How to install ExifTool with Composer

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I’m working on a PHP project, that uses Phil Harveys excellent ExifTool to read Exif and XMP tags from photos. Since ExifTool is written in Perl, there is of course no composer.json to install this dependency directly with Composer. But you can create your own package information in your master composer.json as follows:

{
    ...
    "repositories": [
        ...        
        {
            "type": "package",
            "package": {
                "name": "philharvey/exiftool",
                "version": "10.75",
                "dist": {
                    "url": "https://sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/Image-ExifTool-10.75.tar.gz",
                    "type": "tar"
                }
            }
        }
    ],
    "require": {
        ...
        "philharvey/exiftool": "10.*"
    }
}

This will automatically download ExifTool version 10.75 and extract it into the vendor folder /vendor/philharvey/exiftool/

Note, that the package type ‘tar’ should extract the file completely. If that is not the case, make sure you have the latest composer version 1.6.2 installed. Some Linux distributions (e.g. Linux Mint 18.3 and probably Ubuntu 16.4 too) are still on version 1.0.0-beta2, which does not support extracting ‘tar.gz’. Read my quick tutorial on how to upgrade composer on Linux Mint 18.3.

 

Visited by a roe deer

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Over the New Year, I’ve spent a couple of days in my vacation home in the canton Vaud. During one night, we got quite a bit of fresh snow and the next evening my wife discovered this roe deer in our orchard. He was probably looking for apples.

Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)

A roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) looking for food under the snow cover. Nikon D500, Nikon 300mm f2.8, 1/1250, f4.0, ISO 1250

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What I don’t like about the Nikon D500

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So far nothing except one (little) thing:
Unlike on the D810, the GPS icon is not displayed on the top LCD only on the rear LCD. The GPS icon (on the rear LCD) blinks as long as no fix is available. Having this information on the top would be useful before taking a picture, especially if you have the Standby Timer setting enabled to save battery.

Gimbal and replacement foot for the Nikon 600mm FL

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Unfortunately, the Nikon 600mm f1/4E FL ED VR does not balance with the D810 and the foot replacement LCF-13 by Really Right Stuff nor with the Nikon stock foot. The LCF-13 worked perfectly with the previous model 600mm f1/4G ED VR.

After some research I ordered the foot LF-N604FL by jobu design. It is 4 cm longer than the Nikon stock foot and 2cm longer than the new LCF-18 by RRS, which is too short according to this comment. Now, my setup balances fine horizontally, but vertically the lens sits (still) too high with the gimbal by Dietmar Nil.

To balance my setup also vertically, I needed a different gimbal head. The WH-200 Wimberley Head Version II would let me compensate a height up to 12 cm. I went with the Jobu Heavy Duty MK IV, which is a bit lighter, but only gives you about 10.5 cm (my combination requires at least 10 cm).

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New Nikon 600mm F/4 FL ED VR is too front-heavy with D810 attached

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Update 04.03.2017: Perfectly balancing a Nikon 600mm FL with a D810 / D500 works now. I not only replaced the stock foot, but also use the gimbal Heavy Duty MK IV by jobu design.

Update 23.04.2016: Balancing the 600mm FL horizontally works fine now. I finally went with a foot replacement by jobu design.

Update 06.11.2015: A few words about my setup in the video. I replaced the stock foot of the lens with the RRS LCF-13, which has a lower profile, is lighter than the original Nikon foot and even slighly longer. The tripod head is by Dietmar Nill and weights 1.2kg. Unfortunately height can not be addjusted, but it’s less extrem than it seems in the video. Note that the exact same setup worked perfectly fine on the older 600mm F/4 ED VR.
——–

I just got my Nikon 600mm f/4 FL ED VR a few days ago. It’s so light and you can really handhold it. But the initial smile after picking it up went away pretty quickly as soon as I mounted it on my tripod with the D810 attached. It’s not possible to balance it! It’s way too front-heavy.

Only after not only attaching the additional battery grip MD-12, but also loading it with AA batteries, did I manage to balance it. The normal EN-EL15 was not enough.

How can this be? What an oversight by Nikon! I bought this lens because it’s light, and now I have to add weight back to make it work properly. What an irony!

This actually means that it only works properly with the heaviest camera, the D4. It also means that Nikon can’t make lighter flagship bodies in the future as long as they still want to support this lens.

The only solution I see without having to completely redesign the lens, is to drastically reduce the weight of the hood. Good opportunity for any 3D printing business. I’d buy one.

 

Why using the DNG format might not be a good idea

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A few years back I converted my photos from the proprietary Nikon NEF format to Adobes open DNG format, because I’m convinced of the open source idea and hate proprietary formats. But now that I started to enter photo contests, I have a problem. I can’t use any of these photos, since all contests want you to hand in the original RAW file, and DNG only counts as original if you camera directly writes them.

Nikon D810: Limit Selection of Autofocus Area Mode

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I haven’t read about this in most reviews of the Nikon D810. It’s a small, but very welcome addition to customize your camera settings. You can now limit the selection of AF area modes. I for example never use neither 3D-tracking nor Auto-area AF. Now I can disable them in the menu a11 Limit AF-area mode selection.

This is useful when you quickly have to change your AF-C modes. To bad you can’t also disable Single-Point AF since I only use that with AF-S.

Nikon D800/D810: Turning ISO-AUTO on/off single-handed

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I love my D800, but I was always annoyed, that I could not turn on or off the ISO-AUTO setting with one hand. But after playing around with my camera settings I found the following solution:

  1. First create an new entry in your MY MENU and make sure it’s the first item at the top.
  2. Now go to CUSTOM SETTING MENU and assign a button to this new menu item:
    f Controls -> f4 Assign Fn button -> Fn button press -> Access top item in MY MENU

That’s it!

The dawn of the Nikon 300mm f/2.8

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Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa) in flight

A flying female Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa), which is wet from the rain. Nikon D800 with 300mm f/2.8, 1/3200s at f/3.2 and ISO 2500.

For a long time my Nikon lens 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II has been upstaged by the 600mm f/4G ED VR when photographing birds. But after a stupid tumble on my part which not only disabled its bigger 600mm sister, but also ripped some parts out of my camera D800 and completely destroyed the GPS, it was ready to shine.

All of the following pictures were taken with the Nikon D800 and the 300mm f/2.8 in Sweden, some in combination with the teleconverter TC 1.4 II.They are all at least 4000px wide.

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