Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Color Efex Pro: Monday Morning Filter

 This image was taken with Nikon V1 with FT1 adapter, 70-200mm VRII lens and TC-14EII telecoverter at 472mm (35mm equivalent), f/5.6, 1/25, ISO100.  I noticed the reflection of the very strong sun light to the macaque hidden under the rock and try to capture the feeling.  The straight out rendering of the RAW file from Capture NX2 is good and proper, but seems does not have the mood that I was seeking.

I then applied the Monday Morning filter of the Color Efex Pro and played around it a bit.  The final image is much more like what I envisioned in mind when I took the picture.  Actually I feel it is more real.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nikon V1, 70-200mm VRII, 1.4x vs. D4, 80-400mm VR

This image was taken with Nikon V1 with FT1 adapter, 70-200mm VRII lens and TC-14E II teleconverter.  With the FT1 adapter only the central focusing point of the camera is working and only at AF-S.  Thus the eye of the macaque is at the center of the image.  The image was shot at 729mm (focal length equivalent of 35mm), f/5.6, 1/80, ISO100.  The camera and lens was supported by a Gitzo tripod with RRS ball head.

Here is the detail of the image, V1 at ISO100 gives incredible image.

The same macaque photographed with D4 and 80-400mm VR lens.  The image was shot at 400mm, f.8, 1/200, ISO800.  I did not use a tripod.

Here is the detail of the image.  The V1 setup gave longer reach, but the D4 set up is so much easier to use.

When the V1 setup worked, it worked beautifully.

For this shot, I have to point the focusing point of the V1 in between the eyes then move the camera for better composition.  It was not easy, even placing the focusing point on the nose was not good enough. The image is so sharp, I am almost sure that I can see my own reflection in the eye.  But the shot was taken at 648mm focal length, I would be only a speckle.

The V1 setup only workable for me if the subject is stationary, but few wildlife stay immobile for us.  When shot at ISO100, often the speed is too slow even if I do my part and the electronic shutter generate hardly any shaking of the V1 camera.  Any slight movement of the subject blurs the image.

One may ask how about D4 with 70-200mm VRII and the TC-14E II?  The image is soft at wide open f4.  It ought to be use at least f5.6, not much better than the 80-400mm VR.  70-200mm is already a very long lens with the TC-14E II makes it even longer and ergonomically difficult to hold as compare to D4 with 80-400mm.  200mm after the 1.4x is really only 280mm, hardly worth the trouble.  I always shot 80-400mm on FX camera hand-held at speed as low as 1/100.  For speed lower than that, I have to use tripod, turn VR off and use mirror-up with remote shutter release.  With even higher ISO performance than my D700, D4 and 80-400mm is really a very good combination for me.  May be I can have a 400mm f2.8 with D4, but it will be so big and heavy, people will surround me to look at my camera rather than looking at the tiger.

Nikon D4: Facial Recognition in Wildlife

We often would like to believe the magic software inside Nikon digital camera will work magic and select the best focusing point to do the automatic focusing for us.  After taking over 3000 pictures in three weeks using my new D4 in various venues, the facial recognition feature of the "Auto" setting worked most of the time.  Occasionally it will need some help, I will need to switch quickly to "Single Spot".  With the new focus selection setup of the newer Nikon DSLR (D7000, D800, D4), it is a skill needs to be mastered.

However, in the wildlife situation, hmmm......  I think the animal's face can be challenging for the camera.  The D4 was clearly focused on the flamingo's wing, the eye is clear but a bit soft, especially when I look at 100%.

I switched to "Spot" and AF-C placing the focusing spot right on this macaque's eye.  The eye then is incredibly sharp even at 100%.  The image was shot at 400mm with 80-400mm at f8, 1/200, ISO560.  In all honest, I could hardly see the macaque's eye in the viewfinder when I was taking the photo.

Pig-tailed Macaque

Lar Gibbon (Hylobates lar), White-Handed Gibbon

Siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus)

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Some images were taken with D4, a fantastic camera, some were taken with V1, Can you tell?  The first four.  V1 keeps on surprise me on how it can deliver very good images!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Saturday, September 1, 2012


The photographs were taken using Nikon D4, 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens.  NEF (RAW) files were rendered using Capture NX2 and Color Efex Pro filters.


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