Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Another Free Photo Mag Subscription

Hmm, it seems like I'm spending more time subscribing to photo magazines than I am actually learning photography...  Oh well, who can say no to free stuff?  Yeah, that's what I thought.

This subscription is for American Photo (no credit card required):

Free Signup

This particular offer also serves up three additional magazine subscriptions based on the industry/occupation picked in the initial submission form.  None of those looked very interesting to me, so I just kept American Photo selected (maybe that says something about the industry I work in :).  After submitting the form, it says the first issue will arrive in 6-8 weeks.

According to the Amazon reviews, the magazine has a mix of gear + glamour subject content.  It'll be interesting to compare with the other, more professional magazine I signed up for.


Friday, March 7, 2008

Alphabet Soup -- Nikon Version

I always get intimidated every time I look at my Nikkor lenses and cannot make out what the heck are all those acronyms for.  For example, on my primary carry-around lens, the Nikkor 18-200mm VR, this is what it says:

AF-S NIKKOR 18-200mm 1:3.5-5.6 G ED DX

I can kind of guess what "AF" is, and maybe the "S."  But what the heck are "G", "ED", or "DX?"  The same goes for my other two lenses.  Now I'm kind of lost on what all these alphabet letters mean and how they help (or hurt) my photographic ability.  So, I'm on a little quest to find out what these acronyms actually mean and if they have any use (I'm pretty sure they do).  Otherwise, Nikon wouldn't bother to place them there.  To make matters even worse, photographers also like to add even more confusion to the already-confusing world with slang.  Pre-AI anyone?

One of my favorite photographers (and a fellow Nikonian), Mr. Thom Hogan wrote a very detailed article - complete with a historical lesson about what these codes mean.  But since my brain cannot process all the detailed info that Mr. Hogan wrote, I decided to come up with my own Idiot's Guide to Nikon Lens Acronyms.  This is definitely not a complete list since I don't need to know them all - just the modern acronyms that appear on everyday lenses (and especially my lenses).

Acronym What it means Meaning for me
AF Auto Focus This makes things look sharp.  :P

(replaced by AF-S)
Auto Focus Internal Same as AF, but the motor is internal.  Used by long telephoto lenses and tend to be quite noisy.  I can hear the grind during focusing.
AF-S Auto Focus Silent Focus quietly and silently.  Quite an important feature when shooting wildlife.
AI Auto-Indexing manual focus with light meter.  Old school lens.  Some of the AI lenses are legendary due to their excellent optics.  These were the lenses before autofocus was conceived.
DX Lens which is designed for DX format sensors (not full frame). Almost all Nikon DSLRs are DX format (D40, D40x, D50, D60, D70, D70s, D80, D100, D200, D300).  The only exception is the new Nikon D3, which is full frame (FX).
ED Extra-low Dispersion High-quality glass to help reduce chromatic aberration.
FX Lens which is designed for a full frame camera. Meant for Nikon D3 pro DSLR.
G G lenses do not have manual aperture control ring control.  Aperture can only be controlled from the camera body. Must set camera to Aperture mode to control it manually.
IF Internal Focus.  All focusing is done internally in the lens.  The front element of the lens does not move.
VR Vibration Reduction.  Reduce camera shake.  Not to be confused with Virtual Reality.
VR-II VR version 2 Latest and greatest VR.
Micro Used for macro photography. Nikon just wants to call things differently than the rest of the field.

This Wikipedia entry actually has an even more detailed listing of most of Nikon's lens acronyms.  Very useful if you need to know more than what is listed here.

So, back to the AF-S NIKKOR 18-200mm 1:3.5-5.6 G ED DX lens.  From the table above, this means that the lens can AutoFocus Silently (AF-S), has no manual aperture ring control (G), is made up of high-quality glass to reduce chromatic aberration (ED), and is made for a DX sensor (DX).

Now I know.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Magazine Subscription Freebie

I found this link to signup for a free 6 month magazine subscription to Professional Photographer (no credit card required):

Free Trial Signup Link Here

According to the banner, it's been in publication for 100 years. I checked out some of the reviews, and it's really geared towards professionals. Probably not the best choice for someone who's as clueless as I am, but how can you beat the low, low price of free?

The first issue is supposed to arrive in 4-6 weeks. I checked the box to limit marketing mail, but we'll see how much photography-related junk mail/spam I get in the next few months. Oh well - it's the price you have to pay for being cheap.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hello, World!

We're three guys working in the Greater Seattle Area with a passion for learning about and experimenting with digital photography. We are very eager to learn how to use our DSLR equipment properly to take great pictures. This blog will chronicle our three radical experiences - hopefully we will be able to both learn and teach through this blog.

We consider ourselves newbies, and may remain newbies forever. But nothing will stop us from learning and taking pictures. So, stay tuned for more info.

-- Derek, Usman, and Chan