Tag Archives: Diary

D800 Diary – Crop Potential

I had to come into NYC on Saturday, so I brought in the D800 and a few lenses. I was hoping to catch some of the tall ships that were in for Memorial Day weekend, but the ones that were in port were not docked in the greatest positions. I decided to walk downtown from the Intrepid Museum, along the Hudson River Park. I came across a tiny nature preserve near Pier 66. It is a tiny fenced in area that you can’t walk through… so it was not easy to get the best angles. I spent about an hour trying to get some shots of the few butterflies that were in the area.

Original Un-Cropped Photo

I took the above shot with my old 300mm f/4 EDIF. The auto-ISO feature is turning out to be one of my favorite features. I have it set shutter speed to 2x the focal length, and max out at ISO 3200. The camera only only had to go up the ISO to 200 to get the 1/640th sec shutter speed at f/5.6 in the slightly overcast skies. Since the noise performance of the D800 is so good, i will probably be leaving the camera set this way for handheld shooting.

13mp crop of the original photo

Since I could’t get closer to the butterfly, and my 300mm lens is my longest, the crop potential of the D800 was a great benefit for this situation. This crop came out to 4436×2958… roughly one third of the available resolution.

Click to see the full resolution crop

Just for kicks, I posted the full resolution crop. I know its not macro-lens/tripod sharp… but all i can say is WOW. I have also been impressed with the focus speed of the D800. All of my current lenses are screw-drive versions, and the camera seems to focus much faster than the D200.

D800 Diary – Iris at the Presby Gardens

After waiting months on Amazon’s D800 pre-order queue, I gave up. I called up Central Camera in Chicago, paid in full, and got my camera in 10 days. They had delivered my D100 and D200 very quickly when they launched, and I should have stuck with them from the start of the D800 madness.

I’ve only had the camera for a few days, but I can tell already it’s going to be outstanding. I happened to be near the Presby Iris Gardens in Montclair on Sunday. Unfortunately, i was not prepared to shoot, and I didn’t have all of the gear I would normally bring… just the D800 and 50mm f1.2. It was mid day, and the sun was harsh… and to add to my troubles, I had been shooting the camera indoors, and I forgot I had set to +2/3 exposure… not a good idea with flowers that can easily over expose.

Later that night, I fired up LightRoom 4 for the first time to go through the shots and see what I could salvage. To my surprise, I only had a few shots that were really blown… the metering on the camera was spot on, and my highlights went just to the edge of being lost.

I was really on the fence with the D800. For a part-timer like myself, its a big investment. I don’t print larger than 12×18 usually, so I really don’t need 36 megapixel raw files filling my hard drive. Before the D800 announcement, I was actually debating going “all in” with the m4/3 system. The GF-1 has been a great camera, and so much easier to lug around.

If I had found a new D700 in stock at its new “bargain” price… I probably would have settled ( read the sarcasm there please ) for it. My D200 was over 6 years old, and I hope that the D800 will give me a little future proofing than the D700 would.

So here are my D800 First Impressions :

  • It’s big and not quite as heavy as I expected.
  • There are about 7249 settings to go through in the menus, but once you go through them and set the camera up the way you like, most can be left alone.
  • Everything that I read about online that I should worry about… motion blur at the pixel level, how poorly my old lenses will work with the camera, my outer left focus point needing factory adjustment, and how angry my wife will be when she finds out how much it cost ***, have been non issues… so far.
  • I need to buy a whole bunch of new hard drives… my 1.5tb raid array will be full sooner than expected.
  • If it gets lost or stolen… I am going to be *very* unhappy.
  • Holy cow! If you are on the fence, and can afford it… get one!

*** This issue was partially alleviated by the sale of an image… but since I have not received the check yet, it may still be a problem.

The D800 has to be the most talked about camera in the history of the internets. Nikon handled the release like NJ Transit handles on time departures. If the train doors close, and the train moves 3 feet from its original position, it has “departed”. The camera seem to be shipping to more users based on my scientific analysis of the hundreds of “I got my D800” threads on DPReview. Based on the “Did anyone get their D800E yet?” threads, it looks like the E model is still hard to come by.

Coming from a an old D200 to the D800 is a real treat. The raw files are “meaty” and I think I heard them laughing “Thats all you got?” as I was tweaking them. It’s more than just the epic number of pixels… its the color and quality that impresses.

So in conclusion… Woot! I got a D friggin’ 800!

Panasonic GF1 Diary – Day 1

Guitar in Window Display

I just received my Panasonic GF1 and 20mm f/1.7 lens from Amazon. I’ve been wanting one since it was announced… and I finally scrimped and saved enough to justify the fairly high cost. I’m going to start posting some images and thoughts about the camera as I get more familiar with it.
Trying to get a deal…

I like to get a good deal. After shopping around at Keh and B&H for a used GF1, I came upon a camera at Amazon Warehouse Deals. It was listed as “Used/Good” condition for $777. I decided to roll the dice and try to save $122 . A week later the camera has arrived. I opened the box to find everything I was supposed to, without any obvious wear or tear on the camera (the box was a little worn). I popped in my memory card and took a shot which got numbered around 350 proving that the camera had definitely taken a few shots in someone else’s hands. I tested out the camera and lens, and decided it was a keeper. Since the camera is not an officially refurbished one and had the warranty card in the box, I’m hoping that Panasonic will honor the 1 year warranty if anything crops up.

Cherry Blossoms and White Fence

Out with the old

I’ve been using a Canon G9 for some time as my everyday shooter. In general, I’ve been pretty happy with it. It’s main shortcomings are in the responsiveness department, lack of dynamic range… and noise above ISO 200. The lens is a little slow, but pretty darn sharp around f/5.6. I haven’t been overly impressed with the image stabilization, finding my self shooting 3 or 4 images to make sure I got a sharp one at lower shutter speeds. Overall, the G9 has been the best point and shoot I ever owned… I’m letting my wife take ownership if she wants too, otherwise it’s going up for sale to help pay for the GF1.

5th Ave. Window Display

GF1 Initial Impressions
I’ve only had the camera for one full day, but I’m going to give my initial gut reaction.
First the downsides…

  • With the 20mm attached i the camera is slightly bigger than I expected
  • When shooting in spot focus mode, the buttons move the focus area, and don’t give you direct access to settings like ISO. *** Edited – See comments below for the setting to change this behavior. Thanks David!
  • Shooting with the lcd is ok, but glare has already been an issue on the first day. I don’t plan on buying the hot shoe evf, but an optical finder for the 20mm may be in my future.

And then the upsides:

  • As all of the reviews of the 20mm f/1.7 have already said… Wow! It really is a super lens. Click the shot below for a full res crop @ f/4
  • Auto focus is fast and accurate… impressive for contrast detection AF.
  • When processed in Lightroom 3 Beta 2… the images are looking great.

Tie and Hat Stand (click for full res. crop)

The GF1 is an interesting camera. I don’t see myself buying many lenses for it… maybe a fast wide prime at some point. I don’t see it replacing my D200… but I’ll have to see how often the SLR gets taken along now. Without the 20mm 1.7, I don’t think the GF1 would be nearly as compelling

All of the GF1 photos in this post were processed with Adobe Lightroom 3 Beta 2. I just started playing with it to process the photos from the new camera… and I’m very impressed so far. The free beta is available for download at Adobe Labs… If you are a GF1 user and you shoot raw images… check it out.

NYC Cabbie (click for full res. crop)