August 2002

1. Nikon 995 for mushrooms photography - a start!  See below for more details.

   Coprinus quadrifidus,  Polyporus squamosus

2.   PLUS  10 more selections. Click on individual species to access. Brachymyces megalosporus, Cordyceps militaris, Crucibulum laeve2, Crucibulum laeve3, Dictydium cancellatum, Coprinus plicatilis, Marasmius capillaris, Hygrophorus pudorinus, Dacrymyces (basidiospores), Cortinarius cinnamomeus.

Nikon 995 for Biophotography and Macro Work

Extra Costs!!!

1.The Nikon 995 comes with a 16 Meg Compact Flash Card (holds about 16 'fine' images). This is not adequate and it is necessary to buy a CFC with a much larger capacity.  I suggest 128 Meg minimum. This will cost C$120 or about a $1 a meg at the moment.  I expect prices of CFC cards will drop dramatically with time. Addendum - March 2004 : CFC now about $60 for 128 megs

2. The 995 uses special rechargeable batteries and you will need at least one extra battery for backup at a cost of about C$70 at the moment.  Addendum - March 2004:  Batteries much the same price.    VERY IMPORTANT:  Some cameras come with chargers and batteries as part of the package and in others these are optional which means you have to pay extra money.   Make sure you know the deal!

3. If you are on an extended holiday or field trip you will need a storage unit to download your daily quota of images. A lap top will do it.  BUT if you do not have a laptop then a storage unit with a gigabyte plus capacity can run to a few hundred dollars! But cheaper than a laptop!  However, on a trip the laptop also gives the opportunity at the end of the day to review the days shooting, assess the results, and make corrections etc.  Addendum - March 2004 : Very good  used laptops are now available for a few hundred dollars.

4. It is convenient (but not necessary) to have an AC adapter to connect the camera to the wall plug. With this you can view and/or download your images at your leisure without draining the battery (it takes many hours to recharge a battery).   It also allows you to practice your camera control sequences and options and believe me it's going to take a lot of practice to master the variety of options.    .  This adapter currently sells for about C$90.  Addendum - March 2004 :  It is also very useful if you do a lot of indoor work or record photography or lab work etc.   Also  rapid chargers are now available that will charge batteries in an hour or two  and some that can be charged from your cigarette lighter while you drive  to the next stop!

5. It is convenient to have a CFC reader that plugs directly into a USB connection on your PC The Sandisk reader sells for about C$40.  I like this reader a lot.  See below for more info.

So!  If you are buying a digicam remember that if you are serious about it, then there are extra costs you have to take into account.   Think before you make a final commitment or alternatively make a deal for the package of things you consider  essentialAddendum - March 2004 :  The good thing is that the cameras are a lot cheaper now and you can get an excellent 3meg camera with 3X oprical zoom and macro capability for about $400  = half the price for this about two years ago.   Obviously, the longer you wait the better you will do on price.  Remember digital zoom is merely empty magnification and gives no more detail than an enlarged view of the original shot.

Results with 995 for macrophotography of fungi.

If you have one of the pricy SLRs with a digi-back then I expect that the quality will match the old SLRs that use slide film or if not now then in the near future.   The rest of us will have to wait with baited breath until the price of the digi-SLRs drops to a reasonable level and in the meantime make do the best we can with consumer digicams like the 995.  These are great for regular photography but macro photography is more demanding both for optics and technique.

The Nikon 995 has a 4X zoom lens with macro capability.  This verstility is asking a lot of a lens design and  you don’t expect to get macro shots with this equipment that compare with the Nikon F3 with a 55 Micro Nikkor.  With a little care, however, the 995 does an acceptable job and I was quite pleased with the quality of the macro images of fungi (click here and here and here ). They are certainly good enough for records, websites etc and will make acceptable 8X10 prints.   But don't expect the crisp detail you get from an SLR with a macro lens.   On non macro stuff this camera  gave excellent results but that is another story.

Big advantages:

1. It is very nice to knock off a number of shots knowing that there are no film costs to concern you.

2. Also, and very importantly, you can check the results immediately and retake a shot if necessary.  BUT remember (and remember it well) that the LCD viewer just sucks away the battery power.

3. The 995 uses a special lithium ion rechargeable battery.  So, if you run out of power it's over until you can recharge (hours).   Many digicams use AAs or rechargeable AAs which are easier to obtain in a hurry!

4.  Interestingly, the part of this system that I really like and have used the most is the Sandisk card reader.   I need to carry large graphic files back and forward from home to office.   Transfer of images has been a real nuisance over the years.  Now I simply go to 'My Computer' on the PC, click on the C drive, click on a graphic file folder to open it up.   I then just select the file (or files) and drag them over to the Sandisk drive with the CF card already in the drive.  It takes longer to read this than it does to do what I said!   I can then just carry the CF card home in my pocket and stick it into my Sandisk reader on my PC at home ( I liked this procedure so much I bought two readers, otherwise you have to carry the reader back and forward as well).  So! The compact flash card is being used as a tiny portable hard drive.  Great Stuff!

Operational Stuff:

If you put the camera on automatic then everything is pretty straight forward and it is a very easy camera to use.  However, going to manual overrides and selecting aperture or shutter priority, or changing effective film speed or whatever (eg deleting images, enlarging images to view details, selecting fill flash rather than full flash) requires an intimate knowledge of control sequences and button selections.  So don't forget to take the manual along with you to the trails!   Also the  LCD viewer is flush with the surface of the back of the camera and is essentially unprotected. i.e. vulnerable to damge!     You can't just toss  the 995 into the camera bag  - it needs its own case for protection.

Liquid Crystal Display

I'll probably get used to the LCD but I don't much care for it at the moment.   I find it very difficult to use in bright sun and not great in the low light conditions of dark woods.   You've probably seen pictures of the old photographers using plate cameras with a big sheet of black velvet covering their head and half the camera.  This cuts out the light so they can see the faint image of the subject on the ground glass screen at the back of the camera.  Trying to view the LCD in the sun takes us back to that point!  We need a  built-in, collapsible hood  (like they have on the twin lens Rolleiflexes) to shield the LCD from the light so we can see the image in bright light!