Monday, June 24, 2013

First Impressions: 200 f4 AI Micro Nikkor

The completed full review is HERE, so consider this page a historical artifact.

I've always enjoyed extreme close-up macro (micro in Nikon lingo) photography and there's only one optic better than a macro lens: a longer macro! Well, after really having my appetite whetted by the Tokina 100 f2.8 I had in Canon mount, I started lusting after a longer macro. Unfortunately, 200ish macros cost a lot of money, as in used car territory.

Well, thankfully there's KEH Used Camera Brokers and Nikon's wonderful reverse compatibility..

Browsing the web one morning after work, I stumbled upon a 200 f4 Micro Nikkor for around $300. Yes, it was obviously an old MF lens from the late 70s or early 80s but who needs AF in macro photography, anyway? Well, not being able to beat the price, I snagged this oldie, along with a teleconverter to get it to full 1:1 magnification (Nikon's macro lenses only went to 1:2 until the AF era) and complete the package.

Well, it just arrived.

For starters, the build on this lens is truly awesome, as in solid metal through and through, a far cry from the plastic junk Nikon is busy churning out today. Besides being built to withstand a nuclear war, the lens also features some other, nice touches. One very convenient feature is a built-in, sliding lens hood, which means no more fumbling for a not always needed, but sometimes very useful accessory that can be just too valuable to go without altogether. Why can't Nikon do stuff like this these days?

Another nice feature is the rotatable, removable tripod collar. Believe me, shooting macro at 200mm, you'll want a tripod! On the other hand, the lens serves well as a general purpose short tele optic (provided the subject isn't moving), too. For this, simply loosen and turn or remove the collar altogether.

Having only had time to play around with the lens a little bit, everything is looking to be better than I expected. For someone used to a 100mm macro, getting the 200 with a lot more working distance is great as there's no longer the problem of blocking one's own light. Used with the 2x converter? Well, how about taking life size macro images at what seems like a mile away from the subject? Pretty cool.
Needless to say, a full review is upcoming but I can already feel safe in recommending this golden oldie to anyone on a budget looking for a macro lens as the build is top notch, the mechanics are great, and the optics, well, they're stunning. Want proof? Scroll down and look at the pictures!

Humble Requests:

If you found this informative (or at least entertaining), help me pay my bills and check out my Examiner pages for space news, cleveland photography, national photography, and astronomy for more great stuff.

If you think this was cool, why not tell a friend?

For something even better, follow this blog.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Rats! Rocky Rodent Joins Long List of Mars Deceptions

Last week, a picture showing a Martian rock that looked like a rat went viral in both alternative and then mainstream media. The question posed by some: are rodents running around the Red Planet? Ell, to anyone with an ounce of common sense, the answer is a resounding “no!” but, thanks to many people lacking common sense, the debate will continue in fringe circles about something that should be confined to the pages of Mars deceptions, hich have been capturing the public's imagination since the 19th century.

Giovanni Schiparelli
It was in 1888 during a close approach of Mars that Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiparelli thought that he saw channels, or “canali” in Italian, on Mars. In translation, canali was misinterpreted as 'canals,' thus implying some sort of artificial intelligence. Result: Mars fever swept the world, infecting an American aristocrat, Percival Lowell, who would go on to build one of the largest observatories in the world and spend untold hours at his telescope (then one of the world's largest) studying the canals on Mars, which turned out to be a mere optical illusion.

In 1924, professor David Todd actually convinced the military to listen for radio signals from Mars for a period of 3 days. Unfortunately, the professor was unable to silence private radio, whose continued operation doomed the already futile task to failure.

The Face on Mars in the 1970s. See below link to see what the 'face' really looks like.

In the 1970s with the Viking Program, NASA cameras captured an image that led many UFO/alien enthusiasts to believe that an advanced civilization once flourished on the planet Mars: a giant "face" sculpted out of the planet's surface. At this time, the era of Watergate and Vietnam, trust in government was at a very low point. So, when NASA scientists stated that the "face" was merely an illusion caused by the angle of light shining on a natural formation, many people refused to buy it, especially considering the "pyramids" situated around the face in a region called Cydonia.

Almost from the day the image of the Face hit the news, writers, led by Richard C. Hoagland, used it as the basis for speculative works on a lost Martian civilization. In the meantime, scientific caution was drowned out in an uproar of wild, unverifiable claims. Unfortunately, after Viking, NASA's Mars exploration programs went on a nearly two decade hiatus until the mid 1990s. However, upon a new generation of robotic explorers, the 'face' was shown to be what it truly was: a hill.

 Gandhi on Mars!

 The Martian Monolith.

'Trees' on Mars

Unfortunately, not even high technology is infallible.

In the past few years, the web, especially conspiracy theorists, were abuzz over several Martian anomalies, including trees, Gandhi, and a monolith. However, the granddaddy of these recent Mars 'findings' was the so-called 'Bio Station Alpha,'a strange looking white feature seen on Google Mars. While most people took one look at the anomaly and thought nothing more of it, a few latched onto the idea put forth by one man, David Martines, that this thing was, by virtue of its being there, a secret base. In the end, Bio Station Alpha turned out to be nothing more than an digital artifact from a cosmic ray hitting the camera. This idea of a camera goof was originally put forth just after the buzz started but only after seeing the proof were many satisfied.

Conclusion: there are/never were any rats on Mars for the simple reason that it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that any rodent delivered to Mars would die within seconds. Nor were there canals, faces, pyramids, trees, more faces, and secret bases, either.

Humble Requests:

If you found this informative (or at least entertaining), help me pay my bills and check out my Examiner pages for space news, Cleveland photography, national photography, and astronomy for more great stuff.

If you think this was cool, why not tell a friend?

For something even better, follow this blog.