Nikon announced their new D90 replacement, the D7000 today. It looks like an awesome camera, with a 17.2 MP sensor, two SD card slots, a 39 point AF system, a more rugged magnesium-alloy body, and improved video capabilities. Rather than the D90’s 5 minutes of 720p video with manual focus only, the D7000 can record a full 20 minutes of 1020p video using autofocus. I’m not ready to replace my D90 yet, but when I do, the D7000 seems like a nice step up.
I have been using Eye-Fi cards since they released the original version, although when I switched to a DSLR I had stopped using them due to their limited capacity. That changed with the Eye-Fi Pro card, which doubled the capacity to 4GB, which made it usable with my D90.
The 4GB capacity of the original Eye-Fi Pro card still seemed tight when shooting a lot of raw images & video, and it’s slower than most standard SD cards, which limited the number of shots you can take in burst mode. I found that limitation very frustrating when I was trying to shoot dance & martial arts demos at Youth Day when it stopped letting me shoot in burst mode for several seconds while it finished writing.
The new Eye-Fi Pro x2 solves both limitations by doubling the capacity again to 8GB and increasing the write speed to match Class 6 SDHC cards. It also adds 802.11n support and an “Endless Memory” feature which automatically deletes older photos that have been successfully transferred, so you never have to manually delete anything.
Like all Eye-Fi cards, setup is quick & easy. As soon as you insert the card, it will launch Eye-Fi Center and step you through the initial steps of adding a network and setting the upload destinations.
The Eye-Fi Pro X2 card is a perfect match for the D90. The 8GB capacity lets you shoot in raw mode and capture video without running out of space, and the enhanced speed lets you shoot in burst mode without overrunning it.
For a long time I avoided the Nikkor 18-200mm VR lens after reading a few less than glowing reviews, but after Michael Mistretta told me he was happy with it and I saw several people using them at the last photo walk, I decided to get one. I find the quality to be very similar to the D90’s 18-105mm kit lens, which is an excellent general purpose lens.
In the past, I’ve missed several photo opportunities when I had the wrong lens on my camera and rushed to change it, only to find the subject was gone. With this lens, it should happen a lot less often.
The first thing I noticed when I got this lens is that it’s only slightly larger than the 18-105mm, although it’s quite noticeably heavier. Fully extended, it’s only a little less than an inch longer than the 18-105mm
This lens feels very solid & well made. Zoom action is very smooth with no slippage. Rather than the Auto & Manual focus modes of the 18-105mm, it has a M/A mode (auto focus with manual override), which lets you use auto focus and fine tune it using the focus ring.
As an example of the image quality, this shot was taken at 18mm.
This shot was taken from the same spot, zoomed in to 200mm on the purple flowers.
The 18-200mm VR seems to be a perfect lens for traveling or photo walks when you don’t want to carry extra lenses.
A common problem with many Nikon cameras, including the D90, is the tendency to over-expose and blow out reds. It’s especially obvious when shooting brightly colored flowers, like these.
Thanks to some good advice in Flickr’s Nikon D90 Club, I’ve been able to improve it a bit. Here I set it for spot metering using a red area and set it to underexpose -2.0EV. I would probably get even better results if I shot RAW.
If you look at the RGB histogram of the first image, you’ll see that the red channel is clipped.
Adjusting the exposure has a much bigger effect on the red channel.
I received my production model Eye-Fi Pro card today, after beta testing it for a few months.
Unlike earlier Eye-Fi cards, the Eye-Fi Pro supports RAW files as well as JPEGs and movies, which is great for anyone using a DSLR who likes to shoot RAW. Since it’ a 4GB card, it will hold 256 RAW files from my Nikon D90 or 1000 JPEGs. The Eye-Fi Pro also lets you set up an ad-hoc network with your computer for peer-to-peer connections without a router or access point when you lack a WiFi network.
As a bonus, it also geotags your images, avoiding the need for a GPS attachment for your camera.
See my full set of unboxing photos here.
The Nikon D90 is one of the camera models with built-in Eye-Fi support. It recognizes an Eye-Fi card and sets its power management accordingly, to avoid shutting off while an upload is in progress. It also adds an item to the setup menu which allows you to enable or disable Eye-Fi wireless uploading.
Using this card has changed my photography workflow. Instead of shooting pictures, then removing the card and using a card reader to import them into Aperture, I just let it send the pictures wirelessly to a folder on my MacBook Pro, where I can then import them into Aperture.
When I import the photos into Aperture, I prefer to keep them in their original location, rather than copy them into the Aperture library, which saves some disk space by avoiding redundant copies. iPhoto also offers the same option when importing from local files rather than a camera or memory card.
If you have a DSLR, you can easily spend more on lenses than the camera itself cost. Luckily there are a few great lenses you can buy for under $200. I will highlight two of my favorites here.
Everyone should own Nikon’s wonderful 50mm f/1.8D AF, which sells for under $140. This is one of the best lenses you can buy because it’s extremely sharp and the large aperture lets you shoot in low light and blur the background nicely. It’s my favorite lens for those reasons.
Note that this lens lacks an internal AF motor, so if you have a D40 or D60 you can only use manual focus with it. If you have one of those cameras and you really need auto focus, Nikon also sells a 50mm f/1.4G AF-S, which costs around $480.
If you need a long zoom, Sigma’s 70-300mm f/4.5-6 DG Macro is a good choice for around $150. This is one of the longest lenses available at an affordable price, as most similar lenses only go up to 200mm. It has a macro mode available from 200-300mm which lets you focus much closer and gives a 1:2 close-up magnification. Since it lacks vibration reduction, you’ll either have to use a tripod or shoot at a very fast shutter speed, since the long focal length amplifies any camera shake. On the plus side, the image quality is excellent with less distortion than Nikon’s 18-200mm.
I really love the D90, but sometimes it’s just too big to carry. For those times it’s nice to have a compact point & shoot camera that will fit in my pocket. As much as I love Nikon DSLRs, I don’t care much for their Coolpix point & shoot cameras, since the image quality isn’t that great and they’re very slow.
I decided on the Canon A2000 IS based on its image quality. I’ve always liked their A-series, since they use standard AA batteries. I noticed some really great pictures taken with the A1000 IS & A2000 IS, but I chose the A2000 IS because of its larger & brighter 3″ display and longer 6x optical zoom. It’s also a lot smaller & thinner than older A-series cameras. It normally sells for just over $200, but I found it for $150 at buy.com last month.
The A2000 IS doesn’t provide any manual controls and the battery life isn’t great, but the image quality is excellent. It also takes great videos. I started getting a battery warning after shooting 80 pictures & 2 videos with a set of fresh AA alkaline batteries at the Polynesian Festival today.
I posted more pictures here.
I recorded a lot of hi-def video on my D90 at Oakland Park Youth Day. Here’s an unedited video straight from the camera. This is the only one that was small enough to upload to Flickr.
I find that it’s hard to keep the video in focus when the subject is moving, and it’s very difficult to see if it’s in focus on the LCD screen in bright sunlight.
I also uploaded lots of photos here.
Today I got my first wide angle lens, a Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6D EX DC HSM. I’ve been very impressed with the quality of Sigma lenses since I got the 70-300mm and this lens didn’t disappoint me. The 10-20mm is very sharp and the auto focus is extremely fast and quiet.
Since most of my lenses are longer zooms, this one gives me a new perspective. It should be great for landscape photography.
Both of these shots were taken from the same spot at 20mm and 10mm.