Sunday, January 17, 2010

A break from the rain, and thoughts on MB-D10 battery grip

A Gentle Fisher

We got a break from the almost constant rainfall for a day and a half, Friday afternoon through Saturday evening. As a result I was able to get out for a photo walk with some family, which was very relaxing to say the least, after being couped up inside for the better part of the last week and a half. The day included a brief visit to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary, and a walk along the coast of Boundary Bay. I am also going to post comments later in this post on the D300 with the MB-D10 battery grip from Nikon.

Shooting wise, there were limited opportunities , since half the population of the area must have been out walking, which kept the birds from showing their faces very often. Aside from seeing a few Great Blue Herons, and numerous Sandhill Cranes, there was not much activity. I also saw some Lesser Snow Geese out near the shore, while at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary, but they were too far away to get any decent shots with my 300mm F4. At times like that, and many others, I truly wish I had a longer lens, but then again, what wildlife photographer doesn't want more reach? Then of course there are times when I wish I could zoom out, such as a few times yesterday when the Sandhill Cranes we saw came too close to get decent compositions with the 300mm lens.

I had a close encounter with one of the Sandhill Cranes, which can be very aggressive birds by the way. As I was walking past a pair of Cranes, one of them stared at me, started making a hissing sound and tried to peck me with its' beak several times before I could move far enough away from it. Thankfully, I was not pecked, but it missed me by only an inch or so. In the year or so that I have been spending a great deal of time photographing them, that was the first time I've had one attack me in that way, so it was a reminder for me to be cautious and to respect the Cranes space. I found this enter event somewhat startling, because only moments before an older women had been feeding the cranes, from her hand!

As for the MB-10 battery  grip for the D300/D700, I like it, for the most part. On my D300, I like the added grip it provides for horizontal shooting, along with the improved balance given with longer telephoto lenses, like my 300mm F4 AF-S. The added weight of the grip, doesn't seem that much, and it is hard to believe the grip itself weighs almost as much as my E-410 camera body. The construction of the MB-D10 is solid, although I think the battery door on the grip should have better weather/dust sealing, though I'm not sure how Nikon could improve it.

When I use the grip with my midrange zooms, griping the lenses can be a little bid challenging, but the camera does balance out very well. You do have to be careful, because you cannot just put your camera down with a lens attached, you need to lay the body down on its side or your lens will some down. With shorter prime lenses, like the 28mm F2.8D or 50mm 1.8D, that is not a problem, and I like working with them on the D300 + MB-D10. As noted before, longer lenses balance much better with the grip attached, and makes hand holding them far easier.

As for the vertical shutter release itself, I find it to be a little bit more sensitive than the shutter on the D300 body, but not by much. I've heard that the D700 shutter release is more like that of the MB-D10, and since those bodies also work together I can see them being a good combination as well. The AF-ON button on the grip does not feel as solid as the one on the D300 body, but it is equally as responsive, so no change there. I do like having the multi-selector on the grip, vs. the MB-D80 that I used with my D80, on which you had to use the D pad on the camera body. The multi-selector is a little stiff and it is extremely hard to use as anything more than a 4 way controller, as the other directions are very stiff and it almost feels like it could break the pad if you try to use the other directions very much.

Overall, I like the grip. Even though the grip has some minor issues, none of them are to great to be overcome. The grip itself, for vertical shooting is extremely comfortable, and the rubber feels very nice in your hand, in fact it seems a little bit softer than the rubber on the D300 itself.