Monday, April 22, 2013

Denzong Regency: Gangtok

On a recent visit to Gangtok, I was fortunate to stay for two nights at the Denzong Regency. This Welcome Group property owned by Thinlay Densapa of Bermiok is perched on a ridge above the Densapa house, Cherry Bank.  Commanding possibly one of the best view points in Gangtok it is only 1 km from the town but quiet and secluded. This mountain retreat  has 25 well appointed rooms all facing  Kanchenjunga.  Personal care and attention is a hall mark of this property. Very often the owner Mr Densapa makes his rounds of the hotel interacting with the guests and ensuring that they are comfortable and looked after. The young and dynamic Operations Manager,  Bikash Ghemraj spares no effort to ensure high standards of hospitality and service. To contact the hotel please do visit

Some of the rooms and part of the garden below

The portrait of Rai Bahadur Densapa, the father of the present owner of the hotel

The  spacious restaurant Mayal 

The lobby with large portraits of the Chogyals of Sikkim and other Sikkim memorablia

View from one of the room balconies overlooking the garden and a view of Gangtok town in the distance

Monday, April 15, 2013

Nikon D600: Hands on Review

As mentioned in my earlier post Santa Cruz Downtown  ,  I rented a Nikon D600 body in the USA and used it for a few days. I wanted to get a hands on experience with the camera before deciding whether to buy it.  I was especially interested in the D600 as it was a compact full frame FX DSLR of moderate weight and size. I had a gut feeling that this could be the camera I could use for all my treks and photo expeditions and best of all it would work with all the full frame lenses I had from my film days. I tested it with my Nikon 50 F1.8AFD and the 24 F2.8AF.

Here  is the one of the images in full frame:
Nikon D600, ISO 640, 1/125 sec  f 2.5, 50mm F1.8D, matrix maetering
And here is the 100% crop of the same image. Please do see how the f2.5 wide aperture has affected depth of field- the left eye is sharp but the right eye is not! What do you feel about the resolution at 100% crop?

  • Large big full frame viewfinder - a joy to use 
  • Good weight for a full frame body - the lightest in the Nikon stable so far!
  • Spot on exposure - no need to adjust the EV to -0.3 or + 0.3 using matrix metering for most situations 
  • At 24 mp you would expect excellent resolution at 100% crop and the camera did not disappoint!
  • High ISO performance was great - I would say that ISO upto 1600 is good and 3200 is also usable given the correct exposure. I regularly used 800 or so indoors without any noise issues.
  • No problems with Nikon's earlier lenses - I used the 50 F1.8 AFD and an old 24 F2.8 AF ( not D) and got great results from them. Neither of these lenses is VR but a low shutter speeds (1/30 sec etc) it was possible to get perfectly sharp images! I would imagine that the new VR lenses would also give some amazing results at low shutter speeds hand held provided the subject was not moving!
  • The built in flash is quite good especially in daylight to remove harsh shadows caused by the sun especially when shooting people! In most situations outdoors I did not have to compensate the flash and shot it on program mode with good results.
  • The camera accepts two SD cards in Slot 1 and Slot 2 so the second card can be used as a back up; or a combination like NEF(Raw) in Slot 1 and JPEG in Slot 2.
  • I sometimes had difficulty in using auto focus in very low light conditions - the camera was hunting for focus and then switching over to manual focus made things much easier. I am not sure if this is due to the 39 focus points bunched around the centre of the screen as opposed to the 51 points in the D800 and the new D7100! This issue has also been mentioned by other photographers
  • I would have liked to have an instant 100% zoom button to review the image as in the D300 series but Nikon has not given us this feature!
  • Sloppy technique wont work with this camera - if there is camera shake due to low shutter speeds etc this shows up very easily and you dont have to go for a big print either! None of the lenses I used for the test was VR with VR you should get a couple of stops advantage - I have been able to hand hold down to 1/10 sec with a Nikon 16-85 VR lens on a DX body!
  • One of the major "cons" is the dust issue on the sensor. On internet forums this has been hotly debated and many have stayed away from buying the camera until this issue is resolved by Nikon. The body I received fro m the rental company was clean and in the three days that I used it there was no dust problems. Some photographers report that cleaning the sensor after 2000-3000 shots helps in reducing further dust and spots. The issue also varies from body to body - some have not reported the problem at all!
If you are a DX body owner and are looking to migrate to a full frame sensor this could well be the camera for you.  If you are already using the full frame D700 or D3 or D4 series then perhaps this could be a second back up body for you. Many pros are contemplating the D600 as a light full frame back up body. If like me you have a full array of FX lenses and are looking for a light weight full frame body then this is the choice. When you have to  carry your own equipment up and down the mountainside every day of a trek then every ounce of weight becomes important - that's was what kept me away from the D700 all these years a fine camera that it is!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Final Frontier : India Today Travel Plus April 2013

Ranjan Pal trekked with South Col Expeditions to Kala Pattar in November 2013. In this photo essay for India Today Travel Plus April 2013  he describes his iconic trek.

The Final Frontier : The Trek to Kala Pattar

Monday, April 1, 2013

Nikon D7100, D7000 & D600 : DXO Mark Scores

Most photographers would take a quick look at the Dxo mark scores before making decision to buy a camera. So as I was also deciding on a new body and was favouring the full frame D600, I decided to compare the Dxo mark ratings of the D600  against the new DX champion the D7100 and it's predecessor the highly rates D7000. Here are the results:

Though the comparison with the D600 is not fair as it compares a full frame sensor to a DX sensor,  the  performance of the D600 against the DX bodies is revealing. Comparing the DX bodies, there is some improvement in the D7100 over its predecessor the D7000 but I wonder if it is enough to make the upgrade to the new body!

For DX shooters using the D80, D90, D5100, D3000, D200 etc,  the D7100 seems a worthy upgrade but for someone using the D7000 it just appears marginal.

However, the bottom line is that the Dxo mark scores are not everything and is only one of the possible parameters on which a camera could be selected.

For myself I think the D600 is the way forward! Stay tuned to my hands  on quick review of the D600 next week!

For more information on Dxo mark scores and ratings for other cameras do visit


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...