by J.D. Roth

I found time to play with two new gadgets this morning: the inexpensive iMic and the not-so-inexpensive Nikon D70 digital SLR.

I woke early. The sun had just risen. I could hear the birds outside. (In the summer, we sleep with the french doors open in the bedroom, and we cannot help but be awakened by bird song; this time of year I have to strain to hear it through the doors.)

Grabbing my iBook, I headed outside to sit in my pajamas and slippers, listening to the jays and the crows and the little songbirds greeting the morning. A woodpecker peck peck peck peck pecked somewhere up the hill. I tried to record some of what I heard with my new iMic and a cheap microphone (actually a remnant from my very first Mac fifteen years ago). I need a better microphone. I was able to record some birdsong, but only faintly.

The female flicker provided the best sounds:

flicker call one (994kb mp3)
flicker call two (240kb mp3)

At one point, Nemo sauntered by to see what was up:

Nemo squeaking (84kb mp3)

It was yet another beautiful day. We spent most of it outside, working in the garden. The cats helped. Sort of.

Nemo showed his might:

Simon played mind games with Flash:

Later in the evening, Simon sat outside the library window, politely asking to be let inside:

I admit there are sections in the above photos that are pixelated. This is not a result of the camera. I’ve saved each of the above as heavily compressed JPGs. In fact, they’re set at 10% quality in Photoshop Elements.

The D70 produces digital images of astounding quality.

Expect a full review of the D70 after I become accustomed to all its features and functions. It’s an overwhelming device, and it’s going to take me several weeks (at least) to learn.

For now, here’s an example of what six megapixels can do when coupled with a large CCD. (The CCD is the charge coupled device, the actual component of the digital camera that records the image. It’s far, far more important to image quality than the nominal size of the photo produced.)

Here’s a full-size detail of the above image. (Meaning: this is the actual size at which the image was recorded. The above photo was reduced drastically to fit the confines of this weblog.)

And here’s a detail of the above, magnified four times.

This final image is a detail of the above detail of a detail. It has been magnified another four times, or sixteen times the actual recorded image size.

Given that the topmost image in this series, the one that shows Simon in the window, was reduced to a little less than one quarter sixteenth of its original size, this final detail has been magnified over sixty-four 256 times! (Or, put another way, Simon’s nose in the final photo is sixteen times as wide and sixteen times as tall as it is in the first photo. In theory.)

Not bad.

Not bad at all.


On 13 March 2005 (09:06 PM),
dowingba said:

That is impressive. Up until a little while ago, I thought 4 megapixels was the max, and I had heard people claim nobody would ever need more than 4. But earlier today I saw an ad or something for a 16 megapixel camera. Imagine how much you could zoom with that.

On 13 March 2005 (09:49 PM),
J.D. said:

The number of megapixels in the final image is only one part of the equation. It’s not much good to have a 16megapixel image if the CCD is small. The CCD is what is used to actually “grab” the light in the first place. The larger the CCD, the more light grabbed, and the higher resolution the image, regardless of the number of megapixels. What’s ideal is to have a large CCD *and* lots of megapixels. 🙂

Your earlier point remains essentially correct, however: film does have better resolution right now, and probably will for the forseeable future. Still, quality prints can be achieved from digital photographs, especially at 4×6 and 5×7 sizes. In theory, the D70 ought to be able to provide crisp, clean images up to 12×16 or even larger. That’s certainly good enough for me.

On 14 March 2005 (08:06 AM),
Tiffany said:

You know how much I love your cats, but I never need to see cat snot that large. 🙂

On 14 March 2005 (08:32 AM),
Lane said:

In my office, I have a 10×15 print from my D70, printed at 300 dpi at ( I did some basic interpolation during post-processing in Photoshop. My photography-centric friends at work, upon first viewing, can not tell if it is from film or digital. If you have any questions, let me know.

Updated: 13 March 2005

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