One of those update thingies…

So, it’s coming to the end of another weekend.

This last week has been chocked full of conferences, mostly not ones I’m attending in any other capacity other than techical support. The first two days were the graduate mini-conference where 1st and 2nd year postgrads gave talks on thier research so far. (I got free lunch). Wednesday was a day off from conferences. Thursday was the IT Support Staff Conference, which I attended as an attendee.. and another free lunch (stuffed guinee foul with fennel stuffing, vegiatbles and salad followed by summer pudding and cream). Friday morning was the 4th year undergraduates’ turn for a conference, talking about their projects. It’s surprising how exhausting listening to talks is!

Anyway, add to this socialising on Thursday evening and the annual finalists’ party on Friday night and I was shattered by the time the weekend came around.

Still, my new big zoom lens arrived on Thursday, after ordering it Tuesday evening. I didn’t get to play with it at all until Friday lunchtime and it was only yesterday that I really had a good change to try it out, even if it was restricted to around my house.

Sample images

Photo stuff.

Today my new Nikon 80-400mm VR lens arrived in a big box.. within this box was a slightly smaller box (the actual Nikon box).. within this box was a case.. within this case was the lens. Although the lens is quite chunky, it’s only about a quarter of the volume of the outer box. What a waste of space.

Anyway, I’ve finally managed to fix the set-up on my PC after a failed install of Nikon Capture stopped all the Nikon applications working properly and the NEF (raw) picture format convertor from working at all.

Having done this, I downloaded the test images I took with the Sigma 28-300mm lens. Well, the lens is just about good enough to be usable on the 6 megapixel D70, but the D200 just shows up the poor image quality of the lens too much.

Tomorrow I have a photo session to do at the Departmental undergraduate finallists’ party. This will mean that I’ll have my cameras with me and I can check out the new lens at lunchtime. It’ll be interesting to see how the VR (vibration reduction) system works.

Lens quandary

For my trip to Tromso in September I want to take a good, long focal length zoom lens with image stabilisation. For the Nikon there are basically two options, the Nikon Nikkor 80-400mm VR and the Sigma 80-400mm OS lenses.

Now, both lenses have there good points and their bad points:

+ It’s guaranteed to work with the D200.
+ It’s has some good reviews.
+ It’s a Nikon lens and hence has good quality control at the factory.
+ It’s not large and bulky for what it does and only weights 1.2Kg.
– It costs £1100.
– It has a slow camera driven AF.
– Some reviews think that the image quality at the long end isn’t as good as they would expect (but others say that it’s good).
– This lens uses a first generation Nikon optical stabilisation system which can get confused.

+ Reviews have consistently given good reports on the optics.
+ The Sigma optical stabilisation is top-notch.
+ The lens only costs about £700.
– There’s no guarantee that a lens I’d buy would have the latest firmware which is compatible with the D200.
– Sigma’s quality control is, to put it mildly, variable. Though as this is one of their “professional” EX brand lenses it’s likely to be OK.
– Although the lens has an internal focusing motor, it’s still slow.
– The lens is big and heavy.. 14″ at full zoom and weighs in at 1.7Kg.

So, which do I go for? Do I save £400 and risk getting a bad copy of the lens or have to send the lens off to have a firmware upgrade or get the Nikon and have to worry about the real image quality at the long end and the possible problems with the first generation optical stabilisation?

Hmm.. decisions, decisions..

This afternoon I had a very enjoyable shop in Sainsbury’s. It was almost empty, it was easy to get a small trolly and the queues for the check-outs were short.

I think it was something to do with a group of strange men kicking an inflated bladder around a field on the continent, but I can’t be sure.

The return of the lens.

Well, after discovering that me repaired Sigma lens was defective I phoned up the company on Monday and they asked that I send the lens back and that they’d replace it with a copy of their latest version (which seems only different in that it has a DG designation painted upon it). So, off it went on Tuesday.

Yesterday I got a letter saything that they’d received my lens and that they’d send out the replacement when new stocks arrived. I expected that I’d have to wait a couple of weeks, but no. To my surprise a parcel arrived this morning.

Well, I do hope that this lens is actually usable. I’ll have to try it out over the weekend. Seeing that the weather looks fair, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem, other than having to do all those annoying household things such as mow the jungle and wash the kitchen floor.

Well, fingers crossed anyway. Whatever happens I don’t think I’ll bother sending the lens back if it is defective. I’ll just take the loss and put it down to a bad buy. At least I did get a few reasonable shots out of the purchase which look O.K. when printed out on A4 and put on the wall.


I’ve just finished watching the film version of “The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” on Sky movies. Here’s my short, one word review…


O.K., here’s my longer review…

This version is a Nutrimat machine rendition of the classic.. i.e. it’s almost but not quite entirely unlike the original. I’m not going to say much about the changes in the story (other than they are ill thought out and in a lot of ways just a vehicle to get John Malkovic in the film) but the whole thing was a mess.

The jokes, when left intect were spoken without comic timing. Where there should have been suspense there was deadpan. Jokes were either truncated so that they lost their punchline or were so cut that they didn’t make any seanse at all, and hence were unfunny. Oh, and they used an irony extraction tool.. except on the producers.

A case in point for all of the above can be seen during the end credits. There is shown the “guide” rendition of the Valhurg and Gurgugvant battle fleet joke. There were no time constraints here as the credits were rolling and would do so for another few minutes. Yet, the whole sequence was butchered, removing all the parts about the battle fleets destroying whole planets etc. which made it sound as if the fleets were mighty, fearsome and dangerous.. i.e. building the whole point of the gag, so that when they were eaten by the small dog you thought “so what?” The punchline of the dog eating the “dangerous, hellish fleet” was lost. This was a microcosom of the whole film.

Oh, and did anyone else think that the 1960s retro comic animations for the book just felt stupid? Give me the sophisticated complexity of the originals any day.

I think I’ll go and flush my brain out with soap and water now. It feels dirty.

Lens trouble.

Yesterday I had returned to me the two Sigma lenses I sent off for work to be done on them.

The 24-70mm F2.8 lens had its chip upgraded so that it would work properly with the Nikon D200 camera. The 28-300mm lens went in because, basically, it was out of focus.

Anyway, seeing as it was a nice day today I was able to test both the lenses out. The 24-70mm works perfectly. However, the 24-70mm is a bit of a lemon.

Sigma told me that they’ve replaced the complete optical package within the lens (and the reason for the delay in returning the lens was because they had to order this from Japan). Before it left, the lens, other than being slightly out of focus, worked properly. However, now it won’t focus beyond about 100ft. That’s right, the focusing system is broken! So, I’m going to have to go through the hassle of sending the thing back. What a pain.

You have to wonder if they actually test the lenses at all before shipping them!