Note to self: next time you're out with the camera, remember to clean the lens before taking 150+ pics.
Expect a report on yesterday's outing sometime after I've worn out Photoshop's clone tool. Don't hold your breath - I may be some time.
I was in the market for an A.C. adapter for my D50. The Nikon website stated that the required item was the EH-5, as per the table in the following screenshot:
Now, it doesn't take a genius to realise that if the EH-5 also fits the D80, D100, the D70, the D70s, the D300, the D700, the D90 and the D300s, then any other adapter that fits any of these should also fit the D50. According to the blurb, the EH-5a should be OK.
Or so it seemed, until I checked with Nikon Europe Support...
Me: (26/04/2010, 07:08 PM)
Hi. Please can you tell me the differences between the EH-5 and EH-5a adapters? Thank you.
NES: (27/04/2010, 11:02 AM)
Thank you for contacting Nikon regarding AC adapters. The EH-5 is for the European market, while the EH-5a is for the American market. There are slight differences in the components of the EH-5 which means it can't be sold in America, but apart from that, they should be essentially the same.
Me: (27/04/2010, 03:56 PM)
Thanks for that. Can I assume that either adapter can be used on the D50, the only relevant difference being the mains plug?
NES: (28/04/2010, 11:51 AM)
Thank you for your reply. Only the EH-5 can be used with the D50. More information can be found by clicking on the link below:
Answer Title: D-SLR camera battery, charger and AC adapter compatibility
Answer Link: http://nikoneurope-en.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/22671
Me: (28/04/2010, 05:25 PM)
Yes, I've seen that info before. It doesn't tell me WHY the EH-5a can't be used on the D50. You yourself stated that "There are slight differences in the components of the EH-5 which means it can't be sold in America, but apart from that, they should be essentially the same."
Maybe we should start with the basics:
1: Are the supplied voltages the same?
2. Are the camera-end connectors the same?
NES: (29/04/2010, 02:30 PM)
Thank you for your reply. It has come to our attention that the FAQ on our website is incorrect. It transpires that the D50 can be powered with either the EH-5 or the EH-5a. They both feature identical power input and output and plug shape at the end that goes into the camera. The plug that connects to the mains may differ depending on the region of purchase but as they are made to be used anywhere world-wide, you only need an applicable plug adaptor to ensure it fits the wall sockets of the region it's intended to be used in - no need for power adaptors. We apologise for this misinformation and thank you for bringing this mistake to our attention.
Just goes to show that you can't always rely on information that somebody else posted on the Web. Over two years ago.
Oh, and top marks to the man at NES who had the gumption to get this matter sorted out.
This February has been a total non-starter. So many things have conspired to cock-up all chances of getting out to do something worthwhile that I'm considering becoming a professional couch-potato and Wii Bowling Power Throws addict (my current top-score is only 733 but I'm working on it).
For me, February is usually the best month to get into some proper winter-walking, but this one was just rubbish. Due to adverse events at home, I've not managed to get suited and booted at all this month. We've the seeds of an idea to get away somewhere for a wildie during March, but let's face it - the chances of there being a return to snowy conditions are minimal. That said, whenever Chris hits the hills for our annual wildie together the weather's always good, so there's always a chance that we'll be lucky again.
Sadly, the scope's been as redundant as the boots. I rehoused and rewired the SPC900 webcam and invested in a few bits of kit (including a Baader MPCC and a Skywatcher LPR 2" filter) to improve my chances of getting some half-decent astropics but I've had no opportunity to use any of them yet, as we've not had one clear night all month. This means that I've not managed to observe Saturn, which is now showing edge-on rings to anybody with clear skies. Comet Lulin (posh name C/2007 N3 (Lulin)) is another target that I'm likely to miss unless the skies clear sometime soon. If you've got clear skies and want to know where to look to see this gem, see here, and if you want to see some nice pics and a mini-movie of it, have a look at this entry on John's Astro Blog. I've just had a quick gander at the latest weather forecast and it's telling me that the skies here will be totally clear here tomorrow night. TBH I don't believe a word of it, but I'll be ready on the off-chance that they're correct.
And don't get me started on the subject of beer sessions - I've a list of cancellations as long as yer arm!
March will have to be a better month. Let's face it - it's not got a lot to beat.
As promised, pics of cameras attached to the scope. Sad, eh?
1: focuser-housing, 2: drawtube, 3: drawtube to eyepiece-holder adapter, 4: eyepiece-holder, 5: T-mount, 6: D50 body
1: focuser-housing, 2: drawtube, 3: drawtube to eyepiece-holder adapter, 4: eyepiece-holder 5: eyepiece-holder barrel, 6: eyepiece, 7: M52 clamp-on adapter, 8: 45mm-52mm extension adapter, 9: C730-UZ camera
Fine examples of bodge-up engineering, I reckon!
When I was in engineering and fabrication, there was this principle of standardisation. It was brilliant - it meant that things would actually fit together, you know, things like nuts would fit onto bolts, hubs would fit into alloy wheels, coins would be accepted by vending machines. It's a principle that we all take for granted.
Well, I'm lost in a No-Man's land, surrounded by seemingly incompatible bits of camera and telescope. Sometimes things fit, sometimes they don't. Telescope bits are usually imperial (2" and 1.25" eyepieces, 8" mirrors etc. etc.) and cameras are metric. Wonderful.
So, in order to get these things to mate, we have to bring in a third class of component... the adapter (adaptor) widget. It's amazing just how many of these damned things can be needed, even to the point where an adapter needs another adapter in order to achieve a union. Here are some examples:
1. Prime Focus (just a camera body on a scope):
To fit a dSLR camera body (without lens) to a scope focuser needs a T-mount (item G) and either a telescope eyepiece-holder with a male T-thread (item A), or a T-threaded adapter that fits into the eyepiece holder. Simple, eh? Well, not so fast, boyo, let's look again. T-mounts are fun. One side fits directly onto the camera body, so you have to get the correct version for the camera that you intend to use (I needed the Nikon bayonet one for the D50). The other end of the T-mount has a 42mm female thread as standard across the range, and you woud be forgiven for thinking that, if you were so inclined, you could fit a 42mm filter/step-up/step-down ring, but you can't. You see, 42mm photographic filters and step-rings have a 1.00mm thread pitch, whereas T-mounts have a 0.75mm thread pitch. Brilliant. Anyway, then you might have a choice of eyepiece holder... if you've a dual-fit focuser, it'll accept either 2" or 1.25" fittings. I was lucky here - my scope came with a dual-fit focuser and a holder which has an integral male T-thread. Some don't.
2. Afocal (using the scope eyepiece and the camera lens):
To fit a dSLR camera and lens combo to a scope focuser needs similar jiggery-pokery. This usually entails using the filter thread of the lens as the attachment point, using a different type of adapter. Let's look at a few of the options that I have at my disposal:
First up: to connect the 18-55mm Nikon kit lens needs an adapter (item C) which clamps over the barrel of the 1.25" scope eyepiece (like item F) and which has a male 52mm thread on the end, this screws directly to the lens filter thread. Fairly simple, if you've got the adapter.
Second, let's ditch the 18-55mm lens and try the 70-300mm instead. That's got a 62mm thread, so another chunk of precision engineering (a 62-52mm step-down ring, item H) is required. And so on for each different lens thread... you get my drift?
Third, I've an Olympus non-dSLR digital camera (C730-UZ) which I want to try... that has an unthreaded lens that extends out of the camera body when in use, so fitment must be made to the body around the base of the lens housing, where there's a 45mm thread. This thread takes an extension adapter (Item I) which has the required 52mm thread at the end... confused yet?
Finally, I've a zoom-eyepiece (item E) on order, this can be used optically on the scope without any hassle, but fitting a camera to it will be interesting - I've no idea if the clamp-on 52mm adapter will fit, and rumour has it that it has a special thread hidden away under the rubber eye-cup, this special thread is purported to be an M54, but at present I don't know if it's a standard or a special pitch. No doubt I'll need yet another damned adapter to get it to hitch to the lens. Time will tell which one's required.
3. Eyepiece projection (with the scope eyepiece, without the camera lens)
Well, that's just a mash-up of bits of the previous two methods, it needs some sort of connection between the scope eyepiece and the T-mount. Another adapter, maybe? Surely not! Looks like it. I'll be leaving this method until I've got the hang of the others, I reckon.
Oh, I forgot to mention one thing... all of the methods that employ a telescope eyepiece require you to have yet another adapter (an eyepiece holder, like item B) to fit said eyepiece into the focuser on the scope.
Had enough yet? No? Well, I'll go on about filters.
I've already mentioned photographic filters (the screw-on type, not the drop-in type), they have metric threads so that they can be screwed directly onto the front of the camera lens. Now, let's consider astronomy filters. Imperial threads. To fit scope eyepieces. 2" or 1.25". Horses for courses, as they say. Now, that's not too much of a hardship, but it would be cool to be able to use an astro filter, such as the light-pollution reduction filter (item D), on the dSLR when out and about taking night-shots without the scope. Alas, there's not much chance of that happening, as 2"-to-52mm adapters are as rare as rocking-horse shit.
Not a clue what these bits look like? Well, here's a piccy to help you out. Of course, I've not pasted the images at a consistent scale... that would make things too easy.
It's all too much. I'm going for a lie down now. Later on, I'll post some pics of the things that can be constructed using these bits.
Well, the Bottle Pod thing might look like it's a bit of cheap plastic, but it works surprisingly well.
It's marketed for fitting compact cameras and the like to bottles and car-windows, so I overloaded it with my Nikon D50 + 70-300mm zoom, and clamped it to the head of one of my DMM Cirque axes. I had expected the lever-locked plastic ball-head to be a bit naff, but it held the unbalanced camera set-up firmly enough, with no slow forwards-creep. I wouldn't like to load it up too much, though, as the connector might part company from the ball. Still, for short-lens work and compacts, I reckon it'll do a fine job. Time will tell if the plastics used are up to being used in cold conditions... if it breaks, I'll let you know. It weighs in at just 28g.
Don't ask me to test it on one of those festrous walking-poles; I don't own any, and that's the way it's gonna stay.
I was looking at this curious gadget at 7dayshop.com.
According to the blurb, it'll fit onto any suitable bottle-top up to 38mm dia, presumably it'll also fit other objects with a similarly-dimensioned sticky-up bit, such as a walking pole, maybe? It'll also clamp onto the top edge of a car-window, so maybe it'll also fit onto the pick of an ice-axe?
Next time I put in an order, I'll nab one and see what it's good for. At just £1.99, it's not likely to break the bank.
Edit: I just found that Roman has blogged about similar gadgets, have a look here.
After some neat negotiating with Chris, I was allowed out to play with the camera on Saturday night/Sunday morning. As previously stated, it was my intent to get some pics of the Orionid meteors and to test some kit while I was at it.
I drove for some miles to find a quiet spot a good distance from sources of urban light pollution, and at about 11:00p.m. started to set up the camera on the new Velbon tripod. The sky was clear and the stars were beginning to appear brighter as the Moon disappeared over the western horizon. Already there were meteors showing - mostly faint and fast, but there were a couple of slower bright fireballs while I was setting up.
Ten minutes later and we were in business - camera acclimatised to the cold and set up to take RAWs on the "bulb" setting, triggered with the remote unit... me wrapped in winter-walking clothes and sat on a low chair... owls, foxes and farm dogs making a racket in the distance all around. I sat alone in the dark and watched the skies, clicking the remote and savouring the solitude.
I had rattled off about 50 shots when conditions changed. The temperature dropped from +6C to +1C in 20 minutes and everything became covered in condensation, as a knee-high mist formed all around. For the next couple of hours I was engaged in a losing battle to keep the camera lens clear and keep myself warm. Sitting in the low chair was a no-no, as the layer of mist was just too cold. The sky was getting clearer, but the images were getting worse.
At 3:00a.m. I gave up and headed home to dry out the kit and to warm up in front of the fire.
On Sunday afternoon I got around to having a look at the pics and wasn't surprised to find that a large number of them were unusable due to problems with lens condensation. I had managed to nab a couple of faint meteor trails on half-decent exposures, but the best trails were on bad pics which I've now binned. I managed to salvage about 25 images, of which three aren't too bad.
Apart from the problems caused by the conditions, all of the kit worked well. The remote unit never missed a beat, and the home-made remote-signal reflector worked a treat. The new tripod was a pleasure to use and a doddle to carry, being so small and light. The angled viewfinder saved me having to bend and twist into all sorts of unnatural poses, so that was another plus.
So, all in all it wasn't a complete disaster. Not many usable pics, but fun night out and a fair test of kit in adverse conditions.
Mars rises above the glow of Leicester, with a faint meteor trail above.
The view eastwards:
The Pleiades above Taurus, with Orion not yet fully risen above the trees.