On Nikon & Other Photo Gear

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iPhone Support with Quick Release Plate

It has been a while since my last post.

These days I tend to carry my iPhone around when taking pictures, it’s a very useful thing really. There are a number of interesting apps, many of them free and quite useful for long exposure photography, sooo…instead of fumbling through pockets each time I need it I looked around for some sort of plate/support that could hold it within easy reach of the camera. I did not find anything commercially available that meets my requirements [one came close though] so I decided to make one from bits and pieces of stuff lying around.

Voilà, jorgesantosphotography proudly presents the ‘iPhone Support with Quick Release Plate’…tattaaaa…

iPhone support with quick release plate

DIY iPhone support with quick release plate

The half-plate comes from a camera plate I don’t use anymore. I cut it in half to reduce weight. The small ballhead comes from a Manfrotto 709B table top tripod and the iPhone case is from Griffin. Of course, you case use a cheaper ballhead and iPhone case. I just had this stuff lying around so…here is how it looks when attached to the camera, as I intended it to be:

Attached to the camera L-plate

Attached to the camera L-plate

Yes, you need a sliding clamp such as the RRS B2-Duo or a Novoflex Q=Mount [better choices then the expensive and bulky FAS Clamp shown]. The small Manfrotto ballhead allows you to position the iPhone as you want [portrait/landscape, whatever] and has enough clamping power to hold it in place even if you are running around with the camera with the iPhone attached. I have been using it for some time and I still have a working iPhone…You can take it apart for packing too, here:

Taken apart

Taken apart

A couple of things, don’t use an iPhone plastic case that has a rubber coating! since the round camera base is glued to the back of the iPhone case with Epoxy it will separate from the case quite easily because it is actually glued to the rubber coating. Also, use some coarse sandpaper on both surfaces [case and round camera base that comes with the ballhead] before applying a thin layer of strong Epoxy. Optionally, you can also put a screw through the cut-off Arca Swiss plate preventing the base of the ballhead from rotating in relation to the plate [red circle]. Put a drop of thread locker glue [Loctite blue for e.g.] in all the threads just in case [like the back of the case to the ballhead if you want, it packs quite nicely even when not taken apart].

Hope you find this DIY project useful in some way, I did at times.

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15/10/2011 Posted by | Photo Equipment Reviews, Tips | , , , , , | 2 Comments

To stack or not to stack Nikon Teleconverters

I never contemplated stacking teleconverters because of the loss in picture quality associated but since I just got the new TC-20EIII…why not do some quick comparison shots? The stacked combo of the TC-20EIII plus the TC-17EII gives you a 3.4x factor meaning that a 70-200 mm f2.8 becomes a 238-680 mm f9.5 on a FX body and a 357-1020 mm f9.5 on a DX Body. On a 200-400 f4 lens the stack gives you a 680-1360 mm f13 on a FX and a 1020-2040 mm f13 on a DX body. Truly impressive focals no? It will cost you a 3.5 stops light loss and AF capability at least.

Due to the optical design of the teleconverters the TC-20EIII can be used on top of the TC-17EII [but not the other way around!!] without the optical elements touching but to do this one has to remove an annoying tab in the female bayonet of the TC-17EII first. It is quite a simple procedure though, locate the 4 screws on the female bayonet of the TC-17EII [the side where your lens attaches to the tele], remove the screws and remove the bayonet with care. If you do it properly you won’t even disturb the position of the spring that is under the bayonet [note the position of the spring, just in case!]. There is only 1 correct position for the bayonet because of the lens release pin, it is really that straightforward.

Needless to say that you do it at our own risk!! It will likely void the manufacturer’s warranty and if not done properly can damage the teleconverter. If you feel uncomfortable trying this on your own go to an authorised Nikon repair center and ask them to do it for you. Many UK repair centers will remove the small tab for a small fee.

Bayonet screws on lens attachment side of the TC-17EII

Bayonet screws on lens attachment side of the TC-17EII

Locate the small tab that is almost aligned with one of the screws [see pict A below]. Take a smooth flat or half-round needle file and carefully remove material from the tab until it is almost flush with the inner part of the bayonet [see pict B]. To avoid making scratches and cuts on the bayonet surface while using the file, cover the areas next to the tab with electric insulation tape. Remove the tape when finished, place the bayonet back in the teleconverter and tighten the screws [be careful to align the threads properly! don’t force the screw in! if it offers resistance then it either the threads are not properly aligned or the spring under the bayonet is not in the right position!].

The annoying tab that needs to be removed on the lens attachment side of the TC-17EII

A - The annoying tab that needs to be removed on the lens attachment side of the TC-17EII and B - how it looks after removal if done properly

That’s it! The TC-20EIII can now the stacked on top of the TC-17EII.

Stacked TC-20EIII with TC-17EII

Quick Stacking Comparison Tests

D700, manual exposure 1/80 sec, f/11, ISO 800 with a 70-200 f2.8 VR I at 200mm with VR Off. Shots without any tele, with the 17EII, with the 20EIII and with stacked 20EIII and 17EII combo. Shots taken on a sturdy tripod with remote release and mirror-up. Blow ups of the frames taken without teleconverter, with the 17EII and 20EII were resampled in Photoshop using Bicubic interpolation to match the magnification of the stacked shot. Default Adobe Raw conversion settings [no sharpening applied], no further processing. Click on the thumbnail to download a higher resolution version.

Quick Comparison Shots

Quick Comparison Shots

Conclusions?

Although the tests were not extensive they nevertheless show the superior quality of the TC-20EIII. The blow-up of image with the TC-20EIII is actually sharper and more contrasted than the one taken with the TC-17EII alone. Between the images taken with the TC-20EIII and with the Stacked teleconverters, I actually prefer the one with the stacked teles [despite the lower contrast] but Photoshop Bicubic interpolation is not the best interpolation around. If I would resize the TC-20EIII image in ImageMagick with the right filter settings I’m sure that the differences would be minimal or non-existent and I wouldn’t need to lose an extra 1.5 stops and give up AF altogether during shooting. You to decide…

27/05/2010 Posted by | Photo Equipment Reviews, Tips | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Twin Camera Setups – Really Right Stuff Lego

Just been playing around with the possibility of using a twin camera setup for shooting movies and stills simultaneously for both handheld and tripod shots. Using RRS stuff I came up with a couple of interesting configurations for use with wide/medium zoom lenses.

Lego Config #3 -Handheld

Twin camera setup for handheld. Independent Pict or Yaw depending on position.

This is an somewhat interesting set-up for handheld. Due to the L plates on each body each camera can be set for landscape or portrait and the yaw [in vertical position] or pitch [in horizontal position] can be adjusted independently. Put a camera strap on the top body and you can carry both around your neck.

The next 2 are meant to be used on a tripod. You can adjust the position on the ballhead to balance the all thing better. Again the L plates allow each body to be set for landscape or portrait in addition to the tripod’s head movements.

Lego Config #1 -Tripod

Twin camera setup for tripod use. Independent pitch.

Lego Config #2 -Tripod

Twin camera setup for tripod use. Yaw Cam1, Pitch Cam2

The problem is that for tripod shooting both configurations [1 more than the other] will amplify any vibration issues so…still I though it was interesting in case you want to shoot movies and stills at the same time with some degree of compositional freedom.

26/05/2010 Posted by | Tips | , , , , | Leave a comment

D700 Pop-Up Flash DIY Repair

The pop-up flash of my D700 stopped working, not that I use it that much.

Still, it has some use for Commanding other Nikon speedlights or as an emergency flash. So, I called Nikon Repair for a repair quote. They gave me a hefty 290Euro [±397 USD] estimate for the repair, which I find out of proportion.

Ok, there are a number of possible causes for the non-firing of the pop-up flash [faulty flash tube, wiring, electronic component(s) for e.g] but one of the most common is the lack of electric contact in the switch at the end-of-travel position of the pop-up flash.

So, I decided to take a closer look. If your camera is outside the warranty and you have some basic DIY skills then you might want to try the step-by-step instructions below before you handout the cash, especially if your hot-shoe is working fine.

It worked for me, saving some cash and inconvenience in the process so…here is:       D700_PopUpFlash_DIY_Repair

16/03/2010 Posted by | Tips | , , , , | 2 Comments

Nikon’s Service Notice on the 70-200 VRII Issue

Dealers breathe a sign of relief on Jan 2oth with Nikon’s service note [better late than never right?], which sort of re-establishes the market value of the lens, even for the affected ones. Despite this, a lot of people will still prefer [given the choice] a defect free lens. So, I don’t think it is going to be that easy to get rid of one’s stock. This means that if you haven’t bought the lens yet you might as well wait a little longer. I wouldn’t be surprised to see major mail-order dealers selling their remaining stock of affected lenses at a big discount soon enough.

Since we are on the subject, I have calculated the focal length at INF using the known position of stars , the [averaged] results are:

Exif (mm)         Calculated (mm)

@70                            72.5

@86                            85.7

@105                        106.8

@200                        198.6

Of course, lens distortions do affect the results but overall pretty much on the spot.

24/01/2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

One more close up of the defect on the Nikkors 70-200 VRII

Another close-up shot of the defective internal part in the new Nikkor 70-200 VRII.

Nikon Service feedback is that it does not affect overall optical performance. Maybe true now, who knows in the future but that’s hardly the point Nikon!

Nikkor-70-200-VRII-Defect-Closeup

Close up showing clearly some loss of material in the controversial part

16/01/2010 Posted by | Photo Equipment Reviews | , , , | 4 Comments

Nikon UK 2 Year Warranty Messy Affair

In the beginning of 2009 I bought a D700 from Robert White [a reputable Nikon dealer in the UK]. The camera came with an announced 2 Year warranty whose terms required that the product [compact cameras, DSLR bodies and DSLR kits] be distributed by Nikon UK & Republic of Ireland, purchased on or after July 1st, 2007 and that the customer registers the camera or kit within 30 days of purchase [see attached NikonUK 2Y Warranty Original Version].

When I tried to apply to the extended warranty through Nikon UK customer service there were problems, to say the least. In the end, Nikon UK did acknowledge that my D700 did meet the terms of the 2 Year Warranty. Nevertheless, after mailing them the application form together with the rest of the documentation, I never received any acknowledgement nor the option to buy the extra 3rd year (as mentioned in bottom of the 2 Year warranty terms) [see attached NikonUK Support Email Exchange on 2Y Warranty].

Since then Nikon has changed the terms of their 2 Year Warranty. It now specifically mentions UK and Irish residents although it now only applies after Jul 1st, 2007! [see attached NikonUK 2Y Warranty New Version]

In principle and legally speaking, the warranty terms and conditions at the time of purchase are the ones that apply to the product you bought. So, in principle the revised warranty text only applies to products purchased after the warranty conditions changed.

Unfortunately, the wording used by Nikon UK in the revised 2 Year warranty terms leads to further confusion on what terms apply to what since there is no mention of the date of release of the latest version of the 2Y warranty.

Comments and personal experiences are welcome.

12/01/2010 Posted by | Anouncements | , , , | Leave a comment

Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8G ED VRII aka “The Dandruff Lens”

When I was just going to repeat the test between the old and the new Nikkor 70-200 VR, I noticed that the lens seems to have a lot of particles?? inside!! My old 70-200 f/2.8 VR I, even after years of use and abuse in very dusty environments, is squeaky clean compared with the new lens. I am not sure these are actually particles, they seem constrained to the optical elements. Can someone competent in optics clarify what is/could be the cause of this?

Is this dandruff? Not using Head & Shoulders regularly?

On a closer look, I also noticed some parts that appear to be damaged or in the process of disintegrating altogether with countless fractures all around the element. Some areas like the one shown in the image below seem to be missing some material actually.

Nikkor-70-200VRII-Dandruff-Lens-part2 v2

The image shows what appears to be disintegrating and/or damaged plastic parts inside the lens system

I’m not an happy camper right now, that much is clear. I think this is unacceptable for a lens that costs a premium and that is supposed to be a pro lens! It also gives a all new meaning to quality control and quality assurance, isn’t that right Nikon?

I am contacting Nikon Support about the above and share whatever feedback I get from them.

Feel free to add your own experiences with new Dandruff Lens from Nikon.

11/01/2010 Posted by | Photo Equipment Reviews | , , , | Leave a comment