Category: geekspeek

Today I received the following email (screenshot below) from Nikon Customer Support regarding the issue with the black frame around the image when capturing video on an external recording device (such as the Atomos Ninja or Blackmagic Hyperdeck Shuttle) via the HDMI port of the D600. It looks like they’re escalating this to the engineers (I assume) in Japan. (see the previous post covering the D600 HDMI bug here)

Quick iPhone pic of D600 + Ninja (left) and D800 + Ninja (right) showing the difference in HDMI output frame size — see the second shot below for a closeup:

I’ll update with a new post once I hear back from Nikon.

In the meantime, if you are using the D600 with an HDMI recorder, note that you can size out the black frame completely by scaling your clips up to 105.5% (or larger) in your post-production apps (e.g. Final Cut Pro), or via a transcoding tool such as MPEG Streamclip (under the Zoom option). 105.5% is the minimum scale amount I’ve found to work, as 105% scaling as others have suggested still leaves a slight black edge for me. Hope that helps!

I’ve put up a quick test showing a few examples of the differences that one might expect when shooting directly to an external HDMI recording device like the Atomos Ninja vs. recording directly to the SD or CF card in the camera.

Bypassing the in-camera compression is a tremendous advantage, especially when you are planning on heavily grading your footage in post. More information will follow soon:

***See the 1920×1080 PNG Screenshots here for a better idea of how these compare: ( download ZIP instead? )***

Nikon D800 Internal Recording VS. Atomos Ninja from Ron Adair on Vimeo.

Nikon D800 Images Leaked

November 20th, 2011 Permalink

UPDATE: The “Fake Or Real?” challenge is LIVE! Check it out HERE, and see if you have what it takes to win!!!

NikonRumors just posted a set of leaked images for the upcoming D800. The body style is quite a departure from Nikon’s current DSLR prosumer shape, so I was thrown off when I first saw the new camera design. I was under the impression, upon seeing the images, that the camera was closer to the size of the Dx000 lineup (such as the D5100 or D7000), which was a huge disappointment. Not only are those bodies lesser build quality, but they are also uncomfortable for me in most shooting situations. The D700 feels great in the hands, and really screams “build quality” when you hold it.

So, I decided to find a comparison image between the D700 and the leaked D800 images so I could see just where Nikon cut corners on the new, smaller body.

To my surprise, they are essentially identical in size! I was shocked to realize that my impression of a more diminutive body design was, in reality, caused by the more rounded lines on the top area around the prism housing compared to the older, more boxy D700. I resized each image so the hot shoes were the same size, and voila — they’re pretty much a match in girth. Take a look for yourself:


Bring it on, Nikon!!!

Here are my predictions for the new Nikon lineup that is expected sometime between this quarter and the middle of 2012. (See the previous post for my reasoning on the pricing.)

What do you think? Do you agree with these predictions, or do you think we’ll see something different? Share your thoughts in the comments!


16-20 megapixels
Top ISO somewhere between 204,800 and 1,638,400 (likely 409,600)
16-bit processing
Full HD (or higher) 24p, 25p, 30p, and a good chance of 720p or higher 60fps. Full manual controls are guaranteed.
$4,999 – $5,500
The rest (fps, autofocus, buffer, etc) is already incredible, so any improvements will be that much more amazing.


36-50 megapixels
Top ISO somewhere between 25,600 and 102,400 (likely 25,600)
16-bit processing
Full HD (or higher) 24p, 25p, 30p, and a good chance of 720p or higher 60fps. Full manual controls are guaranteed.
The rest (fps, autofocus, buffer, etc) same as above


18-24 megapixels
Top ISO somewhere between 25,600 and 102,400 (likely 51,200)
16-bit processing
Full HD (or higher) 24p, 25p, 30p, and a good chance of 720p or higher 60fps. Full manual controls are highly anticipated.
The rest (fps, autofocus, buffer, etc) same as above


16 megapixels
Top ISO somewhere between 25,600 and 102,400 (likely 51,200)
14-bit processing
Full HD 24p, 25p, 30p, and a slight possibility of 720p or higher 60fps. Full manual controls are expected.
The rest (fps, autofocus, buffer, etc) same as above

Joey Shooter, Issue #1

Updated version above. Original version here. Thanks to you Dan for the suggestions.

There are a number of folks around the internetz who seem to have forgotten two basic realities in regards to Nikon’s forthcoming announcements:

A) Nikon’s “new and improved camera” is only worth what the market will bear, and
B) Various realities, including Moore’s law, dictate that the cost will almost definitely stay virtually the same, product will improve exponentially, and profits may marginally improve or degrade depending on a number of factors.

Folks seem to think that Nikon produced the D3 only for a niche market of folks with highly specific needs, irrespective of their sensitivity to price. Really, it’s the other way around: the D3 is made for a photographer who can spend roughly $5k, give or take a few hundred. The best, generally appealing camera Nikon could produce while still sustaining profitable margins is, in the end, what they shipped.

If they charge significantly more than the $5k price point which the D3 carried they’ll get folks who will bail on that segment and find a lower end body, or jump ship altogether and find a different brand. Charge significantly less, and they also risk attrition, but this time through the photographers who think they’re being ripped off in the feature, specs, or quality department—regardless of the facts. For them, more is more (money) no matter what logic says.

If Nikon produces a D3 replacement that is more than, say, 10% higher (or 20% lower) than current selling price Nikon will not only profoundly confuse buyers, they will ultimately drive many of them away.

But alas, if you look at recent history you’ll see they did increase prices (dramatically!!!), but in a way that “reset” buyers’ thinking enough to partially mitigate market damage, or at least spread it over a longer period of time. They needed to increase prices to adjust for the softening dollar. What did we see? The DnH line was “done away with” (psst…it was really just replaced with the D3—sans the “h”) while the DnX (D1x, D2x, D3x etc) line saw a significant “bump” in price.

Now ask yourself, can you recall the response to greet the D3, (again, remember that it was being introduced with an effective price increase of $1,500)? It was embraced with open arms.

Now, if you’ll consider further the D3x announcement—particularly, how was that received: it was hailed as none other than the biggest ripoff in corporate history, with many photographers speaking out publicly against purchasing it until the price came to a more reasonable level.

Why? The D2x -> D3x was within the same realm of price increase as the D2h -> D3 (both bodies seeing roughly a 150% increase). See below:

(D2h) $3,499 -> (D3) $4,999 = ~ 145% increase
(D2x) $4,999 -> (D3x) $7,999 = ~ 160% increase

I don’t think it was the fact that the Nikon D3x was disproportionately increased compared to the D3 (i.e. folks weren’t angry because the D3x wasn’t priced instead at 145% above the D2x, or $7,250). I think folks were expecting to buy a camera with a D3x emblem, something that was historically in their price range of around $5k, and upon release they realized the new price had eclipsed their budget. Until the D3x was released, many claimed the DnH line was dead, and the D2h and D2x bodies had merged, resulting in their highly talented love child, the D3. They were more than happy to pay the $5k for that camera assuming it was the new “X” pro camera, despite there being many factors which indicated otherwise.

In other words, Nikon has a market full of people with preset expectations which they must consider if they desire to remain competitive. These people are not necessarily objective or rational. In fact, Nikon bet on this very idea during the last round. They got their big bump in market price, and while they may not have sold as many D3x bodies as they did of the prior D2x line, did they really need to given the increased profit margins? I doubt all those calls for boycott did nearly the damage the decriers dreamed it would. In fact, it probably just fed into the ego of those who could afford the D3x but were on the fence—likely enough to push them over the edge, driving them to splurge on the newest status symbol in the DSLR photo world.

For the record, my predictions for the next round of pro camera bodies:


16-20 megapixels
Top ISO somewhere between 204,800 and 1,638,400 (likely 409,600)
16-bit processing
Full HD (or higher) 24p, 25p, 30p, and a good chance of 720p or higher 60fps. Full manual controls are guaranteed.
$4,999 – $5,500
The rest (fps, autofocus, buffer, etc) is already incredible, so any improvements will be that much more amazing.


36-50 megapixels
Top ISO somewhere between 25,000 and 102,400 (likely 25,000)
16-bit processing
Full HD (or higher) 24p, 25p, 30p, and a good chance of 720p or higher 60fps. Full manual controls are guaranteed.
The rest (fps, autofocus, buffer, etc) same as above

Of course, lots of magic powder is likely to accompany these new cameras—things we never saw coming. Here’s to hoping…

Tired of having your screenshots litter your desktop? Wish you could send them to a different, dedicated folder of your choosing instead? Are you ok digging into a little light terminal action? Then I have a great solution for you!

– Create a folder somewhere on your Hard Drive. For simplicity, I will assume you have created a folder on your Macintosh HD volume named “Screenshots”.
– Fire up Terminal (If you have to ask, it may be good to spend an hour learning about it BEFORE you do anything with this app!)
– Type the line below (beginning with “defaults”) at the $ prompt:


defaults write location /Screenshots/

And in case you’d like to save these to your pictures folder (in your home folder) instead:


defaults write location ~/Pictures/

IMPORTANT:  Don’t forget to restart your UI Server:


killall SystemUIServer

Looking for a few other cool modifications?

Change the file format the screen capture is saved to, such as TIFF or JPEG:


defaults write type pdf
defaults write type png
defaults write type jpg
defaults write type tif

Once again, any changes will require that you restart the UI Server:


killall SystemUIServer

Hope that helps!


The following images highlight a problem with the iPhone 4 when producing photos under normal tungsten light (~3200k). the first image was shot under fluorescent light, whereas the second image was shot under standard household tungsten lights.

Images from iPhone 4:

Images from iPhone 3Gs:

I created this to help explain why lens design is so complex. This is a trivial illustration, but it touches on a FEW of the key principles that explain why designing lenses is really a years long process. I’d love any feedback you may have on the subject. If you know more about lens design than me (and you have a degree or achievement to back it up), then please correct me where I’m wrong. My knowledge, while more than most, is still highly limited.


Chromatic Aberration Diagram

*Bonus points to anyone who can name the camera company that misleads their customers by selling extreme fast lenses (e.g. f/1.2) which can never be tack sharp wide open at certain focus distances

Lot’s of people (read: like 4) have decided to take a personal vendetta against AT&T and Apple and give up their sweet, friendly little iPhone and pick up either a Pre, a Google Android phone, or both. They tout religious fervor for abstinence from Satan’s Spawn – the App Store – driven by the need to stand up for the rights of users and developers alike. Most say they can’t stand how Apple has been heavy handed with many things (mainly the App Store/Developer relationship) and that they are going on strike. Others claim that AT&T’s incompetence is too frustrating, and they’re not going to take it anymore. A lot of them say both, and therefore have two good reasons to leave the iPhone.

So, I have been thinking in my head this whole time, didn’t these guys use cell phones before the iPhone? I mean, didn’t they try out the abysmal handsets that were crippled by the best network in the game, Verizon? Didn’t they try having conversations with T-Mobile or AT&T users where the conversation sounded more like morse code than 21st century cellular communications? And most of all, on the mobile computing front, did any of these guys actually use the Palm, arguably the best handheld computer on the market before the iPhone? Well, I’ve done all this and more, and I have to say the iPhone was a real treat when it came out.

I was extremely concerned about carrier quality when I began seriously considering the switch. Dropped phone calls was a myth as far as I was concerned, as Verizon’s network really is that good. Calls sounded as clear and as clean as calls originating from a handset. I was living in California when the iPhone came out, and still had a Verizon contract. I tried AT&T for the trial period with the then sub-standard Palm Treo 650, and was utterly dismayed at the crap quality of the phone service, not to mention the hardware differences between the same phone on Verizons network (microphone responded differently, audio levels were so low they were unusable, even on speaker, and the AT&T Treo took about 30 seconds to connect a call, vs. Verizon’s 650 that would start ringing almost the second you pushed send). Then, there was the terrible hissing sound present with ALL AT&T calls, on the 650 and the RAZR. YUK!

So the thought of switching to AT&T, even for the iPhone, was scary. What finally made me switch? Well, it was a combination of things, but the biggest was NOT the lust for the iPhone, even though that was palpable. No, instead it was the sheer hatred I had developed for Verizon. Between a move back to Utah, a first time large purchase of the Palm Treo 700p, and some really crappy experiences with the handset and carrier, I decided enough was enough.

I’d threatened to switch from Verizons asininely high priced calling network to something more affordable for months – nay – years at that point, and still had little luck getting what I felt was due from them. Complex things, like proper billing, telephone representatives who don’t lie about what were supposed to be documented promises, and most of all, a handset that actually works. The first two, I could deal with. The bill I would watch religiously. It’s not difficult when you’re paying ~$180/month (sometimes more). Some people drive a good used car for that price. The lying and seemingly cultured cheating I would counter with my all-out assault of annoying calls, hitting the 611 five or six times if needed to get the one representative who was too new, too stupid, or too kind to know that you don’t break Verizon’s policies without repercussions.

But the third point, the telephone that didn’t work, that really irked me. I had always talked Verizon into giving me the highest priced handsets for free, pointing out that this would be cheaper for them than losing me. Alas, I did spend well over the average in monthly plan fees, and always paid my bill. What was not to like. Of course, I did have to sell the idea to them every time, but each and every time, I’d get a new handset for my wife and myself, and not just the cheap ones either. These are the ones that would actually last 2 years and longer. But it was time to move up to the big time. I was sick of carrying two devices in my pocket (a palm and phone), and got the idea that a two-in-one would be the solution.

Enter the 700p. Long story short: it was great, when it was great. But soon it fell into fits of bugginess, freezing, and most regrettably, extreme lack of call quality. I would get horrible sound, bad connectivity (voice AND data) and a whole lot of lame excuses from Verizon. I had the phone replaced 3 times (learning along the way that my $350 phone was being swapped or used look-alikes with some other dude’s earwax in the cracks). Well, three strikes, and Verizon was out. They said that I would have to buy a new, different phone if I wanted to fix the issues. I said I would leave. They said go ahead. I drove to AT&T.

Now I have the iPhone on a sub-standard cellular network, and I couldn’t be happier. Ok, I could be happier. But with all this talk of how evil AT&T and Apple are acting, and how horrible the network is, I have to ask again if anyone has been awake for the last 5 years. AT&T’s customer service is all but wonderful, and the network isn’t bad either. If Verizon is 100% in quality of calls (because they are), then AT&T is about 80% on a bad day, and 85%-90% on a good day. Usually I can make calls the way I like, but I’d say I get hundreds of dropped calls a year, where on Verizon it was almost a privilege to drop a call, as it happened 3-5 times tops. Still, 100’s of dropped calls in a year when I make tens of thousands of calls, the odds ain’t bad when looked at in perspective.

Then there’s the App store that so few have been complaining about lately. Sure, it’s not perfect. But did you guys ever TRY to find software for the palm pilot, let alone the palm phones? It was hell. If you could find what you wanted, tucked away in the corners of the virtual universe, chances are you would have to do a rain dance or some other crazy ritual to get it installed and working. It was extremely hit or miss. Once again, while the App store isn’t perfect, it’s an epic breath of fresh air compared to the prior alternatives. Apple has kept tight control of their handset sphere, and that, my friends, is what makes the iPhone so incredible.

I have been asking myself recently: would I return to Verizon if they jumped on the iPhone bandwagon? Probably not. Maybe, but probably not. I hated the crap I had to deal with from a customer non-service standpoint, and that really matters to me. Feeling like I could stay or go, and they didn’t give a load which I chose bothered me to a great extent. Then there’s the price. Why would I pay more just to be kicked around by those goons. The offer would have to be pretty sweet to jump ship and return to Verizon. Now, maybe I’d consider Sprint, as they share the same network in many places, but even that’s unlikely.

So, what’s driving these folks from the iPhone and AT&T? Same thing that drove me from Verizon. Seething hatred. They’re making a statement, a vote if you will with their wallet. They’re saying enough, because they’re just mad enough. But that’s the thing: most people are NOT seething about AT&T and Apple’s decisions. And I’d argue most are aware of them. They just don’t care. I would assume many of them remember what the dark ages of cellular strangleholds were like, and are perfectly content with the solutions that Apple has come up with to cure their calling woes.

The takeaway, from my perspective, is this: You have to HATE AT&T and Apple to leave for the Palm Pre or an Android phone.

But wait – I hate AT&T. Sure, I talk nice about them in public, but taking a 20% hit in call quality IS annoying. I do hate them, but not enough to – even for a second – consider switching to T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint. Even IF they had the iPhone, I think it would take some very real convincing. The better network, Verizon, is run by some big anus, and the others seem to be a downgrade in network quality, which I can’t afford. So while I think it’s good that people want competition, openness, and freedom of consumer choice, I think everyone would benefit from a good dose of historical reflection.


Digital Review has an interesting in-depth comparison between the Nikon D90/D5000 and the Canon Rebel T1i 500D. Nikon offers better build quality, double the shutter life, better ergonomics, better button/menu/interface design, better image quality, better video mode, lower pixel density, better high ISO performance…not to mention the whole lineup of lenses that so many Canon V-SLR shooters are picking up so they can shoot better video on their Canons.

Short translation: the Nikon kicks the crap out of the Canon. Again.

There’s a tremendous difference between price and value. I’m not afraid to pay top dollar for what I buy, but only if by paying more I’m receiving a greater value. I’m frankly surprised so many people can willingly spend more for less, as is almost always the case with Canon cameras. I think, generally speaking, that Canon shooters don’t understand that “more megapixels” doesn’t automatically mean “more camera”, or better images for that matter.