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1Apr/1010

Nikon Announces New Open Source Camera

After being truly frustrated with the D300s and writing my list of 42 Reasons Why Nikon Sucks, I am now very well pleased and very satisfied with the new D300o. While still inheriting standard features from the D300s, the D300o now brings a whole new revolutionary dimension to photographers of all kinds. The D300o is essentially an open source modification of the original D300s, with some additional compliments to the physical body itself. It is designed to give photographers the ability to do anything the camera is capable of. And yes, the firmware can be completely modified! But first, lets look at the actual body itself.

New Nikon D300o Stereo Microphone

(0) To start things off, the camera's low quality monorail microphone has now been replaced with a new High Fidelity Stereo microphone.

Nikon microphone A/V input output

Looking at the side of the body reveals several additional ports, including:

Microphone Input

Headphone Output

A/V Input

A/V Output

Open source DSLR back

(1) There is now a visible peak-meter in live-view mode that measures the dB of the microphone input in order to prevent clipping.

(2) Shutter speed, Aperture, and ISO are now fully adjustable in movie mode. Each adjustment now effects footage accordingly.

(3) There is now a Live Histogram in live-view mode.

(4) In addition to the new live-view features, there is now an option that allows the AF-Assist lamp to always be on. This is useful when working in dark situations.

Aperture adjustment valueA new advanced option allows all values in the Nikon D300o (Shutter speed, ISO, Aperture, frames per second, self-timer, image size etc.) can be adjusted as user-defined values. The image on the left demonstrates the user setting the Aperture to 2.076. Of course, adjusting the f-stop is dependent on what lens you are using.

Meter over 30 seconds long exposureThe camera's metering system is now enabled to take photographs beyond 30 seconds! It's a value that can be adjusted inside the "Exposure Limit" feature in the menu. For all you long exposure fans, this is a must have! In this example, I've set the shutter speed to 7 minutes and 45 seconds.

Nikon Open Source CameraAnd last but not least: OPEN SOURCE MODE. This lets the user switch from the predefined factory settings to the fully customizable firmware. If errors occur in the open source mode, the mode can be easily reset, modified, or simply switched off. The camera ships with the open source mode off by default.

Now that open source is finally here, new programs and features can be created! There are new applications being developed every week. Users can download the applications for free or purchase them from the new Nikon App Store.

Some of applications I've been enjoying are the following:

HDRaw: This is an application that records 12-bit video of a single exposure being processed in real time. Instead of bracketing images one at a time, HDRaw simply takes one long exposure and compiles the frames together in a high definition video file. The file can then be tone-mapped and saved as a .NEF or .JPG later on the computer.

3-D-SLR: This program enables the user to hook up two Digital SLRs together via the Mini-USB port  which is located on the side of the body. When the shutter button is pressed, both cameras take a photograph simultaneously. The images can then be stored separately or combined in camera to create a 3D Stereoscopic image. This doesn't work with videos yet, but it's coming.

DetectCam1.1: This is a simple program that enables you to use motion detection shutter triggering and sound detection shutter triggering. The sensitivity level can be adjusted and it has various different options. This app is really useful to be used as a high-speed photography trigger. You can also hide your camera somewhere, set the sensitivity level to High, and have the camera record silent video when it detects a noise or light-level change.

DSoundRecorder: This program allows you to record high quality audio files using the built in microphone, the on-camera microphone, or both. Levels and be adjusted. So far the only recordable file type is .WAV. It is very good with battery life, I've recorded an audio file for 9+ hours straight.

Qkustdom: This program is insane. It basically modifies/enhances the camera's menu and adds TONS of tweaks. Some of them are useful but others have limited application. Some things that are added to the SLR are the following:

  • View non-Nikon content (JPG, RAW, MP3, MOV and AVI files).
  • Loopable fps patterns (for example a looped [2 fps, 3 fps] pattern).
  • All bracketing options in the camera can now be set to user defined integers.
  • Enables Auto-Focus Bracketing.
  • The flash can be set to this crazy cycle mode where it will flash repeatedly, and each individual flash can be assigned different velocities.
  • It gives detailed stats on each file. (File size etc)
  • etc. etc. etc.

And my Favorite App is NikonMario! You use the thumb pad on the right to move mario, and you can use any of the buttons on the left for A and B controls. I've also heard that there is a full NES emulator being developed that can run all the NES ROMs.

Video game DSLR Camera

13Nov/0983

42 Reasons Why Nikon (and Canon) Suck

Warning: If you don't have a sense of humor or an open mind, then I would suggest not reading this post and leaving.

Hey! I recently purchased a new Nikon D300s, and I am not satisfied with it. In fact, I'm absolutely disgusted with it! I paid $1800 for this camera, and it can't do any of these basic functions, most of which are just software/firmware things that could be added without any hardware tweaking. Although this list specifically applies to the D300s (because I own it and know what it can/cannot do), a lot of the things apply to almost any digital SLR camera that are produced by Canon, Sony, Fuji.... whatever.

*UPDATE 1/31/2016*: Things I really want are in bold. Things I noticed have been fixed in 2016 using my current camera (D810) are in green. Anything else isn't extremely important to me personally, but I wouldn't be complaining if they added them while still maintaining their simplistic and easy to use interface, in fact I would think they would be there by now but they are not.

  1. There is no sound detection shutter triggering.
  2. There is no motion detection shutter triggering.
  3. There is no headphone output.
  4. There is no sound metering/VU/Volume/Peak meter in camera.
  5. You can't record audio files (I think this feature is on the D3/D4/D5, however).
  6. The only image recording options available are JPG, TIFF, or NEF. The only video formats available are .AVI.
  7. Nikon has limited the frames per second. The camera is capable taking 8fps without an external battery pack, but in order to enable 8fps properly, the camera has to detect that there is a battery grip attached.
  8. You can't write your own programs for the camera because the firmware is not open source. The majority of these problems (almost all of them) would be solvable if it was!
  9. You cannot view non-Nikon content in camera on the LCD screen. All images and videos must be taken by a Nikon camera in order to be played back in camera.
  10. It can't meter beyond 30 seconds.
  11. It can't blend multiple exposures in certain, useful ways.
  12. It only can do whole number fps integers (4fps, 5fps, etc) and is unable to use more flexible values, such as 4.2 fps or 4.3fps, for example.
  13. It can't do 2 fps and then 3 fps, and then loop that pattern.
  14. You cannot bracket images with user customized integers/values.
  15. The exposure bracketing only allows up to a maximum of 9 stops.
  16. The self-timer only has 2, 5, 10, or 20 seconds available for customization. What if I wanted 8.5 seconds? What if I wanted 40 seconds, or 8.2 hours?
  17. The exposure delay mode can only be set to 1 second. What if I wanted it longer?
  18. You cannot properly set the white balance in camera for infrared photography or ultraviolet photography. This feature was available in some very old models like the Nikon D50, especially with JPEGs. Why is it gone? The WB is stuck at 1,000-10,000k. Adobe should expand their white balance values in their software as well, then we wouldn't have to go out of our way to make custom DNG profiles every time we take an IR image using a new camera.
  19. The file naming system is limited. It allows only three characters, an underscore, and then the numbers 0001-9999. What if I wanted the file name to have an unlimited amount of characters at the beginning (or end), and then the file number (for example 00005356342 (as you can see, it can go past 9999 without being reset to 0001 for no reason)) and then another set of characters, and then a custom variable or two, such as the date or camera serial/model number? Having such as system would mean every file would have a unique file name, so there would no duplicates at all in your entire library of 100,000+ images.
  20. The Active folder function (folder naming) is limited. Yet again, it only allows three numbers to be inserted into the folder name, and then a "D300S" is stuck at the end of the folder name. What if I wanted an unlimited amount of customizable numbers AND letters, AND the ability to insert metadata variables (time, date, location, serial no., camera model, iso number, etc)?
  21. There is no live histogram.
  22. The live horizon only meters the x axis, not the y axis.
  23. The BULB mode is limited. It lets the photographer take an exposure while their finger is pressed on the shutter, but if they wanted to push the shutter once to activate the exposure, and then once again to stop the exposure, they wouldn't be able to do that without buying a cable release or remote.
  24. EV, Exp, and ISO is adjustable only in 1/3 or 1/2 increments.
  25. Accurate exposure times are limited. For example, you cannot set it to 23 seconds. It's either 20 or 25.
  26. It only can write files to be in horizontal orientation. It can write in the EXIF data that it needs rotating, but if you wanted to write the actual file dimensions in vertical orientation, its is impossible.
  27. It's incapable of auto-focus bracketing.
  28. The AF Assist lamp doesn't always turn on when it's dark, and furthermore, there is no option to turn on the AF Assist lamp at your desire. It is a waste considering how bright and useful the lamp is. It would be convenient for the user to have the ability to assign a button that turns on the AF Lamp so you can see in the dark.
  29. The Interval Time Shooting mode is limited.
  30. There is no way to tell how large the file size is for any of the files on the card.
  31. There is no option to view the pictures in whatever orientation your camera is in. It's either "ROTATE TALL" or not.
  32. You cannot install different sized crystals inside of the camera body that are in front of the sensor to bend light in certain artistic ways (this one is more of a joke than not, although having the ability to easily swap the Internal Cut Filters would be awesome, and silly cameras like the Nikon D810A wouldn't need to exist)
  33. You cannot auto-focus the lens from Focus Point A to Focus Point B while it is taking an exposure.
  34. The exposure compensation only goes up or down to a maximum of five stops. What if you wanted to set it over 5? Why limit everything using arbitrary numbers? I like that it stops at 5, because if I want to quickly move it up or down as much as possible, I know that I can just keep rotating the dial until it stops at 5. There should be an option in the menu to change the maximum number, however.
  35. You cannot easily select groups of images to be deleted simultaneously.
  36. You cannot quickly create a playlist of certain images/videos you want to play while in sideshow mode.
  37. You cannot resize images to smaller sizes. This feature was available in older models.
  38. The repeating flash mode is limited to 1HZ to 50HZ. It's very possible to program the camera to be .5HZ.
  39. There is an option that allows you to trim movie clips from the beginning, and another option to trim movie clips from the end, however if you wanted to do both at the same time, there is no option available. You have to trim the beginning, which makes a new copy of the file, then trim the end of that copy, which makes another copy. In the end you have 3 copies.
  40. You cannot create a movie file of an exposure being recorded in real time.
  41. You cannot set the shutter speed to whatever you want when recording video.
    You cannot set the ISO number to whatever you want when recording video.
  42. You cannot set custom values for each flash burst in the Flash Burst mode.
  43. You can't watch videos in slideshow mode.
  44. The AGC (Audio Gain Control) is horrible. People have been complaining all over the internet about their frustration of it not being able to switch the AGC to manual.
  45. You can't take images in any size you want. Cameras offer Small, Medium, and Large image sizes for JPEG and sometimes with RAW. The image size should be able to be customized to any dimension you want, with any filetype, including RAW. With my 36 megapixel D810A DSLR, I want to have the ability to make the images Extra Small.
  46. Each pixel on the sensor cannot have its own dedicated ISO number. Depending on how advanced they made this feature, this could potentially completely revolutionize HDR photography. Mapping just a simple gradient down the sensor would be nice though.
  47. Built in GPS? Nope. I really am wanting this.
  48. Built in WiFi? Nope. I probably would never ever use this, but still.
  49. You can't link two or more DSLRs together for 3D capturing.
  50. The painted labels near the buttons do not glow in the dark.
  51. There is no RAW for video.
  52. You cannot create animated GIFs.

A lot of the things listed above are already capable of being enabled in the camera, however Nikon decided to just disable them for the hell of it. This leaves all the photographers who want more control over there camera in the dark, with no other option but to suffer.

There is only one solution at this point, and that is  The Frankencamera.  The Frankencamera will allow users to write their own programs for the camera and use it as they please, however it is currently difficult to get one of these, because it is still in development and being prepared for public use... Plus it is extremely bulky.

The Nikon D300s' competitor, the Canon 7D, fixes some of the problems... but I don't own one so I can't tell you which problems it fixes and which ones it doesn't. I'm assuming that it only can fix a few. Based on a video review I saw of it, the only things better than the Nikon is that it can take longer video footage, it's 18 megapixels compared to 12, and it can meter the y axis horizon (ohhhh. big deal)

People seem to make jokes about this post and say things like "well this camera can't make me toast in the morning, so therefore it is useless!".  That is because the camera wasn't designed to make toast and it would need new hardware in order to do that and would be ridiculous to begin with. Most of the items that I have listed above do not require any new hardware to be installed into the camera. I am simply trying to point out the un-met potential DSLR cameras have.

There are so many creative (and very practical/useful ) features that could be implemented into cameras that are not being taken advantage of.   Take a look at this theoretical open source DSLR that implements some of the features listed above, and hopefully you will come to some conclusion on why I hate camera companies for not progressing their technology beyond the point of just adding more megapixels and a faster frame-rate each year to their cameras. If they would just make the camera open source, the technology could progress so much faster. They are ruining it for everyone.

Is there anything you think should be added to the list?

11/16/2010 UPDATE: Yes, I researched the camera before buying it, and believe it or not, I felt that it was the best one on the market for me. However, that does not mean that I like it or am even the happy with it. At most, I am truly disappointed with the camera's available on the market today. If you gave me the most high-end, top-notch flagship camera from Nikon or Canon, I still would not be impressed because of how impractical it is. If the firmware was open source, however.... then that would be completely different story, and paying 3+ grand for a camera WOULD be worth it. I'm surprised Nikon and Canon even give us the option to change the  shutter speed and ISO, considering all the other hundreds of other features they are holding back.

Please write a comment below and tell me what you think.

Multiplicity + Stereographic 360X180 Panorama

   
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