I just spent Friday at the CP+ Photo Expo in Yokohama. To say I had a blast would be putting it mildly. There were a few key things I was looking at while I was there, and at the top of the list was the Nikon D800E.
Truthfully, I think this will be my next camera and the last one I buy for a while. Nikon really did a great job with this camera overall, especially considering its price.
The handling was really quite nice. The main grip is a little bulkier than my D700, but that really made for a better grip because my hand could just wrap around it with no gaps. Nikon really refined the ergonomics on their new cameras. Even the autofocus mode selection controls based on the D7000 makes for a nice change. My only issue with it is the location of the auto light metering mode button. Based on where my hand naturally falls on the D800, I couldn’t reach the mode button with my index finger. I’m sure that with use, I’ll naturally start to shift my hand to reach the seldom-used mode button, but for something that I sometimes need to access quickly, having it just out of reach could be a problem.
The viewfinder is just about everything one could ask for in a Nikon full frame viewfinder. In style, it has more in common with the D700 than the D4, in that it has the optional grid lines and only displays a black box for crop modes when AF point illumination is turned on rather than a translucent black mask. Then again, they did bring in the 1.2x crop mode as well as the all-important 5:4 crop. I’m very glad Nikon added the 5:4 crop with the fact that this is meant to be a studio camera. If you’re shooting for a customer that wants 8×10″ prints, the importance of this crop mode cannot be overstated. Essentially, it allows you to take the guesswork out of your shooting so you can use the viewfinder to great effect.
I won’t bore you all the other details, as they can all be researched online at NikonUSA.com, but suffice to say that Nikon has really hit the nail on the head as far as what I want in a camera for my non-journalistic work. The high resolution, audio handling, video processing, and HDMI output, make this a formidable camera by any measure. Nikon had poster-size prints from this camera hanging up in their booth, and I could just walk up to them and inspect them point-blank. I was truly amazed to see just how much definition these cameras hold even at that scale. Needless to say, as soon as my tax return comes in, I’ll be preordering one for myself.
Another camera I’ve been interested in is the Sony NEX-7. I have to say it was surprisingly comfortable in my hands and snappier than I had expected it to be. The best part was how the burst mode honestly felt like the burst mode on the Nikon D4 that I had held only an hour or so earlier. Sure, it might be secondary to have a camera that feels good in your hands, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. The buttons weren’t quite as ergonomic as I had thought, and the viewfinder is still digital, but I still argue that this would make a fantastic secondary camera for any Nikon shooter. The resolution, size, frame rate, and the LensBaby composer with tilt transformer are reason enough.
I thought I loved Black Rapid before CP+. At risk of sounding fanboy-ish, I freaking love these guys. The owner of the company was there along with one of his associates. These guys are passionate about their camera straps and take a ton of pride in what they do. The sheer amount of excitement they had when I told them the Secretary of Defense’s photographer was using their RS DR-1 strap, and that I had requested a few for our shop, was uncanny. They gave me their business card and asked for any feedback I could possibly give. They really truly care about what photographers out in the field have to say, and seem to be constantly striving to provide a better product.
At the end, I asked them about the pouches they sell that attach to their straps, looking for something to hold my Pelican memory card case. One of them walked to the other side of the booth for a minute, and returned with a Bryce 1, tearing away the packaging as he walked. He put the card case into it and showed me how to attach it to my RS DR-1. When I tried to give it back, noting what model it was, he told me it was mine and thanked me for my military service. Honestly, if my day wasn’t already made by getting my hands on both the D800E and the D4, that certainly made my day again.
Videography for dSLRs
There was a seminar on video for photographers Friday afternoon. The seminar consisted of two great lectures from photographers who have branched into video. It was a fascinating seminar with some great information.
One of the biggest common themes was telling photographers not to feel bound to videography paradigms. We have a rich skill set as photographers, and should capitalize on our equipment and expertise to set up our shots. Often times, our experience with composition will sell our imagery even we have to stick to static shots on standard tripods. We can work with our variety of lenses, including tilt-shift lenses and other specialty optics, to add a level of originality to our shots that would be impossible with standard broadcast cameras.
They also talked about how the lighter weight of the dSLRs today can make the use of rails, cranes, and steadicams, much more feasible, both logistically and fiscally. The truth is we don’t need to go crazy with the top-end gear because that gear is designed for the ginormous cameras of yesteryear. Today’s equipment like the Steadicam Merlin costs significantly less and allows faster work with less setup time. As such, the prerequisite manpower for typical shoots has dropped from 10 people to a mere two.
They also reinforced what I’ve been saying about FinalCut Pro X. True, it’s not for high-end broadcasting, but as far as being a rapid editing suite for high-quality dSLR video work, there aren’t many packages there which can beat it. If you’re on a Mac and new to video work, give it a try.
Here are some more images of the expo: