Alicia Blue – Presidio

Some photos Alicia and I took together of her wearing a striking blue dress. I love how the color popped against the subtle tones of the Presidio. The bokehlicious shots are taken with the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G AF-S NIKKOR Lens on a Nikon D5100. Also some shots with the 50mm 1.8G and a few with my Fuji X100 as well! Can you tell which is which?

The 50mm 1.8G is probably your best deal on a portrait type lens for a DX Nikon camera (D3200, D5100, D90 to name a few). At around $220 you really can’t go wrong. It’s sharpness wide open at f1.8 isn’t spectacular but stopped down to just f2.2 and it gets pretty sharp, anymore and it’s VERY sharp! The 85mm on a crop (DX) Nikon is zoomed in a bit far for my taste. Equivalent to 127.5mm in 35mm, full frame terms (85mm x 1.5 crop factor due to the smaller sensor). I’m really looking forward to Nikon releasing a new lighter, smaller, cheaper full frame camera. The D600 is going to be just what i’m looking for!

Alicia Orange – Fort Point

Not the most beautiful day out, it was windy, foggy & cold! It’s been so long since Alicia and I have hung out and taken photos together I feel like we were both a little out of practice (the weather wasn’t helping matters either). It was good to be able to try out my Nikon 85mm f/1.8G AF-S NIKKOR Lens a little more though. With how good this lens is on a crop sensor camera (Nikon D5100) I’m sure it’s going to be even more amazing on a full frame one. The Nikon D600 can’t come out fast enough! Or maybe the D800 will gain availability & I will break down & get one.

Fuji X100 with Nikon WC-E68 .68x Wide Angle Adapter NOT WCL-X100

Fuji’s recent launch of the WCL-X100 Wide angle converter that turns your 35mm equivalent lens into a 28mm equivalent prompted me to write this mini review. Fuji’s adapter costs $349 but for a lot less you can get a 24mm equivalent lens on your Fuji X100 by using a Nikon WC-E68 (When I got this it was $29 at Amazon! Check the links below for Amazon’s current prizes but shop around as well).

You need the following:

  1. Fuji X100 (duh)
  2. Nikon WC-E68 0.68x Wide Converter
  3. 49mm to 46mm adapter
  4. Fuji or a generic filter adapter
  5. 49mm filter (really? yes please see below)

I found that the extra few millimeters of keeping a filter attached to the Fuji X100 really helps to get the best corner performance.

Wide open the corner are awful but at f8 you will be surprised at how well the X100 + WC-E68 combo really work. I’d be interested to know how well Fuji’s accessory really is considering they claim “The WCL-X100 delivers superb optical quality and maximizes versatility of the FUJIFILM X100 by ensuring comparable image quality even at the f/2 wide aperture setting”. I definitely don’t claim that for the WC-E68 BUT at F8 it’s sharper corner to corner than a decent zoom lens I’d say. Plus from  some of my examples below you can see it’s sort of fun to utilize the terrible edges to draw your eye to the subject.

 

Nikon D3200 vs D5100

I recently picked up a Nikon D3200. The lure of 24 megapixels in a compact DSLR for a pretty inexpensive price got to me so I really wanted to try one of these out. Then after having it for a day I decided to buy a D5100 and test them out against each other and keep the one I liked the best. Either camera could be a great fit for a beginner or as a 2nd lightweight backup body for someone advanced . If you have the budget & want a camera you can grow with I’d recommend the D7000. Or hell go all out and get a D800! Anyways below are some things I noticed while comparing the D3200 & D5100.

Check the D3200 & D5100 out on Amazon: Nikon D3200 Nikon D5100 UPDATE 3-28-13 There really isn’t a reason to get the new D5200 either, if you don’t mind paying more than a D5100 I think you will really start to notice a difference feature wise and image quality wise with the D7100 and the Full Frame D600

Live View
  • The D3200 has a very grainy magnified view compared to the D5100. It’s much easier to manually focus with the D5100. Plus auto focus in LV seems more accurate too. I’m guessing it’s because the D3200 must be skipping a lot of lines & pixels for LV to look so awful.
Screen
  • This D3200 has a display that has a very cool color pallet i.e. it has a blue tint. The D5100 screen is much warmer and looks much more accurate. It’s nice Nikon upgraded the pixel count versus the older D3100 (921k vs 230k pixels) but it seems like the color is definitely off.
ISO
  • With the D3200 you can adjust only in 1 EV steps but in the D5100 you get 1/3 steps. Also you can set the camera to show your Auto ISO value in the viewfinder with the D5100 but not the D3200.
  • For Auto ISO the D3200 has a new feature that sets the shutter speed based on focal length but if you want to set the minimum shutter speed yourself only these values are available: 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000.
  • The D5100 has all of these shutter speeds to choose from: 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/40, 1/50, 1/60, 1/80, 1/100, 1/125, 1/160, 1/200, 1/250, 1/320, 1/400, 1/500, 1/640, 1/800, 1/1000, 1/1250, 1/1600, 1/2000.
Image Quality
  • The D3200’s 24mp sensor does resolve more detail with a good lens. Pixel level sharpness doesn’t seem as high as the D5100 sensor though. Maybe a stronger anti-aliasing filter? It seem to show less moiré than the 16mp sensor.
  • At 6400 ISO I feel the Nikon D5100 is slightly ahead. Downsampling the D3200 image gives pretty close results. The one thing I really don’t like on the D3200 with higher ISO shots is flecks of random hot pixels.  Play around with the compairison at dpreview to check this out (shows up on dark objects in particular).
  • The 16mp sensor has a VERY low read noise. Shoot ISO 100 & you can push the shadow or even the overall exposure 5 stops and still have a clear, not too grainy image.  With that sort of abuse the D3200 can’t keep up. It starts to show much more noise and banding.
  • D5100 shoots 14BIT RAW vs D3200’s 12BIT. This might lead to more Dynamic range (I haven’t seen any official #’s from dxomark yet). This could possibly be why the 16mp sensor can have it’s exposure pushed further than the 24mp one.
D5100 Bonus Features
  • The D5100 has a Interval Timer to record multiple images automatically over a course of time. Useful for time lapses.
  • Auto Bracketing, 3 shots up to 2 EV +/- exposure.
  • Swivel screen. Useful to shoot up high, down low, self portrait facebook shots, etc.
  • Grip is a millimeter or 2 longer but this really helps my hand get a better grip. My pinky can’t quite stay on the D3200’s grip with my normal man sized hands.
D3200 Bonus Features
  • Buttons feel better, less mushy “multi selector” 4-way button compared to the D5100. I also like the LV button versus the lever.  Plus there is one extra button, a dedicated drive mode button.
  • It shoots video at a slightly higher bitrate (about 24mbps vs 20mbps). They both shoot pretty mediocre looking 1080p video when compared to a Panasonic GH2 though. You get full manual video controls with the D3200 to though! You have to trick the D5100 to set your preferred exposure while shooting video.
Recommendations
  • If you want the most megapixel DSLR for the least amount of money get the D3200. It’s lacking in so many areas though I would get the D5100 which as of right now is the same price! Or save $100 by going with the “body only” D5100 & put that toward the awesome Nikon 35mm F1.8G lens. That lens & the great sensors Nikon uses are the main reason why I recommend Nikon to people getting into  photography.

Check the D3200 & D5100 out on Amazon

Nikon D3200 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR NIKKOR Zoom Lens (Black)

Nikon D5100 16.2MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3-Inch Vari-Angle LCD Monitor (Body Only)

Image Samples Below: 1) screen color difference, 2) live view difference, 3) 50mm f1.8G at f7.1 alcatraz full scene (downscaled), 4) D3200 100% crop, 5) D5100 100% crop, 6) 50mm 1.8G @ f8 church/bay bridge full scene (downscaled), 7) D3200 100% crop, 8) D5100 100% crop, 9) ISO 6400 full scene (downscaled), 10) D3200 100% crop, 11) D5100 100% crop, 12) ISO 100 full scene -5 stops (downscaled), 13) D3200 100% crop pushed 5 stops, 14) D5100 100% crop pushed 5 stops

Fuji X100 Lug Trouble

I needed to send in my Fuji X100 for repair again. It was getting a lot of dust and pieces of fuzz in the viewfinder. I had sent it in previously for that plus the lens was much sharper on one side (misaligned element?). It came back from repair great that time (back in October 2011). The lens was replaced and the viewfinder was cleaned.  Since I have had it almost a year (it was delivered on May 6, 2011 from Amazon/UPS) I thought I better send it in while I could still get warrantee service. In addition to the dust in the viewfinder the rear button text was wearing off of a few of the buttons. Plus the rubber eyepiece was starting to develop a crack in it. While getting it ready to send out I noticed A LOT of wear to the camera lugs. So I added that to the needs to be repaired list.

Dust & Fuzz in the viewfinder.

Crack starting to develop on the eyepiece rubber.

Button wear, notice the RAW button text is almost completely gone. Wish they would make the button reassignable. Now is the perfect chance since it’s basically just a blank button now.

When I took off the camera strap I noticed the Fuji rings that connect the camera strap to the lugs had caused significant wear.

The Fuji rings that connect the neck strap are very narrow and not rounded like the ones used by Nikon, Panasonic & Olympus. I had never took much notice on the design of the rings until seeing all this wear.

Where the lug is still thick you can see how the edge of the triangular ring hits the sides instead of the narrow point.

The narrow angular rings cut into the lugs. Now they are a “perfect” fit (sarcasm).

Here is a comparison between the X100 rings & the rounded ones on a Panasonic GH2.

This is a much better design since there is more surface area for the ring and lugs to connect.

GH2 also appears to use a rounded insert. I’m guessing it’s some sort of hardened material which is a very good idea.

Well to fix my camera Fuji wanted $145. I talked to one of the reps and asked about just getting the lugs replaced under warranty and the viewfinder cleaned if they considered the button wear and eyepiece rubber wear and tear items. They said it was not possible to just replace the lugs, they said the whole back half of the camera would need to be replace and that is why it cost so much. They also said they had never seen this much wear to the lugs. I tried to explain the poor design of the Fuji rings but there was no budging. I decided I didn’t want to pay almost $150 to fix what I considered the main problem, the lugs. So I asked them to clean the viewfinder as had been done for no cost the last time I sent my X100 in. They said that the viewfinder would be cleaned and they would send it back to me. Well I got it back today and they didn’t clean it because the 1st picture of this post is how the camera was returned.

I’m really disappointed in Fuji. My previous experience getting the lens replaced and viewfinder cleaned was much better. Also I found this image of a disassembled X100. It looks like the lugs are quite possible a separate piece. It seems like they should be able to be replaced without having to replace 1/2 of the camera body. If not that is a awful design. Compounded by the poor design of the narrow triangular rings that dig into the lugs. Fuji needs to switch to the more rounded style used by Nikon, Olympus and Panasonic. Since it is Fuji’s triangular camera strap rings that caused the wear I really feel like they should be the ones to replace the lugs for free.

Here is a image from another X100 owner on dpreview.com so I’m defnitely not the only one that this is happening too.

Thanks for reading. If you use a Fuji X100 be sure to baby it and swap the evil Fuji rings for some rounded ones.

-Noah

 

 

Nikon 17-55mm + D7000 1st shots

Recently picked up a used Nikon 17-55mm F2.8 lens. These things seem pretty much impossible to get new, they have been out of stock everywhere for months. Overall I’m liking the lens, but the D7000 + 17-55mm is HEAVY! Sort of being tempted by the Nikon D800 and maybe a couple of cheap light primes (24mm 2.8 & 50mm 1.8G). Plus I wonder what Canon is going to be coming out with soon…

Fall Colors with Alicia at Yerba Buena

It had been a while since Alicia and I have gotten to hang out and take some photos together. I was really looking forward to taking some photos of all these great yellow leaves that I had seen the day before. Unfortunately the grass was mowed and the leaves were no more. We still managed to get a some good shots though. I was mostly experimenting with my “new” Nikon 100mm f2.8 on my Nikon D7000. It’s a little difficult to manually focus but I really do like the look of the background (BOKEH!) with this lens.

Night Shots Near Bay Bridge

I took a walk last night to the Ferry Building and close to the Bay Bridge. I had been wanting to get some night shots because of the Christmas lights that are lit up on the buildings near there. I used my Nikon D7000 with my Tokina 12-24mm & my Fuji X100 with a Nikon WC-E68 .68x wide angle adapter. Its actually sort of fun to use with the Fuji and the results aren’t too bad. At F8 the corners still aren’t tack sharp (the Tokina is obviously much sharper in the corners). At F2 the edges are really bad but the center is pretty sharp.