This is a page of notes on my current photographic equipment, as well as information on some of the equipment that I am considering buying. My system is currently Nikon-based, and I am content with that choice, although there are always improved bodies, lenses, and other equipment that tempt me toupgrade.
A few Nikon links of interest are:
Nikon's global site Nikon USA Nikon Canada (English)
Minolta X-570, autumn 1983 to December 1985
My first film SLR was a Minolta X-570, which I bought for myself in the fall of 1983, the year that I lived in Port Hardy, a town near the northern tip of Vancouver Island. As my fiancée and I spent a lot of our free time exploring the beautiful, wild country of the north island, photography was the perfect complementary hobby.
I soon developed a great interest in getting a Nikon system, however, and in December 1985 I traded in my Minolta.
Nikon FE2, December 1985 to December 2004
My next and last film SLR was a Nikon FE2 (black body) that I bought in December, 1985. I used it heavily until 1989, but my use of it declined greatly throughout the 1990s until I left it forgotten in a drawer in 1998. Toward the end of 2000, after buying an APS camera to record some summer holiday images, I revived my FE2. My interest was shifting to digital, however, and I bought a Nikon Coolpix 5000 in January, 2002, although I continued to make occasional use of my FE2 until mid-2004, after which I replaced my film SLR with a Nikon D70 in December, 2004.
Fujifilm Nexia 220ixZ, July to November 2000
I bought my only APS camera while on a holiday in the summer of 2000. I never intended to use this camera beyond that holiday. I did take a few photos with it when I returned home, but only enough to finish the film that I had bought. Upon returning home from that holiday, my interest in photography was revived, so I then repaired and revived my use of my Nikon FE2.
Nikon Coolpix 5000, January 2002 to September 2004
My work in IT and my enjoyment of the easy portability of my APS camera led me to buy my first digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix 5000. I was always dissatisfied with the lack of access to my collection of Nikon lenses and the low quality of the images, yet I greatly enjoyed the portability and immediacy of working with this digital compact camera. I continued to make occasional use of my Nikon FE2 for higher quality images while I had this camera.
Nikon D70, December 2004 to October 2006
My first digital SLR was a Nikon D70 that I could use with my collection of Nikkor lenses. I used this camera from my purchase of it in December, 2004, until I sold it to switch to a Nikon D80 in October, 2006.
Nikon D80, October 2006 to June 2013
The Nikon D80 doesn't look much different than the D70 from the front, but it has a much larger LCD display on the back, greater resolution (10.2 MP instead of the 6.1 of the D70), significantly improved metering, and — most importantly — much improved picture quality. I gave this camera to my daughter when I bought my D800 in June, 2013.
Nikon S9100, July 2011 to date
In July, 2011, I bought a compact digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix S9100, as an easily portable camera for my summer holiday. It provides decent quality 12.1 mega-pixel photos, and it has a 25-450mm (35mm equivalent) focal length zoom range at f/3.5-5.9.
Nikon D800, June 2013 to date
In June, 2013, I bought what I suspect will be my last digital camera, a Nikon D800. This is the finest camera I have ever owned, with a 36.3 mega-pixel full-frame sensor, which also lets you capture full HD 1080p video. I also bought two lenses to take fullest advantage of the full-frame sensor: a 24-70mm f2.8 mid-range focal lenght zoom, and a 14-24mm f2.8 wide angle zoom.
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Nikkor lenses: a Dutch photographer's extensive notes on Nikkor lenses
AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8G ED
AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8G ED
AF 80-200 f2.8D ED
AF Micro 105mm f2.8D
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Camera bag: Tamrac Zuma 5.
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This section contains my notes on macro-photography equipment. I use the 105mm macro lens pictured below. I haven't needed any additional equipment for my limited macro work, but if I decide to pursue this kind of work more extensively, I will look at both the macro bellows and the lens-mounted macro flash unit.
The options that I don't like are shown with red titles. The options that I like, but don't have yet, are shown with green titles. One middling option is shown with a black title. The single piece of macro equipment that I do have is shown with a blue title.
Note: 1:1 magnification refers to the size of the image on the film itself, so a 25-cent piece at 1:1 would slightly exceed the height of the frame, but it wouldn't quite fill the width. Once this is printed or displayed, the image appears well above 1:1, depending on the print size or screen size. The math on this changes for digital SLRs. Also, tripods or other means of holding the camera completely still are increasingly important, as is specialized flash equipment, because with increasing degrees of magnification, the light is proportionately decreased.
Close-up "Lenses" (Poor Choice)
US$29.95 ea., C$??
Close-up attachment diopters screw on the front of lenses like filters. Single element ones give poor quality images.
Part No. 0 1 2 3T 4T 5T 6T lens elem. 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 fil. Ø mm 52 52 52 52 52 62 62 diopter str. 0.7 1.5 2.9 1.5 2.9 1.5 2.9
Extension Rings (Acceptable Choice)
Extension rings fit between the camera and lens. By adding distance from the focal plane, the minimum focusing distance is reduced, thus yielding greater magnification, but reducing effective maximum aperture.
Macro Lens (Got It)
Macro lenses are designed to enable short minimum focusing distances. A true macro lens provides 1:1 magnification without additional devices. Macro lenses are the most convenient option, but they do not provide strong magnification and they are the most expensive option.
Reversal Rings (Good Choice)
US$21.95, C$ ??
Macro adapter rings, or lens reversal rings, fit into the camera like a lens on one side, but attach to the lens front via the filter thread on the other side, thus reversing the lens. This yields strong magnification for normal and, particularly, wide-angle lenses.
BR-6 (for PB-4/5; a dbl. release cable retains auto aper.)
BR-2a (for 52mm objectives)
BR-3 (for the lens' bayonet end to add a filter)
BR-5 [not shown] (for 62mm objectives)
Macro Bellows (Good Choice)
PB-6: US$234.95, C$ ??
Macro bellows fit between the camera and the lens and operate much like extension rings. The ability to adjust the length provides a zoom-like capability, allowing you to set the framing more precisely than by other methods. The magnification factor varies from lens to lens, but ranges from modest to strong magnification, as well as with the degree of extension of the bellows (which is 48-208mm). An extension bellows (PB-6E) is available for even greater magnification.
Close-Up Flash (Good Choice)
SB-R1C1: US$??, C$879.95 MSRP
As extension tubes and macro bellows reduce the light that reaches the film plane or CCD, and using maximum apertures seriously reduces depth of field, flashes become increasingly important as you increase the magnification. Normal flashes rarely provide adequate light for near objects. Ring flashes totally remove shadows, which reduces sense of depth. The SB-R1C1 gives you the illumination needed for strong macro work, without imposing strong shadows or totally removing them. An adapter ring mounts on the lens' filter thread, the two SB-R200s mount anywhere on the ring, the SU-800 Wireless Commander mounts on the hotshoe, providing wireless TTL flash metering with maximal light direction and full angle adjustments. (Comes with 52/62/67/72/77mm adapter rings and diffusers.)
- Close-up lenses give you poor quality images as they are prone to prismatic colour distortions.
- A macro lens should be the basis of your close-up photography equipment. They normally deliver only 1:1 magnification, but this is increased for digital SLRs.
- For greater magnification, you can use extension tubes (cheaper but lesser magnification) or bellows (stronger effects but greater cost), or even a bellows with an extension, but all of these are only required for highly magnified macro work.
- The downside of extension tubes and bellows is that you sacrifice brightness (f-stops) for the magnification, making a lens-mounted flash increasingly important as you get into greater magnifications, or if you want a wide depth of field.
- A cheaper alternative for strong magnification work, instead of an expensive bellows, is a reversing ring, which allows you to mount your lenses backwards on your camera. This makes normal and, particularly, wide-angle lenses very powerful magnifiers, but this is at the cost of losing auto-aperture and auto-focus capabilities on the lens, as the digital connection is not connected.
- A reversed wide-angle lens on a bellows with an extension gives you the highest magnification possible for macro work, but a lens-mounted flash is almost essential and the costs of such combined equipment is quite high. These are only wise options if you will be doing a lot of macro photography at high magnifications.
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