Photo Friday: Nikon D800 Time-Lapse and Some Birds

Just playing with the D800 some more. So far, I continue to be impressed. Two things on my wish list (and, it sounds like, everyone else’s wish list, too): 1) faster frame rate and 2) smaller RAW image size option. Anyway, minor nits. Of course, now that the D600 looks like a real option on the horizon, I’m starting to wonder if I’ll regret having dropped $3000 on an FX camera when I could have gotten a $1500 FX camera with many of the same features. Ah well, the best cure for inklings of camera-buyer’s remorse is to use the tool to create some cool work.

The following images were captured during last weekend’s Living Traditions cultural festival in downtown Salt Lake City. Strangely, I took most of my favorite images that day at small pop-up tent with a few guys and a bunch of birds, located near the festival entrance. I’m not sure what the booth was all about, but the birds were fascinating to observe.

But FIRST… here is a (somewhat underexposed) time-lapse video straight out of the D800. The camera’s automatic time-lapse function captured the images and stitched them together, in camera, into a .mov file. Pretty slick! For you pros out there, it probably makes more sense to capture hi-res .jpg files with the interval shooting mode and then create your own animation in Quicktime Pro, but for fun projects, this is a very neat little feature.

A parrot outside the Living Traditions Festival in Salt Lake City.
A parrot outside the Living Traditions Festival in Salt Lake City.
A fuzzy young owl.
A fuzzy young owl.
Dancers at the Living Traditions festival.
Dancers at the Living Traditions festival.
The falcon cannot hear the falconer.
The falcon cannot hear the falconer.
Baby birds waiting to be fed.
Baby birds waiting to be fed.

Photo Friday: Welcoming the D800

Succulent on the coffee table. Shot with a Nikon 105mm f2.8 Micro at 1/60 sec, f3.2.
Succulent on the coffee table. Left is the full, right is a 100% crop. Notice how unobtrusive the grain is in the crop, despite the fact that it was shot at ISO1250. Shot with a Nikon 105mm f2.8 Micro at 1/60 sec, f3.2 (click to see a larger version).

I just picked up a Nikon D800 from Pictureline, one of the best camera shops I’ve been to and certainly the finest shop in Utah. I have been shooting test frames around the house, and so far I’m impressed. The dynamic range, noise at high (1250) ISO, autofocus, overall usability, and overall image quality are superb.

I had to download a RAW update for Photoshop, and still can’t seem to get things working with Lightroom (I think I have to buy an upgrade), but I was able to open and pixel pick through a couple dozen images. They are definitely superior to the shots from my old D700, and far better than those of the D7000 I shoot with now. I’m anxious to get this thing out and capture the Salt Lake Valley and surrounding Utah landscapes, which deserve every iota of the D800’s 36mp full-frame sensor power.

So far, the only thing that I am not pleased with is the Live View feature. When you zoom in to focus on an image, the view is very noisy. I have read about this as a possible problem to be solved with a firmware update. Hope it doesn’t prove to be a problem down the line… Until then, here’s a quick example of the detail you can get out of the D800.

A Little Busy Right Now. Here’s A Picture.

Work has bled over into the evening hours lately, so I haven’t had time for personal writing and editing. Therefore, here is a photo for you to enjoy.

This image was captured during a video shoot on Antelope Island, about 30 miles northwest of Salt Lake City. I used a Nikon D7000, a 50mm f1.4 lens, and a reverse grad ND filter I recently purchased. The filter used to belong to Garrett Smith, who was the first person to show me how to use filters for landscape photography. (Thanks, G.)

For more on Antelope Island, which is rad, see this post. I have plenty of bloggy irons in the fire,  too, so don’t be a stranger.

— The Blockhead Lord

Sunset from Antelope Island
Sunset from Antelope Island

[Video] Corey Rich – Deep North

This very cool video, set in far northern Alaska, features photographer Corey Rich and was shot almost entirely with Nikon D7000s. Amazing what can be done with a relatively affordable camera (and three pricey lenses…).

After you watch it, you should check out this post in which Corey shares his thoughts on the new Nikon D800 and why it has him psyched. I should be getting mine any day now (fingers crossed).

Pro-Spective: Who is the D800 for? Part 3

This is the third and final installment of the Pro-Spective series on the new Nikon D800 DSLR. (Read the first, with Sam Bié, and the second, with Tim Kemple.) The series sprouted out of personal curiosity. I wanted a replacement for the D700 I sold in late 2011. But when the D800 was, at long last, announced, I didn’t jump to place my pre-order. There were some hang-ups; it wasn’t what I’d expected. So I went about exploring the question of who the D800 is really great for… or not so great for. The result is this series. It’s by no means comprehensive. It’s just an attempt to add the perspectives of three great, professional action/adventure photographers to the mix. I picked them because I know them and I know that they have a good handle on tech like this. Talking to these guys and writing these blogs has certainly helped me get a better grip on the pros and cons of the D800. Below, I’ll post Corey Rich’s thoughts, and then I’ll tell you what I’ve decided and why.

Continue reading Pro-Spective: Who is the D800 for? Part 3

Pro-Spective: Who is the D800 for? Part 2

D700/800 split

[To get the big picture, check out the other two posts in this Pro-spective series. Part 1 with Sam Bié and Part 3 with Corey Rich]

In the first post in the Pro-Spective series on the New Nikon D800, I talked to French action-sports photographer Sam Bié. He was decidedly not interested in getting the D800, as he felt it didn’t offer him anything he needed. At this time, video is a not a priority for him. In addition, he feels his D700/D300 combo is working just fine. Tim Kemple, however, had a completely different take on the matter.

Tim Kemple giving a thumbs upTim Kemple

Tim Kemple is a Salt Lake City-based photographer/videographer, and a really good rock climber, to boot. He’s the man behind many memorable print ads for The North Face, Gregory, and EMS. He’s been published in Outside Magazine, Climbing Magazine, Snowboard Canada Magazine, and many others. And he’s a co-founder of the Camp 4 Collective, one of the outdoor industry’s leading video production companies. Tim received some extra press as of late with this sweet music video he shot entirely with iPhones. From my encounters with Tim, he’s a perfectionist and a consummate professional. He also has a lot of very nice equipment, so to him the D800 is a no-brainer. He’ll probably buy a D4, too, just for the heck of it. He is one good example of who the D800 is for. His answers, particularly to the last question, below, also made me rethink some of my personal hesitations.

Continue reading Pro-Spective: Who is the D800 for? Part 2

Pro-spective: Who is the Nikon D800 for? Part 1

D700/800 split

[To get the big picture, check out the other two posts in this Pro-spective series. Part 2 with Tim Kemple and Part 3 with Corey Rich]

In a previous post, I mentioned the lukewarm response to the new D800 some Nikon fans have been expressing since its February sixth announcement. (I’d link to evidence of this, but it’s scattered across the Twitterverse, the comments pages of camera blogs, and photodork forums. If you look for it, you’ll find it.) In many cases, these responses are just the typical web junk, where bored or angry people can’t resist the urge to gripe about everything that catches their attention via the unedited broadcast medium known as the Internet. In other cases, there’s a fundamental misunderstanding about what the D800 is and who it’s for (“You mean this might be better than my Coolpix? Oh noes! Why didn’t the guy in Best Buy tell me to wait?!” or “$3,000?! Who would pay that much for a stupid camera?! My iPhone takes pictures just as good and I can make calls with it, too!”).

But there is a third, and I think larger, class of user who actually has a valid complaint, or at least question, about the D800: Why did it go the direction it did, if it’s ostensibly to replace the D700? The D700 was an affordable, full-frame rig that enthusiasts and pros alike could use to shoot action and low-light scenes. Photo journalists and sports photogs on a budget were stoked. The D800, as most interested people have already read a hundred times elsewhere, generates immense 36mp images at a rate of about four per second, fast considering the 70m raw file size, but still slow compared to the D700’s 8fps with battery grip or the D4’s 9fps without. The D800 seems to target a different market: studio, landscape, and even wedding shooters. A big segment of D700 lovers doesn’t seem to have a viable upgrade option for less than six thousand dollars.

Continue reading Pro-spective: Who is the Nikon D800 for? Part 1

Nikon announces the D800

After many months of the usual bullshit Internet speculation-fests, Nikon finally let the D800 out of the bag. As Nikon Rumors has been predicting for a long time, it’s 36 megapixels (“At its core is superior image quality equal to that achieved with medium-format digital cameras,” reads the press release). It has high-def “broadcast quality” video and more bells and whistles than the Doo Dah parade. All told, it’s a hell of a nice camera for a fairly reasonable price ($2900, only $200 more than the D700 was when it was released in 2008). But will the D700 crowd welcome it with open arms?
The Nikon D800

I used to own a D700, but liquified it so I could afford the D800, even though I didn’t know yet what the D800 would be. What it turned out to be is a bit of a new direction. The massive image size and slower frame rate (four frames per second in FX mode) means it’s better suited to subjects that don’t move around much (nature, landscape, studio). It’s not ideal for me, as I plan to shoot rock climbing with it, among other sporty things. Then again, when you really think about it, how fast are those climbers going, anyway? Not that fast… Unless they’re falling. I have noticed some grumbling in the forums that this camera just won’t do what the D700 as far as fast shooting in low light, which is great for shooting action and photo journalism. But on the other hand, it does a lot that the D700 couldn’t do at all.

Continue reading Nikon announces the D800