Sunday, October 01, 2006

This blog is moving and merging with my family blog

It's proving to be hard work to manage three blogs: my family site at, my Notes from the Road blog, and this one.

For that reason I will publish my thoughts on photography as part of the family blog from now on - you can follow there if you like!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Nikon D80 is in the shops!

I saw it today in Jessops in Bracknell - it looks more like the D50 than the D70s, and it's certainly small. I think it's a great looking camera, and perhaps if I was starting again I'd consider a pair of D80s rather than my D50 and D200...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Nikon Capture NX is great!

I've tried a lot of the raw processing software out there - RawShooter, Bibble Pro, Adobe Camera Raw (both the full version and the smaller version that you get with Photoshop Elements), and brief attempts to use the previous version of Nikon Capture and a couple of others.

I really liked Bibble Pro, but I found it missed the ability to work on specific areas of my image. That's where Capture NX shines. The new U-Point technology from Nik Software is great - it makes it easy to adjust regions within the overall image with a geograhic and colour-based selection mechanism.

There are some great video tutorials for Capture NX - in fact they were a key part of my decisionmaking process. Worth a look if you have a Nikon DSLR. This is not a real review - just a pointer. You can find more information here and here.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Nikon D80 - just released

This is an interesting camera because it appears to use the same sensor as the D200, but to be the size and weight of the D50. It's aimed above the D70s, with a fair amount of flexibility, but with the scene modes of the D50. It's therefore an interesting first DSLR for a well-heeled user - and I'd certainly be happy to have one.

The Nikon product page is here, and Digital Photography Review's preview is here.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 - a great link

The best place to learn about digital photography products is (Digital Photography Review) - it's up to date with news, and also provides in-depth product reviews and a comprehensive set of forums (fora?) about many aspects of digital photography.

Their research is more detailed and thorough than mine - if this blog has any value it is that perhaps others will gain something from working through the learning process in a similar way to my blundering path.

Why two camera bodies?

It wasn't my original plan. I was looking at the D50 and the D70s, and I was almost decided for the D70s when Nikon reduced the price of the D50. After using it for a while, I learned that it was capable of outstanding pictures. But it was also limited in a few specific ways that were important to me:
  1. No backlight for the top display panel - this is important if you want to be able to check settings at night
  2. No depth-of-field preview - this is important especially for landscapes (and for macro photography and other specialized things) and I missed it
  3. Finally, the D70s (and the D200 and other Nikon cameras) can show a grid in the viewfinder that divides by thirds. The main value I find in this is to keep the horizon horizontal! This is still the most common mistake I make now that I'm getting exposures closer.
The D200 is a much more capable camera, and gives a great deal more control. I'll say more about that in later posts. But the real benefit of two bodies is that you can be ready for pretty much anything. Having just come back from a couple of weeks in Africa, being able to photograph over a range from 12-300mm without exposing the sensor to dust proved to be a great thing.

Another great thing about the D50 is that the battery goes on and on - it lasts much longer than the D200's battery in my experience. And that translates into less time in the evenings charging up.

My online photo galleries

I should point out that many of the pictures posted here were taken with film over the years and scanned in - but in any case, if you find them interesting, here they are.

Posting photos on the web is problematic - you have to downsize them and compress them - neither practice is good for the image, but until we all have infinite bandwidth, I guess data compression is a fact of life.

Equipment - the cameras

I use a couple of Nikon digital SLR cameras: the D50 and the D200. I started with the D50 as an entry point into DSLR photography having used less sophisticated cameras from Sony and Canon. I first learned about SLRs when studying architecture in New Zealand, and I think the digital SLR is now at a point where any enthusiast would do well to acquire one.

I bought Nikon because I was used to them, having owned a range of Nikon film cameras culminating in the 8008s, and because I reasoned I could re-use my lenses and flash.

This turned out to be false, as the smaller sensor of the DSLR changes the effective focal length of the lens by 50%, and in any case the D50 seemed unable to drive the autofocus of my old Tokina zoom lens. And then it turned out that the flash capability of the DSLRs (called iTTL) is different and my old flash wouldn't work properly.

So I ended up with new lenses and a new flash...

Learning digital photography

It never stops. A new camera, a new lens, different software, but most of all different light and a different view of the world. Photography is fascinating because it combines technology and art, seeing and feeling, analysis and intuition.

This is the story of my journey towards better pictures.