Yeap, I’m so hooked on the ease, professionalism and most important, accountablility, I keep going back now to BorrowLenses.com. We needed another D4 body last week at PRS (so glad we had it, man) so simply clicked on the link, filled out the info and in a heartbeat had a confirmation email and like clock work on the day the D4 was due, Mr FedEx rang the doorbell and handed it to me. Strictly speaking from a business point of view, this flexibility and reliability simply puts money in the pocket. Thanks BorrowLenses.com…you guys still rock!
The difference between these two photographs are clouds and a breeze and that’s all. But that’s enough to make the top image sharp and the bottom image soft. Why? The bottom image was taken around highnoon when the heat was at it’s highest and the afternoon breeze was yet to kick in. Even though this little RV was above the runway, the heat shimmer was enough to cause the bottom photo to not be tack sharp. Both of these photos along with the video was captured by the D800 attached to 600VR w/TC-14e. The biggest challenge is seeing heat shimmer when you’re shooting. For many, they simply don’t know what it looks like. I hope the video helps you recognize it. You see it the most when using long glass but it can appear with any focal length.
I’ve been pinged by a lot of photographers asking me about the quality of the files I’m getting out of the D800. So far, all claims from the users is that it’s the camera and not the photographer that is at fault. I have not seen one photo from one of these problem bodies but after asking a few questions, I highly suspect it’s what I like to call pilot error. Just as I warned with the D3x, the image quality of the D800 will show up every single wart in your photography and the first one will be your ability to get a sharp image. Talking with a dear friend who is getting along in years, he told me he will always shoot his D800 on a tripod because he knows he can’t handhold and get a sharp image. I’ll have more on this as time goes on but as I was told long ago, if you have just one sharp image then more than likely the problem is not the camera/lens but the pilot.
As you watch the video, you’ll see two segments. The first, as the sport taxis, you’ll see it taxi right into the heat shimmer and become out of focus until the rpms crank up and I pan with it minimizing a little the heat shimmer but detail in the fuselage is blurred. The end of the segment shows how heat shimmer can make the image dance and if shooting a still, causing the image not to be tack sharp.
A forecasted small meteor shower got my attention so I decided to set up The Box with the D4 and give it a go. This was the first Time Lapse (old fashion way with Jpegs & Photoshop) I had done with the D4, 24f1.4AFS and The Box and the new EP-6 AC adapter. I used all the same settings as before and while the Milky Away doesn’t appear until late at night, I like the results very much. This is a 1680, 8.5hr time lapse captured from our deck. Enjoy!
Here are my settings for the D800, top link is a PDF is for D800, bottom is D4 in case you want to compare them. Now these settings will change with time and when I think about it, I will update these settings and date the file accordingly. Now, External settings that can be set are as follows:
D4 / D800 body Settings
- Metering – Matrix
- AF-C / d21
- Firing mode – CH
- Flash – Slow
Hope this helps you, I know I’ve got more to learn with the D4 / D800 but to say I’m impressed with the D800 file is an understatement!
The SmallHD DP-6 is a monitor made for video work. On any camera with a HDMI out, it connects and displays whatever the LCD is displaying. As I’ve already mentioned, it works great for this and we pound it here at WRP for video production work. Well, I found another use for it and it saved my butt!
I started a new project with an bomber that’s being restored. A series of photographs I needed to take were from the top of the fuselage where I physically could not get because it was being restored. Some of it wasn’t physically in place. I needed to get the camera in the dead center of the fuselage and then frame up the fuselage dead center in the frame. Complicating it further was the need to do HDR. Not being able to look through the viewfinder or see the LCD panel was a major problem. I at first tired the old “eyeballing” it trick but that was going nowhere fast and the clock was ticking. Then I remembered the SmallHD DP-6 so I got it out of my Logistics Manager along with a 2′ HDMI cable. I plugged it into the D4 HDMI and turned on the LiveView. And there on the DP-6 appeared the photograph. Now turning the camera the right way at first was a little bit of a challenge but I was able to take the series of photographs perfectly even though I couldn’t see through the viewfinder. I was so glad I had the DP-6 in the bag!
Yesserie…the D800 has landed in the office finally thanks to my good friends at B&H Photo & Video (now I know and appreciate the Video part of their name)! I’ve charged up the battery (took 3hrs), loaded the new firmware and then loaded in my initial settings into the camera. My initial settings were taken from the D4 and I did this for two reasons. The first is because I know what’s working in the D4 so I can quickly become familiar with the D800 (and discover any operational differences). The second is because I quickly learn what the D800 does not have included in its features the D4 does. Lots of little interesting things popped up doing this. One that has me still scratching my head is why the Exp Comp on the D800 is opposite of the D4? I quickly changed that with a Custom Setting but that one has me still wondering.
Other then taking the traditional first photo of my big toe (have to read Captured to understand that), I’ve not shot a single still with the D800 yet. As you read this though, I’m fixing that. I have shot though a number of videos, the ones posted this week for example, and it did a gorgeous job with those. I have read all the warnings, problems and issues folks are finding so I’m looking for those as I shoot. I’m thinking about comparisons between the D4 and D800 images as well since I’m being asked for those. So in all good time, I’ll get more info posted. It’s time to run from the office and get back to shootin!
I just can’t say enough great things about the Logistic Manager. Watch the video, you’ll see what I mean!
Interestingly since I posted a month ago I was doing sound recording tests, I’ve been asked numerous times what’s the best mic I found. This is it, the Rode NTG-3-B, it simply does a great job recording. Now in that previous blog posting, I said I was going to have a sound test for folks in the upcoming (being released Thursday I’m told) iPad version of the BT Journal. Well, like anything photographic, nothing was as simple as I first thought. It was quite a learning curve and luckily I have friends like Gabe & Scott who helped me through the process. So what I’m doing here is cutting to the chase and telling you what I found was the best mic, the Rode NTG-3-B. Now how I got there, well you’ll have to just download the Journal when it’s out and find out
Here’s a side by side comparison of two video go cameras, the GoPro Hero (on the left) and Wingman HD (on the right). Both were in there housings attached to the hoods of our rental cars as we cruised Custer State Park. You can make up you own mind which does the better job. I didn’t have the Contour at the time to add it to the comparison but I’m still liking its results and operation the best. You might notice the time stamp, that is accurate
As for creating the actual side by side, that was done in Photoshop CS6. Enjoy!
The D4 & the D800/D800e have a new Time Lapse feature that taps the video portion of the cameras. It’s one HUGE advantage to me compared to the old method is, once your turn it off, you have a finished time lapse, there is nothing else to do but watch and enjoy! What you have here is a 6hr, 1 click every 30sec time lapse from my deck of a brewing thunderstorm.I’m having a ton of fun doing these on the spur of the moment.
The process is really pretty simple and you can see the “old” method all on video by heading to my Romancing the Landscape series on Kelby Training. Both methods start the same way. In a nutshell it starts by taking a click and looking at the exposure and making any adjustments you think are needed. The “new” way though begins when you turn on the Time Lapse feature and set the intervals and duration and let ‘er go. When you turn off the Time Lapse, the D4 / D800 create a video final video you can instantly play on your camera. You’re all done!
Just so you understand how cool this is, in the “old” days you would have to capture your time lapse as Jepgs (the D4 / D800 does it with Raw), place all those Jpegs in a folder on your computer (time and space consuming), launch Photoshop and have it compile and then export the time lapse a video. Having all of this done in camera is just to way cool! And if you’re wondering about battery consumption, this 6hr time lapse took the D4 down to it’s last bar. Give it a try, it’s really fun!
You might not be aware, but Photoshop CS6 now edits video as well (you don’t need Extended for this). I dropped in the titles and the rest for this video right in Photoshop. It’s not only faster and easier then Premiere, but the final folder of “stuff” you save is much smaller. For creating simple, fun videos, this rocks!
A WHOLE bunch of folks have been asking me about video of late, shooting with the “On the Go” video cameras. Well in response I went shooting and testing with WingMan HD, GoPro Hero and Contour+. For a long time, the GoPro has been my go to for my video on the go camera. It simply works and works well. I was just introduced to the Wingman and while I really like its features and on screen programming, it has two issues for me. The video quality (all 3 shoot 1080p) just isn’t as good as the GoPro. While the housing for the Wingman permits easy operation of the camera, you have to remove it entirely from the suction cup stand to open the housing to turn the camera on. That’s lame! Both of these are priced in the $200 range which make them very easy to own.
Then there’s the Contour+ which I really like! While it’s up in the $400 range, it’s video quality is a tad better then the GoPro (all my tests were done using the housings which might count for some of the issues in quality). What I really like about the Contour+ is it works Bluetooth with the iPhone so I can see what it is capturing and change settings remotely. When the camera is remotely attached and being used, I can emphasize how important that is to me! I have a lot more to share about the Contour+ but wanted to get this preliminary info out as folks have been asking for it. I know this is by all means all that are available, it’s just what I could test at this time.
Just getting back to the office after a day of travel after a GREAT K&M Adventure in SD (thanks gang for joining us!) While I have a whole bunch of images yet to post from the Adventure, wanted to just take a moment to pass along something I learned about the D4 this past week. This is the Interior of Sanfords Grub & Bar in Rapid City. It’s a eatery I go to every time I head to the Blackhills so took the gang there, twice. Stopped there to eat on the way to the airport and nearly everyone took their cameras in this time because as you can see, it’s a colorful place to say the least. It has lots of local color plus a whole bunch of lights. Indoors, lots of charm and color, screams HDR, donja think?
I like this bottom frame the best, I just like how the leading lines go with the color. The way I like to use HDR is not the “Elvis on Velvet because I can’t make a picture any other way of a boring scene rather then walk on by method,” but rather to compress exposure. Inside like at Sanfords, you have the bright lights and the dark shadows, seems like a natural for HDR to pull the information from both extremes. But what I learned about the D4 this past week is, HDR unless in real extreme conditions, you doen’t need to do HDR to make the image work. The D4 can do it in one click! You’re looking at two examples of what I mean right here. These are just 1 image clicks taken with the D4 and 24f1.4AFS handheld! As I’ll discuss in the upcoming BT Journal, the D4 has what I feel is a 6stop dynamic range and that makes all the difference in the world to me. Just to screw with you a little, I used Glamor Glow from Nik Color Efex Pro 4 to give this that “HDR” look, but these are simple, 1 image clicks processed in ACR. I’ll post a video this week to talk about this more. But to me, this is huge as it makes life simpler and photography funnier. That’s one thing I learned this past week.
Top shot is f/8, bottom is f/32…other then seeing “more” info in the waves (which to me are now distracting), the Willets behind the front one that I focused on are still not sharp. They are NOWHERE close to sharp. I’m getting weird emails and comments telling me folks still are not getting it. When you have a long lens and you’re physically close to a subject, I don’t care what you want to throw in the mix, you simply don’t have any DOF. So..then..use the minimum DOF as a tool and tell the story.
HDSLR video is here and one thing you can’t miss is the focus. Until we have video viewing through the viewfinder, we have to use the LCD. If you’re going to use the LCD and LiveView, then you simply gotta have a Zacuto ZFinderPro!
Note: just received an email from someone who did not put eyepiece cap back in place and while walking and sun hit Zacuto and burnt hole in LCD!
Depth of Field (DOF) seems to truly mystify photographers, probably you just can’t see it with the naked eye or in the viewfinder. But it’s there and it effects every image, every story you’re trying to tell. When you go low to the ground like I did with this Piping Plover, the DOF effect is even more pronounced. This is because DOF is a FLAT PLANE that is ALWAYS parallel with the film plane (digital cameras have a film plane!). When you’re photographing a subject that is parallel to the film plane, with the right background you can see radically just how little DOF you have. In this case, you can clearly see the very narrow band of DOF that is running through the Plover from edge to edge of the frame. Now shooting with a 600VR w/converter connecting to a D4 the DOF working with the narrow angle of view is perhaps 20mm being only 18′ away from the subject. Now if I closed the lens down to f/64 with this combo, my DOF might increase to 60mm. That ain’t much and that’s the whole idea of going down low. I want the small plover to visually pop. Does that help?
I thought after a few emails and a phone I’d better explain my post of yesterday, What’s Your Favorite D4 Feature in a little depth (just to avoid more emails). The D4 is new in my camera bag, it is an expensive tool and like any tool, I wanna know what it can do. If part of that D4 price tag is paying for a 10fps, 72 file buffer, I wanna know if nothing else if I’m getting my monies worth. Yeah, I can sit in my office and hold down the hammer and see it work, but that’s not good enough for me. So when I had the opportunity last week to blast away as each B-25 took off for the Doolittle Reunion, I thought it was the perfect field test for this system. The combination of the D4 having to autofocus, fire and write over and over again was a great stress for the system and proved to me, it works. You get MORE then your monies worth as far as I’m concerned in this system.
Just so we are clear though, I was testing the system, this is not my shooting style! Like I’ve written many times before, I shoot in “sniper” mode. That is taking one shot and getting it right. Does this mean that I never lean on the hammer? Hell no, at times I do it just because if nothing else it sounds great! But it’s not a method I use to get the shot the vast majority of the time. The biggest reason is because when you shoot astroblast, you have a ton of images to edit when you’re done. I don’t like making more work for myself. But I wasn’t about to have a product advertising it can perform like this and not test it. It was kinda ironic to me that that very same night after satisfying myself the system works, I actually needed it in an air to air shoot. Knowledge to me is confidence and when you’re working for a client, confidence in yourself and your gear can make all the difference in getting the shot. And that’s what photography is all about!
Ever since I started shooting, I’ve been a basement shooter. I didn’t buy high ASA films and the vast majority of the time I don’t crank up the ISO in digital. It’s a matter of quality and craftsmanship. I have been pounded by folks asking about the D4, high ISO and noise performance and didn’t intend to really do any testing there since, well, I don’t raise the ISO. This past week I broke with my norm and raised the ISO. It started with the morning launch that started long before the sun rose. I figured I had nothing to loose since I couldn’t shoot otherwise so raised the ISO to 3200 and shot. And I have to admit, I really liked the results. I continued to play with raised ISO all week when using it as a tool made sense like shooting in the USAF Museum in Dayton (great place!). These were taken at ISO1600 and when I really zoom in I can see noise but I made a 24×30 and know the average person wouldn’t see it. More importantly, it didn’t zap the sharpness which is important to me. So while I’ll still shoot in the basement, I might use higher ISOs more often now that I’ve tried it and like it.
The specs say there is less so many were concerned the new “greener” D4 battery just wouldn’t deliver. This past week I pounded the D4 bigtime with the biggest day being nearly 98GB of capture, still & vid combined. I mentioned I rented two batteries to CYA only to never use them. The D4 battery never went dead on me after a day’s use delivering the same performance I was use to with the D3. So with shooting and chimping and AF operation, the new battery didn’t let me down.