Thursday, January 1, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Yours truly got a new camera for Christmas! Actually, the timing was coincidental. It was not a gift per se, but a research purchase with lab funds. I wasn't previously a camera buff, but the need to document bovids quickly in the field for research posterity forced me onto the learning curve.

So far, I'm very happy with my set-up. I got a Nikon D90, after reading many rave reviews and losing much sleep hemming and hawing over the D300. I settled on the D90 because of the smaller price tag, lighter weight, single-hand operation (hot diggity-dog!), and more intuitive buttons/operation (a big plus for me).

The big lens (an AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED: bwahahhahaha) has yet to come, but my AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens has pleased me so far. It's more for museum and microscope work, but it's a good general purpose lens if my subject is less than, say, 25yards away.

I've test-driven the 18-55mm lens in low-light and high-light conditions, up-close, at distance, on animals, and moving objects. If I was into naming inanimate objects, I think I'd name the D90 "Jeeves." It does everything but tell the dog to fetch the paper. I particularly love the read-my-brain auto-focus abilities (note the plural). I know I'll get much better at fine-tuning my shots, but the most difficult thing I encountered straight-out-of-the-box was attaching the lens: it was so intuitive, I over-thought it and couldn't figure it out. D'oh.

The vibration reduction (VR) aspect to the lens is said to make tripods nearly obsolete. Hurray! - since I can't use a tripod from the car anyway, which is how much of my "fieldwork" is done. The VR makes my 1/5 sec shots look like my Panasonic's 1/35 sec shots, and my 1/15sec shots look like 1/80sec shots. Lovely! This way, when I crop away 85% of a 200-yard picture, I should have more than a brown smear of bovid to work with - trying to get proportional measurements on otherwise-unwilling subjects.

I can't wait for the 70-200mm to come in, as well as a camera-carrying backpack I ordered that I'm super-excited about. I love ingenious solutions to vexing problems, and I hope the downturn in the economy doesn't take too many niche solutions out of the market.

(I uploaded all these pics at 25% original size (click the thumbnails to see). Original size is 4.5-4.9Mb from a 12Mpix camera).