Why belonging to a professional service matters

2 08 2013

IMG_1559[1]Until now, I have been fortunate enough that I have not recently needed the repair side of Nikon Professional Services. This week, that changed, however, and I have found out why it is such a valuable asset to a professional photographer.

Yesterday (Thursday) morning I was taking pictures at a camp for Pipeline News. My D4 camera somehow became loose on its carabiner and fell about 2 feet to the floor, snapping the flash off near the base.  “Oh crap, That’s a $500 fix,” I said, noting the price of the flash. The problem was, I have a wedding lined up for this Saturday.

I’m a firm believer in the military maxim “Two is one and one is none.” I have four flashes. But this is the only one that can act as a “master,” controlling the output and triggering of the others in elaborate, advanced off-camera flash setups. It’s been my intention to pick up another master flash, but I hadn’t gotten around to it yet since my second master flash decided it only wanted to work as a slave.

What to do, what to do?

First, I phoned Don’s Photo in Regina and got them to set aside a flash for me for Saturday morning as a Plan B, something they were kind enough to do. Then I pulled out my Nikon Professional Service card.

I applied for NPS a couple years ago so that I would be able to get first dibs on the then-upcoming D4 flagship camera. When the D3 came out, it took almost a year before mere mortal, non-NPS members could obtain one. I was one of the first people in Canada, and indeed, the planet, to get the D4, arriving on the second day they were available.

NPS’ main purpose is to support working professional photographers. You have to have multiple professional bodies and lenses to qualify, and you have to submit a body of work, paid work, to become accepted. Essentially, you have to make your living with your camera. I do, both as a professional photographer and newspaper editor/photographer.

A just-slightly-less-than-panicked called to NPS at 1 p.m. Saskatchewan time had them sending me a loaner replacement flash by overnight courier from Ontario. It arrived with 24 hours, as seen above, in time for me to  have this crucial piece of kit in my hands before the wedding.

And this is the whole point of this post: a professional not only has a backup for everything, but a backup for the backup. In this case, that second level backup is Nikon Professional Service. It’s there so clients aren’t left hanging. So when you’re hiring a photographer, ask them – do they belong to Nikon Professional Service or Canon Professional Service? If not, you may be taking your chances.




Nikon D4 Unboxing in Canada

23 03 2012

Nikon D4

Nikon D4, Sony XQD card and reader

Today my Nikon D4 camera arrived. It’s a big deal, because I am one of the very first in Canada to get one. My supplier, Don’s Photo in Regina, secured it for me in the first batch, going to the mat for me to ensure that would happen. I specifically sought to join Nikon Professional Service last year in anticipation of being put on the priority list for this camera when it was eventually announced.

What does this mean for my clients? In situation of low light, I will be able to take pictures that would have been impossible even two years ago. In other situations, I will be able to crank up the shutter speed in situations where otherwise you would have had to have slower, blurrier pictures. And the increased resolution will assist in very large panorama shots, meant to be printed 6 feet wide. The D4 is the absolute bleeding edge, state-of-the-art camera, best in the world at what it does (Canon users be damned!).

I was so excited, I even made an unboxing video. Check it out. It’s my first, and maybe my last? Who knows.

While a new camera is exciting to take pictures of, what is more exciting is what I will be able to do with it. I can’t wait to find out. It’s like an artist being given a whole new set of paints. I intend on doing a lot of painting.

B&H Photo meets Google Streetview

20 01 2012

Wired.com noted on Jan. 19 that photography supplier powerhouse B&H Photo and Google have done a Google Streetview of their massive store in New York. For many photographers, this is nirvana. Leave the spouse at home, or give them the credit card, so that you don’t emply it sort of thing. Their printed catalog is a half inch thick (yes, they still print one). For a lot of hardware, they are the most competitive store in North America. Their adds have filled a dozen pages in the back of almost every photography magazine for as long as I can remember. I currently have an order for a four-port USB 3.0 card for my desktop expected to arrive tomorrow coming from them. If you can’t find it anywhere else – like a 4 port card, when everyone else had a 2 port card, look at B&H. High on my list is a 5-bay Network Attached Storage RAID from them.  

I still buy all my Nikon gear from Don’s Photo, who have treated me exceptionally well, including this past week. (More on that another time.)  

Check it out. I scrolled inside to make it easier. Unfortunately, you can’t access the whole store yet, including the second floor, which has all the camera bodies and lenses. Truth be told, on that front, a visit to one of the larger Don’s stores or The Camera Store in Calgary can give you almost the same experience, so I guess I saved myself a trip to New York.


Battle at F-Stop 2

19 01 2012

The Camera Store in Calgary put out a phenomenal video last year called Battle at F-Stop Ridge. It was a recreation of a World War I-style battle, with trech warfare and the like, except with cameras as machine guns, and flashes as grenades. It went absolutely viral, having hit 2.1 million views to date.

On Jan. 18, they posted The Battle at F-Stop 2.

It’s really good. Not as good as the original, but pretty close. Using compact flash cards like falling shell casings was pricesless. Having tripods as barbed wire entanglements was pretty good, too. 

It ends saying, “Photography. We still take it really seriously.”

I can proudly claim I was the 301st person to view it. That figure will soon add about 4 zeros over the next month. UPDATE: One day later, the total views was 16,782, and climbing.

Here it is:

And here is the original:


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