Expert Shield :: Screen Protectors

ExpertShield-XP1X0798The folks at Expert Shield sent me a couple of their screen protectors to try out on the D800, but will also be sending a couple for the X-T1 when available. If you're like me, you have probably tried loads of these stick on screen protectors from Ebay, only to curse them when you're looking at your LCD on the back of the camera with a cluster of air bubbles. ExpertShield-XP1X0768

So I wasn't holding out much hope when the Expert Shield pack arrived last week. I've also been super busy lately, so the thought of a bubble wrestle was all I needed to put off trying these out and concentrating on getting edits done. But having recently broken the plastic LCD cover that comes with the D800, I thought it might be some sort of omen. I have however put glass covers on my D800 screens and didn't want to remove these (still thinking bubbles at this point). So I was about to have two layers of protection. But obviously this is overkill and one screen protector is enough for any photographer.



Boy was I wrong about these things! The application was quick (even though I was taking photos as I went) and there wasn't a bubble in sight. The Expert Shield protectors use silicon to stick to the screen, so no sticky residue and you can also peel them off and reposition if you don't get it right first time. Oh, and did I mention...no air bubbles?

Applying the screen protector was a breeze and very quick to do, even with the D800 having two screens. As the instructions say "dust is your enemy", so the included lens cloth was both handy and essential. As you can see from the photos below, the finish is absolutely flawless and there are zero air bubbles.

Our camera screens are not something we want to replace. In fact when they do get scratched we tend to just put up with them. So it's mad not to cover them with some sort of protector (My X-E1 is without protector, so I'm guilty with that one). I highly recommend the Expert Shield protectors as they're not much more expensive than a cheap ebay version, but the quality is far higher and of course the best bit is that they are air bubble free (I might have mentioned that). You can find more information HERE for the UK and HERE for the US. There's also a video on the site that's worth watching.


Nikon D800 :: It's Not You, It's Me!

I've had a strange relationship with the D800 ever since it was first announced. I bitched about all those megapixels right from the start and feel that I've been forced into an arranged marriage that I should hate!. The trouble is, it's the best DSLR I've ever shot with! I still say that 36mp is too much (for me), but after having a hands on with the D600 and being unimpressed by it's lack of pro feel and features (great sensor though) I had only three options, D800, D700 or 5Dmkiii. If Nikon had put the D600 in a D300s body, I would have bought it right away!

The D700 is a fantastic camera, but lacking in two features that are crucial to me, dual card slots and quiet mode. Canon came so close to having another The 5Dmkiii user. It's a fantastic camera in the hands, so comfortable to hold, but the draw backs for me were just to many. I use custom white balance all the time and Nikon have a really easy way to handle this feature and is so quick. Canon on the other hand, use a reference photo (that you have to move to manual focus to take when using an ExpoDisc) that you then have to delve into the menus to find. It's just to many steps! Moving focus point is done by pressing a button first, a small thing, but one step more than Nikon. What it came down to in the end was that I have worked my way up to owning the best prime lenses that Nikon produce and I am so deep in Nikon's CLS lighting system that it would have been crazy to move. It was always kind of obvious, but sometimes you just don't see the woods for the trees! My friend Patrick LaRoque took the chainsaw out and made a small clearing...just enough to see the Nikon forest.

So the D800, the camera I said I wouldn't own is the body that I now think is pretty awesome! I've shot portraits and product shots with it and have been blown away by the quality and sharpness. My 85mm f1.4G is outstanding on the D800! In fact all my Nikon Primes have suddenly shown their true potential. My big problem with the D800 will be when shooting weddings. I probably shoot less pictures than a lot of photographers at weddings and I'm always trying to be selective on the day by composing as carefully as possible and definitely not praying and spraying! I'd rather spend my time in post editing, rather than wading though hundreds of images that won't make the cut. But at around 103 raw photos per 8gb card, my workflow will have to be adjusted. The up-side is that I actually shoot more shots at a wedding on the Fuji X-Pro1, so that takes a lot of the pressure of my hard drive.

Click on the photo above to see the full size jpeg and then the one below to see the full size of the crop.

So as you can see from the shots above, the D800 is a camera with amazing resolution. It's also the DSLR with the biggest files.  The  Raw file for this photo was 43.3mb and the jpeg was 12.6mb. I've been shooting  jpeg with the Fuji X100 and X-Pro1 and never once wished I had a Fuji raw file, so I'm thinking of shooting  jpeg on the D800 for weddings on one card and raw on the other. I'll import the jpegs into Lightroom and unless I need to recover any blown highlights (vary rare), the raw files might never get used.

I Am Screwed :: Hopes & Fears Of A Nikon Shooter

Nikon finally released the D800 and restarted the Pixel war (if it ever ended). With a whopping 36 megapixels on the same size of sensor as the D700 & D3s, we can say goodbye to that fantastic high ISO performance that made a lot of Canon shooters jump ship. I personally, have waited a year for the D800 to appear and the disappointment has been huge. This camera should have had a built-in battery grip and been called the D4x in my opinion. Do Nikon really think that moving from the D700 to the D800 is a natural step? Most people that bought the D700 were looking for a full frame camera with great high ISO performance and possibly a fast frame rate. The D800 has none of that. It has huge files that will fill up our hard drives three times faster.

Now I'm not saying there isn't a place for a 36 megapixel camera, as there are photographers that would like to shoot medium format cameras but can't afford too, so the D800 might bridge the gap between DSLR and something like a Phase One. But for those of us that want evolution instead of revolution, where do we go now? Nikon have announced that they will continue to make the D700 for the foreseeable future (depending on demand), but although it's still a great camera, it is an older model that needs updated. I myself would be moving from a D300 and D300s to full frame. The D700 would be a step backward from the later as it doesn't have dual card slots, which is a must for any wedding photographer. Likewise for Quiet Mode, which is essential during a ceremony.

But there is a bit of a puzzle in Nikon's current line-up. The Rumor mill, including Nikon Rumors, has a D400 on the horizon, but the D7000 has both moved into the space of the D300s and overtaken it in features and performance. So if there is no place for a D400 in the crop sensor line-up and there is now a gaping hole in the full frame sensor line-up, could it be that Nikon will move the D400 to full frame or is the D300/D400 range dead?

I'll probably buy a D700 to replace my D300 and then I'll wait to see what happens with a possible D400. If it turns out to be a 16 megapixel full frame camera, I'll replace the D300s with that. If there is no full frame sensor with reasonable amount of pixels, I'll probably stick with the D300s. At this point though, I feel as though Nikon have deserted photographers like myself, which I feel are more of a majority than a minority.

But as Steve Jobs used to say...there is one more thing! In the next two or three weeks, I will take delivery of the new Fujifilm X-Pro1, an 18mm f2 and a 35mm f1.4. I have been far more impressed with sample images from this new 16 megapixel APS-C sensor than the ones from the full frame 36 megapixel D800. Have a look at what Zack Arias has been shooting with an early model X-Pro1 and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Nikon D800::Big Mistake or Big Leap Forward?

So the Nikon D800 is finally here and it's either a big leap forward or a giant step back. There's actually two models, the D800 and the D800E, with E model having the same spec, but with the anti-aliasing filter removed for sharper photos at the risk of introducing a moire effect. I've held back from buying a D700 for about a year because it's replacement was just around the corner, and I think it would have been if not for the natural disasters in the east over the last 12 months. But i kinda wish I had went ahead and bought a D700 last year, in fact I might buy a D700 this year???.

My first thought when I heard about the 36.3 megapixel sensor was that Nikon had screwed us over, and by us, I mean the guys that want full frame cameras, but can't afford a D3s, D3x or D4. All I really wanted to be honest, was a D700 with twin card slots, Quiet Mode and decent video. What I didn't want was files that take up three times the space, a much slower burst rate, and I especially didn't want worse ISO performance than it's predecessor. The D700 was groundbreaking because of it's low light/high ISO performance, so Nikon have just stuck two fingers up to most of their customers in this category and said "Nikon giveth and Nikon taketh away".

So is it all bad? No, not really.  For studio work, I reckon this camera will shine. Huge files with lots of detail, if fact, I think Nikon are actually trying to bridge the gap between DSLR's and medium format, and if the images are sharp, they will probably succeed. The D800 is like the D3x's illegitimate brother that was the result of a secret affair. Nobody accepts him at first, but they'll probably grow to love him!

The D800 has broadcast quality video at full 1080p HD. It outputs to an external monitor at full resolution and has a mic input. The video is stunning, but I think too much emphasis is put on the motion capturing ability of cameras and not enough on the stills.

So I think I'm going to wait until the dust settles. Maybe I'll buy a D700, but with just a single card slot I would worry about the day when a card fails with a few hundred wedding photos on it. Maybe I'll try to pick up a D3s, there might be a lot of people offloading nearly new ones when they upgrade to the D4. Or maybe the D800 will grow on me and I'll put up with the huge files to get huge quality. What if the upcoming D400 has a 16 megapixel full frame sensor? With the D7000, what would be the point of a D400 with anything less?.....to be continued.