Landscapes & D810 “Flat”
With the release of the D810 comes a brand new Picture Control (PC) simply called Flat. Now this is not the magic bullet fixing all your problems. This is not what you should set your camera to all the time. While the D810 is the ~only~ body to have this PC at this time, it is not the reason to buy the D810. This is simply a new tool to put in your arsenal like any tool that can solve specific photographic problems. Since first shooting with the D810 in Flat, I’ve struggled with how to explain this Picture Control to you on the limited space of the 256 sRGB world of the web. Let’s start by stating how Nikon defines this PC. “Flat – Details are preserved over a wide tone range, from highlights to shadows. Choose for photographs that will later be extensively processed or retouched.” And if you look at the comparison chart Nikon published on the web, there they add to this “ideal for video capture.”
So what you see above is a shot done with the D810 / 18-35AFS at 18mm at sunset. Everything in the frame is backlit! The image was finished how I always do, image brought in ACR and tweeked and then in Photoshop applied my Nikon recipe and done. Simple except, note ALL the information in the shadow area in this BACKLIT scene! What is important to understand though is how I got to this finished photo.
Here’s the Flat image out of the camera.
Here’s Landscape (my default Picture Control) image out of the camera.
And this is here because the first reaction to the two photos is, the one is simply underexposed which is why it looks the way it does, it’s not from the Picture Control (which were shot with the camera defaults). But as you can see, the exposure is the same value. The Landscape has the higher shutter speed because I dialed in -1/3 so I would have no blinkies as I had no blinkies in the Flat photo. This is a good time to remind you Nikon’s definition of when to use this Picture Control – “Flat – Details are preserved over a wide tone range, from highlights to shadows. Choose for photographs that will later be extensively processed or retouched.”
I’ve shot a WHOLE bunch of images in Flat testing this new tool and how it might fit into my photography (oh boy, one more thing to remember now). Using it in real world shooting, you can see exactly how I use this in my critter work right here. In that example, the images are right out of the camera, the bears are el natural! Look at all the information in the shadows in the bears, in fact in the Mom shot, too much information! And right here in these landscapes, you see an example of using this as Nikon intended, with post processing. And I’m bringing this to your attention because I think this is a wonderful new tool you might like. For example, you into HDR? Just look at the extended range in just this one click, think about the possibilities? And when it comes to photographing critters in the contrasty light of a forest like the bears? I’m only a week into heavy testing of just this one new tool in the D810 and wanted you to see something I think is really cool!