Macro Lens Results

Nikon D300, AF-S 60/2.8 G Micro

We spent some time this weekend playing around with the two macro lenses I rented as well as our own AF 105/2.8 D Micro.  What do we think of them all now?

Both my Dear Sweet Wife and I quickly came to the same conclusion:  The too-short working distance and lack of internal focusing of the AF-S 40/2.8 G Micro lens is a complete show stopper.

While shooting a flower bouquet with the focus locked as close as possible with the 40mm its front frequently came into contact with the flowers themselves.  With any macro subject that isn’t perfectly flat you will find working at maximum magnification very difficult.

On top of that, the front element of the 40mm lens moves significantly during focus changes which alters the angle of view.  If you try adjusting focus at all you will go through multiple iterations of compose, focus, re-compose, re-focus, re-compose, re-focus, etc…

In comparison, the AF-S 60/2.8 G Micro lens was a pleasure to use.  It had a good working distance at maximum magnification; it never came too close to our subjects.  And with its internal focusing feature, changing focus had no noticeable effect on the composition.

There was really no competition at all in our mind: if the 60mm lens is within your budget we can’t see a good reason to even consider the 40mm.  (And if a new 60mm isn’t in your budget, I would recommend a used 60mm over a new 40mm too!)

Keep in mind our goal was to consider these for use with our smaller DX format D300.  If you use a full-frame FX body and/or 35mm film we would still prefer our good old 105mm lens (or its current equivalent).

Fork in the Path

Nikon D300, AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6

One of my 2012 resolutions is to share my photos more, and one of the old fashioned ways to do this is via prints.  Putting photos up on the wall is an easy way to start conversations with visiting friends and family.

I took this photo while on a business trip to Oslo, Norway in October 2010.  We were walking through the Royal Palace park on the way to dinner when I snapped this shot of my co-workers proceeding down the path.

I had it printed by Mpix shortly thereafter and swapped it into a frame we already had.  However, the previous picture was a vertical shot and the wire mounting was not setup for hanging horizontal.  As I sometimes do (ahem…) I put is aside and forget about it.

My wife discovered it hiding (in plain site…) on top of a cabinet the other day, so I finally got off my behind, re-attached the wire for horizontal placement and hung it on a wall in our house.

Maybe I can rotate a few other new prints through the house soon, this time taking less than a year to hang them up!

Down the Slide Redux

Nikon D300, AF Nikkor 24mm f/2.8

Here is my same son from two posts ago, but on a different slide and of course shot on a different camera.

We hit Happy Hollow today, both my sons and I.  They had a blast, as always, running around and playing to their heart’s content.

Our younger son was a bit behind on his rest this weekend.  When we got home around 4PM I tucked him in for a late nap and he said “Goodnight Daddy…”.

He is still sleeping in there as of nearly 9PM.  Either he is out for the night (I hope!) or he is going to be up at 4AM asking to watch the Cars 2 rental we have from Netflix.

I shot today digital with the D300, using my 24mm and 50mm prime lenses which are equivalent to 36mm and 75mm focal lengths due to the camera’s smaller sensor.

I am still running Windows Vista on my desktop, which does not recognize my vertical shots as such.  I tried using Downloader Pro under its demo license to dump the images from my flash card to my PC and perform loss-less JPEG rotations in the process.

It worked like a charm, my vertical shots came through as verticals wether viewed in Windows, Photoshop, or uploaded to Flickr.  Downloader Pro seemed to have a number of other interesting features so I will explore it some more before paying for the full version.

Halloween in Available Light

Nikon D300, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 G

I hope all you out there celebrating Halloween had a great time on Monday!  We certainly had a blast in our household.

Our six-year-old dressed up as a “stealth ninja” (not just any old ninja he is quick to say).  And our three-year-old went as a wizard, a home-made costume created by my DSW 4-years ago for our older son.  They both had matching glowing blue swords, because, well, don’t ninjas and wizards need them?

I actually had trick-or-treating in mind when I rented a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G lens for the week.  I considered shooting film initially, but then decided I was foolish to pass on our DSLR’s low-light ability and immediate feedback.

The angle-of-view was a bit tight using this lens on our D300 due to the smaller sensor crop factor, but it still worked out.  I never had to backup further than the curb to nicely frame each home’s walkway and front door where the eager kids had buckets outstretched.

A friend who was out with us commented on how good my pictures looked, and how natural the flash lighting was.  Then I reminded her I wasn’t using flash and she was quite amazed.

Most shots worked with available light @ ISO 800 to 1600 and still keeping around 1/50 shutter and an aperture between f/1.4-2.8.

I am a bit more tempted by this lens now that I have used it in very low-light situations.  Hopefully I can shoot something else with it before I have to return it on Friday.

And a big congratulations to my DSW on her blog’s 600th post!  Quilt Otaku is going strong after nearly five years.

View From The Window

Nikon D300, AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6

On August 19, 1839, the French government announced the invention of photography as a gift “Free to the World”.  That was the year that Louis Daguerre created the Daguerreotype process and competitor William Fox Talbot created the Calotype process.

It seems there is some debate who deserves recognition for creating the first practical photographic process.  But I am personally fascinated more by the first successful permanent photograph View from the Window at Le Gras by Nicéphore Niépce taken 13 years earlier in 1826.

Inspired by the newly-invented art of lithography, Niépce created a light-sensitive varnish made of a petroleum derivative.  He applied it to a polished pewter plate, placed it behind his camera obscura, and pointed it all out the window of his country house.

Eight hours later his exposure was finished, and after washing the plate in order to remove the exposed varnish (and reveal the shiny pewter behind) the photograph was complete.  A fascinating side effect was that opposing buildings are evenly lit due to the sun traveling across the sky during the lengthy exposure.

So happy World Photography Day to you all!  And bonus brownie points for the commenter that can identify the location of the window I captured in the image above.

Spinning Light

Nikon D300, AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6, @ f/4.5 and 2.4 second exposure

The lovely model in the above shot is my Dear Sweet Wife who is known to be an avid spinner of a different kind.  Our almost-three-year-old son is pretending to be Darth Vader in the background, waving his glow stick around (amazing entertainment value with young kids) saying things like “I am your father!” while making wheezing noises.

We spent a long weekend in Cayucos, CA as our end-of-summer beach vacation.  You may think that summer is just getting started, but according to our local school district it is almost over seeing as the school year starts next Monday.

The weather was a bit cold and the water even colder, but good time was had by all (us, kids, Grandparents, Aunt & Uncle, and cousins).  We got our kite flying, sand castling, boogie boarding, and seafood eating in spades.

Our culinary discovery of the trip was Taco Temple in nearby Morro Bay.  The home-made chips and salsa almost filled us up before the meal even came, my wife’s single “taco” dish of halibut was enormous as was my chicken-bacon chimichanga, and the chocolate-covered bread pudding was to die for.  (Burp!)

I had my big camera bag and tripod with me with serious intent to do some landscape photography for the first time in a long time.  It felt great just having it all in the trunk, although the weather barely accommodated one sunset outing in which I shot 24 exposures of Velvia 100 with my Nikon FA.

The sun was almost a no-show due to fog, but I managed to get some shots of the distant Morrow Rock as well as the local pier using wake-boarders, birds, or joggers to add some foreground interest.  Now I just need to come up with something creative to finish off the roll…