Nikon D4 proves it can take photos where previously I could only wish

7 05 2012

The Estevan Chamber of Commerce holds an annual leadership seminar at the Estevan Alliance Church. This is a great shot I got from the event. (Click on the photo to be taken to the gallery.)

This photo, believe it or not, was not possible for me to take just a month ago. It was shot at 1/100 of a second, f/2.8, at ISO 6400 at 200 mm with a Nikon D4. The lens was the first generation 70-200 f/2.8 VR with the vibration reduction turned on and a carbon fibre Induro monopod below it.

The noise was cleaned up slightly in Adobe Lightroom, but just slighly. It would have been usable, out of the camera, without noise reduction. Even the ISO 8000 shots I got were quite usable, almost indistinguishable from the ISO 6400 shots.

The reason this photo is remarkable is the lights in this room were turned down so that the participants could see the big screen. The room was very dark, and has no windows. To give you an idea of how much light you need to properly light this room, a few years ago I was asked to take the 50th anniversary photo of the church. I used five strobe lights and a flash, all turned to maxium power and mounted along the walls, to get a good group photo of the whole congregation. When I clicked the trigger, they all went FOOOMP! This shot, in comparison, was taken without a flash.

I’ve shot weddings in many poorly lit churchs, but this one takes the cake. I didn’t think it would be possible to do an adequate job in the Alliance Church (my home church), but it appears that is now the case with the new gear.

Joining the Creative Cloud

7 05 2012

Adobe makes the best creative software in the world. They are the industry standard for everything from photo editting (Photoshop, Lightroom), video editting (Premiere Pro) to page layout (InDesign), web editting (DreamWeaver, Flash) and document standardization (pdf via Acrobat). The problem is, this software, when purchased one at a time, is incredibly expensive. Even if you buy the Master Collection of all of it, it’s  US$2,599, and needs regular updates.

Starting this week, Adobe is introducting a new pricing structure and system, called Adobe Creative Cloud. You get access to EVERYTHING, including continual upgrades, for the monthly cost of just US$50. When Photoshop itself costs $699 or $999, depending on the version, this is incredibly cheap. Plus, it’s a lot easier to cough up $50 a month than $699 a shot.

For one project, I recently experimented with my new Nikon D4’s video capability. I mixed video from the $7000 D4 with the Flip Video camera I was given at a trade show as a door prize. (My wife Michelle was the A-camera operator while my daughter Katrina ran the B-camera. Spencer provided plenty of opportunities to yell “cut!”)

I did all this video editting with Premiere Pro, the top notch video editting software – good enough to do movies on. But I didn’t feel like dishing out $799 for this one time use, so I just used the 30 day trial version. However, I didn’t finish the project within 30 days, so I was stuck. However, as of this week, I will be able to use the new version of Premiere Pro and finish it up.

The long and the short of it is as of this week, I will have full access to the top of the line photo editting packages at all times. It should make a number of things, like the 360 degree panoramas I have been specializing in recently, much easier to do. The results should be quite impressive, since recently most of my projects have been highly exacting, millimetre precision commercial work. Photoshop CS6 should be a great help.



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.

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