Now Available: Lynda training for the Nikon D800 and Canon 5D Mark III

If you’re the lucky own of a Nikon D800 or Canon EOS 5D Mark III, and you’d like to know more about how to use either camera, then you’ll want to check out my two latest courses. Both classes walk you through all the critical features and operations of each camera, and are designed to work in concert with my Foundations of Photography series. Note that the 5D Mark III class is also ideally suited for users of the 5D Mark II. Click here if you’re a 5D user or click here if you’re a D800 user.

Camera-Specific Training at

There’s a lot to know to be a capable photographer. Exposure theory, lighting, composition. On top of all that, there are all those buttons and dials on your camera. To help you understand exactly how your camera works, you might want to check out one of my camera-specific courses at These courses will work you through all of the features of their respective cameras, and help you understand those features in the context of larger photographic theories. Courses are now available for the Canon EOS60D, the Nikon D7000, the Canon Rebel T3i, and the Nikon D5100.

Revisited: Do you need a full-frame sensor?

Five years ago, I wrote this piece on whether you should buy a full-frame or cropped sensor digital camera. At the time, cameras with a full-frame sensor were substantially more expensive than cropped-sensor cameras, and a lot of people believed that, eventually, cropped-sensor cameras would be phased out and replaced by more affordable full-frame cameras. Five years later, we’ve seen that that’s not going to happen, but the question remains: do you need full-frame or is a cropped sensor camera okay? Read more »

Nikon D-300

Nikon D300

If you’ve been shopping for a mid-range digital SLR, it’s a safe bet to say you’ve probably been considering the Nikon D-300. The latest rev of Nikon’s mid-range camera, the D-300 offers some impressive changes from it’s predecessor, the D-200. As with previous Nikon models, no other camera comes close to Nikon when it comes to feature list, and the D-300 backs up its features with improved image quality.

There are a lot of things to consider when choosing an SLR, from image quality, to feel and weight, interface, and features. Obviously, if you’re already a Canon shooter with an investment in lenses, switching to Nikon is less compelling. But if you’re just starting out, or if you’re already a Nikon owner, then you’ll want to give heavy consideration to the D-300.


Nikon Compressed Raw Format – Lossy or Lossless?

NikonLike most digital SLRs, Nikon’s family of digital SLRs offer the ability to shoot in raw mode. However, Nikon’s raw offerings provide a twist, in the form of compressed raw. The promise of compressed raw files, of course, is that they take up less space and allow you to store more images on your card. Data compression algorithms fall into two categories: lossy techniques, which degrade the quality of your image; and lossless techniques, which reduce file size without affecting image quality. Nikon users often ask whether the compressed raw format is lossless or lossy, so I decided to look into the question.
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Capture NX and the Nikon 10.5mm Fisheye Lens

Nikon Capture NX provides an excellent auto correction edit for removing distortion from images shot with the Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens. Though I mention this feature in Real World Capture NX, I didn’t have enough room in the book to include examples, so we’re going to look at the specifics of this feature here. With the Fisheye Lens edit, you can create cropped, rectilinear images with a single click.

Capture NX automatically recognizes images shot with the Nikon 10.5mm Fisheye. It does this, of course, by reading the lens information stored in the image’s EXIF data. When it sees that an image was shot with the 10.5mm fisheye, it adds an extra option to the Base Adjustments entry in the Edit List. If you look under Base Adjustments > Lens Adjustments, you’ll see an entry for Fisheye Lens. Normally, this option is grayed out. Open the Fisheye Lens edit and you’ll see the following.

Fisheye Lens

If you click OK, the adjustment will be activated and applied to your image.

Capture NX Fisheye Lens Correction

The most immediately noticeable difference in these two images is the change in the shape of the dog’s face. But take note of the buildings in the background, and the edge of the wall. Both have been straightened quite efffectively.

By default, Capture NX crops your images to a rectangle. If you’d prefer to maintain the entire image, complete with its correction, check the “Include areas where there is no image data” checkbox. You’ll see something like this:

Uncropped fisheye lens correction

The Fill Color pop-up menu lets you specify what color to use for the empty image space.

I love the Nikon 10.5mm fisheye. I think it’s an extremely fun lens to use that yields excellent quality. One of the nicest things about it is that it’s not a terribly extreme fisheye. If you choose, you can actually shoot straight, level horizons with it by carefully levelling your camera. What’s more, with the addition of Capture NX, you can opt to use the lens as a normal, extremely wide angle rectilinear lens.

If you already own this lens and haven’t looked at Capture NX, you’ll want to give the free demo a try. If you haven’t shot with this lens, consider renting one and giving it a try.