Nikon D300

Well, I've gone and done it, I suppose. I've impulse-bought a new camera. It's not a half-bad camera either, I got the Nikon D300, and an "AF-S Nikkor 18-135mm 3.6-5.6G ED DX" lens for it, along with a filter for the lens, and a fast 2 gig CF card. I bought it at Ritz Camera after Megan and I had dinner at Ruby Tuesday's.The D50, sitting atop the D300's box. The images in this post should link up to full-resolution versions of the images that came out of the camera. I did minimal work on them using the included Nikon Capture NX software. Unfortunately though, my ThinkPad's display is not calibrated.

I decided to buy it at Ritz because the D300 is new enough that it costs just about the same amount of money everywhere, and because it was a situation where I could have it and start using it right away. And right away did I start. The very next morning after my shower, I unpacked the D300 and its lens. What an exciting feeling, that of unpacking a new piece of equipment and starting to use it. I carefully removed the D300 and the lens from their boxes, taking care to take a variety of hopefully-interesting photos with the D50.NAU's new Applied Research & Development Building.

So far, the difference is rather amazing, especially in the lens. The lens isn't that different from my old Quantaray 18-125mm lens, except for the fact that this one seems much sharper so far. I haven't used under all of the same types of conditions as the Quantaray, but I'm sure it'll be less than a year before I can tell whether or not I really think this lens is a better lens. I can tell you now though, I think this is a better lens.

The body is extremely well-built, its heftiness, speed and overall build quality show that it's a higher end camera than the D50, which in and of itself is an excellent piece of imaging technology, from a usability as well as a quality standpoint. The difference in the amount of pixels is readily apparent, especially on my mobile computer, which has been suffering performance problems as of late anyway. The other most apparent differences are in the speed of shooting, which is immense. I have always thought of my D50 as fast, but this thing can rapidly fire off nine or ten shots without even blinking. Said images will be properly focused too, because the AF system on this body is amazing. The other immediately noticeable difference is the review screen. The review screen on this camera is nothing short of amazing. It's significantly larger than that of the D50, which back in 2005 and 2006, I remember saying was very large and bright.It's Tracy!

I took it out for a test drive after unpacking everything and getting used to controlling it. (Not to say that I'm very good at it yet, but I'm getting used to it.) My initial reaction to shooting with it is that I feel like I'm getting the shot I want, when I'm framing and shooting, even if I'm shooting something I didn't expect to be, or if I'm walking around and I happen to see some people I recognize, such as the image above of Tracy. The only bad thing I've got to say about the body is that when I was setting it up and hooking up the camera strap, I did so in a retarded way, and while walking around,

I took it to the overnight too, and although it's not necessarily as great a low-light performer as the D300, I'm sure that between the onboard flash and the Nikon SB600 I've got hanging around, I'll manage. I used the SB600 on the image of the D50 at the top of this post. Although even at relatively high ISOs, the D300 does still procure nice images. The image of the Dell OptiPlex in the SLAC was shot at ISO1000. (The D300 supports all of these weird ISO numbers I've only ever seen on Olympus cameras before.)

One of the things I think some people may now be thinking is "what about that non-full-frame sensor?" Unfortunately, that was one of my biggest desires for the camera upgrade, and it's the one thing I didn't get. I'm not too terribly sad at this point though. For one thing, getting a full-frame sensor requires either saving a few additional years to be able to afford the Nikon D3, or a switch to Canon.Dell OptiPlex GX270 in the SLAC.

I was seriously considering that switch to Canon too. However, the thing about that is that I've already got four different Nikon lenses, the Nikon flash, the off-camera Nikon flash sync cord, and in general, I'm pretty decent at using my Nikon stuff. The other thing is that the currently-available Canon full-frames are the 1Ds-Mark II, the 1Ds-Mark III and the 5D. None of which can be had new for less than $2000. BH has the 5D for $2100, compared to the D300's $1800, and the lens I wanted for the Canon was just shy of $1300. That's a pain in the wallet. And really, being that the 5D was released in 2005, it's out of date and due for a replacement. A replacement that will most likely cost significantly more than the 5D's current price anyway. Aside from the sensor thing, for the savings, the D300 is a significantly better camera in nearly every way.

Although, they say that what makes a great camera isn't necessarily the megapixels or the image processor or the brand or the size of the sensor. It's the ability that the camera has to let the photographer create an image. And while I think that one of my talents as a photographer is to be able to get the results I want out of nearly any piece of equipment. The D300 just happens to let me be even more sure of the images I'm making, and it lets me make them a little bit faster.


History of Management of Cory's Photos.

When I got my first digital camera (A Kodak EasyShare CX6220, for those of you who want to make fun of me for having owned a Kodak), I just imported my images into iPhoto. It worked well for the first thousand images, and I always thought of it as being fairly speedy. I painstakingly named and even added descriptions to many of the images, and some of my best, I posted to deviantArt. After awhile, and a trip to Michigan, iPhoto became unstable. Unstable enough that I actually lost what I think amounts to about two or three hundred  pictures I'd taken while I went to visit my grandmother in Michigan. I was, of course, unhappy, and to this day I still go on random searches for those images. They never turn up.

Then, in Fall 2005, I got my first taste of real photography, in Kate's Photo I class. I used dad's Canon AE-1 film camera for that class, and subsequently decided that I really needed to do more photography. I was, you could say, hooked on film. That Christmas, dad, knowing that I now intended to do more photography classes, and possibly even use it as a career for my real life, gave me the Nikon D50 I use to this day. It was a great camera, and it remains so, but it had something I didn't know anything about yet: Camera RAW, and more specifically, the Nikon Electronic Format.

A month or two earlier, Apple had released an exciting-looking new photo management application geared toward the needs of professionals, called Aperture. It looked like a super exciting program, with the ability to do most of the stuff I needed with my photos right in the interface of the program. I eagerly downloaded and watched tutorial videos, wanting to know more about its functionality. I decided it was the program I needed for my photos, since iPhoto had already failed me a few times, and I didn't have a modern enough version of Photoshop hanging around.

I downloaded Aperture, but realized I couldn't use it until I upgraded my computer to Mac OS X 10.4. This is an entirely separate debacle, but after getting and installing 10.4, twice, I finally got Aperture 1.0 working on my below-spec G4 PowerBook. It was an amazing program, I spent most of my time waiting for it, but it was amazing nonetheless.

Of course though, later on I decided that Mac OS X 10.4 and the speed of Aperture were unbearable, so I "found" a copy of Photoshop CS2, exported my photos out of Aperture, and installed 10.3 back on the PowerBook. At this point, I'd also acquired my first laser printer, and the solution seemed clear, I started right away creating my second photo organization scheme.

Using a MacBook Pro at the high school, I renamed and exported all of my images to one big folder. I then started using Adobe Bridge to rename the images a certain way. PIC_XXXXX.ext where XXXXX was a unique number I assigned to each image based on the date it was taken. Starting at folder zero and working my way through about two hundred folders' worth of images (at least that many) with thirty images per folder, I organized all of my images into neat little buckets of images, perfectly sized for printing contact sheets using Photoshop CS2. The idea was pretty good, I thought. I print out a bunch of contact sheets of my images, and it takes me less time to findt he image I want. Then, I pull the image out of my collection, do whatever to it, and save the derived file to a separate place. It turns out, I wasn't actually all too far off with this sytem.

Although soon, I was separated from my contact sheet binders, and since I'd gotten the much faster iMac in December, 2006 anyway, I decided I could safely move back to Aperture. And move I did, which was amazing because Aperture is very speedy on that iMac, I found myself tagging and naming and describing and sorting, until I stopped, which was cool, I guess.

Organizing photos is a difficult thing, and I'm currently not sure what exactly I am going to do in the future, with that. I'm currently in a class called PHO382, where one of the first things we're learning is all about managing images using Adobe Bridge CS3. At this point I haven't changed from Aperture, but in the next few weeks, I am going to try to decide whether or not I want to use Bridge or Aperture for my photos. This will be a permanent decision, and as I now have almost thirteen thousand images, it's a pretty important one. I'll keep the blog posted, so definitely consider this to be "part one, of an unknown number" in a series of "Cory talks about how he manages his images."


Ohh! So that's what I forgot to do!

Well, it's happened again. Monday, I was struck down by the gods of massive headaches, yesterday I ran errands with Meaghan, got pancakes with Megan, and then updated UTV62.com. And this morning... Well this morning, I'm finally addressing Monday morning's task of posting a blog entry.

I'm not going to lie, I do have others already written, but I feel like this is a good time to give a bit of a general update, instead of a canned blog post about photo management or whatever. So here it goes.

In the world of Megan and I, it's been sickness abound as Megan is currently battling the flu, and prior to that, with almost no break whatsoever, was battling "Something completely unrelated" (but almost as bad, it seems.) As a result of that, I was commanded to get the Flu shot, so Meaghan and I did that before her midterm yesterday.

Classes are going pretty well,I'm mildly depressed about my CIS120 because I keep forgetting to check WebCT Vista, therefore keep missing assignments. This weekend, I intend to power through all of the Word tutorials so I can rock the Word exam, just like I excelled at the Excel exam. Photography is going well, we've got a cool shooting assignment coming up in the studio, which I hope to work on this Friday. The shooting assignment is exciting because this'll be the first assignment where we actually start working on something destined for "delivery to a client" which will be JPEG files ready for the web. Other than that, German is going well, learning new stuff all the time is a pretty nice change, and the things that are review are definitely helpful, as reviews go.

In other news, I'm apparently merely dating photography, as per a thread on the 68kMLA forum about the total cost of owning a computer. I will expound upon this issue significantly in an upcoming blog post.

Work is going fairly well for me too. I come in, take calls, and when I am not completely struck down by an epic headache, I leave work quite happy. The two overnights haven't killed me yet, but it always seems like people want to come visit me from Kingman right before or after one or both of them.

So that's my two-days-late, and probably poorly written blog post!


Classes Canceled

Well aren't I just a happy clam right now. It's about eight in the morning on this fine bright Monday, and I'm just kind of hanging out in the room, listening to youtube videos, copying SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop to the ThinkPad R61i to be burned to a DVD, and relaxing before my helpdesk shift at 1:30 later in the afternoon.

Classes are canceled today, which I've got to admit, almost never happens here at NAU. It snowed up a pretty awful storm yesterday and last night, and at about 5:45 this morning, an e-mail was sent by NAU's reporting system Inside NAU saying classes are canceled and that only essential employees are to report to work.

What makes an NAU employee essential? Well I'd like to think all NAU employees are essential, but as it turns out, those of us working at the Academic Computing Help Desk are considered to  be essential, so I'll be reporting to my shift later on today. I've got to admit, it's a nice little ego boost for the day to know that the ACHD is considered essential, and that if it's within my ability to remain alive while going to work today, I'm to do so. Luckily, I only live like 500 feet from the ACHD, so it's by no means a hardship for me.