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on Mar 8, 2014 in Gear Just Introed!, Wildlife Photography

D4s – 1st Field Shoot

Took the D4s out shooting this morning and I can honestly say, it’s not your D4!

Headed out to the Greater Sage Grouse lek and at 05:13 heard the familiar sound of a male calling. Been working with this population for 25yrs now so know them pretty well. I shot the entire time from the cab of my truck with the D4s, 800f5.6 w/TC.25 resting on the Puffin Pad (just like in the video). The sun doesn’t hit the lek until 06:31 so I sat in the dark just listening for a while. Slowly, the ambient light levels rise and I can see the ghostly white forms jetting about the lek. At 06:00 I started to shoot when I normally wouldn’t have wanting to test the high ISO quality of the D4s. Shooting at ISO3200, I made come clicks as the males make claim to their particular piece of ground. At 06:06 the first territorial battle broke out and it happen to be right in front of me. You can see some of the results from that battle sequence above. When I say some, the D4s when I hit the hammer ripped and its buffer lasted longer than the battle with 81 images captured!

The D4s has a TON of new settings and means of customizing every button and I’ve not even scratched the surface there. The two new things I tried this morning were the higher ISO and the Group AAF. The ISO3200 performed very impressively. Understand, there sun has not come up yet, I’m shooting in no light. Yes, there is a little noise in the images above but those images are straight out of the camera. With my normal setting in ACR, you see no noise and that’s impressive! But Dave Black was right, I freakin love the new Group AAF! OMG, does that thing rock in speed and accuracy. Keeping in mind that I am shooting from the cab of my truck and handholding, I shot 984 images this morning and only deleted 18 because they weren’t sharp. That’s impressive. I mean, shooting at 1000f/8 in no light and have that kind of AF performance … OMG!!!

There were 17-21 GSG on the lek this morning, the first morning I’ve found them on the lek. Just prior to sunrise, 06:27, a coyote came through the back of the lek the same moment a Golden Eagle popped over the rise. This combo flushed the grouse and it’s then I saw the six females that were hunched down in the clump of sage as they flew with the males to the safety of the deep sage brush. Four males remained and finally at 06:41, they walked off to the sage.

It was a great morning of grouse watching, they are such a cool bird! And it was a delight to take the D4s out basically cold turkey and have it perform so bloody great. The rest of the weekend I’ll be nose deep in the instruction book to see what other treasures are to be found. I know there is mtc!