like a lot, it is when you are working with it for a long period of time.
  5. Filter size.  While the current 24-70 takes standard 77mm filters, the new one takes 82mm filters.  You may say “so what”?  High quality polarizers or ND filters are expensive.  If you’ve already invested hundreds of dollars in 77mm filters, you’d now have to go out and buy new ones to fit this lens.  A good B+W circular polarizer costs over $200.  Add in 2-4 ND filters at $100 each and you’re now adding on another $500 to the cost of buying this lens.
  6. There’s a good chance that sometime down the road, I may want to ditch all my Nikon gear and move into the mirrorless world.  Right now, the mirrorless cameras just aren’t for me (though I do love my Sony a6000).  They just don’t perform the way my D810 and D4s does.  Yet!  As technology gets better, and I get older, I may make the move.  While this is likely 10 years away or more, it is a reality.  Why invest another $2400 to replace a lens that is just as capable as the new one in virtually every way.  I’d rather spend that money on a trip somewhere to make more images.

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One of My Images Gets a Full Page in Popular Photography Magazine

One of my images from Cuba was given a full page in the July 2015 issue of Popular Photography Magazine in an article about the benefits of photography workshops.

Here’s a link to a PDF of the article:  PopPhoto

Think Tank Airport Helipak Review

6-21-2015 11-34-38 AMThink Tank has done it again.  They have filled a need for a lightweight, portable pack to carry the Phantom Quadcopter anywhere and everywhere.  For the past couple of years, I’ve kept my Phantom Vision Quadcopter in a Go Professional hard case.  While it was packed perfectly and safely, the case was extremely heavy and difficult to carry long distances as it only had a handle, like a suitcase without wheels.

What I wanted was a backpack for my drone so that I could take it anywhere I wanted, whether it was through the city or on the trial.  Enter the new Think Tank Airport Helipak.  This bag is almost perfect!

Featuring a lumbar support, adjustable shoulder harness and a removable padded waist belt, I can carry this bag forever without really noticing it is there.  Inside, there’s plenty of space for any Phantom model, or similar sized quadcopters, including plenty of extra batteries, remotes and other accessories.  There’s even room for a professional DSLR and a lens or two.  Pictured here is the bag with my drone, all the accessories, a D810 camera body and a 28-300 lens.  There’s an outside pocket for a 15″ laptop, iPad and other things.   There is also an organizer pocket for a smart phone, wallet, business cards and the like.  And, as if all that wasn’t enought, there is a side pocket for a water bottle as well as small pockets on the shoulder strap for a snack or cell phone.  The interior can be reconfigured as needed.  It is sized for either international or domestic travel. _DSC0918

As with all their bags, Think Tank put a lot of thought into this bag and truly left no stone unturned.  My only quibble is that you have to take the props off in order to stow the aircraft.  I’m sure this is to keep the bag to a reasonable size and remain within airport standards.  A quick visit to the local drone store revealed that most bags and cases require removal of the props.  They even provided rubber protective tips for the rotor threads.  The bag is water resistant and it comes with a full, waterproof cover in case you are caught in a downpour.

As a Phantom 3 owner, I’m very excited about this bag.  It is the absolute perfect solution for taking your quadcopter anywhere you want.  At only $239.75, this bag is an absolute bargain.  Use this link and get a free gift and free shipping when you purchase one.

Thank Tank Airport Helipak

Seeing Cuba: The Book

I’ve just published a book of my images from Cuba.  You can purchase the e-book for only $4.99.

Seeing Cuba: Paticia

As I’ve mentioned before, in the center of Havana lays Parque Central, an oasis of wealth and tourism that is so opposite of anything more than a block away.

Fast forward to my last day in Havana.  It’s 5 o’clock and I’m still on the prowl for opportunities to photograph the people and culture of Cuba.  Jennifer Spelman saw me in the lobby of our hotel and asked me if I’d like to meet Paticia and see her home, “She lives close by.”  About 100 feet from the hotel and kitty corner to the building is a beautiful bakery, with prices only tourists could pay.  We stopped in because “Paticia loves baked goods”.  After buying some lovely looking baked goods, Jennifer took me to a barely noticeable door right next door.   When someone unlocked it from the inside, I entered a different world.  In spite of the facade seen from the square which included the aforementioned baker and state-sponsored restaurants (again, for tourists), we found ourselves inside a shell of a building is horrible disrepair.  Beautiful marble and iron work of 100 years ago was cracked, rusted and falling apart.  We climbed the three floors up to Paticia’s apartment where a neighbor let us in to the common eating area for all the dwellings on that floor.

The Neighbor ©2015 Alan Lawrence

The Neighbor ©2015 Alan Lawrence

We knocked on Paticia’s door and was met by a wonderful woman that, despite her poverty and poor health due to a stroke two years prior, was full of spirit, spunk and, well, life.  She immediately took to me as I did to her.  She showed us photographs that one of my fellow travelers, JoAnn Rosen, had taken on a previous trip.  She was so proud of those images.  Her husband was there as well.  A gentle soul, he showed me to one of the two rockers in the room and brought in the two electric fans they had to keep me cool.

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Seeing Cuba: The Eye of the Cyclone, Part 1

On our very first night in Cuba, Mary and I struck out on our own to wonder the streets of Havana.  Little did we know what was in store.  When traveling, I love to get lost.  Getting lost allows you to photograph what happens without any planning.  It’s easy to do in Havana, but, as I later learned, pretty much all streets led back to Parque Central, the central square of Havana where our hotel was located.

Immediately, we were on sensory overload as the streets of Havana provide a feast of sights, sounds, smells… of humanity struggling to make ends meet.  Havana is a city in flux.  The condition of the buildings are somewhere between completely collapsed or getting repaired in preparation for the new economy hopefully brought on by the lifting of the U.S. embargo.  The streets are full of rubble.  Rubble from crumbling buildings, rubble from the laying of cable, water lines or other forms of infrastructure (all dug and built by hand) and rubble from simply things in ruin.  It’s a dusty place.

Sifting (Nikon D4s, 1/160sec at f/1.6, 12800 ISO, 35mm) ©2015 Alan Lawrence

Sifting (Nikon D4s, 1/160sec at f/1.6, 12800 ISO, 35mm) ©2015 Alan Lawrence

As we walked, we happened upon a family working together on one of these piles.  With a hand made sifter, they were going through the amassed piles of rocks and debris sifting out the sand to make huge and, obviously, heavy sandbags.  I later learned that these bags were used to fortify parts of their homes, sold on the black market to create concrete and other things, or saved for later use.  With exaggerated pantomime, I asked if I could photograph them. They welcomed me to shoot and showed us what they were doing.  As the week wore on, I was struck by how the Cuban people utilized everything they could find to create things they could use.  There is no waste in Cuba.

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Seeing Cuba: Grab a Taxi in Havana

(Sony A6000, 1/60sec at f/8, 100 ISO, 15mm) ©2015 Alan Lawrence

(Sony A6000, 1/60sec at f/8, 100 ISO, 15mm) ©2015 Alan Lawrence

Havana has a plethora of taxis.  Some have meters, most don’t.  The first thing you learn about taking a taxi in Cuba is to negotiate the price before getting into the cab.  It’s really hard to know when or if a cab that stops for you is actually sanctioned.  To me, it really didn’t matter as long as we were clear on the price and he could get me where I was going.  Let’s face it, I don’t look Cuban, so wherever we went, we were constantly asked if we needed a taxi.  Apparently, Cubans know Americans don’t like to walk.

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