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Discussion Starter #1
Well my girlfriend got a D-70 for Xmas and I was wondering if anyone around here uses this camera and would mind sharing some tips? What macro lens should we get? How about a remote flash?

TIA
 

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Great camera...

For a flash the Nikon SB-800 AF Speedlight is designed to work with the D-70, and can be used remotely.

The ML-L3 Remote Control Transmitter is a neat little gizmo to fire the camera remotely. Place Camera on tripod in front of tank, set it up and use the remote to take pics when the fish aren't looking for a handout.

An optically clear filter for the lens goes a long way in protecting the lens glass from dust fingerprints and whathave you.

Good steady tripod, Bogen makes very nice ones.

Extra Memory Cards, don't skimp on brand here, cheapo store brand ones will die when full of irreplaceable photos. Lexar consistently gets high marks from the pros that use them daily. Prices have dropped quite a bit too, 1GB cards are now in the $100 range. Better to get 2 1GB then 1 2GB.

Computer will need a Card Reader.

Photo Software. Photoshop or Paintshop Pro. Have used both, Photoshop is a killer tool but a bit pricey.

Jay uses a D-70 now and took all the AGA photos with one. I'd imagine he'll have some thoughts to.

Also check out www.KenRockwell.com for hints and tricks on using the D-70
 

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Sweet set of lens, isn't it? If she'll let you use it, that's a big sacrifice, so you automatically owe her dinner out [smilie=u:. That's my rule, at least, and I'm sticking with it! [smilie=l:

I agree with most of the previous recommendation. Here's a bit of a hands-on spin...

For most tank shoots, the 18-70 mm lens (the standard one sold with it) give satisfactory macro capabilites.

She's probably got memory, since the camera doesn't come with memory. So, skip that, unless she went for something ridiculous like 32mg. A gig is nice.

The tripod is a must. The speedlight flash is very nice, but very expensive (@ $350). An alternative--if there's a AV supplier near you, consider renting a full lighting system for special shoots. With a tripod, you can pump up the ISO setting and shoot on available light and get nice net-quality (but not publication quality) pics.

Beyond the tripod, consider getting a couple of filters. As mentioned, keep a daylight filter on at all times. This takes out a bit of UV light as well as protects your lens. There are also two others to consider for shooting aquaria--a polarizing filter will cut out a whole lot of reflection (nice, nice) and a flourescent filter will pull out the wierd green hues from both flourescent and metal halide lamps (invisible to the naked eye, but not the camera). If you shop around, filters are inexpensive...

But as I started, the most important thing you can do is to indulge your g'friend in return! And, also take nice care of the camera (beware--watch the lens cap--it is the only sub-par part of the camera--and it is hard to know if it's really on & easy to lose).

Hasta dude and happy shooting!

TG
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the tips everyone! I'll start shopping around. Probably look into the filters first, then remote flash, then macro lens. Gotta see what she wants to do as well! [smilie=d:
 

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For very strong macro work, 1:1 and higher, look into a reversal adapter. I use a 52mm reversal ring with a 50mm prime focus lens flipped upside down. The 50mm lenses are cheap to buy on ebay, make sure you get a quality manual focus one. For regular closeup/macro, there are several models of 100mm macro lenses that are popular.

Hope that helps
Giancarlo Podio
 

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Kevin,

Great toy you got there.

I have been extremely satisfied with my Nikon D70 but remember that body and 1 lens it just the beginning. I'm up to ~$4,5K and counting.

1. 18-70mm (standard lens) is one of the best kit lenses on the market and it is the best choice wide to tele zoom lens for every Nikon digital SLR. You can comfortable take great tank photos without investing extra money in macro lenses.

2. Macro lenses:
- What do you plan to photograph: aquatic or freelance (ex. insects)

There are many good lenses which are 1:1 MACRO and start anywhere from 50mm to 200mm and above. I wouldn't suggest using 60mm lens when photographing insects b/c you will have to position yourself very close to the actual object and end up scaring it away. At the same time I wouldn't use 200mm macro lens in small fishroom b/c there is simply not enough room. I like something in the middle and good choices are (Nikon being the best IMO):

- 105mm f/2.8D AF Micro-Nikkor
http://www.photo.net/equipment/nikon/105-micro/

- Sigma 105mm f2.8 EX Macro 1:1 Lens
http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/showproduct.php?product=134&sort=7&thecat=13

- Tamron AF SP 90/2.8 DI Macro
http://xoomer.virgilio.it/ripolini/90Tamron.htm

3. Tripod
Invest in GREAT tripod or else you will have multiple "junk-tripods" all over the house. When you spend over $1000 on the camera, provide sturdy tripod once and you should be set "for life". I like Manfrotto line (Made In Italy) and I went with their Tripod (3001Pro) and their bulkhead (488RC2). Other brand worth mentioning is of course Gitzo ($$$$$$).

4. Flash
Do not get anything else be Speedlight SB-600 or SB-800. Both are top of the line flashes and I would substitute it with anything else.

SB- 600 - $200
SB- 800 - $330

5. Filters !!! Important
When someone tells you that filters are inexpensive and whichever brand is OK, he/she is making simple mistake of putting "crappy" piece of glass in front of your very expensive lens.

I paid $1,500 for my 70-200mmVR lens and I would never put 30$ filter on it.

Spend some $$$ and invest in good equipment. Hoya is ok but B&W is better.

This is a good place:
http://www.2filter.com/

And read more about filters here:
http://www.bythom.com/filters.htm

Other misc items:

- more lenses, more lenses, more lenses :lol:
- charger and good batteries (2700mmAH or whatever the latest)
- stroboframe
- bouncer for the flash
- extra camera battery
- big bag with ability to carry the tripod (ex. hiking) (you will expend eventually)

Good luck :wink:
 

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Forgot to mention extension tubes for macro work, those are cheap to buy and very handy because they allow you to use your existing lenses as macro lenses. They usually come in a stack of 3 pieces which can be used all at once or in any combination depending on how close/far you need to focus. The smaller the extension the further you will be able to focus. You will loose auto focus and unless your lens allows manual aperture, you will loose aperture control too (no DOF control). Manual prime focus lenses are the best for these purposes IMO, they are cheap and better quality than zoom lenses due to the fixed focal length and less glass elements used. You can even buy a different female adapter so you can use lenses with different mounts, for example I have plenty of Minolta and Nikon lenses but now using Canon DSLR so this allows me to make some use of the lenses that don't fit the new camera.

For the money it's a no brainer if macro is of any interest to you. You will likely want a nice 100mm macro lens in the future but they can be expensive for a good one. There's a lot of other lenses in my wish list with higher priority than the macro lens so it's nice to have these cheap alternatives to play with for now. Plus you'll still use them from time to time depending on the situation, even with the macro lens the extension tubes can come in handy.

Giancarlo
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Wow....theres just so many choices! I plan on using it to take fish and plant pics. I'll start reading up and check with you pros before making a decision.

Thanks all!
 

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Obviously you can also get extension tubes that do keep all electronic functions such as auto focus and aperture controll. They run around $100-200, the manual ones around $10-20 on ebay.

Giancarlo
 

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Sir_BlackhOle said:
Is there a way to turn the flash off on this thing in "auto" mode?
I'm not totally sure but i guess it's the same as with Canon cameras, flip down the flash after you have focused and keep holding the fire button.
 

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The Sunpak 5000AF Flash is a great alternative to the original Nikon flashes (SB600 and 800).

I personally usually don't see a need to use any flash when photographing a planted tank. Using a flash over a planted tank has some problems which if you want to resolve completely require a cumbersome set up:

- harsh light and the need of an off-flash diffuser screen
- holders or someone holding the screen and the flash
- reflections inside the aquaruim
- bad direction of the light resulting in an acceptable but not great image
- diffuser must be close to the tank, but the flash must be far from the diffuser (forcing the need for a very powerful flash even for small tanks)

My take on the tripod - one could spend $20 for a tripod from Wal Mart and decide if their needs are met. Tripods have become so practical that a difference between a cheap one and an expensive one is nonexistent for someone that does not shoot professionally.

One last but very important note - it's somewhat amusing to realize that we never talk about a very basic and very important thing - the direction of the light used to take the pictures. Yes, the normal shot of a full tank is with the light falling from above. But individual pictures of plants in particular, or a full tank shot often benefit immensely by using frontal light, or rather mix of frontal and top light. This is a good example of a frontal light shot, soft light coming from the direction of the camera. In that sense a flash that has a variable power could be useful providing there is a diffuser screen in front of it.

--Nikolay
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I was thinking of using a shop light to get more light into the tank...but if its coming from the front wont there be a huge reflection on the glass? Does the diffuser you are talking about take care of this problem?
 

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Sir,

I think that the shoplight is an ok working idea but make sure you experiment with the white ballance.

The reflection is controlled in only one way - positioning the light (or the camera) under such angle that the camera does not see the reflection. Maybe closer to the tank than the camera and very high... Or to the side.

The diffuser does not resolve the reflection issue. The shop light may create deep shadows since it's a very small light source, not a diffused one. A diffuser in front of the shop light (closer to the tank, farther from the shoplight) will help a lot. Diffuser may end up producing best result when placed 2, 3 or more feet away from the shop light, the firther the softer the light will be (but light loss is immense).

You can make a diffuser in a few minutes using one or two layers of white fabric (bed sheet or a t-shirt work ok) and using a glue gun to mount it on a frame. Cut out the filter from an $1 A/C filter and use the cardboard frame maybe?

As I said before :D a pretty clumsy set up... But if one can get truly great images than I guess it's worth it.

--Nikolay
 

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Sir_BlackhOle said:
Is there a way to turn the flash off on this thing in "auto" mode?
Why would you want to do that ?

If you don't want to use the flash but don't feel comfortable using Manual settings, set your camera to P Mode. This will still let the camera pick aperture and shutter speed but at the same time you can control the flash.
 

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niko said:
I personally usually don't see a need to use any flash when photographing a planted tank. Using a flash over a planted tank has some problems which if you want to resolve completely require a cumbersome set up:
Niko,

Are you refering to planted tank as a setup or fish/plant photography in details. Flash is not needed when taking pictures of entire setup but I can't imagine taking great pictures of fish without external flash.

My take on the tripod - one could spend $20 for a tripod from Wal Mart and decide if their needs are met. Tripods have become so practical that a difference between a cheap one and an expensive one is nonexistent for someone that does not shoot professionally.
Professional or not but if you have $2,000 on 20$ tripod, you are either cheap or like to gamble :wink:

One last but very important note - it's somewhat amusing to realize that we never talk about a very basic and very important thing - the direction of the light used to take the pictures. Yes, the normal shot of a full tank is with the light falling from above. But individual pictures of plants in particular, or a full tank shot often benefit immensely by using frontal light, or rather mix of frontal and top light.
Agree. I always try to take my pictures from 45deg angle with my external flash. I have it setup on tripod and movable plate so I can move entire setup in whichever direction I need. This applies to fish, not really to plants. It all depends how you plant is growing and how tips are positioned.
 

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Jay,

I'd say that with 2.5 - 3 wpg and enough patience one can shoot almost any fish.

These discus, a (slow moving fish for sure) have been shot with a handheld camera and 3 wpg, no flash.

These bloodfin tetras have been aslo shot handheld with 3 wpg and at a moment when they stop for a second for rest.

All of those photos could be better - better focus, better fin spread, better detail. But these are not flash use issues.

Personally I was never cheap with bying photo equipment, it was a very exciting and cool thing to get the latest gadgets. But one day I realized that a picture that I took by propping my camera on 2 cardboard boxes, a notepad, and a matchbox was better than a picture taken with a tripod, polarizing filter, 4 flashes, and a diffuser :D

--Nikolay
 
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