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Product Review: Moment Case and Lenses

Moment Lenses and Case Review

Lens additions aren’t new to mobile photography. There’s plenty of choices out there from generic third party lenses to more notable ones like Olloclips. But when I came across Moment’s lenses and case Kickstarter campaign in 2015, I couldn’t help but get behind this piece of glass.

Product Review: Moment Case and LensesMoment first released their lenses in 2014, however, I only came across them from their second Kickstarter campaign, which was a companion case to their lenses. I’m never a fan of buying things that are made specifically for a device, since I’m prone to changing/upgrading my iPhone every year or two. However, I went ahead and ordered the case, along with their wide angle 18mm and telephoto 60mm lenses.

Moment 18mm and 60mm lenses with case.

Moment 18mm and 60mm lenses with case.

I received my case and lenses in December 2015, just in time for the Christmas holidays. Upon opening the packages, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the case and lenses. Let me start with the case, since that’s their latest campaign.

The Moment Case

The moment case comes in a few different colour combinations: black on black, wood on black, and white on black. I chose the latter for my iPhone 6s Plus, and I really like the little bit of white on top, as it adds a little contrast to the rest of the case, which is quite large.

Moment lens attached to case.

Moment lens attached to case.

The case—apart from the white top, which is plastic—has a really nice feel to it: it’s firm yet has a rubbery felt-like feel to it, thanks to the custom TPU material that they use. It provides just the right amount of friction for a secure grip, and as the folks at Moment says, it’s “not so grippy that it gets stuck in your pocket.”

Moment lenses and Moment case.

Moment lenses and Moment case.

The case is tapered, offering a thicker grip, which allows for better handling of your phone in landscape mode. This thicker area is also where the circuit board and battery resides. The battery lights the LED light that shows when there’s a connection with the Moment app, and also sends information to the app when you press the shutter button.

Moment case from bottom of iPhone.

Moment case from bottom of iPhone.

The bottom of the case is open, so you won’t have any problems with inserting anything in the earphone jack or lightning cable port. The added aluminum bar acts as a neck strap hook and is a nice touch as well, although this piece on my case is a little wobbly upon touch.

Why is this case special?

Apart from adding another level of protection for your iPhone, the case acts as an interface to the collection of Moment lenses that they offer. Their proprietary interface is embedded within the case so all you need to do is twist the lens on to the case. The interface is well built and twisting on the lens is a breeze. There’s no click to lock the lens in place like you see on a dSLR, but I feel confident that the lens won’t easily twist off.

More importantly though, the case allows for added functionality when shooting with your iPhone. By adding a shutter button to the case, you’re now able to use that button to hold focus (by half-pressing the button), while we swipe on the screen to fine-tune adjustments like exposure. It took me a bit of time to get the hang of this as I wasn’t used to half-pressing and swiping at the same time. But once you’re used to it, the feature becomes quite handy.

Lens attachment

The case recognizes when you attach a lens to the case. While initially (if I remember correctly) the idea was that it automatically knew which lens was attached. The way it is now, you have to tell the Moment app which lens you have just attached. Moment says this “unlocks advanced software features” specific to each lens. What these features are, I do not know.

Moment camera app screen capture.

Moment camera app screen capture.

Note, if you don’t have the case, Moment sells a stainless steel mounting plate that you can stick to any mobile device, allowing you to use any one of their lenses.

The lens cap and magnet

The two lens caps that came with my combo does a great job in protecting the front element of the lens. It’s not flimsy by any means, and has a protective foam layer on the inside. There’s a small magnet hidden inside the lens cap so it can conveniently attach itself to the Moment Case, which also has a magnet on the top of the grip. It’s their way of making sure that you don’t lose the lens cap when you’re using the lens.

Moment case with cap magnetically attached.

Moment case with cap magnetically attached.

The magnet isn’t super strong though, so just be careful when you’ve got it attached. Your hand will cover the lens cap when holding the phone and if you’re not careful, you can easily knock the lens cap right off the magnetic spot with a quick swipe.

The Lenses

The Moment currently has three lenses in their collection: 18mm, 60mm, and a macro lens.

Moment 60mm and 18mm lenses.

Moment 60mm telephoto and 18mm wide lenses.

My Kickstarter package came with the 18mm and 60mm. Similar to the Moment case, as soon as I handled these lenses, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality. Gone are the days of cheap, plastic lenses with clip-on attachments. These are heavy-duty lenses made with quality glass, multi-element designs, and aerospace-quality stainless steel. When you pick one up, you’ll notice this quality instantly. It’s solidly built, and looks terrific.

Moment lenses in carrying sacs and lens covers.

Moment lenses in carrying sacs and lens covers.

18mm wide

As a landscape photographer, I immediately drew my attention to the 18mm wide angle lens. I love the added focal length this gives me. The large landscape coverage gives me that same feeling as when I shoot with my 14mm on my Nikon D800. You can see how much more coverage the lens gives you, below. The iPhone camera without any attachment has a focal length of approx. 29/30mm (35mm equivalent). The 18mm is much wider as you can see.

Moment 18mm lens attached to Moment case.

Moment 18mm lens attached to Moment case.

I’ve noticed a slight vignetting with this lens (see sample photos below). It’s nothing I can’t live with though. On the Moment lens website though, it says “clear edge to edge.” From my test samples below, I’m not so sure I can agree with this. If you look at the sample photos, you’ll see the corners and edges are a little blurry, which is a shame. I could live with the vignetting, but I would have loved to have edge to edge sharpness, as mentioned on their site.

60mm telephoto

The telephoto lens does a terrific job at getting you that much closer to the subject. Forget the digital zooms on your iPhone as that just yields in poor quality images as a product of digital extrapolation. Having an optical telephoto lens means you’ll come out with top quality images that you’ll be surprised came out of a mobile device.

Moment 60mm lens attached to Moment case.

Moment 60mm lens attached to Moment case.

Looking at the images below, you’ll notice how much closer the subject is (two times closer). Of course, a steady hand will always help more with any telephoto lens, so be sure to hold it steady, or use a tripod like I always do.

Do I Really Need These?

If you love taking photos with your iPhone or mobile device, the Moment case and lenses won’t disappoint. Apart from the slight vignetting and distortion that I saw with my 18mm lens, I have to say it’s the best lens addition to my iPhone that I’ve ever seen thus far.

These are by no means a necessity for any iPhone user, but more so an added benefit to being able to take extra wide and telephoto photos. The interaction with their app adds a nice touch and really enhances the picture-taking experience on a mobile device, which ultimately has given me even more of an excuse to go out and start shooting again.

Moment 18mm attached to Moment iPhone 6/6s Plus case.

Moment 18mm attached to Moment iPhone 6/6s Plus case.

Sample Photos

To better compare the results, here are a couple sample landscapes that I took with each of the lenses, along with the shot taken with the regular iPhone 6s Plus camera for comparison. These images have been resized and saved for web; apart from that, no editing has been done.

Regular iPhone 6s Plus shot.

Regular iPhone 6s Plus shot.

Taken with the Moment 18mm lens.

Taken with the Moment 18mm lens.

If you look at the top left corner, you’ll notice that the finer tree branches are not as clear as the rest of the branches surrounding them. And if you compare these branches to those in the iPhone 6s Plus photo, you can really see that the quality has dropped a little with the lens.

Taken with the Moment 60mm lens.

Taken with the Moment 60mm lens.

Now, look at the top left corner of this photo. It’s slightly blurred along with the rest of that left side. In fact, all corners are slightly blurry if you look closely.

Test Photo 2

Regular iPhone 6s Plus Landscape.

Regular iPhone 6s Plus Landscape.

Taken with the Moment 18mm lens.

Taken with the Moment 18mm lens.

Looking at the top corners (left and right), you’ll see there is slight vignetting. It’s harder to see on the bottom corners, but it’s there as well.

Taken with the Moment 60mm lens.

Taken with the Moment 60mm lens.

The top right corner is slightly darker here as well. And again, you can notice that the entire left side of the photo is slightly blurred.

Bonus

And if you’re curious, here are a couple photos I took with my Nikon D800, where I changed the focal length until I matched the composition that I took with the Moment 18mm and 60mm lenses. The first photo turned out to be 19mm, which is pretty close. The second photo turned out to be 58mm, which is also pretty close. This test doesn’t really do much except tell me that I did a pretty good job matching the composition between the two cameras.

Nikon D800 at 19mm.

Nikon D800 at 19mm.

Nikon D800 at 58mm.

Nikon D800 at 58mm.

If you’ve taken great photos with Moment lenses, feel free to comment below and let me know!


For more information on the Moment case and lenses, head over to their website at http://www.momentlens.co.

2015 Year in Review – iPhone Photography

While it was difficult to pick my 2015 Year in Review for my Nikon photos, believe it or not it’s even more difficult to do the same for my iPhone Photography.

2015 Year in Review: iPhone Photography

My iPhone is always with me and that’s one reason why it’s easier to take priceless moments when they arise. Furthermore, there’s really no setting up when it comes to taking pictures with your iPhone: as soon as I open the camera app, I’m ready to take a photo. That being said, there’s a certain amount of foresight involved with iPhone Photography as well.

My favourite iPhone photography for 2015 are below, and indicates a wide variety of photo genre and editing styles, as experimentation is always in order when it comes to iPhone photo taking and editing.

Fiery sunrise over Lake Ontario.

Fiery sunrise over Lake Ontario.

This photo is similar to the one I took with my Nikon, but the editing was a little different, producing another moody photo to one of the most vibrant sunrises I’ve ever seen in Toronto.

Long exposure sunrise using Slow Shutter Cam app.

Long exposure sunrise using Slow Shutter Cam app.

I’ve always been a fan of long exposure photography, and doing these on an iPhone is super-easy with the Slow Shutter Cam app. I always make it a point to carry my mini-tripod with me so that I can produce long-exposures in moments where I least expect to. This one was taken during the sunrise hours where the reflection of the light on the serene lake made the moment extra special.

Beached in Hamilton

Beached in Hamilton

This photo above was taken on the shorelines of Hamilton where I decided to come on a whim. With the cold temps, strong wind, and open area, I hoped to capture the essence of the moment. The purple colour was added from a filter, but represented the subtle colours that were present in the early evening hours.

Ice climbing in Hamilton.

Ice climbing in Hamilton.

Here’s a moment where I lucked out by coming to the waterfalls when a group of ice climbers were having their weekend lesson. I wasn’t the only photographer there, so I managed to get some tips from a veteran ice climb photographer. The race to the top yielded in this perfectly timed shot where the climbers themselves formed a mountain!

Swirling Jet Skiers at Scarborough Bluffs

Swirling Jet Skiers at Scarborough Bluffs

Here’s where I was fortunate enough to be at the Scarborough Bluffs, where a group of jet-skiers came zooming into the scene as they held a meetup on the beach. I captured them having fun in the water as they twirled around as if they knew I was taking their photos.

Quintessentially Rocky Mountains.

Quintessentially Rocky Mountains.

My trip to Alberta also produced some of my favourite images from my iPhone. This one, just off the Bow Valley Highway to me, seems like the perfect Rocky Mountain scene, which had some great wispy clouds to add even more interest to the landscape. The railroad cutting through the trees is a great guide to lead the eyes from one side of the image to the other.

On the lookout at Mt. Norquay.

On the lookout at Mt. Norquay.

I normally don’t have people in my landscapes, but this moment was too good to pass up. As my wife stood there admiring the view from the Mt. Norquay lookout, I stepped back and quickly took this with my iPhone as I loved her stance, her hat, and the background. It just all fit perfectly.

Winter shoreline in black and white.

Winter shoreline in black and white.

While I normally edit in colour, on occasion when I see the opportunity to make a great monochromatic image, I go for it. This image was just the case where the long exposure of the lake played well with the ice- and snow-covered shoreline. This shot would have been difficult on a dSLR if I didn’t have a ND filter.

The sun rising above Lake Ontario.

The sun rising above Lake Ontario.

This may be one of my favourite iPhone sunrise photos as the colours were just so brilliant. The fog hovering over Lake Ontario makes this extra moody and I’m glad my iPhone was able to capture this mood so well.

As you can see, there’s a variety of shots from my iPhone, and that’s to be expected. It’s a great camera to have in your pocket. I hope you enjoyed this round-up of some of my favourite iPhone photographs of 2015. I don’t know what 2016 will bring me, but I do know that with my newly acquired 18mm wide angle and 60mm telephoto lens from Moment, I will be sure to have even more fun the next time I go out.

Don’t worry, a review of these Moment lenses will come soon!

Being on Instagram’s Suggested Users List…Twice

Before I delve into the details, let me clarify by writing that this post isn’t about promoting my Instagram account, nor about boasting about what happened to my account. I’m writing this post to be an informative one for those wondering what exactly happens when a user gets on Instagram’s Suggested Users list. The Suggested Users list is a list of users on Instagram that are recommended to be followed, and is presented to every new account upon creation. For those of you who are wondering how one gets on the Suggested Users list on Instagram, don’t hold your breath—nobody really knows how one gets on the Suggested Users list, so I will merely give my thoughts below, on how this can be done. Now, let’s get to the details.

Thoughts on being on Instagram's Suggested Users list.

Thoughts on being on Instagram’s Suggested Users list.

Being on Instagram’s Suggested Users List the First Time

This section will explain what happened to my account when I was put on Instagram’s Suggested Users list the first time. I don’t have any screen captures of this event, so this will be a recollection of what I remember. On May 29, 2014, at 12:29pm, I received a Direct Mail from Instagram congratulating me for being put on their Suggested Users List. That DM looks a little like this:

Direct Message from Instagram

Direct Message from Instagram

To see if they actually respond to their DMs, I decided to write back to them and thank them for putting me on. This dialog went a little like this:

Response from Instagram.

Response from Instagram.

With two emojis, this conversation ended before it actually began.

My Instagram account at this time was strictly photos taken with my iPhone, or my iPhoneography. Before being put on the list, my follower count was approximately 1100. I didn’t know what would happen so I decided to just enjoy the ride to see where this took me. Within minutes I started getting followers. My activity list was just a list of messages stating xxx started following you. At one point, I was receiving more than 1000 new followers per 12 hours. This barrage of new followers continued steadily for the next 14 days.

By the end of the 14 days on the Suggested Users list, my total followers count was somewhere in the upper 20,000s. What’s one to do with all these followers? Not to worry because as weeks went by that number started to diminish little by little. There’s a number of reasons why you may start to lose followers:

  1. People who initially followed you no longer had an interest in your account.
  2. Spam accounts who automatically follow people on the Suggested Users list may unfollow you just as quickly.

In fact, I remember even months after being put on the Suggested Users list, I was still losing a small number of followers. It wasn’t until months down the road where my total followers finally settled down to the low 20,000. Fast forward a few months later when Instagram decided to purge inactive accounts or those that they found to be spam, and I found myself with even fewer followers afterwards. My total follower count after this purge settled to be around 18,600. From then on, my follower count fluctuated somewhat but was always around the 18,500-18,600 mark.

Here’s a summary of the roller coaster ride my follower count went through the first time on Instagram’s Suggested Users list on May 29, 2014.

Number of followers while being on Instagram's Suggested Users list.

Number of followers while being on Instagram’s Suggested Users list.

Who Are These Followers?

Now that’s a good question. The Suggested Users list is shown to all new users who create an account for the first time. You can also get to the list through your settings pages. And more recently, when you follow an account, a list of three other similar accounts will be suggested for you at that time as well. Whether the people on this list come from the Suggested Users list though, I do not know for certain.

I would gather that many of these followers are people who created an account out of interest and curiosity. These people may not necessarily continue to use the app and therefore will likely never engage with you on your account. So although you may have a large number of followers, those who actually engage with you may only be a fraction of those followers.

Instagram Followers

Instagram Followers

It’s important to note that just because they don’t engage with you, it doesn’t mean that they don’t see your photos. I’ll talk a little more on this below.

So How Did You Get Put On The Suggested Users List?

There are a number of sites out there that will tell you how to get on the Suggested Users list. While these techniques may be valid, there really is nothing proving that they work. The first time I was put on though, I was consciously following those very tips:

  1. Post regularly good quality photos.
  2. Engage with your followers by replying back to their comments on your photos.
  3. Visit your followers stream and engage with them on their photos.
  4. Visit other non-follower’s photos and like and comment on them.

So, is that what I should be doing with my account?

The whole point of social media platforms is to connect with other like-minded individuals. If your goal is to meet new people and connect with them, then yes, doing the above will likely get you further than if you were to simply ignore those steps. Don’t forget, joining contests and doing collaborations will also get you noticed by other members, increasing your chances of gaining new loyal followers.

Being On The Suggested Users List The Second Time

The second time I was put on Instagram’s Suggested Users list, it happened a little differently so this intrigued me quite a bit. On October 19, 2015 at 2:31pm, this time I received an email from Instagram congratulating me for being on the Suggested Users list. That email looked a little like this:

Mail from Instagram.

Mail from Instagram.

This took me by surprise though, since this came at a time where I was only sporadically posting at best. There were times where I wasn’t even posting, commenting, or liking, for five- or six-day stretches. I was certainly not following any of the four points mentioned above. My followers count was roughly 18,500 on that day. And this time, Instagram put me on their Suggested Users List for three weeks.

I decided to do things a little differently with my account this time. For the longest time I prided myself in uploading only my iPhone photos on my Instagram account. This time, however, I decided to now include my Nikon photos to my account. The difference in quality is still very much noticeable and so I decided to up my account to the next level along with my follower count.

So how was I put on the Suggested Users list the second time?

If you look at the email above, they gave you a link to click to suggest other users. If someone else was put on the Suggested Users list and got this same email, perhaps they remembered my account and decided to suggest me at that point, regardless of how often I was posting, commenting, or liking.

This would show that Instagram does listen to what other users are saying by taking their suggestions. It’s just a wonder why I was never presented with this option the first time around.

So what does this mean?

This means, you’re still better off cultivating a loyal base of followers by connecting with them through comments and likes. The more top-of-mind you are to other people, the more you’ll likely be suggested by another user to be on the Suggested Users list.

Here’s a graph of my follower’s numbers from the time I was put on, on October 19, 2015, to the time I was put off the list, exactly three weeks later.

Number of followers while being on Instagram's Suggested Users list.

Number of followers while being on Instagram’s Suggested Users list.

The increase in followers this time was incredible. At one point I was getting almost 700 new followers an hour. November 6 had an increase of about 7,000 new followers over the course of only 12 hours as well. I really don’t know where all these people are coming from!

At the end of being on the Suggested Users List, my follower count was roughly 153,600, an increase of 830 percent!

Engagements, Follower Count, and Likes Oh My!

With such an increase in number of followers, you hope you will get an increase in engagement as well. My likes and comments have increased a lot, but my posting dSLR photos have definitely made a difference in this as well. My engagement and like levels may not have increased by the same amount as my follower count had, but I have noticed more interaction from my users.

Seconds after posting a photo.

Seconds after posting a photo.

You can see here that seconds after I posted a photo to my account, people will immediately start to like it.

Seconds after posting a photo.

Seconds after posting a photo.

While being on Instagram’s Suggested Users List, I would still be getting followers while people would be liking my photo that I just uploaded seconds ago. Notice how there aren’t any comments though? Liking only requires a double-tap while commenting requires more effort and time.

With a large amount of followers, how come engagement isn’t as high?

There could be a number of reasons for this. I mentioned above that many of these followers may be new to Instagram and therefore may not use the app on a regular basis. These people may not engage with you as much as someone who loves photography and goes on the app several times a day. I believe this reason alone yields in an imbalance between follower count and engagement.

What about impressions?

Impressions are a metric for marketers to measure the success of a social media post. For example, YouTube views can be equivalent to its impression figure. The number of open e-blasts may also be used as an impression.

Instagram can be a little different though since you never really know who may or may not have seen your image. For example, if your follower count is 100,000, then your potential impressions may be 100,000 as well—although this is likely never the case. People who don’t necessarily like or comment on your photos may still see your photo, which will count as an impression because down the road, those people may still very well remember your photo.

The takeaway to this is your photos may still get a large impression because of your follower count, but your engagement may not be as large because of their decision to not like and/or comment on your photo.

Does Any Of This Matter?

This is a question you’ll have to ask yourself. To some people, these are just silly numbers. To others, they mean more potential for partnerships and collaborations with brands. Whether this matters, depends on what you want out of your Instagram account. I welcome new experiences and opportunities so I’ll see where this takes me—if anywhere. If I continue to post high quality photos and be inviting to my followers, I hope to cultivate a loyal following where people will want to come back to my stream for more of my photos.

Personally I am very thankful for being on Instagram’s Suggested Users list twice, as I enjoy engaging with new people around the world. If I am able to show my photography to more people, I will be more motivated to continue and learn the craft to better myself as a photographer, all the while making friendships around the world.


Have you been put on Instagram’s Suggested Users list? Do you even care about any of this? Let me know in the comments below as I would love to hear what you think about all of this.

Nikon D800 vs. iPhone 6 Plus Banff Landscape Showdown

We all know that our iPhones are capable of taking great photos and videos. Heck, there’s even a commercial built around this fact. But every so often I like to compare photos that I’ve taken with my iPhone 6 Plus and my Nikon D800. It’s not a very technical comparison by any means, but one that I find to be amusing just to see any inherent differences between the two.

This time I chose a landscape photo that I took out the window of the Banff Gondola, going up the summit of Sulphur Mountain in Banff National Park. It was exhilarating to be up there so I’m glad I was able to capture it with both cameras in a short span of time. Let’s take a look, shall we?

iPhone 6 Plus Landscape

iPhone 6 Plus edited in VSCOCam, A5 filter.

iPhone 6 Plus edited in VSCOCam, A5 filter.

This photo above shows the massive mountain ranges of Banff National Park with the Rimrock Resort Hotel seen in the bottom right. It’s a gorgeous view don’t you think? I really like the muted treatment on this, which is all thanks to the VSCOCam app, using the A5 filter. This photo was a simple edit with a little bit of sharpening and colour enhancements from that app. The blue skies and puffs of clouds really shines brightly in this photo.

Now, let’s take a look at the Nikon D800 version of this same landscape, taken just moments after this one.

Nikon D800 Landscape

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 35mm

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 35mm

The photo above was taken with my Nikon D800 just moments after I took the first photo with my iPhone 6 Plus. The composition is nearly identical, but you can see the editing treatment is a little different. I edited this photo all within Lightroom CC 2015. Rather than the muted tones, I went for a slightly punchier look to this photo. But more importantly what I noticed instantly, is the sharpness of the photo and the details my Nikon is capable of, compared to my iPhone. Of course this should be the case, given the sensor size difference between the two—and this is precisely why I can’t travel without my Nikon. The quality just can’t be matched.

This difference in quality is harder to notice when you see photos by themselves, but when you compare the two side by side like I did above, you get to see the finer differences between the two.

The question that remains now is, which editing style do you prefer?

Long Exposures are much easier with your iPhone

Long exposure photography has long been an interest of mine since I’ve been taking photographs. In particular I love taking long exposures at night to enhance the overall scene. However with the ever-so-advanced iPhone cameras coming out year after year, creating long exposures on my Nikon has become more and more tedious and sometimes more a task.

Nikon D800, 2.0 sec., f/18, ISO 100, 24mm, B+W 6-Stop ND filter and Polarizer

Nikon D800, 2.0 sec., f/18, ISO 100, 24mm, B+W 6-Stop ND filter and Polarizer

With my Nikon, I no doubt need a sturdy tripod that can withstand the weight of my camera and lens. Depending on the scene in front of me, I will need a Neutral Density filter to filter out enough light so that I can get a reasonably long exposure during the day. Otherwise, I will have to wait until the light goes down to be able to take any sort of decent long exposure. Once the shooting scenario is found, I then need to ensure that I don’t move the camera throughout the duration of the exposure. This includes any external camera shake or vibrations from the slap of the shutter, which often yields in the use of a shutter release cable, and the “Mirror Up” mode.

With my iPhone however, I only need a simple lightweight tripod that can fit in my shirt pocket, and a single app. That’s it! No filters, cables, or large and heavy tripods. Often times, the long exposures coming out of my iPhone are very impressive even though I will admit these are not true long exposures per se (iPhone long exposures are created by overlaying a number of photos on top of each other, rather than truly leaving the shutter open for a long period of time).

The quality of the resulting photo, however, is still a big factor in why I like to use my Nikon for photographs. An iPhone, no matter how advanced the app or camera is, still cannot compete with the quality of a dSLR camera. And that’s why when I travel, I still carry around my heavy and bulky Gitzo full sized tripod, cable release, filters, and multiple lenses so that I am prepared for any long exposure photos.

When will I eventually succumb to fully relying on my iPhone for photography? Only time will tell, but for now, I still do admire my Nikon and its ability to take fantastic photographs.