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Photography Techniques and Equipment This forum is for the discussion of technical details of how to take good pictures as well as discuss the equipment used in that pursuit.

Nikon CoolPix P900
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Old 07-19-2016, 09:55 PM   #11
Rich Z
Here's a video that shows pretty much what I am referring to concerning the video autofocus problem with the D500.

In a way I agree with you about using a DSLR body for video work, but honestly, I have found taking stills with a camcorder to be disappointing. So I figured I would look at this from a different perspective. Why not take video from an actual CAMERA instead? Originally I thought having a DSLR that could do excellent video would be a boon with removable lenses. Would provide a whole lot of flexibility with lens choices. Heck, I was particularly keen on trying time lapse star field video, and thought using an f1.2 lens would allow a lot more stars to show up. Moreso than what I am seeing with the GoPro camera I have been playing with this function. So I guess this will just be on hold for a while. The best these two new cameras I have can do for light capture is f2.8. Which, I believe is the same as the GoPro can provide.

Of course, since I have a bunch of Nikon lenses, I was looking for a Nikon body. I thought the D500 was THE ONE, but after some intensive research on my part, turned out to fall short of my expectations. So I'll just wait for technology to come to the point I want it to be before pulling out my wallet for an upgraded Nikon body to go with my lenses.

Of course, I could just decide to buy a body ONLY for photos and let other devices handle the video stuff. Like what I am doing now with my FujiFilm FinePix S3 Pro body (yeah, I know it's O-L-D) for photos and my Panasonic camcorders and GoPro Hero4 Black doing the video stuff. But if I can get one device to do double duty and cut down the amount of stuff I have to take on trips, well heck, why not?

Maybe waiting it out for the Nikon D510 (or whatever the upgrade model will be) will be worthwhile, or the Nikon D810 maybe getting a 4K upgrade (with video that actually works) with it's larger sensor might be worth just waiting for.

I've got some new camera toys to play with in the meantime.
Old 07-20-2016, 09:07 PM   #12
Rich Z
Saw some birds at the bird feeder today, so I took out the P900 and shot some video from the porch.

Too bad this camera doesn't do 4K, but I guess the 1080P/60 does an OK job.
Old 07-21-2016, 08:29 PM   #13
Rich Z
Last night the clouds broke apart at the right place and right time, giving me a really good clear shot at the moon right over the house. The place I needed to be in the front yard was extremely obvious since it was so much brighter there than where the shadows of all the trees were obscuring the moon. So I dragged out the tripod and set the P900 up on it to take some video of the moon. Seems to me that the "scene" option on the camera for "Moon" does nothing more than just delay the start of video and photos a couple of seconds to allow the movement of the camera after pressing the button to die down. Of course, this does nothing at all for trying to work the zoom lever or when you are trying to shut down the video. I did leave one instance of this out of the edited strips to show the motion.

Except for me having to swat the mosquitoes it was very easy getting these video clips. I left the audio in because of the nature sounds all around me at that time of night. Or maybe the microphone picked up aliens conversations on the moon. Who knows?

Anyway, made a couple of passes of the moon by trying to position the camera so it would pass where I wanted it to be in the frame. Seemed to work out pretty well even when I zoomed to the max setting.

Still can't get over the fact that I can get videos and photos like this from a relatively inexpensive hand holdable camera. I remember trying to get a good pic of the moon with my old 35mm stuff many years ago and I never could get anything very satisfying. This P900 makes it as easy as falling off a log.
Old 08-28-2016, 01:08 PM   #14
Rich Z
P900 on the Sky-Watcher Allview mount

A couple of weeks ago when the moon was getting near to being full again, and there was a break in the clouds, I mounted the P900 onto the Sky-Watcher Allview mount/tripod I bought to see how well that combo would work for panning the camera in a steady fashion while viewing the moon. All in all, it seemed to work pretty well. The Allview has 9 levels of movement speed for both the horizontal and vertical planes, and best I could tell, there was no backlash problems when motion was started or stopped. The would have been exhibited as a noticeable wobble at the beginning and the end of motion.

Of course, there is vibration evident transmitted through the tripod when I was trying to get the hand held controller off of the tripod, or actually touching the controls on the camera itself. And unfortunately the wireless remote I bought for the Nikon only works for triggering still photos (as far as I have been able to figure out), and doesn't work for initiating video. Nor does it work the zoom or anything else that would be nice to have so I wouldn't have to lay hands on the camera during video. But panning is really smooth with the Allview while I am doing it manually with the controller. Haven't figured out how to do actual tracking yet with it, mainly because the alignment procedure requires that I KNOW what stars I am using for reference, and I don't have a clue about that kind of stuff. So that is something I need to figure out first, I suppose.

Also, I had the auto-focus set incorrectly (for what I wanted, anyway) on the camera, so you can see the auto-focus struggling a bit during the motion of the moon across the screen. I didn't realize this till the last segment of video. Next time maybe I will try full manual focus since I'm guessing the entire moon should stay within the depth of field and not even need any sort of autofocus. But honestly, it's hard to think of everything when you are swatting at mosquitoes at the same time you are trying to get the camera set up correctly AND maneuver the motorized mount too. At least for this soggy old brain of mine, anyway. I guess it will get easier with experience with this new equipment.

But even with all the warts, I'm still amazed at the video I can get of the moon with this P900. And that Allview mount just makes panning the field of view a LOT easier at that high magnification, which quite honestly can be pretty tough handheld, or even on a standard tripod.
Old 09-18-2016, 01:07 PM   #15
Rich Z
Well, I went and purchased a solar filter, figuring it might be interesting to take some pics of the sun. So I did get the pics, but interesting? Hardly....

Old 09-18-2016, 05:14 PM   #16
Still nice and you are ready for the August 2017 solar eclipse.
Old 09-18-2016, 07:59 PM   #17
Rich Z
Originally Posted by DollysMom View Post
Still nice and you are ready for the August 2017 solar eclipse.
That was one of the reasons that I wanted this solar filter. I'm thinking that tracking the sun while the moon intersects it on video would be much more interesting than tracking the moon. So I needed a way to try to protect the camera from overheating with the sun shining directly down the lens barrel. As it is, that black camera body is still going to get quite hot in August afternoon sunlight.

I should get a nice view of the eclipse from my place, but heck, lots of thunderstorms come through here in the afternoon in August, so I'm not sure if I should try to hedge my bets by planning on being somewhere else. Problem is, the track doesn't seem to go through any desert parts (meaning areas of lesser likelihood of mid August afternoon clouds and rain) of the USA, so my trying to pull a fast one on Murphy's Law would likely just wind up blowing up in my face anyway. And, of course, trying to rely on any sort of weather forecast, even 24 hours in advance, would be a complete waste of time.

Anyway, maybe if there were a bunch of sunspots the photos would be more interesting. There does appear to be a very faint pair of them in the photos, but honestly, trying to focus on the sun was actually quite difficult. I had to try to catch the edge of the sun to get some contrast, but even that didn't work as well as I had hoped. You would think that just manually focusing on infinity would work, but evidently infinity is even further away from the camera than the sun is. Maybe Alpha Centauri?

Honestly, manual focus itself on the P900 is not that easy to do. The control isn't on the lens body. You have to first make a setting from the menu dial, and then use that same menu dial for the manual focus. Not at all intuitive to me, and a challenge to be precise with. Especially with the camera pointing almost straight upwards at the sun.

I guess getting images like this from an Earth based platform just isn't possible?

Old 09-18-2016, 08:33 PM   #18
I'm planning on traveling to Southern Illinois and if it's cloudy drive east or west to clear skies based on the best info for that 24 hour period. I have my eclipse glasses ready in any case.

I hope you get some good sun spots to work with soon and I hope you'll post them here. I don't know what is possible. Wish I had paid more attention when I went to the desert north of Reno to see the annular eclipse in May 2012. The people I went with had all the right telescopes and cameras, but what all it was exactly didn't really stick with me at the time. Sadly, they never sent me any of their pictures, either.

I think that it's very cool in any case, Rich, and I hope the eclipse works out for you!

Nice video, too

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