Nikon D-SLR

Auto-focus (AF) settings for Nikon cameras

The current line-up of top Nikon D-SLRs offer a range of AF settings.  The combination’s in settings seem daunting at first.  But with other settings on my D3 bodies, I keep it fairly simple.  Instead of flip-flopping between numerous settings, I keep it simple by generally using the AF settings in just two ways.  This depends on what whether my subject is static or moving …

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This enigmatic image is my favorite from an event I helped photograph this weekend.  A performance artist at a Bar Mitzvah party  had this incredible act with a massive balloon which he’d manipulate, and dance with, and dance into, and dance out of.  You really need to see a video clip of it.   One of the many images I took during this sequence was this one where he moved right into the guests who were watching him.

The lighting on him was from the videographer who was kneeling next to me.  Since his act was so unique, and so fast-paced .. and the lighting changing, I wanted to make sure I covered all bases.  I therefore shot alternate frames as fast as I could .. with flash, and without flash.  This way I can always pick out afterward what works best.  I really like having both options to choose from in situations like this.  I want some photographs with flash to make sure I have well-lit images … but also some without flash, just in case the flash completely destroyed the mood and look of the photographs.  

The way that I easily disable the flash with a button push, is by setting custom function F6 on the Nikon D3 body to disable flash output.  It is the same for the D700, and if memory serves me, it is similar for the D300.   With F6 set to disable flash with the push of the button with my thumb, it is very simple to take images with and without flash. 

This is how I do the comparative images on this website, where I show what the ambient light looked like, and how an image looks with flash added.   Unfortunately there is no easy way to do this on Canon D-SLRs.

In post-processing the image, I had to bump up the Exposure in raw processing by 1 stop.   To saturate the colors like that, I went in to Lab mode and made a few adjustments.  (More about that in follow-up posts on how to make your images pop in Photoshop.)

Here is what it looked like with bounce flash ..

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review: Nikon D5000

August 12, 2009

In testing cameras these days, they are rated not just for specification, but for their primary qualities in helping you take great photographs.  And for that, judging the camera according to handling, image quality and auto-focus speed and accuracy, becomes even more important than just the list of specs.

Nikon D5000 hands-on review

So with that in mind, when I recently got my hands on a brand-new Nikon D5000, (B&H), I thought I’d hit the streets and see how it performs.  I took it for a late-night stroll around Times Square in New York, armed only with a Nikon 50mm f1.4G AF-S, (B&H), lens to see how the camera handled the low light levels there.

Nikon D5000 image quality

And of course, late night in Times Square is when you see and even meet the interesting people, the gorgeous people and the usual mix’n’match that Manhattan throws at you.  So let’s see how the 12.3 megapixel Nikon D5000 performed in low light, at high ISO settings; all hand-held, using just the light from the billboards ..

Here is Blueberry Studmuffin, posing for the camera.
1/250th F1.8 @ 1000 ISO; no flash

As you can see, the camera responds fast enough for a candid portrait in low light.
Impressive so far …

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the Best Camera in the World ..

.. will be the one where the camera manufacturers allow me some input into the matter.  If only Nikon and Canon (and Pentax and Fuji and everyone else) would just gather around a table and listen to me.  If only …

When I get to handle a new camera, I often wonder why the manufacturers designed a camera the specific way they did.  It might be the strange placement of a button or control; or the omission of a feature, or even the deliberate hampering of features in the non-pro bodies.  Sometimes I just wish they would bring in a feature that I love on another camera.

Here are the gear-head musings on what I would insist the Best Camera in the World would be like, if I had any say in it.  (Sorry, but that means this posting will have a lot of words and no images this time around.)

Firstly, the Best Camera in the World would have to be a modern full-frame digital SLR camera (D-SLR)  for the combination of accessibility, versatility and image quality.

I recently moved from using Canon 1D mkIII bodies to using Nikon D3 bodies.  Personally, I think the Nikon D3 is the best camera that has ever been made to date.   But there are a number of pros and cons, and not everything falls in favor of the Nikon D3.  Therefore most of this post is a comparison between these two cameras, and which things from either camera I would want to see in the Best Camera in the World.

But before we even get there, I have to touch on something – Exposure Modes.  Both these cameras fall down sorely when it comes to how the exposure modes are accessed.  Pentax’s ingenuity here towers over them in this regard.

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camera settings: Nikon D3

December 31, 2008

Nikon D3 camera settings – custom settings

The Nikon D3 brought incredible image quality to the usual reliability of their cameras and unbeatable optical quality of their lenses.  The multitude of settings make the D3 a high-precision camera that can be configured in a personal way, depending on shooting style.

When my D3 first arrived, it was with huge excitement that I unpacked it, fired off a few frames just for the thrill of hearing the shutter whir by in continuous high-speed drive … and then proceeded to change the settings to my preferences with Nikon cameras.  So here is an overview of my preferences for the D3, and the settings that I changed immediately upon getting the camera out of the box:

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camera settings: Nikon D700

December 31, 2008

Nikon D700 camera settings – custom settings

The Nikon D700 has the same remarkable image quality that the Nikon D3 has, but in a smaller more affordable camera.  This makes sit an excellent alternative to the top-rated Nikon D3.  And of course the multitude of camera settings and custom settings make the D700 a camera which can be configured in a highly personal way, depending on your shooting style and needs.

Here is an overview of my preferences for the D700, and the settings that I changed immediately upon getting the camera out of the box.

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Nikon D700 : preview

July 25, 2008

hands-on preview: Nikon D700

Nikon D700 ... 1/125th @ f3.5 @ 32oo ISO.
[ click on the image to see a 100% crop ]

The Nikon D700 camera (B&H) and Nikon SB-900 speedlight (B&H), were released today, to my great anticipation. I expected to see D3 quality images in a body about the size of the D300, and accessibly priced for what it delivers.

This evening I drove in to Manhattan so I could roam around Times Square to test the low-light capabilities of this camera. This after all is what the D3 is renowned for, and the D700 promises to deliver the same image quality.  Outside Toys’R’Us, there was a line of Star Wars fans waiting for a pre-release party of the new Star Wars movie to start, and a few of them graciously posed for me – most impressively of all, a Darth Maul look-alike.  (I composed the photograph so that the ferris-wheel inside the shop radiates outward behind him to make for an even more striking portrait.)

The image you see there was taken with only the available light in Times Square.  And fair enough, the place is flooded at night with light from the numerous billboards – but I was able to get this image at 1/125th @ f3.5 .. which are ‘easy’ settings to use, but this was at an incredible 3200 ISO.  Click on the image to see a 100% crop of the area around his eyes to see the high-ISO noise performance.  This is from the straight-out-of-camera JPG.  I am impressed!


Nikon D300 custom settings

The Nikon D300 (which superseded the highly-regarded D200), offers great image quality and offering many of the same features of the Nikon D3, but at a more affordable price – all of which will make the D300 a camera that many professional photographers will chose as their main camera.

Many of the custom settings of the D300 are the same as for the D200, but there are a few differences.  (eg, Auto ISO is now set in the Shooting Menu.)

Here are my preferences for the Custom Settings .. and why.

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Nikon D80 custom settings

January 23, 2007

Nikon D80 custom settings

The D80 has 32 custom settings which allows this little camera to be set to your own preferences and needs – and this makes it a very flexible little beast.

This page details my preferences .. and why.

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Nikon D70 custom settings

December 23, 2006

Nikon D70 custom settings

The 25 custom settings on the Nikon D70 enable this great little camera to be adapted to the photographer’s specific needs – which may change from situation to situation.

This page details my preferences .. and why.

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