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Nightime fun with D50 and 80-200 from a distance...

Discussion in 'Nikon DX DSLR Forum' started by hkgharry, Jun 5, 2007.

  1. hkgharry

    hkgharry

    77
    Apr 1, 2007
    Hong Kong
    I'm amazed (still pretty new to photography) at what equipment can do, and would like to share an example.

    Clearly the following show no artistic or processing talent, but to me demonstrate the quality of our gear and level of detail that can be captured, even in the dark from far way. This image and crop were taken with a D50 and 80-200 on top of a hill in Hong Kong. The distance to the tallest building is about 7 miles. I had just gotten a new tripod and head and wanted to try them out.

    The color is poor (in part due to pollution unfortunately) and the settings were probably not right, but if you can look past that, the point of the post is the 100% crop below. First the full image.

    [​IMG]

    And here is a 100% crop of the detail of that tallest building.

    [​IMG]

    Probably I'm doing a lot wrong, but I am amazed at the detail shown here and in other parts of the images taken that evening. The first image above is actually one of 60 that were subsequently stitched into a 200 megapixel image of the Hong Kong skyline. It's not the prettiest picture, but zooming around in the 200 megapixel image it's a bit spooky at the details you can make out.

    I'm still trying to figure out how to get that one printed.

    Anyway, what fun you can have with photography these days.
     
  2. Gale

    Gale

    978
    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Well done
    Nice shot
     
  3. hkgharry

    hkgharry

    77
    Apr 1, 2007
    Hong Kong
    Thanks Gale.

    In such cases the equipment is key. I have an old shaky tripod that I thought was "good enough". After an unsuccessful outing on that same hill with same camera and lens and ending up with a series of blurry messes, I invested in a new rig which was then used for this photo.

    The new and stable tripod, head and L-bracket are the part of my current gear that I now consider the most important.
     
  4. DBrim

    DBrim

    330
    May 30, 2007
    Boston, MA
    Nice shot.

    What tripod did you end up getting? I have likely the cheapest tripod on the market right now (Slik SDV30), which set me back all of $15 for the whole thing about eight months ago. I'm looking for a new one, so I'm curious.
     
  5. Nice shot. What was your exposure and focal length for each shot?
     
  6. hkgharry

    hkgharry

    77
    Apr 1, 2007
    Hong Kong
    Thanks.

    Everyone has their own needs of course but I'll be happy to share my story.

    After reading lots of stuff, including Thom Hogan's article, forum reviews, etc. I decided on a Gitzo 1325. Not cheap, but my top priority was stability followed by height (I'm pretty tall). For my heaviest setup at the time (D50 + 80-200 + 2X TC + SB-800) and allowing for some expansion, I figured that was the minimum I wanted and should fill my needs for a while.

    I thought about other brands or waiting for the non-twisty new versions that were being rumored about at the time, but since many had been happy with the 1325 for years and I didn't want to wait (and afraid of what the new prices would be) went for the 1325 and as they say "haven't looked back".

    When I went for my first test (the result of which is posted above) it took some time to get up to the hill, then walk through the wet grass and get myself and equpment safely perched on a rock overlooking Hong Kong. Then I noticed how windy it was. I kept the tripod as low as possible, held the camera strap in my hand and shot the 60 photos. Right then and there with the wind blowing on my 80-200 I decided that I had made the right choice by not going for a less stable model.

    Other models may indeed be better, I wouldn't argue when anyone who says so since I don't know, but I'm happy with the 1325. Since then I purchased an AFS 300 f4 and have had up to 3 TCs connected to it at the same time with a D200 on the 1325 with no stability problems.

    If I wanted a tripod to hike around with that would be another story, but with the 1325, tripod stability is one less variable that I worry about.
     
  7. hkgharry

    hkgharry

    77
    Apr 1, 2007
    Hong Kong
    Thanks.

    I used manual mode since it was to become a panorama, 6 seconds, F8 and 200mm at ISO 200 (the lowest available on the D50). No particular reason for the 6 seconds other than I wanted to use F8 and ISO 200. I felt 6 seconds would surely be slow enough to not be bothered by mirror slap.

    The exif information is still in the file (I use Nikon Capture NX mostly, which doesn't remove the exif). You can use something like Opanda to read it with a right-click from your browser. Here's a screen capture of what Opanda shows for this file

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Oh ya, and what software do you stitch them together with?
     
  9. hkgharry

    hkgharry

    77
    Apr 1, 2007
    Hong Kong
    Thanks for the feedback. Not sure what the issue is. Seems some others can see the images, and I can see them both from my home and work computers. Don't know what to try.

    Maybe your connection (ISP?) is blocking my website for some reason?
     
  10. hkgharry

    hkgharry

    77
    Apr 1, 2007
    Hong Kong
    There are lots of options available of course ranging from stuff that comes bundled with cameras (I think Canon has one) to many freeware/shareware and otherwise dedicated stitching software applications, to using something like Photoshop.

    I went with PTAssembler from Max Lyons, http://www.tawbaware.com/maxlyons/. My understanding is that PTAssembler is basically a graphical interface for the ubiquitous Panorama Tools software from Helmut Dersch.

    I chose this one mainly because:
    1. It could handle multiple rows
    2. It seemed like a fair price for what you get
    3. What Max does with panoramas was similiar to what I strive to achieve
    4. Max himself was very helpful with issues and questions that arose during my trial period for the software
    5. There is a fairly active online forum on Max's website where you can see seeing what others are doing with the software and get help

    I'm sure other programs are great too, but this one is working for me so far. I've used it for a range of applications from simple handheld couple-of-snapshot panaromas, indoor concerts (a few photos from a tripod) and up to the 5x12 200 megapixel thing I did from the top of the hill. All have been stitched automatically by the program and I have been pleased with the results each time.
     
  11. Auto Pano works really well :) 
     
  12. StephanieHelen

    StephanieHelen

    Jun 9, 2006
    Hi Hkgharry, I shot the same scene in September last year also, though I did not have a tripod while on vacation, so not as clear. I have the 1325 also and it works well for me, after a few rounds of twisting the leg knobs the wrong way initially, I don't even think about which way anymore :) 

    Thanks for posting, love the image.

    Stephanie
     
  13. hkgharry

    hkgharry

    77
    Apr 1, 2007
    Hong Kong
    Hi Stephanie,

    Thanks.

    Funny thing - I recently got a D200 and don't have an L-bracket for it yet. I could of course use my old my tripod (pan & tilt, no plates) with it, but am strangely (and illogically) hesitant to. The tripod feels like it's held together with twisties compared to the 1325 which is so smooth and solid. I feel like I'm going to scratch or otherwise degrade the D200 if I use it with the old tripod. Silly and unfair to the old one, I know.

    I've got to get myself an L-bracket soon. :smile:
     
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