Nikon Speedlight SB-910 vs SB-900

Today Nikon announced the SB-910, a new top-of the range flash unit to replace the SB-900.

The SB-910 (left) vs the SB-900 (right)

This is a rather quick replacement – only 2 years and 5 months after the SB-900 appeared on the market. Compare this to the previous update cycle: It took Nikon 5 years to replace the SB-800 (announced 22 July 2003).

This update most probably has something to do with a gripe some professional users had with the SB-900: if you worked it too hard the thermal protection circuitry will kick in, rendering it unusable until it cooled.
While this is good for the unit’s self-preservation, it is terrible news to a photographer shooting a critical scene (imagine the bride walking down the aisle). Of course, working pros should be aware of this (it is explained in the manual), and it’s simple to switch this feature off if you don’t like it.

Non the less it comes as no surprise: The SB-910’s new thermal protection system slows the flash recycle frequency rather than it simply shutting down.

More visible changes on the back: the SB-910 (left) vs the SB-900 (right)

The full list of changes compared to the SB-900, just like in its model number, are marginal:

  • New overheating control (slowed recycle time instead of shutdown)
  • Improved battery management
  • Slightly simplified user interface (more like the SB-700)
  • Illuminated buttons
  • New “hard” colour filters (like on the SB-700)
  • Slightly tweaked exterior that is ever-so-slightly heavier (about 1%)

The SB-910 is already available for pre-order at around $550. If you’re clever and don’t need the tweaked features of the SB-910 you can save yourself $100 (20%) and instead order the SB-900 for $449 (B&H), while stock lasts.

Firmware update for the Nikon D5100 and D7000

Yesterday, Nikon has released new firmware for their D5100 and D7000 DSLRs. Since they were launched this is the first update for the D5100 and the third update for the D7000, and correct a couple of very minor issues.

If you own any of these and are happy with the way your camera works you may safely ignore the update.

Not sure whether you should upgrade or don’t know what firmware is? Then read this. Personally I own a D7000 and yes, I will upgrade mine. If you also wish to stay at the cutting edge and upgrade you can

Don’t know how to upgrade the firmware? You can read the official instructions on Nikon’s site (see download links above), or just watch Jared Polin’s informal and verbose video – see below.

To be honest Jared can really benefit by ranting less and keeping it shorter. But at least you now know how this works!

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Canon 1DX vs Nikon D3S

Update: Since the Nikon D4 has been announced on 2012-01-06, I have also written a concise post about the Nikon D4 vs Canon 1D X.

The Nikon D3S (left) vs the Canon 1D X (right)

Canon has thrown down the gauntlet with the announcement of its brand new flagship DSLR, the Canon EOS-1D X. This new camera is an extremely important new model for Canon, make no mistake about it.

The significant stuff, in table form:

Nikon D3S
Canon 1DX
Max ISO 102,400 204,800
Megapixels 12 18
Max FPS 11 14
# AF points
51 61
Video
720p, 24fps,
MJPEG
1080p, 30fps,
H.264
Viewfinder magnification
0.7x 0.76x
Metering sensor
1005-pixel RGB 100,000-pixel RGB
LCD display
3″, 921k dots 3.2″, 1040k dots
Price (body) $5200 $6800 (est)
Announcement date Oct 2009 Oct 2011
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12bit vs 14bit RAW and compressed vs uncompressed… Does it matter?

You know that to get the most of your DSLR you should be shooting in RAW, right? But these days Nikon cameras gives you even more options: 12-bit or 14-bit, and compressed or uncompressed RAW (NEF) files. Which should you choose?

Short question: Does it matter? Will you see any difference between compressed (lossy) and uncompressed (lossless) RAW? And between 12 and 14 bits?

Short answer: No it does not matter. Choose 12-bit compressed (because they take up less space) and forget about this topic. Or choose 14-bit uncompressed because theoretically you’re getting the “most” from your camera – you just have to live with the file sizes.

 Approximate RAW file
size on a Nikon D7000
12 bit 14 bit
compressed 12.6 MB 15.7 MB
uncompressed 14.9 MB 18.8 MB

Not happy with the short answer? Then read on…

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