Reno Skyline - Nikon D800e, Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 lens - ISO 100 f/8 6 seconds
The Nikon D800e is my newest camera and it is a game changer. The resolution is absolutely incredible and is comparable to a much more expensive medium format body. Image quality and resolution was not available at this price point until now. For photographers looking to make extremely large prints and shoot high end commercial work this is the camera for you. That said, if you don’t plan on using the files for those purposes I would recommend saving some cash, getting a camera with less resolution and putting that money into lenses or some other purchase you have been holding back on. The files are much larger than most people have worked with in the past and you need a computer that can keep up as well.
Also, if you are considering this camera for purchase do your homework on the D800 vs the D800e. The D800e differs from the D800 in that it lacks the anti-aliasing filter found on all DSLRs. By removing the filter your images will be slightly sharper. The negative effect this has on images is the possibility of color moiré appearing. Moiré can be dealt with in a number of ways but it is worth researching the subject thoroughly before you commit to buying the D800e. For me the benefits outweigh the negatives, hence why I chose the D800e.
For my test of the D800e I took it up to photograph some stock of the Reno skyline near my home in Lake Tahoe. Arriving just before dusk I set up my shot and waited for the city lights to turn on. Once the light was right I knocked off a couple frames. When I reviewed them I was blown away. Hitting the zoom button I scrutinized the smallest areas of each image and the detail was astounding! Below is a 100% crop of the image above. Detail and sharpness of this quality has never been available in a DSLR, until now.
The detail in the files is pretty insane. Wow!
For me I will now shoot all of my landscape and commercial work (that doesn’t require a high shutter speed) with the D800e until Nikon raises the bar again on their next generation of cameras (yet to be released). I am also really excited to start playing around with the video features on the D800e. One of the video features I’m most excited about is the ability to monitor sound directly through the camera. That is going to make collecting and monitoring good sound a much easier task in the field.
As with any new gizmo, the camera is only as good and creative as its operator. Always remember to make sure you understand the technical aspects of photography but not rely on them solely. Creativity will always be king in the photo world no matter what fancy gadgets come out. However, if you can combine your creativity with a tool like the D800e the results will be astounding! Happy shooting!
Camera: Nikon D3s - Lens: Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 with Nikon 1.4 TC - 1/1600sec f/7.1 ISO 400
I recently ran into a problem shooting skiing and snowboarding this winter. I needed to get a little closer to the action but the longest lens in my kit is the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8. There were two options to get the added focal length I desired. The first and most expensive option was to purchase the Nikon 200-400 f/4 lens for a whopping $7000. Even as a working pro this would have set my budget back quite a bit. Added to the budget constraints is the physical size and weight of the lens. Coming in at roughly 7.5 pounds the lens is heavy and bulky. When I am shooting skiing and snowboarding I am constantly moving, hiking and snowboarding. Weight and bulk are always large concerns when it comes to gear. Between the weight, bulk and price tag, the 200-400 just didn’t make a lot of sense. The solution? The Nikon TC-14 II 1.4 Auto Focus Teleconverter.
Coming in at a price tag of just under $500 and weighing only 7.5 ouches the 1.4 teleconverter effectively would turn my 70-200 lens into a 98-280mm. This was just the added length I was looking for to get me a little closer to the action. I decided not to go with the Nikon 1.7 or 2.0 converters because of the negative reviews I read on each prior to my purchase. Most people found them to be soft and the extra loss of light from the added length of the teleconverters was unacceptable to me. I was ok with losing one stop of light with the 1.4 but that was it. So what are the pros and cons of the 1.4 TC attached to a Nikon 70-200 f/2.8? I’m glad you asked.
Getting closer to the action
Extremely sharp results – I haven’t noticed any loss in sharpness by adding the 1.4 TC
Lightweight, small and easy to carry
No noticeable fringing
A loss of a stop of light (it changes the maximum aperture of the f/2.8 to f/4)
The autofocus is noticeably slower when shooting fast moving subjects. The TC forces the lens to search more when trying to track a fast moving subject. This can be overcome by prefocusing your subject and then continuing to shoot the action. If you simply pick up your camera with the TC attached and quickly try to focus in on a moving subject you will be disappointed.
All in all I am extremely happy with the Nikon TC-14 II 1.4 Auto Focus Teleconverter. It is a great and relatively cheap fix to adding a little extra focal length to my kit. While there are a few shortcomings I believe the positives far outweigh the negatives. I would recommend this setup to anyone looking for a cost effective way to increase their focal length and get a little closer to the action. Happy shooting!
Last week I purchased the Nikon D3s and couldn’t be happier. The camera is absolutely amazing and is a must have for any professional sports photographer.
Let me start off by saying that the most important thing to me as a professional photographer is creating compelling images. I look at technology as a means to further this endeavor and nothing more. The camera is simply a means to an end and should be viewed as such. In this review I will give you my honest opinion on how this camera performs in a professional outdoor adventure scenario.
For my first shoot with the Nikon D3s, I called upon a few of my friends to ski and snowboard for me. We headed out in the dark to Carson Pass in the Sierra Nevada to photograph in the sunrise and early morning light. With a quick 45 minute hike off the top of the pass, we reached our destination just as the sun was coming up over the horizon. The light was incredible. I pulled the camera out of my bag and began shooting.
Nikon D3s - Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens - ISO 400 - f/10.0 - 1/80 sec
The first thing that I immediately loved about the camera was the ergonomics. It feels great in your hands and all of the buttons are extremely accessible. For an experienced Nikon shooter everything is in a very intuitive place. I found myself changing my settings without ever taking my eye out of the viewfinder. This enabled me to concentrate on the most important part of photography, making images.
Nikon D3s - Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens - ISO 400 - f/10.0 - 1/400 sec
With the athletes in position, we began shooting action sequences. If you have never shot action at 9 frames per second you will be in for a real treat. When shooting sports, capturing that split second when the athlete is in perfect position is absolutely critical. If your camera doesn’t have a high enough frame rate, you might miss that magic moment.
Working in conjunction with the high frame rate is the camera’s buffer speed. The D3s allows you to hold the shutter button down far longer than any other consumer or prosumer grade Nikon camera. Compare the continuous capture of 82 JPEGs of the D3s to the 43 JPEGs of the D300s. This enables me to keep shooting the action while other photographers are waiting for their images to write to their memory cards.
As the day progressed I shot in a wide variety of ISO ranges. On my old Nikon D300 I really couldn’t shoot higher than ISO 800 without noticing a significant fall off in image quality. I shot for most of the morning at ISO 1000 and the file quality was unbelievable. When I shoot skiing and snowboarding, I love shooting into the sun. Utilizing a higher ISO allows me to shrink the aperture and still maintain a fast shutter speed creating that classic sunburst effect.
Nikon D3s - Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens - ISO 1000 - f/14.0 - 1/2000 sec
After the day was done it was time to see what I captured. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I began going through my images. The file quality was unbelievable. The images that I shot at ISO 1000 far exceeded my expectations. There was very little noise, the images were extremely sharp and the color gradients were absolutely beautiful. It has really opened my eyes to how I can push my camera settings to create images that would have been impossible to make 5 years ago.
As of right now I don’t have many negative things to say about the Nikon D3s. I think it is the best thing since sliced bread. If I had to be nitpicky, I would say it is a little too heavy and bulky for an extended outdoor adventure scenario. That said, I still plan on taking it just about everywhere I go and simply dealing with the extra weight and bulk. The images that it allows me to create are well worth it.
Looking into the future, I know I have just scratched the surface of what this camera can do. I can’t wait to push the ISO boundaries even higher and start utilizing other features like the 720 HD video. The Nikon D3s is going to allow me to push my creative vision farther than I had ever imagined, and that is what a great camera should allow you to do.
Posted By: Rachid
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A beautiful afternoon at the Valley View pullout
Winter sure did stick around for quite a while but warm weather is finally here. As soon as the temperatures started to get hotter I decided it would be a great time to head down to Yosemite National Park to photograph. I was especially excited because I knew that all of the waterfalls were going to be at their peak flow. If you've never been to Yosemite to watch the waterfalls in the spring you should put it on your itinerary. It is a true demonstration of nature's power and a sight that everyone should see once in their life.
First light on Upper Yosemite Falls
Waterfalls weren't the only thing to photograph. The photography opportunities in the valley are absolutely endless. The light changes almost every minute and you could literally spend a lifetime chasing it, and some people do. There have been so many occasions when I have been walking back to my car thinking that I'm done shooting a location and find myself scrambling to get my gear set up again to capture the ever changing light. It always keeps me on my toes.
Half Dome at sunset
In Yosemite each season really has it's own character. I can't wait to head back in the fall to photograph all the colors.
Posted By: Rachid
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Yesterday, March 31st, was probably the best day of the season at Kirkwood Mountain Resort. Mother Nature graced us with almost 3 feet of light, dry snow that we don't typically get here in the Sierra Nevada. I woke up at 5am to make sure I had enough time to get my gear ready and dig the car out. It wasn't hard to motivate since I was headed out to Kirkwood for what I already knew was going to be an epic day. Even further motivation was provided by the fact that I was going to be able to head up with the RSN (Resort Sports Network) film crew an hour before the lifts were open to the public and photograph all of the RSN athletes!
Many people would claim that this kind of light dry snow only falls in Utah or Colorado – Craig Garbiel takes a face shot for the critics!
When I moved out from the east coast 8 years ago I was only planning on staying in Lake Tahoe for a winter. It was Kirkwood, specifically, that changed all that. Days like yesterday are the reason I will continue to make my home here, most likely, for the rest of my life. The photo above says it all.
It looks like we're not done yet either. We've got storms lined up for next week, and after that I'll be headed down to Tioga Pass with a group of great friends to photograph some classic Eastern Sierra big mountain lines. Stay tuned!