For sharpness, these are right there. In fact, they're a bit oversharpened (I can see halos on some of them), but that's easy to not cause that. Technically I think these are in fine shape, and you can move on to other things. You could still use stopping down a little bit, but that's not a huge matter and perhaps your lighting does not permit that.
> 9 out of 142!
That's the way photography is, I think.
> would you please tell me what you personally would have expected within an hour and a half in a big city.
A couple of months ago I spent three hours in the afternoon wandering around the Bristol harbour district. I shot 120 frames, of which I flagged seven as worth continuing effort. There are another dozen or so that are worthwhile as some interesting record of having been there. Offhand I'd say that was a slightly better take than average, but not substantially so. That weekend I spent another day in Bristol, mostly at the cathedral and on the ss Great Britain, resulting in 226 frames. I have 9 flagged from that set, and there are another 30 or 40 of curious things from the ship that are not worth hanging on a wall but are interesting to me.
> what do you feel Anselm Adams and his ilk would make of what we take for granted?
This is often speculated upon, but given the detailed and extensive nature of his darkroom work, I would expect that he'd be a pretty heavy user of digital post processing. In fact, much of what we do today is patterned after what he did in the chemical darkroom. If you've ever seen a Photoshop layer mask and one of AA's burn and dodge diagrams, I think you'd find them remarkably similar.
> Do you feel that Auto choices made by the camera have continually improved since the year 2,000?
For the most part, but that overstates matters. For example, the Nikon matrix metering has improved pretty continuously since its introduction in the 1983 Nikon FA. But once it got to a pretty good level in the 1990s, it's been only very small incremental improvement since then. A D3s only gets a couple more right out of 100 than the Nikon F5 (1995) did, for example. And the improvement hasn't been monotonic, either: for example, the D80 matrix meter tends to operate differently in some situations than nearly any other modern matrix implementation, and most who can tell the difference don't care for them.
On the other hand, in a different domain, AF capability has improved very dramatically in some areas. Not much (if any) in outright single-shot accuracy, which has been good for all of the time I've been using it. But there's a really huge difference in the ability of any CAM3500 model to track a subject that's bouncing around the frame. Consider being driven in a jeep off-road, with the driver paralleling a jaguar chasing a gazelle. You'll be bouncing around, and of course the animals aren't moving smoothly either. A D3 can keep that in focus, while even something as recent as a D2x probably cannot. With a D100 I wouldn't even make an attempt, but with a D3 I'd set full auto and fire many frames - and I'd get some keepers.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!