New Hobby

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Postby Alan » Wed Oct 10, 2007 8:14 pm

Most of my DC photos turned out pretty bad, either really blurry or totally pointless. I think you had some kind of party or something that you were at all day.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Tue Dec 23, 2008 7:56 pm

Still using the same equipment?

We are probably going to buy a Nikon D90. I have the AF 50mm/1.8 and some crappy 24-80mm kit lens from my N65. I am going to shoot with the 50mm for a while before I decide whether to get a new zoom.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Wed Dec 24, 2008 12:06 am

We bought a D90 body. In twenty minutes of playing with it, I am most happy with the combination of Auto ISO and continuous servo AF which means I can take photos in dim indoor light without a flash OR AF illuminator. I'll have to try it out for real sometime soon. I probably need to get a better SD card, too.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Alan » Wed Dec 24, 2008 3:31 am

Yep, pretty much the same equipment, I did get a flash last year though.

Can't go wrong with Nikon, all their DSLRs are ace.

As far as lens suggestions, a nice midrange zoom is a good idea. Something like a 35-70 or 18-50. If you have the cash get a zoom with a fixed aperture (2.8 if you can swing it). Actually with the crop factor I'd lean toward a zoom on the wider side - remember the 50 is actually more like a 60 or 70 depending on whether your sensor is 1.2 or 1.4 crop. My zoom goes as wide as 24 (33.6 on my camera) and I haven't really encountered a situation where I've really really needed something wider. Well, other than trying to take a photo of a massive cathedral from the other side of a too-small-plaza.

I don't know too much about Nikkor lenses but I'm sure you can find reviews out there. Avoid the super zooms (like 18-200); those invariably have poor optics. You also likely don't need a telephoto unless you have a specific purpose for having one, since you can just crop everything nowadays without losing much in terms of image quality. In most cases your image quality will be limited by how good your glass is (provided you have enough light of course). Don't skimp on your lenses - fewer good lenses beats more crappy lenses any day.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Thu Dec 25, 2008 12:02 am

All Nikon's consumer DSLRs are DX (1.5 focal length) format. The pro bodies are full frame. They don't have any other DSLR crop factors in their current lineup.

I'm going to try really hard to stick with full frame lenses so that if I want to switch bodies in a few years full frame will be an option (or I feel the urge to shoot film for some reason because I have the N65). Edit: so really wide lenses aren't in my future, but that's fine with me because I rarely want to shoot landscapes/architecture.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Tue Dec 30, 2008 7:59 pm

To come back to later:

http://www.keh.com/OnLineStore/ProductL ... &GBC=&GCC=

The Autofocus Nikkor 20-35mm f/2.8D IF is an older wide angle zoom. It was something like $1600 new but KEH has it for $675 in excellent condition because it has been discontinued in favor of the AF-S Zoom-Nikkor ED 17-35mm f/2.8D IF (which is too expensive). The 35mm f/2 prime would cost $300 and be just as good or better at 35mm, but I think I'd get more use out of the zoom. The Autofocus Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D IF-ED costs $580 new, isn't as sharp, and is slow.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:07 pm

Alan, what's your workflow? You mention PS CS2 and RAW capacity. Are you actually shooting RAW? If so I'm curious what aspects of the image you actually post-process. I was thinking about shooting RAW and just extracting out the JPG using the camera settings for most shots. But then, if I'm on vacation, I won't have a computer to do that with and maybe I just want to use the JPG.

I need to buy a memory card or two. I have a 512MB SD card and a 1GB RS SD (w/ adapter) but the 1GB is so slow I notice it. I was thinking about getting a 4GB 30MB/s or 8GB 30MB/s, but the cheap SD cards are so much cheaper (nearly 10x) that I feel silly paying for slightly faster access times/fps.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Alan » Wed Dec 31, 2008 4:16 am

Yeah in the world of lenses, old doesn't mean bad, neither does discontinued. Most of the best lenses available for my camera mount are old, discontinued lenses, often for more than they were originally. If you're reading good things about the 20-35 f2.8 IF go for it.

I used to use PS CS2, but found that to be too slow. I switched to Bibble Pro (bibblelabs.com) a while back and shoot pretty much exclusively RAW. On average I'll keep half of the photos I take and of the ones I keep, I spend 1-3 minutes tweaking. Bibble has a bunch of filters for most of the common things you'd want to do in PS which makes things much quicker and easier. I probably haven't used PS in over a year. Bibble also comes with excellent noise reduction software, which is probably a lot more important for me with my Sony than you with your Nikon. Bibble Pro version 5.0 has been delayed for about a year or so. 4.x is still worth getting in my opinion though, and if you get 4.x you get a free upgrade to 5.0 if it ever comes out.

If you decide to stick with JPG, you picked the right brand of camera. I think Nikon has the best image processor of any of the major brands.

I have a 2 gig compactflash extreme iii (30 mb/s). I have my camera set to continuous drive at all times just in case, and I've found it actually useful every once in a while to be able to snap off 3 or 4 frames rapidly. Just something to keep in mind. 2 gigs gives you 130-ish exposures of 10 megapixel RAWs, if you're wondering. When I get around to it I'll probably get another card, probably around 8 gigs. For vacations, 2 gigs is not enough (for RAW). I find myself rationing photos and having to go through daily to delete ones that will probably turn out badly (it's so hard to tell on the LCD sometimes). But what I've found pretty consistently is that a lot of bad photos can turn out to be really good ones after you crop them. So I don't know how much I've lost by needing to delete so often when I'm on vacation.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Alan » Wed Dec 31, 2008 4:42 am

As far as what I actually do with Bibble:

All images get the standard "fill flash" or highlight reduction/contrast/saturation/vibrance tweaks and curves, which of course don't require you to use RAW. And I'll straighten and/or crop as needed.

With RAW, I can play around with exposure a lot more than I could with JPEG. Sometimes I can adjust exposure >2 stops in either direction, which is HUGE if I have a great photo that would otherwise be ruined due to over or (more often) under-exposure. Digital is opposite from film - you can do more with an underexposed image than an overexposed one.

With RAW, I also don't need to white-balance photos, because I can do that afterward.

Subjectively, I think Bibble's RAW processor is better than my camera's. I haven't been able to tell a difference between Bibble's and PS's RAW processor.

All images I take using ISO 400+ need noise reduction, due to my Sony's noisiness at higher ISOs. When I use noise reduction, I also use more sharpening than usual. Good noise reduction software runs $60+, which is almost half the cost of Bibble anyway, and usually doesn't integrate itself into your workflow software quite as nicely.

There are a couple filters I use pretty frequently. One lets me adjust fill/HR/contrast by luminance, another lets me adjust intensity/saturation by color (RBG). My favorite is the black&white filter, which does a pretty nice job of simulating several types of B&W film and paper. That in combination with the intensity and saturation adjustments by color makes for a pretty nifty tool.

The other thing I can think of that I like about RAW is that I like knowing that I'll always have the original image available, and don't have to worry about saving a copy of every image I take before altering it. I guess I'm lazy that way.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Alan » Wed Dec 31, 2008 4:55 am

So basically, RAW gives you a lot more leeway for when you're actually taking the photo, and better image quality to boot. You don't need to be quite as precise when it comes to getting the exposure right, and it completely eliminates the need to white balance.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:24 pm

A native Linux version of Bibble is available. Nice. I'll get a trial of that when I have some actual images to process.

It seems similar pieces are available as free software, but not in one integrated package. There are a number of options available, but so far I am leaning towards UFRaw + GREYCstoration (for noise).
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Alan » Wed Dec 31, 2008 10:02 pm

Yeah the main reason I went with Bibble as opposed to something else is that it had all the tools I found useful integrated nicely, and ran well on my G4 PowerBook. I can't even install Aperture on my computer, for example. Lightroom was pretty sluggish for me. After using a trial version of Bibble nothing else I tried came anywhere close to matching it in simplicity and versatility. I don't think there was anything free available at the time that was reasonably comparable.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Alan » Wed Dec 31, 2008 10:07 pm

Oh just so you know, the One Touch Perfectly Clear (TM) tool that they advertise doesn't work all that well. The only times I've had it generate good results are for images that take <30 seconds or so to tweak manually anyway.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:03 am

I will probably be separating out my people images from my stuff (and events like vacations from either).

http://jonathan.pearce.name/gallery/v/art/pdx/

Here's a gallery for Portland stuff.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:20 pm

Here's an article on skin tone reproduction (some nude models, NSFW).

It's not a step by step tutorial. Fully one half of it is rendered as ridiculously low quality scans that are difficult to read. And he is rather Caucasian-centric, barely touching on Asians and not mentioning brown folks at all. It does have the advantages of being right and making sense, though. And he specifically points out pitfalls in shooting redheads, babies, and old people.

My workflow is still up in the air, but it seems to boil down first getting exposure, noise, and white balance right. Then, eyedropper the important skin patches for HSV, then adjusting Hue and Saturation until they're in the correct range. Optionally, use a quick mask to adjust only the redheads or only the skin. Doing lips, eyes, and teeth separately might also be desired, depending. GIMP will do a decomposition of your image into Lab layers, but that's kind of a pain in the ass to look at. Still, it's possible and another useful data point.

L 62-72%
a 2 - 10
b 11 - 22

(or 16-24 degrees Hue on HSB)
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Fri May 29, 2009 3:38 pm

So, after shooting for a half a year with this camera, I've decided a wide zoom would be a waste of money. What I really find myself wanting is a decent telephoto zoom.
The wish-I-had-those options:
Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 ED AF-D - no VR, $850 used
AF VR Zoom Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 G-AFS ED-IF - all bells, whistles, singing, dancing, $1500 used. Sigh.
The one I'll probably get:
Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5 - 5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR - about $550 new.

And then there's non-VR options below that, but I really don't think I need to be saving that money. There's also a slow 80-400mm that costs $1500 which sounds unattractive. There's the 18-200mm VR super zoom (which is DX only of course), but it costs more than the 70-300mm and the 70mm is plenty wide for faces.

The consumer 70-300mm is a pretty logical choice, but it's not cheap. For just a little bit more, I could get the pro 80-200mm f/2.8 which would be a lot faster, but lacks VR. The f/2.8 with VR sounds amazing but is way more than I need to be spending. I am pretty sure I can get better handheld images with the f/2.8 than with the f/5.6 VR, but jeez that's irritating not to have VR on a telephoto.

If somehow I could convince myself that I really needed the 85mm f/1.4 ($1000 used) in addition to a zoom then I could combine the two by buying the f/2.8 VR and just using that for portraits instead. :lol:
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Fri May 29, 2009 3:44 pm

I might get a 35mm or 30mm fast fixed because I did find myself unable to backup enough to take a picture of four people inside with the 50mm (with 1.5 crop factor) and they are really cheap ($100). But I really like having a fast lens indoors, so I won't get a moderate zoom, and I don't need to drop the money on a wide zoom.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:49 pm

I had a picture that I was really not happy with, so I hacked it up in Photoshop until it looked a bit better.

I don't recommend that, though, because the HDR result was much simpler and generally looks better too. It definitely looks less processed. I lost a bit of cloud detail with this particular batch of settings, but I felt it held up well enough that it didn't need to be B&W.
http://jonathan.pearce.name/gallery/v/h ... ather.html
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:19 pm

Dwindlehop wrote:AF VR Zoom Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 G-AFS ED-IF - all bells, whistles, singing, dancing, $1500 used.

If somehow I could convince myself that I really needed the 85mm f/1.4 ($1000 used) in addition to a zoom then I could combine the two by buying the f/2.8 VR and just using that for portraits instead. :lol:

I rented this lens to try it out. It is much heavier than I find convenient. I'll know for sure after I shoot it tonight, but it looks like I just saved myself $1500 right there, then.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Alan » Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:11 pm

What will you be using the telephoto zoom for? If you'll mostly be outdoors you can probably get something with a smaller maximum aperture and save a lot of $$$. F/4.5 would probably be good enough, esp if you have a tripod. The f/2-ish lenses are more for indoor sporting events and stuff like that I think.
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