Yeah … this might be short notice for under the tree this year, but I’m sure you’ve got a birthday coming in 2014 or, planning for next Christmas
I get it, I really do! Like many, when the Df was first announced, even though I’m an old fart, I didn’t see why I’d want a retro digital body. When the Df reached my desk, from the moment I opened the box, I started to get it. Yes, it is a digital camera, yes it have many basic design features that take you back as far as the F2, but’s it’s more than that. I mean, if I told you the Df has the O/C Key, that would mean nothing to you unless you owned a F2 and attached a motordrive. It requires the AR-3 cable release, there is no ten pin socket. I still have my AR-3 cable releases, most will scramble to see what that is. Yeah, it has dials for ISO and Exp Compensation, a dial for Shutter Speeds if in Manual, but the whole package is a great camera designed to make the photographic experience more than just … click. The Df brings to photography something I talk about … romance (it does NOT do video!)! I can honestly say that I can’t just let it sit, I want to have it in my hands and shoot.
OK, so what about quality? If you’re spending good money on a camera body, you need more than just a romantic experience. The Df delivers! It has the same sensor as the D4, an image quality that has made me a lot of money. But as we all know, the sensor depends on the software to deliver to us that quality. Well, I’ve only had the Df a couple of days, but like I said, I can’t put it down. During a break in the snow Saturday, Sharon was looking out the window at our winter wonderland. The light was gorgeous so I picked up the Df which has the 50f1.4AFS attached and made a few clicks. I focused on the closet eye and shot with a narrow DoF. You can see the over all photo above and then below, you can see a severe crop of just the eye. That quality would make any client of mine very happy, so it more than works for me! Both of these photos are right out of the camera because at this time, you can’t process them in ACR.
So what’s new an cool? The one thing I played with over the weekend is using the WU-1A Wireless which as you can see, plugs right into the side of the Df.Along with Nikon’s iPhone app, you can fire the Df remotely, the whole time seeing on your iPhone right through the lens. This is technology that only costs $54, that is simply mind boggling to me who once paid thousands to do the same thing. So this going retro might seem like pie in the sky stuff from the beginning but there is actually more to it than just looks. The camera feels great in your hand, its controls are simple and straight forward. The LCD on the top of the camera is useless but with a push of a button the LCD lights up with all the info you need. It takes a small battery, I loaded mine with a Lexar 128GB SDXC 600x and without even cracking the IB, been shooting up a storm. I feel it’s more than worth the price because a tool calling you to go shooting is a good thing. mtc
Nikon Df Website
Df Instruction Book
The Nikon 1 AW1 is just really cool! Being a former owner of Nikonos, it’s great to see an instruction book again that states, “Don’t change lenses underwater!” Duh! The Nikon 1 AW1 is the world’s first waterproof interchangeable lens digital camera. The AW-1 (not just a waterproof J2 on the inside) is a wonderful camera. Two brand new water/shock/freeze proof lenses have been introduced with the Nikon 1 AW1, the 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens and 10mm f/2.8. It features built in Wi-Fi and GPS (not functional underwater). The AW1 is fully compatible with existing Nikon 1 system optics, although these are not waterproof and shockproof (it can be dropped from 6′). It can go down to 49′ and is rated to work down to 14degrees (though it was -10 when I shot with it yesterday morning no problem). After taking the product shot you see above, I shot with the camera. The snow that stuck to the body melted and than froze onto the body and it just kept on clicking. The lens has this great metal gnarled surface that sticks to any surface no matter how wet it might be. Amazing!
The AW-1 though offers some new handling that I think is really cool. Nikon describes it like this: Shooting in less than ideal environments requires usability that extends to every facet of camera operation. Nikon 1 AW1 delivers on all fronts with new Action control — a revolutionary new interface that makes adjusting as easy as tilting the camera. Even when wearing gloves or otherwise bundled up against the elements, you can quickly change shooting modes and play back settings. You’ll also appreciate the wealth of sensing functions, including depth, GPS/GLONASS, altitude and more.
With the love affair we have with Sharon’s V2, we don’t hesitate working with Nikon mirrorless. The AW-1 is really sweet! All metal construction, small, light, waterproof and pretty amazing image quality. This can easily be the outdoor photographers best friend!
The new 58f1.4 AFS hit the desk yesterday and to say it’s impressive from the get go is an understatement! It’s a big sucker, feels great in the hands and looks sexy as hell on a body. It has a 72mm filter size with the whole lens being that diameter. It comes with a deep, scalloped shade just making the 58mm looks sexier. But what’s important is the image quality. I bounced around the house looking for subjects and I naturally turned the lens on my gorgeous wife, but she said she was having a bad hair day. So I can’t post those (I run into that a lot with my family). So then I turned the lens to the flowers, focusing on the
pistol stamen (I don’t do flowers) to show just how shallow the DoF is and the lens, sharp. Oh ya, it’s sharp! I’ve had the 50f1.4 AFS since it was introduced, use it a lot. It’s also a very sharp lens but is physically smaller (and costs less) than the 58mm. The knock I’ve had about the 50mm though is its focusing speed. The 58mm is a tad faster than the 50mm, but focusing speed is still not lightning fast. I have a lot of shooting to do this weekend which I’m lookin forward to. This is a schweeeeet lens!
The D610 is just a fun camera to use! And while fun is an important reason why we own our gear, there has to be that technical reason as well. It’s no secret I’m a huge fan on the D600 and the D610 is supposed to be the D600 with its issues resolved. Well, I’m of the opinion it’s a bit more than that. I have no insider info, just my experience shooting with the D610 this past week compared to my shooting with the D600 prior. It’s just a better experience with files just a tad sweeter. No, don’t have resolution charts or side by side comparisons, just the experience of looking at images giving me the belief the D610 does a tad better job of taking and producing images. Here’s a couple of examples that have me thinking this. This first one as it appears, is a sunset shot looking to the west with the sun below the horizon and the lights on in the hangar. I’m shooting with the 50f1.4AFS (being repl as of today with the 58f1.4AFS) and not having a tripod and being tired, raised the ISO to 800 and went click. Simple, clean results, just a tad nicer than the D600 (field smoke always makes for great colors!).
Went to the Houston Space Center and dragged the D610 around though I was shooting with the Coolpix A most of the time. Finally, at the end of the tour I pulled the D610 out and shot with it. I was looking for just a detail shot to zoom on in post to see what the D610 would deliver. Again, I was shooting at ISO 800 with the 18-35AFS handheld. You can see for yourself the 200% crop and what the D610 delivers. That’s simply a clean file with lots of detail.
I need the D610 for those times when I need to blend. The D4 is just not a “blend in” body but the D610 sure is! I have so much faith in it, I instantly put it to work on a project. At the end of the evening of the 40′s hangar party, after I’d taken the portraits, I was still looking for a way to get higher to shoot down on the festivities. That’s when I thought of “Betty’s Dream.” A couple of seconds later we were inside and through the hatch shooting. I took up the D610 / 18-35AFS and made the clicks real fast (I love the slightly faster FPS of the D610). I realize many would love to see the side by sides, charts and the rest but that’s just now how I go through a piece of gear. I take it in the field and use it where it will either fail or pass and in my book, the D610 more than passes. It delivers what I need to deliver to my clients and I feel it does it better than the D600.
And in case you can’t picture popping through the hatch of a B-25, here’s Jake going up for the shot after I got down. The trick is, DON’T pull on anything red inside the cockpit!
It had been a GREAT day! By 8:30 we’d already put in seventeen hours and thousands of clicks, but that was the point of volunteering. There was a huge 40′s party in the Texas Flying Legends Museum hangar for the WWII vets and their family including a great 40′s band, dancers, Patton look alike, surrounded by the P-51D “Cripes A Mighty” and B-25 “Betty’s Dream.”. “Betty’s Dream” was partially pulled into the hangar and even a gorgeous LaSalle drove up delivering some of the reinactors who were guests, parking under its wing. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and than started to work all the activities. It was a target rich photographic opportunity. But being a control freak, I wanted more than just the grab shot under hangar lighting. Then it dawned on me … the Rapid Boxes!
The folks (all friends) were great and open to anything. So I asked the couple in the top image (who came in the LaSalle), Miles & Kim if they’d be up for their portraits being made with the car. I described to them briefly what I wanted to do and when they saw me point out of the hangar into the darkness, I got the strangest look. I just said, “trust me.” Jake ran to the truck, got the Rapid Box lighting kit duffle I had with us and we set up the lights. In literally just minutes, we had the Westcott Rapid Box Octa/ SB-910 / PocketWizard FlexTT5 and Westcott Strip Box / SB-910 / PocketWizard FlexTT5 on Manfrotto 5001B Nano Stands set up (both flashes connected to SD-9s all powered with Eneloop AA batteries). The speed in which we had it all set up even impressed the guests. It sure impressed me!
With the D610 / 18-35AFS in hand (I really like the D610!), I got Jake to stand in for the models, hit the test button on the PocketWizard, took my first shot, looked at the LCD and went to work. I was at f/8, 1/25, underexposing ambient light making the flashes, set at zero (using cs e4 makes this part easy), the main light. The Octa was the main light on the folks and pointed up a tad to slightly light the underneath of the wing of “Betty’s Dream.” The strip light as you can see was to the side and feathered to do a little fill on the folks and than light up the side of the LaSalle (reflections of the lights on the car were minimized by flash placement). No, this wasn’t enough light to really do “Hollywood” lighting, but that’s wasn’t the goal.
The “folks” are all dear friends, president and pilots of the Texas Flying Legends Museum. One is a seating congressman even. The very quick and impromptu “portrait studio” (which was up, used and down in less than ten minutes) was merely an extension of the night’s fun. Like I said, we’d all had already put in a full day. I had minutes with each couple before they went back to the guests. It’s a simple, clean shot capturing the memories of the evening. And if I didn’t have the Rapid Boxes with me, I would have never thought of or attempted such a shoot. A single off camera flash would have looked like crap. The Rapid Boxes produced gorgeous light very quickly making me a hero. Can’t ask more from your gear!
When it comes to working with the folks, this is how I did it. First, my beautiful bride would go get the couple so they were already happy by the time I got them. I told them I wanted them to pose for the period which meant body language you see with the gentleman holding the ladies elbow. I would take one click and than show them the LCD because there were standing in total darkness. I assumed the were wondering just what the heck the photo would look like. Once they saw the LCD, it was all a piece of cake. Ten minutes after we started set up, we were torn down and back at the party with the others. Personally, this kind of flash photography I can get into. It was quick, easy and great light. I simply can’t say enough about the Rapid Boxes. They earned their name and keep this evening!
Oh, and this last portrait, this is very special to us. We had the great fortune to spend three days with three Tuskegee Airman, and one in particular really took a shine to my wife. Alexander Jefferson pictured here was simply a hoot to get to know. I’d already spent the day with him, talking up a storm and telling me a ton of stories. When he got in front of my camera he said, “Moose, get my good side!” And when I asked the trio to squeeze in tighter, Alexander said, “sounds good to me!” He was great and it was an honor to get to know all three and able to call them friends. Amazing what photography has brought to our lives!
Oh ya, we’re walking out the door on our latest project and Mr UPS walks up and hands me a B&H box containing a D610! Hot Dogs, I charged the battery on the flight and landed with the camera ready to go, Lexar 64gb SD loaded, and all my settings inserted (I’ll be posting my settings here soon). Than we dealt with really slow, slow, slow luggage, horrible traffic and when I could finally shoot, it was dark! Argh!!! So as you read this, I’m out shooting it up with this great priced killer camera. mtc.
This is simply cool (you know how I love
toys, tools)! The Vello Wireless ShutterBoss works up to 250′ away from your camera giving you cast control over operation and firing. You truly need to read the instruction book on this remote, it does that much! Here’s the short list:
- Works with mutiple brands (need correct cable)
- 99 Possible Radio Channels
- Up to 250′ (80 m) Range
- Trigger Camera Wirelessly or Wired
- Dual-Function (Focus & Trigger) Release
- Delay Release Function
- Multi-Exposure Mode
- Interval Control
- Long Exposure Control
- LED Indicators–Pre-Focus & Exposure
There are times when I think video rocks (that’s never when I’m editing it) as a storyteller and this is one of them! Having friends in the right places really helps in aviation photography. The pilot of the C-53 is a dear friend and when I requested to attached the GoPro Hero3 to capture the skydivers exiting the plane, he said let’s make it happen! Na, the video and editing are not perfect, this is a first for me in a couple of ways. First, never worked a flight with jumpers. Second, never got fancy and included music (thanks to Roy at Triple Scoop Music). So with all of that, here’s a little fun for you to watch.
A little bit on the photography. The Hero3 is set to Protune which creates a huge file, in fact this flight it made 9 files. Why do I go so big? I have NO clue how this might be used in the future or what technology will come down the road. With storage space so inexpensive, it seems like a no-brainer. The GoPro is mounted on the wing with the new NFlightcam Billet Mount (the red part unscrews so can be attached to hot shoe ballhead, sweet) and has the “Bright” Aviator Lens Kit. The Aviator Lens Kit does not slow the shutter speed down enough for me, so working on improving for next flight. The video editing was done in Premier CC and the music, that help came from Roy.
There just never seems to be enough space, ever notice that? On the lookout for small (footprint) and portable, large, fast storage, I found the new Buffalo DriveStation DDR. While it requires 120, this new drive perfectly fit the bill for on the road hard drive space for my ever increasing need for portable video storage, especially shooting Protune mode with the Silver Hero3. What makes this drive different? It’s freakin speed! Buffalo wants you to compare it’s speed with SSD, seriously! That’s right, the speed of the DDR is comparable to SSD but the 3TB DDR isn’t even $200! This is all very impressive, especially when in use. Plugged into my Mac Retina which has SSD, I can’t tell I’m working with an external. Now it’s designed to be a desktop unit but it’s working great as a portable. So, looking for more space, blistering speed for only pennies on the MB, this is the way to go!
As little as possible! Seriously, when you walk 6+ miles each day, too much gear just kills so this is where less is more! At the same time, I need to have the tools for the known and unknown, for the given and the imagination. With that in mind, you’re probably going to think I have everything but the kitchen sink. I’d have that but I’ll be in a tent. Here ya go:
- D4 (3x 1 rented from Borrowlenses.com)
- GoPro Hero3 (2x)
- Lexar 128GB 1000x CF (6)
- Lexar 32GB & 64GB microSD (6, at least until I loose them darn small things)
You might be wondering why I have both the 200-400VR and 80-400VR3. There are a number of reasons, the first being I can put teleconverters on the 200-400 and easily work. Next, the 80-400 is a dust pump (dust pump is an old term (cause I’m old) that dates back to old Vivitar Series 1 zooms. it refers to external zooming lenses) and when it comes to carrying a heavy lens vs. some post dust removal time, I’m torn which to take. Why are the bags and straps listed? They are essential to make it to the event and than through the entire event. In the heat and humidity, carrying a lot of gear will beat you down (and one can only eat so much ice cream). This is of course the list of the main gear, there is as you might imagine a ton of support gear. Spare batteries for everything along with chargers. Mounts for the GoPro & Contours and app on the iPhone & iPad. And all of this has been cleaned, tested and gone through this week before being backed to go. Hope this helps if you’re going. And if you want some shooting ideas, give this 10 Tips – Putting Action into Your Stills a gander. It might help as well.
I finally found the portable light with the quality and specs to take care of my projects, the ProFoto Acute B2 600 Airs. This marvelous small and light package packs plenty of power reliably. Here’s are the specs, the rest in is the video.
Yeap, big light comes to WRP as we move into some new, very exciting projects. What you see pictured is the Profoto Acute 2 2400W/s 2 Head Pro Value Pack Kit (90-260V) w/FREE Additional Head, the Profoto Softbox RF 3×4′, and the Profoto Softbox RF 2×3′, 2 Avenger A2030D 9.8′ C-Stand Grip Arm Kit (Chrome-plated) and 2 PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver.
If you want to see a quick sample of the lighting, here’s the product shot of the Nikon 800mm shot using the set up you see in the video.
The weather finally broke so at 05:15 Sharon and I were at Mono Lake with the new 800f5.6 AFS on my shoulder. I had my typical setup, Gitzo 5562GTS, Wimberley WH-200 with Moose Cam (Contour, with the only change being shooting with the D800 as my D4 and half of my gear is in for their annual CLA at Nikon. I was happy as a pig in clam shit to be out shooting critters! It was a brisk morning but not even a stitch of wind with clear skies. With the dirt still wet from the “storm” that went through, I figured the critters would be out and busy, making up for the days of snow, hail and rain. We walked and walked, looked and looked, nothing! Seriously?!
Carrying the rig over my shoulder as I always have, I swear it felt a little lighter than with the 600AFS but I know that’s because the 800mm rig is slightly better balanced on my shoulder. With time to kill, I started to check simple things like, how close can I get with the 800mm and focus on a critter? Manually focusing, I can be 18′ away from a subject and have it sharp. This is not how close it focuses with autofocus, but manually which is what I do most of the time when up close. At this distance at f/5.6, the DOF is bloddy narrow as I discovered when the first Violet-green Swallow appeared. Now being the middle of May, there should be a bucket load at the Tufas but all we had was this one. So as the sun came over the horizon, I had it in my sights and started to shoot. I was way too far away but it was the first bird we’d seen this morning so I wasn’t waiting. I wanted to photograph some critters in the worst way!
OK, I got a little closer, made some more clicks and then it flew off. Bastard! So there we stood, in the gorgeous light with no one to play with. So we kept walkin, lookin, checking all the normal haunts for swallows but with none in the air, I was feeling a little low. Then we came across some Canadian Geese with goslings! Goslings already, pretty big ones no less. While cute and all, shooting them with the 800mm seemed, well, a little anticlimactic after waiting three days to shoot so we just watched them as they strolled by. It was a gorgeous morning at Mono Lake though, looked like I should have been after landscapes rather than critters. We continued walking….
About 45min after sunrise and the nip disappeared from the air, I started to hear the swallows but didn’t see any. Then one came in from high above and landed. I now had two and then, lucky for me, a female showed up! Yeap, being spring and all, soon we had male swallows coming from everywhere to woo the one female and I could finally go to work. The swallows perch on the Tufas for brief periods as they do flight displays, fight with each other, all those male things they do in spring to get the attention of the female. The 800AFS had zero problems focusing from perch to perch as the swallows moved about. The AF speed is great and when the opportunity afforded itself, I would walk in slowly to get as close as I could to continue shooting. Only once did I walk too close that I couldn’t focus. That doesn’t count all the times the swallows landed so close I couldn’t focus no matter what. And was the Moose Cam on all of this time? It was running, I just haven’t edited it to post.
Sharon then saw another group of swallows on another set of Tufas so we wandered over to them. This is where I struck gold and had a male land on a Tufa right in front of me after taking a bath. For five or six minutes it groomed its feathers while calling to the other swallows flying by. On top of the Wimberley, the 800mm was real easy and fast to swing around to keep up with the action. You must be wondering if I was chimping all this time to see the results? Nope, didn’t check them until getting back to the office a short time ago and could see them on the 24HD Cintiq. That’s when I was blown away by the spooky sharpness of the 800AFS! I mean, this is one very sharp lens! It is also very obvious that the DOF at MFD is nothin, not even from the tip of the bill to the back of the eye on the swallow. Well, with these images in the can and the light getting hard, we started walking back towards the truck.
We spent time where we normally see Least Chipmunks but they didn’t want to play. Looked for the cottontail rabbits, none to be found. We kept walking back up the path. As were strolling up looking about, I heard the distinctive twitter (song not social media) of a Green-tailed Towhee. A second later saw it singing from the top of a big Tufa. While not a great perch, I walked to it. Then a female flew up from below it and they were off flying through the sage. I was just about to move on when the male came back and perched on a much better, smaller Tufa. I made a couple of clicks and moved closer. Made a couple of more clicks and then it sang! Those are the shots I love to get in spring.
For the next ten minutes I was able to work the towhee, getting closer and refining the background. The 800mm focal length has always been my favorite because of the ease of manipulating the background, in this case grabbing rabbit brush way off in the distance just getting its spring green. Now as my good friend Kevin pointed out this morning, the 600AFS with 1.4x gets you to the same place and this is true. Well, not too long that female reappeared and my subject jetted off through the sage in hot pursuit once again. So ended my first outing with the new 800AFS lens. Sitting now at my desk looking at the results, there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Nikon did an amazing job with this lens! This morning’s shoot was just with the 800mm itself, I didn’t attach any teleconverters to it. I will in due time but for now, I want to learn just what the lens will do on its own. mtc.