Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Never mix NiMH or NiCd rechargeable batteries

Never mix any rechargeable NiMH - nickel–metal hydride cell or the NiCd - nickel–cadmium cell, and different type of batteries must be stored separately to avoid any contact.

All the time, I knew that I should not mix any batteries while charging and I thought it is fine to mix for using if the voltage in between is not much difference. Apparently, I was wrong! Indeed, I should avoid mixing them in any circumstances!

The dangerous part is that the problem or reaction will not be happen immediately. Depending on the battery types in use, the melting, burning or explosion could be happen in different duration of time. It could be either after half an hour, an hour or even couple hours later. For a while ago, when I first tested my Nikon MB-D10 battery grip by installing two sets of different type of NiMH batteries, I never noticed any abnormal thing happen. Because I just did a brief test for about 15 minutes only at that time. However, I experienced two incidents recently as follow, when I installed two combinations of two difference type of NiMH batteries in the Nikon MS-D10 holder.

Incident# 1:
1. Installation sequence as -2300mAh+(A)-2300mAh+(B)-1300mAh+(C)-1300mAh+(D)-1300mAh+(E)-1300mAh+(F)-2300mAh+(G)-2300mAh+(H)
2. This combination is barely usable because of the low 1300mAh NiMH batteries. However, I was able to get it work and tested for about 15 minutes on my D300. Then, I removed the MB-D10 grip from the camera and left the batteries in the BP-AA holder.
3. After about an hour later, I picked up the grip and felt it warm. Quickly removed the holder and I saw the battery (C) & (D) was heating up with the surrounding plastic starting to melt. I barely can touched the batteries but able to remove them with my finger nail.
4. The plastic around the battery (C) & (D) part melt & warped, and the + terminal of the battery (D) compartment was loose, so making no contact between battery (C) & (D). See red circles of the following photo.

I fixed the problem by heating up the holder with a heat gun, holding it 6" ~ 8" away from the plastic and bent them back to its original position. At this time, I was still not aware of the batteries mixing problem. So, I did another batteries combination. This time, I replaced the set of  1300mAh with the unmarked batteries and I think they are 1800mAh.

Incident# 2:
1. Installation sequence as -2300mAh+(A)-2300mAh+(B)-1800mAh+(C)-1800mAh+(D)-1800mAh+(E)-1800mAh+(F)-2300mAh+(G)-2300mAh+(H)
2. This combination works immediately on my D300. After testing for about half an hour, turned off camera & grip and left the MB-D10 grip on the camera.
3. I was still holding the grip for another few minutes. Suddenly I felt the grip was getting warmer. I quickly removed the grip from the camera and took out the BP-AA holder. Same thing, the battery (C) & (D) was heating up quickly with the surrounding plastic melting. The holder was getting very hot and I could not touched the batteries. But I was able to shake them off the holder and felt into the sink.
4. Same condition again. The plastic around the battery (C) & (D) part melt & warped, and the + terminal of the battery (D) compartment was loose, so making no contact between battery (C) & (D).

I guess the high current runs from the high mAh battery to the low mAh and noticed the battery (C) & (D) heated up faster than others. Also, the 1800mAh battery reacted faster than 1300mAh battery; in my case, it is roughly 30 minutes vs 60 minutes; about half the time faster. I was lucky that when both incidents were happen, I was around and able to response immediately.

So, I fixed the holder again with the heat gun.

Before fixing:

After fixing:

After fixing, I found 2 packs of new old-stock Duracell 4 x 2050mAh NiMH batteries in the drawer. After fully charged, I installed them in the MS-D10 holder and left them alone for about 2 hours. They are fine, no warming or heating issue. Then I put the holder with batteries into the MB-D10 grip, turned the shutter switch at ON position and left them alone for over 2 hours. No problem, the grip is still cool, so as the batteries. Then, mounted the grip on the camera and tested for about half an hour. It works fine without any issue. The grip is still cool. Turned off camera & the grip and left them attached for over another hour. So, these identical type of 8 x NiMH batteries had been installed in this MS-D10 holder for about 6 hours. No problem, works as normal. Phew!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Amazing glass

I am back again! Sorry for the long wait.

About 3 weeks ago, I lost 4 months of data in my computer. Luckily, I still have most of my original photos in the CFs. However, all touched up works of the last 4 months were gone! I am now in the process in recovering these missing files, bit by bit. While digging through the old photos, I found these photos that were taken on my last Las Vegas trip in August, 2010.

First four photos were taken at the Crystals of the water drops on the glass. The rest were taken at the Bellagio of the glass flowers at the lobby. All were taken with Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S DX 18-200mm f3.5-5.6G ED IF VR, hand held. And of course, the VR is on. My Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm is made in Japan, early VR I version.

These round glasses are installed on the flood and the water drops are forming from the nearby installation of the cyclone water in the tubes. Standing on top of these round glasses, I tried to shoot as steady as possible with hand held. The last photo is sharper because of highest shutter speed.

Nikon 18-200mm VR at 112mm, f8, 1/100s, ISO 400, CW

Nikon 18-200mm VR at 130mm, f8, 1/250s, ISO 400, CW

Nikon 18-200mm VR at 150mm, f8, 1/400s, ISO 400, CW

I did not get any good shot of the cyclone water. So all photos are very soft because of the scratches on the acrylic tubes and slow shutter with hand held.  Anyway, I picked one to show it here.
Nikon 18-200mm VR at 105mm, f5.6, 1/25s, ISO 800, CW

At the Bellagio's lobby, I was amazed  by the glass flowers on the ceiling! Tried to capture as many flowers in the frame as possible. However, personally, I do not like the dark shadow parts in the photos. At the mean time, I also tested with two aperture settings: f5.6 & f8.
Nikon 18-200mm VR at 24mm, f5.6, 1/20s, ISO 800, CW

Nikon 18-200mm VR at 20mm, f8, 1/15s, ISO 800, CW

f5.6 is still getting the sharp image and yet maintains slightly higher shutter speed. This is important in this low light situation. So, the rest of the photos  were all fixed at f5.6. Then, I searched for an area with less dark shadows and zoomed in to get this frame. Hmm... close to what I  want but still with few dark shadows. Mainly on the top part.
Nikon 18-200mm VR at 34mm, f5.6, 1/40s, ISO 800, CW

Now, I zoomed in further to eliminate the dark shadows. In order to get the frames that I want, I searched around the whole ceiling and picked the best characters of the few glasses that I like. And these are my favorite two photos below. First photo was easy to find; it is at the right bottom corner of the above photo.
Nikon 18-200mm VR at 80mm, f5.6, 1/100s, ISO 800, CW

I want a photo to show the transparency & the crystal of the glasses. So, it took me a while to find the below prefect frame that I want. I leave the reflection of the glasses on to show the characteristic. This frame is carefully selected to avoid as many gaps in between the glasses as possible.
Nikon 18-200mm VR at 65mm, f5.6, 1/25s, ISO 800, -0.3EV, CW

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Autumn 2011

Where: Cambie @ No. 5, Richmond, BC, Canada
When : Oct 20, 2011

At 70mm, f5.6, 1/100s, ISO400, CW, +0.3EV

Where: Fraserwood, Richmond, BC, Canada
When : Oct 24, 2011
Gears : Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S DX 18-105mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR

At 28mm, f8, 1/250s, 1EV under ISO200, Spot

At 48mm, f5.6, 1/160s, 1EV under ISO200, Spot, -0.3EV

At 34mm, f8, 1/125s, 1EV under ISO200, Spot, -0.3EV 

At 48mm, f5.6, 1/50s, 1EV under ISO200, CW, -0.3EV 

At 105mm, f8, 1/320s, 1EV under ISO200, Spot, -0.3EV

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Black-capped Chickadee & Dragonfly

Where: Richmond Nature Park, BC, Canada
When : Sept 04, 2011

I took some test photos with this odd combination: Nikkor AF-S VR 70-300mm f4.5-5.6G IF-ED + Sigma 1.4x EX APO teleconverter. Thanks to the smaller optics and lower lens group design, the Sigma 1.4x EX APO TC fits well with the Nikkor AF-S VR 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens. However, it hunts for AF because mine is not the DG version, but still works better than other brand's TCs. The non DG version TC will not convert the metadata to record the actual f stop and shutter speed. In fact, it records the lens metadata without the TC conversion. The Sigma 1.4x EX APO DG is an excellent teleconverter. It handles the CA (Chromatic Aberration) very well.

Initially, I was using AF-C servo to shoot the Black-capped Chickadee but it is hard to focus, so I switched to AF-S in the later shots. For the dragonfly shooting, I switched back to AF-C servo. All photos are in original frame, no cropping.

My opinion:
The performance of this odd combination surprised me, they work so well(beside the focus hunt) as the consumer lenses. This combination will be great for travelling when you don't want to carry heavy gears. Of course, the results can not be compared to those taken with the pro lenses. But hey, for value vs performance wise, this is an excellent match!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Full moon test shots

I planned to shoot the full moon on the evening of the Lunar Mid-Autumn on Sept 12th with the tripod set up. However, I found a great buy of a mint complete set of Nikkor AF-S VR I 70-200mm f2.8G ID-ED on that day. Because I had to rush to grab it before it was too late, I missed the great moment to shoot the full moon in yolk color while it is rising from the horizon. So, I dropped my initial plan and did a quick and simple test shots without the tripod. Testing gears: Nikon D300Nikkor AF-S VR I 70-200mm f2.8G ID-ED, Nikkor AF-S 80-200mm f2.8D IF-ED, Nikkor AF-S 300mm f4D IF-ED, Nikon AF-S TC-20E II and Nikon AF-S TC-14E II.

All photos were taken by hand held, AF-C, ISO800 to minimize the shake. Nikkor AF-S VR I 70-200mm f2.8G ID-ED was taken with VR on. The VR does a little help at high shutter speed and I can see the image is much stable in the viewfinder. It seems a little bit sharper compares to Nikkor AF-S 80-200mm f2.8D IF-ED, but only when you blow the images 100% up to compare. I am surprise to find that at 200mm focal length at the infinity distance, the Nikkor AF-S VR I 70-200mm f2.8G ID-ED covers just a little more than the Nikkor AF-S 80-200mm f2.8D IF-ED, meaning shooting just a little bit closer. Well again, only when zooming in 100% to compare. Without measuring them, you can not tell the difference. Hey, we are talking about 100% blow up, no one would  have to bother this.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Craigdarroch Castle

These are the photos taken on the next day - Aug 19, 2011, after spending a night at the Free Spirit Sphere. This was our last visiting destination of our Vancouver Island tour before we were heading to Swatz Bay for the ferry. It was very rushing and I shot all these photos in 11 minutes only. No time to tour inside the castle.

All photos were taken with Nikon D300 and Sigma 15-30mm f3.5-4.5D EX DG , hand held. No filter added because I don't have any gelatin filter.

The Craigdarroch Castle was finished in 1890 and located in Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

"Craigdarroch Castle was built between 1887-1890 for Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish immigrant who made his fortune from Vancouver Island coal. This Victorian mansion, overlooking the City of Victoria British Columbia, announced to the world that he was the richest and most important man in Western Canada."

15mm f11 1/50 1EV under ISO200 (ISO100) Center Weight -0.67EV

15mm f11 1/80 1EV under ISO200 (ISO100) Center Weight -0.67EV

15mm f11 1/160 1EV under ISO200 (ISO100) Center Weight -0.67EV

31mm f11 1/200 1EV under ISO200 (ISO100) Spot -0.67EV

26mm f11 1/50 1EV under ISO200 (ISO100) Center Weight -0.67EV

15mm f11 1/200 1EV under ISO200 (ISO100) Center Weight -0.67EV

17mm f11 1/200 1EV under ISO200 (ISO100) Center Weight -0.67EV