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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blender Oatmeal in the Vitamix 5200 (shot with the Nikon D3100)

Nikon D3100 Video with the Nikon 35mm f1.8G

Here's my own recipe for making Blender Oatmeal in the Vitamix 5200. Tastes great, easy to make, good for you, and the kids love it!

Shot with the Nikon D3100 and Nikon 35mm f1.8G. A mix of video and still photos. Edited in Sony Vegas.

Nikon D3100 Low Light Video Test Indoors with the Nikon 35mm f1.8G

Nikon D3100 Video with the Nikon 35mm f1.8G

Ella was gracious enough to let me film her having lunch, so I took the opportunity to test the Nikon D3100 video indoors in lower light.

Shooting with the Nikon 35mm f1.8G you get the advantage of f1.8 to get a boatload more light to the sensor which allows you to keep your ISO down.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Black Friday Speedlite Softbox Sale


Only $88.00 each. Quantities are limited so order now!

Buy two for yourself or one for a friend and save on shipping! We'll combine shipping and you pay only one shipping fee!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nikon D90 or Canon T2i... What Should I Buy?

Both the Nikon D90 and the Canon T2i (Canon EOS 550D) have some great deals on right now, and I've been getting a lot of questions from readers on which one of these DSLR's to buy.

I did a video post on Youtube to try and answer the question for you.

The short answer is...

If video is your primary concern, then go with the Canon T2i. The T2i is a better DSLR for video. It has manual control options, an external mic input, and 1080HD.

If photography is you primary concern, then go with the Nikon D90. The D90 is more of a photographer's camera. It has better high ISO image quality, better auto focus, and is built better.

For more elaboration, watch the video. :-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nikon D3100 Review: 1080 HD Video

I've been putting the new Nikon D3100 through it's paces as I continue to evaluate it to see if I'll keep it in my bag. In doing so, I've shot some video with it to see how it measures up.

The new Nikon D3100 is capable of 1080HD just like it's big brother, the amazing Nikon D7000. The D3100 video quality is VERY good, which is quite impressive for a DSLR at this level.

The big difference between the D3100 and the D7000 where video is concerned is that the D3100 doesn't have the more advanced options like manual controls and an external mic input.

This isn't a big deal if you're not planning on doing anything more than making some family movies of your kids at the park or in the tub, but it is a big deal if you planned on doing some more professional quality video or movies.

The in-ability to control exposure is a HUGE handicap for more advanced movie making. With the Nikon D3100 you're basically stuck letting the camera control the exposure, which means you can often see the exposure changing in your video as the camera makes metering adjustments.

The lack of an external mic input is a biggie for those wishing to get better quality audio for their video. With the D7000, as well as Canon DSLR's like the T2i and 60D, you can plug in an external mic like the Rode Shotgun mic or a Sony lavalier mic and get MUCH better sound. You can't do this on the Nikon D3100.

The D3100 is also limited to 10 minute video clips, whereas the Nikon D7000 can do 20 minute clips. Not a big deal, especially for the market the D3100 is aimed at, but a limitation none-the-less.

Now before you go thinking these are big knocks on the Nikon D3100, let's remember what we're talking about here. The D3100 is Nikon's ENTRY LEVEL DSLR, and it's only a little over $500! Canon doesn't even have a DSLR at this price point that does video.

For the price, the Nikon D3100 is a great camera. You can't expect everything on a $500 entry level camera. If anything, I'm amazed you get SO MUCH for your money with the D3100.

As I mentioned earlier, the D3100's video quality is very good. It has very little (if any) of the negatives that people observed with the Nikon D90 video. The color is great, and the dynamic range is impressive.

The D3100 also features the new Nikon AF-F continous autofocus in movie mode. I was pretty excited about this feature when it was first announced and had high hopes for it. A DSLR that could focus as well as my Canon HF200 Camcorder would be fantastic!

Alas, that was not to be. The AF-F auto focus, while impressive on paper, is near useless in reality. Focus is intermittent at best and totally lost at worst. You can also hear a lot of noise from the lens focusing in the audio. Perhaps the AF-F auto focus will be ok for the casual user making home movies, but for myself, I find it to be pretty much unusable.

Over-all, the Nikon D3100 video is very good for a DSLR at this level and price point. If you're just planning on filming the kids and home movies type video, you'll probably be happy with the D3100's video abilities.

If you think you'll be wanting to do more advanced video and require exposure control and more advanced audio ability, then you'll probably want to step up to the Nikon D7000 or consider the Canon T2i or 60D.

Here's a couple of quick sample videos I put together from Nikon D3100 shooting with AF-F Auto Focus and Face Priority mode. Note the intermittent focusing as well as the sound of the lens on the audio.

Nikon D3100 Review: Auto Focus AF-F Face Priority with the Nikon 18-105mm VR

Nikon D3100 Review: Auto Focus AF-F Face Priority with the Nikon 35mm f1.8G

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nikon D7000 High ISO Movie Tests at ISO 1600, 3200, 6400, 12,800, 25,600

Nikon D7000 Movie Clips at ISO 1600, 3200, 6400, 12,800, and 25,600

Lilly was watching the Wiggles last night, so I grabbed the D7000 and shot some movie clips of her at the higher ISO settings.

I put them together in Sony Vegas so you can see how they compare for noise.

Similar to my findings for using the Nikon D7000 for photos, even ISO 6400 is quite usable.

For best quality, I would stay at ISO 1600 or lower, with ISO 3200 being ok depending on what you're using the footage for. ISO 6400 is usable, but the noise is getting more visible, so again, it depends on what you're shooting and what your end use is.

For personal stuff such as family and kids, I wouldn't hesitate to use ISO 6400.

For professional use, I would stay at ISO 1600 or lower.

The Nikon D7000 continues to impress me, and it's video capabilities are no exception. I'm really liking the D7000 movie controls much better than my Canon T2i.

The D7000's new movie switch / button is excellent.

Related posts...

Nikon D7000 One Month Review

Nikon D7000 vs Nikon D700 High ISO Shoot-Out

Nikon D7000 Unboxed Video

Nikon D7000 - The New Crop Sensor DSLR King!

Is the Nikon D7000 replacing the Nikon D300s / D400?

Nikon D7000 Spec Rundown

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Nikon D7000: Lilly & Ella - filmed with the Nikon 35mm f1.8G

filmed with the Nikon D7000 & Nikon 35mm f1.8G

I've been getting lots of questions about the Nikon D7000 video abilities.

The short answer is, the D7000 is excellent at video. It is easily the equal of my Canon T2i, and may even be better (translation... it's the equal of the Canon 60D and Canon 7D too as all 3 do the same quality video).

I actually prefer the controls for the video on my Nikon D7000 better than on my Canon T2i, especially the live view switch and movie record button.

Yes, the Nikon D7000 only does 24fps at 1080HD, but that's the industry standard. It's also something they may change in a later firmware release. You can get 24fps and 30fps at the 720HD setting.

I'll keep you up to date as I shoot more video with my D7000.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Nikon D7000 Locks Focus On IMPOSSIBLE Shot!

Artic Wolves Sleeping

I was out yesterday on a personal shooting day with the Nikon D7000 at the Toronto Zoo, which by the way, is a GREAT place to go for a day of shooting!

Anyhow, things were going great, and I was getting some great fantastic photos.

My next stop on my list of animals I wanted to photograph was the Artic Wolves exhibit. I love wolves, and the white Artic Wolves are just incredibly beautiful animals.

I went over to the Artic Wolves area in the Canadian Domain exhibit, but no wolves! As I soon found out, they'd recently been moved to the newer Tundra Trek exhibit, so I finished up shooting a few more animals in the Canadian Domain and headed towards the Tundra Trek to photograph the wolves.

When I got to the Tundra Trek exhibit, I was bummed out. The Artic Wolves were now behind about 1/2" wire fencing with no opportunity to get a clear shot.

Wire fence - the D7000 was auto focusing through this!

Their old home in the Canadian Domain was much more conducive to photography, with lots of spots where you could get an unobstructed view for photography.

I looked around, walked the area, and tried to figure out how I could get a good shot. Nothing presented itself. I was stuck.

Dissappointed, I aimed the camera through the wire fencing at the wolves, more out of habit than anything. To my amazement, the D7000 locked auto focus on the wolves right through the 1/2" wire fencing!

Artic Wolf Lounging
Nikon D7000 & Nikon 70-300mm VR

I couldn't believe it! How was the D7000 able to do this? I could barely manual focus through the wire fending, and here the Nikon D7000 was auto focusing through it!

Sure, this wasn't optimal conditions for good photos. You could still see reflection and artifacts from the wire fence, but I was just blown away that the Nikon D7000 was focusing through it!

Here's a few more from the D7000 shooting through the fencing...

Artic Wolf Watching
Nikon D7000 & Nikon 70-300mm VR

Artic Wolves Napping
Nikon D7000 & Nikon 70-300mm VR

Artic Wolves
Nikon D7000 & Nikon 70-300mm VR

Related posts...

Nikon D7000 vs Nikon D700 High ISO Shoot-Out

Nikon D7000 First Impressions After a Few Hours of Shooting

Nikon D7000 Unboxed Video

Nikon D7000 - The New Crop Sensor DSLR King!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nikon D7000 vs Nikon D700 High ISO Shoot-Out

The burning question that's been on my mind since even before the new Nikon D7000 was announced, is how it would compare to my Nikon D700 for High ISO image quality and noise.

I've been shooting with the D7000 for five days now, and the image quality is VERY good. The Nikon D7000 has beautiful color rendition, and the new 16 megapixel sensor really delivers when it comes to detail.

Still, until one sees a side by side comparison, you can't really compare. So, I got out my Nikon D700, got out my Nikon D7000, stuck my Nikon 50mm f1.8D on the D700, stuck my Nikon 50mm f1.4G on the D7000, and prepared for a shoot-out!

I put together two different composite images from various stuff lying around the house and my office, and I also shot my Nikon 18-105mm by itself to add a very dark subject into the mix.

Both cameras had High ISO NR set to NORM, and both cameras were shot at identical shutter speed and aperture settings, with the exception of the photos of the Nikon 18-105mm which were metered identically in each camera and shot as such.

All images were processed in Lightroom 3.3 RC with no adjustments made and no additional noise reduction applied.

The results are very impressive. The Nikon D7000 performs VERY well against the Nikon D700. The D700 wins, but not by as much as you might think considering the D7000 is a crop sensor with 4 more megapixels.

The Nikon D700 resolves more detail the higher the ISO goes. It's at least a stop better than the D7000, probably getting close to two stops better at ISO 25,600.

Something interesting I noted... the D7000 seems to be automatically adjusting exposure at the higher ISO settings, despite being shot in manual. The D7000 images were all brighter than the D700 images at the same shutter speed and aperture, and it seemed to be more pronounced at the highest ISO settings. I imagine this is an automatic thing to try to minimize noise by keeping the photo from being under-exposed.

The Nikon D7000 also appears to be applying more aggresive noise reduction at the higher ISO settings compared to the D700. Specifically look at the detail in the tiger's nose fur at the higher ISO settings. You can see the D700 is doing better than the D7000. Again, I imagine this is Nikon's approach to maximizing image quality and minimizing noise.

Over-all, the Nikon D7000 fairs very well against the Nikon D700, especially up to ISO 6,400. At ISO 12,800 and 25,600, the D700 does noticably better than the D7000 at resolving detail with less noise. Again though, this speaks volumes to how well the D7000 sensor does when you consider it's a DX sensor with 4 more megapixels than the full fram D700 sensor.

For me, this means that the two are a perfect shooting combination. I'll likely use my D7000 where I want more resolution up to ISO 1600 or 3200, and my D700 when I'm in dimmer lighting and want to go SUPER high ISO at 12,800 or 25,600.

That said, if I didn't already own a D700, I'd have a tough time deciding whether to buy two Nikon D7000 bodies, or to go with a D700 / D7000 combination. I suspect I might just end up with two D7000's.

composite_ISO 1600_NIKON D7000
NIKON D7000 ISO 1600 1/100 f4

composite_ISO 1600_NIKON D700
NIKON D700 ISO 1600 1/100 f4

composite_ISO 3200_NIKON D7000
NIKON D7000 ISO 3200 1/200 f4

composite_ISO 3200_NIKON D700
NIKON D700 ISO 3200 1/200 f4

composite_ISO 6400_NIKON D7000
NIKON D7000 ISO 6400 1/400 f4

composite_ISO 6400_NIKON D700
NIKON D700 ISO 6400 1/400 f4

composite_ISO 12800_NIKON D7000
NIKON D7000 ISO 12,800 1/800 f4

composite_ISO 12800_NIKON D700
NIKON D700 ISO 12,800 1/800 f4

composite_ISO 25600_NIKON D7000
NIKON D7000 ISO 25,600 1/1600 f4

composite_ISO 25600_NIKON D700
NIKON D700 ISO 25,600 1/1600 f4

The rest of the test shots are on the Nikon D7000 vs Nikon D700 High ISO Shoot-Out Flickr page. Feel free to download them and compare side by side!

Related posts...

Nikon D7000 One Month Review

Nikon D7000 vs Nikon D700 High ISO Shoot-Out

Nikon D7000 First Impressions After a Few Hours of Shooting

Nikon D7000 Unboxed Video

Nikon D7000 - The New Crop Sensor DSLR King!

Is the Nikon D7000 replacing the Nikon D300s / D400?

Nikon D7000 Spec Rundown