Learning the Nikon D800E
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Stories + Photographs by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

March 9 2014

Top Hawk Only - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Top Portion of Hawk vs. Hawk Action Above Sunset Bay — Link in March 2014 and link later.

It's been awhile, but I still use the D800 every time I do serious birding, which is at least three times — and sometimes — eight or nine times — a week. I was floating along assuming I had the camera in hand and in mind, but more than several times lately, I have been getting oddly blurred photos in bright-light situations. And it was only because I sometimes read my Thom Hogan guide to this cam pretty much at random that I learned that I probably should turn VR off when shooting with fast shutter speeds.

Can't say I've experimented much with it yet, but I have a bundle of bad examples, and I just did a couple of too-informal test shots, but looking out my office window, I see bright blazing sunlight, so it would be a good day to try it out again. With my VR turned off and auto shutter speeds set at 1,500th or faster shutter speeds.

If I ever knew this rule, I'd forgot it, and it was why I sent my lens and doubler back to Nikon last year, only to learn that they think it is "in spec." Nikon's own fixits — both in LA and in Melville, New York — have terrible reputations for not fixing problem cameras, lenses, etc. well. I'm told that, even though Texas is west of the Mississippi, I should send broken cameras to Melville, but this time I followed the rules, and they sent it back — after charging me $125 or so — with no discernable changes.

So for awhile, I didn't use the double (2X Extender — Nikon TC-20E III) for awhile. The lens by itself usually works fine, thank the goodnesses, which is why I thought the doubler was broken. But now I'm thinking it's the VR combined with high shutter speeds.

As usual, there's lots of bad advice on the Internet, but two guys whom I trust have also written about this issue. Thom Hogan in All About VR — Nikon's VR system explained from way back in April 2010 and Nasim Mansurov's Proof that Vibration Reduction Should be Stabilized from summer 2013. Mansurov also has a fascinating story, Image Degradation with Nikon Teleconverters, which has decided me to get the Nikon TC-14E instead of Nikons recent update of the 80-400 VR zoom that's really not that exciting at the 400mm end, where most of us usually leave the zoom zoomed to.

Unlike much of the free advice on the net, these guys know what they're talking about, because they are working professional photographers, and they do exacting tests. I knew I needed to learn more about the camera and lenses I already own and use, and just these three stories have been immensely informative.

 I won't explain what these guys are describing, because they do it much better (albeit in many more words) than I can, and I'm still having trouble wrapping my mind around all these interacting issues. I probably should mention that I usually only notice the odd mushiness of Birds In Flight images when I am using 1/1,000 or faster shutter speeds, although it took me awhile to figure out that was the parameter that was causing me grief.

I read Thom Hogan almost every day and Nassim Mansurov often and oftener. They've really helped me better understand what's going on in the machine I put memory cards into and point at things I want images of.

December 18 2013

Beak Open Pelk - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Beak-open Pelican, a central detail of this full frame:

full frame view of pelk yap - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

full frame view of

The top image was cropped from the bottom image above. My Nikon 2X extender does not show the lens's focus, so I can't use it anymore. I sent it to Nikon, and they couldn't find anything wrong with it. But I can simply by attaching it to my lens. But, because the 300mm f2.8 lens is so incredibly sharp, and the Nikon D800 is capable of showing just how sharp my lens is, that I can take a small portion of the frame and enlarge it enough to show sharp in this admittedly low resolution exhibition space on the internet.

Which is just a small part of why I love my D800 and that lens. If I nail the focus, it's almost like having a lens doubler, except I don't lose any f-stops in the transition. A doubler loses two stops worth of light, always, every time I shoot it. If I set the lens to f2.8, its widest aperture, the doubler renders the exposure at f5.6, which slows down focus, among other things. If I just enlarge small portions of the frame, I don't lose fstops. I just have to center the focus on what I really want, or as here, on what is the most interesting portion of the scene I shot.

This 'technique' wouldn't help much if I wanted to make a large print, but for the very low resolution of the web, it works fine.

 

November 6 2013

Two Mallards Coming in for a Landing - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Two Male Mallards Coming in for a Landing

I still use this camera every day for birds, lately mostly for pelicans, but fast-moving mallards, and whatever else birds I find, too. I like it more and more. I adore the fact that I can photograph a bird that fills just a tiny portion of the frame, then blow it up large enough for my standard 777-pixel width horizontal or 555-pixel vertical web format images, often with no discernable loss of resolution. It's an amazing camera.

I still wish I could switch active-pixel focus-group sizes while I'm aiming it with a telephoto lens, to switch from a group of pelicans down to just focus on one or two birds. I'll probably always wish that. My D200 and D300 DX (half) format cameras did that easily and quickly while I continued to click the shutter, even with a big honking lens, but more recent cams switched from being easy to do that while still photographing to darned near impossible. The 800 does not allow such facility. But I mostly get around that idiotic unfeature by planning ahead. I don't like it, but I've learned to live with it.

And I may have got a moiré or two along the way, but I've never seen or noticed any, ever.
 

July 26 2013

White Pigeon - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

bluish, low-contrast   White Pigeon    photographed with a Nikon D800e

Still learning this box, and relearning it's still such a long way up that curve to go. Wanted to buy Thom Hogan's book on the D800, because he's who I was reading most often of the Nikon commentators I've found on the web over the last couple months — he's so much more astute then Ken Rockwell, whom I am also still learning from and have bought his ebooks in the past and might again.

But the commercial sales of Hogan's ebooks section of his newly updated site doesn't work yet, and when I emailed him, he said it'd just take a couple more days, but it's still not there. So I settled for the previously unknown-to-me Nikon in Darrell Young's Mastering the Nikon D800, which I bought instead of a paper book, because it was available for Kindle — although I desperately miss being able to page back to see where I just was and keeping quick, easy bookmarks made of scrap paper to bounce back and forth among its pages, although I'm only 13% of the way through the book and keep cycling back so far.

And it and my camera are teaching me some amazing things about the 800 I hadn't even guessed about it. It's complex and complexer, although Mr. Young simplifies it through careful prose and repetition. Unfortunately his diagrams and careful in-text color notations are too-dark and too-light on my grayscale Kindle that I still love reading on, though I will probably eventually replace with something color next time around.

(My first grayscale keyboard Kindle stopped working, and the only reason I could figure was I'd managed to flex it's too-easily-flexible, over-thin body, so my second one has the thin slab of wood from a former cigar box semi-permanently blue painter's tape attached to it, so this one won't flex unduly. And with the cash I saved by allowing Amazon to paint its cover with stupid ads that I hardly ever notice and have never gone for, I bought insurance on it. I still carry it everywhere I go I know I'll have to wait.)

And if byThom ever gets his commercial book act together, I might well buy his book, too, depending upon how well-educated about the 800 I feel by then, but I've had to slow down for several reasons, including massive onslaught of new information from a couple all-day sessions with it and the cam.

First shoot after learning too much was a mild disaster since I'd set the HDR too high, and I got too-low contrast mixed with some off-color color I couldn't seem to get rid of. I remembered too clearly the first couple classes at then East Texas State (now Texas A&M U East or some such stupid name I never learned because I went there when that name had not yet been affixed) when I learned too fast about the Zone System, applied it before I had any idea what I was doing, and it similarly grayed out a couple rolls of film (yeah, that long ago), which was embarrassing because I'd establish the ability to do what I'd been doing with Tri-X film for many years, then sploosh, wet noodle gray everything and no contrast in sight.

So I turned off that one setting, and everything went back to normal D800-ing except slightly better, so I did learn by my willingness to make stupid mistakes. My mantra, I suppose. That and karma.

It's been a booger, though, to bring back those soft contrast shots to semi-normal, and tomorrow (now today)'s bird journal might be filled with those upchucked and corrected mistakes.

 

July 14 2013

Tulip Lip & Daisy Parts - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tulip Lip & Daisy Parts    photographed with a Panasonic Lumix G2

I've been laboring under the misapprehension that my D800's sensor size is only about fifty percent larger than my micro four-thirds (m43) camera's. Doing a little elderly page updating this morning I noticed my chart comparing sensor sizes indicates instead that it's more than four times the size of that dinky format. Before I got a full-frame (Nikon calls it FX.) camera, I used Nikon's DX format — D200 and D300 — for many years.

But DX sensors are only 1.7 X the size of m43; FX is more than twice the size of DX; so FX is 3.93 (not quite four) times the size of m43 sensors.

I've been looking at macro and micro (same thing mostly) lenses to photograph my Dead Flower series on my current m43 camera, the Panasonic Lumix G5, which is essentially the same thing — except for some ergonomic niceties — as Panasonic's newest, G6 camera. I've shown some of those macros in galleries, but I'm just beginning to imagine the quality difference if next times I used my D800 instead.

I have an elderly Nikkor 55mm f3.5 macro from the 1960s that I still sometimes use, despite that I have to guess at exposure, and I still love that lens. I've read often that a longer focal length lens — say 85mm, 105mm or 200mm — would be much better for use as a serious macro. But I'm not all that serious about macro, and my dead flowers would be spectacular if photographed on a sensor that's 4X the size of my puny m43's.

Like the shot above, these m43 images look great with transmitted light on a monitor at 72dpi, but significantly less wonderful printed on photo paper (viewed by reflected light). Like I say, I have shown them in galleries, but I really should instead use my D800 for stuff like this.

The Lumix G5 is great for photographing art to be shown online, which is where I show my images of art by Dallas, Texas, USA artists. The camera is light. The lens I usually use for that is bright (f 1.7 max), and it's simple to adjust the ever-varying White Balance, whereas the Nikon simply isn't.

And making 20-inch high photographic prints of these images just sucks. I lose most of my color, color contrast and resolution. A four times better sensor should make a huge difference, even if I haven't been moved to make any new Dead Flowers shots in months and months.

Okay, so much for a macro. What about all the other lenses I sure could use. Right now, the lenses I have include 300mm, with a 2X extender and a 50mm. I have other lenses that are manual focus, including my 55mm macro. a 20mm super wide, my all-time favorite lens, a 35mm f1.4, a 105mm f.5 and a 180 (the first Nikon autofocus, but it's still very very slow at auto focusing).

In fact, those lenses — back in the 1970s when we still used film — were plenty. If all I had now was a 20, max aperture 35mm, 60mm macro, 105 and my 300 and 50, that'd be more than enough. All auto focus and sharp.

Another lens I've been thinking a lot about for my D800 is a short zoom, like a kit lens, except I want it to be high-resolving and bright.

 

June 29 2013

Female Red-winged Blackbird Jumping and Flapping - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Female Red-winged Blackbird Jumping into Flight

Maybe the lesson in my difficulties with the ignorant way Nikon implemented focus mode selections on my D800E — that make changing modes with a short, light lens easy but a long, heavy lens, like the doubled 300mm tele I usually use for birds, impossible to hand-hold pointing at a bird (which I usually do) and change focus modes at the same time, is to use a mono- or tri- pod.

It's been a challenge, and I sorely miss the ease, in those situations, of right thumb-flicking the mode selector on the back right of the cam body, right where my thumb usually rests when holding my D300 and D200 before it. That challenge really threw me. I thought the D800 would be a definitive step-up. But it's not.

Sorely miss. Those cams made it easy. The D800 makes it a pain, because I only have two hands. Three, and I could balance all the touch-points and change focus modes from wide-area that I'd need for a bird flying close-ish to pinpoint a bird in a tree over yonder.

But who'd carry my monopod or tripod? There have been times when I could barely carry my camera and lens. The Extender throwing balance cantilevering off just those few inches make it impossible those times. But my, oh, my, using the 300 doubled is wondrous. Using it by itself is, too. And I probably lose some speed, agility and resolution insisting upon the TC2 etc., but my results have been amazing.

I have used a tripod when I haven't had to trek it far, but in the woods, carting a tripod is a nuisance. When I get my Zero Grav unit or grow another arm and hand, it will cease to be an issue, let alone a problem. But for now, it's annoying.

Usually, I just set the focus area before I start and hope for the best. Or the good-enough, when the best becomes impossible.

Not that it stops me from using the camera. It's a professional-enough camera, with a strong frame that doesn't pop the bayonet mount out just a little when using that lens and extender combo, like my cheap, weak little, still unrepaired D7000 did. And there's so many other positives about how it holds and shoots and resolves that the lack of an easy, two-handed fix for focus mode selection, almost diminishes.

 

June 22 2013

Eastern Kingbird - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The version of the image of an Eastern Kingbird that was used on my Amateur Birder's Journal

I could probably write eight or nine paragraphs to exactly describe the feature of the Nikon D800E I like the best of all right now, but a couple of photographs will probably tell most of the story all by themselves. Above is the very cropped version of the whole photographic image made in my D800e when I made this photograph at White Rock Lake in bright sunlight.

Eastern Kingbird, wire, sky - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Eastern Kingbird, wire and lots of sky — full size reduced for Internet use.
 

This is the full-frame version before I cropped it. Both are reduced to my usual-for-wide-format digital images, 777-pixels wide. Which means the upper version is about five times the size of this lower image. That's almost like using a 3,000mm lens instead of my usual-for-birds 600mm lens.

I believe I could go to seven or eight times the size enlargement if I needed to — and sometimes I do. Much more than that, then the sharpness and image contrast wanes.

Notice how incredibly sharp the blown-up version at the top of today's journal entry still is. My 300mm lens with the 2X telextender is a heavy piece of glass and metal. I can only image that a 3,000mm lens would be substantially larger and heavier. For full particulars on the image itself, lets spelunk the EXIF file some.

Exposure was what I believe is about ideal for this lens and camera and subject, 1/1,000 at f8. The camera set the ISO to 250 in Aperture priority. I've read too many photographers who eschew Aperture Priority for some other priority, but this one works great for me when I'm photographing birds.

Here, as usual, I limited Post-processing sharpening to 23%. Sometimes, it doesn't even need that much. Sometimes, when I shoot in low light (usually without the telextender), an image needs more, but it is oh so comforting to know that even if I can't get nearly as close to a small bird as I would like, I can still enlarge it that much to show off all its details.

When a camera uses a smaller sensor, like my DX Nikons do and did, some photographers give that lens an equivalence factor, as if just by cropping the otherwise larger format, made the lens more powerful. That math game is, of course, a lot of hooey, although when I had to shoot DX (darned near APS-C size), I did engage in it. But now that my DX Nikons are all broken or bent, I don't.

My lens really is just 300mm doubled to 600. My EXIF (which probably stands for something like EXposure Information File), but it's amazing to realize I can get 3,000 millimeters worth of Focal Length just by cropping the image, and still kinda startling that the center of that image is still as good as above, even when it is cropped.

I've tried the 800 at night with the telextender, and I'm lucky then if it ever even finds focus.

Turns out I wrote nine paragraphs anyway.
 

June 11 2013

Safe With Mom - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Safe with Mom

I'm beginning to get the hang of the focus adjustments. Everything seems to work well enough, although I cannot adjust the number and configuration of focus spots quickly while I'm actually using the camera with my favorite lens, the Nikon 300mm f2.8 (usually with a 2X extender - 600mm). It's a heavy lens, so holding the blankety-blank focus mode adjustment button on the lower front left of the camera while adjusting the Secondary Adjustment wheelie on the top front right — and steadying the lens, so I can still see the subject I'm trying to focus on, requires a minimum of three hands, and I've only got two.

I still miss my D300's way of doing all that, with just a forefinger of my right hand adjusting the secondary whatsit dial up front and my right thumb to switch through the focus modes, while my left hand steadies the lens. Luckily I have two hands and that was just enough. Now I generally have to rest the lens on something or droop the whole shebang down in front of me.

It's consistently the only major nuisance I have to deal with this camera. With a much smaller or lighter lens, it wouldn't be much of a problem, and with a tripod that's not the problem at all, but my tripod is heavy and really clunky, and most of the time I find it easier to deal with hand-holding any lens.

I'm learning, and I'm getting better at focus. Exposure is still an issue. But it always has been with Nikon dSLR cameras. It's rarely an issue with my Panasonic Lumix G2 or G5, because the viewfinder is electronic, and I see the same colors and tonal range and exposure in that that the sensor sees. But that cam is not as quick, as high-res or full tonal ranged or anywhere near as fast focusing or sharp or high resolution.

 

June 4 2013

The Six White Easter Ducks Ride Again - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Six White Easter Ducks Ride Again

Doing a little research into what Compact Flash (CF) (generally faster) or SD (from about half up to about 80% of CF speed) cards I should have for fast response on my new cam. I've been plugging along in almost complete ignorance (my usual mode) with elderly, slow SD cards rated at 45mb/second and two Lexar Professional SDXC UHS1, so-called 400x Speed 64gb cards that aren't tested in Rob Galbraith's 800/800E-specific write speed test from more than a year ago (May 9, 2012). It's the only test I could find online, but many of my card purchases over the years have been based on Rob Galbraith's card speed tests, so it's not like he's some amateur.

Probably there were no 400X Speed 64gb cards a year ago and no 1000X cards, either. I also read Thom Hogan's suggestions for Memory Cards for the D800s. He says I should stick with smaller capacity cards, but Rob's tests clearly show it matters little how large the cards. The fastest cards tested were Compact Flash cards with 32, 64 and 128gb/s (high scores in that order) Lexar Porfesiional 1000Xs. I figure those will cost an arm and a leg, but Adorama has 128gb one for only $650 each. Ouch.

Cards with the same names but differing capacities tend to test about the same, so my Lexar Professional 64gb 400X Speed SDXC probably writes JPEGs (what I shoot) in the range of 33mb/s. Whereas my 8gb SanDisk Extreme Ducatti Edition CF from at least six years ago writes at a tested 31.3mb/s. Another of my elderly 16gb SanDisk Extreme IV "45mb/s" tests at 24.4mb/s.

Another surmise is that advertised megabytes per second speeds are at least fifty percent faster than the speed those cards actually test at. My own collection of CF and SD cards shows there's no longer room enough to print such spurious ratings, which is just as well. Ah, here's my 16gb SanDisk EXtreme III CF that tests at an utterly underwhelming 12.7mb/s.

The fastest SD card Rob tested [a year ago] was the SanDisk Extreme Pro 95/mbs 8gb SDHC, which tested at 38.7 mb/s, less than half (40%) the advertised speed.

I can probably limp along with the Lexar Professional SDXC 400X Speed 64gb card, but I should upgrade to a faster CF card. Adorama prices for the 64 is $300, the 32 is $137, and marked as a special price, one 16 is $130 and the next one down is $77, so the bargains for higher capacity rule breaks at the 32gb card.

I'm listing Adorama prices instead of Amazon, because Amazon charges me sales tax and Adorama doesn't, and I don't feel like figuring out prices including tax for this, what I had hoped would be a short blurb. Ha! Both companies often offer the same exact unit for wildly differing prices.

I should probably note that I've avoided firing off awe-inspiring bursts of shots on my new camera, because I hate going through all those essentially similar exposures with only slightly different poses, and because I don't want to wear out the shutter mechanism like I burned through my Nikon D300's. Nikon replaced the shutter mech, then the focus mode switch blew.

Oh, and here's the link to Nikon's Recommended Memory Cards for Nikon D800, in which actual speeds are not even mentioned.
 

June 4 2013

Eared Grebe - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Eared Grebe shot this morning

I was wrong about that side button that changes the pattern of focus sensors. I still don't like the button, which still should be an innie, not an outie, but reading Ken Rockwell's Nikon D800 and D800E Autofocus Settings, I've just learned I can see the pattern as I change it in the viewfinder — the same big viewfinder I no longer have to remove my glasses to see what I need to see in there.

Oh, that's nice. Can't wait to try it on something real. But then I've promised myself to go birding every day this week, in addition to all that other stuff I do. I'm still having trouble finding the button with my left index finger, but all that takes is more practice. Wonder if my d7k did that, too, and I just never figured it out. Kinda hope not.

I tried Auto select focus mode this morning, and it never once chose what I wanted it to choose. Maybe if I shot something besides erratic birds. I did not try it Satty night when I was photographing art with my 50mm f1.8 D lens, which always felt a little long, since I usually use a 40mm Panasonic f1.7 on my Panasonic G5. I haven't perused those shots to see if the Nikon did better than the G5, but I suspect it has.

I thought I'd remember how to set the White Balance, and I worked it just right before I left, but could not get it right in the field. So some lessons will need relearning. That's kinda the way it is with new cams. Often.

It's timing. What a surprise. I assumed it would wait for me, but it's on the clock. Use WB button to switch to PRE(set) mode, when the PRE starts flashing,click the shutter, which takes a non-recorded pic of white object that fills the screen (I usually use a white wall or piece of paper). "Good" will appear on the control panels, or "Gd" in the viewfinder.

 

Snowy Egret Landing - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Snowy Egret Landing   small portion of full frame
Most of these shots are from my Amateur Birder's Journal, but this one's from Birding Galveston.

My first journal entry - June 2 2013

My actual experience with a Nikon D800e camera preceded my buying my own. First I rented one for my 3-day vacation Birding Galveston early mid May 2013. It follows a lot of handling and controlling progressions as used in my Nikon D200, which is finally falling apart inside, my D300 that Nikon refurbished last year with new skin, new big and little parts, including a new shutter mechanism — pretty much a lot, if not entirely everything, except the focus modes switch on the back that I love.

Yes, I still love that simple to deploy switch, because my D7000 doesn't have it, and my D800 doesn't have it, and since it got broke, neither does my D300, and I miss it terribly.

And my D800 also does not have it, and I still miss it terribly. I didn't have to take the camera away from my eyes to deploy it. It was so easy and so sure. Neither is true about the one on my D7000, although the button I gotta push down on the front of the camera has an indented button on that. On the D800 it's an even more difficult to deploy out-dented button. But I guess I'm stuck with the stupid thing.

Amusement Park on a Galveston Pier - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Amusement Park on a Galveston Pier

I love the new, much longer tonal range, the fabulous high-resolution, 36megapixel sensor and the fact that it is a full-frame camera. I.e., its sensor is the same size as 35mm film was. 24 x 36mm. Or very close thereto.

The camera fits right into my smallish American hands. From the first time I picked it up, it felt perfectly comfortable. Having held and found comfort in all those previous Nikon DX (not full-frame) cameras helped my personal relationship with this camera, I'm sure. It just feels right.

It'd be nicer if everything was right where I'd want it to be, but it isn't. I used to think I needed faster shot-to-shot speed in high-speed-shooting sprees, but by using my Panasonic Lumix G2 and G5, I learned that images ripping my shutter mechanism slowly apart at 5 or 6 frames per second was just a big drag to have to go through all that shooting one frame at a time. It was wasteful of disk space and, like I say, it accelerated the decomposition of my shutter mechanism.

Adult Breeding Brown Pelican - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

This Adult Breeding Brown Pelican is a crop
from a much smaller portion of a full frame.

Now that I finally have a decent camera again, I can send my D7000 back to Nikon to have them re-replace the front bayonet mount. Nikon did that after Yo, my previous cat (who died of a couple kinds of cancer last year) knocked that camera and my big, honking 300mm lens to the floor from my desk. I'm so glad my camera took the torque from that episode.

And I can send my D300 back to Nikon to get that wonderful focus mode switch fixed, so it uses all three modes, extra especially the one that focuses on the first thing out there that I aim it at — perfect for focusing on birds in flight against plain backgrounds like the sky. Nikon has another name for hat mode, but I'm lucky to eventually figure out how to do ordinary and extraordinary things with their cameras, so I don't worry so much about remembering their nomenclature.

Both of those fix trips to Nikon's Mellville, New York repair facility — you take your life in your hands when you send stuff to their Los Angeles facility, and both those camera trips plus whatever they charge me, will cost me a lot less than new cameras, even if I have to wait a month for each and deal with Nikon administration about them.

Wings Not Ready to Fly - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

Wings Not Ready to Fly

I torqued the bayonet mount further by using the D7000 with the heavy 300mm lens with only the camera strap attached to the camera. Now there's a strap on the camera and another one on the lens. The one on the lens is the primary suspension system. I only use the camera, camera strap when I use smaller, lighter lenses. I may actually have learned my lesson there.

Now anytime I use that lens, I use the camera strap attached to the lugs on the lens. The camera is only the pawn in that game. The d800 has a much stronger, magnesium body, so it might be able to support that chunk of lens, but I ain't taking any chances this time.

It's a little sad to only show you tiny, 72-dpi versions of these images, but when everything — exposure, focus, composition, light color and density, all of which the camera actively helps me with — goes right, this cam can make prints bigger than I am, and hugely larger and more detailed, etc. than the piddly little 13 x 19-inch prints I made for the last decade, or even the 16 x20-something-inch prints I've been making to show in art exhibitions.

Cattle Egret Takes Off - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cattle Egret Takes Off from the Treetops

So I'm hoping to do a little more art exhibiting of my bird pix in somewhat bigger sizes when I get really good with this camera, but since I don't show art in art shows very often, I'm not buying a huge printer, I'll just keep going to Expert Imaging on Deep Canton Street in Deep Elm (in Dallas, Texas).

Before I got this camera, I waited and waited and waited for Nikon to release their D400 DX (16 x 24mm — the next format size down from full frame that they call FX — 24 x 36 mm), now that I've got this one, word comes that the D400 really is coming soon, maybe as soon as July this summer. That's nice. I'm very pleased I finally made the jump from 373 mm square to 884 mm square. FX is 2.37 times bigger than DX. My micro four-thirds Panasonic G2 and G5 cameras have sensors that are only 225mm square (just under 1/4 the size of the D800's.

And I only have one lens — albeit an expensive one, that I bought to shoot a wedding — that is only good for DX. Wish I had that same f2.8 17-55mm zoom range in an FX camera that would be as good, but myeh. I can't have everything, but I'm working on it.

Willets Engaging in the Ground Portion of a Courtship Display - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Adult Breeding Willets Engaging in the Ground-portion of a Courtship Display

It's a whole new world.

counter since June 2 2013