Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Honolulu back then ...

Have not been blogging lately (work).
and yes there is some new gear that I like.
The Custom Brackets QRS-E2 Camera Rotation Bracket. But you "also" need to buy a Custom Brackets CMP Universal Camera Mounting Plate and FCN Flash bracket, as well as a TTL extention cord,  to make a Nikon D800 and sb900 work on it.

TetherPro USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Micro-B Cable for $ 48.95  Not cheap, but works at USB3 speeds and is Bright Orange!  along with the Jerk stoppers.  (don't like the cable bag, too cheaply made).
Lightroom v4.2 upgrade and Win 8 64-bit  ...  Win 8  I have not intstalled on my main computer yet.  But on a "Clean" install on my i7 ASUS Laptop with SSD  is working with all my programs (LR v4.2, CS6, Office etc and seems Faster.  Problem is, I need to learn where stuff is, and how to config. to the way I like it.
I like it,  but not comfortable working with it as my main ... yet.
NOW,  for something I wanted to share because ... well,  I live in Honolulu. :)
It's a  Honolulu Magazine piece on  "Honolulu in 1888"  the year when Honolulu Magazine first published.    Some amazing old pics  (particularly when you see Honolulu now)
Here is the LINK:
Hope you enjoy the read,
Full disclosure  ... yes,  I do shoot for Honolulu Mag.  but have nothing to do with this article.
Ross Hamamura
Tourist of Light


Sunday, June 17, 2012

GGS LCD glass screen protector for Nikon D800

In 2010 I bought my first GGS optical glass Multi-Layer LCD screen protector for both my D700..
Blog on it is on this link.

Because notthing seems to be changed on the product itself I am not going to rewrite the review.
Only thing that seems to have changed is the style number,  D800-1 and size.
It is custom cut for the new LCD size of the D800.
Still has both the main and top screen protectors.   All for us$ 7.20 with FREE shipping to Hawaii, from China.   eBay vendor is Jiawen Mai this time, and took about two weeks to get to me.

The best thing I can say about how I feel about this product is:  I loved it on my D700 , felt it was much better than the one Nikon provides for it. In fact, for the few months I had to use the Nikon D800 cheap plastic stock protector it has already got a few scuffs.  My two year old GGS on my D700 = Flawless :). Bought another for my D800 and will buy a GGS for any future camera I buy.

The first time you put on one of these thin multi-layered pieces of glass you will probably overthink it.
Because it's the third time for me, all I did was line up one edge and flip it down. No Problem. Clean, Easy, Fast.  No bubbles.
It is far better than the original.  Durability and how clear it is.

Hope this helps someone,

Ross D. Hamamura
The Tourist of Light

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nikon D800, the Game Changer

D800 f9 iso100  24-70 f2.8 @ 24mm

4/30/12   after about a month and  thousands of  shots with the new D800, my gut feelings is that,  any  experienced DSLR shooter that puts this D800 to the test and says they don’t like it , is probably lying. :) 

Will I  buy "another"  D800 for my second body? … YES, probably the D800e (or D600 if 8fps with grip in DX, 6fps in FF 24mp) 
Is it perfect?   No.  Is it issue free? probably not.    Is it a Keeper?  Hell YES !

All the great things about  the D800 and D800e  has probably all been said.  And I agree, with some of my fav reveiw  links below.  

This is just a few things, I  think could be improved.

The Custom Memory Banks ,  I am really surprised that few Nikon shooters complain about this.  So, it was surprising when I read the Luminous Landscapes  Review  (two of them)  that mention this.  There is so many great new features in the D800 (Auto ISO improvement being one of them) , but “Custom Memory Banks” is NOT one of them.   How old is this feature?

The Grip seem strangely smaller vs the D700.  That was the first thing I noticed on a long shoot.

The fps is not the same as the “all around”  D700  at 8fps FF.   I really did not think I would miss the 8fps.  Because I  only fire off 3 frames in a row at most.   But, the difference from 8fps to 4fps  is  more than I thought.   Even on a sand trap shot ,  that second shot of the ball coming out of the sand is sometimes too far away (and maybe not even” in” the frame).   But, the detail is amazing.

Sometimes  on a news event you are basically in a Dog Fight. And what happens is not in your control.  And worse, it might not be about getting something different, or creative (there is like 12 of you “PROs”  shooting in the same location), it’s about  not being the “only” one that did NOT get “the moment”.   That’s like a  reoccurring  Nightmare!     And when all those shutters are going off… and then,  it gets quiet … You BETTER have the shot ! LOL.      (refuse to bring a scalpel to a Gun Fight, no matter how great (sharp) it is … so , far  I still am using my D700 with grip at 8fps)   … when Nikon  ships a  D800 at 8fps with Grip ,  that would be a wow, and a must buy.   My guess, 3 years from now. :)
D700 shot at 8fps in a burst of 3 frames
6/8/12 update on working with the D800:  Yes, you will need a Fast computer with a lot of memory and SSD Hard drives and a large fast 3TB image drive at least.  I use a Seagate Barracuda XT 3TB SATA 6Gbps, 4ms, 7,200rpm, 64mb cache buffer , 5 years warrentee. and a 256gb SSD M4.   (also have a M4 Adrenaline SSD cache drive, for my laptop) ... will eventually get a SSD cache drive for my 3TB spinning drive too, when they make a reliable one.
fyi: if you want better performance in Lightroom v4 , there is no substitute for a  Very Fast i7.  Yes, ram and SSD are important , but processor speed is your best friend across all things you do.
And I do notice that the D800 is making me handhold more careful than before.  The high res will expose weakness. :)    Lens and Technique.
But, when you get it right it is a thing of beauty packed with detail !   (and I feel I can even lower my sharpening settings vs any camera I had before)

My favorite  Reviews or Blogs on the D800
3/16/13 Update:  DxO Reviews Which LENS for the D800  four parts

Nikon D800  DxOMark    Best Sensor Analyzed on DxOMark  (as of April 2012)

D800 vs 5D mkIII  DxOMark
What I like about the Rob Galbraith review is the Rollover and specific  100% crops

Luminous Landscape D800 review  by Michael Reichmann

Luminous Landscape D800e review

Luminous Landscape D800e  by Mark Dubovoy

Fred Miranda  D800 vs 5d MkIII  ...  with DR test

Nikon D800 wins Camera Grand Prix 2012 award and public 'best camera' vote

DPR D800 review

LensRentals , What Lens to use on the D800   ..  
Zeiss 25mm f2 (f4, f5.6), Zeiss 21mm f2.8 (f2.8,f4), zeiss 50mm f2 and the f1.4 (f5.6) , Nikon 24mm f1.4 (f4, f5.6, f8) ... Zooms 14-24 f2.8 (f5.6), 16-35 f4 VR (f5.6), 24-70 f2.8 (f8) , and my fav 70-200mm f2.8 VRII (f4 , with corner sharpness as a strength)
Many more on the below LINK:


Digital Rev  Utube  on D800

The Camera Store TV  D800 vs  5D mkIII   part 1

The Camera Store TV part 2   (action)

Funny  CrisisLab  D800 vs 5d mkIII shootout

CrisisLab part II review

D800 vs 5D mkIII  video

I AM D800

D800  Issues blog

7/27/12  My D800 does not have the Left AF issue, but there has been some blogging working PROs that have seen this issue in there own D800.
"Seems"  like the Nikon Fix is in on new shipments.
Lot of info about the issue here: http://www.bythom.com/D800autofocus.htm
6/27/12 update   am now certain I have a  D800 CLS triggering issue to the sb900's.
It is unreliable.  As shown in this Video: http://lumenatic.com/2012/03/25/d800-and-wireless-flash-photography-problems/
When I need to do a quick and dirty product shoot,  I almost always use the D800/D700 internal flash to trigger sb900's.  So, when I do a 12 to 24 shot shoot in studio I may only see it not trigger once.
But, it seems the worst issues is when you are on location , on a paid shoot. :)
It happen to me when I used the D800 to trigger strobes and sb900's on at AD shoot FW1.00
Then it happened to me again just this weekend on a paid job in a Hotel triggering 4 sb900 and a few manual flashes with my RadioPopper Radio trigger PX  , which uses the D800 internal flash for CLS.  This was with FW1.02 installed on B.
The Big issue on this shoot was it started NOT triggering the flashes two times in a row.  And did it on 2 times within a  few minuites  at the beginning of the shoot.    I had to use one of my sb900 on the Hot Shoe of the D800 to trigger CLS reliably.
* I need to mention, on the D700 this NEVER happened, Ever!
So,  as of    6/27/12    with FW 1.02 on B ...   I still Hang when I review with Blinkys. AND the CLS trigger with the internal flash is unreliable.  What is really irritating is that it is not consistant.  Sometimes it works , and then all of a sudden it does not.  Usually on a paid job. :)

Would also add that I had a issue with my new Sandisk Extreme PRO 64gb 95mb/s SD cardand  Sandisk Extreme PRO 90mb/s on the CF back up slot.  Had Hangs on aprox. 100 to 200 shots. And had to Re-start by taking out the Battery.   
5/4/2012  Update:  Looks like Nikon is working on a FIX.  For the Hang issue.  NOTE: Turning OFF the Highlights , and RGB review is a temporary FIX.
6/8/12  Nikon FW update 1.01 B is in  ...  and it helps.  But, it does not completly kill the issue.  I still got a hang on review (after the update). using Sandisk Extreme PRO 90mps and 95mps  64gb  CF and SD cards.  CF as the main, SD as the backup.  Highlight blinky review.
7/26/12  This issue is NOT fixed.

* Important to mention this issue with the AF points , particularly the Left AF  ... Center seems fine. This does not seem like it effects everyone,  but it does seem to be a problem that a few PROs have noticed in there D800.
I normally use the Center , and Right AF points (portrait)  ... in normal work use, I have not noticed any problems with my D800. But, note I rarely use the Left AF points. (do notice that my "next click" Up and Down AF points are better vs the Left and Right AF points in studio type low light) 
A Very Good video on the D800 left AF  point issue:

* Another way to check (the way I did it) is to  mount D800 on tripod, shoot wide open with a sharp lens. My choice is f2.8 24-70 (my most used lens, but not my fav) @ f2.8.  Get a target right under the Left AF point you are testing.  Then flip to Live View and using Live View AF on that same target, take the shot.  This shot will always be dead on (because it is using the sensor to AF).  Now flip to the Optical VF and use that left AF point to AFS on the same target (remember to always use the focus ring to bring "out" the focus before each test).   Now, if that AF point is off  ... when you take the shot it will be soft vs your Live View shot being tack sharp.  (note: the differance is Live View AF vs AFS)  because if you are using a lens that the edges are not sharp to begin with (the spot under the AF point tested)  you can only get as sharp as what your lens can do.  And Live View AF can give you that baseline.
imho,  if your Live View AF is pretty sharp on your left AF point.  And using  AFS on that same AF point gives you the same results,  That's good enough.    On a D800 at 100% on a 36mp file, you know when you missed a AF.  And when you Hit It with a  sharp fast lens stopped down to say  f4 or f8 , that is also obvious.

Green LCD issue: http://www.learningdslrvideo.com/nikon-d800-greenish-lcd-tint/
This link is not specifically about the D800  ... but it is an important fact to know when using the D800 at 36mp ... it's not all about printing big.  Clarity and Noise is improved with downsizing.

Hope this helps someone,
Ross D. Hamamura
The Tourist of Light

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Nikon Custom Memory Banks are USELESS ! guess I am not alone

Nikon's current Custom Memory Banks are USELESS ! guess I am not alone :)

I have actually grown to "Hate" the Custom Memory Banks , just because it's there.
It "could" be great , but on my Nikon's it sits there Unused. Period. And it makes me SAD.
Probably should be a feature that the Overwhelming Majority of Nikon shooters use, Every Day, But I doubt it. Seriously.
  • I am not a Landscape shooter , and I actually "thought" Michael Reichmann was a Canon guy (that's a joke). But, I was soooo , soooo happy that he articulated in print what i have been feeling from the very beginning. It could be great , but it's LAME instead.
* IN FACT, I will go a step farther: Let me put the Custom Memory Bank on the Q DIAL (replace) , that I can simply Record ALL my camera settings to 5 or up to 8 Named Sets. THEN, let me Push the MODE button and ROLL the BACK Wheel. to Quickly go thru my SAVED Settings. The name and number of the Set up can appear on the LCD screen.
Once I release my mode button I can change at will. All I need is a FAST starting Point with EVERYTHING set on a roll of the wheel.
Give me that , and I will be in that mode All Day long!
  • Let me SAVE the Settings , SO when I go back to it ... IT goes back to my ORIGINAL settings , NOT my last settings in the set up. (I prefer it to reset to my Preferred settings , so I have a CLEAN set up again.)
Think about it for a second. IF you have all the possible MODE settings , complete down to the Auto ISO setups, and maybe Card slot set ups ... WHY would you then need the MODE button (other than to ROLL thru the different set ups)
YOU can have a Shutter Priority Set up ... a Aperture Priority Set UP .. a Manual Set UP .. a Wedding Church Q , Quiet Mode setting ... a Sports Set UP .. a Night Manual Set up. On and ON ...
At that point , why use the mode dial again?
And if you really want to , you can just move the Dial Off the programed Q on the Dial.
Now is there Any way currently in Nikon that you can Change ALL your settings so completely SO FAST ?
Let's get off the Old School Nikon Custom Memory Banks that do not make logical sense if the goal it to change your settings Quickly, and Completely. AND, to be able to actually use it ALL Day, Every Day.

Below is LL link, and quote
You Can't Take it to The Bank
Sorry for the pun (I think it's actually pretty clever), but let's talk about Memory Banks. The Nikon D800/E has what could be the world's best custom memory settings system. Regrettably though, it fails pretty badly in terms of convenience and functionality.
There are only a couple of settings that are purely mechanical; metering mode and shutter activation. Everything else is firmware controlled, which means that everything else should be settable and memorizeable into custom user banks. They are actually, but not the way you'd wish.
Instead Nikon has implemented a two bank system; A Shooting Memory Bank and a Custom Memory Bank. Why Nikon, why?! What this means is that you can set some items, such as exposure mode in the Shooting Bank, and some things like the Focusing modes in the Custom Bank, but there's no way to activate them at the same time without accessing the separate banks, located under different menu headings. Yes, you can put both on the My Menu setting, but one still has to set two separate selections to put the camera into the state that one needs. And, since the point of this is to enable quick changes between shooting modes, the whole process is subverted. Really quite a shame, since it could be so convenient.
Here's a suggestion Nikon – make the Custom Settings Bank a selection in the Custom Memory Bank. It's just firmware, right? A SMOP.
More Bad Bank News
If that was all that was wrong with the Nikon memory bank system on the D800/E, I could live with it (sort of – what choice do I have?). But it's worse than that. Nikon's otherwise prescient engineers were clearly dozing the day that they designed this system, for the following reason...
There is no way to lock settings in a bank. So, for example, let's say that you've set the camera up for "fully manual" mode in Bank B. You work in Bank B, but then decide to make a change to couple of settings. Maybe pop into Aperture priority mode for a few shots. Now, you realize that you actually want to work with your Bank A settings (full auto), so you switch to those.
What happens to your Bank B settings? You guessed it. They now have changed to whatever you set while you were in that Bank. In other words, a memory bank retains the settings that were in effect the last time you were in the bank, not the settings that you want them to retain. This is really lame, and together with needing to set two separate Memory Banks for each individual shooting situations, the whole Memory Bank system becomes close to pointless. This seems more like it was designed by Sony, rather than Nikon.
Come on Nikon, put your "A" team on this for a firmware update ASAP.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Crucial m4 SSD FW ver.0009 256gb, for Faster Lightroom and CS5 performance

Crucial m4 SSD FW ver.0009 256gb, for Faster Lightroom and CS5 performance
I am sold on SSD drives!

4/28/12  UPDATE :   FW  000F  Newest  ...  Probably a good idea.
4/10/2012 UPDATE:  Cruical M4 SSD "BSOD" FW update - Warrning

Moving to the D800 , we all need Hard Drive speed.
I have been a big advocate of SSD ... and Cruical M4 SSD 256gb and Adrenaline Cache SSD.
So, I also feel obligated to WARN users to UPDATE to FW 0309 on the M4 256gb SSD ... no matter if you have the issue or not. It will happen on Hour 5184 (seriously)
I got a "BSOD" ... Blue Screen Of Death ... in Win7 64-bit.
And because I have been running the SSD flawlessly for months , I did not suspect the Cruical M4 SSD.
The DATA does not seem to get effected ... but, I did not know that (at the time) ... so I partitioned and re-installed ... which is something I did not have to do.
  • What needs to be done is a FW update.
When you get the "BSOD" you can shut down and reboot. But in an hour you will get it again. That's how you know, that it is this FW update you need.
My guess is that it also means ANY M4 SSD ... even the cache SSD.

More info on this link:

Yes, I have run Raid 0 and 0+1  on spinning hard drives.  Just did a "step" upgrade on my Win7 64-bit i7 Dell 435MT.
4/10/12 UPDATE :  changing my MotherBoard to a ASUS  with  SATA3 and USB3 on the board.
First, I ran out of space on my image drive.  So I went from a  1 TB drive to the Fastest  3TB hard drive I could find at 7,200 rpm.  That was the Seagate Barracuda XT with 64mb cache,  7,200rpm, with a 5 year warrantee.   The slightly larger cache did not impress me.  Small pop to my Lightroom  to CS5  CTRL+E   … LR users know what I mean.  Nothing to write home about.
Then, I increased my Memory from 6gb of  Tri-Channel  DDR3 to 24gb of Fast Tri-Channel  DDR3.  CS5 seems to like the increase in memory with a 60% use setting in the preferences (that was worth it).  But Lightroom v3.6  was a bit apathetic.  Imho LR v3.6 saw little if any change.  And my CTRL+E  did not improve much.  It seems that LRv3.6 only loads half into memory and even at 24gb of memory “still” loads the other half in the swap file.  What’s worst is, I don’t know how to change that.
I made sure to run this set up a few days, to really feel the speed and see if I could tweak it faster.
So, next was the SSD.   Obviously, I had some clue that this would give me a bump in speed. But, I have been waiting for SSD’s to get to a us$ 1.00 per GB.    Well, as luck would have it  B&H came up with a $ 329.00 price with Free shipping  till 1/30/12 on the Crucial m4 256gb SSD.   Imho,  prices on SSD’s will drop this year.    I have a need for speed as I prep for the new Nikon D800 36mp camera in LR (probably v4)  so I decided to make the jump.    It’s not the fastest,  but it was the cheapest.  And with the FW ver 009 it seems to be up with the top performing SSDs  at a very good price.  It  also seems to have good reliability and a 3 year warrentee.    Plus, there is a fact that I have bought  all my memory upgrades for the past 5 years from the Crucial website with NO problems EVER.
Amazon on 2/6/12 us$339. with true Free shipping to Hawaii: http://www.amazon.com/Crucial-2-5-Inch-Solid-State-CT256M4SSD2/dp/tech-data/B004W2JL2A/ref=de_a_smtd

Here is some info:   Crucial m4 SSD 256GB Specs
Formatted Capacity 238.47gb
SATA 6GB/x interface   ... compatable  SATAIII or SATAII
Marvell 88SS9174-BLD2
3 year warrenty
2.5" form factor
Some have tested with FW 0009 at read performance nearing 500MB/s with write speeds around 243MB/s.
August 2011 review of the FW ver9

There is also a interesting  Crucial m4 256gb RAID 0  review done on Feb. 1 2012-02-12 … and they have said this m4 SSD has been on the market for 9 months (as of 2/1/12) ……   so there is a lot known about this SSD , and most if not all issues solved in FW 009.  http://www.storagereview.com/crucial_m4_ssd_raid_review    
MY  clean install went VERY smooth with NO issues.   
I  bought a - two(2) SSD -  3.5 to 2.5 inch Bay Converter on Amazon for $8.99 and Free shipping.  Love this two(2)  SSD Bracket .. because I plan on  buying a  SSD  Disk Cache, more on this latter)  and I will need the slot.              http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002BH3Z8E/ref=oh_o00_s00_i01_details
This is the boring (sausage making info)  part …    on this DELL i7  I clean installed the  OS with the original DELL install disk.  Which I know had all the drivers (with all my acc. like my eSATA external hard drive ON and plugged in) .
Started with VISTA 64-bit,  then to Win7 64-bit home, then finally Win7 64-bit PRO SP2 .  Did the Windows Update.  ZERO problems.   I just plugged in the SSD and used the install DVD to format and load the VISTA 64-bit OS (to start).
After all the updates I did a TRIM check.    Fyi: here’s how Set / Check , in Win7 (which supports TRIM)
Locate CMD and Run it as Administrator (Right Click CMD, Run as Administrator)
On the Command Line … type out
C:\Windows\system32>fsutil behavior set DisableDeleteNotify 0
DisableDeleteNotify = 0

Once the value of “0” is set for this parameter, TRIM is enabled. And, that is all there is to verifying that TRIM is set for your SSDs. By making certain that your SSDs are being maintained by Microsoft’s TRIM function, you are guaranteeing that your system will operate your solid-state drives at their highest level possible.  In Win7

Another thing I did was make sure my Windows  Swap file is on the C:  SSD drive.  And my PS CS5 Scratch disk.  Also moved my Lightroom Catalog to the SSD drive.

Windows Experience Index "Disk Data Transfer RATE" increased from 5.9 to 7.3  … the  rest of my system is at 7.5.

AFTER the SSD,   Lighroom v3.6 is about as fast as I can expect. There is a clear improvement. Even Brushes in Lighroom work better and has stopped hanging on me on heavy use.  The CTRL+E to CS5 really POPs. CS5 noticeably opens faster.

The SPEED increase you will really notice, and you do not have to take out your stop watch to measure.  You KNOW!  There will be no doubt.

Programs open faster.  There is a POP to it.

Yes, Win7 64-bit PRO opens faster  … but,  for me it does not matter    most of the time I have this computer running.
2/6/2012 UPDATE:  Just noticed on a  large number of Export to JPGs from DNG/PSD in Lightroom v3.6 that it was "noticably" Faster.  I did a multi-thread Export, by doing two parts.  First one was 177 files to full res JPG, the other part was 47 files to full res JPG. I have done the two part Export to JPG before , but this time it was faster. fyi

Of all the upgrades I have done …  this  us$ 329  Crucial m4 FW 0009   256gb SSD to my OS drive has  “Clearly”  given me the biggest SPEED INCREASE !
NEXT  is to fill that empty SSD bay on my two(2) SSD bracket  with my next upgrade …   an SSD disk cache.     This will give you a easy and low cost SSD boost to your large 3TB  spinning 7,200 rpm drive.   Imho, SPEED  / Performance  is the most important factor on this buy.  And it’s  caching SOFTWARE  will probably play a big role (to make sure you get Maximum hits to the SSD cache drive.   Cost will probably be relatively low because they will be using  128 or 64gb  SSD drives as the cache.    Look for them to ship soon.  Two companys  OCZ  and Crucial.  I am leaning towards the 128gb OCZ disk cache.  But, a  reveiw compairing the speed will be important.
Hope this helps someone,
Ross D. Hamamura
The Tourist of Light