Enter drawing for a free 2-week lens rental

A winner has been chosen! Borrowlenses selected Bryan who wants to get his hands on the Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8 AF DX. Congratulations! Thanks for playing, everybody.

BorrowLenses What better way to get acquainted with online lens rentals than with a free rental? The folks at BorrowLenses.com contacted me over the weekend and generously offered Photodoto readers another chance to receive a free 2-week lens rental. This is the second promotion we’ve done with them. Bryan Villarin was the winner of our last drawing and spent some free quality time with the Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Leave a comment describing which lens you would like to rent and why you want to rent it. Leave a valid email address so that we can contact you if you win (your email address will remain private and is used for no other purpose).
  • Open to U.S. residents only.
  • The winner will need to place an order online with a valid credit card number to receive the rental. The card will not be charged but is required to ensure that the lens is returned. BorrowLenses.com is a reputable business but if you don’t feel comfortable with this condition please don’t enter.
  • The offer excludes super telephoto lenses and camera bodies.

That’s it! The comments will remain open until midnight on Tuesday March 17th, 2009. After that, BorrowLenses.com will choose a winner and we’ll announce it here. Good luck! And a big thank you to BorrowLenses.com for sponsoring this giveaway.

Friday Grab Bag


Photographs from Amir on Vimeo.

But seriously…

Review: Nikon D90 first impressions

On semi-impulse I bought a Nikon D90 kit last Thursday from Amazon after nearly four years with my trusty D70. I sat down with the manual over the weekend and got to know it a little better. There are plenty of great in-depth reviews of the D90 out there with tech comparisons and sample photos. This is not one of those. I’m just going to give you my first impressions of the D90, especially things about it that made me smile, from the perspective of a D70 upgrader:

  • Live view! Giant LCD! 6.7x image review zoom! Awesome. The D70 screen looks like a postage stamp now.
  • It is perceptibly faster and lighter.
  • I turned on the viewfinder grid, turned off the focus beep, and switched to selected area for focus because that’s how I roll.
  • The default image processing settings are fairly neutral and true to life. In Flickr terms: boring. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but I’m not particularly interested in absolute truth, photographically speaking. I prefer my photos to have a little more pop so I adjusted the default to Vivid which boosts both the contrast and saturation. Speaking of which, you can record up to 9 custom image processing settings in the camera and save them off to SD cards to store or share.
  • Turned on custom setting d3 which shows the ISO setting in the viewfinder instead of the remaining frame count. Maybe that will stop me from shooting entire rolls at ISO 500 instead of 200. I doubt it. But one must try to be optimistic. I said “rolls.” How old am I?
  • The self-timer can be set for 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 seconds and you can adjust the number of shots (up to 9). So you can set the self-timer to go off in 5 seconds and take, say, 3 shots (which it does at what feels like the low-speed frame rate).
  • The new AF-A focusing mode which automatically chooses between AF-S (single) and AF-C (continuous) focus depending on subject movement seems really good on paper and so far it has worked out well in practice. And thank you Nikon for the AF selector button on the body.
  • I must say I’m a fan of active D-lighting. In almost every test shot, the D90 makes better exposures than my D70 at default settings. Matrix metering and auto white balance are markedly improved, especially in difficult lighting situations. The D70 has a strong bias against blown highlights, so much so that I routinely shot my D70 with an exposure compensation of +0.7. The D90 isn’t nearly as overprotective (especially with active D-lighting enabled, strength: Normal). At the moment I think the D90 will work quite nicely at +0 or even -0.3.
  • It can record RAW + JPG FINE for every exposure. On an 8GB SDHC card I get a readout of 361 available images at that setting (539 RAW only, 1.1k JPG Fine only).
  • Built-in image adjustment and RAW processing. Pretty cool, though it’s no Photoshop/Lightroom/Gimp obviously. Post-processing lets you do the usual stuff: crop, rotate, adjust white balance, exposure compensation, choose picture controls (e.g. vivid, landscape, portrait, custom, etc.). In addition, you can apply D-lighting, red-eye removal (although I couldn’t get the D90 to give me red-eye), convert to black and white, sepia, cyanotype, filter effects (skylight, warm, red, green, blue, cross screen), resize, quick retouch (contrast + saturation), adjust distortion, and add fisheye effect. Each adjustment creates a new JPG and leaves the original untouched. It’s a nice-to-have for a guy like me who doesn’t particularly like post-processing images.
  • Strobists take note: The D90 has built-in flash commander support for up to two groups + the built-in flash + adjustable channels (1-4)! It’s almost like getting an SB-800 thrown into the kit for free. Awesome news for folks with multiple strobes.
  • No complaints about the 18-105 kit lens. The VR works well, it has the same field of view at the wide end as the 18-70, and it has produced fine bokeh so far. Plastic lens mount but, hey, it’s the kit lens. Exactly the same lens hood as the 18-70 kit and takes the same filter size (67mm).
  • Movie mode is a fun, fun, fun little battery drainer. Image quality is excellent, sound quality is acceptable (what you’d expect from a dinky in-camera microphone). I’ll post a video sample soon.

As I said, I’ve only had the camera a few days. More impressions as I learn more about it. Some weekend shots below, from my Flickr account:

Tower 4

Huntington Beach Condos

And the winner is…

Last week we held a lens rental giveaway sponsored by BorrowLenses.com. You left a comment describing which lens you’d like to rent and why and BorrowLenses.com chose one lucky recipient to receive a free 2-week lens rental. And that lucky photographer is…

Bryan Villarin who wrote: “I think I’d want to try a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 because I’m very much into street photography right now and my 50mm is too close for comfort. :)” Max at BorrowLenses.com wrote that he also liked Bryan’s photo blog (you might too, check it out).

Congratulations, Bryan! And thanks to everyone who entered!

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