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D100 Digital Camera - addenda5-stars

 

Nikon D100. Photo by Kodak DC-260.

This page augments our D100 Review page. Here we note our observations about D100 usage, likes, dislikes (if any!), accessories we've bought, and features that we discover.

Nikon D100 6.3 megapixel single lens reflex digital camera, with AF Nikkor 24-120 Zoom attached. Camera measures 5.7W x 4.6H x 3.2 D (inches, body only). Camera body is strikingly similar to N80 35mm film camera body in design and size, but about 9mm taller. Lens and tripod adapter, both pictured here, not included in the D100 retail box. Included: camera body, strap, EN-EL3 D100 Lithium battery pack, external charger, protective caps and clear monitor cover, audio cable, USB cable, manual, and Nikon View 5 browser and capture software. Takes Compact Flash or IBM microdrive, not included. The owners manual documentation is unusually clear and well written.

 

Addenda

1. Daylight photography (09/20/2002).

I took the D100 down to Phoenix on vacation and shot 72 pictures, mostly daylight in the back yard. That's two rolls of 36 for you film buffs. Daylight imaging is superb. I shot mostly in the TIFF medium resolution format (9MB). I discovered there is no point in trying color balance or contrast adjustments in PhotoShop, as there is really no room for improvement. The first posted photo, "DSC_0091_PalmSM.jpg", is currently featured in Photo Gallery, and may always be found in More Photo Gallery.

Indoor flash photos are pleasing but not really razzle-dazzle yet. I took two outdoor night flash shots of our new telescope, and they came out dark (but cleaned up in PhotoShop). The built-in flash is really intended for portrait ranges, and is probably best indoors to augment incandescent lighting.

I have tried a few night shots of the harvest moon with zoom telephoto the lazy man's way (full automatic). This is outside the light range of the automatic focus and exposure computers, and most of the time the camera will not even let you do it. I need to spend some time with manual exposures. The camera is capable of excellent time exposures, but I did not want to "mess with" the process for the first time in the dark.

2. IBM Microdrive (09/18/2002)

At 9MB per shot, I filled up a 256MB CompactFlash card in 25 shots, and started on the spare. Many people will argue that we "don't need" 9MB image files. I would rather capture all of the detail on lossless TIFF, and decide later how much color depth and resolution I choose to discard (on a photo by photo basis) by converting to lossy JPG of some smaller size. 100GB drives are cheap, and you only get one chance on all those photos you later wish you'd done a better job of capturing.

I ordered the 1GB IBM Microdrive with some other merchandise, and it arrived at Phoenix while we were there. The Nikon D100 camera is one of the cameras that does accomodate the Microdrive, which fits in the same CF type II slot I'd been using for the 256MB flash memory cards. My microdrive is holding 105 pictures at the TIFF Medium (9MB) image fineness setting. That's the way to go!

3. CompactFlash Type II Card Reader (9/28/2002)

The cheapie SanDisk CF card reader I have down in Phoenix reads and writes to the microdrive just fine. When we got home to Castro Valley, I found that my older SanDisk CF card reader has the narrow slot that only holds the original CompactFlash (CF) flash card. The slots in the new ones need to have a recessed "lip" cutout in the slot to accomodate the CF Type II (microdrive) form factor, which is slightly thicker by less than 1/16 of an inch more.

Researching on the web, I found consistently that only the high end "6 in 1" type card readers advertised that they could handle the CF type II card. These all run in the $50-$60 range, and were all out of stock too. I found one in stock at PC Zone for $42 (I wanted it next day delivery). Shipping was an impressive $25, so I decided to do nothing and visit some stores on the weekend instead.

Dazzle CompactFlash Card Rader DM-8000Our local Radio Shack here in town had a Dazzle CompactFlash Card Reader for $19.99, and I bought it. It works fine.

The web page picture just barely shows what appears to be the slot "lip" that distinguishes the CF type II from older model CF readers, and inspection in the store confirmed this. Radio shack model number is cat # 16-3656. Nowhere does the packaging or web description state that CF Type II is supported, but it is. You would "just have to know this". The Radio Shack salesperson said I could bring it back if it didn't work with Microdrive. Just try that in mail order!

A check at PC Connection shows the same model Dazzle CompactFlash Card Reader available for 17.89 (and on backorder); just watch that shipping charge. The Dazzle manufacturer's product number is DM-8000.

4. D100 Battery Life (9/28/2002)

I still have not seen any dent in the battery charge indicator, and the D100 has over 100 shots on it. The PC Magazine review (see the link on the Photo Gallery index page) reported taking over 1,000 test photos without having to charge the batteries. The battery performance I am getting now is already far better than any other digital camera we've owned.

5. D100 Battery Life (03/02/2003)

We finally charged up the D100 battery once while on vacation in October. Going into March with 303 pictures under our belt, the charge indicator shows no sign that it might be near the time to recharge. This included an hour "night shooting" stint hooked to the back of the LX-90 telescope (where I also learned that setting exposures manually is just as easy as it was in 1964, if not easier). I would certainly still recharge if planning a major photo shoot.

6. D100 Updates and Accessories (5/28/2003)

We're up to over 450 photos. We recharged the D100 once again for our May vacation just to be safe, though the recharger (supplied with the camera) is very light and we take it with us.

We bought the powerful Nikon SB80-DX flash strobe in time for Christmas. Expensive, but it sure fills the room with light and works well with the D100 auto features. For use with the Meade telescope, we bought a T-Ring and Coupler for Nikon from OPT Telescope in Seaside, CA. We ordered a cheap ($80) Quantaray 2x tele-extender lens from Ritz. This last will probably not complete in optical quality with the new Nikon TC-210 2x tele-extender ($579), which only works with new AF-S and AF-I type lenses anyway. For our purposes the Quantaray will work fine with the LX-90, and as a cheap optical doubler for regular type AF Nikon lenses. Manual focusing will almost surely be required no matter what Quantaray says. We'll let you know.

7. EN-EL3 Lithium Battery for D100 (10/12/2003)

We bought a spare at Ritz ($49.99) and brought it along on the Hawaii trip, as cheap insurance. We downloaded each day's pictures to a laptop using the USB link (more cheap insurance.) 400 pictures will not put a dent in the battery, but the downloading sure does. A single-battery user could just recharge the EL3 after each extended download session. But, we're still glad we bought the spare.

8. EH-5 A/C Adapter for D100 Digital Camera (11/1/2003)

We found one menu function, CCD Cleaning Mirror Lock-up, that will not operate unless the D100 is hooked up to an external power source. There may be others. We ordered the EH-5 from Ritz (84.99).

Background: The first time, we got an improperly machined T-Ring Adapter from OPT to attach the camera body to the back of our telescope. The problem was that the adaper would not quite fit into the Nikon bayonet mount. I noticed aluminum shavings - not good! Mike Fowler at OPT was wonderful about sending out a new T-Ring Adapter (which did work), but we started noticing a spot on the pictures.

After thorough lens inspection and cleaning, the spot location was invariant. Imaginary coordinates on the picture frame would be about: x-axis 20%, y-axis 60%. You can see it on some uploaded pictures when I forgot to use the PhotoShop healing tool to fix it. I reasoned it had to be the CCD, which turned out to be correct, but how to get to it?

Nikon's manual tells you that Mirror lock-up command will not operate without the EH-5 adapter; apparently holding the shutter open poses a current drain, but the manual didn't elaborate. With the A/C adapter attached, and the mirror locked, I used my old photographer's "blower brush" - yes, the ubiquitous squeeze bulb and camel-hair brush - to clean the protective glass covering the CCD itself. My pictures are spotless again!

9. Automatic file numbering. There are many options for file and folder numbering. However, we prefer simple sequential numbering, and we'll do our folderizing on the PC, thank you. After using the camera for a year, we found out how to program the camera so it would remember the last picture number and automatically pick up the numbering sequence when a new CF card is inserted. This is not rocket science. But the default for this feature is "OFF", so each new CF card will normally start over at 0001 and sequence from there.

Unfortunately, as soon as you turn this option "ON", it begins renumbering with 0001 all over again, and there is no way to programmatically set the starting number. Previous number sequences are ignored in this mode, even if previous files are still on the CF card. So, if you are on file number DSC_0974 and turn this auto number feature on, the next image will be DSC_0001. This would have been fine if we knew this before taking the very first picture.

Workaround: what we have done is very Mickey Mouse, but it works, and we have 1GB CF's, so it is not a lot of work. If the last picture was DSC_0974, after reformatting the card, we upload a small 20KB file to it that is a dummy "last picture". In this example, the uploaded file would be named DSC_0974.jpg. Then, the first "real" picture on the CF card will be DSC_0975.TIF, the number we want. OK, it's stoopid, but we can live with it.

 

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