Monday, January 31, 2011

It's going to be an interesting Nikon year

Thom Hogan published this on the 26th of january.

  • D3100. Nikon's entry DSLR until late 2011 or more probably early 2012.
  • D5000. No longer in production, some still in the sales channel. A strong candidate for replacement in the first half of the year.
  • D7000. Still in short supply and should remain Nikon's top consumer DSLR until at least summer of 2012.
  • D300s. No longer in production, many still in the sales channel. A strong candidate for replacement between now and September.
  • D700. Approaching three years old. A strong candidate for replacement in the first half of the year.
  • D3s. Will be replaced by the D4 in August.
  • D3x. Probably obsoleted by the D4 in August, but not certain.
Now I know Thom a bit, nice guy, good photographer, writes extremely well and has, in my opinion, perhaps the best outsider view on Nikon.

Interesting for the foreseeable future:

D5000: Bit of an outsider in the current lineup. The D3100 is an impressive competitor for this camera, only real thing the D5000 has going for it over the D3100 is the foldout screen. If this is sold out that leaves a big gap between the D3100 and the D7000. Will Nikon fill that gap? Everyone expects them to but I still have doubts.

D300s: The workhorse for the serious amateur and a good backup body for a lot of pros. The D7000 rivals it on a lot of features except build and AF. When a camera in this class is due for replacement we tend to get rumours fairly early on. I've not heard anything credible yet. So either Nikon is keeping it close to the chest and there's a lot of them still in channels or they expect the D7000 to keep that niche for a little while.

D700: Rumours of a successor have been going around for at least a year. Not the volume product the D300s was but a very vocal minority is yelling for a replacement. My instict is that this is the next camera we will see.

Tricky to predict.
  • some sort of 80-400 replacement, likely to be just a bit different and featuring AF-S and VR and a hefty pricetag.
  • Probably another high-end expensive prime or two.
  • A 300mm f4 AF-S with VR is almost a certainty, I've had a Nikon rep admit as much to me personally.
  • A DX budget priced surprise. The 35mm f1.8 did extremely well, the 85mm f3.5 micro sells decently. One of the most common complaints from the first time buyer is that the 50mm f1.8 lacks autofocus on the baby Nikons.
With the SB-700 and SB-900 in the lineup I don't expect anything new there.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

business park pheasant

business park pheasant
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Sometimes it still amazes me what you can find on the edges of a business park. This male pheasant I've seen around a few times before. It spotted me, got up and made a show of pecking at the ground. When he thought I'd gone he resumed a position on a piece of fallen wood and got back to relaxing.

What also amazes me is the lack of light we have in this time of year. Solid overcast and you're shooting high iso and struggling for a decent shutter speed.

Something else that's clear here is one of the negative effects of using an optically stabilized lens, the Sigma 150-500 OS to be exact. The subject is reasonably sharp but the background looks very restless.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I just won an Ipad, now what?

In a lottery at work I was one of the lucky few to win an iPad. The basic model with 16gb and WiFi but still... I almost never win things so I was glad.

Then I got thinking.. what the **** am I going to do with it? I've got a decent PC in the living room for the family. I got the standard issue laptop from my employer which is good enough for a bit of internet access from the couch. I've got a basic nokia series 40 phone with a private SIM and a Nokia 5800 with a SIM provided by my employer.

I access the internet mainly from my laptop, occasionally from the Nokia 5800 if there's wifi access. I don't travel via public transport.

So... should I sell the iPad? Or keep it?

Monday, January 10, 2011

ijsvogel / kingfisher
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Yes, I know, now the quality I like to publish. But I was just so thrilled to get this shot.

When I was a kid in the 1970s these were extremely rare (as was the cormorant) but with the cleaner waters from the mid 80s onwards they made a comeback. Harsh winters like 2009/2010 hit these little birds hard but not as hard as some people feared.

I found this little fellow during my lunchtime walk not far from the office where I work.

Normally these have two speeds, creating a blue blur over the water at a 150km/h (or so it seems) or sitting like this. They are easily scared and hard to approach. This was at 15 meters at the very least through a lot of small branches. Lousy shot but I was so happy to finally get it!

Now, to make up for the quality of this:

great titheron on ice

Geotagging with a Nokia 5800

After earlier attempts with Nokia's sports tracker proved to be a bit of a challenge I decided to see if I could use my Nokia 5800, a Series 60 symbian phone with build-in GPS as a GPS logger.
Nokia's sports tracker works, sort of. It can log a route but persists in using local time in your logs. It's also typical Nokia software aimed at the technologically challenged people Nokia loves to have as a customer.

Briefly I looked at dedicated GPS solutions for cameras like Nikon's GP-1, which is rather expensive at more than 200 euros. I found that Nikon allows you to connect your own GPS setup, they even make a cable for it, MC-35, which is almost as expensive as the GPS receiver you need in addition to it. There's instructions on how to make that cable or how to make your own GPS receiver for your Nikon like this, this, this and this work of art. All of these require a basic skill in electronics and some parts adding up to about $100. A lot better than what Nikon charges you. Then it hit me, I got a cellphone which I carry a lot of the time which is a so called "smartphone" (although calling a symbian phone smart is stretching the meaning of the word to breaking point in my opinion) and which has a GPS built in. Despite the earlier fail with that Nokia app there must be something useable out there.

So, googling a bit and I found TTGPSlogger. It's freeware, in 0.4 and available for most flavours of symbian. It also seems to have been abandonned, no recent updates. It does include good installation instructions (do read the bit about signing your download!)

Once installed it will be on your applications list. Start it up, go to settings and on the tab "output" set memory in use to your storage card.

Out in the field, start the program, allow it to get a fix. As you can see in this screenshot it also displays sat time and system time. It's very important that you ensure your camera is set as close as possible to the sat time. Any difference here will result in inaccuracy in the tagging of the images.

Once you've confirmed that, hit "start". It will prompt you which format you want to record, I choose gpx because that's the most widely recognized format. Once you finished your walk hit stop.

Now, when you get home you have a few options, merge the tags before you edit or afterwards. I prefer to do it afterwards because it leaves me with fewer images to tag. I choose geosetter to do the job for me since it's free and very actively maintained. Download, install with default settings.
Next get the .gpx file that you recorded and put it in the same folder as the images you want to tag. Hit CTRL+G and confirm the defaults. Let the program run. Press ctrl+S to save your action and that's it!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

10km and all I got to show for it...

fallow deer
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Is this and a couple of Whooper Swans.

Ah well, at least I had some exercise and fresh air. Oh, and my new geotagging setup works, more about that later.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A long sunday walk

Sunday January 2nd my wife took the kids to a musical leaving me with 6 hours to myself. And what better to spend that time than to put on my hiking boots and take a long stroll trough my favourite nature reserve, the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen.


Another accidental blue tit. If you happen to be in their way while they are on a fouraging route and you're really careful not to make any sudden moves you can get shots like this. A very common bird but I do like them a lot, rather colourful and great fun to watch.

I took this unusual amount of time to explore an area where I'd never been before and could not resist this:


I opted for an HDR for this scene and ended up keeping it a bit dark, it does more justice to the scene somehow.
After this shot I left the paths and went cross country for a bit and was lucky enough to capture a buzzard and a jay in flight. Birds in flight is definitely something I need to practice more.



Not at all bad but I'm nowhere near satisfied either. Of course what doesn't help is that even with a 500mm you still got a considerable working distance, you end up cropping so any mistake is magnified.

Next up some water birds. With a lot of the main bodies of water still mostly frozen a lot of birds take to the smaller but faster flowing bodies of water. Challenge there is that you have little or no shelter.

Tufted duck

A female tufted duck.


A little grebe. Scruffy looking fish eating bird.

Now the goosanders have been giving me trouble ever since I got the big sigma. The female is a bit skittish but not that challenging. The male is. Just before I shot these two males got spooked and lifted off. I got half a dozen shots in but my camera on shutter priority either blows the body or makes the head loose all detail. I need to really rethink my way of shooting these birds.

goosander female

goosander male

I also got a few panorama shots but still need to finish processing those.