Saturday, 1 April 2017

Colour Space - Best Practices for Displaying on the Web


sRGB
sRGB
aRGB
aRGB
ProPhoto
ProPhoto
CMYK
CMYK

Click to Enlarge



I was asked recently why files uploaded to the internet, that were saved in a colour space other than sRGB, might not display properly on the internet.

We have all been there! We have all spent hours perfecting an image only to upload it and find it will not display properly because we saved it in a colour space other than sRGB.

Most web browsers display best in sRGB. ProPhoto, aRGB and CMYK can all present display problems depending which software you use to display them. The most commonly accepted colour space is sRGB - all monitors are RGB. For print files, the colour space is CMYK since all printers print in CMYK. Converting between the two can cause problems. The best way is to open the files in their original format and save them for web use ie. sRGB. Other profiles have a greater colour gamut which is good for editing and printing but not necessarily for displaying on the internet. The problem is the greater range of colours are not displayed in the the sRGB colour space, so images saved in anything other than sRGB look fine in Adobe but appear dull when displayed on the internet.

You might also want to look into what your browser says about displaying images too.

sRGB is the standard for displaying compressed jpeg files on the internet, generally speaking. If the files are saved and uploaded in another colour space they might not display properly. If they are converted to sRGB "in-house", and the gamut of aRGB or ProPhoto is not supported, then the additional colour range is converted to greyscale, hence the slightly dull/dark look when displayed on the web. Even if the files are not converted to sRGB (which is usually the case) and are displayed in the colour space they were uploaded in, most web browsers will not display the colour space properly in true colour, by default.

Image editors like Adobe Photoshop have no problem with colour space but if you are working in aRGB or ProPhoto and you save the file in sRGB there will still be a degradation of colour quality.

It is generally good practice to be working in the colour space you want to save the files in, that way you don't lose anything during conversion, apart from the jpeg compression of course.

Some people prefer a different colour space for different reasons. It all depends what the file is being used for. If you are printing files, the best colour space to work in is CMYK since all printers are CMYK. If you print from any other colour space there will always be a conversion (and that is why printed files do not always look the same as they do on the computer).

And also why sRGB, although the oldest technology and the smallest colour space, is still pretty much the standard for web display. aRGB and ProPhoto were Adobes attempt to move the technology forward but the rest of the internet didn't run with it for some reason.

Just to answer the question. Most web sites 'probably' display the files in the colour space they were uploaded and possibly your browser has changed in the last few years? I don't speak with authority for all image hosts but it is unlikely ProPhoto was even available as a colour space when a lot of them began displaying images on the internet.

Since it would involve either a colour space conversion or to check the exif of every file uploaded on the hosts end, I would say it is the responsibility of the contributor to make sure the files are uploaded in the format they would like them displayed. It is also possible that uploaders view the files with software that CAN display the correct colour space and the file wouldn't even appear differently until it was displayed on the web. Basically, you need to upload in sRGB if you want your files to display in their correct colour space on the internet. Especially important if you want to sell those files and have them look attractive (and not dull) to buyers.

The main reason anyone saves their work in ProPhoto "by mistake" is if they are using Lightroom, as (for reasons best known to Adobe) this is the default colour space for editing jpeg files. You can change this to sRGB in the settings if you want to make sure your files are saved and displayed in the same colour space you are working in. Lightroom also does funny things like convert the file you are working on to a .TIF format in Photoshop, which is huge since it is uncompressed, and then converts it back into your jpeg colour space for working in Lightroom.

Lightroom is also a resource hog! And considering it is only a simple photo editor (compared to Photoshop) for that reason I prefer editing my files in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop. Lightroom has its uses. The lens correction profiles and vignetting can be useful. The shadow/highlight and noise reduction algorithms also seems to be more effective than Photoshop. But for me it just seems to slow my computer up and becomes "laggy".

As stated before, it is generally good practice to be working in the colour space you want to save the files in, that way you don't lose anything during conversion, and the files appear more or less as you saved them on your computer (depending on your monitor/calibration).

Personally, I think it would be a good idea if ALL browsers and web hosts recognised and supported ALL colour spaces. Which would be a good goal going forward. That way images would be displayed correctly whichever colour space they were saved in. In the examples above, I saved the same image in four different colour spaces: sRGB, aRGB, ProPhoto and CMYK. As you see, when working with very high resolution jpegs (30Mb for the sRGB and 60Mb for CMYK) the differences are subtle but noticeable.

I hope this helps and have a great day!




Matt Blythe.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

How to Photograph the Milky Way - Your True Colours by Matt Blythe

"Your True Colours" by Matt Blythe  
Click to enlarge




Location
Culver downs on the Isle of Wight. The Isle of Wight is a small island off the South Coast of England.
Time
This photo was taken around midnight during the month of July 2014.
Inspiration
I started taking photos originally with a Kodak 110mm "flip" camera and then on my 18th birthday I was gifted with a Ricoh XR-P 35mm. I was gifted with a DSLR for my 45th birthday which kick-started my enthusiasm for photography again. I have always loved night photography and successfully photographing the Milky Way is the greatest challenge because there is so much to take into consideration. Like finding the right spot, taking the right equipment, being safe at night on your own, knowing your way around the camera in the dark, etc. I was thrilled the first time my sensor ever recorded the Milky Way on camera and I still find gazing at the stars a mystical experience.
Lighting
I parked my car in the darkest spot I could find on the downs that still had some foreground interest. The trees here grow kind of windswept as they are exposed on top of the cliffs facing south, and this made the perfect subject to frame the shot. The light in the Milky Way is starlight only and the lights from nearby Sandown (although technically they are "light pollution") gave a nice silhouette effect to the trees.
Equipment
This is one of my first successful attempts to photograph the Milky Way and was taken with a Nikon D5200 and a standard 18-55mm kit lens and tripod and exposed for 30 seconds on the widest aperture f3.5 and ISO 3200. It took me three outings with the camera before I could even find the Milky Way! This was about my fourth Milky Way shoot ever and I didn't know much or care about light pollution at the time, which was lucky because it made the shot really. Creativity works like that sometimes, it is better than planning, although planning the shot in advance can be helpful.
In my camera bag
In my kit bag I usually have four lenses, a 50mm prime, an 18-55mm kit lens, a 55-300mm zoom and a 10-24mm wide angle which I now use to shoot the Milky Way. I always pack my trusty D5200 which is a surprisingly good camera for night photography. I also have a cleaning cloth (essential) and a remote shutter release, a couple of spare batteries, memory cards and a few filters. I also take a snack and a drink of water with me at night. If you become overwhelmed on your own at night you need a quick way to boost your carbs and rehydrate, it might be just enough to get you home but it is something to consider if you are going to a remote location.
Editing
Editing the Milky Way is always tricky. You need to add quite a lot of contrast to the sky without ruining the foreground or creating too much colour separation. I edited this image using Photoshop CS3 which doesn't have much in the way of noise reduction. I mostly used curves, contrast and some saturation to balance the colours and bring out the details and then sharpened the image using an unsharp mask and then applied the sharpening only where I wanted it with a layer mask. The final touch was cleaning up the long exposure noise and hot pixels in the shadows. I have since taken less noisy shots with a wider angle lens but I am quite happy with this one, as it was one of my first successful Milky Way shots.
Feedback
Timing is everything when shooting the Milky Way. It needs to be at the right time of year for your part of the world (the summer months in the UK) and it needs to be a very clear night with no clouds and no moon visible. You also need a very dark location with no town or street lights positioned between you and the subject. The less light pollution the better. You also need patience and a way of being able to recognise the Milky Way because it isn't always easy to see it with the naked eyes. You can use an app like Star Walk or better still locate The Plough constellation of stars in the sky and go up perpendicularly from the base of the saucepan. The Milky Way runs more or less parallel to the base of the plough and the bright spot is always looking south. Lastly, you will need courage especially if you go on your own. Things that rustle or or go bump in the night can be quite disconcerting if you are alone in a dark place, so it is advisable to go with a friend. And know your camera! Where the buttons are and how they work because you will need to be able to do this by feel in almost pitch darkness. And remember to dress accordingly. It can be cold at night and two hours is usually enough to get a good set of shots unless you plan on camping at your location. Good luck and don't be discouraged if you don't get the perfect shot first time out. It is a learning curve and ironically, and like most things in life, what we judge to be our worst experiences, can often produce the best results. And either way, I hope this helps you to get the shot you are looking for...

See below for more Milky Way photos from this shoot (click the images to enlarge) :-



My First Ever Recorded
Milky Way Photograph!

July 2014

July 2014

 

Also check out my web site for more great photographs...



Copyrights Matt Blythe, Inner Vision Photography, 2016.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Sandown Pier at Night - HDR - Six Images






This is a six image HDR integrated in photoshop, taken a couple of nights before the Summer Solstice. I didn't intend to make an HDR but it took that many images to get the exposure I wanted, so I decided to bracket the exposures. The pier and the bay are moonlit while the seafront is lit by street lights, photographed from Battery Gardens on the cliff at Sandown, Isle of Wight. This is the cropped version. The original high resolution image can be seen here on flickr :-




Best viewed in full screen, the detail is phenomenal even at 100% crop.



Please visit my web site for more information and to contact me :-
http://innervisionpress.wix.com/photography



Thanks for looking. :)


Copyrights Matt Blythe, 2016.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Stock Photography Review - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Below is a review of the stock photography web sites I have worked with over the last twelve months. You will find their web sites listed in order of preference. I have been taking photos for the best part of 30 years (since I was 18) so I am not new to photography. I am quite new to stock and micro stock photography however, and consider I am still learning what it means to be successful and make money in the stock sales business.



1. iStockPhoto

UPDATE - 04th March 2017: The iStock contributor portal and web site has been radically updated and improved (in my opinion) in what iStock are calling a "Unification Process". The new login is at the Getty  ESPAWS website which used to be http://www.espaws.com and is now http://www.esp.gettyimages.com. Both URL's will take you to the same place. If you were previously a video contributor at iStock you will already be familiar with the new web site as it is built around the existing ESP video uploader interface. You can now upload and submit stock photos, vectors, editorial and videos all at the same login and the whole process is vastly improved in terms of ease and time saved, both key wording and describing uploaded files. This is mainly because you can upload and batch edit multiple files at once and the keywords are now disambiguated in from a drop down menu of possible meanings and keyword suggestions. The upload and acceptance process is now based around batch uploads and approval times are around one to two days for regular stock images, depending on the inspectors workload, which is pretty amazing. My 3 main criticisms of the new web site are as follows :

1. Royalty statistics are now updated monthly instead of daily or in real time, which is OK, but I found being able to see image sales and downloads in real time a motivating factor to keep uploading.
2. You can no longer see an inventory of files uploaded previously to iStock, only an inspection record of the status of submitted files since the Unification Process are available. The only current record of your previously uploaded images and files is through your portfolio on the original iStockphoto.com web site, which is still where customers buy images and make downloads.
3. There are currently no statistics available for uploaded files to see how many times an upload has been viewed. Although we are informed this asset will be available "soon".

Other than that the whole upload process has been greatly improved and is quicker, easier and the interface is more intuitive to use generally. You can now also apply to be iStock Exclusive contributor without having to wait for the near impossible 250 credit downloads, which for newbys, could have taken years to reach. Applications are evaluated on an individual basis. Good work and thanks to the team at iStock/Getty.

UPDATE - 18th December 2016: iStockphoto are in the process of updating their website to a brand new portal which will make it much easier to upload photos and report sales. a lot of iStock's problems seem to be generated by their somewhat ageing and well patched website. I am really looking forward to the launch (date yet to be released) and hope it will bring with it some much needed improvements.
 
I have had an account on iStock since 2012 but only this year started contributing to my portfolio. I have about 200 images uploaded to date and have made around 60 sales which I think is OK. iStock are probably the best stock photography web site in terms of turnover (actual volume of sales) and possibly the worst in terms of commission (the royalty rate paid per sale). iStock were around at the beginning of the stock-boom-phenomenon and are still one of the biggest companies and have a lot of integrity, which to me is important. When I began uploading to stock web sites, iStock were the first. I started off by uploading grainy snap shots from my iPhone 4S and these were not only accepted, but to my surprise I began making sales. I then went back through my old Canon S3 archive and uploaded the best photos from there. It is a good thing that iStock accepted most of my files because this allowed me to learn the ropes and develop my understanding of what is required for stock photography . This is also good for iStock. If you think that for every sale that a contributor makes $1 on, iStock actually make $10, you can see that a large percentage of iStock's revenue is made up from the small number of sales that each accepted image earns. 

iStock also seem to be the most reasonable and sane when it comes to rejections. Most of my rejections were associated with logos, trademarks or identifiable people and properties that required a model release, which I have since learnt to avoid. When files were rejected, a real reason was given for the rejection which made it easy to understand, and I had the opportunity to correct the error and resubmit the file. Which is more than can be said of a lot of the smaller stock web sites.

iStock's contributor web site interface is showing its age, although functional. Sales reporting is comprehensive although difficult to keep track of, as they have multiple licenses and purchasing schemes and they are all reported not only separately, but differently, and not all sales show up on your profile. Royalties are reported one month in arrears and paid out when your account balance reaches $100. The main thing I do not like about the web site is the upload process. It is difficult to fathom that in 2016, I can still only upload ONE IMAGE at a time and have to meta-tag and describe each image separately. Other stock web sites allow you to upload multiple images at once and then auto-fill meta-data and simply press "next" for each similar image in a batch. Perhaps this is something iStock can develop in the near future because it would speed up the upload process tremendously. I am currently uploading two or three photos per night which takes too long when I have a batch of fifty or sixty files to upload. iStock does have excellent free software that allows multiple uploads called "Deep Meta" but if you are a die-hard Windows XP fan like myself, you will need to update to a newer operating system to install it.

CONCLUSION : I love iStock and iStock love me! I can see us going places together. However, if they could update the web site and pay a fare royalty rate I would be a lot happier. Giving newbies 15% (or 0.28c in the Partner Program) per sale of their own art, and keeping 85%, is not what I would call a "Fair Trade".

http://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/istock_vision




2. Shutterstock

UPDATE - 18th December 2016:
After about a year of negotiations and letting go and trusting, I FINALLY got my ID approved and am now uploading at Shutterstock, so I thought it was only fair to give Shutterstock a shout-out.

Shutterstock are my second best seller next to iStock. On my first day of uploading (the grainy iPhone pics from my phone) I sold FOUR images which was very encouraging. They have a neat app that is simple to use and upload to, functions well and reports sales to you in real-time. Shutterstock seem to have heaps of integrity and are not that fussy about accepting images, although I have had quite a few rejected for unfathomable reasons which is frustrating when you take the time to upload, describe and keyword your images. It seems like a control issue but in reality, it is probably just overworked inspectors being unreasonable. Having said that, the review time for images is never more than a few days which makes the whole upload process a lot less complicated.You can upload large numbers of files at once, copy and edit keywords easily and submit multiple files for inspection at the same time.

The website is clean, new, functional and has lots of helpful tips and tutorials to help photographers up their game and improve their stock photos. Contributors portfolios are also fresh and look appealing to customers. Sales are frequent but usually only subscription sales which earns the contributor 0.25c per image sale although there are opportunities for direct downloads with better commission rates and video sales if you are into video production.

Shutterstock deserve a special mention because although I joined Shutterstock around the same time as I joined iStock and all my sample images were approved, Shutterstock refused to authorise my account because I did not have photo ID. I first uploaded my passport which was rejected because it had expired the month previously. And my driving licence cannot be accepted because it does not contain a photograph of yours truly. In the UK there is no requirement by law to carry or even own photo ID and my "old school" pink driving licence is still perfectly legal, so I have no reason to update them. So there it stood. I had a Shutterstock account.... but Shutterstock would not let me use it. In fact, they even blocked my partners account temporarily because she added the same Paypal email address as mine and they thought we were trying to scam them! Many lengthy and frustrating emails later we managed to get it unblocked but Shutterstock still refused to budge on the ID issue. I finally broke the deadlock by uploading my expired passport, my pink driving licence, a bank statement, a utility bill and a press pass (with fingerprints), all at once in a single file which got accepted. It all worked out well, so no hard feelings in that department.

I hope to renew my passport or driving licence soon just for Shutterstock and hope it will be a worthy investment of my time and money.

CONCLUSION: I really like Shutterstock's professionalism and integrity and the way they stuck to their guns regarding the ID issue! I also like the quick file inspection times and clean, functional website. I am hoping to get more images on my portfolio this coming year, and with it increased sales, so I am putting Shutterstock as my number 2 stock photography company, right up there next to iStock.

http://www.shutterstock.com/g/innervisionphotography?rid=3789824



3. Fotolia/Adobe

I like Fotolia. Fotolia are very professional and their web site interface is clean, modern and uncluttered. The upload process is simply, quick and easy too. Fotolia were recently partnered/bought up by Adobe so they need to keep their standards high because, as we know, Adobe produce some of the best image and video editing software in the world. It is early days yet and I need to upload some more stock photos to my portfolio. There does seem to be some cherry-picking going on at Fotolia (by "cherry-picking" I mean, choosing which files they want to accept and rejecting similar quality files without a justifiable reason) which can be quite confusing and frustrating if you do not understand what is actually going on. The royalty rate is OK at 33% of all files sold but the credit sales work out considerable less than this (but about average for subscription sales generally).

CONCLUSION : Some of my files that were rejected on other stock companies were accepted on Fotolia and with my first batch of uploads I made a sale, so Fotolia immediately got a thumbs up from me. I am hoping to make Fotolia my number one or two stock contributor but they will have their work cut out to compete with iStock and Shutterstock. 

https://en.fotolia.com/p/206181609



4. Dreamstime

I have not heard a lot about Dreamstime (good or bad) other than they rank in most stock contributors top 5 sellers so, in my opinion, that is a good thing! The Dreamstime web site and contributor interface is excellent, fully functional and jam packed with interesting features, tips and new areas to explore. I initially uploaded about thirty images. Half of these were stock festival photos from the Isle of Wight Festival two years ago and the other half were your basic run-of-the-mill stock images, flower macros, sunsets, etc. All the festival images were approved and ALL of the basic stock images were rejected, which led me to think "hmmmm" out loud. There was also an issue with exclusive images. Four images I had previously set to exclusive, I decided AFTER they had been accepted, to change them back to royalty free but despite changing the setting and saving them, three of them came back still set to exclusive, so the staff at Dreamstime do not want to let their exclusive images go easily, obviously. The other file I deleted and then re-uploaded, only to find that it became rejected this time, presumably for removing the exclusivity? There is the ability to resubmit files but as to date none of the files I have resubmitted have been approved. 

CONCLUSION : They seem a bit querky and special around approvals but it is too early to tell if this is deliberate or just a misunderstanding, so I will refrain from passing judgement at present. I still like Dreamstime but they will need to break out of the "festival only" mentality and get some real photos on my portfolio if we are to make any real progress together.

http://www.dreamstime.com/innervision69_info



5. Alamy

Alamy are a stock photography web site but like Getty they are also host to newsworthy photography and your contributions can be labelled such during upload. This means that newsworthy and editorial photography can be shared at Alamy even if technically the photography is not perfect. You can also upload regular stock images to your profile but the quality must be good as the QC (quality control?) standard is quite high. The main reason for rejections at Alamy is quality - and my main dislike about Alamy - is that if only one image in a whole batch are found with artifacts or "imperfections" they will reject the whole batch and all uploads in the pending QC queue without inspection, and give the reason why only one or two of the images failed. It is recommended that newbies only upload small batches to reduce the likelihood of rejection and increase the chances of the whole batch being accepted. Luckily, images can only be meta-tagged after acceptance so not much time is wasted in this process and contributors are invited to correct any technical errors and resubmit their work. When I have had call to contact Alamy regarding queries their staff have always been courteous and professional. The main reason I like Alamy is because sales are geared towards professionalism and quality rather than quantity.

CONCLUSION : I love Alamy! I am not sure that Alamy love me yet but they will. It is too early to tell as I have not made any sales yet. I recommend checking them out especially if you are a journalist and have editorial files to upload and share. However TAKE NOTE: Rejected files are held in QC for 28 days before a rejection reason is given, which can seem like a long time if you consider your uploads are urgent and this is a month where you will not be adding new images to your income stream. You are not informed that your files have been rejected and ALL subsequent files you upload are held in the QC queue and rejected "ad hoc" - without inspection - at the end of the 28 day period, which is a complete waste of time for the contributor, because as a soon as one of your files becomes rejected, all further uploads will also be rejected for a period of 28 days! This does not encourage or foster learning since it takes time to learn different Stock Photographer's requirements, and during this 28 days there is no room for dialogue or improvement.

http://www.alamy.com/stock-photography/E554D089-F4A9-43D1-AECA-CFB5555F1F25/1/Matthew%20Blythe.html



6. Pond5

Out of all the stock photography web sites I have tried to date, Pond5 is the I like the least. Why do I say this? Well, I had the misfortune of being a Pond5 member for six months and during that time, out of the 50+ uploads, only SIX were accepted and none of these made any sales. Entire batches of good stock photography files are rejected for bogus and made-up reasons and when questioned, artefacts are invented by the staff, which are clearly not visible on the actual image (or accountable to the truth). Of my first batch of 33 uploads, 28 of these were rejected, which started the circulatory defeating process of trying to (and failing) to get more batches approved. One image from my next batch of 13 images was approved and the quality of the file was so poor it lead me to delete the file myself and question the Pond5 curator's eyesight. I subsequently improved the quality of my uploads dramatically, only uploaded my best - most simple - stock photos, feeling confident they could not possibly be rejected unless by a blind man. 100% of this last batch of files was rejected and the reason given was that the images were "fuzzy" and that I should check my camera equipment for defects!

I wrote and complained of course, but the "help" system is designed to always make the photographer in the wrong and the staff at Pond5 right. The customer-curator representative assigned to your help ticket is a self professed "gladiator" who admits that she has no influence over curators decision but is willing to discuss your images to help you to see why they were rejected. This discussion is without exception, a one sided attempt to palm you off and tell you to try better next time because according to their criteria, your photography isn't good enough.

Note: Just to keep things in perspective here... most of the files that were rejected are already doing OK and selling licences on other web sites like iStock. I regularly have my photos featured in the Isle of Wight County Press and last year I was short-listed for the Isle of Wight Photographer of the Year competition, of which my "Milky Way and Comet" image is hanging in the gallery at the Dimbola Museum in Freshwater Bay, if you would like to go and view it. Really, I am giving Pond5 a hard time, but at least it is my time I am giving and I am not wasting it uploading, describing, pricing and tagging my best work only to have it thrown in the face of reason THREE MONTHS later (and for no good reason). Three months is the inspection wait time to have your uploaded files reviewed by the way. When I posted in the forum asking why the approval/rejection wait time is so long and why all my images were being rejected, I was told by other contributors to "man-up" and "get over it" and then my post was deleted. Enough said about Pond5.

CONCLUSION : To date I have stopped uploading to Pond5. I like the Pond5 interface and the ability to set your own price and receive 50% of the royalty which I think is fair. However, in order to sell photography you actually need some photos in your portfolio and with only SIX images accepted in as many months, it isn't going to happen any time soon. Pond5 seem to be cherry picking (or cock-a-roaching) contributors work and rejecting others without any real reason, consistency or criteria for their decisions other than "what we like" which is not a fair representation of an artists work. The unacceptable lead time to approval/rejection and the 95% rejection rate says to me they are trying to keep the company small and turn over a high profit at the same time, which is hurting the contributor and will, if they do not become more flexible, eventually lead to losses. Whether or not I like Pond5 and whether or not they like me, it is still impossible to sell your photography if you cannot advertise it on their web site, so to me, they are not much use to anyone. I hope they review their business model and prove me wrong.... but what they cannot do is show me the invented artefacts they claim to see in my photographs which simply put: ARE NOT THERE. And with that said, I will not be uploading another batch of my best photos only to wait THREE MONTHS to have them all rejected and be told I am not good enough, when it is clearly Pond5 who are experiencing the technical difficulties. I have now closed my account at Pond5!


You can see a selection of the images that were rejected at Pond5 below....











 
Click the images to enlarge.


There are many small, medium and large stock web sites to check out and discover. Some others I would like to join in the not-to-distant-future include 123RF, CanStockPhoto, and Stockfresh. PhotoDune are no longer accepting new contributors, so if you were hoping to start uploading there you might be disappointed.

Check out this list for more stock web sites to explore and contact me through the blog if you wish to work with me personally.....


http://microstockinsider.com/site_reviews




And Have a Great Day!




Matt :)





Copyrights Inner Vision Photography, 2017.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Nikon D90 - REVIEW - Still A Good Camera


 



I recently acquired a Nikon D90 when I purchased a 50mm prime lens from a friend and took it for a low light test shoot last night at Sandown Airport on the Isle of Wight. Quite impressed with the camera build and functionality although the image sharpness dropped off a little when cropped at 100% despite using the lowest native ISO (200) and a long exposure. In good lighting conditions sharpness was good and chromatic aberration was minimal. At 12mp I think it is showing its age a bit next to modern cameras with newer processors and sensors with twice the resolution. This will make an excellent camera to learn with or a decent backup and the body is the same (more or less) as the D7200 so it will be a good practice model until I can afford an upgrade. 

Things I like about this camera are the build quality, the illuminated LCD screen on top of the camera which saves hours of battery life when not using the back screen, and not having to reset the Self Timer for every shot once it is set. I also like that the camera body is the forerunner for the newer D7000 range of Nikon crop sensor cameras and my current DX lenses are all compatible. I bought the camera with a 18-105mm kit lens, battery grip, new strap, remote shutter release, charger and macro reversing ring. All welcome additions to my kit bag.

The D90 focusses well in low light and hunts less than a lot of modern cameras with more focus points and has the full functionality of a modern DSLR. However, the body is not weather sealed so keep it out of the rain.

See sample images below...



Click the images to enlarge.

The first image is the JPEG straight out of the camera with only +5 saturation and minor horizon straightening. The next three night shots tested the camera well in low light and provided good contrast between light and dark. Post processing these images included minor saturation and sharpening only. Most of the saturation was done "in camera" by using a long exposure and setting the camera to "Vivid". The last image is straight-out-of-the-camera (no post processing) and was shot at night in full darkness at ISO800 with a long exposure. As you can see for a 12mp camera creating approximately 4000 x 3000 pixel photographs in low light, the detail and low noise is surprisingly good. All these images and more are licensable on request and will be uploaded as stock eventually.

MY VERDICT : Still a good camera. If you are starting out in photography or you need a low budget backup and you can get your hands on a pre-loved, good condition Nikon D90, you will not be disappointed :)



Copyrights Matt Blythe, 2016.