Friday, July 31, 2015

Live Music Concert- Scott Miller at Jammin' Java - Shot With the Nikon Df

Last Sunday (July 19, 2015), I went to a live music show at one of my favorite venues, Jammin' Java, in Vienna. (Click Here) to check out Jammin' Java. They have a very full schedule of interesting shows. Most importantly for this evening, Jammin' Java is indoors. It was still in the 90s and very humid outside, even after sunset.
Scott is a very interesting guy - professional musician and Virginia cattle farmer. (Click Here) to check out his website.
Once again, my Nikon Df is the master of darkness. Shooting with my favorite prime lenses (28mm f1.8 AF-S, 50mm f1.4 AF-D, and 85mm f1.8 AF-D), I was able to shoot at either 1/125 or 1/250 of a second and still have enough depth of field to be useful. This meant iso values of 3200 or even 6400 - no problem at all for the Df. I love this camera.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Freaky Dolls at The Gilded Flea

My friend Dwayne Brooke, guitarist and creative genius, owns a fun antique shop in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, called The Gilded Flea. (Click Here) to check them out.
I recently stopped in, while my Mom was in town. Of course, Mom found some treasures. But what intrigued me were these two uber-creepy dolls.
Cracked, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor Pre-AI 55mm f1.2 Lens
iso 400, f1.2, 1/60 sec.
Mom tells me the doll below has "sleep eyes." I'd say it looks more like out of body experience or possessed eyes, but that's just me.
Sleep Eyes, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor Pre-AI 55mm f1.2 Lens
iso 400, f1.2, 1/60 sec.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Farm Cats

My Mom recently visited me, and we went to Antietam National Battlefield for some sightseeing. While we were there, we met these farm kitties.
Farm Cats, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor Pre-AI 55mm f1.2 Lens
iso 160, f4, 1/60sec
I love the cat looking out from under the barn at right.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

So, Which of My Lenses Are Best on the Nikon D810?

The advent of the D810, and its predecessors the D800 and D800E, caused many photographers to find the limits of their lenses. It used to be rare that the sensor was good enough to have the lens be the limiting factor in image quality, or acuity. Now, it's not rare at all.
So, which lenses from my (rather extensive) kit of Nikkors will work well on the D810 that's on its way to me in the mail?
I found a nice list on the DxO page, which lists the top choices for prime and zoom lenses for the D810. Testing over 100 lenses on the D810, they've compiled a list of the ones they found most suited to the new super-sensor. (Click Here) to read the full list.
As expected, my new 28mm f1.8 AF-S G lens, my most modern lens, makes the list. Importantly, so does the AF-S 200-400mm VR, though they tested the version 2 of this lens; mine is version 1. As the 200-400 is likely to be my most-used lens on this new camera, that's important to me. Another modern lens in my kit, the 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR zoom made it on the list. That's good.
Then there were a couple of surprise entries from my older lens selection: the 85mm f1.8 AF-D and the 50mm f1.4 AF-D (which I use all the time). Great to see those there, as well.
So, I feel that in addition to the 200-400, which will be my nature workhorse, I've got a full set of wide (28mm), normal (50mm), short telephoto (85mm), and long compact zoom (70-300) to choose from with this camera. I'll certainly use other Nikkors on the D810, but with these, I know that I can expect the very best results.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Well, I'm Going For It - Nikon D810

I have long said that my Nikon D700 is the single best-performing camera I've ever owned. Not the highest fun-factor (as I love my rangefinders and old film cameras), but best at getting the shot, and in the most high quality way. So, I have not upgraded it, even after several years. I did add the Nikon Df, which is just a different beast, and brings the fun factor up considerably with its retro design, ability to take non-AI lenses, and smaller size.
What I did upgrade was my telephoto lens choice. Selling the spectacular 500mm f4 AiP manual focus lens, I invested in the first version AF-S 200-400mm f4 VR lens. Having fast autofocus significantly improves my chances of capturing great nature photographs. On the D700, the 200-400 really sings.
So why upgrade to the D810? Well, really for one reason, and one reason only - resolution. I will be able to shoot the D810 in DX crop mode and still produce 15.4 megapixel images. That is higher than the D700 at full frame, and turns my 200-400 telephoto into the equivalent of 300-600mm, without the 1.4X tele-extender! That's powerful. Or, I can shoot in full-frame (36 megapixel) mode, and crop in post-processing. That's really going to increase the number of bird-in-flight images that will be useful and printable at large sizes.
Resolution is the only reason that I know now. I have a feeling I'll find other reasons to love the D810.
I bought mine refurbished by Nikon. The cost savings was significant - I paid $2,550 at Adorama, including a third party "drops and spills" 3 year extended warranty. The camera lists for almost $3,300.
I don't expect the D810 to become my most-used camera; I love the Df and know the D810 won't replace it. I do expect the D810 to be my go-to nature and wildlife camera.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Here's Something I've Been Thinking About - the Nikon D810 in Crop Modes

I am now the proud (half) owner of a Nikkor 200-400mm f4 AF-S VR G lens. Half, because I co-own it with a good friend of mine.
I always laugh when someone asks me what gear to buy to do a little nature photography, especially bird photography. Now that I have the 200-400, typically attached to my D700, I find myself thinking about what I could do with a D800 or D810 - so many more pixels that would allow me to use the crop modes (1.2 or 1.5) that are built into the camera, and still end up with images with sufficient resolution to print big.
At 1.2 crop, the D810 produces 25 megapixel images, and at 1.5 crop (same as DX sensors), the images are 16 megapixels. That's a serious advantage over the D700, with its 12 megapixels at full frame.
I love my D700, but a D810 may just be the perfect match for the 200-400 lens for nature photography.
(Click Here) to read a post by Kirk Tuck on the Visual Science Lab about this very subject.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Minolta Autocord

Manassas National Battlefield Walk, by Reed A. George
Minolta Autocord TLR
I'm really having a case of "too many cameras, not enough time" recently.
I was just looking at a new post by one of my favorite photographers, Evan Leavitt, a really cool color shot of a window with blood red curtains. Made with an Autocord, it's a wonderful image. (Click Here) to see Evan's post.
This got me thinking about my own Autocord, which I've used very little. Similar to my Rolleiflex T, the Autocord is a very special camera.
I've been considering a new theme or project for this blog. Maybe my TLRs, including the Autocord, will play a part in that.