Dale Chihuly Glass Art : 2013-01-05 : Display 7

The Wonderful Art of Dale Chihuly

I have been a huge fan of Dale Chihuly for many years.   He is a glass artist from Tacoma, Washington (USA) and now has an amazing gallery in Seattle called Chihuly Garden and Glass.  I don't have too much time to ramble on about each piece, each one can speak for itself.  His incredible versatility and technical execution makes each piece special.  I hope to own a few of his works one day.

Dale Chihuly Glass Art : 2013-01-05 : Boats

Dale Chihuly Glass Art : 2013-01-05 : Display 2

Dale Chihuly Glass Art : 2013-01-05 : Bowls

Dale Chihuly Glass Art : 2013-01-05 : Garden 3

Dale Chihuly Glass Art : 2013-01-05 : Chandelier 3 BW

Dale Chihuly Glass Art : 2013-01-05 : Display 7

Dale Chihuly Glass Art : 2013-01-05 : Boats BW

Dale Chihuly Glass Art : 2013-01-05 : Bowls 7

Dale Chihuly Glass Art : 2013-01-05 : Paintings

Dale Chihuly Glass Art : 2013-01-05 : Chandelier

Dale Chihuly Glass Art : 2013-01-05 : Bowl detail

 

Dale Chihuly Glass Art : 2013-01-05 : Bowls on Table

 

A bunch more photos from the trip.  Click any image for a bigger version.

 

And one photo from our journey back.  Some random pub in a town I no longer remember.

2013-01-06-Seattle Road Trip : Pub


Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Old man and the wagon

A Visit to Mumbai, India - Part III

This is the third group of photos (part 1 and part 2).

One day I decided to book a tour with Bravo Bombay (reviews), run by Hemali Talsania.  Hemail is great, and put together a great tour for me and a couple that joined us.  Hemali's knowledge of the city is great, and her English is excellent.  We went to several spots that I wanted to visit, here are a few photos from the day.

First, I was picked up in a van by a driver.  I didn't take the Mumbai Local this time, and after two journeys on the crowded train it was nice to get driven around in an air conditioned van.  The accident with the motorcycle was just part of the adventure.  On our way down the driver asked if I wanted to take the sea link, having read a bit about it I agreed that we should.  The Bandra–Worli Sea Link, or officially the Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link, is a new bridge and freeway that links western and southern Mumbai.  It's a great route saving a lot of time but it's tolled so it is virtually empty.  In the city (where there is no toll) the traffic is snarled but the freeway is wide open.  Maybe it will get more use over time.  I know, not a great photo but I took it through the window of a speeding van ;)

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Bandra–Worli Sea Link / Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link

One of the first stops was Dhobi Ghat, a huge (world's biggest?) open air laundry.  This facility washes an absolute mountain of laundry every day from all over Mumbai.  A few photos from the laundry.

This is my favourite photo from the set, just a little kid going about his day.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Dhobi Ghat Open Air Laundry 5 (Child)

Next on the agenda was Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, or Victoria Terminus.  An amazing building with incredible detail.  Worth a visit if you are into architecture.  Unfortunately, the interior was not nearly as amazing as the exterior.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Train Station

At the university, there is a replica of London't Big Ben.  It's actually a very good replica, though sadly I could not get any closer than this as it's behind locked gates.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Big Ben Clone at the Mumbai University

When you take a close look at the faux Big Ben, you can see the Indian touches compared to the original.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Big Ben Clone at the Mumbai University (detail)

A popular tourist spot, the Gateway Of India.  One of the few places we visited where there were a lot of tourists and people pushing their wares.  I was somewhat of a celebrity being one of the only tall white guys around.  Several people asked to take their photo with me, first time that has happened.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Gate of India

Everyone in the group received a blessing (for a small donation).  It was nice.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Gate of India 2

We visited a Hare Krishna temple, and listened to the chants.  A nice spot and interesting religion.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Hare Krishna Temple

 

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Hare Krishna Temple 2

The Mahatma Gandhi Museum, full of interesting artefacts.  The most powerful and memorable were the letters to Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Ghandi Museum

Outside the museum, I met a charismatic and friendly tour guide who I chatted with while waiting for my group to finish up.  Smartly dressed, he was happy to pose for a photo.  For some reason he reminds me of Eddie Murphy.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Well dressed tour guide

Close to the harbour, we saw a fishing boat coming in.   A little helter skelter but definitely interesting.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Fishing boat coming back into the harbour

The harbour itself.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Harbour

Hemali, our tour guide (far right) and the couple who joined the tour.  Maybe they will see this one day (if so leave a comment ;)

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Tour

After the tour, I did some of my own exploring.  Here a vendor is selling strings of flowers.  These were being used to decorate cars for a festival.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : flower market

A family I ran into, they were great and the boy holding the dog asked me a million questions.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : family

 

 

My favourite photo form the trip.  This old guy was sitting in a flashy metal carriage when I approached him.  He didn't speak English, but nodded and smiled when I asked him if I could take a photo.  His weathered skin and the detail in the carriage make the perfect subject for a  black and white photo.Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Old man and the wagon

In the evening, and very close to my hotel, I ventured down to the beach to view the Vijayadashami Hindu festival.  There were thousands of people on the beach, and every group had a sculpture which they end up throwing into the ocean.  Note the sun in this photo.  Due to the air pollution most sunsets in Mumbai looked like this during my visit.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festial

Some well dressed chaps walking their well groomed dogs.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festival dogs

A vendor selling grilled corn, smelled great.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festial 7

 

As happened several times, kids approached me when they same me taking photos and asked to have their photo taken.  This boy was curious, asked some questions, and posed for a shot.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festial Kids

Soon his friends all ran over and started to clown around, it was great fun.

As the sun set, even more people started to show up.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festival twilight

Literally by the truck load.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festival twilight mob

 

And the festivities continued.Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festial Sunset

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festival splash

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festival friends

A sacred cow all dressed up for the party.  Though tired after a long day, I'm glad I made it down for the party.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festival sacred cow

The next day, I decided to visit Dharavi, a massive slum in the heart of Mumbai.  This slum is well known as it appeared in the popular movie Slumdog Millionaire.   Despite the term "slum", this is a huge industrial center for Mumbai.  Recycling is common, as is creating goods for export.  I was very surprised at how many small factories are in operation in this area.  My guide in the slum Shailesh Jethva who operates Mystical Mumbai, if you are in the city and want to tour Dharavi I highly recommend Shailesh.  He knew almost everyone there and took me to many interesting spots in the area.  Photography is not appropriate in most parts of the slum, so I respected the custom.

This shot is from the bride over the rail tracks as you enter the slum, the district us huge and without a guide you are certain to get lost.  Depending on who you ask, there are about one million people that live in this slum, and the population density is just staggering.  A worthwhile tour if you are not just into the popular tourist destinations.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Dharavi

One of the factories we visited with several embroidery machines at work.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Dharavi textiles

My guide, Shailesh.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Dharavi tour guide

That is all the photos I'm posting from Dharavi.  If you want to see more you just need to visit for yourself.  On my way back to the hotel, I decided to take a walk on the beach which, just one day earlier, held thousands of people for the Hindu festival.  The beach was littered with remnants from the celebration, including all of the religious idols which now lay discarded.  I understand the need to celebrate but it's tough to see the impact on the environment following such celebration.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festival aftermath 4

 

Sunset over Juhu beach.  I'll return to Mumbai soon.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Sunset on Juhu beach


2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Kids Posing

A Visit to Mumbai, India - Part II

I took a lot of photos in Mumbai, this is the second group. You can view part 1 here.

I decided to head to the south part of the city to explore the area.  Leaving the hotel the security guard posed for a photo.  Hotels have strict security since the terrorist attacks of 2008.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Hotel Security

I have heard some crazy stories about the "Mumbai Local" train.   During rush hour, it's one of the most crowded trains in the world, people are hanging off the sides.  The staff at the hotel told me not to ride it, it's not for tourists.  A tour guide I hired said "you are taking the local?  I don't even ride the local".   With those sentiments, I knew I had to ride it :)

I decided to ease my way into it, my first trip was off-peak, and it was quite pleasant.  There are no doors on the train, and it stops for only a very short while at each stop.  For my second trip, I booked the cheap fare during rush hour.  That was definitely entertaining and highly recommended for anyone looking for some adventure.  The mass of humanity that steams off a train at each stop is crazy, and somehow you need to push your way though that to get on board.  Good times.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Mumbai Local Train

My destination for the day was the Chor Bazaar.  "According to popular legend, if you lose anything in Mumbai you can buy it back from the 'Chor Bazaar'."  You can literally get anything here, it is one of largest flea markets in India.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Chor Bazaar

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Chor Bazaar 2

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Chor Bazaar Food

This aisle was full of garlic.  It smelled amazing, not overpowering at all.  The guy sitting on the ground was peeling cloves, that is what he does most of the day.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Chor Bazaar Garlic

At one point, I walked past a school.  The kids were just leaving and a few of them come over to say hello.  They spoke very good English (they all learn it in school) and they started asking me a lot of questions while showing me around.  They wanted to pose for a photo, but at the last second all ran away leaving just one.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Chor Bazaar Kids Running

 

These guys had a good laugh.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Chor Bazaar People

Venturing outside of the market after a few hours of exploring, I decided to just stand on a street corner and look at the interesting people streaming by. [Click any image to view bigger.]

 

There are interesting people everywhere.  I'm not even sure what this gentleman is selling, but he looks sharp.   If you know what this stuff is, please post in the comments.  Update: Thanks to Sandhya for letting me know via the comments that this gentleman is selling Singhara (Water Chesnut/Water Caltrop) seeds.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Chor Bazaar Sales

Another friendly character, spoke no English but was happy to pose for a photo.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Selling Nuts

 

Some of the local animals.  Fresh mutton?  No problem.  Want to buy a rooster, they have that too.

Sidewalks in Mumbai are not quite up to Canadian standards.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Sidewalk

 

A few more interesting sights and people including a fruit and vegetable stand.

On more than one occasion kids ran up to me and wanted to pose for a photo.  Very curious and very cute.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Kids Posing

 

A shave on the street.2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Street Shave

 

I'm not sure this is up to WCB standards. It was amazing to watch these guys climb bamboo scaffolding with no harness or other safety equipment.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Scaffolding

 

One of the slums on the beach.  Despite the conditions, children will find a way to entertain themselves.  Here they made a kite and they seemed to be having a great time.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Kids & Kite

 

A well dressed gent at a street market.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Well Dressed at the Market

Finally, my dinner.  Curried goat, roti, and a local beer.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Curry Goat


Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : shelter

A Visit to Mumbai, India - Part I

My trip to Mumbai, India was an eye opening experience.  In a way it was what I expected but at the same time I wasn't always prepared for what I saw.  India is clearly a developing nation but in many ways behind other third world countries I have visited.  I know that India is becoming a technology center for many global companies, it has a quickly developing economy and is on the verge of rapid industrialization.  However, when you walk the streets and talk to the people you don't see much evidence of that.  There are obviously many wealthy people in India, but there are far too many that live on the street below the poverty line.

While it's true that many people are poor and live on the street, all of the people I met were warm and accepting of my presence.  Some were guarded at first but if I asked for directions, to take a photo, or just how their day is going they would all flash a big smile and do their best to help me out.  Those that spoke English were eager and willing ask where I'm from and how I like the country.  Some engaged in conversation and other just said hello and posed for a photo.   I'm wouldn't get the same reception if I walked the streets of Vancouver (my home town).  People in Vancouver are often self-centered, indifferent, or paranoid you are running some scam and do not engage strangers to the same level.

The people in India are also very spiritual and tolerant.  They are a blend of many religions (Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, and others) often obvious by their clothing though there is no visible tension between them.  They celebrate festivals and openly practice their faith.  Many also believe in the concept of Karma which is present in all of the religions.  Because of this, there seems to be an environment of safety and I did not ever feel threatened during my visit.  I walked in many different areas of the city, alone, as an obvious outsider and didn't feel unsafe at any time.  It may have been luck but I can't say that I would do the same in other large cities around the world.

My experience of India is limited to one city, Mumbai (Bombay).  Other cities may be drastically different, I really don't know.  I hope to visit other parts of India some day to see for myself.

Exploring On Day 1

My first day in Mumbai was just spent exploring the area I was staying in, Juhu.  Juhu is an affluent suburb of Mumbai where many Bollywood stars live however if you plucked me from Vancouver and dropped me in Juhu I would think it far from affluent.  There are obviously many poor people living on the street and there is garbage littered everywhere.  The waterways I saw were extremely polluted, looked almost like blank ink and filled with trash.  Juhu Beach unfortunately isn't much better being covered in garbage, and both animal and human waste. For a country so blessed with natural beauty and resources it's a real shame to see it treated so poorly.

Part of the problem is the population explosion in Mumbai.  I have heard estimates that put the population between 20 and 24 million people and all those people need to live somewhere.  Combined with the fact that Mumbai is home to some of the most expensive real estate in the world, you essentially force people to live on the street or in slums.  These places often have no sanitation, garbage collection, or even running water.  The garbage and waste is simply dumped into the environment and it is clear that nature has paid a heavy price.

Juhu Beach, not every area is this littered though there is no area that is clean. One thing to note is the smog in the background, air quality is not very good either. At the end of the day, my eyes started to hurt and I attribute this to the air pollution.

Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : Juhu trash

 

People getting a ride across the water, if you saw the water you wouldn't want to get wet either.

Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : raft

 

One of the ways the people who live on the beach support themselves is by growing methi (fenugreek) crops. These are grown on the sand of the beach, watered with salt water collected from a nearby pool, and harvested as sprouts for sale in the local markets.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : methi crop

 

The pool where water is gathered, dug below the ocean water level so always full.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : Water hole

 

The water is carried in large plastic jugs, sometimes a long way.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : Carrying Water

 

One of the locals harvests his crop. He saw me walking around the area and taking photos, he waved me over and asked me to take his photo so he could see it. He also told me how he grows the crop and about his life. His English was basic but we managed a short conversation. He has spent most of his life on this beach.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : Methi (Fenugreek) Harvest

 

Behind him, an extremely polluted body of water. I'm assuming it is a river, but it barely has any flow. I saw people defecate into this water, and in another area people were using it to wash off. It's no wonder that tropical disease thrives here. When you combine the poor sanitation, very high population density, heat and insects you have the perfect recipe.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : Boat

 

I saw a lot of dogs, cats, and other animals roaming around as well. They get by on what scraps they can find, most do not appear to be in good condition.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : Dog

 

The various beach shelters are rudimentary at best.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : Shelter

 

Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : Shelter

 

When you see how little some people have, it makes you rethink your needs and wants.  This image in particular has stuck with me, it seems even a slight breeze would be capable of wiping out what little this person has.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : shelter

 

Behind the beach, you can see how bad the water is. While I sat in this spot, I saw people throwing garbage into the water and it was a soup of debris.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : slum water

 

Despite the pollution, life still does exist in and around the water. I saw birds walking around in the water trying to catch whatever may be present. Also, crabs live in the mud and carry on as usual. Nature is certainly resilient.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : crab

 

The people carry on as well, despite the trash a game of cricket is being played (I saw cricket being played everywhere, and by everyone. It is another religion in India).
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : juhu cricket

 

If you are not playing cricket, you are probably playing football (soccer).
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : football on the beach

 

On more than one occasion, young couples courted each other on the beach apparently oblivious to their surroundings. After a while, I think the trash just blends into the background, it becomes the norm.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : lovers

 

Part II of the trip available here.


Nikon D800 Autofocus Test Setup

Nikon D800 Autofocus Repair Testing - The Sequel

This is the third time I'm posting about the testing of my D800 autofocus system.  The first time was not long after I purchased it, just to see if it had the problem.  I found that it did have the problem, and I sent it to Nikon for repair.  When the camera came back, I tested it again.  Initially I thought it may have been fixed, but further testing showed there was still a problem.

During this time, I also purchased LensAlign and FocusTune to help me more accurately fine tune my lenses and camera, but also to help me quantify the results.  When I tested my lenses, I noticed that the recommended fine tune values for three of my five lenses was +20 (the highest possible).  This suggested to me that the actual sharpest fine tune value may be even higher than than, but the scale does not allow further adjustment.  Said another way, if the fine tune is at the maximum value, the calibration is not within spec for the camera/lens combination.  I decided to give my D800 and my Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G, Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8D, and Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 to Nikon along with my results to see if they can fix the left autofocus problem plus calibrate the camera for the three lenses.

I finally received my camera back, and had a chance to test it with two lenses.  I tested with the 24-70 and the Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR (this lens didn't go to Nikon).  I did not fine tune the camera and lenses before testing, this is how Nikon sent it to me.  I used the same test procedures I outlined previously, with a small twist because I now have FocusTune to help me out.  The results here are all RAW conversions (the only adjustment I made in Lightroom was to convert to grayscale).  I shot in RAW+JPG (L/Fine), I shot a manual focus control shot for each of the five focus test points tested (center, top, bottom, left right - all at the farthest AF points).  Between each autofocus test shot, I defocused away from infinity and took five shots for each focus point.  I then loaded all of the JPG files into FocusTune and for each focus point I found the SHARPEST result from the five samples, so the results here are the best shots from the group.

One thing to note, last time I sent the D800 to Nikon the work order showed "ADJ FOCUS SYSTEM" and "ADJ AUTO FOCUS OPERATION". This time, the work order had:

[box]

B2

Service Repair Rank B2

Repair

RPL O-RING

CLN CCD

FIRMWARE UPGRADE

GENERAL CHECK & CLEAN

RPR ELECTRICAL CIRCUIT

[/box]

It is worthwhile to note that I was not having any problems with my D800 outside of the autofocus system, I'm not sure why they replaced the o-ring and worked on the electrical system. I see no mention of them even looking at the autofocus system.

 

Lenses Tested

AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G

AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED

AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED

 

Test Results

The grouped results for the 105mm lens, 100% crop under the autofocus sensor tested.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 105mmf/2.8 Micro VR: 105mm Results

Apologies that some of these are dark, I didn't want to make any adjustments so they are presented straight from the camera with no editing.  I don't see any major issues here, the focus system seems to be fairly consistent between all of the points.  Here is a closer look at the 105mm left side results.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR : 105mm L5 Detail

 

I would say this is fine, doesn't quite match the manual focus using live view and 100% zoom but I don't think phase detect AF is ever going to be as good.

The grouped results for the 24-70mm lens at 24mm.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 : 24mm Results

Here, the left side AF sensor is clearly softer than the others in the group.  Here is a bigger version of just the left side results.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 : 24mm L5 Detail

 

The grouped results for the 24-70mm lens at 70mm.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70mmf/2.8 : 70mm Results

Once again, some softness on the left side.  Bigger version of 70mm left side results.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70mmf/2.8 : 70mm L5 Detail

 

I would say it's not as bad as the 24mm left side test, however I would not say this is acceptable performance.  The lens works fine at the other focus points, here are details of the performance at the center focus point at 24mm.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8mm : 24mm C Detail

 

The 24-70mm center focus point at 70mm.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70mmf/2.8 : 70mm C Detail

 

Both of these are completely acceptable and would not give me any reason for concern.  However, the left side AF sensors continue to give me grief.  I'm not sure if it's the lens or the body though, because the 105mm seems to focus fine at the left side.  I'll try to test with my 50mm f/1.8G to see how it performs, and I'll post the results here when I'm finished.

 Update, April 2, 2013

The grouped results for the 14-24mm lens at 24mm, center and lower AF points are good, others soft.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 : 24mm Results

 

The 14-24 @ 24mm L5 sensor detail.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 : 24mm L5 Detail

 

 

The grouped results for the 50mm, again center and lower AF points are good, others soft.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 : 50mm Results

 

50mm L5 detail, not terrible but could be better.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 : 50mm L5 Detail

 

In general, the whole AF system seems to be a little off.  Fine tune won't fix this as the various AF points don't correlate to each other in how far out of focus they are.  If they were all equally off, fine tune could fix that.  Some, such as the center and lower (C, D2) AF point are excellent, others (such as L5) are consistently off.  If I fine tune, I'll be throwing off the good ones.

 

 

 


Lynn Valley Hike : Suspension Bridge and Twin Falls 2012-12-29 : Twin falls long exposure

Lynn Valley Hike - North Vancouver

I took a very short walk in Lynn Valley just after Christmas, it was a break from shopping hell.  I went to the suspension bridge, then down to twin falls. I also wanted to try out the 10-stop ND filter.  Results are promising, looking forward to trying a bit more of this.


Nikon D800 Autofocus Test Setup

D800 Autofocus Repair Testing

[box type="info"]Update April 1, 2013: Testing after the second repair attempt by Nikon is now online here: http://photokaz.com/2013/04/nikon-d800-autofocus-repair-testing-the-sequel/[/box]

[box type="info"]Update January 20, 2013: Initial testing showed changes to the focus performance and I thought the slight softness in some shots could be fixed with fine tuning. After more testing, I could not get consistently sharp results from fine tuning. I had to set my fine tuning for the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 lens to +20 and that still didn't result in good performance. My AFS 50mm f/1.8 and AFD 80-200 f/2.8 lenses also had to have +20 of fine tuning. I dropped off my camera and the three lenses with Nikon last week, told them the problems and said I wanted everything repaired. I will once again post my results when I get the camera back.[/box]

[box type="info"]Update February 9, 2013: Got my camera back from Nikon, still waiting for my 24-70 lens. Some testing with the 50mm f/1.8G using FocusTune is not looking promising :([/box]

I made a previous post about the issues my Nikon D800 had with phase detect autofocus, my test charts clearly showed a problem with the left side AF sensors.  I dropped off my camera at Nikon and it came back with the following info.

[box]

B2

Service Repair Rank B2

ADJ FOCUS SYSTEM

ADJ AUTO FOCUS OPERATION

FIRMWARE UPGRADE

CLN CCD

GENERAL CHECK & CLEAN

[/box]

 

So it looks like Nikon actually did make a fix, though I have heard some people had cameras returned with B1 service repair but I'm not sure how they differ.  Today I decided to do some testing on the 'fixed' camera to see if it was any better.  Same test procedure as before, same Siemens Star test chart.  I only tested the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens as that more obviously showed the problems before.   Below you can see the results for the lens at 24mm, ISO 100.  Top row is Live View manual focus (reference), next is Live View autofocus (to test contrast detect AF), then two rows viewfinder (phase detect) autofocus tests.  The VF AF 1 is racking focus to the closest setting before letting autofocus take over, VF AF 2 was a rack to infinity.

Nikon D800 Post Fix Test - 24-70 f/2.8 @ f/2.8, ISO 100, 24mm

 

Disregard the differences in white balance, the right test chart was closer to a different set of lights. Focus should not be affected overall, and shows relatively consistent operation left, center, and right.

 

I repeated the test at 70mm but this time didn't test Live View autofocus. Here are the results.
Nikon D800 Post Fix Test - 24-70 f/2.8 @ f/2.8, ISO 100, 70mm

 

As before focus looks to be consistent, if not perfect, between the three tested points.

 

Finally, putting together my previous test charts with the updated tests shot today. Top row is Live View manual for reference, next row is the viewfinder autofocus tests before the fix and third row are the tests after the fix. This should clearly show that the fix worked. One thing to note is that the autofocus, even after the fix, is not in perfect focus however I hope that autofocus fine tune can fix that.
Nikon D800 Pre VS Post Fix Test - 24-70 f/2.8 @ f/2.8, ISO 100, 24mm


Nikon D800 Autofocus Test Setup

Nikon D800 Contrast and Phase Detect Autofocus Testing

[box type="info"]Update April 1, 2013: Testing after the second repair attempt by Nikon is now online here: http://photokaz.com/2013/04/nikon-d800-autofocus-repair-testing-the-sequel/[/box]

[box type="info"]Update January 20, 2013: Initial testing showed changes to the focus performance and I thought the slight softness in some shots could be fixed with fine tuning.  After more testing, I could not get consistently sharp results from fine tuning. I had to set my fine tuning for the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 lens to +20 and that still didn't result in good performance.  My AFS 50mm f/1.8 and AFD 80-200 f/2.8 lenses also had to have +20 of fine tuning.  I dropped off my camera and the three lenses with Nikon last week, told them the problems and said I wanted everything repaired.  I will once again post my results when I get the camera back.[/box]

[box type="info"] Update August 23, 2012: I finally had a chance to do some critical tests of my fixed Nikon D800. I can say that Nikon did fix the problem (still to be tested), I have posted updated test charts here.[/box]

[box type="info"] Update July 30, 2012: Picked up my D800 in Richmond today. I did some 'off the cuff' testing, hand held without a test chart. It seems to be fixed though I won't know for sure until I set up a proper test procedure again. I won't have time to do that until next week but will test again and post my results.[/box]

[box type="info"] Update July 20, 2012: Nikon has confirmed that the camera arrived in Toronto. They provided a service order number and a link to check the status, unfortunately the page is 'under construction'.  I hope that means it is just offline for a fix as I haven't visited the page before.[/box]

[box type="info"] Update July 18, 2012: I dropped off my D800 at the Nikon repair center in Vancouver (Richmond) along with my test results. They said that the high end bodies get shipped to Toronto, and I'll be without the camera for two to three weeks. Not fun, but worth it if they can fix the issue. If it comes back the same or worse I won't be too happy about it.[/box]

After reading several posts about the 'left autofocus point' problems of the Nikon D800, I decided to test my own camera to see if it needed repair.  Thom Hogan outlined a test method in his July 16, 2012 post and I decided to follow that method to test my camera, with a change.  Initially, I developed a test target as per Thom's suggestion but it led to problems so I did a second round of testing with the classic Siemens star.

Some notes about the camera and test

  • I have a camera purchased in Canada, it was very early in the release cycle so call it an 'early run' camera.
  • I used two lenses for the test, the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G and Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8.
  • I have not made any changes to auto focus fine tune.
  • I used a Really Right Stuff TVC-33 carbon fiber tripod and BH-55 ball head to hold the camera.
  • All exposures shot in RAW, converted to jpg to display here but no sharpening, lens correction, etc. was added.  I only changed white balance and exposure to more easily compare things.  I also cropped to make comparison easier.  Everything managed with Adobe Lightroom 4.
  • The lenses did not have any filters installed.
  • Camera had distortion control turned off.
  • Shot at the widest aperture (f/1.8 for the 50mm and f/2.8 for the 24-70) and ISO 100.  The 24-70mm was shot at 24mm.
  • Camera was leveled using the built in leveling tool and a three-way hot shoe level.
  • The camera (sensor plane) was about 6.5' from the wall.
The notations used may be confusing, but work for me to keep track of what I'm shooting.  I used Live View to manually focus and autofocus.
LV M - L : This means Live View, manual focus, left sensor.
LV AF - C : Live View, autofocus, center
VF AF - R : viewfinder (phase detect) autofocus, right sensor.
For each lens, there are 9 images.
LV M (L/C/R)
LV AF (L/C/R)
VF AF (L/C/R)
I repeated the viewfinder AF tests several times, posted two samples.
I hope that makes sense.   Below are the results of the testing.

Test Results - 50mm f/1.8G

 

Top row is Live View manual focus, second row is Live View AF, and last two rows are viewfinder phase detect AF.  The 50mm does show less detail in the left AF sensor.  Note, bigger versions of these test images are below, this is just a summary.

Nikon D800 50mm f/1.8 AF test

Test Results - 24mm f/2.8G

 

The 24mm lens shows a much more severe left AF issue.

Nikon D800 24-70mm f/2.8 AF test

This is a tedious exercise to both shoot and post.  I did it twice as my first test chart didn't yield useful results.  My D800 does suffer from the left autofocus problem when using phase detect autofocus with the two lenses I tested.  It will need to go to Nikon to get repaired.

Here is my test setup, in case anyone is curious.

 

 

 

 

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test Setup

 

Here are the full test patterns and should be in the same order shown above.


If you want to download the test chart I used, you can do so here.
Siemens Star Focus Test Chart


Siwash Rock At Sunset : 2012-07-06

Siwash Rock at Sunset

 

I was waiting for a nice sunny day in Vancouver as I wanted to get out to photograph Siwash Rock. This basalt stack is the only one of it's kind in the Vancouver area, and I wanted to catch it when high tide was at or near sunset.  This is an HDR image created from several exposures.

Siwash Rock At Sunset : 2012-07-06

And a shot I took with my iPhone 4S as my D800 was taking the 7 bracketed shots for my HDR above.

iPhone Siwash Rock D800

 

And a few more shots from that evening including some fun with a neutral density filter for longer exposures.

Vancouver : Siwash Rock Long Exposure B&W : 2012-07-06

Vancouver : Siwash Rock Long Exposure Color : 2012-07-06

Vancouver : Siwash Rock Sunset : 2012-07-06


UBC Botanical Garden Yellow Lily

UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research

Last weekend, my wife and I paid a visit to the UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research (at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver).  Despite having lived in Vancouver a combined 35 years it was the first visit for both of us.  We were very fortunate because one of the volunteers, Dana, took us for a private tour as no one else was there for a tour when we arrived.  He spent several hours with us, taking us first on the Greenheart Canopy Walkway, which is a series of bridges and platforms in the trees.  It's a bit wobbly, but fun at the same time.  Also, you get an interesting view from up there that you don't often see.  The canopy system is hung from the trees but is done in such a way that it doesn't harm the tree, it's rather amazing actually and the only one of its kind in Canada.

UBC Botanical Garden Tree Top Walk

UBC Botanical Garden 1

UBC Botanical Garden Feet

UBC Botanical Garden Katie in the trees

UBC Botanical Garden Tree Top Walk

 

There are a lot of vines in the garden, from all over the world.

UBC Botanical Garden Vine

UBC Botanical Garden Vine

 

It's not all plants and flowers.

UBC Botanical Garden Mushroom

 

Though there are a lot of beautiful flowers as well.

UBC Botanical Garden Flowers

UBC Botanical Garden Borrage

UBC Botanical Garden Flower Mosaic

UBC Botanical Garden Yellow Lily

 

They also have a big garden with all kinds of edible things.

UBC Botanical Garden Yummy

 

Including the most interesting way to grow fruit.  These trees are trained to grow at an angle and only have branches in one plane.  Because of the angle, the tree bears fruit much sooner than they would otherwise.  Also, they are very easy to pick being no more than six feet high, some only a foot with branches parallel to the ground.  I wish I remember what this growing style was, if you know please leave a message in the comments below.

UPDATE: The technique of training trees in this manner is called Espalier (thanks to Wendy Cutler!).

UBC Botanical Garden Fruit trees

UBC Botanical Garden Fruit trees 2

 

In one section, they have plants from all of the continents including a lot of desert varieties.  Apparently there are fire ants too, though I didn't see any.

UBC Botanical Garden Fire Ants

UBC Botanical Garden Chicks and Hens

UBC Botanical Garden Burrs

UBC Botanical Garden Carpet

UBC Botanical Garden Cactus in Bloom

UBC Botanical Garden Flower

UBC Botanical Garden Crocosmia in Bloom

 

There is also a section of the garden dedicated to plants used in the medical field.  This sundial is in the middle, accurate though doesn't adjust well for daylight savings time :)

UBC Botanical Garden Sundial in the medical garden

 

We found this interesting bee hive, which was a temporary art installation.  The solar panels provide energy to open and close it daily.

UBC Botanical Garden Bee Hive Fine Art

 

Finally, there is a fantastic water fountain the garden located in the amphitheatre.  It was designed by William Pye who installs these amazing water sculptures all over the world.  I'll have to go back to get more photographs.

UBC Botanical Garden Fountain Reflection


Dragon Boat Spring Sprint - Vancouver, BC - 2012-05-12

Dragon Boat Spring Sprint in Vancouver

What a great day for some dragon boat racing.  Since my wife is on a team, I went down to take some photos and enjoy the nice weather.  Spring Sprint is a warm up to the big Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival, which is in mid June.   The boats are smaller, only 10 paddlers instead of the usual 20 and the distance is substantially shorter as well.  Still fun to watch, especially when you can soak up the sun after the miserable April showers.

The races are held in False Creek with downtown Vancouver as the backdrop.  Hard to find a nicer venue than this.

Dragon Boat Spring Sprint - Vancouver, BC - 2012-05-12

The staging area is right beside Science World.

Dragon Boat Spring Sprint - Vancouver, BC - 2012-05-12

Some shots of the action.

Dragon Boat Spring Sprint - Vancouver, BC - 2012-05-12

 

 

Dragon Boat Spring Sprint - Vancouver, BC - 2012-05-12

Organized chaos.

Dragon Boat Spring Sprint - Vancouver, BC - 2012-05-12

Dragon Boat Spring Sprint - Vancouver, BC - 2012-05-12

Dragon Boat Spring Sprint - Vancouver, BC - 2012-05-12


Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

Shelter Dogs May 5 2012

Another set of dogs from Vancouver Animal Control, you can see others here.  As always, you can see the animals available for adoption from this shelter by visiting their PetFinder page or just drop in at the shelter.

The three puppies on this page are very cute and friendly, they all tried to crawl into my lap as I was taking photos.  They have the most amazing crystal blue eyes I have ever seen!  But first, this young German Shepherd.  Playful and energetic, loves to play fetch.

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

Now the puppies!

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

 

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control

Shelter Dogs 2012-05-05 Vancouver Animal Control
For anyone curious, this was the fist time I shot dogs at the shelter with my Nikon D800. I used the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 lens but I think next time I'll try a 50mm f/1.8 prime. Overall, I have some learning to do with the focus system of the D800 but it is producing great images.


D800 Test Image - flowers

My first images with the Nikon D800

My D800 finally arrived, charged the batteries and headed out with my dogs the next morning. Resisted the urge to photography my keyboard, floor, ceiling, and anything else boring just to play with it. Tried to make the first frame count!

I want to mention that I'm not that happy with the grip of the D800. I have big hands, XL gloves, and it seems small to me. I may just need to get used to it, but it is smaller than I expected.  It's not comfortable in the hands, especially with a bigger lens on the body.  I may have to buy the grip, which is not something I wanted as I like the size of the body as it is.   I'm going to shoot it without the grip for a while, see if I get used to it.

Some people have posted on various forums that their D800 came with a few hundred shutter actuations.  I checked the shutter count on my first frame, it was showing "2". Maybe they do a test shot at the factory?

This is the first frame from my camera.  I didn't set all of the settings I should have, but it is what it is.  Shot using the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8, auto ISO, aperture priority mode.  Processed from 14-bit lossless compressed raw in lightroom. Not the best, but I'm happy with things so far.  My dog Cedric, who is always an unwilling participant since there are more interesting things to do at the beach than sit around.  And yes, I can see my reflection in his eye.

First photo taken with my Nikon D800, my dog Cedric

Any my second shot, same settings.  This time of my dog Jammie.

Second photo taken with my Nikon D800, my dog Jammie

Flower shots below are shot on a sturdy tripod, Nikkor 105 f/2.8 VR, 2 second timer, 3 second exposure delay, live view focus. Processed from 14-bit lossless compressed raw in lightroom.  Better, happy with the first samples as I know they will get better from here.

D800 Test Image - Apple blossom

D800 Test Image - flowers

The full resolution jpeg (18MB) can be seen here.  The detail captured by the camera is amazing.