Tag Archives: nikon

Photographing holiday lights

I haven’t had much of a chance to blog in the last week, since life & work got in the way. I had an awesome time Monday night when my friends took me out to dinner at 101 Ocean for my birthday.

People are already starting to put up their Christmas decorations – they don’t even wait for Thanksgiving any more. One of my neighbors put up blue lights & butterflies, as you can see from this photo.

Shooting holiday lights can be a challenge, since the camera will try to adjust the exposure for the background, which will make the lights disappear. Instead, you want to underexpose the picture enough to darken the background and make the lights stand out.

You might be able to get good results using exposure compensation, but to really get it right, you need to use manual exposure. It’s difficult to apply any standard exposure rules, since the ideal exposure depends on how dark it is and the color, size, and brightness of the lights, so you’ll probably need to experiment to get the best results. I took these pictures shortly before sunset tonight and I found that I got the best results using shutter speed 1/30 at f5.6 with ISO 1600. A good way to start is by using one of the semi-automatic modes and noting the shutter speed or aperture it chooses, and adjusting it from there.

The D90’s excellent high ISO performance makes it a lot easier to get good results in these conditions. With a lot of cameras you wouldn’t want to go above ISO 800, so you’ll need to adjust the shutter speed & aperture accordingly.

Blue lights & butterfly

Apple adds Nikon D90 RAW support

With all of the focus on the election, there was one very welcome bit of non-election news yesterday. Apple released Digital Camera Raw Compatibility 2.3, which finally adds RAW support for the Nikon D90 to Aperture, iPhoto, and other applications.

Music video created with Nikon D90

Bee Ng has created a music video shot entirely with a Nikon D90. The quality really looks great.

As this demonstrates, the time & size limit for D90 video isn’t really a problem if you’re going to be doing any editing. You can shoot separate scenes, which will fit easily in the time limit, and join them.

The D90 is selling fast

I like to check Flickr’s camera finder page every few days to see how popular the D90 is. As I write this, the D90 is ranked 15 of 102 Nikon models. Less than a week ago, it wasn’t even listed. Yesterday it was #19, a jump of 4 places in one day.

Here’s a shot I took today with my 50mm lens at f1.8. I love being able to use auto focus with that lens.

New Orchid

The D90's Eye-Fi Surprise

I haven’t been using my Eye-Fi card because I prefer using a higher capacity 8G card with the D40x & D90’s large file sizes. I also prefer to choose which pictures to upload and do any necessary touchups rather than just upload everything immediately.

When I heard about the D90’s Eye-Fi support I decided to give it a try. The D90 recognizes an Eye-Fi card and adds a new item to the setup menu which lets you choose whether you want it to upload automatically. The D90 also adjusts its power settings to avoid shutting off while pictures are uploading.

When I do upload from the Eye-Fi card, rather than uploading to Flickr, where I prefer to be a bit more selective, I always used Picassa as sort of a dumping ground. I also have it upload to a folder on my MacBook Pro, where I can import it into Aperture, do any necessary touchup, and upload the best to Flickr.

D90 Eye-Fi Upload

Nikon introduces their first AF-S prime lens

Nikon has announced a new 50mm/f1.4 AF-S lens, their first prime lens with an internal auto focus motor. Unlike their current prime lenses, including the popular 50mm/f1.8 AF, this new lens will support auto focus on the D40, D40x, and D60. One of my reasons for upgrading to a D90 was the D40x’s lack of internal auto focus.

The new lens will be available in December for $439 in the US.

D90 Real World Performance

Today I went to Lauderdale-by-the-sea, the same place we had the photowalk, with my D90 to compare it with the D40x’s performance in a similar situation. I find that the move from the D40x to the D90 is as big a jump as switching from a point & shoot camera to the D40x.

In general, the D90 gives much sharper detail and better color than the D40x. Although it’s noticeably bigger & heavier than the D40x, I didn’t find it at all uncomfortable to use.

The D90’s battery life is excellent. When I started, my battery was one bar below fully charged. After taking over 600 shots and 4 movies, it was only down two more bars.

You can see the difference in quality very dramatically in this side-by-side comparison.

D90-vs-D40x.jpg

The ocean was fairly rough from the storms and there were a few skim boarders, but they stayed pretty close to shore, so I didn’t catch any spectacular jumps or wipeouts like I did at the photowalk. Besides doing continuous shooting, I also recorded a few D-movies.

You can see the full set of photos I shot today here as well as the D-Movies.

DSC_0073

HDR photos with a D90

The D90’s exposure bracketing feature is great for HDR imaging. When you turn on bracketing, 2 or 3 consecutive shots will automatically use different exposures. If you use continuous mode, simply press and hold the shutter release to take the 2 or 3 bracketed shots. The resulting shots are exactly what you need to merge into an HDR image. I used the Hydra HDR plugin with Aperture 2.1 for this one.

D90 HDR

D90 in low light

After using the D90 for a few days, I’m very impressed with it. Live view is a lot better than I expected and I really like having dedicated buttons for settings like white balance, quality, and ISO so I don’t have to keep going to the menu as I did on the D40x.

This evening I tried using it in low light and I found that it performs beautifully at high ISO settings. All of these pictures were taken when it was almost completely dark and without a tripod. I shot in JPEG and didn’t do any noise reduction or other processing.

Taken at ISO 1600, shows very little noise.

D90 @ ISO 1600

Taken at ISO 2000, shows some noticeable noise but still looks good.

D90 @ ISO 2000

Taken at ISO 4000, shows quite a bit of noise but doesn’t look too bad. Passable at smaller sizes.

D90 @ ISO 4000

D90 seems to use a new RAW format

The D90 seems to have changed the RAW format. Neither Aperture 2.1 or Adobe Camera Raw can open NEF files from my D90. Fortunately the JPEG quality is excellent, so I don’t have to use RAW.

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