The Grid Website Builder

The Grid: A New Way To Design Websites?

I remember developing websites when the web was just starting to take off (mid 90's). Coding HTML by hand and using Mosaic 0.9 Beta as my browser. Over time, tools like Dreamweaver gave us WYSIWYG editors to make things easier. Today, this site is based on WordPress, one of the very successful web publishing platforms that sprung up in recent history to make creating websites and posting content easier still.  Themes, plugins, widgets, and other shortcuts means you never have to see the code, or do any heavy lifting.  It's a great way to create a site, but you still need some tech skills to get it up and running.  I still go into the code to make small changes to the templates and plugins, even making a child theme to keep my changes separate from the parent theme.  The beauty is that once running, anyone can post content.  It's no harder than writing an email.

 

Switching themes in WordPress is not trivial, having done this a few times I know that the change isn't seamless.  Layout usually looks terrible and requires some effort to fix.  It doesn't help that themes have unique features (like shortcodes) that don't work elsewhere, so you may also need to edit your posts.  Further, you need a plugin like WPTouch to make the content look good on mobile devices.  As good as WordPress is, there is room for improvement.

 

Today, I saw that a new publishing tool, The Grid, is being developed that hopes to make building a site even easier.  Sites look good in any browser or on any device (desktop or mobile), layout can be changed and everything continues to look good and work well.  The video below gives a quick into to the service.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXA4-5x31V0

 

The Grid harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to take everything you throw at it - videos, images, text, urls and more - and automatically shape them into a custom website unique to you.

 

The Grid Website Builder

 

AI sounds good, but will it actually work and produce what I want?  How much control will I have over the look and feel?  Are "layout filters" really different from templates?  Will the automatic selection of color palette and fonts look good? Hard to say right now, you can't create a site yet.  It sounds good but it is too early to say.  If you are willing to sign up now and be a founding member, you pay $8/month and that rate is locked in for as long as you use the service.  One launched the service will be $25/month so I'll take the chance that it's something I want to use and start paying now.  It won't launch for about six more months, so it's a $50 roll of the dice but that seems like a reasonable amount.  You can also get referral credits if you spread the word and others sign up.  So visit The Grid and check it out for yourself.

 

 


PhotoKaz.com Best of 2013 - Posts & Photos

The Best of 2013: Posts & Photos

Now that the holiday season is upon us, it's time for another best of post.  2013 was a huge year for me, the biggest year of my life.  I started a new job working for a copper mining company with headquarters in my homeland: Poland.  I never thought that my native language would help me land a job in Canada, but here I am.  That pales in comparison to the biggest change in my life, I became a dad to twins!  Marek and June were born in the summer and are now approaching six months of age.   Things have not been the same since.  I obviously have less time to take photos and post on the blog, but I fill my time with the laughs from two awesome kids :)  There are many photos that I haven't even processed and posted yet, and they will have to wait until I have some free time (never?).

Like the Best Of 2012, the three most popular posts of 2013 are all gear related.

  1. Nikon D800 and D800E Setup and Configuration - Recommended settings for the four menu banks on a Nikon D800/D800E.  The post shows how I set up my camera and allows you to download the config file to use in your own camera.
  2. Nikon D600 vs Canon 6D - This is not a 2013 post but it was the #2 most visited post on my site in 2013 so I decided to include it.  It was also #2 back in 2012 and it's here again because these two entry level full frame cameras are very popular with enthusiast photographers.
  3. Nikon D800 Autofocus Repair Testing - The Sequel - Another round of testing my D800 autofocus system, this time after Nikon tried to repair it for the second time.  Sadly, the left side focus sensors are still not working well so I'll have to send the camera in once again.  I love the D800 but the focus problems make it a single AF sensor camera (for me).

The three most popular photo related posts of 2013 were:

  1. A Frosty Morning - Nikon D800 Macro with Focus Stack - Some photos in my garden after a frost.  Granted, this was posted on January 2nd so it had the benefit of a full year of collecting hits versus posts added in December.  I just use the Google Analytics stats and don't play favourites.
  2. Hiking Stawamus Chief South Peak - A great hike in Squamish, BC.  The Lions hike made the 2012 list.
  3. First Visit to the UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research - self explanatory.

It is also interesting to note that the most common search term that lead people to my site was "pitbull".  I have many pitbull photos on my site but this one was by far the most popular.

American Pitbull Terrier - High Resolution Photo

Some of my favourite photos from 2013.

Nikon D800 Macro - Frosty Morning - Donkey Tail

Seattle 2013-01-05 : Dale Chihuly Garden and Glass - B&W chandelier

Shelter Dogs Vancouver: 2013-02-22 : Young Pit Bull Running

 

Crab Fountain, Vancouver Space Museum, 2013-02-23

 

2013 Acura MDX Tech Edition - Dark Cherry Pearl - Sea To Sky Highway Interior

 

Saint Patrick's Day : BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, BC : 2013-03-17

 

2013-02-20 : Vancouver Aquarium : Frogs On Duty

 

Vancouver Gastown Photo Walk 2013-04-30 : Harbour (Western Voyager)

 

Vancouver Gastown Photo Walk 2013-04-30 : BOSS 302 Mustang

 

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Kids Posing

 

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Old man and the wagon

 

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Well dressed tour guide

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festival aftermath 2

 

2013-02-23 Vanier Park Freezing Water Sculpture

 

2013-05-25-Chile-May-2013-2855-MKH

 

2013-05-26-Chile-May-2013-2901-MKH_HDR-Edit

 

2013-05-26-Chile-May-2013-2992-MKH-Edit

Komatsu Haul Truck Black & White : Copper Mine, Calama, Chile

 

Chile iPhone 5 : From Plane : Antofagasta Buzzard

 

 

 


Most popular posts of 2012

Best of 2012

I took a look at my Google Analytics and thought I would show what my three most popular posts of 2012 have been.   Not surprising that they are all photo gear related.

  1. Nikon D7000 vs D600 vs D800 : A Quick Comparison - Three cameras that photo enthusiasts are buying.  Different price ranges, and performance but all fantastic cameras.
  2. Nikon D600 Vs Canon 6D - Entry Level Full Frame Scrap - Nikon and Canon both released entry level full frame cameras.  Both will sell well, and nice to see that full frame is now becoming more affordable.
  3. Nikon D800 Contrast and Phase Detect Autofocus Testing - My early release D800 had the left side autofocus problems.  I posted my test methodology and results, sent my camera to Nikon, but the saga is not yet over.

My most popular photo related post was Hiking the Binkert Trail To The Lions which covers a popular hike in Vancouver, BC.   Thanks to everyone for visiting, and happy holidays.

 

Some of my favorite photos of 2012

Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Big Beach Sunset 2

Sunset in Belize, Coco Plum Island Resort

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse Sunset HDR 2

Stawamus Chief - 2012-09-13 - Chipmunk

CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : BC Place Stadium Panorama

Wordpress Jetpack Carousel Test: Shelter Dogs 2012

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : tiny people on west lion 2

Wordpress Jetpack Carousel Test: Shelter Dogs 2012

Wordpress Jetpack Carousel Test: Shelter Dogs 2012

Siwash Rock At Sunset : 2012-07-06

Shelter Dogs for Adoption : 2012-06-27 : Jack Russel Terrier 4

Dragon Boat Festival: 2012-06-17 : Group : 300 Style

2012-12-05 : Belize Vacation : Scuba Diving : Pterois Lionfish

Vancouver : Portside / Crab Park : Vancouver skyline reflection 2 : 2012-11-21

Ucluelet BC Vacation : 2012-10 : Gray Whale Tail Fluke

Stawamus Chief Panorama : Sept 13, 2012 : 5000 pixels

Jammie mouth

Garden Bee: 2012-06-20 : Focus Stack with Zerene Stacker (105mm f/2.8 VR Micro)

 

 

MKH3754_5_6-Edit

Vancouver Animal Control - Shelter Dogs - 2012-05-11 - Pomeranian

Wreck Beach Vancouver 2012-05-08 Nikon D800 Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR

 

Light painting attempt back hoe 2

 

George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary: Mallard in flight

Amsterdam Dec 2011 long exposure train

20120317-Shelter Dogs March 17 2012-7018-MKH_mini

 

 


Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G, Edit

Nikon D800 High ISO Sample Images

The Nikon D800 and sister model the D800E were announced to much fanfare.  It looks like a winner but like all gadgets it is not perfect.  One of the first thing people ask is if it's as good as the D700 when shooting at high ISO.  The rule of thumb is that as pixel density increases, and thus physical pixel size decreases, the noise in an image will increase.  There is more to this, but as a general rule that holds true.  The 12mp sensors in the D700, D3, and D3s have shown that shooting in available light at high ISO values is possible and can produce stunning results.

Here are the pixel sizes for several of Nikon's cameras:

D700: 8.45µm

D3s: 8.45µm

D3x: 5.94µm

D7000: 4.78 µm

D4: 7.3µm

D800: 4.88µm

As you can see, the D800 pixels are significantly smaller than a D3s and D4 and about the same size as the D7000.  However, the physical sensor size is the same among all the FX cameras so the number of photons hitting the sensor is also the same.  Noise performance when viewing images at 100% will be better on a D700 than a D800, however to make the test fair you need to downsample (resize) the image to the same resolution.  When you do that, quality improves and noise is reduced.  To be objective, you need to shoot the D700 and D800 side by side, in the same light at the same time.  However, the image samples below do show that the D800 will be a capable performer, likely as good or better than the D700.

The images below are form ferra.ru.  Their site was painfully slow when viewing the images and I wanted to post some samples that were processed a bit to show the difference.  First, the images as they came from the camera.  All jpeg, no post production (according to the source), shot with the 50mm f/1.8G lens.  They have been resized to 1920x1281 to view online (click to view at that size).

Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G
Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G
Nikon D800, ISO 3200, 50mm f1.8G
Nikon D800, ISO 3200, 50mm f1.8G
Nikon D800, ISO 6400, 50mm f1.8G
Nikon D800, ISO 6400, 50mm f1.8G
Nikon D800, ISO 25600, 50mm f1.8G
Nikon D800, ISO 25600, 50mm f1.8G

 

At the small sizes viewed on the web, all of these images can be considered acceptable.  The samples up to ISO 6400 are all quite good and even the ISO 25,600 is usable.  At 100% resolution though problems are visible.

Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G, CROP
Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G, CROP
Nikon D800, ISO 25600, 50mm f1.8G, CROP
Nikon D800, ISO 25600, 50mm f1.8G, CROP

 

ISO 800, not bad actually.  25,600, ouch.  However, if we do some post processing to clean things up the situation does get better.

Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G, Edit
Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G, Edit
Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G, Edit, CROP
Nikon D800, ISO 800, 50mm f1.8G, Edit, CROP

 

And at ISO 6400 it still holds up well.

Nikon D800, ISO 6400, 50mm f1.8G, Edit
Nikon D800, ISO 6400, 50mm f1.8G, Edit

Before and after editing.  Note that I just did some quick adjustments in Lightroom 4 and used Noiseware to clean up the noise.  Overall, the result is quite promising.

Nikon D800, ISO 6400, 50mm f1.8G, CROP
Nikon D800, ISO 6400, 50mm f1.8G, CROP
Nikon D800, ISO 6400, 50mm f1.8G, Edit, CROP
Nikon D800, ISO 6400, 50mm f1.8G, Edit, CROP

 

Even the ISO 25,600 can be cleaned up.  While a stretch to say this is 'good', it may be useful for a blog or facebook.

Nikon D800, ISO 25600, 50mm f1.8G, Edit
Nikon D800, ISO 25600, 50mm f1.8G, Edit
Nikon D800, ISO 25600, 50mm f1.8G, Edit, CROP
Nikon D800, ISO 25600, 50mm f1.8G, Edit, CROP

I'm not sure if the technique used to capture the image was ideal and I'm sure you can do even better if you have the RAW files (.NEF) so I'm hopeful that this will be a very good camera in low light.


D800 Logo

Nikon D800 & D800E: The Good and the Bad

The D800 and D800E are now official and all the rumor and speculation about specs can end. There seems to be new debate about whether 36MP is too many, if the E model (without the optical low-pass, anti-alias filter) makes any sense, and if the D4 is worth the money now that this camera is out. In short: no, yes, and yes. I may elaborate later but for now that is sufficient. If anyone cares, I think the D800 is going to be an excellent camera and I have already put a deposit on mine.

I wouldn't be buying something I don' t think is a good buy.  The D800 isn't perfect, but it certainly is an upgrade over my current D90 and should serve me well for years to come.  I know that I enjoy this hobby, and I believe I can take advantage of the new features.  So below, some things I like about the new body and some things I don't.

The Good

Autofocus

"Nikon Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX autofocus sensor module with TTL phase detection, fine-tuning, 51 focus points (including 15 cross-type sensors; f/8 supported by 11 central sensors)."  This is the same system the D4 uses, which means it's going to be amazing.  Nikon did us all a favor and gave us it's best focusing system to date.  If you are into shooting wildlife at a distance, you can now use the long f/4 lenses with a 2x teleconverter and still have autofocus at an effective f/8.  Further, you can use the DX mode of the D800 to get an extra 50% reach and still have 15.4MP images to work with.  Not bad.  Add face detection and 3D-tracking and this will be a lot of fun to shoot with.

Metering

Like the autofocus system, Nikon gives us the new 91,000-pixel RGB sensor for metering straight from the D4.  Includes scene detection and prioritization of exposure for faces.  A big jump from previous models, the D700/D3x had a 1,005 pixel sensor.

Video

The D700 had no video features, and my D90 (the first DSLR to get video) was pathetic.  Nikon had no answer to Canon's stellar offering, the 5D Mark II.  I don't think they expected so many people to start using DSLR cameras for shooting video.  Even Hollywood jumped on the bandwagon for feature films.  Nikon is late to the game, but has thrown down big contenders in the D4 and D800.  The video capabilities are now the best in the game for DSLR cameras, but I suspect Canon may have something to say about that with the release of the 5D Mark III (if and when it happens).  I haven't shot much video, but with the capability at my disposal I may give it a shot.

100% Viewfinder Coverage

A full-frame camera with 100% viewfinder coverage paired with a fast lens (f/2.8 or better) is a joy to use.  I haven't owned such a camera, but have peered through the viewfinder of several.  Once you see it, hard to go back.

Pixels, Pixels, and more Pixels

36.8 million of them to be exact (36.3 effective).  Nikon's strategy is really to follow Canon's lead, and that is to provide a clear separation between the compact full-frame bodies and the large, fast, and expensive flagship models.  The D700 ate up sales of the D3 and likely the D3s as they were all 12MP and produced similar results.  The D3s is king of high iso shooting, but cost a pretty penny compared to the also capable D700.  Canon went a different route, and provided an high resolution (21MP) 5D Mark II with great video and it seems to have worked out well for them.  Now, Nikon has the D4 which is a high speed, high ISO, pro body and the D800 which will be the high resolution, slower and more affordable body.  I think the 36MP resolution surprised many, including me.  The resolution certainly opens up a lot of possibilities.

Dedicated Bracket Button

I like to shoot HDR often, so this is a handy addition.

Upgraded LCD

Same LCD as the D4, with ambient light control.  Nothing earth shattering here, but several incremental improvements throughout the body make for a better overall user experience.

DX Mode

Not new, but now useful.  Shooting in DX mode on a D700 resulted in 5.1MP files.  Not what I would call stellar.  It may work in a pinch, but I doubt it was used much.  On the D800, resolution in DX mode is 15.3MP which is very close to the resolution of the fantastic D7000.   If needed, you could use DX lenses.  If you need more reach, use DX mode and get the 1.5x equivalent boost in focal length.  Not something I will use all the time, but nice to have and very useful when used.

 

The Bad

Four Frames Per Second

I realize you are shooting 36MP images and that is a lot of data, but it just *feels* slow for a brand new DSLR these days.  The D800 and D4 share the same Expeed3 processor, and if the D4 can churn out 11fps at 16mp the D800 should be able to do 5.  That is assuming there is no headroom in the process.  5fps would be good, especially if we had a 7 or 8fps DX mode.  We are stuck with 4, oh well.

No illuminated buttons

I guess we can't have all the goodies of the D4, and keeping this out helps Nikon keep the costs down.  Would have been nice, but I can live without it.

Insanely Priced Grip

The grip is optional, so you don't need to buy this.  However, Nikon priced this so high it is a hard pill to swallow. If you want faster frame rates, pony up. Note: the FX column is also for shooting in the 5:4 crop mode. Costs based on pricing from B&H in February 2012 and shown in USD.

Cost

FX fps

1.2X fps

1.5X (DX) fps

EN-EL15 battery$0455
MB-D12 grip & EN-EL15 battery$449.95455
MB-D12 grip & EN-EL18 (D4) battery$999.80456
MB-D12 grip with AA batteries$449.95 +456
AC adapter$129.24456

MB-D12 D800/D800E grip: $449.95
MS-D12 AA holder: $47.95
EP-5B Power Supply Connector: $49.95
EH-5B AC Adapter: $79.29
EN-EL18 (D4) battery: $169.95
MH-26 Dual Battery Charger: $349.95
BL-5 Battery chamber cover: $29.95

So let me get this straight Nikon, if I want to get the 6 frames per second and not use an AC adapter (duh) or AA batteries I need to use the battery from the D4 in the grip. In order to do that, I need to buy the grip, en-el18 battery, battery cover, and battery charger. Grand total $1000 USD. Are you kidding me? This is just a cash grab, you can count me out.

Video

Yes, this is also listed in the good section.  I'm not sure I'll use it, but I'm paying for it regardless.  Does video belong in a DSLR? I don't know, but it looks like it's here to stay.  I don't know anything about video, shooting it, editing it, etc.  Might be a big waste of time for me.  TBD.

Pixels, lots of them

Definitely a plus, I'm not really complaining but it's worth mentioning that you will certainly need to buy some big storage cards, probably 64GB or better.  You will also need a ton of storage and backup space on your computer and a fast system to deal with the giant files this body will produce.  75MB uncompressed RAW files will eat up memory and put a strain on any older CPU.  The upgrade cost of the D800 goes well beyond the cost of the body.

Nikon D800 Skeleton


Nikon D4 Zoom

Nikon D4: The New And Cool Stuff

I wrote a short post previously on how the D4 stacks up against it's closest competition (Nikon D3s and Canon 1D X). It covers at the features photographers will look at most often when comparing bodies, things like sensor resolution, frame rates, buffer size, and low light performance. In this artile, I'll go over some of the new things Nikon threw in there that make the body interesting.

Nikon D4 guts

Video capability

The D4 can record 1080p Full HD video at 30/25 or 24p in H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format.  Full HD video is available in three formats: FX-based, DX-based (1.5x) or 1,920 x 1,080 (2.7x) crop movie format. It can also export its uncompressed video footage via HDMI.

Nikon was the first company to add video to a DSLR in the D90.  Having used a D90 extensively, I can tell you that the video feature is weak and almost useless.  Canon nailed a home run with the 5D Mark II, and even Hollywood caught on and started using the camera in some scenes.  The 5DII sold well, Nikon missed the boat and lost customers.  The D4 addresses all of the previous problems and, for now, puts Nikon at the top of the DSLR video heap.  It's not perfect but it's a video monster that will please almost everyone.

For those of you that think video doesn't belong in a still camera... get over it.  Video is here to stay and almost everything with a lens these days can take stills and video.  People want it so the companies are going to include it.  I don't think it affects the still photo capability of the camera, the D4 is looking like Nikon's best still camera to date.  The only drawback is likely a higher price, but I guess that is progress for you.

Here is a sample video shot with a D4. Looks good, even compressed for the web (available in 1080p)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZZMIo7Zfys

Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX AF sensor module

51 AF points, with all 51 (15 cross type) points of the D4 are usable with every AF NIKKOR lens of f/5.6 or faster. AF detection is fast and accurate down to an impressive -2 EV. 15 cross-type sensors in the central area and 11 focus points compatible with f/8.

The D4 keeps the same number of AF points as the D3s but just makes everything better.  One of the big things here is the ability to use lenses with minimum f-stop of f/8.  You find this when using some of the big telephoto lenses (such as the 200-400 f/4) with a 2x teleconverter.  You can now have a 400-800 f/8 lens that will autofocus for a change.  No other Nikon body will do this, so you were forced to use fast telephoto lenses like the 400mm f/2.8 or go without auto focus.  This should be good for sports or wildlife shooters that commonly use these lenses.

Exposure Meter and AF Improvement

The D4 is fit with a 91,000 pixel RGB sensor for metering. This is a massive improvement over the 1,005 pixel sensor in the D3s. Because of the increased resolution, the D4 now offers face detection autofocus and can account for up to 16 human faces in the frame even when using the optical view finder. Previously, face detection was only available in live view because you were using the entire sensor and contrast detection autofocus.

The D4 also adds scene detection. The 3D Color Matrix Metering III metering mode compares metered scenes to a large in-camera database of scene types, before determining exposure variables. To me, this seems like a gimmick and reminds me of Clippy from the old MS Office programs: "It looks like you are trying to compose a sunset shot, let me bollocks that up for you". On a camera targeted at professional shooters, do you need this?

Remote Operation

Remote viewing and operating of the camera for stills and video from your laptop/iPad/iPhone in real time. This is built into the camera, and just damn cool. No extra software needed, but you do need the wireless adapter (WT-5A) which isn't cheap at almost $900 US. Once it's up and running though, you can see the live view image, adjust most camera controls, trigger exposures remotely and view the captured image. This means you can mount the camera somewhere where it may not be easy or safe to be during an event to capture images. In other settings, clients can immediately see captured images on a big screen as you are shooting. I'm sure there will be a lot of creative uses for this, a nice feature.

Watch the video of the ipad control in action.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0DnEoqm-wc&feature=player_embedded

Improved exposure bracketing

The camera will allow 3, 5, 7, or 9 exposures in either 1/3, 2/3, or 1 full stop (plus 2 stops and 3 stops) The possible dynamic range capture for very difficult HDR situations has been massively increased! The D4 also features a quick HDR feature that makes an in camera file based on a overexposed and normal frame. I don't think the in camera HDR feature will be that useful, but the extra bracketing options is going to be great for HDR shooters.

A few minor items

Illuminated buttons, a very nice addition when you are shooting in low light (which is certainly where this camera will get used).

Time lapse movie creator will compile multiple exposures (based on your settings) into an HD movie but it does not retain the images so may not be useful for most.

Improved rear LCD.  3.2" 921,000 dot with expanded color gamut and a sensor to detect ambient light levels to automatically adjust brightness and saturation.

 


Nikon D4 with body

Nikon D4 High ISO Sample Images

Mircea Bezergheanu has been posting some sample images from the Nikon D4. These are the first images I have seen that are not from Nikon or part of the Nikon advertising campaign.

I'm not sure what type of post processing is involved, however the images do look great even up to ISO 12,800. I think some post processing would make them look even better.

Until we get side by side comparisons of the D4 and the D3S, shooting the same subject in the same light, it will be tough to compare the two bodies directly. Right now though, the D4 is certainly looking good.

View the images on Mircea's Smugmug page.


Nikon D4 Logo

Finally! The Nikon D4 is Announced

Nikon did not have a good year in 2011 as they were affected by two major disasters. The earthquake in Japan and following tsunami forced the shutdown of their plant in Sendai.  This plant produces their professional line of cameras and lenses.  Later in the year, the flooding in Thailand submerged the Nikon factory at the Rojana Industrial Park.  This plant produces many of their consumer cameras and lenses.  Because of these disasters, their entire product line-up was affected and shortages of equipment were common.  Nikon planned to introduce a few new camera models and lenses in 2011 but all announcements were postponed while they worked to rebuild their facilities and solidify their supply chain.

Towards the end of 2011, things were looking up and production was getting back on track.  Nikon did make one product announcement, the SB-910 Speedlight but the year ended with no significant products for us to drool over.  The good news is that 2012 has started off with a bang.  Leading up to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Nikon has announced a new flagship digital SLR camera, the D4 (official press release).  Along with the new pro camera, they announced an 85mm f/1.8G lens and a wireless transmitter.  A big announcement to start the year and I expect more to come in the coming months.  The rumoured D700 replacement, the D800, is very likely the next body that will be announced but when that will happen is anyone's guess at this point.

Nikon D4 on Nikon's website

Nikon D4 brochure (PDF)

Nikon D4 full specification

Nikon D4 High Res Front Transparent

Nikon D4 Back

Nikon D4 High Res Top Transparent


Nikon D4 Trio

Nikon D4 Leaked by the French

The rumours were flying around for months and the mill was in high gear for the last few weeks about Nikon's new flagship camera, the D4.  Official announcement is likely to come on Friday, Jan. 6th (late Thursday in Canada/USA) but a French magazine spilled the beans early.  A scan of the article can be seen here.  Looks like a great body, and should compete well against the new Canon 1DX.

Specs:

  • 16 megapixels
  • ISO 100-12800 (expandable to 50-204800)
  • 51 autofocus points
  • 100% viewfinder coverage
  • 10-12fps
  • 91000 point metering system
  • 1080p video recording
  • CF/XQD card slots
  • 1.34kg weight
  • €5,800 (likely to be about $6,000 USD)

Full details when officially announced by Nikon later today.

Nikon D4 Front

Nikon D4 Left

Nikon D4 Back


LifeHacker Best of 2011

The Best Photography Tips, Tricks, and Hacks of 2011

LifeHacker has pulled together their top photography related tips into one post. Worth a visit to pick up some good info.

Visit the LifeHacker Post.


BBC icicle of death

'Brinicle' Ice Finger of Death

The BBC has the most amazing footage of the natural world.  I own several of their sets, including Blue Planet and Planet Earth. If you haven't seen them, I recommend you do.

This short video is another great sequence that few could capture.  It shows an ice 'Brinicle' forming under the Antarctic ice sheet, you can read more about it here.

BBC prevents embedding, view the video on their site here.


Alan Sailer high speed egg

Air Gap Flash & Alan Sailer's Photostream

I have seen a lot of good high speed photography, but Alan Sailer has some of the most interesting shots out there.  These shots are taken using some specialized equipment, including an 'air gap flash'.  I have never heard of this device until today, and apparently it's a DIY flash that has the potential to kill you.  Standard flashes (Canon, Nikon) have a minimum duration of 1/40,000th of a second.  It seems short, but when photographing bullets it's an eternity.  At 1000 feet/second (not that fast in bullet terms), that bullet can travel 1/3rd of an inch so it's more of a streak in the image than a bullet frozen in time.  This air gap flash can have a flash duration of 1/1,000,000th of a second (about 25x faster than a standard flash).

You can make your own air gap flash by following the directions here.  However, if you don't know how to work with high voltage, don't even try.  As the author of the site says "you should not build this because this flash will kill you".  What you essentially make is a 35,000 volt capacitor that releases a 1.5" spark across a gap.  If you don't know what you are doing, that voltage will be released into your body and you won't be around to tell anyone how that felt.  So don't build it, but do read about it, it's an interesting device.

This is what the air gap flash looks like when complete.

air gap flash

As far as the images you can capture with it, here are a few samples.

Christmas bulb filled with gelatin and shot with a marble.

Alan Sailer christmas bulb high speed

 

Hot dog shot with a pellet gun.

Alan Sailer hot dog high speed

To see more of Alan's great work, visit his Flickr Photostream.  He has a ton of amazing photos there and doesn't just shoot things with a gun.  He has an air cannon that is used to shoot a lime through a piece of beef or a ping pong ball through fruit.  Definitely worth a visit.

 


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Engadget Link w/ Video


Internet Explorer drops below 50% market share

browser market share

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Details at Ars Technica


Jobs Car No Plates

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Yahoo Autos Article