Archive for the 'Camera Gear' Category

Posts about my camera gear

Mini Review: Skilhunt H02R Head Mounted Flashlight, For Cycling after Dark

This xkcd comic came out today with perfect timing:

Last month I was contacted by GearBest and asked whether I'd like to do a review of a product from their cycling gear or LED lights categories; I'd get to keep the product in exchange for an unbiased review. Probably they'd seen my headphone review done under similar circumstances. I get this kind of message every so often and don't usually accept, but a bicycle light piqued my interest.

I chose to try out a small, $50 head-mounted light that I thought might be useful for nighttime riding:

The flashlight easily [...]

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Fixing a Fuzzy Viewfinder on a Panasonic LX100

As I posted the other day, I've got a new camera to use while cycling, a Panasonic LX100. I used it on yesterday's 140km mountain ride, but couldn't use the viewfinder because the viewfinder focus (the "diopter control") stopped working, and the view via the viewfinder was completely fuzzy (including the information displays that should be sharp and clear even if the image through the lens is not yet focused).

A search on the web quickly showed that this was a common problem sometimes fixed by fiddling with the diopter dial, but usually resulting in a return or a replacement [...]

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Informal Camera Comparison: Panasonic LX100 vs. Nikon D4

Paul Barr at the Toji-in Temple (等持院) in Kyoto, Japan, in photos taken by two different cameras (whose names are included in the data under each photo).

最近小さいカメラ(パナソニックLX100)を買いました、サイクリングをする時に使うと思います。 僕の普通のカメラ(大きいなニコンのD4)と比べると質はどうでしょうか。京都市の等持院でテストをしました、同時二つのカメラを使って、だいたい同じ写真二枚を撮った。結局LX100は結構良かった。この記事の写真の下にカメラ名が付いている。

When I started cycling earlier in the year, I brought along my big Nikon D4, carried slung across my back like this so that I'd have it ready to shoot when I wanted (like this).

It's a heavy camera to carry, especially on steep uphill mountain rides, but I like the quality of photograph that it allows me to get. I don't think I'd be able to get these kinds [...]

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Performing Minor Surgery on a Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens

I've had my Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 lens (seen here) for more than eight years. I don't use it all that much anymore because for the last few years I've tended to prefer faster prime lenses, but it's a great lens for many situations.

I'm pretty tough on my gear... I don't baby it, I use it, and this lens is no exception. In particular, after using it all day in heavy snow five years ago ("First Look at Snowy Shirakawago Village"), the zoom became a bit less smooth. It wasn't so bad that it was worth the bother of having [...]

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In Case You Weren’t Fully Aware of Just How Stupid I Am…

If you don't know me personally you may not have a good grasp of just how stupid I am, but today's story should fill you in plenty.

Online reviews for Sigma's new 50mm f/1.4 "Art" lens have been universal in praise for its quality without respect to price, made all the more amazing that its price is ¼ that of lenses of comparable quality. I've not had good luck with Sigma in years past (as reported here and here), but all the stellar reviews made me give them another try.

Yesterday I ordered it on Amazon Japan, and it arrived [...]

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My Approach to Shooting With Two Camera Bodies

I did something yesterday that I'd never done: I went out shooting with two camera bodies.

I often go out shooting with one body and many lenses, changing lenses upwards of 70 times on a long and interesting outing, and this works well for what I like to do, but when I added the Nikon D4 to my Nikon D700 at the start of the summer, I specifically thought it might be nice to have two bodies when out among the festive crowds at Kyoto's Gion Matsuri festival, one body with the huge Nikkor 300mm f/2, and another with a [...]

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Low-Quality Photographic Lighting Has Me Seen Green

You might not particularly notice it the first time you see the photo above, but once I point it out, you won't be able to miss it: my skin has a decidedly green tint.


This is a classic side effect of fluorescent lighting not specifically designed for photography, which is apparently what Stéphane and I used during one of our portraiture practice sessions.

Unfortunately, I had bought bulbs that were specifically advertised as "for photography", sold and branded by a company that makes photo-studio lighting equipment. I simply got ripped off. )-:

I'd bought Gorgeoust (the company's name) "Super [...]

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Took My New Nikon D4 Out For A Spin At Night (Before Reading The Manual)

As I mentioned the other day on the impromptu portraits post, I picked up a Nikon D4.


I actually ordered it the day it was announced, but ended up canceling the order for lack of excitement about what I'd get over the Nikon D700 I've been happy with for years. But despite having canceled the order, the shop shipped one to me a couple of months later when they finally got stock, and well, not ordering is one thing, but returning is another, so here I am with a D4.

I've used Nikon bodies for years, so many of [...]

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Going Max Cliché While Learning About Off-Camera Flash

Let me say up front that I know the photos on this post are ridiculous. I think the type is ridiculous even when done seriously (e.g. in a "fashion" catalog), but all the more so when done by someone my age. I'm just trying to learn to cut loose a little while also learning about off-camera flash; I'd appreciate if your laughs are with me instead of at me.


As I noted last month in "Trying a Little Formal Portraiture" and a couple of weeks ago in "Impromptu Portraiture Practice", I'm interested in improving my ability to take portraits. [...]

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Prucia Plum Wine from France, and Some Dramatic Lighting, and Rolling-Stones Beer

I mentioned the other day in a post about a minor heart episode that a local restaurant, Togiya, serves Prucia, a plum wine (umeshu -- 梅酒) from France. I'd never seen a plum wine from outside Japan.

Well, in the store the other day to pick up some of the fiesta-in-a-bottle Sangria Peñasol that I mentioned in last month's "A Bunch Of Blurry Pictures of Folks Pouring Wine", to my surprise I came across a bottle of Prucia on the shelf. In the name of research and public service, I brought it home with me.

I've shown great restraint in [...]

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Giving Up, Sadly, on Adding A CPU Chip To My Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 Lens

Two months I posted the report "Adding a CPU Chip to a Nikon-Mount Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 Lens", using a "Dandelion" CPU.

After posting the report, I spent some time actually using the lens, and could not get a consistent exposure. I thought that perhaps the aperture was not linear (that is, when the camera moved the aperture arm half way, the aperture closed something other than half way), so I re-programmed the chip so that it told the camera about the focal length and maximum aperture, leaving the actual control of the aperture back on the lens, as it was [...]
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The Conundrum of Cleaning Lenses

Why is it that no matter what kind of special lens-cleaning this or expensive micro-fibre that that I buy, the most lint-free and absorbent cloth for cleaning my lenses remains my T-shirt?

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Unconventional Camera Bag: Repurposing a Think Tank Photo Retrospective Lens Changer

This post is about a new camera-bag solution I'm trying, and so far like, involving an unconventional use of a Think Tank Photo Retrospective® Lens Changer 3 shoulder bag. You can see it at my side in the photos above.

I usually bring just a few lenses when I'm out with the camera, often a Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 and a pair of Nikkor f/1.4 primes (24mm and 50mm). My normal bag is the v1 version of the Think Tank Photo Speed Racer, a nice bag with a silly name, and it's not bad with how I shoot, but I was [...]

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Adding a CPU Chip to a Nikon-Mount Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 Lens

UPDATE: Sadly, the procedures reported on this post ended up not working. More info here.

I'll leave the whole post, including the inline updates, but be warned that it was all for nothing. )-:

As most folks guessed correctly in my golden bumpy "What am I?" quiz, the object is a lens CPU chip/contacts set. I'm surprised so many people knew what it was because I had no idea they existed until recently. It allows one to update an old lens with modern electronics that tells the camera body a few particulars about the lens.

By far my favorite [...]

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Looking for a Good Photo-Viewing iPad App

I'm looking for recommendations for a photo-viewing app for my iPad; Apple's "Photos" app has too many bugs and limitations for my needs. What I want seems simple -- an elegant way with which to impose my photos onto someone hapless to come within an eyeball's reach of me -- but I haven't found it yet.

Features that I hope for:

Clean, simple, uncluttered interface.

Photo update via FTP, Dropbox, or some other method where management is done on my computer and merely reflected to the device.

Supports display of basic metadata on each photo, when asked.

Supports display of [...]
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Informal GPS Logger Test: iPhone 4s GPS is Shockingly Good

In the comments of a recent post about GPS receivers, it was suggested that the GPS receiver in the iPhone was useful for keeping tracklogs. I had bad experiences with iPhone location services when I tested in 2009, but perhaps my test wasn't good, or perhaps the old iPhone 3 wasn't good, so I thought I'd give it another try.

So, the other day I took three GPS receivers with me while I did some errands. As I'm apt to do lately, I walked.

This post is a comparison of the resulting tracklogs.

The three devices I took along on [...]

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In-Camera Geoencoding and the Nikon D4: Case Study In Product-Development Costs, Ignorance, and Naïveté

Now that Nikon has announced its next flagship pro SLR, the Nikon D4, with much flowery prose but few hard details, discussion and debate and speculation and flames and praise have filled camera circles.

This post is long, but here's the two-sentence summary for the "tl;dr" crowd:

As with most any technology release (hardware or software), folks tend to frame their personal whims and desires as "absolutely required!", while features that they don't personally care about become unneeded fluff. Photographers who don't care about video, for example, lament the assumed cost of all the new video features.

This is [...]
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Nikon Marketing’s Amazing Feat: Overshadowing The Launch of the D4

Nikon announced their new flagship SLR, the Nikon D4, to much anticipation made long unfulfilled by last year's tragedies (Japan earthquake, Thailand flooding). I would, of course, love one, but with a price in Japan close to US$8,000 and Santa not scheduled for another 11.5 months, it looks doubtful.

Anyway, I'm in the process of reading the D4 press release and am left in wonder by the ultra thick spread of marketing fluff that I don't recall in earlier Nikon releases. For example, talking about the low-light ability, they say:

which is just fine -- the use of phrases like [...]
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Heading Out To Photograph The Fall Foliage? Don’t Forget The Polarizer Filter

Since writing "A Few Polarization-Filter Examples" several years ago, I've been meaning to do a post on a polarization filter's effects when shooting fall foliage. Over the years I've mentioned some effect or other of a polarization filer on my blog (such as here, here, and here), but I'm only now getting to filling in a huge deficiency of my 2007 post on making the best of bright light in fall-color photography by demonstrating how useful a polarizing filter can be when shooting foliage.

While at the Yoshiminedera Temple south of Kyoto during various trips last year, I did something [...]

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Big Lens at the River: Focusing on Disappointment

Having finally obtained a manual for the lens I got last week, I've learned a few things. One, it seems that it actually has a built-in slide-out lens hood in addition to the big detachable hood I'd been using. You're supposed to deploy both.

Also, for some reason, it says that proper focus can't be achieved without a filter installed in the filter holder. It can be simple optically-inert glass, but you've got to have something. I don't know how it could matter, but I'll trust the maker on this. Unfortunately, the only filter holder it came with is for [...]

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