Sunday, November 26, 2017

Legitimate Blogs - A Dying Breed?


The first ever photo posted on this blog in 2008

This blog was started as a convenience to me so I could stop hunting through my sent items folder and forwarding friends the same emails over and over again. I never intended for it to become a second job or something that would attract millions of readers. It just happened.

Along the way when I found myself working from 10:00 PM - 4:00 AM+ Sunday through Thursday's to cover the topics my readers asked to write about, I realized that there should be something in it for me. As a result, ronmart.blogspot.com - the email archive - became ronmartblog.com - the online review business. My goals shifted from simply writing about whatever came to mind to focusing on articles that would likely yield a return on my time investment.

During this transition I still kept to one principle - this blog would be different than most review sites in that it couldn't be bought and paid for. As a result, I resisted accepting advertising and instead rewarded products that I loved with free banner space. I resisted sponsored articles by giving the constant requests a price I knew they'd reject to make them go away for good. I resisted fake guest bloggers who wanted to write about unrelated topics just to boost their own sites, despite the fact that their presence could help push me higher in Google page rankings.

Simply put - I dismissed the games that many other sites played, and focused on only two mechanisms for income as a way to compensate my family for the grumpy guy that I'd become from lack of sleep. I accepted donations and I leveraged referrals as a mechanism to get compensated when my readers purchased products that I recommended. I thought this was fair, and despite the fact that nearly EVERY site on the web also does this - I disclosed that I was doing this.

When the holiday seasons sales would come around, I started by sharing deals because I wanted my friends to know about the deals that I honestly thought were worth sharing. However, I got flooded with requests to post deal offers and eventually became so disgusted with it that I moved to a mostly opt-in model with my deals newsletter. I got sick of the blog being a deals billboard, so I only used the blog occasionally for special deals that I felt good about posting - for my friends - and left the rest (which still about 1% of the deals I get daily in email) to my newsletter.

By not spamming you with deals, by not taking sponsored articles, and by not taking paid advertising - I lost a ton of potential earnings (to the tune of $50k+ per month from some single advertisers alone) and I lost a lot of web traffic and subsequently Google page ranking.

However, I think I won because I stuck to my principles and remained a legitimate blog - not a bought and paid for snake oil salesman - despite being sometimes accused of being just that.

For this holiday season I once again find myself with a dilemma - sacrifice thousands in earnings to keep my blog clean of more holiday sales crap, or join the crowd to avoid being assimilated.

Ara-131-Edit
Ara - my youngest of 4

My regular readers have probably noticed that I don't write like I used to anymore as I decided to sleep again after the birth of my daughter, Ara, in October 2015. I've returned to writing only about stuff for fun and mostly given up my second business - despite being a father of 4 and single breadwinner who certainly could use the extra income.


Taylor SHS Graduation 2017-511-Edit
Me with Taylor - My oldest of 4

Conclusion

This was an unplanned article that was written out of disgust of all of the holiday sales spam that I get bombarded with. While I hope people have noticed that I've been refraining from those types of activities this year, odds are you haven't given it a seconds thought. As a result, I'm pointing it out so you can take a moment to think about which blogs and influencers you can trust this holiday season and which ones are simply out to make a buck.

I wish all my remaining faithful readers a safe and happy holiday season.

Sincerely,

Ron Martinsen

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Guest Blog: PhotoPlus New York - 2017 Trip Report

by Natalia Stone - Travel and Landscape Photographer
http://nataliastone.com & http://instagram.com/natalia_stone

Nikon's D850

Out of the gate, the Nikon D850 comes with a ton of firepower. D850 boasts a 45.7MP Sensor,
7fps burst shooting - great for action photography, the newest EXPEED 5 high performance image processor which should handle the increased megapixels while still retaining the fast write speed.

If you are into time lapses, the D850 has a built-in 4K time lapse creation. If you love shooting
video, it has 4K/30p or 1080/120p slow-motion capabilities while still retaining high performance.

All in all a very impressive beast of a DSLR camera.

Click here to see Ron's Review of the Nikon D850.

Sony’s A7RIII

Sony ‘s A7 series has been on top of the mirror less camera game and the new Sony A7Riii doesn't disappoint. As an owner of a now older model Sony A7Rii, I couldn’t wait to play around with the next iteration and boy was it awesome. Sony has made a multitude of improvements - much better focusing, 10 fps continuous shooting not to mention the 15 EV dynamic range that rivals that of Nikon’s D850. A7Riii also comes with a Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode which produces very high detail raw files. Not going to lie, I walked away thinking Ill be upgrading soon.

Click here to learn more at B&H.

Lenses, Lenses, Lenses

So many new releases at the show this year, some of the highlights:

Zeiss Milvus 25mm f/1.4

This all new manual focus lens would be a great addition for a landscape photographer. Amazing
at capturing every crispy detail with edge to edge quality, perfect for those massive prints and the
‘wow’ effect. Any astrophotographer would very excited about a maximum aperture of 1.4 when
every stop of light makes a huge difference in producing the best images when shooting at night.

Click here to learn more at B&H.

Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens

Sigma announced the new Ultra-fast 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens – super sharp with minimal
distortion - perfect for the high megapixels DSLRs like Nikon D850 I checked out earlier. If you
are a portrait photographer, you definitely want to check this one out!

Click here for Ron's Review.

Rokinon announces AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

I’ve using Rokinon manual lenses for night photography for a long time and absolutely love them
so it’s exciting for the company to be releasing more autofocus ones like the new AF 35mm f/1.4 FE .

This lens is perfect for full frame mirror less cameras, comes in a Sony E-mount for anyone
sporting an A7 series body from Sony and would be great for either portrait, landscape or astrophotography!

Click here to learn more at B&H

Epson SureColor P8000 – “Print your legacy”

Speaking of printing your work – check out this beast of a printer from Epson.
SureColor P8000 doesn't just look impressive, once you see the prints, they take your breath
away. Not for those on a shoe string budget, but worth the money for a serious professional.

Click here to learn more at B&H.

Conclusion by Ron Martinsen

I'd like to thank Natalia for covering for me in New York this year. While I was too busy to make it, I was fortunate enough to have already reviewed a couple big products that headlined the show. I've also got the Sony A7RIII in the pipeline for review, so it looks like I'll be featuring the best of the show here after all!

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these archives from previous shows:

Enjoy these and more on the Reviews tab as well as Ron's Recommendations.

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Friday, November 10, 2017

Perfectly Clear v3.5 Tutorial and $40 Discount

Perfectly Clear Version 3 - Click to learn more

If you read my blog over the last year or two, you'd know that I was a fan of Perfectly Clear by Athentech because it really was a one-click photo editing tool. With 3.0 the user interface got much better and with version 3.5 it hits a home run!

Raw Editor

Built-in RAW Editor
Built-in RAW Editor means you don't need any other software to edit your photos

The stand-alone features a raw editor that gets the job done, but I'll admit that it's not as good as other products out there. However, if you want a one product photo editing workflow, it gets the job done.

Crop tool works well and offers several different overlays

Crop tool works well and offers several different overlays

In the stand-alone version you can easily crop with some great overlay choices including the rule of thirds and the golden ratio.

New Live Presets and Looks Panels

One of the nicest improvements is that you can see what your presets and looks will do before you click them as shown here:

image

Even better, you can apply a look on top of your preset to get two layers of editing in just two quick clicks. What's more, you can dial down the look directly from the window using the opacity slider.

Version 3.5 Phot Editing Tutorial

Here's a quick video where I show how quickly I can edit 8 photos that come straight out of the camera with no prior edits ...

NOTE: YouTube degrades the quality of the original 4k recording so there are compression artifacts that look bad in dark areas - this does not happen in the real product:


Before & After Images

Here's some before and after edits I did using version 3.0 and in the video above you can watch the video of changes made using the v3.5 update (free to v3.0 owners):

Perfectly Clear Version 3 - Before and After - Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Perfectly Clear Version 3 - Before and After - Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Perfectly Clear Version 3 - Before and After - Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Perfectly Clear Version 3 - Before and After - Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Discount Offer

Existing v3.0 owners get a free upgrade using AppsManager!

LIMITED TIME special offer to save $40 is available when you CLICK HERE or use the coupon code RONMART40

Get my regular 10% discount on version 3.5 when you CLICK HERE.

Please note that coupon codes can change so visit my discount coupon code page or contact me if you have any problems with my code.

Conclusion

This product has come such a long way and gets better and better with each version. I was expecting a small update with v3.5, but instead I was extremely impressed with all of the enhancements. For users of Photoshop and Lightroom, you can still integrate it in as the first and/or last step of your photo editing workflow. For those who want a single solution, it is fantastic as a stand-alone solution that allows for blazing fast one click edits of your images.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Thursday, November 9, 2017

First Look: on1 Photo RAW 2018 - The Best HDR & Pano Editor Yet?

on1 Photo RAW 2018

Try on1 Photo RAW 2018

I'm pretty busy these days so I don't have time for betas. As a result, I've been rocking along with on1 Photo RAW 2017 not paying much attention to what's coming next. Tonight in advance of the launch I finally kicked the tires and got both surprised and shocked by some of the changes so I thought I'd fill you in on some  of the ones that I think are worth your time to check out...

HDR Editor

I was super impressed with how fast and well this feature worked. Honestly, I didn't expect much as I've really been loving Aurora 2018 HDR as I prepare for my upcoming review.  However, I really have loved the fine grain control it offers with RAW images and how it it saves the merged file in a special format so that I can make non-destructive re-edits at anytime. This means that the HDR merge is never really final, and I can always go dial back in the dark and bright areas that might get messed up while editing. Check it out...

Sadly, this video doesn't do it justice because it kinda ends up with an image that doesn't look so hot. However, the image shown at the top of the article features one that I processed using HDR only (no presets) for very fast and realistic results.

Pano Feature

Some people love their panos, but I hate them. However, I thought this demo which shows how it not only does a good job creating panos, but it also adds metadata to make Facebook treat it as a spinnable pano too:

Maybe this is old news to you pano experts out there, but if you are like me and wondered how you could do this - this is it! Pretty sweet!

Mask Blur Chisel

I never quite got the hang of the chisel tool in the past, but this video here gave me one of those chimpanzee moments (you know, ooh, ooh) and I immediately wanted to go try it out.


More Cool Videos

Want to see what else is new? Start with the video above, then check out these videos...

Conclusion

I was unhappy with on1 products for a few years, so I stopped covering them on my blog. I was frustrated with them crashing, features I loved being removed, and something that remained being uninteresting to me.

With the 2017 version I got interested again, but I found myself mostly using it for Resize and not much else. However, I've spent some time this evening playing with the new features and rediscovering this product again, and I like what I see.

At a minimum I'd encourage existing on1 fans to check it out as I think it's a worthy upgrade.

For those who have been burned in the past, I'd suggest giving it another go as the setup seems to do a good job of installing things in cleanly without any headaches. When trying out the product, I hit one snag when I selected  corrupt iPhone 7 file on my NAS, but other than that it was rock solid. It feels like some of the quality issues that plagued on1 in the past have been sorted, and more compelling features have been brought back to make it something worth considering again.

Contact me to let me know your thoughts!

Try it Today & Get  Discount

CLICK HERE to learn more and take it for a spin. If you like it, then try out the MART17 coupon code to get a 20% discount off your order. Contact me if you have any troubles with the special offer.

Other articles you may enjoy

Check out the Reviews tab as well as Ron's Recommendations.

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Sunday, November 5, 2017

First Look - Meural Digital Canvas Photo Frame 2.0

Meural Canvas 2.0 Box - Bottom Side
Meural Canvas 2.0 Box - Bottom

I've owned the first version of the Meural Digital Canvas photo frame for over a year and I've been loving every minute of it. There's not a day that goes by that I don't spend a few minutes enjoying watching some of my favorite photos displayed on it as I stare at it from my dinner table. My friends, family, and yes - even my teenage kids - all have gushed over how cool our frame is, so when the folks at Meural told me that I could review the latest and greatest version, I was all over it!

This is my first impressions, but I'll be doing a more comprehensive review very soon. For this one I thought I'd start with the packaging, as there's been a big upgrade there that makes this product feel more polished and professional versus something that comes from a startup.

Meural Canvas 2.0 Box - Top Side
Meural Canvas 2.0 Box - Top Side

Just check out the cool packaging which illustrates one of the great features about this product - you can not only show your own photos - but a galleries of other flavors of fine art.

When I got my first frame, I wasn't so sure about why I would ever want to show other people's art, but after exploring the available content I found myself adding a couple dozen photos. In fact, my oldest son loved some of those photos so much that he went on a trip to Norway to try to locate some of the places featured on my frame and was thrilled to see them in real life!

A Quick Peek Inside 

Meural Canvas 2.0 Box - Inside
Meural Canvas 2.0 Box - Inside with quick start manual

I hate unboxing videos, so I thought I'd cut to the chase and just show you some quick pics.

I don't usually do this, but I know I was worried about my frame getting damaged in shipment. I thought this could be a useful article to show just how well it is packed for those who had doubts about its safety when ordering online.

Meural Canvas 2.0 Box - Frame Packaging
Meural Canvas 2.0 Box - Frame Packaging

As you can see the frame is very well protected and arrived in perfect condition to my house near Seattle even though it had been shipped from New York. I was pleased to see the protective cover and despite the cool temperatures it arrived with no issues. To be fair, I did let it acclimate to my house for 8 hours before opening just to make sure there was no condensation issues.

Meural Canvas 2.0 Box -  Hanging Hardware & Cleat
Meural Canvas 2.0 Box -  Hanging Hardware & Cleat

The mounting hardware was secured with tape (removed here) but I have what I need to hang my frame securely in the sheetrock. I didn't hang my first frame because it just rested nicely in my TV alcove and I used a couple big crystal trophies to hold it secure in place (not recommended).

Meural Canvas 2.0 Box -  Rear View
Meural Canvas 2.0 Box -  Rear View

On the back side frame, the cleat mounts are much more polished (literally) and there's better frame ventilation (although my v1 never had and heat issues). There's also a big purple port to accept the power with space to coil up extra slack from the power cable if you don't need to extend it.

Software

Web Frame Management Site
Web Frame Management Site
Partial List of Settings Shown

If you own an existing Meural frame, then you can see the new software. However, if you don't then it's evolved a lot since my original review. It's a lot more robust and user friend with support to features available both on the website AND phone.

I'll cover this more in my review, but I wanted a quick mention to let people know that the software that was the Achilles heal of the original models, is now working well and all the bugs are worked out.

First Thoughts

Everything just worked out of the box and felt very much like my original frame which is a good thing, since I liked it quite a bit.

The quality of the black frame is very different. It has more of a bevel to it, but it seems more manufactured than the wood of the first version. I can't say that is a good or a bad thing - it's just different.

Overall, this frame looks more commercial whereas the first version felt more hand made. However, from a distance they both look very similar and quite good.

The power cord cable is MUCH improved and significantly longer than the one I got with my review unit for the first version. There's also multiple adapters for different regions, but the one right out of the box worked fine in the US.

Usability wise, it felt like the much improved iOS app was more responsive with this frame than the first version, but otherwise the only noticeable improvements were a better onboarding experience than when I last did this > 14 months ago.

So far it's been working great and not really a huge difference than my first one, but that's a good thing because the firmware and software of my first one have been updated to make it act the same as this one.

My only gripe has been that he gesture feedback often leaves me giving the frame a middle finger gesture, as it just doesn't work very reliably. However, the phone allows you to do everything you need so I just use it instead as I've done with the first version of the frame.

The biggest improvement seems to be support for auto rotation, but that's not something I find very practical as I plan on putting it up one way and leaving it like that forever. In fact, I'm considering leaving this one in portrait orientation while I leave my old one in landscape.

Conclusion

Simply put, this is pretty much everything I liked about the first one but with a lot more spit and polish. It feels more like a mass distributed product rather than a one off, but still looks way better than any other digital frames I've ever used.

Definitely put this on your short list for holiday gifting as the image quality is fantastic and the ease of use via the phone app and web site make it very serviceable remotely after you get it set up initially. For my v1 the only glitch was the need to occasionally unplug and re-plug it to reboot it to get it back on my network again, but I haven't had this one long enough to see if that issue still exists.

More coming in the full review soon.

Where to Buy?

CLICK HERE to learn more or buy today.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Enjoy these and more on the Reviews tab as well as Ron's Recommendations.

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Luminar 2018 & Aurora HDR 2018 for Windows & Mac Special Offer

Ron Martinsen Photography: MiscReviews &emdash; Filters Catalog

I'm happy to announce that my friends at Skylum (formerly known as Macphun) have released Luminar 2018. This product has quickly become one of the hottest photo editing products and is hailed by many as the replacement for the Nik Collection.

To see what's new or pre-order please click the link below. You can also see what's see my Luminar for Windows Open Beta Review for some of the things you can do, but the final version is much more polished.

I'll be doing my full review later in November.

Oh, and if you are into HDR then my favorite HDR product for quite some time has been Aurora HDR, and the new 2018 version is out and better than ever. Learn more about what's new by clicking the image below:

Again, my review for this product will come out later in November.

Discount Offer

Save $10 on select Skylum (aka Macphun) products when you use the coupon code RONMART

This offer does not apply to pre-release products until after they are released, so Luminar is excluded at this time.

Conclusion

Sylum (formerly Macphun) is getting serious about bringing fast and easy to use products to market. While there's still some rough edges I'd like to see addressed, and improvements needed to get full parity of the WIndows versions vs the Mac versions, they have great presets that are fast and easy to use. It's also pretty cheap to own so it's definitely worth your time to check out the free trial.

Where to Buy?

CLICK HERE to learn more.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Enjoy these and more on the Reviews tab as well as Ron's Recommendations.

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

REVIEW: Nikon D850 with 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR & SIGMA 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art

Nikon D850 from B&H
Nikon D850 Camera Body

I'm no stranger to the Nikon D850 after having spent a fair amount of time reviewing the D800 and D810, but neither model impressed me enough to give it a highly recommend rating. Would this be the one to change my mind?

Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR from B&H
Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR

To make this camera look its best, I decided to pair it with two fantastic lenses - the Nikon Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR and the hot new SIGMA 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art. Both are razor sharp and have their strengths to make the most of what this 45.7MP sensor has to offer!

Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art
SIGMA 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art

In my Nikon D810 review, the Zeiss Otus 55mm & SIGMA 50mm Art Series went head to head and the SIGMA came out victorious thanks to its AF advantage. Would the 135mm Art series be just as impressive?

Introduction

While the D800 & D800E failed to impress me, I did take a liking to the D810 thanks to the great lenses I was able to test with it. With that said, I wasn't really motivated to get one because the additional shutter speed required to get a sharp shot. This coupled with the unimpressive high ISO performance made it unpractical for most scenarios. As a result,  so best images required a tripod or studio lights which made it impractical for my needs.

Since I did my D810 review, I've had the pleasure of using the incredible Sony a7R II, the Canon 5Ds and 5Ds R, and the impressive but lesser megapixel a9 which many believe to be a preview of what is to come in the highly anticipated a7R III.

With a lot more reference products to demonstrate that the technology definitely exists to improve upon the D810, would the third time finally be a charm? Would this be the Sony a7R II killer that some were predicting it would be? Is it really worthy of DxO's #1 sensor ranking?

Body Thoughts

Ergonomics-wise, this is typical Nikon which is a good thing since there's plenty of buttons with many of them being programmable. The body design is far superior than what you get on a Canon or Sony, so even though there's no meaningful changes beyond the removal of the the built-in flash for the sake of better weather sealing, and a handy tilt screen which will make macro photographers happy.

Yes, there's improvements like the trick Focus Shift feature which makes collecting shots to use with your focus stacking software much easier, but it offers no in-camera magic. There's also the highly useful built-in intervalometer which makes Time Lapse photography much easier. In fact, Nikon even went the extra mile to let you make a 8k video out of these captured images which is pretty slick.

That said, there's not much else to say. Nikon has been making one of the most useful camera bodies for years, and this is a very easy and enjoyable to use camera body - nuff said.

Studio Shots

These first two shots were taken under my Elinchrom studio lights with a clamshell setup. I use a Lastolite Triflector with gold and silver stripe panels that caused a warm tone when used with the Auto0 Auto White Balance setting of the D850.

The photos shown are 100% unedited from the in-color camera JPEG, but if you click the links under and view them in Google Chrome browser you'll see color corrected versions made from the NEF file in Lightroom CC Classic using the new Version 4 Camera Standard profile with lens corrections. White balance was achieved in the NEF converted versions using the far left portrait Creative Enhancement Target of the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Photo


Sigma 135mm Art at f/9 for 1/200 sec at ISO 100

(Full Size Color Corrected from NEF - ProPhoto RGB JPEG Version)

image
100% zoom of camera right eye from Sigma shot above

image
100% zoom of camera right eye from Nikon shot below


Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR - f/9 @ 70mm for 1/200 sec at ISO 100

(Full Size Color Corrected from NEF - ProPhoto RGB JPEG Version)

These are two great lenses, so I was surprised at how well the 24-70 faired against the Sigma, but to my eyes the Sigma still has the clear advantage in terms of sharpness and detail resolution.

Outtake Shot of Kai
Outtake shot of Kai using the Sigma 135mm - f/8 @ for 1/250 sec at ISO 100
100% crop - click for full size shot

For fun I also included this unedited Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR outtake shot done under the same studio lighting and the Auto2 white balance:


f/9 @ 70mm for 1/200 sec at ISO 100

For those who haven't used a camera with a resolution this high, you will have to make changes in the way you have historically worked in the studio. Depth of field is a challenge just like medium format cameras as even f/8 and f/9 exhibit shallow depth of field challenges between the iris and eye brow, especially visible above for subjects with deep inset eyes. The net result is that it is not possible to get both in sharp focus like you can with lower megapixel cameras, unless you stop down your aperture to a larger f-stop number. With that said, a clear advantage of the extra megapixels is a significant reduction of specular highlights on the nose and forehead compared to those found with lower resolution cameras.

In the studio, I love the D850 - especially with a great lens like the Sigma 135mm Art.

Real World Shots

The following are 100% unedited shots that link to the original in-camera JPEG. All of the shots featured were taken handheld using either Aperture Priority with the Faster ISO sensitivity setting for Auto ISO or in Manual with Auto ISO.  All camera settings were set to their default including the picture control (Auto) and the white balance was set to personal taste (typically Auto2 or Shade):



f/2 @ 135mm for 1/250 sec at ISO 900

Camera shake is a huge challenge with this camera, but if you can keep the camera rock solid as I did here by having my elbow on the table, you can get a sharp shot without having to do 3x+ the reciprocal of the focal length (e.g., 1/400+ in this case)


f/2.8 @ 70mm for 1/500 sec at ISO 2500

Despite the distraction of the fingers, the auto 3D Face Tracking AF did a good job of finding Kai's eye and doing what I wanted the camera to do


f/2.8 @ 70mm for 1/250 sec at ISO 560

With the 24-70, I got an interesting and colorful shot...


f/2.8 @ 135mm for 1/200 sec at ISO 320

but I enjoyed having the 135mm where even at f/2.8 I could get in closer to my subject and bask in the buttery smooth bokeh I get from this excellent lens


f/5 @ 135mm for 1/200 sec at ISO 400

Zoom in and you'll see how this many megapixels helps to you resolve flaws on the car and details on the leaves. I used 1/200 sec as a shutter speed to try to limit motion blur in the leaves


f/13 @ 135mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 100
(tripod)
This shot was impressive because of the tonal range on the boat and sky even with the in-camera JPEG. By using the RAW, you can do some really cool processing on this shot.


f/2.8 @ 135mm for 1/2000 sec at ISO 72

I pulled over on the side o the road and took a quick snap of these paragliders just to see how the camera would resolve the detail on them. It's impressive to see how much you can seem when you really zoom in! Click the image and see for yourself!


f/2.8 @ 135mm for 1/320 sec at ISO 500

The 135 was just so fun to shoot with and the dynamic range of this camera helped to get the specular highlights at bay despite Sierra's unpowered skin


f/4 @ 50mm for 1/800 sec at ISO 100

I'm used to good in-camera JPEG from Sony, Fujifilm and Canon cameras, but this is a great example of why Nikon shooters should always keep their NEF RAW files around
Notice how bad the pumpkin looks and how overblown Kai's face is with the in-camera JPEG


f/4 @ 50mm for 1/800 sec at ISO 100

Thankfully with just some tone adjustments, it's easy to recover from the NEF file to get a much more usable image, so the in-camera JPEG's leave you wanting for more with orange tones on this camera compared to other brands I've tested - including the iPhone 7!


Without In-Camera HDR

To address the above problem you could turn to in-camera HDR which is useful for shots like this


With In-Camera HDR

Notice how it takes advantage of the great dynamic range of this camera to come up with a much better result in mixed light, but it comes at the expense of motion blur when your subjects are alive vs ones that are dead - ha ha


With In-Camera HDR on - oops!

This is proof that the HDR mode really is taking and combining multiple exposures even though you only hear what sounds like two exposures


f/2.8 @ 48mm for 1/200 sec at ISO 7200

High ISO performance is drastically improved over the D800 as this ISO 7200 image definitely impresses


f/2.8 @ 32mm for 1/125 sec at ISO 2000

Auto focus performance was quite good and the VR helped to get a lot more keepers with the 24-70 than I got with the 135mm


f/4 @ 70mm for 1/160 sec at ISO 25600

ISO 25,600 - are you kidding me?
This is a huge improvement over the D800 and I think a big improvement over the D810 as well


f/4 @ 70mm for 1/320 sec at ISO 16000

ISO 16,000 was downright sharp in reasonable lighting conditions


f/2.8 @ 52mm for 1/1000 sec at ISO 5600

This is only one of a series I took in burst mode with continuous AF, but I found that if you have enough light for 1/1000 or faster you have an AF system that can handle active subjects


f/2.8 @ 135mm for 1/1000 sec at ISO 100

For fun I thought I'd see how much detail could be resolved in this fake webbing. It was quite impressive!


f/3.2 @ 135mm for 1/640 sec at ISO 900

How can you not love the 135mm Art? Wonderful bokeh and crispy sharp detail!


f/4 @ 135mm for 1/500 sec at ISO 4500

This would have been a good time to play around with the focus stacking, but sadly I was handheld this day. That said, this is pretty good for handheld at f/4 and ISO 4500!


f/4 @ 135mm for 1/500 sec at ISO 1800

Once you start shooting flowers with this lens, it gets addicting in a hurry.
The D850 makes for a nice file that captures gobs of detail


f/4 @ 135mm for 1/500 sec at ISO 3600

Yes, a needless shot but look at the detail of the fabric in the face - ha, ha!
Just wait, if you get a D850 you'll be doing this too (especially if you have a killer lens like the 135!!!)


f/1.8 @ 135mm for 1/640 sec at ISO 4000

Despite using my handheld technique on this shot (the only one in this article), I still found it tricky to get precise focus on the eye. As a result, I think I needed to use the USB Dock to fine tune the AF calibration of  this lens to this camera

For more review photos, see http://ronmartinsen.com/nikon/d850.

Please note that all photos are copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may view these photos only while your web browser is open to this article, but you must delete them when done. No printing, linking, editing, or reuse of any kind is permitted without expressed written consent.

One Edited Shot

Typically I don't include edited shots in my reviews because I want readers to see what the camera can do, not what I can do with Photoshop. However, I'm making a rare exception in this case as the positive feedback I got from this edited shot was so overwhelming from my pro photographer friends (names you'd recognize) that I decided to share it here.

Lost in the Music by Ron Martinsen on 500px.com

The photo above is hosted on 500px where you can learn more about it, but the original was in color. The color version actually shows off a better job with the dynamic range of the underexposed subject and the background - details which get lost in the above post-processing.

While I wanted to hate the D850 for the technical things about it that drive me crazy, there is an indisputable fact that the dynamic range of this camera led to me capturing some interesting shots that I was quite pleased with. While it may not perfect, it's definitely a nice piece of photography equipment!

Compared to the Canon 5Ds, 5Ds R, and Sony a7R II

If someone set the Nikon D850 down in front of me along side the Canon 5Ds, 5Ds R, and Sony a7R II and told me I could have anyone one that I want plus $5000 for lenses to go with it, I'd still probably go for the Sony a7R II. While the D850 is my favorite Nikon D8** series camera, it's not as easy to pull off hand held shots like what I could get with the Sony or even the Canon's for that matter. This camera has a sensor that performs much closer to the Sony, than the Canon, but when all things are considered I still prefer the Sony - despite its freaking horrible menus. With that said, the a9 showed a lot of promise in addressing the things I hated about the Sony body so there's hope that finally might have something magical for us in its next release.

Conclusion

For most existing Nikon users with an investment in Nikon lenses, the D750 is a much better investment for everyday use. However, the tonal range advantage of the D850 - especially in specular highlight areas - makes it tough to pass on. In fact, if you are a Nikon shooter who is looking for a specialized body to give you the best studio and landscape shots that the platform offers, then look no further - this is the camera you want.

While it definitely pays to bump up the ISO sensitivity settings of Auto ISO to the Faster setting to ensure that your shutter speeds stay up when you are in aperture priority. Even with VR turned on, I was surprised at how easy it was to get shots where the eyes of my subjects clearly had motion blur despite them holding perfectly still. Part of it was the depth of field challenge previously mentioned, but I also believe the lack of a precision spot auto focus feature that Canon offers or the eye tracking feature of Sony & Fujifilm.

With those gripes out of my system, I can finally highly recommend this camera - for Nikon shooters. As for lenses, there's lots of good choices, but if it were me I'd be investing in the Sigma 85mm and Sigma 135mm Art. These two incredible lenses have impressed the heck out of me and really made me a Sigma fan - when I used to be a Sigma hater.   

Where to Buy?

CLICK HERE to learn more or buy the Nikon D850.

CLICK HERE to learn more or buy the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR.

CLICK HERE to learn more or buy the SIGMA 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art.

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