It’s time for our annual tradition of helping separate you from your money! We’ll offer our recommended gear for the holidays and more, including filters, software, camera bags, and even a couple of cameras & lenses. Check out our complete list here.
Treat your loved one (or yourself) to some new gear
It’s that time again! “Black Friday” has morphed into “most of November” for deals and sales on photography gear and software. Here are some items I strongly recommend for the photographer in your life (even if it’s you).
All of my eBooks are 25% off through December 4th, 2022 with discount code: holiday22
Many of the items on this list are indispensable when you’re in the field
If you’re moving from XQD to CF Express Type B, make sure you have a memory card reader that supports both formats, such as this one by Sony. Older XQD readers won’t read CF Express cards, and some CF Express readers won’t read XQD.
On the road? Consider upgrading your backup drive to a portable SSD. They are small, extremely fast, and have no moving parts. I use a 2TB SanDisk portable SSD when I’m on the road.
Most newer cameras can be charged directly via a USB-C cable. Save the bulk of packing your standard charging brick and consider a multi-port USB-C charger to charge both your camera and your smartphone. This 40W dual charger by Anker has enough power to charge the Nikon Z9 battery, either in-camera or using the charging cradle.
When it comes to traveling, I like to pack my gear in a rolling bag, then transfer it to a shoulder bag when I’m out shooting. The ThinkTank roller bags are my personal choice for carrying larger kits through airports. When I’m traveling light and just want a backpack, the ThinkTank/MindShift Backlight 18L or 26L backpacks are amazing. They can hold lots of gear, and open from the back, making them more secure.
I personally use Adobe Lightroom Classic in conjunction with Adobe Photoshop. The newest masking features in Lightroom put it at the top of its class for raw image editors. I also recommend the following plug-in tools:
Topaz AI Collection (currently on-sale through Dec. 1): This suite of tools delivers some of the best sharpening and noise reduction I’ve seen; far superior to using Lightroom alone. The suite also includes the new Photo AI program, which is still evolving but bundles sharpening, noise reduction, and up-sizing images into one application. I have recently started re-thinking my triage criteria for “acceptably sharp,” as Sharpen AI (and Photo AI) can sometimes work miracles on slightly soft subjects. Any software package that makes me re-think my workflow deserves recognition.
If you have an older camera, why not give it new life by converting it to infrared? Kolari Vision offers a variety of conversion options, but the most intriguing (to me, at least), is the full-spectrum conversion. When paired with Kolari’s clip-in filters (for mirrorless cameras), it means you can have one camera that can truly deliver a wide range of creative infrared looks.
Cameras and Lenses
If you’re really looking for an upgrade this holiday season, you can check out the holiday specials at B&H Photo.
Yesterday, Nikon released firmware version 3.0 for the Z9 mirrorless camera. Most of the major changes centered around video functions, but there a lot of hidden features that to me are most welcome. Here’s what stood out to me:
New C60 (60fps) burst shooting option: This isn’t really something I need, because it requires shooting in DX crop mode and capturing normal-quality JPEGs (not raw). Still, it’s nice to have more options for burst shooting.
Change the AF point in 3D-tracking AF to red: This is great! The default AF point in 3D-tracking AF was white, and could sometimes be hard to see.
New option for Prioritize Viewfinder mode: Thank you, Nikon. The original behavior for Prioritize Viewfinder (firmware 1.x) is what I preferred, because it lets you start on the LCD monitor and then hand off that view to the viewfinder. Firmware 2.x changed this behavior to always putting the camera in “shooting mode” when you held it up to your eye. Now you can choose the behavior you like (I prefer Mode 1) to suit your own shooting style.
More custom buttons & functions: With firmware 3.0, Nikon has given photographers even more ways to customize their camera. You can now assign functions to the ISO and exposure compensation buttons, and some new functions were added. My favorite? Toggle FX-DX crop with a single button, instead of a button + dial combo. Very nice!
AF sensitivity has been improved by 0.5EV, down to -7EV, giving the Z9 one of the most sensitive low-light AF systems available. Only the Canon R3 (which is 24MP) has a more sensitive system.
Extended LCD brightness range: Nikon added 4 additional brightness settings to the rear LCD, which should help in very bright and very dark conditions.
Today, Nikon announced firmware update 2.0 for the flagship Z9 mirrorless camera. We’ll unpack what’s been announced, what we like, and what improvements we’d still like to see in the Nikon Z9. The new firmware will be available on April 20th, and has lots of major improvements for both still and video capture.