New with the D80

Warning! This is a geeky post. Warning!

When I got my new camera a few weeks ago, one of the things I lamented was that Nikon did not make a D80 RAW converter plugin that works in (the older) PhotoShop CS. They make one for CS2, but to upgrade would cost me $150 ! So I just resigned myself to shooting .JPG files and putting up with the loss of quality.

Today I discovered that if I download the Adobe Camera Raw plugin for CS2, I would also get a stand-alone program that converts D80 RAW files to DNG (Digital NeGative) files. DNG is a sort of “universal RAW” format so it doesn’t sacrifice any of the benefits of camera RAW plus (Tah-Dah) my version of photoshop can read those files.

So now I can embark on exploring the joys of shooting pictures without the loss of quality that JPEG compression causes.

End geek warning! As you were.

Camera Progression

FD-7I got my first digital camera in July of1998. A Sony FD-7 with a whopping 640×480 resolution. It saved the images on its internal 3.5″ floppy drive which was convenient. It had a fairly decent 10X zoom lens and built-in flash. Unfortunately the internal flash was really over-powered and I had to mask off part of it to prevent over-exposures.FD-91

By May of 1999 I was ready for a step up. I still liked the idea of storage on floppy disks so I got a Sony FD-91. It had a image size of 1024×768 and an image stabilized 14X zoom lens. Though larger and heavier than the FD-7, I was pleased with the extra resolution. Also the internal flash seemed better matched to the camera.

A couple years later the itch for bigger and better hit again. In 2001 I bought a Sony CD-1000 camera. The main feature of it was the internal mini-CD drive. That allowed storing over 150, 1600×1200 images on an 8cm diameter mini CD-R. With its 10X optical zoom lens and image stabilization, this was one sweet camera. Great for nature photography and it did a fair job in low light situations.

FZ-20The CD-1000 satisfied my needs for quite a while but by October 2004 I was ready for another step up. This time I forsook Sony for a Panasonic DMC-FZ20. This had a 5 mega-pixels (2560×1920) sensor, a 12X optical zoom image stabalized lens and used SD flash memory for storage. In addition it was smaller and lighter than either the CD-1000 or the FD-91.

D80Finally this October I made the step up to the Nikon D80. It has a 10 mega-pixel (3872×2592) sensor. Being a digital SLR, lenses are interchangeable. Initially I got the kit 18-135mm zoom lens but I’m sure I will be getting additional lenses over time.

Just for fun I’ve plotted a graph of my personal “Megapixel Race”.

MP Curve

New Camera

After coveting the Nikon D80 digital SLR since it was announced I finally took the plunge. Actually it was as much Jan’s decision as mine. I got the ‘kit’ with an 18-135mm zoom lens. It seems to be great for both wide angle and telephoto and focuses as close as 18 inches at all zoom levels. No image stabilization on this lens but the higher ISO of the camera makes up for that somewhat.

I’ve only spent one day playing with it, reading the manual and taking some test/practice shots but I already am in love with it. The camera has so many options and modes and I have only just begun to explore all its features. Right now I’m sticking to the automatic mode but will try some of the other options as I get acquainted with them.

Here a a few shots to give you an idea of how it works.

Vista – Why?

vista2.jpgWhy would anyone upgrade to the newest Windows version – Windows Vista? I can’t see any reason to do it and wonder how many others will. Here is why I feel this way.

Right now the Vista release candidate has around 1000 known bugs in it. When they finally ship it to computer manufacturers it still could have as many as 500 known bugs. How many unknown bugs will it have?

Most of the real improvements planned for Vista have been dropped because they would delay the release too much. The original plan was for a new, improved file system, WinFS, but that was dropped in 2004. PC-to-PC synchronization was dropped but may be made available in the future (for what cost?). The scripting shell from Windows Vista and Longhorn Server (code-named “Monad), was cut last year.

Podcasts

Over the last year or so I’ve gotten interested in podcasts – on demand audio programs which usually focus on a single theme or subject. Gradually my list of subscribed podcasts has grown to almost 9 hours of listening per week! Right now I concentrate on current technology news or astronomy related podcasts.

If you are not familiar with podcasting you can look at this Wikipedia article. There are thousands of podcasts on almost any conceivable subject and the numbers are growing exponentially. If you have some special interest, no matter how obscure, just Google for – podcast “your interest” – and I bet you’ll find at least one, probably more, related podcast.

The name podcast tends to make many people think that you must have an Apple iPod to listen to podcasts. This is absolutely not true. Anyone with a computer can listen to podcasts – you don’t need a special mp3 player, though that does allow you to listen while on the go. You don’t even need to have a special program like Apple iTunes to download podcasts. Nearly all podcasters have multiple ways to download their shows.