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.

The Vanguard Heralder 38 :: Bag Review

If you are in the market for a large modular camera bag that holds a lot of equipment and is easy to work from, then the Heralder 38 from Vanguard deserves your undivided attention. The 38 is not a bag you would carry around with you everyday, it's a bag you would take on a shoot, especially if you need everything but the kitchen sink. This review is a little overdue, but I really wanted to give the 38 a proper field test to see just how good it was. When Vanguard sent me this bag, I was a bit surprised how big it was. I had expected something smaller, but as soon as I opened the box I was impressed with both build quality and features.

Exterior The outside surface of the bag is made of a tough black nylon that should wear well through the years. The zips have heavy duty black tabs with a single orange stripe on each that means seeing the zippers in the dark won't be a problem. The rear of the bag has a zipped pouch that contains a rain cover tethered by an elastic cord. The rain cover struck a chord with me as I recently had a shoot in heavy rain and the bag I was using got soaked right through. The 38's rain cover pouch is also big enough for an iPad. Another welcome feature on the back is the built in strap that allows the bag to be slipped over the handle of larger rolling camera bags or suitcases. There are also ICS compatible D rings and loops to tie the bag down.


On one side of the bag there's a large neoprene pouch that could easily be used to store accessories or a place to keep a water bottle. I found it to be most useful as a lens pouch for swapping lenses on the go. Round the opposite end there are three handy straps that can take lens pouches with slip lock attachments. I tried attaching a couple of mine and they were very safe and secure. I would recommend lens pouches with double velcro locking. I'd love a slip lock attachment for my Zoom audio recorder so that it could hang it on the side of the bag and collect ambient sound.

The top lid functions in two ways. The first is a zip that runs across the length of the bag and is used for quick access and probably the one that you would use most when shooting with the bag on your shoulder (see photo at the top of this post). There's also a magnetic flap to secure the zip when closed (photo above). The second way the lid functions is to lift it right over, which gives complete access to everything inside. To open it this way, you unclip the plastic fastener and then open the zip that runs from the back of one side to the back of the other side. The zip is also under the flap of the lid, which although makes it a little awkward to find, it does add a large amount of weather proofing. I tend to use the clip when I'm shooting but also close the zip when the shoot is complete.

One of the best features on the outside of the bag is a tripod holder that tucks away when not in use, in fact you wouldn't know it's there. My tripod is old, large, chunky and heavy, but the 38 carried it without any problem. This feature alone would make it a great bag for landscape photographers.

Interior Inside the Heralder 38 is a four section memory card storage pouch on the underside of the lid. There is also a section at the front that would take an iPad, some pens and some odds and ends in a transparent zipped pouch. The rest of the inside consists of two padded sections that can be removed if you need to utilize as much space as possible. I would liked to have seen more padding on the bottom of the bag when the inserts are removed, although to be honest it can't say I'd ever use it without inserts.

The insert at the rear is big enough to take a 15" laptop and also has a flap that can be closed and secured by Velcro, so you could easily use this as a separate carry around case for your laptop. The main insert can be divided into eight sections that are deep enough for a 70-200 f2.8 lens. The padded dividers Velcro to the sides of the insert, so the configurations are vast. My one gripe with this bag is that if you shoot with primes (as I do), a 35mm and a 50mm could fit stacked in one compartment. So my one wish for this bag would be for Vanguard to include eight small square dividers and two oblong ones. Then smaller lenses could be stacked on top of each other with these smaller inserts attached by velcro between them without the risk of scratching or denting. I tried it out with pads from another bag and it let me pack even more lenses. Similarly, oblong pads could be used to sit on top of camera bodies to allow light items to be placed on top.

It's amazing how much equipment the Heralder 38 can hold, but it's also amazing how comfortable it is to carry. This is mostly thanks to the heavily padded shoulder strap. There's obviously a lot of thought went into designing and manufacturing this bag. If you're a wedding photographer, it's a great bag to keep all of the days kit in the back of the car and use it to feed a smaller bag for different parts of the wedding.

The photo above shows the gear that I was carrying in the Heralder 38, but it was by no means full. The 70-200mm f2.8, 85mm f1.4 and the 35mm f1.4 are quite chunky lenses. In fact I have a couple of bags that won't accept the 85mm because of the diameter. So to come back to where I started. If you're in the market for a large camera bag, The Heralder 38 is definitely worth checking out. You can see more of this bag and others like it at the Vanguard website and you can buy it from Amazon UK or from B&H in the US.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 & Nikon DSLR Wedding :: Part 2

I arrived in Glasgow on Saturday at around 6:40am, but as my train to Aviemore wasn't due until 7:15am, I ventured outside and took a few shots for my 35mmStreet blog using the X-Pro1 and the 18mm f2. I highly recommend taking a walk around this or any other city while most people are still in bed. There's an eerie feeling when a place that's always full of hustle and bustle is strangely quiet and empty. If you've seen the movie '28 Days Later' you'll know what I mean.

I arrived at Aviemore at 10am. The train station looks more like something out of a cowboy film, rather than Scotland's main skiing town. I used to ski here regularly and in fact, often stayed in the hotel where today's reception is being held. The train journey had only been 2hrs 45min, but it was much colder here and it was raining...not the best day for a wedding! My camera bag was very heavy, but I decided to go for a walk to kill some time before heading to the reception venue.

When I arrived at the venue, I decided to shoot some table details using just the X-Pro1 and available light. I started with the 18mm f2 and got some wide shots of the room and tables. The 18mm (27mm equivalent) was a nice focal length for getting right into a corner and cramming in the full room. I then switched to the 35mm f1.4 and shot some close-up details of the tables. The camera was doing fine on Aperture Priority mode, but I did set Custom White Ballance using the ExpoDisc (more about the ExpoDisc later). The X-Pro1 was doing a good job with the details and all from natural window light, so I didn't take the Nikon out of the bag. In fact, if I had been using my D300s at this point I would have been shooting with flash to achieve a low ISO...result for the X-Pro1!

After a short lunch break to fuel up for a long day shooting, I made my way to the Groom's hotel room to shoot some candies of the guys. The room was tucked away at the back of the hotel and was small and dark with light coming from just one window. Again I used the X-Pro1 at high ISO's rather that the Nikon with flash. Even the Fuji was struggling with such low light and my shutter speed was a bit lower than I would have liked, but it still got the job done and I knew I would be converting these shots to black and white...another result for the X-Pro1!

I broke-out the DSLR and flash to shoot in the foyer of the hotel, which again was pretty dark (hotel people don't like to make photographers lives any easier). At one point I had to shoot groups of four or five people in a small vestibule in the front entrance to the hotel. I had to use the Nikon 24mm f2 and I wasn't happy with the results. When the Groom and the two best men were about to leave in one of the vintage cars, I grabbed a few shots of them on the back seat with the Nikon, but changed to the Fuji so I could use a higher ISO. The thing I hate about using flash for car shots is that more often than not, I'm trying to work around the light hitting the roof of the car and creating a big shadow across the subjects face. Again the Fuji was doing well. So far I had been using the Fuji lot's more than I had expected and the thought did cross my mind a few times that I was maybe using it too much. After all, it was the first time I had used it at a wedding and this was really a test. All might be looking good for the X-Pro1 at this point, but I was missing more shots than I would have with my DSLR's due to the auto focus lag. People moving in low light is not the best scenario for the X-Pro1!

I grabbed a few quick shots of the bride and her bridesmaids in her room (again using the X-Pro1), but as time was really pushed I didn't get to try out anything worth talking about. In fact it was a case of snap snap, let's go. It was so much of a rush that I left my camera bag in the brides room. Now in my defence, I don't usually have a bag when shooting at weddings. I usually have a double BlackRapid strap with a DSLR on each side, a prime lens on each body and another one in a lens case on my belt. So after shooting the Bride and Bridesmaids getting into the car (mostly X-Pro1), I jumped into my pre-booked taxi and shot off to the church to take some photos and catch the bride arriving. It was only after travelling a few miles in the taxi that I realised my bag was still in the bride's room back at the hotel. So it was a choice of going back to the hotel and screwing-up the plans or making the most of the equipment I had, which was a Nikon body with the 35mm f1.4G and the X-Pro1 with the 18mm and 35mm. Of course although I had three lenses, I only had two focal lengths which would mean I would half to shoot the Fuji mostly with the 18mm. I had been planning on shooting with the 35mm on the X-Pro1 most of the day. I would at this point like to praise BlackRapid, as the RS-5 strap that I was using for my DSLR has a front pocket that held three spare X-Pro- batteries and zipped inside pocket with my extra memory cards. My Nikon had a battery inside and one in the grip, so I knew all I had to do was work around two focal lengths.

Inside the small church was dark, but that wasn't the only problem. Just as the bride was about to walk down the isle, the minister told me that I couldn't take any photos during the service. There was no time to clarify the boundaries or reason with him, so I had to wing it. As I was behind the minister, I shot during the singing with the X-Pro1. At this point, I really wished I had brought the X100. I could have shot as much as I liked with it's awesome silent mode. When it came to exchanging the rings and the first kiss, it was open season and I shot what I wanted, it was too late to stop me.

I used both the Fuji (no flash) and the Nikon (with flash) to capture the couple walking down the isle. I shot with the X-Pro1 and the 18mm until the couple got close and then moved quickly to the Nikon with the 35mm for waist up shots. When we got outside I had no option than to shoot the group shots with the Fuji 18mm. I hadn't noticed how much lens distortion the 18 produces round the edges, at least not until I had people at the edges! This wasn't ideal, but remember my bag was back at the hotel. The 35mm on the Nikon was ideal for head shots of smaller groups as it ended up being a 50mm.

Back at the hotel and the X-Pro1 was doing what it did best, low light reportage. The couple had a guest book close to the window and I knew that it would make great high contrast black and whites. After that, I used both the Nikon and Fuji for some formals on the hotel staircase and then it was time for the first dance.

The first dance was scheduled for 8:30pm and my train was due to leave at 9:02pm. I've never shot a wedding where the first dance was on time and I was non-stop clock watching. So I was somewhat relieved when the first dance started at 8:35 pm and I also shot the second dance and I was done by 8:45pm. I packed my gear back into the bag, said goodby to the wedding party and I was off like a shot. Luckily the train station was just across the road from the hotel, so I made it with time to spare.

Conclusion I ended up shooting more with the X-Pro1 than the DSLR, which was a surprise and not what I was intending to do. The Fuji shines in reportage style shooting and people really don't take that much notice of you when mingling amongst guests with this camera. I've never been happy shooting these type of shots with flash, and my Nikon D300s & D300 are not great at high ISO's. The 18mm f2 is nice to get wide shots at the alter, showing the church environment, but I wouldn't want to use it for group shots (35mm is wide enough). The 50mm in my opinion, could be left on the X-Pro1 90% of the day. I'm now leaning towards buying the Fuji 35mm when it comes out in 2013, but there's plenty of time to change my mind before then. I'd be happy to use the X-Pro1 and the X100 in situations where the light was low (bride and groom hotel rooms) or where I needed to be more discrete (mingling with the guests or during the ceremony). But I wouldn't want to shoot a full wedding with these cameras due to the lag between focus and firing, far too many important shots could be missed.

Will I Continue To Shoot Weddings With The X-Pro1? All this leaves me with a problem. As I mentioned before, I usually shoot with a double BlackRapid strap with a DSLR and prime lens on each side. This allows me to move quite fast as I don't need to carry around a camera bag. There's no doubt in my mind that I need to go full frame, my lenses are geared toward it and I need the low light capability. The D800 is just overkill for what I'm doing, so I'll probably be changing my D300 for a D700. But I need to decide if I'm going to stick to two DSLR's or a single DSLR and the X-Pro1 and X100. If the later is the way I'm heading, focal lengths would probably be (full frame sizes) the X100's 35mm, X-Pro1 with the 50mm and a D700 with the 35mm 1.4G and 85mm 1.4G

Case For Fuji Lenses I bought a Lowepro 1M Lens Case for my X-Pro1 glass. I did intend getting the 8cm x 6cm, but when I went to the camera shop (yes a real brick and mortar store), I spotted the 1M. I thought there was a good chance of a lens falling out of the smaller case, plus the 1M is just deep enough to take the 35mm X-Pro1 lens with the lenshood attached. The Lowepro cases have a SlipLock double Velcro attachment to fix them to your belt or camera strap. They also have a couple of loops that could be used to attach a lanyard if preferred. It turned out to be essential on the day and I would recommend picking one up if you have the 18mm and the 35mm combo.

Using Custom White Balance On The X-Pro1 My shooting method this weekend was to go full manual as much as possible and use the ExpoDisc to set exposure and custom white balance. I also wanted to cut down on the amount of flash that I use. Setting custom white balance on the X-Pro1 is almost as simple as on a Nikon, as long as you set the Fn (Function Button) to White Balance, which isn't a big deal as the ISO is so easily set using the Quick Menu button. If you have the camera set to Custom White Balance already, it only takes 4 clicks to set WB. Press Fn ~ OK ~ Take a shot ~ OK. Obviously you would place your ExpoDisc or grey card in front of the lens before you take the shot.

ExpoDisc A wedding day is so hectic, so although my intentions were good, I didn't use the ExpoDisc as much as I had hoped. This was partly due to time and partly due to me forgetting. I will try to use it as much as possible on future shoots. I did find the X-Pro1's Auto WB actually done a better job in mixed light sometimes, but that would not keep everything consistent from shot to shot.

X-Pro1 With Flash I did use the X-Pro1 with the EF-20 flash a few times, but it wasn't reliable. When the flash did fire, it gave nice natural results (especially with the flash power set to a minus EV. The problem was that the flash would turn of and sometimes it took two or three pushes of the on button to get it to work again. The re-cycling time is also slow and you end up with more shots where the flash didn't fire than when it did. The camera won't focus until the ready light ins at least flashing.

After The Update To Firmware v1.01 I've just had a chance to test the auto focus focus after the latest firmware update and there is a huge difference in speed and accuracy. I tested it in a room that has given me the most problems with the AF. The walls are all cream and the lighting is Flouresant tubes. The focus is now locking on much faster and there is a lot less lag. Obviously this depends on how far the lens has to travel. Four feet to infinity is still not going to be "smokin' fast", but if the lens is focusing a short distance, say shooting portraits or taking shots of different people in a group, then it's much quicker and much improved. I've noticed with the X100 firmware updates that Fuji make tweaks to the camera performance and don't mention it in the contents of the firmware update. I look forward to many more updates to the X-Pro1

Fuji X-Pro1 & Nikon DSLR Wedding :: Part 1

I have a wedding on Saturday and will be taking the Fujifilm X-Pro1 along with my usual Nikon DSLR kit, well minus the 2nd DSLR. I'm not sure how this dual kit set-up will work, but I hope it's smoother than packing my camera bag. I'm using my trusty Lowepro CompuTrekker AW, which has been my main bag for the past 3 years and I've never had the urge to change it. As you can see from the photo above, the Fuji kit is much smaller than the Nikon kit...but will it be up to the task? I guess I'm about to find out and so will you in part 2.

My bag is pretty full and there's even more stuffed in the front pocket and inside pockets, including BlackRapid straps, Gels for the Speedlights, Flashbender, chargers, memory cards...etc. Although not in the photo, I've decided to take my X100 along for the ride too, just incase I run out of battery power on the X-Pro1. I'm trying not to take too much gear as I'll be traveling by train for 3 hours either way and I'll have to carry this stuff all day. It will be interesting to see how this set-up works out. I'm wondering if it would be possible to shoot with two lenses for each body, with the spare lenses in a couple of Lowepro lens cases on my belt. I'm thinking 35mm equivalent focal lengths of 27mm (Fuji), 35mm (Nikon), 53mm (Fuji) and 85mm (Nikon). A nice selection of focal lengths which would give me something wide for each body and also nice portrait lenses for each too. Another plus point would be the apertures, one f2 and three f1.4's...nice!

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.

Workflow Wizard 2:: The ExpoDisc

Back on the workflow challenge again, trying to speed things up. After watching the excellent course by Zack & Jody Gray on Creative Live last week, I was amazed at how little time they spend on post production. Start to finish, from importing the images to album design takes them just five and a half hours. Now that's fast, really fast!

So what's the secret? Zach & Jody say it's all down to getting white balance and exposure consistent and accurate in the camera using an ExpoDisc. So I thought I'd give it a go and happily handed over my cash to the nice man at Warehouse Express. So two days later and £79+p&p lighter, I received a 77mm ExpoDisc in the mail. The first thing I noticed was that it didn't have any threads to let you screw it on to a lens. It just stuck on the front of my 85mm 1.4 as if by magic (it might actually be magnets). Buy the size for your largest lens and then just hold it over the front of your Smaller ones. It even works on the tiny X100 lens. The ExpoDisc works by using your camera Custom White Balance function. Canon users get the short end of the stick here, as there are more steps involved in setting a custom white balance and you need to either put the camera on manual focus, or get used to using back button focus. But as I don't own a Canon DSLR, I can't go into detail about how to go about it here (please check your manual). I'll be using a Nikon D300s for this test, but you can apply it to the method your camera uses.

You need to have your camera set to Manual Mode and Custom White Balance. For most Nikon cameras, you would press and hold the WB button on the top left of the camera, then turn the thumb dial until the display reads 'Pre' (right hand side).

Now before I go any further; getting the correct exposure is not an exact science with the Expodisc, and even more so with a Nikon. To get an exposure reading and set custom WB, stand where your subject is and either point the lens back to your shooting position, or toward the light source (as you would with a light meter). Which one you choose will depend on the lighting conditions, but mostly it will be back toward your shooting position. Please note that the exposure reading you get from a Nikon differs by 1 stop when the camera is set to grab a custom WB (flashing 'Pre'). 1a. Camera pointing back toward shooting position, and exposure set before entering into custom WB capture mode (flashing 'Pre'). 1b. Camera pointing back toward shooting position, and exposure set after entering into custom WB capture mode (flashing 'Pre'). 1c. Camera pointing toward light source, and exposure set before entering into custom WB capture mode (flashing 'Pre'). 1d. Camera pointing toward light source, and exposure set after entering into custom WB capture mode (flashing 'Pre').

NIKON D300s: Setting custom WB.

  • 1. Place the ExpoDisc on the front of your lens with the white side facing the lens.
  • 2. Hold the camera in front of your subject and point it back toward your shooting position (see above).
  • 3. Adjust your ISO to suit the lighting conditions.
  • 4. Set the aperture to what you want to use.
  • 5. Set your shutter speed making sure it's at least one over focal length (50mm = 1/60).
  • 6. Make sure your meter readout is centre (correct exposure).
  • 7. Press and hold the WB button until 'Pre' flashes.
  • 8. Press the shutter button to fire a shot (it won't show up on your memory card).
  • 9. The camera display should be flashing 'good' to confirm success.
  • 10. Remove the Expodisc and shoot. Adjust shutter speed if you need to adjust exposure.


The steps above look a lot, but it actually only takes a few seconds to do.

The following examples of different light types are shot as follows. Left image. Aperture Priority and Auto WB. Centre image. Manual mode with exp/WB taken toward shooting position. Right image. Manual mode with exp/WB taken toward light source.

DAYLIGHT (from window on a cloudy day)
The shot on the left is auto WB and the shot on the right  is using the ExpoDisc (cloudy windo light).

I'm pleased with the ExpoDisc and I'm looking forward to trying it out on a proper job with different lighting conditions. If it can save a lot of time in post it will be worth the money. If your exposure and white balance are consistent and correct, a preset in Lightroom or Aperture could be applied at import to add a bit of contrast. That should de-flatten RAW images and give you files that are spot on.


My  friend Patrick LaRoque asked in the comments, if there was much difference between the ExpoDisc and a regular grey card? So I tested a few options and to be honest there isn't a lot of difference. I think the ExpoDisc is a little more user friendly when it comes to shooting on the go. Even the Colour Checker Passport has a small grey card which is handy, but doesn't fill the frame. Being able to use the ExpoDisc to set exposure is a bonus to. Have a look at the results below or click here for a larger version.

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.