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This is the last weekend for Nikon’s rebate on some of its top glass. I personally own the following:
The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 (this lens is the one that spends the majority of its time on my Nikon D800e, 70 percent), that being said, my wife has the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 on her Nikon D800. Which, personally, I like more, its optics are nearly as good and its VC is something that is sorely missing on the Nikon version. The question you have to ask yourself is, do I want to spend $400 more on clarity I can hardly see while sacrificing low(er) light shots that I can get with the Tamron’s VC?
The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 on the other hand is without peer, and spends 25% of the time on my Nikon D800e. I absolutely love this lens. And with a $300 rebate.. I would highly recommend it.
Over the last year I have really taken an interest in photography, going from “My phone can handle any image I need” to NikonFanboy in just 16 short months. Although I saw a lot of the 356 Projects starting in 2012, I didn’t want to get involved in that. Its pretty easy to take a picture every day, but not so easy to capture a wonderful image each day.
As a consequence, I steered away from that. I want to improve my photography, so, this year, I am starting the Dirty Dozen Project. Each month I am going to work on one particular part of photography, an aspect that needs improvement.
Now, of course, I am cheating. I already have assignments 1, 2 and 3 done. I am referring to my mini-mentorship with Ming Thein. This is really to help keep me on track for the rest of the year. The first three took me almost a year, so, I am going to try and complete the rest of them, this year, 2013!
How are you going to improve your photography this year?
As those of you who read this site already know, I recently sent my Nikon D800e to Nikon’s repair facility in Melville NY. This whole ride had its ups and downs, starting with the whole “sending it in” process. This was pretty simple, go to Nikon’s repair site and follow the on screen instructions.
Packing was another matter, I packed my Nikon D800e to survive Armageddon, dropped it off at my local FedEx and tracked its progress online. I did get their additional insurance but apparently that is only useful if they pack it themselves (or it gets lost). If you pack it, they won’t accept claims of damage. You’ll need to make your own call here. Is it worth it to you, read on to see what happened to me.
Once the Nikon D800e arrived in NY, it was logged in and accepted as “covered under warrantee”, Then Super Storm Sandy hit and Melville was without power for nearly two weeks. A couple of days after they got power again, I received an email stating that a “Re-evaluation” was done and that the cause of my issues was “impact damage”.
I was pretty on happy about this because I know that I have always taken perfect care of this camera. Now, here is where the packing by FedEx may have come in handy, I could have said it was their fault, but too late.. Honestly, this could have happened anywhere. Shipping, in the facility after Sandy hit. But in the end, I got the blame, and the bill. $250, not too bad, but I’ll pay it. I did request images of the damage.
The impact damage on the Nikon D800e
I got the camera back on Christmas Eve, nice touch that.. and AFTER Thorough testing, I am happy to report that the focus is spot on! No more asymmetric focus issue (better known as the Left Side Focus Issue)
Now its time to get back to taking pictures and Mr Ming’s Assignments!
Well, it seems I was wrong, Mea Culpa, I was sure that Nikon would put out a service advisory regarding the D800, but alas, it seems Nikon has decided to go with the “We are not seeing a problem” stance. Falklumo reported that Nikon Service is saying that they are not seeing any significant difference in reported problems over any other Nikon body.
This, of course, is mathematically improbable. Given it is statistically likely to have the same error tolerances that any body does AND that it does, in fact, have an AF issue, you can only assume that Nikon is deliberately trying to underplay the issue. I think Thom Hogan agrees with me.
Ok, I am fine with that. But at least refund any shipping cost related to any camera that comes in with confirmed AF issues. It’s the least you can do. Still, I am not likely to send my Nikon D800 or D800e in just yet, although, I have confirmed that both have the AF issue. I will, just not today.
FYI, Nikon, this isn’t helping people find their way over to the Nikon side.
Sorry for the delay on this assignment, life, as always, conspires to get in my way. On top of which, I really try to be a perfectionist and I have to work on that. These images are in no way perfect but I really want to have conscious control over watching the edges before taking a picture. As my “Machine Gun Kelly” post points out, I really developed some bad habits. I think it’s called “Spray and Pray”. Bad habits formed over a few thousand pictures start to become seriously ingrained.
Take home message, start now, practice, practice, practice. Watch every edge, every time.
One of the biggest is kids, I love taking pictures of my kids on the play ground and it is easy to get shutter happy while they are running around, and that is ok, but just try to plan your shot before hand. I would try to find a view I would like and capture a shot of them running in it/threw it.. It’s a waiting game, but worth it.
The first is an image of home, Hatch Green Chili roasting on the grill.
Mostly okay, but the balance of this shot is off. You’ve got a lot of empty black space to the left, and a little bit of cut off area to the right – generally you want to make both sides either cut off or black, otherwise one side feels visually ‘heavier’ than the other (the dark side). That odd tray triangular shape in the background is somewhat distracting, too. One other tip when shooting fire: you generally need to underexpose a bit because the flames tend to make the red channel blow very quickly. This results in posterisation in reds, yellows and greens (greens are mostly yellow, and red tends to blow to yellow on some sensors) – I can see evidence of this in the green peppers. You also need to take a bit more care in picking your focus point for this one – there’s no clear standout subject, and there was obviously a lot of light, so why not stop down a bit to get more in focus?
The second image is picture I took in my brothers pool room in Atlanta during my last vacation. After returned i had so much email piled up that I really felt behind, hence the image.
Good balance in the image, and once again, nothing intruding into the edges of the frame. There’s are a couple of unfortunate bits of lint in your focal plane, but the clone stamp or healing brush tool can always take care of that The light is a bit flat, though. Looks like you used a flash, judging by the reflection in the 8-ball; perhaps something a bit more directional would have helped – if you’re going to bounce off the ceiling, remember that your beam cone becomes twice as broad as the setting on your flash zoom head because it’s got to go up and come down again. Compositionally, I think this shot also works better in a wide aspect ratio as there really isn’t much of interest above and below the balls. You could always shoot from a higher perspective, too, which would solve this by giving more vertical spread to the balls.
The third image is of a fireworks show in Tampa Fl, I know that its distorted and I fixed that in photoshop, but the rules here where to not have any cropping. So, here is the full image.
Nice symmetry here, and I don’t see anything intruding into the corners. The shot is a bit…boring, though; there’s not enough drama. You can safely underexpose a bit for fireworks to retain more of the colour; then you only keep the high key portion of the light, which in this case would be the fireworks illuminating the front of the crowd and delineating the shapes of the people. Be careful when putting people in the extreme edges of a wide frame – they’ll become a very strange shape. I don’t think the sky was particularly interesting here; perhaps what you might have tried is shooting with the camera level, keeping in more of the crowd context, and then cropping to a wide aspect ratio to minimise perspective distortion? There are also some odd green lines in the clouds – I don’t know if this was a laser show or an internal reflection off your filter, but be careful when using filters in situations with very high contrast: they tend to produce obvious ghosts and flare.
The Last two images are more local fair, Peace Plaza with the Plumber Building in the background
The only obvious distraction I can see here is the dark ‘hole’ at the bottom left of the frame – it contrasts quite dramatically against the lighter tone of the birds. In fact, although geometrically the whole frame is balanced, visually it isn’t because the bottom left corner is much darker than the top right – there’s a gradient running through here that needs a bit of post processing to balance out again. The subject isn’t that obvious either, because it doesn’t really stand out from the background.
Once again, edges looking good, but at the expense of composition: you’ve played it too safe! There’s too much empty space now around the main subject. Although avoiding edge distractions is important, this doesn’t extend past say 5% of the distance from the edge of the frame… A little post processing would help this shot pop a bit more: some dodging of the rock immediately under the lighthouse, and a hair more saturation. Compositionally it’s well balanced, but again: the subject and composition doesn’t fit the shape of your frame.
With these assignments, it’s important not to throw out what you already know: specifically for this one, don’t be afraid to put things close to the edge; just don’t cut them off.
I do not believe that Nikon has quite gotten a handle on what exactly the issue is. A lot of people have claimed that Nikon is trying to “save face” in the classical Japanese fashion. To be honest, I am not all that familiar with that concept other than what you see on TV and Movies but I doubt that is the case here. Global businesses that have a large market share are about keeping it. Glossing over a small issue is one thing, but this is another. Why? What are the possible outcomes here?
People are afraid to upgrade to the D800
D800 users losing faith in Nikon
People are concerned about support/warranties
People are afraid to buy Nikon at all
People are switching from Nikon to another brand.
All of the above is too much, in my opinion, some type of official statement must be made in order to alleviate fears. These are not speculations, this is happening now, at the very least, I think Nikon should admit there is a problem and that they are working on it.
My D800e is wildly out of focus on the left end but I have not sent it in yet for the simple reason that I don’t think they have a confirmed solution yet. Over the last couple months I have read several sites, blogs and forums which lead me to believe that Nikon is still trying to get a grip on the problem.
I have read too many posts of Nikon D800/e being returned with the focus issue still a problem. I have also read a couple posts on Nikonians that indicate that their repair status update is waiting on parts, while other sites don’t mention any parts being replaced at all. So, again, I maintain my position that:
Nikon Hasn’t quite gotten a grip on what exactly is the issue
Nikon will ultimately issue a statement on who is affected
Well, onto another facet of this problem, EXIF data.. I recently discovered something interesting on my Nikon D800e asymmetric focusing tests. Here is the Exif recorded Distance for each of three points:
Exif.NikonLd3.FocusDistance, 1.51m (Liveview)
Exif.NikonLd3.FocusDistance, 1.51m (Viewfinder)
Exif.NikonLd3.FocusDistance, 1.36m (Liveview)
Exif.NikonLd3.FocusDistance, 1.36m (Viewfinder)
Exif.NikonLd3.FocusDistance, 1.51m (Liveview)
Exif.NikonLd3.FocusDistance, 3.56m (Viewfinder)
This explains why considering the Depth of Field for wide lenses we still see unsharpe images. The actual distance to the target was 1.42 meters, which places 1.36 and 1.51 inside the Depth of Field, but 3.5 is not.
Before moving to Minnesota, I spent the previous 20 years in southern New Mexico, Las Cruces to be exact. Yes, it was quite the change, while not technically a desert, Las Cruces is really close, short shrubs, ziascapes, adobe houses and sand everywhere. Minnesota on the other hand, is all green, big trees and Lake after Lake after Lake.
I have come to love both of them in their own special ways, but without a doubt, I miss the Green Chiles, specifically Hatch Green Chile, (as in Hatch, New Mexico). It’s a culture in New Mexico, everything comes with Green Chiles. Every Restaurant has them (of course), even at McDonalds you can order a Green Chile Quarter Ponder, at Papa John’s Green Chile is the most popular topping. You can even get Green Chile Flavored salt at the movie theater.
Every year my family and I would stand in line at the local supermarket and purchase a large bag to have roasted right out side, and the lines, where long, very long. Once I moved away, I have made yearly trips home to buy, roast and bring home whole bags of Green Chiles to freeze for the year.
This year however, a family friend brought us some Green Chiles, the tricky thing was figuring out how to properly roast them without the giant barrel roaster (see last picture) so common in New Mexico. Then I remembered my weed burner, another tool commonly found at any Home Depot or Lowes anywhere in southern New Mexican, it is used for getting rid of weeds in your rock yards (no grass remember, desert). A then it was me, the grill, weed burner and Green Chiles! Aaaaaah, I miss the smell of Green Chiles being roasted, it brings back memories of a different place and time.
It’s good to see that Green Chiles are spreading, I recently found a end cap at the local HyVee sporting Hatch Green Chiles. Not to mention seeing it on menus at local restaurants here in Southeast Minnesota. If you plan on trying to roast some Green Chiles, first, get Hatch Green Chiles, grown in the Hatch valley of New Mexico. Trust me, there is a difference. Second, roasting them yourself can be tricky, but you can use your BBQ grill at home, although, you probably ought to use something safer than a flame thrower like I did.
As the Green Chiles roast, don’t worry about the blackened outside, it is suppose to look like that, you’ll know they are done when they get limp. Place about 4 or 5 Green Chiles into a plastic sandwich freezer bag, once all of them are bagged, place them in the refrigerator over night, once they reach the temperature of the fridge, place them in the freezer. Remember, ice crystals form during the freezing process, the longer it takes something to freeze, the more (and larger) the ice crystals. Therefore, refrigerating first, lowers the temperature to ~40 degrees first, then freezing produces almost no crystals.
Leave the blackened exterior on until you’re ready to use the Green Chiles. If you pull one of the packages out of the freezer, the blackened skin sides off in a matter of seconds. It’s a lot easier than trying to remove it directly after roasting.
Pre-DSLR Days, Old School Barrel Roaster
What can you put Green Chiles on/in? Everything! Eggs, steak, chicken, soup, stews… anything really. The only thing I have never had Green Chiles on is cereal.
I’ll be the first to admit, the color wars where before my time in the DSLR arena. Although, I have read about it, in the early days of post-film cameras each of the manufactures tended to lean towards their own idea of what the individual colors should look like.
The resulting fire storm started when the geeky camera jockeys started pointing out where and how each manufacture was going wrong, and in their humble opinion how to fix it. Shortly there after color targets started to flood the market, labs could test for color and see how each manufacture/body deviated from the correct color.
This had a very positive effect of getting the manufactures of camera bodies or perhaps sensor designers to more toward correct colors. I sort of see this left side focus issue to be in the same vein.
Yes, its unfortunate, and Nikon will fix it. Honestly, who thinks Nikon is going to piss off the individuals who spend the most money? However, this (hopefully) will lead to two very desirable outcomes.
Third party evaluation of Focusing systems
Third Party Software for Auto Focus fine tuning.
Have you ever noticed that Photozone, DxoMark and all the other independent testing companies, test the camera’s and lenses but not the focusing points? I think that is about to change. Why not evaluate how accurate the focusing system for the different points are? You don’t think that would influence purchases?
Every Camera (every high end at least) has the ability to Fine Tune its auto focus, bodies straight from the manufactures are expected to be within a specific tolerance, but you, the end user, is expected to fine tune the AF system to capture the sharpest possible images. That in itself is a daunting process. How many of you (non-pros or even semi-pros) have actually fine tuned your cameras/lenses? Tested the accuracy of individual focus points? Not many is my guess, Software like Reikan’s FoCal is designed to take the guess work out of calibrating your lenses to camera bodies.
Think they have seen an uptick in their sales? Do you think many pros and semi-pros are not thinking about how a simple investment now would help them evaluate future purchases? Do you see how this can push camera manufactures towards more accurate and better tools for your future cameras? Me too.
There is a lot of talk lately about the left side focus issue with the Nikon D800/e. I have received many emails asking me if I have that issue and what, if anything, I have done about it.
Let me start by saying, yes, both of my Nikon D800’s (regular and the “e”) have the left side focusing issue. And, currently, I have done absolutely nothing about it. Let me break down my position for you.
Essentially, when using the far left focusing points in the view finder, the image can be out of focus. And fairly significantly so, let me show you my results and how I got them.
How to Test
I originally tested my Nikon D800 when I first received it (the Nikon D800e too) and retested it for this article. It’s a pretty simple test.
Set the camera approximately 5 feet from the wall.
Check to make sure you are square with the wall
Measure 5 feet from the wall to the camera strap nubs.
Setup 3 targets, one for the left side, center and right.
Use the View finder and select the far left point (which is on a target, right?)
Rotate the Focus Ring all the way to the right or left (so the image is completely out of focus)
Then focus and take a picture.
Repeat these steps except using Live View (placing the red square in the same spot as the focus point you used)
Compare the two pictures. Be sure to rename them on your computer to identify the points you used
Should you use the AF Fine Tune?
Fine Tuning is a tricky issue, you might be able to adjust your lens so that the effects of the “out of focus” on the left side is minor but then you are compromising the center and right side. Basically you’d be making everything, just a little out of focus, rather than just the left side being “a lot” out of focus. In the end, this is a personal call, but for me, it’s a no.
From the very second the Nikon D800’s started being shipped, people started to complain, and rightfully so, it’s this sort of feedback that helps shakes the tree for issues just like this. However, having seen several people from the Nikonians D800 forum send theirs in and get it back with the same issue, as well as, Nikon’s continued silence convinced me to hold off on sending mine in.
For one, it was/is pretty clear that Nikon did not know what the issue was, and was working diligently to find/fix it. However, with Nikon typical stoic nature, meaning closed lipped and non-responsive tended to get people even more fired up.
There is a lot of speculation as to why Nikon has not issued an official statements regarding this issue; demands for a recall run rampant, there is no need for that. Recalls are generally reserved for personal safety issues. It’s not going to blow up in your hands. Look at the car industry, they don’t even issue a recall unless it’s going to cost them more money in lawsuits than it would to issue a recall.
I do think they should pay for shipping for repairs but, officially, they have not admitted a problem yet, nor denied it. This is typical for every major manufacturing industry, I expect they will address it, when they best feel they have a handle on it. My guess is that they are trying to narrow down which cameras are affected. What do you expect them to say? Send us back every Nikon D800? Or perhaps, “we have determined that models before this serial number to be affected, please send us ….”.. This is just as half-cocked as most of the responses I have seen so far.
Take Home Message
Relax, I can assure you that Nikon is not in the business of alienating its high end customer base. Give them time to isolate, identify and fix the issue. They’ll issue a statement that will address these concerns, it’s only good business. This, could actually be fortune for us in the photography world, with the rise of third party testing of focusing systems. Well, either way, I’ll wait a few weeks to send mine in.
At the end of 2011, I was so gung-ho about the upcoming Nikon D800/e that I was actually drooling every time it was mention, Pavlov-dog style. My original post brushed off, quite cavalierly, any mention of the file size. After all, my computer was “mostly” state of the art, less than one year old and My long term storage solution is an external storage device, the Drobo FS with 15 TB of storage, that should handle it, right?
Now, a little over 3 months with the Nikon D800 and I am singing a different tune. Alright, just to be fair, I have two Nikon D800’s, one traditional (which my wife uses) and one “E” which is mine. All mine.. My precioussss … oh, sorry.. That just slipped out.
Anyway, back to the point… I am going to need to upgrade parts of my hardware solution. I am going to try to point out the problem areas and what I think I need to do to upgrade to get the maximum out of my workflow. Let’s start at one end and work towards the other.
In camera, (both of them) we are set to 14 bit Lossless compressed NEF files only. We only shoot RAW here and as a result, we typically end up with 42-50mb files coming straight out of the camera. At first glance these don’t seem too large and, in general, importing these files from the SD card and organizing them in Lightroom fine.
Lightroom and Photoshop
Where we start to run into problems is the development module in Lightroom and Photoshop. In Lightroom, we are generally fine, but you can see the system slow down, trying to open a modified file (by Lightroom) is where I really run into problems.
Everything starts out fine, at around 4 to 5 layers, I start to get bogged down, sometimes taking a minute or two to open the next layer, and forget blurring. Might as well go have lunch. After much investigation using Windows Task Manager, it appears that Photoshop has taken nearly two Gig of ram, and for some reason I can not understand Lightroom is running nearly a gig all by itself. Photoshop shows the documents size near 1 gig, and perhaps, Lightroom has to hold on to that size as well. I don’t understand why that would be, I am not sure how it works under the covers.
Nor do I understand why the Photoshop file is so large. Assuming that an Adjustment layer contains as much information as the original layer, it should take 30 layers to gobble up so much memory. Well, I don’t know how Photoshop does it’s magic, what I do know is that I don’t have enough ram to go around.
Well, I suppose the point is that they get big fast, my little 4 gig (ram) machine isn’t really build for that kind of processing. Truth be told, I recall a bit of a slow down from time to time using files from my D7000, but I thought the Nikon D800/e files would only be slightly worse.
My laptop only has a 150 GB hard drive, it’s not terribly large, but moving files from laptop to External Storage (Drobo) routinely happened at the end of every month. And it was never an issue, I could, in fact, forget for a couple months without really concerning myself. Now, however, I find myself backing up ever 3 weeks to a month without fail or I get the dreaded “Out of Space” error. And this is with aggressively pruning my images after import.
I suppose this shouldn’t be too surprising, with 64 GB SD/CD cards, two full set of images and that pretty much takes care of my hard drive. And that is not take into account all the other stuff already on my laptop
Well, the Drobo is still fine, but the image library is growing by the day (2.7 TB) and growing.. I will need to go back through my early years and delete a bunch of my early work (a.k.a crap). I am sure that will clear up a bit of space. I can upgrade the 3 TB drives to 4 TB drives, which will net me an additional 4TB total, which I will likely do over the next year, once the price starts dropping on those drives.
The Down side with the Drobo is working with remote files tends to cause its own slowness, which requires me to move any image (not currently on my laptop) to my laptop for processing.
As a solution, I have decided to update to the new Mac Book Pro with Retina Display 500GB SSD drives and 16 GB Ram. The SSD hard drive should supply the much needed additional space and increase disk response times, as well as, faster boot times. The Ram, well, I think 16 GB speaks for itself.
I am looking for any alternate suggestion. Otherwise, I will purchase this and write a short review of my results/opinions.
I have gotten a couple of immediate emails chastising me for only moving my images to “long term” storage once a month. Just so everyone can relax, yes, I do automatic nightly back ups for ALL my computers, should the laptop’s hard drive fail, everything is safe. I only move the files once a month because I am (most likely) still working on those files in some manner and still need them on my laptop.