This pic was supposed to be part of a pictorial depicting one day in my life during Corona, but I got bored of the concept. I just added it here so I don’t have an embarrasing gap for June 2020.
(Page numbers are from the 12th paperback printing in 2005, but according the foreword the text is unchanged since 1980.)
I recently revisited this book after some years. I remember it to be the most interesting part of the series (Camera, Negative, and Print), and the part that probably has the most relevance to modern day digital photographers.
As a side note, if you’re starting out shooting large format film, I doubt you can find a better treatment of the subject. Chapter 10, “View-Camera Adjustments”, contains an extensive discussion on stuff like tilts, swings, and rises.
The most intriguing chapter is Chapter 7, “Basic Image Management”, about visualization. Chapter 1, confusingly called “Visualization”, is actually about different sorts of cameras.
Some interesting nuggets follow.
On different lens viewing angles
In general, I do not find the normal lens especially desirable, functionally or aesthetically. The angle of view and depth of field characteristics do not seem favorable to me in interpreting space and scale. (p. 57)
Long lenses have the effect of significantly reducing the depth of field of a subject. This makes them the obvious choice when selective focus is desired, but more often the lack of depth of field is a problem and requires the use of small apertures. (p. 59, my emphasis)
“Sharp pictures of fuzzy concepts”
This oft-quoted sentence is worth quoting in context:
[…] in discussing mechanical or optical issues we must not lose sight of the much greater importance of image content — emotional, aesthetic, or literal. I believe there is nothing more disturbing than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept! (p. 73, emphasis in original)
People who just toss their stuff in bags willy-nilly grind Adam’s gears:
Although many small-camera photographers use lightweight, soft-sided camera bags, these provide little protection against bumping and jarring the delicate equipment. I am always surprised when I see several cameras, a gaggle of lenses, filters, meters, et cetera, rattling around in a soft bag with a complement of refuse and dust. (p. 172)
Instead he recommends a hard case with dividers or foam inserts, particularly one that can be used as a standing platform.
Most of the images in the book are black and white (d’uh) images in full sunlight. Part of this is probably because these images would be clearest using the printing techniques of the time.
Another year ends. Although it has been above average for us personally, general happenings in the world have left me pessimistic about the future. Here’s hoping the fever breaks this year and we can look forward to working in the early days of a better world.
A Reddit user asked whether s/he should purchase a Nikon D800, a camera that was released in 2012.
A commenter mentioned that the D800 had good low-light performance up to ISO 12,800, where it “fell apart”.
This got me thinking. Just what does ISO 12,800 mean?
For example, take this night shot from last year.
This was shot according to EV 7, which was 1/60 @ ƒ/1.4 at ISO 400. As this was shot at ƒ/5.6, I had to use a shutter speed of 1/8. I was obviously using a tripod.
An ISO increase of 3 stops to ISO 3,200 would have meant a shutterspeed of 1/60, which is handholdable at 35mm with good technique.
However, increasing sensitivity 2 more stops to ISO 12,800 would mean I could shoot at 1/200, enough to stop most action!
Let’s say I’d have used a modern 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 wide open at 24mm. I’d risk 1/30 to get the shot, which means I could keep the ISO at 400, or bumped it up one stop to 800 and get a more steady 1/60. In no way would I have stressed a modern sensor.
Of course, there are situations where ISO 12,800 is very useful. In video, for example, one is often constrained to a narrow band of exposure times. And in astrophotography, the recent popularity of wide-angle astro shots can be attributed to the combination of affordable, highly corrected fast wide angle lenses and cameras with excellent low light capabilities.
However for “normal” use, especially with modern fast primes, ISO 6,400 should be more than enough for handheld, non-stabilized shots!
I’ve managed to bang up my 1 Nikkor 10mm ƒ/2.8 lens, so now it’s severely decentered. I’m going to get a quote for a repair as soon as possible.
Considering I purchased this lens used for €110, and it’s available new for around twice that, the repair has to be quite cheap to justify.
Of course this leads to me planning on alternatives in case I have to ditch this lens. I really want to have a compact 28mm on hand.
The options are, in roughly order of expense:
get the lens repaired- update the repair quote came to more than twice what I paid for this, so I’ve decided to let the repair shop ‘recycle’ this lens…
- get a Voigtländer Color-Skopar 28mm ƒ/2.8 in F mount, for my D700 - this combo, while compact for a FX camera, is still really bulky and heavy! And it would be my 3rd 28mm lens for Nikon F.
- get a used Ricoh GR or Nikon A - but then I’ll have to give up the EVF, or get an expensive, bulky accessory viewfinder
- get a Panasonic 14mm ƒ/2.5 Micro-4/3 lens, and a camera to mount it on - pro: new system to play with! Cons: new system to learn.
The wildcard option is to get a new iPhone. Even if it’s the most expensive option the phone has utility beyond photography, and maybe I need to get over the need of a dedicated camera for this.
 This lens has a field of view equivalent of 27mm on the Nikon V1’s 2.7x crop sensor.
Since August 2015, I’ve been shooting almost exclusively with one lens, the Cosina Voigtländer 40mm ƒ/2 Ultron.
The idea of “one camera, one lens, one year” has been kicking around the photography memesphere since Mike Johnson of “The Online Photographer” fame posted an article about it a few years back. Of course at the time it was also one film but that part has now been silently dropped because be serious.
(It’s also an idea that’s popular in Leica circles because most Leica shooters can only afford one lens anyway.)
Another key part of the post is daily regular printing of your work, but I skipped that as to be honest I only relied on my memory of the post rather than actually reading it before starting this project.
All the images are in this Flickr set. There are 57 images which means I managed to average about one keeper a week. I’m frankly positively surprised at this.
Here are some lessons I’ve drawn from this exercise.
Choose the right lens
Well duh. Johnston recommends a 50mm fov-e. Whatever works for you, although realistically anything outside the 28-55 range is a bit too specialized. I chose the 40mm for its field-of-view but mostly for its compactness. I’d probably have been able to get away with a ƒ/2.8 lens but that extra stop felt like a good thing to have.
Give yourself an out
What if that trip of a lifetime comes up? What if you have to cover a family or work event? What if you finally inherit a 500mm ƒ/4 and have to use it exclusively or the rest of the millions of $$$ are forfeit?
Relax, this isn’t a test. No-one’s going to fail you for using another lens. The idea is to use the lens most of the time, but don’t let it hinder your life in general.
Start off slow
No need to shout from the rooftops you’re going to run a marathon, then limp home after 2K with a bad blister. Instead quietly shoot for a couple of weeks or a month. If the project feels doable, then you can start dropping coy hints of your ascetic awesomeness.
I’d also recommend not starting on New Year’s Day. Better to hit the ground running when there’s good light and you can really get going taking pictures. This goes for other projects such as “365 day” or “a picture a week” too!
A cure for GAS
Having only one camera and lens to shoot for a year sure makes it easier to avoid looking at other cameras and lenses. It might help you find what you really need, gear-wise, and avoid running yourself ragged trying to satisfy some imaginary itch.
It’s a fun project. I recommend it.
I’ll probably keep using the 40mm (or its Nikon analog, the 45mm ƒ/2.8 P) as my main full-frame lens, if nothing else because it makes a compact package. But I’m also excited to finally try some other focal lengths!
Posts extolling the joys and benefits of photography using film (or “analog” as it’s now inevitably known) have always been present since the digital photography revolution, but I’m noting an upswing now in the nooks and crannies of the internets that I frequent.
Now, it’s easy to see why. Film aficionados are dependent on a relatively large industrial base — manufacturing and distributing film stock, a perishable medium, is non-trivial — so growing the user base (or at least slowing its decline) is paramount for the survival of the craft.
I have shot film. I learned photography using film. And I’ll say that for nearly every conceivable use case digital is objectively better.
Now, this doesn’t invalidate people who love film, who use it regularly, or who really enjoy the paraphernalia of shooting film. These are valid choices — if we remove the requirements of timely delivery of high-quality, high-resolution digital assets to clients, whether these clients are entities paying for the asset or more nebulous things like “social networks”.
Let’s tackle the talking points, shall we?
Shooting film teaches you about photography
Now I can actually see the point of this. Instead of dealing with auto-ISO, exposure modes, and scene buttons, you’re faced with a shutter dial, an aperture dial and a match needle. Shoot enough and you’ll get an instinctive feel for how the two hang together.
That is, if you’re using a classic manual focus camera, like the Pentax K1000, the Nikon FM, or Olympus OM-1. If you’re using a newer film camera you’ll notice that they can be just as complicated as digital cameras, because it turned out all that automation actually helped people make pictures they wanted to keep.
Instead of getting a film camera, you can invest maybe 15 minutes watching a Youtube video and then half a day using your digital camera in manual mode, and learn the basics of exposure that way. It’s not that hard.
A bonus is you can directly check the effects on the back of the screen, instead of waiting for the film to be developed and correlating the shots with handheld notes about exposure.
Shooting film makes you slow down and appreciate every shot
Well obviously. But do you think the masters of photography scrimped and hoarded film? No they didn’t, they had the same hit rate the rest of us have but they had the dedication to keep shooting no matter what the cost. Independent wealth (Cartier-Bresson), grants (Frank) or plain scrimping and saving (Maier) enabled them to keep shooting and getting wheat from the chaff.
As a digital shooter, every shot is basically free at the margin. But instead of using this opportunity to shoot more and getting better, people are complaining about full hard drives and slow editing.
The answer is not to shoot less, it’s to shoot more but better. This is true with film or digital.
Shooting film is a more tactile experience
I can’t really argue with this — at least not with the classic manual cameras noted above! Try shooting a plastic wundermachine from the 90s and you’ll be disabused of the notion, unless the buzz of an autowinder and the whine of screw-driven autofocus is part of your preferred tactile experience.
I can also understand that if you’re in front of a computer all day you might want to relax with making images “the old fashioned way”. But at least then you’re aware of the tradeoffs.
Pictures taken with film have a unique look
I’ll grant this for images taken with medium format or large format. The interplay between field of view and focal length give these formats a unique look that’s hard to replicate in software.
For small-format images though? I bet there’s a filter or preset for every film worth shooting. Even if there isn’t, you carefully crafted, exquisitely presented “lo-fi” film images will be met with “Cool! what filter did you use?”. That is if you’re lucky.
So, you really hate film, don’t you?
Actually I don’t. It’s a free world (at least where I am, thanks for that) and you are welcome to shoot film and tell me it’s the best thing since sliced bread. But you’re not going to convince me, because I’ve heard it all before. And I’ll definitely not grade your work on a curve because you shoot film.
I was bored one night so I’d thought I’d check just how flare-y my 70s era 35mm ƒ/1.4 Nikkor is for point light sources.
So it’s off to Slussen where I captured the rain-soaked ambiance of the Big City.
(All images below link to full-size JPGs.)
As expected, the 35 wide open has coma galore:
But stop it down to ƒ/2, and it cleans up nicely.
Compare with a much more modern lens, the Cosina-Voigtländer Ultron 40mm ƒ/2. This is a lens with at least one aspheric element, modern coatings, but also built with constraints in mind (compactness):
Here are both lenses at ƒ/5.6:
It’s clear Nikon designed the 35 as a general-purpose PJ lens, where you used it wide open at night when you really had to. It’s remarkably compact with a 52mm filter size and doesn’t really give anything up stopped down.
The images are basically straight out of camera. The warm cast in the 35mm images are from the yellowing of its radioactive thorium lens element.
Focus was on the construction sign by the stop sign in the middle of the image.
Exposure was 1/60 @ ƒ/1.4 and ISO 400 (EV 7).
For a long time I’ve been content having a bunch of “0.0mm ƒ/0.0” lenses in my Lightroom library, as I’ve been quite conscientious of tagging them with the correct lens info. This, in combination with the manual lens settings in my camera gave me focal lenght and actual aperture used and I felt that was enough.
However when playing around with Lightroom Dashboard I grew nerdily annoyed with the huge chunk of unknown lenses, so I grabbed the LensTagger plugin and started the ardous process of identifying my lenses and updating the EXIF.
It turns out I’ve not been as conscientious as I’ve thought. But by a bit of detective work I’ve now got some meaningless stats to show.
Here are each year’s most popular lenses, in descending order. I’ve also included all the images uploaded to Flickr (since I got LR in 2011) as a sampling of the stuff I’m prepared to show people.
|45mm ƒ/2.8 P Ai‑s||28‑105mm ƒ/3.5‑4.5 D||28mm ƒ/2 Ai‑S||28‑70mm ƒ/3.5‑4.5D||Sigma 18‑50mm ƒ/3.5‑5.6 (27‑75mm‑e)||35mm ƒ/1.8 DX (52.5mm‑e)|
|1 Nikkor VR 30‑110mm ƒ/3.8‑5.6 (81‑297mm‑e)||1 Nikkor VR 30‑110mm ƒ/3.8‑5.6 (81‑297mm‑e)||1 Nikkor VR 30‑110mm ƒ/3.8‑5.6 (81‑297mm‑e)||28mm ƒ/3.5 Ai||35mm ƒ/1.8 DX (52.5mm‑e)||18mm ƒ/3.5 AI‑s (27mm‑e)|
|35mm ƒ/1.8 DX (52.5mm‑e)||1 Nikkor 10mm ƒ/2.8 (27mm‑e)||28‑105mm ƒ/3.5‑4.5 D||45mm ƒ/2.8 P Ai‑s||105mm ƒ/2.5 Nikkor‑P (157.5mm‑e)||55mm ƒ/3.5 Auto Micro (82.5mm‑e)|
|28‑70mm ƒ/3.5‑4.5D||35mm ƒ/1.4 N||Cosina‑Voigtländer Ultron 40mm ƒ/2||55mm ƒ/3.5 Auto Micro (82.5mm‑e)||24mm ƒ/2.8 AF‑D (36mm‑e)||35‑70mm ƒ/2.8 AF‑D (52.5‑105mm‑e)|
 I’ve restricted my selection to RAW images only.
So quite a lot has happened in 2 years when it comes to the stuff I use, and as I was bored I thought I shoot the collection as a series of thematic “kits”.
As before, click through the pics to see them on Flickr.
The “pre-AI” kit.
A classic 70s era focal length collection: 35, 55, 105.
I finally got the 35mm ƒ/1.4 I was lusting after, and it happened to be an AI-converted Nikkor-N with radioactive thorium glass. It’s been through a CLA as its aperture was sticky and is now nice and smooth.
The pancake kit
Another new lens: the Cosina-Voigtländer 40mm ƒ/2 Ultron.
The “assignment” kit
(Scare-quotes as the only “assignments” I get involve being the resident photographer at company trips and family gatherings.)
I actually only use the 28-105 in anger. The 70-210 is usurped by the 30-110 below.
The travel kit
This has actually worked out well for me. A fast wide for environments and indoors, and a very compact telezoom for reach.
I need something wider than 28mm equivalent, and I’m planning on getting a 18-35mm zoom for either the D700 or (more likely) the V1.
I’m growing more and more disaffected with the size and weight of the Nikon D700, compared to the enjoyment of actually bringing it with me and taking pictures.
Right now I’m teetering between streamlining my lenses towards using them with a Sony A7 and adapter, or simply getting the Df as a new FX camera. In any case I’ll probably get rid of stuff that I see as dead weight, such as the 70-210/4 and a couple of redundant primes.
 Flickr doesn’t use notes anymore, but all the images are tagged with the lenses in them.
(All pics from our trip are in this Flickr set.)
New York is a woman — she’ll make you cry
But to her you’re just another guy
Well it used to be everything was fine
Everything, this all was mine
But one fine day, you might say
That I, I threw it all away
‘Cause I made up my mind
I traded holy water for cheap wine
I ran out of time
Or something that I can’t define
I traded my whiskey for your wine
Leaving my river running dry
And a waterline
We went to Grand Canyon
And we stood at the expanse
And we watched the rocks change color
And we watched the shadows dance
And if California slides into the ocean
As the mystics and statistics say it will
I predict this hotel will be standing
Until I pay my bill
So… in 2011 Nikon mystified everyone with the introduction of their mirrorless system, called “Nikon 1”, featuring a relatively tiny 1” (2.7x crop) sensor. Nikon was very proud of this sensor, because it had fast AF and a bunch of other things no-one really cares about; everyone wanted a 1.5x crop sensor or bigger that they could mount their big lenses on. Oh, and Nikon decided that this little sensor was worth a lot of money so their pricing was insanely high. The Nikon V1 cost ~$900 at introduction, with the kit 10-30mm lens.
Well, you don’t mess with Mother Market, and a few years later I could score a nice used V1 kit for 170 EUR. So, how does this little runt compare with my other used old camera, the Nikon D700 DSLR?
This is only my superficial notes. If you want a rant-y real review of the Nikon V1, check out Thom Hogan’s one here. Thom also publishes an ebook that covers the first generation Nikon 1 cameras - Complete Guide to the Nikon 1. I’ve purchased it and can recommend it. That work also tells some of the history of the Nikon 1’s design. Basically, Nikon skated in the opposite direction of the camera market puck…
What I like
- It’s small and light. It fits (with some effort) into my coat pocket, and doesn’t weigh down my bag. This is good because the D700 is way too big for everyday carry, at least where I am right now in life.
- The image quality seems ok to me. The short focal length of the kit lens doesn’t really bother me, as much of my so-called “work” is “urban landscape” and I’m not that interested in thin depth-of-field. If this is important to you, go ahead and get a Sony A7.
- It’s an all-dancing, all-singing techno-wunder camera. It has stuff like VR in the lens that helps with slow shutter speeds, Lightroom does auto-correct of distortion, there’s a fancy EVF in it, it takes movies… considering my D700 is treated as a digital FE2, this is a big deal for this cheap-ass Luddite.
- It doesn’t break the bank. I paid as much for this camera as for a crappy little P&S my kid got for Christmas. The lenses available for it aren’t that expensive either (I’m looking at getting the 30-110mm tele-slowzoom, and maybe the 18.5mm normal)
- Image quality is “good enough”. If I ever feel the need to create a masterpiece fit for a giant printout with oodles of dynamic range, I’ll bust out the D700 and tripod. But for cat pics on the internet the V1 suffices.
- It has an EVF - this was a dealbreaker for me when it comes to compact/mirrorless cameras. While I appreciate the rear LCD in some situations, I really prefer holding a camera up to my eyes and squinting at the scene through a tiny hole.
What I don’t like
- the controls are bad. See Thom’s review for more details. The “mode” dial in particular is a pain, as it often slips from the only good position into stupid stuff like “Motion Snapshot”.
- There’s no built-in flash, something that can be forgiven due to the size of the body. But the accessory slot is not compatible with any SLR flash, and there’s no adapter available.
- Battery life could be better, but that may be due to the battery I have being used.
Addendum 2015-05-05: another thing I don’t like about the battery. It (the Nikon EN-EL15) has a chip in it to more accurately calculate remaining charge, age etc. The battery I have has a faulty chip that decided to inform me, on the first day on vacation, that the battery was too old and could no longer be used.
The digital compact camera is an endangered species - cellphones are eating their lunch, and the traditional camera manufacturers don’t have a good answer to them right now. The Nikon 1 series was designed for a world where there would be a niche between compact cameras at the low end and DSLRs at the high end. It tries to combine the portability of a compact with the fast AF of a DSLR, adding exchangeable lenses and balancing the act with a small but not tiny sensor.
Now that niche is no more, and the Nikon 1 is floundering in a sea of mirrorless cameras, many more capable and cheaper than it is. But if you can find one for a decent price, I can recommend it. The pros outweighs the cons.
I’m back from a 3-day company trip to Istanbul. It was great fun but didn’t leave too much time for photography. In addition, I’ve been tapped as the “official company photographer” (unpaid of course) so I was under some obligation to take “official shots”.
With this in mind, I packed the following gear:
- Nikon D700
- 24mm ƒ/2.8 AF-D, 28-80mm ƒ/3.3-5.6G, 50mm ƒ/1.8 AF, and 105mm ƒ/2.5 Nikkor-P
- SB-24 flash
plus all the assorted crap you need to keep a digital camera going nowadays, chargers etc.
The 24mm was packed for those all-important interior shots of churches etc., but it turns out that a wide-angle basically only gives you a great view of all the people sharing the space with you. In addition, in the Hagia Sophia itself there was an exhibition of huge prints by a pro photographer who had had the advantage of no people, great light, and no scaffolding. After seeing that, my desire to capture something unique from one of the most famous buildings in the world faded.
The zoom is a loaner from my stepdaughter. It turns out I used it the most, as we spent a lot of time in buses, and really didn’t have much time to search out the ideal location. It’s also a very handy lens for social photography with flash, of which I did quite a lot.
I had some irritating issues with the 50mm and the 105mm. The former has some wonky contacts which means mounting it sometimes gives you “fEE” errors or an aperture setting of ƒ/96. I’ll try to get to the bottom of the issue going forward.
The 105mm wouldn’t give me focus confirmation when focused to infinity. I haven’t seen this before and it could be something wonky with the confirmation dot / AF subsystem in my body. I just might have to turn it in for a checkup.
I’m heading to Rome soon on a pure vacation trip, and I won’t have access to the zoom. I’ll try to make do with a prime set: 28mm, 50mm for low light, and the 105mm for tele.
Now I have a Nikon D700 my lenses are “correct” again. I never really had anything wider than a 28mm equivalent on crop, and considering I prefer primes to zooms there wasn’t much I could use on my D200.
I sold a bunch of gear to finance the D700 and I basically arrived at three sets of gear more or less by accident. In the interests of self-promotion I will present them here.
The bag is a Domke F-3. I’ve had it since before Christmas and it got its baptism of fire in Malaysia. I like it for its no-nonsense construction without a lot of useless padding. All pics are taken with my D200 and the Shitma 18-50mm. Strobist: radio-triggered SB-24 pointed at the ceiling, camera right.
(The images are clickable and will lead to the Flickr photo where notes are attached.)
The manual focus prime set
This is the basic walkaround kit. The reason it’s manual focus is basically cost. The most expensive lens it the 45mm.
So far I’ve found it easier to focus MF lenses with the D700, as it has a 3-part focus confirmation display (arrows + dot), while the D200 only has the dot.
The SB-24 is a pretty capable flash. There’s no TTL metering using it, but the A-mode it has does a decent job. I wouldn’t trust it for fill though, or rather, it takes a bit more fiddling with it to get good fill flash. Luckily the D700 has a popup flash for that.
The Moleskine notebook is for planning future gear purchases, of which more below.
When using the 45mm the whole package is compact enough (“slim” is too strong a word, it’s still a chunky package) to fit into the side compartment of the computer bag I use for work. So I can do Always Bring Camera even when I don’t want to carry both my laptop and a camera bag.
The AF / zoom set
This covers 24mm, 35-70mm, and 70-210mm. It’s basically a coincidence that I have these three AF lenses. I got the 24mm as a 35mm equivalent on crop, and two others after reading way too much about Nikkors on the internet. I haven’t really used them seriously on FX yet.
As an aside, I need more experience with using the 24mm effectively.
The speciality set
I got the 18mm ƒ/3.5 as a 28mm equivalent prime on crop and it has worked great there. I’m not used to ultrawides on FX though, and I don’t know if it will be useful for the stuff I shoot now. Time will tell. I got it for a good price and will make sure I test it thoroughly before selling it.
The 55mm micro is the only lens that’s made me money, as I’ve used it to take product pictures to post on the internet.
I’d like some faster glass, even though the D700 has better high-ISO capabilities than the D200. The dream lens at the moment is a 35mm ƒ/1.4 AIs.
Another stray thought it getting a faster long zoom (like the ubiquitous 70-200/2.8) for portraits, but I’m not sure it would even fit in the bag!
I don’t know if I’m going to do a follow-up to this post after a while. The canonical list of my gear is here. Each lens there is linked to pics taken with it on Flickr.
[Excerpted from the FAQ, that’s rapidly becoming obsolete, but I’m saving this info here.]
Theoretically, no, but practically yes.
First, “depth of field” is an approximation. It’s simply the volume adjacent to the plane of focus where the circle of confusion is small enough to appear sharp at some combination of print size and viewing distance. The circle of confusion is in its turn dependent on the imaging area’s makeup and size.
The equations for calculating depth of field use focal length, aperture, and circle of confusion. Imaging surface size has no impact (except on CoC, as mentioned above). Its apparent affect on the DoF is simply due to the fact that different focal lengths are needed for each imaging surface size to maintain the same field of view.
Here’s a practical example. Say you want to shoot a subject from 3 metres away. You have 3 bodies, a crop DSLR (APS-C sensor), a film body (or “full-frame” DSLR), and a 6x6 MF body. The normal lenses for these bodies are 28mm, 45mm, and 80mm respectively.
This table shows the depth of field for two apertures, ƒ/2.8 and ƒ/8:
|Lens||Circle of confusion (mm)||ƒ/2.8||ƒ/8|
|28mm||0.02 (digital sensor)||1.34||5.75|
|45mm||0.033 (135 film)||0.83||2.75|
|80mm||0.053 (120 film)||0.41||1.21|
More information about depth of field can be found in this tutorial at Cambridge in Colour.
I was going to write some sort of retrospective for the year but didn’t really have the energy. This sort of thing should be prepared throughout the year, otherwise the memory is influenced by the happenings in the near past.
Anyway, I found that looking at the images I have posted to Flickr brought back some memories, here is a view.
Happy new year, everyone!
Many people enjoy shooting sports. I am not one of them.
Every year the company I work for has a bandy match during lunch. I can avoid actually exerting myself on the ice by being the designated photographer.
Last year my only long lens was the Nikkor-Q 200mm ƒ/4, a manual focus lens from the late ’70s. I’ve since acquired a Nikkor 70-200mm ƒ/4 AF lens, and thought that now having zoom and autofocus would make my pictures even more awesome
However, it was not to be. Perhaps counterintuitively, I got more shots I liked with the tele prime. This was due to three factors. First, I had a better vantage point (halfway up a set of bleachers). This year, the match was played on the side of the pitch without bleachers. Second, it was colder this year which made concentrating on the game harder. And third, the fact that last year I only had one focal length and manual focus meant I concentrating on the goal areas as they gave a better framing and I could pre-focus.
This year I was trying to capture both play at the endzones and in the middle distances. Whether it was the cold, or the vantage point, or the fickle light, I felt I got less keepers this year despite “better gear”.
 it’s never called “Russian hockey” in Sweden
 for “even more awesome”, read “slightly less pathetic”
The Nikon lens information page is a great resource for Nikon nerds. With its help and a serial number you can check to see if the 28mm ƒ/2.8 Ai-S on offer on Ebay really has a 0.2m close focus or if it’s an inferior version, just to offer one example. Another cool feature is the number of lenses made.
A few days ago I was motivated1 to have a look at how many lenses of different types have been made through the ages. I was specifically interested in primes vs. zooms. To this end, I munged the data from the site and scrunched together some data. The entire result it up on Google docs.
Some cool facts:
- Nikon has made 56 millions F-mount lenses. Of these, 22 million (or 40%) are primes. The rest (34 million) are zooms.
- The top 3 lenses made are all DX consumer zooms: the 18-55mm II (3.3 million), 18-55mm VR (2.9 million) and 18-70mm (2.3 million). The most prevalent prime is the 50mm ƒ/1.8 Series E (1.7 milion), #4 on the list.
- Among all lenses made, 35.6 million are AF, the rest are manual focus.
- In the top 20 list of lenses made, 15 are zooms, 5 are primes (all 50mm).
- The most prevalent AF “pro” lenses are the 50/1.4D (#27), 35-70/2.8 (#34) and 70-200/2.8 VR (#42)
- Nikon makes a lot of 35/1.8 DX lenses, 180K so far!
Feel free to have a look at the stats yourself! I’ve put the text source here.
1 read: someone posted something on a forum that made me mad.
I’ve recently acquired two new pieces of kit for my Nikon D200, the MB-D200 battery grip and the Nikkor 35mm ƒ/1.8 AF-S DX lens.
I like the grip, even if it adds significantly to the weight and bulk of the D200. But it lets me shoot verticals easier, and it significantly extends the battery life of the D200 (one of the camera’s weak points!). It also enables the camera to hang flatter against my hip when hanging by its strap.
Drawbacks include the strap getting in the way of the viewfinder, and that it’s hard to hit the exposure lock button from the vertical position.
I’ve only had the 35mm for a few days but so far I like it a lot. 35mm on crop is equivalent to a 52mm field-of-view on a film/FX body, and as most of Nikon’s 50mm lenses are really 52mm this gives you the classic slightly-longer-than-normal “50mm” look. The fast max aperture gives you nice thin depth-of-field if that’s your thing — the closer you get to your subject, the better in this case — and it’s pretty small and light, good things in my book.
Niggles include no aperture ring (not gonna see those on new Nikkors in the future, though) and lack of focus scale. On the plus side it’s “real” AF-S (with instant manual override) and it’s damn cheap - barely more expensive than a kit zoom. Nikon should really make kits with this for new cameras, if only to shut the prime purists up.
Pics made with the lens will be showing up under my 35mm ƒ/1.8 AF-S DX tag on Flickr!
A fundamental tenet of agile programming is DRY, “don’t repeat yourself”. In online photo punditry, of which this is a lame example, no such maxim exists; in the interests of increased page rank and -views, people all over the place repeat the same tired platitudes that have been common wisdom since at least, oh, 2003.
I too dreamed of making my infinitesimal mark upon the face of the online world, earning applause from that tight-knit circle of mutual admiration that shall remain nameless (remember, there is no conspiracy). But the days flew by and I did not plonk my ass down to decry the current cult of wide-open, wide-to-normal angle portraiture, which implies a fast lens and also pleasant “bokeh”.
The demand arises, if an online whining can be dignified by the term, when you use such a lens to take a portrait, instead of a medium-to-long tele as God intended you to do.
As you’re a lazy kind of guy, you invariably get a ton of background in your shot, which can be distracting. And instead of drawing the obvious conclusion and either changing your lens or Heavens forbid changing your composition, you want — nay demand — your expensive superfast lens to have good bokeh.
Note that good bokeh and a well-corrected lens wide-open seldom mix. This is a fact of optics, of which I know very little, but in my role as pundit this does not matter.
But I don’t have to develop this theme, complete with veiled barbs against the current status quo and implied superiority of my own position, because the estimable Dante Stella already did this long ago. So read what he has written, and repent. You may then send your Nikkor 35mm ƒ/1.4 to me for safe recycling.
 or is it? D-mned if I know, I just read blogs.
 this is where I should insert a paragraph explaining the origins of the term “bokeh”, its different pronunciations, and offer some pictorial evidence. That is, if I was a pundit as described in the first paragraph. But I won’t, because I assume you, dear reader, know how to use Google.
This year’s Fotomässan (Photo Fair) was this weekend, and I popped over there, beneath a sky the colour of a gray card, to see the sights.
I went alone, my companion from last year having renounced photography entirely, so I didn’t have anyone to chat with regarding the prints that were exhibited.
Of the exhibits, some stood out. I enjoyed the way-out-there watch photography of Thomas Monka, and a reportage about four women with cancer. There was also some humorous and unusual wedding photography by Mark & Marianne. The portraits by Thron Ullberg were also very good technically, but they drew most of their attraction from their subjects, well-known Swedish artists and filmmakers.
Marcus Bleasdale had a large number of prints from the depths of war-torn Congo. Unfortunately, like so much else warporn photography the people in the pictures were just presented as savages with AK-47s, or as silently suffering objects. I do know that the Congo is in a very bad shape, but these people have names, and histories, and simply presenting these images without them removes some humanity from the subjects.
There was a lot of gear, of course. I fondled the Leica M9 — too large and smooth to be easily hand-holdable in my hands. The m4/3 brigade was out in force, with Panasonic and Olympus showing their new models. Of the existing cameras, I think I was most intrigued by the Ricoh GR-D III with the external viewfinder, a very well-built and compact package.
All in all, it was fun, but not as compelling as last year when I had more gearlust than money. Now I have some money for gear buying, but I know it won’t make my photos any better.
Currently I own the following glass (Nikon mount unless noted):
- 1 Nikkor 6.7-13mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 (pics)
- 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 (pics). Second copy, first sold Oct 2014
- 1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm ƒ/3.8-5.6 (pics). Third copy, first broken Sep 2016, second failed Mar 2017
- Nikkor 28mm ƒ/2 Ai-S (pics)
- Nikon 28mm ƒ/2.8 Series E (pics). Second copy, first sold Mar 2013.
- Nikkor 28mm ƒ/3.5 Ai (pics)
- Nikkor 28-105mm ƒ/3.5-4.5 AF-D (pics)
- Nikkor-N 35mm ƒ/1.4 (Ai’d, early 70s) (pics)
- Nikon 35mm ƒ/2.5 Series E (pics)
- Cosina-Voigtländer SLIIn Ultron 40mm ƒ/2 (pics)
- Micro-Nikkor 55mm ƒ/3.5 Auto (ca. 1969, Ai’d) (pics)
- Nikkor 70-210mm ƒ/4 AF (pics)
- Nikon 100mm ƒ/2.8 Series E (pics)
- Nikkor-P 105mm ƒ/2.5 Auto (Ai’d, single-coated “Sonnar” design, from before 1971) (pics)
Bodies: Nikon D700 (2nd copy, replacement for a stolen body), Nikon D200, 2 × Nikon V1, Nikon FG-20, Fujifilm XT-100S.
Speedlights: SB-400, 3 × SB-24.
Stuff I’m looking to offload
Get in contact if you’re interested.
- Sigma 18-50mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 DC AF (pics)
- Nikkor 70-210mm ƒ/4-5.6 AF
- Nikon 75-150mm ƒ/3.5 Series E (pics)
Stuff I’d like to own
- Cosina-Voigtländer SLⅡn Color-Skopar 28mm ƒ/2.8
- Nikkor 28mm ƒ/1.8G AF-S
- Nikkor 28mm ƒ/2.8 Ai-S (with CRC)
- Micro-Nikkor 55mm ƒ/2.8 AF
- Nikkor 85/1.4 AF-D
- Micro-Nikkor 105mm ƒ/2.8 Ai-S
- Nikkor 135mm ƒ/2 Ai, alt. Samyang/Rokinon/Bowens 135mm ƒ/2
- Nikon Df
- Ricoh GR
- Nikkor 28mm ƒ/1.4 AF
- Angenieux 28-70mm ƒ/2.6
- 1 Nikkor 70-300mm ƒ/4.5-5.6
- Nikkor 200mm ƒ/2 Ai-S
- Nikkor 500mm ƒ/4 Ai-P
Stuff that I’ve owned
- 1 Nikkor 10mm ƒ/2.8 (pics). Too costly to repair, recycled Aug 2016
- Nikkor 18mm ƒ/3.5 Ai-S (pics). Sold Sep 2014
- Nikkor 24mm ƒ/2.8 AF-D (pics). Sold Jul 2014
- Nikkor-H 28mm ƒ/3.5 Auto (Ai’d) (pics). Sold Apr 2013
- Nikkor 28-70mm ƒ/3.5-4.5 (pics). Sold Apr 2014
- Nikkor 35mm ƒ/1.8 AF-S DX (pics). Sold Jan 2013
- Nikkor 45mm ƒ/2.8P Ai-S (pics). Stolen Jan 2020
- Nikkor 50mm ƒ/1.4G AF-S (pics). Sold Sep 2014
- Nikkor 50mm ƒ/1.8 AF (pics). Sold Sep 2014
- Nikkor 35-70mm ƒ/2.8 AF-D (pics). Sold Feb 2014
- Nikon 135mm ƒ/2.8 Series E (pics). Sold Jan 2013
- Nikkor-Q 200mm ƒ/4 (uncoated version, Ai’d) (pics). Sold Mar 2013
- Nikon FM2n, black. Sold Mar 2013
- Nikon F90. Sold Apr 2013
I recently picked this lens up for about $20 with shipping from the local auction site. I’ve been looking for a replacement for my Nikkor 18-55 kit lens which bit the dust (literally) about 2 years ago and which has been hors-de-combat since then, at least where AF is concerned.
So, I’ve been keeping my eye out for a cheap replacement. This Sigma has a screw-drive lens, not HSM, which probably drove down the price.
Compared to the Nikkor, this one has a lot of advantages, build-wise. Sure, it’s plastic, but it has a metal mount and a focusing scale. The manual focusing ring is also less awful than on the Nikkor.
I haven’t compared them side by side, but I get the feeling that the Sigma is more compact.
Image quality wise I think they’re on par. I notice more CA from the Sigma, but I might be more critical now than when I had the Nikkor.
However much (or little) I paid for the Sigma, it still feels just adequate in handling (just like the Nikkor). Even if I know intellectually that the images from the lens will be indistinguishable from more expensive lenses, the plastic feel and lack of aperture ring put me off. I bought it as a party and travel lens, and though I’ll try to get it out and about and take great images with it, it will never be my primary lens.
Part of the fun and frustration of participating in the photographic community online is dealing with gear nerds. Of course, you don’t have to deal with them at all. Most photographers don’t care less about equipment beyond what’s needed to get the image they want. Arguably, this should be the goal of all photographers.
However, gear is fun, and so is discussing it. That’s why I hang out in the gear sections of the forums I frequent, because let’s face it, looking at random pics by strangers is about as fun as getting stabbed in the face with a rusty knife.
Gear unites, however. You don’t have to be a good photographer to discuss gear — on the contrary! To discuss photo gear, you only need an internet connection and copious free time, two things that in combination guarantees your photos will stink. You are in no way obliged to own or even to have handled the gear under discussion. Appeals to authority (dpreview.com, Bjørn Rørslett, K*n R*ckw*ll) are not only common, they’re the basis for all discourse.
A surprising amount of people switch systems (between Nikon and Canon, the other marques are only worthy of scorn in this exalted company) and only then realise that the lens they ABSOLUTELY must have doesn’t exist in their new system, something a quick Google could have told them For switchers from Canon to Nikon, the refrain often goes
I need fast, wide primes
Granted, as a Nikon shooter I’m kinda envious of Canon’s fast 35mm and 24mm lenses. But you know what? I don’t need them, and I can’t afford them. They are throwbacks to an earlier era. If you’re a working Nikon pro, you’re using the “trifecta” (another combo prevalent among people who hang out in forums instead of actually taking pics), the 14-24/2.8, the 24-70/2.8, and the 70-200/2.8.* Primes? Not flexible enough these days.
So, ƒ/2.8 is the new ƒ/1.4, thanks to improved light sensitivity in recent films and digital sensors. That extra speed isn’t really needed. **
OK, so these zooms are big and heavy, but Nikon makes a series of ƒ/2.8 primes (14, 20, 24, 28) and one 35/2. But these are slammed because they lack AF-S focusing, aspherical elements, or other “must haves” that only matter to forum wankers. The fact is, these lenses are perfectly fine stopped down to ƒ/8 when shooting landscapes and the aforementioned extra sensor speed obviates the need for faster apertures in low light.
So, armed with these facts, one can stop the endless cycle of gear wanking, right? Wrong! Arguing about expensive gear online a social experience. If photo gear didn’t exist, these people would be arguing about cars, or fly fishing rods, or operating systems. The best thing is to ignore the wankers and shoot some pictures instead. You’ll find your gear is more than adequate for your photos.
Here’s a recent shot I made using a Nikon D200 and used 24/2.8. Is it any good? Maybe not. Would it be better if I had better gear? Definitely not.
* all of these lenses are big, heavy and expensive. A surprisingly common theme on forums is that people who own these lenses don’t use them as they’re too bulky. And yes, I know that the 70-200 vignettes on FX cameras and will lead to Nikon’s downfall unless it’s replaced yesterday, godammnit!
** And before someone says “smaller depth-of-field” let me counter with, a) wide lenses have large DoF anyway, and b) using DoF is a crutch used by those who cannot compose.
Due to the draconian luggage restrictions of Ryanair, space was at a premium when we flew to Spain for a 10-day holiday. I decided to just take the following photo gear:
- Nikon D200
- 24mm ƒ/2.8 AF-D, 45mm ƒ/2.8P pancake
- charger and cards
This combo worked great. I almost never used the pancake, mostly because it’s angle of view is too restrictive for general photography. The 24 has an angle of view similar to a 35mm on a “full frame” SLR, and I found it worked admirably as a wide normal.
The only issue with the 24 is the barrel distorsion. This can of course be fixed in post with the right software (software I don’t have btw) and is only really noticeable in architectural shots.
I didn’t miss an external flash. The built-in was good enough for when I needed fill.
The kit fit in well in my backback with the ghetto camera insert.
If I’d had more space (and spare cash) I’d probably have bought a D700 with my 35-70/2.8 and the pancake, but just using a prime was rather liberating.
This camera is old and reviewed to death, so I’ll just limit myself to the observations I’ve made during the last 2 weeks, compared to my previous DSLR, the D40.
The camera is bigger and heavier than the D40, but not horribly so. It’s a bit harder to carry one-handed with curled fingers, and it feels fatter to hold. But this is outweighed (literally) by the feeling of quality and heft from the metal body. Very nice.
(Not so nice: the front rubber grip is starting to come loose, a very common problem on nearly all higher-end Nikons).
The shutter release and sound is much more distinct, and the added weight seems to help in keeping the camera steady.
Controls — oh my! It’s a joy to be able to change ISO, filesize, metering pattern, whitebalance etc with just a button press and some command dial fiddling. Actually, the only things really lacking in the D40 are
- AF (pretty big)
- bracketing (nothing I use)
- depth-of-field preview and mirror lockup
- two command dials
Otherwise the cameras have much the same feature set. But the D200 is much more convenient to use once to move out of the “auto-everything” comfort zone, just because everything is accessible.
Autofocus — yum. I’ve discovered that going manual focus for its own sake is just a waste of time. If your lens can AF, use it. I’ve been using the AF-ON button to AF and decoupling AF from the shutter release, it’s working fine so far.
Exposure — in today’s tech-heavy photo world, you tend to miss the really important things, such as the fact that the Matrix exposure in Nikon’s DSLRs is really really good. This said, the D200 is better than the D40. There’s none of the weird overexposure that the D40 used to expose for the shadows. The D200 usually nails the shot.
Flash — the built-in one on the D200 is pretty anemic. Of course this shows mostly in indoor shots when the built-in looks like crap anyway, I haven’t had the opportunity to try fill-flash. But the D40’s flash was better.
Lens compatibility — no contest. The D200 wins hands down. Not only does it autofocus with all AF lenses (not just the latest ones with internal motors), you also get metering with manual focus lenses (AI spec or later). While the D40’s simplified mount means it has an amazing mount compatibility, it won’t meter with any lens that doesn’t have a CPU. Going meterless is fun, sure, but it’s not fun for action shots where the light changes fast.
After two weeks with the D200 I’m very happy with it. It’s certainly not as easy to use as the D40, but if you have a modicum of knowledge and patience it’s a fine photographic tool.
I just got hold of my latest Tradera purchase, a Nikon E-series 135mm ƒ/2.8. This lens is in much better condition than the 24mm Nikkor I recently bought, thankfully.
It’s a nice compact lens with a neat little integrated hood. The E-series have been critisised for not being up to the Nikkor standard of build, but compared to today’s plastic fantastics it feels wonderful. The focusing is pretty stiff ompared to the 24, but it’s more like my old Zuiko so I can’t say I’m unused to the feel.
Some test shots are up on Flickr. Pay no attention to the exposure errors, I’m learning. I think this lens has some definite potential for indoor available light shooting if I rack up the ISO, and I’ll be happy to investigate the different perspectives available with this little telephoto.
Oh, in other news, I’ve sold my Sigma 30mm ƒ/1.4 to someone more likely to appreciate it.
Update 2008-02-27: The rumours are true! Here’s the site for the modification. Sounds doable if you are handy with a soldering iron and don’t care squat about your camera’s warranty.
Basically you hardwire a lens chip to you camera and turn it on to fool the camera into thinking you have a chipped lens. Before exposure the chip is activated, and the camera meters.
Original post follows:
There are rumours that someone has found a way to get the Nikon D40 to meter with manual lenses. Here’s the dpreview.com post.
If this turns out to be true, and not too expensive, it will definitely be something for me. I’ve recently purchased a Nikkor 24/2.8 Ai-S to try out on the D40. I don’t know if metering is such a big deal in the long run, but it’s the one thing that’s keeping me eyeing the D200.
Update 2008-02-25: apparently the hack is both hardware and electronic (source, the daily updates on Ken Rockwell’s site, no permalink). I guess that makes it slightly more complicated than just a firmware hack, that I had naively hoped for.
Update Saturday, 2016-08-06: this is now covered in my main gear page.
Update Thursday, 2013-04-25: I stumbled upon this reading old entries…. thought I’d follow up on the list.
Nikkor 20/3.5 Ai(-S)- got a 18mm ƒ/3.5 instead. Still interested in this for its more compact size. Nikkor 28/3.5 Ai(-S)- purchased early 2013. Micro-Nikkor 55/3.5 Ai(-S)- got an Ai’d copy, would like a nice Ai-spec lens for the build quality.
Nikon D700- finally, only took me 4.5 years to get it.
- Nikkor 180/2.8 AF - not sure if this lens is a good fit for my shooting style.
- Nikkor 135/2 Ai-S - this sounds like an interesting lens but hard to find and expensive.
Nikkor 18-70/3.5-4.5 DX AF-S- not gonna buy any DX lenses now. Nikkor 28-80/3.3-5.6 G AF- using the 28-105mm ƒ/3.5-4.5 AF-D for this.
Candidates for selling
Nikon 28mm ƒ/2.8 Series E Nikon 135mm ƒ/2.8 Series E Nikkor-Q 200mm ƒ/4
On Friday I purchased my new used lens, a Sigma 30mm ƒ/1.4 prime.
It’s fun using a lens with such a large maximum aperture: natural light photography is possible without bumping up the ISO.
The Sigma is pretty big and heavy, a change from the featherweight 18-55 kit lens. The petal lens shade nearly doubles the length of the lens when mounted on the camera.
The angle of view for this lens is equivalent to that of a 45mm lens on a 135-format camera. This is a little wider than the “normal” 50mm and I’m not really used to it yet.
This Sigma is the fastest prime that’ll autofocus on the D40. If I’d had a Nikon with a screw-type AF I’d perhaps gone with a 35mm ƒ/2 instead. That’s a smaller lens, but the smallest camera which has that AF is the D80 which is chunkier than my camera. Life is full of trade-offs.
Here’s a pic of Viking with this lens. He looks sad, but he’s actually just thoughtful.
I turned in the Nikon for repairs today. It could take more than a month before I get it back. I’m seriously considering shelling out for a compact to tide me over.
I could also get the OM-1 out of the locked closet and shoot some film.
I don’t know how it happened, but sometime during last night’s office party the built-in flash on the D40 stopped working. Right after that, darkness descended, and I couldn’t get evidence of the shocking things happening around me. Better luck next year, when I hope I’ll get the SB400 Nikon promised me when I bought the camera.
The Nikon D40 and D40X will mount a lot of Nikon lenses.
Autofocus is only available with AF-S and AF-I lenses (the ones with internal motors).
Metering is available with AF and Ai-P lenses (“CPU lenses”).
Ai-S and Ai lenses will mount, but won’t meter.
See this page for a good overview of the alphabet soup that is Nikon lenses.
The following lenses will bust your camera and/or lens, according to my D40 manual:
- TC-16A AF teleconverter
- non-AI lenses
- lenses that need the AU-1 focusing unit (400mm ƒ/4.5, 600mm ƒ/5.6, 800mm ƒ/8, 1200mm ƒ/11)
- fisheye lenses (6mm ƒ/5.6, 7.5mm ƒ/5.6, 8mm ƒ/8, OP 10mm ƒ/5.6)
- Old-model 21mm ƒ/4
- K2 rings
- ED 180-600mm ƒ/8 (serial numbers 174041-174180)
- ED 360-1200mm ƒ/11 (serial numbers 174031-174127)
- 200-600mm ƒ/9.5 (serial numbers 120001-300490)
- lenses for F3AF (80mm ƒ/2.8, 200mm ƒ/3.5, TC-16 teleconverter)
- PC 28mm ƒ/4 (serial numbers 180900 or lower)
- PC 35mm ƒ/2.8 (serial numbers 851001-906200)
- Old-model PC 35mm ƒ/3.5
- Old-model 1000mm ƒ/6.3 Reflex
- 1000mm ƒ/11 Reflex (serial numbers 142361-143000)
- 2000mm ƒ/11 Reflex (serial numbers 200111-200310)
If you want more autofocus functionality, get the Nikon D80. If you want more metering, get the D200.
So it’s been a week since I bought my D40 and so far I’m satisfied. I’ve tried photographing as much as possible, taking the camera with me whenever possible. Having a big SLR is pretty unusual, and seems to lable you as a “photographer”. I try to keep it discreet, but I’d like a smaller, faster lens. The light weight of the camera is really appreciated.
(As an aside, people who borrow the camera invariably try to use the rear LCD as a viewer when taking pics. How quickly things change.)
I love the ease of use, the previews on the rear LCD rock, and the auto-ISO feature is really helpful. It’s still a miracle to me to just twiddle a wheel and see the shutter speed and aperture change magically.
The built in flash is great for fill-in lighting, less so for lighting up people in dark rooms.
Unfortunately, the D40 is not compatible with many older Nikkor lenses. I knew this when I bought it, and I still can’t decide whether this is an issue for me. A lot of Nikkor lenses are only available in manual focus, and the focusing screen is optimised for autofocus (i.e., no split level rangefinder or microprisms).
I need another battery pack. I was excited about trying it out in a “real world” situation, a show the kids at Viking’s daycare were putting on, but I just got a few photos in before the camera dies on me. Apparently the power indicator showing a third of a battery left means “change batteries now!”, and not that you have a third of a battery to shoot with.
Of course, a new battery costs about 10% of the camera’s original price. Welcome to the SLR money pit.
I’m considering getting a Sigma 30mm ƒ/1.4 lens, for available light shooting. It’s pretty large, and is reporting to have focus issues (really important with the shallow depth of field) but I still think it’s the next lens for me.
I also need a better strap, and a bag… looking forward to a trip to a camera store, credit card in hand.
I’m researching online photo galleries, and will look into using the Gimp for photo editing.
(Ironically, there are no pics, because I don’t have anything to photograph it with.)
When we were planning on selling the house, I promised myself that I would get a digital SLR. So I’ve spent happy weeks researching stuff on the web, spending money I didn’t have. When it looked like we weren’t going to get as good as price as we’d hoped, I was doubly depressed, because I had been looking forward to it so much. There’s a lesson there, I think.
Anyway, it turned out as good as we’d hoped, so I felt I could spend up to 10,000 SEK on new stuff. Mmmm, stuff…
In the end, however, I decided on one of the cheapest cameras, the Nikon D40 kit. I paid 5,500 SEK for mine retail, it’s about 500 SEK cheaper online. If I register with Nikon I get a flash for free.
I chose Nikon because even though I have a thing for Olympus, I’m not really sure they’ll survive the brutal competition in the digital camera marketplace. I realise I’m doing my bit in undermining them by not buying their product, but so it goes.
I also don’t have a significant investment in optics, so I might was well start from scratch. Canon and Nikon are more or less equivalent, I chose Nikon because I perceive them as the underdog in the DSLR wars.
The reasons for the D40 were:
- price. It’s hard to find a cheaper DSLR. If I found out I didn’t enjoy taking photos as much as I’d hoped, I wouldn’t be out of a lot of dough.
- small size and weight. The Nikon D80 would have been within my budget, but it’s a lot larger and heavier.
- personal recommendation. My coworker Christopher has a D40 and was very happy with it. I got to try it out before buying.
- online evangelism. Ken Rockwell is a slightly controversial web presence with a thing for the D40. His user’s guide is a welcome alternative to the manual.
I chose the D40 over the newer 10 mpx D40X because 6 mpx is plenty enough for me.
Pros so far:
- low weight. This camera is really easy to carry.
- easy operation. The controls are well laid out and with the help of the guide mentioned above I’ve been able to find and play with different settings.
- Auto-ISO. This allows the camera to set the ISO automatically, which gives you another axis to play with when the light levels are low.
- lack of autofocus with older Nikon lenses. This means that I cannot use older prime lenses like a 50mm or 35mm with autofocus.
- even if the camera is small and lightweight it’s still pretty bulky! The included zoom is partly to blame. This said, I wouldn’t miss a battery back or similar to extend my gripping options.
I’m using a 1GB SD card which was only about 150 SEK. The store didn’t have any clear UV filters, so I had to drive around town looking for one yesterday.
The included strap could be better. I’m looking for an alternative, perhaps something I can wrap around my wrist so the camera can be held in my right hand.
I’d also like a good bag, but preferably one whose styling didn’t scream “camera bag”.
I need to research alternatives when it comes to manipulating and storing pics online. I have a Flickr account but I also have my own box. I’d like simple software that will allow me to upload the pics and produce smaller versions and thumbnails automatically.
Test pics (reduced size) are up on Flickr now.