Thursday, January 26, 2006

I recently purchased a Creative Zen Vision for use as a media player and as a portable storage device for pictures while on the road. First impressions are quite promising.

Good points so far for the camera enthusiast:-

  • Compact flash slot. ( can upload RAW and jpg )
  • 30GB of storage
  • Excellent screen ( despite the narrow viewing angle )
  • Ability to play slideshows on TV via component video.

other good points:-
  • Excellent movie playback
  • Superb sound quality
I'll post a detailed review in case any one is interested over the next few days.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I went to the wildlife photographer of the year exhibition at the natural history museum ( in london ) on friday, I can heartily recommend it to my fellow amateur photographers.

All the shots are backlit so they look absolutley stunning.

Some of the winning entries and highly commended shots were taken with a D70 which is kind of inspiring.

I must say, I disagreed with most of the category winners, but it's a subjective art after all!

I was especially disappointed with the overall winner, I honestly thought it was the worst shot on show, even seeing it blown up to about 4 foot wide its still didn't do it for me.

Anyway heres a link..., it runs until february and entrance costs 6 GBP for an adult.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

So that's a quick update on my photographic experience so far... I hope to start posting comments on new techniques I discover ( new to me! at any rate ), and links to any other cool galleries I may find. All in all , I think I am slowly improving as a photographer. So what are the symptoms of this?
  • I take less shots, but more are keepers.
  • I spend more time setting up shots.
  • My friends are saying 'did you really take that?'
  • The comments on my pbase gallery are getting better!

So what are the key things I have learned along the way?

  • A tripod is worth its weight in gold
  • It's better to underexpose than overexpose
  • Always shoot RAW, the price of another CF card is insignificant compared to losing that shot
  • You really need to learn to post process. Even the best shot straight from the camera benefits from a little pp.
  • There are loads of photographers who are better than you. ( just look at the pbase popular galleries! ) , so it pays to take advice.
  • You never stop learning!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

It was over 8 months before I could justify a new lens purchase, so what to buy? I fancied the Tamron 90 Di macro, but in the end opted for the super wide 10-20mm sigma. This was partly due to my recent trip to snowdonia where the widest lens I had was 28mm and on the D70 that ain't particularly wide. Anyway, the sigma is now my toy of the inspired by a particulatly misty morning I drove to the north downs and got some nice landscape shots.

the complete gallery can be found at

next on the agenda was something a little sharper, with good low light performance and a huge aperture for those narrow DOF shots....hmmm. There was only really one option for me, given my budget. So I went for the nikon 50mm 1.8D, which is a stonkingly good lens. I really enjoy shooting with it, and I am constantly amazed at how sharp it is.

It hink my best 50mm shot so far is one I have entitled branch...I came across a twig someone had broken and stuck in a knothole in a tree.

anyway, I rather like it...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

My lens lust didn't stop there though! The next purchase was an AML ( Apochromatic Macro Adapter ) extenstion for the sigma 70-300. It reduces the minumum focus distance, and transforms the reproduction rate from 1:2 to 1:1. This means that with the adapter it should be possible to fill the frame with an object the same size as the sensor ( 23.7mm x 15.5mm ). There a number of problems with this however, it's not the sharpest combo in the world, and the DOF is incredibly shallow. Anyway, its useful to have as an option if you can't afford a dedicated macro lens. I think that ive managed to squeeze off a few decent shots.
Of course one of the best things about owning an SLR is being able to change lenses.

So my thoughts soon turned to a long telephoto.

I considered the available options and opted for the sigma 70-300 APO Super Macro II. Now, the build quality of this lens is a little poor, but for the money it delivers the results.

So, I dragged the kids off to Marwell Zoo. I think the best shot of the day was one of a great grey owl, shot through mesh no less! One of the lessons I learned that day, is that you can shoot through mesh.

At the time I didn't own a tripod, lucky for me it was a very bright day! so I could keep the shutter speed very high.

One of the things I have learned since then ( mostly by missing shots ) is that a tripod is a must. I now have two tripods and a walking pole/monopod hybrid.

The other useful tip is that you cannot see if an image is in focus using the lcd panel on the back at default setting.
As a keen amateur photographer, I thought I would attempt to gather together some tips, post my own experiences and photographs.

I've been getting more into photography for the past few years now, it all started when I bought a FUJI 6900, an SLR-Like camera which at the time I thhought was amazing. Over time though I found that I just couldn't get the shots I wanted. The DOF control wasn't good enough, the shutter lag was proving more and more problematic, the electronic viewfinder made manual focusing impossible, etc

So I decided to buy a digital SLR. At the time there were only really two affordable options the Canon 300D and the Nikon D70. In truth, I bought the Nikon largely on how it felt in my hand. Yes, it had a few other nice features such as virtually no start up time, spot metering and fast write times ( all things that seemed to answer some of the things that annoyed me about the fuji ).

That was April 2004. As I wanted the camera that day ( im impatient ), I could only find the 28-80g kit, and the body only. I did want the 18-70dx kit, and in hindsight should have been more patient.

I loved the camera imediately, it seemed to answer all of my problems. I was really impressed with the initial shots ( I was shooting jpg at the time, as I hadn't discovered the wonderful world of RAW ). Some of my early shots are still some of my favourites.