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Warmth of a Narita Autumn

As I look forward to the coming autumn, I’ve been going through some of my old fall photos to practice and prepare my processing techniques. I’ve learned some different things since last season, so it’s interesting to go back to some old photos with a newer set of processing skills with which to approach each photo. It’s also nice to remember what places are worth going back to visit during the season this year, and this place is definitely on the list of spots to return to. I took this photo at park/garden in the rear of the Narita Temple grounds. There are several different ponds, each surrounded by many beautiful trees with great autumn colors. As you might imagine, I wasn’t the only photographer there, but in comparison to many places in the Tokyo area it’s relatively quiet and certainly easier to access, at least for me. It’s also close to the airport, so if you’re in Japan during the fall and have a night time flight, it would be a great way to spend some time relaxing before you have to go.

Camera: Nikon D7000
Lens: Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8
Shot Info: f/11 | multiple exposures | ISO100 | 11mm

Photo of Japan in AutumnClick Here To Purchase A Print

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Autumn Is On The Way

The weather here lately has been extremely rainy, almost as if we’re going through a second rainy season. Thankfully, unlike the actual rainy season, it’s not nearly as hot or muggy. In fact, it’s been quite cool, with hints of autumn weather in the air. But the air isn’t the only place those hints are showing up. The ginko trees are slowly sliding toward yellow, although it will be some time before they turn fully and drop their famously stinky nuts. As for the sakura, they are still mostly green, but many of the trees have a few leaves that have changed and begun to fall. The leaf in the photo below is from such a tree. I found it laying in a quiet corner of a local shrine, and while the mosquito bites I received while taking this photo remind me summer’s not over yet, the scene itself is certainly a harbinger of my favorite season of the year.

Camera: Nikon D610
Lens: Nikon 85mm f/1.8G
Shot Info: f/2 | 1/80sec | ISO640 | 85mm

Single autumn leafClick Here To Purchase A Print


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Rainy Day At The Tokyo International Forum

Ever since I bought my new camera, two things have not really allowed me to test it out all that much: my schedule and the weather. It’s been raining much of the last couple of weeks, and my schedule has been busier or at least busy on the days when it wasn’t raining. But I did get out this week on one of those rainy days to see what I could find behind my new equipment. One place that’s always good to stop by in that kind of weather is the Tokyo International Forum. It’s an architectural masterpiece, and with plenty of vantage points to explore, it’s easy to stay occupied for a good while. I had to wait a while for this shot though – people were walking by, but not next to the window. This lady with a vibrant pink umbrella was just the match I was looking for on an otherwise rainy, dreary day.

Photo of woman with pink umbrellaClick Here To Purchase A Print

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Selling My Nikon D7000 With Three Lenses

If you check my blog regularly, you’ll know I recently made the switch to full frame with my purchase of the D610. Because of that, I’m looking to sell my Nikon D7000, along with three lenses that I won’t be using on the new camera (includes battery, charger, and 8GB Sandisk Extreme memory card). Lots of more information about everything below, so read on if you’re interested. Price is $950 for everything pictured below (+ shipping).

IMG_3489All of these items are in good working condition. They have, of course, been well used and show normal signs of wear from the usage. Here’s each item one by one.

Nikon D7000

I’ve taken around 40,000 pictures with this camera. Not sure of the exact count, but it’s in that area. Everything on it works well. I’ve kept the LCD protector on the camera since the day I bought it, so the LCD itself is in good condition with no major scratches or problems. All buttons work fine with no response issues. Click on the images below to see large:

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

This lens has been a real workhorse for me. Most of my images over the last several years have come with the Tokina mounted on the D7000. It’s in good working condition, however it does shows signs of all the use. The distance indicator has a crack on it, and the area around it is a bit scuffed (this happened when I foolishly carried my lenses and camera together in a messenger bag). The front element is in good condition, while the rear element has a small area that’s scuffed a little. However, I’ve not seen this affect image quality at all. One final point is that the rubber on the zoom ring is a little loose, but nothing major. Lens caps and hood included. The final image below is one I took in August 2014 using this lens. Click on the images below to see large:

Nikon 35mm f/1.8G

This is a really fantastic lens, and is in good condition. It produces lovely bokeh at its wider f-stops, with very quiet focus. There are some signs of wear on the body (e.g. gold on the lettering is worn off a bit) but nothing of consequence. Both front and rear elements are in good condition. There is a little bit of dust inside the lens, which is normal for a used lens, and does not impact image quality in my experience. Lens caps and hood included. The final image below is one I took in April 2014 using this lens. Click on the images below to see large:

Nikon 70-300mm VR

I’ve not used this lens a whole lot, as it’s kind of a specialty lens for special situations. However, there are times where without it, I would have completely missed some amazing shots. One of my favorite shots of Tokyo (the last image below) was taken with this lens on the D7000. The lens is in good condition overall. The body is clean and shows little sign of wear, and both front and rear elements also show little sign of use, with no scratches or scuffs that I can tell.  However, it does have one odd problem – when focusing, lens seems to shake a little at random times. It is mostly just annoying in my experience, and image quality is completely unaffected as far as I can tell. Lens caps and hood included. Click on the images below to see large:

So that’s a pretty good overview of each item I’m selling here. I think this would be a fantastic kit for someone starting out in photography, or for someone just looking for a decent back up kit. Honestly, I’d keep it but I’d prefer to put the money toward an FX lens for my new camera at the moment, which is the only reason I’m selling this. Again, the price is $950 for the whole kit. I live in Japan but am willing to ship overseas. Shipping cost will be calculated once I know the appropriate address, but I will try to keep it as low as reasonably possible. If you have any questions or are interested in purchasing, you can contact me by clicking here. Please feel free to share this with anyone you know who might be interested!

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Crossing Paths In Tokyo

This photo is one I took at the Tokyo World Trade Center early this year. I really enjoy light trails in city photography, but I think sometimes it gets overused, when there are other forms of showing movement that are really great. In this case, I kept my shutter open for just half a second – enough to show the movement of the cars across the intersection, but not enough to create long, flowing light trails. I really like the way it worked in this instance, and in fact think the light trails would not have looked as interesting.

Camera: Nikon D7000
Lens: Nikon 35mm f/1.8G
Shot Info: f/5.6 | 1/2sec | ISO100 | 35mm

Photo of city street in TokyoClick Here To Purchase A Print

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Autumn Lane In Shinjuku Park

Welcome to September everyone! I don’t know about you, but the ‘tembers mark my absolute favorite months of the year. I do love a good winter snow storm, and of course adore the cherry blossoms and other flowers of spring, but nothing compares for me to the hues in the trees combined with the crisp air of autumn. Add in a couple of fantastic holidays, and there’s little the rest of the year can do to compete. So with that in mind I thought I’d kick off the start of the season with a fall photo from Shinjuku Park in Tokyo. This park is a great place to enjoy the fall, offering many trees with a variety of colors, shapes, and textures. The tall trees that make up the lane in this photo are called plane trees, and they come with some of the best autumn leaves around. The plane tree’s leaves not only have a lovely yellow hue during their peak, but because the leaves are huge, once they fall and dry up they are super crunchy and make that perfect seasonal sound when strolling through them. With a plane tree lined lane and plenty of benches to sit beneath them, Shinjuku Park is worth the visit during this time of year.

Camera: Nikon D7000
Lens: Nikon 35mm f/1.8G
Shot Info: f/6.3 | 1/1000sec | ISO400 | 35mm

Photo of Autumn trees in TokyoClick Here To Purchase A Print

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First Impressions: Making The Switch to Full Frame

I’ve been into photography for quite some time. I originally learned on film while taking classes in high school, then bought a DSLR a couple of years after my film camera was stolen in Europe. My first DSLR was the cropped sensor Nikon D70. I bought the D7000 about 6 or 7 years later in 2011, which was also a cropped sensor camera. I’ve come a long way as a photographer since buying that camera, and after a lot of saving and anticipation, I finally was able to purchase my first full frame DSLR this week! Meet my new camera, the Nikon D610:

Nikon D610 with 85mm

I hope to do a review at some point in the near future, but seeing as I’m a newbie to the full frame world, I thought it might be interesting to write about some of my first impressions on moving to full frame after so long using a cropped sensor camera.

Let me start off by explaining a little of why I wanted to move to full frame. It’s wise financially and personally to grasp what benefit the new equipment will offer that your old equipment won’t before making that investment. I’ve been using a cropped sensor DSLR for nearly 10 years, and you can see from my work the kind of quality images you can produce with that equipment. So why switch to full frame? There are many reasons, but primarily for me it’s about opening up some doors that the cropped sensor can’t handle so well. For example, in low light situations, a full frame sensor easily outshines its cropped counterpart. Another reason is details – the full frame sensor gives better details than a cropped sensor. There are also better lenses available for full frame cameras, and while you can use those lenses on a cropped sensor, you’re losing a good portion of the glass you paid hard earned money for. These are just a few reasons, but it’s enough to say that for me I had an idea of what I’d be gaining in the switch to full frame. But understanding it and experiencing it are two very different things!

So, with that said, let’s get down to it – what are my first impressions after making the switch? I should first say that unfortunately this ended up not being the best week to test out my new camera. Aside from being a little busier than usual, the weather has been mostly rainy all week. Nevertheless, intent on giving it a good maiden week, I put on my 85mm lens and took it out around my town.

The first thing I noticed was the quality of the bokeh (the out of focus parts of the image). This lens on my D7000 could produce some nice results, but after a long time looking at images from that camera, I could immediately see the difference. The bokeh on the D610’s full frame sensor is nice and creamy. It really makes the overall picture that much more pleasant to look at.

D610 example photoTest image from Nikon D610Japanese rain chain

Another thing I can see as I take more photos is the increase in detail. Part of this is because the size of the image – 24.3 MP on the D610 vs 16.2 MP on the D7000. But it’s also because the sensor is just better.

Test photo from the Nikon D610

I haven’t had a whole lot of opportunities to shoot in low light situations yet, but in the few chances I’ve had, I can see how much better this camera functions at high ISO levels. The following image was taken at ISO 4000, f/1.8, and 1/100sec shutter speed. Certainly not ideal camera settings, but I was testing the camera on purpose. I’m really impressed with how it performed. Use those same settings on the D7000, and you’re not going to be pleased, but it was very usable on the D610. Not only did it perform nicely straight from the camera, but there was a lot more room to pull out extra detail in Lightroom and Photoshop (though since it’s a test image, I didn’t do much adjusting at all).

D610 High Iso image

As of now I’ve taken about 200 photos on my D610, and I can truthfully say I can easily see the difference in quality. Of course, I’ve not yet been able to really test out the camera yet. Hopefully in the near future the rain will at least take a break for a day and I’ll get to take it out and do some more serious shooting, but even with the sample of basic photographs I’ve taken to this point, the differences are pretty clear. I can’t wait for the Fall, when I get to really test it out with all the great colors and textures the season brings.

Of course, one problem with the switch to full frame is the loss of use of my DX lenses. I have two DX lenses currently: the Tokina 11-16mm wide angle and the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G. Both are great lenses on my D7000. I’ve use the Tokina lens an especially large amount, so losing the ability to shoot with it is tough. Of course, the D610 has a DX mode, but you lose a lot of the frame and pixels, to the point that it would be better just to shoot with my D7000.

Or would it?

I had heard that the Tokina 11-16mm lens actually could work on a full frame body at its narrower zoom distance of 16mm and possibly out to 15mm, so I decided to put it on just to see how it worked. For starters, here’s the Tokina at 11mm in DX mode. This gives you an idea of how much area it covers on a cropped sensor at its widest.

Tokina 11-16mm lens on D610 DX

Next, here is the Tokina on the D610 with DX mode turned off. Using the entire full frame sensor at 11mm is obviously not going to work. You’d get a little more of the image if you take the lens hood off, but it’s still just kinda of silly.

Test of the Tokina 11-16 on D610

Finally, here is the Tokina 11-16mm lens at 16mm using the full image sensor of the D610. Not too shabby! And if you compare it to the 11mm photo in DX mode in the first image, you can see it’s actually a tad bit wider since you’re using the full frame sensor with it.

Tokina 11-16mm lens on full frame Nikon D610

One problem I notice is that the corners have some issues with sharpness. Compare the corners in the DX mode photo and you’ll see what I mean. That said, it’s not too bad really, certainly usable, and if you crop the image some you’ll probably get a view similar to the 11mm image on a DX without having to purchase a new lens. Of course, eventually I plan to get a new wide angle lens, but in the meantime having this available is nice.

So that’s a quick overview of my first impressions of switching to full frame. Again, I hope to do a more full review in the near future of the D610 once I’ve had more time to use it fully, but I hope this gives you a taste of some of the benefits of moving to full frame that you can notice immediately. There’s no doubt the image quality is superior to my D7000, and that’s saying something because of the D7000 is no slouch. I’ve produced some wonderful images that I love with that camera, and I likely will have some more to make before I (probably) sell it. Are the differences so major that it makes the cropped sensor images look bad? Not at all. Is full frame a decision that everyone should make? Certainly not. But for me, right now, it was the right one, and I’m excited to see what else I can do with this great camera.

If you have any questions about my jump to full frame, feel free to ask – I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for reading!

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Sem's - congratulation for upgrading to full frame les!
any issues with this body? whereas D600 has many issues with oil spot on sensor?
at this time i’m using D5100, and pretty happy with the result,
One day I want to upgrade to the D7100 if my D5100 had reached the limit..

leslie - The D610 was basically an update to fix the oil problem, and I haven’t noticed anything myself yet. Definitely loving it! As for the upgrade, the D7000 has been a fantastic camera for me, and I’m sure you’ll love the D7100 if you decided to upgrade. :)