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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good afternoon everyone.

Just finished processing all of the photos I took at Grand Canyon last Tuesday.
The ones I am sharing are surplus photos that I don’t need for my work.
My best photos will be going up for sale.

As I mentioned in the prior message I was experimenting with the Fisheye lens I got about 2 weeks ago.
Unlike other lenses I have used, photos taken with this Fisheye Lens are very sharp.
At an F-stop setting of F11 the image is very sharp almost to the edge of the image.

These next 3 photos show a storm moving into Grand Canyon.
The 3rd photo shows a lightning strike on the North Rim that I captured.

Any questions feel free to reply.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Those are some great pictures for sure. What lens and camera did you use for those shots? Are you a Nikon, Sony or Canon user or some of each maybe?
As I mentioned in the posting I used a Fisheye Lens.
The photos I posted were corrected during post editing because a Fisheye produces an extreme curvature.
To be specific it was the 16mm Nikon Fisheye.
I've been using Nikon since 2010.
I started off with a Nikon D2Xs.
In 2018 I upgraded to a D810.

The Fisheye is normally a $1000 lens, but I traded in two older lenses that I didn't use much anymore and used the credit to get the Fisheye, as well as a 50mm F1.4G, and a Sigma 120-400mm lens.

Here is a link to it to the fisheye specifications.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I currently have the Nikon D3100 camera that is far more basic I believe than your D810. I use a AF-S Nikkor 28-55mm lens with a Hoya 52mm PL-CIR filter. The lens gives me a fairly nice range of field for home photos with great picture quality results. To my eye anyway.
Sorry for the late reply. I was at Grand Canyon all day.
The D810 is considered a semi-pro camera body, meaning that it can be used professionally as well as by serious hobbyists.
Pro-cameras are physically larger and have a metal frame so that they are more resistant to being dropped on the ground by accident. They are also much heavier.
But the pro-camera sensors and image capture capability are the same as the semi-pro cameras.
Since I am limited on how much weight I can carry in my backpack I chose the D810.
The D810 has the same capabilities as the professional D5, but it is smaller and lighter in weight.
The D810 has a 36 megapixel sensor, which I need for making large prints.

But in truth, it is not the camera body that determines the quality of the images, it's the lenses.
That's why I invested more in professional lenses.
To use an analogy, the camera body is like a tool box, but the lenses are the tools inside the box.

You never did say what the F-stop was for your lenses.
The lower the F-stop number on the lens the more light it can gather for the shutter speed setting.
All but two of my lenses are F2.8 which is the minimum you want for professional use.
One of my lenses is F1.4 which is extremely fast.
If yours is around F3.5 to F4 then you have the basic consumer grade lenses.
They are good for general purpose, which is probably okay for you.
But if you get into professional work you will need F2.8 minimum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The quality of the sensor is more important than the buttons and whiz-bang gadgets. If you shoot in RAW (Nikon = NEF, Canon = CR2, etc.) then only the White Balance and possibly a very small number of other settings will affect the data in the file, aka the "negative".

The D810 has a full-frame sensor and your D3100 has a cropped sensor. Full-frame (aka FX) just means that its sensor compares in size to a standard 35mm film negative, which is approximately 35mm x 24mm. The cropped sensor (aka DX) is approximately 24mm x 16mm. That comes to a crop factor of 1.5 on each side, so the FX has an area that is 2.25 times larger. (For the math-challenged, that's 1.5 x 1.5, or 1.5 squared.)

If you need large "photo buckets" (aka photon capture sites) then FX is your better choice. If you need higher resolution, then DX will get more pixels on the subject.

Both of my Nikon bodies are DX and I use almost exclusively FX lenses. Some say that I'm paying too much for good glass and then throwing away the outer portions. I say that I'm paying for good glass and using the best part it has to offer, while not even recording the edges where all lenses struggle to do well.
Sorry for the late reply, I was at Grand Canyon all day.
What you said is right for the most part.
I shoot in RAW, which is the digital equivalent of a film negative. And just like a film negative a digital RAW has to be developed by a photo editing program, such as Photoshop, Lightroom, or Affinity Photo. I currently use Affinity Photo for my work.

When people use those cell phones or little point and shoot camera, those shoot in JPEG. To use an analogy, just a RAW is the equivalent of a negative and must be developed, a JPEG image is like shooting with a Polaroid. The image is already developed based on the camera settings.
A JPEG also cannot be further developed like a RAW image. If you attempt to alter a JPEG you will get distortions. This is due to JPEGs being compressed.
TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) is uncompressed, but is still not the same as a camera RAW file.
The reason is because a RAW camera file is a Read And Write Binary Code file, and is not a true image like a JPEG or a TIFF.
A RAW file is basically all the light the camera is capable of capturing encoded as a binary file.
JPEGs and TIFF images are classified as Rasterized Bitmaps, which is actually similar to what you see on your TV screen.

Like I mentioned in a separate comment, the lenses determine the quality of the photos, not the body. The body simply controls the lenses and applies the various settings to the image captured.
And you are correct in that a RAW file only has a specific set of values applied to the image, such as white balance, ISO, and exposure metering.

On the matter of DX vs FX, the DX actually has a smaller sensor compared to the FX, so it is seeing a smaller area from the lens compared to the FX.
A lot of people misunderstand the meaning of megapixels. The megapixel rating of the camera sensor only determines the size of the print that can be made from the image.
The more pixels you have the bigger the print.

My old D2Xs was only 12 megapixels, and it was a DX, but still shot good images due to the pro-lenses I used.
However, 12 megapixels could only make a 9x12 print at 300 PPI.
The agencies I deal with started requiring a minimum of 17 to 24 megapixels around 2016, and they did not like images being upsized.
They wanted large images right out of the camera.
Therefore in 2018 I had to update to the 36 megapixel D810.
When I got the D810, however, I still had my pro-lenses FX lenses to use with it.
So even though you are using FX lenses on your DX camera, make sure to keep those lenses. They will come in handy if you decide to upgrade to a FX camera later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I do, indeed, plan to keep my FX lenses for as long as I can! The glass is more important than the body behind it. I just ordered a Nikon 24-120mm f/4.0 as a "lesser" walk-around lens for those times when I'm hiking or exploring and don't want to carry everything. It has the focal range that I want, has the speed of f/4.0 for low light, and it is an FX lens.

I had a D600, which is an FX body. I sold it to get my D500, which is a DX body. I kept my D7000, which is also DX. I plan to buy another D500 and sell my D7000 as soon as one becomes available. This will allow me to have 2 bodies that are identical, making it easier to shoot 2 cameras of the same night sky, or have a long lens on one while the other has a wide-angle lens But I digress...

I chose to have only DX bodies after shooting the same night sky with 2 cameras on a single remote shutter release. The resolution in the D600 was so much less than the D7000, and yet it has more MP and is overall a better camera body. What convinced me was the pinpricks of light from the D7000 compared to the blobs of light from the D600.

Both of them are great cameras, but my comment about FX and DX was not about being able to print large pictures or billboards, it was about resolution, and more specifically about the actual number of pixels that were exposed to the same portion of the image, which was all of those tiny little stars. By my calculation, in order to expose as many pixels as a DX sensor, the FX sensor would need to have about 5 times as many MP as the DX sensor. (I get that by multiplying 2.25 x 2.25, or 5.0625.)

The pixel pitch on a DX sensor means that they are smaller, but the same size pixels on an FX sensor would be only 2.25 times as many, not 5 times. The extra resolution of the DX happens when it takes the center of the image from the lens, which optically magnifies it by another 2.25 times. That is like having a focal length that is 1.5 times what the DX is using. Or it would need to have 2.25 times as many pixels.

In my example, my DX was using a 10-20mm lens set at 10mm, and my FX was using a 14-24mm set at 14mm. Each was on its own tripod and aimed at the same portion of the sky. The DX exposed more pixels of the same stars as the FX.

I'm not saying that DX is the right choice for everyone. I'm simply sharing that one needs to know the subject they're shooting in order to have the right tool for the job.

Bodies
FX: D600 = 24.3MP (sold)
DX: D500 = 20.9MP (keeper!)
DX: D7000 = 16.2MP (until I get another D500)
Yes, DX does have its uses. Plus a DX camera is cheaper than FX if you're on a budget.
I prefer the FX because most of the photo agencies I sell my photos through demand the highest quality.
However, another advantage of FX is that it covers a wider area so that you can custom crop the image during editing without losing pixels per inch.
Since DX is already pre-cropped you are limited if you want to do more cropping.

On the matter of lenses, my oldest lens is a 105mm F2.8 Macro I use for flowers and bugs.
My second oldest lens is a 20-35mm F2.8 that I use primarily for my lightning shots at night.
My newest lenses are a 14mm Fixed Focal F2.8 Ultra Wide Angle that I was using for my landscapes, but I have now replaced it with the 16mm F2.8 Fisheye.
I will still keep the 14mm since it is good for closeups.
The 50mm F1.4 I just got is the fastest lens I have. I have a sample photo from the canyon taken with it that I will be sharing here later.
My slowest lens is a 120-400mm Sigma. Its F-stop is F4.5 but I only use it for birds or objects that are far away.

I used to have a 70-200mm F2.8 and a 400mm F2.8 Fixed Focal

The 400mm F2.8 Fixed Focal was a top of the line lens I got back in 2010, and it cost me $7000. But it was very large and heavy. It weighed 10 pounds and was 18 inches long. No way I could fit it in a backpack and it actually made my shoulder sore when I tried to carry it around. Since I mostly used it for birds I found its use very limited.
The Sigma 120-400mm I got in its place is only 8 inches long and weighs only 3.5 pounds. Although the Sigma is a slower lens it is much easier to carry around.

Since the bulk of my work is landscape photography I decided that it was time to trade them both in for something easier to use.
Both of those lenses, however, were also kind of old and starting to show their age.
The 400mm was starting to make whining noises during focusing and the 70-200mm was giving me connection errors.
So I decided it was time to trade them in to KEH and used the credit to get my Fisheye, 50mm, and the Sigma Lens.
Since both of those old lenses had problems KEH ended up giving me almost $1600 credit for those two lenses. Although that is only a fraction of what I paid for them back in 2010 I did get 12 years of use out of them, and after I got my newer lenses I still had $292 left over which gave me some more gas money for my trips.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Learning as I go here. I guess the numbers following the "18-55mm" on the lens are the F range without printing the F. "1:3.5-5.6 G" is labeled. I have a yellow rear bumper sticker designating "Rookie" status in this discussion.
Yes, that is a basic consumer grade lens.
It is adequate for hobbyists and people just starting out and need something to learn on.
When I first got into photography back in 2003 I started off with an Olympus DSLR. Its lens was also an F3.5
I used it for some photos that are still up for sale on Adobe Stock.
Here is an old lightning photo I took with it back in 2006 with the Olympus.
This has the Adobe watermarks on it since it is still up for sale on their site and continues to make me money even to this day.
However, as the photography agencies began to require higher resolutions and more detail I had to upgrade to Nikon in 2010.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well, if you are able to make money with lightning shots, you would do well to live or visit here in central Florida where we have lightning shows near every day for weeks on end. Rain and thunder storms have a especially violent nature here in Florida. If you have ever experienced it here you would know what I am talking about.
I haven't been to Florida since I was a kid.
If gas was not so high I might make a trip there one day.
I do know that Florida is high on the list when it comes to the amount of lightning, but Arizona also has a lot of lightning.
We have the summer monsoon storms that can be quiet spectacular.
During a photo trip to Grand Canyon a few weeks ago I was caught in a lightning storm while hiking.
The strikes were coming down within a few hundred feet of my location. I would see the flash and hear the bang just a fraction of a second later. I could even smell ozone and burned wood in the air since I was in the forest at the time. I actually captured a few of the strikes in the canyon before the rain started pouring down on me.
Here's a link to one of the strikes I caught before the storm reached my location.
By the way, my lightning photos are my best sellers.

I did some checking and Texas actually has the most ground to cloud lightning strikes, but Florida was listed as the most lightning fatalities.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The flash-bang interval is exactly how we rate our lightning close calls here. And then there is the destroyed home electronics that get toasted when the lightning travels from the tree through the roots across the wet ground to the house ground rod and into the house. Ground fault is a must!
You can actually measure the distance by the thunder delay.
As you might know, sound travels at roughly 1000 feet per second.
A mile is exactly 5283 feet.
So if you see a flash and count 5 seconds before hearing the thunder then the bolt was almost a mile away.
With the bang sounding with only a fraction of a second delay meant they were coming down within within 500 feet of my location.
A couple of times I actually felt a sort of static zap in my hands. That meant it was dangerously close. But there was nothing I could do about it and I was still a half-mile from my Xterra, so I kept moving until I reached my vehicle. When I reached my Xterra I had to sit in it for almost an hour until the storm finally dissipated.

On the matter of ground fault interrupters, my house has lightning arrestors built into the breaker box. They're suppose to prevent a lightning surge from getting into the house circuits if a bolt strikes our Well Pump or the main power line that leads to our meter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Dang, man, that's just plain scary!
It was scary. The strikes were coming down about once every 15 to 20 seconds so it was a very powerful storm.
That's why I just kept moving until I got back to my Xterra. I figured if I kept moving I would be less of a target, especially since I was in a forest. It is never a good idea to stand right next to trees during a lightning storm.

But believe it or not, you are safer in a thick forest than on open ground. Lightning tends to strike the tallest objects in a given area. But you are still not 100% safe. If by chance a bolt strikes a tree you are walking near the bolt could bounce off of it and hit you if you're close enough.
Like I mentioned, I did feel a static charge a few times which meant the bolts were hitting the trees in my area.
I also smelled ozone and burning wood as I was walking, which is a clear sign a bolt stuck nearby.

Being a storm chaser does have its risks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Yes, my main electrical entrance has a lightning arrestor installed by the power company but in the end, lightning will do whatever it wants and find a way to do it. The lightning hits the tree and kills you because you are in near contact with its roots. You would be lucky to have all your parts in the end.
We've lost power a few times during the storms, but so far no damage to our house electronics.
However, we do have insurance to cover that if it were to happen.
 
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