Friday, February 29, 2008

Nikon D300 High ISO Performance

Pro adventure sports photographer, Michael Clark, cranks his D300 up to ISO 3200 and says that the images are cleaner than ISO 640 on his D2x. Read the full article on Inside Lightroom here.

To be honest, I never bothered to try out my D300 at ISO 3200, I had a mental ceiling that ISO 1600 was all I was ever going to need, and even that only at night. His sample images at ISO 3200 look really good. I’m going to have to run my own tests, and re-evaluate my thinking and perhaps start using high ISO in daylight.

Having such a broad range of usable ISOs also means that I could start using Nikon’s Auto-ISO function in 'Manual Mode'. In theory, I could set the aperture AND the shutter speed I want and let the D300's Auto-ISO function work out what ISO I need to get the proper exposure. Mind blowing stuff. I wonder if that would work out in the real world…

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My High Energy Workout Playlist (Feb ’08)

I was surfing the other night and came across the playlist of Dean “Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner” Karnazes. I think Karno’s the bomb, but a lot of his tunes just blow.

I normally string together 5 or 6 high-energy tunes that motivate me when my legs are burning with lactate and I’m sucking down air like there’s no tomorrow. If one tune isn’t doing it for me, I just skip over to the next one. Then I’ll string in a couple of slower paced songs for recovery, and so on.

So, at great personal risk (after flaming Karno ;), I thought I’d share my own workout playlist. Here are the first 15 songs off my playlist.

Song, Artist
Promise, Eve 6
Be Yourself, AudioSlave
Into The Night, Santana ft Chad Kroeger
Days of the Phoenix, AFI
Reptilia, The Strokes
I'll Stop the World, The Cure
Wake Up (Make A Move), Lost Prophets
Dumpweed, Blink 182
A Favor House Atlantic, Coheed And Cambria
Megalomaniac, Incubus
She's The Blade, Sugarcult
Me Against The World, Simple Plan
I Believe, Blessid Union of Souls
Bleed American, Jimmy Eat World
Thunderstruck, ACDC

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pahang River Kayak Expedition 2008

From March 14-22nd, I'll be in taking part in an expedtion to kayak the Pahang River in Malaysia. We’ll put-in at Kuala Tahan, Taman Negara, on the upper Pahang River, along a tributary called the Tembeling River. From there, we’ll paddle 332km down the Pahang River to Pekan, where the river drains into the sea.

The river has been kayaked from source to sea by some Danish guys in the mid 80's, but there is little documentation on it. So expedition organizer and leader, Mr. Goh Khee Wei of Paka River Camp, and a friend drove 1500km over three days to Recce the river a few weeks ago. He has this to say about the trip:

“The Expedition will launch off at Kuala Tahan, the confluence of Tahan and Tembeling rivers at Taman Negara. The will be seven stops in our 332km route taking us past many scenic rural villages and settings. We will explore the villages along the river and witness the idyllic rural life on our journey to Pekan the Royal town at Kuala Pahang.”

Day1 Kuala Tahan to Kederah 48km
Day2 Kederah to Durian Hijau 57km
Day3 Durian Hijau to Sanggang 48km
Day4 Sanggang to K. Triang 40km
Day5 K. Triang to Chenor 30km
Day6 Chenor to Baru Salong 50km
Day7 Baru Salong to Pdg. Rumbia 37km
Day8 Pdg. Rumbia to Pekan 30km

Update 27th Feb:
Sorry guys, I goofed the dates. The trip is from 14th-22nd March. I've corrected the dates in the article.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Always Use Protection

Well, after the bad experience of having one of my images taken from Flickr and used without my permission, I have to say that Flickr may be good for something after all. Lonely Planet saw this image of mine on Flickr and is considering using it for one of their travel guides.

I’ve heard it said that the only 100% way to safeguard your images is to never show them to anyone, and after having heard more horror stories, I’m going to be much more careful from now on, and so should you.

First, some copyright basics:

Your copyright is secured automatically upon creation of the image. You do not have to do anything else, like registering the image with a copyright office. A copyright means that only you have the right to copy the image, distribute it, display it in public, etc.

It is not a requirement, but to ensure there is no misunderstanding, you should have a form of notice to the public that the image is protected by copyright. This notice should contain these three items:

a. the word “Copyright” or the symbol ©;
b. the year of first publication; and
c. the name of the owner of the copyright.

Here’s some advice that might help protect you and your images on Flickr and other photo sharing sites. If you are using Flickr to archive or back-up hi-res files of your images, then only step one will be useful to you.

1. Under Flickr’s ‘Permissions and Privacy’, change who can download your photos to ‘Only You’. This will hide the “All Sizes” button and deny access to your image’s larger sizes. Unfortunately, there are hacks to work around this, but at least, this step is easy to do and will make it tougher to steal an image.

2. Upload the smallest size necessary. I’m considering uploading images that are just 500px at its longest edge. This is the medium image size and the default size that Flicker shows. Should someone download it, the file size will not be a big enough for printing.

3. Reduce the quality to the minimum needed for display. Be careful with this, you don’t want to reduce the quality so much that your photos look bad. A setting of Medium or around 50% should work for most images around 500px long. A higher quality may be needed for larger images.

4. Watermark your image with the copyright notice. I use Lightroom, which allows me to put in a small watermark easily. But a small watermark can easily be cropped out. A large watermark will deface your image, but will also make it much more difficult for someone to edit out.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ayee!! My Template's Gone Loco

Well, this new template appears to be having some problems. Despite my best efforts to recover my adsense ads, they seem to have disappeared and reverted back to Google's Public Service Ads (take a look at the right most column). Re-installing the template doesn't seem to have any effect as it seems to have a memory. If anyone has any idea what's happening to my Isnaini 'Bloggerized Adsense' template, please clue me in.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A New Look

Adventure Nomad gets a makeover today. Since I know nuts about HTML coding, I've updated my website with this free template from talented template designer Isnaini. I hope you like it.

Lightweight Heavyweights Conclusion: Canon XSi vs. Nikon D60

Megapixels:
The XSi uses a 12 Megapixel CMOS sensor and the D60 a 10 Megapixel CCD sensor. Is 12MP better than 10MP? It depends on your use, but having more Megapixels allow for slightly more flexibility with regard to cropping and still preserving image quality. A win for the XSi.

Dynamic Range:
The XSi uses ‘Highlight Tone Priority’ and the D60 uses ‘Active D-Lighting’. What do they do? ? In a high contrast situation, for example, when shooting a backlit subject against the bright sky, the camera is not able to record such a large difference in contrast. So you (or the camera, if left in Auto mode) can either choose to preserve the highlights and let the shadows go black, or show detail in the shadows, and let the highlights wash out. In a manner of speaking, this feature compresses the difference between the shadows and he highlights, so more details in both can be seen in the output JPEG image. Another tie.

14-bit vs. 12-bit Data Processing:
The XSi churns out 14-bit RAW files while the D60 just 12-bits. This would make a (small) difference if you process your own RAW files, and probably no difference if you shoot JPEG. A (small) win to the XSi.

Lenses:
Both manufacturers offer very similar kit lenses with image stabilization/vibration reduction features. The difference is that Nikon is charging about 25% more for their kit lens, perhaps because of higher manufacturing standards? It’s hard to say without actually testing them out. But from the specifications, I’m going to give the win to the XSi.

Conclusion:
If I was in the market now for a lightweight, entry level DSLR, and had no preference between Canon or Nikon, I’d place an order for the Canon XSi.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Stolen!

Well, it was bound to happen. Fellow blogger Tom Squire, based in Vietnam, has brought it to my attention that one of my images is being used by Viet Adventure without my consent. The photo of me crossing a bamboo bridge in Thailand was taken by my wife, and probably lifted from my Flickr site. Well, I've written to them, so we'll see what they have to say.

Update 20 Feb:
Viet Adventure has sent me a letter of apology and have removed the image from their homepage.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lightweight Heavyweights Continued: Canon XSi vs. Nikon D60

Ergonomics:
This has been the weakness of the XSi’s Rebel predecessors, but the XSi has been redesigned with a new look. It is bigger and has shed its squarer profile and now has curves like its bigger Canon DSLR siblings.

The looks, feel and handling of a camera are integral to the shooting experience and are very personal. It’s a good idea to spend a little time in your local camera shop exploring both these cameras. Don’t rush. If your camera shop won’t entertain you, take your business elsewhere.

It’s a good idea to prepare some notes about the things you want to check out when comparing the cameras, like: how bright is one viewfinder compared to the other? How good does it feel in your hands?

Play with it some more. Take the lens off and put it back on. Zoom in, zoom out. Change the ISO, change the aperture, change the shutter speed. Do the controls of one camera feel more intuitive than the other? I’m not going to rate this. Both manufacturers do things differently and some will like the look and feel of the XSi, other’s will prefer the D60.

Dust Reduction Systems:
Both cameras have similar integrated dust reduction systems. Their usefulness in the field is tough to prove but they offer some peace of mind when shooting outdoors. It’s a tie.

Viewfinder:
Both offer 95% framing accuracy but the XSi has a bigger viewfinder at 0.87 vs. the D60’s 0.80 times magnification. A win for the XSi.

ISO Displayed in Viewfinder:
Canon has been listening to the gripes of Rebel users and has now included ISO speed in the XSi’s viewfinder. A win for the XSi.

Autofocus:
The XSi has 9 AF points and the D60 has 3. I love my Canon XT/350D, which has 7 AF Points, but focused brilliantly. I’m going to stick my neck out and say that for shooting anything other than static subjects, 9 AF Points is better than 3. A win for the XSi.

LCD Live View:
Personally, I don’t find this feature useful because I'm often in places where I can't recharge my battery and this feature sucks up precious battery power. The XSi has it and the D60 doesn’t, so chalk up a small win for the XSi.

To be continued...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lightweight Heavyweights: Canon XSi vs. Nikon D60

I haven’t handled either of these cameras, so this is not a review. I’ll be giving my point of view of these yet-to-be introduced entry level DSLRs from the perspective of a first time buyer for the purpose of travel and adventure photography. They are similar in many ways and I’ll point out the major considerations and differences that matter to me.

Weight:
Portability is a major consideration if you are traveling or have to carry your camera on your back for miles. Both these cameras are among the lightest DSLRs available and are within a few grams of each other (475g for the XSi and 471g for the D60). It’s a tie.

Battery Life:
When you are into your 2nd week of trekking or deep in the backcountry and unable to recharge your batteries, battery life determines how many spares you will need to carry. Both cameras use batteries that are light and have a decent rating of 500 shots per charge. It’s a tie.

Cost:
This is what it’s going to cost you to replace one of these if you break it, sink it, get it stolen while passed out drunk in Morocco, etc. A quick check with Amazon shows prices for the XSi (body only) at $800, and the D60 at $623. The answer here isn’t so straightforward. You get what you pay for and the XSi’s feature set appears superior to that of the D60, perhaps justifying its significantly higher price. The D60 wins here because I think the XSi’s price may place it out of reach of many first time buyers.

To be continued with ergonomics…

Monday, February 11, 2008

Another Nikon D300 Write-Up

Professional sports photographer, Dave Black, has a pretty interesting write-up on the Nikon D300. If anyone's interested, it's available here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Good To Go

Looking back at my head-on crash into the truck last month, I think I was pretty lucky. The tube of my hydration bladder that was running over my left shoulder was sliced in two and probably saved me from worse injury when the left side of my face and chin impacted against the truck. The resulting impact, of course, caused the whiplash that damaged the nerves in my neck (C6 whatever that means). The doctor told me yesterday that he thinks there is no permanent damage. He has cleared me to start physiotherapy immediately and I should be back in full training by 1st March. Game on!