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Wow...my first real complaint with the D700

eschn3am

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eschn3am Registered since 15th Oct 2008
Sat 12-Dec-09 06:37 AM

Who the #$%! designed the intervalometer menu?!

Let me begin by saying I've never had any use for this particular feature until tonight, so take these as the rantings of a first time interval shooter. Tonight was a perfectly clear night so I called up a buddy and we drove 90 miles out to Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah Valley. Once we got there we found a great place to set up and go to work. Unfortunately it was 20 degrees up in the mountains with LOTS of wind, so I was working quickly while losing feeling in my hands by the minute.

The goal was a 90 minute set of back-to-back 30s exposures for a star trail photo. I go through the menu, set the start time to NOW...interval of 1 second, 180 intervals and 1 shot per burst. Makes sense right? Camera takes a shot, waits 1 second, takes another, and so on and so forth for 180 intervals. That's how it works in theory and that's how it works when you're shooting at 1/250th (or any other relatively short shutter time).

BUT...that theory falls apart when you start using the longer shutter times Apparently the number of intervals you enter, when multiplied by the length of each interval, gives you the total length of the series. So when I entered 1", 180 intervals and 1 shot per burst...I was getting 1x180 = 180 seconds of total time...and at 30 seconds a frame I was only getting 6 shots, instead of the 180 I wanted! The system is taking your exposure time into account when measuring interval usage. My first frame would begin at 180, then the counter would drop to 147 on the second frame, and so on. What possible use does this have?? When the shutter times are short it doesn't matter, but it becomes a REAL issue when you get in the longer times.

so what is one to do? well, you can enter 1" and 999 intervals...but that still only buys you 999 seconds or 16 minutes and change, hardly the 90 minutes I wanted. The only step from here is to start ratcheting up the interval time. Basically you're forced into putting larger and larger gaps between your photos the longer you want your series to run. Not to mention the math required to figure out the settings to shoot a specific number of frames.

Anyway, instead of designing the system like they SHOULD have done (ie, interval time is the gap between photos and the time during the exposures don't get counted), Nikon has handicapped their system for anyone using longer exposures at night.

Finally, why am I getting so bent out of shape about this?? because I didn't learn ANY of this information until after I gave up on the mountain and drove back the 90 miles to look it up. The evening was a complete waste of time. Yes, shame on me for not testing it out before I left, but I NEVER imagined Nikon would engineer something like this.

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