Saturday, July 31, 2010

4th of July Fireworks with the Nikon D90!

This last 4th of July I had a chance to watch the fireworks in a small town way up in the Cascade Mountains. The town’s fireworks are fired off right next to the river which was a great opportunity for me to capture the reflections of the fireworks on the water. A rushing river isn’t as good as a perfectly flat and calm lake for this type of shot but it will work ok. So I found the only advantage spot the shot would work and planned to get there early to set up. These are two of my favorites from a lot of shots taken and here’s the D90 Settings I used and how I did it.

First you’re going to need a Tripod and a Remote. I used my Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 lens for these shots at 17mm. First set your camera to remote and in settings :C5 set your Remote on Duration to 10 or 15 minutes if it’s not already set. ISO should be set to 200 to reduce noise. Next set you camera to Manual Exposure and rotate the rear Shutter Speed dial to the left until you get to the word BULB. Bulb setting lets you determine with the remote how long you want to leave the shutter open, 1st click the shutter opens 2nd click the shutter closes. This is how you get long exposures. The next D90 setting is your aperture. Rotate the Aperture dial on the front of your D90 to set this setting. These photos were taken with the aperture set at F/8 but you can play with this setting. I’ve taken fireworks pictures with the aperture set up to as far as f/18. The last camera set up is to set the D90 to manual focus and focus out to infinity. To focus to Infinity means to turn your focus ring all the way to the left or right where everything in the distance is in focus. I think their is a infinity symbol also on your lens. After the fireworks start you can play with the manual focus but infinity seems best. That’s it for the D90 setup.

Now it’s time to fire off some test shots of the beginning fireworks to get the framing you like. Now for the timing, as soon as you hear the fireworks shoot off into the sky click the remote one time (opening the shutter). Wait until the big explosion in the sky happens and click again (closing the shutter) Check you framing and adjust. Now you’re set to capture away….play with different exposure times and see what you get. That’s it, and that’s how I got my shots. My exposure times for these two shots were 5.1 and 7.6 seconds.

Quick Recap:
Tripod - Camera set to Remote – Remote on Duration set to 10min. – ISO 200 - Manual Exposure Set – Rotate Shutter Dial to BULB – Rotate Aperture Dial to F/8 – Set Focus to Manual – Focus out to Infinity.

Have Fun!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Team Member for D90 Blog

Many of you don't know me, in fact, most likely all of you don't know me. On a whim, I approached the owner of this blog, and asked if he would be interested in adding a team member to the blog. To my surprise, he responded in the affirmative, so from now on, all of the loyal readers will be receiving updates from both of us.

My first official action on this blog is to inform y'all to what gear I have, what I like, and what I don't like. I have listed them below in chronological order of buying them.
- D40 - What I started with. If you can find one, get it! It is cheaper than the D3000, and virtually identical in almost all respects.
- 18-55mm - This is the kit lens that comes with the D40. It is a great first lens, and is very versatile, not to mention cheap.
- 55-200mm VR - This stayed on my camera most of the time until I got my latest lens. It is with every bit of $50 to get the VR.
- SB-600 - This flash will do everything you need and more. I wouldn't get the SB-400, because you can't bounce it in portrait mode, and the SB-900 still has problems, not to mention the larger price.
- D90 - My current flagship. I use this 95% of the time, and I don't have any complaints with it.
- MB-D80 - If you don't have one of these, but you do a lot of shooting, it is well worth it! It works seamlessly with the D90, (although I did have to bend the contacts a bit...) and it allows for days, sometimes even weeks of continuous shooting.
- 50mm f/1.8 - Perhaps the greatest budget lens ever. If you don't have one, get one! They are cheap, they have a great construction, amazing bokeh, and some of the best focusing ever!
- Tamrac 8x Velocity - If you like moving, and don't like sitting down to change equipment, get one of these! They have every size you need, and when you pull the strap tight, your movements aren't hampered at all!
- Sandisk Extreme III 8GB - This is extremely fast, plus it is practically built for the D90. I have heard that it supports over-clocking for up to 30MB/s, and as far as I know, the D90 is one of the few, if not the only camera that offers over-clocking features.
- Gary Fong Puffer - If you can't afford a flash to bounce the light, this is the next best thing. It attaches to the hotshoe, and diffuses the built-in flash very well!
- Zeikos Close-up Filters - I got these because I wanted to get into macro photography without the cost. The only downside is it shortens the depth of field quite a bit, and you have to get right up on your subject. Overall, worth the $20 I had to pay for a set of 4.

That's a quick rundown of all my equipment. I am a Nikon junkie, and really try not to buy anything non-Nikon if I can help it. Obviously, some things you need to stray from the golden path, but for all the main camera equipment, stick with Nikon, and you can't go wrong. They engineer their products so well, and they will last you possibly for the rest of your life.

Another recommendation I have if you are a risk-taker like me, is buy the expensive stuff from Ritz Camera. By doing this, you can buy their insurance, which covers everything except theft and fire. Take it from me, if you are about to get a flash, get insurance on it! The idea of charging something up, and letting it go repeatedly is a bad bet, and I am about to take my flash in for the second time this year to get repaired/replaced. Not a bad bet, as the price of another flash is just about the same as every bit of insurance I have bought within the past two years. So while some people take care of equipment, and might not need to worry about insurance, I think it is better to err on the side of caution, plus it allows me to let my friends use my equipment without having to worry about it constantly.

So now you know a little bit more about me. I am looking forward to keeping y'all updated on the latest goings-on in the Nikon world, and specifically with anything related to the D90.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Is the Nikon D90 Being Replaced, Really?

Well I hate to say it but each day now I’m see more and more reports that the d90 is about to be replaced. Nikon Rumors is reporting that stores are already removing the d90 stock for the new replacement! They say it might now be called the D8000?. I guess it was going to happen sooner or later but this seems a little too soon for me, especially since the d90 is probably one of their best sellers….. I don’t think I’ll be getting read of my D90 for quite some time. Regardless of how much they pressure me to upgrade to the replacement model. The announcement is rumored to be the middle of august. Stay Tuned for more information.

Update: Turned out to be called the D7000

Update: Rumored to be called the Nikon D95 - 8/2/2010

So what do you all think about this whole D90 Replacement already?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nikon D90 Blog - D90 Everything - Were Back.....Finally!

I can't tell you all what a big relief it was today to get my blog back! I really didn't think I'd ever see it again after 2 years online.

Here's the short of a long stressful and successful story......

July 21, 2010 I went to log into my blog and I cant. It says its disabled due to it being a spam blog and sometimes their robots get what they call a false positive which I got? So I'm freaking out after reading this feeling like i just got punched in the stomach for something i don't even know what it was! and the only option i had was to click a button that said restore my blog and here's what i get.“

Blogger’s spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What’s a spam blog?) Since you’re an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive. We received your unlock request on July 21, 2010. On behalf of the robots, we apologize for locking your non-spam blog. Please be patient while we take a look at your blog and verify that it is not spam.

So I start looking for help and find this whole four step process I have to follow to the T, which I quickly do.....As the days are passing I'm kind of depressed as each morning I wake up I look to see if my blog is back on. 6 days have passed and nothing. Then on the 7th day, today I get an email after work that says "your blog has been restored! Thank you for your patience.....Yeah! Those darn robots........

So were back and looking good....I hope i haven't lost many followers and if i have i hope you come back soon...

Starting around the 1st of next month I'm going to have our 2nd photo contest to celebrate getting the blog back and it's new look! I'm thinking the winner will get a new Wireless Remote Control, the Nikon ML-L3! Not sure of the theme yet but if you have some ideas let me know!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM Lens for the Nikon D90!

Sigma has a new 17-50mm lens with Optical Stabilization made for APS-C camera's like our Nikon D90! Now available!

Ultra compact, large-aperture, standard zoom packs OS functionality and new, FLD glass

This large-aperture, standard-zoom lens, which was first introduced in February at Photo Marketing Association International, is designed for small chip, APS-C digital cameras and incorporates Sigma’s Optical Stabilization (OS) functionality and new, FLD glass. The 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM is an ultra compact lens with an overall length of just 3.6 inches.

The 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM covers a focal length from a 17mm wide angle, has a minimum focusing distance of 11 inches throughout the entire zoom range and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:5. The lens is currently available in Canon mounts at all authorized Sigma dealers for the MSRP of $980, and it will be available in Nikon, Sigma, Sony and Pentax mounts in the coming weeks.

The OS function offers the use of shutter speeds approximately four stops slower than would otherwise be possible. Only Sigma has made it possible for Pentax and Sony shooters to utilize an anti-shake system in either the lens or the camera body. The compensation for camera shake is visible in the view finder for all mounts, which makes accurate focusing fast and easy.

“This lens is a must-have for any photo opportunity,” said Mark Amir-Hamzeh, general manager of Sigma Corporation of America. “The fast aperture allows for shooting in low, existing light or at maximum range with a flash. This is an ideal, all-purpose lens for everyday shooting.”

Sigma’s FLD glass, which is used in the new lens, has an extremely high light transmission and anomalous dispersion, making it the top level of low dispersion glass available. With a performance equal to fluorite glass, this optical glass has a low refractive index and low dispersion compared to current optical glass. These characteristics offer excellent correction for residual chromatic aberration (secondary spectrum), which cannot be corrected by ordinary optical glass and ensures high-definition and high-contrast images.

In addition, the 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM also offers one hybrid aspherical lens and two glass mold elements for excellent correction of distortion and astigmatism. It has Super Multi-Layer Coating to reduce flare and ghosting with superior peripheral brightness and Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) to provide quiet and high-speed auto focus. The lens’ rounded, seven-blade diaphragm creates an attractive blur to out-of-focus areas and its inner focusing system eliminates front lens rotation, making the lens particularly suitable for use with the supplied petal-type lens hood and circular polarizing filters.

Check it out and read customer reviews here

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Nikon D90 and the Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 Ultra Wide Lens!

Tokina 11-16 2.8 @12mm

Hey everyone! Hope you all had a great 4th of July and got some nice pictures.

Update: Newer Version Just Released 7/27/2012 Check it out Here

I’m going to talk a little about the Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 Ultra Wide lens today and my personal thoughts about it. As I said in a previous blog here that I really wanted to get this lens for landscape photography. Well it turns out I was just recently hired by a Build and Design Company to take some photos of their finished interiors……Yep, A paying photography job, Sweet. Anyway this was the perfect reason to finally get the Tokina 11-16mm lens. Plus I was getting ready for vacation where I really wanted to use this lens. I found a good deal on eBay from cameraland with MSN cashback which after the rebate cost me around $520.

First off this lens on the D90 is very cool, looks great and is built like a hand grenade. It worked great for the building interior work I was shooting. It made all the difference in the world compared to my other widest lens the Tamron 17-50mm 2.8. I found out quickly the tammy is just is not wide enough for interiors in my opinion after trying both lens. The Tokina is sharp and fun to use but takes some basic practice to get use to. I used this lens on my D90 set to aperture priority F/8 & F11, tripod, and used the natural lighting of the interiors and the photos came out very nice. See low-res samples below.

So now it was time to take this Tokina on the road for vacation up the California and Oregon coast into Seattle Washington for a family visit and lots of pictures. I was exited to start shooting landscapes and such with the Tokina until I started framing shots at 11mm and they seemed to be a mile away in the viewfinder and just too much at times it seemed. This seemed to be fine on a few shots but not all. I found myself putting on the Tamron 17-50mm more often then not for landscape photos. Don’t get me wrong here the Tokina was sharp and great at 11mm but for most landscape shots I found framing the scene and some zoom ability was needed from the Tammy. The Tokina zoom range is very minimal thus I’d say this lens will always only be used at 11mm which is why I got it anyway. This brings me to an early conclusion that this is definitely like others have said a “Specialty Lens” especially great at building interiors and exteriors and some special landscape photos. I also loved this lens for any really close up shots of big things like cars. I swear it seems like you can get a foot away from a car and fit it all in the frame at different angles, very cool. After my trip I’d say that 80 % of my landscape keepers came from the Tamron 17-50mm but one of my very favorites did come from the Tokina 11-16mm taken at 12mm.

I can’t compare the Tokina Ultra Wide against others like it because this is the first and only true ultra wide I’ve ever used. I do love this lens the more I use it for it's specialties and would definitely recommend it for interiors and exterior building photos and some landscape specialty shots but not as just a landscape lens. I will continue to play with this lens and become more familiar with it as time passes. Below are a few sample photos from the Tokina 11-16mm on my Nikon D90.

Tokina 11-16 @ 16mm
Tokina 11-16 @ 11mm