Author Topic: Northern Lights - Gear Check  (Read 3778 times)

Offline Mr_F

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Northern Lights - Gear Check
« on: 05 February 2014, 12:27 »
Hi People,

Well after months of deliberation / impending trip to Norway Northern Lights spotting and it's my birthday very soon, I've pulled the trigger on the items below. 

Finally decided to step up from my D5100 after a happy 1 1/2 years.  Going to sell my Nikon 10-24mm lens and have to decide whether to keep the D5100 and 35mm DX lens. 

So Full-Frame Light soaking capabilities and a step up in general image quality coupled with a large hole in the finances.

New Kit:
Nikon D610 Body
MB-D14 Battery Grip + 2 extra EN-EL15's
Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens for NIKON (AE)
Samyang 24mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC (AE) Lens, NIKON
Nikon 50mm F/1.8G (Better for Coma due to it's coatings than the F/1.4G apparently)

Already in the Kit:
3 x 16gb Sandisk Extreme Pro + 32gb Transcend SD Cards to rotate.
Redsnapper RS-324 Alloy 4 Section Tripod with RSH-528 3-Way Panning Head.
Memory Card Reader + OTG cable + Google Nexus 7 coupled up to my own personal Cloud for nightly backups.
Foam + Hand Heaters to fend off Dew and general fug!
Electrical Tape for foam and manual focus ring locking.
77mm ND filter temporarily on the 24mm for protection (Comes off for night shooting).
77mm Polarising Filter (think daytime)
Nikon 50mm F/1.8D (due to have an aperture leaver vasectomy for time lapses)
Neoprene Pouches for all lenses.
Mountainsmith Kit Cube Camera Organizer - Slots into a cheap messenger back from a market somewhere.

Delaying the 35mm and 85mm purchases due to cost :-) and don't think I will need them for Norway.
Still undecided on a filter system in general so probably not going to commit for this trip.

So two questions:
1) Am I going to miss the d5100 and lenses or would they just sit in the bag and never get taken out again?
2) Am I missing anything for my trip to Norway that I haven't thought of?

Well ok a third...
3) Is everyone who was with BT and on free Flickr premium staying with a paid Flickr premium account or moving on to something new?
61 Plate GTD 5dr, Shadow Blue, 18" Charleston's, Flat Tyre Indicator, Cruise Control, Bi-xenon (With Dynamic Curve), Storage Pack, Winter Pack and RCD 510.

Offline Ridg

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Re: Northern Lights - Gear Check
« Reply #1 on: 05 February 2014, 20:20 »

So two questions:
1) Am I going to miss the d5100 and lenses or would they just sit in the bag and never get taken out again?
2) Am I missing anything for my trip to Norway that I haven't thought of?

Well ok a third...
3) Is everyone who was with BT and on free Flickr premium staying with a paid Flickr premium account or moving on to something new?

1) Yes it's nice having a small camera for the days you don't want to carry a full size dslr
2) Cable release / remote, Personally I'd pay the extra for the D800 over the D610, I'd go for a filter system primarily for an ND grad.  I don't think I'd bother with the 24mm and would go for the 24-70 f/2.8
3) I'll be leaving and probably hosting my own, something like zen photo, flickr has been poor for some time, I've only stuck with it as it's free, their UI is dated and there are much better alternatives.

Your kit list looks like you have most stuff covered

Offline DubFan

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Re: Northern Lights - Gear Check
« Reply #2 on: 05 February 2014, 23:51 »
The kit you list is good, but why the D610 over the D600 ?
I know the D600 had some issues, but the D610 is significantly more expensive and the money saved could get you another great lens.
As Ridg suggested, I'd swap the 24mm Samyang for a 24-70 f2.8, even if it's a Sigma or Tamron version as that will give you a useful walkabout zoom range. The 14mm will be good for your landscapes/sky-scapes and long exposures.
Also I'd be wanting an everyday lens with AF, those Samyangs, although good, are only manual focus and unless you're used to focusing manually for every-single-shot, I'd want AF.
The 50mm f1.8 will be fine as f1.8 will give a narrower depth of field on a full frame sensor anyway, so you probably won't be missing much by not having the 1.4.


Personally, I would
Keep the D5100
Sell the 35mm DX lens
Buy:
Nikon D610 Body
MB-D14 Battery Grip + 2 extra EN-EL15's
Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens for NIKON (AE)
Nikon 50mm F/1.8G
Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 EX DG
Nikon 85mm f/1.8G


1) You will probably miss having a small light camera, unless you can afford to keep it as a backup, but if you get a 24-70, that'll cover more than the range of the 10-24 on a crop sensor.
You could keep the 35mm DX lens as Nikon full frame cameras can use DX lenses, but only in DX mode. So I'd sell it, keep the 5100 body and buy an 85mm.
2) The D800 would be a hell of an upgrade and a lot more money.
I would invest in a filter system. You're not likely to do this trip again soon, so considering the amount you're going to spend, I'd at least invest a little in a cheap Cokin knock-off filter holder with some genuine Cokin filters.
A big coat and warm underwear.
3) I still pay for Flickr because I don't want adverts while I browse. I've tried 500px, but there's no community about it, no connections with other togs and it's full of (rather good) pros who aren't as likely to be supportive of amateurs.

You don't say what you're hoping to get out of this trip; timelapses, stills, star-trails or a bit of everything.

Make sure that you have time between your kit arriving and you going to test it all out together. Get out in your garden and do lots of tests. You want to know exactly what buttons you need to press for setting up a timelapse, etc because you don't want to be miss-hitting buttons late at night in the Norwegian cold.

Good luck.


Offline Mr_F

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Re: Northern Lights - Gear Check
« Reply #3 on: 06 February 2014, 14:44 »
Thanks Chaps,

Good stuff here so shall go through some of my own reasoning based on the items you have chosen to comment on.

Usage: Norway will be primarily photo's, although I would like to do time-lapse with them, they are not always around for long, but a time-lapse would be a nice to have.  Long term I do have a few time-lapse projects in mind for my local area and would be good for them too.  I have tried to future-proof the purchases and make it not all about Norway, this is genuinely something for the future.

I went for the D610 over the D600 as at time of purchase they were the same on price buster, in fact today the D610 is cheaper!  Plus admit to being spooked by potential for oil spot - five weeks until the trip so would rather have the time to play than send it back and deal with a warranty issue out of the box) http://www.camerapricebuster.com/Nikon/Nikon-Digital-SLRs

D800 or rather the D800e didn't represent a value for money alternative, the D610 did everything I needed / wanted, plus, I like its two SD card slots over a CF slot.  Megapixels isn't everything and I preferred to keep the money focussed on the lenses.  Had there been a good reason why I may have gone higher.  But I had to have some kind of a budget else it would have been a D4s :-) - Kind of a VW golf mentality perhaps?!? It does everything you could need / want, so why go for something better even if you could.

On a side note: I met the CEO of a VERY large retail chain in the UK last week....drove his own Golf Mk7 GT when his staff rolled in driving Q7's and S class Mercs.

14mm and 24mm Samyangs were chosen because of:-
  • Good DXO scores.
  • Large apertures after struggling with the 10-24mm small apertures.
  • Two very good lenses cheaper than the price of one Nikon 24mm.
  • Adding the 35mm Sigma would still be the same price as one of the Nikon 14-24mm or 24-70mm lenses. (Circa £1300)
  • Past shots I regularly took at 10mm on the DX body so for me and my shooting it is a good option. 
  • David Kingham's recommended. (http://www.davidkinghamphotography.com)
  • I like primes, makes me think about composure more than zooms.
  • Manual focus on large stationary landscapes is fine with me plus autofocus often struggles with stars so would prefer the better manual focus ring.
  • Autofocus is more for 50, 85mm where it's more about people who don't stay still.

Cable-release: Going to try using the Intervalometer built into the camera, see what results I can get, otherwise its just a second bit of redundant kit.  It has an Intervalometer and a time-lapse feature, the latter I tried last night, worked well, but deleted all the jpegs once it had constructed the movie.  So tests with the Intervalometer to continue...

Clothing: Super warm thunder crackers: Check!  :laugh:

D5100 Issue: I've actually agreed to sell the D5100 now to my girlfriends father in law, he muttered something about grandchildren!! :shocked: More recent and further contemplation leads me to think that if I want small, then I will go truly small like a Fuji X100s or get one of the Nikon 1 cameras.

Flickr: I suspect I may pay the extra.  I'm a bit behind putting things up but the link for my stuff is: http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_nav/

Filters: Not had much experience with these and bit reluctant to start with them just before the trip, not many of the sites I've been reading about northern lights photography mention use of filters, other than to remove them.  I am interested long term as often daytime / evening skies are a tad bright, suspect I may leave that for another day.

If you come up with anything I've missed, do let me know.  If not happy snapping and will post a few items on my return to make you all want to go to Norway.

Mr F

PS. May be a sober week - It's > £10/pint

61 Plate GTD 5dr, Shadow Blue, 18" Charleston's, Flat Tyre Indicator, Cruise Control, Bi-xenon (With Dynamic Curve), Storage Pack, Winter Pack and RCD 510.

Offline DubFan

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Re: Northern Lights - Gear Check
« Reply #4 on: 06 February 2014, 21:19 »
The Samyang lenses are good, I've seen lots of good images from the 24mm in particular.

You mention the wider aperture, but surely that's not going to be used when you're doing a) landscapes and b) long exposure, because you'll want a bit more depth of field, so f/1.4 won't be so useful then.
That said, f/1.4 would be handy for portraits or low light photography.

Full manual focus will take a while to get used to, but for landscapes and stuff, it'll be less of an issue.

If you want to save some money, I can thoroughly recommend buying from HDEW Cameras. They sell imports, but they pay all the import tax and give you a full 3yr UK warrantee. Save you a few more pounds for lenses ;)

Norway certainly isn't a cheap place. I'm hoping to visit next year. Enjoy the trip and the new kit.


Offline hobbiniho

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Re: Northern Lights - Gear Check
« Reply #5 on: 23 February 2014, 13:01 »
dont know anything about photography kit but i love  the northern lights can literally sit outside watching them for ages  :cool: i hope you  get some decent pics, if you havent seen it before its a wonderful sight  :cool:

Offline Diamond Hell

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Re: Northern Lights - Gear Check
« Reply #6 on: 23 February 2014, 23:09 »
dont know anything about photography kit but i love  the northern lights can literally sit outside watching them for ages 

How reliable are they up your neck of the woods?
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Offline hobbiniho

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Re: Northern Lights - Gear Check
« Reply #7 on: 24 February 2014, 20:59 »
funny you should ask  :grin: facebook was awash with statuses about the northern lights last night, im currently in aberdeen at college so missed them, thing is when they happen they dont stay for long and the downside is the best nights for them are the cold frosty clear nights so sitting about watching them you get pretty cold   :grin:

Offline hobbiniho

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Re: Northern Lights - Gear Check
« Reply #8 on: 24 February 2014, 21:06 »

Offline Diamond Hell

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Re: Northern Lights - Gear Check
« Reply #9 on: 25 February 2014, 14:41 »
Sounds like the sort of thing that if you come several hundred miles to see for a few nights, you won't see sh*t.  :grin:
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