B&H Photo

D800 Sensor Issue, Update #2

Oops! Big mistake. Since I purchase so much from B&H Photo I thought I had also ordered the D800 body from there. After B&H could not find a sales record it dawned on me that I had, in fact, ordered it from Nikon USA’s site. Sorry, B&H! [NOTE: I have updated the previous blog posts to reflect my purchase from Nikon rather than B&H].

So, it looks like I’ll be sending the body back to Nikon, but I’ll have to wait until January as we have a couple of trips planned and there is no time to be without a camera, even if the sensor has a problem. At least it is a problem I can work around for now and the 90-day warranty has come and gone (alas!).

Standby for Update #3 in late January or early February.

D800 Sensor Issue, Update #1

If you read the blog entry (HERE), or followed the Photo.net thread (HERE), you know I got the camera back three days ago from a wet cleaning at Mike’s Camera and the diagonal lines are still there. The sensor is definitely cleaner–many fewer dust spots, and the dark circles and the light-colored band are all gone, so it looks like the Mike’s service department did their job–but the central problem remains.

To add another layer to the mystery, here is another twist…I turned in the camera for cleaning with about 6,793 shutter actuations (give or take maybe five or so), and got it back with 9,745 actuations. What’s with that!? I stopped by Mike’s to ask them directly and they were as perplexed as I was. They said they might add, at most, fifty or so clicks while cleaning and checking things out, but not anywhere close to 3,000. Odd. Very, very odd.

I am beginning to wonder if the camera body is jinxed…or haunted…or permeated with a heavy dose of citric acid (lemon juice).

While at Mike’s, they just happened to be having a special event and the different camera reps were all there. I found the Nikon rep, Bill Koder (a real nice, very experienced guy), and explained to him the “diagonal-lines-on-the-sensor” issue. Using my iPhone, I showed him the picture from my website that clearly shows it both before and after cleaning. Then I told him about the magical 3,000 additional shutter actuations that showed up after cleaning. He said that, in his 35 years around Nikon and Nikon products, he had never run into either problem. His recommendation was to try going back to the Nikon Store on this even though I am just slightly out of the warranty period. If they don’t elect to honor the warranty (defect was there upon purchase), he recommended I send it back to Nikon repair. They could diagnose the problem, give me a cost estimate, and I could elect to have the repair done or not.

Obviously, my concern is that I have purchased an expensive, defective product.

So, by way of a summary:

–Nikon D800 (Ser # 3064837, refurbished, approximately 3,200 shutter clicks) purchased from The Nikon Store on July 31, 2013.

–I used the D800 very happily for the next 3,000+ shutter actuations…but on occasion, I saw these strange diagonals in the upper right of my images, especially if I had done a Nik Silver Efex B&W conversion and there happened to be blue, white or grey sky in that area (i.e., no texture). The first few times, I assumed it was caused by the light hitting the lens at an unusual angle–that it was just a circumstantial accident.

–After seeing these lines show up a few more times, and in exactly the same place (and struggling with cloning them out of my images), I finally do an experiment with blue sky and all three of my FX lenses. The lines show up in exactly the same place and it doesn’t matter which lens I use. So, I think, the sensor must be the issue.

— On November 15, I begin posting on Photo.net asking for advice.

–On November 18, I take the camera in to Mike’s Camera for a cleaning. I pick it up on November 22. The sensor is much cleaner overall, but the diagonal lines are still there. AND, I discover nearly 3,000 more shutter clicks on the camera.

–On November 22, I send an email to customer support at B&H Photo with a brief summary of the sensor issue. I will surely hear back after the weekend. Since I do pretty much all of my online shopping for camera gear at B&H (their excellent reputation, you know), I am hoping for the best.

We’ll see where this goes…Standby for Update #2 this next week.

A visit with Cole Thompson

Private Property. Downtown Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2013
Private Property. Downtown Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2013

This weekend was Open Studios weekend in Ft. Collins, so we took advantage of the occasion and zipped up north to visit Cole Thompson at his ranch studio. I like his work because I am quite partial to high contrast, monochrome images with simple yet strong compositional elements, and that describes much of what Cole’s art is about. And, although he comes from a landscape photography background, his work is not limited to that genre. To see for yourself what he does, check out his galleries HERE.

Interestingly, Cole is off in a side eddy as opposed to floating tranquilly down the mainstream in terms of his philosophy of photography, so I thought I’d address that in today’s post. You may not agree with some of his thoughts, but you may learn something from them. His work is pretty powerful–especially when you see the actual finished prints on the wall–so may he stay forever in that very creative side eddy of his.

Here are a few of his key ideas (in my own words):

1) Everything starts from a personal vision. No unique vision = no unique images. All the King’s expensive cameras and lenses stacked on the shelves at B&H Photo won’t help you put together the pieces of an obra maestra unless you have a personal vision of where you want to go with your work.

2) There is no need to know Photoshop like a Scott Kelby clone. All you need to know are those post-processing tools necessary to bring your vision from the camera to the print. In Cole’s case, that amounts to only about a half dozen Photoshop steps and he is finished.

3) Cole doesn’t believe in critiquing the images of others. To him, it is tantamount to saying: “If you want to make your images look more like what I do, then you should do this…”, which he thinks is absurd. You should be free to follow your own personal path without well-meaning critiques interrupting your journey. Also, in many clubs, universities, photo workshops, and photography courses, the common scene is one of photo critique sessions and portfolio reviews which can have the very unproductive effect of motivating you to produce work to please others and not necessarily to please yourself, the latter being what you really need to do to create honest art.

4) He believes in what he terms “photographic celibacy”…that is, not spending hours poring over the works of others. In fact, he has gone seven years now without deliberately studying the photographs of other image makers. He feels this too easily leads to the temptation of IMITATION–and too much of the work being done these days is merely imitation. Again, he stresses the importance of finding your own personal voice with your photography.

To read Cole’s own words on the above themes, read his article, “Never Ask Others About Your Work” and the “Imitation vs. Inspiration” article that immediately follows it.

These ideas could be seen as heretical in some circles. But I say screw “some circles” as long as he creates what he wants! I may not agree 100% with the above points, but I certainly see their merits, I see that they work for him, and I will likely incorporate at least some of those attitudes into my way of doing things, too.

All-in-all, a great visit…and we look forward to his presentation at the Colorado Nature Camera Club in Boulder in November.