Cameras and Photography Explained

This page points to all recent articles published on,,, and, and is updated as new articles appear (most recent on top). For articles from previous months, check the Articles Index Archive. 

bythom US MA Merrimack 2016-10-21 30985.jpg

>>> This Week's Articles:

October 27

Olympus Goes Pro. Olympus has announced a new service for professional photographers that will cost US$99 a year, Olympus Pro Advantage. The service includes expedited repairs with free overnight shipping both ways, two free clean and check services, a six month warranty extension on camera bodies, a 15% discount on out-of-warranty repairs, and loaner equipment if repairs will take more than three days. Article on

October 26

Making Sense of the Interviews. Photokina tends to generate a lot of interview pieces, as it’s one of the few times where the mainstream photographic media gets access to Japanese camera company executives (short of traveling to Tokyo, of course). We’ve had a long string of such interview articles and videos appearing in the last month (see bottom). Article on

Nikon Instant Rebates. With instant rebates here are the new prices at Nikon currently in effect in the US. Article on

October 25

Thom’s Writes More Six Word Reviews. A few of you tell me I write too much or are too long-winded in my descriptions of products. So every now and then I take a stab at writing concise, pointed, six-word reviews. And yes, a bit snarky. Here’s the latest edition. Article on

>>> Recent Articles:

October 19

Nikon Introduces Two Pro Lenses. Nikon today introduced the long-expected 19mm f/4E ED PC and 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lenses. Both have been eagerly anticipated by FX shooters, a bit less so by DX owners. Article on dslrbodies.com70-200mm f/2.8E data page19mm f/4E data page.

October 17

Nikon’s Outstanding D500 Fix List. Here we are about six months after the D500’s first shipments, and we’ve had two very small firmware updates. Personally, I don’t think those firmware updates address the things I originally saw or still currently see as issues with the D500 firmware. Article on

Summer is Coming. The 2020 Summer Olympics are in Tokyo. Both Canon and Nikon would be expected to bring out completely new generation pro bodies just prior to that, probably in early 2020 so that there’s time to get used to them before the games begin. What the heck are those cameras going to be? Article on

More Buzzing About Missing Lenses. I’ve commented before about how I believe that Canon and Nikon are missing key components in their lens sets, particularly for the DX/APS models (buzz, buzz). Technically, they’re not the only ones making that mistake; Sony currently does the same thing with the E-mount (as opposed to the FE-mount). Article on

Nikon D3400 Camera Review. When the D3400 was announced in August 2016 a big swell of Nikon faithful complaints immediately welled: most were calling it a de-contented D3300. Why? Because of the perception—wrong or right—that the D3400 was taking features away from the previous model. Review on

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G DX VR AF-P Lens Review The new AF-P lenses at the low end of the consumer DX lineup use a very different approach to focus motors. The AF-P lenses have stepper motors in them that are unlike the previous AF-S lens motors, which use a piezoelectric or ultrasonic wave motor. The good news is that these new stepper motors are fast and quiet. The bad news is that only a few cameras are compatible with them. Review on

Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Lens Review The Zeiss Batis 18mm is an autofocus focus wide angle lens that can be used with any of the Sony mirrorless cameras (E or FE). As such you get 18mm on the A7 models, and a near 28mm (equivalent) on the A6xxx models. Review on

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Lens Review The Zeiss Batis 25mm is an autofocus focus wide angle lens that can be used with any of the Sony mirrorless cameras (E or FE). As such you get a near 24mm on the A7 models, and a near 35mm (equivalent) on the A6xxx models. Review on

The full 2016 Botswana Photo Workshop blog can be accessed here

October 11

The 7Kg Wildlife Safari Bag. The wildlife/safari photographer these days is encountering more and more airlines with strict 7Kg carry-on bag limits. (American readers please pardon me for using the metric system in this article, but that’s what will generally be applied at check-in or the gate.) This article is an attempt to describe several approaches that get you within that limit but still have an acceptable kit for a serious safari. Article on

What’s the Highest ISO I Should Set? Lately I’ve gotten quite a few “what’s the maximum ISO value I should use on camera X” type questions. I’m not quite sure what’s causing this, but I think it’s the wrong way to think about ISO. Article on

Wrap-up of the 2016 Botswana Photo Workshop blog. A short followup on lists.

October 10

Top Dogs. Let’s assume for a moment that you’re interested in “best in class” in terms of a camera. What exactly would that be? Article on

Canon and Nikon Interim 2016 Report Card. From time to time I grade the camera companies on how they’re doing. Today I’m going to do a late mid-term 2016 report on cameras from Canon and Nikon. While I’ll concentrate on DSLRs, we DSLR-users also shoot with other types of cameras at times, so I’ll address those, too. Article on

Day 21 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop blog

October 7

What? He’s still going? Day 20 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop Blog

Also: I’ve added some details to yesterday’s post on the Sony A6500 and corrected a few things in the database entry.

October 6

Day 19 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop BlogD500 users, you’ll want to read today’s blog entry.

Sony Adds Two Fast Cameras. Sony today surprised many by producing an A6500 mirrorless camera, which features several key performance attributes above the current (and remaining in the line up) A6300. This new body will retail for US$1400 and be available in December in the US. Article on sansmirror.comA6500 data page.

October 5

Day 18 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop Blog

October 4

Photoshop Elements 15 was introduced.

Day 17 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop Blog

October 3

How Cutting Costs Kills You. For quite some time I’ve received emails and queries that all fall into the “why doesn’t Nikon put Wi-Fi or GPS in every model?” Article on

Canon Pushes Firmware Updates. Canon released new firmware for five cameras to correct an issue with the 18-135mm and 70-300mm lenses: 6D version 1.1.7, 70D version 1.1.2, SL1 version 1.0.1, T5i versions 1.1.5, and T6 version 1.0.2.In addition, the 5D Mark II got a firmware update to version 1.0.2 to improve communications reliability with the EOS Utility. Article on

Nikon’s 2016 Annual Report. As always, there are gems galore in Nikon’s Annual Report. Nikon, while opaque on many levels, is actually relatively transparent when it comes to public information. As usual, I’m a little late to getting around to noting those gems. Article on

Day 16 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop blogSeptember 29

What I’d Be Doing If I were Nikon. As previous articles have mentioned, this is a critical time for Nikon, as they’re now losing market share in interchangeable lens cameras. Worse, they’re losing mind share among their most faithful and loyal customers, and Photokina did nothing to help that. So here’s my 10-point program of what I’d do. Article on

Day 15 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop blog

September 28

Day 14 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop blog 

September 27

Day 13 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop blog (and first good leopard sighting; foreshadowing: warning many more to come! ;~)

September 26

It’s About the Sensor Again. Here’s the state of the dedicated camera market at Photokina 2016: you have a choice of five sensor sizes, all approximately a stop apart from each other: 1” (2.7x crop), m4/3 (2x), APS/DX (1.5x or 1.6x), 35mm/FX (1x, no crop), and small medium format (0.79x). Article on

Winners and Losers at Photokina. One of the reasons companies go to Photokina is to make a splash. So what splashed in a good way that caught our attention, and what made a tiny or no splash before sinking in deep water? Article on

Google Glass is Back in a Snap. Snapchat—the image messaging application created by three students at Stanford University—has morphed into a software and hardware company. Their first camera product will be the US$130 sunglasses called Spectacles, which includes a video camera and should ship this fall. Article on

Day 12 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop blogSeptember 22

The Botswana Photo Workshop Blog is on temporary hold as I deal with some image issues that cropped up, coupled with a swarm of new images from students as they slowly get around to processing their images. The blog should resume on Monday once I’ve sorted through those.

SnapBridge at the Little Lehigh River. I wandered down to the Little Lehigh River Parkway yesterday afternoon looking for Frank and his friends. Article on

September 21

The two Photokina articles from Monday have been updated with new additions.

The Software News page has been updated with new additions.

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings. Here in the US we have had a long election campaign that seems solely to cater to feelings. Facts don’t matter. Experience doesn’t matter. Plans don’t really matter (at least they don’t need any specificity, let alone be based on reality, and who cares if they are even achievable). Nothing matters except how you feel. And apparently everyone feels bad. Blame the media, who are telling you that you should feel bad. Funny thing is, you could describe the camera market that way, too, especially when it comes to Nikon. And you could blame the media here, too, including me. Article on

Day 11 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop blog

September 20

The two Photokina articles from yesterday have been updated with new additions.

The Software News page has been updated with new additions.

Nikon Swimming Wrong Direction. All I can say is that Nikon is in for a rough patch on the Internet. A very rough patch. They’re simply swimming the wrong direction. Article on

Hasselblad 30mm f/3.5 XCD added to database. (XCD mount)
Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4 SL added to database. (SL mount)
Voigtlander 65mm f/2 macro added to database. (FE mount)

Day 10 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop blog

September 19

Because this is Photokina “announce” day, I’m tied up with press conferences and trying to keep up with all the announcements. Thus we’re doing something a little different today (and these articles will continue to be updated through Photokina):

  • Photokina Announcements — the big camera and lens announcements will go here and this page will update as the day(s) go on with new camera and lens announcements.
  • Other Photokina Announcements — additional announcements of products will go on this page as I stumble upon them.

Remember, these are live pages that will continuous update as new information is learned (and as I get a chance to edit what I’ve written ;~). 

The Botswana Workshop Blog will return tomorrow (or Wednesday at the latest). Moreover, many of the products that get announced will be getting coverage over on and data pages added, to. I’ll try to add those to this post as I make them.

Bear with me. I’m one person trying to cover Photokina, and a number of other sites are either single vendor or have big teams covering the show. So I won’t be first on anything ;~).

September 16

Sorry about being late today. Yesterday’s blog post had some issues in it on how images were rendering, so I needed to figure that out before posting new material. Turns out that the student images were coming in too big for the re-rendering engine I use on this site. The good news is that I’ve fixed all those images by just bringing them down in initial Image Size. The bad news is that if you’re on a Retina display, you may see some pixilation. 

Day 9 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop Blog 

Monday’s going to be busy. There are some Photokina announcements this weekend I’ll be posting then, plus Monday is press conference day at the show, with tons of products being announced. Bear with me as I try to keep up.

September 15

Canon Introduces the EOS M5. Canon today announced the EOS M5, the latest in their line of mirrorless cameras, and the most DSLR-like yet. While you can see the basics of the EOS M3 body in the new M5, the addition of a mid-camera hump for the built-in EVF and pop-up flash makes Canon’s mirrorless entry look like a very scaled down DSLR. Article on EOS M5 data page

The new lens onslaught continues: Canon 18-150mm f/4-5.6 MCanon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS IIZeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4

Day 8 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop Blog

September 14

Communicating, Programmable, Modular. It’s getting quite close now to all the at-Photokina announcements, and I expect a number of new mirrorless camera entries. So wrap your mind around this thought: the very best mirrorless camera we currently foresee will be no better than the very best DSLR camera we currently foresee. Article on

More new lenses: Laowa 15mm f/2 for Sony FE7.5mm f/2 for m4/3

Nikon introduced a minor 1.0.1 update to the iOS SnapBridge application, which improves stability.

Day 7 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop Blog

September 13

Sony Made the Right Decision. You can argue all you’d like about whether mirrorless or DSLR is the right choice, whether Sony’s adding full frame to the mirrorless lineup was the right choice, and all the other camera-related things that have happened since Sony took over the KonicaMinolta camera group a decade ago. But I’m here to say that one choice that Sony made was absolutely correct, and we’re now seeing the results of that choice nearly every day. Article on

Tokina announced a new 20mm f/2 manual focus lens for Sony FE.

Day 6 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop Blog

September 12

We’re All Just Dating... The switching, sampling, leaking, updating phenomena are no different than dating different women or men: you’re looking for perfect. Article on

Samyang announced a new 14mm f/2.4 manual focus lens for Sony FE, Canon EF, and Nikon F mounts. They also announced a new 85mm f/1.2 manual focus lens for Canon EF mounts.

Day 5 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop BlogSeptember 9

Sony introduced a new E-mount lens for video: 18-110mm f/4 OSS.

Day 4 of the 2016 byThom Botswana Photo Workshop Blog 

September 8

Coffin Not Quite Shut, But Apple Working on It. For months now I’ve been reading the Internet prognostications of the iPhone 7 killing the DSLR. This was all predicated on the use of dual imaging sensors with differing focal lengths, which creates a virtual zoom in the smartphone along with a lightfield-like depth map. And assuming that Apple would do something that is above and beyond what others have accomplished to date with multiple sensors. Article on

Sigma Goes Cinematic. Sigma today at IBC announced a new series of lenses, the manual focus Cine series. The first two lenses will be available in November: the crop sensor 18-35mm t/2 and 50-100mm t/2. Article on

Covering Canon. Some of you seem somewhat panicked by my announcement that I’ll be adding Canon information and coverage to So I need to make a few additional comments in order to stave off an In Box filling with questions. Article on

Zeiss introduced three new Milvus lenses: 15mm f/2.8, 18mm f/2.8, 135mm f/2

Day 3 of the Botswana workshop blog

September 7

A Quick Share Update. As part of integrating the latest CIPA numbers into my database, it’s easy enough to create a quick market share analysis using Canon’s and Nikon’s first and second quarter reported numbers. Article on

Day 2 of the Botswana workshop blog

September 6

SnapBridge Isnt a Snap; Nor is it Much of a Bridge. As a commentator on tech, Jean-Louis Gassee is one of the best. Here’s one of his recent quotes: “So how is it that we don’t have connected objects that Just Work?” Article on

Video: Feature or Function? Eight years ago Nikon was the first to introduce video to a DSLR with the D90. Since then, we’ve gotten a slow progression of video ability to the point where we now have 4K capability in the D5 and D500 (but not the more recent D3400). Article on

The 2016 Botswana Workshop Blog. Kicks off today as it should with some packing advice as Thom sits at the airport waiting for his flight. Article on

>>> August Catch-up Articles:

Nikon First Quarter Results. It was expected to be a brutal quarter for many reasons, and that’s exactly what April through June was for Nikon this year. Compared to the previous year, Nikon Imaging net sales were down 31% and operating income was down 30%. Article on

Canon Introduces the 5D Mark IV. Canon today introduced the latest iteration of the 5D, the Mark IV model. The big change in the camera comes at the image sensor, where the resolution is now bumped up to 30.4mp and a number of other changes have been made. Article on 5D Mark IV data page. 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM data page. 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM data page.

Yes. You read that right. is now going to start covering the Canon DSLRs and lenses, starting with the 5D Mark IV and most recently introduced lenses. 

Do You Really Need to See a Photo of a Product Prior to Announcement? One of the things that’s happening these days would actually be quite amusing if it weren’t so problematic. We’ve got a number of competing “rumor” Web sites that are getting leaked proprietary information, including press release kit photos, and then trying to brand that information as their own. Article on

Brooks Closes. About 250 students are affected by the closing, and the current summer semester will be the last one; no fall semester will be offered. Essentially, Brooks Institute as we once knew it is gone forever. Article on

D3400 and 70-300mm DX Lens Announced. Nikon today announced the replacement model for their low end DSLR, the D3400. In conjunction with that they re-introduced the 18-55mm AF-P DX lenses and announced the new 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 DX AF-P lenses. Both AF-P DX lenses are available in VR and non-VR versions. Article on D3400 data page. 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 data page. 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 VR data page.

The Everest Problem. Every year when I come back from my retreat, I spend a lot of time catching up on reading. Here’s an article that was published just as I was getting ready to turn everything off—When the Internet Came to Everest—but didn’t read until later. Article on

Waiting for St. Nick. While I was off in August, CIPA produced the shipment numbers for June 2016. Here’s what the first six months of each of the past five years looks like graphed (mirrorless on left, DSLR on right). Article on

Note that the new software news blog within is now fully established and active, and should be producing RRS feeds if you’ve subscribed. 

It Seems I was On the Internet Even When I was Off It. No sooner do I shut down the router thinking that I’m giving you a rest, it seems that I pop back up somewhere else on the Internet as if I’m a virtual ghost. Article

Mirrorless Market Shares. It comes up all the time, and there’s no perfect answer to the question, however I would say with pretty reasonable confidence that the market share in mirrorless in 2015 went like this… Article on

How Do You Know When Your System is Discontinued? We have three mirrorless players who seem to have gone inert: Pentax Q — Last updated August 2014, Samsung NX — Last updated February 2015, Nikon 1 — Last updated April 2015. Article on

Fujifilm Updates the X-A Model to 3. We’re now on the third iteration of Fujifilm’s low-end mirrorless camera, the just announced X-A3. Like it’s A predecessors, the X-A3 is not an X-Trans camera, but a traditional Bayer sensor. One designed along compact camera style lines (e.g. no EVF). Article on Data page for the X-A3. Data page for the 23mm f/2 lens.

Sony introduced a new 50mm f/2.8 macro lens for FE cameras (A7 series). Data page for the lens.

Note that the new software news blog within is now fully established and active, and should be producing RRS feeds if you’ve subscribed. August updates have been added. 

The Missing Nikkors article has been updated to mid-2016 (previously last updated in 2015.

The D500 Blog added a note about the firmware 1.10 version just released (August 31). SnapBridge for iOS 1.0 has also now been posted to the Apple App Store.

Added Meike lenses to the mirrorless lens database on

Previous articles can be found in the Articles Index.

If you're wondering where the Teaching Points went, they're here.

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