DPS 6-03: Top 10 Ways to Deal with Nikon D3 (or Canon 1D Mark III) Envy

DPS 6-03: Top 10 Tips if you have Nikon D3 (or Canon 1D Mark III) Envy, Plus Mini-Review on the "cat's meow" of battery chargers

DPS 6-03: Top 10 Tips if you have Nikon D3 (or Canon 1D Mark III) Envy, Plus Mini-Review on the "cat's meow" of battery chargers

March 21, 2008

When there is a new "king of the SLRs" like the Canon 1D Mark III and more recently the Nikon D3 it is natural to be envious. In particular, many of us--me included--have decided to purchase the Nikon D300 instead of the D3 (I have two of them) largely because of the lower cost, smaller size and ability to use DX lenses. But having borrowed a D3 for a month I sure do miss it. So for all of you who have D3 (or 1D Mark III) envy, we've prepared a list of the top 10 steps you can take to deal with your envy:

  1. Buy an MB-D10 vertical grip and put an EN-EL4a or 8 AA batteries in it. Adding a vertical grip addresses two of the major shortcomings of the D300 compared to the D3. First it obviously provides an easy to use vertical grip. It is not quite as nicely shaped as the integrated vertical grip on the D3, and the small joystick is not as easy to use but it lets you get the job done. Second, it really makes the camera hop. With 8 AA's (the configuration I use most of the time) it clicks away at 8fps, the same as the D2H I traded in to buy it.
  2. Tease your D3 friends with your built-in sensor cleaner. Pointing out the small dust spots that accumulate on their images will make you feel particularly good.
  3. Buy two D300's. Many photographers are reluctant to spend the money on a second expensive digital camera body. But the advantages of having two cameras really add up. First and foremost, having two different lenses ready for instant use. And almost as importantly having a backup camera when on a trip or an important shoot is key to anyone who takes their photography seriously. Add to that the ability to send one camera in for service and you have enough to justify the cost of a second $1800 D300 for many photographers--who couldn’t justify a second $5000 D3. For most of us you don't need a second MB-D10. Just leave it on one of your cameras for when you want the grip or speed and the other can stay small and light for quick handling and casual shooting.
  4. Watch them sweat. Remember that to get the same apparent magnification with a D3 that you get with your D300 you'd need 50% more lens. So as you cruise up the hill to your destination with your lightweight 300f/2.8 and tiny 1.4TC you can look back and taunt your D3 toting friend who will be lugging his 600f/4 and huge tripod.

    Cardinal Photo Safaris Update:

    Grizzly bear female
    Alaska bear safari

    Alaska Grizzly Bear & Puffin trips, July 2008:

    Our 2008 sessions are nearly sold out but we have 1 opening left for week 1 and 1 due to a cancellation for week 2, so . We'll have plenty of Alaskan Brown "Grizzly" Bears, as well as visit rookeries for Horned Puffins, Tufted Puffins, Common Murres and Kittiwakes. We're also likely to have some good Bald Eagle photographic opportunities and of course scenic shots of mountains, coastline and lovely flowers. This is a great trip for couples or non-shooting companions as the lodge is in a beautiful setting on the coast with plenty of opportunity for other activities.

    Africa :
    May 2008 trip is SOLD OUT

    Other Dates for 2008 & 2009 are TBD

    Our trips feature plenty of mammals & birds. We'll see lions, elephants, giraffe, leopards, cheetah and quite a few varieties of antelope along with several dozen other species of exotic animals. For more details email safaris [at] cardinalphoto.com.

    Asia Photo Safari, January, 2007

    Burma and Cambodia, December 2008:

    We're excited about returning to Burma (Myanmar) and Cambodia. The main trip will be divided between the temple areas in Cambodia (especially the Angkor temple complex including Angkor Wat) and Burma (including historic Mandalay and the plain of temples at Bagan, as well as the capital Yangon, nee Rangoon). . We'll also have an optional post-trip extension to Laos, featuring Vientianne & Luang Prabang.

    We just finished a second very successful 2007 trip and are ready with what we think will be an even better itinerary for next December and next December. .

    Crested Caracara
    South Texas Safari, 2007

    South Texas Birds, April 13-19, 2008
    2008 is SOLD OUT, email safaris [at] cardinalphoto.com for wait list or 2009 information

    After a great safari this year I'm anxious to get back to "The Valley" in south Texas and join a few of you to really focus on bird photography for a week again next year. There is no better way to improve your shooting skills, hone your flight shot technique and come home with lots of great images than by spending a week with us at these awesome Lens & Land properties.

    We have some great upgrades for 2008, including luxury accomodations at a brand new game lodge close to the ranches. The small trip size (maximum 6 shooters), private ranches, and full service structure (all your local transportation, room, meals and drinks are included!) make this the premier trip to South Texas for bird photography. or .

    events updated 3/18/2008

  5. Get an eyecup. One of the frustrations I've always had with the mid-range SLRs is their lack of a proper eye cup. Fortunately there are a couple after-market solutions for the Nikon D300 that allow you to use a real eye-cup. I've used both the very inexpensive EC-3 from BocaPhoto.com, and the more well known DK-3 "kit" that they sell which includes a DK-3 eye-cup and needed adapter. Both work well, but the circular opening in the eye-cup doesn't take full advantage of the rectangular opening in the D300, so I'm looking forward to trying their EC-7 product next to see if the rectangular opening it features provides more eye relief. NOTE: If you wear glasses or have particularly weak vision the D3 viewfinder is a _huge_ benefit and no matter what you do with the D300 you will not have the same quality viewing experience you will with the D3.
  6. Wait. If you can hold out until the often rumored "next camera" (perhaps a 20+MP D3X?) comes out then you'll get a chance to get your D3 for less than it's going for now. Remember that the camera you have (whatever model) takes images that are just as good as the day you bought it. And there will always be another camera just around the corner. So if you can bite your lip for a few months there will always be another opportunity to have the latest and greatest. The lesson is to pick your spots and upgrade your gear when there is a real photographic problem you need solved that it can solve for you.

    Instant Gratification: B&H has .

  7. Give in. Sure, there's nothing that $15,000 can't fix? That's the cost of 2 new D3's plus the two new mid-range AF-S zoom lenses to work with the FX (essentially full-frame) format of the D3. If you've got the cash there is no question the combination is the bee's knees and you'll have a delightful time and make incredible images. In particular if you need the insanely great high ISO capability of the D3 or the very high frame rates, then the money may be a great investment for you.
  8. Buy a Lens: With the $3200 additional you didn't spend on a D3 you can easily upgrade your primary lenses to the best. In general it is good advice to spend money on your lenses before you worry too much about the latest and greatest camera body. Faster, sharper glass will get you more improved photographs no matter what you shoot. Upgrading to AF-S lenses will help your action shots, and adding VR can help you dramatically when shooting from vehicles or in many situations where using a tripod is impractical.
  9. Take a trip! What good is the latest photo gear if you don't have the time and resources to enjoy it? If you think about the $15,000 it might have cost you to upgrade your photo kit to a pair of D3's and new lenses, that should pay for quite an excellent photographic experience or two anywhere in the world, complete with some world-class photo instruction to go with it. Of course I'm biased and would love for you to come on one of my nature or travel safaris (), but there are lots of other great options for those serious about scenics or wildlife like the DLWS & Base Camp offerings from my good friend Moose Peterson ()
  10. Chill: Remember it is the photographer who makes the photograph, so I hope you'll take all these tips in the light-hearted way they were written. To put things in perspective I happened to speak with the sports photographer from our local newspaper yesterday. He was still using the D1 and D1H that I sold the newspaper after I upgraded from them several years ago. They were still working great, looked to be in good condition, and churned out hundreds of publishable photographs each week. His lens was even older, a push-pull 80-200 model with agonizingly slow AF. But his system got the job done and was what the paper could afford.

As always good luck & good shooting with whatever camera you choose!--

Photo Safari UPDATE: We've got one opening for each of our two and the December trip, including Angkor Wat and the Schwedagon is quite open. There's no time like the present to get out and see some exotic locations and capture some great images!

Mini-Review: Maha MH-C801D "Smart" Battery Charger

I've got a drawer full of various NiMH chargers, including some pretty good reconditioning chargers from Maha that I've used all over the world, so I'd resisted buying one of the nice new "LED" chargers like the MH-C801D. But after getting an MB-D10 and powering it with 8 AA batteries I decided it was worth it. And I'm very glad I did. Besides the convenience of being able to charge (and optionally condition) 8 cells in one charger the unit features LEDs that show you exactly how well or poorly charged the batteries are. From a quick glance at the LEDs when charging my batteries I've already been able to see that my casual attitude about using the batteries as a group and reconditioning them periodically had resulted in a wide variety of battery conditions. Now though I can condition sets of 8 batteries at once for optimal performance and then keep them together as a group (using the nifty included 8-battery holder). The unit features standard and "Soft" charging (for when you have more time and want to go gently on your batteries).

The only downside I've found is the somewhat clunky way you select conditioning or the Soft mode. You need to put the leftmost battery in, then press the button within a few seconds, then put the other batteries in. This seems a little error prone (or like something I could forget), but once you're used to it it is not hard to do.

As always I bought my Maha product from . NOTE: I don't have any financial relationship with them & pay for all my products. I just like their selection, service and they have reasonable prices. -- David Cardinal

DigitalPro Tip of The Week:

Did you know you can actually use to manage your images on your website? You can if you have Microsoft Vista or some other version of Web Folders. With Web Folders you can make your website look like a Disk Drive to your Windows machine and then just browse there in DigitalPro to view & manage your images. Because of DigitalPro's intelligent caching this works surprisingly well over any type of reasonable broadband connection.

Photo Forum News:


To Unsubscribe, please .