Many years ago I used to work as a bricklayer and I made walls - not like this one - but walls just the same. Sometimes I miss building things.


A wild monkey on Mt. Emei, China.

focus here

I have had the Nikon D3100 body for a few days now and I am pleased to say that so far, it is working well. You may wonder what I do when I test a camera, and what it was that this time last year led me to take 2 Nikon D90 bodies back to the store because they were not working well. So here are the steps I go through when I get a new camera.

1) Take the first ever photo with the body, then check the photo IExif data using software like the Opanda IExif Viewer, to see that this photo is truly the first ever shutter release for the camera body. If it is not, it means that the body is either a demo or it has been used and returned by someone.

2) Examine the body to make sure that all the parts are not damaged.

3) Check all the camera functions to make sure they work. Likely all of the above are fine, they usually are. The next test is the most crucial and if a body fails this is likely where it will be; the focus test.

4) Using a focus chart like the one above, test each of the camera’s focal points. Instructions on how to do this are here. This test is best done with an autofocus lens that allows a very shallow Depth of Field; the shot above was taken on f/1.8 which as you can see, makes the camera’s focusing accuracy critical because only a very narrow area will be in focus. You want that narrow area to be exactly where you focused the camera. This was where the two D90 cameras I used last year failed. Last year’s results do not mean all D90s have a focusing problem, my cousin has a D90 that focuses perfectly, such issues can happen with any model which is why it is important to do this test. As you can see, the D3100 is testing well and seems to be focusing within acceptable parameters (just about).

5) Finally, test the body in real life circumstances and examine the results. Some would argue that this is the only test that is needed-certainly at the end of the day it is the only test that matters. The other tests above, however, can help you figure out when you get poor real life results whether to blame the camera or your own skills. Given the way the D3100 is testing so far, if I get bad results, I will have to blame myself.

nikon guy

I always suspected that Antonio Gades was a Nikon guy. If you have never seen him in Carlos Saura's Carmen - go get a copy - amazing! In this movie Antonio, a famous flamenco choreographer, searches Spain for a dancer who can authentically perform the role of Carmen in an upcoming production. He finds such a dancer in an obscure village and she joins his dance studio. This dancer’s name coincidently happens to be “Carmen.” Antonio and the other dancers begin to teach her to take on the role, but there was no need, because she is not only Carmen in name. Antonio is no longer with is, but his art lives on.

still looking up

I went to a couple of meetings today - one was downtown - so of course I took the new D3100. I took some shots similar shots to this a few weeks ago and like this looking up idea.

d3100 again

A few hours ago I replaced the D3100 I sold to James and here is the first photo taken with the new unit. This shot is a JPEG direct from the camera with no processing other than a slight crop. Looks good to me, but the next few days will involve a number of tests just to make sure.

angie baby

Although I named this picture after Helen Reddy’s 1974 hit song “Angie Baby,” the Angie in this photo bears little resemblance to the woman in that song, thank goodness!

don't jump!

A shot taken on Great Wall of a girl getting her picture taken by her friends. And I thought I did dangerous things for photo-moments!

ancient hands

I would go to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto to see the Terracotta Warriors currently on display, but I understand one is not allowed to take photos. That would be too hard for me to manage – it would be like going around with my eyes closed.

d3100 update

If you are wondering why am have not been shooting with the D3100, it is because James has it in China. On Christmas Day James said that he planned to sell his Nikon D80 and put the funds toward a new D3100. So I said that maybe I would buy the D80 back from him (I sold it to him a long time ago), then somehow my D3100 and his D80 got exchanged along with the promise from James of some cash that I have yet to see.


looking up part 2

Another shot looking up at Toronto

looking up

Driving through downtown Toronto today I took a picture looking up through the sunroof. It turned out nice – or weird – depending on your perspective

montreal shirt

I saw this shirt in Montreal shop window. I would never wear it - but I liked it - so I took a photo.

winter fire

When going for a long trail ride in winter weather, it is good to stop and warm up for a while at this place in the woods.

four weeks later

I took a similar shot with the D3100 four weeks ago picking people up at the airport, I took this today with the D300s when I took James back for his flight to Hong Kong. Even though the shots are with different cameras, the image is not a useful comparison between the two, because the lenses and settings are very different, as well as the lighting. On a seperate but related note, sorry I have not posted much lately. I have been so busy visiting family members over the holidays, but I will now get back into the routine of posting again.