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Nikon D810: Sharing My Initial Thoughts as Nikon Improves an Already-Solid Camera

Nikon D810 via Adorama

Photo geeks, gear heads, and camera nerds listen up! This post is just for you. Nikon today (or yesterday by the time I post this…) just announced the new D810, a consolidation of the D800 and the D800E. I’m a photographer and not a gear review guy, but I get a lot of requests from readers to weigh in…. should you get one? Should you pass? While that is much more of a personal question, my hope is to add a little value to the core camera geek’s potential purchaser’s day by sharing my initial thoughts. Keep in mind, I’m referring mostly to the ‘concept’ of the camera (is it a good camera in the line of pro / am lineup), do the specs make sense, and do I think it’s a good value.

So then, here’s a quick 2 cents… The D800 was a super solid camera when I posted about it two years ago, but the D810 adds a handful of meaningful upgrades to the system. Some of its improvements below:

_36.3 megapixel full-frame sensor (same as D800) but paired with Expeed 4 processing for sharper images, 30% faster
_up to 5fps still image shooting (7 if you’re in DX with a battery grip)
_1080p HD video at 60, 30, and 24 fps.
_noise-free images from ISO range of 64-12,800 (expands to ISO 32-51,200).
_Live View with spot white balance
_Built in stereo microphone for audio recording
_weight = 31.7 oz (roughly the same as the D800)
_Expeed 4 engine
_51-point AF (straight outta the D4s)
_Zebra stripes for exposure checking in video mode
_Uncompressed HDMI output with simultaneous recording to memory card (bonus)

This might look and feel like the same camera as the D800, but that upgrade to the Expeed 4 processing is going to make a LOT of the difference here (same processing system from the D4s I think!) It’ll allow for crisper shots at high ISOs and jettisons the low pass filter from earlier iterations of the D800. Not only that, but thanks to the updated processor, the D810 shoots slightly faster as well. Note: I have had ZERO face time with the camera, so I can’t go too in-depth on all the changes, but if they send me one, I’ll have more to say/share (BTW, I’m not counting on it. They got scared of me when I started using iPhones and Canon’s to shoot video… Golden boy to Anarchist :)

If you haven’t seen the pictures of it, she’s very, very similar to the D800, but check out images of the camera below in case you want to get an idea of what you’re in for.

The question I’m asked every time a new camera comes out… Chase, are you getting this camera? My answer in this case is no. But not that I wouldn’t want it… It just can’t replace my D4. It would be great wildlife or portrait shooter, but I do too much high speed action and need that 10 or 11 Fps. I also don’t need to chop up my sensor to get 36 megapixels… But I see why some people would love it. So that’s all for me on this quick hit. You asked, so I posted ;) LMK what y’all think/ first impressions/feelings and I’ll try to respond?

[Reminder that Nikon plays close attention to this blog, so your comments on this post — glowing or otherwise — might help inform Nikon about what you're thinking.]

Get all the juicy Nikon D810 updates and/or pre-order over at Adorama.

Let’s Hang Out! WIN a Meeting with Me + $500 in Camera Gear + 2 Classes from CreativeLive

UPDATE: The contest has ended and a winner has been randomly selected! And the winner is… David Arthur! David: send us an email to production@chasejarvis.com to claim your prize and get that consult scheduled. Everyone else: thank you so much for entering! As always, we’ll do more contests in the future for you to win some rad prizes, so make sure to keep checking in.

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Since I started writing this blog in 2006, I’ve always emphasized creativity and education over gear. You’ve heard me say “the best camera is the one you have with you” (ahem…) once or twice. I’ve handed the microphone to friends like Ramit and Tim to help me shout from the mountaintops that a new fancy camera is NOT one of your photography business essentials.

But while ideas and education trump gear, gear is not irrelevant. I’m 110% aware how easy it is for me to preach creativity over the camera when I’m slinging the latest goodies – D4s, Hasselblads, and an Alexa. The right gear HAS actually made many of my photos, videos, etc possible. Literally.

It’s perhaps then, fair to say that progress in one’s photography career / path takes a combo of 3 things. Ideas, education AND some basic minimum of gear.

SSSOOOOOOOOOO…. It’s with all that in mind that I’m kicking off a contest/sweepstakes TODAY that packs all 3 of those things together. Yours truly, along with my friends at Adorama and CreativeLive are each contributing prizes — all 3 prizes which will go to one winner. That can you be you.

WHAT THE WINNER GETS.
1. A personal consult with Chase Jarvis. Yes, a 60 minute Skype, Google Hangout or phone call with yours truly. We can talk about whatever you want to discuss: creative ideas, business ideas, portfolio review, the World Cup — whatever — you name it, I’m yours.

2. Gear. Adorama is kicking in $500 cash (gift card) toward anything on their site. Grab a new iPhone for mobile photography OR apply that $500 to that Canon 5D that you’ve always wanted.

3. Education. CreativeLive is kicking in 2 free classes — online education from the world’s best experts in photo & video education. There’s also business, design, audio courses and more. Learn from Pulitzer Prize winning photographers, Emmy nominated directors, New York Times Bestselling authors. 2 courses valued at $149 each will be yours — for free.

SO, HOW DO YOU WIN? To help wrangle this giveaway, we’re going back to our favorite widget below. It does a few things really well:
1. manages all entries into a secure database and properly randomizes a winner
2. gives you info about how much time is left in the giveaway / how many entries there are etc
3. allows you to earn extra entries by participating more deeply in the community (tweeting, sharing, reading posts etc)

To enter just fill in your info below and follow along. And note: this giveaway is live TODAY all the way through the 7th of July. Winner will be announced on July 8th via my social feed and email. Feedback welcome on the widget if you have any.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to all who enter. I can’t wait to chat it up with the winner.

[In the meantime, to start your gearmouth a salivating ... you gear-heads can check out this post: Don't Leave Home Without It Gear Kit.]

Your Side Project Is Your Next Big Win [legendary Swiss Miss on #cjLIVE Wed Jun 18]

REMINDER: this show is TODAY Wed, June 18, at NOON San Francisco time (3pm NYC, 20:00 London) and is broadcast LIVE at https://www.creativelive.com/live5. Tune in, join the global internet audience + live Q&A w/ Swiss Miss. Details below!

UPDATE: JOIN US IN THE STUDIO. Want to be part of the live studio audience? Check it –> This is a special remote episode of #cjLIVE coming to you LIVE from the CreativeLive studios in San Francisco!! Do you live in the bay area and wanna have special access to Tina and yours truly? We just released a few more seats. Send an email to production@chasejarvis.com – you will get a response about seats and details for you +1 GUEST!
[Sorry.... the in-studio audience is over capacity. Join the newsletter on this page if you want to get advance notice for the next show.]
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ENTER: Swiss Miss. Tina Roth Eisenberg (aka Swiss-Miss.com) is a force of nature who knows that “your side project is your next big win” more, better, bigger, stronger than anyone I know. Tina’s blog has been an inspiration to me since 2005 and was one of the original blogs I referenced when deciding to start my own…way back in 2006. Put bluntly, Tina is one of the reasons I got started sharing online…and NOW she again leads by example, having created probably a half-dozen business WHILE SHE’S BEEN A DESIGNER WORKING IN THE TRENCHES! Funny thing? Those businesses are now global powerhouses in their own right. AND she’s coming on #cjLIVE next week to tell us all about it.

Moreover, we’ll be LIVE from Design Week San Francisco in collaboration with the AIGA to bring you this amazing look into one of the most progressive creative / entrepreneurship minds on the internetzz. Ever heard of Creative Mornings? That global series of breakfast lectures for creatives – now in nearly 100 cities worldwide? That’s Tina (btw here’s my CM talk comparing Macklemore with Ansel Adams). Ever heard of Tattly? The hottest, most playful temporary tattoo site on the planet – doing exlusive deals with MOMA and designers like Sagmeister? That’s Tina too. Or maybe you’ve used a little tool called Teux Deux to plan your day in lists. Yep – Tina. Co-working space in Brooklyn called StudioMates way before co-working was cool? That’s Tina too. It just doesn’t stop – nor does she. And she’s coming on #cjLIVE to give us all her secrets. Taking your questions via #cjLIVE, live on the day of the broadcast – a global gathering of creative people. An all-access discussion and interactive Q&A. Get the deets here:

WHO: You, Me, creative phenom Tina Roth Eisenberg + a worldwide gathering of creative people
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Wednesday, June 18th, 12:00 noon SF time (3:00pm NYC time or 20:00 London)
WHERE: Tune into https://www.creativelive.com/live5. It’s free — anyone can watch and we’ll be taking YOUR questions via Facebook and Twitter, hashtag #cjLIVE

At the bottom of this post, I’ve included Tina’s SXSW keynote that should give you a good idea of what she’s all about, but here’s a list of just a few of the details we’re going to try to cover in our 90 minute episode next week:

// Making everything you work on a labor of love
// The risk and reward of an eternally entrepreneurial spirit
// Why side hustles are key to getting noticed and doing the kind of work you want to do
// How and why it’s important to cultivate a supportive community

MY THOUGHTS ON PERSONAL WORK??? Let’s face it – you know I’m a diehard advocate of personal work. Most of my biggest career accomplishments beyond nailing a good campaign here and there – certainly the biggest game changers for me — have been “side gigs” that have become either huge or at least interesting – occasionally both. Sharing behind the scenes photos/videos/looks into the ‘black box’ of photography (back when there was no such access) helped put me on the map. Best Camera – the first photo app to share images to social networks, recognized as ‘app of the year’ in Wired, iTunes, Macworld, the New York Times and helped kick off the mobile photo sharing craze was a side project born from a desire to share MY photos with the touch of 1 button. CreativeLive was a side project cooked up on a whiteboard between myself and my co-founder Craig Swanson. Turns out there’s a pattern to this stuff and turns out you can and should be cultivating these so called “side gigs” or “side hustles” or “passion projects” because they have tremendous power to catapult your career, your beliefs, your life into a whole new realm.

Check out this interview with Tina as well to get a really good idea of what she’s about if you need a primer.

PIMP THE SHOW AND WIN BIG.
If you’ve watched #cjLIVE before, you know how we do! If you’re new around these parts, well you’re in for a treat… We’re giving away $200 in CreativeLive course credits to TWO lucky winners!

Enter to win by promoting the show as many times as you can starting RIGHT NOW till the show begins. Send out a creative tweet OR Facebook post including #cjLIVE + @swissmiss + any url pointing to THIS blog post. Be sure to use the hashtag and/or point back to my Facebook so we can track all your entries. We’ll select 2 of the best ones and give you a shout-out at the beginning of the show, along with access to the $200 creativeLIVE credits.

WE WILL ALSO GIVE AWAY MORE TASTY PRIZES DURING THE SHOW… but you gotta tune in to the show to find out what we’ll be giving away in real-time! I know, it’s a tease. But you’ll be glad you tune in no matter what.

JOIN US IN THE STUDIO.
Want to be part of the live studio audience? Check it –> This is a special remote episode of #cjLIVE coming to you LIVE from the CreativeLive studios in San Francisco!! Do you live in the bay area and wanna have special access to Tina and yours truly?? First 25 people to send an email to production@chasejarvis.com will score seats and be notified this week about the details for you +1 GUEST!

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Master Your Fear & Find Your Voice [with My Homie Tim Ferriss]


Okay, so maybe you haven’t created your New York Times Best Seller that’s sold millions of copies, and maybe you haven’t won the Chinese kickboxing championship or hold the Guinness Record for most consecutive tango spins, but there’s one all-important thing that you have in common with my pal Tim Ferriss….fear.

You might think a wildly successful author and innovator doesn’t experience fear like a “normal person,” but as Tim revealed here, it’s exactly that emotion that is at the heart of his success. Of all the liquid gold Tim shared with me there are 3 important subjects that stood out. I mined these shiny gems to present here with some “homework,” to get you moving in the right direction.

1. Mastering fear: fear is a creativity killer
2. Finding your voice: your voice is a creativity stimulus
3. Giving it away: sharing your knowledge is essential to your professional growth

Here’s the first of three exchanges we had on these topics:

1. Defining Your Fear

CJ: I think it’s really, really important for the folks at home to know about your take on fear. It’s basically useful in any genre of any pursuit or passion. Talk to me about how you view fear, because there’s so much fear in the photo industry. People are afraid to make mistakes. They’re afraid to get called out. They’re afraid to do shitty work. They’re afraid to be called out on something and a lot of that keeps creative people in a little shell.

Tim Ferris (TF): Fear is a real driver, and it has been for me as well, in the past, whether it was in athletics or writing or academia, whatever it might have been. I realized that it’s a driver based on risk, and that’s when people define risk or should define risk as the possibility of an irreversible negative outcome. What I mean by that is just like most people fail to achieve their goals because they are poorly defined, most people are prevented from doing things based on fear because it’s poorly defined.

[We've all been told a thousand times that goals become infinitely more achievable when they have been written down in as much detail as possible. Defined goals are reachable goals. But defined fear? This was something new.]

TF: So what I tend to do if I find myself paralyzed or indecisive, is I’ll write down all the worst-case scenarios. I mean really get high def in the absolute specific worst-case scenarios. Then the second column is…anything I could do to prevent those specific items. Then, if they happen, what I could do to reverse those or minimize the damage from each of those outcomes. You find once you do that that the worst-case scenarios are very seldom as bad as you have envisioned.

It’s just the nebulous, dark phantasm of a bad outcome that prevents you from taking action. What you actually realize: oh, worst-case scenario, I go back to my last job. Worst-case scenario, I take a part-time job doing this. Worst-case scenario, I have to suck it up for a month or to do twice as much work with that one client I don’t like, and then this. Then it really doesn’t seem as scary and you can actually move ahead with it.

Brilliant. Actionable.

Just like most people fail to achieve their goals because they are poorly defined, most people are prevented from doing things based on fear because it’s poorly defined.

Your Homework on #1

You’re probably sitting on a great idea right now. Maybe it’s a short film project that requires you to quit the desk job and start an indiegogo campaign. Maybe it’s a photojournalism road trip across America documenting classic diners. It doesn’t matter. The point is you’re sitting on it. Why? Fear, probably. Right?

If this is you, here’s what you do:
List ALL the possible worst-case scenarios. be specific and then for each scenario list all the possible steps you can take to prevent that scenario.

Doesn’t look so bad anymore, does it? Boom!
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2. Finding Your Voice

When he set out to write 4-Hour Workweek, Tim knew he had great ideas, but we all have great ideas, right? For an author (or would-be author, as the case was for Tim) the challenge was turning those ideas into actionable advice and doing so in an authentic way. In other words, he had to find his voice. Turns out Tim’s approach is applicable across many disciplines:

TF: I first ended up with this really pompous like Princetonian shtick that I was doing. Shit, too. Like four or five-syllable words. That was horrible, so I scrapped it, and then I went to like Looney Toons/Three Stooges slapstick, which was also horrible. Scrapped that. So I threw away four, five chapters and had two glasses of wine and sat down and said I’m going to write this like I would write an email to my best friends. That’s how it started. That’s how I found my voice.

Great approach, right? Stop burdening yourself with the prospect of a worldwide audience. Present your work as if to your friends. This applies to writers, photographers, musicians, etc. You’ll be lest apt to force a voice that isn’t yours, and you’ll probably be less apt to see your creative cogs seize up under the pressure. If you have true and trusted friends, I’m betting the bank that you already have an authentic voice within that circle. Use THAT voice to tell your story, whatever it is.

Your Homework for #2

Look back through social posts, photos, your work etc. that you shared with or sent to friends and family and find the little ticks and tickles that are truly unique to your vision, your special sauce, your mojo. Now apply this to your future work.

Sounds simple, but it’s harder than you think. But you’ll thank me (us) when it’s done.
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3. Give [Some of] It Away

To a large extent we photographers make our living because of intellectual property rights. The idea of putting our best work on Flickr without our rights reserved is antithetical to what we know—or think we know—as businesspeople.

But Tim made a great point about releasing some of your best work “into the wild” even though there’s no promise and very little prospect for being paid for it. It’s about getting eyeballs on it:

TF: I have a friend, Eben Pagan, a really fascinating guy who’s built up a very successful online content business…and he talks about moving the free line. Meaning giving away, in many cases, your best content as a way to introduce people to your work and to drive people back to your other work. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone onto Flickr and found a photograph—now I’m not saying that everything needs to be Creative Commons—but I’ve wanted to introduce someone’s photograph to a few million people and I choose not to, of course, because it’s all rights reserved. Instead I go to Creative Commons search and then sort by most interesting and I always find amazing stuff. But I always credit and if you were to simply take let’s say two or three of your best pieces and make them Creative Commons, then people like me, and there are plenty of them, hundreds of them, would be able to use that to help promote you.

CJ: Yeah, and you know there’s a big, there’s a big discussion that’s been going on for years now, again, historically photography’s been a fear-based protective, very closed loop, because intellectual property is how photographers make their living. So that’s been a very dicey conversation, and I’ve been at the middle of it several times. I remember five or six years ago talking about Creative Commons with Larry Lessig…as the marketplace unfolds and emerges into this new era, photographers specifically are faced with a decision on how and where to share your work. So it’s interesting to know that you notice that stuff.

TF:…I was traveling with Matt Mullenweg at one point. Matt Mullenweg, genius of a guy, good friend of mine who is known as the lead developer of WordPress. Matt was largely responsible for a lot of that code base in the beginning days, and now runs WordPress.com and Automattic. Really smart guy. We were on the plane, and I remember being really stressed out at this point…because The 4-Hour Work Week was on RapidShare. It was on all these different Torrent sites, and I was like, “Oh, God, how are artists going to be incentivized and writers going to be incentivized to produce work if this is happening?” And he said, “The people who are downloading your stuff on Rapture are never going to buy your book in the first place. They’re not your paying audience, so you’re getting additional eyeballs on your work for free. They would never buy it anywhere.”

I think photography, we could get really futuristic about it, but I do think there are ways that photographers can maintain a better user experience with the paid version, whatever form that takes. So I’d encourage people to think of unleashing some of their best content into that wild, whether it’s Creative Commons or [the] pirated world, because those people aren’t your customers anyway. They’re not the people who are going to spend a $100,000 to get a blown-up print and put on their living room.

Give it away for free. I’ve used this platform to highlight passion projects left and right, from Jay Shells and his Rap Lyric Street Sign project to Andres Amador’s sand art. You MUST get your work seen by the world. And there will always be those who download/use/distribute your work for free, possibly illegally. But this is a risk you have to be willing to take in order to get it seen by those who WILL pay for it.

Your Homework for #3

Assuming you have some sort of body of work, it’s time to get it out in the world. And not the factory seconds, either. Here’s what needs to happen:

Identify 3-5 of your best photos/songs/poems and 3 websites where your work is most likely to be seen + distributed (Flickr, Soundcloud, etc.) Then upload your work under Creative Commons or otherwise.

Controversial? Only if you want to stay in your rut.
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And that’s that. You’ve got your assignments; you’ve got no more excuses. If you’ve got a hankering for a little more Tim Ferriss in your life, check out the full cjLIVE show below, which aired back in August of 2011. We also recently recorded an episode of Tim’s podcast in collaboration with CreativeLive. Check that out here. Otherwise it’s time to get to work.

Get Tim’s books The 4 Hour Work Week here and 4 Hour Body here and the 4 Hour Chef here.

LENSTOPIA Part III – The Top 5 Lenses for Hasselblad Cameras

In case you haven’t been following the fun, this is the third installment in my Lenstopia series. We kicked off with Canon lenses a few months ago, then followed with Nikon’s top 5. In this edition we’ll be propping up the top 5 lenses for the Hasselblad system — a camera system I love for high-end, high-megapixel studio, fashion, and occasionally even outdoor photography. It’s the system I used to capture my Diver photo, which ended up appearing my Hasselblad Masters series among other places, even getting used as an album cover. (It’s also the system/shot Kai Man Wong from DigitalRev tried to replicate with a GoPro, which you can see here.) As with past Lenstopia posts, I’ve leaned on my gear gurus Erik and Sohail to help me assemble this list – and its a breath of fresh air to use some other people’s photos for this stuff instead of mine. So these are my top 5 H-system lenses. Contrary opinions are anticipated and totally welcome. You know where to leave ‘em.

Hasselblad 100mm f/2.2 HC Auto

Taken with the Hasselblad 100mm f/2.2. © Faran Najafi

Taken with the Hasselblad 100mm f/2.2. © Faran Najafi

Hasselblad 100mm f/2.2

Hasselblad 100mm f/2.2

We start our lineup with something of a surprise entrant. The 100mm lens from Hasselblad is close in size to the smallest lens in the Hassy lineup (the 80mm f/2.8, mentioned below), but it’s got additional mojo. Why? For starters, at f/2.2, it’s the fastest lens — aperture-wise — in the Hasselblad lineup. Moreover, it is by our account the fastest-focusing lens in the lineup, and if you’ve ever picked up a medium-format rig, you know that these things aren’t known for speed. Every bit counts, and when you’re moving around a subject, firing shot after shot, that extra speed is worth it.

Pixel peepers will find nothing to complain about either; as this lens is more than plenty sharp and keeps up with even the 60mp backs Hassy has been churning out lately. Moreover, its small size and slight extra reach over the 80mm f/2.8 make it an ideal portrait lens.

Get more details, specs and price here from Adorama
Rent it from BorrowLenses

Hasselblad 80mm f/2.8 HC Auto

Taken with the Hasselblad 80mm f/2.8. © Faran Najafi

Taken with the Hasselblad 80mm f/2.8. © Faran Najafi

Hasselblad 80mm f/2.8

Hasselblad 80mm f/2.8

Next up! If the venerable 50mm lens is the workhorse for DSLRs, then the 80mm plays that role for almost every medium format system — and to that extent — it’s this lense that Hasselblad actually sells it as a “kit” with the H5D-40 camera. It’s pretty close to the field of view of a 50mm lens on a full-frame sensor, too, and is most often the first lens purchase for photographers new to medium format. It’s a truly versatile lens, and it lends itself to a variety of uses, from portraiture to landscape to everything in-between.

It’s also about the smallest lens in the Hassy inventory, which makes it easy to handle. Though not as fast (in focus or aperture) as the 100mm, it’s perhaps the…um…”cheapest” modern Hasselblad lens, and there are a lot of photographers shooting medium format for whom the 80mm suffices for the overwhelming majority of shots. So consider that ;)

Get more details, specs and price here from Adorama
Rent it from BorrowLenses

Hasselblad 24mm f/4.8 HCD

Taken with the Hasselblad 24mm f/4.8. © Faran Najafi

Taken with the Hasselblad 24mm f/4.8. © Faran Najafi

Hasselblad 24mm f/4.8

Hasselblad 24mm f/4.8

There are a lot of folks who love using the Hassy system for landscapes and architectural work, and the 24mm is an absolute joy to use. Don’t let the focal length fool you – this lens has a 104-degree angle of view, which is slightly more than the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L lens at 16mm. Which means that it’s wide — really, really, wide. I have shot a ton of close up action (snowoboard) shots with this lens and it truly feels like a superwide on my dSLR setup.

A side-note about apertures in medium-format work. The f/4.8 maximum aperture of the 24mm might seem comically small to folks used to f/1.4 lenses, but bear in mind that it’s a lot harder to make lenses to cover the massive imaging plane of medium format cameras, so compromises have to be made somewhere. Besides, at f/2.8, as in the case of the 80mm, your Depth of Field is already super-thin; a medium-format lens opening up to f/1.4 wouldn’t just have a nearly nonexistent DoF, the lens itself would have to be much, much larger. And it’s already big enough. Trust me on this one.

Back to the 24mm, though: This is about as wide as lenses get; in fact, I can’t recall a lens that goes wider. There was a time when Zeiss made a 24mm lens for the older Hassy V system that had to be special-ordered, so just having a mass-produced 24mm lens is a real plus. Besides Hasselblad, I think I’m right in saying that only Leica makes a 24mm medium-format lens.

Get more details, specs and price here from Adorama
Rent it from BorrowLenses

Hasselblad 120mm f/4 Macro

Taken with the Hasselblad 120mm f/4.8. © Sohail Mamdani

Taken with the Hasselblad 120mm f/4.8. © Sohail Mamdani

Hasselblad 120mm f/4

Hasselblad 120mm f/4

Let’s go macro. As sharp lenses go, this macro lens is one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was created specifically to work with high-megapixel sensors, and it does so with aplomb. It checks off all the marks and requirements needed for a solid macro performer: 1:1 magnification, excellent performance even at the closest focusing distance, and great sharpness even with the aperture wide open.

This lens also does double-duty as a dazzling portrait lens. With an angle of view similar to that of a 70mm lens on a 35mm sensor, this gets you closer to a classic portrait focal length that 35mm shooters are used to. In test shoots, the lens performed admirably, delivering a detailed and clean image, with excellent (but not overbearing) contrast and tonality.

Get details, specs and price here from Adorama
Rent it from BorrowLenses

Hasselblad 300mm f/4.5

Hasselblad 300mm f/4.5

Hasselblad 300mm f/4.5

Hasselblad 300mm f/4.5

Hasselblad 300mm f/4.5

Ok, now let’s go LOOONNNNGGGGG. There’s really no other way to describe it – this lens is just plain FUN.

Due to the reverse-crop of the massive Hasselblad sensor, this lens equates to somewhere below the 200mm equivalent range on a 35mm system, so it’s not winning any awards for reach anytime soon. It is, however, the longest lens Hasselblad H system makes, and is actually pretty quick to focus too. If you haven’t figured it out already, all of these Hassy lenses are sharp, and this one’s no exception. True it’s not like DSLR or mirrorless cameras, where you can have the reach of a 600mm lens in a decent-sized backpack. But in this case, every additional millimeter of focal length is a very nice-to-have. In the case of the 300mm, Sohail took it out onto a balcony overlooking San Francisco for a quick cityscape image and it didn’t disappoint. Nicely compressed the scene, and the level of detail captured was simply outstanding.

Get details, specs and price here from Adorama
Borrow it from BorrowLenses

Sooooo that’s it for this edition of Lenstopia. In the next — and final — installment, we’ll take on the best lenses for the Micro-Four-Thirds and other mirrorless platforms.

Hasselblad 80mm, 100mm, and 24mm sample images thanks to Faran Najafi.

We are good pals with Adorama, where we buy our stuff. The sell damn near everything for photo and video, plus plus plus…

Gear for this review either owned by Chase or provided lovingly by friends at BorrowLenses.com – where still photographers and videographers can rent virtually everything.

Daring Greatly to Unlock Your Creativity with Brené Brown on #cjLIVE [Wed, April 9 @ 10am PT/1pm ET]

 Brené Brown Chase Jarvis LiveREMINDER: this show is TODAY Wed, April 9, at 10am Seattle time (1pm NYC, 18:00 London) and is broadcast LIVE at www.chasejarvis.com/live. Tune in, join the global internet audience + live Q&A w/ Brene, or just in by to say hey. Details below!
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I can say with clarity that the most defining moments of creative/professional success for me have required overtly pouring my most honest, imperfect, afraid, guts-and-all parts of myself into my work. In short – those successes were built on vulnerability – on being real. They were built on daring greatly. What do the viewers/consumers of your art really want? YOU. They want to see YOU. And in seeing YOU, they see themselves.

And so, we’ve got the perfect guest for #cjLIVE – a woman who might just hold the keys to the thing that’s been holding back your unbounded creativity…her name is Brené Brown. You’ve probably seen her on the TED stage (millions of views), or perhaps as a regular on Oprah (they’re pals), and at damn-near every bookstore (where Daring Greatly is a best-seller). But it’s not necessarily for all her accolades that you’ll want to tune into #cjLIVE this coming Wednesday April 9th. You’ll want to join our LIVE broadcast because you’ll have full access to Brené in a way that few other forums can grant — interactive Q&A with you from wherever on the planet you might be (via my Twitter and Facebook) and she just might have the keys to unlock the thing that’s been holding back your creativity. It was the missing link for me – and I’m guessing it’ll help you too.

WHO: You, Me, Bestselling Author Brené Brown + a worldwide gathering of creative people
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Wednesday, April 9th, 10:00am Seattle time (1:00pm NYC time or 18:00 London)
WHERE: Tune into www.chasejarvis.com/live. It’s free — anyone can watch and we’ll be taking YOUR questions via Facebook and Twitter, hashtag #cjLIVE

This won’t be a marketing lesson or a therapy session, but it will be be THE shortest path between your most authentic self and the professional/personal hold-up-the-mirror, tear-down-the-barrier “success” you crave. Hello, the new you.

A FEW KEY CONCEPTS WE’LL COVER ON THE SHOW
// Vulnerability does NOT equal weakness – it equals strength (the world’s best artists are living proof)
// How to cultivate creativity, “gratitude” & “worthiness”
// Personal + professional transformation happens when we ask the hard questions
// Explosive creativity happens when we have the courage to share our struggles
// How to harness the space between our aspirational values (what we want to do, think, feel + become) and our practiced values (what we’re actually doing)

And another big announcement. For those of you who know and love CreativeLive… The chasejarvisLIVE show is now broadcast on the CreativeLive network too! They are the world’s largest live streaming education company, has been featured all over the place like in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time, CNBC, Fast Company, etc etc and we are joining forces to incorporate an even larger worldwide audience.

WITH THAT IN MIND….HELP US PIMP THE SHOW AND WIN STUFF.
In order to reach the largest audience possible, we’re kicking out a couple nice prizes… We’re giving away $200 worth of free creativeLIVE course credits to two (2) people.

Enter to win by promoting the show as many times as you can starting RIGHT NOW till the show begins. Send out a creative tweet OR Facebook post including #cjLIVE + @BreneBrown + any url pointing to THIS blog post. Be sure to use the hashtag and/or point back to my Facebook so we can track all your entries. We’ll select 2 of the best ones and give you a shout-out at the beginning of the show, along with access to the $200 creativeLIVE credits.

WE WILL ALSO GIVE AWAY MORE TASTY PRIZES DURING THE SHOW… including signed copies of Brené’s book. You gotta tune in to the LIVE SHOW for a chance at winning those.

JOIN US IN THE STUDIO.
Want to be part of the live studio audience? We’ll invite the first 20 people who send an email to production@chasejarvis.com to join us +1 guest of your choice. You’ll receive a confirmation email with attendance details if you’re one of the first 20.

SORRY: The in-studio audience is already overbooked.

——

I’m doubting many people chose “be more vulnerable” as their resolution for 2014, but here’s a Ted Talk Brené gave about the power of vulnerability that may prompt a re-think. One of the most popular TED talks of all time…:

Hands-on with My Favorite Still Photography Camera

Hello camera geeks, gearheads and… well… those of you who just want the best tools for your trade. You heard right, I’m back with another unboxing, this time of the hotly anticipated Nikon D4s — generously sent to me to by my friends at DPReview for a hands-on first impression, and it’s available from my homies/gear partners at Adorama. So here goes…

First impressions: that familiar Nikon gold box looks pretty much like all the Nikon boxes I remember, going all the way back to the F5 (that was a film SLR – remember those?). In fact, the only time I can remember Nikon changing its SLR — “D” or otherwise — boxes was for the Nikon Df, which was flat, matte black, and kinda cool looking. This makes sense – as the chassis for all these top-of-the-line pro cameras have basically been the same or very similar for a decade.

Get past all of the standard straps, warranty cards, manuals and trinkets where… wrapped in cellophane, the D4s has the same heft as the D4 I’ve carried around for a few years now, just with that fancy new “s” after the name.

Nikon D4s and Nikon D4 comparison - front view

The “s” models are typically feature updates, not body or appearance changes, so the size and ergonomics of the D4s are basically identical to its predecessor. There are a couple of touch-ups; the control sticks on the back have a bit more texture to them and the battery door is shaped differently, but that’s about it. If you want to be super-picky about it, the D4s is 60g heavier than the D4.

Does that add up to new features? The short answer = a few nice upgrades that add value to the camera.

Power up this sexy beast and you notice right away that the screen looks a bit nicer than the D4’s display. That might be because mine’s been through a few knocks and bumps, but for those of you keeping an eye on specs, Nikon has added the ability to fine-tune the color on that LCD. Nerdy but nice to have when showing clients over your shoulder.

What else? Well, trigger that shutter and you might be able to detect one extra frame in that burst every second. Nikon has upped the max number of frames the D4s can take per second with autofocus active from 10 to 11. And the buffer is larger.

Nikon D4s and Nikon D4 comparison - rear view

And speaking of autofocus, Nikons says their focus algorithms have been tweaked to accommodate that extra frame per second, and is less likely to get distracted by objects crossing in front of the camera. There’s also something called the Group Area AF, where you can designate a cluster of 5 points to focus on, rather than just one. The guys over at DPReview have more details on this, but any improvement to AF is good news.

There are plenty more changes on the inside, but that new sensor is probably the one that’s got everyone’s attention. Nikon has redesigned the 16MP full-frame CMOS sensor and it’s now capable of — hang on to your pants, folks — a whopping ISO 409,600 in Hi4 mode. Daaaaaamn.

That is NOT a typo. I checked.

Of course, 409,600 ISO is going to be pretty noisy, but hey, you’re going to get those shots of the inside of your lens cap now!

For video shooters, that new sensor has one more trick up its sleeve; combined with the new Expeed 4 image processor, it can now deliver 1080p video at 60p. That’s right – slow motion has finally come to the Nikon flagship. At freakin’ last! Also, if you shoot timelapses, the maximum shot count has gone up to 9999 from 999 and there’s a new smoothing feature for you as well. I don’t even know what that means, but I’m told it’s an improvement. Let’s just go with it.

If you were hoping that Nikon would ditch the XQD slot for another CF or even an SD slot, you’re out of luck; the XQD slot is still there. One bit of good news with regard to storage, though; you can now record video to internal storage while at the same time capturing it via HDMI to an external recorder, something that wasn’t possible earlier.

So there you have it. These are the tweaks that caught my eye — there are, as I said in the video above, a handful of others. The guys at DPReview do the whole multi-page review shebang, so you should really check out their definitive review. I’m just a 15 year pro with a passion for great cameras, not a lab geek. Those guys can really get under the hood. Hopefully, a combo of their detail and my gut and experience is a balance that helps you decide if this upgrade is a worthy one for your hard earned coin.

Final thoughts: this thing is every bit as solid as Nikon’s other flagships. I like it when cameras get upgrades. This is not a revolutionary update — the “s” series don’t fall into that category — but it’s a solid update nonetheless. The internal improvements make it even more useful to speed junkies and videographers, and the insanely high ISO will continue to make it even more appealing to photojournalists, and the other little changes like the battery, buffer, and RAW size improvements are quite welcome too. I am adding 2x of these to my gear bags and relinquishing their predecessors to the camera heavens (actually to the used market ;) )

As always, thanks for watching and head to Adorama here for more info. And feel free to add your thoughts about what you saw in the comments below, on my Facebook page, Twitter, or Google+.

Essential Photo & Video Gear Review — My Detailed, Piece-by-Piece, Don’t-Leave-Home-Without-It Gear Breakdown

I skip 99% of the gear gabbing you’ll find on other photography sites, primarily because I’m more interested in the creative side but also because so many other sites already do it really well. I make the occasional exception, like when a new toy falls into my hands before anyone else, or when I feel some industry hype building around an imminent release that needs to be tempered with some realistic expectations.

I did this popular review of my entire kit and how to pack it for travel…um…but that was 6 YEARS AGO. So as you might imagine, a lot has changed. Between that older video post and the number of times I get asked to highlight my fav gear — I figured it was high time for an update in one single vid. Therefore, I present you dear friends & readers a complete breakdown of my essential “working” photo kit AND the kit that we use to make all our behind-the-scenes videos, plus a few extras. Hope you dig – questions / comments encouraged. I’ll be all over it like white on rice.

In this video, I broke my kit into four sections: Still photo gear, [behind-the-scenes] video gear, data management gear and gear extras. For both the still kit and the video kit, I always roll with two of each body (Nikon D4 and Canon 5D Mark III) and 8 additional batteries for each. This basically gives me enough juice to last a week.

On the data management side, you’ll notice we also double up on our drives, both for the road kit and back at HQ. [Side note: if you're traveling with two drives on the road, keep them separate -- separate vehicles, separate hotel rooms, etc. That way if one crashes and burns, you've got back up.]

For gear extras, we have a few supports to choose from (always carbon fiber), some choice audio gear and a real sexy slider from Rhino Camera Gear that’s affordable and quite portable.

REMINDER and to be extra clear…in both photo & video scenarios what we’ve shared is the BASE kit – the kit that goes everywhere without exception. This is gear I think is worth investing in if you are a working pro. It’s NOT my complete gear list and it’s not the complete solution for every gig –we almost always add speciality pieces for particular assignments– but I thought we’d get too deep into the woods and it woulda made a video that was an hour long if we reviewed all that non-essential, non-”core” stuff. So we kept it focused as we could. Here it is. The camera kit I have with me on 99% of the commercial shoots I do:

Nikon D4 – My go-to for stills since it first made its appearance in early 2012.

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S Zoom Nikkor Lens

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S Nikkor Lens

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S VR II Nikkor ED-IF Lens

Nikon 85mm f/1.8G AF-S FX Nikkor Lens

Nikon SB-910 TTL AF Shoe Mount Speedlight Flash

Canon EOS-5D Mark III

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM AutoFocus Wide Angle Telephoto Zoom Lens

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM Autofocus Telephoto Zoom Lens

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM AutoFocus Wide Angle Lens

Promise Technology Pegasus J2 512GB SSD Thunderbolt Storage Solution, Up to 750 MBps Read Speed

Promise Technology Pegasus J4 2.5″ 2TB Thunderbolt Hard / Solid State Drive Enclosure

Zacuto Z-Finder EVF Pro 3.2″ High Resolution Monitor

Tiffen 77mm Variable Neutral Density ND Filter

Manfrotto MVH500AH Professional Fluid Video System, Carbon Legs

Manfrotto Kit with 190CXPRO4 Carbon Fiber Tripod and MH054MO-Q2 Head

Manfrotto 057 4-Section Carbon Fiber Tripod with Rapid Column

Rode Stereo VideoMic Pro On-Camera Microphone

Zoom H4n Handy Mobile 4-Track Recorder

Sennheiser EW122PG3A Wireless Kit

So that’s it. If you look through my BTS posts and videos, there’s a damn good chance you will see some combo of this gear in use. Time-tested; Jarvis-approved.

Special thanks to Adorama for helping me assemble my kit.

HUMANS OF NEW YORK [Best Photo Project Ever] Brandon Stanton on #cjLIVE Wed Feb 19th — Plus Win 30 Days w A Dream Photo Kit

chase jarvis hony humans of new york brandon stantonREMINDER: this show is TODAY at 11am Seattle time (2pm NYC, 19:00 London) and is broadcast LIVE at www.chasejarvis.com/live. Details below – tune in & come say hi.
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I’ve personally nailed several large scale photo projects in my career…Personal work that I grew to a large scale project. And I’ve witnessed hundreds of great photography-based projects come to life in every corner of the world…BUT there may be none better than HUMANS OF NEW YORK, by Brandon Stanton. Seemingly overnight he took a simple photo project from inception to a global phenomenon with a worldwide audience of millions, plus turned it into a #1 New York Times best selling photo book, while staying humble & hardworking through it all. In order to follow his dream, Brandon quit a well paying day job and followed his passion …. with a certain savvy that can be learned by us all.

Lucky for us, Brandon will be our guest AND our private advisor / mentor / coach / inspiration for 90 minutes on the next episode of chasejarvisLIVE this coming Wednesday, February 19th at 11am Seattle time (2pm NYC, 19:00 London time) at www.chasejarivs.com/live. Specifically, we’ll learn the key ingredients for pursuing your YOUR OWN PASSION, how to stand out in a crowded, noisy world, and how to turn your dream life/project/vision into a reality.

WHO: You, Me, Photographer Brandon Stanton + a worldwide gathering of creative people
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Wednesday, Feb 19th 11:00am Seattle time (2pm NYC time or 19:00 London)
WHERE: Tune into www.chasejarvis.com/live. It’s free — anyone can watch and we’ll be taking YOUR questions via Twitter, hashtag #cjLIVE, and my the ChaseJarvis Facebook Page

***NOTE: if you are in Seattle or the PNW and can’t join us in-studio for the live broadcast, but still want to meet Brandon and have your book signed, we are hosting a reception / meet & greet / book signing immediately following from 12:30 – 1:30pm at my studio. There will be books on hand for sale. The address is 3333 Wallingford Ave Seattle 98103. Corner of Wallingford & 34th Street. Ground floor, Wallingford side of the building.

There’s a video at the bottom of this post that highlights HONY, but some more detail on what we’ll cover are here:
_How to conceive of a photography, art, or any project that matters to you
_What were the key steps to transitioning OUT of at 9-5 job and into a dream career
_How did Brandon teach himself to be a photographer?
_How to keep your dreams alive in the face of so much negativity and uphill odds

HELP US PIMP THE SHOW AND WIN THE MOST BOSS PRIZE EVER.
In order to reach the largest audience possible, we’re right now kicking off an amazing prize. To help jump start YOUR dream photo project, give you experience with the best gear in the business, or augment the gear you’ve already got, we’ve partnered with our pals at BorrowLenses.com to give you a chance to win a 30 day rental of a top professional camera body from Canon or Nikon, plus FIVE (5) amazing lenses. (details at the very end of this post). The equipment value is certainly more than 10 grand, and the rental value alone is more than $3000. The contest starts NOW and we’ll announce the winner on chasejarvisLIVE, Wed March 19th

To help wrangle this prize, we’re trying out a new widget below. It does a few things really well:
1. manages all entries into a secure database and properly randomizes a winner
2. gives you info about how much time is left in the giveaway / how many entries there are etc
3. allows you to earn extra entries by participating more deeply in the community (following on social channels, sharing, etc)

To enter just fill in your info in the widget below and follow along. Contest rules in the widget. And note: this giveaway is live all the way through 12 noon PST during the show on 19th February.

UPDATE: THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR ENTERING! The winner has been selected–give a holla for Courtney Zerizef. :)

JOIN US IN THE STUDIO!!!!!!!!!
Want to be part of the live studio audience AND/OR get photos + books signed with Brandon?? We’ll invite the first 40 people who send an email to production@chasejarvis.com to join us +1 guest if you’d like. You’ll receive a confirmation email with attendance details if you’re 1 of the first 40. Champagne, donuts, coffee and other stuff will be there too.

And then here’s a lovely video that Facebook made about Brandon’s project.

_______

The Camera Rental Package you could win is either….

Canon 1D X or a 5D Mark III
16-35 f/2.8L Mk II
24-70 f/2.8L Mk II
70-200 f/2.8L IS II

PLUS The 200-400 f/4L with Built-in Extender AND your choice between the 85mm f/1.2L or the 50mm f/1.2L Primes

OR ………..

Nikon D4 or a D800
14-24 f/2.8G
24-70 f/2.8G
70-200 f/2.8 VR II

PLUS the 200-400 f/4G VR II AND your choice between the 85 f/1.4F or the 50mm f/1.4G Primes

Whichever you choose, also enjoy a 1 year complimentary membership to BorrowLenses.com, which gets you 10% off rental orders, cancellations with no fees, and drop shipment of items you absolutely need even if they are out of stock for us. A $100 value and you get a t-shirt, to boot!

LENSTOPIA Part II – The 5 Top Lenses For Your Nikon Camera

Hopefully you caught this popular post last quarter. And so it continues here with another review of the top lenses – this time of the top Nikon lenses – my preferred weapon of choice when shooting stills. You already know I rarely write about gear since there are entire websites dedicated to that sophistry but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a top request I get from you, so the way I mitigate these divergent forces is by occasionally highlighting the tools that I actually use, lust for or have used extensively in the field…for years. The benefit of this approach is that I shoot almost EVERY camera brand for one thing or another. There is no brand loyalty here – just a loyalty to quality. Nikon for stills. Canon dSLR for video. Hasselblad for high end studio / fashion, GoPro for POV etc etc. So between yours truly, my video guru Erik, and my gear editor/research pal Sohail we’ve logged some real effort here to aggregate our thoughts on these lenses with the hope that you get at least 1 or 2 juicy takeaways. The images are Sohail’s since he is more of a gear “tester” – and wrangling thru millions of images to find one of my fav’s with each lens would kill me. So there you have it. Finally…a “top anything” list always stirs some debate – but that’s welcome and appreciated. Think we’re off by a lens or two? Let us know below – and why.

Oh and as a reminder – this isn’t a list of ‘the 5 lenses everyone should have’. It’s ‘these are the top 5 lenses in the Nikon lineup… Reminder you can rent or buy at very different price point ;)
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So here’s Lenstopia Part II: Nikon.

Nikon 85mm f/1.8G

Nikon 85mm f/1.8G

Nikon 85mm f/1.8G

Nikon makes a very nice f/1.4 version of the standard 85mm portrait lens, but for my money (and yours), the smaller, cheaper, and lighter 85mm f/1.8G is where it’s at. Aside from the small difference in aperture, this lens dominates its more expensive counterpart. This is one of the best portrait lens I’ve ever used, and I can’t speak highly enough of it. It boasts 7 diaphragm blades make for a nice, buttery bokeh, and the optics are simply outstanding, providing tack sharp images even when the aperture is wide open. We’ve all got friends who made their start as portrait photographers with this lens and continue using it well after they could have afforded the more expensive 85mm f/1.4.

Buy it here.
Borrow it here.

Shot with a Nikon D800E and an 85mm f/1.8G lens. © Sohail Mamdani

Shot with a Nikon D800E and an 85mm f/1.8G lens. © Sohail Mamdani

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G Lens

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G Lens

This lens needs no introduction. To say that it’s legendary is to hit it right on the mark. It is a veritable workhorse for me – when I ask for the “wide” from my assistant, he knows to hand me this lens, period. For landscape photographers, it’s always a tasty lens to have.

Another tasty bit that makes this lens remarkable is how incredibly sharp it is, corner-to-corner. Wide-angle lenses –especially those with the bulbous front element that this one has– often lose some of that sharpness in the corners. At 14mm, you’ll definitely see some distortion and there will be some vignetting at that range as well, but both are easily corrected in software. If you use Lightroom, it has a built-in lens profile to correct for those.

Canon users have a serious case of lens envy when it comes to this beauty. There simply isn’t anything out there in this zoom and aperture range that can come close to it in the Canon inventory; in fact, a number of photographers (including Sohail) have stuck this baby onto a Canon body to get the most out of both worlds – especially when shooting video.

Buy it here.
Borrow it here.

Delta Farm. Shot with the Nikon D800E and 14-24mm f/2.8G lens. © Sohail Mamdani

Delta Farm. Shot with the Nikon D800E and 14-24mm f/2.8G lens. © Sohail Mamdani

Nikon 135mm f/2DC

Nikon 135mm f/2DC

Nikon 135mm f/2DC

Erik, Sohail and I rapped about this and two things came up. One: this is the sharpest portrait lens out there. It slays. And two: to the best of our recollection, Nikon and Sony are the only manufacturers that make these “Defocus Control” lenses. Simply put, they allow you to control the “look” of the out-of-focus areas (see this article for a good example of what that means), and that gives you an added amount of creative control over that aspect of your images.

#2 is a nice to have. For #1, this lens is the undisputed heavyweight champ of the Nikon line and perhaps the world. The Nikon 135mm f/2.0DC lens has pure rock-solid optics. Another bonus is the metal hood. The design is tops and helps us avoid those pesky (breakable) plastic ones that dominate the market these days. The only detriment to this lens making this list? It’s very hard to find. They are a limited-run lens and often out of stock. Rumor has it that a shipment is on it’s way to Adorama right now. Literally. If you have the means to pick one up you won’t be sorry. For the record, I don’t own this lens, but I wish I did and may get on this next shipment ;)

Buy it here.
Borrow it here.

Shot with a D800E and a Nikon 135mm f/2

Shot with a D800E and a Nikon 135mm f/2. © Sohail Mamdani

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII

This lens is the workhorse of the Nikon lineup. No lens has spent as much time on Nikon bodies – including mine – as this one, and every single one of my Nikon-shooting buddies swear by the 70-200mm. Version One of this lens was no less of a workhorse, but when the VRII came out around 2009 or 2010, Nikon upped the game considerably. Largely gone were any issues that plagued the version I – the vignetting at certain focal lengths, the slight softness at certain apertures, the chromatic aberration that showed up from time to time. This lens does everything the version I did, and then some. Focusing, btw, is legendary and almost bulletproof.

VR is better as well, giving you up to four stops of vibration reduction. Nikon also added nano-crystal coating to this lens’ elements and the lens is weather-sealed with compatible bodies. The focal length is useful for just about every kind of shooter (Sohail even uses it for landscape, as you can see below), and most wedding and portrait shooters will typically have this one on hand for important shoots.

Buy it here.
Borrow it here.

Fog-shrouded Bay Area. Shot with the Nikon 70-200 f.2.8 VRII © Sohail Mamdani

Fog-shrouded Bay Area. Shot with the Nikon 70-200 f.2.8 VRII © Sohail Mamdani

Nikon 800mm f/5.6

Nikon 800mm f/5.6ED

Nikon 800mm f/5.6ED

Okay, let’s be clear; this isn’t a lens a lot of folks will be able to afford. It’s sweet if you are loaded and have one laying around to use at will – but confession; I do not own this lens (both you and I can rent it from our pals at BorrowLenses.com, though). But it does belong on this list, and here’s why.

Until recently, Canon’s 800mm f/5.6 lens has been about the longest lens currently in production by one of the big manufacturers. The longest lens on the Nikon side has been the 600mm f/4, which is a rather good bit of kit on its own.

Until recently Nikonians have had to put up with Canonites flaunting their 800mm. Well, Nikonians now have their own cannon (yes, pun intended) to play with, and oh, what a cannon it is! The 800mm f/5.6 is a beauty of a lens, and is certainly the finest super-tele optics I’ve had the pleasure of shooting with and perhaps tops overall. It IS the lens on this list that I have the least experience with, but I can confirm that it focuses every bit as fast as Nikon’s 600mm f/4 does, and faster IMHO than the Canon 800mm f/5.6. The optics are yummy, and you’re more likely to notice atmospheric distortion caused by focusing on objects far away than you are optical distortion – which is a feat of physics.

Again, this is not your everyday lense (or even every month) but when you gotta go long, this is absolutely delicious. While TC’s are not my thing, Sohail says if you throw on the included 1.25x teleconverter (now you’re rockin’ a 1000mm f/7.1 lens) this sucker is so powerful, it’ll give you a slightly uneasy feeling as you point it at distant building. From across the San Francisco Bay, standing on Treasure Island, you can take an image that will let you actually see into the windows of the top floors of the Transamerica Pyramid Building well enough to make out the green glow of an “Exit” sign, some art on the walls, and a doorway. Whoa.

Closeup of the Transamerica Pyramid Building © Sohail Mamdani

100% crop of the image of the Transamerica Pyramid Building © Sohail Mamdani

Creepy? Yeah. Cool as heck? Definitely!

Buy it here.
Borrow it here.

That’s it for this edition of Lenstopia. In the next installment, we’ll take on the best lenses Hasselblad has to offer.

7 Lessons Anyone [YOU] Can Learn from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

macklemore grammysThe Grammys are a usually a lovely nightcap to the previous year’s music. Some celebration, some tension, a little drama and some nice performances. And whether or not you agree with where the Grammy Committee’s voting ended up in any category – one thing is for sure: 4 Grammy’s from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – who to this day are not signed to a record label – is impressive. And perhaps what’s more impressive IMHO is that they built their success on their own ethos, according to their own plan, from when there were no “opportunities” coming at them from every direction.

Am I biased because I’ve known these cats for a while…Yes. Probably. (disclosure they played #chasejarvisLIVE in 2011 and first performed some of the tracks a capella at a little dinner party at my studio [video]) Yes, they are they wildly talented (Ryan’s actually a great photographer too), but IMHO that’s not what made their meteoric rise to 15x platinum and 4 Grammys possible. What made it possible was certainly some real talent BUT it’s also a handful of things they know that YOU can begin applying to your life/career/passion right now. Here’s 7 things:

1. Freedom is More Important Than Money
Sure having some baseline amount of money is helpful, but there is no denying that the freedom to say what you want through your art, to call your own shots and control your own destiny is supreme. Had M&RL not kept their independence (and the key it to keep it gracefully – no need to be an ass…), they’d be nowhere near the success that they are today. Releasing a single about marriage equality on a hip-hop album? The “label” would never have “permitted” such a thing if they weren’t independant. So whose ass are you kissing right now that you shouldn’t be? I’m banking that if you kept your freedom (and kept it positive -i’m not talking about being a grump) that the rest will follow. And this isn’t just about money really either…I’m talking about all the upside.

I’m guessing that there are decisions you could be making to keep your ability to be nimble – to play to the beat of your own drum…to scratch your own itch (even if that itch is being in the service of others). Follow those freedoms, not the other stuff.

2. Setbacks are Temporary
When I first met Ben in 2009 he was living in his parents basement having just come out of rehab. He had found some local success with an earlier, locally released EP but soon found himself resting on his (albeit local) laurels, only to find that he was hitting the peace pipe and drinking cough syrup instead of diving into his work. He’s said on lots of occasions how low he felt – that he might never be able to make music again, but that he would give it everything he had with a fresh outlook on life. He found Ryan and boom. If you’re like me, there are setbacks everywhere. They never end. It might take living in your parent’s basement to realize your dreams. It always feels like I’m moving 2 steps forward and 1 (or sometimes 2) steps back. Shed the voices in your head that are keeping you down. Setbacks are temporary. They are meant to keep everybody else out, not you. The breakthroughs happen just when you think your at the end of the line. Trust M&RL on this one.

chase jarvis macklemore and ryan lewis3. Only YOU Are in Charge of Your Personal Brand
I remember when I realized HOW in touch Ben & Ryan were with their brand M&RL when the emailed me one day asking if I had a RED camera they could borrow to shoot their next video video. They’d had some good vids to date, but they wanted creative control – they know how they wanted their creative vision realized and they wanted to own it front to back. That was for the video shoot of Thrift Shop. Seems like they…um…pretty much nailed it (487 MILLION views and counting….). That they had a)the desire; b) the balls to go for their vision says it all. Throw in the fact that they put their physical CD is a box made of alligator leather for god’s sake and you get the point.

What are you doing to make your brand different – not better? I bet you can think of 5 things in the next 5 minutes that helps your brand stand out from the noise. When you finish that list, nail it to your bedroom wall and reference it often.

4. Have a Point of View
In a world of mass messaging, right and left points of view, and chest thumping me-ism, I see so many artists who are reluctant to let their true colors shine. They’re worried that having a point of view might alienate a subset of fans or followers. Well, that’s bullshit. Because the only reason you’d want fans and followers is to genuinely connect with a community of like minded people – connect your authentic self with theirs. Referencing #1 above – you think it didn’t take balls to stand up for a belief in marriage equality amidst the typical hiphop anti-gay mindset? Sure it took balls, but that’s wht M&RL believe and so they found it a perfect thing to write about – with confidence. I spoke to them about it here. THAT is called having a point of view.

I’m guessing there’s a few things in your world (I know there are in mine…) that you’ve been scared to put out there. Dimes to donuts that this thing you’re holding inside will be a huge benefit when you get out of your own way and share that thing, own that thing, have a point of view. The people that will care about that thing are the people you’ll want to connect with anyone. So what are you waiting for?

chase jarvis ryan lewis cjlive macklemore5. Collaborating with Your Friends is a Good Thing – surround yourself with good people
When M&RL put out The Heist, they made it local. They made it with their friends. The solo’s and featured artists on their album? Almost entirely local talent…friends, people they admired, and by and large people without name recognition. But that didn’t matter – they made their album and their art with their circle of friends. Their tour and merch manager Tricia is Mack’s fiancé. Why chase the party when you can make your own.

So instead of waiting around to collaborate with Bono – why don’t you collaborate with your best friend, your makeup artist pal, your uber-talented homie from around the way. Again, why chase the party when you can make your own?

6. Don’t Let Them Put You in a Box
When I first heard Ben’s rap – it put me off balance. “Whoa – this is different” I thought. Which is part of why it works. I noticed it. Throw in Ryan’s beats and the whole thing goes to a different level where your brain doesn’t quite know which box to put that in… Our brains are pattern recognizers – which is why when you don’t fit into a typical pattern you STAND OUT. One Grammy committee almost didn’t let their music be classified as Rap – they wanted it filed under Pop. It caused controversy. But it didn’t matter. Ultimately it got the rap nod and then…lo and behold…claimed Best Rap Album and Best Rap song, Best Rap performance. They just made music they wanted to make and then let the world comment on it. The rest took care of itself.

So many creatives have spent too much time studying their peers our neighbors and reading the rule books written by others. Here’s a little secret – those people who wrote the rule books did so to keep you out. Break those rules, ditch that box as best you can.

7. Community is King
In their Grammy acceptance speech, Ben opens with [paraphrase] “Wow, we’re on this stage…And we could never have been on this stage without our fans.” This is true for the Grammys, but it’s also true for life. M&RL have connected with their audience in a way that I’ve rarely seen in this age of pop culture. It’s authentic, it’s humble, and it’s hard working.

The same can be said for your approach. I’ve said it here and here before: Things don’t make things happen, people do.  The world of achieving career success is a world where community is front and center – whether you’re building your own business as an independent artist or you’re making a dent from within the machine of a bigger company.  Your friends, supporters, fans, network – however you define it – is a huge is a requirement to unlock your future. What are you doing to build your community? In what ways are you giving back and asking for nothing in return? Don’t just reach up…be sure to reach sideways and down as often as you can muster.

Much respect to M&RL. Now I recommend we all get back to work at tackling our dreams.

chase jarvis macklemore ryan lewis

Nikon Df Unboxing Video + Test Images + First Impressions While Actually Shooting Photos [gasp!]

When the Nikon Df arrived on the scene a couple months back, I tried to temper the hype (my own included) with a good dose of high expectations. Yes, it looked bad ass. Yes, it housed the same sensor as the D4. Yes, the optical viewfinder has 100% field of view.

But as a compact camera fiend and someone whose owned probably 50 cameras or more, I’m no pushover. So when Adorama shipped the Df to my door, I filmed the unboxing in old school 2006 internet style and wasted no time taking a test run (sparse couple images below).

To determine if the Df hit all the marks, let’s take a look back at those point by point…

From my original notes on appearance when the camera launched…. 1. Ergonomics. Roughly… “I like how all the dials/controls for shutter speed, exposure compensation, and ISO give you the option of being really hands on with setting your exposure. Shooting this way really increases my connection with what you’re creating with the camera. The Nikon DF looks like it’ll do a nice job of recreating (or perhaps simulating) that experience of “making” pictures like the cameras of old… That feel helps me be connecting to the art just a little bit more–i.e. slowing down a tad– than some of my other tools in my shed.”

ACTUAL THOUGHTS on ergonomics having shot with this thing. I’m NOT happy with ergonomics. The dials are pretty cool and give you the retro feel, but they’re in goofy places and hard-ish to reach. The aperature dial on the FACE of the body at your right finger is bizarre. The shutter sound is nice. The grip depth is in no man’s land…not flat enough to feel retro and not deep enough to hold it like a “new”camera. Feels “plastic-y”. Which is easy to see why… because the shell of the camera is entirely largely out of styled plastic. The lens? Plastic.

Now my notes on The size. The size was a huge surprise – as you can see from the video. WAY bigger than I thought from the original marketing materials. WAY bigger. In truth I feel like the product shots were actually aimed to trick me into thinking this would feel like a little body. It doesn’t. Yes, it’s smaller than a D4 or pro body – but bigger than I want for lots of circumstances…similar to a D7000 of D600 or any pro-sumer higher end body. When I’m on a pro gig I use/need the pro body to lean on, bang around, pound nails and otherwise be tough and sturdy. But in this class of camera, I really prefer the portability. So what gives here? I dunno. They made up a nice advertising story about “back to basics” with a “real camera” but they among other things, it’s really just styled like an old camera. Also, rumor has it they couldn’t keep the guts cool enough to shoot video because mechanically that stuff takes up space. That’s probably why it doesn’t shoot video – not based on any “purity”. Jury is out. I like the purity angle, but it’s 2014…

I guess my reaction above says it all. There are good surprises and there are bad surprises. I think we know where that shoe dropped re: size.


3. The sensor. This is this cameras very best feature, bar none. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this sensor. It has the same 16.2-megapixel sensor as Nikon’s pro-focused D4, which is the best still sensor of all time IMHO. You can basically shoot this thing in the dark – can it focus in the dark? Not all that well it turns out. But I still love that they packed that sensor in this body. The images are buttery but not overly so like Canon 5d sensors.


MY ORIGINAL NOTES ON….4. Focus. It better be decent. Nikons have historically kicked everyones ass in this department. This better not be a let down. I hope the focus is fast and accurate. (Speaking of fast…we know it’s not fast in frames per second department. 5 ‘n’ change. Not bad. But not fast. Who cares really – that’s not what this camera is for.) We really do want the focus to be fast, however, if it’s to stand out from it’s peers. BTW, how is the manual focus mode? It better kick ass. I’m curious to see if there are any features to assist with this. There’s a lot of marketing around this camera pimping its ability to use all the old non-AI lenses, but the cameras from that time had focusing screens built for manual focus. Without tools like focus peaking, a split image screen, or a microprism screen, shooting with manual focus lenses might just be a pain in the ass. Let’s hope they get it right.

ACTUAL THOUGHTS on FOCUS having shot with this thing. It didn’t measure up. It wasn’t fast. It was pretty accurate, but it wasn’t fast and accurate, which is what I really wanted. I’m sure that Nikon would respond…”but it has the same x and y as the z so it will do …blah”. It’s a great sensor, but the focus isn’t as fast as other cameras in the compact/mirrorless class. Which is sort of a travesty if you love Nikon still cameras given that that is a huge advantage for Nikon in nearly every other case.

MY ORIGINAL notes on this… 5. Pro shit. I’m excited to see how “professional” the camera can be. Can I pound nails with this thing? Is it heavy and durable? We use a ton of different cameras for video, but the D4 is my go-to camera for EVERY SINGLE commercial photo shoot we do. Could the DF could come along on our shoots as a good BTS rig? Even in our BTS stuff we expect pro quality That would be nice if this delivered. I will always have a couple D4 backups, but for the solo photographer, the DF could potentially save pro photographers some weight and coin if (and only if) it can produce professional results in a pinch.

I can’t tell if it has an alloy metal chassis, but its exterior is plastic-y. That isn’t pro. This isn’t a pro backup camera. The images look really nice, a great sensor but it falls short in other categories.

OVERALL
This is a good camera. Actually it’s a great camera. It will make nice pictures. It’s just not the camera I thought I was gonna get. If you LOVE Nikon you should buy this body. You will not be disappointed if you take what I’ve said here with a grain of salt. I know they are selling like hotcakes so the world really likes this camera. I’m just a tad hard on it. Like I said above, the plus on this baby is the D4 sensor in a much cheaper body. Beautiful dynamic range and looks great in low light. Another plus is that Nikon is at least watching what other manufacturers are doing with their products. The negatives are that they don’t know what their consumers want. Generally speaking we are not posers. This camera’s appearance it trying too hard. And it’s too damn big. But like I said – if you’re a photog who loves Nikon – you might be pleased as punch – so take my words here w a grain of salt.

Bounce on over to Adorama to see the Nikon Df HERE

IMAGES
I did have a short day around our cabin making pizza with my pal Jeff and then taking a quick walk on the beach to grab a few snapshots for this initial post to you guys… I intentionally shot slow moving, simple stuff where I thought this camera could perform. It worked well for that – but I knew the limits. The below are just very very minimally processed jpgs. You can see the magic simplicity with this sensor. It just WORKS. (check out the one image with the white house, the open, dark garage with the lightbulb on, during the day. Crazy subtle. THATS the kind of camera I want in my pocket. Portable.

It also does a nice job with a completely flat scene on the grey beach on a grey day shooting photos of grey stuff. Again, quality sensor. Focus? it was a pain to shoot inside and nail the focus shooting at F2.2 etc. But overall you can tell this camera works. If you can take the gimmicky styling it’ll do you right. If you can’t, then you’ll need a different sword of choice.

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Nikon Df camera in silver

Nikon Df camera from rear

Nikon Df camera side view

Bounce on over to Adorama to see the Nikon Df details HERE

LIVE Shoot from Inside a Frickin’ Volcano [RENEGADE #cjLIVE -- this Friday, Jan 17]

chase jarvis jp canlis photo 3UPDATE: this broadcast is TODAY! Join us at 9:30am Seattle time (12:30 NYC and 17:30 London) here at www.chasejarvis.com/live as we hi-jack the live feed from the Museum of Glass and go LIVE from the biggest and best hot shop in the world… mixing the worlds of photography + glass blowing with yours truly and my homie JP Canlis. Of course, taking questions at #cjLIVE via Twitter and my Facebook.

Ok. So maybe it’s not an actual VOLCANO, but it’s just as hot. Read on…

My favorite part of the new world order is access. Access to behind-the-scenes ideas, information, and lives of others AND granting that access into mine. We all get to watch “the sausage being made” …as they say.

Well – access (and sausage) you will get this Friday January 17th if you tune into this SPECIAL EPISODE of www.chasejarvis.com/live between 9:30am – 1pm Seattle time (12:30 – 4pm NYC, 17:30 – 21:00 London) for a special “renegade” REMOTE edition of chasejarvisLIVE. What the hell? Exactly. While the “normal” #cjLIVE shows are broadcast live from my studios in Seattle with a guest and a crowd and some ideas (and occasionally some bourbon) this Friday’s episode is anything but that… In fact I’ll be sharing an exclusive peek into a fine art project I’m working on…in progress

Indeed, YOU are invited drop in for a glimpse of a collaboration between yours truly and my dear friend (and brilliant Seattle-based glass artist) J.P. Canlis. JP’s work is collected worldwide (including the likes of the Crowned Prince of Abu Dhabi). We will be at work and coming to you LIVE and in the heat of it (literally) from the molten hot magma hot shop at the Museum of Glass, the world’s premier glass museum and one of the world’s top glass art facilities in the world.

What you will see will NOT be a staged demo of any sort. Instead you’ll be dipping your toe midstream into an authentic artistic collaboration between yours truly and JP Canlis that we’ve been working on for the past couple weeks as a part of JP’s artist-in-residency at the museum. We’ll be engaged in a real-time, never before attempted (for all we can tell) creative process mixing my photography with JP’s molten glass. Yes, we don’t know what will happen. Since we’ll be in the hotshop – which is NOT my normal habitat – I will be primarily hosting the ramshackle affair WHILE I’M WORKING and taking your questions via twitter and Facebook in realtime during the process.

THE DETAILS
WHO: You, me, glass artist J.P Canlis and a worldwide gathering of creative people
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Friday, January 17, 9:30 am-1 pm Seattle time (12:30pm-4pm NYC time)
WHERE: Tune into www.chasejarvis.com/live It’s free — anyone can watch!

Couple disclaimers:
1. The entire process will be broadcast HERE at www.chasejarvis.com/live (aka the normal #cjLIVE location) for your viewing pleasure.
2. This isn’t meant to be a polished production – you will be along for the ride on a real project that will be sometimes exciting and sometimes not. This is authentic, non scripted access, with us in a new and very different location.
3. I will be primarily focused on chatting with you all via the live broadcast – explaining what I can – in real time. So as always, questions on Facebook + Twitter via #cjLIVE.
4. The awesome peeps at the Museum of Glass are letting us use their broadcast tech and facilities so it’s going to feel a lot more renegade than normal…just how we like it ;)

It will be very casual – feel free to come and go as you please. AND!!! if you happen to live in the Seattle/Tacoma area – you are invited to literally drop into the museum hot shop right there in Tacoma. There is are seats there where you can watch us in the flesh.

Couple BTS snapshots from earlier in the project…

chase jarvis jp canlis glass

chase jarvis jp canlis

chase jarvis jp canlis

chase jarvis jp canlis

chase jarvis jp canlis

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