Thursday, November 12, 2009


From some discussion on a local photography website, with a couple of friends.

C61 : Speaking of lenses: D40x on the back of a 70-200.

And some shots with the combo:

VM : I love it.

Those look fantastic! The bokeh is, naturally, excellent. Noise looks good at ISO 800. Did you shoot the whole event at 800 with VR and no flash?

C61 : Thanks. And whatchoo talking about no flash? Plenty of flash in all of those pictures. They're on lightstands, as always. Shot most of the event with this camera at ISO 800, F2.8-4, and 1/200th. Ambient light was ugly (and dim) fluorescent, so ramped up the shutter speed to totally squash it. I didn't dare go above ISO800 with the D40x, 1600 comes out pretty crunchy from what I've seen.

VM : I guess that's a compliment in disguise.

...and one question leads to another. What kind of light modifiers are on the strobes? The light looks nice and soft. Also, yeah, 1600 looks pretty gross, from what I've seen, too. Good idea on killing the fluorescent lights. Couldn't you just use a green gel on the strobes or was it hard to match?

C61 : I'll take the compliment. Light modifiers? None. The indoor pics, the strobes are bounced off the ceiling, with a slight forward tilt and the bounce card extended to provide just a touch of direct light. In the outdoor pic, I have one light set up high and off to my right. If you look closely, you can see a little catchlight in their eyes. Without that strobe, they're in the shade just like the wall behind them.

Regarding gelling the strobes to match the ambient, I probably could, but I'm lazy. And the gel absorbs some light, maybe 1/2-2/3 stop? Lighting a big room with a pair of speedlights like that is already a delicate balance of flash power (=lower ISO or smaller aperture) and recycle time/battery life. I ended up with one flash at 1/2 power with PW attached and the other at 1/4 power using the optical slave. This let me put a PW on each camera, but it meant that my 2nd flash was triggering off of everybody's flashes. Went through three sets of batteries in that one before the night was over. Adding gels would have meant slowing my recycle time OR shooting wide open OR bumping up the ISO to 1600. Not compromises I was willing to make.

VM : Since your photos with the 40x and pro glass look great, tell me: what do you miss the most about the D700?

High ISO and AF speed?

...and maybe FX? (does it really matter much?)

(I'm resisting the Ken Rockwell mantra, "all anyone needs is a D40")

C61 : 2 out of 3, right there. The last one would be the external controls. I would really love to have a second control wheel again, as well as ISO and WB adjustments that didn't involve a trip into the menu system.

And it really should use CF cards. I don't like SD.

VM : And I bet things like dynamic range is better, etc. But eff, 5x the price and no lens! Doesn't the D90 get you 95% there?

I should really just shut up and reflect on the principle of diminishing marginal utility.

C61 : Actually, I don't have a lens now, except the 85/1.4 that doesn't autofocus on the D40.

Edit : Wait, I've got another one somewhere. Lemme go poke around and see what it was.

Edit 2: Damn, it's a screwdriver lens too. Needs the focus motor in body. Oh well, time to work on my manual focus skills.

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