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Fujifilm XF10 Improved AF with Firmware Update 1.11

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"Is Pro Gear Worth the Premium Price?" - TDS Photo Podcast

Daily Post

The Oddly Wonderful Yongnuo 40mm f/2.8 AF Lens

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In the world of interchangeable lenses, photographers tend to favor matching brand names, such as Canon for Canon, or well-known optics from companies such as Zeiss, Tamron, Tokina, and Sigma. Outliers, especially from China, don't get as much attention. But that doesn't mean they're not worth investigating every now and then. Such is the case with Yongnuo.

I recently purchased a Yongnuo 40mm f/2.8 AF lens for Nikon F mount ($92). I had read the reviews from a couple years ago when it was first released (Review: The Yongnuo 40mm f/2.8 Pancake Lens for Nikon is Bad). The basic consensus was that it was a sharp optic with a plastic feel and terrible auto focusing.

I bought it anyway, thinking, "How bad could it be?" I mean, two years later, it's still around and selling.

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After perusing a dozen images captured with the lens on a Nikon D610, I agreed with the reviewers on one point: the Yongnuo was indeed sharp. What was no longer correct was its poor auto focusing performance. Very few had bothered to revise their reviews after the firmware update that addressed that very issue (Version 1.02, Dec. 2017). The current lens, or those updated with the latest firmware, should perform just fine on the D610 and other Nikons.

Why Even Bother with this Lens?

At this point you may be thinking, "OK, that's great Derrick. But why do you care so much about a 40mm lens that's made in China for a DSLR?"

If you look at the bloating evolution of many mirrorless cameras, and you revisit some full frame DSLRs, such as the super-affordable Nikon D610, you'll see that there isn't much size and weight difference if you get a light, compact lens on the DSLR.

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Plus, I much prefer 40mm lenses to 35mm and 50mm focal lengths. 40mms are neither too wide nor too narrow - just right for an "everyday around the neighborhood" optic. The Yongnuo is compact, light, sharp, and wildly affordable. It has a nice metal mount, digital brains that are upgradable, and looks rather handsome on the D610. And all for that for the price of a polarizer. It's definitely worth exploring.

With an f/2.8 maximum aperture, I can shoot existing light in most situations. The AF isn't for sports photography, but it's fine for everyday life, especially in S Drive mode. And the pictures look very good.

Tips for Success

The optic doesn't ship with a lens hood, but I discovered something interesting. It has threads for a bayonet mounted hood that look familiar. Sure enough, if you own the Nikon G 50mm f/1.8, the hood that comes with that lens, the HB-47, fits perfectly on the 40mm. How smart is that?

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Also, I recommend a quality MC filter to protect the data port, front glass, and focusing mechanism. Since it's the same 58mm thread as with the Nikon G 50mm, again, you can repurpose that as well.

In terms of when to use this optic, it's really nice for nimble photography when you want to travel light and compact. You can mount it on a Nikon DSLR, and suddenly the camera fits in places that it never did before. You can stash a zoom or bigger prime lens elsewhere in your bag if you need them.

Good uses included candids, street photography, travel, and around the house. I wouldn't consider the Yongnuo 40mm for sports coverage or inclement outdoor adventure. It really isn't what I would consider a rugged, all weather optic. It's more of a city kid.

Image Quality

In the final analysis, good pictures are the real bottom line. I've only tested the 40mm on a D610, which makes a lot of lenses look good, but the results have been surprisingly wonderful for a sub-$100 optic. Center sharpness is excellent, edge detail is good, and distortion wasn't a problem for me. (If you process your Nikon RAW files in Capture One Pro, they look really good.)

DSC_0661-Yongnuo.jpg Nikon D610 with Yongnuo 40mm, f/6.3, 1/160th, ISO 200.

DSC_0666-Yongnuo.jpg Nikon D610 with Yongnuo 40mm, f/2.8, 1/30th, ISO 1600.

The Bottom Line

Firmware updates are a wonderful thing. In the case of the Yongnuo 40mm f/2.8, it appears that the update back In Dec. 2017 corrected the biggest grip among early reviewers: poor AF performance.

That issue being resolved for most photography situations, we're left with a sharp, inexpensive, prime optic in a focal length that's not being served by Nikon. It's hard to complain about that.

The oddly wonderful Yongnuo 40mm is currently mounted on my D610. I think I'll just leave it there for now.

There are product links in this article that contain affiliate tags. In some cases, depending on the product, The Digital Story may receive compensation if you purchase a product via one of those links. There is no additional cost to you.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Weekly Podcast

"Is Pro Gear Worth the Premium Price?" - TDS Photo Podcast

This is The Digital Story Podcast #723, Jan. 28, 2020. Today's theme is "Is Pro Gear Worth the Premium Price?." I'm Derrick Story.

Opening Monologue

Camera manufacturers build pro gear for the handful of professionals who need its durability for their work, and for bragging rights that create a halo effect for aspiring shooters who want the very best. But for weekend warriors and enthusiasts, is the premium price tag a wise investment? We'll explore this question and more on today's TDS Photography Podcast.

Is Pro Gear Worth the Premium Price?

I have made a lot of clients happy over the years using cameras such as the Canon 5D Mark II, Nikon D610, Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II, and the Pentax KP. No one every asked my why I wasn't shooting with a Nikon D5 or Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. And the investment difference was substantial, to say the least.

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Similar considerations apply to lenses. One of my favorite examples is the Canon EF 70-200mm. You can buy the amazing EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II for $1,299. It is one of the sharpest 70-200s on the planet. Or you could spend $2,100 (when not on sale) for the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III. That extra f/stop cost $800.

Which lens is best for you? Ask yourself these five questions to help you match the proper investment with your photography needs.

  • How much is emotion driving my decision? - I'm putting this one right up front because it's something that most of us are vulnerable to.
  • Do your research - Research can be the anecdote for emotional decisions. Here's an example: The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8 lens is on sale right now for $299. It is compact, amazingly sharp, fast, and affordable. But it isn't weather resistant, and to be honest, isn't as sexy as the PRO model. The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO Lens is on sale for $1,049, roughly 3.5 times the price of the f/1.8 version. It is larger, sexier, faster, and weather sealed. Both optics are sharp. But if you take the emotion out of it and let your research determine which is best for you, you could save more than $700.
  • Renting specialized gear instead of buying - Am I a generalist or do I need special gear for niche assignments? You can get top quality gear for general photography at affordable prices. But if you have a specialized area of interest, you will most likely need more budget. Figure out what you are realistically going to shoot. Once you figure that out, maybe it's better to rent specialized gear for those occasions.
  • Consider resale value - I did exceptionally well when I sold my Canon DSLR gear. I kept the original boxes and paperwork for all items. But you should look at the market and try to figure out where it's going when debating about new gear. If you're fairly confident that you will be able to resell it at a good price, you can factor that in to the bottom line cost.
  • Used vs New - One of my favorite lenses, the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II ASPH. lens was purchased used because I needed it at a time when my budget couldn't accommodate a new version. It has served me well ever since.

Using these five steps, I've been able to meet all of my assignment needs while maintaining a tight budget that I could justify to anyone. It feels good to do business this way.

Speaking of Moving Gear Along

We have had some key contributions for community members lately. They have donated analog gear or older digital gear to The Digital Story. Not only does this prevent needless landfill waste, but it puts creative tools in the hands of those who really appreciate these items.

A warm thanks to Kevin, Mark, and Colin for their recent contributions. And those of you took the time to ship your unused items to me last year, I want to thank you again.

Lady Gaga Criticizes Music Pirates with Pirated Photos. Shutterstock Responds

You can read complete article here on PetaPixel.com.

After Lady Gaga's new song "Stupid Love" leaked onto the Internet and went viral last weekend, the singer called out fans who had listened to the unauthorized release. Problem was, Lady Gaga's Tweet used "pirated" stock photos that had "Shutterstock" watermarks splashed across them, and this unauthorized usage didn't escape the company's notice.

"We hear you!" Shutterstock writes. "We like artists to be paid for their work too. Here's a link to the photographer's work where you can license these quality images."

It turns out the photographer behind the stock photos is children's author Richard Nelson, and he doesn't seem to mind not getting paid for the usage -- in fact, he Tweeted out a non-watermarked version of Lady Gaga's message for the singer to use:

@ladygaga As the photographer of this picture, I've got you.

But from the conversations this incident has sparked online, it seems clear that the vast majority of photographers agree with Shutterstock: copyright is important, but not just for musicians -- it needs to be respected and defended for all artists, including photographers.

Update for the TDS 2020 Photography Workshop Season

What makes these events so special? It's the magic blend of fellowship, location, inspiration, and focus. You can actually be single-minded about your craft. I'll take care of everything else.

When I was discussing this on our Patreon site, one Inner Circle member raised a concern about the class presentation on the final day. I'm going to tell you what I say at every workshop. This is not a competition. It is the most supportive creative environment that you will ever share your work with. And no matter your skill level, the floor is yours to discuss your experience and share a few images. I promise you, you will love it.

When you decide which event is best for your, jump over to our 2020 Workshops Signup Page and place a $100 deposit to secure your place. Only participants on the Reserve List who have placed a deposit will be eligible to register for a workshop. If you have questions or need more information, fill out the "Send Me Info!" request form. I'll get back to you asap.

  • LA Street Photography Experience - March 13-15, 2020 - 1 Seat Remaining - This hands-on workshop guides you on an exploration of classic Los Angeles locations and architecture. Our excursions will take us as far west as Venice Beach, as well as famous movie spots and the back streets of this fascinating Southern California area. Limited to 9 participants and featuring two instructors (Derrick Story and Mike Boening), you will enjoy great photography, food, and friendship with our fellow enthusiasts. Three days, $749. You can place your deposit here.
  • Humboldt Redwoods and Coast Workshop - May 12-14, 2020 - 0 Seats Remaining -- Our home base for this experience is in the hospitable town of Fortuna that's on the banks of the Eel River. From there we explore the magnificent redwood groves of Humboldt County and the rugged coastline of Northern California. This workshop explores three distinct ecosystems in a satisfying 3-day event. Limited to just 9 participants, you can reserve your spot and learn more about this event here.
  • Lassen Volcanic Park Photo Workshop - July 16-18, 2020 - 2 Seats Remaining -- We'll convene at a spacious cabin at Lake Almanor that serves as our HQ. From there we explore the stunning Lassen landscape, peaceful shores of Lake Almanor, and the magnificent mountain night skies. This hands-on photo workshop is limited to 8 participants and is a wonderful blending of experience, camaraderie, and artistry. Limited to just 8 participants, you can reserve your spot and learn more about this event here.
  • The Eastern Sierra Photography Workshop - Oct. 1-3, 2020 - 2 Seats Remaining - Our event is headquartered at the Silver Maple Inn in Bridgeport, CA - gateway to Bodie, Mono Lake, and June Lake. We'll take advantage of the magical morning light to photograph some of the most unique landscape in North America. We'll photograph the sparkling night skies of the Sierra and explore rustic urban environments. Limited to just 9 participants, you can reserve your spot and learn more about this event here.

Updates and Such

Inner Circle Members: A big thanks to those who support our podcast and our efforts!

How to Watch Photos for macOS Catalina and iPadOS - Learn everything you need to know about Photos for the Mac and iPad by checking out my latest course on LinkedIn Learning and on lynda.com. This course is perfect for Mac and iPad based photographers who shoot with iPhone, Mirrorless, and DSLR cameras. It covers both photography and movies. And if I say so myself, it's a lot of fun.

B&H and Amazon tiles on www.thedigitalstory. If you click on them first, you're helping to support this podcast. (The Digital Story is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.) And speaking of supporting this show, and big thanks to our Patreon Inner Circle members:

Affiliate Links - The links to some products in this podcast contain an affiliate code that credits The Digital Story for any purchases made from B&H Photo and Amazon via that click-through. Depending on the purchase, we may receive some financial compensation.

And finally, be sure to visit our friends at Red River Paper for all of your inkjet supply needs.

See you next week!

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper - Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

Skillshare is an online learning community with thousands of classes for creators, entrepreneurs, and curious people everywhere. Get two months of learning for free by visiting www.skillshare.com/tds.

The Nimbleosity Report

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You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.