Etikettarkiv: Equipment

Running in the dark

Now when the Swedish wonderful summer is drawing closer to the autumn I need to share a real runner tip with everyone that wants to keep running in the woods even if there is a slight drizzle of rain or the darkness is hitting earlier than before. In not too long the darkness will descend upon us earlier and earlier and it is actually already starting to get really dark in the night.

So a light on the forehad and a cap to keep the light rain out of your face would not be a bad idea?

Well here it is.

49:- SEK at Clas Ohlson store

This is a proper cap in nice material with their logo on the side and which got 5 LED lights built into the cap rim that will show you the road in the darkness. It is powered by 2xCR2032 (wristwatch style) batteries and will light for many hours on the roads and in the woods while keeping your face dry (from rain).

And for the price, buy two!

The light switch is in the cap, easy to reach and hitten under the fabric. Turn it on and off as you please while never missing a stride!

Suunto Core Outdoor Watch

Some of you already know my fascination for wrist watches and therefore I thought I should share with you my latest aquisition, the Suunto Core outdoor wristwatch. Suunto is Finnish and means direction and this is a good name for these watches. There are many different models to chose from and I decided to get the Suunto Core model which seems to get you lots of functions for small money and the most all-round watch there was. Or, sorry, wristtop computer as these watches are sometimes referred to.

I am a guy who like walking in the woods, hiking, trekking and just generally being outdoor when possible especially in the summer time. I try to make at least a few day trips and if possible an overnight in a tent as well every summer as a minimum, it is something special when you are cooking in the wilderness, sleeping in a tent and generally having to struggle a little more than you normally do every day to and from work. If nothing else you appreciate a nice bed when you come home again :)

On top of that I am an unchangeable gadget-guy, and I really enjoy knowing the altitude I am on right now, the bearing I am walking in, my position, the time, when the sun rises and sets on the latitude that I am right now and many other things. So my latest addition to things I won’t leave home without now is a Suunto Core wristwatch.

This little gem can do a lot of things and it is a watch specially designed for outdoorsmanship more than anything else. This is not the first ”trekker’s watch” I have owned, I also have an ”Origo” watch but after a particularly rough outing in the United Arab Emirates a couple of years ago the altimeter broke on that one. So I have decided to get myself a new watch and now I recently bought it.

The Suunto Core watch keeps two times, good for traveling and it has what you expect from a modern digital watch, countdown (99 min max) and works wel as a stopwatch (24 h max). On top of that you can program it with the closest city and it will show the time the sun rises and sets for the date, something that changes drastically right now, the day becomes longer with about 6 minutes every day now and the nights shorter here in Stockholm.

The watch also contains three interesting functions for the hiker not normally found on wrist watches and they are altimeter that shows how high over the sea you are at the moment, barometer showing the air pressure (sea level equivalent) and an electronic compass.

Suunto Core
Suunto Core, outdoors sportswatch

The altimeter and barometer are actually two faces of the same coin here. You can select the profile yourself, if you want the watch to be in altimeter mode when you climb, then you can set it to barometric mode when you stop for the night and the watch will tell you the air pressure and assume that you are staying on the same level. You can not get both at the same time though because both the barometer and the altimeter works from the same air pressure sensor. If you climb a mountain the air pressure lowers with every meter you climb, the watch senses this change in air pressure and can therefore know how many meters you have scaled. In barometric mode you fix the altitude and the watch instead registers the changes in air pressure that preceeds an oncoming storm or weather front.

The watch can automatically shift between altimeter and barometer mode, it understands when you start climbing because the air pressure shifts too fast and then it switches to altimeter. If you stay it will after 12 minutes of no change in the altitude (or very small changes) shift back to barometric mode. Brilliant. Over a full days walking around I generally don’t have to recalibrate it for more than 20-40 meters error by the end of the day.

In barometric mode it can also tell you if there is a sudden drop in air pressure. This might signify an oncoming sqall or storm and you can set an audible and visible alarm on the watch to go off if this happens. There is also a 24 hour trend graph that will show you the changes in barometric pressure over the last day and night. There is also an arrow indicator showing you if the air pressure is stable, tends to rise, tends to drop and the attitude for the last 3 and 6 hours. Great for checking if the current weather is stable. I have observed the barometric pressure alarm go off twice. In both accounts it started snowing heavily hours later so I believe it is working pretty well!

The last function of the pressure gauge is the ”snorkeling feature” where it can tell you when you snorcle in the hot waters of the Maldives or some other nice place how deep you have been as maximum and how deep you are now. Not quite a diving instrument (watch should not be submerged more than 10 meters really) but it is still a pretty fun feature.

A logging function can be used to keep track of your climbing and descending over time if you want. It will log the altitude and the current time as often as you want and you may also save the log for a later review. You can also set a reference altitude and the watch will show you how much above or below your reference you currenly are.

You can also have it show accumulated inclines declines, something that I thought was pretty neat in a ski slope…

There is also a temperature measurement but since the watch is warmed by your arm it generally does not show air temperature. If you take your watch of and leave it for 30 minutes or so it should give you a pretty good temperature reading though. The temperature is also necessary for the accuracy of the air pressure measurement.

The compass is great, works well but uses battery more than other thngs and because of this the watch will turn it off after one minute of operation; you will then have to press a button to turn it on again for another minute. If you have the backlight lit during compas operation it will flash as it goes dark for each measurement that is done – about 2 per second. The compass can be set to try to stay in a certain direction, it will show with arrows how much in error your current direction is and point you in the right direction and the precision is actually pretty good in the woods. Calibration is simple, turn it on, slowly spin a full circle clockwise and it will recalibrate itself. In urban environment there are sometimes problems where there are heavy electrical machinery and other ferro-magnetic materials at work that will confuse it – try looking at it while a metro train in the underground drives past… but most of the time it can be used there as well.

All in all I really love this watch. I recommend it for everyone who loves to be outdoors, hiking, fishing, hunting, climbing, skiing… this is for you!

I rate it 5/5.

Review: Nikkor AF-S VR 70-300 f/4,5-5,6

This lens has quickly become one of my favorite lenses. The 70-300 is very versatile and it is a lovely walk-around lens for street photo as well as nature photography. It is also useful for portrait work when you want to shoot a little more from a distance. Perfect for candid shots in the crowd.

Full designation: Nikkor AF-S VR 70-300mm f / 4.5-5.6 G ED-IF

Fortsätt läsa Review: Nikkor AF-S VR 70-300 f/4,5-5,6

Nikon D300

So finally I have upgraded to a new camera. After using my D70s for several years I had a careful look-around at what was out there and I decided on the D300. I have met many photographers, both beginners and professionals who have used the D300 in the last year and all of them seemed very happy with their investment, although some said they’d waited for the D700 FX sensor camera instead if they had known it was about to be released.

I decided against the D700 for several reasons and the most important one was the lenses. DX lenses won’t be able to work very well on the FX sensor in the D700 and I like the DX lenses for two reasons, they are sometimes half the price of the comparable FX lenses and they are lighter to carry. The last point is important because I love to hike and bring the camera gear with me. 

The D300 is also a fair bit lower priced than the D700 which meant I got a nice kit including three lenses and an SB-800 for just a little more than what the D700 house would have cost me so I am really happy with it. 

The main reasons for my upgrade was the following

  • The small display on the D70s makes macro work difficult
  • There is no mirror lock-up function meaning mirror slap shakes when using long exposures and tripod.
  • The noise at higher ISO on the D70s is shameful compared to the modern cameras, in reality anything above ISO 600 is unuseable.
  • D-Lighting exposure control in the D300 and newer cameras is fantastic in some difficult light conditions.
  • 14 bit RAW format (12 in the old cameras) meaning 12 dB better image dynamics per colour!
  • No vertical grip for the D70s (that is seriously useful), the MB-10 battery grip for the D300 is awesome!
  • Faster serial shots, lovely when shooting animals like birds. 8 frames per second on the D300 is a vast improvement from the D70s.
  • Larger buffer memory also helps with serial shots.
  • Easier controls on the camera – even if the D70s had nice controls the D300 is not only nice, they are seriously well laid out and though through.
  • Faster in every aspect.
  • Has PC sync connector on camera
I will still keep my D70s of course and likely it will become a pure Infrared camera, converted to take only IR pictures in the future.

Here are some test shots, these are taken handheld in the middle of the night just using existing light. Yes there is noise, but not much and the pictures are actually quite nice. The D70s would come nowhere near this and would not even reach ISO 3200.


Misty street lights

Tripods and Ball Heads by Thom Hogan

Weird Tripod
Car mounted tripod

This article is something you should take a look at if you are considering getting yourself a tripod to stabilize your camera.

I am already down that upgrade road where my lightweight video cam tripod is not really that good any more for several reasons including getting closer to the ground.

Ken Rockwell has a very different opinion on tripods but I find that they are necessary for a number of reasons. It’s not only the low light conditions they are useful, I use them in any type of light.

The reason for this is that cameras are heavy and to work wth your composition in a nice way you need to move around try angles and zoom and various framing options and a nice tripod is a help here making it easier for you to walk about, find the right spot, mount the camera there and then adjust it properly and take a great picture.

Studio taking form
My low budget studio with cheap tripod

If you can’t afford a top of the line tripod and a really good head, then by all means get something cheaper. You will most likely upgrade eventually so it might be a waste of money but at least you have something. I think lots of photographers will nod in recognition to this.

Other useful items to stabilize the camera could also include monopods (although I personally dislike them) bean bags (great for macro photos since you can place anything on them) and clips and clamps that you can use to attach your camera to a handrail or similar on a bridge. Lovely stuff all of it.

A Guide to Infrared Photography

This article will start by assuming that you are very familiar with your camera and how to use it in manual mode. You need to understand apertures, shutter times, how to use the cameras histogram to understand over- and under exposure.

If you are not familiar with these topics, then it would be better if you familiarized yourself with them before. There are a number of articles you can find that will take you through this of course.

What is infrared light?

Infrared light is light that has a frequency that is lower than the visible light in the spectrum. We can also say that the wavelength is longer than the visible light. Infrared light have various properties that are different from visible light and it reflects and refracts different from visible light through the camera lens.

Here is a diagram that shows how the infrared spectrum relates to the visible light spectrum. In this article we will only be talking about photographing in the infrared spectrum that is close to visible light, between 1200-730 nm roughly. Infrared photography in this aspect is not to be confused with heat signature cameras and systems such as FLIR (example below) which are used for example to detect body heat. There is also the ”far infrared spectrum” said to have medicinal use and influence for example the production of vitamin D in the skin of humans and a few other species.

Radation in the thermal heat range and the far IR range does not really affect the result of IR photography as we have limited our reception range to the near visible light IR spectrum. The sensors in a digital camera is also not very sensitive in ranges under 1000 nm so it makes little sense trying.

This shows the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. Source: Wikipedia Commons.
This shows the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. Source: Wikipedia Commons.

Looking at the picture above we can see that the visible light spectrum ranges from around 730 nm to about 370 nm. Above we have X-ray and gamma rays, nasty stuff to us humans but below is the infrared portion of the band.

Thermal Image of a Dog. Source: Wikipedia Commons.
Thermal Image of a Dog. Source: Wikipedia Commons.

Here to the left is a picture taken with a different technology (FLIR) that captures the heat radiated from a body.

We can here see the lighter areas correspond to hotter parts of the animal. This is a technique that is quite often used for tecnhical purposes such as trying to find leaks in insulations and heat pipes and similar.

This is known as thermal imaging but is the area around 100 µm and photographic sensors for normal cameras don’t work well in this range. This is however what most people think about first when subjected to the term ”infrared photography” and it is important to distinguish between the two.

So the infrared spectrum we are interested in lies between the lowest portion of the visible light spectrum around 730 nm and down to perhaps something like 1200 nm. This light comes normally from very ”hot” sources, such as the sun, or a light bulb perhaps.

Those of you who are physiscists may remember the black body radiation formula and put it to use here :)

Black and White
In this picture it is possible to see the difference between the visible light spectrum and the IR spectrum. The left hand picture is shot with infrared filter and the right hand side is a normal visible light picture that has been shot in B&W

Fortsätt läsa A Guide to Infrared Photography