Mostly about my amusement

Tag: Nikon (page 1 of 3)

Yashica vs Nikon

My Yashica Electro 35 GSN has a 45mm f/1.7 lens which makes for a comparison with my Nikon D300s with a 30mm f/1.4. My DSLR has an APC sensor which with the 1.5 crop factor makes the 30mm equivalent to 45mm.

It’s not often when I can compare a digital camera with a film camera like that and recently I took both cameras to a family event. In good light most cameras will perform well and that restaurant was well-lit.

I like shooting with film cameras and using a rangefinder is cool. The focusing is completely different from a DSLR. With the Nikon I look through the lens but with the Yashica I need to frame the image in the view finder and line up an overlaid image.

The experience also different because with the DSLR you get instant gratification. It took me over a week to get the roll of film developed and copied onto a DVD but with the digital camera I was able to upload the images the same day.

In the rangefinder I ran Fuji Superia XTRA 400 through it and shot the Nikon at 200 ISO. I also used a fill flash on the Nikon since the background was really bright.

The film images are good but if you have a good DSLR (and I do 😉 ) you can get just as good results without the wait.

Yes I know that’s obviously the case but I’ll continue to shoot with film and the DSLR. For me shooting with both is fun. I like taking photos and collecting old cameras and occasionally I capture some really good images.

Golden Gate Bridge from Alcatraz

This was taken with my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens with a circular polarizer from Alcatraz Island.

Nikon D300s, Sigma 30mm @ ISO 200 f/5.6 1/8000 second, Aperture Priority

Not too shabby. Except for cropping and straightening it out (I can’t quite get the horizon right holding the camera by hand) I hardly made any changes at all.

Using Photoshop Elements 9 and saving for the web got me some banding on top, but the original Nikon RAW file is good and that’s what I’ll upload to Flickr.

Now to finish going through the pile and post the ones I like.

Nikon GP-1

Sometimes you just like to know where you were when you took the photo. Luckily there are many options available for a DSLR and I went with the default Nikon solution.

Last week on a whim I ordered a Nikon GP-1 for my camera. This GPS receiver plugs into my D300s and when it has a lock onto enough GPS satellites (3 or more) it embeds the coordinates and UTC time for when and where you took the picture.

I like it a lot but it’s an imprecise technology. The receiver is only as accurate as the data sources it locks onto, meaning if it locks onto 4 or more satellites, it’s good for ~20 feet or so. My first photos didn’t have any GPS coordinates recorded. Later on I was getting a good signal and got better results.

The default camera settings is to enable Auto Meter off, which from the manual explains

Auto Meter Off

If Enable is selected for GPS > Auto meter off in the setup menu for D3, D700, D300, and D90 cameras, the exposure
meters will turn off automatically after the time specifi ed in the camera Custom Settings menu. This reduces the drain
on the battery but may prevent GPS data from being recorded if the exposure meters are not activated until immediately
before the picture is taken.

I had some problems keeping a lock on the GPS with that feature enabled. Once I disabled the feature, the GPS receiver took a couple of minutes to acquire the satellites. But once it found them, I had a solid green light and was floored as to how accurate the readings were.

If you look at the above map, you can see where the GP-1 did not quite get a lock onto my position. After I disabled Auto Meter Off, the GP-1 put me (correctly) onto 23rd Street. Even with 3 satellites it still puts me in the general vicinity and that’s good enough for my street photography.

After I uploaded the photos to Flickr, I Googled for a tool and found iMapFlickr. After providing a small amount of info I was able to generate the above map in no time. I’ll continue to play around with it but so far it works exactly as I thought it would.

Nikon 50mm f/1.4G samples

I’ve been playing with my new 50mm. If you liked the f/1.8D version, then you’ll have no complaints with this f/1.4.G new model.

Dim Sum cart

It’s a fun lens and as long as you can move around, you’ll get good shots. Here’s some samples I took today.

We ate at the Jade Asian Restaurant. There are probably some people who could get away with taking photos of strangers in a restaurant, but I’m not one of them. I took shots of my family and the dim sum carts.

I process most of my photos with DxO Optics Pro 6. Anyone who wants to do as little work doing color correction, noise, and distortion adjustments should order this software. With DxO I converted these from Nikon .NEF into Adobe .DNG format, but only because I like to play with the color temperature and blacks. Some quick cropping in PSE and I’m usually fine after that.

I’m a fan of DxO and eventually I’ll just go from RAW to straight JPEG. The software is very fire-and-forget.

Nikon 50mm f/1.4G

New 50mm

After using my brother’s Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lens for a few weeks, I broke down and picked up a new AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G lens. From all the reviews I’ve read, it’s an improvement over the older f/1.4D version being more sharper while still having a good DOF.

Here are some samples of what I took with the older f/1.8D lens. I like 50mm on my camera because I can get good photos without being in people’s faces.

I’ve really enjoyed using the 50mm f/1.8D and have taken some good photos with it.  But it is on loan and I wanted my own. The new one is a better and more modern lens so getting that version should work out for me.

My initial test shots with the 50mm f/1.4G lens shows that the depth of field is really good.  The object I focused on is sharp but the background is nice and soft.

This weekend I’ll use it a lot and post some of the results.

Model train show

Today was a miserable day weather-wise but had one good thing going for it. The next town over had a model train show and the highlight was a N gauge train layout. It was a fun display and I took almost 300 photos. I shared 40 of them over here on Flickr. I also learned of a couple more train museums to visit in Long Island.

My son could have stayed there all day. The N gauge trains are about the size of one of my fingers and the detail was surprising. I shot most of the event with a Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lens and some shots with my Sigma 30mm f/1.4. I prefer to not bug people with a flash so most of my shots have a narrow depth of field. It’s a shame that I did not use the flash since the detail on those sets was amazing.

The Nikon 50mm is on loan and I am definitely getting the newer Nikon 50mm f/1.4G.

More off camera flash

In September I fooled around with the off camera flash. Since then I have not really taken advantage of it so yesterday I intentionally used it like crazy.

The Nikon family of cameras from the D80 and up support off camera flash using CLS.  This takes your pop-up flash and lets it be in commander mode.  This way the pop-up flash is not used to light the scene, instead it’s used to tell the nearby flash in remote mode to go off.

The results can be fun and you get a more naturally lit photo. The above shot was taken using the ceiling as my reflector.  It’s not a good example as I probably could have gotten the same results just pointing SB-800 straight up while attached to my camera but you get the idea.

During this get together I just left the flash on the table and pointed it up at the ceiling. I’m hoping with some more practice I can get better and have more fun. Lucky for me my friends and family are tolerant of the nut with the camera; I took almost a 100 pictures alone last night.

DPReview’s Canon 7D review

I purchased my Nikon D300s for a simple reason: I was sold on the D300 and I’m a stickler for getting the current model. I’ve been very satisfied with it.

Now Canon has come out with the 7D which lines up directly against the D300s. DPReview has a really good in-depth write-up of the Canon 7D. Look at this page for a comparison of the 7D, D300s, and the Pentax K-7. No surprises there, but what I found interesting is that the K-7 is much cheaper and yet competes with the two big boys.

I’ve invested in Nikon and unless they suddenly go out of business, I’m not getting a new DSLR system.  But for new buyers Pentax might be a workable option.

Off camera flash


I’m playing with my new camera and got to a feature that does not exist on my D60: off camera flash. It’s easy to set up the D300s to use the built in flash solely for commander mode.

On my SB-800 flash, I held down the SEL button for two seconds to get to the next menu.  There I was able to set up the flash as a remote. On the camera I set the flash to commander mode without also using it as a TTL flash (you can use it as TTL flash and commander at the same time).

The results were really good.  I put the flash on its stand and pointed it 45 degrees at a wall. Resting it on the floor worried me because of the kids running around. Bouncing off of the wall filled up the room nicely without making the light harsh at all.

This feature exists on most of the Nikon cameras such as on the D70 and above. It’s an old feature that is part of Nikon’s Creative Lighting System (CLS). But for me it’s all new and very cool.

The Nikon D300s came in


So after months of waiting, I finally got a Nikon D300s with the updated 18-200mm VR lens.

I was originally planning on getting a Nikon D90 which would have been a fine upgrade from my existing D60.  But Lily intervened and pointed out that getting a D90 now and possibly repeating this in a year in a half might not really be a good idea.  A new D300s would almost certainly keep me entertained for a couple of years.

The conversation went like this:

Me: I’d like to replace my D60 with a D90.

Lily: No. Get the next model up, that makes more sense.

Me: Oh, okay. But only because you are twisting my arm and forcing me.

That conversation was in May. I waited for the D300s because I knew that the D300 was at the end of its for sale life and I like to get the latest and greatest versions. The D300 is an amazing camera but the controls are updated on the D300s and for fun Nikon added video. The video is more of a novelty for me, I just like how fast my new camera focuses and handles low light.

Right after I got it I updated my Adobe raw converter to version 5.5 and downloaded the latest PTLens version. My Photoshop Elements work flow is to fix the white balance, adjust for lens distortion, and crop. Not complicated but having the updated software helps.

Today I took over 200 photos of a 5 year old’s birthday party.  Compared to the D60, the D300s felt heavier but not unwieldy. The autofocus is fast and accurate.  Low light bounces the ISO up to >1600 but that works out on this camera.

I’m playing around with it like crazy and I’m hoping that I get a chance to take some memorable pictures soon.