Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I can reset your Nikon AF system!

They say that necessity breeds genius, right? Well, I've spent enough time playing with my own Nikon D300's AF system screws that I'm now 100% confident that I can reset anyone's Nikon digital camera which uses the dual-mirror, dual-stop adjustment system. The D90, D200, D300, D300s, D700, D3, D3s, D3x, and possibly other models like the D40, can all be adusted so that your lenses will focus on the selected spot, every time. Photos will pop with clarity and contrast like you've just purchased a new camera.

Your AF system focuses based on the position of a small mirror behind the main mirror inside your camera. This mirror rests against a small stop which isn't secured with any more than a very small Allen socket-head screw with an offset cam attached to it. As the screw is turned, the AF system brings the focus from near to far and back to near again. A second screw in the front does the same thing for the main mirror, changing what you see through the viewfinder. "Soft focus" is when the point of aim does not match where the AF system thinks it should be. AND... it's a lot more common than you think.

Would you like the confidence which comes from being able to manually-focus your camera on the head of a pin? Do you rely on your camera to make a living? Are your indoor or low-light shots currently a little fuzzy matter what you try? Is infinity out of your grasp in your landscape shots? If so, contact me, and I'll fix it for you. Why wait 6-8 weeks for Nikon to look at it. I can turn it around in just a couple days. AND, I can do it affordably, for just $50.00 plus insured shipping.

If I can't set it, or if I find another issue, then you don't have to pay me. It's as simple as that! Give me a call at 760-799-0368 if you have any questions or concerns, or email me through this blog and I'll share before and after photos from my own D300. You won't believe the difference an adjustment can make!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Testing AF systems

Okay, after reviewing information available on the internet about various famous camera brands and models, I've come to the conclusion that perhaps cross-type phase detection AF sensors occasionally have focusing issues with bright subjects, no matter what brand. I've read reaports about the 1D mkIII being problematic when introduced, with some owners requiring an entirely new mirror box to be fitted to the cameara. I've heard of front-focusing complaints from D300 users, D700 users, 5D users, and the list seems to go on and on. I'd like to test of few of these on my own, if anyone would like to contribute a camera body or two.

The test is simple; shoot a brightly colored and lit car at a wide open apeture, over a rough surface like gravel, from a tripod, and note for a series of 10 separately-focused photos, how many are focused right on the nose of the car. In theory, if the car isn't moving, the score should be 10 out of 10. Right now I'm not sure my D300 is doing that. Every so often, using Single Point AF, it will focus completely in front of the subject, resulting in a clear focal point ahead of where I've intended it to be. When shooting a car a distance away, this gross error can be large and extremely annoying. Especially when it's caused me to waste really good light, like what happened this past Sunday on a shoot.

So, in essence, I want to "audition" new AF systems. I want to know, over the last 5 years or so, who has produced the most accurate AF system. Then I want to purchase one! Immediately! I am tired of blown-focus photos.

And, lest anyone think that perhaps it's user error, I shot with two Konica-Minolta 7D bodies which were as durable and accurate as I could have wished, no matter what I shot or how ham-fisted my efforts were. I simply pointed and it nailed the focus. They weren't "fast" but they got the job done again and again. I expected this level of competence from the Nikon D300, and thus far have been disappointed. Time for a change...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Shame on you, Nikon!

The award for the most disappointing, underwelming, half-assed display goes to Nikon. By a landslide. No great glass on display. No 70-200mm f2.8 lens at all, and it didn't look like there was anything longer than 85mm in the single display case. There was a room, upstairs, in the back, and two glass display cases with a selection of cameras, the highest one being a D3s. That's it. No photos on the wall, no magazine covers, nada. A couple black couches and some Pepsi on a table (without ice even). Really.

Canon brought a stage decorated as a rain forest with Cirque du Soleil type dancers hanging from ropes attached to the ceiling. Photos on display everywhere. Nikon had just two "reps"; Canon had more than I could count, and that's just at the camera body station.

A big win for Canon at this trade show, obviously...

The 1D mk4 is a killer camera, but it's not made for guys with big hands like me. The support ridge under the shutter button is too small (narrow) and in the wrong location, forcing me to have to apply uncomfortable finger-tip pressure, to hold the camera with my right hand. It's surprisingly slender front-to-back. And it is fast! Very, very fast, with seemingly amazing low-light gathering at ISO 3200. That was quite surprising. Perhaps that body is worth the money? I rarely shoot in such low light, and if I did I don't know that I wouldn't be using a tripod anyway. I love low-ISO photos for their lack of grain and color noise. Not sure I need such terifficly-high ISOs for my work.

It takes one push on the "play" button AFTER a photo is shot to pull up the picture, and 12 pushes on the "+" button to magnify all the way in to see how sharp it is. Bad Canon, bad. I thought I read a review which said there's a one-touch custom function which goes to 100%, but no one at the counter knew how to set that up. Also, Canon bodies were not reset to "default" settings after each person put one down. By Sunday, when I browsed the show, it took me 5 or 10 minutes just to get it to the point where I could shoot a photo. The first question a rep should have asked is "What do you need your camera to do for you?". Followed by "Are you familiar with this model?" Very poor salesmanship from the Canon reps, and even worse (if possible) from Nikon.

I'll be interested in seeing if they improve at any photo expo trade shows later this spring. Obviously, there were no new introductions from either MFG... Which is total BS because we all know they have new stuff in development. Canon obviously feels that in-camera video is the wave of the future, and the 7D is certainly an impressive body. The AF is a touch slower than the 1D mk4, and of course it feels substantially lighter. My D300 feels more robust. The 7D does have crazy-high ISO too, like its big bro. It appears to be a very good "semi-pro" body for the APS-C crowd. Adding the wireless flash is nice, but they didn't have a flash in the case, and weren't showing or telling folks about it. If they were car salesmen, they would starve!

CES= interesting but disappointing from the pro-shooter crossover standpoint.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The BIG NEWS for CES 2011!

So far the biggest news, for me, is that there's simply no big news at all from Canon or Nikon. Nada. Zero. Zip. No planned new product announcements for Nikon. Do they simply not care, or are they planning something whoppingly fantastic that we'll all (Nikon users) want to rush out and buy as soon as we here about it?

I'm sensing a lull in the action from the majors, and the longer this dry spell continues, the more antsy I, and other pro photographers, are growing. Do we replace used cameras with the same model again, and then curse when some new piece just pops out of thin air later in the year? Some people shoot FAR more photos than I do, and they really burn through shutters. For them, buying a new camera isn't an issue. For me, when I make just one camera purchase every three years or so, selecting the right camera is a REALLY BIG DEAL. Because of this, and the lack of news from Nikon, I've been carefully considering a few Canon bodies. That means new glass (I don't use many lenses) and new accessories too, and a whole lot of expense. Which is why I always look around tax time...

Could someone please point out to the majors that I'm not the only one looking to spend tax return money on camera gear? Perhaps a little better timing of your new cameras would help separate me from my funds...