Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill


Brad Hill: Blog: Photography. Nature. Gear. Software. Conservation. Whatever.

Not so short-winded blatherings on whatever is currently occupying the part of my brain that deals with nature photography and related concerns. Updated sorta weekly.

On this page you'll find all my 2024 blog listings (immediately below). And, further down this page you'll also find some key (and very popular) gear-related blog entries from 2023 (jump to that section now).

And, finally, if you're looking for a directory to ALL my blog listings EVER - just follow this link.

I. 2024 Blog Entries...

19 April 2024: Cancellations Open Up Spots On Popular Spring Photo Tours

A spate of unexpected cancellations have opened a few spots on some of my spring photo tours (including some tours that have traditionally been the hardest to get spots on). These are premium photo tours featuring fantastic wildlife and landscape photo ops - and led by yours truly! These are photo tours that should be on the bucket list of ANY keen wildlife photographer!

Here are the critical details plus links for more information about each trip with available spots:

1. Spring in the Southern Great Bear Instructional Photo Tour

DESCRIPTION: On this week-long photo tour we travel through some of the most scenic and wildlife-filled portions of British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest. On this tour we have a diverse array of wildlife subject matter (including Black Bears, Grizzlies, often coastal Gray Wolves, Humpback Whales, Steller Sea Lions, Killer Whales) as well as stunning land- and seascape photo ops. This trip includes pre-trip photography instructional tailored towards helping you capture great images of the subjects we're likely to encounter on this trip.
DATES: May 29 to June 6, 2024, including arrival and departure days. May 30 to June 6, 2024 aboard the Passing Cloud schooner.
FOR MORE INFO: Visit this web page or download this brochure (PDF; 7.1 MB).

2. Grizzlies of the Khutzeymateen Instructional Photo Tour

DESCRIPTION: This 5-day photo tour is VERY focused on the famous Grizzlies of the Khutzeymateen! This is simply an amazing grizzly bear-viewing and grizzly bear photography experience. On this tour our floating basecamp is the Afterglow - a 60' Gulf Commander power boat in the heart of the Khutzeymateen Inlet as far north as you can get on the British Columbia coast!
DATES: June 14 to 19, 2024, including arrival and departure days. June 15-19 in the Khutzeymateen aboard the Afterglow
FOR MORE INFO: Visit this web page or download this brochure (PDF; 5.8 MB).

3. The Khutzeymateen Explorer Photo Op Photo Tour

DESCRIPTION: This 6-day photo tour begins as a very focused Grizzly Bear experience as we spend the first 3 days in the Khutzeymateen Inlet, but we then travel to a second "hot" Grizzly Bear inlet, followed by time spent between the Khutzeymateen and Prince Rupert, BC in search of a wide array of marine mammals and other wildlife. So...this one is almost a "hybrid" of the Spring in the Southern Great Bear and the Grizzlies of the Khutzeymateen Instructional Photo Tours described above. This trip features a great mix of the best wildlife the British Columbia coast can offer!
DATES: June 18 to June 24, 2024, including arrival and departure days. June 19-24 aboard the Afterglow.
FOR MORE INFO: Visit this web page or download this brochure (PDF; 5.6 MB).

For even more info - or to nab your spot on one of these amazing photo tours - just contact me at!

See you this spring?



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18 April 2024: Gallery of Latest Images Updates...

I've just added some new images to my Gallery of Latest Additions. The images and/or the commentaries associated with them may be of interest to some.

As with the images in ALL my galleries, you access the commentary for any given image simply by clicking on the tab labelled "In the Field" directly below the main image window.

Enjoy...and cheers...


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9 April 2024: 2025 Photo Tours!

While not all details of my 2025 photo tours are finalized (and thus I'm not accepting official bookings for them quite yet) I am keeping a "Priority Booking List" (commitment free!) for EACH of my 2025 photo tours.

What does going on this Priority Booking List give you?'s a "first right of refusal list" - which means YOU will be given first crack at the spots on your chosen photo tour BEFORE the spots are put up for grabs to the general public. And there is no commitment (and no deposit) needed on your part to go on the Priority Booking Lists - all you need to do is email me at - and please make sure you indicate which trip you're interested in within the body of the email (see list below). Please include your FULL contact info, including mailing address and best phone number to contact you. See you in 2025?

Here's the "broad strokes" outline of my 2025 photo tour program:

1. 5-day Grizzlies of the Khutzeymateen Instructional Photo Tour

Provisional Dates: May 23-29, 2025 (including arrival and departure dates)
• Cost: Still TBD
• In Partnership with Ocean Light Adventures (aboard the Afterglow)

2. 4-day Grizzlies of the Khutzeymateen Photo Op Photo Tour

Provisional Dates: May 28 - June 2, 2025 (including arrival and departure dates)
• Cost: Still TBD
• In Partnership with Ocean Light Adventures (aboard the Afterglow)

3. 7-day Khutzeymateen Grizzlies Summer Explorer Photo Op Photo Tour

Provisional Dates: August 23 - August 31, 2025 (including arrival and departure dates)
• Cost: Still TBD
• In Partnership with Ocean Light Adventures (aboard the Afterglow)

4. 9-day Into the Great Bear Rainforest Exploratory Photo Adventure

Provisional Dates: September 20-30, 2025 (including arrival and departure dates)
• Cost: Still TBD
• In Partnership with Outer Shores Expeditions (aboard the Passing Cloud)

5. 6-day Autumn in the Queen Charlotte Strait Exploratory Photo Adventure

Provisional Dates: October 12-19, 2025 (including arrival and departure dates)
• Cost: Still TBD
• In Partnership with Outer Shores Expeditions (aboard the Passing Cloud)

Please note that much more information about each of these tours will be available soon. To get a good flavour for what my photo tours offer to you, just visit my dedicated photo tour page...



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27 March 2024: Some Expectations About the New Nikkor Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR

Earlier today Nikon announced a new "all-in-one superzoom" lens - the Nikkor Z 28-400mm f4-8 VR. The lens is priced quite aggressively at $1699 CAD and is scheduled to begin shipping in mid-April. The published specs of the lens also reveal that it is very compact - it weighs only 725 gm (or 1.6 lb) and is 14.15 cm (or 5.6") long when "zoomed" back to 28mm. Between its very wide focal length range, compact nature, and price it is bound to be very popular as a walk-around lens for a lot of Nikon shooters. Nikon's tag-line for the lens does seem quite appropriate - "Capture near and far"!

I try to avoid commenting on lenses (or cameras) until I have tried and tested them myself, and I certainly won't make any firm statements about its performance until I use it myself. That said, based on years of experience testing and using a wide variety of Nikkor lenses, I do have a number of expectations about this lens. Here's some of them...

• I expect the lens will sell extremely hotcakes!

• I expect the demand for the lens will surprise Nikon, leading to an announcement in a month or two from now telling us all to expect delays in shipping the lens.

• I expect the lens will be acceptably sharp (i.e., acceptable for the majority of owners of it) in its central region for MOST of its focal range. But, I further expect that (like almost all Nikkor zoom lenses) its sharpness will fall-off near the long end of its focal range. In the case of this lens I expect it to start "softening up" at about 350mm and continue to soften up to 400mm. Which means it won't compete well in sharpness at 400mm to any of Nikon's 400mm prime lenses and likely not well against the Z 180-600mm (which has surprising central region sharpness at 400mm). I expect (but certainly could be wrong here) the Z 28-400mm to be at least slightly less sharp in the central region (@ 400mm) than the Z 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 VR S.

• I expect the lens will be much less sharp (i.e., quite soft) on its edges for most of its focal range (and especially on the long end of its focal range). And I expect this edge softness will be present at all apertures. BUT, I expect most users of the lens won't care. Note that this expectation is consistent with the published MTF curves for the lens, but keep in mind that Nikon's published MTF curves are "predicted" MTF curves (not observed/measured curves) and that they are based on the lens when shot wide open (not when stopped down) the published MTF curves tell us very little about how the lens performs in the field (even though they form the basis for endless internet chatter).

• I expect the quality of the out-of-focus (OOF) zones to be "not bad" BUT much less smooth and "buttery looking" than what you would see with either any of Nikkor Z prime lenses that overlap the 28-400mm focal range OR any of the fixed-aperture "premium" zooms that overlap its focal range (including lenses like the Z 24-120mm f4S, the Z 70-200mm f2.8S, and the 120-300mm f2.8 among several others). This is partly owing to the relatively small maximum apertures available on this lens at all focal lengths and partly owing to the optical limitations of any superzoom lens. I further expect that the bulk of the users of the Z 28-400mm won't care too much about this.

• I expect the ability of the lens to effectively "isolate" one's subject from the background will be quite diminished (at all focal lengths) compared to any of the Nikkor Z prime lenses that overlap the 28-400mm focal range OR any of the fixed-aperture "premium" zooms that overlap its focal range. But (again) I don't expect this will be particularly troubling to many users of this lens.

At the end of the day the Z 28-400mm f4-8 is really all about convenience and versatility - and there is no doubting that for many amateur...AND professional...photographers the convenience and versatility of this lens will outshine/over-shadow the optical compromises inherent in this and ANY superzoom.

Will I be acquiring and testing the Z 28-400mm f4.8 superzoom myself? Well...never say never, but at this point I have no plans to get or test a copy of it. Not only do I already have the focal range of this new lens covered very well, but I do tend to shoot more in low light scenarios than the average Joe (or Jane) I have no choice but to put up with the inconvenience and cost of faster (and bigger and heavier) primes and fixed aperture "premium" zoom lenses. And, I am particularly anal about how well a lens can isolate a subject and how well it renders OOF zones.

But..overall...nicely done Nikon. Now...where's the Z replacement for the Nikkor 120-300mm f2.8E (preferably with a built-in 1.4x)? 😉



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18 March 2024: Catching Up...A Little!

My apologies to the regular visitors to this blog regarding my lack of entries since late January. To be honest, I was simply too busy with revenue-generating activities (mostly a combination of photo tour admin work and a whole lot of online tutoring) to have time for my pro bono work (and the time/effort spent developing and maintaining this blog and website ARE pro bono efforts). I've also been doing a fair amount of shooting and gear testing, including some relevant to my comments of the Z 8 Firmware 2.00 update discussed below. Last but not least, I've spent a lot of time recently behind a chainsaw while thinning the forest (and reducing the forest fire fuel load) surrounding our home in BC's East Kootenays! Hey...real life happens! 😉

Anyway...time for a little catching up...

1. I HAVE been updating my Gallery of Latest Additions...and the last few posts may include images or commentaries that interest some. My image post discussing Photoshop's new AI content-generation tools (look for the thumbnail of the young grizzly) are fairly timely, especially following the kerfuffle created when Kate Middleton was caught engaging in a little image manipulation of herself and her kids. Check 'em out...

2. Some Thoughts on Z 8 Firmware 2.00

While it's been awhile now since Nikon released firmware 2.00 for the Z 8, I wanted to wait until I had a good chance to really test some of the new features (especially pixel-shift) before saying anything about it. Of course, we've now had the release of Z 9 firmware update 5.00 where some of the key updates in Z 8 firmware 2.00 have been added to the Z 9. Interestingly, before Z 9 firmware update 5.00 we seemed to be in an almost perfect firmware leap-frog game where anything significant added to the Z 8 would show up in the Z 9 (and vice versa), but the lack of pixel shift in Z 9 firmware update 5.00 has broken the leap-frog pattern (which seems to have caused some Z 9 users a lot of grief...but personally I'm not bothered at all by the Z 9 NOT getting pixel shift...more on that below).'s a few of my thoughts on the key features of Z 8 firmware 2.00. Of course, my comments carry the bias of a wildlife photographer who shoots still photos - so you should expect no comments below on any video "improvements" in Z 8 firmware 2.00. While I am only discussing what I (as one wildlife still photographer) see as the five most "consequential" updates in Z 8 firmware 2.00 I am aware that photographers from other genres (or indeed even other wildlife photographers) may find other new additions in firmware 2.00 to be more significant than I do.

A. Pixel Shift Shooting

Pixel shift gives the user the ability to create higher resolution photos than the native resolution of their camera's image sensor. It also can be used to reduce image noise (in images of identical resolution to their camera's sensor OR at a higher resolution). I suspect most users are drawn to it for its ability to shoot higher resolution images and not for noise reduction. Anyway...with the Z 8 pixel shift gives you the option of doubling the height and width of your image, resulting in a quadrupling of the total number of pixels. So your Z 8's 45.4 MP native resolution jumps to 181.8 MP (I'm counting actual image pixels here). It's not worth getting into details here, but the process of using pixel shift involves shooting multiple images of a single scene and then merging those images using software (in this case NX Studio).

Anyway...the only thing that matters to me about pixel shift is if it works well. Specifically, I want to know if it can produce 181.8 MP images that are of higher quality than I can produce via upsizing (AKA up-sampling) 45.4 MP Z 8 images. SO...I did a bunch of testing of pixel shift captures (vs. up-sampling native resolution images) with various scenes, including landscapes and of objects at close range, In this testing I used a variety of different high-end and very sharp lenses, like the Plena and the Z 400mm f2.8 VR S. And, I captured the images over a fairly wide ISO range - from ISO 64 to ISO 3200. Of course, all images were shot under very controlled conditions on a firm tripod and using a cable release, VR OFF, et cetera.

Bottom line: I won't be using pixel shift on my Z 8 or, if it ever shows up on it, on my Z 9. With very careful post-processing (and following a very specific routine) I was able to produce higher quality images (here meaning sharper but with equal contrast and dynamic range...and less noise) via upsampling standard Z 8 images than I could with pixel shift.

That said, there are a couple of important points that I have to make. First, the difference in quality between the high resolution Z 8 images produced via pixel shift and by my up-sampling of native resolution Z 8 images wasn't huge. But it was consistent, noticeable, and...for me...significant. So...because the images produced by my up-sampling of native Z 8 images were consistently better than those produced by pixel shift, I see no reason for me to use it (or, for that matter, want it as a new feature for my Z 9's). Second, it is VERY POSSIBLE to up-sample Z 8 images and get a pretty horrible result (far worse than using pixel shift) if one choses the wrong "routine" (e.g., the wrong up-sampling algorithm in Photoshop). It did take some experimentation on my part (with a decent amount of time spent tweaking settings and variables) before I came up with the "secret-sauce" for producing up-sampled images that were consistently better in quality than the pixel-shift images. I recognize and accept that others may not have the interest in image post-processing (or have the requisite software) needed to obtain optimal results when up-sampling there own images and thus may prefer or need to use pixel shift. Finally, and this should go without saying, regardless of how you quadruple the resolution of your Z 8 (via pixel shift or careful up-sampling) don't expect those images to be nearly as sharp when viewed at 100% magnification on a quality display as Z 8 files captured at its native resolution.

B. "Birds" AF Subject Detection Option

Simply put - this update in subject detection options is great! Expect your Z 8 to more quickly grab a bird's eye, track the bird more reliably, and do better with detecting birds that are small in your viewfinder than "Animal" mode does. As far as I can tell, the "Birds" algorithm in the Z 8 works as well as that in the Z 9. So if you're a bird photographer your Z 8 is now a better bird photography camera.

But what if you primarily photograph mammals - does "Birds" subject detection mode offer YOU any advantages? Actually (and probably surprisingly to some), it does. Even though Nikon is sloppy with their biological nomenclature - birds ARE animals and the terms "animal" and "mammal" are NOT synonymous - it's easy to assume that "Animal" mode would be the best subject detection mode to use on mammals (and that it would outperform "Birds" mode when shooting mammals). Turns out that this isn't always the case. I have found that "Birds" AF subject detection mode works far better than "Animal" mode when shooting most species of marine mammals, including seals, sea lions, and multiple whale species (to date I've tested it on Killer Whales, Humpback Whales, and Fin Whales). With terrestrial mammals it tends to be more of a crap shoot and varies by species (and even coloration of individuals) - sometimes "Animal" mode works better; sometimes "Birds" mode works better. On dogs I have found that which mode works best varies with head colouration, and especially the colour (and tonal) contrast between eye colour and the rest of the head. And, I have found that with almost ALL terrestrial mammals I have found that "Birds" mode works better (than "Animal" mode) if the subject occupies only a small proportion of the FOV (or of the viewfinder).'s the rule of thumb I apply to my own use of "Birds" vs. "Animal" AF subjection detection modes: If I'm shooting birds, I use "Birds" mode. If I'm shooting marine mammals, I use "Birds" mode. If I'm shooting terrestrial mammals that are "small" in my viewfinder (i.e., occupy only a small proportion of the viewfinder) - I start with "Birds" mode and switch to "Animal" mode only if "Birds" mode isn't working for me. And (finally!) if I'm working closer to a terrestrial mammal and it's filling a larger proportion of the frame I freely experiment with both "Birds" mode and "Animal" mode. What should be obvious from this is that for shooting wildlife in general my default subject detection mode is "Birds". Note that if you feel you absolutely need to be able to switch between "Birds" mode and "Animal" mode (or vice versa) with the simple push of a button it is possible to set up Recall Shooting Functions (RSF) to do this. Me? I just put "AF subject detection options" in "My Menu" (and I use RSF for something else, namely switching my camera to my preferred landscape shooting settings).

C. Auto Capture

In my books Auto Capture is pretty cool and I've used it to good success on my Z 9's. In a nutshell, it permits remote/unattended capture of images or bursts of images when one or more "pre-defined conditions" (such as subject detection, movement, or distance) are met. So, as an example, you could use it to photograph a squirrel or bird (or lion or tiger!) when it moves into a pre-defined zone and the camera recognizes it as a subject. You could refine the portion of the image the auto capture is "sensitive to" by using a custom Wide Area AF mode with the appropriate subject detection turned on. Z 8 shooters have what Z 9 shooters have had for quite some time (tho' with Z 9 firmware 5.00 auto capture has been refined and improved and currently offers capabilities [like "reserve" mode] that the Z 8 now lacks!). Here's an example of an image (JPEG: 5.6 MB) - a nuanced image of a Red Squirrel captured with my Z 9 and Plena lens - made possible with auto capture (while I COULD have captured this image without auto capture, given how close the camera was to the subject it would have been more challenging and certainly more intrusive on the subject).

A couple of important things to know about auto capture. First, if anyone is looking for a "formulaic" or "step-by-step and foolproof" approach to using auto're going to be disappointed. Bottom line is that it's a "tinkerer's" dream - what works best in its setup in one scenario or use case may be extremely different from what works best in the next use case. As an example, in the situation where I was using auto capture to nab squirrel images I initially thought using Auto-area AF paired with "Animal" subject detection would be perfect. In reality, that AF combination sucked in this case - the AF was slow and the camera-triggering was highly unreliable. I switched the AF mode to a custom Wide-area mode (with "Animal" subject detection) and AF and camera triggering worked great. But, I have talked to others who have used auto capture in similar but slightly different use cases and they found Auto-area AF area mode worked great. Bottom line is that your auto capture setup and configuration may need tweaking/tinkering before you get it working optimally.

Second, auto capture does draw a lot of power and draws down your batteries quite quickly (depending on a handful of factors). With my Z 9 and shooting in temperatures slightly below 0C (32F for that 3% or so of the world's population that doesn't do celsius) I got between 4 and 6 hours of battery life on my Z 9. With the smaller and less powerful battery of the Z 8 expect to have significantly shorter auto capture bouts on a single battery. So if one is going to use auto capture regularly you might want to consider using an additional power source for your camera (like a decent powerbank, etc.). Note that the addition of the "Reserve" feature added to auto capture in the Z 9 firmware update 5.00 (which allows you to turn auto capture on at a specific time in the future and for selected durations) can be used to extend the battery life (and usefulness) of auto capture on the Z 9. I have no insight into whether or not this Reserve function will be added to auto capture in the Z 8 (presumably so, but...).

D. Custom Controls (Shooting) - Cycle AF-area mode

Y'know...some may consider this little custom control addition to be a minor thing, but I personally consider this to be the most consequential new addition to my day-to-day shooting in the entire Z 8 firmware update (and it certainly had the biggest impact on the setup and customization of my Z 8). For those that don't know, this new feature allows you to cycle through (or toggle through) various AF-area modes as you repeatedly press a single button. And, best of all, you can limit the number of AF-area modes the button will cycle through. For instance, I never use Auto-area I have excluded it from the list of AF-area modes I toggle through.

Why do I consider this addition so significant? Well, while ALL of the various AF-area modes of the Z 8 (and Z 9) work very well, they certainly differ in what they "excel" at. And, there are users (including myself) who often want to switch between modes on the fly (i.e., switch AF-area modes during a single shooting burst). While it was possible to switch AF-area modes "on the fly" before, if you used several different modes you had to dedicate several of your camera's buttons to different AF-area modes. This wasn't a huge deal on the Z 9, but it can be a big deal on the Z 8 (simply because the Z 9 has a lot more customizable buttons on it). But if you use "Cycle AF-area mode" you don't need to dedicate as many buttons to AF-area modes. Note that this new custom function WAS added to the Z 9 in firmware 5.00 (and I am very glad it was).

E. Custom Function a11 (Focus point display) - Focus point border width

This new option allows you to control the width (and visibility) of your primary focus box. You now have 3 settings to choose from: 1 (thinnest), 2 (medium thickness), and 3 (thickest). I'm finding I'm liking setting 2 - thick enough to increase visibility but not so thick that the focus box is intrusive.

There are, of course, many other things that were updated or changed with Z 8 firmware update 2.00. And, there were some very vaguely worded "improvements" that may be quite consequential but hard to evaluate or quantify. As examples, Nikon states that in firmware 2.00 other changes include "Improved the accuracy of [3D-tracking] for small, fast-moving subjects when [Auto], [People], [Animal], or [Vehicle] is chosen for [AF subject detection options] and no subject of the selected type is detected" and that they "Made other improvements to the autofocus operation and its reliability". These two statements by Nikon may cover updates that ARE quite significant, but they are next-to-impossible to evaluate.

As a final note, this will be my last blog post focused specifically on Z 8 firmware updates. In recent days I sold my Z 8 and have no plans on replacing it. I know I will be asked why I sold it so here's an explanation: I already own two Z 9's which are better suited to my needs as a wildlife photographer than the Z 8 is. Primary reasons for me preferring the Z 9 include the better battery, it's dedicated vertical controls, and it's increased number of customizable buttons. And, because of the different number of buttons (and button configuration) on the Z 8 and Z 9 I found it challenging to set up my Z 8 to be similar enough to my two Z 9's to be able to use them efficiently side-by-side in the field.

Gotta run...more soon (really!). 😉



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24 Jan 2024: DxO Modules Make Nikon's Latest Lenses BETTER!

About a week ago DxO released new optics modules for 3 Nikkor lenses - the Nikkor 120-300mm f2.8E, the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3, and the Nikkor Z 600mm f6.3S. For those that don't know, these modules work within DxO's various software packages and come in camera/lens combinations - so there is a separate module for the Z 8 + 180-600mm vs. the Z 9 + 180-600mm, et cetera! And, these lens modules go a LONG way to improving the optical quality of the lens they are built for.

Because I own two of the three lenses that these new modules support (the 120-300mm and the 600mm f6.3S) and have oodles of test files for the third lens (the 180-600mm), I was keen to try out these modules to see what effect they'd have. Here's a quick summary of what I found:

1. Impact of the Z 9 + Nikkor 120-300mm f2.8E module:

This is a "super-premium" lens that is biting sharp all by itself (i.e., when processed from raw without the "help" of a DxO module). It also pairs up especially well with the TC-14EIII (1.4x) teleconverter, making it a formidable 420mm f4 lens. But...add in initial post-processing with DxO PhotoLab or PureRAW with the new lens module and the images are even sharper. Like as sharp as with virtually any prime lens that overlaps the same focal range. Moving forward I will run all images shot with the 120-300mm f2.8E through DxO using the new lens profile (regardless of the ISO the image was shot with) as the first step in my post-processing.

Note that before the release of this new lens profile DxO software "suggested" using the profile of a similar lens (the Sigma 120-300mm 2.8 Sport) when processing the Nikkor 120-300mm files. I've had the opportunity to compare final image results using both DxO profiles (the one for the Sigma 120-300 and the one for the Nikkor 120-300) and have to say that - at least so far - both profiles seem to spit out virtually identical output. Note that this statement is based on only a few comparisons and it may well be the case that in the future I'll find instances where the results of the two modules differ.

2. Impact of the Z 9 + Nikkor Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 module:

Very good news here for owners of the still quite new and "very solid" Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 - the DxO module pretty much "fixes" this lens's only real weak spots! Those weak spots? In my own testing I found this to be a VERY sharp lens (from center to edge) over almost ALL its focal length range...but it did soften noticeably near the long end. By this I mean in the 550-600mm focal length range. the files shot with the 180-600mm through DxO using the new module and "presto" the images in that same focal length range (550-600mm) are VERY nicely sharpened up. And sharpened up to the point where they can go head-to-head (in sharpness) with images from the Z 600mm f6.3S (if you are looking at Z 600mm f6.3S images that have NOT been run through DxO using the new profile for this lens).

AND...there is a module for the Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 plus the Z TC-1.4x. In my own testing I found this combination (when images shot at the maximum focal length of 840mm were examined) were quite soft - to the point where I would never use this combination in the field. these images through DxO software with the 180-600mm plus 1.4x TC module and - again - the images sharpen up very, very the point where they are definitely very usable. Yep, you still have a maximum aperture of f9 when you shoot the 180-600mm with its 1.4x TC (which can be very limiting in a field setting), but at least optically the resulting images are now quite acceptable!

3. Impact of the Z 9 + Nikkor Z 600mm f6.3S module:

Again, the lens in question here is already quite strong optically (not far off the image quality of the amazing Z 600mm f4S TC when you compare images shot at the same aperture). BUT...if you compare images shot with the Z 600mm f6.3S that have been processed with the new DxO module against those of the Z 600mm f4S TC (processed WITHOUT using DxO) you'll find that any sharpness difference between them is gone. Of course, if you run the Z 600mm f4S TC images through DxO (using the Z 600mm f4S TC module) those images also jump up noticeably in sharpness (as impossible as it may seem for those already crazy-sharp images).

What about the Z 9 + Nikkor 600mm f6.3S + Z TC-1.4x module? Same result - it makes a major difference to the sharpness of the Z 600mm f6.3S plus 1.4x TC images (again to the point where if you compare the results to the Z 600mm f4S TC shot with its TC engaged you'll see virtually no difference in image sharpness). Yep, you still have the "maximum aperture of f9 issue" to deal with when shooting the Z 600mm f6.3S with the 1.4x TC. Consequently you WON'T find me saying that this combination is as "useful" in a field setting as the Z 600mm f4S TC VR with its TC-engaged, but now it's a much more viable option! And, it's still a whole lot lighter, shorter, and WAY less expensive than the Z 600mm f4S TC!

Nicely done DxO. Now please release the Z 9 + Z 135mm f1.8S Plena module ASAP! 😉



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24 Jan 2024: And Then There Was Two...

Nope, I'm definitely NOT talking about any political shenanigans taking place south of the Canadian border. I'm referring to the TOTAL NUMBER of open spots on my 2024 photo tours - TWO! So if you're thinking about joining in on the fun we'll have on an amazing spring photo tour on the spectacular coast of British Columbia...well...your time to decide is becoming limited!

Here are the critical details:

1. Late May 2024: Spring in the Southern Great Bear Instructional Photo Tour: 1 spot available.

View Details on this website
Download Brochure (PDF: 7.1 MB)

2. Mid June 2024: Grizzlies of the Khutzeymateen Instructional Photo Tour: 1 spot available

View Details on this website
Download Brochure (PDF: 5.8 MB)

For information on my ENTIRE 2024 photo tour program just go here...

See you in 2024?



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9 Jan 2024: Updates to Gallery of Latest Images...

I've added a few new image/commentary posts to my Gallery of Latest Additions that may interest some folks.

If you check out the Killer Whale image (entitled "A Sea Lion's Worst Nightmare") you'll find the commentary discusses what I'd like to see in a Z-mount replacement for the Nikkor 120-300mm f2.8E lens (hint: Nikon - PLEASE add a built-in 1.4x TC!). This commentary also discusses a rarely experienced flaw of the FTZ (version I or II) mount adapter (that, unfortunately, isn't too rare in the conditions I shoot under).

If you check out the young Bighorn Ram image (entitled "Munching - Young Bighorn Ram") you'll be able to read why I sold BOTH the Z 100-400mm f4.5-5.6S and the Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 zoom lenses and replaced them with the Tamron Z 150-500mm (despite thinking that the 180-600mm is a better overall lens).

At this point the images are the first and second images in the Latest Additions Gallery (but they will be moving "down" in position as I add new images in the near future).

As with the images in ALL my galleries, you access the commentary for any given image simply by clicking on the tab labelled "In the Field" directly below the main image window.



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8 Jan 2024: Remaining Photo Tour Openings for 2024

As many folks know, my photo tours tend to fill up fast and very early. Of course, COVID did throw a bit of a wrench into the works, but most of my trips still sell out very early. For 2024 I'm down to having just FOUR spots left open. Here are the details:

1. Late May 2024: Spring in the Southern Great Bear Instructional Photo Tour: 1 spot available.

View Details on this website
Download Brochure (PDF: 7.1 MB)

2. Mid June 2024: Grizzlies of the Khutzeymateen Instructional Photo Tour: 3 spots available

View Details on this website
Download Brochure (PDF: 5.8 MB)

So if you're looking for outstanding wildlife photography opportunities in one of the wildest places left on earth (BC's central and northern coast) - this is your opportunity!

For information on my ENTIRE 2024 photo tour program just go here...

See you in 2024?



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4 Jan 2024: My Favourite "Photographic Things" of 2023

While I've personally grown a bit bored of end of year (or beginning of year) "Top 10" lists, when I look back at my own photography from 2023 I do see a small number of products that had a disproportionally large impact on my photography. And by "disproportionally large impact" I mean that they had either had a very noticeable impact on the quality of my images OR on my workflow. And, please note that I am receiving no inducements, favours, financial gain or anything else for listing these "photographic things" here (and nor do I get a affiliate fee if you choose to add anything mentioned below to your collection of "photographic things").

With no further ado here are those 4 "things" that most impacted my photography in 2023:

• Thing #1: DxO's DeepPRIME XD Noise Reduction Algorithm and DxO's Camera/Lens Profiles

I find it pretty rare these days that we run into a product that is a true breakthrough or, if you will, a game-changer.'s one: the DeepPRIME XD noise reduction algorithm found in two of DxO's products: PhotoLab Elite and PureRAW. I'm pretty "into" post-processing software and I'm very familiar with the noise reduction capabilities of Capture One, Lightroom, and various plugs-ins, including Topaz DeNoise AI. But DeepPRIME and DeepPRIME XD are in a different category altogether. Simply incredible noise reduction power for your raw files. Period.

But wait...there's more. If all I got out of DxO's PhotoLab was noise reduction, it wouldn't make this list. BUT...when you combine DeepPRIME (or DeepPRIME XD) with the level of capture sharpening you get IF the camera and lens combination you shot it with is "covered" by a DxO we're talking a different stratosphere of image quality. So not only are your out-of-focus zones (which tend to show noise more than the in-focus areas) more appealing, but your image is very noticeably sharper. And, in my books, the key to image quality is how the in-focus and out-of-focus zones of an image combine to produce an eye-catching result.

One thing I should be clear about - I still am very happily using a workflow based on Capture One. However, before I begin making any adjustments to an image, I run the raw file through PhotoLab to produce a noise-reduced and sharpened DNG file, which I then proceed to edit in Capture One. And I do this with almost all my raw images, regardless of the ISO it was shot at (because even if the original raw file is visually noise-free it will be sharper if I run it through PhotoLab).

Neither DxO PhotoLab or PureRAW are perfect. I have found with some camera/lens profiles (e.g., a Z 9 with Z 800mm f6.3S) their sharpening is - by default - far too aggressive. To the point of producing "crunchy" images. Fortunately you can tweak the default sharpening quite significantly (and tame the sharpening!). And, unless you have quite "hot" computer, running the DeepPRIME XD algorithm can take a LONG time (on my M1 Ultra Mac Studio and my M2 MacBook Air running a Z 8 or Z 9 file through DeepPRIME XD takes about 23 seconds...but it might take 23 minutes on a 5 year old computer).

Anyway...if you care about image owe it to yourself (and your images!) to at least try out DxO's PhotoLab Elite or PureRAW. You might find yourself addicted - and shooting your current camera at ISO's WAY BEYOND what you limited yourself to in the BD (Before DxO) era!

Major, major kudos to DxO.

• Thing #2: Capture One's AI Selection and Masking Tools

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are having a huge impact on our photography. Companies that produce image-editing software have a choice to make - they can use AI to dramatically alter the creative content of a photographer's images or they can use AI to dramatically cut the time a photographer needs to get to their final result (but NOT monkey with the creative content of the image). Capture One has taken a stance where they are NOT taking the creative control away from the photographer - instead they are using AI to cut your image culling and image-editing time WAY, WAY down. Adobe appears to be going down a different (and more controversial) path... Capture One 23.3 we saw the introduction of their exceptional AI-based selection and masking tools that, for anyone who does selective editing of their images, saves the user a HUGE amount of time. Moreover, the new AI selection/masking tools dovetail extremely well with Capture One's previous - and already excellent - masking tools. So...for can now build a complex gradient mask, constrain the brightness range that gradient mask impacts on (using the Luma Range tool), and then accurately cut your subject out of the mask...all in seconds (rather than in tens of minutes or even hours). SO fast! SO powerful! SO appreciated!

Another round of major, major kudos - this time to Capture One.

• Thing #3: The Nikkor Z 135mm f1.8 S Plena

OK...this one will probably surprise many (or have them scratching their heads wondering why a wildlife photographer is more excited about a 135mm lens than the Z 180-600mm). Well...I'm forever in the hunt for lenses that can help me create unique images, and to me the Plena is a just a wonderful tool for doing just that!

The Plena is a lens that provides the two primary things I look for in a lens - exceptional sharpness with absolutely dreamy out-of-focus zones. So...with the Plena I can capture an image with that coveted 600mm f4 look but with a much, much closer subject...and still have a very manageable depth of field. Curious about what I mean? Over the holiday season I spent a considerable amount of time experimenting with the Auto Capture function of the Z 9 (once you suss it out it's just great - expect a commentary on this feature soon). A lot of this Auto Capture experimention was done with the Plena mounted on my Z 9 - and a lot of it was with "convenient" subjects (including squirrels). While I largely had horrendous lighting conditions, I still came away with some interesting images...check out this squirrel image (JPEG: 5.6 MB) to see what I mean by "getting a 600mm f4 look with a lot closer subject". If you're one of those few people on the earth not into squirrels (😉), you can check out some of my "experiments" with the Plena using my young Portuguese Water this action shot of Joe (JPEG: 2.7 MB) or this one of Joe low in the snow (JPEG: 4.2 MB). Yes, Joe has great eyes!

And, of course, I can use the lens for capturing incredibly sharp landscape and animalscape shots as well.

It goes without saying that the focal length of the Plena is too short for the vast majority of wildlife photography. But when you find yourself extremely close to your subjects, why not create a wildlife portrait using a lens that's designed from the ground up to produce unmatched portraits? And, if you're in that "moderately close to your subject zone", the Plena allows you to produce stunningly sharp shots with very, very pleasing backgrounds.

Anyway...I'm just loving the Plena and am very excited about using it during my photo tours in the Khutzeymateen and Great Bear Rainforest in 2024.

Kudos to Nikon for producing this exceptional and unique lens.

• Thing #4: Nikon's Collection of Z-mount Wildlife Lenses

As we know, it's often easy to miss seeing the forest when the trees keep getting in the way. In the case of Nikon's filling out of their Z lens lineup, it's easy to focus on one or two lenses that are coveted by you and miss "the big picture" of what's going on. Over the last few months I've been fortunate enough to have EVERY Z-mount lens suitable for wildlife photography (including some - like the Plena - that many wouldn't think of as a wildlife lens) in my possession. Most were my own, but Nikon also loaned the missing pieces (e.g., the Z 600mm f4 TC VR S) for testing purposes. But the point is that the selection and versatility I had at my disposal was very, very complete, with literally a lens for every wildlife scenario I could dream up. To be honest, I don't closely follow what Canon and Sony are doing, but it does appear to me that Nikon's collection of "wildlife-photography-suitable" lenses is second to none (and probably the most complete).

If I was asked what was most unique about Nikon's Z-lens lineup of wildife lenses I would say it's the existence of the three relatively very light and more affordable super-telephoto primes - the Z 400mm f4.5S, the Z 600mm f6.3S, and the Z 800mm f6.3S. These lenses offer a huge jump up in portability with virtually no sacrifice in image quality. Yes, they ARE a stop (or slightly more) slower than their much larger and heavier (and dramatically more expensive) "super-premium" counterparts (the Z 400mm f2.8 TC VR S and the Z 600mm f4 TC VR S), but if you compare image quality at the overlapping apertures there is very little difference between the mid-range primes and the super-premium primes.

Are there any real holes left in the Z wildlife lens lineup? For most shooters - probably not. SOME might argue there should be a 500mm prime in the lineup (I'm not among those wanting a 500mm). Personally I would LOVE to see a Z-mount replacement for the Nikkor 120-300mm f2.8E (and I would love it even more if it came with a built-in 1.4x TC), but I acknowledge that many think of this lens as primarily a sports photographer's lens. In reality - and owing largely to its focal range and cost - not too many wildlife photographers own the current 120-300mm f2.8 or would be lining up to buy a Z-mount version of it.

One of the things I like about leading photo tours is I am exposed to lots of real-world (non-virtual!!) wildlife photographers from around the world (and of all ability levels). The vast majority of the guests on my photo tours are Nikon shooters. 2023 the overall "vibe" among them was "Wow...just LOVING the wildlife Z-lens lineup!"

Major kudos to Nikon for how they planned and implemented the filling out of the Z wildlife lens lineup - well done!

There are a few other "photographic things" that came close to making this list. Right now I am really enjoying using the Z 600mm f6.3S, but I haven't had enough time using it yet to fully assess how much of an impact it will make on my photography. My Z 85mm f1.2S would likely have made this list as well - if I hadn't got my hands on the Plena!

All for now - more soon. Hoping your 2024 has started out well.



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II. Selected and Popular 2023 Gear-related Blog Entries

15 Dec 2023: Looking for the SHARPEST Nikon Z 400mm Option?

Given my preferred subject matter, where I shoot, and my own preferred image style, the 400mm focal length is extremely important to me. Currently there are 6 "native" Z pathways to get to 400mm and, being the curious type, I wanted to confirm for myself how these different pathways compared. the autumn of 2023 I spent a good chunk of time testing various aspects of their performance, including image sharpness.

Before I go any further, here's a list of the 6 native Z pathways to 400mm:

Nikkor Z 400mm f2.8 TC VR S
Nikkor Z 400mm f4.5 VR S
Nikkor Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3
Tamron Z 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD
Nikkor Z 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 VR S
Nikkor Z 70-200mm f2.8 paired with Z TC-2.0x

At the time of this writing I'm planning to produce a detailed report on how the overall performance of these 400mm pathways compare to one another on several fronts - optical performance (including central region AND edge sharpness, quality of out-of-focus zones), usability (including "hand-holdability" and VR performance), and AF performance.

But I'm comfortable revealing right now how these 6 different 400mm options compare in ONE aspect of optical performance - image sharpness. You can read about my test results (and which are the sharpest 400mm options in the Z lens lineup) in the commentary for an image I JUST added to my Gallery of Latest Additions. The discussion can be seen by clicking the "In the Field" tab found just below the main image window of that gallery. At present the image with the 400mm lens sharpness discussion is in the first position in the gallery (i.e., associated with the image of the swimming Steller's Sea Lion). Sometime in the next week or 10 days this image (and the commentary) will be moving "down" through the if you wait a while before looking at the commentary and need to find it, just look for the "surfacing sea lion" image.




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2 Dec 2023: Looking for the SHARPEST Nikon Z 600mm(ish) Option?

15 December Update: I replaced the word "BEST" with the word "SHARPEST" in the title of this blog entry to better reflect the content immediately below.

Since I made it public that I was doing a whole lot of field-testing of the entire array of Z telephoto and super telephoto lenses I've been receiving a lot of questions by email. One of the most common questions I've been getting pertains to the 600mm(ish) focal length - specifically how the various options of getting to 600mm (or close to it) compare in sharpness.

For the record, right now there are 6 different pathways using Nikkor Z lenses to get to a 600mm(ish) focal length (and I am saying 600mm-ish because I am including pathways both to 560mm and to 600mm). Here they are:

Z 600mm f4 TC VR S = 600mm
Z 400mm f2.8 TC VR S with TC engaged = 560mm
Z 600mm f6.3 VR S = 600mm
Z 400mm f4.5 VR S paired with Z TC-1.4x = 560mm
Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 = 600mm
Z 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 paired with Z TC-1.4x = 560mm

You can read about my test results (and which are the sharpest 600mm options in the Z lens lineup) in the commentary for an image I JUST added to my Gallery of Latest Additions. The discussion can be seen by clicking the "In the Field" tab found just below the main image window of that gallery. At present the image with the 600mm lens sharpness discussion is in the first position in the gallery (i.e., associated with the image of the Black Bear on a log). Sometime in the next week or 10 days this image (and the commentary) will be moving "down" through the if you wait a while before looking at the commentary and need to find it, just look for the "Black Bear on a Log" image.




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29 Nov 2023: Looking for the SHARPEST Nikon Z 800mm(ish) Option?

15 December Update: I replaced the word "BEST" with the word "SHARPEST" in the title of this blog entry to better reflect the content immediately below.

Finally...I've got back to updating my Gallery of Latest Additions! Today's update includes only one new image (a very happy wolf family!), but I suspect it's going to end up being a very popular and very highly-viewed addition.

Why? Because in the commentary associated with the image (click on the "In the Field" tab below the main image to view the commentary) I discuss some of my findings when I field-tested the 7 "Z pathways" to the 800mm(ish) focal length. And in case you're scratching your head to figure out what those 7 pathways you go:

Z 600mm f4 TC VR S with built-in TC engaged = 840mm
Z 400mm f2.8 TC VR S paired with Z TC-2.0x = 800mm
Z 800mm f6.3 VR S = 800mm
Z 600mm f6.3S paired with Z TC-1.4x = 840mm
Z 400mm f4.5 VR S paired with Z TC-2.0x = 800mm
Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 paired with Z TC-1.4x = 840mm
Z 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 paired with Z TC-2.0x = 800mm

I suspect more than a few folks will be surprised by what I found. Note that for the immediate future the discussion is associated with this image...but it will be moving through my Gallery of Latest Additions soon (if you miss it now just look for the thumbnail of 3 wolf pups).




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27 Nov 2023: Recent Lens Testing...And My Resulting Lens Ownership Decisions

As regular followers of this blog know, I'm smack-dab in the middle of field testing several new Z-mount lenses. I'm often asked why I put so much time and energy into field testing lenses so thoroughly (and this go 'round it HAS been a massive task). Well...I certainly DON'T do it for financial gain - you won't find any advertising for the lenses I test on this website nor will you find any affiliate links leading from this website to other websites where the lenses can be purchased (who then, in turn, cut you in on the proceeds).

So why do I do it? Primarily for two reasons. First, one of my responsibilities as a photo tour leader is to give sound recommendations to my guests in terms of which camera gear they should bring on my photo tours. The only way I can give valid and meaningful information on how a specific lens will perform on a given photo tour is to field test that lens myself. Moreover, I do personalized gear consultations (as part of my Online Tutoring & Consulting services) - and I feel a responsibility to back up what I say during those sessions with verified information (why should anyone pay for advice that is simply a "gut-feel" or an opinion?).

Second - and probably most importantly - I'm always striving to put together the "optimal" field kit for my own wildlife photography uses, and I can only do this if I EXACTLY know how the gear performs. Not only does this allow me to put together the best possible combination of gear for any specific shooting situation, but it also guides me in how I use each particular lens in the field. So, for example, if I'm in a field situation where I'm shooting a subject (e.g., an elk at sunrise) and the composition that pleases me the most is putting the elk WAY off-center while using a 600mm focal length then (and only because of my lens testing) I'm in a position where I can most effectively choose between using a Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 and a Z 600mm f6.3S. ( this case the best choice - assuming you're looking for the elk to be maximally sharp - is definitely the Z 600mm f6.3S. And stopping down the Z 180-600mm won't get you to a place where the elk is as sharp as it is when shot wide open with the Z 600mm f6.3S...which only became clear to me after running a LOT of field tests!).

Anyway...I'm far enough along in my testing of the Nikkor Z 135mm f1.8S Plena, the Tamron 150-500mm f5-6.7, the Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3S and the Nikkor Z 600mm f6.3S to share the following information, including where it has - and still is - taking me in my own gear acquisition decisions. For a quick summary of which lenses these lenses are being compared and tested against just scroll down to my 13 November blog entry.

1. Nikkor Z 135mm f/1.8 S Plena

I'm a huge fan of fast, prime lenses and while most folks think of this lens as a "portrait lens" it interested me as a lens for shooting animalscapes (a gallery of my Animalscape images available for viewing here), landscapes, and wildlife portraits. Hey, why shouldn't a lens that's great for shooting portraits of humans not also be great for shooting animal portraits? Note that I am only field-testing and comparing this lens against a small number of other lenses (and only doing a very limited review of it).

MY OWN OWNERSHIP DECISION: This is close to a flawless lens...and I am getting incredibly good results in the field with it (it redefines what "edge-to-edge sharpness" means). Not only am I DEFINITELY adding this lens to my permanent kit, it is one of the very few lenses you will see me carrying both while "walking around" (i.e., as part of my "Commando Wildlife Kit") and when on photo tours and expeditions (i.e., as part of my "Destination Wildlife Kit").

For more info about what I mean by my "Commando" and "Destination" wildlife kits, see this section within the "Stuff I Use" portion of this website: 3. Lenses & Teleconverters - Divvied Up Into My Most Commonly Used Kits.

2. Tamron Z-mount 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD

This "ultra-zoom" fell into my lap (on loan from Tamron) at the perfect time - right when I was testing the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 (including against the Z 100-400mm f4.5-5.6S). I started testing it with low expectations on how it would perform, but it continuously surprised me in how solid it was optically and how well its autofocus system worked. Of course, I instantly liked how compact it was - and the price was certainly very attractive. Optically it matched or exceeded the performance of the Z 100-400mm in every test I threw at it, and it was almost indistinguishable in optical performance from the Z 180-600mm (to be clear, extreme edges of the 180-600 ARE a little sharper at most focal lengths, but beyond that they are really close in optical performance.)

MY OWN OWNERSHIP DECISION: I was so impressed with this lens that as soon as I returned the loaner to Tamron I ordered my own copy of it. And, with having the Tamron 150-500 I had little reason to keep my Z 100-400 - so I put my own Z 100-400 up for sale (and promptly sold it). Why? Well, as mentioned above, the Tamron's optical and autofocus performance were really solid. And, while giving me 100mm more in focal length, it was actually more compact (shorter) than my Z 100-400 - and a WHOLE LOT more compact (and significantly lighter) than my 180-600mm. With its compact size it has already become part of my "Commando" wildlife kit. And, again because of its compact size, I also can much more easily take it with me on photo tours and other expeditions where I am taking one or more bigger lenses (like my Z 400mm f2.8 TC VR S) with me. So the Tamron will - at times - ALSO be part of my "Destination" wildlife kit.

3. Nikkor Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR

It was a no-brainer that I once this lens was announced I had to acquire a copy for extended field testing. I expected this lens to be "pretty good" but not much beyond that. Well...while the 180-600mm has the same limitations of any variable (and small maximum) aperture "ultra-zoom" - it is a really, really solid lens optically, has very good AF performance, and quite good VR performance. From an optical perspective what stands out to me is how well its sharpness (at almost all focal lengths) holds up edge-to-edge. It does soften up (i.e., is less sharp) a little as you approach 600mm, but that softening is really quite minimal. But at all other focal lengths this lens isn't far off good prime lenses in sharpness, and does beat the Z 100-400 in sharpness at 400mm (and at ALL overlapping focal lengths if you look at the sharpness of the extreme edges). There are two things I DON'T get about this lens - why it's so inexpensive (arguably quite underpriced) and why it doesn't carry the "S" designation?

Besides the minor softening near its longest focal length does the 180-600mm have any weak points? Well...for ME (and my uses of it) its size and weight put it in a "funny place" for two reasons. First, it's too big to complement the other lenses in my "Commando" wildlife kit - which means for me it's just a tad to big to work as a "walkaround" lens. Second, that same size and weight makes it difficult to fit into my "Destination" wildlife kits that already have other big lenses in them (like my Z 400mm f2.8 TC VR S) - and there's no way I'm leaving my 400 f2.8 at home when going on an expedition so I can fit in my Z 180-600mm.

MY OWN OWNERSHIP DECISION: I have to admit that with this lens I have been (and still am) - flip-flopping on whether this lens fits into my kit (and matches what I do) well enough to keep it. When I first ordered it I had the mindset that of "I'll buy it, extensively test it so I know exactly how it performs, and then flip it". But its performance soon had me thinking that I just might keep it. But, shortly thereafter, I started testing the Tamron 150-500 and quickly decided I WOULD sell both my Z 100-400 and my Z 180-600mm and keep the Tamron 150-500 as my sole "ultra-zoom" (and I did subsequently get my own copy of the Tamron 150-500). And that's where I was sitting up until last weekend - I had absolutely decided I would finish testing the 180-600mm and then sell it. But then I made the mistake of yanking and processing some images that I shot with the 180-600mm during my last two photo tours of 2023 - and their technical quality was very, very good. Like 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR good...but shot with a lighter, and WAY, WAY less expensive package (albeit one stop slower). So right now I'm REALLY on the fence over whether I'll keep this lens...its size and weight still makes it a relatively poor fit in either of my wildlife kits. I'll make my decision within the next month or 180-600mm may still go up for sale! But one thing I want to be very clear about - the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 is a surprisingly good lens and, at least in my opinion, it's exceptionally good value. If someone is a slightly more "casual" wildlife photographer and/or doesn't already own some top-notch "big" lenses (that will compete with this lens for space in their kit), it is really, really hard NOT to recommend this lens to them! Just because it may not fit into my kit doesn't mean it isn't a great buy for a LOT of other photographers! 😉

4. Nikkor Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S

This lens is testing out very, very's very sharp - including in the extreme edges/corners and so far (= more testing still to do on this) its out-of-focus zones appear to be the best of any of the PF lenses. And, of course, it's wonderfully light and compact. Sure, I would like it to be an f5.6 (or even faster) lens, but not if making it faster made it bigger and heavier. Another relevant point is that it does "pretty well" with the Z TC-1.4x (producing a focal length of 840mm). What does "pretty well" mean in this context? Well, it definitely produces far sharper images at 840mm than the 180-600mm does (when both are paired with the Z TC-1.4x). doesn't match the optical performance of 3 other Z 800mm(ish) options - the Z 600mm f4 TC VR S, the Z 400mm f2.8 TC VR S plus Z TC-2x, or the Z 800mm f6.3S. And, these other 3 800mm(ish) options all have apertures that are a stop or more faster, which increases their overall usability in many situations encountered by wildlife photographers.

MY OWN OWNERSHIP DECISION: No flip-flopping on this one - I'm definitely keeping my Z 600mm f6.3S. Not only does it fit well into my "Commando" wildlife kit (so easy to slip into my MindShift PhotoCross 13 sling bag...and I hardly feel any weight on my back when it's in there!), but its small size and low weight means it will also be part of my "Destination" wildlife kit on some of my photo tours and other expeditions.

Next updates? Hmmmm...not sure...possibly some new additions to my Gallery of Latest Additions (I'm SO FAR behind on that!).



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13 Nov 2023: Lens Testing, Lens Testing, Lens Testing!!

Since my last blog post I have been bogged down doing more lens testing than I've ever done over a 3-week period. This testing has been driven by my commitment to produce detailed lens reviews of three new Z-mount lenses with obvious application to wildlife photography as well a "mini-review" of a lens not normally thought of as a wildlife lens - the Nikkor Z 135mm f1.8S Plena. The three "wildlife lenses" I'm extensively testing and reviewing are the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 VR, the Nikkor Z 600mm f6.3 VR S, and the Tamron Z-mount 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC VXD.

My lens testing mixes controlled, systematic field-testing of several performance parameters (optical performance, AF performance, and VR performance) with actual field-shooting - all with the goal of producing a review that is both highly detailed and representative of how the particular lens actually performs in the field.

During my controlled, systematic field testing I put a huge emphasis on comparing how a particular lens stacks up against other "competing" lenses over several distances and a wide range of apertures. Given the 3 lenses I'm currently testing, my own collection of lenses, and a few lenses Nikon Canada was generous enough to send me to make my comparisons complete, this bout of testing involved a HUGE number of lenses and trials. For example, the lenses I have tested against the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 VR (including when combined with a Z TC-1.4x) included the following lenses:

• Nikkor Z 70-200mm f2.8 VR S (personal copy)
• Nikkor 120-300mm f2.8E (personal copy)
• Nikkor Z 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 VR S (personal copy)
• Tamron Z-mount 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC VXD (on loan from Tamron)
• Sigma Sport 150-600mm f5-6.3 (personal copy)
• Nikkor Z 400mm f4.5 VR S (personal copy)
• Nikkor Z 400mm f2.8 TC VR S (personal copy)
• Nikkor 500mm f5.6E PF (on loan from Nikon)
• Nikkor Z 600mm f4 TC VR S (on loan from Nikon)
• Nikkor Z 600mm f6.3 VR S PF (personal copy)
• Nikkor Z 800mm f6.3 VR S PF (personal copy)

Additionally, with my own rather extensive collection of lenses and those on loan to me from Nikon and Tamron I had (and happily took!) the opportunity to go beyond the testing of the 3 new Z-mount lenses described above and do some extra testing. Why? To help answer some nagging questions like...

1. How do the SIX current "Z pathways" to 800mm(ish) - including lens/TC combinations producing an 840mm focal length - compare optically and in "overall usability"?

2. How do the FOUR current "Z pathways" to 560mm - including lens/TC combinations producing a 560mm focal length - compare optically and in "overall usability"...and to Nikon's TWO Z 600mm lenses?

3. How do ALL the various Z pathways to 400mm (and there is a LOT of them, especially when you add in the Z TC's) - compare optically and in "overall usability"? can probably imagine how much field work and computer work is required to pull all of this together. Which means it will definitely take some time to get the final results online. On the good news side - I have completed almost ALL the field testing and have evaluated most of the thousands of resulting images.

But - and largely because I've had tons of folks emailing me and asking about what I have been finding (many of which are delaying purchasing decisions until they hear from me) - here are some "high-level and broad strokes" comments on what I have found out about how the three lenses I'm field-testing (the Nikkor Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 VR, the Nikkor Z 600mm f6.3 VR S, and the Tamron Z-mount 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC VXD) perform. Note that what follows is decidedly "nuance-free" (and nuances can and do matter) and is primarily focused on optical performance. Expect a whole lot more detail when the final reviews come out...

1. Nikkor Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 VR

While kinda big and definitely not too light, this "ultra-zoom" is very, very solid optically and with a really good autofocus system. Two things have really stood out in the optical testing of this lens. First at MOST focal lengths it's close to as sharp as the best primes (though it does lose some sharpness as you approach 600mm). Second, this lens is remarkably sharp ACROSS THE ENTIRE FRAME (again at almost all focal lengths) - including out to the extreme edges. It's out-of-focus zones are better than you find on most variable aperture zooms, though owing to its narrow(er) maximum aperture you don't get the subject-isolating power or dreamy bokeh of Nikon's best "premium" telephoto zooms (like the Z 70-200mm f2.8 VR S or the 120-300mm f2.8E) or Nikon's two "super-primes" (the Z 400mm f2.8 TC VR S or the Z 600mm f4 TC VR S).

How sharp is this lens?'s a good frame of reference that many users and potential buyers will be able to relate to: There's almost no difference between the central region sharpness of the Z 100-400mm and the Z 180-600mm up to about 250mm. But at longer focal lengths the 180-600mm definitely pulls away from the 100-400 in sharpness (especially on the edges), and by the time you get to 400mm the Z 180-600mm is significantly (and noticeably) sharper than the Z 100-400 (with the extreme edges dramatically sharper on the 180-600).

Are there any optical "weaknesses" of the Z 180-600mm? Well...arguably two. I've already mentioned that it softens up somewhat as it approaches 600mm. It's NOT super soft at 600mm, but the difference in sharpness between the Z 180-600mm and Nikon's two Z 600mm primes is much greater than it is at 500mm (compared to the 500mm PF) or at 400mm (against Nikon's two Z 400mm primes).

And...this "softening up" at 600mm goes hand-in-hand with its second optical weakness - how it performs with the Z TC-1.4x. And here I am referring to how it performs with the Z TC-1.4X when shot at its maximum focal length (of 600mm). Simply put, of the 6 current "real" Z pathways to the 800mm(ish) focal length, the Z 180-600mm plus Z TC-1.4X is clearly the weakest. Note that when I say "real pathways to the 800mm(ish) focal length" I am excluding one possible option - the Z 100-400mm plus Z TC-2x (because of its poor image quality). I personally think buying the Z 180-600mm because it can get one to 840mm when combined with the Z TC-1.4X wouldn't be a wise move.

OVERALL: The 180-600mm is a really solid ultra zoom option that will fulfill the needs of many wildlife photographers - and at a quite reasonable price. I see many, many more positives to this lens than I see negatives. Everyone I personally know who has bought this lens has been very happy with it.

2. Nikkor Z 600mm f6.3 VR S PF

Disclosure: While I have thoroughly and systematically tested this lens against Nikon's other Z 600mm options AND against Nikon's best Z 560mm options, I haven't had a chance to get too much field-shooting in with this lens. So I can't offer as much insight into this lens's performance in the field compared to the other lenses I'm discussing today. Of course, you'll be able to read oodles about how this lens performs in the field in my final review of it (and in incremental updates I have planned for publication here on my blog).

That said, there are several things I can say about the Z 600mm f6.3 VR S right now. First, it is amazingly small and light (and therefore highly "hand-holdable" and usable) for a 600mm lens. Of course, it's almost not worth mentioning how much smaller and lighter than the Z 600mm f4 TC VR S...but its shooting weight is 657 gm (or about 1.5 lb) less than that of the Z 180-600mm. You want to be mobile and agile with a 600mm lens in your hands? Well...the lens for you is the Z 600mm f6.3 VR S PF.

How is it optically? Really, really good. In all my optical testing the Z 600mm f6.3S was very, very close to as sharp as the amazing Z 600mm f4 TC VR S. And in saying this I am referring to central region sharpness, sharpness halfway to the edge, and at the extreme edge of the frame. The quality of the out-of-focus zones is really good in this lens...and in my eyes I think its the best of any of the PF lenses. Of course, you don't have as much "subject isolating ability" as you do with the Z 600mm f4S.

The most germane optical performance question: How does it compare to the Z 180-600mm @ 600mm? It's a big step up in sharpness...and very noticeable. And I do find the quality of the out-of-focus zones (and the transition from fully in-focus to full out-of-focus) noticeably better with the Z 600mm f6.3 VR S than the Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 VR ( stated above, the quality of the out-of-focus zones of the Z 180-600 is good compared to most variable-aperture zooms).

What about TC performance? I have only tested it with the Z TC-1.4x (and won't be testing it with the Z TC-2x as any lens/TC with a maximum aperture of f13 is almost useless in the field) and while it was NOT as sharp as the Z 600mm f4 TC VR S when its built-in TC is engaged, it was quite good (and a whole lot better than the Z 180-600mm plus Z TC-1.4x combo). I'll be saying more about how the Z 600mm f6.3 VR S plus Z TC-1.4x combo stacks up against other 800mm(ish) Z options in the not-too-distant future.

OVERALL: I have to do more field-shooting with the Z 600mm f6.3 VR S before I can say much more about it. But what I can say is that in the limited field shooting I have done so far I really, really like the results. And it is so, so usable!

3. Tamron Z-mount 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC VXD

This lens kinda fell into my lap for testing completely unexpectedly. And, to be honest, before I started testing it and just shooting with it I had fairly low expectations regarding how it would perform. For example, I expected it to be noticeably less sharp than both the Z 100-400mm and the Z 180-600mm and fall way behind the two Nikon zooms in autofocus performance. Boy...I couldn't have been more wrong.

The first thing that captured my attention about the Tamron 150-500 was how compact it was - though offering a focal length 100mm longer than the Z 100-400mm it's about 1 cm shorter than the 100-400 when both are zoomed back to their minimum focal length. And it's 13.1 cm (over 5"!) shorter than the Z 180-600mm. While it's shooting weight is 468 gm (slightly over a pound) heavier than the 100-400, it's 293 gm (.65 lb) lighter than the Z 180-600mm. If your photography includes traveling and you're already bringing other "big lenses" along with you, the size advantage of the Tamron 150-500 can be a very big plus (especially compared to the Z 180-600mm).

The second thing I noticed about the Tamron 150-500 was its autofocus's actually really good. Shortly after I got it I had the opportunity to shoot some extreme action in horrendous conditions (low light, strong wind, and snowing) with it - and its hit rate was really good (note that I did NOT have the opportunity to test it against Nikon's Z 100-400 or Z 180-600mm under the exact same conditions). Check out this one sample shot to see what I mean (all relevant tech specs are on the image frame): Rosey On the Run: Download 4800 pixel image (JPEG: 4.8 MB)

How is it optically? Really, really solid. As in pretty much on par with the Z 180-600mm in central region sharpness and in sharpness halfway to the edge of the frame. It is NOT as sharp as the Z 180-600mm at the extreme edges when shot wide open (and at a short subject distance)...but that difference disappears with distant subjects. is sharper than the Z 100-400 at 300mm and 400mm (in central region, halfway to edge, and extreme edge). Moreover, it doesn't noticeably soften up at its longest focal length - @ 500mm it's absolutely on par with the Z 180-600mm and only infinitesimally less sharp than the Nikkor 500mm f5.6E PF. This lens is really good optically!

What about that "other aspect" of optical performance - how a lens renders out-of-focus zones? be honest...its out-of-focus zones seem to be even slightly softer and smoother than those of the Z 180-600mm when comparing images shot at the same focal length and aperture. I found this particularly surprising given the Tamron has only 7 aperture blades (compared to the 9 of the Z 180-600). But seeing is believing (unless an image has been manipulated using Generative Fill in Photoshop! 😉)

What about TC performance? Non-existent...there is no TC for it.

OVERALL: This lens has really, really surprised me in its performance and should be considered as a truly viable option to the Z 100-400 or the Z 180-600mm. I think it would be a huge mistake to overlook it. For some, its compact size, strong AF performance, and strong optical performance may make it the BEST choice as their "ultra" telephoto zoom, especially if they are prone to traveling and have other "big lenses" they want to bring along. And it certainly is easier on the pocket book than the two Nikkor zooms...and with a warranty that is 5 full years longer! Heck, its tripod foot is even Arca-Swiss compatible right out of the box (which instantly makes me want to support Tamron for doing the right thing! 😉)

Anyway...that's all for now. I have to get back to doing some MORE controlled, systematic lens field-testing and actual field-shooting...followed by staring at my computer screen until I go cross-eyed! 😉

More soon...



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26 Oct 2023: Capture One Pro 23.3 Introduces AI-based Masking

Yesterday Capture One put out a "dot release" update to Capture One Pro (from version 23.2.5 to 23.3). Normally dot releases offer only limited new functionality and many of them are little more than maintenance releases with a few bug fixes in them. But this one has an awesome new feature that anyone who uses Capture One Pro and likes to make selective edits to their images will just love - AI-based masking that "automatically" creates masks of your subject (or, if you prefer, anything but the subject). While I've only used it on about 10 images so far, in each case I chose pretty complex subjects (with wispy hairs and/or feathers) - and it is already proving to be a HUGE time-saver for me.

As is their habit, Capture One put a lot of effort into how they implemented this new feature - it's "additive" in the sense that you can add to the mask of subject (or add MORE subjects if there are multiple ones in your shot) and easily combine it with their other masking tools (so with their gradient masking tools, their Luma Range tool, their Magic Brush or Magic Eraser, etc.). And, the AI Masking is combined with an AI you can "intelligently" delete parts of the mask if that's needed.

Back in the summer I attended an interactive online presentation put on by Capture One where they revealed their plans for the future of the product. AI, of course, took center stage. And, at least according to their CEO, Capture One is choosing to leave all creativity in the hands of the photographer and use AI features to speed up the tedious, time-consuming tasks. So, for example, they are using AI to group similar images together for culling purposes (during image import) and now - with AI Masking - to dramatically speed up the process of building complex masks during image editing. This "leave creativity in the hands of the photographer" approach differs quite dramatically from that of Adobe who are being more...uhhhh...adventurous in their use of AI (at least as seen in features like the new "Generative Fill" in Photoshop which takes your photograph and dramatically alters it using the creativity of Adobe's AI team!). I readily admit that Generative Fill can be a lot of fun - and it will attract a lot of users - but there is definitely something about it that is very unsettling (at least to me). I personally am far more comfortable with Capture One's use of AI than Adobe's use of it. Different strokes for different folks, eh?

Oh...and there's one other signficiant difference between how Capture One and Adobe are approaching and using AI - with Capture One you do NOT have to be online to use their AI tools (with features like Photoshop's Generative Fill and Generative Expand you DO have to be online for the tools to work).

Over the coming weeks I'll be exploring all the nuances of Capture One Pro's AI masking (and associated AI tools) as I process images captured during my last 3 photo tours over the last 6 weeks. I'll be sharing that info with all those participating in my online tutoring on post-processing with Capture One Pro (info here).



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24 Oct 2023: Nikon Z 9 "Birds" Subject Detection: The BEST Mode for Mammals??

By now most Nikon-shooting wildlife photographers will know that in their last Z 9 firmware update Nikon introduced a new subject detection mode to its already excellent AF system - i.e., "Birds" mode. I installed the firmware update just before I left on my mid-October "Autumn in the Queen Charlotte Strait Exploratory Photo Adventure" photo tour (details of that tour right here). The timing of the firmware update was perfect as the Autumn QCS photo tour presents a TON of opportunities to shoot birds (both perched and in flight).

Before leaving on the tour I did view a few of the very early (and probably too early!) YouTube reviews of the new "Birds" mode and they left me quite excited about trying it out. Those same videos (based on very, very limited field use) left me with the impression that while the "Birds" mode outperformed "Animal" mode when shooting birds, you should probably only use it when you are SURE you are going to be shooting birds. In other words, don't use it on mammals (or reptiles, amphibians, etc.). it turns out...nothing could be further from the truth... a nutshell...during the Autumn QCS photo tour I was leading I (and several of my guests) tried "Birds" mode on several species of marine mammals - and on one black bear - and we ALL found that it significantly outperformed "Animal" mode. Since returning home I have expanded the range of mammals I have tried "Birds" subject detection mode on (adding in my young dog, squirrels, and deer) and have continued to find the same thing - it works better overall on these mammals than "Animal" mode does.

To be as clear and precise as possible, here's exactly what I have discovered on the photo tour and in my subsequent shooting since:

1. Performance of "Birds" subject detection mode on Humpback and Killer Whales: When shooting whales I have found that my preferred AF mode is using a custom Wide-area mode that is thin and wide (13x3) with subject detection on and (historically) set to "Animals". During my Autumn QCS trip there were countless opportunties to compare "Animal" and "Birds" subject detection modes. The result was very clear - the "Birds" mode picked up and recognized the subject faster (as determined when the smaller subjection detection boxes appeared within the 13x3 box) than "Animals" mode did. Like WAY faster! BTW: I have always been surprised that Nikon's subject detection system actually works on whales given how little you see of them. What you see when photographing whales with Nikon's subject detection is that the small focus box (or the subject detection box) goes to the dorsal fin of the whale or, if visible, to the tail flukes. Which is exactly what I want it to do when I'm photographing whales. And it does it better in "Birds" mode than "Animals" mode.

2. Performance of "Birds" subject detection mode on Steller Sea Lions (in water and while on land): On this trip most of our sea lion shooting was of distant subjects - I was using my Z 800mm PF for most of it and even then the subjects weren't even close to filling the frame. When using "Animal" mode (again when combined with a custom 13x3 Wide-area AF area mode) the AF system almost NEVER indicated it recognized the subjects. However, the "Birds" mode not only found the subject quickly and efficiently, but even when the subjects were tiny in the frame it grabbed the eye amazingly well. The difference in performance between "Animal" and "Birds" mode was striking - like night and day.

3. Performance of "Birds" subject detection mode on Harbour Seals (mostly in water with only the head - or parts of the head - showing): Over an extended session with Harbour Seals I was able to switch back and forth between "Animal" and "Birds" mode multiple times. And, while the difference in performance wasn't as great as it was with sea lions, "Birds" mode outperformed "Animal" mode in at least one way - it DEFINITELY recognized seal heads (and eyes) better when in "Birds" mode than in "Animal" mode when the seal's head was very small in the frame. Note that I used both Wide-area (custom, 13x3) and 3D-tracking when shooting the seals...and both produced the same result as described just above.

4. Performance of "Birds" subject detection mode on a Black Bear: We only had a few minutes (in exceptionally poor light) with a Black Bear on this photo tour so I didn't have time to switch back and forth between the two subject-detection modes (I shot in ONLY with "Birds" mode). However, I've shot a LOT of Black Bears with "Animal" mode and can say with confidence that in this scenario there is NO WAY in "Animal" mode the subject detection system would have picked up the bear's eye. However, when I was using "Birds" mode it instantly went to the eye. Obviously not a comparative test, and you'll have to trust my experience on this one...

5. Performance of "Birds" subject detection mode on Homo sapiens: Same result with "Birds" and "Animal" mode - neither picked up human eyes (tho' both occasionally recognized the head as a subject.)

And...what has further shooting since I have returned home (mostly while testing out my Plena)? Here you go:

6. Performance of "Birds" subject detection mode on My Domestic Dog: I've shot about 4000 images of my young pup (Portuguese Water Dog) with my Plena over the last few days and have had just tons of opportunities to compare how well "Birds" mode and "Animal" mode compare. Net result...only a very slight edge to "Birds" mode. And that "extra" performance I've gotten out of "Birds" mode is that it recognizes my dog Joe even when he is tiny in the frame/EVF (when "Animal" mode does not recognize him as a subject).

7. Performance of "Birds" subject detection mode on Red Squirrels: I've only shot a couple hundred squirrel images since the firmware update, but it seems like what I found with my dog (only a slight advantage to "Birds" mode) holds true with squirrels. On this one I reserve my right to modify my anecdotal findings as I shoot more squirrel images.

8. Performance of "Birds" subject detection mode on White-tailed Deer: Even a smaller sample size than with squirrels - just one short deer-shooting session where I used ONLY "Birds" mode. It did work well (instantly went to the eye) with the subject filling a small percentage of the frame/EVF...but at this point I can't really say how it compares to "Animal" mode for deer.

ANYWAY, I won't speculate on how "Birds" mode works on other mammals (such a primates) or on other non-mammalian animals (reptiles, amphibians, fish, etc.), but so far I have found it works as well or better than "Animal" mode on all the non-human mammals I have encountered. At this point I have switched over to "Birds" as my default subject detection mode on my primary wildlife cameras (my two Z 9's). And, I am finding I am now a bit reluctant to pick up my Z 8 for wildlife shooting because - at least for now - its AF system doesn't match that of the Z 9 (it doesn't have a "Birds" mode yet).

Two final comments. First, at this point it seems like "Birds" mode might be poorly named - I am now thinking of it as an updated and improved "Animal" mode...basically "Animal V2.0". I am sure everyone has seems like there's a race out there among YouTubers to post the FIRST review of a product or firmware update...even if the creator has had limited or no time really using the product and is providing little if any actually useful info. In this case the advice given by one prominent wildlife photographer with a strong YouTube presence was to use "Birds mode only when you are sure you are going to shooting birds" was flat out wrong (at least for the species I commonly encounter). Makes me even less inclined to bother with wasting time on YouTube! 😉

Feel free to drop me a line ( with YOUR findings of how Nikon's "Birds" subject mode works on non-avian subjects.



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22 June 2023: Nikkor Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 VR - Better Than I Expected!

As most Nikon-shooting wildlife photographers already know, the long-awaited Z 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 VR zoom lens was announced yesterday. The announcement was, of course, anticipated and definitely not a surprise. But, at least to me, there were 3 surprises in the lens's specifications, and each of them contributed to the lens already being slotted into the "better than expected" category (at least by me). Here's the three surprises:

1. Short-throw Internal Zoom! I (and I think most) expected the Z 180-600mm to be a "typical" super-zoom lens which expanded in length as one zoomed from its shortest focal lengths to its longest one.'s an internal zoom lens that is the same length at all focal lengths! Not only does this mean the lens's balance point changes only minimally when zooming, but it's WAY BETTER for those (like me) who use rain covers a lot. Not only can it be hard to get a good rain cover fit for a telescoping zoom, but the zooming action itself can real hard to use in the field when the lens has a rain cover on. The internal zoom puts the Nikkor Z 180-600mm on par with the Sony FE 200-600mm zoom (with both ahead of the extending Canon RF 100-500mm zoom). And...owners of the Nikkor 200-500mm f5.6E zoom lens will be pleased to hear that you can zoom from 180-600mm with only a 70° turn needed to go from 180 to 600mm.

2. Weather Sealed! This was another knock against the Nikkor 200-500mm f5.6E zoom - it wasn't weather sealed. Well...the new Z 180-600mm IS weather-sealed. Which it needs to be for serious wildlife shooting. Another check-mark for the lens.

3. Weight! If Nikon's weight claims are accurate (and they usually are) then the Z 180-600mm is going to be really easy to handle and hand-hold. Nikon claims the lens is 1955 gm (4.3 lb) without its tripod collar, and 2140 gm (4.7 lb) with its tripod collar. While I expected the lens to be light, I was anticipating it to be in the 2250-2500 gm (or about 5-5.5 lb) range.

Of course, these are just specifications, and how a lens performs in the field (in terms of optical, autofocus, and VR performance) matters infinitely than specs do. To that end, I have contacted Nikon and requested a production model lens for testing purposes (and note that Nikon always prefers I get production models for testing as they know I am going to thoroughly test it over an extended period of time). At this point I can't say when it will arrive, but when it does I will begin sussing out how this very promising lens really performs in the field. I have no real doubt that it will be quite sharp, but how it renders out-of-focus zones still remains to be seen (and in my books the quality of out-of-focus zones is as important to a lens as sharpness is).

And, last but not least, I have confirmed with Nikon that this IS a "pure" Nikon product - it is not a re-branded Tamron (or any other 3rd party lens maker) lens.

While I'm reserving my own feelings about this lens until I test it, I think there's already no doubt that if Nikon can meet the demand and fulfill orders in a reasonable time frame, it's going to be a big hit among Nikon-shooting wildlife photographers.



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5 June 2023: Nikon Z 8 vs. Z 9: Burst Depth

In releasing the Z 8 Nikon has offered users a "mini Z 9". The Z 8 is basically a trimmed down (smaller and lighter) version of the Z 9. While some obvious compromises had to made to cut the size and weight of the Z 9 (things like going with a smaller and less powerful battery, removal of the vertical grip and controls and associated buttons, removal of the built-in GPS, etc.) we've been encouraged to think that the in the field most of the key performance parameters of the two cameras should be pretty much identical. So...same image quality, autofocus performance, and more.

Given the functional similarity of the two cameras I have opted to not bother testing the Z 8 as thoroughly as I tested the Z 9 (go here to see my thoughts on the Z 9 and a list of blog entries made on that camera). Instead, and as an owner of two Z 9's and now a Z 8, I am more interested in seeing if the two cameras do perform the same (or very similarly) in the field. Of course, being a scientist (= skeptic) at heart obviously influenced my decision to "hunt" for performance differences between the two cameras! 😉

In this blog entry I'm posting my results of some "quick and dirty" testing of the burst depth of the two cameras. And by burst depth I am referring to the number of images that can be sequentially captured at a specific frame rate until that frame rate noticeably slows or begins to "stutter". So, for example, how many lossless compressed raw images can be captured at 20 fps before the frame rate drops?

I. Bare Bones Background:

The number of images a camera can capture in a single burst is dependent on many variables, but at the end of the day it's all about how much data the camera's "buffer" can hold and how fast the camera can move data from that buffer onto a memory card. Of course the data storage and data transfer rates of the camera alone don't determine burst depth - many other factors influence the amount of data the camera must store and transfer, including the camera's resolution, file format, scene complexity, frame rate, the memory card's sustained write speed, phase of the moon (OK, I'm kidding about that last one), et cetera. In order to make meaningful comparisons of the burst depth of two or more cameras you must, of course, keep all variables impacting on the amount of data that's "flowing" through your camera constant.

II. What I Did:

I compared the number of images a Nikon Z 8 and Z 9 could capture in a single high speed burst under controlled conditions. Because a Z 9 (and presumably a Z 8) can move a LOT of data through it in a big hurry I tested image formats and frame rates that maximize the data flow through the camera (i.e., you really have to push a Z 9 to find ANY limit to their bust depths). So I tested only two RAW formats (Lossless compressed and High Efficiency* formats) and two frame rates (20 fps and 15 fps).

1. What I Kept Constant:

• The scene: I mounted my Z 400mm f2.8 on a firm tripod and focused on a distant scene that was about 50% clear sky and 50% wooded mountain ridge. All tests were conducted using the identical scene and focus point and constant lighting.
• ISO: Fixed at ISO 200
• Aperture: Fixed at f2.8
• Shutter speed: Fixed at 1/6400s
• Data Card: I used the SAME data card in both cameras - a Delkin Black CFExpress 512 GB. In past testing against many other data cards (including other Delkin Blacks of different capacity that were "supposed" to be faster) this card produced the biggest burst depths. Note that I did full re-format of the card between EACH trial (using the camera that was being tested).
• And all other camera settings...

2. What I Varied:

• File format (two file formats were tested - Lossless compressed RAWS and High Efficiency * RAWS)
• Frame rate (two frame rates were tested - 20 fps and 15 fps)

3. A Few Methodological Details:

For each file format and frame rate I ran 10 trials (this was very boring). So, for example, I ran 10 trials (bursts) of lossless compressed RAWs captured at 20 fps on my Z 9 (and, of course, on my Z 8). Note that I switched cameras after each trial - so I did one trial on my Z 9, followed by one trial on my Z 8. I told you this was very boring.

Note that when running trials where the burst depth is smaller than the number of images the card will hold, you can actually see the burst depth limit approaching as the value shown for the number of exposures remaining on the LCD or in the EVF (e.g., R020) decreases from its maximum value of 20 down to 1. A second or two after the "R value" drops to 1 the frame rate of the camera audibly slows - and this audible slowing of the frame rate denoted the end of my bursts. Note also that the R value is a good indicator of a burst being limitless (i.e., the camera will shoot at that rate until the entire memory card is full) - with a limitless burst the R value quickly drops from 20 to 17 or 18 and then holds there. If I captured 1,000 or more images and the R value was holding constant (normally at R017 or R018) the entire time I deemed the burst as limitless. Because I had the R-value as a guide, I was able to stop capturing images within one frame of when the frame rate audibly dropped.

Because of the observed extreme consistency in burst depth between each of the 10 trials for each camera (i.e., almost zero variation) I simply averaged the burst depths for each format/frame rate series. There was nothing in the variation between the trials that was even remotely interesting (or that would interest even the most bored statistician).

III. What I Found - My Results:

Here are the average numbers I obtained for burst depths for each image format/frame rate combination:

1. Lossless Compressed RAW; 20 FPS

• Nikon Z 9: 77.7 frames per burst
• Nikon Z 8: 77.6 frames per burst

In plain language - there was no difference in burst depth between the Nikon Z 8 and Z 9 when shooting continuous bursts of lossless compressed RAW images at 20 fps.

2. Lossless Compressed RAW; 15 FPS

• Nikon Z 9: Limitless burst (continues at 15 fps until data card is full)
• Nikon Z 8: Limitless burst (continues at 15 fps until data card is full)

Again, no difference between the Z 8 and Z 9. And a good take-home lesson for those who need more than 77 frames per burst on their Z 8 or Z 9 cameras - slowing the frame rate from 20 fps to 15 fps functionally removes any limit to your burst depths (assuming you're using a data card equal to or faster than the Delkin Black CFExpress 512 GB card used in this test).

3. High Efficiency* RAW; 20 FPS

• Nikon Z 9: 624.3 frames per burst
• Nikon Z 8: 481.7 frames per burst

HMMMM...this is a REAL difference between the two cameras - the Z 9 bursts were, on average, 29% bigger than those of the Z 8. Note also that by going to the HE* format the burst depths increased dramatically compared to 20 fps bursts when shooting lossless compressed images (for both the Z 8 and Z 9).

4. High Efficiency* RAW; 15 FPS

• Nikon Z 9: Limitless burst (continues at 15 fps until data card is full)
• Nikon Z 8: Limitless burst (continues at 15 fps until data card is full)

Hardly a surprise given the results above!

IV. A Brief Discussion:

I was not at all surprised that the burst depth of the Z 8 and Z 9 were identical in three of four of my image format/frame rate combinations. But I have to admit I was surprised that there was a significant and very consistent difference in burst depths between the two cameras when I was shooting High Efficiency RAW images at 20 fps. I have no explanation about why these burst depths differed. I half expect that someone will suggest this observed difference in burst depths might be related to differences in cooling rates of the two cameras when large volumes of data are flowing through them, but I have neither the information required nor the background to evaluate this...uhhhh...speculation/hypothesis.

Is there any significance to this finding? From a photographic perspective - and for 99.9% of photographers - the answer is a resounding NO. If someone decides against a Z 8 (or even criticizes it) for "ONLY" capturing 481.7 frames in a 20 fps burst when shooting High Efficiency* RAW images (compared to 624.3 for the Z 9) they need to get a life. Yes, there may be SOMEONE on the planet who can dream up a real-world use case where a burst of 481.7 45.7 MP images shot a 20 fps is insufficient...but for most of's simply irrelevant. And I have no doubt that the ONE person who NEEDS the added burst depth of the Z 9 when shooting HE* files at 20 fps WILL email me and chew me out for dissing them...😉

That said, the thing that interests me is the fact that there is a difference at all. I'm left wondering if this one admittedly obscure performance difference exists between the Z 8 and Z 9 then perhaps there are OTHER performance differences that haven't shown their head yet? Certainly in the shooting I have done with the Z 8 to date I have been more than satisfied that its performance is virtually a clone of the Z 9. Yes - and as I have already stated in a few places - I personally prefer the Z 9, but that's based largely on ergonomic differences related to camera size, especially when shooting "big" (as in BIGGER than a Z 400mm f4.5S) lenses - NOT on actual camera performance. Heck, if it wasn't for the Z 9, the Z 8 would be the absolute best wildlife camera Nikon has ever produced! And I'm sure some practitioners of "other" photographic genres (such as travel photographers) will consider the Z 8 to be THE BEST camera Nikon has ever produced, bar none.



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10 May 2023: The Nikon Z 8 Is Launched...

Just a few hours ago Nikon announced their latest mirrorless camera in the Z lineup - the Z 8. As many expected, the Z 8 is functionally a "small Z 9" - apparently (according to Nikon) 30% smaller and 30% lighter than the Z 9. It is also significantly smaller than the D850.

At this point it appears that the key performance specifications match the Z 9 - same or similar 45.7 MP sensor, same main AF options (and presumably performance?), et cetera. Of course, the smaller body of the Z 8 means that there are no vertical controls (unless one adds the optional MB-N12 Power Battery Pack) and there are only 2 function buttons (rather than 3) on the front side of the camera.

I have already received a number of emails asking me what I think of the Z 8. To be honest, until I try/test one I can't really say too much. I do think the smaller size and lighter weight WILL appeal to a lot of shooters. I also think it will sell very well as camera size/weight seems to be becoming an increasingly important consideration for more and more shooters.

And...full disclosure...I will be getting one for testing purposes. Once I have had a chance to test it thoroughly I will decide if I will shoot with one Z 9 and one Z 8, or stick with two Z 9's. Note that getting the Z 8 will allow me to offer personalized online sessions on "The Set-up, Use, and Customization of the Nikon Z 8" (as I have been doing for quite some time with the Z 9). You can find out more about my online tutoring right here...

I'll post additional information/thoughts about the Z 8 as I find out more about it!



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17 April 2023: Nikkor Z 85mm f1.2S Added to My "Stuff I Use" Page...

I just added the Nikkor Z 85mm f1.2S to my Stuff I Use - Part II: Lenses & Teleconverters page. The listing for the Z 85mm f1.2S contains the key elements of my test results of it, along with some further comments about the lens performance in the field. You can read those comments on the Z 85mm f1.2S right here....

As I expected when I updated it (after over a decade!), my "Stuff I Use - Part II: Lenses & Teleconverters" lens directory page is proving to be very popular, especially to wildlife photographers transitioning their lens collection from F-mount to Z-mount.



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12 April 2023: Update to Z 800mm f6.3S VR Review...

I have just updated my review of Nikon's Z 800mm f6.3S VR lens. The updates include:

• 5 new sample images from my recent Pacific Rim Herring Spawn photo tour have been added and...

• the addition of an entire new section that highlights new things I've learned about the lens since acquiring my own copy of it and/or shooting it extensively on my photo tours.

Here's where to go to see:

The Entire Z 800mm f6.3S Review
The New Sample Images
The New Section: Follow-up Field Performance Observations

All-in-all, the Z 800mm f6.3S VR now gets an even bigger thumbs up from me than it did before I took it on Pacific Rim Herring Spawn photo tour.



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1 March 2023: Major Update to "Techniques" Page...

I just posted an updated version of my "Techniques" page of this website. This page discusses just a few of the techniques I use when I'm "In the Field", "Behind the Camera", or "At the Computer". I think most folks will find the 3 topics discussed under the "In the Field" section of greatest interest.

Here's the link to the updated page:

Brad Hill: A Few of My Key Techniques

Observant followers of this blog will probably realize by now I'm pushing to get caught up on a lot of things before my field (and photo tour) season really gets rolling! 😉



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24 Feb 2023: Major Update to "Digital Darkroom" Section...

I just posted updated versions of the two "Digital Darkroom" pages on this website. These pages outline the computer hardware and software that I use in my workflow.

Here's the links to the updated and revised "Digital Darkroom" pages:

Digital Darkroom: Part I: Digital Workflow & Software

Digital Darkroom: Part II: Computer Hardware

Some may find the updated information useful.



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16 Feb 2023: Major Update to "Stuff I Use" Pages...

Late yesterday I posted updated versions of the 3 "Stuff I Use" pages on this website. While doing the updates I decided to expand on the usefulness of this section of my website, so now these pages are like "resource summaries/directories". So on these pages you'll now find not only a listing of the cameras, lenses, and other gear I am currently, but also handy links to any of my past blog entries, my reviews or my commentaries about that piece of gear. So if you want to go to single place to access ALL the info on the Z 100-400mm f4.5S (or any other lens or camera I'm using) this is the place to visit!

Here's the links to the updated and revised "Stuff I Use" pages:

Brad Hill: Stuff I Use - Part I: Cameras

Brad Hill: Stuff I Use - Part II: Lenses & Teleconverters

Brad Hill: Stuff I Use - Part III: Everything Else I Drag Into the Field!

Part II (on the lenses and teleconverters) definitely contains the most meat and I'm pretty sure this is the section that will prove most useful (and have the most web traffic) over time.

Anyway...hopefully some will find these updates useful.



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01 Feb 2023: Continuing to Post Comments on the Z 600mm f4S

Just a quick FYI to let all-y'all know that I am continuing to post comments on the performance of the Z 600mm f4S in the commentaries of the images in my Gallery of Latest Additions. And, as a further FYI, to access the commentaries for EACH image in any of my galleries you simply have to click on the "In the Field" tab below the main image window. Within that commentary you'll also find links to much larger (higher resolution) sample images.

My most recent post discusses how the image quality of the Z 400mm f2.8S with its TC engaged (so at 560mm) stacks up against the Z 600mm f4S when it is shot native (sans TC, so at 600mm).



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22 Jan 2023: About the 1.00 to 1.10 Z Super-telephoto Lens Firmware Update

Earlier this week Nikon issued a lens firmware update for their four super-telephoto Z lenses - the Z 400mm f4.5S, the Z 400mm f2.8S, the Z 600mm f4S, and the Z 800mm f6.3S. This update (from version 1.00 to 1.10 for all 4 lenses) brings the Nikon big glass up to par on their firmware with most of the other Z lenses.

So what does the new firmware actually do? Well, if you own a Z 6II, Z 7II, or a Z 9 (and any of the four lenses) it "activates" two custom menu items that can be really handy. Especially if you regularly hand-hold these lenses. Here's a quick run down of what each of the two updates actually gives you:

Focus ring rotation range (custom function f9 on the Z 9): You can now control how far you have to rotate the focus ring on the lens to go from closest focus to infinity. The shortest rotation range is 90° (one quarter of a rotation of the focus ring), the longest rotation range is 720° (two full rotations of the focus ring). This means you can functionally adjust the sensitivity of the focus ring, with a longer throw giving you more "fine control" than a shorter throw. Of course, you still have the "non-linear" setting, which automatically changes the sensitivity of the focus ring based on how fast you turn it - turn it fast and the focus ring rotation needed to move the focus a large distance decreases, turn it slow and you need MORE focus ring rotation to move the focus position a given amount.

Switch focus/control ring roles (custom function f11 on the Z 9): This function does exactly what it says - if this function is turned "On" then your focus ring takes on the role of the control ring, and the control rings becomes your focus ring.

For me, as a still wildlife photographer, these firmware updates are actually a pretty big deal. Why? Well...I like to hand-hold all my super-telephoto lenses near their distal end (here's a recent shot of me hand-holding my Z 800mm PF to show what I mean). Even though this hand-holding method means I have to support the full weight of the lens with my left arm (which I am sure some won't like or will think is "wrong"), this leaves my left hand and my left thumb near the Fn button(s), the function ring (if the lens has one), and the control ring. But it leaves my thumb quite a ways away from the focusing ring. However, if I turn custom function f11 "On" then the control ring becomes my focusing ring, and I CAN easily reach that ring with my left thumb (while shooting). SO...if I have the need to quickly override the autofocus system on any of my super-telephoto lenses, I can now do so without changing my grip on the lens (which invariably will shake the lens).

I know some may be thinking "Yeah, but how often do you actually override the AF system of a super-telephoto lens to fine-tune your focus?" Well, to be honest, only very rarely. However...if you find yourself focusing on a small-ish distant subject (think of a bird in flight) and the AF system grabs and sticks to the background (which any wildlife photographer will know DOES happen - and not nearly as infrequently as we'd like!) then you can bring the AF system into the right distance range quickly and easily by spinning the control ring with your left thumb. And, for the record, this is very fast to do if you select "non-linear" in custom setting f9 (which you can probably guess is my preferred setting for that option).

So, at least in my books, this is one of those "small but surprisingly useful" firmware updates. Now if Nikon would give us some additional control ring options I'd be even happier! ;-)



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13 Jan 2023: So...What's Left on My Z-lens Wishlist?

18 January 2023 UPDATE: The Nikkor 500mm f5.6E PF lens that is referred to below as "up for grabs" has been sold. So it is no longer "up for grabs"! ;-)

Recently I've made a few references to my Z-based wildlife photography kit being almost or "pretty much" complete. Now that I have the Z 100-400mm f4.5-5.6S, the Z 400mm f4.5S, the Z 400mm f2.8S, and the Z 800mm f6.3S in my possession I am well-stocked in wildlife lenses. And I do have a fairly full range of shorter Z-mount lenses that I occasionally use for wildlife as well, including the Z 24-120mm f4S, the Z 85mm f1.8S and a few more. At this point I really only have two remaining F-mount lenses that fit into the "wildlife lens" category - the Nikkor 120-300mm f2.8E and the Nikkor 500mm f5.6E PF. So what Z-mount lenses are still on my wishlist (and that I'd be willing to fork out money for)? It's a pretty short list:

1. Z 120-300mm f2.8S (and I strongly hope its FULL name is the "Z 120-300mm f2.8 TC VR S!")

While I know many wildlife photographers would consider this lens "too short" (in focal length) for their needs, I just love this lens. Yep, it's just beast - not only is it very heavy (with a shooting weight of 3468 gm [or almost 8 lb] on my scales), but it's also very "dense". Which makes it a bit of a pain to travel with or carry in the field. But I like the results I get with it so much I am willing to put up its weight.

What changes would I like to see in a Z-mount version of this lens? I'd LOVE IT if it had a built-in 1.4x TC. And, if Nikon could figure out a way to shave 500 gm or so off its weight (I'd like more, but let's stay real) I'd be tickled pink! In a perfect world I'd love it if the lens had a Function Ring on it - and if Nikon had to remove the Control Ring to make room for the Function Ring I wouldn't lose any sleep at all (which tells you what I think of the Control Ring).

Do I think this lens is coming soon? Well, I really hope I'm wrong on this, but NOPE...I think it will be quite some time (two or more years?) before the 120-300mm gets "zeddified". Compared to many other telephotos it is a niche lens (though loved by many sports photographers)...and there probably just isn't a big enough market for it for Nikon to prioritize its development. But...I sure hope I'm wrong about this.

2. Z 200mm f2S

I think my strong preference for fast lenses is beginning to show! One of my pandemic projects was cleaning up my wildlife image catalog and I began with culling my Brown Bear collection. During this process I ran across a section filled with bear images shot with the Nikkor 200mm f2 VR. And they just stood out instantly! I just love the look. With the reality of the transition to Z I really don't regret selling my F-mount 200mm f2 VR, but if Nikon came out with a Z 200mm f2 VR I'd instantly order one. And, for my uses, it doesn't need to have a built-in TC (but I would like it to have a Function Ring!).

Do I think this lens is coming soon? Well, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw it before the Z 120-300mm f2.8S...but I doubt it's right around the corner. Maybe in the next year to 18 months (fingers crossed)?

And, to anticipate emails asking me "But what about..."

1. But What About A Z 500mm f5.6 PF?

Despite how well-received - and how good - the 500mm f5.6E PF is, it's not a priority for me to have a Z-version of it (as a matter of fact, I've placed my own 500mm PF up for grabs). Why? I've found that the Z 400mm f4.5S functionally replaces it for me. Not only is the Z 400mm f4.5S noticeably lighter, when you combine it with the Z-TC 1.4X its image quality at 560mm goes toe-to-toe with the 500mm PF. So a Z 500mm f5.6S PF doesn't get on my wishlist.

2. But What About the Z 200-600mm?

I fully appreciate why a lot of folks are keen to get that Z 200-600mm that has been on Nikon's Z lens roadmap for quite some time. But, as one who has tried very hard to like and use super-zooms (but failed miserably at doing so!)...well...not on my own wishlist.

Is there anything at all on my "pure speculation but could be interesting" list? Yeah, there is. As one who has come to REALLY appreciate how good the Z 400mm f4.5S is, I'm left wondering if Nikon couldn't do the same thing thing (and might be thinking about) a 600mm version of it. So perhaps a small(ish), lightweight(ish) Z 600mm f5.6S that is to the Z 600mm f4S what the Z 400mm f4.5S is to the Z 400mm f2.8S? And, of course, priced appropriately/proportionately (like about 25% of the price of the Z 600mm f4S). Heck, if Nikon did come up with this Z 600mm f5.6S I think it would go directly to my wishlist - it would be great addition to my "alternate" lightweight wildlife kit (AKA my wildlife "commando kit") I use when I have to hike longer distances with my gear. Given the relatively short timeline between when the Z 400mm f2.8S started shipping and the announcement of the Z 400mm f4.5S, we could theoretically hear about this lens (the Z 600mm f5.6S) in the next 6 months or so? Again, this pure speculation and/or wishful thinking on my end...I have NO inside info that this lens is in the works.

That's it...I'm not hard to please, eh? ;-)




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09 Jan 2023: Testing the Z 600mm f4 TC VR S

Back on December 19 Nikon Canada sent me a brand new Z 600mm f4 TC VR S (production model) for testing. I had the lens for a little over two weeks so I had ample time to go over it - and test it, and shoot with it - extensively. Like much of the rest of North America my region had some pretty grim weather over the time I had the lens, so I couldn't really travel to any wildlife hotspots to shoot "exotic" wildlife with it. But I had ample opportunity to rigorously test it against a host of other lenses and shoot some local wildlife with it. The lenses I was able to test it against (including in some cases with teleconverters) included the Z 400mm f4.5S, the Z 400mm f2.8S, and the Z 800mm f6.3S.

I've now sent the the Z 600mm back to Nikon and have thousands of images to pour over - both those captured during systematic testing and others shot while just photographing local wildlife (and, in some cases, some very cooperative and helpful dogs).

After I've had a chance to carefully scrutinize all my test images (and tally up all the results) I will be writing up a detailed review of the Z 600mm f4S. When will this appear? As soon as possible, and very likely in Q1 of this year. Because I had so many other key lenses to test against, I'll also be writing up at least a few other more specific reports on how the lenses compared at various focal lengths (in several regards, NOT just optical performance). So you can also expect a report detailing how the "4 ways to 800mm" using Z lenses compare. Yep, I'm going to be busy!

Because it is going to take me a while to put these reviews and reports together (and because I know some want the information FAST) I am going to be continuously releasing key "tidbits" of information about what I learned during the testing in the "commentaries" in my Gallery of Latest Additions. In fact, I have already begun doing this - right now you'll find a few test images in there and with each of them there are discussions of key findings during my testing. The commentaries of the current images discuss the optical performance of the Z 600mm f4S at 840mm (with its built-in TC engaged) and the AF performance of the Z 600mm f4S @ 600mm. For some, the tidbits of info contained with the images in my Latest Additions gallery will be all the info they'll ever need (including for some assistance in making purchase decisions).

While most regular visitors to this blog and my various image galleries probably already know this, to access the "commentaries" for EACH image in any of my galleries you simply have to click on the "In the Field" tab below the main image window. Within that commentary you'll also find links to much larger (higher resolution) sample images.




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Blog Archive - not so fresh but still very readable and relevant...

2023 - The Whole Ball of Wax
2022 - It's ALL here!
2021 - All the Painful Details!
2020 - With ALL the Meat!
2019 - ALL the Gory Details
2018 - The Whole Enchilada
2017 - The Full Meal Deal
2016 - The Whole Shebang
2015 - The Whole Shebang
2014 - The Whole Shebang
2013 - The Whole Shebang
2012 - Almost The Whole Shebang
2011 - The Whole Shebang
2009 - October to December2009 - July to September2009 - April to June
2009 - January to March 2008 - October to December 2008 - July to September
2008 - April to June 2008 - January to March 2007 - October to December
2007 - July to September 2007 - April to June 2007 - January to March