15 great gifts for photography geeks.

not my camera, not my picture. but it is nice, isn't it?

I have really had a lot of fun shooting pictures of things and learning about photography in the last few years. One thing I love about digital photography is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to take a lot of pictures. I have had an absolute blast playing around making pinhole lenses, taking infra red pictures, and playing around with garage sale flashes.

Here are a lot of ideas (and links!) for gifts for the photographer in your life, arranged by price from low to high. Most of these links are nikon-specific, but if you like the idea, there is definitely a canon version to be found out there! Side note: if you don’t want to read my interpretation, then you can just click here and find the list at amazon.

nikonRemote ML-3
ir remote – You can control your camera with a remote! These little guys are good for group photos, stop motion work, and for the times your camera is way out of reach. They’re cheap too!

$16 for the nikon version
and $7 for the knockoff

flash Slave
flash slave – This is a neat tiny little bit of electronics that you pop onto the bottom of a flash and it will fire whenever it sees another flash fire. These aren’t as good as the high tech versions out there, but they still do the trick a lot of the time. These can be found for $8

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nikon d40 camera external power supply hack

d40powercord crop

I have been looking for a way to add external power to my camera for a while. I have had some good ideas and even hacked together a workable prototype a while back. The problem was it wasn’t very ‘tight’ and I was always afraid I was going to reverse polarity, or short it out, and it took a lot of time to set it up every time I wanted to use it.

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$17 Arduino-based nikon IR intervalometer + code


This is one of those projects I’ve been working on for quite a while now, but never well enough to actually put it in a box! Well.. it still has no box, but it’s much closer to a boxable form.

It is a RBBB arduino clone (but any arduinowillwork) with an ir led, a potentiometer, a resistor, and some perfboard. The perfboard is as much there to help provide a little bit of wire strain relief as it is to provide a place to mount the pot. The code simply reads the pot input and converts it into a delay() function. Then it fires the IR led with the nikon-specific magic to tell my d40 to shoot.

Here is an example of one of the timelapses I have shot.

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DIY Depth of Field (dof) adapter – for sony vx2100

I love the tight dof look that you can get with cine lenses. I have always been greatly saddened by the lack of dof in consumer and prosumer cameras. I have gone through a few iterations of building different half-assed diy dof adapters. This current one is based on a cd player motor spinning a ground down cd blank with one side sanded to a matte finish. The case is a 2 outlet electrical junction box painted black inside and out. It has a nikon lens mount from a $10 macro tube jb welded to the outside, an external battery pack, and a power switch.

The theory of a dof adapter.
Something having to do with the dimensions of the image sensor and the lens optics means that most digital videocameras have very wide depth of field. What depth of field means is that if you are interviewing them sitting at their desk chair, then their desk and the wall behind them are all in focus. The range of things that are in focus is called the depth of field. By using an adapter you can control this field with lens and aperture selection.

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How to use Ac power to replace the Nikon D40 battery

I still haven’t gotten the grip I mentioned a few posts ago. I don’t know if I will. I have figured out a clumsy hack to get the job done and I might just run it this way, or perhaps clean it up a tiny bit.

This is the battery with little aluminum strips taped to it. The battery compartment is too tight for regular wires, so foil was the only way to do it.

aluminum foil wiring for battery pack d40

aluminum foil wiring for battery pack d40

This pic shows the “wires” coming out of the battery grip. I have alligator clips on a 7.3V 200Ma cell phone charger. I connect it to the foil and off we go!

battery grip showing aluminum "wiring"

The reason why I have the battery in there is because without it, there isn’t enough juice to fully actuate the shutter. I think that some kind/type of capacitor would also do this, but I’m afraid I don’t what kind would work.

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quickie Nikon lens question

I was at my local camera shop the other day and saw this lens in a junk bin. Does anyone know why? It is a nikon 135 f/3.5 that has no apparent fogging, oil on blades or fungus. It focuses and shoots fine.

nikon135 front

nikon135 front

nikon 135

nikon 135

My initial thoughts are: it has the “ears” so it can only go on a few dslr’s unmodified. It also is full manual focus and aperture. Is it that the 135 is an odd length?

Here’s a newer faster version for $1,250!

The other weird thing is that someone has scratched off the nikkor name on the front of the lens. I should have asked the shop, but does anyone know why this lens would be $5? Thanks for your guesses!

Arduino Intervalometer for my Nikon d40

After seeing this project from cibomahto a while ago, I finally got my act together and bought a $1 IR led from radio$hack so I could build an intervalometer for my SLR.

For those who don’t know an intervalometer is, it tells your computer to take a picture every given interval. This enables you to shoot video with a still camera over a long period of time. Sometimes you have two intervals on fancy ones. Those allow you to use the bulb setting on your camera. Right now it has two potentiometers to indicate seconds and minutes between shots. It is run from a nine volt battery, and I expect it to have fairly good battery life. Only time will tell. The IR LED can’t take too much juice! It has a status led to show when it is firing (for trouble shooting) and not a whole lot else.

This currently needs a housing and a interface. I am debating the merits of a small lcd vs just using a printed label to mark the pot positions. It’s pretty much spray and pray right now. At least it is adjustable!

arduino d40 ir intervalometer

arduino d40 ir intervalometer

I’m thinking about getting one of these and eliminating the pots completely.

lcd shield from nuelectronics.com

lcd shield from nuelectronics.com

Which would end up making my project very similar to this one but for a nikon.

One last thought is possibly adding the functionality to use the bulb setting and then add a bracketing ability. Isn’t technology wonderful!

powering a nikon d40 from an ac outlet

I have been shooting a lot of time lapses lately. The biggest problem with that is battery life. I have a very ghetto hack to power the camera from a cell phone charger, but I am looking for a more permanent solution. I found a fotodiox battery grip on amazon that has an internal battery, and is able to charge from the wall. Getting the right answers out of the vendor has proved to be difficult, so I’m afraid that I may just have to buy it and try it. Does anyone out there in internet-land have this already? And can anyone tell me if it will run from ac power? I am looking at multiple day long shoots, so changing batteries (and bumping the camera each time) just isn’t an option.

Here’s the link to the grip – Any opinions?

Ahhhh…. Thrift stores

I was checking out the local thrift store yesterday and I saw a few filters in their (usually just point and shoot) camera section. I grabbed them and wandered around for a while. When it was time for checkout I tested a theory I have had for a while now. Thrift stores in general (and this one in specific) are really arbitrary about their pricing. Sometimes they will give you a great price on good gear, and sometimes they will gouge you for junk.

Here is how the conversation went.

Me – Here you go!

Her – What are those things?

Me – I dunno, they look like slides, or maybe tiny picture frames.

Her – really? Let me see?

Her – oh, do you know what these are?

Me – Nope

Her – I think they are camera lenses?

Me – really? I was thinking I was going to paint on them?

Her – OK, Cool! That’ll be $1.61

Now this was for a polarizer, a Neutral Density filter and another I don’t remember. The tax alone on those three filters new would have been more than I paid for them. I feel a little bad about lying, but then again, why don’t they price their stuff before you bring it up to the register?

I love looking in thrift stores, I love finding even more!

The heavens parted, and Craigslist shone down upon me…

I’ve been getting more and more into my camera lately. The other day I was browsing Craigslist and I saw an interesting ad… Skip a few steps and I ended up with a bunch of new lenses, an old film body, and a lot of other doodads. Just because I had fun shooting it, you will find pix of the new lenses below.

I’ve also been reading the strobist a lot lately, and I was trying to get a decent light setup going. Trying is the most important part of that sentence : )

55mm nikon macro

55mm nikon macro

I’ve been shooting some time lapses with this one lately. More to come on that.

nippon 28mm f/3.5

nippon 28mm f/3.5

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