Image Making Equipment

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On November 9, 2003 I bought a Nikon D100, Digital SLR camera. Click to go to a separate page about the D100.

This site originated February 27, 1997. I had been carrying my 20 plus year old Pentax K1000 in my backpack when hiking. It was loaded with Kodak Gold ISO 400 print film and had a 50mm f2.0 lens. I bought a set of three diopter (close-up) lenses which screw onto the filter threads of the 50mm lens. The permanent configuration was with all three diopter lenses screwed on and the lens cap covering the outermost diopter lens. When I desired to make a picture, rather than removing the lens cap, I would unscrew however many diopters that I didn't want, leaving the desired magnification.

In the early days, I did not have a scanner. During this time period, most consumer photo developing sources did not offer Photo Disk service while developing. I found a source which had the service preprinted on the developing envelopes. Occasionally, Kodak would forget to scan a roll as this was not yet a commonly requested service. The first images presented on this site were digitized as Kodak Photo Disk images.

While existing early images are significantly lower in quality than I can now produce with modern equipment, I have no immediate plans to redo these older images. There is a tremendous amount of material which is currently absent from the site and presenting this missing material has priority over optimizing existing, perhaps less than optimum, material. As such, the images on this site show tremendous variation in quality as tools and skills have changed over the years.

A 600 DPI flat bed scanner was purchased. This was a significant improvement as it brought another phase of the process under my control. There is certainly nothing wrong with Kodak's Picture Disk. But, when I do my own scanning, I can adjust the process to yield the exact results that I want for a particular image.

A Kodak DC-120 1.2 megapixel digital camera followed. This was my primary camera for a number of months. This was retired to become a supporting piece of equipment. The majority of my pictures are macros. Parallax made framing through the view finder impossible. The small size of the display made focusing challenging and strong ambient light often made accurate focusing impossible. Further, the non-defeatable auto shut-off of the display took frustration into the hopelessness level. When 'getting the shot' is frustrating to the point of hopelessness, it's time for a different camera!

I switched back to my Pentax and entered a period of emotional dissatisfaction (with my camera equipment). I believed that digital was the future but knew that I needed a SLR digital which didn't exist at that time. I wanted more than my existing Pentax K1000 system. I decide to salvage my existing Pentax lenses and get a more modern Pentax body. Off to the store I went. The first salesman said 'no', get a Nikon N60. I left even more frustrated than before. A week later, I went back and the second salesman, read my heart and set me up with a used Nikon N8008 with a AF 60mm f2.8 micro lens. I left, camera in hand, and have been absolutely delighted with this equipment. The research before buying the Nikon system also taught me that I needed to be using slide film to eliminate the subjective printing process.

Since that first roll of slide film came back, I am absolutely sold on the necessity of using slide film. We as photographers create the picture. All the books state that fine images can be created with most any camera. A cabinet maker would not use a saw that was dull or that had an unbalanced set on the teeth. Using such a tool would make it very difficult to produce a high quality product. (Damn difficult but not impossible for a craftsman with exceptional talent.) When I started using this camera with slide film, I discovered that I had a fine tool to aid me in my task of making a picture. I feel that this equipment HELPS me make a picture rather than ALLOWING me to make a picture. To the authors of those earlier mentioned books I say, "OK, YOU use a point & shoot camera, I'll use my Nikon!" My photography has soared since changing to slide films and Nikon cameras.

A film scanner became necessary and was purchased after I was able to scrape together the purchase price. This gives me the ability to make a high quality digital image from 35mm film (more recent slides and older negatives). I now need to find a solution to the DUST problem! (There is always a weakest link!)

Current imaging equipment includes:

Camera Bodies

Nikon D100 digital SLR

Nikon N8008S and N8008

These guys are older, second hand, cameras. I was steered to this model as being within my price range and using readily available 4 AA batteries as the power source. One review I essentially said, "the N8008S gets the shots". My experience would agree that where I do my job, it does its job. My experience is limited to ‘moderate’ field conditions and I have never tried using them under extreme conditions. I have never had an unresolvable field problem. First, I found my N8008 and later acquired my N8008S. I came to this camera after years of using my Pentax K1000. I rarely use auto focus or the spot metering on the ‘S’ and find the cameras both a joy to use. A point and shoot user would find the body with a lens attached, monstrously heavy. Being a person who keeps my pack constantly provisioned for most any type of outing, the weight is not a serious consideration to me. Actually, I am under the impression that the considerable weight equates to durability and academically consider the mass desirable. (I run marathons so my valuation of physical exertion is at best, questionable!)


Nikkor AFD 105mm f2.8 micro – This lens is normally attached to the camera in my field pack

This is definately my most oft used lens (on the film bodies). This is the lens that is attached to the camera as it rides in my Lowepro Off Trail 1 belt pack. The 105mm length usually seems to be the best length for shooting the wild flowers that I encounter. In my reading, John Shaw indicated a preferance for this lens length. After personally having an old antique 105 and subsequently a modern AFD 105, I find myself heartly endorsing John's position about this being a great focal length. This is even further reinforced now that I have a D100 and find myself pulled toward my 60mm on that body where the 60mm is effectively a 90mm due the the focal length multiplying factor.

Nikkor AF 60mm f2.8 micro – This lens is normally in a side pocket in my field pack

Tremendous. This is just a great lens. I however use the 105 more as this lens forces me a wee bit too close and it shoots a wee bit too wide. The 105 lets me choose a better background and shoot from a little bit further away.

On the D100 digital body, there is a 1.5 focal length multiplication factor. My 105 becomes a 157.5 (effective) and this 60 becomes a 90 (effective). So, on the D100 body, the 157.5 is a wee bit too narrow and the 90 is more useable width. On the D100, this 60 is the lens that stays on the camera!

Nikkor AIS 200mm f4.0 micro

After years of looking, I finally found a 200mm micro that I could afford. I grabbed it and, oh, it is beautiful. I acquired it the end of last season and haven’t really used it extensively yet, but I am very pleased with what it has given me so far. Tack sharp images from way, way back with a narrow field of view to ‘crop’ out background clutter PLUS a short depth of field to throw unavoidable background distractions out of focus.

It is too long to conveniently fit in my Lowepro Off Trail 1 belt pack. (Yes, I have a bigger lens bag which I have used but it hits me half way down my thigh. This is Ok, for a few miles but gets aggravating on long treks.) It has an integral rotating tripod mount. It is necessary to move the tripod mount back and forth between the camera and the 200mm when vacillating between the 105mm and the 200mm. (Does anybody else do this too?) This rotating mount is wonderful when vacillating between horizontal and vertical formats!

I sent this lens to Rolland Elliot to have a CPU installed. As he indicated, it is now fully compatible with modern cameras requiring a CPU lens including my D100 digital SLR body. My wonderful AIS 200 micro lives on! Thank you Rolland!

Nikkor AF 28mm f2.8 – This lens is normally in a side pocket in my field pack

Landscapes aren’t really my thing but this lens lives in my field pack. Everybody needs a wide lens. Nuff said.

Nikkor-H AI'd 300mm f4.5

Another antique. I can’t claim to be particularly impressed. It works but…

Nikon AF Teleconverter TC-16A

This teleconverter gives me 480mm autofocus on my 300mm. I have played with this on flying birds. The results show ‘potential’. I have also handed Alison my camera with this on a 135mm f2.8 (making an autofocus 216mm) to shot me running a marathon which worked quite well.


Fuji Velvia

Velvia (ISO 50) is my standard nature film. My N8008S is always loaded with Velvia.

Fuji Astia

Astia (ISO 100) is my fast/skin color film. My N8008 is loaded with Astia.


Bogen 3221GN w/Bogen 3047 pan & tilt head

On receiving this tripod, the first time I open a leg latch, I pinched my thumb in the pivoting end of a leg latch. When a leg clamp is simply lifted, it opens with a snap, a sound. In the field, there are four seasons, one of which is cold. I wear mittens when it is cold. I would define a good nature tripod as haveing latches that would operate silently and that could be operated while leaving protective clothing (gloves/mittens) in place saving the cold exposure for the unavoidable camera operation. My impression is that the new leg latches were NOT designed by or for a nature photographer.

Why the 'N' leg clamps pinch. Opposite the lifting end, beyond the pivoting end of the clamp lever, there is an open 'V' awaiting, which will close abruptly and firmly when the clamp is opened. Anything in this 'V' when the clamp is opened will be severly pinched. I have no problem with the clamps pinching when I hold the tripod upside down (and presumably left handers wouldn't have a problem either). Alas, the camera is usually fastened to the top and I am not inclined to set that end down into the mud or dirt! With the tripod right side up, the left end of the leg latch lever is the actuating end that must be lifted (unless the user is VERY, VERY short). As you see from the picture below, I operate the latches with my right hand. I obviously lifted the latch with my thumb curled inward and had the bulk of my hand in close proximity of the 'V'. My less dexterous left hand has the job of holding the camera end of the tripod. My more dexterous right hand gets the multiple tasks of operating the leg clamp and adjusting the leg tube length.

Hand with clamp injury On January 19, '02 we had a light 3 to 6 inch snowfall. Overnite there was no wind and the sun was predicted to be shining the following day. On January 20, we had winter wonderland shooting. I was busy making pictures when a leg clamp felt ignored and insisted upon being noticed. Please note the ding in the side of my middle finger on the image to the left. If you feel that making pictures should receive your full attention, these leg clamps might remind you otherwise! These clamps do bite.

I need to train myself to operate these latches so they don't pinch me. Again, my left hand gets the job of holding the top of the tripod and my right hand will run the clamps and adjust the tube length. With my right hand, I need to grasp the tripod leg palm down, with all four fingers wraping around the leg, with my thumb extending unused and the thumb pad of my palm placed on the top of the latch lever. My index and middle fingers will lift the lever and my ring and little fingers will control leg extention. To close the latch, I will push it closed with the thumb pad on my palm. Done properly, this keeps all parts of my hand out of the 'V' area.

Other than the leg latches, this is a wonderful piece of equipment.

Hiking Pole/monopod

I have a retractable hiking pole where the top ball unscrews and creates a monopod. I have used this with some success during mountain hiking.

Vivitar VPT-240

I cursed the ‘quick’ release plate on this thing from day one. The ‘quick’ release plate requires a tool (coin/screwdriver) to attach it to the held object. Changing from the 105mm (tripod mount on camera) to the 200mm (tripod mount on lens) was very inconvenient. This change occurs in the field, where tools may not be readily available! The quick lease plate is made of plastic and is currently broken from excessive tightening (mandatory tool use makes applying excessive pressure a very real possibility).

The friction on the tilt died.

This tripod is now used to hold off camera flash.


An old Nikon SB-24 is my primary flash. It usually wears a Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce diffuser and is almost always off camera on a SC-17 cord.

For the D100 digital, not being compatible with my old SB-24 flash, I bought two Vivitar 283 flash's complete with Wein digital Peanut slave triggers. If I were to do it over, I would get the regular (not digital) 300' tripod mounting slave trigger (not the Peanut) and trigger it/them with my SB-24 used solely as a triggering device, aimed somewhere NOT at the subject. I might mention here that the instant feedback ability of a digital camera makes it possible to do a manual flash setup and be pretty confident of going home with a reasonably exposed shot. With this feedback, TTL flash is not an absolute requirement if you can setup the shot! I got the two Vivitar 283's as I needed to setup a one time studio lighting situation. The 283's can be used in the field, regular monolights cannot! For that occasion, the 283's were setup as flash triggered slaves in auto mode with each unit set to a different aperture value (different power). It worked reasoably well and as anticipated with the glitch being, not with the flashes, but from room light contributed by compact flourescent lights causing a color shift. I'm a field photographer, passing clouds, mosquitos, wind and such are more familiar problems.

Camera Bags

Lowepro Off Trail 1

I carried my camera in my backpack for years. Digging it out was a pain, especially when I was hiking with a large group. (You see many more shots while on the trail than while at break locations!) Many shots never got taken ‘cause the camera was not readily available. The Off Trail 1 put the camera on my waist and available. This is a BIG, BIG, BIG improvement! My biggest problem is that I many times also have a backpack on which means the Off Trail must ride in front. This isn’t too bad unless I put on a long lens pocket. That does NOT work! Another problem has been getting both waist belts(backpack and camera bag) fastened in cold weather.


Minolta Dual Scan II

Works great. I did buy VueScan software which is quicker than tweaking the provided driver on every image. I have a major DUST problem which isn't really the fault of the scanner.

el-cheapo Flat Bed Scanner


generic 1.7 GHz Pentium IV

Software (I have multiples in most categories but list only my most used)

Nikon Capture 4 (Raw Image Editor)

Photoshop 5.0 LE (Digital Image Editor)

IMatch (Image Management)

VueScan (Scanner Driver)

WebEdit by Ken Nesbit (HTML Editor)

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