No More Film For Me!

January 14, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

I’ve been wanting to scan about 50,000 slides stored in my cabinets. However, this blasted Nikon CoolScan 9000, even though it is Nikon’s premium (US$2000) scanner takes forever to scan slides or negatives. I hate this scanning process. Too much work!

However, I want to digitize my older work, for memory sake. I think I will buy a gizmo that allows me to photograph my slides. I’ll use my Nikon D2X at ISO 100 with my 60mm Micro Nikkor and make nice 12 MP versions of each of my treasures. Even that will take years because of the number of slides I have, not to mention negatives.

When digital first came in and I saw the need to scan my images (before I had a good digital SLR back in early 2002), I bought my CoolScan 9000 to do the job. After days of hard work, I had only scanned a small number of slides. It was just awful work, and the results were not all that exciting because a scan is an inferior second-generation image.

Then, I bought my Nikon D100 in late 2002. I shot a wedding with my F5 and the D100 as a backup, but ended up using the D100 more than the F5. Within a few weeks my F5 was sitting in the camera bag untouched. I had found my niche. No more aggravating scanning or running out of frames at 36 exposures. I just took the picture with my D100 and there it was, ready to use with no extra cost. However, the D100 could not produce the maximum results that a good drum-scanned Provia F slide could make.

Then, after a few years, along came the Nikon D800, which produces images on the medium-format level, with the best images I’ve ever seen from any other camera I’ve used in my life. It has a 16×24 inch (40×60 cm) print at 300 dpi with no enlargement. The D800 with a pro lens makes images of such high image quality, deep resolution, and massive dynamic range, that I do not feel the need to shackle myself again with film. No scanned film, 35mm, medium format (6×7), or even large format (4×5) can outdo the results from a D800 and a pro lens. If you don’t believe me, just rent a D800 and find out for yourself.

However, I still missed my old film cameras. I’d take them out of my storage bag and play with them, peering through my old AI Nikkors. I felt sad that my old faithful lenses with aperture rings were sitting mostly unused. I thought of shooting a little film again, just so I could use my beloved old manual Nikkors. About that time Nikon released the Nikon Df. It uses all Nikon f-mount lenses since 1959. I took my old Nikkors out of the bag and started using them in manual mode on the Df. My goodness, what deep quality this Df sensor has! I can shoot images that look like Provia F slides at ISO 1600. I can get perfectly usable results at ISO 12,800. No more do I have to worry about ISO or image quality.

With the Nikon D800 and Df, I have the best of cameras and lenses—with my pro Nikkor lenses on the D800 (e.g., AF-S Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8G ED) and my old AI Nikkors on my Df. Now, I no longer have any desire to use my old film cameras. The Df reminds me of my old FE; thereby satisfying that strange inner desire to return to days of long ago. The Nikon Df looks like yesterday, yet shoots like tomorrow!

What I am trying to say is that I am Digital Darrell, permanently. I respect that many still want to shoot film. However, in my own personal experience, no 35mm film of any sort can approach what I can accomplish with the digital cameras and lenses I am now using. I take the picture, I process it in my digital darkroom, and I make a Giclée print on Fuji Crystal Archive paper on my 17″ Epson archival pigment-ink printer, which produces prints that will last 300 years in the dark and 100 years on the wall without beginning to fade.

I’m free at last, praise the landlord, I’m free at last! I am Digital Darrell, the High Priest of Digital Deliverance. I have thrown off the shackles of film limitations: No more reciprocity failure for me. No more awful expense from processing. No more lab-induced image destruction. No more storing billions of slides, hoping the bugs don’t get them before the light fades them. No more limitations on the number of frames I can afford to shoot. No more tedious and inferior scanning. No more stained fingers from print fixer. No more wondering if that last frame was a keeper, I can see the picture and the histogram on the back of my camera. I am freeeeee!

Keep on capturing time…

Darrell Young

Dancing clouds on Blue Ridge ParkwayDancing clouds on Blue Ridge Parkway

Darrell Young is an active member of the Nikonians User Community, Nikon Professional Services (NPS), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), and the author of 15 photography books from NikoniansPress through Rocky Nook, including Beyond Point-and-ShootMastering the Nikon D610Mastering the Nikon D800Mastering the Nikon D7100, and the upcoming Mastering the Olympus OM-D E-M1, to name a few. He’s been an avid photographer since 1968 when his mother gave him a Brownie Hawkeye camera.

His website, www.PictureAndPen.com, was created to support the readers of his educational books, photography students, and clients. Visitors to his website will find articles and reviews designed to inform, teach, and help you enjoy your photographic journey.

Join Darrell on FacebookTwitter, and Google+


Do You Want a New Camera…Again?

November 20, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Camera buying season has arrived. New cameras are appearing in droves. Some of them are merely incremental updates to an existing camera and others are exciting cameras that could establish new standards. Do you really need a new camera? If so, why? What will a new camera allow you to do that your two-year old model won’t?

Nikon Df – Top View

Nikon Df – Top View

Very advanced gear allows one to push the edges of photography more easily. As an example, a camera with excellent high ISO capability and a nice pro f/2.8 lens allows a photographer to get low-light shots unobtainable with lesser equipment; such as at a wedding in a dark chapel with no flash allowed. However, how many of us regularly shoot in that type of environment?

An extremely high-speed frame rate pro camera with a huge telephoto prime lens allows one to capture sports action like no other setup; but, again, how many of us shoot in that arena?

The majority of photographers do not need an FX camera, even if they greatly desire one. Most imagery created today could be shot successfully with a Nikon D40 (6 MP) or D200 (10 mp), both of which will make a great 11×14 inch (28x35cm) image—who prints much larger than that? Therefore, the rat race we find ourselves in is mostly hot air and gas, and fun. This year’s highly-desirable camera will be next year’s trade-in.

However, there is an inner desire that most of us have; the desire to own a fine piece of camera equipment, a beautiful piece of glass, and artistic images that express our souls.

Nikon FM with AI-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 Lens

Nikon FM with AI-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 Lens

We used to make great images with film cameras, then with older digital cameras, and now with even better digital cameras. Maybe our images are a little sharper, have more accurate color, and can be enlarged a little more (which most people won’t do). However, it is truly not the camera, and it really is the photographer. To excel, unless one is shooting for a “grunge” (grainy) look, you need a certain minimum level of photo gear to be able to create wonderful memories and even make some money. Once that level of gear is surpassed, all future advancements are only small increments of improvement. We surpassed the minimum level of camera equipment somewhere between 6 and 12 megapixels. Everything now is striving after the wind, except for those photographers with highly specialized needs.

Nikon D800 with an AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Lens

Nikon D800 with an AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Lens

That said, I love my Nikon D800, D610, D7100, and even my tiny COOLPIX A. I am about to start an affair with a new camera in about a week. My Nikon Df will be delivered on the 29th (www.Berger-bros.com). I no longer use my poor old D100, D200, D70, D50, or even my old D2X (except for some limited studio work).

Part of my “photography” is the intense interest I have in the tactile sensations of operating a fine piece of camera equipment and peering through a new lens. That will never change with me and millions of others. The major camera companies are betting their existence that we enthusiasts will remain enthusiastic. They expect that we will groan and swoon when a new camera is dangled in front of our glazed-over eyes. Like a moth to a flame, we will rush to the computer and lay our money down, and we’ll do it again in two years. Why? Because we are photographers, and we love cameras.

Nikon D610 with an AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR Lens

Nikon D610 with an AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR Lens

Photography is not just taking pictures, for most of us! It’s a feeling that surrounds taking pictures. It’s a revelry of skill that few people have. It’s the smell of a new camera or lens, the feel of its body in your hands, the sound of its shutter in your ear. They way you can manipulate its controls and make it obey you. The art you can produce that impresses others.

How do you feel when you open the box from UPS or FedEx and pull out a new lens? How do you feel when you turn on a new camera for the first time? Are you eager to explore the menus and test out the new advancements?  I bet you even have a ritual picture that you take first with each new camera. (How does Darrell know stuff like this?)

Burning Sky from my Nikon D800 and AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G Lens. © 2013 Darrell YOung

Burning Sky from my Nikon D800 and AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G Lens. © 2013 Darrell Young

Do you really need a new camera, this year? Probably not! Last year’s model used to be simply spectacular, and that has not really changed. Will you buy a new camera soon? Oh, most certainly! Who can resist? Why do we hang around forums talking about our dream camera or lens? Why do we read blogs on subjects like this?

We are photographers and we love, not only photography, but also the sensations surrounding the taking of pictures. We adore the technology and feel (and smell) of new equipment. We slobber over nano-coated glass! Honestly, I’m a camera addict, and I bet you are too!

Keep on capturing time…er, cameras and lenses!

Darrell Young

Dancing clouds on Blue Ridge ParkwayDancing clouds on Blue Ridge Parkway

Darrell Young is an active member of the Nikonians User Community, Nikon Professional Services (NPS), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), and the author of 15 photography books from NikoniansPress through Rocky Nook, including Beyond Point-and-ShootMastering the Nikon D610Mastering the Nikon D800Mastering the Nikon D7100, and the upcoming Mastering the Nikon Df, to name a few. He’s been an avid photographer since 1968 when his mother gave him a Brownie Hawkeye camera.

His website, www.PictureAndPen.com, was created to support the readers of his educational books, photography students, and clients. Visitors to his website will find articles and reviews designed to inform, teach, and help you enjoy your photographic journey.

Join Darrell on FacebookTwitter, and Google+

Copyright © 2013 Darrell Young, All Rights Reserved

Nikon Df Camera is Coming at 12:01 a.m. Tonight (11/05/2013)!

November 04, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Are you ready for a very handsome camera that takes baby-boomer Nikon users back to the days of their film-shooting youth? The Nikon Df is coming, unless the rumor mill is completely wrong, and with these pictures floating around the net (from NikonRumors.com), it is apparent that something real is happening. Tonight’s the night at 12:01 a.m. (11/05/2013).

Nikon Df – Top View

Nikon Df – Top View

Nikon Df – front view

Nikon Df – front view

Nikon Df – rear view

Nikon Df – rear view

Nikon Df – uses a standard mechanical release cable

Nikon Df – uses a standard mechanical release cable

Nikon Df – has a magnesium-alloy and polycarbonate frame like the D7100 and D610

Nikon Df – has a magnesium-alloy and polycarbonate frame like the D7100 and D610

See Brad Berger at www.Berger-Bros.com (1-800-542-8811) to preorder, I did! I can’t wait until this camera arrives. I will soon have a book titled Mastering the Nikon Df for you at this link. Please check in frequently. Here we go!

Keep on capturing time…

Darrell Young

Dancing clouds on Blue Ridge ParkwayDancing clouds on Blue Ridge Parkway

Darrell Young is an active member of the Nikonians User Community, Nikon Professional Services (NPS), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), and the author of 12 photography books from NikoniansPress through Rocky Nook, including Beyond Point-and-ShootMastering the Nikon D600Mastering the Nikon D800Mastering the Nikon D7000, and now Mastering the Nikon D7100, to name a few. He’s been an avid photographer since 1968 when his mother gave him a Brownie Hawkeye camera.

His website, www.PictureAndPen.com, was created to support the readers of his educational books, photography students, and clients. Visitors to his website “will find articles and reviews designed to inform, teach, and help you enjoy your photographic journey.”

Join Darrell on FacebookTwitter, and Google+


Nikon’s Response to My D600′s Dust Spots on the Sensor

October 21, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

October 21, 2013

Today I decided to really examine my Nikon D600′s sensor for the dreaded oil and dust spots issue. I went outside—used manual mode—and shot a blue sky picture at f/22. I found a large quantity of dust spots on the sensor. Therefore, I realized that I had been bitten by the D600 Oil & Dust bug.

Here is a crop of a corner of my camera’s sensor:

Oil & Dust Spots on my Nikon D600

Crop of the corner of my D600′s sensor, with spots

With pain in my heart—due to the fact that my warranty had expired on 09/18/2013—I called Nikon Technical Support (1-800-645-6687, https://support.nikonusa.com/app/contact) and told them my tale of woe. The service tech asked me if I had tried using a blower to blow the dust off, and I told her I had used a blower a time or two.

The tech’s voice then became quite soothing, saying words like, “If you are having dust and oil problems and there is no impact or water damage to your D600, we will cover the problem.” I asked, “By ‘cover,’ do you mean that you won’t charge me to fix the problem?” She replied, “That’s right, and we will pay for shipping and insurance in both directions. It will take 7 to 10 business days for repair.” 

Full Screen sample with contrast raised to max

Full Screen sample with contrast raised to max

She sent me an email that arrived immediately, providing a link to upload a couple of unretouched, full-size sample pictures to Nikon. Here is a copy of the email:

Hello Mr. Young

Thank you for submitting your question and I’m sorry to hear you are having problems with your Nikon camera.

In order to properly diagnose the issue please update this incident (using the link below) with one or two unedited sample images showing the problem; we’ll take a look and let you know what we think. It’s important that original, unedited images be sent. If you must resize the images only do so in a Nikon program as other programs remove important embedded information.

For more assistance attaching images to incidents please see:

http://support.nikontech.com  (Note: I removed my ID number from this link)

After we’ve reviewed your samples we’ll contact you with more information.
Your reference number is [CENSORED].

Thank You
Nikon Support

I went to the Nikon support site, uploaded my pictures, and I am now awaiting another email containing approval, return authorization, and shipping labels.

I will update this blog entry as this case progresses and keep you up to date with Nikon’s solution to this problem. So, far, the response from Nikon has been very professional. I am satisfied and will remain so if the problem is resolved. Check back soon for an update.

Update: October 29, 2013

I waited eight days to see if Nikon would contact me with information or shipping labels, as described by the last person I spoke with. Today, when checking the website to see the status of my support request, I saw the status marked “solved” and the message:

This incident cannot be reopened or updated. If you need further assistance, click here to submit a new question.

I was a bit puzzled about why I had not been contacted, so I called Nikon support on the phone. I talked to a friendly individual who told me she was puzzled about why I had not been contacted yet. She briefly put me on hold, saying, “Let me go look at your sample images.” When she returned to the phone she informed me that Nikon would repair the problem and that I needed to ship the camera to them. She reiterated that it would take about 7 to 10 business days or less to have the repair completed, “as long as there are parts available, and there is no impact, sand, or water damage to the camera.” (Sand, huh?)

Within a few minutes the following email arrived:

Dear Mr. Young,

Thank you for calling Nikon. I am sorry to hear about the problem you having with your camera.

You should be receiving the shipping labels within 24 to 48 business hours.

Below is the link to schedule your repair on line along with the step by step instructions on how to send your Nikon product in for service.

http://www.nikonusa.com/en/Service-And-Support/Service-And-Repair.page

The reference number for your call is [CENSORED].

If you need any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Kind regards,
Nikon Tech Support

Now I am awaiting an email with shipping labels so that I can send the camera in for—hopefully—a shutter replacement. I’ll also have to go to the provided link and schedule the shipment.

By the way, while waiting for Nikon to contact me, I checked to see how many pictures I had taken with this particular Nikon D600. I uploaded a NEF file to http://www.myshuttercount.com/ and was informed by that handy service that my Nikon D600 has 1987 shutter firings. This clearly shows that even a newer D600, with low mileage, is suspect. If you have a D600, go now and check your camera’s sensor for spots by taking a picture of a blue sky at f/22 and then examining the image on your monitor at 100% view. Nikon seems willing to help, even when the camera is out of warranty, like mine. However, I wouldn’t wait long if you have a similar situation to mine.

It appears that Nikon has acknowledged my problem and is ready to repair the camera at no cost. Check back soon for an update.

Update: February 25, 2014

In their last email, Nikon told me that they would send me a prepaid shipping label within 24-48 hours. I waited four months and the label did not arrive in my email. :-)  I was so busy writing a new book that I just dropped the ball, but so did Nikon.

A few days ago I sent an email to Nikon asking about the promised labels and got this reply, with a prepaid UPS 2nd-day Air label attached:

Dear Mr. Young,

Please see the attached pre-paid shipping label to send in your D600 for service.

1) Please print the attached PDF file to attach to your shipping box.

2) Pack your equipment carefully in a shipping box with several inches of a quality packing material completely around the equipment. Please do not ship products in their original boxes. Accessory items, like straps, should be removed.

3) Enclose a letter explaining the reason for returning the equipment and your return mailing address.

4) Call UPS at 800-742-5877 or visit http:www.ups.com to locate an office in your area. If you choose to have UPS pick up your package at your residence or place of business, you will be responsible for any additional charges UPS may apply.

Regards,
Nikon Inc.

I packed up my Nikon D600, attached the label, and dropped it off at the UPS store. It will arrive at Melville NY on Friday (Feb 28th). I am looking forward to getting my D600 back from the camera hospital.

In the meantime, Nikon issued a worldwide Technical Service Advisory that proclaimed their willingness to fix any and all Nikon D600 cameras with dust & oil problems, at no cost, even if out of warranty! If you have a D600 with the problem, click this link and get your camera fixed at no cost.

Now, I am playing the waiting game to see how long this process takes and how the camera does when it is returned. I will be back with more information soon.

Update: March 07, 2014

I got a snail mail letter from Nikon today affirming that they have my D600, that they are working on it, and that the repair will cost me nothing. The letter says that the repair is a “B2 Service Repair Rank B2″ and “Reason for Service: SENSOR DUST, No Charge/Good Will Repair.”

I received email from them last week with the same information; therefore, I suppose they are simply being thorough. They’ve had my D600 since February 28th, so it has been a little over a week. I expect to see my D600 in only a few more days. This saga is nearing an end, I hope.

What will I call my Nikon D600 when it comes back with a D610 shutter assembly? A fellow member of my PlanetNikon forum suggested that I call it a Nikon D605 since it is not quite a D610 and more than a D600. Here is a picture of what I envision my camera will look like, once it is returned and I have found a nice 5 to put over the last zero in D600:

Nikon D605?

Nikon D605?

In only a few more days my beloved Nikon D600, with its better than Nikon D3X image quality, will be back. Oh the party I’ll throw! Wanna come?

Final Update: March 12, 2014

My Nikon D600 (or 605) arrived today and looks like new. The sensor is spotless, all dust has been removed from the camera everywhere, and it even smells like a new camera (maybe that’s wishful thinking, except that it really is only a little over a year old).

The repair took about two weeks to complete, from shipping to UPS home delivery, and was completed at no cost. The repair ticket says the following:

B2
Service Repair Rank B2
Write Up
Repair
*
RPL Shutter Mechanism
Related Parts
Related Parts
Related Parts
Related Parts
Related Parts
Related Parts

I have no idea what “related parts” were required, but in addition to the shutter assembly, six other parts were replaced. I suspect it has been well tested. Time will tell.

I am very happy with Nikon’s service. They treated me well and fixed my camera with expert care. I will test it and report back here if any other problems are detected, but for now, I am very satisfied. My beloved D600 is back!

Keep on capturing time…

Darrell Young

Dancing clouds on Blue Ridge ParkwayDancing clouds on Blue Ridge Parkway

Darrell Young is an active member of the Nikonians User Community, Nikon Professional Services (NPS), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), and the author of 12 photography books from NikoniansPress through Rocky Nook, including Beyond Point-and-ShootMastering the Nikon D600Mastering the Nikon D800Mastering the Nikon D7000, and now Mastering the Nikon D7100, to name a few. He’s been an avid photographer since 1968 when his mother gave him a Brownie Hawkeye camera.

His website, www.PictureAndPen.com, was created to support the readers of his educational books, photography students, and clients. Visitors to his website “will find articles and reviews designed to inform, teach, and help you enjoy your photographic journey.”

Join Darrell on FacebookTwitter, and Google+


Too Many Cameras, Too Fast!

September 26, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

For nearly every camera, of any brand—released in the last few years—there have been a spate of complaints about the camera. Spots, lines, AF issues, all sorts of things. The reputation of some wonderful cameras, like the Nikon D600 and D800, were damaged by these complaints.

We are living in a highly technical and quite imperfect world. Demand is for the next big thing. A camera is basically obsolete when it’s released, like a computer, smart phone, or tablet. If a camera maker could take the time to work out the bugs and sell a particular camera for ten years (like in days of old, 15 years ago), things would be different. I bought a Nikon F4 in the late 1980′s, and an F5 in the mid 1990′s. In 2002 I went digital with a Nikon D100 and never looked back at film. However, those film cameras I used lasted me for years and years. They were much simpler in design and did the job for many thousands of  transparencies.

However with one and two year camera lifecycles for new enthusiast digital cameras, there is simply no time to properly design, test, and deliver a perfect product. Such is life in today’s society. We demand more, more, more, faster, faster, faster. Are we surprised then when camera companies can’t keep up?

Even the pro model Nikons are designed for only about a three or four year lifecycle. It is still hard for me to pay US$6,000 for a camera body, when I used to pay US$2,000 for one that lasted at least twice as long, before obsolescence. Therefore, I have mostly bought one-step-down-from-pro camera bodies since digital arrived, such as the D700 and D800 (if you can consider the D800 a step down from anything).  I paid about US$5800 for my Nikon D2X in 2004, and while still a great camera, it is obsolete for anything except ISO 100–400 pictures. Because I’m a nature photographer and do not need blazing speed, such as the D4 provides, I have never considered that camera for purchase. However, a D4X with 40+ MP FX sensor might just open my wallet.

I am merely ruminating this morning. I sit here, in between Mastering Your Nikon books, awaiting Nikon’s next release so the excitement can build and new camera babies can be delivered—with imperfections and forum complaints, of course. Where is my D400? Do I really need a D610 when my D600 works great. How can they improve on the D7100? More features are coming, we can be sure of that. My first Mastering the Nikon book (D300) was about 250 pages long. My latest (D800, D600, and D7100) are all pushing 600 pages. Where does it stop? When will we have cameras that require 1000 page books to understand—next year?

I’m not complaining, I like technology and I love writing books for my readers. However, I do miss the intimate familiarity I had with my Nikon F4 and F5 after many years of usage. Nikon, if you are going to give us new cameras on such short lifecycles (as we evidently demand), at least make the controls work the same. Stop adding so many menu items. Simplify!

What are your thoughts on this issue? Please tell me!

Keep on capturing time…

Darrell Young

Dancing clouds on Blue Ridge ParkwayDancing clouds on Blue Ridge Parkway

Darrell Young is an active member of the Nikonians User Community, Nikon Professional Services (NPS), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), and the author of 12 photography books from NikoniansPress through Rocky Nook, including Beyond Point-and-ShootMastering the Nikon D600Mastering the Nikon D800Mastering the Nikon D7000, and now Mastering the Nikon D7100, to name a few. He’s been an avid photographer since 1968 when his mother gave him a Brownie Hawkeye camera.

His website, www.PictureAndPen.com, was created to support the readers of his educational books, photography students, and clients. Visitors to his website “will find articles and reviews designed to inform, teach, and help you enjoy your photographic journey.”

Join Darrell on FacebookTwitter, and Google+

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