Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: [1] 2 »   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: D300 user looking at options.  (Read 12120 times)
Brandon W.
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 18


WWW
« on: December 17, 2008, 11:25:13 PM »
ReplyReply

Hello everyone,
I am so excited to be on this forum and soak in as much info as I possibly can, maybe you guys can help me with a dilemma.

As stated, I have a Nikon D300 with the 18 - 200mm AF-S DX VR.  Overall I have really enjoyed this camera and I know I have only been on the tip of the iceberg with its capabilities.  

I shoot 95% tripod mounted Landscapes almost always between the 18-40mm marks (on my lens).  I rarely shoot over ISO 400, and I have only used the flash once or twice (for things I could have done with our P&S which is also where the other 5% of my shooting usually is at this point).  I like to print my images as gifts for friends and family as large as I can while maintaining quality.

With my current setup, I am basically unhappy with the lack of detail in my shots as well as some noise issues.  I don't know if I am just being unrealistic with my setup?  If you all would like me to post examples of what I am talking about I certainly can post some images cropped at 100%.  I plan on eventually purchasing a nice Full Frame body, like a 5D Mk II, in a year or so depending on how things progress and pan out.  So here are my current options, as I see it, in an attempt to get sharper images in my price range (if I can).

1.  Sell my 18 - 200mm lens and purchase something like the AF Zoom Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D ED-IF

2.  Sell my entire setup and go with a used Canon 5D body and maybe a Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM or a EF 20mm f/2.8 USM along with another prime or a basic zoom.

So is there any input?  Will I get better image quality out of the 5D with those lens choices?  Will I get better image quality out of the 18-35 Nikkor, but since it is not a DX maybe the opposite will occur with the D300 Body?  I know I am jumping back in time with some of the technologies with the 5D but I am not sure if I would notice at this point.

Thanks!
Logged
DarkPenguin
Guest
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2008, 12:03:11 AM »
ReplyReply

I'd try buying a better lens, first.  And stay at base ISO if you can.
Logged
Johnny Magnoski
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 14


« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2008, 12:18:23 AM »
ReplyReply

I used to shoot a Canon 5D with the 24-70 (plus other stuff) and while the 5d's per pixel sharpness is great, I ended up going back to Nikon when the D3/D300 were announced.  I shoot a D300 coupled with a 17-35 Nikkor and LOVE it.

I too would suggest you try a different lens.  If money is an issue, pick up a 17-50 Tamron, stick with the base ISO (as DP mentioned), shoot RAW and use either Lightroom, Aperture or Capture One Pro (v4) to get the most out of your files.

Believe me, having had the D300 now since it was released, there is more than enough detail and from my own experience, at least an additional stop of dynamic range in the highlights (at base ISO).  

A better lens and the right technique will make all the difference for you.

But this ultimately comes down to comfort... which system are you most "at home" with?  
Logged
bill t.
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2711


WWW
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2008, 01:19:18 AM »
ReplyReply

The 16-85mm Nikon DX VR zoom is very sharp between 16 and 60mm, it is easily a match for my old AIS primes in that range, except for maybe the remarkable 50mm f1.8 and 55mm Micro Nikkor which are nearly perfect lenses around f8.  Not so good from 70mm to 85mm, sad to say.

Also, watch your f-stop!  Most wide lenses are best in f5.6 to f8 range, but can be quite poor at f11 and very poor at f16 on up.  For landscapes try to use f8.  It's the old diffraction thing.

Since you like resolution and are into landscapes and are comfortable with a tripod, you should consider stitching with PTGui, PT Assembler, etc.  There is a medium sized learning curve, but with a little effort you can crank out multi-hundred megapixel images more easily thank you might think.

Besides lowering your ISO, another way to improve quality and squash noise is to fuse together bracketed exposures with Tufuse and/or Enfuse.  You need to use a tripod of course, and wind can be troublesome, but the increase in image quality and dynamic range can be quite remarkable with those programs.  Slight learning curve, but worth it.
Logged
Brandon W.
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 18


WWW
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2008, 09:27:20 AM »
ReplyReply

Thanks for the replies.

I appreciate the lower ISO comments, I almost always shoot at 200 but for whatever reason I have not tried the lower levels (I guess I thought that since the D300's "base" was 200 that it was optimized for that rather than the 100 - 150 range).

I am certainly guilty of going above f16 with some of my landscapes on my standard zoom, and that must be a large factor in some of the exposures I have been unhappy with.

I shoot 100% in RAW with my landscapes, and I do all of my post processing in Lightroom 2.0 (which I love) before using photoshop if I even need it.  I am certainly very comfortable and at home with my Nikon D300, so I would prefer not to change bodies if possible.

I have been messing around with PTGui and I am pretty sure I am receiving a Nodal Ninja as a Graduation present (whoo hoo!) so I am seriously moving down the path of image stitching.  I need to get back to trying a few HDR shots now that I have access to Adobe CS4.  Since I would be using a Nodal Ninja panoramic head do you guys think that CS4 would be good enough in auto stitching my rows?  I do know PTGui is excellent and I don't mind spending the money for it considering what it is capable of.

I will start looking into those other lenses.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2008, 09:29:22 AM by Brandon W. » Logged
DarkPenguin
Guest
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2008, 11:13:32 AM »
ReplyReply

I would certainly try CS4 first if you have it.

Has Nodal Ninja updated their design?  I have one but it has been heavily modified
  • .  I don't know how well it would have handled a camera as big as the D300.

* - I pretty much just use the swing arm.  The base has been replaced by a kirk rail and an acratech leveling base.  I've tried adding QR clamp to it but between the clamp and the L bracket I lost so much space and gained so much weight that it just wasn't worth it.
Logged
NashvilleMike
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 179


« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2008, 03:03:25 PM »
ReplyReply

I shoot studio and landscape with D300 and D2X bodies so hopefully I can offer you some advice.

Image quality is the result of a number of factors that work together. What beginners often don't understand is that the camera body selection (amongst relatively competitive bodies) is at the tail end of these factors in terms of importance, not at the beginning. Nikon writer Thom Hogan covers this in this link - look at the very last section if you want to rush through it

http://www.bythom.com/rightpixels.htm

...and in practice, for landscape (and also studio) photography, I totally agree with him. For hi-ISO specialist work (think stage, sports, theater), body choice can definitely make or break you, but for landscape/studio, it's nowhere as important in the overall scheme of things as some folks might have you think.

People tend to switch around bodies from whatever is popular at one moment to the another, always worried about being on the body-of-the-month train when more important aspects of the process have not yet been maximized. This is a total waste of time. Only when one is operating at a very high level will the body switch really matter.

My thoughts (which mirror Thoms) are, for landscape photograhy specifically (since that's what you asked about):

- Support system and ballhead choice matter - if you're on something cheap or shaky, you're not there yet.
- Lenses most definitely matter. The do-everything kit lenses with really wide ranges are actually pretty decent, BUT, they are not up to the better options, and yes, the better options cost a lot more money.

The "bad news" is that both of those listed above are going to cost you a lot of cash - no way around it. A professional tripod that will last you a lifetime, with a ballhead that doesn't suck, is going to be near or at a grand easy. A set of professional caliber lenses can be 4-5 times that in a hurry.

However, there is good news: one critical item on "the list" can make a world of difference and it's here where I suggest you spend some time instead of worrying about competing bodies and switching systems, and that is:

- shot discipline, which includes
  -- learning how your camera operates and what settings, specifically, give the best image quality
  -- learning where your lenses operate best in terms of sharpness (hint, F/16 is not it)
  -- learning the basics and then the intermediate aspects of both raw conversion and post processing
     --- this includes sharpening properly, making tonal and color enhancements that are realistic (not fake and overdone) that enhance the image
          ---- similar to what the darkroom masters back in the film day did in the darkroom. Ansel Adams spent every bit as much time in the darkroom as he
                he did shooting.

A few random tips (and I truly apologize for the fragmented nature of this reply as I'm in a hurry and do not have the time to properly format my reply to you but wanted to get something down since I don't know when I'll have time to respond again)

- At base ISO of 200, if you are shooting at the default picture control setting of "Standard", you will get some slight "blue sky" noise. I have found through a lot of testing that ISO 125 and ISO 160 produce far better results, even with the fairly saturated "Landscape" picture control that came out after the camera was introduced (you'd have to search the Nikon site to figure out how to download the landscape and portrait picture controls). However, you will have to be a bit more careful with exposure - really watch the highlights if you shoot at ISO 125 (which is minus point seven on the ISO dial). FWIW, for landscape I shoot my D300 at ISO 125 99.99% of the time. I also tend to use a customized picture control that isn't so saturated - read about that in your manual and I suggest starting with a picture control of "neutral" and learning about using the picture control utility frto create your own. However, if you use NON Nikon raw conversion products, custom picture controls will be ignored. If you are using Adobe products for the raw conversion, upgrade to the very latest as the very latest ACR and lightroom with the camera profiles are far better than the previous conversions.  This is probably confusing and I apologize for not having the time to explain it in detail - but with the D300, an amazingly flexible camera - in order to extract everything it is capable of means investigating various raw converters (I personally feel Capture NX2 does the best job) as well as investigating the settings and customizing them. This means taking the time to play, to experiment, to practice, and to learn. It's not an overnight thing. But it is neccessary in order for you to get everything the camera is capable of and there really isn't any shortcut or fast food instant-happiness way to it. But getting off ISO 200 down to 160 or 125 might help some.

- No lens is tack sharp at F/16 due to diffraction - an immutable physical property that can't be argued around, no matter how passionate a poster in a forum might think otherwise. Unless you really absolutely need F/16 for depth of field reasons, you're far better off in the F/8 through F/11 range. The D300 and most any lens, as a system, is diffraction limited around F/11, meaning (in English) - if you stop down at or beyond F/11 you won't be as sharp at the end as if you had stayed in that range.

- Proper sharpening technique and proper post process technique in photoshop (or even elements 6.0) and a good raw conversion will do wonders.

Overall the D300 is an extremely capable landscape camera. I routine produce gallery quality 16x20" prints that are technically superb from this camera WHEN all of the "the list" has been followed. The odds are greater that I (or anyone else who uses one) has made mistakes in some other item of "the list" than the camera being at fault.

To illustrate this point further - last year I made 3 16x20 prints. One from the D80, one from the D2X, and one from the D300. All with excellent glass (either the 200/2 - a four thousand dollar lens or a 28-70/2.8 zoom). I could *barely* tell the difference between camera bodies - yes, it was there, but it was subtle. I'm talking that 90% of the people looking at the prints, including other skilled shooters, could NOT identify which print came from which camera. It is FAR better to spend a grand on (these days) a D90 and get excellent glass than spend twice that and only use a kit lens. I have proven this to myself (and others) time and time again with comparison prints. Marketing folks don't want to hear this because of course they'd like to convince you that you can only get where you want to be by going full frame or spending mega bucks on the latest and greatest, and of course, if you want to play in the various internet photo forums, you'll be far more cool and hip if you have the latest and greatest so you can join in the conversations, but the reality is that at the end of the day the camera body doesn't matter anywhere near as much as other things, at least not for landscape photography. Not that it is not there, but it's not critical and for someone like you who is at the beginning stages, it absolutely is not the place you need to be spending your dollars - think post processing, training in it, shot discipline, lenses, and support systems, and once you've got that maximized, then consider another body.

Sorry for the rushed reply...

-m






Logged
Johnny Magnoski
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 14


« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2008, 03:07:51 PM »
ReplyReply

Great reply, Mike - good tips for everyone.

And if that was "rushed" I'd hate to see one where you take your time...  LOL!    
J/K it was well written and informative.  
Logged
Dale_Cotton2
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 94


WWW
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2008, 03:13:54 PM »
ReplyReply

Brandon: From your first post it sounds as if you've settled down into a primarily landscape groove. It also sounds as if the landscape bug as bitten you fairly hard, given your concern with sharpness and thoughts of buying an even more expensive camera body. In spite of all you may read and hear, I'd like to suggest that the D300 body is not the problem. Yes: FF is all the rage, but there are always trade-offs. APS-C, such as the D300, effectively gives you more DOF than FF, which is crucial to landscape photography, because more of the frame will be more in focus. 12 mp is going to give you about 85% of the resolution you'd get with a 20-25 mp FF camera, from test results I've seen. 12 mp is plenty unless you're trying to drive a 24" or 44" printer. If you were my student, I'd advise you to continue with the D300, until you outgrow it (which will be hard to do), but instead to get a landscape-quality lens.

It's excellent that you already know you primarily shoot 18-40mm. Your best bet is to take your D300+tripod to a camera store and shoot a series of test shots with each of the Nikon compatible lenses that cover that focal range, then evaluate the resulting test files in Photoshop. If that simply isn't an option, you have little choice but to rely on lens reviews, such as those by Bjorn Rorslett, PhotoZone, and dpreview.com.

But the primary issue is clearly technique. There are a number of systematic experiments you need to perform if you're going to get past the beginner stage. The ideal f/stop for maximizing DOF while also maximizing sharpness is something you should be determining from your own tests. The lens will have something to do with it, as will the camera format (APS-C, in your case). Yes, we can tell you that f/8 is pretty much the sweet spot for most APS-C set-ups, but you'll know that more deeply in your gut (where it counts) if you do your own testing. Shooting on a tripod and with a shutter release or self-timer, is going to be critical as soon as your shutter speeds drop below a certain fraction of a second. Test for that value. No one can tell you what that value is, since it depends on how steady your hand is, combined with the IS system you have.

And everything you do on the capture end will go for naught if your post-processing tools and skills destroy all the gains you've made by using the optimal lens and technique.

These are all issues I'd advise you to get a handle on before getting too wrapped up in stitching, since stitching a bunch of soft images is hardly a better solution than shooting sharp single frames to begin with. Not that experimenting with stitching is a problem at this stage, just that it isn't going to be a cure for problems with the fundamentals.
Logged
Brandon W.
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 18


WWW
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2008, 07:57:32 PM »
ReplyReply

Wow, I am so extremely impressed to come home from work and read these excellent replies - I have been on some other photo forums and I must thank you all for showing me how fantastic this forum and the users are, it really means a lot to me.  So thank you for taking the time to help.

Where do I begin?

I suppose I should give a little bit more information on where I am at with my experience and gear.  I started out about a year ago with a D40x, the lowest model Manfrotto tripod with pan/tilt head and the standard kit zooms.  I mainly got rid of that body because I knew it was a possible dead end body when deciding on future lenses.  I then purchased my current setup used along with a new Manfrotto 055XB legs and a 486RC2 head, which has been an excellent purchase for me at this stage - I know it is not the $1,000 range professional setup but I certainly consider it a big step up from my original legs and head.  I try to use a 2 second delayed shutter when I am shooting but for Christmas I have asked for the basic Nikon $55 wired shutter remote, which I can see myself using religiously.

DarkPenguin - Depending on when you got your Nodal Ninja I am almost certain they have since introduced new versions able to hold some serious lbs. and their new rotator plates are pretty cool - allowing for fast operation.

NashvilleMike - Thanks for your reply and that link - I read through the whole thing, at first I thought some of it was more of the same stuff I had heard but as I read on I realized it was exactly what I needed to hear.  I also appreciate that some of you are D300 shooters, with obvious experience and high standards (It does not help my photography by just listening to the compliments of my friends and family - God bless em    )
Thanks for sharing some of your settings when shooting landscapes, like ISO and importing using Capture NX2.  If you don't mind can you elaborate a bit on your reasoning for using  NX2 for importing over something like Adobe Lightroom 2?  Is it basically for retaining your custom settings?  
Also can you elaborate more on a proper sharpening technique?  I feel good about my "maturing" in post processing colors, I really used to take it too far.
And lastly, do you have any tips on customizing the in-camera settings (noise reduction, DLighting, sharpening, saturation...) for landscape use?

Dale Cotton - Thank you for your reply as well, I really appreciate it.  Going into a camera shop trying lenses, or renting them is certainly an option as I live in Denver and there are a number of decent camera shops.  I will definately try and do that, which may make my next general question a non-issue.

For anyone - Let's say I can spend between around $500 on a lens at this point and some of my possible choices are:

18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D ED-IF

16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX

18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX

Would I just be wasting money in my attempt to find a good general wide zoom (that would perform better than what I currently have), am I basically looking at $1000+ to find something that will perform better than my current zoom?  Thanks.

Keep in mind that when I am settled into a career and become more serious about photography I plan on purchasing good primes and anything else I find that I will need and appreciate.  Having just graduated and in the process of moving I don't have a lot of spare cash - but I appreciate saving for quality items that will last me a lifetime.

Thanks!
« Last Edit: December 18, 2008, 07:58:52 PM by Brandon W. » Logged
NashvilleMike
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 179


« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2008, 11:07:53 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote from: Brandon W.
NashvilleMike - Thanks for your reply and that link - I read through the whole thing, at first I thought some of it was more of the same stuff I had heard but as I read on I realized it was exactly what I needed to hear.  I also appreciate that some of you are D300 shooters, with obvious experience and high standards (It does not help my photography by just listening to the compliments of my friends and family - God bless em    )
Thanks for sharing some of your settings when shooting landscapes, like ISO and importing using Capture NX2.  If you don't mind can you elaborate a bit on your reasoning for using  NX2 for importing over something like Adobe Lightroom 2?  Is it basically for retaining your custom settings?  
Also can you elaborate more on a proper sharpening technique?  I feel good about my "maturing" in post processing colors, I really used to take it too far.
And lastly, do you have any tips on customizing the in-camera settings (noise reduction, DLighting, sharpening, saturation...) for landscape use?

Thanks!

Hi Brandon,

Hopefully I can make a bit more sense now that the work day is complete...

Topic 1: Raw Converters.
I will give you my reason for why I prefer NX2 over Lightroom/ACR but please understand that I *strongly* advocate you taking the time to explore other raw converters, looking critically at output, and making your own decision. Choice of raw converter is somewhat like religion and a LOT of folks, including admittedly myself at times, try to force our opinion down other peoples throats. It's much better if you take the time - and it will take time - to play and explore and you'll come up with your own thoughts.

That being said, I shoot 80% in a studio-type environment and 20% landscape. The biggest thing I am looking for in a raw converter is that the image that "comes up on the screen" closely resembles what I shot in my studio space including how I have set my camera. Since I use a customized picture control that was based off neutral and utilizes a custom tone curve (built via the Picture Control Utility - which is in both the free ViewNX software or the pay Capture NX2 softare) and this is my preferred "look", I prefer a raw converter that *completely* understands the Nikon camera settings. I have a variety of other customized picture controls that while not in the camera, are stored on the PC and I can apply those during the raw conversion. Since the Nikon raw conversion products allow me to utilize these picture controls - both the ones I have loaded and the ones on my PC, it is the preferred way for me to work. Also, even though the very latest version of ACR/Lightroom where you can utilize a color checker card to build a customized camera profile are VERY good and VASTLY improved over earlier versions (congratulations to the folks at Adobe for doing this - it's a significant improvement), I still find that I have a slight preference for the way the images look in ViewNX when they come up on the screen in terms of skin tone accuracy and tonal rendering. I should note that if I shot primarily landscapes that I might say that ACR/Lightroom would be good enough - it's only in studio work that I prefer the Nikon conversions. For landscape work I typically use either my customized picture control I use for studio work and then tweak colors slightly (my belief is that it is easier to add than to subtract) and occasionally, if the scene will "make sense" with it, I'll use the "landscape" picture control although I must warn you that this picture control often will have slightly over-saturated colors and a bit too much contrast and it's easier, again, to add instead of subtract, so it's not a shoe-in for the best "default" option in every case. But if you re-read all this I just typed - you'll see that a lot of things are situation specific in terms of what type of raw conversion I like. While it is true that I could create some customized presets in Lightroom/ACR, they wouldn't be ones I could load into the camera and thus aren't quite as useful.
But overall, if I had to, I could easily make do with the ACR/Lightroom conversions. In terms of detail - this is very subtle - and it's so subtle that I should clearly say I find the magnitude of this subtleness to be *less* than the difference between kit lenses and pro glass - I find the Nikon conversions do a slightly better job of retaining textural details - think things like fabrics in clothing, foilage, and so forth. Again - this is very slight and a lot of folks might not even see it. At this stage in the game, you might not notice - yet. Don't let this particular subtle aspect of my opinion force you in or out of a raw converter, in other words. As another note - note that the Nikon raw conversion products suck rather badly in terms of speed, user interface, and stability, at least on the Windows platform. Lightroom/ACR are far more stable and much quicker. I tend to shoot a lot but only convert a few "final" prints, so my workflow supports the slower-more methodical-but highest quality approach. If I had to produce more raw conversions in a shorter period of time, the Nikon raw conversion products would absolutely not be my first choice at all.

Topic 2: Sharpening technique
There are a lot of ways to sharpen an image. Most folks start out with unsharp mask, and used properly (and likely faded to luminosity), this is still a viable way. Lightroom and ACR have extremely powerful sharpening tools in the sharpen (or is it "detail", can't remember offhand) tab page during the raw conversion - and you likely could get pretty good just using these. The key is learning to sharpen what makes sense and not sharpening the rest. If you're shooting a scene with a brick church against a plain blue sky, it makes no sense to sharpen the sky, but it makes a lot of sense to sharpen the bricks, right? Read up on things like "Capture Sharpening" and "output sharpening" and you'll get a good sense of things. Again, like religion, people have some very strong opinions on it and they will try to cram down your throat their view. It's best to ingest (my fancy word for the day, lol) all the theories and then (again) take some time exploring what works best for you. Personally, these days I use the focus magic plug-in as my sharpening tool 99% of the time - go search for it if you want. But that's must my way. Some folks use the pixel genius photokit sharpener plug-in, some folks use focal blade plug in, some just use the smart sharpen in photoshop, some use the tools in lightroom, some use other stuff. The key is to learn when you've gone too far and to back off. There have been, in the early life stages of photoshop post processing, far too many over-sharp unrealistic prints that tend to have a brittle look to them. Real life isn't about overly accented edges. My own personal reference happens to be what an 8x10 chrome looks like on a lightbox or what a large format print looks like - there's a sense of realistic detail, but your eye isn't immediately drawn to the edges in a "wow look how sharp this is" manner, but more a "wow, this is a really realistic scene that looks like I could fall into the print" manner. Look at work that is better than you - if possible, go to a gallery showing by one of the known masters and look at the prints. The more you ingest (getting my mileage out of that word, eh?) in terms of other peoples quality work, the better your reference standard will be for your own. Don't fall into the trap of "sharpness is everything" because once you study the very best output, you'll find IMO that the tonality and dimensional qualities of the print/image mean more than just how impressive every edge is. A lot of photographers (including many on the forums everywhere) don't understand this and only chase sharpness. There is much more to it, but that doesn't mean you can skip learning how to sharpen properly. It does mean you need to learn how to evaluate your own print/images and learn how to keep the image so there is a sense of balance and integrity so it looks realisitc. That will, again, take some time.

Topic 3: D300 settings I use
Again, I'm a strong believer that a serious student needs to arrive at their own conclusions and not use a template from someone else.
However, I personally use:

ISO 125 or 160 (the more the scene has highlight detail I want to keep the more I use 160. The more the scene has large expanses of continuous toned things like skies or more things in darker tones, the more I use 125)
No active d-lighting
Customized picture control (most subjects), or Landscape (if it's a sunrise/dawn/dusk type picture that will benefit from extra 'pop')
No noise reduction except "long noise reduction" is turned on.
White balance is often "auto" for most outdoor stuff or a customized preset for the lighting at the time.
In-Camera sharpening: NEVER above +4, ever, ever, ever, ever.

I use an MC-36 remote trigger, always with mirror lock up.

Topic 4: Tripod and Lenses
Your Manfrotto and Bogen head is a good start - I went for a while on a similar Manfrotto and an Acratech head. I produced very nice images from it. There was a subtle yet noticeable improvement when I moved from that to a top-end Gitzo 5530S tripod and RRS BH-55 ballhead, even with my wide angle lenses, and more noticeably so with my longer/heavier glass. When we are striving for technical mastery, it is achieved by making sure every possible aspect is maximized, so it ends up being a sum of these "subtle but noticeable" improvements in the end.

Lenses - my suggestion is to maybe consider the 16-85 zoom - I tried one with a D90 I had for a while and it had a very nice image quality. It would be a definite step up from the kit glass, but not quite the pro glass. You also might try living without autofocus and consider something like a 105/2.5 AIS lens - excellent image quality, and mating that with the 18-35 zoom and the new 50/1.4 (or better yet, the new 60/2.8G macro) in the middle - a lot over budget, but that would be a near-pro quality kit without the 4+ grand pricetag. As you earn more in your life, put the money towards glass first and once you get settled in, then you can start playing with the body-of-the-month club guys and get whatever Dxxx is out then. Until then, concentrate on the technical mastery and once the cash comes in, the glass. It will make far more difference.

I hope this helps - just remember that technical mastery doesn't come immediately - it is literally a lifetime pursuit. I've got a bachelors of science degree from RIT, have shot most every format of camera out there, printed almost every type of print there is, and have been in this since the mid 70's, and even with all that knowledge (and I'm considered quite good technically by my peers), there is not a day that goes by that I can't learn something new from someone or improve my craft - it really is never ending, no matter how good you get or where you sit on the large curve of technical knowledge that is out there. Keep an open mind, don't get caught up in the religion-like battles for certain ways of doing things, and enjoy the fact that it is a constant learning process and I think you'll do fine. And that's only the technical side - improving the artistic side might be harder!!!

-m
Logged
Brandon W.
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 18


WWW
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2008, 08:10:16 AM »
ReplyReply

Thanks Mike, I am off to work for the day but I can read through and reply when I get home.  Cheers,
Brandon
Logged
jasonrandolph
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 554


WWW
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2008, 06:02:49 PM »
ReplyReply

I would definitely try some better glass before I ditched the D300.  I too have the 18-200 Nikkor, and while it's a great lens for versatility and walking around, it isn't sharp.  Get yourself a 24mm f2 Nikkor and you'll discover how much sharper your images will become overnight.  I would recommend any Nikkor or Zeiss prime lens that is an f/2.8 or faster.  

I have a D200 and a D300, and when I put a prime on the D200, I am able to print larger and sharper than the D300 with a zoom.  The lens makes all the difference in the world.  And if you're on a budget, you can get the excellent 50mm 1.8 Nikkor for about $100.  It's a little long for landscapes, but it's a good start for seeing how good you can get with quality glass.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2008, 06:27:57 PM by jasonrandolph » Logged

brianrpatterson
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 34


WWW
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2008, 07:39:39 PM »
ReplyReply

Just two more cents worth - and Nashville Mike is right on, BTW.

I have a 16-85 VR - a very versatile normal zoom that shoots well nearly wide open too and does fine with noncritical images - best 'kit' lens Nikon has made yet. Sold the 18-70 I used for several years - a respectable snapshot lens but that's about it. The other 18-whatever zooms Nikon makes are consumer grade.

More seriously, I have been revamping my kit, though, with pro glass and am reaping benefits from it. Have acquired the 14-24 Nikkor for landscape and creative images and the 70-200 VR Nikkor as my midrange tele to use on my D300. You can go pro with this gear, so definitely learn what you can about good glass. Primes are inconvenient unless you're indoors, but great deals for high image quality. I had an pristine 135/2.8 AI'd "Q" Nikkor that blew me away it was so sharp - but I need zooms, so pro glass is the only way to go long term.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2008, 07:43:09 PM by brianrpatterson » Logged

Brian Patterson
Knoxville, Tennessee
BRP Marketing Design
BRP Publications [Print-on-Demand]

Nikon D300 | Nikon D40
Brandon W.
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 18


WWW
« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2008, 12:07:17 AM »
ReplyReply

Okay all, I finally have adequate time to respond properly.

For RAW converters:  Certainly I want every advantage that I can take when transferring from camera to screen and storage.  I will definately start comparing LR and CaptureNX, but I figure if they are even, or I don't see a difference I will probably start using CaptureNX strictly for a complete transfer of settings used in camera.  I will have to do some more extensive deleting before I transfer the images simply because of the speed (it is slow enough as is via LR on my computer).  I am finding that it is indeed easier to slightly add to an image rather than subtract... given this maybe I should stop shooting in the Vivid mode.  Processing multiple images in a short period of time is certainly not a requirement for me at this point, only quality and learning the craft.  So I will start doing some testing between my two raw converters.

Sharpening - I am guilty of applying sharpening to an entire image when there truly is no need to, nor do I want to.  I attribute this more to my inexperience with my software, and possibly a rushed approach.  I breifly started looking into Capture and output sharpening - it is a concept that makes sense and something I had never thought about, especially from the perspective of sharpening for the final output via a printer.  As far as plug-ins go, I think I will just stick with Lightroom for now and practice the when and where and how much.  Here in Denver we have a few good galleries that I like to stop into (Thomas Mangelsen, John Fielder, and a Peter Lik gallery in Aspen) and every time I go in having advanced in my own personal craft I see the prints differently and it is very helpful.

Thanks for your settings on your D300 - I need to figure out the mirror lock up, I know it will give me better results I just haven't made it part of my method yet.

Lenses - If I can sell my 18-200 kit lens (does $500 sound reasonable?) I think I will certainly go with the 16-85.  Today I got the 50mm f1.8 as my Christmas Present, which I think I will use for my Nodal Ninja setup.  Probably the best bang for our buck at this point, so thanks for the suggestions all.

I just have a lot of shooting and studying to do, but I appreciate being pointed in the right direction, so thank you very much Mike.

Thanks again for your input Jason and Brian, I have a hard time going into my local shops looking at lenses when the salesperson can't fully understand why I would want to give up the lens that covers a larger focal distance for a shorter setup.




Logged
Lisa Nikodym
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1702



WWW
« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2008, 10:59:09 AM »
ReplyReply

One comment on mirror lock-up on the D300...

It's a little frustrating, but you can't use mirror lockup and a time delay at the same time, because they are different options on the same dial.  Thus, the only way to use mirror lockup (with one "trick" exception I'll get to in a minute) is to either manually push the shutter without a time delay (which can shake the camera) or use a remote (which unfortunately for the D300 is an expensive big awkward slow-to-screw-in thing, unlike the tiny cheap infrared remote the D70 line uses).  The trick is that, in mirror lockup mode, if you push the shutter button once to lock up the mirror and then "forget" to push it a second time to take the image, it will automatically take it in 30 seconds from the first shutter-push.  You just need to be patient.

Lisa
Logged

Brandon W.
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 18


WWW
« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2008, 07:45:36 PM »
ReplyReply

Indeed Lisa,
I found that out this morning as I was playing with my options.  I have been planning on using this remote though:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller...8425&is=REG

Any experience with this?  I think I may try this one out and also shoot in Live View mode for focusing and the mirror lock is already in effect.

Thanks
Logged
Lisa Nikodym
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1702



WWW
« Reply #17 on: December 22, 2008, 11:06:01 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Any experience with this? I think I may try this one out and also shoot in Live View mode for focusing and the mirror lock is already in effect.

I tried some similar remote (I think it was a bigger more complex one, but I'm not sure - that was several years ago with my D200, so I don't remember it very clearly).  My main complaint was that getting it screwed into and out of the camera was slow, tedious and fiddly (and frequently resulted in a dropped screw-hole cover), and I found that all too annoying relative to the convenient little infrared remote I had used previously with my D70.  My secondary complaint was that I try to keep gear weight to a reasonable minimum, and the remote didn't fit well in my camera bag along with the necessities (again, I *think* the one I tried was larger).  If those aren't significant issues for you, though, then it might work fine for you.  Do you have a good camera store nearby where you can take your camera in and try one out???

Lisa
« Last Edit: December 22, 2008, 11:06:35 PM by nniko » Logged

Brandon W.
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 18


WWW
« Reply #18 on: December 23, 2008, 09:52:32 PM »
ReplyReply

Thanks Lisa,  I know of only two Nikon wired remotes for the D300 at this stage, I imagine you are talking about the larger and more expensive one.  The one I am after is relatively cheap and the only thing I need it to do is release the shutter at this stage.

I am trying to find a good, non-chain, store that may carry some more of those items specific items.  I used to have one of the cheap wireless remotes for my D40x and I loved it.  Thanks.

Brandon
Logged
jasonrandolph
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 554


WWW
« Reply #19 on: December 26, 2008, 12:59:18 AM »
ReplyReply

For those of you looking for a remote for the budget-conscious, check out the Phottix remotes on Ebay.  They are cheap but reliable, and they are radio-controlled, which means you can activate them from a football field away.  Only thing is that if you don't want it hanging from the remote socket, you have to mount it on the hot shoe.  But that shouldn't be a problem if you're shooting landscapes.  

On a related note, I also have the MC-36 (expensive) remote, which is nice because of it's built-in digital timer with light.  Worth the money?  Maybe, but you can buy that 50mm 1.8 with the money you save by not buying it.
Logged

Pages: [1] 2 »   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad