The HOT NEW Nikon D850 is available for pre-order!

I gotta admit that I was suffering from DSLR fatigue. I haven’t been excited about a new DSLR for a long time. However, I had a wishlist for whatever my next DSLR would be have and low and behold Nikon built 99% of it in the NEW Nikon D850!

  • 45.7MP FX-Format BSI CMOS Sensor
  • EXPEED 5 Image Processor
  • 3.2″ 2.36m-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD (on my wishlist “tilting and touchscreen”)
  • 4K UHD Video Recording at 30 fps (on my wishlist)
  • Multi-CAM 20K 153-Point AF System
  • Native ISO 25600, Extended to ISO 102400
  • 7 fps Shooting for 51 Frames with AE/AF
  • 8K Time-Lapse, Negative Digitizer Mode (wasn’t on my wishlist, but damn!)
  • 180k-Pixel RGB Sensor, Focus Shift Mode
  • SnapBridge Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (on my wishlist)

Still missing from my wishlist: built-in GPS, sigh…, but at least I can still use my external one.

You can pre-order the NEW Nikon D850 here.

Whether I go with the NEW D850 or whatever the successor is to the D750, I will keep my current D810 as my backup/second body.

Why I shoot Nikon?

TW-D4

I can’t believe how many times this question comes up. Usually it’s asked by new photographers or photographers that haven’t yet made a decision on which brand DSLR they’re going to go with. Last week I attended a photography meet-up at one of the local studios. Keep in mind that this was just a casual setting and I didn’t even bring my gear (in hindsight I wish I had as there were some shooting opportunities there with new models). Two of the photographers walked up to me and we started talking about photography and videography in general. One of them asked me “so do you shoot Nikon or Canon?” and I said Nikon, his partner high-fived me while he turned and walked away in disgust as if he had just lost another bet or something. It was all in fun of course, but I guess I find it odd that people are so passionate about what tools they work with that if you use a different tool it upsets them. Last night I got asked on my Instagram feed.

Screenshot 2015-06-29 22.06.52

This one was obviously more looking for a recommendation than anything else and I respect that. It prompted me to write this post so that I can answer the question and of course point people to it the next time I’m asked 🙂 So let me get to the answer(s):

Why did I pick Nikon?

Nikon D70

My first DSLR was actually an Olympus E20N. I started to take my hobby more and more serious and while I liked my Olympus camera, it had a fixed lens. It was finally time (2004) for me to upgrade to a DSLR with interchangeable lenses. Having watched the market I knew that I was going to go with either a Nikon or Canon camera. I want to make this part perfectly CLEAR! I had ZERO bias towards either brand (and still don’t to this day!) None of my close friends were photographers. I was making my own choice simply by my budget and the specs. I knew I wanted a camera with a fast start up time. Yes we take for granted now that we can just turn on our cameras and start shooting, but back then it “startup time” was a concern. My budget at the time was around $1,000. That put me in the price range of the 1st generation Canon Rebel. It looked good to me, but the only problem is that that model had been out already for almost a year and while I new a newer model was probably coming, it hadn’t come by the time I was ready to buy. On the other hand Nikon had just introduced the Nikon D70. It was new, and this 6.1MP beauty had all the specs I wanted and was in my price range. That was it. Plain and simple. I went with the newer camera by one of the two brands I was looking at.

 

Why did I continue with Nikon?

nikon_d810

As almost any photographer will tell you, once you start buying lenses you’re not going to switch brands on a whim. There’s always a new Nikon and a new Canon camera coming out. So you’ll always be glancing at the other brand and latest new toys. However, there hasn’t been anything on the Canon side that made me say “I gotta sell everything and switch.” On the other hand for years Nikon has had a couple of features that lacked on the Canon side that made me happy with my choice. For one I was a heavy user of the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) and the ability to fire and control Nikon speedlights from the built-in flash. This wireless control is beyond just a simple wireless trigger and allows you to control the power and groups of flashes. The other long time advantage that Nikon had was built-in GPS support right in the menu of the cameras for years. While you still need to buy an external GPS module (when will you guys build these in as a standard option or least put them in the battery grips?), the support for them is and had been built-in for a very long time. I love having the geotag info go right into the metadata as a I shoot. Now these features that I’m sure Canon probably offers by now, but for years they didn’t.

di-gps-eco-prosumer-Nikon_d600

 

Did I ever consider switching?

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Yes there was a time. Well I’ll say that I considered ADDING a Canon DSLR back in the days when Canon was ahead on low light/high ISO shooting. Yep, I was drooling big time. I almost pulled the trigger on buying a Canon DSLR a couple of times just to have this capability. However, I waited and the next Nikon to come out had great low light performance and that was the end of my envy. I stepped up to a D700 (from the D300 that had replaced my D80 which had replaced my D70) and used it happily for several years before going to the D4 (D600 backup body, which replaced the D7000 and D5000 backup bodies before it) and now a Nikon D810!

 

Do I think Nikon is better than Canon?

Model: Kandice Lynn, MUA: Houda Bazzi, Lighting by Westcott
Nikon D700, Model: Kandice Lynn, MUA: Houda Bazzi, Lighting by Westcott

I can see the eyebrows raising as I type this. Let me answer it this way. Both brands produce GREAT cameras and with any two things you’re going to have advantages in one area over the other. So yes, I think Nikon glass (lenses) are better. But keep in mind that’s just from my observations looking over the fence. I haven’t actually spent a lot of time shooting different Canon lenses. It’s just an observation and even something that I’ve had Canon shooters whisper to me on the side. I think Canon does and has done a much much better job with video than Nikon has. There’s no question about it. If you’re looking to do DSLR video then you should probably look at Canon first. Also Canon seems to have the sports shooting market all but locked up. You’ll see more Canon cameras on the sidelines than any other brand in professional sports. Since I never shoot sports this isn’t something that I consider. My Nikon D810 does a great job shooting video too. My primary use for my Nikon camera is shooting portrait work and for that I’ve been happy since day one. Never had a complaint about the quality and my work has been used in print. If you were hoping for a clear definitive one is better than the other. I can’t give you one. It’s because I think they are both great and both have advantages and disadvantages over the other. I never understand why some people feel that in order to be justified in their choice, the other one must suck/fail. It’s a lack of confidence thing I think.

rapidbox-box
Westcott liked the images from my Red Rock Canyon shoot so much that they wanted to use them for the Rapid Box packaging.

 

Which one should YOU buy?

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Believe it or not I really don’t care. Last time I checked neither Nikon nor Canon has paid a single one of my bills. So I don’t gain anything if you buy Nikon or if you buy Canon. The best advice I can give you is to buy the one that does what you need it to do. The one that’s in your price range and it probably wouldn’t hurt to buy the brand that your friends use. Huh? What do my friends have to do with it? Think about it this way. If you’re always shooting solo then no, it doesn’t matter which brand you choose. However, if you’re shooting with your buddies on a regular basis then having the same brand means that you guys can swap lenses, batteries and other accessories while you’re shooting. You’ll have a lot more fun and be able to focus on your photography rather than constantly glaring at the fact that he/she’s using something DIFFERENT. Both brands will allow you to capture amazing images, if YOU are up to it.

 

The Bottom Line

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I’m not really into  the whole Canon vs. Nikon war that so many of you fight (if you want to have a health RAW vs JPEG debate then I’m all for it – kidding…). I explained my choice above and most importantly I get the results I want from the investment that I made in my tools. I have friends that shoot Nikon. I have friends that shoot Canon. It’s all good (unless of course you shoot Sony! We just can’t have that at all! OMG YOU SUCK! —— Just kidding. LOL my buddy Frank Doorhof shoots Sony. It’s ok. No, really it is.)

Now you know Why I shoot Nikon.

Going to Photoshop World 2015?

Hey! If you’re going to Photoshop World this year that’s great and I look forward to seeing there. So much so that i’m going to give you $50 off your Photoshop World registration simply by clicking here to register and by using discount code: TerryWhite50



Nikon D810 – 1st Impressions

nikon_d810

This post is long overdue as I’ve had the Nikon D810 in my hot little hands for a few weeks now. However, I wanted to spend some quality time with it both in studio and out in the field. I must admit that I was a little apprehensive about taking this DSLR for a spin. I already had preconceived notions about how much I would love the image quality, but hate the file size. Nonetheless, I decided to give it a chance and I must say that I’m really impressed and it’s going to be hard to send it back now that my review period has ended.

 

What’s so cool about the Nikon D810?

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When the Nikon D800 hit the scene it basically created a new category for Nikon. It wasn’t the D700 replacement that many had hoped for. Instead of was a NEW camera addressing a need that Nikon hadn’t addressed before in a DSLR. It was really targeted to those that needed a higher megapixel camera, but didn’t want to or couldn’t afford a medium format camera. The Nikon D800 and now D810 shoots at 36 megapixels. Wow! Considering that my Nikon D4 only shoots at 16.2MP and my D600 shoots at 24MP, 36MP is 1.5 to 2 times more than what I’m used to. That’s AWESOME on one hand giving me more megapixels to work with especially when cropping is needed, but on the other hand it means that EVERY RAW image I shoot is 1.5 to 2 times larger than I’m used to. This means that memory cards fill up faster, hard drives fill up faster and retouching in Photoshop and cataloging in Lightroom is potentially slower.

Once you get past the pros and cons of the larger RAW files, the next thing that you simply can’t ignore is the incredibly great dynamic range this camera has. This means that highlights that would normally be blown out and shadows that would normally be filled in would actually look better when shot with a Nikon D810. The image quality is STUNNING and noticeably better than that of my other two bodies (although I feel the Nikon D4 performs better in low light).

The next benefit was actually a surprise. My handheld shots are seemingly sharper! Is it possible that this camera performs better when handheld than my other two? It certainly feels that way to me.

The other benefit of the Nikon D810 that is often overlooked is better DSLR video support. The Nikon D810 can shoot 1080p video at 60 fps. I believe it is the first Nikon DSLR that shoots video at 1080p above 30fps.

Lastly the body itself is solid and feels great, not to mention the distinct quieter shutter sounds.

 

What wasn’t so cool?

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Sigh, we’re still seeing new bodies like this one from Nikon that don’t include features that I feel should be standard at this point such as WiFi and GPS. I mentioned above that the RAW files are 36MP. They are and there is no way to “dial them down”. This was a showstopper for me with the Nikon D800 and it’s probably the single reason why I wouldn’t sell my D4 and go with a D810. I just don’t want every click of the shutter to be 36MP. When I tested the Nikon D810 in studio I actually used it as a “2nd body”. I got everything dialed in with my D4 and once I liked what I was seeing on the screen, I would pick up the D810 and shoot some shots too. This way I was getting just the shots I wanted with the D810. While I do love the fact that I can now shoot 1080p video at 60fps, it’s probably time for Nikon to start putting 4K video support in their higher end models.

UPDATE: As blog reader Lamont Baker points out in the comments below, the D810 DOES have an sRAW (small RAW) setting.  I overlooked it initially, but then did some testing and found out some interesting facts that still may not make that big of a difference for me. I was bringing in my Nikon D810 images into Lightroom and converting them to DNG format upon import. This was already bringing the file size down significantly. Even when I switched to sRAW I wasn’t seeing much of a difference. So for the sake of this “1st Impression” post, I decided to test the native NEF format and I was shocked at how much bigger they were than what I was already getting with DNG. A native D810 NEF file uncompressed is 73MB in size (7360×4912), that same file as a DNG is only 43.55MB. The D810 ships with the default of COMPRESSED RAW (not sRAW), but smaller. That native NEF file is 46.39MB in size and as a DNG its 41.53MB. They also have compressed LOSSLESS which is 49.40MB as a NEF and 44.76 as a DNG. Lastly I shot an sRAW file (3680×2456) which weighed in at 27.62MB as a NEF and 41.07MB as a DNG! Huh? Yes, a DNG of an sRAW file is actually bigger than the NEF. My guess is that you can compress what’s already compressed.

This has given me some food for thought and an updated Bottom Line below:

 

The Bottom Line

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It’s hard to go wrong with the Nikon D810. It is the only DSLR that Nikon has released that seriously makes me consider selling my D4 and upgrading/downgrading to it. I’ve said all along that the D4 is overkill for what I do since I don’t need to high fps for what I shoot. However, at the time the D4 was the only body that offered the other features I wanted. Now that the D810 and just announced D750 are here, I could see these two as being my next two new bodies. At least the D750 DOES have built-in WiFi. If you need to print LARGE images, work with challenging lighting conditions, or need a DSLR that rivals medium format cameras, then the D810 is definitely the only body in this game at this price point.

Update: After taking a look at RAW vs sRAW on the D810, it’s even more of a winner. The files even in sRAW (27.62) are still significantly larger than the RAW files of my D4 (15.38MB as DNG), but they are much much much smaller than the original 36MP files of the D800 that kept so many of us away. Having the choice of sRAW definitely makes me want this body even more.

Get the Nikon D810 here.

 

Here are some additional shots (unretouched) from the Nikon D810 to show the dynamic range. Pay attention to the highlights (especially in the Vegas signs) and yet still seeing faces in the shadows under these traditionally bad lighting conditions:

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If you could design a DSLR, what would it have in it?

Image compliments of iStockphoto.com
Image compliments of iStockphoto.com

Last week while I was at Photoshop World, I stopped in to drop off my Nikon D600 for cleaning at the Nikon lounge. They offered a GREAT FREE cleaning service to all attendees and cleaned over 400 bodies. While hanging out in the lounge and catching up with my friends from Nikon I took a shot of the one of a kind Nikon guitar that they were giving away.

nikon-guitar

One of the Nikon reps started giving me crap (in fun) about shooting it with my iPhone instead of my Nikon camera. I threw it right back at him and said “well if this $3,300 Nikon D810 had WiFi built in and social sharing, then maybe I would have taken the shot with it instead.” Then we got into a debate about built-in WiFi and why the magnesium (metal) bodies didn’t have it. I said “so you mean to tell me that there’s just no way possible to design a metal body with Wifi? Really?” He couldn’t argue with me anymore. Nonetheless, I used the tool (in this case my iPhone 5s) that would get the job of shooting and sharing a shot on social media most efficiently. This friendly debate and jabbing got me to thinking (once again) about my dream DSLR body and what features it would have in it. Here are just a few of mine:

  • 16-24MP (36MP is GREAT, but only if they let me dial it down to smaller RAW file when I want)
  • Native DNG support
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Built-in GPS
  • Touch screen with customizable menus like a smartphone
  • 4K Video (not that I need that right now, but we are dreaming)
  • Very water resistant if not waterproof
  • Super light weight and rugged
  • Wireless control built-in to trigger from a mobile device and see a Live View

Now I know that many of the features above can be done with add-on accessories, but it’s 2014 and these things should be standard, especially on higher end models. Even for those that would say that they don’t want or need all of those things and therefore don’t want to have to pay for them by default, then I say at least build them all into an optional battery grip. That I buy the grip that adds ALL the modern features to my DSLR.

So I ask you, what would your list have?



CamRanger Review – Wireless Camera Control

camranger

I’m finally getting to my CamRanger Review. This is a product I saw several months ago and always wanted to do review of it. I get the question all the time: “Is there a way to wirelessly shoot to my iPad?” I’ve covered many ways that the iPad can fit into a digital photography workflow here and another wireless solution here, but at the time CamRanger wasn’t out yet. CamRanger offers a complete wireless camera control solution for your Nikon or Canon DSLR. It’s a small lightweight box about the size of a smartphone that plugs into your compatible DSLR via a supplied USB cable. It creates a wireless network on its own and therefore doesn’t need a computer or other wireless hotspot. You can connect to it with your iOS devices (such as an iPad or iPhone), Android devices, or a Mac or PC. For my testing I used an iPad Air. Set up was very easy and only required about a minute of reading the instructions. I tested it with my Nikon D600. Once it was set up I was able to work in either direction. I was able to use the iPad to control most aspects of my camera including picking focus points, ISO, shutter speed, f/stops, white balance, etc. and I was able to take shots using the camera and have them show up as I was taking them on the iPad. The latter mode is probably the one I’d use the most out in the field because I really don’t need the remote control functions as much as say a landscape or wildlife photographer would.

Rather than continue to write about it, I recorded this short video of how it works:

 

The Bottom Line

CamRanger works exactly as advertised. It has a range of 150 feet and a battery life of about 5-6 hours. It allows the most control over your DSLR than any other solution I’ve seen and it allows you to shoot directly to your mobile devices. Many of the newer Nikon and Canon DSLR are actually coming with optional wireless connectivity. So if you have a new camera you probably have more options to choose from. However, if you’re working with a slightly older model like the Nikon D700 or Canon 5D Mark II for example, then this may be your only option. CamRanger comes with all the cables, chargers, etc. necessary to get started including a pouch to easily put it on your camera strap or belt.

You can get CamRanger here.

Nikon D5300 – Great Entry Level DSLR

Nikon_D5300

Young photographers just starting out always ask me which DSLR should they buy. Of course the answer to that question greatly relies on your budget. Also the great news is that it’s hard to go wrong with any of today’s DSLR products. I’m a Nikon shooter so therefore I’m familiar with Nikon’s product line more so than say Canon’s or Sony’s. Nikon just introduced the D5300. I’ve owned both a D5000 and a D5100 and this line is a great fit for those just starting out. What generally separates the entry level cameras from the more expensive pro level cameras usually has to do with the quality of materials and sensors, but also the number of buttons and external controls. On entry level models there are less buttons, therefore requiring the shooter to go into the menus to change settings more often. However, many times the entry level cameras introduce features that have not yet made it into the pro line. For example, the Nikon D5300 is Nikon’s first DSLR to offer built-in WiFi and GPS. I’m actually stunned that in 2013 these features aren’t on all cameras just like WiFi and GPS are on ALL smartphones. Nonetheless, they’re finally here. The D5300 also offers a swivel out LCD. Not a revolutionary feature by any means and has been around on previous models and lower end cameras for years, yet not really on pro level DSLRs yet.

The D5300 is a great choice if you’re just starting out. You can pre-order the body here (even in red) or the kit here.

How Many Shots Have You Taken With Your Nikon DSLR? Photoshop Can Tell You!

Every time you fire the shutter of your Nikon DSLR there is a built-in counter that keeps track of these actuations. Most people go on about their daily photography lives shooting away and never really thinking about this count. After all why would you care? As long as the camera is still working you just keep shooting. The only time that this count really comes into question is when you’re selling your camera. I had never heard of an “Actuation Count” until I sold my Nikon D300 way back when on eBay. The perspective buyer asked me for the count and of course I had no idea how to determine it as it’s not really displayed in any of the menus (go figure). I did some research back then and found a Windows only utility that would display the count. I was quite pleased to give the buyer the info he wanted and the transaction proceeded nicely.

No special utility required

This Actuation Count is not only stored in the bows of the camera’s electronics, but it’s also embedded in the metadata of every RAW file you shoot! Since it’s in the metadata that means that Photoshop can see it.

All you need to do is shoot one RAW file (sorry it’s not stored in JPGs according to the stuff I read on the interwebs). Set your Nikon DSLR to RAW, take one shot of anything. I did it with no lens and the body cap on. The image is irrelevant. Transfer the .NEF file to your computer and open it in Photoshop (or Bridge). Do a File Info on it and head all the way over to the Advance Tab. Twirl down the “Schema” folder and you will see your Nikon Actuation Count aka “Image Number”.

I’m selling my Nikon D700 here on eBay and now you know it has 71, 185 actuations 🙂

3 Things I Want In My Next Nikon Body

images compliments of iStockphoto.com

I'm actually pretty content with both my Nikon DSLR bodies. I use my D700 primarily for studio work and my D7000 for travel and event photography. I've had the D700 for a while now and of course the rumors have been circulating for a while regarding a D700 replacement. Even if there were no rumors we all know that there would be a D700 replacement (let's call it a D800) getting announced eventually. In thinking about what I would want in my D800 there are really only three things that come to mind. Sure, I'll take better sensors with less noise at higher ISOs and even a slight bump in megapixels is OK. However, neither of those things would make me want to buy it. I'm not unhappy with the 12 megapixels I have now and the ISO:Noise ratio of the D700 is fine for what I shoot. Nope, those features alone would not get me to upgrade. 

 

I Want 3 Things

 

1080p HD Video

This one is almost a given. I can't imagine that Nikon or any other manufacturer would not include DSLR HD video in their bodies from here on out. Although my D7000 has the video features I wanted including external mic support, I would like to see those same exact features in my D800 too. If they have to improve upon them, then give us a 60fps video capture option too. This is not rocket science and like I said, it's all but a given that the D800 would have this.

 

Built-in WiFi

I continue to be amazed that WiFi is not being built into every camera being sold today, especially the higher end models. After spending a few days shooting wirelessly to my iPad 2 via the Eye-Fi Pro X2 Card, I want this even more. It's crazy to have to continue to transfer images via cables and card readers as the only options. 802.11n chips are small and cheap. If an iPod touch can have WiFi, why not a $2,500+ camera body?

 

GPS Geotagging

I love the fact that Nikon DSLRs have built-in GPS support right in the camera's menu.

However, the actual GPS receivers continue to be an external option only. I have several different models, but it's time to have this functionality built-in. Again these chips are small and relatively inexpensive. After all you can get an entire portable GPS unit for your turn-by-turn directions for $99 or less. Those devices have touch screens, speakers, storage, etc. The actual receiver can't cost that much by comparison. Also size can't be much of an issue since most modern smartphones being sold today have them built-in. As big as a D700 (D800) is there has to be room in the case. 

 

I'll gladly take any additional features that Nikon wants to throw my way, but the three things above are the ones that would make it a no brainer for me to upgrade.

 

Plan B

I've even got a way that they can make these last two features available optionally for those 5 people on the planet that wouldn't want them built-in to the bodies themselves. There is easy way to give us WiFi and Geotagging in a more convenient way. They could build them into the Battery Grips. A WiFi transmitter in the Battery Grip is not a new idea. Both Nikon and Canon have done this before. The problem is the early ones were both SLOW and EXPENSIVE! It's time to go back to the drawing board and make these grips more functional, less costly and bring them into the 21st century. 

 

 

iTunes, App Store and Mac App Store

With the tragedy that has happened in Japan, we can all certainly wait! There are more important things to focus on right now.

I Just Became An UPstrap Fan

I recently talked about the OPTECH strap that I was using and a few of my photographer buddies suggested that I also look at the UPstrap, so I did. I ordered an UPstrap and finally got a chance to try it out. I gotta say that I was a little skeptical about any strap claiming to not slide off your shoulder. I've heard those claims before. However, I have to say that the UPstrap lives up to its claims. I put it on my Nikon D7000 and no matter what I did (jumping, dancing around, running, etc.) it stayed in place. Wow! While it's not the prettiest strap out there (it's really plain and rubbery looking), it's now my new favorite! Can't wait to do my next photowalk with this one.

 

Check out the UPstrap here.

Getting Started with DSLR Video for Photographers – Part 5 of 5

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD8rIl2JKg0

In the final installment of this series, Adobe Worldwide Evangelist Jason Levine takes you through the process of exporting/rendering your DSLR video/stills creations using the 64-bit Adobe Media Encoder. He'll talk about some of the most common formats for going to mobile devices, iPods, blu-ray discs as well as common formats for Web delivery. You'll learn about background rendering and the ability to 'queue' multiple versions of your video edits. Also featured: using *presets* in the Media Encoder for your favorite destinations (like YouTube, Vimeo, HDTV, etc)

Download a FREE fully functional 30 day Trial of Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and work right along side Jason.

Continue reading “Getting Started with DSLR Video for Photographers – Part 5 of 5”