Category Archives: reviews

Fro Knows Photo or Cameras?

Alot of people wonder how much that Jared Polin at Fro Knows Photos actually knows about photos. He does know his Nikon cameras but should be trusted?

Let me say this: I have followed him loosely for about 4-5 years. He was just a guy bitching about using RAW format when I just saw him on Youtube. He didn’t have anywhere near the 500k subscribers that he has today. Continue reading…

Nikon 35mm (2.5) E-Series is kick ass!

I use to have this lens but lost it on a bus ride in the Philippines but recently, I found another copy and remembered why I loved the Nikon 35mm: Bokeh!

Before I go anymore into the article, let be clear about something: this is the 1.8G with auto focus and it is a film lens.

If you look around old camera shops, you can find these E-series lens. About half a dozen focal lengths were made and they were used for cheap film cameras to be pushed out back in the 1980’s. I have had the entire series at one point or another. I am in the process of getting all the primes again. They are very useful.

With that said, I would not suggest showing up to a commercial shoot with one of these on the front of your Nikon D810. It is not that they couldn’t do the job. They could without question. A client might expect you to have brand new glass and you would raise eyebrows having a lens older than I am and changing the aperture on the physical len.

I could see them being used professionally where the “image of the photographer” is not just as important as the image they actually capture.

I got this copy mainly for doing Youtube Vlogs. I could care less what people think as long as the video footage looks good.

Why you might use the Nikon 35mm (2.5)

If you shoot mainly at 2.8, this is a great len to have. I normally shoot at one aperture all day when I am doing street photography. I rarely changed it. The only real time I do alot of changing aperture is when I am doing HDR photography. Otherwise, it is as open as possible for that Bokeh look!

Another thing you might think about is how light the Nikon 35mm actually is. If you think the newer version with autofocus is light, this one is much lighter than that. Without Autofocus, the weight is harder nothing. I have had in my pocket and not even realized it.

Another thing about this lens is it is made from metal. If you are like me and have been known to drop a len on the ground; you want the metal casing. I have dropped this one and dropped my Nikon 50mm (1.8G). The new one broke the case in a few places. The older 35mm (2.5) didn’t even dent.

The sharpness is very sharp. The reason for this is because you are the autofocus system. Nothing is smarter than your mind and your thumb with your index finger. No computer will ever have the capacity of the human mind.

The final benefit is I believe the older film lens are much more rich in color than the newer digital versions. It could be my eyes but I find that images that I take with this glass require less work in Lightroom to get them “popping.”

I have to say that is not bad for a $40 lens I found on the bottom shelf of a camera shop on a side street in Manila.

Why it might not be for you

Well, the big reason is the lack of autofocus. If you just can’t get focus at all worth a hell, you will be screwed with this len. I realize that alot of people are turned off by actually having to do all the focusing themselves.

The good news is that if you do need that, you can the new version with Auto Focus for only about $150 more. It is stupid expensive like many lens in the world of photography.

The other thing that might turn you off to the Nikon 35mm (2.5) E-series is that you have run in either Aperture Propriety or full manual mode. Anyone that is past a beginner should not have an issue with that. Honestly, shooting in aperture propriety is not that much different than full auto mode; only better images.

After all, having a DSLR and never getting out of Auto is liking driving a Porshe and never taking it out of the first gear for fear of going too fast. What would be the point of having a super car, right?

For those who are afraid of using some older film lens for the reason that they can’t shoot out of auto, here is my advice: try to use aperture propriety on things that don’t matter. Take a walk in the woods and do some shooting. If you miss up some shots, who cares? Just delete them and take the walk again tomorrow.

Who is this lens for?

I would not use it for studio work or most commercial shoots. It just is not a place you would need a 35mm focal lens. I would reach for the Nikon 50mm (1.4) or the Nikon 85mm (1.8) for those shoot.

Because 35mm on a APSC camera is close to a 50mm on a full frame camera; I would think that the best use for the Nikon 35mm (2.5) E-series would be street photography.

The reason that I say this is you still would get some nice wide image that tell the story. When shooting on the streets, you want to get what is going on around them and behind them in the image.

Another use that I could see using it for would be HDR Photography. You might think it is not wide enough for that (and I agree) but you could easily made a panorama using the 35mm image side by side. Pano shots are best short on the height and very long so this lens would be great for that.

In the end, I think using these old film lens are the best thing a young photographer can do. It forces them to get out of auto settings, quit relying on auto focus so much and think about the image, not just be a monkey taking a selfie.

Today, I have lens that cost thousands of dollars but I still use these old cheap film lens alot.

Kansas City Art Institute has a great photography program

Note: I am not being asked or paid to do this post! I just believe in the quality coming out of the Kansas City Art Institute. The school has put out some pretty amazing artist over the decades and I do not expect anything less than that in the future.

Walt Disney and Dennis Hopper are among the people who have walk the halls of the Kansas City Art Institute. Marc Davis, the guy that created Snow White and Bambi started there as well. If that does not tell you of the quality, I am not sure what will.

What I recommend the school is not only its photography program but you will be working with people that create differently and that will only expand your vision to think differently about your images. Some of my greatest education as a photographer came from chatting about the color wheel with a painter friend. It is about creativity and all artists are after that.

I do believe that a young photographer could learn alot from coming to Kansas City, going to art school and learning how to think like an artist. One of the biggest mental blocks that I have is forcing myself to think as an artist would think. If you master that, there is little limitation in your creativity.

3 reasons that I recommend Kansas City Art Institute

I have lived in Kansas City for a good part of my life. I consider myself from Kansas City and went to high school there. I love the city. I also have spend quite abit of time around the Art school and the museum back in the day just dreaming from looking at the photographs. Amazing works of art!

  1. You are in a historical city.

I know this might not seem like it matters to you but as a photographer, having very cool buildings that out-date your grandparents and over a hundred fountains, vast public parks, large sporting programs, and skyscrapers are important for backdrops.

I have never been asked by anyone for a permit to shoot about anywhere in the city. Alot of cities seem to have their hands out for “photographer’s fees.” I have not experienced that in Kansas City.

2. Clients respect Kansas City Art Institute 

While a student at the school, you have many big name clients that look to the school for work. It could be an ad agency or even H&R Block or Sprint that both are headquartered in Kansas City. I have a friend that was shooting for the Kansas City Chiefs games while he has still a student. He was making decent money before he even graduated. The opportunities are there in Kansas City.

The other thing to consider is the respect that the school has when you do graduate. It can get your foot in the door for some major clients no matter where in America you are living. Graduates are all over the movie industry for example. Open doors is what you need in the crowded photography sector.

3. Kansas City is cheaper than New York

One thing to consider is the cost of living while you are in school. It is cheaper to live in Missouri that New York City. The rent is cheaper, you have more space and you do not have $13 coffees (yet). If you are a student, the cost of living matters because let’s face it, all students are broke.

Also, living a little of the city is much cheaper; another option that will have in New York.

Kansas City Art Institute is not For-Profit

Alot of people think the school is the same as the Art Institute of Kansas City that is owned by Goldman Sachs. They are very different and their mission is even more polorizing. The Art Institute network is not about education but about making shareholders profit. One is a private university ran by a local board and the other was delisted by NASDAQ for scams.  It is also interesting that the Art Institute of Kansas City is no longer taking new students. Maybe, they are on the way out the door.

The reason that this is important is many think of the Goldman Sachs controlled school system when they hear about the Kansas City Art Institute and this is a very different school with a even more different mission.

I would never recommend to attend a school that is more concerned with your tuition than they are with your education.

My thoughts

I hope to interview some of the photography professors from the school for Nikon Dojo down the road and might even do something on campus. It is just an option at this point.

Nikon Coolpix A100 is out!

I just got an email from Nikon that is nothing more than a Press Release but the Nikon CoolPix A100 is released. What does it mean for people and is it a legit camera?

I am a DSLR guy and I love my Nikon D7100 but I am not a hater on the point and shoot crowd because let’s face it, they make up most of the Nikon community. People who them outnumber us big time.

I will probably not do a full review on the camera (unless I get hold of one for a day) but it looks to be pretty legit for the mom that wants pictures of her children at the soccer game. It is great for family pictures at Thanksgiving too. That is why Nikon made the camera for, not Peter Lik and Jared Polin.

Nikon Coolpix A100 looks impressive

Here is what we do know. It is packing around 20 Megapixels, zooms to 135mm in full frame speech, and some type of an new auto focus system.

I am not a fan of high megapixel counts in these small sensors. The higher the count, the worst it does in low light. If you want a good camera that can handle low light, my suggestion would be pick up a Nikon D7000 or something like it.

Shooting at 135mm is craziness. When you are dealing with a point and shoot sensor, you need as much light as you can get. That means you need a wide open aperture. I would never zoom on these for any reason. My suggestion is treat it as a prime lens at its widest value.

Now, the autofocus system on these tend to be pretty good for the most part. I am not sure how they improved it on the Nikon Coolpix A100 but I am sure they did to a degree.

Is it for you?

That is a question that only you can answer but if you just use it for simple pictures of your dinner and kids; it will work just fine. I could see someone like my grandmother using this. She doesn’t edit anything and just load them directly to Facebook. That is who would use this camera.

Another group that might use this is the vlogging community. I do not know how it will handle focusing in real time and if it can track well but if it can, using it for youtube videos might be something for the budget minded vlogger.

If you are looking for high quality images that have amazing depth of field of them; this camera is not for you. It is not a DSLR and it is not a mirrorless camera either. Step up to the Nikon D7000 for that.