According to Nikon Japan press release (English translation), the following sales date are set for Nikon D3, D300, some high end lenses, softwares, and accessories.

  • November 23rd, 2007: Nikon D300, Camera Control Pro 2, Capture NX 1.3.
  • November 30th, 2007: Nikon D3, Wireless transmitter WT-4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm F2.8G ED, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm F2.8G ED, AF-S NIKKOR 400mm F2.8G ED VR.
  • January, 2008: AF-S NIKKOR 500mm F4G ED VR, AF-S NIKKOR 600mm F4G ED VR.

As a sale commemoration and a show of being gratuitous, Nikon will conduct a promotion campaign that offers the first 300,000 buyers of D3 and D300 worldwide a free copy of Capture NX 1.3.

Posted in Digital SLR Cameras on October 31st, 2007. No Comments.

According to a news posted on DPReview, Canon has stopped the shipments of its EOS-1D Mark III. No specific reason was give in the DPReview post, but it is most like the auto focus issue that has been discussed extensively since the summer. This news has actually been out quite a few days ago on a SportsShooter forum post. Another UK report is here. A letter sent to dealers from Canon is available here (PDF). Gizmodo has also posted this letter.

Well, it is really a bad timing for Canon as Nikon’s D3 is about to be available soon. Nikon D3 targets the same professional photographers such as photojournalists and sports shooters.

Update on November 1, 2007: Canon has issued an official statement on the issue.

Posted in Digital SLR Cameras on October 31st, 2007. No Comments.

Japanese website ASCII has published an interesting interview (Babelfish translation, Google translation) with Nikon development personal on the development of the Nikon D300, due to be released in November 2007. Here are some interesting points:

  • Targeted customers: Users of both D2X and D200. Personally I think the D300 will appeal to many current D2X users. It costs less with the body and the grip combined than the D2X, with better performances in most aspects. No doubt, many professionals will purchase the full frame D3. However many will find the DX format sufficient.
  • As a flagship DX format DSLR, the three most significant features: 100% viewfinder (need very precise alignment of viewfinder, AF system, and the sensor), durability (150K shutter life), and high shooting speed.
  • High ISO noise performance to be more than 1 stop better than D200, but this is scene dependent. It mentioned that mid tone is brightened a bit, so the images overall has a brighter look.
  • The sensor is supplied by Sony according to Nikon specification and standard. The D300 sensor performs A/D conversion within the sensor to suppress circuit noise that may be generated when the analog signals are transferred to external A/D converter in previous designs. This also allows parallel conversion to improve shooting speed.
  • The active D-lighting function achieves what post-processing does in camera. It is not just a simple tone curve manipulation, but also some localized adjustments, similar to the dodge and burn technique in Photoshop.
  • The sensor has the ability of shooting 8fps but the mechanical parts cannot keep up without the attached battery grip. Without the battery grip, the maximum frame rate drops to 6fps.
  • The mechanical parts like the AF motor are mostly the same as in D200, but the parameters are optimized to increase the shooting speed on D300.
  • The speed improvement over D200: 45ms v. 50ms shutter lag, 90ms vs. 105ms viewfinder blackout time.
  • Apparently the shutter release sounds are also improved by “the mirror balancer”, which reduces mirror bouncing. I guess we can assume less vibration caused blurring when shooting at slow shutter speed.
  • The Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, who was involved in the F3/F4/F5/F6 design, is responsible for the D3 design. While the D300 was designed by in-house designers.
  • Nikon apparently listened to the complains about the durability of the D200 vertical battery grip. It is now constructed in part from magnesium alloy to increase rigidity. The grip is no longer L-shaped. Instead, it becomes flat. One battery remains in the camera and one in the grip. With D200 grip, both batteries go into the grip. It also takes several different types of battery, including AAs.
  • “3D-tracking mode”: When used in auto focus it photometrically utilizes scene recognition technique with the 1005 pixel RGB sensor and a diffraction grating to improve AF accuracy. The sensor maintains the focus by tracking the subject’s color and size. This application does not only scene recognition AF but is also is applied to auto white balance, and to background recognition in flash photography.
  • On Liveview mode: Focus using the actual picture taken by the sensor is the most accurate. In the “tripod shooting mode” of liveview, contrast AF is used to achieve focus. The interviewer asked an interesting question about why contrast AF, popular in compact digital cameras, were not used in DSLRs. The answer is that DSLR sensors cannot capture images with sufficient frame rate. Contrast AF works by doing frame by frame focus finding (maximum contrast). In DSLRs, due to the higher quality requirements, the frame rate with DSLR sensors are too slow. That makes sense that it is only available in tripod shooting mode and, most likely, for still subjects only.
  • On the dust removal: It is the first on Nikon DSLR. It has the vibration dust removal, an anti-static low pass filter with a special coating.

The simultaneous release of two flagship DSLR models D300 and D3, in DX and FX formats, are a significant achievement by Nikon. They reaffirmed the commitments to the DX format. Both formats will be continuous expanded and updated.

[Well, it took me a while to get throw the translations. If I missed anything, please let me know.]

Posted in Digital SLR Cameras on October 30th, 2007. No Comments.

See!! by *HP*

When shooting a close-up of people’s face, it is highly desirable to have their eyes in sharp focus and at the same time render the background blurry to avoid distractions. This situation typically requires accurate focus and large lens aperture. Here are some tips on how to focus on the eyes.

Focus-and-recompose technique should typically work fairly. On many cameras, the center focus point is the most sensitive and accurate. Therefore it may be the best option to simply focus on the eyes and recompose the frame. Be aware that focus-and-recomposes can have some pitfalls.

If you are concerned about focus accuracy using focus-and-recompose technique, another way is to use a off-center focusing sensor point. Many cameras have multiple focusing sensor points. Choose the one that’s right over the eye when the desired composition is achieved. If no focusing sensor point is exactly over the eyes, just select the one that is nearest to the eyes then do the focus-and-recompose. This will minimize the focusing error. Or you can compose loosely so there is a focus sensor point over the eyes, then crop the photo to desired composition.

Finally, you can always try manual focus if the light is not too dim.

If you still cannot get a good focus on the eyes, you may need to increase the depth of field (DOF) by stopping down the aperture. What may happen then is the shutter speed becomes too slow. In this case, you will need to either increase the ISO or shoot with flash.

Posted in Tips and Techniques on October 29th, 2007. No Comments.

Sony has taken the face detection technology to a new height with the launch of its compact DSC-T200 with a smile shutter mode. Are you always too slow to to press the shutter release button when someone smiles? Try this camera. It can actively identify human faces and takes the photo when someone smiles. Check out the video below. It is amazing!

Posted in Point & Shoot Cameras on October 27th, 2007. No Comments.

This is a very well presented video tutorial of the important photography concept depth of field (DOF). Enjoy!

Posted in Tips and Techniques on October 25th, 2007. No Comments.

The Tamron AF 17-50mm f/2.8 SP XR Di II LD Aspherical IF lens has received some good reviews (see review by PhotoZone.de) and appear to be a nice low-cost alternative to more expensive offerings from larger camera and lens manufacturers like Canon and Nikon. However there have been quite a few complains (including myself) of the lens overexposing in flash photography, especially in Nikon TTL-BL mode. Here are some threads I found on the Internet. Read More…

Posted in Lens, Photography Lighting on October 24th, 2007. 10 Comments.

Nikon shooters with Vibration Reduction (VR) lens may be interested in knowing if the lens VR function was on or off for a particular photo. It is recorded by the camera in the photo but many if not most software do not report this information. The one that works is the new Nikon ViewNX. Nikon ViewNX is rumored to be the replacement of the old Nikon View but the exact status is unclear.

Another option is the more powerful software ExifTool, which was featured earlier. This is mostly a Perl library and a command-line application for power users. It can report a lot more information than a typical software. You can find an example after the jump. Read More…

Posted in Software, Tips and Techniques on October 22nd, 2007. No Comments.
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