Should I go digital for wildlife?

Discussion in 'Nature' started by alex_thomson|1, Jun 4, 2005.

  1. I currently shoot film, and have no desire to go digital for
    landscape - but what about my wildlife work?

    I always intended to buy a (Nikon) 500mm f4, backed up by a 300mm
    f4 - both used with a 1.4xTC. This is an expensive and heavy package.

    So, now I am considering getting a D70 camera, a 200-400mm f4 zoom
    and a 1.4TC. I am assuming that the digitial crop factor will allow
    me to cover the same focal distances as the package above (but
    cheaper and less weight).

    Is this correct? Will both packages cover the same focal distances?

    Also, what size would a print have to be before I noticed the
    differences in optical quality between film and digital (shooting in

    And, finally, shooting in RAW, is it possible to get, say, 10
    exposures in 10 seconds?

    Thanks for your help - this is a big decision!
  2. Do you really need a second opinion on whether or not the 500/4 + 1.4 TC and a 200-400 + 1.4 TC will have the equivalent coverage or not?!

    A good image D70 makes very good 20x30 cm prints, may be larger depending on your requirements. A 645, MF film would out do this easily.

    In principle you can make 1 frame/sec exposures with a D70.

    If I were you, I would spring for a D2X with some good lenses. More expensive but more reliable, faster and better.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Nikon's D70 is a low-end DSLR with very mediocre AF capabilities. It is fine for more cascual photography and still wildlife. You are unlikely to be happy with it for wildlife action photography.

    Yes, you can shoot 1 frame per second over 10 seconds but probably only in JPEG. I am not that familiar with the D70 but I doubt that its buffer can handle that many RAW files. But as we discussed in another thread, that wouldn't be my typical usage pattern. For wildlife action, I tend to shoot in bursts, maybe 4, 5 frames all within a second. That is usually how long the peak of the action lasts, and then I'll wait for another interesting moment.

    For action photography, Canon's 1D Mark 2 (1D not 1Ds) would be a better choice or if 4MP is ok with you, Nikon's D2H/D2Hs or perhaps the D2X would be better choices but at a much higher cost.

    If you are planning to buy a $5000 lens in the 200-400mm/f4 AF-S VR Nikkor, I would put a better camera behind it.
  4. Just to clarify,

    I will stick with film and a Nikon F100 for the 500mm f4 and 300mm F4 combination

    and buy a new digital Nikon body for the 200-400mm f4 lens

    That's what I am asking about if they are comparable focal distances.

  5. The 200-400mm would be about a 300-600mm, and a 420-840mm with a 1.4TC on a digital body.
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Yes, Nikon's 200-400mm/f4 AF-S VR will cover the same angle of view on any Nikon DSLR as your 300 and 500mm lenses do on a 35mm film SLR.

    The point I was making earlier is that Nikon's current sports/action DSLRs is the 4MP D2Hs and the earlier D2H it replaced. The more affordable D70 and its replacement the D70s have some limitations in frame rate, buffer size, AF speed ....

    Another issue to keep in mind is that it is difficult to travel with multiple big lenses. I once got into a major fight (verbally) with a ground craw at the Amsterdam Airport because I had a 500mm/f4 and a 300mm/f2.8 in my carry-on luggage. I can't imagine traveling by air with a 500mm/f4 and a 200-400mm/f4, which are about the same size. However, I see Alex Thompson has a South Africa e-mail address. If you only travel locally by car, maybe this is a non issue.
  7. Questions about what size print from digital will equate to a print made from film often seem to provoke some heated responses. You can see arguments on both sides by searching the archives. In summary, I think it is fair to say that many or most users of current DSLRs feel they can get roughly equivalent print size and quality from 6MP digital files and 35mm film, although there are some strengths and weaknesses to each medium. Since this is a big investment for you, you really should look at some A3 enlargements from digital, which most high-end camera stores should have available, and judge for yourself.

    As others have said, a D70 may not be the best match for your needs. The D2X is much faster, has much better AF performance, and a much better viewfinder, as well as better overall quality. It also offers a high speed crop mode, producing 6MP files at 8 frames per second with a 2X "enlargement" factor, i.e., the 200-400 would have a field of view equivalent to 400-800 without a TC so there would be no loss of a stop. In high speed crop mode, the D2X is capable of shooting 29 RAW files in a little less than 4 seconds, and it has an AF system that is capable of following the action. In normal mode, the D2X produces 12MP files at up to 5fps with a 1.5X enlargement factor.
  8. D70 can shoot in raw circa 3 FPF for the first 4 images, and after 1 FPS....

    so it s enough

    it s not so bad cameara, also AF is not so bad

    but i were in you , i will not buy the 200 400 , for me cost too much for the aperture it has, i would go for the sigma 120-300 F 2.8 and with a 1,4 converter, you ll have a zoom and a 2.8 lens

    you can couple the simga with a D2x and have really big performance ( i think sigma + D2x cost less then 200 400 only)

    just an advise
  9. Yes, the D70 can shoot 10 RAW files in 10 seconds without a second thought (I just tried and it can do even slightly more). However, as Shun pointed out, it doesn't have the world's fastest or most accurate AF system. It appears that firmware 2.0 fixes some of the AF problems (I just shot 200 images with FW 2.0 and only one was out of focus which is better than expected) but if you're going to get that kind of expensive glass, it's worth putting more money into the body so that you don't miss opportunities because of the camera. The AF system of the D70 is not as bad as the viewfinder! It's difficult to see what's in focus.

    However, it is more important to have the right glass, and if you have the money for a 200-400, I would go for that first and get the D70 to get started with. Once you have enough money for a D2X, get that and use the D70 as backup. Or if a D200 comes out that should be ok also. The D70 teaches you a lot of things about digital. Another possibility is that you could look up a 2nd hand D2H - which has a superb AF system but only 4 MP. It should be great for action but you might have problems making large prints of landscapes with it.
  10. Thanks for you answers. These are helpful as I know very little about digital photography.

    Unfortunately, I cannot afford an expensive digital body and expensive glass at the moment. So, I'm concentrating on the lens for the moment.

    My line of thought was:
    - I think I've outgrown my Sigma 50-500mm (too slow, need some more reach)
    - so, I'll buy a 500mm f4 and a 300mm F4 lens for my film bodies, and use TCs
    - then I thought about the 200-400mm f4, which would cover the same focal distance combined with a digital body (which all told would be a cheaper option, and much lighter than the two primes).

    I guess I'm asking if the 200-400mm is a good all round wildlife lens, capable of producing sharp digital pictures. I'd hate to spend all that money and then wish I has stuck to Plan A (ie keep with film and a 500mm f4).
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I don't have the 200-400 VR so that I cannot give you any first-hand experience. However, it was discussed several times in the Nikon Forum as well as this forum. AFAIK it is a top wildlife lens in every way.

    However, keep in mind that 400mm is not all that long on a film body. If you shoot mainly larger mammals such as lions, elephants, cheetas ..., it is fine. If you shoot a lot of birds, it is kind of short. On a Nikon DSLR, 400mm should work quite well. However, for birds, you can always use more focal length.

    And I'll say it one more time. If you are spending so much money on a 200-400mm VR, I would put a DSLR that is better than the Nikon D70/D70s behind it.
  12. Hi Alex,

    Here's a fairly recent thread regarding the 200-400mm with some photos taken with that lens.

    I'm a fan of the 500mm f/4, but that's a personal preference and a lot depends on what types of subjects (size) you are interested in. Most often I use a 1.4x with the 500mm on a DSLR... for birds. Cheers, -Greg-
  13. Alex, Re: D70- it is capable of making sharp pictures when you use an excellent lens such as the one you are contemplating.

    I tested a 200mm f/3.5 ED lens with and without a 2X TC. It was total manual focusing, so I can not answer about the AF speeds. I did get very sharp pictures with it.

    However, I would still suggest that you may want to think about a more robust/reliable body (D2X) with better capability to make better use of the 200-400 f/4 zoom.
  14. I've never been much of a wildlife photographer but since getting a D2H - which I intended to use primarily for action oriented photography and stuff requiring quick turnaround - I've tried my hand at photographing birds.

    The great thing about digital is it enables lots of shots. Once you've paid for the camera and memory cards it costs only time to review the shots.

    Shooting a lot improves your chances of getting a good shot. From that perspective, for someone like me who is inexperienced at wildlife photography, that's a good thing.

    There are downsides. Reviewing all those shots takes time, more time than I'd anticipated. So does post processing. Batch processing can speed things up but you need plenty of computer for that - decent CPU speed (an 800MHz P3 or equivalent is probably good enough), fast hard drive and at least 512MB RAM, preferably more. Right now my own PC is in storage since selling our house last year and the PCs I've been borrowing time on have only 128MB and 256MB RAM - they choke on batch processing.

    It's quicker to flip through proof prints from color negative film or to review a batch of slides. With slides I can tell at a glance whether it's well enough exposed to keep; if not, I pitch it out. With digital files there's always the temptation to try to rescue poor exposures just because the shot was good otherwise. Again, this takes time.

    If your budget is tight I'd say it's a good idea to buy the best lenses you can afford now and a D70 to start out with. Even the upcoming D50 will let you get your feet wet. Neither will focus as quickly as a D2H, D2Hs or D2X, but some folks manage to get some pretty good shots with these "lesser" dSLRs. Later on you can decide on whether a D2H will meet your needs or whether you should try to squeeze a D2X into the budget.

    FWIW, I think the D2H can make for a very good dSLR for wildlife photography, but you'll need maximum magnification or get as close as possible. It doesn't lend itself well to up-sampling of small crops from a full frame. It's also noisy above ISO 400, but who shoots wildlife with ISO 400 film anyway? Virtually every serious wildlife photographer shoots ISO 50 or 100 film and waits for better light rather than shooting faster film.
  15. I know Shun's going to pounce on this but I'm saying it anyway ...

    Just be sure that you understand what you're giving up when you give up your film. Think it all-the-way through.

    I know its easy to be seduced by digital, and for wildlife I think it is smart (if you don't care about film). Wildlife is unpredictable and you can go through soooo many frames.

    But when the day is done, you will have a bunch of electronic files in a little box. There are no slides or negatives to leave to anyone. Your loved ones will have to cherish your chosen electronic storage device (and understand how, and be willing to, care for it).
  16. "But when the day is done, you will have a bunch of electronic files in a little box. There are no slides or negatives to leave to anyone. Your loved ones will have to cherish your chosen electronic storage device (and understand how, and be willing to, care for it)."

    In case some are unaware of this possibility, let me point this out: It is entirely possible to transfer a digital image to a transparency or a paper print or even glass plate so that one need not worry about the images languishing in a little box.
  17. LEX
    the locic of waiting right light for 50 and 100 iso is old

    now with digital (i.e. canon high end dsrl)you can have at 400 iso cleaner images then the velvia 50 iso

    i talked with a nikon dsrl specialist (not a representative) who showed me the D2x and said that the wide open tele lens like 400 mm 2.8 in the digital age are no more necessary, couse with digital you can have totally grain free images at 200 iso or 400 (200 iso is 2 stop of advantage on velvia 50)and you have better files

    you have also to consider that a D2x (or 1Ds)equal in resolving power a Medium format film camera, so you have not only better iso performance, but also a medium format camera in a small high speed camera
  18. and ON D70 focus speed:

    i used all the nikon DSRL and also the F5 Digital made by kodak (DCS 760)

    and i can say you that the D2h with a slow lens is much slower then the D70 with a AFS or HSM lens

    second: the image quality of the D70 outperform the D2H

    third: i think for wildlife the af of D70 is also much then you need

    and if you upgrade with the new firmware, you ll have not problem also to lock with focus a small bird in fly

    but if you photograph mammals the af speed of D70 is also 10 time faster then you need

    btw also a used D2H could be a good choice,sure the feel of the D2h in your hand is better...
  19. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have been using a Nikon D100 for almost 3 years. The D100 uses the same Multi-CAM 900 AF module as the D70/D70s. I understand that the new firmware has improved the AF capability on the D70, but using the D100 with my 500mm/f4 AF-S is quite frustrating to a point that I have promised myself that I will never buy any DSLR based on the Multi-CAM 900 AF module (for any action photography). When your AF system gives you a relatively large percentage of out-of-focus shots, any great optics in front of it is kind of meaningless.

    Gloria, I am disappointed by your comments, but I won't debate it any more.
  20. SHUN: i dont know what say you, maybe i m wrong or maybe you have a defective af sistem

    i think the D100 problem is not the multicam 900, but the shutter lag compared to D1 and D2 series, responsivness

    i dont notice BIG difference in af SPEED between the F5 Dcs 760 and the D70, but is only my opinion

    GLORIA: i also dont understand your avversion vs digital, to be true for me the new digital sistem like the 4/3 olympus with some of the best lenses ever made after leica (for see some opions can ceck this link: )
    OUTPERFORM the old velvia slide in every way (iso quality, resolving power and so on)

    i think hard to work professionaly with the old 35 mm film camera couse the market change, and with the digital technology many other photographers can shoot more and better (iso speed) then with the old technolgy) and if you want to be in the market, this is the true: is Sad but true

    and i dont talk about the 1Ds series of canon, that is on the par with the MF

    and maybe with the new 22MP mamiya ZD in only 1,5 kg of weight you can outpermorm also the Large format, and carry it in a small bag like you carry your canon elan

    i think is not so bad have a large format camera ready to shoot in every time

    of course Gloria you are free to follow what you like more

    Regards to both

  21. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Angelo, the problem with Nikon's Multi-CAM 900 AF system dated back before DSLRs are so popular. A few years ago there were several threads about AF problems shooting things such as children soccer (football) games with the Nikon N80 film SLR, which also uses the 900. As soon as the photographer switched to the F100, which uses the same Multi-CAM 1300 AF module as the F5 and all D1 DSLRs, the problem was solved. Nothing else such as photographer, lenses, etc. was changed.

    But even the 1300, which debuted with the F5 back in 1996, is pretty old now. Nikon's latest AF module is the Multi-CAM 2000, which is on all D2 family DSLRs and the F6. The 2000 gives you 9 cross-type AF points.

    I have no problem whatsoever with the shutter lag on the D100. The slow frame rate (3 fps) and small buffer size (only 4 RAW files) are serious drawbacks in action photography. But neither the D100 nor the D70/D70s was designed for action work, so those problems should surprise no one.
  22. "Should I go digital for wildlife?"

    A simple answer is yes, you will sooner or later. The technology has matured to the point that it is completely viable. It's all a matter of researching the equipment options and selecting what works best for you. As i mentioned earlier, much depends on subject type and size.

    One trend I have noticed is that (especially with the latest breed of DSLR's) many people end up photographing birds even if they know little about them and didn't give them much attention before. Perhaps it's a mix of aethetics and challenge. Hopefully the world becomes a bit more habitat conservation concious in the process.

    And you will be able to track and archive the results... no problem there. :)

  23. I find the question a little surprising. In my country (Norway), virtually all pro nature photographers work digital today. The customers and stock libraries won't accept anything else than digital files.
  24. Angelo, you're entitled to your opinions but you're wrong on just about every count.

    The 20D does not produce cleaner images at ISO 400 than Velvia 50. And I've never been a big fan of Velvia. But it produces far better resolution and finer grain than the 20D at ISO 400. Sure, it's possible to reduce what noise there is in 20D captures at ISO 400, but true resolution can't be improved. You'd need an EOS 1Ds Mark II or D2X to make such claims.

    Even then there are certain advantages to film, including greater latitude with color negative film. Scanning takes more time but until digital sensors improve there will be compromises either way.

    I'm not sure what kind of "specialist" you spoke with but I doubt the veracity of any photographer who wouldn't prefer a faster lens. Even if the faster lens must be stopped down to equal the slower version, the faster lens offers a brighter view for easier composing and focusing. Otherwise pros wouldn't spend many times the price of a slower lens for a seemingly marginal increase in speed.

    It's incorrect to make a sweeping statement that the D2X or EOS 1Ds Mark II equal medium format in image quality, particular 6x7 format. And these cameras are certainly not smaller or lighter in weight than some medium format cameras.

    If you really had done an extensive, unbiased comparison of Nikon dSLRs you'd know that the D70 does not autofocus more quickly and positively with an AF-S lens than a D2H with a "slow" lens. By "slow" I don't know whether you mean the aperture or an AF-Nikkor (non-SWM type), but it's inaccurate at any rate. I compared the D70, D100, 20D and Olympus E-1 extensively before buying a D2H. Low light performance - a prerequisite for my preferred shooting style - showed that the D70 with a fast AF-S Nikkor couldn't keep pace with the D2H and a slower AF-Nikkor. D2H autofocusing isn't simply faster, it's better in dim lighting and on low contrast subjects and doesn't need a built in AF assist lamp. With the AF assist lamp on the SB-800 and SC-29 flash cord the D2H can autofocus in near darkness.

    It's equally inaccurate to claim that the D70 produces superior images to those of the D2H. A look at full frame samples from any credible reviewer will show that images from the D70 and D2H are almost indistinguishable from each other. There are differences in characteristics such as noise at higher ISOs, tone, color, etc., that make comparisons challenging, but image quality is entirely comparable between these two cameras.

    Nevertheless, I agree that the D70 is probably adequate for many types of wildlife photography. However, photographing birds in flight is extremely challenge even for the D2H, which has more focus points and which autofocuses faster.

    If excellent low noise, high ISO performance is a priority even the upcoming D50 may be a better choice than the D2H, altho' there will be some compromise in AF performance. The sample images I've seen online from the D50 at ISO 1600 are excellent, assuming no post processing was done.
  25. Lex of course i have not the True, couse true is often subjective

    as my small experience as free lance photographer i have done some test with the varios tecnologies, i began with a pentax P30 3 years ago ( i m young:) and used a mamiya 6x7, pentax 6x7 , then eos 1 , and then only last year switched to digital....i owned and tried in this year the canon DSRL system, nikon and olympus (now i have only some nikon lens and starting with my new E 4/3 olympus system)

    1) yes maybe at 400 iso the 20D is not better images then velvia, but at 200 iso for my experience outperform the 50 velvia

    2) 20D has cleaner files then 1Ds and especially then D2x, i saw that 20D has the cleanest 3200 iso in the digital world, outperform also the 1DMII (both at the top of category for noise performance)

    but you cant say D2x has better noise, is worst, and of a lot!;)

    3) for debate 1Ds vs MF, you can see the carefully test of michael reichmann with the old 1Ds 10,9 MP vs Pentax 6x7 with provia and scanned with high end drumm scanner

    4)about AF speed, i m not so expert, i can say only that last year i was lucky and had the opportunity to cover professional basketball in europa (euroleague)like many sport photographers know basketball is one of the sport that push more the capabilities of the AF system of a camera

    i used D1 and D1h nikon camera (F5 autofocus system), and i noticed that also that with the non AFS lens like the wonderful for me tamron 28 105 2.8 is at limit the AF system for cover basketball (couse there are many change of directions in basketball)

    i was so crazy one night that i went to cover an important match (last 2 years european champions Maccabi Tel Aviv) with ONLY MY canon 300D + a canon 80 200 L F 2.8 (non usm lens)

    by the way i had not more problem then with the D1h with AF
    but the files of the 300D were CLEANER and better in all aspect then the D1H, wow....I SAID!

    i tried also D70 and had no problem

    so i dont know how can a nature phtographer have problem with the D70 photographing mammals or other animals....

    FOr the debate on D2h, yes the AF system is also a small improvment on the D1 and D1H, but i alway refused the idea to spend 3-4000 euro for a 4 MP camera, and i can swear you that the 6MP (d70, 300D) outperform the D2h in resolving power (details) and iso performance, and when you say reviewrs dont see difference, sure is NOT IN DETAILS THAT THE camera resolves, a 6MP resolve more then a 4 MP, and i can swear you that my New Olympus E300 8MP resolve more details then the 6MP kodak dcs 760 and then nikon D70, i tested it carefully!

    this are my ideas, but is only my opinion:)

    PS last month i was to photograph seagull with my DCS 760 , with an old sigma 70 210 f 2.8 (NON HSM) and i can swear you , also the big af system of F5 made me impossible to focus at 210 mm on the sea!!!it cant lock the focus, i saw totally blurred images in the enourmous viewfinder of the 760 (ahh i never saw a nikon DSRL with so bright viewfinder, if you can try it!;)
    this mean for me that the HSM or USM or AFS in the lens is more important then the difference in AF system of the camera ( OF COURSE ALSO THAT IS VERY important, couse an AFS lens on a D2H focus very very fast)

    i like to experiment equipment

    only my 2 cent

    my work inclusive basketball is on my site (i have done by myself so is not still perfectly:)
  26. Digital looks like a pit of snakes at this point doesn't it at this point? However, this is kind of a no-brainer if you are after small birds or difficult insects. Digital will allow you to bag shots you would miss otherwise. There are a bunch of reasons why digital photography is for the birds (not sure who I am quoting). It sounds like you will be able to switch bodies back and forth, so why not? If you have the money, it should be fun. If you are more interested in large mammals at moderate distances, you may have some head-scratching to do.
  27. "Digital looks like a pit of snakes at this point doesn't it at this point?"

    Er, no. It's an easy and natural progression. 3 to 4 yrs ago it was a tougher decision. Today it's quite simple. I've managed to photograph a few snakes with my DSLR, but never as many as I wish (tough critters to locate). If you happen to find a pitfull of them, let me know. :) -Greg-
  28. taken in Costa Rica with a DSLR
  29. Before I launch into a lengthy (and probably tedious) digression, I'll say that if a photographer expects to compete on a professional level as a wildlife photographer there's almost no alternative: Digital is practically a must.


    Angelo, that article on is often cited as an example of the superiority of digital to medium format. I read it when it was first published and have re-read it a couple of times since then

    With all due respect to Michael Reichmann - and I do respect the work he and others have done on that website - comparing high resolution digital files with scanned negatives or slides is specious from the beginning. Negatives were designed to be printed onto light sensitive paper. Slides were designed to be projected.

    Scanning film is far too heavily dependent on the characteristics of the hardware, software and choices made by the person doing the post processing for the results to ever be entirely comparable to digital captures or to be representative of the choices that might be made by other photographers. For one thing, scans exaggerate grain that is not visible in prints on light sensitive paper.

    I'm fortunate to live in Fort Worth, Texas, where the Amon Carter Museum holds the bulk of the Eliot Porter photographic estate. Porter was an early proponent of dye transfer color printing, long regarded as one of the more vivid and archival forms. Last year's showing of some of Porter's work included a demonstration of the various choices he made in deciding on a finished version of the same negative.

    This is only one illustration of the fallacy of trying to make 1:1 comparisons between digital captures and film. There are many, many ways to screw up film scans and the resultant prints on a grand scale - I've seen many such examples and committed many such atrocities myself. Many one hour minilabs can produce better prints from color negatives than most photographers can who dabble in home scanning and printing.

    Comparing online examples of digital captures that have been tweaked using post processing that is primarily designed for digital output with scanned film that is subjected to an essentially incompatible workflow is the ultimate in fallacy.

    The only fair comparison is to compare prints made from digital captures using the appropriate digital workflow with prints from negatives on light sensitive paper made using the appropriate traditional workflow. I've seen this at local arts shows and the real world results tell the tale: medium format film is still superior for large prints viewed up close.

    Naturally there are two problems with this.

    One, it's becoming more and more difficult to have top notch prints made the traditional way. My favorite local lab stopped developing film or offering prints on light sensitive paper last year. They've gone strictly digital. The results are distinctly inferior but they've been forced to go with the economic trend, which currently includes the fact that consumers and clients are all too willing to accept inferior results in exchange for quick turnaround.

    Two, digital will eventually catch up with film and traditional prints in every respect. It hasn't happened yet, but it will happen. However, some folks will choose to continue using the traditional processes for aesthetic, not practical, reasons.

    There's no doubt that the digital capture and workflow process is superior for convenience and quick turnaround. For many, many photographers, that convenience becomes so paramount that they refuse to acknowledge the fact that they have accepted certain compromises in exchange for these conveniences.

    I've never denied that I've accepted certain compromises when using digital cameras to accomplish certain tasks. Likewise, I accepted a compromise (and, rather stupidly, forced my client to accept a compromise) last year when I insisted on using film for a job that required a quick turnaround. Due to a lab delay the client had to wait two days instead of one for the photos. If I'd been using digital I could have given them burned CDs the next morning after the nighttime shoot. That's the main reason I bought my D2H - quicker turnaround.
  30. Greg, This green one, does it have a "tooth" (or a pointy needle like thing) on its upper lip or snout?

    The ones I have seen in India (luckily not too close as they are very difficult to notice!) have them and they use it strike the eyes and ward off any unwelcome intruders. They are very graceful on vines.
  31. Hi Vivek, I believe this particular "new world" reptile is a rear-fanged snake, meaning that it is mildly venomous and has its fangs in the back of its mouth... for subduing lizards. It is not dangerous for people, perhaps unless someone picked one up and was bit. This guy was hanging around in front of a gift shop, and I was really happy for the rare opportunity to see it (invisible in the forest).

    The snakes we have to keep a very careful watch for in Costa Rica are pit vipers like the fer-de-lance. Would love to see India's reptiles... some from a distance. :) -Greg-
  32. Thanks, Greg! I have had many a close encounter with a few different snakes (none dangerous). Among the ones I know, only the Cobra has a distinct smell that indicates its territory (maybe others also have them but I am not aware). Soon, the monsoon season will start in the south west India and it is not that uncommon to find bundles (upwards of a few hundred) of snakes. Vivek.
  33. Lex, thanks for one of the more balanced, thoughtful and non-hysterical discussions I've seen of this subject on this forum.

    BTW, what the heck is a "perpendicularity consultant"?
  34. Gary, I appreciate your comment. I was wondering this morning whether I had actually written something sensible or had merely indulged myself in yet another rant.

    I must admit that having gradually accepted digital captures as a legitimate means to an end, my opinions have changed somewhat. I'm still not ready to give up film and I hope I'll never have to. In fact, I'm hoping to put together another b&w darkroom as soon as I get resettled. I'm just more comfortable standing at an enlarger than sitting at a computer.

    But after spending three or four years with a P&S digicam and about three months with a D2H, I can't deny the convenience or speed, which can be essential to certain kinds of photography.
  35. Alex,
    Although it is certainly a big leap from considering a D70 to a D2X, and throwing in big glass on top of it, you might want to bite the bullet. It could possibly fulfill your landscape needs as well. I am not sure what you shoot landscapes with now, but D2X files certainly blow the socks off of 35 mm Velvia scans.

    I haven't been this excited about a camera body since I first got my F5. It is certainly a lot of money to spend on a camera body, but when I think of all the rolls of film that I have thrown away, particularly in shooting wildlife - it is slightly less painful.

    Don't overlook the hidden costs of digital though. Backups, storage, field storage, flash cards, software, AC adapters, etc, etc, all add up to the bottom line. It just doesn't stop with the camera and a lens or two.

  36. Alex,

    Digital has its place IMHO. If you were a pro, making a living thro photography or if you were a 'soccor mom' type who wants to make casual snap shots of special occations.

    If this is a hobby/art interest of yours, or if you value your work and would like to keep it archived for a lifetime, digital might not be a good idea. The main problem I have with digital is archivability. Digital media will not last more than 5 - 10yrs. May be in 10yrs from now someone will invent a new file format that is super duper and I will be stuck with image files with little support for them. Oh, then there are other things, number of shutter click, white balance, software, etc.

    And, I think a digital camera in photography is like taking a machine gun to duck hunting.
  37. Whatever you do, when you read photo advice on the web... take a look at the work of the advisor. The old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" holds up as well as ever. Cheers, -Greg-
  38. Greg was referring to me :) Anyways, Alex, here is a test shot (a crop) from D70 + a 2X TC + 200mm f/3.5 ED Nikkor. Manually focused and metered. No tweaking was done. Bird was in a local zoo.
  39. Manoj - It is pure speculation on what the future will hold for long term archivability of digitally captured images. One storage media never completely vanishes when a new one shows up to replace it. There is always a transition where you could migrate your photo archives over if you were concerned about longevity.
  40. Greg, I recommend that you watch Raiders of the Lost Ark for typical snake pit. Actually about all we have around here are garter snakes. They come out to sun en masse during the bright part of the day in spring after I have put the camera away.

    Lex, there are still quite a few markets that accept color transparencies only. As for photo agencies, some of them accept images only from 11mp canon and above. The requirement minimum is likely to go up, not down. More snakes for the digital photographer to watch out for.
  41. You can get a used Nikon D1X at a very affordable price now. I just purchased on from KEH camera in Atlanta for $2000.00. This will give you 6mp and quick AF and a well sealed body. I currently also own a D2H but wouldn?t rely on it's 4mp size for blow up's

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