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J R learns the D200 - Reference Page

Of Wings, Lens Prayers and 501
Images in Rapid Succession

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D200 Reference List & Links

Flight - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Flight    My friend Richard Ray says they may be Dowitchers, and the ones in the water, Sandpipers, both breeds more common in coastal areas and wetlands, but he's seen those coming through Dallas more often in recent years.


The 180mm 2.8 ED IF weighs 26 oz., and I bought it 16 years ago, so it's essentially free.

The much lusted after 80-400mm AF VR weighs 43 oz. and costs $1,600.

The 17-55mm 2.8 also weighs 43 oz. and cost more than most of the cars I've owned, including the one I've been driving the last four years.*

They're all too heavy. Some are too-heavier than others.

The 70-300 4-5.6 AF G weighs 16.5 oz., costs $140, and Björn gives it 3.5 out of 5, saying it "isn't really that bad and given you avoid shooting distant subjects with the lens set to the longer focal lengths, quite decent image quality can be obtained."

He doesn't say how far distant is.

Coot In Tumult - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Coot In Tumult     I have a growing affection for Coots, but I know little about them.

Of course, the way I'd shoot it would often be zoomed to the max. At birds at some distance. Or why have that long a telephoto.

Nikon forum members have been saying the probably sharper 50mm 1.8 lens may be the bargain of the century at $100, but for $40 more you get a light zoom that racks out to the 35mm equivalency of 450mm. That's very nearly a super telephoto.

2.5 times as super as my trusty 180mm f/2.8. That could make the difference between a 60% crop (meaning 40% of the image has been cropped out) and an image with a lot more quality.

The incremental next step up is the AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6 D ED that shares nearly all the similarly monikeredG lens's specs, except it has metal as well as plastic parts, (probably) better glass, weighs 3 ounces more, and costs another $150, to $390.

Björn doesn't test that lens. Neither does Fred Miranda. The one set of tests I found on the net was wildly mixed, which is what you get when a lot of people do the testing. (See lens tests, below.)


Quoth The - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

  Quoth The     This bird landed on a rail less than six feet away.

I have certainly wasted more money than the cheaper version on worse things. More than the expensive one, too. It is one of those dwindling aperture zooms, but the steady f/stop zooms cost thousands, and one of these matched-set zooms is less than hundreds, and the other is only about twice that.

Then again, I keep reading that only the greatest glass will yield the best images on this camera that is more discerning than 35mm film. With film, we could get away with Coke bottle optics. But digital doesn't. Even $400 is cheap for a decent Nikon lens.

My lens research continues.

Shape Shifter - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Grackle Shape Shifter

On April 3 2006, the day I shot the photographs on this page, I shot 501 images. In rapid succession. I was so giddy with flying those images through the camera I laughed out loud. Twice. It was gangbusters fun.

I'd driven to the lake to walk, seen dozens of egretty birds fishing along the middle of the spillway, turned around, went back home, took off the 17-55 and bayoneted on the 180 and returned to the spillway. I set the shooting mode to Continuous High Speed and let 'er rip every time a flying animal hove into view. Or when one alighted near enough to capture.

What definitely was not gangbusters fun was going through all those images for the winners. The photographs on this page are the very best of the very best of those. I deleted 251 images, the first trasholas of the Steep Learning Curve series. I suspect I have another thousand or two to get rid of before I start burning the collection to DVDs.

So this page is a place to show those pictures, list some of my online references for my ongoing edutainment and tell my story from a few different angles.


Winged Blur - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Egret Blurred in Flight

These images seem a quantum leap forward. Maybe it was the wild abandon with which I shot most of them. Later I wished I'd caught some flight sequences with too-slow shutter speeds, so I'd get flowing, slow-motion images, maybe even dream-like.

In an other way, these are more like poetry than those before. Except the pelicans. I'm very fond of egrets and herons and am pleased that a spare few of the shy, flighty creatures have let me get within ten feet of them.

I'll admit, too, that I have purposely frightened them into the air by creeping carefully closer and closer, so I could photograph their amazing flight. I will probably opportune myself of that experience again, now that I have a faster camera and a much longer lens — and maybe more in future.

Great Egret Aloft - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Great Egret Flying Along the Spillway Wall

Snowy Egrets have black legs and orange feet. Snowys also have fluffish white plumage on their crown (top of head), chest and tail. Great Egrets have black legs and feet. Adult Cattle Egrets have reddish crowns, breast patches and back plumage. Reddish Egrets are reddish all over with a pink bill and black tip. An egret-looking bird with all white body and wings but a pink bill and black top maybe a White Morph Reddish Egret.

I have also seen Great Blue Herons at White Rock Lake. They are mostly gray with a white face, black and white streaks along the bottom of their neck, and blackish yellow legs and drumsticks. They are bigger, and I hope I will adequately photograph some this spring or summer. Several hang out in the woods by the Boat House bridge along the creek that feeds it.

Nikon D200 Information

Product Information
Nikon's official brochure
Digital Online Tutoring for Nikon cameras and software

Elite Video's Nikon D200 Made Easy DVD does not make the D200 easy. It's a mediocre instructional DVD at best, but it does clarify some — and mystify other — menu choices. The Elite guys can't have been very familiar with the D200 when they rushed this out. Still, this it has been helpful in my dSLR education.

At least two other companies will have D200 instructional DVDs out this summer. I'm hoping they will show actual uses of the still confusing (to me) focus modes and dive deeper into the Custom and other Menu selections.


D200 Critical Commentary

Snowy Egret Along the Edge - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Egret's Leading Edge — Notice the bird has its head and neck folded back into its body.

Online Photo Discussion Forums

Lens Tests

Bjørn Rørslett — tests linked near bottom of the long page
Björn's test of the 70-300 4-5.6 AF G
Fred Miranda
Photography Review, including the "one set of tests I found on the net" of the AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6 D ED


Snowy Egret Snowing - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Egret Flowing

My Reference Library

The Sibley Guide to Birds, written and illustrated by David Allen Sibley — published by Alfred A. Knopf (a gift from David and Linda Hickman)  ISBN 0-679-45122-6

Birds of Texas, a Smithsonian Handbooks edition by Fred J. Alsop III — published by DK Publishinig  ISBN 0-7894-8388-2

Peterson First Guides' Birds by Roger Tory Peterson — published by Houghton Mifflin Company  ISBN 0-395-40684-6

The Audubon Society Pocket Guides' Familiar Birds of North America, Western Region

The National Audubon Society Field Guide to Wildflowers, Western Region

The National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects & Spiders, North America


Egret Doing the One-Foot Dance - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Egret Doing the One-foot Dance


Total images, so far = 4,228

* = But not as much as the PostScript printer I bought in 1988. That paid for itself in two years. Return to text.