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Phil Steele New Year's sale: 53% off Event Photography, 25% off Lightroom Made Easy, 15% off Photoshop Basics and 15% off Pro Portraits with Off-Camera Flash.
05 February 2016, Friday
I've rewritten the entire page as of just now. If you read my drafts before, check it out again.
Deal: Canon T5i with 2 lenses & goodies: $449 after huge $350 rebate.
● Canon T5i
● Canon 18-55mm IS STM
● Canon 75-300mm III (not IS)
● Canon PIXMA PRO-100 Professional Photo Inkjet Printer
● Canon SG-201 Photo Paper Plus Semi-Gloss, 13x19", 50 Sheets
04 February 2016, Thursday
The Gray Market Returns: $1,000 off a 5DSR!
A read just wrote that he really did get this brand-new Canon 5DS R for $1,000 off. It's the real deal: he got it in its original boxes and he is good to go, for almost $1,000 less than everywhere else!
I've been actively shopping for photo deals for over 40 years. Now that the US dollar is worth about 30% more than it has been since 1990, the gray market lets us get great deals the likes of which we haven't seen since the 1980s.
Gray market simply means that a store finds great deals overseas on brand-new cameras, and imports and sells them directly without paying middleman markups. They don't buy them from middlemen like Nikon USA or Canon USA; they get them directly from the manufacturers elsewhere and save us big dollars.
Back as a kid in the 1970s I'd read the olde-tyme "printed" photo magazines, and tried the ads in the back that offered crazy prices lower than my local store's dealer net prices.
I was shooting Minolta back in the 1970s and got both my new gray-market Rokkor lenses and Kodachrome direct from New York City's newly founded B&H and Adorama — I even bought gray-market made-in-France Kodachrome and it was great. It was still too fresh so it was too green, a big problem before Kodachrome professional sold correctly-aged Kodachrome. I shot Kodachrome professional, also gray market, when it came out, and hoghlights were still too green, but that's Kodachrome. I paid the same for gray market film and prepaid Kodak USA processing that I'd have to pay for the film alone at retail.
The dollar was worth about 300 yen in the early 1980s, so I ordered all my brand-new Nikon manual focus lenses direct from B&H and Adorama for less than these same lenses sold for used! No one believed I could do it, but it was the real deal. Instead of poring through classified ads in Newsday and Buy Lines for used Nikon lenses, I bought whatever I wanted brand new from the city for even less! Back then people shopped in old-fashioned stores that you actually had to drive to; there was no online, and people didn't trust magazine ads from places they'd never heard of. This is what I mean when I say I haven't shopped at retail since the 1970s; once I discovered Adorama and B&H there was no way I was going to waste my time traveling to a store when I could pick up the phone and get it for less.
I moved from New York to California in the late 1980s, and none of my friends believed that I could pick up a phone and give some guy out in New York my credit card number, and get anything other than scammed. I insisted, they saw the deals I got, and my friends warmed up to buying from Adorama and B&H back in the olden days when we still had "walk in" camera stores but no commercial internet. They were skeptical at first, and now for decades most photographers get all their gear from these guys. (This was long before Amazon.)
Most people have forgotten about these great deals or never got them back in the 1980s in the first place. The dollar has only been worth about 80 yen since about 1990. The dollar was at its lowest in 2010 and 2011, but took a huge jump to 120 back in November 2014 and has stayed there for the past year.
Because the dollar is worth about 50% more than it was two years ago, our Japanese cameras should cost us much less in dollars — but the USA middlemen haven't dropped the prices yet, hoping we won't go looking for gray market.
I've been warning the US branches of Nikon and Canon that they'd better do something since the gray market is going to become a very attractive option, and they've only slightly conceded on a few prices. The USA middlemen have been keeping their heads in the sand hoping no one notices and lets them keep US prices inflated.
The yen and dollar are always changing. That's why rebates come and go and change in value; it's how the US middlemen keep the catalog prices looking stable while letting them stay in business as their costs go all over the place.
Back in the 1980s all we had was the telephone and printed magazines. Today with eBay we can find anything from anywhere. eBay is loaded with iffy sellers, but read How to Win at eBay, and when you find a decent seller like 6ave selling gray market, it could be the 1980s all over again. They'll never come out and say gray market; they weasel around it and say something silly like "USA Seller" and "may have parallel warrantee" or whatever. The reader who got his 5DSR for a steal from them said that they also offered a full refund if he wasn't overjoyed with it.
Of course you have to realize I'm a New Yorker. We're known for our shrewdness, risk taking and financial exchange savvy. Heck, we're not only the center for the world's biggest camera stores and all the US middlemen for Nikon, Canon, Tamron, Sigma and others on Long Island, but also the world's financial center. We live this stuff. If you're more relaxed, you're always taking a gamble with gray market - but you have to be willing to lose to win.
By cutting out the middleman you're not entitled to the middleman's help on things like warranties. Good luck getting Nikon USA or Canon USA to fix a broken camera; you'll probably have to ship it to Japan or maybe the sellers offer some kind of warranty — but for $1,000 off, I'll take that chance. Presuming you can find a place to work on it, DSLR repairs usually only run about $300, even if you need a new sensor. LifePixel replaces scratched sensors for about $250. None of the gray market gear I bought in the 1980s has ever failed me.
Hey - the reader who got his 5DS R cheap just looked in his box: he got USA warranty cards!
Happy times are here again! Whoo hoo!
03 February 2016, Wednesday
Brand New from Sony
FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens
FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens
FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens
FE 1.4x Teleconverter
FE 2x Teleconverter
Alpha a6300 (also comes as the kit with a6300 and 16-50mm)
02 February 2016, Tuesday
Canon 1DX Mk II and 50mm f/1.2 L.
20MP full-frame, 14 real FPS with full AF and AE tracking.
Updates coming live all day today; much more tonight.
EOS-1DX Mark II: $5,999, also at B&H and at Amazon.
EOS-1DX Mark II Premium Kit: $5,999, also at B&H and at Amazon.
EC-C6 focusing screen: $36.95, and $45 at Amazon.
LC-E19 dual battery charger: $399, also at B&H, but $540 at Amazon.
LP-E19 battery: $179.95, also at B&H for $169 and at Amazon.
WFT-E8A wireless file transmitter: $599.00, also at B&H for $589 and at Amazon.
AC-E19 AC adapter kit: $449, also at B&H for $399 and at Amazon for $700.
DR-E19 DC coupler for 1DX Mk II, $279.95, also at B&H for $249 and at Amazon for $350.
DR-E17 DC coupler: $49.95, also at Amazon for $60.
01 February 2016, Monday
Route 66 on Friday!
Our Route 66 photo trip starts this Friday.
From last year's trip: Abandoned Route 66 Service Station. Nikon D810, Nikon 18mm f/4 NIKKOR AI, f/11 at 1/250 at Auto ISO 100, split-toned print.
From last year's trip: Signs, Barstow. Made with a 1955 Agfa Super Isolette, Kodak T-MAX 100, orange filter, f/8 at 1/100 marked (really 1/60), split-toned print.
Dave Wyman and I are leading the tour. Dave's already posted a couple of biographies on some of this year's attendees. I also hear rumor that our resident astronomer, Richard Nolthenius, will be helping lead as well.
It will be a hoot. Feel free to join us. Call or eMail Dave Wyman at (323) 377-7565 in Los Angeles. Dave usually is out shooting, so he's rarely sitting by his phone or computer.
New Deals & Rebates
D750 & 24-120VR (Nikon catalog # 1549) $1,100 off: $2,296.95.
D810 Body (Nikon catalog # 1542)
$500 off: $2,796.95
D810 & 24-120VR (Nikon catalog # 1556)
$1,100 off: $3,296.95.
D810, 35/1.8, 50/1.8 & 85/1.8 Kit (Nikon catalog #13456) $500 off: $4,406.95.
Deals: Sony Lens Rebates.
Deal: Rokinon 50mm T1.5 Cine DS Lens for Nikon, for Canon and for micro 4/3: $379 (Reg. $414 - $549) with free shipping.
Deal: Panasonic DMC-G7 and Audio-Technica AT8024 Microphone: $597.99 (also includes $23.92 back in Adorama Rewards) with free shipping.
29 January 2016, Friday
Nikon 16-80mm f/2.8-4 DX VR.
It has the best VR I've ever tested, as well as being a stop faster than similar lenses.
Monitor Calibrator Deal
B&H has two versions of a Spyder system on its Deal of the Day today.
28 January 2016, Thursday
D500 or D750?
Since the prices are similar, people ask which is better.
The D500 is for sports, birds and action.
D750 is for broad landscapes and things that don't move that fast.
The D500 is all about its frame rate and catching things in motion — nothing more. Of course for birds, sports and action, that's very important.
The D750 is for things not moving as fast.
There is little to no picture quality difference. The biggest difference between FX and DX is that DX has deeper depth of field, and FX has less depth of field.
Australia Day Sale - Free Shipping Down Under!
Ending today: B&H is offering free shipping to Australia, so no more whining about shipping charges from our Aussie pals. Viva Paul Hogan!
Sales for everyone
Lowepro Pro Runner BP 450 AW II Backpack: $149.95 (Regular 249.95), with free shipping.
Nikon D5300: $399.99 (regular $499, refurbished), with free shipping.
Nikon D5200 w/ 18-55mm VR & Lexar 64GB Class 10 SDXC Card: $379.95, (regular $449, refurbished).
27 January 2016, Wednesday
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 VR.
Nikon's sharpest midrange zoom of all time — and also their most distorted. That's OK, as FX DSLRs usually can fix the distortion automatically.
Nikon, Canon, Tokina, Sony, you name it, they're all here.
What really stands out is how competitive is the Tokina 24-70mm f/2.8, and it costs a fraction of any of the other lenses.
Sixth Anniversary: Introduction of the iPad, 2010
Yip, it's only been six years of the iPad. Actually less; they were impossible to get for quite a while. Most people, myself included, got them as Christmas gifts in December 2010, so it's really only been 5 years of iPad. How fast things change; the iPhone was only introduced in 2007— less than 9 years ago.
E-M10 Mk II with 14-42mm lens: $899.00 (also at B&H). Order today to get it at the end of February.
Pen-F (also in silver, also at B&H and also in silver at B&H) $1,199.99. Order today to get it in March.
Obviously the Pen F is like a computer printer; they'd give it away if you'd take it because they make their profit on the accessories. Look at these; reminds me of LEICA:
CBG-11 PR premium leather bag for Pen F: $489.99.
CS-48 PR premium leather wrapping cloth for Pen F: $149.95. Wrapping cloth? What's that? It's a $150 Domke wrap.
ECG-4 metal grip for Pen F: $129.99, also at B&H.
CSS-S120L PR premium leather strap for Pen F: $119.99.
CS-47B leather partial case for Pen F: $52.95, a bargain.
6X16 monocular i: $89.95. (also at B&H)
This is a nifty pocket monocular: it's multicoated with a phase coated prism. It's waterproof to 1 meter and nitrogen gas filled.
26 January 2016, Australia Day
Fast or Quiet?
People ask how to get a quiet camera.
In Nikon, the D810 is its quiet mode is significantly quieter than the D800, D750, D610 or D600.
In Canon, the 5DS/R and 5D Mk III are very quiet in their quiet modes.
Crop-sensor cameras are also usually quiet. See each's review, and the least expensive little plastic cameras are usually very quiet and refined.
What are so loud I can hear their shutter sounds bouncing off neighboring buildings are the pro cameras like the D3, D4 and D5. The faster they are, the noisier they are.
To make this perfectly clear, a D4 set to its quiet mode is much louder than a D810 in its regular mode — and the D810 gets even quieter in its quiet mode.
Bag Sale - Today, Tuesday, Only
B&H has the Lowepro Whistler BP 450 AW on sale for half price.
Less than two weeks: California's Route 66 Tour!
Photo from last year's trip. More photos from that trip.
Celebrating the tenth anniversary of our annual trip, we'll be exploring California's Route 66 starting Friday afternoon, February 5th and shooting continuously through Sunday morning, February 7th 2016.
It's primarily a tour of great locations with just one short presentation, and plenty of time for questions and hands-on help in the field.
You'll get all the one-on-one time you want for questions and individual instruction, as well as be in the field making great photos all weekend.
Here's more about the trip and how to sign up. Call or eMail Dave Wyman at (323) 377-7565 in Los Angeles. Dave usually is out shooting, so he's rarely sitting by his phone or computer.
See you there!
Adorama's Orbit camera supports.
Adorama's 3-Pod supports.
21 January 2016, Thursday
Kodak versus Fuji
I just was shooting some new TMX 100 in 120 size I got from B&H, and after shooting so much Velvia in 120 size, it is sad how primitive Kodak's film packaging is compared to Fuji's.
I use five-roll pro-packs of 120-size TMX 100.
These 5-roll boxes have NO film box end tabs to put in my Hasselblad magazine's film reminders. None.
I had to flip over one of my Fuji box ends and write "TMX 100" with a sharpie.
Fuji's multipacks have perforated tabs on the box we can tear out and use. I tried one small inside flap from the Kodak box, but it is way too small and falls out of film box-end holders.
While Fuji's printing on the film back looks like it comes from a civilized country, Kodak's printing is primitive; like it's from a dot-matrix printer of the 1970s.
New Film Sticker
It's easy to remove the stickers from new rolls of Fuji film. Just life one end and lift it off. I show this in my How to Load a Hasselblad Magazine videos (also in color high-definition) and it's no big deal.
Contrast this to Kodak, where there is no obvious end to the sticker, and I very carefully have to scrape it off. This wastes time, and sometimes results in more than one piece of sticker floating around to have to catch and throw away without littering the landscape wilt little dots of yellow paper.
Tabs and Spools
Fuji's 120 and 220 film has been "Easy Load" for about 20 years. Their spools have little catches inside their slots, so they easily catch Fuji's perorated film leader tabs. Just put the film leader in the tab, and it's locked so you can complete loading the film.
Contrast this to Kodak that still lacks any of this. Kodak's leaders have no hole and their spools have no tabs, so use a Kodak take-up spool or use Kodak film, and you have to be very careful that your leader stays in the spool as you load the film.
With Fuji, the leader stays in the spool and just loads.
All Fuji's 120 and 220 films are "Easy Load," which also means that they are printed with digital codes to program the film speed and film length into modern cameras like the Contax 645 automatically. In fact, in modern cameras you no longer need to line-up arrows; they just read the coding printed on the leader and figure it out.
Kodak is still back 100 years here. You still have to line up arrows and set ASA and film length manually, even in modern cameras. (of course my 1955 Agfa Super Isolette always automatically indexes any film, no need to line up arrows in it either.)
With Fuji, you peel back an adhesive tab and stick it to the film. Done. I show this in How to Unload a Hasselblad Magazine (also in high definition).
With Kodak, just like 100 years ago, you have to lick the sticker and stick it on. This is easy in nice weather with the spool out of the camera, but I much prefer being able to stick-down the end of my film before I pull it out of a camera. This lessens the chance of having the exposed film come off the spool if you drop it, and lets you keep your tongue in your mouth in freezing weather or blowing sand and dirt.
I love the look I get with TMX 100; it has the same fine grain of ASA 50 Pan F Plus, with an extra stop of speed, but maybe it's time to try Fuji Acros Neopan 100. TMAX is a winner because it uses tabular-shaped grains (that's the "T" in T Max) to increase sensitivity with less grain over conventional randomly-shaped grains, but I'll bet Fuji has copied this, too. Looking at the data, it seems Fuji 100 has finer grain than TMAX 100, a better spectral sensitivity curve, much better reciprocity characteristics and the same high resolving power, so I'll try Fuji next time.
When it comes to a film's "look," what's sad is how few, if anyone today, runs the proper zone system tests to get their process down. Most people simply shoot film at its rated speed, use no filters, and get relatively crummy results — but they don't realize it.
When you properly calibrate your process, most B&W films look about the same. What the inexperienced see as "look" if they compare films themselves is how close their sloppy process gets to being correct — not anything to do with the film.
Hint: your lab has a densitometer. Shoot gray cards or anything neutral at different film speed settings, and use the speed that gives a density of 0.71 over the density of the clear film base.
If you don't want to do all this, you'll be pretty close if you use a film speed of half the rated value with a through-the-lens meter, and use a yellow or orange filter outdoors. Don't shoot unfiltered outdoors; it will make the sky look overcast even on sunny days!
Underexposure and lack of filters is why most people's B&W shots look so dull.
See The Zone System and The Negative for details.
20 January 2016, Wednesday
People always suggest genius bidding plans for eBay to me, but all any early bidding does is inflate prices. The less interest shown, the better for you.
As you all should know from my How to Win at eBay series, never bid until the last second. Not the last minute, and not even the last ten seconds, but the very last second that you reliably can place a bid. He who bids last, wins.
High bids don't scare people away; all it does is encourage them to bid more. Your high bid never makes the price go up until someone else bids high, so a high bid just raises the price for whoever eventually wins, and it attracts more attention to the auction.
The only time when an early bid might be acceptable is to make a very, very low initial bid to ensure that the seller isn't likely to cancel the auction. Sellers can cancel an unbid auction at any time if they get cold feet because there are no bids yet, but as soon as the first 99¢ bid comes in, the seller has to pay eBay it's full typically 10% commission if they withdraw it — so they almost never will. A tiny bid will ensure that the item probably won't be withdrawn, but don't do this unless it's something you really want and can't find elsewhere. This tiny first bid will result in a higher closing price, but at least it probably will close. It is very, very rare that people cancel auctions and patience always lets me find any rare item again, so I would never do this, but if you're in this situation, it's OK to place a tiny bid — but only place one more bid, your one real bid, at the very last second.
I explain all this and more at How to Win at eBay. I've won over 99.5% of everything on which I've bid ever since the 1990s, so this comes from real experience.
LEICA introduces a $3,000 underwater digital point and shoot:
16 MP APS-C.
23 mm f/1.7 ASPH lens
Rated to 15 meters depth (49 feet).
Built-in flash, but very close to the lens.
1,080 or 720 at 30p MP4.
Made in Germany.
Should be available in a couple of weeks, if you order now.
19 January 2016, Tuesday
Wow, it's been 10 years since I left Hollywood ad bot have things changed. This gizmo is an OLED picture monitor, digital recorder and waveform monitor, and sells for a fraction of what just a waveform monitors used to cost — and this includes the digi8tal recorder that used to sell for $250,000 just for standard definition!
16 January 2016, Saturday
All New from Fujifilm
Fujifilm X-Pro2: Replaces the ancient X-Pro 1: 24MP, ISO 51,200.
Fujifilm X-E2S, also in Silver. Also comes as a kit with 18-55mm lens, and this kit also comes in silver. The X-E2S has a new grip, an electronic shutter and new menu system over the old X-E2.
Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR. New ultra tele for the Fuji system.
Fujifilm X70, also in silver. An APS-C camera with a fixed 18.5mm f/2.8 (28mm equivalent) lens, coming February 2016,
Fujifilm XP90 underwater cameras. Comes in Key Lime, Orange Mango, Lemon, and Blueberry.
14 January 2016, Thursday
NEU: Objektive von Leica
LEICA SUMMICRON-M 28MM f/2 ASPH, also at B&H.
LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35MM f/2 ASPH BLACK, also at B&H.
LEICA SUMMICRON-M 35MM f/2 ASPH SILVER, also at B&H.
LEICA ELMARIT-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH, also at B&H.
LEICA lens reviews.
12 January 2016, Tuesday
08 January 2016, Friday
New Video Cameras from Sony
FDR-AX53 4K: $999.99
HDR-CX455/B HD: $399.99
HDR-CX675/B HD: $549.99
HDR-AS50 HD "Action Cam": $199.99
Sony Underwater Housing for HDR-AS50: $59.99
Sony AKA-CAP1 Cap Clip for Action Cam
New from Olympus
Olympus 300mm f/4 ED Micro 4/3: $2,499.99 and $125 in Adorama rewards.
Olympus TG-870 waterproof, also in green and in white: $279.99
$100 instant rebate on the Canon EF 100-400mm L IS II USM. $2,099 (Regular $2,199). You'll also get $83.96 in Adorama Rewards — all with free shipping.
This is the first deal I've seen on the world's best telephoto zoom.
Tamrac 5531 Adventure Messenger 1: $14.99 (Regular $34.95)
SanDisk 64GB microSDXC UHS-I Class 10 with SD Adapter: $19.95 (Regular $24.95).
06 January 2016, Wednesday
I worked on the D5 and D500 all yesterday, so if you haven't read them today, they are completely different from yesterday's first drafts.
05 January 2016, Tuesday
New from Canon
SX540 HS $399.
SX420 IS $299
in black and in red.
ELPH 360 HS $209 in purple and in silver.
ELPH 190 HS $160 also in red and in blue.
ELPH 180 $119 in silver and in red.
All new from Canon.
New from Panasonic
Here's everything new from Panasonic:
Lenses & Cameras
Panasonic Leica Vario-Elmar 100-400mm for Micro 4/3: $1,799.99.
Panasonic DMC-ZS100, also in silver, $699.99.
Panasonic DMC-ZS60, also in silver, $449.99.
Panasonic WXF991 4K Camcorder with WiFi: $999.99.
Panasonic VX981 4K & Still Camcorder with WiFi: $899.99.
Panasonic W580 HD Camcorder with WiFi: $399.99.
Panasonic V380 HD Camcorderwith WiFi: $329.99.
Panasonic V180 HD Camcorder with 50x Stabilized Optical Zoom and Touch-Enabled LCD: $229.99.
DJI Phantom 3 w/ 4K Camera, Gimbal & Remote Control: $799.
New Year's deals from B&H
DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter Aircraft with 3-Axis Gimbal and 2.7k Camera, with Remote Controller: $499 (was $699), with Free Expedited Shipping
DJI Phantom 3 Advanced Quadcopter Aircraft with 3-Axis Gimbal and 2.7K Video Camera, Remote Controller Included: $799 (was $999), with Free Expedited Shipping.
04 January 2016, Tuesday
New 2016 Sigma rebates.
02 January 2016, Saturday
Apparently I was very, very good in 2015, because Santa brought me an iPad Pro for Christmas.
Phil's Gone Mad
My friend Phil Steele for some reason has dropped the price of his Event Photography course by 53%!
He's still offering 25% off Lightroom Made Easy, 15% off Photoshop Basics and 15% off Pro Portraits with Off-Camera Flash.
Phil's online videos are the best, and if you don't agree, he offers a 60-day money back guarantee, so you can't lose.
What Was New in:
September and October 2014
July and August 2014
April & May 2014
Jan & Feb 2014
2005 ~ 2009
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