Cameras & Equipment
Last updated on Friday, October 11, 2019 07:26:48 AM Mountain US Time Zone


Leica IIIf, Nikon F2, Light Meters, Nikon D850, Nikon D500, Nikon APS-C DSLRs & Accessories, Carbon Tripods, Fluid Base Monopod,
Carbon Monopod, Tilt Head, Ball Heads, Pan-Tilt Head, Fluid Pan-Tilt Head, Gimbals, Bubble Level, Carrier, Binoculars, Astrophotography

As an aside,
here are some beautiful mechanical & electro-optical mechanisms.

Leica IIIf circa 1951

1951 Leica IIIf rangefinder 35mm film camera with an Elmar 50mm, f/3.5 collapsible Leitz lens (Germany).

Nikon F2

Nikon F2. A purely mechanical, all metal, 2nd generation, single-lens reflex (SLR) 35mm film camera (Japan).

Nikkor AI 50mm f/1.4

A Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 Automatic Indexing (AI) FX lens circa 1979 (Japan). Nikon F2 Lab Report Feb 1973.

Nikon F2A Photomic DP-11.

Nikkor AI 24mm f/2.8

D500 with a manual 24mm f2.8 AI Nikkor lens. Body was set for the
non-CPU lens parameters (storage #, focal length, & max aperture).

Voigtlander ULTRON 40mm f/2 SL II Aspherical
Voigtlander ULTRON 40mm f/2 SL II Aspherical CPU lens for Nikon (Japan).
The lens' CPU allows use of different camera modes & provides distance information.
One of the finest fast normal lenses made both optically & mechanically, bar none.
Sharp to the edges wide open, excellent micro-contrast, & no coma. Simply amazing.
52mm to 39mm adapter/hood holds the supplied close-up lens & Leica filters.

Voigtlander LH-40 II S screw-in aluminum lens hood (Japan).

Exquisite Voigtlander screw-on aluminum lens hood, smooth slip-on cap, & 39mm pinch lens cap.
Close-up lens screwed into the adapter. The close-up lens was designed specifically for these optics.
This metal cap also perfectly fits the Nikon HS-11 metal hood.

Nikkor AI-S 50mm f/1.8 Lens

Nikkor AI-S 50mm f/1.8 pancake lens with 52mm NC filter & HS-11 metal lens hood.

This is a Nikkor lens, not the inferior Series E type.

Low profile.


Click on linked thumbnails

Nikkor AI 135mm f/2.8 Lens

Nikkor AI 135mm f/2.8 lens with extended, built-in metal lens hood.

Collapsed lens hood.

Mounted onto the Nikon F2 with prisim viewfinder.

Light Meters

Kicking it old school with a Gossen Luna-Pro SBC light meter (Germany).

Gossen Luna-Pro variable angle attachment mounted. It is set at 7.5 deg (green) spot size.

Exposure compensation reference table.

Compact Gossen Pilot 2 light meter (Germany).

Hard case.

Metal HS-9 metallic hood & HR-2 rubber hood for 50mm prime lenses.
The lens cap is of superior design as it can be easily affixed into a deep lens hood.

The rubber lens hood can be folded back.

Nikkor AI 24mm f/2.8 FX

D7200 with an old Nikkor AI 24mm f/2.8 lens. These lens work beautifully with this body in A & M modes.
In the menu, go to "Setup Menu" (the wrench icon), "Non-CPU
lens data", assign a "Lens number", select the
Lens focal length", & then "Maximum aperture" (round-up if necessary), then "ok". A sharp prime lens that
is a 36mm FX equivalent on this DX body. The Nikon HN-1 screw-in, all metal hood is very nicely made.

Low-profile (pancake) Nikkor AIS 50mm f/1.8 lens on the D500.

Nikon HS-11 all-metal lens hood.

The compact Nikkor AI 135mm f/2.8 prime lens (Japan).

Nikon D850

Nikon D850 FX, Back-Side Illuminated (BSI) 45.7 million pixel sensor digital camera.

Nikon 24-120mm Zoom Lens

Nikkor AF-S 24-120mm f/4G lens SWM VR ED IF Aspherical, Nano Crystal Coat, 77mm filter.
Nikon AF-S 24-120mm f/4 G ED VR lens.

The D850 & D500 have the exact same control layout plus the menus are very similar thus making going back & forth very easy.

Nikon MB-D18 Vertical Grip

The Nikon MB-D18 multi-power battery pack or vertical grip.

MB-D18 Multi-Power Battery Pack.

MB-D18, 8-AA battery holder & BL-5 battery chamber cover for the EN-EL18c.
There is also an EN-EL15a battery holder.

EN-EL18c rechargeable Li-ion22 battery, 10.8V 2500mAh 27Wh (Japan) with cover.
Increases the D850's capabilities from 7-fps to 9-fps & over 5100 shots. Importantly, the
higher speed reduces blackout duration allowing the AF system more time to acquire a lock.

MH-26a charger.

Nikon 20mm f1.8 Wide-angle Prime Lens

Nikon AF-S 20mm f1.8G ED Nano Crystal Coat, Aspherical, SWM RF lens.
A very sharp, contrasty prime lens for FX. Nikkor 20mm f/1.8 G ED manual.

Nikon 77mm NC protective filter.

Sturdy bayonet-mounted pedal hood.

Excellent protective inner-box packaging.

Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4 VR

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR FX Lens.
Nano Crystal Coat SWM VR ED IF Aspherical 77mm filter.
Nikon AF-S FX Zoom FX 16-35mm f/4G VR ED IF

Super sharp wide-angle zoom lens.

Nikon AF-S 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 ED VR

Size comparison of 24-120 (L) vs. 28-300 (R) w/no filters.
Collapsed lengths: 4-1/8" & 4-5/8".
Extended lengths: 5-5/8" & 7-1/2".
Weights: 710g & 800g.

Nikon AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6G ED VR

Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G FX

The FX Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G prime is a
n excellent (75mm) portraiture lens on a DX body.
The large apertures beautifully isolate the subject & the color rendition in natural light is amazing.
Combined with the low-noise high-ISO capability of the D7200, they make a potent low-light-level kit.
As an FX lens on the D850, fantastic low-light combo.

Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8E

Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8E ED G VR IF SWM Aspherical, Nano Crystal Coat,
fluorine coated front & back elements, 82mm filter, zoom FX lens (Japan).
Nikon AF-S FX Zoom 24-70mm f/2.8E ED G VR IF

Dimensions (D x L) 3.46" x 6.08" (88mm x 154.5mm). Weight 2.35 lbs. (1070 g). Sharp & heavy.

Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/4G

Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/4G ED IF VR SWM N FX lens.
Sharp, light-weight, fast-handling tele-zoom Nikkor lens.

Focal length: 70-200mm, Maximum aperture: f/4, Minimum aperture: f/32,
Lens construction: 20 elements in 14 groups (with 3 ED & Nano Crystal Coat-deposited lens elements),
Closest focusing distance: 1m, No. of diaphragm blades: 9 (rounded),
Filter/attachment size: 67mm, Weight: 850g,
Diameter x Length (extension from lens mount): 78 x 178.5mm.

Nikkor AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G FX ED VR

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens (Thailand). A fast-focusing FX lens that uses two,
extra-low dispersion lens elements. Its vibration reduction (VR) mechanism is very effective.
Note the D7200's top LCD
, as compared to a D7100, has a larger, simplified layout that is quicker to read.

Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED

Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED prime FX Lens,
Nano Crystal Coat SWM VR IF macro 1:1 62mm filter.
Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G VR IF Prime Lens

The Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 is quite a sharp primary lens. D850 FX, 1/125s, f/3, ISO 180 (cropped).

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4E PF

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4E PF ED IF VR SWM lens (China).
f/4 prime telephoto lens having: a fluorine front element coating,
Electromagnetic (E) diaphragm, Phase Fresnel (PF) lens,
Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass, internal focusing (IF),
Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization, silent wave motor (SWM),
full-time manual focus override, Nano Crystal
77mm filter size, approx. 3.5 x 5.8" (89 x 148mm),
1.6 lbs. (25.6 oz. or 726g). Case, strap, caps, &
plastic hood included.

Nikkor 300mm PF with the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter Model TC-14E III.
See Lens Crop Factor.xlsx calculations.

Nikon AF-S 80-400mm F4.5-5.6G ED VR

I needed a super zoom Nikkor for African safaris.

Previously, when I changed my lenses in the field,
dirt got into the viewfinder costing $200 to have it cleaned.
Also, on safari, there are ever changing vistas plus big & small game
that are close, nearby, & far. This sharp, contrasty 80-400 fits the requirements
perfectly. It balances in the hands nicely with the attached D850 body.
The lens works very well with the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter Model TC-14E III.

Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E G IF ED FX VR

Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E G IF ED FX VR zoom lens (China). Constant f/5.6 aperture.
Fast focusing, sharp, electronic (E) diaphragm, three extra-low dispersion (ED) elements super telephoto lens.
Diameter = 4.2 in. (108 mm) x L = 10.5 in. (267.5 mm), 5.08 lbs., 81.2 oz. (2300 g), 95mm threaded filter.
Compatible with TC-14E III teleconverter & select camera bodies that auto-focus at f/8 & use E diaphragm.

Lens-ring base is 3-1/8" L x 1-1/2" W with a steel-threaded insert 1/4-20 thread in cast aluminum alloy.

SmallRig, lens or cage, aluminum carry handle with rubber grip.
The oversized 1/4-20 threaded knob is machined from one piece.
The knob center accepts a hex wrench for extra tightening.

A handle makes the big Nikon 200-500mm lens easier to carry.

Strong build & light-weight.

Lowepro 13x32cm case is a perfect fit for the large lens with tripod collar, reversed hood, filter, & caps.

Nikon AF-S Teleconverter Model TC-14E III

Nikon AF-S Teleconverter Model TC-14E III. Third generation, 1.4 magnification teleconverter for specific
Nikon telephoto lenses & Nikon bodies that can auto-focus at f/8. The "E" designation denotes that it works
with electronic diaphragms. Only certain Nikon bodies can use lenses with the electronic diaphragms. It's a
perfect match to my Nikon D
500 body & AF-S 200-500mm Super-telephoto zoom lens, shown above.
The TC-14E III has a durable, weather-resistant barrel, plus fluorine-coated front & rear glass elements.

Nikon D500

Nikon D500 DSLR; DX 21MP APS-C CMOS sensor without AA filter. Expeed 5 ASIC processor.
Up to 10 FPS. Nikon Advanced Multi-CAM 20K autofocus sensor module with TTL phase
detection & fine-tuning, plus 153 focus points (including 99 cross-type sensors &
15 sensors that support f/8), of which 55 (35 cross-type sensors & 9, f/8 sensors) (Thailand).
4K video. Two different slots for high-speed XQD, SD, SDHC and/or SDXC memory.
My D500 uses 128GB Lexar 2933X 440 MB/s XQD & 128GB UHS-II SDXC memory cards.
This camera body is super responsive; it's like a machine gun. Nikon's Flagship DX body (2016).

The Nikkor AF-S DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR is a stabilized
24-120mm FX equivalent standard zoom lens for Nikon APS-C DSLRs (Thailand).
High-cost, compact, fast aperture, mid-range zoom; great for all-day carry.
A very sharp lens with excellent contrast that performs well in low-light situations.
Incorporates an electronic (E) diaphragm that is only fully functional on late-model bodies.

Specifications: focal length 16-80mm. Maximum aperture f/2.8-4; minimum aperture f/22-32.
Lens construction: 17 elements in 13 groups including four ED glass elements, 
three aspherical elements, plus a flair-reducing, proprietary, Nano Crystal Coating. 
Fluorine coatings on the front & back outside surfaces reduce adhesion of dirt & moisture.
Angle of view 83 deg - 20 deg. Minimum focus distance 0.35m (1.15 ft.) from focal plane at all zoom positions
Maximum reproduction ratio 0.22x. No. of diaphragm blades 7 (rounded).
Diameter x Length (distance from camera lens mount flange) approx. 80 x 85.5mm.
Four-stops VR combined with the faster apertures are a great, low-light combination.
Weight approximately 480g (1 lb. 1 oz.) Supplied accessories: LC-72, 72 mm snap-on front lens cap,
LF-4 rear lens cap, HB-75 bayonet hood. Optional accessories: 72mm screw-on filters, CL-1218 lens case.

The high-resolution touch screen is articulated.

The index also illuminates the release mode dial setting in the dark.

The eyepiece shutter has to be closed to unlock the round, fluorine-coated viewfinder eyepiece.
Fluorine coatings resist dirt, oils & moisture.

The eyepiece diopter adjustment (left) is the best I've ever used.
Pull knob out, adjust (it has detents) until the display info is clear, push back in to lock.

The rubber cover wraps nicely around the entire grip including the entire battery door.

Control buttons, display (optional), & top LCD illuminate when activated by the OFF-ON-Illuminate switch.

Weather sealing marked in yellow.

D500 & MB-D17 grip magnesium alloy sub-frames.

Nikon MB-D17 Gripp

Nikon D500 with matching Nikon MB-D17 grip..

TheThe add-on grip has a programmable Fn (Function) button (left).

The camera body black dust cover (left) is shown stowed in the grip.
A white dust cap protects the connector. There are two alignment pegs.

The grip reproduces the camera's shutter release button, command dials, AF-ON, & mini-joystick. 

The grip is supplied with two types of battery holders. The MS-D12 holds 8, AA batteries.
The MS-D12EN holds the EN-EL15 Li-ion battery. Type & usage order are set in the menu.
The grip also holds the larger, higher capacity EN-EL18a battery with the BL-5 cover which
is handy if you already are using that battery type with another camera body (e.g., a D5).

Only use the Li-ion 20 (not 1) model battery. Nikon will exchange them for free.
Make sure to the keep the D500's firmware updated from the NikonUSA site.

The MS-D12 loaded with eight, Eneloop Pro AA Ni-MH batteries.
The body is programmed to use this type & access them first.

The Panasonic BQ-CC17 Ni-MH battery charger.
It's a smart charger that turns OFF when complete. It has 4 green LED charging indicator lights.
It can charge any number and/or combination of up to 4, AA or AAA rechargeable
Ni-MH batteries.

The location of the folding plugs allows both chargers to be plugged-in to a single, modern outlet.

Nitecore Digicharger D4 wall charger.

Nitecore UNK1 USB portable charger for Nikon EN-EL15a.
A compact unit; 3-5/16" (8.5cm) x 2" (5cm) x 1" (2.5cm).

Nikon EP-5B wall power connector for D850.

Nikon APS-C DSLRs & Accessories

Nikon D7200 (left) &. Nikon D500 (right).
The D7200 benefits from the addition of a grip thereby giving the little finger extra area to grab.
The D500's grip is deeper & longer allowing comfortable placement of all of one's fingers.
The D500 has no pop-up flash nor a focus light; no scenes or U1/U2 top-dial settings
whereas the D7200 body has all of these features. I use the D7200 w/grip for landscape &
portraiture; the D500 is for nature/wildlife, action/sports, & low-light scenes.

Nikon D7200 DSLR body (Thailand).

Nikkor AF-S 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G DX

 Nikon D7200 DSLR; 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor with no AA filter & 1920x1080 60p video. Expeed
4 ASIC processor. Nikkor DX 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G wide-angle zoom lens, 110 deg maximum FOV with
three aspheric & two extra-low dispersion (ED) elements (Thailand). It uses a 77mm (NC) filter (removed). 

Nikon NC 77mm filter & HB-23 hood, in-place.

Nikkor AF-P 18-55mm G DX VR

The Nikon AF-P DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens. The "P" stands for Pulsed with the adoption
of a stepping motor for AF. The stepper motor accelerates phase-detection AF speeds by approximately
10 times & contrast-detection AF speeds by approximately 3.5 times. There is a 25% reduction in noise
within the AF drive mechanism thus facilitating the shooting of videos. There are no A/M focus nor VR
switches on the side. Just turn the focus ring as needed. VR defaults to ON & can be set to OFF in the
menu. The D500 also has in-body electronic vibration reduction used in conjunction with the lens built-in
VR to further decrease the effects of camera motion during video recordings. This lens has the best MTF's
of  this particular kit lens series from Nikon & is superior to most other makes, too. A lite, sharp lens.

Auto/Manual focusing & VR ON/OFF switches are gone. Focusing can be over-ridden &
VR is a menu selection that only appears when the proper lens is attached.

The front ring can be used to manually focus at anytime without having to throw a switch.
The front ring does not move when the lens is focusing as it is electronic & decoupled.

Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 G VR

Nikon AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G lens (Thailand).
The barrel is collapsed & locked. Sharp photos on the 24mpix camera. Performs well beyond its cost.
Its Silent Wave Motor is too noisy for video even with an external microphone. Many videographers
recommend manual focusing. The AF-P Pulse stepper motor is superior; faster, smoother, very quiet.

Nikkor AF-S 16-80mm f/2.8-4E G DX ED VR

The Nikkor AF-S DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR is a stabilized
24-120mm FX equivalent standard zoom lens for Nikon
DX crop-sensor APS-C DSLRs (Thailand).

A Nikon 72mm neutral clear (NC) filter (Japan).

Compact, stout lens that mounts & balances nicely on D500 & D7200 sized bodies.

Relatively low-cost filters protect delicate, expensive lens optics. Why would I put a cheap
filter on a ($1000) lens? Nikon lenses & filters have integrated optical designs that deliver
maximum performance, thus I will not put a even expensive
different brand on any of my
Nikon lenses. Plus, Nikon filters use superior materials & have excellent workmanship (Japan).

Lens fully extended at 80mm focal length.

A nice photo using a D7200 with a 16-80mm DX zoom lens (above). Click to see full-sized photo.

Nikkor AF-S 18-140mm 3.5-5.6G ED VR

Nikon AF-S 18-140mm 3.5-5.6G ED VR zoom lens. It uses both aspherical & ED elements.
This is a sharp, nice handling general-purpose lens that I favor over the Nikkor 18-200 zoom.

Nikkor AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G

 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G prime lens. Rugged, sharp, fairly fast; uses an aspherical element.

Nikkor AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G

Nikon AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G prime lens
with a Nikon NC 52mm filter. Super sharp prime lens.

Nikon D7100 rear colored display.

Nikon D7200 updated B&W information layout of the rear 3.2" LCD (1,228,800 pixels).
Even though the Nikon's rear screen is made out of very tough, scratch-resistant glass,
a Vello Ultra LCD screen protector has been affixed (static adhesion, no sticky residue).

The D7200 with two, 64 GB SDXC 95 MB/s flash memory cards (shown ejected) for a total of 128 GBs.


Click on linked thumbnails

Nikon SB-700 Speedlight. Excellent price to performance ratio & is not overly large.

The flash head zooms with the focal length.

The head tilts down & has a built-in diffuser for close-up macro shots. 

It has a built-in flip card to highlight the eyes in portraiture. The head tilts & swivels over wide ranges.

A stand, filters, & a nice padded case are included. It detects the filter type (fluorescent or incandescent) &
sets the camera's color temperature, accordingly. As part of Nikon's Creative Lighting System (CLS),
flash can communicate with other flash units. It can act as a master or a remote unit with other CLS flashes
for synchronized triggering; multiple units can be used. The specific camera's internal flash must have CLS.

Nikon MB-D15 grip multi-power battery pack.
The body & grip have strong, lightweight magnesium alloy cores.

The Lowepro Top Loader Pro 70 AW day bag holds the D7200 with an MB-D15 grip & a
Nikon AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED lens or 70-300, perfectly.

Nikon AN-SPL001 premium leather strap; black, soft & wide.

Remote Cords

Nikon intervalometer MC-36A. Easy to use. Under SET, press Left/Right selector buttons to choose a function
then, use the Up/Down selector buttons to set the parameter values. Turn SET off then use Timer Start/Stop.
There is no power switch,. To conserve the two, AAA batteries, Nikon recommends turning off all active functions;
delay, long (shutter exposure,) & interval (above). This unit is really helpful for DSLR wide-field astrophotography.

The 10-pin connector has robust design & construction. It is secured using a screw-in locking collar.

White indicia (right) guide alignment of the plug & socket. Note three socket keys at 1,4 & 7 o'clock.

 Nikon Wireless remote WR-10 kit. 3-channel WR-T10 transmitter (middle), 
WR-A10 10-pin adapter (bottom), & the WR-R10 receiver (right).
The transmitter has a two-stage shutter release button like the camera, itself.
The Fn button is programmed in the camera's menus as are other functions.
I programmed mine to toggle Live View.
The nylon component bag (left) has a divider inside to keep the units separated.
Nikon WR-R10/WR-T10/WR-A10 Wireless Remote Adapter Set Manual

The WR-R10 receiver unit (top) plugs & locks into the WR-A10 adapter
which plugs into & screw-locks into to the 10-pin socket. Two small gray buttons are
simultaneously pressed to pair the unit's receiver with the WR-T10 remote transmitter.
The entire mounted unit can pivot through a limited range. Firmware v3, which can
only be updated by Nikon, is needed for use with the SB-5000 Speedlight.

Nikon MC-DC2 wired remote shutter release for select Nikon cameras (e.g., D7200).

Release button shown locked-down for extended-time exposures.
Used for long controlled low-light & sky exposures.

MC-DC2 connector.

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Click on linked thumbnails

Auto-focus Calibrator
If you suspect your camera is not properly auto focusing, modern bodies have an AF fine-tune feature.
To assess weather or not your camera/lens system is front-focusing, back-focusing or correctly locking onto
objects there are a variety of test charts available. This chart & setup can be found on YouTube searching the
terms "AutoFocus Calibrator DIY". The project used cardboard but I substituted more rigid/precise materials.
It is my impression that older bodies/lens or newer body/older lens combinations have more AF problems.
My D500 & lenses are newer & show none to very little needed correction after testing.
I test zooms at maximum magnification.

Refer to various YouTube videos for testing details.

Numerous parameters must be controlled for the test:
Use tripods, mirror lockup, remote or timed release.
Assure focus chart is flat, square, & normal to the optical axis.
Test beyond minimum focusing distance.
Test distance 40 times the lens' focal length or typical distances.
Aperture wide open using Aperture Priority or Manual modes.
Low ISO (e.g., 100 recommended) with good lighting.
Turn off VR, sharpening, noise reduction, & distortion correction.
Compensate to obtain proper exposure, if required.
30 degree scale tilt from horizontal (not 45 deg).
Use the center, single-point focus point.
Manually defocus the lens between each of multiple readings.
In the AF Fine Tune menu, adjust saved value not default.
Plus values "Push" the front focus towards back focus (Nikon).
Testing over a zoom lens' range can be problematic.

Unit mounted onto a tripod.

Acrylic used as backing. See Cutting Thin Acrylic Sheet. Used a very lite coating of 3M spray adhesive.

The plastic sheet is 1/8" thick & the pivot is a 1/16" dowel pin.

The scale pivot is two lines above center so the centers align when it is tilted at about 30 degrees.

When drilling plastic, use a slow speed, small cuts, & clear
chips very often, otherwise heat builds up & melts the material.

Silicon glued an aluminum L-bracket (with 1/4-20 threads) to the back.

There are numerous autofocus test charts.

Azden SMX-30 DSLR Video Microphone

An Azden SMX-30 DSLR video microphone mounted on top the D500 with grip (Japan).
The unit is surprisingly light-weight & compact. See SMX-30 manual for full specifications.

Entire rig on a light-weight Manfrotto fluid pan-tilt video head & Manfrotto carbon tripod legs.

The shotgun mic is located under the stereo pair of capsules that are 120 degrees apart XY configuration.

Uses two, AA batteries that last about 24 hrs. Though this is significantly less run-time than most other
DSLR video mics on the market, the increased current draw is a direct consequence of the built-in
low-impedance pre-amplifier design. Lower impedance can yield a better signal-to-noise ratio.
The easy to access battery door has a nice, sturdy (thick) design. I use Eneloop NiMH batteries.

Left-to right: flat & high-pass filter, stereo (XY) & mono (shotgun). OFF, ON (battery) & Auto ON/OFF,
+20, 0, -10 dB selections. The Auto power turns the unit ON & OFF for cameras with powered-mic inputs.
I really like being able to quickly & easily switch between shotgun or stereo with a minimum of equipment.

The recess-molded black switch indicia were hard to see so I inlaid light gray
paint using a tootHPick & damp finger. The original labels are a light grey.

The suspension is effective (compliant) & sturdy yet compact.

The two stereo capsules behind a metal screen.

The cord with a 3.5mm mini-jack is not too long (like many) nor too bulky (coiled).
The cord is permanently mounted with good strain relief. Plug-in connections can be problematic.

Supplied foam wind cover shown in place. The foam makes it a little harder to open/close the battery door.

The SMX-30 comes with a faux leather storage bag.
A deadcat wind baffle (Denmark) that covers the foam is available, separately.

A Rode 10 ft. audio extension for closer placement of the microphone. Gold-plated 3.5mm mini-jack connections.

L-R: Infrared remote, magnifying eyepiece for macro lens work, hot-shoe cover & eyepiece light baffle.
The D7200 has IR sensors on the front & back of the body.

Nikon HC-E1 HDMI cable used to connect Nikon D7200 to a TV.
Male Type C Mini to Male Type A. Cable length = 114 in. (9-1/4 ft. or 2.9 m).

Lowepro SlingShot 202 AW bag. Lowepro products are well thought out & made of the best materials.

Lowepro Photo Classic BP 300 AW (China).

Nikon D7200 & Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 telephoto with Nikon AF-S Teleconverter Model TC-14E III.

Lowepro Flipside 400 AW backpack (China).

High-quality materials & workmanship. Holds a lot of kit. Here it's holding my Nikon D7200 w/grip & a
Nikkor 200-500 telephoto lens. This is a unique design. It works by taking off the shoulder straps, bring the
pack to the front (pivoting on the belt) & then the back flap unzips. Suppose to keep the pack off the dirty
ground & defeats pickpockets. Some people like this style & some do not. The zipper can be difficult,
the weight of the open back has to be supported (e.g., a knee), & the flap attachment area makes it hard
to access the very bottom spaces.
It's best to not carry a body with a long lens attached  as shown here
because even a modest bag drop could put undue stress on the mount causing damage.

Carbon Tripods

CT-3442 (Taiwan) high-grade carbon fiber tripod having a metal frame constructed of
7075 aerospace aluminum alloy; CNC milled. Leg tube diameters are from 28mm to 19mm.
The legs fold-up 180 degrees for more compact storage. Super lightweight & strong.
One reason I chose this tripod was that it does not have a center column that adds flex.
Feisol Tripod CT-3442 Manual  Feisol Tripod General Maintenance

Feisol Tripod CT-3442 Specs 
Load capacity  55 lbs. (25kgs) 
Min height  7" (18cm) 
Max height  55.9" (142cm) 
Folded length  19.3" (49cm) 
Preset leg angles  25/50/75 degrees 
Leg sections 
Weight  2.5 lbs. (1.1kgs) 
Anti-leg rotation  Yes 
Tripod bag  Yes 
Optional spikes  Yes 

Hook to suspend additional weight (e.g., a camera bag) for extra stability (e.g., in wind).

Feisol Tripod Leveling Base
Feisol leveling base LB-7567 for the CT-3442 tripod
(Taiwan). 75mm diameter ball & bowl.

Leveling base, installed. Plus-minus 30 degrees tilt for uneven ground.
Solid aluminum. Check the three, bowl set screws for tightness before use.

The OEM Feisol leveling head handle does not allow attachment of the weight hook so I
modified it using my lathe. The hook is a 10-24 thread. I used a jam nut with a fiber washer.

Protected the part with tape. Center-drilled the curved end. Feisol told me the handle was solid aluminum
but it is hollow, obviously for weight savings. Too bad, as I would have adapted the 3/8-16 steel plug from
the OEM base for a more durable threaded mount. It should be solid metal with a steel insert, instead.

Drilled a #25 hole for a 75% thread, in aluminum.

Threaded the hole with a 10-24 tap.

Lightly padded case with accessories side pouch.

Legs not reversed.

The legs can be reversed with a ball head attached to compactly store in the supplied bag.
Check that the three set screws for the top plate are properly tightened.

Legs reversed for compact storage.

Tripod padded carry strap.

Feisol long stainless steel spikes - weight: 15.9g each (x3 = 47.7g).
Hardness is low; suitable for wilderness ground surfaces such as sand, grassland, & snow. Not
for use on concrete or asphalt surfaces. Feisol short stainless steel spikes - weight: 10.1g each
(x3 = 30.3g). Hardness is high; suitable for concrete surface, asphalt road surface, & all other
wilderness ground surfaces such as sand, grassland, & snow. The hook's thread is 10-24.

Feisol ball head CB-40D. Allows reverse-folding of the tripod's legs.
A proprietary Arca-style quick release plate QP-144750 is included.
A long Arca plate will work, too.

Feisol Ball Head CB-40D Specifications 

     Height      10 cm / 3.9 inches
     Weight      430 g / 0.95 lbs
     Ball Diameter      40 mm / 1.6 inches
     Base Diameter      60 mm / 2.4 inches
     Max. Load      15 Kg / 33 lbs
     Thread Size      3/8 inch

Manfrotto 290 MT294C3 carbon tripod (Italy).

Aluminum plate with 3/8-16 thread. Note rubber bumper ring for the vertical column.

At each leg pivot there is an aluminum position lock that can be rotated to increase leg stance.

A small, snap-on wrench is supplied to allow leg lock adjustments.

The leg locks are aluminum with plastic levers.
Levers are much quicker, stronger, & easier than turned collars.

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OEM Slik mini tripod (Japan).

Slik mini tripod with Manfrotto mini ball head 482 (Italy).

Vivitar micro tripod with built-in ball head.

Fluid Base Monopod

The Manfrotto MVM250A monopod with fluid base supports almost 18 lbs (Italy).

The 3/8-16 thread is spring-loaded & slides in to expose a 1/4-20 thread.

Carbon Monopod

Manfrotto 290 MM294C4 carbon monopod (Italy).

The 3/8-16 thread is spring-loaded & slides in to expose a 1/4-20 thread.

Tilt Head

Manfrotto 234RC tilt head. All aluminum construction & an RC quick-release plate (Italy).

Tool-less 1/4-20 mounting bolt.

All Manfrotto quick-release plates. have a secondary safety lock some of which can also be locked open.

Ball Heads

Manfrotto 482 mini ball head with a 1/4-20 base (Italy). Subsequently replaced by Manfrotto 494RC2.

Manfrotto 494RC2 pan-tilt ball head. All aluminum construction (Italy).

Manfrotto 498RC2 pan-tilt ball head with friction control & quick-change plate (Italy).

The base has a degrees scale that can be used to take a sequence of
overlapping photographs that are then later stitched together for a panorama.

A size comparison of the three heads.

Manfrotto 2909 35mm Super Clamp with short & long studs.
The short stud has both 1/4-20 & 3/8" threads. The long stud has a 1/4-20 thread.
Triangular piece snaps into fixed jaw or underneath post lock for storage.

Ball-head mounted mounted onto clamp.
This setup is for an African safari to clamp onto bars.

Pan-Tilt Head

Manfrotto 804RC2 tripod pan-tilt head with RC plate (Italy). The handle have good ergonomic design.
It is constructed out of dimensionally stable, engineered plastic for weight & cost savings.

It has a built-in level. The RC plate is, of course, aluminum.

Fluid Pan-Tilt Head

Manfrotto 128RC pan-tilt fluid head (Italy). All aluminum construction with RC plate.
Compact, low-cost simple fluid head. 

The drag is semi-adjustable via the two knobs.

3/8-16 mounting thread in an aluminum base.

Manfrotto MVH502AH Fluid Head

Manfrotto MVH502AH fluid head incorporates their Bridging Technology (Italy).
Manfrotto Fluid Head MVH502AHH      Manfrotto Fluid Head MVH502AH parts

Manfrotto MVH502AH Fluid Head
Weight 59.64 oz.
Collection/Series 502
Material Aluminum
Safety Payload Weight 15.43 lbs.
Counterbalanced Weight 8.82 lbs.
Tilt Drag adjustable 0 - max
Pan Drag adjustable 0 - max
Plate Type 504PLONG
Ball Flat Flat
Center of gravity 2.17 in
Front Tilt -80 deg / +90 deg
Bubble Spirit Level 1
Accessory Compatibility 502HLV; 509HLV;
Top Attachment 1/4″ & 3/8″ screws
Base Diameter 2.95 inches
Certifications None
Color Black
Easy Link Yes
Head Type Video/Fluid Head
Max Working Temp. 140 F (60 C)
Min Working Temp. -4 F (-20 C)
Pan Bar Included Yes
Panoramic Rotation 360
Quick Release Yes
Working Height 5.12 inches

Manfrotto MVHN8AH Fluid Video Head
Manfrotto MVHN8AH fluid video head (Italy).

Front view (above) & back view (below).

Manfrotto Fluid Head MVHN8AH Manual     Manfrotto Fluid Head MVHN8AH Parts

Manfrotto Fluid Video Head MVHN8AH Specs 
Weight 77.59 oz.
Collection/Series Nitrotech
Material Aluminum
Safety Payload Weight 17.64 lbs.
Counterbalanced Weight 17.64 lbs.
Tilt Drag adjustable 0 - max
Pan Drag adjustable 0 - max
Plate Type 504PLONGR
Ball Flat Flat
Center of gravity 2.17 in.
Front Tilt -70 deg / +90 deg
Bubble Spirit Level 1
Top Attachment 1/4″ & 3/8″ screws
Powered by (batteries) Lithium CR1220
Color Black
Easy Link Yes
Head Type Video/Fluid Head
Max Working Temp. 122 F (50 C)
Min Working Temp. 5 F (-15 C)
Pan Bar Included Yes
Panoramic Rotation 360
Quick Release Yes
Working Height 5.83 inches

Tilt lock, drag, counter-balance force, & pan lock controls are on the left,
good for right-handed people operating the pan handle on the right side.
Pan & tilt drag are continuously variable as is the counterbalancing force.
The equipment mounting plate does not slide in but rather snaps in from the top
which is a better method when attaching heavier, bulky equipment.
The plate is then captured but slides for initial balancing before locking.

A Nitrogen gas piston is part of a continuously variable force mechanism used
to counterbalance a load of up to 17.637 lbs. or 8kg (top-right pullout handle).

Top & bottom views.
1/4-20 or 3/8-16 plate attachment screws & 3/8-16 threaded aluminum base.

The spirit leveling bubble has a Lithium CR1220 battery powered, snap-in illuminator.
It turns off when the red button is pressed again or automatically after about 10 seconds. 
Mounted onto a Feisol tripod with its optional leveling head attachment.

The left pull-out knob is the variable counterbalancing force control. The outside knob is the tilt lock & inner knob is the variable drag.
While behind the camera, rotating the knobs forward increases drag & locks the tilt axis but the counterbalance level will decrease.
The knob pulls out (extends) to give additional hand clearance for the tilt locking knob and/or when large equipment is mounted.

This fluid video head is the best featured, smoothest fluid head for the cost.
The variable load compensation is effective. Its ergonomics are very good.

Follow Focus

Fotga follow focus for 15mm rails.

Fotga 15mm rail mount.

I made a rubber wheel that has an aluminum hub that holds a large O-ring in a square groove.
It is attached with a 4mm cap-head screw with a red, press-on knob.

The Fotga Model DP500 III now uses the JTZ X-Type coupling, as shown above.

Cut a square O-ring groove into a supplied OEM plastic gear using a
custom-sized aluminum arbor with 4mm tapped hole for the fastener.
A V-groove might be better to hold the O-ring.

The mod works well. The O-ring can be removed so the gear's functionality remains intact.
Friction wheels, as compared to a two-gear coupling, can loose accuracy due to slippage.








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Benro gimbal head GH-2 (China). Supports 50 lbs.
Strong & smooth with a high degree of adjustability.
Easily holds my D500 with a 200-500 telephoto lens.

The system's center of gravity (CG) is below the optical axis due to the weights of the mount, the pivoting
gimbal parts, & the camera body's uneven distribution of weight towards the bottom, including the battery.
A grip would add even more lower-half weight. The captured elevation rubber knob is for tension & locking.

Panning axis has a degrees scale for panoramas.

Two small stop tabs rest against the lens foot heel.

The included Arca-type plate has extra 1/4-20 screws that can be tightened with (a hex) or without tools.

Note the plate bottom has slide-stop bolt heads at each end.

The base has long slide-stop channels for added adjustment range.
The locking knob is captured.

This machined-in safety stop keeps the slide from coming apart if the lock slips.

Compact Jobu gimbal (Canada).  

This Kirk (USA) lens plate KLP-450 is 4.5" L x 1.5" W x 3/8" D.
The silver (aluminum) stop is reversible & has a 30 deg angle to fit tighter against the Nikon 200-500mm lens-ring base.
The Arca-type plate has slide stop screws underneath. The extra length helps in balancing. Very nicely designed plate.
When balancing, the center of gravity (CG) does not run along the lens' optical axis but is somewhat below it.  
Take into account the weights of the lower arm, the base, the lens mount, & the lower half of the camera body/grip.


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Panorama Entrance Pupil Setup

Tripod with leveling-head (Feisol), 360 deg indexed Arca head, 200mm nodal point Arca rail, tilt head (Manfrotto),
D500 with WR-R10 remote shutter release. This setup allows me to level the rail while also tilting the camera.
In photography literature, the lens' entrance pupil is often mistakenly referred to as the nodal point. The
adjustment rail enables removal of parallax by moving the panning pivot point forward to the lens' entrance pupil.
While looking through the camera at two vertical edges, one near, the other far, adjust along the rail & rotate the
assembly until the distance between the two edges is constant. Eliminating parallax allows higher quality stitching.

Arca-type L-bracket on a nodal point rail.

 Bubble Level

This black-anodized aluminum add-on bubble level for tripods has a 60mm (ID) tray. It accommodated all
of my different tripod head bases except the Manfrotto 498RC2 tilt-ball. To accurately mount the plate for
machining, a bolt head was cut to at an angle on the lathe. Using this forced the part's hole to be tightly centered
on the table. 0.35mm (0.014") was removed to open-up the plate for the 498RC2 which has a 60.5mm base.

Using the rotary table, three, 6mm holes were drilled every 120 deg to clear the base-locking set screws.
If the screws are set out about one mm, they keep the plate from rotating as the head is attached.

This shows a Manfrotto MT294C3 carbon fiber tripod with a mounted & locked 804RC2 pan-tilt head.
Its aluminum base was just under 60mm in diameter.

A level tripod is recommended for taking panoramic photo sets that can be subsequently stitched together.
All my monopod & tripod heads use the same (interchangeable) Manfrotto quick-release 200PL camera plate.

The slightly oversized base now fits the tray perfectly & can be locked with the three tripod set screws.

Cotton Carrier

The Cotton Carrier is an excellent harness to allow effortless & secure
carrying of photographic equipment while freeing both hands for hiking

A machined metal hub screws onto the camera's tripod mount. There is a very thick rubber washer.
Note the keyhole-shaped Lexan slot. The arrow points forward thereby orienting the key feature.

The carrier has a small pouch containing a rain cover for the camera
body, the hex wrench, & hub. The closure flap also tucks a strap into place.

The harness has a breathable mesh back.

The hub arrow is rotated to the camera's front & locked very tightly.

To secure the equipment, turn it to a right angle (left or right), slip the hub into the slot & rotate the
camera so the lens hangs down. It is now locked into the keyhole slot. To remove, reverse this procedure.
It comes with a tether as a backup safety precaution but I put the camera strap around my neck, instead.

For larger (taller) pro-body cameras or those with an added grip like this example,
they recommend using the 10 deg angled hub. This keeps the rig closer to your body.

The Cotton Carrier is extremely well made with top-quality design features, materials, & workmanship.
I can carry my Nikon D7200 with any of the lenses shown above with ease while hiking in the Rockies.
It works very well when I'm using the large Nikon 200-500mm super-telephoto lens.

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Vortex Viper HD 8x42 Binoculars (Japan). Sharp optics, excellent ergonomics, close
focusing, rugged, compact, & lightweight. Unlimited & unconditional VIP warranty.
I prefer the Vortex over the Nikon; better guarantee, better ergonomics, better optics.

Soft, flexible rubber objective covers. Easy on/off, dust/water tight seals that stay on.

Soft, flexible rubber rain guard for the eyepieces. Excellent dust/water tight seal & it won't fall off.

Rain guard held to the side by the neck strap.

Twist eyecups can be extended with multiple detent positions.

Diopter ring - unlocked (pulled-out).

Diopter ring - locked (pushed-in).
An excellent feature as it can be easily & precisely moved before being locked.

High-grip focusing knob.

Angled thumb recesses.

A soft strap that is curved at the neck; very comfortable.

The double-rivited strap has D-rings.

Roomy, closed-cell foam padded case with a good
adjustable snap closure & a small zippered net pocket.

Enough room for the binoculars' strap.
Case has its own separate adjustable strap.

The case closure flap has extra rain protection at the top corners. 

Remove the logo cap to expose the 1/4-20 thread for the tripod adapter.

Vortex binocular tripod adapter. They also have a low-profile model adapter. Cast aluminum (China).

Easy enough to attach on short binoculars though some users report it's more difficult with larger models.

Right at this binoculars' balance point.

See the Tripods Section.

Vortex Viper HD Binoculars
Optical Features - HD (High Density) lens elements using extra-low dispersion glass.
XR fully multi-coated proprietary coatings. Dielectric prism coatings. Multi-layer prism coatings.
Phase correction coating on roof prisms.

Construction Features - Roof or Dach prisms. Waterproof O-ring seals.
Fog-proof Argon gas purging. ArmorTek ultra-hard, scratch-resistant coating. rubber armor.

Convenience Features - Adjustable eyecups twist up & down to precise, intermediate settings.
Center focus wheel. Locking diopter adjusts for differences in a user's eyes. Tripod adaptable.

Vortex Viper HD 8x42 Binocular Specifications

    Magnification  8x
    Objective Lens Diameter 42 mm
    Eye Relief 20 mm
    Exit Pupil 3 5.25 mm
    Linear Field of View 347 feet/1000 yards
    Angular Field of View 6.6 degrees
    Close Focus 5.1 feet
    Interpupillary Distance 59-75 mm
    Height 5.8 inches
    Width 5.3 inches
    Weight 24.2 ounces


8x42 means the magnification = 8x & the objective lens diameter = 42mm.
Calculate the exit pupil by dividing the objective lens diameter by the magnification.
(Objective Lens Diameter) / (Magnification) = Exit Pupil (mm). For example: 42/8 = 5.25mm.
The exit pupil (or eye motion box) is the area where the eye can be placed in order to see the full image.
Larger is better thereby enabling easier, faster imaging & less long-term eye strain.
Also, larger exit pupils combined with larger eye pupils result in a brighter image.
Eyeglass wearers benefit from a large exit pupil & long eye relief.



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Nikon Monarch 7 binoculars 8x42 (China).
Clear & bright image; compact & light-weight. Wide field of view & smooth, close focusing.

Extra-low dispersion (ED) glass. Wide apparent field of view (58.4 deg for 8x42, 60.7 deg for 10x42).
Dielectric high-reflective multi-layer roof prism coating. All lenses & prisms are multilayer-coated.
Scratch-resistant coating is applied to the outside surfaces of objective & eyepiece lenses.
Phase-correction-coated roof prisms for high resolution. High-eye point design provides a clear field of view.
Waterproof (up to 1m/3.3 ft. for 10 minutes) & fog-free with O-ring seals & nitrogen gas.
Turn-&-slide rubber eyecups with multi-click facilitate easy positioning of eyes at the correct eye point.
Flip-down objective lens cap. Can be fixed to a tripod using optional tripod adaptor.


MONARCH 7  8x42

MONARCH 7  10x42

Magnification (x)



Objective diameter (mm)



Angular field of view (Real degree)



Angular field of view (Apparent degree)



Field of view at 1,000m (m)



Exit pupil (mm)



Relative brightness



Eye relief (mm)



Close focusing distance (m)



Length (mm)



Width (mm)



Depth (mm)



Weight (g)



Interpupillary distance adjustment (mm)



Prism Type

Dach Dach

Detent eyecups. The diopter adjustment ring is good & stiff.

The eyepiece covers are "spring loaded" to hold on.

The case & neck strap are soft.

Nikon logo cover removed to expose the 1/4-20 tripod adapter (8177) thread.


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Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Motorized Mount (China) compensates for the Earth's rotation
thereby allowing longer night-time exposures of star fields without motion-induced blur (trails).
It has a built-in polar scope to enable accurate axial alignment on the North (Polaris) or South Poles.
Specifications: 11 lbs. payload capacity, selectable tracking speeds, multiple preprogrammed speeds,
built-in illuminated polar scope, DSLR shutter control interface, ST-4 type auto-guider compatible,
3/8-16 & 1/4-20 tripod mounts, Vixen-style dovetail mounting plate, free lifetime firmware updates.
Articles discuss the upper limit of these types of tracking systems is about 200mm lenses.
Star Adventurer Manual v2

Polar scope.

Polar scope reticle illuminator. Since Polaris is not exactly on-axis,
an app is used to show where to place it on the scope's reticle, in real-time.

Equatorial wedge has: a ratchet locking handle, degrees scale, fine adjustments, Vixen dovetail.

Equatorial wedge disassembled revealing lightening holes to reduce weight.
A 0.002" thick x 1" brass washer was fabricated & installed to reduce sideways play.

Dovetail to ball head adapter. 3/8-16 thread.

Fine-tuning mount has a worm-gear adjustment.

Counter weight attachment screws into the Fine-tuning mount.

DSLR shutter control cable for a Nikon 10-pin connector.


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Leica IIIf, Nikon F2, Light Meters, Nikon D850, Nikon D500, Nikon APS-C DSLRs & Accessories, Carbon Tripods, Fluid Base Monopod,
Carbon Monopod, Tilt Head, Ball Heads, Pan-Tilt Head, Fluid Pan-Tilt Head, Gimbals, Bubble Level, Carrier, Binoculars, Astrophotography