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Old Dec 14, 2003, 1:26 AM   #11
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Here are eight photos from today's practice session at All-Go R/C Raceway, the local on-road track in Miami. Pepe, Roniel, and Lazaro were practicing with their cars, while I was practicing with my D2h.

I used my D2h, my four year old 24-120 D-series lens, and my ten year old ED 80-120 AF Nikkor. I tried several different modes for auto focus.

I set the ISO speed to 1600, and with (S)hutter priority mode, got to use 1/3200th of a second shutter speed for many of the shots. Later, I went down to ISO 800 and tried using around 1/2000th of a second. Having looked the results over, next time I'll use ISO 1600 again, and try to set the shutter to only 1/2000th of a second, which will give me a bit more depth of field. My goal, is to have the cars look "sharp", but to have the wheels blurred, to show that they're moving. If the background is blurred, that's fine. I was worried about how much "noise" I would get with the higher ISO speed, but the trade-off was well worth it. There's a bit more noise than at lower settings, but the higher setting lets me use a higher shutter speed and a smaller lens opening, which gets me more depth of field. To me, that's an excellent trade-off.

First test was using "Group Dynamic AF", which meant the camera was tracking anything in the lower part of the image. That seemed to work pretty well. Something between 1/3 and 1/2 of the images came out acceptably "sharp". Then I went back to trying "Single Area AF". That worked fine as long as I kept the car in the middle of the frame. The more I zoomed in (the larger the car was in the image), the better the camera did at keeping it in focus. Of course, the bigger the car was in the image, the harder it was to keep the car in the middle of the frame.

Compared to my previous cameras, the D2h is spectacular. While before I took 20 shots to get the car where I wanted it in the frame, the D2h is perfect every time. If I don't muff it, the camera never does. Before, it was really hard to get the car "sharp". Now it's much easier. It's still not perfect - I'd like *every* photo to be sharp, but I'm getting better.

As to lenses, the 80-200 focusing is way too slow to keep up with the r/c cars. If the car is moving at a diagonal relative to the camera, it works, but if the car is moving erratically, the lens doesn't seem to keep up very well, even when set to around 80-100 focal length. The newer 24-120 is much faster. Most of my shots were set at 120, and the focus did much better at keeping up with the car. I understand the newer lenses are even faster at focusing - maybe that's what I really need. The focusing of the D2h is amazing - depending on what part of the image I specified to have the focusing look at, even when the camera was aimed at empty asphalt, the area I selected was always in perfect focus. The camera knew exactly what to look at. Another concern is what the images are going to look like. I didn't like the images from the longer focal length - long telephoto lenses collapse the distance too much - the picture I got didn't look very exciting to me. The pictures at a focal length of 200 (300 in 35mm equivalent) just didn't get it. The pictures taken at 120 or a bit less looked a lot nicer to me. In every case, I tried to zoom in as much as I could, to have the car taking up "most" of the frame, but left myself enough extra room so I could crop the image later.


The more I use it, the more I like the layout of the camera. It's easy to preview every shot after taking it, and zoom in to make sure it's reasonably sharp. The huge LCD screen on the camera back is a real plus. It's big enough to let you know if the image is at least reasonable.

My biggest problem today had nothing to do with the camera, but my eyes - I wear glasses for distance, and different glasses for reading, and I found it impossible to get a good idea of how sharp the captured image really was (I'd have to keep swapping glasses). Next time I get to use my new variable-focus glasses (the ones that sort of make me feel dizzy, 'till I get used to them), so I can both see through the viewfinder properly, and use the lower part of my glasses to see the image (and/or the menu settings).

Back to the camera - the controls are all logically laid out, and what you need to do gets to feel intuitive very quickly. I tried the burst mode once, and at 8fps it sounds like a machine gun firing, but it works very well. One test I need to repeat, is whether the follow-focus works as it's supposed to, when the camera is shooting at 8fps. I got the feeling that it wasn't tracking the car as well as when I was just using single-shot mode.

All the images were shot in the largest size the D2h can use, then later cropped down to 700 pixels wide in Photoshop. Before I saved them, I use the "sharpen" filter on each image, after reducing the size.
















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Old Dec 22, 2003, 12:24 PM   #12
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I've got two older SB-24 flash units from my F4. I had hoped to use them with the D2h, but after reading up on everything, and talking to people here, it turns out that you have to use them in a pretty basic mode - the 'ttl' software/hardware for the old flashes isn't compatible with the D2h. So, I purchased an SB-800 flash that's designed to work with the D2h.

I spent a few hours this past weekend testing out the combination, and it worked flawlessly. In every case the camera did a great job of analyzing the existing light, andusing just enough "fill in" light from the flash to get me a nicely exposed image.

Several years ago, all I wanted was a "digital back" to fit onto my old F4. In effect, that's what I think I now have. The only limitation I'm still "stuck with" is the lack of an extreme wide angle lens, and I guess that means I've got to buy one more lens.
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