Thursday, January 31, 2013

Nikon 1 V2 and AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II

Nikon just released its US$ 17899.95 AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR which weights 161.6 oz.  Putting on Nikon 1 V2 a AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II making a 810mm f/2.8 lens.  It is V2 at its best, let us doing things that we normally cannot do.

f/5.6 1/200 ISO160; 300mm at 810mm

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nikon 1 V2 vs. D800E

Can you tell which image was taken with Nikon 1 V2 (14.2 MP) and with D800E (36 MP)?

f/4 1/320 ISO100; D800E 24-70mm f/2.8 at 52mm

f/5.6 1/250 ISO220; Nikon V2 105mm at 283mm
The two images, both were RAW, were processed exactly the same using NX2.  I could not tell which one has better resolution either at 100% or adjusted to the same size.  There is a very capable sensor in the Nikon V2.

Nikon 1 V2, FT1, AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED

 Got the Nikon 1 V2 shipped from Adorama yesterday.  It is still not available in Taiwan.  I tried it with AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED lens.  It is one of the sharpest lens from Nikon and it has worked well with the previous version of V1.  V2 ergonomically is a much better camera than V1.  I would like to see whether the ISO performance is also getting better.  It has a base ISO of 160 as compare to V1's 100.  The focusing is still a problem: the autofocus only worked with G lens and only with the central focusing point at AF-S mode.  The auto ISO also worked much better, now take into consideration of the focal length of the lens (105 mm x 2.7 thus 1/250).  I set the auto ISO at 160-800.  You can see how the camera was working from the metadata of each image.

f/7.1 1/250 ISO220

f/7.1 1/250 ISO360

f/7.1 1/250 ISO280

f/8 1/250 ISO160

f/8 1/400 ISO160

f/3.2 1/25 ISO800

f.3.2 1/20 ISO800
f/5.6 1/2000 ISO160
I need to do a little bit of noise reduction for the Japanese dolly's white face otherwise the image at ISO800 is quite acceptable.  When I do macro, I will set the focusing at single point, AF-C and shutter release at focus priority in order to get the sharpest image.  This set up is not possible with V2.  However, it is also beyond the point, Why do we need to do marco with V2, other than we can stand back a bit more from the subject.  I like V2 is to use it on condition that we normally not easy to achieve form DSLR, the long-telephoto situation.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II with TC-14E and TC-20E III: D4 vs. V1

The weather suddenly warmed up when I visited Taipei Zoo for testing the AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens.  The flamingo swam in the pond like a swan and dipped its head quickly into the water to cool itself down.  The movement was too quick to use single-spot and AF-C focusing.  I was quite confident with the even background, the bright color of the bird and especially the clear yellow eye would activated the facial recognition of the D4 focusing system.  I switched the focusing to Auto and AF-C.  It was such a joy to photograph, D4 nailed the focus 9 out of 10 times.  With TC-14E converter, the focal length is 420mm.  I used f/5.6, the camera auto-ISO set the speed automatic to 1/500 and ISO160.

Here is an enlarged view and we can see the water freeze in action.

The enlarged image looks good on the web, but in reality, at 300 dpi, the image is only 5.45 x 3.63 inch, 1.8 MP.

Here is an image shot with the same lens with TC-20E and V1, a 35 mm focal length equivalent of 1620mm.

The image size at 300dpi is 12.9 x 8.6 inch, 10.1 MP.  However, it was a pain to use the V1 with the lens, only one single focusing point in the center can be used at AF-S.  I have to set the ISO at 100 to get the best image quality, at f/8 the speed is 1/60.  Because of VR, it is not too slow to get sharp image from the lens but it is often too slow for the bird in action.  Furthermore, whenever a shot was taken, the viewfinder freeze to show a preview.  Opposite to D4, only one out of 10 shots is good.

Using more realistically, AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II and V1 make an incredible  810mm f/2.8 combination.  Hopefully with the new V2's better ergonomics, better ISO performance and 14.1 MP, the experience will be a much better one than V1.

Nikon D800E, D4, D7000 and V1 image size

D800E and D4 are full frame FX format, the sensor size is 36 x 23.9mm; D7000 is DX format, the sensor size is 23.6 x 15.6mm; V1 is CX format, the sensor size is 13.2 x 8.8mm.

D800E sensor is 36 MP; D4 and D7000 sensor is 16.2 MP; V1 is 10.1 MP

Here is an image taken with D800E, AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II and TC-20E III.  The image is 36 MP.

Here is the image cropped to 16.2 MP, the image size of D4.

Here is the image cropped to DX format (1.5x) of D7000.  As we can see the images of D4 and D7000 are identical.  It means, if we decrease the size of the sensor of D800E to DX format, it will have the same pixel of 16.2 MP as D4. But D4 still have larger FX format sensor, a situation similar to that between D3 and D300.  In which, both camera are 12 MP but one in FX format and the other in DX format.  Thus it will be unlikely that Nikon will ever make another professional camera in DX format.  People want to use DX format can simply just put their DX lens on D800.

Here is the image cropped to the CX format (2.7x) of V1.

AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II with D4, D800E and V1

There is another way of bring the subject closer or bigger other than using longer and longer focal length lens.  We can decrease the size of camera sensor or increase its pixel density.  D4 and D800E are both full frame with sensor size of 36 x 23.9 mm.  V1 is CX format of 13.2 x 8.8 mm with a crop factor of 2.7x.  D4 is 16.2 MP, D800E is 36 MP and V1 is 10.1 MP.  Here are comparison of images view at 100%.

Here are images using AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II:

AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II with D4

AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II with D800E

AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II with V1
Here are images using AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II and TC-14E II:

AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II, TC-14E II with D4

AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II, TC-14E II with D800E

AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II, TC-14E II with V1
Here are images using AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II and TC-20E III:

AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II, TC-20E III with D4

AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II, TC-20E III with D800E

AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II, TC-20E III with V1

AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II; TC-14E II; TC-20E III

I got the Nikon AF VR Zoom-Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED several years ago and it has served me well.  I had so much good fun with it on my D700 and usually shoot offhand and rarely use tripod with it.  It was the first VR lens made by Nikon and I still remember the first year it was introduced.  There were so many people lined up to try the lens in the photo show in Boston, I could hardly squeeze into the Nikon booth.  Over the years, it was rated one of the worst lens that Nikon produced, slow focusing (not AF-S), bad optical performance, etc.  Being an amateur, I was very pleased with the lens, It opened the door for me for bird as well as animal photography and it has never disappointed me.

It is hard to move further up, the size and weight of 400mm f/2.8, 500mm f/4, 600mm f/4 are just beyond my way of photography.  Can Nikon just make a good 400mm/4 as Canon has done?  Nikon's answer for that is the 200-400mm f/4, weight 7.4 lbs.  I almost made the decision of purchasing the lens for our upcoming African trip before realizing that there is another option.  An option that probably everybody knows except me.

The option is AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II with teleconverter  TC-14E II and TC-20E III.    Nikon introduced the lens and teleconverters together several years ago and since further upgraded them.  The lens weights 6.4 lbs and is a legendary lens from Nikon, one of its best.  TC-14E changes the lens to 420mm f/4 with hardly any noticeable deterioration in image quality and focusing speed.  TC-20E III changes the lens to 600mm f/5.6, and the performance is still good.

200-400mm f/4 is good with TC-14E II, but has focusing issue with TC-20E III, although with newer camera such as D4, it may work.  But this issue tipped the balance and I opted to go for the AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II.  It is still a big lens but with VRII, it is completely possible to shoot offhand.  With the lens hood on, TC-14E II and D4 attached, it fits comfortably in my Think Tank Streetwalker HarDrive backpack.  I could walk around with the set up for hours without fatigue.

200-400mm still has its advantage as a zoom lens, it would be hard to imagine changing teleconverters during the rain or snow.  But that is something that I have to learn to live with, the curse of prime lens!

NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II, TC-14E II and D4: f/5.6, 1/500, ISO280

Friday, January 25, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

D800E: Sharpening

I always have in-camera sharpening set at 6 or 7 (Picture Control: Standard or Neutral).  This allows me to view the image on the LCD much better.  I am usually lazy and keep the in-camera sharpening in NX2.  If I use Portrait or Neutral (sharpening 2), I will then use Jason Ordell's USM 30/7/3 for final sharpening.

His sharpening method specific for 800e is interesting and worked very well.  I set the sharpening in Development section of NX2 at 0 for 800e , then apply his sharpening method.  The result is amazingly good, on condition, our photographic technique is perfect.  All three images on this blog are using this sharpening method.  It does not work all the time, sometimes I need just add a little bit more of in-camera sharpening (or in NX2) to give that extra push.  

The soft and evenness of the color of this image really does not require much sharpening.

Although I only used minimum sharpening as described, I used a little bit of Tonal Contrast of Color Efex Pro to bring more detail of the colorful subjects.

Nikon D800E Resolution: Why 36 MP Matter

For me, photographing landscape especially flowering bed or an Aspen tree in its most brilliant fall yellow color is something very much of a challenge.  First is the color, and the second is the resolution. For the color, the first rule of thumb is do not over saturate the color.  Look at the RGB histogram on the LCD carefully.  Do not let the Red curve over exposed (pushed to the far right).  Usually, it means using Natural at Picture Control, make sure that the scene is not to contrasty and under expose slightly to ensure no red is over exposed.

The other issue is resolution and that is what I hope the 36 MP will help.  Perfect stability of the camera and subject is essential but after all that, with D700 with its 12MP, it is hard to get clear sharp image of little flowers and leaves at 100%.  The above image was shot by D800e with 36 MP.  It looks ordinary but look at 100%

I can see finally all the little flowers and leaves.

 People may say that you never need that much resolution, who look at image at 100%.  But we do, we would like that all the detail is clear and sharp.  Such as this shot, when enlarge to 100%, I can see all the leaves of the shrubs by the side of the pond sharp and clear.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Nikon 35mm f/1.4: Learn How to Focus and Photograph Again

This was shot at f/10 and focused on the girl who was pushing the cart.

This was shot at f/8 and focused on the old man with the hat.

Both was not focused correctly that resulting the background slightly out focus.  It is all right for the overall effect.  But how do I get everything in focus, in this case the children playing in the background.

For 35mm lens on a full frame camera, at f/8, the focusing point should be at 18 feet then everything from 9 feet to infinity will be in focus.

For 35 mm lens on a full frame camera, at f/11, the focusing point should be at 12 feet then everything from 6 feet to infinity will be in focus.

1 meter is about 3.3 feet or 10 feet is 3 meter.  I am 172 cm or 5.64 feet in height.  When spreading my arm, the distance from the tip of my middle finger of right hand to that of my left hand is the same as my height.  A good yard-stick in field to estimate the distance.

Thus the way to focus is use single point and AF-S, pointing the focusing point on a subject at the desired distance, focus then recompose and shoot.

If the main subject is too close (closer than 6 - 9 feet, closer than 1x to 1.5x of my height) to be in focus with the background, back out to the desired distance and crop the picture later on.

35mm prime lens is always a challenge for me.  It has almost the same field-of-view with human eye.  It sees what I see.  However, I do not usually find what I see is very artistic.  May be, this is what photographing the real life means!  The lens forces me to photograph differently and demands me to try to tell a story with my image.

With that in mind, I photograph this picture which I think it is the real Taipei and the people who live in it every day looks like.  Just a glimpse of 1/80 second!


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