Thursday, January 10, 2013

Nikon D80 SLR manual rig

I recently upgraded to a Nikon D7000 for underwater photography so my original SLR, a Nikon D80, doesn't get much use these days. To reward the D80 for reliable long service and paying for itself many times over I thought it might like to go flying.

It's not the ideal KAP camera being quite heavy (672g body + 202g 18-55mm lens = 874g all up)
and it doesn't have an intervalometer but that didn't stop me. James Gentles makes a lovely little device called GentLED-AUTO which is an IR remote intervalometer weighing just 20g. I just happened to have one sitting around so it was time to give SLR KAP a try.

First step was to make a basic manual rig just to see if my kites could lift it.
I bent up some aluminium to make a rig similar to the vertical style Aurico autoKAP rig for the Canon S100. But this design, a single vertical support with an L bracket to mount the camera, was way too flexible for the heavier SLR. The spring like flexing would have had the camera bouncing up and down continuously.

Nikon D80 manual rig - 1090g

So I had to revert to the tried and tested double U style. This allows a light and stiff rig to be built using the minimum of material, but it means I needed to balance the camera in the bottom tray carefully following James Gentles guide, which I find much trickier than building the vertical style rig.

The bottom U tray needs to be wide enough, front to back, to accommodate the camera mounting bolt and the pivot holes on each side which are at the centre of gravity for the camera. With this camera/lens combo the centre of gravity is 24mm forward of the camera mount hole. The bottom U needed to be 40mm wide. The top U only needed to be 30mm wide to be stiff enough.

Amazingly the wind was perfect for a test fly on the day I made this rig. Sunny with a smooth onshore 12kn and the Levitation Delta had no problem lifting it all as shown in this video.

I was really pleased with the image quality compared to the Canon S100 partly because the heavier rig isn't blown around by the wind as much.

I have begun to realise that lighter rigs suffer from blow back resulting in angled horizons or more/less tilt than expected. I'll talk more about blow back soon.

Here are KAP shots using the D80

1 comment:

  1. The Nikon D7000 was initially thought to be the upgrade replacement for the Nikon D90 but it seems that Nikon is still keeping the Nikon D90 in its line-up. If you have a Nikon D90, no doubt you would like to know if upgrading to the Nikon D7000 makes sense. While if you don't, it will be an interesting comparison between the two to see which is better.

    nikon d7000 best lenses