Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Its a crazy world out there and you won't probably see yourself exiting the rat race anytime tomorrow. So, why not just apply for a day off, forget about work and visit that favorite spot of yours to do some shooting?
That's exactly what I plan to do today.
Hopefully, it will be a good one as I can just see the sun popping out of the horizon...
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
In the MTF chart above, the horizontal axis is in millimeters and shows the distance from the center of the image toward the edges, and contrast value (highest value is 1) is shown in the vertical axis, with fixed spatial frequencies of 10 lines/mm and 30 lines/mm.
The MTF chart for each lens is based on the value at the maximum aperture of the lens; the red line shows the spatial frequency of 10 lines/mm and the blue line, 30 lines/mm.
In the off-axis field, contrast reproducibility of the lens for sagittal direction and meridional direction varies with astigmatic affection. The path of 10 lines/mm indicates the contrast reproducibility of the lens (the higher and straighter is better). The higher and straighter the 30 lines/mm-path is, the higher the resolution of the lens.
Note that the lens performance can not be measured only with MTF chart. Softening or blurring of color also governs measurement.
As usual, the good folks at DP Review has done the job. Just click [here] to check out the lens in greater details. I will be too busy shooting with this lens to talk about it now...
For those performance-proof dudes, please check them [here].
PS The Nikon 35mm F/1.8G looks so cute on the Nikon D40!
So, I took a few test shorts at F/2 a few moments ago, and boy was I totally blown away by how sharp the subject is! The silent wave AF is spot on on each shot. And I have not even began shooting at F/2.8! Its like the sharpness of the Nikkor 50mm F/1.8D on steroid!
This must be the best investment I have undertaken for a long while... now, if you are a Nikon D90 owner, please put down everything you are doing and go get this lens before the day ends. Period. I need some fresh air...
I am taking this baby to Kuala Lumpur!
Wow, at $200, it even came with a lens hood and lens case! In her physical outlook, it seriously took a major resemblance of the Nikkor 50mm F/1.4G (save the distance scale)! Moving forward, some how, along the line of lens review and purchase, I am subconsciously led back to fast prime lens world for my Nikon D90...a dejavu from how I started photography with the Contax T3.
(Back in those days, I used to sneer at zoom lenses and squash images from lesser camera against my Contax T3's razor-sharp prime lens...yeaks! Bad boy. Prior to that, I had a Yashica T4)
Anyway, let me find a day to run it through that I can share with all how this lens measure up! Some say the sweet spot of this lens is between F/2.8 and F/3.5...we shall see.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Lingering in my mind always was to review if I can replace both my kit lens and 70-300mm G with a 18-200mm. Having read [this] and [this] rather conclusive review, I am wise to keep my kit lens and 70-300mm G lens.
Here are some rules of thumb for reading a chart...
— the higher up the chart the 10 LP/mm line is (the thick lines), the higher the contrast reproduction capability of the lens will be.
— the higher up the chart the 30 LP/mm line is (the thin lines), the higher the resolving power and thus subjective sharpness of the lens will be.
— keep in mind that the black lines show the lens wide open while the blue lines show the lens stopped down to f/8, so the closer these sets of lines are to each other the better the performance of the lens when used wide open. The very best lenses will have the black and the blue lines close together.
— generally speaking a lens whose thick lines (10 LP/mm) are above .8 on the chart should be regarded as having excellent image quality. Above .6 is regarded as "satisfactory". Below .6 is, well, below.
One of the areas of image quality that MTF can help determine is bokeh. This is a Japanese word used to describe the manner in which a lens reproduces the out of focus areas of an image. Some lenses are harsh in this regard, while others produce a much more pleasing out of focus image. This is where the meridonial and sagital lines come in, and as you'll recall are represented by the dotted and dashed lines. The closer these lines are to each other the more pleasing the bokeh of the lens. Fascinating, huh?
f: lens cut-off frequency
From the above formulae, d= λ /(4*NA).Here, λ :is 550nm(the wavelength at the center area of the visible light).
NA is the NA of the lens closest to the CCD of the microscope optical system divided by the magnification, and this resolving power controls the overall resolving power. In the optical system of the microscope, this NA is greatest in a low-magnification lens. At present, the maximum value of NA is perhaps about 0.04. If this value is used to calculate resolving power, d = 0.55/(4*0.04) = 3.43 λ. Therefore, resolving power required by the CCD = 3.4 λ.
d = 0.55/(4*0.04) = 3.43 λ. Therefore, resolving power required by the CCD = 3.4 λ m.
If the pixel pitch of the CCD used in the camera is on the order of 3.4 λm or less, the image of the subject is sufficiently resolved.
BTW, 1 cm = 10,000 microns. Nikon D90 pixel pitch is at 5.5 µm. Nikon D700 and D3 has it at 8.4 µm. Nikon D300 is at 5.4 µm.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Another day shoot with the inexpensive Nikkor 70-300mm G lens, another day to be pleasantly surprised. Perhaps, the Nikon SB-900 Speedlight did help to bring out the edge contrast but I am still very pleased with this underrated glass.
It does, in favorable conditions, deliver time and again, without fail. Image above shot hand held at 70mm 1/160 second, F/6.3. As always, all my uploaded images are uploaded directly from the Nikon D90. What you see is what you get from the Nikon D90.
Check my gallery for more new photos shot with this lens!
The next walk-around, inexpensive lens to acquire is none other than the recently introduced Nikkor 35mm F/1.8G. Highly recommended to shoot wider than her 50mm sibling, while not burning a hole in your pocket.
You can say its a lens every DX owner should get! In its use, you would almost, always shoot in Aperture priority mode, giving you and I tons of flexibility to dictate the desired DOF. At 35mm, it marginally make it to sensibly allow street photography with it, while equally applicable for some indoor people portraits.
A steal at $200. I have just placed an order for it, but who knows when it will actually come! It's just a shame Nikon don't do a 35mm F/1.4 like Canon.
In pursuit of getting a faster lens (than F/1.8), I paid a visit to my Nikon store today. The 30-minute play with both the Nikon 50mm F/1.4D and F/1.4G revealed much softer images results wide open, compared to the F/1.8D. The play also revealed that the F/1.4G focus at a much slower pace than the older F/1.4D (though in a much quieter fashion)!
Sweet spot is clocked at F/2.8 to F/4 for both lenses, with the F/1.4G leading in the department of Bokeh quality (due to her more rounded shutter diaphragm construction). Aesthetically, the F/1.4G win again with her more beefy, "thicker" diameter barrel of 58mm.
All taken, however, the F/1.4 aperture provides a 50% bigger aperture working space for those low-light scene. Buy it if you prefer to improve your image quality without bothering to carry your speedlight along.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Personally, I am a DSLR body hobbyist and not a lens collector. I am in no compulsion to twist my own arms and shoot in scenes I know requires specialty lenses. Well, this is further supported by the fact I can use a second body as either the new primary or secondary. Thirdly (I know this is an excuse for an amateur who wants to talk pro!), changing lens with a single body may result in a higher opportunity cost (sound so much like what I say for my work) for fleeting-moment shots.
Hence, I bring you, dear friends and visitors the Nikon D400 lab blog today! (Drum roll please)
You can find it conveniently located on the bottom right section of this blog. Or if you prefer, check it directly [here].
Hope you would enjoy it as much as I write it!
Straight from the [oven] came a toasty rumor today, that the Nikon D400 will debut in a couple of months time, all armed to the teeth with a new Expeed II processor, 16-18 megapixel DX sensor grid, full HD video recording, stereo sound recording and a tilt swivel screen as per the Nikon D5000.
Sounds exciting? OK. Start saving guys.
Speaking of which, I saw a used mint condition 8-month old Nikon D700 at $2000 today Tempting too...
Hmm...of all time where air tickets to Japan are at its lowest (only $300 return tax inclusive), a few thousand cases of Swine Flu have to pop up out of the wild blue yonder to reverse my decision to fly there for a short shoot cum holiday.
I mean I could still do it with a bigger dose of Bovine Colostrum but this mean I can only go alone, which defeats the whole purpose of a holiday! I seriously wanted to experience their capsule inn accommodation right in the heart of the Akihabara district while soaking myself in an electronic gadgetry bath there, which I doubt, will happen anytime soon now.
O well....se la vi. Let's wait and see.
Being a photo enthusiast, it would be a good idea to have a good mentor by your side, who can coach, sprinkle some tips your way and give a slap on your wrist for poor postures etc. Well, I am pretty thankful to have a few to say the least as I am guided by their valuable opinions.
But being professional photographers themselves, its so hard to catch them as your off work equates to them beginning to work...like being a real estate agent or financial service advisor. This one recent gathering was with a dear friend who owns more bodies and lens than the biggest dry cabinet out there, can hold. His portfolio is mainly commercial shoots, among others.
You can catch him [here] or otherwise, inflight magazines of major airlines (on Asia routes), where he shares valuable insights to shoot better. His blog can be found [here].
Check them out for more goodies.
Not surprisingly, even with a 16GB SD card in my Nikon D90, the camera seems to now gobble up that available space as fast as I can transfer those HD videos and RAW shoots onto my Macbook Pro. And at the rate its going, its about time to consider either a cheap external drive or a portable digital storage solution with my Nikon D90.
Obviously, being more expensive, the latter offers owner the liberty not to lug their laptop around, while still allowing them to transfer those videos and images out of the SD memory card in a snap. For approximately $400, its something that effectively unchain photographers from their heavy laptop during longer shooting trips. Pros like Moose Peterson seems to swear by these Epson P-2000.
Being a geek however, I am sticking to my faithful Sony VGN-U70 UMPC's 20GB to tie me over those occasions. Well, whichever works for you, really.
In practice f-stops have discrete values; in other words, lenses have a finite number of f-stops available, with no intermediate options. The standard f-stops are as follows:
1.0 | 1.4 | 2.0| 2.8 | 4 | 5.6 | 8 | 11 | 16 | 22
Friday, May 22, 2009
For those with greens oozing out of their nostrils and more to spare, I would say throwing cash to get sharp, crisp images form the easy part of the deal. Getting well-composed, story-laden emotions from those well-balanced image is actually the raw deal of professional photography.
Well, in the department of distortion, I (or rather, Nikon herself) am pleased to say it has almost zero distortion! But, I have previously recommended shooting it at F/2.8 to F/4 for her "sweet-spot" sharpness all the time, unless you really got desperate to shoot at the soft F/1.8 end.
Being humans, we often overlook, belittle what we already own and look beyond a supposed greener "pasture", hoping that new lens or body will satisfy and make our lives blissful ever after. Not true, no, no. In fact, its the opposite.
Let the sights, sounds and lights guide your photographic eye. Shoot when urged. I guess this is what many pros call - a snap shot. And this are probably pictures you would show off, only moderately.
Now, move your scale to proactive photography, and you are on your way to no longer get snap shots but perhaps, a story. In fact, the amount of research (for the site you are to shoot) done can be linearly proportional to the "punch" of that image you can create. The pros like to put it this way - if it begins to tell a "deeper" story, and that each of your image is technically well shot with that story, you have a winner which can lead you to an option of walking up to a news press and sell them those shots!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
I mean, in view that most of us who travels around for work still wants to lug their Nikon D90 along for a steal, we still have to seriously make an important decision to select what we will actually bring with us. I don't think any of us would bring their full barrage of lens, flashes and tripods unless its strictly a holiday, shoot assignment or sheer passion.
I survived solely on a 50mm lens on my last work trip to Manila few months ago but was rather restricted to what I could capture. This time round, its a concrete jungle I am heading towards and hence may have to review my approach in lens selection. Landscape is out as there won't be much in KL.
Architecture and interior are in as the common denominators of any cosmopolitan city. So, a wide zoom lens would be ideal. Perhaps, a new acquisition on the Nikkor 35mm F/1.8 at $200 would be the ideal marriage between weight/bulk and low-light adaptability?
Let it marinate...
As for the state of it, I have been assured by Nikon that they will still work even when crumpled. The Nikon SB-900 Speedlight comes supplied with four color filters but the truth I now learnt is that it can effectively be used to nullify/introduce a specific light spectrum to your scene when needed.
For example, in a incandescent scene, the use of the greenish filter G1 will effectively bring the whole scene back to a whitish fluorescent ambiance. However, using the G1 or A1 color sets on a fluorescent scene will immediate introduce a greenish or orangy hue into your picture respectively.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
- Have your SB-900 Dome Diffuser on all the time unless you are long-lensing your subject
- Shoot at Aperture priority mode to dictate your DOF
- 3D Matrix Metering II is the way to go under normal circumstances
- Shoot at ISO 200 and RAW whenever possible
- Bracket when its an important shot
- Shoot rear curtain flash sync for shutter speed 1/30 second or slower
- Engage manual flash mode (disable i-TTL) if you want max 1/1 flash output on your shoot
- Shutter-dragging while in flash photography gives you more ambient/background details.
So, its work again huh? Yup. This time a 3-day assignment in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Well, I hope to spend the fourth day doing a bit of shoot, so don't expect too much from me on a one-day shoot.
If I can recall, it will be my first visit together with my Nikon D90!
But, hey better than never, right?
Let me go prepare...
Now that we have opened the Pandora box of manual photography, so, when exactly would you ever use manual focus with your Nikon D90?
Here's a few suggestions...
1. Macro Work - When doing macro photography I almost exclusively switch to manual focusing and find the results much more pleasing.
The narrow depth of field in these shots mean that you need to be incredibly precise with focusing and being just a smidgen out or having your camera choose to focus on the wrong part of your subject can have a significant impact upon your image (for better or for worse).
Manual focusing puts the control completely in your hands and will get your images with the right parts in focus.
2. Portraits - When shooting portraits focus needs to be precise.
The majority of your shots of people will need to have their eyes in perfect focus.
Switching to manual focus will give you complete control to enable this rather than having to line up the focusing points on your camera on the eyes pre-focusing by pressing halfway down and then having to frame your shot.
3. Shooting Through Glass or Wire Fences - If you’ve ever shot through anything like a window or a mess/wire fence at a zoo or museum you’ll know how cameras will often get confused on where to focus.
Sometimes falsely focusing too closely on the fence or glass instead of your subject.
Manual focusing will avoid this completely and allow you to tell the camera exactly what you want to be in focus and what you want to be blurred.
4. Low Light - Shooting in dimly lit environments can be difficult for some cameras and lenses when it comes to focusing.
You’ll know when your camera is struggling in Auto mode when every time you go to take a shot the lens will whirl from one end of it’s focusing options to the other and back again before deciding on where to focus.
This can really lengthen your shooting process and make taking quick candid shots quite frustrating.
Seldom do I need two parts to an article topic but this is one that demands it. So you find it laborious to switch between the realm of autofocus and manual? It does take time and its something we may not have when we want to capture that precious second.
Here's how to combine both manual and autofocus feature of our Nikon D90 without needing to flick the AF/M switch ever again! But note this only applies to the Nikon D90 kit lens and perhaps the newer lens lineup. (Will not work on the 50mm F/1.8D)
Go to Menu F4 to switch the AE-L/AF-L assignment button to AF-ON. Switch your AF mode to AF-C. Done. Now, if you want manual focus override, simply turn the focus ring (on the kit lens) to obtain focus and depress the shutter release. If you fancy autofocus suddenly, depress the AE-L/AF-L button to get auto focus. Depress shutter release to shoot.
Now, in your hands, lie the power to shoot automatically and manual in a split second response time with the Nikon D90!
On a greater camera like the D700 and above (D300 included), you get a dedicated AF-ON button at the back of the camera body. That helps me confirm today that the Nikon D90 can also configure the AE-L/AF-L button to perform similar role.
But what's the point exactly of using the AF-ON button when half-depressing the shutter release does the same job?
Here's the best answer I hope would be useful to you... adapted from a D300 user.
"From a wise man on another forum; this is now how I have my D300 set up:
- Change your menu such that AF is activated ONLY with the AF-ON button, and
- Change to AF-C release priority.
- Put your focus mode switch in AF-C and leave it there.
- Manually focus: just don't touch the AF-ON button
- Focus and recompose: put the focus point on subject, push AF-ON and release. Recompose and press shutter release.
- Continuously focus: Track target with focus point while holding down AF-ON. Fire at will."
We already know that the Nikon D90 has both Lateral Chromatic Aberration Correction and Peripheral Illumination Correction features built-in, thanks to the "L" series firmware found in the Nikon D90.
However, what I don't know till today is this - our Nikon D90 can also perform both pin-cushion distortion control and barrel distortion control right from within our Nikon D90 Retouch Menu. With Ken Rockwell constantly preaching about the above distortions, I think its about time we input this information for better image results!
Now, for best results, we ought to now shoot RAW (NEF) that the post processing be done with minimal loss and best result. Wow, I am surprised I can still be surprised with my 8-month old D90. Personally, I would recommend the "Auto" of such distortion control and leave it to the camera to work it out. Indeed, based on the RGB histogram, the picture has indeed been "worked" on.
Only when I recently compared the firmware revision of my Nikon D90 with other older camera that I realized there's an additional "L" version number! All "A", "B" and "L" are currently at 1.00. Probing deeper on the Internet revealed however that this firmware contains the invaluable lens information needed to optimize its use on the Nikon D90!
No wonder when I first picked up to shoot with a Sigma lens, all hell broke loose without one single accurately focused image. And according to the Internet, some blokes who bought newer lens (e.g. Nikon 35mm F/1.8) found it difficult to get crisp images via the Nikon D90.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Perhaps an attempt to induce a dose of fresh air for the Nikon D90, Nikon Germany introduces a package that includes both a much better looking bag, together with a HDMI Type C cable for video/image playback on your Sony PS 3 or Plasma.
Frankly, I am having a little trouble finding a type c HDMI cable until today. So, this should be a welcome thingy for new owners of the Nikon D90.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Honestly, I don't have a steady hand which means fairly blurred images beyond 105mm without VR. But, with the use of the zoomed flash feature of the Nikon SB-900 Speedlight, I have now made the impossible seems fairly plausible.
This new option not to use the tripod has helped put some fun back into photography again. The above was shot at 200mm with a 70-300mm G lens with the Nikon D90 and SB-900. Hand held.
I say anything is possible nowadays. Ideas get wackier. But whose complaining, as long as your kids are having a ball of time? Right in the midst of this water-themed zoo park lies a monstrous, self-emptying metallic bucket that mechanically dish out about 100 gallon of water every ten minutes.
Every kids found there will playfully scurry to the base of this infrastructure when they repeatedly hear the clanging of the warning bell, waiting to be blasted by that 1200 pounds of H2O.
To freeze things up, a 1/500 second shutter speed was used. Nikon 70-300mm G lens.
So I had the time to visit a small reservoir few weeks back with one of my boys, and to my surprise, managed to catch a bunch of students brushing up their kayaking skills in it. It was tougher for the beginners than I thought as I witnessed countless attempts of them trying to just stay afloat!
That dingy, narrow floating structure simply turned mercilessly biased in helping paddlers stay at the center of equilibrium. The pros, obviously has passed that stage and was furiously working against the clock with their acquired competency.
Handheld. 300mm. Shutter priority at 1/250 second.
No wedding goes by without a plastic cake.
Took a shot when I could last night with the 50mm as it is. You know, being lazy and all, I have decided not to bring my SB-900 out of the boot with the Nikon D90. Makes me looks normal among the the crowd of suit-wearing blokes.
with only dim available lights, the camera insisted on still managing the shot at ISO 500. Yes, I was on the wide 1.8.
Being chinese, some believed the fetching of the bride involves the guests being asked to be confined in a small room until the bride goes into her own bedroom (the bridegroom will go fetch her from where she lived to his house). I would say it was an uneasy one hour confinement.
Well, at least the kids got themselves covered with lollipops and TV...but the adults were much more uneasy. Only 16 of us in here. The other room had 25!
Right. It was one of those slightly more unique dinner where a live band was invited. Hmm...of all the band member, I thought the drummer was the only one enjoying his own drumming more than anyone else on site.
And being my first attempt to shoot in sepia monochrome, the result was almost unbelievable in that dim stage. 50mm.
Never can you get more joy found on the face of a kid when both food and fun is made available to them on one sitting! And a place to find this combination is usually on a wedding dinner night.
Well, to top it off the icing, there were just too much food on our table yesterday as five guests failed to arrive on our table. Too bad we weren't allowed to pack any food out of the venue.
The above was shot with my trusty 50mm with the available light.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Its funny why some folks went the whole nine yards (with a friend of mine owning 10 lenses!), only to shoot less than 5,000 shots on his camera! Its quite extraordinary how far a passion can go if you let it run amok. Some call it the Nikon Acquisition Syndrome. In fact, a Flickr group has been set up solely to gather and console these victims.
When colors get boring, the occasional use of monochrome picture control can put your subject in stronger focus. In fact, that's what I plan to do for this upcoming wedding assignment, in moderation that is.
To top it off, I just realize that in this PC mode, a set of four additional filter effects are available for our use, coupled with another 63 toning control tint for that next shoot! Wow! To recall, I was originally wondering if the Sepia picture control of Canon DSLR is ever coming to a Nikon DSLR. It has all along been hiding in the monochrome Picture Control mode!
Here's what I learnt. First, some correction of what I previously said. Both my Nikkor 50mm D lens and 70-300mm G lens DO talk to the Nikon SB-900 seamlessly in automatically adjusting the flash convergence angle based on desired focal length.
But of course, you can always override it by setting it to the Manual Zoom on the SB-900. I have yet to fully grasp when a repeating flash mode is most ideal. Most pros would recommend the Even illumination pattern for minimal light fall-off at corners.
Always shoot with SB-900 sound option "on". It helps us confirm that the flash did indeed fires when you release the shutter with that few series of beeps. With that in mind, you now can start the journey of shooting with the SB-900. The rest is about creativity.
Mind you, my indoor pictures are now significantly better and sharper, thanks to the SB-900. Off-camera flash usage has been fun to say the least. As opposed to the manual claiming that these speedlights must be positioned in LOS (Line Of Sights) to the Nikon D90, I manage to activate them anyway in almost every awkward position.
The wedding assignment is about a few days away and I need to acquire as much practical sessions before that big day breaks! I have indeed tons of information to share about improving the shoot approach as compared to some two weeks ago but have been overwhelmed lately with work and other new priorities.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
So there was a discount if bought together at the book store today, and so I bought both books today! Now, its the type of books that you simply cannot read like a casual magazine on a newsstand. Its extremely well written but one that would challenge you to think about each lesson on every two pages.
In all, we are talking about at least 400 pages of gems all compressed into two books, one that covers general photography while the other about the use of Speedlight. I got both at $80. Man! Its so packed with insights that I have to put down the book after 3 lessons on the first six pages!
Go get it if you are still thinking about it as its worth every penny.
Turn on AE Lock (Hold)
This is a personal preference of mine, but you might like to set Custom Function f4, Assign AE-L/AF-L button, to AE lock (hold). This way, when you want to lock the exposure on the D90 (which is especially useful when you don't want the exposure to jump all over the place while shooting movies with the D90), all you have to do is press the button once, and you can let go of it - the exposure remains locked. To have the camera re-meter an exposure, simply press the button again.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Remember the article I ran about using Aperture to shoot in tethered mode with the Nikon D90? Well, here's some good news to those who just don't see the need to shelf out cash for Apple's imaging software!
Go free with [Sofortbild]! Free only if you own a mac that is...sorry windows guys and gals.
Its the red pill I have taken for photography and I am still seeing where the rabbit hole will lead me. And as far as my recent diving into flash photography, it has opened up a big new door for me to further explore photography.
I still credit my eye as the best camera while acknowledging the gap between the best camera and the human eye being as far north is from the south. But I am an optimist. You kinda want to believe it will get there one day...
Speaking of that, I have an important wedding assignment coming up next week and I sure want to shoot better than average on that day with my camera system. No, its not a commercial assignment but a voluntary one. So the pressure is not supposed to be there. But to beef up my flash competency, I will go grab Joe's book - Hot Shoe Daries tomorrow and see if I can get to a higher ground the few days after.
Will share whatever goodies I have grasp on this blog...