Thursday, December 24, 2015

Willow Creek Community Church - Christmas Eve 2015

Willow Creek Church - Christmas Eve program at 5:30 PM.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Nikon D750 camera / Nikon 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 VR lens

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Chicago Bulls vs Phoenix Suns - December 7, 2015

Photos from last night's disappointing Chicago Bulls game against the Phoenix Suns. We lost 103-101 at 0.3 seconds left in the game! We were ahead of the Phoenix Suns most of the game by as much as 13 points too!
I struggled all night trying to get a decent shot with the Nikon 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 VR lens. While it's a good lens for "vacationing" covering most typical focal ranges from wide to telephoto in one lens, its limited aperture prevented enough light to enter the camera forcing a higher ISO to maintain enough shutter speed to freeze the action. This confirms what I have been telling students all along that you really do need an f2.8 lens for indoor sports.
This meant the images were noisier than preferred, even though the Nikon Df's great image sensor was there to help out. I also noticed that the sharpness was no way as good as the lens I usually use for indoor sporting events, the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII lens.
While the Nikon 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 lens is not a "cheap" lens by any means at $946.95 (at B&H Photo), it cannot compare to the better 70-200mm f2.8 VRII at $2096.95 (current B&H pricing).
Here are some images taken with the Nikon Df and Nikon 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 VR lens. Images were usually taken with Shutter Speed Priority set at 1/320 second and f5.6 with Auto ISO. ISO's were ranging between ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 on average.

Many people will likely see nothing wrong with these images. But if you have seen how sharp and crisp the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII images are, you'd notice the difference! But for most people, these images are just fine.

I was located in section 113, row 12. Decent seats at the United Center!

You need AT LEAST a shutter speed of 1/320 second for indoor professional basketball games. 1/400 second would be even better, but with the limited light coming in due to the f5.6 lens, I didn't want my ISO to be any higher than it already was at ISO 6400! It would have pushed the camera's ISO to ISO 12,800 which would start looking too noisy. So, I decided to leave the camera set at 1/320 second and timed my shots to minimize blur from the players, shooting at the peak of their movement. Unfortunately, many of my shots were ruined by the "paid" house photographer who had set up strobe lighting throughout the United Center. Seemed every time I hit the shutter for the best shot, he was shooting too! This meant that many of my best shots had his flash going off whereas I had metered for my own shots that used the ambient light exposure, not his flash exposures. It just white washed my shots! If you think about it, the chances to get a perfectly timed shutter release of mine to coincide with his are very slim. But it just goes to show that "pros" often do hit the shutter at the exact same time given that we know when to push that shutter button to get the best shot!

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Apple iPhone 6s Plus - 64 GB

After having an old "texting" cellphone for around 7 years, I decided it was finally time to get a smart phone!  I chose the Apple iPhone 6s Plus with 64 GB of memory.  My wife got one as well.  My daughter who has had smart phones in the past went with a Samsung Galaxy 6 Edge with 64 GB.

It seems that every Black Friday, we have a goal of getting one major item and phones were it this year.  Our phone contracts have typically ended around Black Friday, so that's when we start thinking about phones for the coming year(s).

My wife and I decided that the iPhones made the most sense for us since we both have had iPads for the past couple of years.  Moving to an iPhone is like using the iPad, so the learning curve is relatively small.  My daughter has had Android phones in the past, so she stayed with that by getting the Samsung.

Overall, I like the phone, but it's really huge!  With the Otterbox Defender case on it, it's like holding a small brick!  But the case has a belt clip on it and that allows me to clip the phone onto my belt rather than sticking it in my pocket like many users do.  I like this better and it actually doesn't get in the way as much as my old small texting phone did since it was "thicker" in its case on my belt.

I downloaded a bunch of apps that I usually use on my iPad and now I'm wondering if my iPad (which has cellular data ability) will be used on the road as much.  It's really a duplicate of what the iPhone does, but being larger, it's easier for me to see and to type on.  I prefer to use the mini over the regular iPad since it's more portable and I like the larger size over the iPhone when viewing videos on it.

I've adapted to the new phone rather quickly.  I've only really played with it for about three days or so, but already, it feels like I've had it for a while.  It's easy to use!

I also decided that the larger "Plus" version of the phone was best for me since it will be easier to see, has a longer battery life and takes better photos and videos with its built-in image stabilizer over the smaller 6s version.  My wife also wanted a bigger screen, but I wonder if it will be harder for her overall since her hands are no way as large as mine.  Time will tell.

We spent literally the whole day on Black Friday dealing with phones.  Originally, we chose the Samsung Note 5 and purchased those at Best Buy.  But being Black Friday, getting the phones activated proved a challenge to the store.  Their computer system crashed as they tried to activate our phones and took forever on Verizon's part to get the phones activated.  After the long wait, we later found that my wife's phone didn't activate correctly.  It wasn't until after we left the store and got home that the activation problem was discovered.  This meant another trip back to the store to get that fixed, but after playing with the phones at home, we decided that the smartest thing to do was to pay a little more (a lot more, really) and get the iPhones instead since we both were familiar with the new iOS 9 operating system having had iPads already.  Plus because I already had an Apple MacBook Pro computer, transferring files and photos would be a lot easier.  So back to Best Buy we went to make the exchange and get my wife's activation set correctly.

After another long wait in line and then waiting for the activations to work properly this time on the new iPhones, we headed home for dinner.  But when I got home, my daughter found that the Samsung Galaxy 6 that she got had a problem with the front camera focusing.  She checked the internet and found that many other users of this model had the same problem!  So it was back to Best Buy again!  While there, we learned that the Edge version of the phone was the same price, so we swapped her phone for the Edge version.

We started out our journey on Black Friday going to Verizon to check out their phone deal, went to Target who had iPhones on sale, but didn't have any more in stock and then to Best Buy to get our phones.  In all, we started at 8 AM and didn't finish everything until perhaps around 7:30 PM... give or take.  It was literally an all day affair!

Were we done now?  Not yet!  Today (Monday), we found out that the iPhones had gone down $100 at Best Buy!  So back we went to the store to get a price adjustment on each of our iPhones which saved us $218 between the two phones!  Hopefully, we are done now!

The Best Buy cellphone sales staff were fun to work with though!  We went through several of the people there helping us through the ordeal but the one that stuck out the most was a guy named Jake who joked with us throughout the day as we went back and forth getting the phones right.  It was a long day, but fun because of the staff.  Kudos to them!

Oh... I got the phone in "Space Gray", my wife got hers in "Rose Gold" and my daughter got her phone in "White".  We ordered cases for them on  I got a Otterbox Defender case, my wife got a Spigen Ultra Hybrid Series Air Cushion clear case  to show off her Rose Gold phone's back and my daughter got an Otterbox Symmetry for her phone.

It was a long journey, but we all like what we have now.