What a Difference Technology Makes

Over the Memorial Day weekend we went down to visit the Luray Caverns.  For a few members of the family, it was their first exposure to the wonder of the power of water.  I’ve been visiting here since I was 5 and still get a thrill out of visiting.  Of course I took my camera and since the pathway remains the same, I thought about looking at how much difference having an up to date camera makes.  So I combed back through my library and quickly searched through my metadata to bring up all 277 of the digital images I’ve taken since 2007. I picked out 5 pair showing roughly the same scene to evaluate to see if I could detect any difference.  I’m on my third camera since I shot the first batch with my D80.  I was pushing it when I had set the ISO on 800.  Anything above that and the noise was just unacceptable. Plus, I didn’t have a fast lens, which only made it more difficult.  This trip I had my D800 and my 70-200 f/2.8 and was shooting at ISO 1250.   Here is an example from roughly the same spot and the histograms that go with each.  The best I could do for the ice cream cone was blurry mess, but now it has detail.  The ghost column is the same story.

On a side note we did have a little international incident while down there, some visitors from an unnamed pacific country kept touching the rocks, which causes moisture damage and disturbs their growth.  This despite repeated announcements to “Please do not touch the formations.”  Finally I watched the dad reach up and break off a chunk of stalactite.  That was it for me, I marched up to the guide and they retrieved the piece.  We were hoping they would through them over the railing down into skeleton gorge, but unfortunately that did not happen. 

Well, we are off on vacation for a bit, going to some places with excellent opportunities for photography.  Can’t wait and will be back soon.

All I can say is…Wow!

Obviously, I’m going to say a lot more. After going back and forth for a long while and sitting on the waiting list for almost two months, I finally got my new camera—The Nikon D800.  You might recall that way back in February I started thinking about this major upgrade.  After Roger got his D4, I started to rethink my choice of the D800, because I was so impressed with the low light shooting abilities of that camera. After talking with my friends, and the Nikon sales rep at my local camera store, I decided that the improvements in the D800 were right for what I like to shoot. The first thing I noticed about shooting the camera is the incredible resolution.  It has an amazing 36 Megapixel sensor.  Here is an image of a Lo-biscus I shot this week while at an offsite for work. (Hey, we had a 30 minute break before the dinner session started.)

Hibiscus, Yellow

It’s a pretty boring shot.  But, with that many pixels you can really zoom in and crop it to get a much more interesting image. Yellow, Hibiscus  I was impressed with the level of detail I could pull out, so I wanted to see just how far I could push it.  You can just see the little box from the LR Navigator panel showing the fraction of the image I was looking at.  Look at the hairs on the stamen—oh, and this was all shot hand held.

I walked around the front of the inn and saw a nice little rabbit nibbling away at the clover.  I knew I wanted to shoot it as well, but all I had was the camera.  Here is the untouched image and here is what I could zoom in on.  This never would have worked with the old camera. 

When you do take advantage of all the pixels you also get stunning depth in the dynamic range the camera can pick up.Iron Tractor, Wheel  This old farm tractor is interesting in both natural color and as a Sepia tone. In the end, the right camera for you depends on what kinds of things you intend to shoot.


Now it’s decision time…

Today Nikon announced the camera I’ve been waiting for—well, almost.  The New D800 looks to be an incredible machine.  http://www.nikonusa.com/Nikon-Products/Product/Digital-SLR-Cameras/25480/D800.html#tab-ProductDetail-ProductTabs-Overview

It has a 36MP resolution and will be perfect for my landscape and portrait work.  It’s the equivalent of many medium format cameras like the Mamiya or even the Hasselblad, which cost thousands of dollars more.

Although significantly improved over my reliable D300, its low light potential is nowhere near its new big brother the D4.  The ISO now covers up to ISO 6400 and can go up to 25,600.  That is a long way from the ISO 204,000 advertised for the D4.

It is also going to be slower in burst mode with only a 4 frames per second (fps) rate.  Is that bad?  Well the D300 has an 8 fps rate and I think I’ve needed that only a few times when shooting. 

One of the features that it has over the D4 is the built in flash unit.  Now I never actually use it as a flash, but as the commander for my remote units.  I don’t always need to get out my wireless xmitters for that, so that is a good thing. 

Nikon has been really pushing the video capabilities of their new cameras and this one is no exception.  It can record full 1080p HD video and full stereo sound.  I’ve never really explored video, but I guess I will have the chance to learn.   On the Nikon Website, they have an incredible video move called “Joy Ride” shot entirely with the camera.   http://vimeo.com/36345294

I filed my taxes this last weekend and guess what—Photoshop World is only a month away.  My friends the Applebaums, at Midwest Photo Exchange will probably be seeing me drop by.   That is if I can convince my wife….