Sunday, March 28, 2010

A New Member Joins The Family

Townhouse Waterfall
We went driving around yesterday for a bit, looking for a place to live that is smaller, requires less overhead, and costs less to maintain. Ruth paused at this Townhouse entry and I had to grab a shot of the waterfall.

This was taken with my new machine.  While the Nikon D70 sat at home alone, the D300s come out with us for the day. It's true, my D70 was an extension of my brain, I didn't have to think much to use it.  I've been shooting with it now since 2005. It's easy to flick the buttons on the back and I'm quick on the draw for a shot. I'm as fast on the controls as my previous manual Nikon FM2n.

But this new machine is another matter. It's built like a G-Shock watch and has got more tools hidden inside than a swiss army knife. I don't know what half of the controls are for or what they do. However, I do use the the auto-bracketing. This thing flies through 7 frames a second. Yikes! If I hold the trigger down it will blow through 100 frames in less then 15 seconds. It sounds like a jet.  But I didn't get it for speed.

In the old days (back in '77) my camera was just a light box. I could mount a great lens on a cardboard box loaded with Kodachrome 64 and take great pictures. (For example take a quick scan at this fuchsia flower. It was shot with an empty toilet roll stuck between the 50mm lens and the body of a Fujica.) Photographers spent their money on glass and bought the best they could afford. It was all in the glass.

The cameras today are much more than a box. They are really computers with the processing power of my MacBook. The computer in the camera studies the scene and compares it to thousands of images in it's memory bank. It adjusts for white balance, ISO, 51 focusing points, and more. What all that really means is that it can do the thinking for me.

With manual cameras the photographer had to think about what they were doing. Those were the days when cameras were metal, not plastic.  The lenses were made of brass and stainless steel.  They were fast (could see in low light) and razor sharp. There were few zooms then. The ones that existed were heavy and unclear.  Today's zooms are better but often are slow (need a lot of light or flash) and are mostly made of plastic.

two men in a boat crop
Yep, them were the days. Those bodies could take a beating.  If your camera looked like it came off the store's display shelf you weren't really a shooter. You were just a poser. But if the camera was dinged and dimpled and the brass was showing through the black top and bottom plates, you were for real. My  F3/MD4 looked like this one when I sold it five years ago on eBay.

Yeah, back then cameras were cameras, men were men, and women were men.

Where was I...oh yeah.

This is the first digital I've had that is manufactured of metal like the old days.  I often treat it like a my F3 and put everything on manual and shoot like it was a film camera. It's just a lot easier than overriding everything. I'm not normal. I'm a control freak.

For the shot of the waterfall I leaned against the tree, let out half my breath, and squeezed the shutter softly. The machine inhaled five images in a blink. That was it. It was painless.  Afterward I merged the frames using Photomatix Pro. No overrides.

I also used a Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 lens.  This thing can see in the dark.  Compared to my Tokina 12-24 f4 it's sharper. What's more important is that it's sharp wide open. It is sharper then Nikon's 12-24 in all apertures. In fact, it is the sharpest wide angle zoom lens on the market today.

The camera itself, the D300s, can capture scenes lit by a single candle. It can be set to 64,000 ASA. That's 40 times more sensitive than an average camera. Whoa! I try to avoid flash whenever I can and this in combination with the lens will do it.

Of course, it's going to take me a while to figure out all the doodads this crazy machine has, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

I'm going out shooting now.  But first, I need to hammer a few dings in the body, maybe even drag it behind the car for a block or two.  I don't want anyone thinking I'm just a poser.

You don't take a photograph. You ask, quietly, to borrow it. ~ Author Unknown
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