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Old Jan 19, 2003, 6:21 PM   #1
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Default Some thoughts on the D100

A fair part of my decision to buy a D100 was due to information garnered from this site. So, I thought it was only fair to share my experience with this machine. So far, I've been using this puppy for about a month and a half, and upwards of 3000 images.

In deciding which camera to puchase, the requirements I placed on it were pretty straightforward, I needed light weight, the ability to enlarge the images to a fair size, and I wanted to use my existing lenses. My decision to buy a D100 was pretty simple to make. I've been acumulating Nikon lenses for the better part of a lifetime and that left me with two choices: the Fuji FinePix or the Nikon. The final choice was more a matter of aesthetics than anything more practical. I don't like the looks of the FinePix logo on it's prism.

Last week I really put the camera through it's paces. I took it on a three day Winter hiking/camping trip in Virginia's Shenandoah Mountains. The D100 behaved nicely in very cold (10-15 degrees or so) weather. When it wasn't shooting, it was tucked in an insulated bag that kept it toasty warm. Surprisingly, the LCD didn't even fog up. When a blob of snow fell on it during a stiff breeze, I thought I was finished taking pictures for the weekend, but nothing seemed to penetrate and the D100 just kept going.

Things that have impressed me about the camera:
Battery life is incredible. I bought an extra with the camera and have yet to use it.
The learning curve was nearly flat. It really isn't that different than any other modern Nikon camera.
Using the camera set to uncompressed NEF's, I've been able to get some beautiful images that are incredibly simple to manipulate out of the camera.
Unlike my previous experience with digitals, the shutter on the D100 responds quickly.
The D100 feels solid, yet it doesn't weigh much. It's a lot lighter to lug around than my F5...and the batteries last longer!

Things I don't like about it:
Focus speed isn't the greatest, especially in low light situations. It's not unbearable, but it is noticably slower than my film cameras.
It's darn near impossible to efficiently work the buttons on the back, and the two thumbwheels with big fingers and gloves on.
My biggest problem involves processing time. The buffer fills up fast, and seems to take forever to clear. I don't shoot in bursts, but I often take several shots in a row. On a few occasions I've squeezed the release only to have nothing happen while the happy little green led indicated that it was writing to the card.

Now the really piddly things:
$2000 camera and they can't give us a hot shoe cover? It comes with an LCD cover, an eyepiece cover but no hot shoe cover! Obviously no one at Nikon has spent an hour with a toothbrush trying to remove bird poop from the little nooks and crannies of a hot shoe.
It took me longer to get that ugly black/yellow strap onto the machine than it did to learn to take pictures with it!

I think it's important to note that I haven't experienced any of the focus or exposure problems that I've seen others talking about on the various forums. Perhaps it's because my machine is newer, or perhaps it's because I've been working almost exclusively in NEF's but I've had no issues at all...well except for the time I moved it to shutter priority and forgot to set the speed...but that was my fault not the cameras.
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Old Jan 19, 2003, 6:45 PM   #2
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bird poop in the hot shoe. darned accurate bird you encountered. sounded more personal then chance. i loose that little stuff myself. i purchase 2 batches of the little screw covers for my F5 cost like $2+ a piece and i bought 5 of each. of course after i purchased them i never lost the originals.

buffer- theres never enough is there?

don't even try to compare the F5 focus with the D100. it is based afer all on a N80.

the learning curve should be relatively flat after using such a fine instrument as a F5. it is a nikon.

keep on shooting and enjoying it.
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Old Jan 22, 2003, 2:04 AM   #3
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Note on D100. Thanks for your reply on the image sharpen and use of NEF files instead of JPEG for superior focus the other day.

For some damn reason, I took my nikon D100 in the shop and swapped it for another one to test. As soon as we took shots and brought them up in Photoshop they were all in critical focus. So it seems it was the D100 body that was somehow off. Perhaps I had a weird setting on the camera and couldn't find it. Anyway, I took the new camera and haven't been having any problems since getting critical focus.

FYI for D100 lovers:

One thing came out of my focus study that I'll share was that I tested the $1500 17-70mm Zoom with f/2.6 ED fast lens against the lower cost G lens. There was noticeable difference in the indoor shot with the D100 from the same spot on the same subject changing lenses. The faster lens had a brighter image with the same given flash and camera iso settings; note used Program mode. We corrected the darker image file from the cheaper lens in photoshop tightening the image curves on the slower lens 24-85 mm/f3.5 to 4.5 G and the resulting image was perfect. In fact it was on the same resolution as that of the faster lens (500%RGB)and actually looked more natural in color at normal size. Given the weight of the faster lens (camera shake), price, and the ability to correct in Adobe Photoshop, it definetely is not worth buying for a digital camera.

That's really great news. I just hate thinking my pictures could be better if I had a better lens in the same focal size and type. I do assume that a single focal 35mm f1.4 would be better than the zoom lens for clarity but I was comparing the comparable zoom lenses only. Am I right in thinking clarity and brightness would improve in the single focal length lens for the D100, too?

Regards, Mark
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Old Jan 22, 2003, 7:44 AM   #4
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Do you always use uncompressed NEF? I'm a new owner and can't decide what to use. Can you help?
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Old Jan 22, 2003, 8:22 AM   #5
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I use NEFs because, at least for me, it's easier to manipulate in post processing. White Balance and Exposure Compensation are handled out of the camera when shooting in RAW mode....that's something less to be thinking about when you're actually taking pictures. I don't know that the image quality is really all that different from Fine Jpegs or TIFFs, but the ease of use wins out for me. I use uncompressed NEF because compressing seems to take forever, and I'm already a little stressed by the buffer.
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Old Jan 30, 2003, 8:50 AM   #6
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Default buffer holdup

Probably something you already looked into, but do you think it might be the speed of your compactflash card? Some of the higher speed ones are dramatically faster in writing, and might help you speed up your picture taking.
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Old Jan 30, 2003, 5:37 PM   #7
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Nah, it's not the camera or the cards, it's just me. I'm used to burning a roll of film in my F5 every ten seconds or so. Using the D100 is more like the old days before high speed motor drives....still faster than having to wind by hand though!
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Old Jan 30, 2003, 8:25 PM   #8
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allenlh & JimS

It has been fairly well documented that the D100 is *much* slower with compressed raw than uncompressed. We're talking a minute faster or more with the same flash card. Here is an example where it's brought up:

The popular guess is that the processor in the camera was chosed for power consumption over processing power. The less you do with it, the better.

The compressed raw is about 2/3 the size of the uncompressed, though. (IMO) it starts to sound like a trade off between buying a large CF card (or microdrive) and using uncompressed raw or using fine jpg.
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