About Me

Wells, BC, Canada
Richard is a working photographer and writer in B.C. His camera focuses on natural history. archeology, travel, and documentary photography. His photography blog may be found at: http://richardtwright.blogspot.com/

Friday, March 30, 2012

Nikon D800 and Aperture 3 compatibility

Aperture 3 needs update for Nikon D300 and D4

I thought it might be worth posting about Apple and Aperture 3 separately to avoid the pain and consternation I felt when I went to download my first batch of photos, from my D800 to Aperture 3 on a MacBook Pro.

The D800 gives good shadow metering and great skin tones. Richard Wright photo.

The bottom line is Aperture 3 needs an update.  Many recent postings on various blogs and forums indicate that the update is not yet available. Some say we have to wait for Aperture 4 and there is some anger that Aperture did not keep up with Nikon.  Well, in fact, they did keep up. And considering there are only a handful of D800s released around the world they really are not too far behind. Contrary to some posts we do not have to wait for Aperture 4 nor shoot in JPeg and Raw until the update comes.

The D800 metering is slightly different than my D7000 and I found a tendency toward underexposure. Likely the error is mine and getting used to the Program setting rather than the Auto setting of the D7000.  An adjustment of 1/3 of a stop solved the issue, as did metering on the dark areas and shifting framing. Richard Wright photo.

A crop of the same frame, from RAW, with only a mild adjustment of Shadows in Aperture  3. No other post production such as definition or sharpening. Richard Wright photo.

Within the last couple of weeks Aperture 3.1.3 updated the Digital Camera Raw files to 3.10 to include the NEF RAW files from Nikon's D4. You can find this with an easy search on Google, or through your software updates.  This also updates for several other new cameras.

However, version 3.10 for the D4 will not handle the D800 files. You will get a "format not recognized" after the files have downloaded to Aperture, as soon as the "import" is complete and the "processing" begins.

So, again, go to your "software update" under the Apple menu and check for updates. This week, March 30, had 4 updates, including the "Digital Camera Raw 3.11" version which makes Aperture 3 compatible with the D800.

I have now downloaded twice and there are no issues.

A crop similar in area to the above shows how definition and detail is retained in the eye.
Richard Wright photo.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nikon D800 test drive and shooting

First impressions of the Nikon D800

We unpacked the D800 last night and this morning I headed out to test drive the new camera.  As I am sojourning in Hong Kong for a couple of months we knew just the place to go - Kowloon Park, an oasis in the centre of Kowloon in the New Territories which is alive with birds wild and domestic and an array of gardens.  My idea when I test lenses and cameras is to use it and see how it holds up. I will leave the lens charts for someone else. I want to know how it performs in the field in my hands. I also left the instruction book behind - let's just see how intuitive this puppy is.

Packing two heavy backpacks and a couple of tripods we jumped in a cab and headed out. Amy was carrying her new D5100, which we will report on later. Subways and photo gear don't mix well I have found. First of all the two cards would not format from the menu. Reading the manual tonight did not help, but I did find the two buttons that can be pressed to format and erase.  Fortunately the card I was using was from my D7000 and it worked, sort of, as we will see.

Now, depending on what you have been shooting the D800 may or may not feel similar, and for maximizing the 36 megapixels you need FX lenses.  So today I headed out with my 200-400 f4 V Nikkor and a 70-200mm V1 Nikkor 2.8.  First up was 200-400.

The lens was mounted on a Manfrotto carbon fibre tripod with a Manfrotto 393 Gimbal head. I wanted to be sure that I was doing everything I could to make sharp photos. (Watch for a review of the Gimbal in a week or two.)

D800 and 200-400 on a Manfrotto Gimbal. Amy Newman photo.

The first few shots convinced me that 36 megapixels is fantastic.  The lens is, of course, one of Nikon's best, but the detail in 36 megs and the color and depth of the D800 is better than I imagined.

A black-crowned night heron at take-off. Richard Wright photo.

A quick note for now of some of the features I found useful today.
The shutter release repositioning is very comfortable.  A small seemingly insignificant feature, but useful.
The eye-piece diopter adjustment is much better than on the D7000.  A knob is pulled out to release, then turned to adjust, then pushed back in to lock it.  The D7000 is constantly The menu is easy to follow, though it did take me some time to find the FX-DX image menu item.  With this you can set the camera to automatically shift to DX mode when a DX lens is put on, and, you can choose FX full frame, 1.2 ratio and 1.4 DX ratio all from the menu - a useful feature.
The eye viewer has a closable shutter for those long time exposure and some metering situations.
The Nikon carrying strap is a piece of junk. For a $3000 camera it is an embarrassment. It is thin and cheap where it should be padded.  Maybe Nikon knows that many photographers will replace it anyway with a more substantial cushioned strap which does not advertise NIKON to all the thieves of the world.  I either change straps or use a black Sharpie to color in the yellow trademark name and make it less obtrusive. 

Looking for a variety of subjects I swung to a nearby flowering bush.  

This blog photo likely won't show the dynamic range of the colors and exposure but renders surprising depth.  And, for detail, look just above centre.  

Here is the detail - a bee on a flower with pollen its legs.
A few more shots.

Shamrock flowers with the 70-200mm f2.8. Richard Wright photo.

Black-crowned night heron with 200-400 f4. Richard Wright photo.

Hibiscus, with 70-200 mm f2.8. Richard Wright photo.
I will post more tomorrow with some landscape shots as we are heading to Tai O, a small fishing village on Lantau Island for more testing and exploring.

Right now it is getting late, as not everything goes smoothly in testing.

Downloading from the camera should have been simple, I thought, but after several long attempts I found out the dreaded news: Aperture 3 is not compatible with the D800. The photos would import and show up in a browser but not download or enlarge. Arrrgh.  Well, at least Aperture 3 was not compatible until a couple of days ago. With some web searching I found Aperture needs a version 10 upgrade for the D4 and a version 11 upgrade for the D800. Sure enough the upgrades were sitting waiting for me in my software upgrade notifications. A few minutes to download, dump the non-working files, install the upgrade and all was well.

More coming tomorrow.  The main thing is that this is a great camera and the detail and resolution is astounding.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Nikon D800 - Got It! Unpacking - ready to test

Nikon D800 arrives ready for unpacking and testing!

My son Richard's perseverance paid off. This evening my granddaughter handed me a shopping bag with a couple of boxes. "What's this?" I asked. "A cleaning kit," says Rich.
Then I saw the box - D800. 

The dealer he tracked down here in Hong Kong came through with one of only three D800s he had been shipped - for a premium of $1000. Rich decided to go for it. It had taken some effort as when the supplier agreed to sell it Rich sent a bank transfer, which did not go through due to a single digit mistake. So, not wanting to take a chance on losing it he grabbed cash from the bank, jumped in a Kowloon taxi and personally delivered the ransom.

In the meantime I had kept looking.  Wing Shing Camera in Kowloon laughed when I asked for a D800. Over on Stanley Street our favorite dealer rolled his eyes and said with frustration, "They only shipped us one piece. One. May get more later."
But Rich had come through - so we unpacked.

The instruction book is the thickness of the New Testament. I may require a second camera bag, and, several weeks to read and digest it.

First view as Rich carefully removes the treasured D800.

Three views, which most of us have seen before, but, in our hands this time.

Inserting the SD card. The CF card will be inserted later. Fortunately I had already bought one.

The battery is the same as the D7000, a plus for those who already have the D7000, but it will not take the MD11 battery pack.  Fortunately, the seller had already partially charged the battery so could test drive the menu.

First impressions: The screen size is a little larger and comfortable to read. The USB cord has a cord protector at the camera end to stop damage. Which comes just the day after I yanked and bent the cord on my Nikon GPS unit. The camera is weighty. The menu seems very similar to my D7000 and Rich's D300 so there is a good familiar feel.
The shutter has a satisfying clunk. All very unscientific, of course.  

The real test comes tomorrow when I will return to Kowloon Park with it's birds and plants. I will reshoot some of the subjects I took the other day to compare 16 megs in DX with 36 megs in FX. Stay tuned. I will post some first samples of the D800 photos tomorrow night - March 29th here in Hong Kong.

Oh - the bad news.  I only have it for a week. Then I leave Hong Kong and leave the D800 with Rich. Hmmm - maybe for a premium ....

Pls consider signing up as a follower - then you can keep up on the D800 tests.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Nikon D800 released and shipped

Keep your eye on the prize

Flamingo, Kowloon Park, Hong Kong. Richard Wright photo.

There is the proverbial good news/bad news with this post.
The good news is that in the last 2 days (this is written March 23 Hong Kong time) the much-awaited Nikon D800 has begun to ship from Nikon.  The bad news is that it is shipping in such limited quantities that the price is being driven up by resellers. Reports are that it has also been shipped to Australia, Japan and Singapore, but Nikon agrees that it cannot begin to meet demand.

The D800 is the longed for camera that many serious Nikon users have been waiting for, fitting well in the stream of models and announced just after the D4. Perhaps the two main features are 36 megapixels, the highest of all "35mm" DSLR and the ability to shoot great video, amongst a host of other features such as in-camera HDR.

The camera was announced Feb 17th and since then many of us have been impatiently awaiting this new body.  I have been in Hong Kong since Feb 24th and every time I have visited a camera store I have asked about delivery dates.  I have one on order in Vancouver and my son has one on order here in Hong Kong.  Yesterday we heard it might have been released.
My son Richard spent his lunch hour calling 30 of the over 100 camera stores in Hong Kong. Dial - "Do you have the Nikon D800 in stock?" "No", or "NO!" Next. Some offered to order it and take his money. Some had 1 body delivered, but had sold it.  One said he would be number 246 on the waiting list. Then he visited 5 of the stores closest to his office in Kowloon. No luck. Typically we have found that there is little consistency in HK camera stores. Some have a lens or body, some don't, and the price is all over the map. One store, Photo Scientific, even refused to order a lens for me. As you will read later it took days to track down a 200-400 Nikkor F4.
(In the meantime Amy and I were on Lantau Island photographing Water Buffalo and visiting Pui O beach.)

Water Buffalo at Pui O, Lantau Island. Richard Wright photo

In the meantime I wrote to my camera store in Vancouver and overnight I got an email reply saying it is a great camera, (I knew that).

"This camera just started to get shipped to retailers in Canada. Please be aware that any one retailer may only get a couple of cameras from Nikon with every shipment they do. They must allocate this camera all across Canada and do not play favourites. Our orders will be filled in chronological order. You are looking at several weeks before we can fill your order. Many others are even after you."

 It would be several weeks before it was in my hand.  Evidently the pre-orders took everyone by surprise, including Nikon Japan. For me it is a double drag as the main reason I wanted the D800 was as a second body for shooting here in HK. I should have bought a used body of another model.

Finally, Rich found one D800 body at a premium price - close to $4000 instead of $3000. He offered to buy it if it was available this weekend in Hong Kong.  (This is the Rugby 7's weekend here and the town is full of expats in team T-shirts and costumes.)  He got a call back during a match.  The camera might be available on Monday.

Amy and I are heading to Kowloon tonight for an evening of shooting night scenes on Nathan Street and on the harbour front and I will check out a few more camera stores myself.  In the meantime, we wait until Monday. I'll keep readers posted.

One of many Kowloon markets. Richard Wright photo.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Making a lemon into lemonade

Hong Kong - Stanley beach

Sometimes we photographers can make a lemon, or an iffy photo, into something worthwhile.
Soon after arriving in Hong Kong we were booked in my grandson Ollie's school to comment on some performances the children were putting together, so to fit with the crusty British school we dressed up a little, Amy wearing a long red dress.  When noon came my daughter-in-law Fiona took us to the south of Hong Kong Island for lunch on the beach.  It was not a gorgeous day, but it was not raining.
Amy and I walked on the beach for a while and I decided to try some slow shutter speeds on the waves washing onto shore. As it turned out 1/3 of second at f22 seemed about right. Most of my shots were slightly underexposed but one was over exposed to I did a little post production work and found a version I like.

Stay tuned for more on Hong Kong.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hong Kong journal in the rain

Waiting out the rain in Hong Kong

It has been an exciting couple of weeks here on the far side of the Pacific, so much so that finding time for blogging has been a little difficult.  There is so much to write about it is hard to know where to begin so it will take some time to catch up, but, it is Sunday and I have a sore throat, and it is cold and rainy so time to bog.

Let's begin with Vancouver airport check-in and security. Travelling can sometimes be just a way to reach a destination, but more often I find it a part of the story. This time it began with a friendly check in clerk at Cathay Pacific who noticed we had booked two aisle seats (for maximum leg room). "Would you like something different," she asked?
"Sure," I said, "how about moving us upstairs." (Meaning first class.)
"I'd love to but I can't.  But I can give you an aisle and a window with an empty seat in the middle."
A great start.  We had lots of time for security, so no rush. I registered a couple more lenses with Canada customs, a practice I have followed for decades and found it always speeds up re-entry on the return journey.

I find that as an older traveller no one checks my carry-on pack's weight - which is always overweight with my primary photo gear. I think they figure if an old guy can pack it, it can't be too heavy - though my son Richard finds the same thing.
My favorite camera pack has become the LowePro Rover II. It holds a camera body, a 12-24mm Nikkor, a 18-70mm, a 70-300, a 50mm f1.8 and a SB 800 flash, and a few items in the inside pocket such as cleaning material and a polarizer.  Padded away in my luggage is a 200-400mm Tamron I am testing, a Ltl Acorn game cam, a Go Pro, a Manfrotto monopod and various clamps. Amy has her trusty Nikon P7000 that we will use for in flight photos.

Over Siberia somewhere. Richard Wright photo
At security I tired something I read on a photographer's travel blog.  I took all my loose pocket items, from change to pens, and put them in a small see though bag in my jacket pocket. At security I plucked camera pack, laptop and jacket in the trays walked through the scanner and was ready to be on my way.

Amy was not so lucky.  She had two green suitcases - one for carry on.  She had placed a pair of scissors in the wrong one. The scanner showed them and it took 15 minutes to find them.  Then the security clerk said, "Oh, they are small. You can keep them."  Go figure.
There was some momentary dismay when the passenger ahead of us opened the overhead bin with out care and dropped several bags on my head - one of which was a tin of chocolates whose corner nailed my forehead.  Not too bad but the jerk did not even apologize, just kept saying, "not my bags, not my fault." The cabin attendant reamed him out and then brought me ice for my forehead.  It must be karma as on our last London trip a similar thing happened, which got me an upgrade.
Northern Russia. Nikon P7000. Richard Wright photo.

The flight is 13 hours, so for me it means lots of standing in the toilet area, trying to get blood flowing again, doing a little pseudo Tai Chi. And the window seat? Fantastic, as we flew over Siberia and the eastern Gobi desert under clear skies, in broad daylight. The landscape seemed to draw me down into a dream of another photo journey on the Trans Siberian railway- Moscow to China - the longest continuous railroad trip in the world. It is high on my bucket list.

The northeastern Gobi, just south of Ulan Bator, capital of Mongolia,
and what appears to be a strip mine. Nikon P7000. Richard Wright photo
Cloud cover and sunset over Hong Kong area. Nikon p7000. Amy Newman photo.

The flight arrives on time and we are through customs with no problem other than a rather long line. We arrive to find son Richard waiting and by 9 p.m. Hong Kong time we were home in Clearwater Bay planning our next couple of weeks. We're ready to go.

Upcoming Hong Kong blogs:
Street shooting
Camera stores in Hong Kong - a guide
Sports shooting in Hong Kong
Birding in Hong Kong and many more.

For more photos of Hong Kong go to:
Website: http://richardtwright.photoshelter.com/