Dienstag, 4. November 2014

My Nikon 1 J2 and NIKKOR 30-110 crashed after a 30 meter fall

It was a windy day and my plan was to create a nice timelapse video of the passing clouds. So I set up my Nikon 1 on a tripod at the balcony of a tall building. As the recording would take a while I left to do stuff. In my opinion I chose a rather wind protected position but the weather proved me wrong.

As I came back the tripod with the camera was leaning towards the railing. Probably a gust had put it there. I carefully reached out to rescue it and that was the time when poo hit the fan. The camera must have released the plate's lock with its own weight after it had hit the handrails. Like in slow motion it slid off the tripod, hit the platform and bounced down the balcony passing ten floors.

Looks quite high to me

For several seconds there wasn't a sound and I nearly started to believe the camera got stuck somewhere but a dull bang finally announced the camera's arrival at the bottom.

Place of impact
The fall from 30 meters (98 ft) height scattered the parts in a 20 meter radius, smashed the lens hood, knocked the lens off the body and deformed the camera case. It wasn't possible to put the parts together again but unbelievably the electronics were still working.

Not too bad from the front side
As the case broke open the screen was loose a bit. It has some wrong pixels but nothing too bad. The pop up flash was a bit stuck but worked still. The body was bend so much that I think an intact lens could have been installed but probably a a wrong angle to the sensor.

A bit worse from the back

The plastic lens adaptor broke off just like it should to prevent the body from damage although I don't think it made any difference in this case. I could still extend it but unfortunately it wasn't possible to look through it. So I guess the mechanism that opens the iris is broken.

Okay - that looks bad

I just sent everything to Nikon's repair support. Lets see if this creates a good laugh or repaired camera gear.

Not great but still the best of three usable pictures

Unfortunately the tripod tilted just in the beginning of the recording sequence and I couldn't use the footage. I was happy enough to be able to safe all other video footage and images that were still on the SD card. I could repair the polarization filter that I had put on the lens by the way - woohoo!

Update 1: Nikon sent me a message that they weren't able to repair either my camera or my lens. That's a bit pity as I thought at least the body would be fixable by replacing the casing. If I can get my hands on another broken J2 I will see if I can scavenge its parts.

Update 2: I got my broken camera back. Just out of curiosity I put a 10-30 lens on and took some test shots.

NIKKOR 10-30 mounted on broken Nikon 1 J2

Unfortunately I didn't find the time to shoot at day so the lighting conditions were rather bad.
This is the image quality taken with a camera that Nikon calls broken. Judge on your own.

Image taken by a "broken" J2

Of course the camera didn't come in mint conditions but apparently Nikon didn't even try to fix it. Although I told them that the electronics are still working there was no attempt to replace the case. You can tell it from the condition of the screws.
State of the camera screws after return

Update 3: I took my camera apart to glue up the broken back part of the case and to get rid of the bend in the metal part. For all interested in the inside of the J2 I made some pictures of the striptease :)
All screws are not too difficult to distinguish even if the have different lengths. You may consider to put them in different vessels e.g. lens caps though if you go through the same process.
First I removed the white screws on the side followed by the black screws on the bottom. This allowed me to take of the black plastic back. Be careful not to strip off the flat connection cable.
The next step was to remove white caps at the sides which then made it possible to get out the silver screes that hold the metal part there. In the following I took care of the white screws at the bottom and I could take off the metal part of the frame.


Mittwoch, 7. Mai 2014

Visit to the Brocken Mountain starting from Torfhaus

Originally I planned to go skiing at the Wurmberg mountain in February but the web cam images didn't show nice snow conditions and the weather forecast announced lots of wind. Because of that I decided to go hiking to the Brocken mountain. As far as I remember I never took the route starting at Torfhaus so I was curious to try it. Although it is longer than a lot of other routes it is the one with the smallest difference in altitude.
Parking directly at the start cost a fee. As I don't mind walking a few hundred meters more I left my car for free at the parking lot of the Rinderkopfhang skiing resort that was closed at the time due to a lack of snow.
I started at the Goetheweg which is part of the Hexenstieg hiking route. It leads along the Abbegraben which is part of the World Heritage Site "Harzer Wasserregal".

Abbegraben of the "Harzer Wasserregal"

Only few other hiker crossed my way. Maybe it was too early or to cold for most. Those who stayed home missed a beautiful winter landscape.

Grass in an icy pond

All my way up the Brocken was covered in clouds (as usual for this mountain). When I finally reached the summit at lunch time a bit less than three hours after I started the wind blew all of them away and revealed a beautiful view all over the country.

Brocken panoramic view
The building on the top houses a restaurant and a canteen. As the so called Goethesaal was closed I went for self serving. The food was simple but tasty but the coffee could need some improvement.

On my way back I could see the neighbored Wurmberg mountain where I originally planned to go skiing that day.

View to the Wurmberg mountain

I met the Harz railway's steam locomotive several times and the hiking routes started to fill up.

Steam locomotive on the Brocken mountain

My way down led through a fairy tale like winter wonderland and I had a wonderful view back at the sun lit Brocken summit.

Wooden stump in the snow

Brocken summit

A bit more than two hours after lunch brake I happily reached my car and made my way back home.


CCTV Wide Angle For Nikon 1 J2

In one of my videos I tried to take a star timelapse video with my Nikon 1 J2 . The lens I used was the standard NIKKOR 10-30 F3.5. I wasn't really satisfied with the result. A major reason was that I didn't set the focus correctly but furthermore haven't I been able to get enough sky into the photos. So I needed a lens with a wider angle.

Currently the only wide angle lens for the Nikon 1 series it the NIKKOR 6.7-13 F3.5. Unfortunately it's cost of about €450,- make it unaffordable for me. I found out that some people successfully use CCTV lenses from security cameras. Unfortunately they usually don't use wide angle lenses and especially not with a Nikon 1. So I had to do some testing on my own.

Timelapse video of a trip to Sweden

CCTV lenses are available for different sensor sizes. Accordingly the first thing to find out was which one of them works best with my camera. My impression is that 2/3" is the smallest you would like to use as it already causes some severe vignetting. If you have the choice better go for 1".

I had the great opportunity to test three different lenses. The first one was a €10,- no name 8mm 1/1.3 lens. As second I had a €50,- VT 8mm 1/1.3 and as third one a €100,- Computar 8mm 1/1.4. All of them were for 2/3" sensors. Unfortunately they did not have any model numbers on them. Finally I needed a €10,- CCTV adapter.

No name 8mm 1/1.3, VT 8mm 1/1.3, Computar 8mm 1/1.4 and CCTV adapter

The camera was set up on a tripod and the pictures taken by self timer to prevent shakiness. ISO was set to 100 as I didn't want grain to effect the result. I shot in JPEG finest quality and highest resolution. Lighting was pure daylight from left behind. As first scenario I chose a close-up on the lowest possible F-value.

As you can see the no name lens offers a very shallow depth of field with a lot of bokeh. The image is sharp in the center where I had the focus. It has quite some vignetting but that's the same for all three lenses I tested.

No name F1.3

The VT image looks very similar but the bokeh structure is a bit nicer in my eyes.

VT F1.3
A little drawback of the Computar may be that its F-value goes only down to 1.4 compared to 1.3 of the other lenses but I don't find it noticeable. The image is very crisp in the focus area and the depth of field is similar to the other lenses. For me the bokeh structure is just as nice as the one of the VT.

Computar F1.4

Now I shot the close-up with F8 to achieve a higher depth of field. You will notice that the image from the no name lens is sharp all over but gets a bit blurry towards the vignetting.

No name F8
The VT doesn't show much difference in comparison.

When it comes to the Computar one can see that the vignetting is much cleaner. Some people may think that this is a disadvantage as they like a soft vignette. My opinion is that I prefer this result as a soft vignette can easily be applied in post.

Computar F8
My second scenario was a landscape shot where I set the focus to infinity. The first run was again with the lowest possible F-value. I was a bit disappointed by the result from the no name lens as it was blurry all over.

No name F1.3
The VT didn't show much of a difference although there was at least something sharp in the center.
VT F1.3
As it came to the Computar I could see a tremendously better result. The sharpness was not overwhelming but nice enough for my purpose. Furthermore do I like the colors a lot better than from the other ones which look a bit dull.

Computar F1.4
In the following I switched to F6 to see whether I could get at least some sharpness out of the cheaper lenses. The result for the no name lens was really better but still not very good.

No name F6
For the VT lense the change in the F-value brought much more sharpness but it's very limited to a center area of the image. If you look at the building in the right of the background you could get the impression that the lens hasn't much sharpness in the distance at all. Instead look at the roof top that is hardly captured in the center and you will find that this looks pleasingly sharp.

Considering sharpness and colors the Computar really outperforms the other two lenses in this run.

Computar F6
My conclusion is that you get what you pay for. CCTV lenses can be really cheap but lack image quality as well. Even the Computar may not be able to compete with the regular NIKKOR wide angle lense. I was able to get another used 8mm VT lense from ebay for €15,-. As video doesn't need that much of a high resolution I will try if I can get some nice night sky sequences out of it when I crop the images.


I had the time and it was suitable weather to make a star photo with the VT. The stars already show a bit of movement so the exposure time of 25 seconds was a bit too long. I didn't apply any post editing on this one but a median filter gets you rid of most noise.

VT | Exposure: 25 | F6 | ISO 400 | Focal Length : 8 mm

by XXLRay

Montag, 7. April 2014

Summary of my Winter season 2013/14

My last winter season was so-so. The fourth warmest winter since measuring weather data made it quite catastrophic in parts.

Originally I planned multiple skiing trips to the Harz mountains. One of the trips should go to Sankt Andreasberg for a weekend and go skiing on the Matthias-Schmidt-Berg. A second one was ought to be my first visit to the Bocksberg at Hahnenklee as have only tested the alpine coaster there but never the slopes.

Video about my ride on the Bocksbergbob

Unfortunately there wasn't enough slopes and these two resorts could only open their blue slopes. As this would have been too boring for me I didn't go there. Instead when snow levels decreased I went for hikin gto the Brocken mountain.

My third idea was to visit the Wurmberg at Braunlage. They invested €10,000,000.- and I wanted to make a nice video about the new slopes and snow making facilities. For the first dime the resort was able to come up with a substantial amount of artificial snow and opened most slopes. Unfortunately I wasn't the only one who had the idea to step by. As I could only get some free time during the main holidays this meant a lot of waiting and little skiing on the two forenoons I was there. As follows I did not take all footage I wanted but the video came out OK.

Video about the new slopes and snow making facilities at the Wurmberg

Considering the bad winter the investment allowed a fair amount of skiing days at this resort. Unfortunately other resorts like the Sonnenberg or the Ski-Alpinum are not allowed to create artificial snow because they are located in the national park.
Overall I was very pleased with the modification's results although I could be nitpicking here and there. The Wurmberg offers a nice skiing resort for the whole family.

After I couldn't go to a high mountain region for skiing last season I visited the alps namely the Zillertal during the last week of March this time. As I could only fix my vacation days quite short-termed I booked the hotel just three days before departure. My choice was the Hotel Gasthof Post in Kaltenbach. It had a bit more trendy goods then needed and was accordingly more expensive. Because of the prerequisites sauna, half-board and lifts reachable by foot it was the best match I could find in the short time. Anyway the service was wonderful and the food delicious. Overall the hotel's organization and  architecture made an extremely well structured impression. Apart from that €12.- for a week of Internet access is a bit outdated in my eyes.

The evening I arrived temperatures were high as summer and other guests told only water ski had been possible that day. This damped down my anticipations quite a bit.
The gondola lift solution was a very good idea in my eyes. They simply put an identical cable railway next to the first one. This could be a good option for the Wurmberg as well.

Very luckily the night brought 20 cm (8") of fresh snow. Sight was only to the next seat of the lift which slightly reduced my orientation abilities. In contrast to this the deep fluffy snow on prepared ground was just a dream. On the following day there was just about the same amount of new snow again and sight extended to the second seat. Even this time the complete new snow was left unprepared on the previously prepared slopes.
For the third days morning I had booked a one hour lesson with a skiing teacher. Originally he should teach me some more confidence in difficult areas but the slope state was so excellent that there simply wasn't such an area. Even dark black slopes hard highway quality due due perfectly prepared soft and grippy snow. He anyway had some complaints about my posture which indeed improved my skiing skills. The sight was very good from this day on and I got an overview of the resort for the first time.
Until the I had developed some kind of a standard route. Lifts already started at 07:30 AM but as breakfast in my hotel was only available from 07:00 AM on I hardly made it before 08:30 to the mountain top. First I started to warm up on the blue 5. Afterwards I went by the Sonnenjet lift, blue 12 and red 1 respectively black 4 to Hochfügen. The 1 is is very wide at its bottom part but also quite steep and already a bit icy. Beginners will have their difficulties to take it. On the other side I took the red 10 or black 7 and 8 as often as I wanted. I had the impression that the snow in this resort gets a bit bad starting at about noon due to the sun. That is why I usually went back at forenoon for a short break at the Wedelhütte. It's a bit prim and proper there but it offers a tremendous view. Depending on how fit the legs still were I used the black or red 13 back to Hochzillertal. There I took the red 5 to the Schnee-Express lift. It was easy to cross over to the red 10 there and to take the Kristall-Express lift up again. As it was already time for lunch then I took a break at the Kristallhütte. The panorama is comparable nice as at the Wedelhütte. In my opinion it offers the best Kaiserschmarn in the resort but the goulash is not that good.

My skis in front of the Kristallhütte

After a short break you could change to the Firnhütte via the red 11 and black 8, again up with the Schnee-Express and by the red 6 and blue connection. Due to it's chimney I find it very suitable for cold weather.
As east slope the black and red 3 offered great snow even in the afternoon. Other slopes already had quite wet snow at that time when it was warmer the last days. As the slope to the valley was only opened until the middle station, the snow wasn't that good there and I had more than enough other nice slopes I didn't try it.

According to www.skiline.cc my total slope length added up to 156 km during the six days which was below average.
During the whole time there were so little people that I never had to wait at the lift. I only stood back from time to time to have my own seat and did not block anybody. A bit annoying was that that the seat heating was anyway activated. It was already warm, you arrived at the lift heated up from the run , did not cool down because you didn't have to wait and had to sit down on a warm seat then.
I found the ski drivers overall high level remarkable. Where I am in the leading field in the Harz mountains I had to queue myself somewhere at the middle here. I was even overtaken by a handicapped one legged guy.
Especially during the first days with little sight I noticed that there wasn't a current resort map. Neither the paper version nor the boards at the slopes showed the latest state. That made orientation difficult from time to time. But after the sad Harz winter it was a wonderful winter end for me.

This vacation got my judgment straight again. The Harz has never been the north's Ischgl nor is it nor will it ever be. It can't compare to slope length or variety of an alpine ski resort. But that's not at all necessary. It has it's own niche considering beginners and families and should concentrate on it.


Freitag, 21. März 2014

Taking my Nikkor 30-110 to Hanover's zoo

I got my new Nikon Nikkor 30-110 lens for my Nikon 1 J 2 camera and desperately wanted to take some test photos. As I had some spare time I visited the zoo in Hanover.

Unboxing video of my Nikon 1 J2

I arrived hardly two ours before the zoo closed and there was no discount for late visitors. So the price was a bit high for this short visit. Anyway I had quite some fun and animals are always exciting, aren't they?

As I wanted to travel light weight I only took my camera and the telephoto lens with me. It came out that this was quite a common sense choice. There we little to no situations where I had wanted a wider lens.

The Meerkats in the African part of the zoo were pretty active and enjoying the last sun rays of the day. One of them always was on guard duty.

Exposure: 1/5000 | F-Value 5.6 | ISO 1600 | Focal Length : 110.0 mm (35 mm equivalent: 297.0 mm)

A Yukon bay area is nicely designed. It has a mall with restaurants and even a whole ship at the polar bears. At the beginning of this section you can see timber wolves that I found pretty impressive.

Exposure: 1/160 | F-Value 5.6 | ISO 400 | Focal Length : 110.0 mm (35 mm equivalent: 297.0 mm)

Next to them are the reindeers and they were rather lazy when I was there.

Exposure: 1/400 | F-Value 5.6 | ISO 400 | Focal Length : 110.0 mm (35 mm equivalent: 297.0 mm)

The sea lions are at the central place. Their water basin is attached to an underwater observation station where you can watch them swimming eye in eye.

Exposure: 1/125 | F-Value 5.6 | ISO 400 | Focal Length : 110.0 mm (35 mm equivalent: 297.0 mm)

It was a very nice visit even if it was short. But the different areas of the zoo are so nice designed that you feel like in a different world. Just about right to get your head clear after a week of hard working.

I guess for the first pictures I took with this telephoto lens they came out quite well. It's just as easy to handle as the standard lens. The the large focal length and the small sensor allowed me to get some nice close-ups and I was even able to get some bokeh into the photos.