Nikkor AF 80-400mm f/4-5.6D ED-IF VR

Lens Review

Nikkor AF 80-400mm f/4-5.6D ED-IF VR on Nikon D100.

Lens Specifications

[table=5]

Introduction

2006-12-27 - Nikkor 80-400mm VR lens - 010I had the opportunity to try out this lens for about a day. I rented it for $30/day from Calumet, partly out of curiosity and for future reference. I had some high hopes for the lens for many reasons, two of which being: it is a professional level lens (as indicated by the gold band on the front) and superb focal length (80-400mm).

Lens Construction

I was expecting the entire lens to be made of metal, its not. It is mostly made of metal, but some parts such as the focus ring, focal ring, and lens hood are all made of plastic. The tripod mounting foot and most everything else is made of metal.

It does a decent feel when one is holding the lens. It does partly make sense to go with plastic where Nikon can to save in weight, but for the price you’re paying for one of these pro lenses, you would expect it to take some beating.

When I first held the lens, I was surprised that it is not as heavy as I thought it would be. It is double the weight of my Nikkor AF 180mm f/2.8D ED-IF (760g) and almost a third of the weight of the Nikkor AF-S 500mm f/4D ED-IF (3,430g), so it’s definitely not too heavy to hand hold. The vibration reduction (VR) does help a bit especially on the longer focal lengths.

Auto Focus Performance and Speed

2006-12-27 - Nikkor 80-400mm VR lens - 006The speed at which thing focuses is a bit slower than my Nikkor AF 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6D IF on my Nikon D100. The primary reason for the slow auto focusing is because the Nikkor AF 80-400mm lens does not contain an internal focusing motor, but rather relies on the camera’s screw drive motor. This is fine for those who have a Nikon SLR with the AF screw drive motor, but for those who have the new Nikon D40, this lens will not be usable in auto focus mode. I’m sure on a pro camera such as the D1 series/D2 series and so on, the lens would probably focus much faster.

Another reason for the slow auto focus is the focal length. Going from a focal length of 80-400mm and everything else in between, the camera’s matrix meter has to hunt for the focus from a pretty wide available focus points. There is a focus limiting switch which will help speed things up a bit. How that works is that if you know you’re going to be focusing on far distance objects, you can set the switch to limit so it doesn’t try to hunt at closer focus points.

Another reason for the slow auto focusing, but somewhat of a moot point because you could always increase your ISO, is that the maximum aperture is f/4. So this lens wouldn’t be too ideal in low light conditions.

Overall Thoughts

2006-12-27 - Nikkor 80-400mm VR lens - 002I did like this lens. I didn’t think it was great as I originally thought it would be, but its not horrible either. It is a good, almost great, lens with good optics.

This lens is definitely not a good sports lens because of its slow AF speeds. I was having a difficult enough time trying to focus on birds flying around and capturing shots of airplanes in the middle of the day with pretty decent lighting.

This is definitely a good lens if you need a good focal range. It was nice to be able to focus past 200mm and onwards to 300mm and ultimately to 400mm. I think this lens would do decently for concerts because of the focal range and it is relatively *light* weight. And I mean good for concerts in a way in which you are sitting near the nosebleeds or in the nosebleed sections. Obviously if you were hired by the artist to do photography, you would not need a lens like this.

All-in-all, it is a good lens, but it wouldn’t be the first, second, or third choice of lens purchases because of certain limits (maximum aperture is f/4, it isn’t too practical of an everyday carry around lens, it cost more than $1500) and for what I usually like to shoot, this lens wouldn’t see much action.

Advanced editing for WordPress 2.0

Expanded TinyMCE for WordPress 2.0

I’ve found the TinyMCE/Pretty Editor default from a standard WordPress installation to be quite limiting. Especially since I use a lot of headings, I didn’t want to keep going in and out of html mode just to put headers. Then one of the most irritating things is the lack of a easy Insert Tables button.

A simple Google search produced Assaf Arkin’s Labnotes page with instructions and a plugin on how to expand the limiting TinyMCE from a default WordPress installation. I’m reprinting his directions here for my notes with the Insert Table fixes so I don’t have to read through some 144 comments to find the answer again.

Where’s The Plugin?

The plugin can be downloaded directly from Assaf’s website via this link here.

Installation Directions

Upload that downloaded plugin file to My-WordPress-Directory/wp-content/plugins/ and activate in Site Admin > Plugins.

In order to use the Table and Full Screen functions, download this version of the TinyMCE. Extract the contents and navigate to tinymce/jscripts/tiny_mce/plugins/. Upload table and fullscreen to My-WordPress-Directory/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/. Now when you go to Site Admin > Write > Write Post or Write Page, you’ll see some new tools.

You may also notice that everything appears on one line and overlaps over some other options making it a bit difficult to access all the new tools of the TinyMCE. Fret not, there is an easy fix. Here is a simple explanation of how to separate some of the tools to a second or third line by Assaf:

say you want to add the insert table and fullscreen buttons to the second line, remove these items from the array in extended_editor_mce_buttons, and rewrite extended_editor_mce_buttons_2 to return them instead:

function extended_editor_mce_buttons_2($buttons) {return array("table", "fullscreen"); }

Integrating Gallery2 Into WordPress

Introduction

I have always been a big fan of Gallery1 because of its ease of use and how it automatically creates thumbnails and links them to the original pictures versus me having to use Photoshop to resize the thumbnails and link each picture manually.

Integrating Gallery1 wasn’t impossible, but was difficult and this was only from a design perspective. It took me a bit more than a month to fully figure out how the layout works and how to “hack” it to make it look similar to my website. With the release of Gallery2, there was a major emphasis on separation of content and design and database. This is extremely impressive because it makes integration much easier and more robust.

Then came along WordPress for me and I was sold. Especially when I found out that a project existed that integrated WordPress and Gallery2, WPG2. The coolest part is that I can pull pictures directly in from Gallery2 through my WordPress post or page creations with ease and apply styling such as floating it left, right, no float, etc.!

Most of everything I learned on how to integrate Gallery2 to WordPress is from a post by Aylwin on the Galleryembedded.com forums.

Requirements

  • WordPress fully installed and functioning.
  • Gallery2 fully installed, functioning, and using the same database as the WordPress install.
  • Download the WPG2 plugin.

Any Warnings?

Depending on what kind of theme you are using, it may or may not make integrating Gallery2 to your WordPress easy. In most cases, I code all my WordPress themes from scratch so integrating Gallery2 into my themes easier.

Directions

Making The Gallery Header

  1. Make a new file called wpg2header.php in your themes folder (e.g. wp-content/themes/my-theme/) and copy the exact and entire contents of your header.php file into wpg2header.php.
  2. Look for a line in wpg2header.php:
    <head profile="http://gmpg.org/xfn/11">
  3. Underneath that line, add:
    <?php if (isset($g2data['headHtml'])) { list($g2_title, $g2_css, $g2_javascript) = GalleryEmbed::parseHead($g2data['headHtml']);  foreach ($g2_css as $css) { echo "$css rn"; }  foreach ($g2_javascript as $javascript) { echo "$javascript rn"; } } ?>
  4. Next look for a line:
    <title><?php wp_title(); ?></title>
  5. In the middle where you see:
    <?php wp_title(); ?>
  6. Replace that with:
    » <?php echo $g2_title; ?>
  7. At the very end, you may or may not see:
    <div id="content">
  8. If you do, replace that with:
    <div id="wpg2content">
  9. If you do not see it, don’t worry, it’s most likely in the index.php file.

Editing The StyleSheet

  1. This is a matter of preference, but I usually like creating a new stylesheet (e.g. Gallery.css) versus adding all the new Gallery IDs and Classes to the existing theme’s stylesheet. I do it mainly to keep my stylesheet leaner and cleaner. Either way is fine.
  2. We need to add #wpg2content to the stylesheet and style it. Please note this code is a direct copy and paste from http://www.galleryembedded.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=11572 post. The width: 510px is probably one the most important parts of that css code. That determines how wide your main Gallery page will be. Usually if you use the same width as your #content, it’ll look fine.
    #wpg2content {margin: 0; padding: 5px; float: left; width: 510px; overflow: hidden; display: inline; }
  3. The next step is to add the WPG2 alignment classes so that when you use the pretty editor (TinyMCE) G2 button and select image alignments, it will be styled correctly. I usually use the “default” css code, once again taken from the http://www.galleryembedded.com/ site and slightly modify it depending on my needs. Place this either inside your WordPress stylesheet or in the other stylesheet if you created a separate stylesheet for Gallery.
    /* WPG2 alignment classes */
    .g2image_normal {margin: 4px; }
    .g2image_float_left {float: left; clear: left; margin: 4px; }
    .g2image_float_right {float: right; clear: right; margin: 4px; }
    .g2image_centered {display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; }

Bringing It All Together

  1. After you have made all those changes and uploaded them to your web server in their appropriate places, you need to revalidate the plugin by going into your Site Admin > WPG2 and Under the heading: WPG2 Plugin, reenter the URL to Gallery2. This will ensure that Gallery2 reloads using the wpg2header.php and the new stylesheet or additions to the existing theme’s stylesheet.
  2. Your Gallery2 page accessed via http://your-website.com/wp-gallery2.php should look very identical to the rest of your theme now. There might be some little tweaks here and there that you need to do in your index.php or footer.php for it fully appear 100% correctly, but for all intents and purposes it should really, really close to your theme.

How To Change 3rd Gen iPod Battery

Introduction

Is your iPod not holding its charge as well as when you first got it? Can’t listen to your iPod more than a few hours because the battery dies? You can take it to an Apple store and for ~$60 you can get a similar refurbished iPod. But what if the iPod has sentimental value and you don’t want to trade it in for somebody else’s iPod? And what if you just don’t want to spend ~$60 when you could pay less than $20 and do it yourself?

How Easy Is It?

2006-12-25 - iPod Battery Replacement - 003.jpgSo I’m sure everyone is wondering how easy this is? Pretty easy, does require a bit of hand-eye coordination and care, but is not very difficult at all. What makes it easy is the kit you can buy from Laptops for Less which comes with a tool that has a very thin flat head and a special star tool for removing the motherboard.

This Guide Is For?

This guide only works for 3rd Generation slim model Apple iPods.

Disclaimer

This guide is provided for educational purposes only. We do not assume any responsibility for any damages or make any claims of 100% accuracy. Please do not attempt if you do not feel you can handle this.

Instructions

  1. According to Laptops for Less, measure one side of the iPod using a ruler 6 cm from the top (where the headphone plug and Hold button are located).
    2006-12-25 - iPod Battery Replacement - 004.jpg
  2. Carefully pry the front plate from the rear plate starting on one side at the 6 cm mark and work the way towards the bottom and towards the other side.
    2006-12-25 - iPod Battery Replacement - 005.jpg2006-12-25 - iPod Battery Replacement - 006.jpg
  3. Carefully remove the rear plate from the bottom at an angle becarefully not to rip the wire that connects to the motherboard.
    2006-12-25 - iPod Battery Replacement - 007.jpg
  4. Remove that wire.
    2006-12-25 - iPod Battery Replacement - 008.jpg
  5. The harddrive is encased inside the blue rubber covers and will lift up easily. Be gentle because the harddrive has a cable underneath it that connects to the motherboard.
    2006-12-25 - iPod Battery Replacement - 009.jpg2006-12-25 - iPod Battery Replacement - 010.jpg2006-12-25 - iPod Battery Replacement - 011.jpg
  6. Once the harddrive is removed, its easy to remove the battery. You’ll also notice that the cables from the battery to the motherboard is looped under part of the motherboard. It is easy to remove, but be gentle as not to damage anything.
    2006-12-25 - iPod Battery Replacement - 013.jpg2006-12-25 - iPod Battery Replacement - 014.jpg2006-12-25 - iPod Battery Replacement - 015.jpg
  7. Putting the new battery in is easy, but you’ll find relooping the wire somewhat difficult without removing the two screws on the bottom where the power wire is to lightly lift up the motherboard to slide the power wire underneath.
    2006-12-25 - iPod Battery Replacement - 021.jpg2006-12-25 - iPod Battery Replacement - 020.jpg2006-12-25 - iPod Battery Replacement - 019.jpg
  8. Putting everything back together is as easy as reversing all the directions. Be gentle and take your time as to not damage any of the parts.
    2006-12-25 - iPod Battery Replacement - 022.jpg

Casino Royale Movie Review

Andrea and I just got back from seeing the latest Ian Flemming’s James Bond movie. Originally when I first heard a new James Bond movie was being made, I was quite ecstatic. I have always been a James Bond fan, but my interest in the series was starting to wan because I could no longer buy into believing the possible existence of James Bond’s equipment and/or tools (i.e. an invisible Aston Martin). Continue reading Casino Royale Movie Review