Monday, 31 December 2007

Happy New Year

To put is simply, I wish you all the best in 2008, may all your wishes and dreams come true!

In the spirit of this time of year, I went around town yesterday, with D300, Nikkor 14-24 and a tripod to do some shots. I have mixed feeling about it - concerning lights in town. There were a lot less then previous years and even if this makes a bit smaller lighting effect, power consumption and energy saving is a lot better due to this. Not to mention light pollution. So it's all good :)
Have a great one!

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Nikkor 14-24 AF-S 2.8 N

WOW! That's the first thing that comes to mind with this lense. WOW!
I received the Nikkor 14-24 2.8 AF-S N lens along with my demo model of D300 and I just can't stop thinking about it. It's amazingly sharp even when fully open at both ends. It gets you into really cramp spaces, handles low light really well and could be used as a weapon if needed as well. It's makes D3 look small (look image above), not to mention D300. It's HUGE. Weight in at 1kg (35oz) and 131mm (5 inches) length. It's about 98mm (4 inches)in diameter so forget any kind of filter on this one. Lens hood is fixed on. Doesn't work on manual cams, has no aperture ring. But does handle DX and FX sensors.
If you're looking for a sharp and fast wide lens, you can just stop searching. It doesn't get much better then this.
I'd get mine here.
Here are some first test shots. All done in NEF, imported into Lightroom, default settings, no additional adjustments, whole images resized down, details in 1:1.
Nikon D300 + Nikkor 14-24 @ 14mm, 1/50, f2.8, ISO400

Nikon D300 + Nikkor 14-24 @ 14mm, 1/40, f16, ISO200

Edge detail:

Nikon D300 + Nikkor 14-24 @ 24mm, 1/640, f2,8, ISO200

Edge detail:

Nikon D300 + Nikkor 14-24 @ 16mm, 1/100, f10, ISO200

Edge detail:

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Nikon D300 and D70s noise comparison

So I finally got the smaller brother, D300 for a test. Came in a nice bag from Nikon office, with a lovely surprise as well: Nikkor 14-24 2.8 AF-S N. I'll talk more about the lens later, the first thing I wanted to do with D300 were some homemade ISO tests. I've done a bunch of them: NR off, low, normal and high, with ambient light and with flash. Overall I'm quite impressed with noise levels. I'll post some shots after I sort everything out.
The next thing I was curious about, was the noise comparison with my trusty D70s. I just can't seem to get away from this cam. Was set to trade it for D200 a year ago, but it always keeps surprising me.. in a positive way.
So, here are some shots. Same setup: one flash, iso 1600, all NR off, nef, normal import into Lightroom, default LR settings, no pp of any kind, screenprint..
Of course sensors are different so you can't really compare them, but you get the overall impression. I was surprised.. again..

Setup (focus was on the smiley face):

D70s on the right (which is clear by it's "famous" underexposing), D300 on the left.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Love really is a strange thing...

Been at a party last night, meet some great people, talked with "lost" friends, had a great time. But what stucked most, was a beautiful girl and her "boyfriend". I noticed her quite soon, when they walked in and sat at a table across mine, she had big green eyes and blondish hair. There were other people sitting there as well, they all knew each other. They were chatting like everyone, then it happen. He hit her. Not just a small slap on the cheek, he cut her lip. The music was too loud for most people to notice anything, their table of course did. They paused for a minute, she took a tissue to stop the blood, then they simply started chatting again. She leaned back into the shadow and then we made eye contact. We look into each others eyes for about a minute, then she looked at the floor. I have a feeling that moment and that look is going to haunt me for a very long time.
I simply can't stop thinking about it. First about the moment when it happened. Should something be done, should the guy be reported/kicked? Or would that just make it worse for her later?
Then about her point of view. Is it love? Can someone that's suppose to love you, do that to you? Is it ok to let that happen to you? How can you "love" or even be with someone that does something like that to you? I don't know, I don't get it, I'm lost..

Couple of minutes later, she engaged in their conversation again, like nothing happened. Somehow I got a feeling, it's not the first time something like this has happened to her..
Greeneyes, go, get away, you deserve someone A LOT better then him! Love is a special thing, don't waste it on someone like that.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Nikon D3/D300 event..

Yesterday Slovenian Nikon office held their... 6th?.. D3/D300 preview with a local photo store & lab Fotograd. The thing was held in a coffee house accompanied by short movie (history of Nikon), presentation about basic color management (was no way near enough time for anything more advanced) and a test shot with both cams and all the latest lenses. I probably don't need to tell you, working with D3 and pro lenses is simply amazing. The sharpness and color reproduction of D3 and D300 are as good as they get. Strangely, most people preferred chatting with each other, then making shots. So I took A LOT of shots (and this has absolutely nothing to do with the lovely model available; she was great btw), with both cams all 5 lenses and have to admit, have been thinking what to sell to get D3, since then.
I won't post any pictures, since the shots weren't consistent and done under "lab" conditions. That'll come later.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Sigur Ros

One of my favorite bands is Sigur Ros. I've first heard their music at a photo exhibition a couple of years ago and liked it straight away.
Sigur Rós consists of Jón þor (jónsi) Birgisson (vocals, guitars), Kjartan (kjarri) Sveinsson (keyboards), Orri Páll Dýrason (drums) and Georg (goggi) Holm (bass). The band were formed by Jónsi, Georg and original drummer Agúst in 1994. They were later joined by Kjartan and when Agúst left the band after the recording of Agætis byrjun in order to pursue a career in graphic design, he was replaced by Orri. Sigur Rós hail from iceland, and rightly claim to bring you the beautiful landscape of their homeland with their music.

Sigur Ros have released four albums so far, plus one remix album:
- Von (hope); frequently unrecognisable from the bulk of their subsequent work, von is an experimental and ambient work, which many believe to be a concept album (something the band deny, however)
- Agætis byrjun (a good beginning); the album was originally released only in iceland, but was discovered by brighton's fatcat records, who snapped the band up and released the album in the uk in august 2000.
- ( ); the lyricless and titleless album was a darker, rawer and less accessible follow up to ágætis byrjun and came out to favourable reviews around the world.
- takk…(thanks); finally released in september 2005, 'takk...' quickly became sigur rós' largest selling album to date and charted highly across the globe.

Sigur Ros also just released their first movie "Heima" (at home), which starts selling in December 2007. Here's a preview:

Official site is here.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Nikon D300 Exposure and Active D-Lighting

I've been reading a lot about Nikon D300 under/over exposed problem online, but so far, I can't agree with that. I've tested the cam twice now and it works perfectly. The one thing I can think of is the Active D-lighting. People aren't familiarized with this function and how it works yet. When on, ADL will alter the exposure and underexpose the image to retain more details in shadow and highlight areas. So if someone has this function ON and doesn't know about it, he/she could say the cam underexpose.
D70s did have this exposure "problem", but under is always better then over. And if you shoot in raw, it's no problem.
I'm sure owners of Nikon D300 have already found and tested the ADL and know how it works, for the rest of you, D300 doesn't have exposure problems.


Well finally.. we got (some) snow in town. The rest of the country has snow for some time now, but not the capital. I hope it'll last over the holidays..

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Good for you..

Let me translate..
DOBRO ZAME = Good for me*
(*This particular store uses this phrase for it "super" prices.)
Zemlja za grobove = Soil for graves

So to rap it up.. Good for me : Soil for graves : only €2.99

You never know when you're gonna need it, so I guess it's a wise move to get ready. Holidays are around the corner as well, lot's of crazy things happen then, hopefully not that crazy that you're gonna need this item, but...

Friday, 14 December 2007

Earths future decided in Bali..

"The U.S. has been humbled by the overwhelming message by developing countries that they are ready to be engaged with the problem, and it's been humiliated by the world community. I've never seen such a flip-flop in an environmental treaty context ever," said Bill Hare of Greenpeace.

The European Union was pleased with the deal.

"It was exactly what we wanted. We are indeed very pleased," said Humberto Rosa, head of the European Union delegation.

"We will have now two tremendously demanding years, starting right in January. Many meetings, many discussions, many people passing many hours doing things," he said.

Agreement on a pact in 2009 would give governments time to ratify the pact and give certainty to markets and investors wanting to switch to cleaner energy technologies, such as wind turbines and solar panels.

Kyoto binds all industrial countries except the United States to cut emissions of greenhouse gases between 2008 and 2012. Developing nations are exempt and the new negotiations will seek to bind all countries to emission curbs from 2013.
... from Reuters...

US is again the main problem.. they always seem to be. Biggest polluter out there, but they don't want to do anything about it. Typical..

We shall see what will ACTUALLY happen. Trust no one.

Monday, 10 December 2007


Nikon D300.. if you're into photography in any way, I'm sure you've heard/read about this cam (and it's older brother D3 as well probably). D300 finally became available to our market a week ago and I don't need to tell you, sellers are out of stock already. And they didn't import single digits either, I hear they were in triple digits (you have to understand one thing, Slovenia has around 2m population, so that's a lot).
Since I write for two magazines here in Slovenia, I got a change to preview and play with both cameras a few months ago. I'm also scheduled to get D300 for a full test this week, so consider this post as a preview.
I personally own D70s which I love. It's a great and light camera, fits my needs perfectly. I've been thinking to upgrade to D200 a year ago, but (and here's why I won't upgrade to D300 either) to get *any* improvement on the picture quality over D70s, I need to go full frame or FX as Nikon calls it. The ONLY advantage to get a 10 or 12Mpix sensor over the 6M in D70s in the crop capabilities. Overall image quality between D70s and D200 is practically identical. And I've been using D200 for months as well. Sometimes D70s produces even better images then D200, due to less pixels on same sensor size. Pixels are just a marketing trick people, get over it. There's a reason why D3 with FF/FX sensor has "only" 12Mpx and not more.. and thank you Nikon for that! No wonder high ISO is AMAZING!
I might get tempted to get a used D200 now, as you can imagine, there are loads on ebay and out local "flea markets".
Photokina is next year, I bet Nikon will come out with FX sensor in D300 body.
It's going to be a busy year 2008..
I'd get mine D300 here.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Die Hard 4..

O MY GOD.. yes, that's how I'm starting this thread.. O MY GOD.. I'm an atheist, but respect all religions so this has no special or religion-related meaning.
What to say about this movie.. I don't really know, have I changed so much over the years, or does this movie really suck? I mean, I kinda liked (well, not really liked, but I haven't disliked either) the first three movies.. sure, they were action packed to the max, loads of guns and shooting all over the place, but this.. now.. part 4.. geez. It's like stumbling into Van Damme or Seagal movie. (warning: spoilers ahead) Sooooo many cliches & stupid special effect: from flying cars, jumping on and off F-35 fighter plane, driving helicopters and monster trucks, explosions all over the place.. to the classic 1 man, 1 gun against 10 guys with machine guns and guess who wins crap.. not to forget, computer hacking with fancy displays, typing 50 lines for one word input box.. or hacking into top security system (that would probably take hours if not days with a super computer) with a cell phone, and on and on.. I thought it would never end. Of course, there's also the classical criminal thing: "why do you talk so much instead of actually shooting him and getting rid of him, just so he can escape (again) and shoot YOU????". Following the rules of "How to make an action film " for dummies book, there's also a hot oriental chick (strangely no nudity this time), teen daughter which hates her dad but is happy that he saves her from the terorist after she gets kidnapped, a geeky hacker, heads of all US security agencies that don't know a thing,..................
Like said, I'd expect something like this (one man show) from Van Damme or Seagal movies, but not here. Bruce Willis at least knows how to act, those two don't! I guess Willis did a good job, with the script provided.. He did look the part even with a bit over the top wounds and things like that.
Anyhow, I still don't know if my taste in movies has changed and Die Hard 4 is no different then the first three parts, or did this movie really sucked? I guess I won't wait long for an answer. One of out TV stations usually has an action week in December, and Die Hard 1-3 is usually on the menu. Will compare then..

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Luc Besson

Today I want to write a few words about one of my favorite, it not the favorite, director Luc Besson.
Born in 1959, Luc Besson spent the first years of his life following his parents, scuba diving instructors, around the world. He already showed amazing creativity as a youth, writing early drafts of Grand bleu, Le (1988) and The Fifth Element (1997), as an adolescent bored in school. He planned on becoming a marine biologist specializing in dolphins until a diving accident at age 17 which rendered him unable to dive any longer. He moved back to Paris, where he was born, and only at age 18 did he first have an urban life or television. He realized that film was a medium which he could combine all his interests in various arts together, so he began taking odd jobs on various films. He moved to America for three years, then returned to France and formed Les Films de Loups - his own production company, which later changed its name to Les Films de Dauphins. He is now able to dive again.

I'll write just a few of his titles that I love:
Leon the Professional - ranks in first top 5 of my favorite movies
Nikita - again, has to be in top 10 of my favorite movies
The Big Blue, The 5th element, Taxi, Subway, Angel A, The Transporter, Danny the Dog, Colour me Kubric, Hitman,... and others. It's really amazing how much creativity and talent some people have.
(P.S. Amazon created a nice Luc Besson collection, take a look).

Here's a song by Slovenian singer (Anja Garbarek), based on Angel A movie, that's also featured in the movie. Have a listen, it's great..

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Lost in translation

One of my favorite movies is Lost in Translation. I've first seen it back in 2003, bought the DVD as soon as it got out and now seen it at least 50 times. I love movies that can make you think about life, yourself, values, your future and your past without all those special effects. It's almost fruitless to summarize the movie, each viewer has his or hers own thoughts and feelings about it.
Basic story follows two people Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson). Bob is a "semi-retired" actor, visiting Japan to do a whiskey commercial. Charlotte came to Japan with her husband, photographer. In a way, they're both lost, both have a fog over their life, one about his past, the other about her future. This makes for a strange connection between them and develops into friendship.
Overall the movie is amazing. Written and directer by Sofia Coppola, it is amazingly done, from great scenery, sounds, to great acting from both main actors. Some could call it a bit slow, but it's exactly that which I like. In real life friendship takes time to develop and that is excellently port raid in this movie. It's not an action movie people!
For relaxing times.. make it Lost in Translation time.
I have to give this one 10/10.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

AIDS safe..

Lord of war..

I think everyone should watch this movie. Not just because it's a good movie and Nicholas Cage has done a great job, but because of the story itself. We all know wars are a huge business opportunity for weapon dealers, who don't care who they sell as long as they sell. And we all know that wars only benefit governments and individuals, either for profits, natural resources, political strength and so on.
Lord of war shows us a small insight into conflicts all over the world, insight into weapon dealing, extortion, corruption, killings and who's really pulling all the stings in the background.
I'd give it 8/10.