existing light

Nikon D7000 – First Look

D7K In a word: humbling. It is humbling because I know that this camera will impose no limit upon my creativity. There is really nothing that I can think of to do that this camera is not capable of capturing. There will be no “blaming the tools” with this axe.

What is it? The Nikon D7000 is Nikon’s newest DX sensor camera. It supersedes the superlative D90, and at this moment in time, only one Nikon DSLR has higher resolution, and it is the D3X at 24 megapixels. Unlike the D3X, the D7000 is also able to shoot HD video at 1080p and record sound. The D7000 shoots 14-bit lossless stills at 16.2 megapixel resolution. In print terms, this is a 16.5” x 11” image at 300 dots per inch. The D7000 will shoot at up to 6400 ISO with two additional push stops rendering an effective 25,000 ISO, although the image quality will suffer noticeably at the highest H1 and H2 ISO settings. At an ISO of 3200, the loss of image is quality hardly noticeable on a computer screen, and not at all on normal print sizes. In short, this camera can shoot in the dark and render excellent pictures.

One feature I found particularly delightful is the D7000’s ability to meter older manual Nikkor AI lenses. You can set up 9 lens profiles and the camera can read the aperture and meter the exposure. Nikon shooters who have been around a while often have vintage lenses that they love, but can’t use fully on any bodies but the D3, D700 and D300. The D7000 can use the older lenses just like it was an F3.

At a price point of $1200 for the body, the D7000 is extremely attractive and provides performance that equals or exceeds Nikon and Canon bodies costing two or three times as much. This is the camera I have been waiting for.

When the money finally appeared in my bank account to buy the D7000, I checked all of the online vendors, and they were all backordered on the camera for thirty days. On an intuitive whim, I called my favorite local camera store, Murphy’s Camera, and asked them if by chance they had a D7000 in stock. The person answering the phone said, “I don’t think so, but I’ll check.” After an eternity of waiting, I heard a voice on the other end of the line, “Sir, I’m holding one in my hand.” I said, “Put it under the counter, I’ll be there in five minutes.” My hands were shaking as I pulled the American Express card out of my wallet. I got the excellent Nikkor 70-300 VR lens with it. On a DX sensor, this lens functions as if it were a 105-450mm on a 35mm camera. I had been frustrated with my 200mm telephoto during the baseball season and I wanted something that would get out as far as I needed without a tripod. The Nikkor 70-300 VR does that so well that it’s almost supernatural, but that will be another article.

Camera in hand, I began to test it on all of the hard stuff I could think of: birds in mid-flight, squirrels in the trees, airplanes overhead, pretty girls at outrageous distances, soccer practice at Bellarmine University, motorcycles in the dark illuminated only by a streetlight. In every case, the D7000 got the picture and I was amazed. (Click on pictures for larger view.)

Choppers Under the Streelight

Gull on the Wing

Soccer Players

Woman at the fossil beds

Bicycle

Nikon D7000 Key Features

  • 16.2MP CMOS sensor
  • 1080p HD video recording with mic jack for external microphone
  • ISO 100-6400 (plus H1 and H2 equivalent to ISO 12,800/25,600)
  • 39-point AF system with 3D tracking
  • 2016 pixel metering sensor
  • Scene Recognition System (see 2016 pixel sensor, above) aids metering + focus accuracy
  • Twin SD card slots
  • 3.0 inch 921k dot LCD screen
  • New Live View/movie shooting switch
  • Full-time AF in Live View/movie modes
  • Up to 6fps continuous shooting
  • Lockable shooting mode dial
  • Built-in intervalometer
  • Electronic virtual horizon
  • Shutter tested to 150K actuations

DPReview Specs and Review of the Nikon D7000

Chase Jarvis YouTube Demo of the D7000 video:

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Friday Night at the Hideaway

How I spent my summer vacation…

Friday_Hideaway_1

Friday_Hideaway_2

Friday_Hideaway_3 …and none of these photographs are for sale, dammit.

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George Rogers Clark Homestead, West Wall

George-Rogers-Clark-Homestead---croppedClick on picture for larger view

Yashica 635 with Tmax 100

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The Colors of Photography

Alex-working-in-the-shop “Black and white are the colors of photography. To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected. Most of my photographs are of people; they are seen simply, as through the eyes of the man in the street. There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment. This kind of photography is realism. But realism is not enough–there has to be vision, and the two together can make a good photograph. It is difficult to describe this thin line where matter ends and mind begins.” – Robert Frank – From pages 20-22 of Aperture, vol. 9, no. 1 (1961)

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Spy Cam at the Waffle House

Spy-Cam-at-Waffle-House

 

This is what I love about the little Nikon S4000 “point and shoot” camera: it’s so small you can just hold it in your hand while you’re talking to someone and shoot pictures, and no one even notices that you’re shooting. At the same time, it’s a 12 megapixel Nikon which gives pretty decent image quality. It makes it easy to catch people where they live. I keep the flash turned off so it doesn’t attract attention. I don’t like flash much, anyway. The camera will automatically adjust itself all the way up the ISO 3200 sensitivity, so unless it’s just completely dark, it will get some kind of picture.

In case you’re wondering, the Waffle House wasn’t really this red. I used a Photoshop “action” to get the super-saturated red. It’s not totally realistic, but I like it.

I have always been fascinated by “street photography” – that spontaneous wandering around and grabbing shots of people or things that strike one as interesting. There is also a fine line one can cross into being intrusive and exploitative. I never have been comfortable with those photographers who specialize in finding the oddest and freakiest looking people in town and making pictures of them to put in “art” galleries. I don’t like being humiliated and I assume that others don’t enjoy it much either. But, when you can catch real people doing the real things they do, it can make for some great photography.

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Alex on the Laptop

Alex-on-the-laptop

This is my son, Alex working on my laptop. He really loves my laptop and it is a pretty cool computer. He’d like me to give it to him, but I won’t because I’m greedy and I like it too much. Besides, I need it for my work, so he’ll just have to get his own laptop.

Besides my son’s handsome visage, what’s really interesting about this shot is the way it was done.  I used a manual Nikkor AI f 1.8 50mm lens mounted on a Nikon D70s, a digital SLR. The 50mm Nikkor lens is a dinosaur. It was probably built forty years ago. It has been a favorite of mine since I got one on a Nikon FM I bought in ‘81. I sold that camera and lens but immediately regretted it. I found one on Ebay and bought it for song. The digital D70s camera will not meter through the ancient manual lens so I had to find another ancient photography artifact, a Gossen Lumina Pilot 2 light meter. I found it also on Ebay and picked it up for pennies.

With a maximum f-stop of 1.8 the Nikkor 50mm lens can do wonderful things in low light situations. Being a fixed focal length lens, its sharpness and clarity of focus are almost supernatural. Try to buy a camera these days with a fixed focal length lens. I dare you. lol What most people don’t realize is that zoom lenses create distortion and soft focus. A fixed focal length lens can be calibrated much more precisely because it doesn’t have to try to focus at a variety of different focal lengths. There’s physics to back this up, but I can’t explain it here. Trust me. In this picture, the only area that is in really sharp focus is Alex’s face. That’s because the aperture is nearly wide open, resulting in a very short depth of field, the range in which the image is in sharp focus.

In this setup, focusing is a challenge. You don’t have the auto-focus of  the digital SLR, and you don’t have the split-prism focus screen of a traditional film SLR; you really have to “eyeball it” to get the picture in focus. I’m lucky that I have pretty decent close vision and I can do it, but for someone who needs glasses to read, focusing this lens without any of the assists from the camera could be tough.

I hate flashes. You can get good pictures with a flash, but it’s always artificial. When you shoot with a flash, you almost always get something different from what you were seeing when you tripped the shutter. I much prefer “existing light” photography whenever possible. It’s just more natural. This old 1.8 lens will let me shoot “existing light” in almost any situation in which the sun is still somewhere in the sky — natural light, real shadows, colors and textures the way I saw them in the viewfinder. Add to this the optical richness of the vintage lens and the result is a delicious, if slightly retro, texture and feeling about the image.

D70andGossen

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