Moon Shot - Nikon Z7 and AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR

Moon shot with Nikon Z7 and AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF

Just a quick post showing the great performance of the Nikon Z7 combined with the AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF lens.  Significant crop from the full frame, edited in Capture One and Photoshop.

1/500s, ISO 200, f/8, 500mm

Moon Shot - Nikon Z7 and AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR

 


Lightroom Classic Comparison : Boundary Warp vs Fill Edges vs Auto Crop

Lightroom Classic Panorama Merge : Boundary Warp vs Fill Edges vs Auto Crop

Today, Adobe released a new version of Lightroom Classic (v9) that has an addition to the panorama merge function: fill pixels (using content aware fill).

Lightroom v9 Fill Edges Panorama

The new version of Photoshop (2020) also has this functionality but the images created in this post were created by Lightroom.

Photoshop 2020 Merge to Panorama - Content Aware Fill

First, I did some basic edits to 16 raw files captured with a Nikon Z7 and Nikkor Z 24-70 f/4 S lens.  Vertical orientation, hand held while on a hike at Chain Lakes in Washington State, USA.  That’s Mount Shuksan in the distance.  I loaded these images into the panorama module and it created this basic stitch (border added to see effect):Lightroom Classic v9.0, Camera Raw 12 : Panorama Merge - Basic Panorama Stitch - No Alteration

The resulting image is 26442 x 8257 pixels (218 megapixels), but it contains missing data around the perimeter (common issue when stitching).  To correct for this, Lightroom gives you several options.

Auto Crop – this will create a rectangular crop of maximum size while removing all of the areas with missing information.  Lightroom Classic Panorama Merge - Basic Panorama with Auto Crop Pixels26190 x 7282 (190 megapixels)

Boundary Warp – the image is stretched to fill the missing data.  Pixels are moved and interpolated but the resulting image is larger than the cropped version.

Lightroom Classic Panorama Merge - Boundary Warp Only

26153 x 7946 (208 megapixels)

Fill Edges (new) – attempts to use Content Aware Fill to fill in the missing data (with limited success in this case, see below).

Lightroom Classic Panorama Merge - Fill Edges Only

26442 x 8257 (218 megapixels)

So the new “Fill Edges” option created the largest file and preserved the pixels (no stretching) but also created odd artifacts in the file (as Content Aware Fill is known to do).  See the lines in the 100% crop below from the edge of the frame.  These are not present in the crop or boundary warp methods.

Detail

Lightroom Classic Panorama Merge - Fill Pixels Detail 2

To make comparing some of the options a bit easier, here are some before/after sliders so you can more easily see the difference.

Original vs Boundary Warp

Original vs Fill Edges

Boundary Warp vs Fill Edges

I thought Boundary Warp might distort the image to the point that quality is degraded substantially but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  After looking at both images side by side in Lightroom at 100% (1:1 view), especially at the edges where Boundary Warp has the greatest effect, I don’t see any major difference between the two techniques in terms of quality.  So “Fill Edges” might work well for blue sky or other images where the edges are not detailed, but I’ll mostly stick to using Boundary Warp and Crop.

Boundary Warp vs Fill Edges

The final image (which I will edit further) is a combination of Boundary Warp (setting 40) and Auto Crop.  This seems to give me the highest level of quality while preserving as much of the image size as possible.


RAF Red Arrows Fly By in Vancouver, BC, Canada

British RAF Red Arrows North American Tour

I was sad to miss this year's Abbotsford Air Show, but did manage to see the enhanced fly over by the British RAF Red Arrows team. They have been on a North American Tour this summer and yesterday did a fly by in Victoria and here in Vancouver. Great to seem, my first time seeing this team in action.

I only had my 500mm f/5.6 PF Nikkor so getting some wider shots was just not possible.  Still, it was fun to watch the team perform and I managed to get a few nice shots from the all too short event.  I hope the Red Arrows team can make it to the Abbotsford Air Show one year, they would be a great additon.

Nice formation flying.

RAF Red Arrows Fly By in Vancouver, BC as part of North American Tour

Coming right at us with trailing red and blue smoke.

Red Arrows Red and Blue Smoke Coming Head On - Vancouver, BC

Close up of the BAE Hawk T1 aircraft with modified tail. Used to inject diesel and dye to create the coloured smoke trails.
RAF Red Arrows : Close up with tail injector

Laying down smoke
RAF Red Arrows : White and Blue Smoke Side View 2 - #redarrows #redarrowstour

 

Red Arrows Red and Blue Smoke Bottom View

A few extra shots.


Cottontail rabbit - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF VR

Birds, Bunnies, and Bugs with Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF

Not my usual post as I just want to share the images and not write too much about an otherwise uneventful day.  These images were shot at Jericho Beach in Vancouver, BC using the Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF lens.  The rabbits are feral and while technically wild they let people get fairly close.  You certainly don't need a 500mm lens to get decent shots here.  A few of my favorites from the day first then the rest.

Cottontail rabbit - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF VR

 

Rabbit - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF VR

 

Grasshopper - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF VR

 

Great Blue Heron - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF VR

Canada Goose - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF VR


Moon shot with Nikon Z7 and AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF 1

Hiking Brunswick Mountain


You can download my GPX or KML files for use in your own GPS trackers or mapping tools.

Brunswick Mountain is the tallest peak in the North Shore Mountains at 1788m and has a panoramic view of Howe Sound and other popular peaks including the Lions.  My Garmin told me I climbed 1561m over a 17 km round trip with grades over 40%, which made for a long day.  The effort is worth it in the end though, it's not often you get to look down on Mt. Harvey, Sky Pilot, the Lions, and everything else around.  The hike starts at the end of Sunset Drive in Lions Bay, but there are only a handful of parking spaces and this is the trailhead for several popular hikes.  It's pay parking and they will ticket you.  Nothing is free these days, not even hiking.

The 2D profile for the hike is shown below.  It gets progressively more steep as you go.

 

The trail gets into dense coastal forest immediately.  I took a different route up on the lower slopes than I did coming back (see map above), and it was steeper so I don't necessarily recommend that section of trail.  I did find an old truck frame though which is slowly sinking into the forest.

From the initial section of gravel trail you will come to the route marker showing the way to the Lions and to Brunswick.  Don't miss the marker otherwise you are climbing the Lions.  The way to Brunswick is narrow and over grown, easy to miss.  Once on the Brunswick trail you start climbing through the forest with only slugs to see.  The trail never seems to end and around every corner is just more of the same.  New views at all, you just have to get through it.

As I was hiking I started to encounter fog/clouds and I was worried that the summit might be in cloud cover but I pressed on hoping for the best.

The trees eventually start to thin out but the trail gets even steeper from this point.

After more climbing, you start to see the first views through the trees. You have already gained significant elevation by this point, but there is plenty ahead.

You will come to an intersection with the Howe Sound Crest Trail and there are makers on several trees.   You can head left to Brunswick Lake, Hanover Lake, or Deeks Lake.  To the right is Mount Harvey, the Lions, and eventually Cypress.  Straight ahead (and up) is Brunswick, it should be somewhat obvious at this point.

The trail isn't always obvious, but there are orange markers to help lead the way.

The views are starting to get good though, making the effort easier.

 

The last section of the climb is steep and sometimes loose.

You will reach a plateau where you can finally see over the mountain, but the true summit is just to the right.

Some views before the final summit push.

The summit is actually three separate peaks.  This is peak 1 (which you can see in on the map at the top).

 

If you want to try and tackle the other two peaks it is possible without any special gear.  This view doesn't show it clearly but there is a definite gap between all three peaks with the gap between the first and second being the most tricky.  Obviously a mistake here has high consequences so I don't recommend it unless you are comfortable with such hiking.

The gully between the first and second peaks. It's a long way down.

Raven keeping me company.

The approach to the second summit is a bit sketchy.  I'm not a fan of heights and I just mad sure not to look down too much.

Once on the second peak, you will find some remnants of a structure that is now a bench.  You can see the view back to the first peak here as well.

Final push to the third peak.

 

The third and what seems like the highest peak of the three.  Standing on the highest point in the north shore, which is a very cool feeling.

It's a harsh life for the plants and animals up here.

Hikers on the first peak. Don't want to slip here.

Some final views from the summit, then the long road home.

Mount Harvey in the valley, Lions in the distance, Howe Sound to the right.

 

Cam settings by photokaz.com

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower Detail 2 (Micro Nikkor VR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED)

Focus Shift Shooting with the Nikon Z7 and 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro-Nikkor

None of my previous cameras had the focus shift feature so I decided to give it a try today.  We had great light and my wife's flowers are in full bloom and made for good test subjects.  There was a very slight breeze but the alignment seems to have done a good job with the slight movement between frames.  If you don't know what focus shift shooting is you can read a bit about Nikon's implementation here.  Essentially, the camera will take a series of exposures while slightly adjusting the focus between each frame.  This allows a razor thin plane of focus to actually move through the subject thus getting it all in sharp focus.  You need to stack the files into a single image using post processing techniques, today I tried this in Photoshop and Zerene Stacker.  I had better results in Photoshop but admittedly I'm a rookie with Zerene.

One thing to note, despite having a very fast computer, processing 30 or so images, each a 45 megapixel raw file, brought the PC to its knees :)  Might be time for another upgrade.   I did four stacks with Photoshop and I'm sharing my Zerene shots at the end, they have issues.

I think all of the flowers shown here are varieties of dhalia.

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower 4 - Macro focus stack with 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro-Nikkor Lens

Detail

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower Detail 4

 

Flower 2

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower 1

Detail

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower Detail 1

 

Flower 3 (my favorite one)

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower 2 (Micro Nikkor VR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED)

Detail

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower Detail 2 (Micro Nikkor VR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED)

Black and white conversion.  Might need a bit more work but that is all the time I have today for editing :)

Focus Shift with Nikon Z7 - black and white conversion Flower 4

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower Detail 3

Detail

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Adobe Photoshop - Flower Detail 3

 

A couple of samples with Zerene.  I tried both the DMap and PMax types but preferred the Photoshop stack to either.  The DMap one has some very strange artifacts in the OOF areas, no idea why.

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Zerene Stacker (PMax) - Flower

 

Nikon Z7 Focus Shift - Stacked with Zerene Stacker (DMap) - Flower


2019-07-06 - Hike up Hope Lookout Trail - 1949 sign

Hiking the Hope Lookout Trail

I hiked this with my six year old twins on July 6, 2019 but just posting a few pics now. The trail head starts in Hope, BC and is a short but relatively steep climb to the lookout. You get a nice panoramic view of the town below, it's well worth the effort.

As with some of my previous hikes. You can download my GPX or KML files for use in your own GPS devices.

Here are some images from the trail.  High resolution panorama is shown at the end. Click for bigger versions.

 

I took a series of photos from the top using my high resolution camera (46 megapixel) then stitched the files into a large panorama.  The smaller version is shown below, but you can get a much bigger version HERE and zoom in to look around town.  I'm not posting the full size file as it's just huge and takes forever to download.

Hope Panorama 4K


Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro

I have been to the Vancouver Aquarium many times before and always enjoy the visit.  Today I took my six year old twins once again, and brought along my macro lens for some shots.  Before we left the house, I noticed some of our flowers had recently been covered by rain. Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Even though the tanks and displays don't change too often, you always witness new and interesting behaviour by the animals that live there.  It's always worth a return visit.

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

The best part of our visit today was that there were many butterflies on display in the tropical section. The kids loved it.

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens

Vancouver Aquarium Macro Photo - Nikon Z7 and Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Lens


Cheam Peak Hike - Chilliwack BC Canada

Hiking Cheam Peak in Chilliwack

On Sunday of the August long weekend my brother and I scaled Cheam Peak located just outside Chilliwack, BC.  A truly breathtaking hike through alpine meadows towards an unobstructed and panoramic view of the Fraser Valley.  The peak is visible as a prominent landmark from the well traveled Trans Canada Highway that will evoke great memories every time I pass by it.

You can see the location of the hike on the map below, or a larger version here.  It's just east of Chilliwack but getting to the trail head is no easy feat.  It's a one hour drive from Chiliwack following Chilliwack Lake Rd to Foley Creek Forest Service Rd.  From there you take Chipmunk Creek Forest Service Rd where you will need a four wheel drive vehicle with reasonable ground clearance.  I don't recommend anything less as you are liable to get stuck, break your vehicle, or both.

You can download my GPX or KML files for use in your own GPS trackers or mapping tools.

Here is the hike profile.

Hike Profile - Cheam Peak Chilliwack BC As you are driving up the final stretch of the road, you already start to get rewarded with stunning views of the area.

Cheam Peak Hike - Chilliwack, BC, Canada - Captured on 8/4/2019 by Michal Heller using NIKON CORPORATION NIKON Z 7 and AF Zoom 14-30mm f/4.

 

Though we had a relatively early start to the day, there were already quite a few cars in the parking area at the top.

Captured on 8/4/2019 by Michal Heller using NIKON CORPORATION NIKON Z 7 and AF Zoom 14-30mm f/4.

 

The hike starts off with a well marked trail and gradual rise.
Cheam Peak Hike - Chilliwack, BC, Canada - Fraser Valley Hiking - Captured on 8/4/2019 by Michal Heller using NIKON CORPORATION NIKON Z 7 and AF Zoom 14-30mm f/4.

 

As you continue to gain elevation, you catch sight of a peak in the distance.  I initially thought this was Cheam but it turns out this is a different peak called Lady Peak.  There is a trail to that peak as well and it shares the initial part of the route with Cheam.  I'll have to come back to bag that one another day :)
Cheam Peak Hike - Chilliwack, BC, Canada - Fraser Valley Hiking - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 14-30 f/4 S Lens

 

Since much of the elevation gain was on the drive up to the trail head, you are very quickly walking through the upper alpine area. Views are just stunning (click for bigger).

At about the half way mark of the hike, there is a slight detour that will take you to a nice view to the northeast and a look at Jones Lake.

Cheam Peak Hike - Chilliwack, BC, Canada - Fraser Valley Hiking - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 14-30 f/4 S Lens

 

The final stretch is well above the trees, exposed, and when we went quite hot.

Cheam Peak Hike - Summit

Looking back from the rise to the summit.

Cheam Peak Chilliwack BC

 

The final stretch to the summit of Cheam, panoramic views in all directions.
Cheam Peak Hike - Chilliwack BC Canada

Views from the summit (click for bigger).

 

Views from the top.

Cheam Peak Panorama with Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 14-30 f/4 S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheam Peak Panorama Nikon Z7

Shots from the way down, just a stellar day for a walk in the mountains.

Cheam Peak Hike - Chilliwack, BC, Canada - Fraser Valley Hiking - Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 14-30 f/4 S Lens

 

I'm testing the app Relive which will draw the hike on a 3D map and add photos.  It's fun and the result is shown below.

Relive 'Cheam Peak'

You can view some of my other hiking related posts at these links:

 

 

 


Vancouver Island Raptors – Nikon Z7 Nikkor 24-70 f/4 S – Owl close up

A Visit to Pacific Northwest Raptors

Last weekend, my wife and I visited The Raptors for an all-day raptor experience.  Located a short drive from Duncan on Vancouver Island and definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.  We enjoyed it so much we brought our kids and their grandparents the very next day so they could experience it as well.  Not only did we get to hold some awesome birds on our glove, we got to see the flying demo and participate in the Hawk Walk.  Overall, a great time and highly recommended if you want to get up close to some birds of prey.

Plenty of photo opportunities as well, here are a few of my shots.  All taken with my new combo of the Nikon Z7 and Nikkor Z 24-70 f/4 S.

Golden Eagle

Vancouver Island Raptors - Nikon Z7 Nikkor 24-70 f/4 S - Golden Eagle

 

Gyrfalcon, which was also in the flying demo.  Very cool.
Vancouver Island Raptors – Nikon Z7 Nikkor 24-70 f/4 S – Gyrfalcon head close up

 

Lindsay holding this beauty.
Vancouver Island Raptors - Nikon Z7 Nikkor 24-70 f/4 S - Gyrfalcon

Great Horned Owl, possibly my favorite.  During the flying demo he gets so close to the audience you can feel his wingtips on your head. Vancouver Island Raptors – Nikon Z7 Nikkor 24-70 f/4 S – Owl flying demo

Vancouver Island Raptors – Nikon Z7 Nikkor 24-70 f/4 S – Owl close up

Bald Eagle.  Just awesome to see such a beautiful bird up close. Vancouver Island Raptors – Nikon Z7 Nikkor 24-70 f/4 S – Bald Eagle flying demo

Vancouver Island Raptors – Nikon Z7 Nikkor 24-70 f/4 S – Bald Eagle flying demo

Boomer, the entertaining Kookaburra Vancouver Island Raptors - Nikon Z7 Nikkor 24-70 f/4 S - Kookaburra

Vancouver Island Raptors – Nikon Z7 Nikkor 24-70 f/4 S – Kookaburra

 

Spectacled Owl

Vancouver Island Raptors - Nikon Z7 Nikkor 24-70 f/4 S - Owl

Vancouver Island Raptors - Nikon Z7 Nikkor 24-70 f/4 S - Owl

 

Turkey Vulture Vancouver Island Raptors – Nikon Z7 Nikkor 24-70 f/4 S – Turkey Vulture flying demo

 

Red Tailed Hawk coming in for a landing during the Hawk Walk.
Vancouver Island Raptors – Nikon Z7 Nikkor 24-70 f/4 S – Hawk walk with Red Tailed Hawk

 

Saker Falcon Vancouver Island Raptors – Nikon Z7 Nikkor 24-70 f/4 S – Peregrine Falcon close up

 

American Kestrel

Vancouver Island Raptors - Nikon Z7 Nikkor 24-70 f/4 S - American Kestrel

 

 

 


Nikon Z7 Testing - IBIS, Peaking, High ISO - Red cap mushroom : 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 3200 : Nikon Z7 w/ 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor and FTZ adapter

Nikon Z7 : High ISO, IBIS, Focus Peaking

I took a walk around my neighborhood with my kids to look for fall mushrooms and flowers. I wanted to test a few aspects of the Nikon Z7 including high ISO shots, ability of the in body image stabilization (IBIS) to steady shots at slower shutter speeds, and the focus peaking (which none of my previous cameras have offered).  To test, I mounted my 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro Nikkor lens on the FTZ adapter and headed out. It was late afternoon light with some heavy tree cover at times, I first tested focus tracking by trying to get some shots of my kids. I was quite disappointed with the performance of the Z7/105 combo, the tracking was terrible. The camera missed almost every shot, even with the kids just walking. The 105 was never a good performer in this regard and it continues it's poor performance on the Z7.

Regardless, I tested on some static subjects and the results were quite good.  Fairly clean output at ISO 3200.

Nikon Z7 Testing - IBIS, Peaking, High ISO - Red cap mushroom : 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 3200 : Nikon Z7 w/ 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor and FTZ adapter
1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 3200 : Nikon Z7 w/ 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor and FTZ adapter

 

Test of manual focus with peaking, worked very well.

Nikon Z7 macro manual focus with focus peaking test : 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 160 : Nikon Z7 w/ 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor and FTZ adapter
1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 160 : Nikon Z7 w/ 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor and FTZ adapter
Nikon Z7 macro manual focus with focus peaking test : 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 200 : Nikon Z7 w/ 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor and FTZ adapter
1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 200 : Nikon Z7 w/ 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor and FTZ adapter

 

This squirrel was running around and I managed a shot.  It's acceptably sharp for web use but not ideal.

Nikon Z7 testing : 1/160s, f/3.2, ISO 200 : Nikon Z7 w/ 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor and FTZ adapter
1/160s, f/3.2, ISO 200 : Nikon Z7 w/ 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor and FTZ adapter

 

This girl was moving on the web and the web was also moving in the breeze.  Of 30 or so shots only two yielded results worth sharing.

Nikon Z7 testing of IBIS, peaking, and high ISO: 1/320s, f/6.5, ISO 1600 : Nikon Z7 w/ 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor and FTZ adapter
1/320s, f/6.5, ISO 1600 : Nikon Z7 w/ 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor and FTZ adapter

 

This shot was at 1/80s hand held but I tested as slow as 1/5s and could get reasonably sharp photos.  I don't think that would have been possible with my D810, even with a VR lens.

Nikon Z7 testing of IBIS, peaking, and high ISO: 1/80s, f/5.6, ISO 400 : Nikon Z7 w/ 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor and FTZ adapter
1/80s, f/5.6, ISO 400 : Nikon Z7 w/ 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor and FTZ adapter

 


Nikon Z7 Full Frame Mirrorless Camera - Full

Nikon Z7 Setup and Configuration

 

Nikon Z7 Full Frame Mirrorless Camera - Full

As I did for the Nikon D800 and D810 DSLR cameras, I'm posting the settings I'm using for the Nikon Z7 along with a file you can download to use as a starting point for your own settings.  Doing this forces me to go through every setting available on the camera and to understand what it does.  I'm using the official Nikon Z7 Reference Manual (English version, others available) to gain an understanding of the features.  Some will be familiar if you are coming from other Nikon bodies, others are brand new found only in the Z7.

Unlike the D800/D810 that used four memory banks that were selectable in the software, the Z7 has three user configurable settings (U1, U2, U3) not unlike a D750 or D7500.  I find this option far superior, personally.  Also, in the D800/D810 I devoted one of the memory banks to a "point & shoot" type setup where the camera did as much of the work as possible.  This was useful for my wife, who doesn't want to mess with settings.  The Z7 has a fully automatic mode (Auto) selectable via the mode dial which is idea for this type of use.

I have set the three modes on my Z7 to preconfigure the camera into landscape, action, or portrait settings.  Often, I make minor adjustments from the standard settings depending on what is required.  If you want to use my custom settings in your camera, feel free to download my settings file here:

Firmware C: 1.00, LF: 1.00 : Download Nikon Z7 custom settings file 1.00

I suggest you back up your own settings first (SETUP MENU -> Save/load settings -> save settings, copy the settings file from the media card to your computer). To use my custom settings file, copy it to the root folder of your media card using your computer, insert the media card into your camera and navigate to SETUP MENU -> Save/load settings -> Load settings. This will copy the settings over to your camera.  Once complete, update the copyright and image comment settings to your own.  If you have questions, or a suggestion feel free to leave them in the comments at the bottom of the page, I'll maintain a change log of any significant changes in my change log and post updated files as new firmware is released.

The settings are all shown below.  Use the search feature at the top of the table if you are looking for a specific setting.

NIKON Z7 SETTINGS

P/S/A/M

U1 : Landscape

U2 : Action

U3 : Portrait

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

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Foggy Trees

CFL Football : BC Lions vs Montreal Alouettes : Sept 8 2012 : Felions

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Well dressed tour guide

EXTERNAL CONTROLS

Release mode Note 1

As needed

Continuous L (3)

Continuous H (extended)

Continuous L (3)

Monitor Mode ButtonPrioritize viewfinderPrioritize viewfinderPrioritize viewfinderPrioritize viewfinder
Exposure ModeAs selected by mode dialAperture PriorityShutter PriorityAperture Priority

PLAYBACK MENU

DeleteSelectedSelectedSelectedSelected
Playback folderAllAllAllAll
Playback display options"Highlights" and "Overview""Highlights" and "Overview""Highlights" and "Overview""Highlights" and "Overview"
Image reviewOffOffOffOff
After deleteContinue as beforeContinue as beforeContinue as beforeContinue as before
After burst, showLast image in burstLast image in burstLast image in burstLast image in burst
Rotate tallOffOffOffOff
Slide showAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed
RatingAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed

PHOTO SHOOTING MENU

Storage folderDefaultDefaultDefaultDefault
File namingI set to my initials: MKHMKHMKHMKH
Choose image areaFXFXFXFX
Image qualityRAW (occasionally I shoot RAW+JPEG)RAW (occasionally I shoot RAW+JPEG)RAW (occasionally I shoot RAW+JPEG)RAW (occasionally I shoot RAW+JPEG)
Image sizeLargeLargeLargeLarge
NEF (RAW) recording

> NEF (RAW) compression

On - Lossless compressedOn - Lossless compressedOn - Lossless compressedOn - Lossless compressed

> NEF (RAW) bit depth

14-bit14-bit14-bit14-bit
ISO sensitivity settingsManually set depending on sceneManually set depending on sceneManually set depending on sceneManually set depending on scene

> ISO sensitivity

64 (or higher if necessary)64 (or higher if necessary)64 (or higher if necessary)64 (or higher if necessary)

> Auto ISO sensitivity control

As neededAs neededAs neededAs needed

>> Maximum sensitivity

12,800 (higher than this and the files are unusable)

12,800

12,800

12,800

>> Maximum sensitivity with flash

12,800

12,800

12,800

12,800

>> Minimum shutter speed

Auto (use fastest, which is 1 / 2x focal length)Auto (use fastest, which is 1 / 2x focal length)Auto (use fastest, which is 1 / 2x focal length)Auto (use fastest, which is 1 / 2x focal length)
White balanceAuto1 (irrelevant if shooting raw but useful to preview photos on the LCD)

Auto1

Auto1

Auto1

Set Picture Control

Auto (Irrelevant if shooting RAW.  The only time I ever change this is to set it to Monochrome to preview in-camera what a B&W image would look like)

AutoAutoAuto
Manage Picture ControlI don't use it
Color SpaceAdobeAdobeAdobeAdobe
Active D-LightingOffOffOffOff
Long exposure NROff (turning it on doubles your exposure times as the camera takes a second dark frame exposure to subtract noise)OffOffOff
High ISO NROffOffOffOff
Vignette controlOffOffOffOff
Diffraction compensationOn (I suspect this doesn?t apply to RAW files but until I can confirm I will leave it on)OnOnOn
Auto distortion controlOn (can't turn off with Z-mount lens)OnOnOn
Flicker reduction shootingOffOffOffOn
MeteringMatrixMatrixCenter-weightedSpot
Flash controlTTLTTLTTLTTL
Flash modeFill flashFill flashFill flashFill flash
Flash compensation0000

Focus mode Note 2

AF-CAF-CAF-CAF-C

AF-area mode Note3

Wide-area AF (S)Single-point AF or pinpoint - often manual focus override using 100% zoom on the LCDDynamic-area AFAuto-area AF
Vibration reduction

On (Normal)

On (Normal).  Off when on tripod.

SPT (Sport)

On (Normal)

Auto bracketingOffIf needed (AE bracketing, 3-5 shots, increment 2)OffOff
Multiple exposureOffOffOffOff
HDROffOffOffOff
Interval timer shootingAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed
Time-lapse movieAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed
Focus shift shootingAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed
Silent photographyAs needed (note that turning this feature on disables some other features such as flicker reduction, EFC and changes frame ratesAs needed

Off

As needed

MOVIE SHOOTING MENU

File naming Note5

I set to my initials: MKHMKHMKHMKH
Choose image areaFXFXFXFX
Frame size/frame rate2160p30 (4K 30fps)2160p30 (4K 30fps)2160p30 (4K 30fps)2160p30 (4K 30fps)
Movie qualityHighHighHighHigh
Movie file typeMOVMOVMOVMOV
ISO sensitivity settingsDefaultDefaultDefaultDefault
White balanceAuto1Auto1Auto1Auto1
Set Picture ControlAutoAutoAutoAuto
Manage Picture ControlUnused
Active D-LightingNormalNormalNormalNormal
High ISO NRNormalNormalNormalNormal
Vignette controlNormalNormalNormalNormal
Diffraction compensationOnOnOnOn
Auto distortion controlOnOnOnOn
Flicker reductionAutoAutoAutoAuto
MeteringMatrixMatrixMatrixMatrix
Focus modeFull-time AFFull-time AFFull-time AFFull-time AF
AF-area modeAuto-area AFAuto-area AFAuto-area AFAuto-area AF
Vibration reductionOnOnOnOn
Electronic VROffOffOffOff
Microphone sensitivityAutoAutoAutoAuto
AttenuatorOffOffOffOff
Frequency responseWideWideWideWide
Wind noise reductionOffOffOffOff
Headphone volume15151515
TimecodeDefaultDefaultDefaultDefault

CUSTOM SETTING MENU

a Autofocus
a1 AF-C priority selectionFocusFocusReleaseFocus
a2 AF-S priority selectionFocusFocusFocusFocus
a3 Focus tracking with lock-on1252
a4 Auto-area AF face detectionOnOnOnOn
a5 Focus points usedAllAll1/2 Every other pointAll
a6 Store points by orientationOffOffOffOff
a7 AF activationAF-ON only (Out-of-focus release: Disable)AF-ON only (Out-of-focus release: Disable)AF-ON only (Out-of-focus release: Enable)AF-ON only (Out-of-focus release: Disable)
a8 Limit AF-area mode selectionAll checkedAll checkedAll checkedAll checked
a9 Focus point wrap-aroundWrapWrapWrapWrap
a10 Focus point options

> Manual focus mode

OffOffOffOff

> Dynamic-area AF assist

OnOnOnOn
a11 Low-light AFOnOnOnOn
a12 Built-in AF-assist illuminatorOffOffOffOff
b Metering/exposure
b1 EV steps for exposure cntrl1/3 step1/3 step1/3 step1/3 step
b2 Easy exposure compensationOffOffOffOff
b3 Center-weighted area12mm12mm12mm12mm
b4 Fine-tune optimal exposureDefaultDefaultDefaultDefault
c1 Shutter-release button AE-LOffOffOffOff
c2 Self-timerAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed
c3 Power off delay

> Playback

10s10s10s10s

> Menus

1m1m1m1m

> Image review

10s10s10s10s

> Standby timer

30s30s30s30s
d Shooting/display
d1 CL mode shooting speed3333
d2 Max. continuous release200200200200
d3 Sync. Release mode optionsSyncSyncSyncSync
d4 Exposure delay modeOff

3s

OffOff
d5 Electronic front-curtain shutterOffOnOffOff
d6 Limit selectable image areaAll checkedAll checkedAll checkedAll checked
d7 File number sequenceOnOnOnOn
d8 Apply settings to live viewAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed
d9 Framing grid displayOffOnOffOff
d10 Peaking highlightsAs neededOnOffOn

> Peaking level

As needed2 (standard)Off3 (high sensitivity)

> Peaking highlight color

Red

Red

Red

Red

d11 View all in continuous modeOnOnOnOn
e Bracketing/flash
e1 Flash sync speed1/200s1/200s1/200s1/200s
e2 Flash shutter speed1/60s1/60s1/60s1/60s
e3 Exposure comp. for flashEntire frameEntire frameEntire frameEntire frame
e4 Auto flash ISO sensitivity controlSubject and backgroundSubject and backgroundSubject and backgroundSubject and background
e6 Auto bracketing (mode M)Flash/speedFlash/speedFlash/speedFlash/speed
e5 Modelling flashOnOnOnOn
e7 Bracketing orderUnder > MTR > overUnder > MTR > overUnder > MTR > overUnder > MTR > over
f Controls
f1 Customize i menu

Personal preference

Personal preference

Personal preference

Personal preference

f2 Custom control assignment Note 4

Personal preference

Personal preference

Personal preference

Personal preference

f3 OK button

> Shooting mode

ResetResetResetReset

> Playback mode

Zoom on/offZoom on/offZoom on/offZoom on/off
f4 Shutter spd & aperture lock

> Shutter speed lock

OffOffOffOff

> Aperture lock

OffOffOffOff
f5 Customize command dials

> Reverse rotation

DefaultDefaultDefaultDefault

> Change main/sub

DefaultDefaultDefaultDefault

> Menus and playback

On (image review excluded)On (image review excluded)On (image review excluded)On (image review excluded)

> Sub-dial frame advance

10101010
f6 Release button to use dialOffOffOffOff
f7 Reverse indicators- 0 +- 0 +- 0 +- 0 +
g Movie
g1 Customize i menu

Personal preference

Personal preference

Personal preference

Personal preference

g2 Custom control assignmentPersonal preferencePersonal preferencePersonal preferencePersonal preference
g3 OK buttonResetResetResetReset
g4 AF speed2 (Always)2 (Always)2 (Always)2 (Always)
g5 AF tracking sensitivity3333
g6 Hightlight displayOffOffOffOff

SETUP MENU *3

Format memory cardAs needed
Save user settingsAs needed
LanguageAs needed
Time zone and dateAs needed
Monitor brightness0
Monitor color balanceDefault
Viewfinder brightnessAuto
Viewfinder color balanceDefault
Control panel brightnessAuto
Limit monitor mode selectionAll checked
Information displayB (dark on light)
AF fine-tuneAs needed
Non-CPU lens dataAs needed
Clean image sensorClean at shutdown
Image Dust Off ref photoAs needed
Image CommentOff
Copyright informationSet your name/site here
Beep optionsOff
Touch controlsOn (default)
HDMIDefault
Location dataBoth on
Wireless remote (WR) optionsDefault
Assign remote (WR) Fn buttonOff
Airplane modeAs needed
Connect to smart deviceAs needed
Connect to PCAs needed
Wireless transmitter (WT-7)As needed
Conformity markingAs needed
Battery infoAs needed
Slot emptry release lockLock
Save/load settingsAs needed
Reset all settingsAs needed
Firmware versionAs needed

RETOUCH MENU (I don't use it)

MY MENU

> d4 Exposure delay mode
> d5 Electronic front curtain shutter
> Vibration reduction
> Silent photography
> Apply settings to live view
> Format memory card

Note 1: Release mode

The User Settings (U1/U2/U3) do not retain the release mode settings.  If you switch user modes you need to remember to switch the release mode (single, continuous, etc.)

Note 2: Focus Mode

I use the 'AF-ON' or 'back button autofocus' technique (for lack of a better term) to focus my camera. You will see that in my settings, I primarily use AF-C as the default focus mode when I use the camera. With the AF-ON technique, you decouple the focusing of the camera from the shutter press. The nice thing is that you can have both continuous, static autofocus, and manual focus modes all at the same time. Focus and recompose is also easier as you don’t have to keep the shutter half-pressed, just release the AF-ON button and the camera stops focusing. It works very well, but takes a bit of getting used to. This technique works on both Nikon and Canon cameras (likely other brands as well but I haven’t checked into it).

Note 3: AF-area Mode

This will be subject to change after more testing. I'm not yet sure how well the Z7 tracks faces in the Auto-area AF mode.

Note 4: Custom control assignment (f2)

  • Fn1 button : Preview - I like to have DoF preview available, especially for macro work.  The Z7 only stops the lens down to f/5.6 so you do not have an accurate preview of DoF in the viewfinder or monitor unless you use the Preview function.
  • Fn2 button : My Menu - quick access to my most commonly used settings (see above for what I keep in the menu).
  • AF-On : AF-On
  • Sub-selector : Focus point selection
  • Sub-selector center : Spot metering (useful for a quick metering override if I'm in matrix and it's not exposing the scene properly.
  • Movie record button : Auto bracketing.  Unlike the D800/D810 I'm used to, the Z7 does not have a dedicated bracket button so I reassigned the movie record button which is otherwise useless in photo mode.
  • Lens Fn button : none of my lenses have this.
  • Lens control ring : Focus (M/A).  Manual focus override, same as most lenses.

Note 5: Movie Shooting Menu/Settings

Despite having the option to shoot video with my cameras, I very rarely do. Please don't consider my video settings optimal, I almost never need them.

Nikon Z7 Setup - Change Log

DateChanges
2018-10-10Initial publication

Vancouver Aquarium - Blue Poison Dart Frog : 2018-10-05

Nikon Z7 First Shots

One of my favorite places to visit is the Vancouver Aquarium, and that is exactly where I went to test out the new Nikon Z7. I only had a short amount of time so only two test shots but more to come soon.

Vancouver Aquarium - Blue Poison Dart Frog : 2018-10-05
Vancouver Aquarium - Blue Poison Dart Frog
Vancouver Aquarium - Horned Frog : 2018-10-05
Vancouver Aquarium - Horned Frog

Downtown Toronto Panorama at Night

Visit to Toronto

I had very little time to take photos in Toronto, just one night after work.  Ventured to the islands off of downtown and managed to get a few nice shots.  I'll try to update this post once I edit a few more.

Downtown Toronto Panorama at Night
Toronto, Canada

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - 0EV 1.60s f4 ISO64

Nikon Z7 Banding Test

Update: ISO 3200 test follows below.

I just picked up a new Nikon Z7 and there have been multiple reports of banding in recovered shadow areas.  I decided to test this for myself to see when the problem might crop up.  I shot a desk in my office with a monitor (seems to show up more on flat black surfaces).  There was a lot of back light so the monitor is underexposed even in the 0EV frame.  Settings:

  • RAW (NEF)
  • Processed by Adobe Lightroom Classic CC 7.5 (Camera Raw 10.5)
  • No processing except:
    • Profile: Adobe Color
    • White Balance: Daylight
  • Exposure settings for each photo noted below.

TL;DR:

  • Banding is an issue for files pushed +4EV or greater.
  • Banding is not visible at normal viewing sizes.
  • Noise reduction can smooth out the banding effect.
Nikon Z7 Banding Test - 0EV 1.60s f4 ISO64
0EV 1/60s f/4 ISO64

100% crop from the above image in the top right corner of the monitor.  No visible banding (as expected)

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - 0EV 1.60s f4 ISO64 crop
0EV 1/60s f/4 ISO64 - 100% crop

 

I then took another shot, this time with exposure compensation at -3EV, resulting shot is definitely underexposed.

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - -3EV 1.500s f4 ISO64
-3EV 1/500s f/4 ISO64

The underexposed file then pushed in Lightroom to +3EV (exposure was the only adjustment).  Resulting image:

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - -3EV +3EV 1.500s f4 ISO64
Underexposed image pushed+3EV 1.500s f4 ISO64

100% crop from the +3 push.  No visible banding.

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - -3EV +3EV 1.500s f4 ISO64 crop
100% crop from +3 EV push in Lightroom

 

The underexposed file then pushed in Lightroom to +4EV (exposure was the only adjustment).  Resulting image:

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - -3EV +4EV 1.500s f4 ISO64
+4EV push in Lightroom - 1.500s f4 ISO64

100% crop from +4 EV push.  No visible banding in the deep shadows.

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - -3EV +4EV 1.500s f4 ISO64 crop
Crop from +4EV push

However, I did see some banding crop up in some of the transition areas (light to dark) at the bottom of the monitor.  It's slight but visible at 100%.

Nikon Banding Z7

 

Finally, I did a +5EV push of the underexposed image.  This is now very over exposed and not usable but useful for testing.

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - -3EV +5EV 1.500s f4 ISO64
-3EV image pushed +5EV in Lightroom  1.500s f4 ISO64

100% crop from the +5EV image.  It's slightly visible when I check at 100% in Lightroom but might not come across in the exported jpg very well.

Nikon Z7 Banding Test - -3EV +5EV 1.500s f4 ISO64 crop
100% crop from image pushed +5EV in Lightoom.

As before, most visible in the light to dark transition areas.  100% below.

 

Looking in other areas of the image (not just the black monitor), I can see slight banding in the +4EV and +5EV pushed images.  Typically when you bump up shadows you introduce noise and in many cases some noise reduction is warranted.  I observed that adding noise reduction smoothed out the effect of the banding, though it was still present.  Further, the banding isn't visible at normal viewing sizes and only becomes visible as you zoom in (50% or larger viewing sizes).  For print, this would translate to 14 inches on the long edge assuming no crop and 300dpi.  Anything smaller and I suspect it wouldn't be visible.

For me, I can't remember ever pushing files to +4EV or greater.  If I see a very high contrast scene I will often do some exposure bracketing so that I can capture detail in the shadows without pushing the file in post.  I'll then blend the images for best results, and that type of workflow should avoid banding (I'll test this in the future).  If I have to push files that far, they are likely just casual shots I'll post on facebook and none of my friends would know the difference.  For me, this banding is a non issue.

Banding Test at ISO 3200

After posting some examples at base ISO (64) , a comment was made that the banding would become visible with less drastic editing if a higher ISO was used.  I decided to test this by shooting the same scene at ISO3200.  Results are below.

TL;DR:

  • My testing show that banding is NOT visible at ISO3200 regardless of how much the file is pushed in Lightroom.  I think the noise at higher ISO will mask any banding present.

First, normal exposure (exposure comp at 0EV).  The scene has fairly extreme contrast between light (bright sunlight outside) and dark (no interior lights on, black monitor).

0EV (1/1000s f/8 ISO1600) - Nikon Z7 high contrast scene, sensor banding issue
0EV (1/1000s f/8 ISO1600)

 

Now the same scene but camera has exposure compensation set to -3EV

-3EV Underexposed (1/8000s f/8 ISO1600)
-3EV Underexposed (1/8000s f/8 ISO1600)

Pushing the underexposed file by +3EV in Lightroom

-3EV Underexposed (1/8000s f/8 ISO1600) +3EV push : High ISO banding in the Nikon Z 7 mirrorless camera
-3EV Underexposed (1/8000s f/8 ISO1600) with +3EV push in post

 

100% crop from the +3EV push.  I'm unable to find any visible banding in the image.

-3EV Underexposed (1.8000 f8 ISO1600) +3EV push, 100% crop - Nikon Z7 banding at high ISO
-3EV Underexposed (1.8000 f8 ISO1600) +3EV push, 100% crop

 

Now a +5EV push of the underexposed file.  I find the file far too noisy to be useful so this is just an academic exercise to understand the behaviour of the sensor.

-3EV Underexposed (1/8000s f/8 ISO1600) +5EV push - Nikon Z7
-3EV Underexposed (1/8000s f/8 ISO1600) +5EV push

 

100% crop from the +5EV push.  It's ugly but I don't see banding, just a lot of noise.

-3EV Underexposed (1/8000 f/8 ISO1600) +5EV push, 100% crop
-3EV Underexposed (1/8000 f/8 ISO1600) +5EV push, 100% crop

 

Finally, I tried some editing the 'properly' exposed file (0EV) using highlight and shadow recovery.  Here the exposure is adjusted to +1EV, shadows at +100, hightlights at -100.

0EV (1/1000s f/8 ISO1600) +1EV push, shadow +100, highlights -100
0EV (1/1000s f/8 ISO1600) +1EV push, shadow +100, highlights -100

100% crop from the edited file, no visible banding.  I checked the whole image and could not detect banding anywhere.

0EV (1/1000s f/8 ISO1600) +1EV push, shadow +100, highlights -100, 100% crop
0EV (1/1000s f/8 ISO1600) +1EV push, shadow +100, highlights -100, 100% crop

 

My conclusion is that high ISO noise masks banding and, at least for ISO 3200, banding will not be an issue in editing (noise will be, as it is with any other sensor).  I might do more testing in the future to get an idea at which ISO the banding starts to become less noticeable.


Vancouver Aquarium with the iPhone X : 2018-09-09 : Sea Anemone

Vancouver Aquarium with the iPhone X

Some photos from this weekend using the iPhone X. Captured in RAW (dng) using Adobe Lightroom Mobile (a free app) and edited with Lightroom on the desktop.

The Aquarium presents especially challenging conditions for any camera (shooting through glass, reflections, low light). Though the quality still pales to that from a camera with a larger lens and sensor I'm impressed with the photos the phone can produce. The future looks bright if this is how far we have come in only a few years.

Vancouver Aquarium with the iPhone X : 2018-09-09 : Sea Anemone
Vancouver Aquarium with the iPhone X : 2018-09-09 : Sea Anemone
Vancouver Aquarium with the iPhone X : 2018-09-09 : Moon Jellyfish
Vancouver Aquarium with the iPhone X : 2018-09-09 : Moon Jellyfish

Vancouver Aquarium with the iPhone X : 2018-09-09 : Emerald Tree Boa

Vancouver Aquarium with the iPhone X : 2018-09-09 : Emerald Tree Boa

Vancouver Aquarium with the iPhone X : 2018-09-09 : Clown Fish
Vancouver Aquarium with the iPhone X : 2018-09-09 : Clown Fish
Vancouver Aquarium with the iPhone X : 2018-09-09 : Toad
Vancouver Aquarium with the iPhone X : 2018-09-09 : Toad
Vancouver Aquarium with the iPhone X : 2018-09-09 : Horned Frog
Vancouver Aquarium with the iPhone X : 2018-09-09 : Horned Frog

 

Last one, not from the Aquarium but I just liked the shot :)  Still an iPhone X shot.

Vancouver Aquarium with the iPhone X : 2018-09-09 : Garden Flowers
Vancouver Aquarium with the iPhone X : 2018-09-09 : Garden Flowers

Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Canadian Forces CF-18 in Canada 150 Anniversary Colours

Abbotsford Air Show 2017

I had a post about the Abbotsford Air Show, but my blog decided to act up. There were a bunch of other photos and a description of each but I had to restore from backup and now I don't want to rewrite the content. Here is a random selection instead :)

Taken with a Nikon D810 and Nikkor 200-500 f/2.8 VR and Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8.

Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Canadian Forces Snowbirds
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Canadian Forces Snowbirds
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Canadian Forces Snowbirds
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Canadian Forces Snowbirds
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Silent Smoke Demo
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Silent Smoke Demo
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Aeroshell Demo Team
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Aeroshell Demo Team
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Aeroshell Demo Team
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Aeroshell Demo Team
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Aeroshell Demo Team
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Aeroshell Demo Team
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Jet Demo
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Jet Demo
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Jet Demo with flag
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Jet Demo with flag
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : F16 Demo
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : F16 Demo
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Heritage Flight with F35
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Heritage Flight with F35
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Canadian Forces CF-18 in Canada 150 Anniversary Colours
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Canadian Forces CF-18 in Canada 150 Anniversary Colours
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Grounded F35
Abbotsford Airshow : 2017-08-13 : Grounded F35

 


Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : You're Dead

Squamish Bald Eagles (Again)

This was my third time in Squamish to shoot Bald Eagles, and it will likely become an annual excursion.  Not only do I love Squamish and Brackendale, it is a great opportunity to practice wildlife photography with a photogenic subject.  Unlike my previous trip to the area when I visited in January, this time I came when the eagle concentrations were much higher.   There were several occasions when I saw up to eight eagles all trying to get one or two dead salmon, unsurprisingly some fights broke out.

As I was heading to a new location to begin my search for eagles, I saw an interesting log pincer thingy (correct name) and had to stop.  I managed to get a shot with my wide angle that included the Stawamus Chief in the background.

(As always, click to view larger.  You can also just scroll through all of the photos in a slideshow)

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 14-24 : The Chief and Logging

Getting to the beach at the south end of Squamish was more fun than expected due to deep snow.  Once I arrived, there were no eagles to be seen but I did brave the elements to get this long exposure shot before I packed up and went searching for the elusive birds.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 24-70 : Beach Long Exposure

First stop was near the SPCA.  Mount Garibaldi was looking majestic as usual so a quick shot was necessary.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Telephoto Landscape

I did find a single juvenile bald eagle

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Juvenile In Tree

Pretty sure he saw me.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Juvenile In Tree Close

Also came across a Great Blue Heron

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Great Blue Heron 3

Plenty of crows, which I used to practice my focus tracking for flying birds.Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Crow in Flight

A gang of seagulls.Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Seagull Gang

A few shy ducks.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Ducks Flying

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Ducks in Flight

This is the reason the eagles are here in high concentrations, plenty of dead or dying salmon to eat.  Other bird species also enjoy the annual feast.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Crows Eating Salmon

Finally, in the most popular spot there were plenty of eagles.  These were all found off Government Road near the Watershed Grill restaurant.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Three Amigos

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Raptor on the Wing

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Majestic

This one looking like he has found something interesting.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Pounce

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Eagle in Flight Blue Sky

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Eagle in Tree Close

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Eagle in Tree

As I said previously, fights were not uncommon though rarely seemed to result in any real damage.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Attack Vector

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Smash

I shot a LOT of photos to only get  a few worth keeping.  Not an easy subject to photograph.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Flight 1

The seagulls don't stick around to ask questions when they see the eagles coming in.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Seagull Chase

Another fight sequence.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Attack Sequence 1

This guy wanted to make sure the young eagle knew who the boss was.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Arial Attack

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : You're Dead

And a few more shots.  It certainly won't be my last time visiting the area.

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Juvenile Attack

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Dual Landing

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Attack

 

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Seagull Nope Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Eagle Sitting

Squamish Bald Eagles : 2016-12-12 : Nikon D810 & Nikkor 200-500 : Eagle Walking

 

 

 

 

 


Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Foggy Trees

Hike to Saint Marks Summit

I haven't been hiking much this year, such is the life with young twins.  I look forward to the day they can join me, but for now the tougher hikes have to be without them.  Since it's now fall, I figured this weekend was one of my last chances to get up into the mountains.  I decided to try Saint Marks Summit, which is close to Vancouver and only 11km so something I could finish before lunch.  I roped my friend Andrew into joining me, and he brought along his great awesome dog Genny. [See previous hikes in Lynn Valley, the Chief, and the Lions.]

The overall route is 11km round trip, and it took us almost exactly two hours to get to the summit.  In total, it was a four hour hike with close to 30 minutes at the summit.  On a clear day, you may want to spend more time at the top, but as you will see from the photos today was not such a day.  Feel free to browse these sites for details on the hike: Trail Peak, Vancouver Trails, Live Trails.  The route to Saint Marks is just part of a longer trail called the Howe Sound Crest trail which will take you past the Lions and eventually Porteau Cove.

My map of the route, it is very well marked, look for the signs and the orange trail markers.

You start off in the Cypress Mountain parking lot, head to the far north of the lot and up towards the chair lifts.  You will stay to the left and look for a route marker saying "Howe Sound Crest Trail".

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Trail Head

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Howe Sound Crest Trail

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Well Marked

For the first half, the trail gains elevation but it's well maintained (and they continue to upgrade this trail).

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Genny

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Trail and Andrew

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Trail

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Trail

Eventually though, the upgrades end and the trail becomes more natural.

 

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Trail Conditions and Dog

 

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Trail Conditions

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Genny and Trail

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Andrew

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Rooty Trail

Can you spot Genny?

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Trail Conditions 2

After two hours, you reach the summit.  From other photos I have seen the view is stunning.  For us, we were socked in with heavy cloud cover.

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Summit Trail Marker

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Foggy Summit

 

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Foggy Summit Stump

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Cloudy View

A panorama, iPhone vs Nikon

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - At the Summit - iPhone Panorama

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - D810 Panorama

Not the easiest descent.  On the way down we passed a yahoo wearing flip flops!  I really couldn't believe he made it as far as he did, and I'm sure his footwear will get destroyed and he will have to complete his journey barefoot.  These are the types of people North Shore Search and Rescue have to go pull down off the mountain.

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Andrew and Genny

Probably my favorite photo from the trip.

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Foggy Trees

Then the weather started to fog my lens, so I packed it in from that point.

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Tree


Moon shot with Nikon Z7 and AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF 2

Harvest Moon 2016

On September 16, we had a full moon which was also our harvest moon.  The harvest moon is the full moon closest to the fall equinox (Sept. 22nd).  Since it was a beautiful clear night, I thought I would test out the Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 VR lens.  Here is the shot, which isn't too bad for a relatively inexpensive lens (and Nikon D810).

Harvest Moon September 2016