Notes on Use of This Blog


1. I have a policy that I always reply to comments on my blog, even if it's just to say thank you.

2. Please don't submit comments that include your own web address. For obvious reasons, they will not be published.

3. I'm now on Twitter - @RichardPegler1

Sunday, 27 December 2015

A New Camera - on 23rd December, 2015

My wonderful wife, Lindsay, bought me a new camera as a present - not for Christmas (she gave me a couple of great books on dragonflies for Christmas), but as an early (six months early!) 70th birthday present. Her logic was a confidence-inspiring - "well you might as well have it now whilst you are still able to get full use out of it"!

The camera she bought me was a Nikon D7200. I'd been waiting for years for a 'pro' replacement for the Nikon D300s, of which I own two. However, it became apparent that Nikon had no intentions of bringing out a replacement anytime soon. My main reason for wanting an upgrade was that the 12.3 Megapixels and high ISO performance of the D300s is now greatly outstripped by more modern cameras. The D7200 offers 24.2 Megapixels and a significantly superior high ISO performance.

My D7200 arrived from Dale Photographic on Wednesday 9th December. By the time I'd got a battery charged and skipped through the relevant parts of the manual it was Wednesday evening. My usual Sigma 50-500 lens was stuck on the front - and the Optical Stabilisation didn't function! Most of that evening and the following evening (I was out all day on the Thursday) was spent trying to get to the root of the problem. The image stabilisation didn't work properly on any of my lenses with the D7200, but they did work on pal John's D810 which has the same processor at its core. 

The suppliers were perplexed by the issue, but offered to to sort it out for me if I got the lens and camera to them.  Nikon were less than helpful, registering my query as a problem with a Nikon lens (that I'd not used for around four years). Sigma were extremely helpful, and suggested that there was the possibility that the problem could be fixed with a firmware upgrade to the lens - I'd never considered that the lens would have a processor which used updateable firmware!

It was Monday 14th before I had the confidence that my best option was to take up Sigma's offer of a free upgrade to the firmware in the lens. The lens was posted via Royal Mail's Special Delivery, insured and guaranteed delivery by 13h00 the following day. By 14h00 the following day it had become apparent that Royal Mail had lost my lens. It took a further hour or so to find someone at Royal Mail who would take ownership of my problem - and they managed to find my lens (still at my local Sorting Office, apparently) and get it on its way. 

Sigma were marvellous! They received my lens at around mid-day on the Wednesday and it was on its way back to me mid-morning the next day, arriving before mid-day on the Friday (18th Dec.). The OS on the lens was checked on the D7200, and all seemed OK.  Now I needed to see what the new camera was capable of!

Pre-Christmas commitments and evil weather meant that opportunities were severely limited. What little photography I did indulge in was in extremely poor light conditions, but did serve to prove that the camera had capabilities way-beyond that of the D300s. However, nothing resulted that I would care to reproduce here.

It was Wednesday 23rd before we had a day of sunny weather and I had a free day. I started with a walk on my local patch, but only found an owl at my Site No.02. It was high up on the chimney stack, with strong sun on one side. At this distance and in these light conditions, my old camera would have given me somewhat less detail and probably bad 'flare' on the paler parts in the sun. This heavy crop is only about 17% of the original frame.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my LO Site No.02
This next shot, at my LO Site No.51, was taken under even more difficult circumstances.  The wind was blowing me about, and I was at just over 50 metres distance. With the bird mostly in deep shade, but with dappled light coming through in places, I probably would have totally failed with the D300s. This is a crop to only 9% of the original image!

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my LO Site No.51
I didn't manage to find any more Little Owls, which was not surprising as it was so windy, so I decided to set off back towards home and visit my Short-eared Owl site. It's all very well taking shots of static birds, but one of the reasons for wanting the new camera was the ability to wind the ISO up so that I could attain faster shutter speeds for flight shots.

I arrived to find that the owl was already out. It stayed around for about forty minutes, and kept its distance for most of the time. It did come closer on a few occasions, but never really close. However, I did manage to get some shots that gave me the confidence that this new camera was going to be a real treat! I found that, even when it clouded over, I was able to carry on shooting. I got the impression that the camera had greater difficulty finding initial focus (that could easily be my inexperience with the camera), but that, having found focus, it held it more accurately on a moving subject (particularly when obstructions got in the way). I also found that the effects of changing background light were less drastic than I was used to.

Here's a few from that session, including the header image whilst this post is current.










Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) - undisclosed site
Although these might not be perfect results, I'm more than satisfied with them for a first attempt with the new camera. I can't wait for summer when, hopefully, I'll get the opportunity to try it in macro mode. Thank you, Lindsay, for a wonderful present. You're an absolute star, and the light of my life!

I'm not sure about the next post, but I really should take a break from showing Shorties. Perhaps the next one will convince you that I've become a bit of a bug-er?

Thank you for dropping by. I hope you had a great Christmas, and I wish you a happy and healthy wildlife-filled 2016.

28 comments:

  1. Glad to hear that your camera issues got resolved, Richard. I must confess that I had never heard the term firmware before, but perhaps it just relates to high end cameras and I don't think my power shot qualifies! As far as I am concerned you could feature owls on every post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know if 'firmware' is British term, David, but it applies to a lot more than just cameras! It's a term that is applied to the code that is embedded into the microprocessors that are part of virtually all 'intelligent' devices these days, including washing machines, DVD players, sat-nav systems, etc. etc. (and, coming from a cynic, it's the way they can ensure that such devices break down just after their warranty expires! - or that emission tests can be fudged!). Usually, once encoded, that is the way they stay. However, such complex things as advanced cameras, occasionally require firmware upgrades. These can be bug fixes, or just tweaks to performance. Sometimes the user is able to install these upgrades - on a camera there is usually the abilitiy to download firmware upgrades from the manufacturer's web site, put them on a memory card, and install the upgrade to the camera. Other upgrades will require a technician to install - like the rectification to the emission test cheat system on my Skoda (VW) diesel engine!

      With my best wishes - - Richard

      Delete
  2. Congratulation Richard with this lovely gift of your wife. That was quite an advanture with your lens! As I look at your photos it is, togehter with your new camara, a great succes. Hope you get to make lots more in the New year. For you and your wife Lindsay I wish you good health and great moments in nature.
    Regards,
    Roos

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Roos, for your kind words and wishes. I hope that 2016 is a great year for you!

      Take good care - - - Richard

      Delete
  3. Amazing results with the new Nikon,looks like it's the business.
    I can predict that 2016 is going to be a great year for you.
    John.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, John. I'm looking forward to taking this camera into 2016, particularly when the dragonflies are around. I might be contacting you in the late spring for advice on these in your corner of the UK!!!

      Have a great 2016 - - Richard

      Delete
  4. Wow, I am so jealous, not only of the camera and the great shots, but of your sightings. I wish we were a little closer to take you up on your offer of going out with you. Wishing you all the very best for 2016. Diane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Diane. You can always contact me if you fancy a longer trip out from your current UK base!

      My very best wishes to you and yours for 2016 - - - Richard

      Delete
  5. Replies
    1. Thanks, Finn. I'm looking forward to hearing of your exploits in 2016. Best wishes - - - Richard

      Delete
  6. May I be cheeky and recommend that you don't give the Shorties a break. In my limited experience with them you never know what the following winter will be bring. Fill your boots/memory cards especially when you're getting such great shots. I really have two firm favourites. The header image, I really like how close to the top of the sapling the owls wing is, a great flyby shot. By favourite is the diving owl shot it's so dynamic, a cracking image.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not cheeky at all, Doug. I had no intention of giving the Shorties a break - until I went down with a heavy cold yesterday! I was just going to give my readers a break from them. I guess the two images you nominated are my two favourites too, but the last shot niggles me because I just missed getting the lower wing tip in frame. That's only about 20% of the frame, and right down in the bottom left corner - so nearly missed it altogether!

      Thank you for your kind words - - - Richard

      Delete
  7. The new camera seems to be working very well, indeed! Of course, any tool in the hands of a craftsman can yield stunning results, as you have demonstrated with all of your images.
    We're looking forward to a year filled with large pictures of small subjects from our favorite British "Bug-er"!

    From Gini and I to you and Lindsay: "Happy New Year"!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your very kind words, Wally. A very Happy New Year to both of you too!

      Delete
  8. Some absolutely wonderful images Richard, the new camera is doing you proud,
    See you soon
    John

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, John, for your help in getting to the bottom of the image stabilisation problem. All things being equal (and that looks a bit dubious at the moment!) I'll see you on Wednesday afternoon.

      Delete
  9. WOW, the combination of this new equipment is fantastic!
    I am happy you solved your problem, this D7200 has a great potential and is also fairly light and silent.
    Your photos are fabulous, they show you made no mistake in your choice :)
    The bird must fly fast and you captured it perfectly, sincere congrats!
    I am thinking of selling Patrick's 80/400mm to buy the 200/500.
    A friend professional photographer bought one and is thrilled with its quality.
    I hope you were not affected by the floods I learned of as I came back home after spending Xmas in the Alps.
    Much love to share with Lindsay and a happy new year :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wonderful to hear from you, Noushka, and thank you so much for your kind words.

      Have you looked at the Sigma 50-500 F4.5-6.3 APO DGOS HSM as an alternative to the Nikon 200-500? The Sigma has the advantage of being able to focus down to 0.5 metres - which is, of course, to the focal plane of the camera, so the subject can be almost touching the lens hood (actually to about 10 cm if you're using it on a DX camera with the APS-C hood on!!!).

      We've totally escaped the flooding here (touch wood), but winds and rain have interfered with birding, although not as much as the head full of cold that I've had for a week now!

      Lindsay and I send our love to you, with our very best wishes for 2016. Take good care - - - Richard

      Delete
    2. Many thanks for your reply, Richard, no I have not looked into the 50/500 Sigma yet.
      I will enquire about it though, as long as it is light enough to set on the BushHawk shoulder mount and the image quality is top.
      The 200/500 Nikon is at a very good price, much less expensive than the 80/400 of which I will sell Patrick's.
      Dippers are indeed not so easy to find, one needs patience to spot and hear them as they fly up and down stream but once their main perching area is determined, it is a matter of time before they come in front of the lens!
      Much love to share with Lindsay :)

      Delete
    3. The weight shouldn't be a problem, Noushka. The Sigma 50-500 is 330 gm lighter than the Nikon 200-500.

      I don't usually have any problem with Dippers in Scotland, but I suspect that their food supply was poor last summer, due to cold wet conditions and that they'd moved on to better feeding grounds.

      Delete
  10. Happy New Year to you Richard and to your wife Lindsay :) Beautiful pictures of the Short-eared owl in flight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Linda - on both counts! Wishing you all the best for 2016, and hoping to see more frequent posts from you on Blogger this year - - - -Richard

      Delete
  11. The lack of noise in this last set of owl images is very noticeable Richard, better light, better post processing techniques or a better camera!!?? Nice post and good luck with your new toy, very green with envy!!! te he he he!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The results were mainly due to the better camera, Paul. The light wasn't too bad but the 'sunny' appearance of the images was largely through tweaking the white balance. The lack of noise was due to the superior high ISO capabilities of the camera, although I'd only had to go up to ISO 1600 - I might have done some minor noise reduction (I can't remember, but I suspect not). The old D300s would have produced terribly noisy images at ISO 1600!

      Hoping to meet up with you some time in 2016. Best wishes - - - Richard

      Delete
  12. Lucky man, a lovely wife. Those pictures are fantastic, well done Richard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I certainly am a very lucky man, Bob. Thank you!

      Delete
  13. Happy New Year!!!! Sweet photos! I love the SEOW in flight shots especially. Glad the camera bit was resolved. What a pain in the rear end to have to deal with the companies. I've heard of firmware upgrades, but how on earth do you do that to a lens?? And that is probably the best gift that anyone could give a birder/owler:) Best wife of the year award goes to your other half! That's like getting an expensive ring:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And a happy new year to you too, Chris! I don't know how they implement a firmware update to a lens, but suspect that it's done through the electrical contact pins - so nothing that Joe Public would be able to do. Yes, my wife is extremely generous. I suspect that she's working on the basis that I'll be 'checking-out' soon!!!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

      Delete

I'm pleased to report that the anonymous spam problem seems to be solvable without using word verification. I'm now just using the 'Registered Users - includes OpenID' option in Blogger settings, and I'm not getting any spam - touch wood! I've also not received any contact from people saying that they are no longer able to make comments.