This is GREAT gear folks and it might just solve a problem that we share. Great filters, affordable and instock. Here are the links to them:
77mm Filter adptr
4×4 Master Kit
I can’t recommend these enough to you!
I am a filter nut, always looking for a great filter to solve my problems. The problem is, I go through a lot of them not finding ones I like. I really love to use split grad neutral density filters, it’s a leftover from film days. The problem has been that for digital, I’ve had to carry the Lee .9 4×6 but as you might know, finding them is like finding ghosts. At the same time, they are a pain to carry. Well, Schneider now has a .9 (that’s 3 stops) split grad neutral density soft edge 77mm and it’s gorgeous!
Here’s kinda of a classic use of a split grad. These photos have no processing, Jpegs out of the D800. The subject is the dwarf pine on the knoll. The top image is straight, the bottom is with the Schneider 77mm .9 split grad. In the top image, the white clouds put the eye up and away from the pine. At the same time, the exposure is down for those white clouds so the spot of light on the knoll is darker. With the Schneider split grad attached, the clouds at the top of the frame are now held back so the brightness of the light on the knoll pops out.
Here’s another example everything the same with the results the same. There are a couple of reasons why I love this filter and recommend it over all the others I’ve tried. First, the neutral density material in this filter is gorgeous rendering no funky color tint. It’s glass and spectacular and in brass mount that is smooth as silk. And ya, you’re paying for all the quality. But you must be asking, “Why bother, I can do that in post?” True, you can but here is why I use them. First, clouds often “burn up” so you loose detail. If it’s lost in the capture, you can’t get it back in post. That’s why I wanted a .9/3 stop because .6/2 stop just isn’t enough for digital. Next, this was shot with the D800, that’s one big ass file. You start adding to that file in post and you have a massive file! When you can get it in capture, you have a smoother gradiant, smaller fill and cleaner highlights. Now I’m testing some other really cool filters I’ll be telling you about shortly, but I’m really excited about this new find!
“Is the 1000x really worth the price?” Man, is that a really valid and common question. I can honestly say for most photographers, it’s not. Do I need it, like life or death need it? Oh man, do I! Right now I’m running the 32GB & 64GB 1000x and just ordered some 128GB 1000x and here’s why.
Current bodies can now take advantage of the higher speeds of these cards, I found this out firsthand on a commercial shoot recently. Shooting the D800 on CH with my finger never letting up on the shutter release, I was so pleased to see them damn big files getting sucked in lickity split. And as I’ve mentioned before, the D4 is cranking 100+ on a burst with these cards. While I don’t need that speed every time I go out shooting, not even every week, but all I had to do is experience that speed once when I did need it and I was sold on their value.
When it comes to ingesting images from the 1000x cards, you might have to buy new readers. The 1000s cards work with the ExpressCard Reader (be sure to get the driver) or the USB3 Multi Card Reader. Now the USB3 works fine as is but if you update its firmware, it goes even faster! Now this investment might not be right for you, that makes perfect sense. The savings of time at both end of the process for me did make sense. Hope that answers the question.
I’ve spent the last few weeks with the new Nikon 24-85VR Lens. It’s a really compact zoom with a really nice range. Keeping with that spirit, I took the MB-D12 off the D800 and went shooting with it. alot! I really like the zoom range of 24 to 85mm, the VR was attractive because I could make use of that in my aviation. I wasn’t really concerned with its “slow” aperture because I wasn’t buying it for that speed. I really wanted it to work because it has a greater range then the 24-70AFS in a smaller package with VR. So Sharon & I got on our MtnBikes and went for a ride.
I think the lens does an excellent job. I was very pleased to see the lack of vignetting and its sharpness. I think the lens is better than the 24-120VR but not as good as the 24-70AFS. Like the 24-120VR, the lens expands and contracts with zooming, something you don’t have with the 24-70AFS. So while I like the lens, it does not replace the 24-70AFS so I won’t be adding it to me camera bag. But if you’re looking for an expensive, compact zoom in this range, the lens will serve you well.
On a side note, while Sharon & I were riding our bikes, we came across this old guy. With the pot belly of a campground bear, it was just strolling through the forest between campsites looking for a pic-a-nic basket. He was upset with the guy with the camera (me) when I wouldn’t let him get anything. Don’t think it hurt his physique any, I’m sure it scored after I left. It was taken at the 85mm end of the 24-85VR
One of my favorite tools just got a whole lot better! “The Box” as I call it, eMotimo has a whole new look built upon what was an already great platform. The first think you’ll notice is the entire massive beef up of the pan/tilt/time lapse mechanism. This provides incredible stability, flexibility and smooth as silk operation to hold the beefiest camera. The joy stick now operates via Bluetooh. And the programming software in The Box is improved and with more features. I decided to do a little test to prove my point.
i set the The Box to run all day during a thunderstorm. The D4 w/50f1.4AFS was set up and left running through the wind, rain & hail capturing 1294 Jpegs over 10.5 hours. The unit was covered with the LensCoat Raincoat to keep the rain out, but I had to constantly go out and dry off the front element. The D4 was powered with AC and was the eMotimo. As you can see, it worked flawlessly.
Remotes are a part of my photography, have been since the very beginning. So when PocketWizard announced their new PocketWizard III, I was very excited to get my hands on them. The biggie is if you know PocketWizard, you’ll notice that there is no Pre-Focus cable attached. Just a standard 3.5mm to 10pin cable (not included). That’s now part of the unit! What I really like is the smaller size, greater range, WakeUp/AF operation with a half push of the Test button and camera firing with full depression. They work with other PocketWizards like the Flex (but not TTL). A unit can be set to transmit, receive, Relay, very versatile. They have 32 channels and 4 groups, and for someone like me, damn simple to use. Be it for camera or flash remotes, I can’t recommend these enough to you!
I could be alone here, but personally, I’m tired of TSA going through my luggage. With nearly 50k miles this year alone, you’d think some computer somewhere would see my name on a manifest and say, “Not this dweeb again” and let my luggage just go through. As you might imagine, I have a bit of stuff in my check in and with video, there is even more boxes with cables. And though I pack real carefully, at least once a month my luggage gets a visual inspection and at least once a month, items go missing. Well, I have had enough so I talked with a TSA official and we went through my luggage.
Items that go missing aren’t necessarily stolen but more likely, put aside and then forgotten to be repacked in my luggage (that makes me feel a whole lot better). I was told the problem might be that I’m using cases which the inspectors can’t see through. That does kinda make sense so I went and got some Think Tank Cable Mngt cases (the 10, 20 & 50). I don’t want to jink myself so I’m tapping on wood and crossing my fingers as I type, but since doing this, I’ve not had any issues. Just wanna pass this along in case I’m not the only one with this problem. Former problem, knock on wood.
When I saw the announcement for the new Nikon 18-300AFS DX lens, I thought it might be an ok knock about lens. I mean really, that’s a huge zoom range! I’ve never been a big fan of these zooms, the normal tendency is vignetting and less then tack sharp results. To say I’m more then pleased is an understatement. Being a DX lens, I shot with it on Sharon’s D7000 and for the last week, been having fun with it. First thing you’ll notice, it doesn’t vignette.
OK…it has a huge range…now what? The one thing I needed to know before moving forward, it is sharp? At 18mm, sharp really is a relative thing because at 18mm, things look sharp because they are small, you can’t really tell. Here’s the Sunday scene at Lake Mary, pretty typical for Mammoth in the summer.
Zoom out to 300mm and shoot the colorful kayaks in the center of the frame (that is an impressive range!)…
Is it really sharp? You can’t tell from these kinds of test posted on the web. You have to take the work of the reviewer. I think it’s sharp, I’m actually surprised to be saying that. Now it’s not a true zoom, you focus on a object at 18mm and then zoom out to 300mm, the focus point is not retained. The lens really expands at 300mm (there is a 18mm lock and that front does move when extended). But that’s not the point of this lens. It’s meant to be a one lens does all so you will focus every time you compose. But is it sharp? On our Sunday walk, we had a Bald Eagle grab a trout on the other side of the lake and even though it was an ugly eagle, it was a viable field test to see if the lens is sharp.
See, an ugly eagle. To give it its due, it just fledged its young for the year, it earned the right to look tired. When it flew overhead, I zoomed out to 300mm and shot. That’s what you see above. Pretty small image size but when we crop in 200%, we get this…
To be honest with you, those are results I simply did not expect. I’m totally impressed by the results of the 18-300AFS! I have no problem recommending it to you, being a great first lens, only lens or additional lens to any camera system!
I mean really, $500 to make it feel right? Ouch! The price as come down, you can find the MB-D12 for around $400 now but still, $400? Muscle memory is something you relate to a lot of activities but personally, not one I would have attached to holding a camera body. That’s until the D800 arrived in the office and I had to get to know it, fast. I’m here to tell you, I simply had a helluva time liking the photographic experience with the D800 when it came to shooting with the body only. It felt like it was going to squirt right out of my hands. But the point of a smaller body is to have a smaller body. Adding bulk to a small camera body defeats the purpose of being a smaller body. But I just couldn’t get past the muscle memory, my hands wanted and needed the bulk to function. The D4 feels perfect, the D800 by itself, totally foreign. That left me no choice, I love the file from the D800 so I got the MB-D12.
Then there came that price tag and like so many others, I swallowed real hard when I saw the price. The knock offs are out there at a fraction of the price. I even had many say they can’t see, feel or in operation find a difference between the Nikon and the knock off. So why buy the Nikon over the knock off, why spend the extra $300? Damn if I have a good reason for you, I just know for myself why I went with Nikon. While I don’t like the price, I rather give my money to the company that not only stands behind the product but keeps creating new and better products. Now I have seen two knock offs “die” in the field, one stopped working and the other, well, was kinda comical when it imploded on itself sending parts all over the desert floor. There are plenty of times to go DIY to save money, but I just don’t think this is one.
One other question that keeps coming is, why did I go with the D800 over the D800e especially when I first thought I the 800e was the obvious choice? First reason, I could get the D800 before the D800e and I don’t know about you, but I’m not good at waiting to get new gear. I get very impatient. Once the D800 was in my hands, the files where big enough, the quality basically overkill for what I need as it is. Getting more and having the possibility of moire issues just didn’t make sense. With that all said, the D4 is still my principle body. The D800 is always with me in the bag but the body I reach for the majority of the time is the D4.
Not sure what it is, but if there is one piece of camera gear that is misunderstood, it has to be the 16Fish. The Nikon 16f2.8AF is a lens I count on all the time for many, many different types of photography. Many think of a 16Fish and this lens the bends the world and it can, but is doesn’t have to. Here’s shot coming back from a project where the project was to take a portrait using the 16Fish (you’ll see the final image later this year). And this shot taken with the D800 flying back from the project in the rear of the A36 was also taken with the 16Fish as well. When we talked about shooting with the 16Fish this weekend at Short Lens Course (GREAT group BTW, loved having you!) and then I made a shot with a participants Canon Fish, I could see on faces I had opened some minds which is why I wanted to blog about again today. Check out the video below but it comes with a warning, it might cost you money! On a side note, this is a 5 image, hand held during a bumpy ride over Owens Valley, HDR finished just with Nik’s HDR Efex Pro 2.
How to bring movement to stills? There are actually many ways with some being combined for even greater impact. The most basic, simplest and requiring no special tools is panning. Panning is the art and technique of moving your camera body in sync with a moving subject and therefore nullifying any movement in the frame. Now that should make you scratched your head. How can moving the camera with the subject nullify movement while being the best method for communicating movement? Answering the first part of this, how does panning nullify movement? If you take a picture of a rock (one of my favorite subjects), the rock in relationship to the film plane does not move. So we get a sharp photo of the rock. The same thing is happening when we pan (as long as it’s done correctly). We move the film plane at the same speed as the moving subject so as far as the film plane is concerned, the subject is not moving so we can stop movement in our frame with movement. You gotta love that geometry!
If this is the case, we are stopping movement with movement, how then do we communicate movement? We do it by blurring the background. In these two examples shot with D800, 600VR2 swung on a Gitzo, the top frame was shot at 1/40 and the bottom frame at 1/125. If you look at the two frames, the top frame has the illusion of speed greater than the bottom and that’s because of shutter speed. While the film plane is keeping up with the moving object, the background is not moving at all. When you pan and shoot with a slower to slow shutter speed, you blur the background more and more creating that illusion, the illusion of speed.
Doug over on my FB page said he was looking forward to my comparison between the D3x and D800. I honestly wasn’t thinking of doing one but then someone else pinged saying the same thing. Since I no longer have my faithful (and great) D3x, I’m not in the position to do a side by side photo comparison. But I can and have done 24×30 prints from both cameras with the Epson 7900 and can look at the results. Understand, this is going to magnify any pluses or minuses going to a print this large with 24×30 always being the standard I go by when making quality judgements. Both of these are megapixel cameras with the express intent of capturing great detail. They both exceed at this beautifully!
The question on the table is, which camera produces the better file? Technically, the D800 does, hands down. Now will you see that bump up in quality in a 8×10, 11×14 or even 17×22 print? You might not even see it at 24×30, especially if your shooting technique is no spot on. With that being said, looking past the file quality there are some other aspects of the D800 that put it ahead of the D3x. You can’t get past the fact the D800 out of the box is 1/3 the size, weight and cost with 3x faster FPS and buffer compared to the D3x (does better at high ISO as well).
Now personally, the D800 out of the box was not the shooting experience I’ve been use to for the last 30yrs, small camera bodies just don’t work for me. That was solved with the expensive MB-D12 which I love shooting with but have not bought yet (still renting from Borrowlenses.com). The placement of the BKT button I can’t get use to. The Multi Control Selector sticks out further on the D800 so when I shoot vertical the AF sensor dances around as my forehead depresses it. The blinking of the entire lit grid in the viewfinder when you change AF sensor position is driving me bloody nuts! So when it comes to actually taking the photo, the shooting experiences, I prefer the D3x hands down! But with the file size and 5FPS (6FPS if & when I get the MB-D12 and inset D4 battery) the D800 produces, there is no way I can go back to the D3x.
The two photos here were taken with the D800 (above) and D3x (below). These are pretty classic reasons why I want the high MP cameras, I wanna see the rivets on the aircraft. Now I shot air to air with the D3x for a few years and never missed any photos because of FPS or buffer, but I could have more and that’s a good thing. I could not do air to air with the D800 without the MB-D12, there is simply not enough mass. Now I’m personally not seeing a big difference in the metering or exposure range when comparing the two bodies. The D800 has less noise than the D3x but that’s not really saying much. It’s not a noise machine but I’ve shot it ISO 1600 with no ill effects. Now this is no scientific, fact gathered kind of comparison because I never planned on doing one. I didn’t see or don’t see a need to do one. The D800 is a tool evolving forward megapixel shooting and I’ll use it just as that, a tool. My main shooting body will remain the D4. I love the D4! But now that I’ve spent two weeks glued to the D800, I’m making it more mine and fitting it into my shooting. We’re getting along and I have no problem pulling it and making the shot. Really can’t ask much more from a tool.
So there I was with the 600VR set up at the end of the T Hangars at PRS shooting away. I started off with the D4 and all was well. Then I switched to the D800 and the struggles set in. I kept looking a the LCD and I wasn’t capturing sharp images. I would get one here, one there but I wasn’t getting whole series and it was driving me nut so I looked at what was going on. Everything was normal, 600 on Wimberley on the Gitzo, the only thing that was different was the D800. Becoming really conscious of it all, I realized my pan wasn’t as smooth. It seemed to be “hesitant” at times before continuing. It was driving me nuts so I really bared down on my technique but results didn’t get any better.
I knew the problem was me, but what was it? I switched by to the D4 and instantly my keeper rate went flying back up to normal. I switched back to the D800 and it instantly dropped again. What the hell was it. Then in the process of going back and forth with bodies on the 600, it dawned on me. Mass! The mass on the end of the 600 that I was swinging was less with the D800. The problem was simple physics and muscle memory! The problem wasn’t the camera, the lens the rig or technique, it was me! Us humans get so set in our ways that at times, it gets in our way. Being a creature of habit, I decided to add some mass to the D800 and test. I rented a MB-D12 from BorrowLenses.com and bang, the mass was back and muscle memory was happy again. I’ve heard from a number of D800 owners stating they’ve not been getting the image quality out of the camera that they think they should be getting and wondering what’s wrong with their camera because God forbid, they could be the problem. As I learned, if you get just one sharp image, the odds are, you’re the problem and not the gear. Such was the case for me so now that I have the mass, all is happy again! BTW…the D800 with the MB-D12 feels soooo much better in my hands!
Photos captured with D800 / 600VR
This highly specialized piece of gear makes a world of difference in recording sound with the D4/ D800. The DXA-SLR Pro is a phantom power source needed with a number of different mics. You have the same two options I had when delving into this thing, you can either go and learn all your can on the subject or just trust someone and dive in. I trusted my good friend Scott and dove in. Darn if he wasn’t right, this thing rocks!
Protection of your images, especially when on the road is essential. I’ve gone through my fair number of external hard drives in my search for the right one. ioSafe produces a series of hard drives that are the ultimate hard drive protection! The ones I have latched on to and really, really love are the ioSafe 500GB Rugged Portable. Just how rugged are they? How about you can drive your vehicle on them, being able to withstand 5000lbs? Or being dropped from 20′ or being immersed up to 30′ up to 3days? What about data recovery service up to $5000 included in the price even if the damage is your fault? I saved the best part for last. They are sexy!
A couple of the nice things about the ioSafe is it is USB3 and comes with a nice, thick, long cable not going to break in the first month. I have two, one my primary and the other my backup for my digital files while I travel. And if you’re looking for other secure storage, check out their IoSafe 2TB Solo which is fire and waterproof. I do not have them yet but they are on my bucket list. That fire and waterproof feature for someone who lives in a forest is mighty attractive! With the speed and security the Portables are providing me, I’m excited by the possibility!