New LCD monitor

I finally entered the 21st century and bought an LCD monitor. There’s a lot of debate among photographers about color depth, gamut, and the like with LCD monitors. Most people agree that CRT monitors, properly calibrated, have better, more accurate color and uniform brightness than LCDs. These issues were on my mind as I shopped for an LCD. The trouble with CRTs, of course, is that they are ginormous, power-hungry beasts with color convergence and geometry issues—if you can even find a shop with a decent selection. My old 21″, 72 pound, 1998 vintage Cornerstone CRT was showing it’s age.

I ended up buying a 20.1″ Samsung SyncMaster 204B. It’s a 24-bit panel which means it’s only capable of showing 16.7 million colors (rather than 32-bit “true” color). It’s also true that brightness is not completely uniform across the entire panel and the brightness (and color) shifts slightly as you look at the screen from different positions.

But does it really matter? In my experience, practically, no. When you are seated in front of the monitor, those issues evaporate. If you sit on the floor looking up at your desk or you like to operate your computer from two feet to either side then you might have problems.

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REVIEW: Tokina 12-24mm f/4

I rented this little beauty from and I’ve been shooting with it all week. It’s a fun lens if a bit of a specialty item. There are a lot of very technical and in-depth reviews of this lens on the internet (here’s a good one that compares all of the wide-angle offerings) so I’ll stick to my impressions rather than delving into charts and graphs.

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Review: Ziplens online lens rental service

As I mentioned last Friday, my first rental arrived from ZipLens is an online lens rental service that opened last month. The service, like competitor, rents lenses for periods of one, two, or three weeks at a time for the fraction of the cost of traditional rental services. Shipping both ways is prepaid and all of the return packing material is provided so returning a lens is as simple as packing it and dropping it off at your local post office (or even just giving it to your mail carrier).

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ZipLens online lens rental service launches

ZipLens, a new online lens rental service with shipping within the United States launched today. The service is almost identical to which I’ve reviewed previously. At first glance, the services appear almost identical in functionality and price, offering a variety of Canon and Nikon mount lenses. One advantage ZipLens has is the ability to reserve a lens that is out of stock. I’ll have a full review of the service soon.

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DIY Tripod Leg Padding

Photodoto reader Doug shared a neat tip recently in the Photodoto discussion group:

As you’ve doubtless noticed, all the sexy new tripods come with foam wrappings on each leg, padding them while resting on your shoulder. Adding foam wraps after the fact is difficult, since it means somehow wrapping tape of some sort over balky pieces of foam, plus the finished product lacks a certain aesthetic appeal.

Cork padded bicycle handlebar tape is both inexpensive and works well as a substitute. It’s easy to apply, and way softer than bare metal.

Simply wrap the uppermost portion of each tripod leg using an entire roll of the handlebar tape. Take care to overlap the tape on each turn, and then wrap the butt end with the adhesive strip included with the handlebar tape or a little gaffer’s tape.

You get two rolls of tape per package, so with three legs on a tripod and one roll needed per leg, you have an extra roll left to wrap your monopod leg too.

Wish I could claim credit for this idea, but I found it works well,

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Create your own light box

A light box is basically a miniature photography studio. Lit from the sides, front, top or any combination, a light box provides even illumination of any subject which can fit inside of it. Boxes like this are perfect for product photos (think eBay) and general macro and closeup photography. There are a lot of tutorials out there for making light boxes. There’s a good one for making one out of a cardboard box over on Strobist. I’ve had an idea for making one of my own kicking around for a few weeks and decided to build it this week. Here’s what I came up with. And it’ll only cost you about $5 (assuming you’ve got some scissors and glue) and 30 minutes of your time.

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World’s largest telephoto lens

Zeiss announced that they have created the world’s largest telephoto lens, a 1700mm f/4 weighing in at 256 kg (564 pounds). It was developed for long-distance wildlife photography. No kidding—you wouldn’t even have to leave your apartment. No word on how much this custom-made lens cost. But if you have to ask…

STL Sonnar T* 4/1700: Side View

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Lens reviews

“It’s such a benefit for low light and for longer focal lengths. If you want an all-in-one then this is definately the lens to go for. Great for travelling as you only need to take one lens and don’t have to worry about changing lenses in dirty conditions. Highly recommended.” — fergusmacdonald about the Nikkor 18-200 VR

The lens review database is continuing to grow and has become a great resource for anyone doing lens research. Check it out if you’re thinking of buying a new lens. And please consider contributing a review if you own one of the lenses. Your fellow photographers will thank you for your generosity.

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Canon vs. Nikon

I’ve seen this debate come up a lot. Of course, it’s been rearing its head for a long time and will continue to do so far into the future, but it seems like I’ve been seeing more of it lately. Most people are pretty light-hearted when they talk about it. But almost everyone has at least some loyalty to the brand they’ve chosen. Partly it’s because cameras and lenses aren’t cheap and people have a psychological need to justify large purchases. Partly it’s about belonging to a “club.” There are a lot of factors.

My point of view is this: it’s a tool. I don’t much care what brand it is. The brand certainly doesn’t help me make photos. The brand doesn’t aid me in composition or help me see the world in a 4:6 ratio. I bought Nikon because the price/performance at the time I bought my original D70 (not the “s”) was better and the Rebel is too small for my hands. They both make excellent lenses and bodies. Both companies make equipment that far exceeds the ability level of 99% of their owners. Even though I have some money invested in Nikon glass,

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Review: Nikkor 18-200 G f/3.5-5.6 ED-IF AF-S VR DX

This “do everything” 18-200 super zoom from Nikon is a much sought after lens. It’s still out of stock almost everywhere even though it was released months ago and people are paying way too much for it. With all those initials after the name it must be good, right? But my advice is wait and don’t overpay. There’s nothing magical about this (admittedly nice) lens and when Nikon gets the supply worked out there will be plenty to go around.

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