Nikon D60 and auto ISO

I got to learn about a useful DSLR feature called auto ISO.

A friend brought in his mint Nikon D90 and let me play with it. He had on the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 HSM macro lens and I was really impressed.  It’s not a D700 but for someone like me it’s really good.  Low noise at high ISO (compared to my D60), good color handling, and it’s fast.

We switched lenses for comparison and I was struck how his D90 took better exposed pictures than my D60.  I took pictures of the same things using both the D90 and the D60. Same lens, but the D90’s pictures handled poorly lit subjects better.

The D90 is a more current model but the difference was (wait for it) night and day.  Getting home I found the answer once I cracked open the manual.  His D90 had auto ISO turned on, while my D60 had it turned off.

Auto ISO on the Nikon D60 works like this: You set the maximum ISO sensitivity and the minimum shutter speed.  The minimum shutter speed is what triggers the auto ISO. Right now my maximum sensitivity is set to ISO 1600 and my minimum shutter speed is 1/15th of a second.  Using a flash turns off auto ISO.  I leave my camera set to ISO 200.

Most of my pictures are taken in P mode.  When the lighting works out that the shutter speed takes longer than 1/15 of a second, the camera will automatically raises the ISO from 200 to whatever works out to get the exposure time back down to 1/15 of a second.

Here’s an example using my son (he was the star student today in his class, way to go!) I set the minimum exposure for auto to 1/8 of a second from my usual 1/15.  I did this because my light is poor right now and at 1/15 I was shooting up to ISO 1400.

Both are at f/3.5 and the D60 was in P mode. The picture on the left is with auto ISO turned off, ISO 200 and exposed at 1/2 second.  The one on the right has auto ISO turned on.  This raised the ISO from 200 to 640 and is exposed at 1/8 of a second.  Even with VR 1/2 of a second suffers from hand shake.

It’s not perfect, and if I were using manual mode I would want to turn off all auto settings. But here it reduced the exposure time from 1/2 a second to the minimum 1/8 of a second.

For what I take pictures of it’s very useful; I almost never use the built in flash and don’t yet own a SB-600. As long as my shutter speed remains at or above 1/15 this will not be used.  Lower than 1/15 and I’ll get better pictures.

Tomorrow I’m going to a 4 year old’s birthday party so I’ll see how this works in practice.

Update: The day after I posted this, I went to the New York Hall of Science with Lily and the kids.  We attended a birthday party for a 4 year old and I borrowed my Dad’s SB-600 flash.

Auto ISO did get engaged with the flash on.  I left my camera set to ISO 200 and when the bounce was not enough to get it over the 1/15 second minimum, the ISO was bumped up.  This is one that I was surprise to see it get a small boost to ISO 280:

She sure knows how to pick them

I need to look into this some more.  With the flash, the exposure was dialed down to 1/60th of a second. I’m not complaining but I’d like to firm up my understanding.

Overall I took +300 shots and I liked the results. You can see the 40 pictures I posted with a SB-600 and auto ISO turned on Flickr.

Don’t you worry, the government is on the job

With the House Republicans apparently (it is a closed door negotiation) walking out of the talks, it makes me wonder who exactly wants to do the $700 B bailout?  The White House does, but are the Senate and the House acting only because they don’t want to appear ineffective and out of touch?

That alone would be a lousy reason to make a deal.  If it’s to stop a massive recession, great. If it’s for politics as usual… that would be one expensive photo op.

Last night JP Morgan Chase made out well picking at WaMu’s bones.  It’s Friday and no deal is being publicly touted and the financial companies are still here for now.  Even if a bailout does occur in some form, the NYC area is going to lose jobs and feel the impact, so it’s hard for me to take Washington seriously.

Maybe tonight’s debate town hall election event will be enlightening.

He’s nuts, no way around it

Well, this is a Maverick move.  Or maybe Senator McCain is just nuts.

“We haven’t heard hide nor hair of Sen. McCain in these negotiations,” said Schumer, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. “He has not been involved except for an occasional, unhelpful statement, sort of thrown from far away, and the last thing we need in these delicate negotiations is an injection of presidential politics.”

McCain suspends campaign, Obama plans to continue

If Senator McCain was so entrenched in dealing with this corporate welfare bailout, then maybe.  But he has not been involved and Senator Obama is right.  Voters need a president who can deal with multiple problems at once. This is just another “Why do they hate America?” stunt.

Good thing Bill Clinton is on our side

Open mouth and insert foot HERE.

Earlier Monday, Clinton suggested his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, would have been a better political choice for the Democratic VP spot than Joe Biden.

CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Blog Archive – Bill Clinton says Dems shouldn’t attack Palin.

Isn’t Bill’s mouth a large part of why his wife did not win the primary? Why not just come out and say “I’m not president anymore and I don’t want any other Democrat to be president”.

He’s right in that Senator Obama’s campaign needs to focus on Senator McCain’s “4 more years of the same” but President Clinton needs to keep quite and let the grown ups speak.

Just trust us, our track record is good

Why would anyone hesitate to give the Bush administration more cash…?

The proposal “does not include the necessary safeguards,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. She called for “independent oversight, protections for homeowners and constraints on excessive executive compensation.”

Paulson urges quick action on $700 billion bailout.

This might be a “Good Thing” and since it’s election time, it will pass without any examination.  But geez, is it too much to ask that the government setup some sort of monitoring?

Upgrade of VPS from Ubuntu 6.06 LTS to 8.04 LTS

My upgrade from Ubuntu 6.06 LTS = FAIL.

Last week I created a VPS on Slicehost.  I’ve been using Tektonic for a while now and have no complaints.  The support is very good and I can backup my VPS for when I need to.

I’m using Slicehost because I don’t want both of my domain DNS servers on the same provider. They offer Ubuntu 8.04 LTS, runs on top of Xen, and provide console access via an Ajax web front end.  You need to pay extra for a backup option. Aside from that one little point, using Slicehost is ridiculously easy and very manageable. They eat their own dog food and it shows.

On my Tektonic VPS it’s running on top of Virtuozzo.  No console just ssh but I do get to make a backup of my VPS and re-installing is a breeze. My only complaint is that it’s running Ubuntu 6.06 LTS which is a little dated.  For example the subversion client is 1.3.2 and I’d like to see more current versions such as 1.5.x.  On Ubuntu 8.04 LTS I just added the backports repository and I get current versions of packages.

Switching to Ubuntu 8.04 LTS should be simple. As root I ran these commands:

apt-get update
apt-get upgrade
apt-get install update-manager-core
do-release-upgrade

This is a seamless process and aside from asking me some questions, I had no issues.  The only issue I had is when I rebooted my VPS, it left the VPS un-bootable.  The support tech that I chatted with had not seen that before.  My VPS would not even start and I had to re-install it.

I’m now restoring the VPS to the backup I made yesterday, so it’s not all a total wash.  Most likely I’ll work with Tektonic to get 8.04 LTS on that slice provided they offer it.  Ubuntu 6.06 LTS is still supported so aside from consistency across servers, this is not a big deal for me.

Vista is consumer crap

So I booted my PC today when I got home today. I had intended to check e-mail before running out.

The damn thing won’t boot.  I’m typing this on the kitchen laptop.  It says the registry file is corrupted and I should boot off of my Vista DVD and select the repair option.  Except my PC has 4 GB of RAM in it, and the DVD I have won’t boot. That particular image will only boot with 2 GB of RAM or less.

Tomorrow I’ll pop out the RAM, pop in the old 2 GB that I have laying around and fix my PC.  How could Microsoft release such a unsupportable mess?  This is why I need to have a dual boot option and install Ubuntu Linux.  If I had an issue with Linux, I could fix it in no time at all.

Nuts.