Would Nikon dump its entry level lines?

Word has it that the Nikon 3000 and 5000 series cameras I’m going to check this out because I cannot believe that Nikon is going to abandon the entry level markets and leave the D90 and D7000 as its lower level line. These cameras sell for $800 and up. The D7000 starts at $1000.

That’s now quite an entry level starting point.

Nikon’s new toy

I have to get my hands on one and try it out but I think that the new Nikon 7000 series camera will be for me.

Just last month Nikon released its new entry level camera, the 3100. It featured something new that is being used on the 7000 and that is the use of autofocus when using HD video mode.

Now without going into too much detail, I know from my experience with my Nikon that sometimes autofocus hones in on the wrong thing. Your mileage may vary however and like I said, I need to get my hands on one of these in order to confidently tell you how it works.

Right now I can tell you that the 7000 is going to run you around 1200 but there is a brightside. You may soon start seeing reduced pricing on the D90 and the D5000 models which were the first cameras that Nikon offered which had some type of video recording.

There will be more on this camera as more information and reviews become available.

Legitimate comments

I had to say a word about this–the amount of spam that this blog is getting is unreal. I can no longer discern legit posts from spam posts (although I am sure it’s something like 200 spam posts per one legit post).

In any case..this is a notice that in the coming weeks, I will be turning off comments unless someone has a better way to cut off the volume of spam I am getting.

New Sigma lens for your Nikon

High resolution images of it may be hard to find but fast images with the new Sigma 70-200mm APO EX DG OS HSM for both Nikon and Canon which will make you quite happy.

Sigma 70-200mm f2.8

New lens for your Nikon

The lens uses two FLD panels which will help it give you a clear image, and it also has three SLD glass plates to help prevent abberation.

Now this lens has a large aperture which means that f2.8 will come in handy with your wildlife, wildflower, and even sports photography. While I would not recommend using this to shoot action on say a football or baseball field, it might work well for hockey, basketball, or other indoor sports.

A New Nikon for Newbies

The newest Nikon, the D3100 against a blue background

Nikon's newest newbie-friendly DSLR

My how time flies. It was only 13 months ago that Nikon announced its new flagship camera designed for beginners, the D3000. It is a 10.2 megapixel camera with an APC chip which excels as being a beginner’s camera. The camera has been overshadowed by its predecessor, the D40, the upper-end D5000 and the even higher priced D90.

Now Nikon has introduced to the world the new D3100. So what has changed? Let’s see…according to the folks at DPReview.com, the new DSLR has four additional megapixels topping out at 14.2 megapixels. This addition means larger file sizes. How big are the new files? Well that purely depends on your format. If you shoot in a raw format, it could make your file sizes a couple of megabytes larger however, it still is nowhere near the 77 megabyte file sizes of the Canon Mark III series.

It has live view which means that you can use the LCD monitor as a viewfinder and compose your image like you do as when you use a point and shoot digital camera.

In many ways this new camera seems to mark the new standards for Nikons updated line for 2010-11. You can bet that many of the same improvements that we see in this camera will make their ways up the line for at least the consumer grade DSLR’s. So this means that I expect to see similar jumps in the D5000 line and maybe even the D90 line however I would not expect to see this in their pro-sumer catagory which, to me anyway, starts with the Nikon D300s which already has most of these upgrades in this $1500 model.

The best part of this camera is that it can shoot videos at 1080p using any of the existing range of Nikon lenses. (You can see the details of those lenses at Nikon.com or at DPReview.com or any other review site). It also has a wonderful new HDMI output so you can plug that camera into your plasma, LED/LCD, or other high definition telelvisions and view your work before editting it or burning it to DVD.

The camera has more than 2 megapixels in quality

Don’t lose your images to a lossy .jpg

Comparison of the original image with the lossy jpg version of the same photo

Comparison of the original image with the lossy jpg version of the same photo-Courtesy of Rick Miller/Wake Forest University

Before we being, I apologize for my absence. I’ve switched jobs, switched lives basically and am just now getting settled into some kind of routine. Thanks for sticking with me during the past month of silence.

Okay…so if you’re like me you shoot in raw or maybe jpg and then rush over to your PC to download your shots and view them in some tool like Lightroom, Picasa, Microsoft Paint, whatever…

There is a reason why you should not save those precious images in a .jpg format for long term.

Everytime you open a .jpg type image you decompress the image and when you close it, you recompress it. It’s in this recompression that you wind up losing data. To understand why this happens you have to understand how compression works.

Compression works by using an algorithm to compute where changes in your file can be safely made to substitute one character for several. Now for you techies…this is a major simplification of the process. There is actually a lot that happens but suffice it to say that the original file that you started out with is stored in a compressed format. JPG uses this to reduce the size of the file and there are two formats…lossless and lossy.

If you are using lossy, you are also using a format that loses data. So everytime you open a file in Picasa, Photoshop, John’s photo viewer, etc…you are losing data. So over time, that image of your loved one, pet, flower, or something else over time, and multiple openings and closings, will start showing noticeable signs of deterioration in the digital version.

So what’s the solution? Save images in a lossless .jpg format or save them in an entirely different format like tiff, or maybe even .bmp (yes…a bitmap). Another option is to save original in their raw format that your camera shots them in, and use a lossless .jjpg for sharing and use a tiff/bmp on those images that you want to save for a very long time.

If your images are already in a lossy .jpg format. save them in a different format like tiff now. If you are just now importing images from your camera in a nice raw file mode, leave them in that mode and work with/use .jpg copies for short periods of time. Of course you can always make digital copies of your jpgs and share them.

Images You Must See From a More Than Interested Participant

Cpl. Reynaldo Leal after patrol

Cpl. Reynaldo Leal after patrol


No war is complete without the use of images to show us at home how our loved ones, friends, fellow Americans, are doing and handling themselves overseas.

Today, CNN’s main page has a photo piece done by Corporal Reynaldo Leal which is an excellent piece. It is just him talking about his photographic work. The CNN article is a must-see and his photo gallery is also a must see as well. Here are the links to both:

Corporal Leal’s Images on AfterImage
Cpl. Reynaldo Leal story on CNN

More about online photo storage

Well I told you a couple of months ago that I would give you some additional information regarding online photo storage and there has been a little movement in the market as prices have come down a little bit and services have become easier to use and access. So let’s review my top five online digital photography storage sites.

First let’s review my criteria for selecting someplace to store your images online:

  1. Provides you with tools to upload multiple images off of your PC/Camera at one time
  2. Provides you with access to your images regardless of platform (PC/Phone/etc)
  3. Provides you with quality service around the clock
  4. Provides you the ability to have backups of your image collection
  5. The service does not automatically resize your images or provides you with tools to restore their original size
  6. The service gives you control over who looks at and downloads your images

With that in mind, here are my top 7 online image hosting services. These are in no particular order. I do this because I want you to go to each site and maybe look up one or two of your own and see which ones you will think can work best for your needs.

  1. Adobe Photoshop.com starts you with 2GB of storage for free but that’s not this site’s strength. Oh no…this site’s strength is in its editting
    tools. These tools allow you to make basic image edits like remove red eye, crop the image, or make some basic changes. For $20/year, you
    can buy 20GB of space. And you can expect to pay $1/GB for each increase above that.
  2. Flickr’s free account provides you with a monthly upload/download limit which has changed and continues to change. For $25/year you get
    unlimited photo and video storage.
  3. Smugmug is service geared at semi-professional and professional photographers. For $40/$60/$150 a year you can have more control over the
    site that presents your images. All plans have unlimited storage and allow you universal access to your images. The high end plan gives you
    complete control over the page that displays your images plus the way you sell your photographs.
  4. Photobucket is an Internet staple. Free accounts get 500 MB of online storage and you are allowed up to 10GB of downloadable bandwidth per
    month. There is a 1MB size limit per photo so if you use a Canon Mark V with the 77MB raw files, this is not going to be the solution for
    you. However for $25 a year, those limitations are removed and you get to post images up to 4000×3000 plus access to their technical support
    team
  5. Webshots by American Greetings, is a service that comes with the ability to use your images or the predefined images of other photographers
    into your projects. What this means is that there is also a likelihood for others to have access to your images for things like calendars, coffee
    mugs, and the like. They give you a 1000 image limit and then boost that with 100 extra images for every month that you remain a member of
    their free plan. For $20/year, those restrictions are limited but this offering is among the least favorable ones for photographers looking to post
    the thousands of images they generate a year.

Now there are some prominent sites that I left out. I left them out for a reason. Either I am not a fan of their policies or I do not like the software they ask the user to use for their site. However everyone is different and I urge you to research these other sites as well.

If you have any additional questions, just ask.

A Digital Photography Memory Card Primer

SD, SDHC, Compact Flash, Memory Stick, miniSD, microSD, and about two dozen more anachronyms clutter the storage type definitions for your digital camera. Here’s a word or two about which you may need and why bigger is not always better.

Flash memory uses small chips to electronically store data and your camera may use any of a number of formats to store that data. You can look at your owner’s manual (I know..I know but honestly it is in there). Or you can refer to any number of online buying guides which will tell you which memory card would be the best one for your camera.

If you have a DSLR, the kind with an interchangeable lens and it’s kind of big, you probably use either a SD, SDHC, or Compact Flash card.

Now the SD and SDHC cards are almost identical but there is a difference. SD stands for Secure Digital format and it is an older technology. It has a maximum storage capacity 4 gigabytes. There are numerous manufacturers of these types of cards and each one ships formatted in a Fat32 format. If that format sounds familiar, it’s because that is the same format that was used by Windows.

SDHC is just like the SD memory cards except SDHC means Secure Digital High Capacity. These cards start at the 4GB mark and are currently available in 32GB versions.

And some companies already are coming out with the next generation of secure digital cards with capacities that can get up to 2TB.

SD cards come in different speeds, Class 2, Class 4, and Class 6.. The difference in these speeds has a direct correlation on how fast they read and write data to the memory card from your device. The fast the read/write time, the quicker your camera can unload data from its internal memory and on to the card which frees up memory for the next shot. This can lead to a faster burst of speed if you are taking photos are a very fast pace.

The same is true for Compact Flash. Compace Flash cards come in Class I, Class II, and Class III. Class III cards are the newest and fastest. Class I cards are the oldest technology and Class II is the happy medium.

The current maximum capacity for a Class III compact flash card is 64GB. These Class III cards write at 90mb/s or Class 6 speeds on an SDHC card.

These large cards are great for video. So if you have a DSLR that is capable of video, these large and fast cards are for you. However, if you have a DSLR or even a point and shoot camera, smaller is better.

Why? The answer is simple. The larger the capacity of the card the more data you are able to store on it. The more data that you store on it and this means that there is a larger risk of losing more images or data that is stored on it. So smaller is better because if a small card gets corrupted and you lose data, the fewer images or the less important data that you lose.

These same rules hold true for other memory formats. Use smaller cards, switch them out and you run less of a risk.

There is one more thing to know about digital memory cards. On each card, there is usually a switch that locks the card and prevent someone from accidentally erasing the data on it before you have had a chance to download it on to a larger capacity device, like your computer or your photo sharing service.

Just an idea….

Camera Classes

LADay1-82
So from time to time it may be a good idea to take a class, either online or in-person to remember how this whole capture of light thing works. A few notes from the class I took over the weekend for those of you with new DSLR cameras.

1) Auto format–good if you really don’t know what you’re doing. But it’s like walking up to a baker and saying “make me a cake” and you get a strawberry banana cake when you wanted German chocolate. You didn’t specify what kind of cake and the same holds true for taking photographs.

2) ISO–you cannot overstate the importance of having the proper ISO for your conditions. If you are outside on a bright sunny day, ISO 200 or even 400 will work for you but at twilight, time to open that thing up higher and start approaching the 1600 range as lighting degrades. Experiment with different ISO settings to see how this works. It’s a DSLR and the space on a memory card is cheap. Blowing that once in a lifetime shot may not be so expendable.

3) Aperture (f-stop) — this is how big the hole is in the lens that lets light through. The bigger the hole, the more light shines through. It’s sorta like the family idiot…everyone knows he’s got a big enough hole in his head that you can see clean down to his gullet but he just won’t quit showing it off. Same is true here. The lower the number, the larger the opening. If you can find a lens with a 2.8, 1.8, 1.4 or so aperture then you can grab some really intense photos in low light. Conversely, if you have a smaller aperture lens, say a f4-6.3, you have what is called a slow lens. It’s slow because it requires more time for the shutter to remain open in lower lighting to achieve a decent image. That also means that your image is more prone to blurry shots because nothing really stands still long enough anymore. Well except for the oldest brother in my family…he sits still for so long, Mom had to dust him as a child…oh wait…that was me.

4) and finally…Shutter speed. This is how fast the shutter opens and closes to control how much light passes through the lens and into the sensor. It also determines how your image will be captured. A fast shutter speed means that you will stop motion faster but it also means that your aperture must be opened more in order for enough light to pass through to get a good enough image to use.  If you look at the photo above, you can see where I stopped the helicopters rotors in flight. It’s a neat trick but I must confess…the camera was on auto…and what was that about strawberry banana cake again.

Questions? Let me know…you can look online for digital photography classes in your community. Check with your local community college for continuing education classes as well as check with local camera shops. That’s where I took mine…and it only cost me $30 for two and a half hours of refreshing my brain. I wish I could do that for math. But if you are in the San Antonio area, check the Camera Exchange website and let them know you read about it here on Jchampion.com.

They aren’t paying me anything but I figure if I get enough referrals they might let me take the next class for free.