December 2011 Archives

This article is an excerpt from Mastering The Nikon D7000, published by Rocky Nook and NikoniansPress.


Many of us have purchased or received new cameras recently. The Nikon D7000 is certainly one of Nikon's most popular cameras at this time. This article describes the care and feeding of the lithium-ion battery and how to use it in the camera. However, since all Nikon DSLRs use lithium-ion batteries and have similar chargers, menus, and insertion methods, the principles in this article can be applied to virtually any modern Nikon.

If you’re like me, you’ll open your camera’s box, attach the lens, insert the battery, and take your first picture. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to wait an hour to charge the battery, and only then take the first picture? Sure it would, but I’ve never done that, and I bet you won’t either. Nikon knows this and doesn’t send out new cameras with dead batteries.

Most of the time the battery is not fully charged, but it has enough power to set the time and date, then take and review a few pictures. Think about it. How would you test a brand new battery? You’d charge it and see if it will hold a charge. Do you think Nikon is in the habit of sending out batteries that are untested? No! So most of the time, you can play with your new camera for at least a few minutes before charging the battery. I’ve purchased nearly every DSLR Nikon has made since 2002, and not one of them has come with a dead battery.

When my latest camera arrived, the battery was about 68 percent charged. I used the camera for an hour or two before I charged the battery. However, let me mention one important thing. If you insert the battery and its charge is very low, such as below 25 percent, it might be a good idea to go ahead and charge it before shooting and reviewing lots of pictures. You may be able to set the time and date, and test the camera a time or two, but go no further with a seriously low battery.

Included in the box with the camera is the Nikon Battery Charger MH-25. The battery will only fit on the charger in one direction, as shown in figure 1.1. An orange indicator light on the charger will blink until the battery is fully charged. When the blinking stops and the light stays orange, the battery is ready for use.

Figure 1.1 – Charging the camera’s battery with the MH-25 charger

The D7000 uses a Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack. While this type of battery doesn’t develop the memory effects of the old Nickel-Cadmium (NiCad) batteries from years past, there can be a problem if you let them get too low. A Li-ion battery should not be used to complete exhaustion. It has a special protection circuit that will disable the battery if one of the cells goes below a certain key voltage. You’d probably have to run it all the way down and then store it in the camera for a few weeks to actually cause the battery to disable itself. However, a good rule of thumb is this: When your camera’s Li-ion battery gets down to the 25 percent level, please recharge it. I don’t let mine go below 50 percent for any extended use.

If you can hold yourself back from turning on the camera until after the battery is charged, that would be the optimum situation. 

Figure 1.2 – Examining and inserting the battery

Figure 1.2 shows how to insert the battery into your camera. On the left side of the image you can see the battery from the top and bottom. Notice that you insert the battery with the rounded side up and the flat side down. Below the word “Nikon” on the battery’s top is a small, faint arrowhead. Insert the battery in the direction of the little arrow, as shown in figure 1.2.

In the picture, the little door on the bottom of the camera’s grip is open and the battery is partially inserted in the correct orientation. Push it all the way in until the yellow battery-retention clip snaps into place, and close the Battery-chamber cover (battery door).

The yellow battery-retention clip holds the battery in place even when the Battery-chamber cover is open. To remove the battery you will need to open the Battery-chamber cover and push the retaining clip toward the door hinge. The battery will pop out when you have done it correctly.

Figure 1.3 – Battery info screen

Please use only a Nikon brand EN-EL15 battery pack in your camera. This particular battery has a special circuit that talks to the camera and enables the 0–4 Battery age scale shown on the Battery info screen (see figure 1.3). It tells you when a battery has outlived its usefulness and should be disposed of—going beyond just telling you when it’s low on power.

In figure 1.3, image 2, you can see a picture of the Battery info screen. Notice that it shows the Bat. meter, which gives you the amount of voltage charge or power the battery has left as a percent value. The Pic. meter shows the number of images taken since this battery was last charged and inserted. Finally, the Battery age scale tells about the life of the battery and whether it needs to be replaced. It uses a scale of 0 – 4, or five steps of life. The Battery age scale has nothing to do with the amount of power that the battery currently contains. It shows how much useful life the battery has left until you need to recycle it and buy a new one.

My Recommendation: A genuine, new Nikon EN-EL15 battery for the D7000 is usually less than $60 USD when purchased online. Why buy a cheap aftermarket battery made who-knows-where and use it to power the circuits of your expensive camera? How can you be sure that a cheap non-Nikon battery even has the correct circuit for Battery info communication? How can you know that the cheap cells won’t short-circuit and burn your camera to a cinder? Li-ion cells are somewhat finicky and require careful manufacture and charging control. Personally, I’ll only trust the real thing—a Nikon brand EN-EL15 battery—to power my expensive camera.

Keep on capturing time...
Darrell Young
See my Nikon books here:
http://www.photographywriter.com/NikonBooks.asp 




Nikon has released a brand new Speedlight flash unit, the SB-910. Here is their official press announcement:

MELVILLE, N.Y. (November 29, 2011) – Today, Nikon Inc. announced the addition of a new flagship speedlight, the powerful and capable SB-910 speedlight. Building on the versatility of Nikon’s Creative Lighting System (CLS), the SB-910 incorporates an enhanced intuitive operating system and graphic user interface (GUI). The SB-910 speedlight comes equipped with a wide zoom range covering the most popular focal lengths as well as FX/DX-format identification that optimizes zoom settings based on the camera body. This new speedlight also provides more efficient battery usage as well as an enhanced Thermal Cut-Out function. [End Press Release]

The new Nikon SB-910 Flash Unit 

The new SB-910 is an accessory-shoe mounted Speedlight made for both FX and DX format Nikon DSLR cameras. It will work with the COOLPIX P7000 camera also. It has both wireless remote commander and slave unit capabilities with up to four channel (1–4) operation. When used in Commander mode it can control up to three groups (A, B, and C) of an unlimited number of other Nikon speedlight units. It can control remote Speedlights of the following types when used as a commander:

  • SB-910
  • SB-900
  • SB-700
  • SB-R200

Any particular group can have any number or mixture of the speedlights in the list. Nikon does not specifically list the SB-800 Speedlight in its specifications, but since the SB-800 is fully CLS compatible, you should expect that the SB-910 can control it too. Nikon calls this "system integration." I call it cool!

It uses Nikon iTTL (intelligent through-the-lens) metering when used on-camera or in a group of remote slave flashes. This allows the flash to share exposure information with any Nikon camera compatible with Nikon CLS (creative lighting system). It has manual mode with "Power Ratio", three illumination patterns to allow for specific lighting arrangements, and a wide zoom range (17–200mm).

The controls on the camera have been "strreamlined" by Nikon for easier operation. They added a dedicated Menu button to make it operate more like Nikon DSLRs when accessing the menu system. Here is a look at the back of the SB-910:

Nikon SB-910 back, showing the streamlined controls

Nikon has "improved" the thermal cutout protection on this flash. If you recall, when the older flagship SB-900 flash was released, there was a great outcry about the flash unit "overheating" and shutting down at inopportune moments. The SB-910 changes how the flash reacts to high-heat situations. Instead of cutting off the flash when it gets hot, the flash merely slows down recycling time to prevent overheating. Sounds like a good idea to me, as long as it is not too overenthusiastic in preventing minor overheating.

Some have complained about Nikon flash filters fading or wearing out. Nikon has solved that issue by creating two "hard" color-correction filters specifically for the SB-910 Speedlight: the SZ-2TN Incandescent Filter and the SZ-2FL Fluorescent Filter. Both snap on like the diffusion dome. They should be easier to use and last longer in high-volume usage environments. Also, here is a look at the new SJ-3 regular filter set for the SB-910 Speedlight:

Nikon SJ-3 Color filter set for the Nikon SB-910 Speedlight

The SJ-3 Color Filter Set allows you to modify the SB-900 Speedlight flash output to match the lighting of the background scene when shooting under fluorescent or incandescent lighting. It includes eight colors: FL-G1 (fluorescent), TN-A2 (incandescent), Blue, Yellow, Red, and Amber. There are a total of 20 filters in the set.

Additional accessories include (see: http://bit.ly/vd0aTm) : 
  • SU-4 Wireless Remote TTL Flash Controller (US$120)
  • SC-28 and SC-29 Coiled Remote Cords (US$81 and US$112)
  • SW-13H Diffusion Dome (US$16.50)
  • AS-21 Speedlight Stand (US$9.50)
  • SZ-2 Color Filter Holder (US$13)
  • WG-AS1, WG-AS2, WG-AS3 Water Guards (US$35.50 each)
  • SS-910 Soft Case (US$36.50)
  • SZ-2TN Incandescent Filter (Snaps on like a diffusion dome for US$11.95)
  • SZ-2FL Fluorescent Filter (Snaps on like a diffusion dome for US$11.95)

Of the above mentioned accessories, these are included in the box with the SB-910:
  • AS-21 Speedlight Stand
  • SW-13H Nikon Diffusion Dome
  • SZ-2FL Fluorescent Filter
  • SZ-2TN Incandescent Filter
  • SS-910 Soft Case

Technical Specifications

Commander Function:  
Yes

Remote Function:  
Yes

Guide Number:
34 m/111.5 ft. (at ISO 100, 35mm zoom head position, in FX format, standard illumination pattern, 20°C/68°F) to 48 m/157.5 ft. (at ISO 200, 35mm zoom head position, in FX format, standard illumination pattern, 20°C/68°F)

Electronic Construction:
Automatic Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) and series circuitry

Flash Exposure Control
  • Distance-priority manual flash
  • i-TTL Balanced Fill-Flash with CLS compatible cameras
  • Manual Flash (with Nikon Creative Lighting System digital and 35mm SLR cameras) 
Lens Coverage:
  • 8 to 11mm (DX-format, Automatic mode with built-in wide-angle panel deployed)
  • 12 to 17mm (FX-format, Automatic mode with built-in wide-angle panel deployed)
  • 12 to 200mm (DX-format, Automatic mode)
  • 17 to 200mm (FX-format, Automatic mode)
Illumination Pattern:
The light distribution angle is automatically adjusted to the camera's image area in both FX and DX formats:
  • Standard
  • Even
  • Center-weighted
Other Available Functions
  • Test Firing
  • Monitor Pre-flashes
  • AF-assist illumination for multi-point AF
  • Modeling illuminator
Bounce Function (Tilt)
Flash head tilts down to 7° or up to 90° with click-stops at -7°, 0°, 45°, 60°, 75°, 90°.

Bounce Function (Rotate)
Flash head rotates horizontally 180° to the left and right with click-stops at 0°, 30°, 60°, 75°, 90°, 120°, 150°, 180°

Minimum Recycling Time
  • 2.3 sec. (approx.) with Ni-MH (2600 mAh) batteries
  • 3.0 sec. (approx.) with Oxyride™ (1.5V) batteries
  • 4.0 sec. (approx.) with Alkaline-manganese (1.5V) batteries
  • 4.5 sec. (approx.) with Lithium (1.5V) batteries
Flash Duration
  • 1/880 sec. at M 1/1 (full) output
  • 1/1100 sec. at M 1/2 output
  • 1/2550 sec. at M 1/4 output
  • 1/5000 sec. at M 1/8 output
  • 1/10000 sec. at M 1/16 output
  • 1/20000 sec. at M 1/32 output
  • 1/35700 sec. at M 1/64 output
  • 1/38500 sec. at M 1/128 output
Required Power Source:
  • Four 1.2V Ni-MH (AA-size) batteries
  • Four 1.5V Alkaline-manganese (AA-size) batteries
  • Four 1.5V Lithium (AA-size) batteries
Optional Power Supplies:
  • SK-6 Power Bracket Unit, SD-9 High-Performance Battery Pack
  • SD-8A High-Performance Battery Pack
Flash-ready Indicator
  • Rear and Front lights blink: Insufficient light for correct exposure (in i-TTL, Auto Aperture flash, Non-TTL Auto flash, or Distance-priority manual flash operations).
  • Rear lights up and Front blinks: recycled and ready to fire.
Ready Light:  
Front

Flash Compensation:
–3.0 EV to +3.0 EV in increments of 1/3 steps in i-TTL auto flash, Auto Aperture flash, Non-TTL auto flash and Distance-priority manual flash modes

Custom Settings
  • AF-Assist Illumination
  • Modeling Illuminator
  • Monitor pre-flashes
  • Test firing
Minimum Number of Flashes / Recycling Time
  • 110/4.0 – 30 sec. (1.5V Alkaline-manganese)
  • 125/3.0 –30 sec. (1.5V Oxyride™)
  • 165/2.3–30 sec. (Ni-MH (eneloop))
  • 190/2.3–30 sec. (2600mAh Ni-MH)
  • 230/4.5–120 sec. (1.5V Lithium)
Wireless Flash Modes:
  • Master
  • Master (RPT)
  • Off
  • Remote
  • SU-4

Wireless Communication Channels
Four: 1, 2, 3 and 4 Channels

Wireless Groups
Three: A, B and C

Other Functions

  • Firmware update
  • ISO sensitivity setting
  • Key lock
  • Recalling the underexposure value in the TTL auto flash mode
  • Resetting the settings
  • Improved Thermal Cut-out

Dimensions
3.1 x 5.7 x 4.4 in. (78.5 x 145 x 113mm)

Weight (Approx. without batteries)
14.8 oz. (420g)

Supplied Accessories
  • AS-21 Speedlight Stand
  • SW-13H Nikon Diffusion Dome
  • SZ-2FL Fluorescent Filter
  • SZ-2TN Incandescent Filter
  • SS-910 Soft Case

Summary

The Nikon SB-910 Speedlight Flash Unit is Nikon's new flagship Speedlight Flash Unit. It is going to sell in the US$500+ range, with a suggested retail price of US$549.95.  With Nikon's new minimum pricing structure, I wouldn't expect a lot of discounting. It is currently listed at US$549.00 on Amazon.com, for instance.

The Nikon SB-900 and SB-800 should now drop in price as the market is flooded with older flash units, so those wanting a more powerful flash unit can look into the new SB-910 or find a good used SB-900 or SB-800.  The SB-900 is going to remain available as new stock, at least until stock runs out.

You can view sample photos created with the Nikon SB-910 at the following website (case sensitive): http://bit.ly/tuXbzq

We have an excellent choice of Speedlights available for our Nikons. Now is the time to get a new flash unit for yourself. Check out the new flagship SB-910, or find a less costly unit. Either way, why use anything but a Nikon flash unit on your Nikon camera?

Keep on capturing time...
Darrell Young
See my Nikon books here:
http://www.photographywriter.com/NikonBooks.asp

During the recent PhotoPlus Expo in New York I was privileged to spend three days with Jorg Muhle and Julian Buhler of Germany; and Devon Bell of California. My publishing company, Rocky Nook of California, had a booth at the Expo and I had the privilege of being one of the hosts.

The booth presented Rocky Nook's books for photographersSeenby.com's Fine Art Photography, and c't Digital Photography magazine, which Rocky Nook is co-publishing. Here's a picture of the crew in our booth at the Expo:

Left to right: Darrell Young, Jorg Muhle, Devon Bell (and baby), Julian Buhler 

Since this blog is about both the PhotoPlus Expo and New York, I'd like to discuss a couple of favorite companies of mine in the early part of this blog (part 1) and later show you some pictures from two enthusiastic Nikon photographers—my wife and I—as we experience the fast times of New York with our cameras up to our eye (part 2).


Part 1 – PhotoPlus Expo 2011

There were a lot of people at the Expo and hundreds stopped by our booth to get discount coupons for Rocky Nook books (including mine), Seenby.com's Fine Art Photography, and to see the newly introduce c't Digital Photography Magazine. I had the opportunity to meet several readers of my Mastering the Nikon DSLR books, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Darrell and Brenda Young at the PhotoPlus Expo Booth

Left to right: Brad Berger of Berger-bros.com, Hendric Schneider of Nikonians.org, Jorg Muhle and Julian Buhler of c't Digital Photography Magazine

Darrell Young and Brad Berger of Berger Bros Digital Photography & Video 

I was pleased to meet Hendric Schneider of Nikonians.org and Brad Berger of Berger Bros Digital Photography & Video of Long Island. I have spoken to these friends on the phone but was especially glad to see them in person. I buy all my Nikon cameras and accessoriesfrom Brad Berger, so he made a special trip to meet me when he heard I was going to be at the Expo.

Each morning of the Expo hundreds of people assembled just outside the main entrance. As soon as they dropped the rope the mad rush began:

Attendees waiting patiently for the rope barrier to be removed.

Here they come! See all the new Nikon bags, ready to collect goodies?

The Nikon booth was very popular

People lined up all day long at the Nikon booth to see presentations and experiment with all the current Nikon DSLRs, Nikkor lenses, and the new J1 and V1 ILC cameras. It was gratifying to see all the interest in Nikon.We had a great vantage point being just across the hall from Nikon's huge area.

Nikon didn't release any new DSLRs at the Expo, although I can understand why due to the massive flooding in Thailand and recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Nikon did have up for display their new Nikon 1 (J1 and V1) Interchangeable Lens Cameras (ILC). I recently blogged about this new line here. Although not DSLRs the new Nikons are an exciting addition to the line for Nikon shooters. The cameras are small, high quality, and have interchangeable lenses. They ought to make excellent party and vacation cameras for those times when you don't want to carry a larger DSLR.

Devon Bell and Brenda Young prepare the Nikon bag full of hundreds of entries for the Rocky Nook and c't Digital Photography sweepstakes drawing. Expo attendees wait in hopes they will be the winner. (You didn't have to be present to win.)

Rocky Nook and c't' Digital Photography held a drawing on Saturday at noon for some nice items. Here is the winner announcement from c't' Digital Photography's Facebook page:

"Congratulations to B. Carmine, the winner of the Sigma Corporation of America 50mm lens and Lowepro Pro Runner 200 backpack as well as other goodies from Rocky Nook, Seen.by photography, and c't Digital Photography."

Overall, PhotoPlus Expo 2011 was a great success and a really good time for all involved. I can't wait until next year!

Rocky Nook Publishing Company

Rocky Nook's books are very popular with photographers. They are very high quality in print, and many come in eBook formats too. The authors publishing with Rocky Nook are some of the best and most experienced authors and photographers around.

I've been writing for Rocky Nook since my first book, Mastering the Nikon D300, was released in October 2008. The company is rare in its concern for both authors and readers, in my opinion. The staff at Rocky Nook—including Joan Dixon, Managing Editor; Gerhard Rossbach, Publisher and CEO; and Devon Bell, Sales and Marketing Manager—are all exceptional people.

My experience with the company has been a pleasurable one. If you really want to learn the deep techniques of excellent photography, buy a few Rocky Nook books. Download their 2011 catalog (PDF), and from the subject matter you'll see what I mean:

http://www.rockynook.com/infoservice_catalog.php

The visitors at the Rocky Nook booth were many and varied and, in addition to the Rocky Nook books, seemed especially interested in c't Digital Photography magazine.

Devon Bell discusses c't Digital Photography magazine with an Expo attendee

A local New Yorker examining a c't Digital Photography Magazine.  Many people subscribed on the spot!

c't Digital Photography Magazine

Let me tell you about the new c't Digital Photography magazine. They are a quarterly German magazine brought over to English, new to the USA, and somewhat different from most American magazines. You are familiar with the German attention to detail, I am sure, and the magazine is no different from other fine German creations. It is a physically larger magazine than most, along the size of the photography magazines from the UK. It is also much thicker than most magazines, with extremely in-depth articles. For instance, the article on 3D photography in the 5th issue goes out to 35 pages, with several sections. In fact, the magazine averages about 20 pages per article, which is unheard of in American mags.

When you sit down to read c't' Digital Photography you'll feel more like you are reading a book. That's been my experience, and I'm totally hooked. I am keeping each magazine on a shelf, sort of like a reference book. It costs a little more than many American magazines at US$14.95 per issue, but there is so much more reading material that I would dare say that one issue of c't Digital Photography magazine is equivalent to three or four issues of most American magazines.

Each issue of the magazine comes with a DVD including video tutorials, software, and sample photographs. Here's a PDF file showing the contents of the DVD from issue six, which includes a complete eBook copy of Torsten Andreas Hoffmann's new Rocky Nook book The Art of Black and White Photography, not even released until January 2012 (a US$44.95 value). The DVD by itself is worth the subscription price!


This is no light weight, advertising filled, fluff magazine that is encouraging you to feel good about the latest camera release (buy, buy, buy!). Instead, it is designed to actually teach enthusiast photographers several new things in each issue. In fact, it is billed as an "in-depth quarterly for the photo enthusiast." I heartily agree! I just got an email from Devon Bell about a special subscription offer for the magazine, good until December 31, 2011 (I get no commission). Here's what she wrote:

Subscribe now through December 31st and get a 5th issue free - a savings of over 30% off the newsstand price! 


Please enter Offer Code 1104DD05 in "Comments" field of the online order form to receive your 5th issue. The Comments fields is found at the bottom of the order form here: 

https://www.ct-digiphoto.com/subscription/


Subscriptions are $49.95, with 4 Issues per Year – Offer Expires 12/31/11


Learn more about c't Digital Photography by visiting them at www.ct-digiphoto.com or joining them on Facebook or Twitter:


www.facebook.com/ctdigiphoto
www.twitter.com/ctDigiPhoto

I highly recommend c't Digital Photography Magazine to my enthusiastic photography friends. Its value exceeds the cost of the subscription. You'll prize each issue like a book and keep them for future reference.

Special note: I need your help! I really want to see c't Digital Photography Magazinesurvive and thrive here in the USA. Subscribe, or at least pick up a copy on the newsstand. If you like it (I know you will), please let other photographers know about the magazine. Word of mouth means a lot for the success of a new magazine. Will you help spread the word, please? As photographers with Facebook, Google+, and blog accounts, we are a force to be reckoned with. Please help me take this viral. Thanks!


Part 2 – Touring the Big Apple

Moving on to some experiences with the incredible New York City. My wife, Brenda, and I enjoyed Wednesday October 26th and Sunday, October 30, 2011 in the Big Apple. We traveled around New York on the subway and had some great experiences.

Here is the camera equipment we were carrying for the New York excursion. Brenda packed light, I had a lens in each coat pocket to keep from attracting any attention to myself with a camera bag:

Darrell
  • Nikon D300S body
  • AF-S Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens
  • AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G lens (Read my review of this lens here)
  • Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX lens
  • 32 gig memory card and spares

Brenda 
  • Nikon D7000 body
  • AF-S Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens
  • Nikon SB-400 flash unit
  • 32 gig memory card and spares

Our first stop in Manhattan was the World Trade Center site and the new enormous World Trade Center buildings. Here is a picture of them under construction. They are standing in the original locations of the former Trade Center buildings:

World Trade Center Buildings under construction on October 30, 2011

If you want to visit the actual Trade Center Site you must arrive early or schedule in advance. They only allow a limited number of people on the site each day. You can get more information about visiting the World Trade Center site here: http://www.wtc.com/.

Here are a couple of pictures of the World Trade Center Memorial Center on 20th Avenue with one of the new buildings in the background and inside the memorial center:

The World Trade Center Memorial Preview Site on 20th Avenue in New York with one of the new Trade Center buildings in the background.

Inside the World Trade Center Memorial Preview Site on 20th Avenue

I saw something inside the memorial center that was quite humbling to me. They have a piece of one of the beams from one of the towers that fell.  It is warped and twisted like molding clay from the intense heat and pressure:

A piece of a supporting beam from one of the collapsed World Trade Center buildings. It is warped by the heat and pressure of the collapse. Very humbling when you realize what this beam represents.


New York Subway

My wife and I had never ridden the subway before and it was quite an experience. Sort of like riding on a flat roller coaster with very fast starts and stops that will knock you down if you are not prepared. I now understand why the subway cars have hand rails all over the place. You need them!

11-year old subway dancer makes $200 per day

Here is a young lad that we met on the subway. He waited till the cars were rolling, whipped out a boom box, and proceeded to lay some cool Michael Jackson dance moves on us. Of course, everybody in the vicinity added a dollar bill to his cap afterward. We asked him how much he makes per day and he said, "about $200." Not bad for an 11-year old! My wife asked him about school and he said his mom won't let him subway dance unless he is regular at school. His brother makes about $300 per day doing something similar on the subway. New York natives!

We learned all kinds of cool terminology that New Yorkers must know, such as "Uptown, Midtown, Downtown, what a borough is, and how to figure which subway train to take." We found out that if you stand around looking dumbly at the signs saying A,B,C, 1,2,3 that New Yorkers ignore you soundly but other tourists walk up and ask if you know how to interpret the signs. You can tell the tourists by their open maps and confused faces. After a few trips uptown and downtown, we got the hang of how things worked and lost our fear of being trapped forever on a moving subway train going who knows where. If confused, take the A train, it'll get you somewhere eventually!

Central Park

We next toured Central Park only to find that the snow storm from the night before had done some major damage to the trees. I heard there were over 1000 big limbs down in the park. Trees and branches were down everywhere from the high winds and heavy, wet snow.

Here's a picture of the Maine Monument at the entrance of Central park near West 59th street. This monument was created for 260 mariners that lost their lives in the harbor of Havana, Cuba on February 15, 1898. Their battleship exploded and sank. Spain declared war on the USA in April of 1898:

The Maine Monument. The gold sculpture on top was cast from the metal of the Main battleship that sank in 1898 killing 260 mariners. This monument was built from donations over a period of time, including lots of pennies from school children.
Read the story of the Main Monument and the events surrounding the sinking of the Maine Battleship at this website:

http://www.centralparknyc.org/visit/things-to-see/south-end/maine-monument.html

We strolled around the partially snow covered grounds of the park. Here is my wife Brenda, with her trusty Nikon D7000 on the famous Pine Bank Arch cast-iron bridge you see in nearly every TV show and movie shot in Central Park:

Pine Bank Arch cast-iron  bridge in Central Park, notice the tree on the left is down across one end of the bridge. We had to climb through the tree to get on the bridge. Brenda is in the middle for this picture.

Brenda with her Nikon D7000 in Central Park on the famous bridge

Central Park with downed tree limbs all around


Staten Island Ferry

After leaving Central Park, we headed back down the subway (downtown) to take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry and get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. Here are a few shots of the ferry ride. It was windy and fun!

Entrance to the Staten Island Ferry

Looking back at the end of Manhattan Island from the outside deck of the Staten Island Ferry

One of the Staten Island ferry boats returning on its round trip from the island to Manhattan. Two ships passing at sunset.

The Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry at sunset

Times Square

Next on our tour is the world-renowned Times Square. It's a place of people, noise, movement, and lights; especially at night! As Tennessee hillbillies (Jed Clampett and I are cousins), we just stood around with our mouths hanging open looking at all the lights. People never stop on the square, 24-hours per day. Weather doesn't matter either. New York and Times Square never sleeps! Look at these pictures and a four minute video I shot with my Nikon D300S:

Brenda and her D7000 at Times Square. There is no need for flash here at night, except for a little fill!
Cars and people and bicycle buggies, all night long!

Time Square and New York Never Sleeps!

My Nikon D300S Video of Times Square at night on YouTube (Kindle Touch and Keyboard viewers do not show this video. See it here: http://youtu.be/nf48V82IEVg online instead)


Empire State Building

Our final event before leaving New York was a trip up the Empire State Building. You can go up to the observation deck on the 86th floor at a cost of US$22 adults and US$15 children. For an additional US$15 you can go even higher to a deck on the 102 floor. Brenda and I dutifully paid our US$44 to go see the sights from on high. We were hearded like cattle around and around, back and forth, floor after floor, multiple elevator rides, metal detector, empty your pockets and remove your belt, x-ray machine of your items in baskets, explain the lenses in your coat pocket, and finally to the 86th floor. Whew! However, the trip was worth it once we got there. Here are a few pictures and a video to see what I mean!

The Empire State Building in New York City

Nikon D300S and AF-S Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6 G VR lens handheld shot from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building at Night

Chrysler Building, Nikon D300S and AF-S Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6 G VR lens handheld shot from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building at Night

My Nikon D300S Video of Manhattan at night on YouTube (Kindle Touch and Keyboard viewers do not show this video. See it here: http://youtu.be/4TgBbMEJpzI online instead)


We greatly enjoyed our trip to New York City and the PhotoPlus Expo and would like to thank Rocky Nook and c't Digital Photography magazine for letting me be a host at the booth. It was fun and exciting to meet so many nice people and even some of my book readers. It was also great to discover what is now my favorite digital photo magazine.

New York was an experience of a lifetime. Everyone should go there at least once. I've never seen anything like it! I can't wait to take my wife and my Nikon back to New York again. Let's hope we can do it again in 2012 at the next Expo. Thanks for reading my blog. I hope I've captured a tiny bit of the flavor of New York and allowed you to take a short trip of your own.

Keep on capturing time...
Darrell Young
See my Nikon books here:
http://www.photographywriter.com/NikonBooks.asp




As Nikon DSLR users we have a choice of many fine accessories for our Nikon cameras. Our Nikons are part of a "system" of lenses and accessories that make our choice in camera brand one of the wisest and most efficient in the world.

When you travel to far off places, it's good to have a GPS unit in your car to find where you are going. Wouldn't it also be nice to have your camera record GPS coordinates to each picture you take so that you can find your way back to a specific spot for future photography? With the Nikon GP-1 GPS unit, your Nikon DSLR can do just that! Let's see how it works.

Nikon GP-1 GPS Unit

I bought a Nikon GP-1 GPS unit a few years back when I wanted to write about it in one of my books. It's a great addition to any Nikon photographers accessory collection. Nikon's GPS takes up little space in any size camera bag and works very well in the field.

Figure 1 – Nikon D7000 with a GP-1 GPS Unit and Accessories

In figure 1 you can see my Nikon D7000 with a GP1-GPS unit mounted in the accessory shoe on top of the camera (where an external flash mounts). The GP-1 GPS comes with a GP1-CA90 cable to interface with Nikons such as the D7000, D90, D5100, D5000, D3100, and D3000. It also includes a GP1-CA10 cable for Nikons with a 10-pin port on the body, such as the D200, D300, D300S, D700, D2X, D3, D3S, and D3X. You can see the GP1-CA90 cable in figure 1 on the right side. I put a cool curl in the wire to make it look sophisticated.

If you'll notice in figure 1, I have a MC-DC2 remote release cable attached to the GP-1 (wire on left side). If you use your Nikon on a tripod and need a remote release for sharp pictures, you'll need to acquire one of these inexpensive MC-DC2 remote releases. The GP-1 GPS unit has a port on its side made for the MC-DC2, as shown. It will allow you to release the shutter on any Nikon through the GP-1 unit, while it is mounted. 

When I go to the Smoky Mountains to take pictures, or any time I am traveling and would like to be able to remember where I took a certain picture, I have my GP-1 GPS unit mounted on my camera. In figure 2 is a close up picture of the GP-1 unit mounted in my D7000's accessory shoe. You can also see a close up of where the GPS-to-camera GP1-CA90 cable plugs in to the unit:

Figure 2 – Nikon GP-1 GPS Unit Mounted in Accessory Shoe

The GP-1 GPS unit is powered directly by the camera's battery; therefore, you may want to take more than one battery for your camera body if you shoot a lot during the day. The GP-1 unit, like the GPS in your smart phone, pulls extra current. From personal experience with the unit, I suspect it increases the battery drain by as much as 50% over a camera with no GP-1 mounted. If one battery will last all day normally, you will need two batteries to do the same. However, for the cost of extra battery drain, you'll have the convenience of later knowing exactly where each picture was taken. You'll be able to return to that exact spot and shoot new views of the scene–even years later. You can access the GPS coordinates in various applications, such as Nikon View NX2, Nikon Capture NX2, Lightroom, or Photoshop.

While you are shooting pictures with a GP-1 mounted, the camera will display an extra data screen with GPS information, as follows:

Figure 3 – GPS Coordinates screen from a Nikon D5000

The GPS coordinates screen will show on the camera's monitor, overlaying the picture behind it, as shown in a GPS data screen from a Nikon D5000 in figure 3. You can scroll to the GPS coordinates screen with the Multi selector thumb switch when an image has the extra GPS data embedded by the GP-1. It displays the Latitude, Longitude, Altitude, and Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) for each image. The GP-1 does not record compass direction.

When you have a GP-1 mounted the camera will display a small GPS word on the camera's upper control panel and/or on the rear monitor. In figure 4 you can see a screen on the left from a Nikon D7000's upper Control panel LCD. The screen on the right in figure 4 is from a Nikon D5000's Information display on the rear monitor.

Figure 4 – GPS in use indicators on Nikon display screens


Now, let's examine how to use the GP-1 GPS Unit with a Nikon DSLR.  The configuration method is similar for most Nikon DSLR cameras.



Preparing the Camera for GPS Usage

There are several screens used in setting up a Nikon for GPS use. First, a decision should be made about the exposure meter for when a GPS unit is plugged into the camera. While the GPS is connected, the camera’s exposure meter must be active to record GPS data to the image. You’ll have to do one of two things:

  • Set the exposure meter to stay on for the entire time that a GPS is plugged in, which, of course, will increase battery drain, but keeps the GPS locked to the satellites (no seeking time).
  • Press the Shutter-release button halfway down to activate the exposure meter before finishing the exposure. If you just push the Shutter-release button down quickly and the GPS is not active and locked, it won’t record GPS data to the image. The exposure meter must be on before GPS will seek satellites.

You can decide between these two conditions with the following Auto meter off settings:

Auto Meter Off

Figure 5 shows the Setup Menu screens used to set the meter to stay on the entire time the GPS is connected or to shut down after the Auto meter off delay expires:

Figure 5 – Setting Auto meter off to Disable so that your GPS will stay connected

The GPS will only stay connected to satellites when the exposure meter is active. You can select either Enable or Disable, which controls how the exposure meter reacts to a GP-1 GPS unit being mounted on your Nikon. Here’s what each selection does:

  • Enable (default) – The meter turns off after the Auto meter off delay expires (default 6 seconds). GPS data will only be recorded when the exposure meter is active, so allow some time for the GPS unit to re-acquire satellites before taking a picture. This is hard to do when Auto meter off is set to Enable. You just about have to stand around with your finger on the Shutter-release button trying to keep the meter active. I suggest Disable!
  • Disable – The exposure meter stays on the entire time a GPS unit is connected. As long as you have good GPS signal, you will be able to record GPS data at any time. This is the preferred setting for using the GPS for continuous shooting. It does use extra battery life, so you may want to carry more than one battery if you’re going to shoot all day. I keep my Camera's Auto meter off setting set to Disable so that I can depend on a good GPS connection when I am shooting, without constantly checking the unit for connectivity. Turn your camera off between shooting sessions to save battery life.

It sounds a bit weird to use the word Disable to make your GPS unit stay connected. However, remember that you are enabling or disabling Auto meter off (automatic exposure meter shutoff), not the GPS unit itself. When Auto meter off is disabled the exposure meter stays on the entire time the GPS unit is attached.


Note: If you choose to leave Auto meter off enabled, you can control the Auto meter offtime delay with the camera's Custom Setting Menu. I would suggest increasing it from the default 6 seconds to a longer period so that your camera is not constantly having to reconnect to GPS units between shots. That's a time waster! Some Nikons use Custom Setting Menu > c Timers/AE lock > Auto meter-off delay. Other Nikons use Custom Setting Menu > c Timers/AE lock > Auto off timers > Custom > Auto meter-off. Each of those custom settings allow you to configure an "auto-off" time for the exposure meter. The Custom Setting Menu selection differs from the GPS Auto meter off selection in that the Custom Menu selection affects all exposure meter operation timeouts, not just when a GPS is attached.



Using Your Camera with the GP-1 Nikon GPS

If the GPS icon is flashing on the Control panel and/or Information display, it means that the GPS is searching for a signal. If you take a picture with the GPS icon flashing, no GPS data will be recorded. If the GPS icon is not flashing, it means that the D7000 is receiving good GPS data and is ready to record data to a picture. If the camera loses communication with the GPS unit for over two seconds, the GPS icon will disappear. Make sure the icon is displayed, and isn’t flashing, before you take pictures!

The GP-1 GPS unit has a small LCD on its rear side that blinks red when it is acquiring satellites and goes solid green when the unit it ready to use. It takes about a minute to acquire satellites the first time the GPS is used in a particular area. After that initial satellite acquisition, the GPS relocates satellites within a few seconds when turned off and back on.

Other than checking for the flashing GPS or LED light to make sure it is tracking satellites, using the GP-1 GPS is easy and foolproof. Once you mount it on the camera and it acquires satellites, you'll have GPS coordinates for each picture. If you worry about battery drain, just make sure you have an extra battery or two for all day shooting.

The Nikon GP-1 GPS unit mounts either onto the camera’s Accessory shoe or on the camera’s strap, with the included GP1-CL1 strap adapter.

My Recommendation: Get the Nikon GP-1 GPS unit! It’s easy to use, foolproof, and has all the cables you need for using it with the camera. The only other cable you’ll need to buy is the optional MC-DC2 shutter-release cable. I use the tiny Nikon GPS unit constantly when I’m out shooting nature images so I can remember where to return in the future.  Here is a link to the GP-1 GPS and MC-DC2 remote release on Amazon.com:

Nikon GP-1 GPS Unit:  http://amzn.to/t88S7U
Nikon MC-DC2 Remote Release:  http://amzn.to/uwkZy9

Once you start using a GPS unit, it will be hard to stop. I rarely leave home without my Nikon and its GP-1 GPS. It costs less than US$200 and is available at most large camera stores and online at places like Amazon.com. Get one for your camera, you'll use it often. I do!

Keep on capturing time...
Darrell Young
See my Nikon books here:
http://www.photographywriter.com/NikonBooks.asp

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