Tuesday, April 25, 2017

NIkon D3300 Shutter Shock

Small compact cameras suffer from shutter shock. Mirroless cameras now have solved this issue by using electronic first curtains. It is nice that Nikon makes small DSLR's like the D3300, but they should deal with this shutter shock issue.

If shutter speed is within 1/30 to 1/250, the images look slightly blurry. Not very bad, but noticeable. Because this is the mostly used shutter speed range, so you almost never get tack sharp images with D3300.

With the 18-55 VR II kit lens, these are shot at 1/15 and 1/320, respectively, and both are tack sharp:

But at 1/160, it is not as sharp as above:


Even at 1/30 and 1/250, the differences are still there:

With the 55-200 VR II kit lens, results are similar.

Tack sharp at 1/15 and 1/320:

The worst is around 1/60 - 1/80:

Compared to the 18-55, 1/250 and even 1/200 are not that bad:

As you see, the worst case is still not too bad and you may simply forget about this issue and just shoot at any shutter speed. But, if you want an image that's totally tack sharp, then avoid speeds from 1/30 to 1/250.

As long as you can avoid shutter shock, these kit lenses and D3300 produce excellent sharpness, very close to my Sony 35mm/1.8 on a5100, far beyond what an entry level kit usually suggests.

Some interesting discussions and reviews regarding shutter shock. D5300 and D5500 also have this issue.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Turn any headphones into wireless

I picked up the Taotronics TT-BA08 among others for the following reasons:

  • Up to 20 hours play time. Others are less than 10 hours, cannot serve a whole day.
  • Very small and light at 1 oz, ideal to clip on headphones as showing in above video.
  • Full control buttons for play/pause and volume/track.
  • APT-X for CD quality audio.
  • APT-X low latency (short delay). You can use two of these, one as transmitter and one as receiver, to watch TV with any of your favorite headphones.
  • Playing while charging.
  • Connect to two devices at the same time.
If your headphones have high impedance such as the Sennheiser HD600, you may give Creative Labs Sound Blaster E3 a try, supposed to drive 500 ohms.

If you want one that comes with a clip on it already and for free, Fry's is selling a smartbean adapter, free after $15 rebate. Note that it does not have all the above features, but you have nothing to lose.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tweaks of sports photos

No matter for whatever kind of photos, you must set your camera to:
  • Always use single point focusing and the smallest focus area. If you let the camera to pick up a focus point for you, you simply waste your time.
  • Always use either AF-S for still objects or AF-C for moving ones. AF-A sounds great but no manufacturer have implemented it well; so never use it.
  • Always use A (aperture) mode. For one object or two such as portrait, use f/1.8 or the widest aperture; f/8 for massive objects such as landscape. If you use auto or P mode, you simply waste your time.
  • Set a minimum shutter speed. For still objects, set it to 1/8 for standard lenses and 1/30 for telephoto lenses. For a party, 1/60 or so; for chasing a child, 1/125 or so; for sports, 1/250 or 1/500. Canon and Sony entry-level cameras do not have this option, this is why I bought the Nikon D3300 instead.

Now about sports:
  • As already mentioned, use a minimum shutter speed of 1/250. Use 1/500 or even faster if lighting allows (without pushing ISO to too high).
  • Use AF-C mode. When the moving object is approaching, half press down the shutter to make an initial focusing, hold the shutter and, once the object reaches your desired spot, press down fully the shutter to take the shot.
  • If the object is moving from left to right, aiming at it, half press down the shutter to make an initial focusing, hold the shutter while moving camera to follow the object and, once the object reaches your desired spot, press down the shutter fully to take the shot.
  • To isolate the object from the surroundings, use the longest focal length and widest aperture and go as close as possible.
    Now about D3300 and its kit lenses:
    • Like other Nikon cameras, D3300 also suffers from shutter shock between 1/30 and 1/125. So use either 1/30 or slower, or 1/125 or faster.
    • Because the AF-S VR II lenses are sharp at all focal lengths including 200 mm (55 mm), so feel free to zoom all way in. But I found the best focus accuracy is achieved around 165 mm (45 mm), so I always try to use this focal length whenever possible, i.e., just a little bit back from the longest end.
    • Focusing with the 55-200 lens is not so quick, especially when the focus was far away from the object. Therefore, it is almost mandatory to do aforementioned initial focusing while the object is approaching.
    • Usually I focus on a person's eye, but for sports this is very difficult and often unnecessary. Because D3300 has only one cross-type focus point at the center, so I use it to focus on the center of the body. I keep my camera level - not looking down or up; so the person's face will be mostly in focus as well.
    • Set camera's sharpening to 7 for sharp but not over sharp images.

    Wednesday, April 5, 2017