Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More Fall colours and a New Nikon Camera (D3s) and Lens

Fall Colours in Metro Vancouver
Fall Colours: A few early fall photos
In my last entry I talked about fall colours, and how much I was looking forward to getting some shots. I did get a few before the rain started to fall. Monday morning, Thanksgiving in Canada, so I mounted the Tokina 12-24mm on my D300 and I went for a drive around town to my favorite spots for fall photography. After taking a few photos at different angels, I walked away with the photo above. The bright sunny morning left a little to be desired, but due to commitments of my time I was unable to shoot at another time. The results aren't bad regardless, as I shot in the shadow of the tree pictured, which made for nicely defused light in the foreground. If I had wanted to capture an image closer to how it looked to me, I would have needed to take a few images at different exposures for an HDR (High Dynamic Range) image, but I am not very proficient in HDR , and I didn't have a tripod with me. As a result, I had to choose what area I wanted exposed, and although some parts of the image are dark, such as the upper tree branches, I do not think those technical flaws take away from the image. At first I was using the camera meter, but quickly found that I was not going to get the result I wanted, so I switched to manual and exposed at a slower shutter speed than the camera was suggesting, which seemed to work out well.

Nikon D3s: Some Love it... others are switching to Canon?
In camera news, Nikon announced the D3s, which is a minor update on the flagship D3, which was already an extremely good camera. I think the most important features are the 720P video and increased ISO sensitivity (ISO 200-12800 native and expandable to 102,400 ISO!!!). It has already been said that the ISO sensitivity of the D3 and D700 are among the best on the market, and expanding that range even more is remarkable, the question is, how useful will ISO 102,400 be? Initial reaction from Nikon shooters seems mixed, some like wedding photographers, seem to be happy, as the addition of video is all they really wanted. Others are disappointed because they wanted more mega pixels, or more additions (faster continuous shooting speed), which seems unreasonable for a "s" update from Nikon. The most extreme reaction of course is from those who were on the edge, and the fact that there were no major changes, or 1080P video in the D3s is leading them to switch camera systems to Canon. To me the idea of switching brands over such things is silly, but in some ways I can undertand.

If I was a portrait photographer, making money on the job I still think I would stick to the D700, but as a bird photographer, the speed and flexibility of the D3/D3s makes it my dream camera. That said, the weight of such a camera, would again keep me looking at the D700, if I were to go full frame, which still has a very respectable 8FPS with the MB-D10 battery grip. To be honest thought the full frame cameras do not hold a lot of appeal to me at this time, for several reasons. First as a hobbyist , it is impossible for me to justify spending that much on a camera body, at a price point $2700 Cdn, plus tax for the D700 is still too much. Another reason is that I could not imagine having to carry that much weight, after all if I want to take advantage of the high end camera bodies from Nikon and other manufactures you really need to upgrade your lenses as well. Finally, with all those other areas aside, I find the DX cameras, such as my D300, provide more than enough flexibility. I fill my memory cards fast enough as it is with the 6FPS of the D300! I noted a few weeks ago some photographers I know still wished that Nikon made DX format pro camera bodies, as the D2X is starting to look a little behind the times. The same argument of weight is there, but I understand the desire for such a camera.

New Lens: Nikon 85mm F3.5mm DX VRII Micro (Nikon calls Macro, Micro)
Wow, where did that come from? A 85mm F3.5mm DX macro was not something that I was expecting, although it does seem attractive to me as a DX shooter. Price range looks like it will be very close the current 60mm F2.8 Micro, and from looking at the specs and tables it should be very sharp, even wide open. So we now have a full range of primes that can work with DX camera bodies that lack a focus motor in the body, starting with the DX 35mm F1.8G, the FX 50mm 1.4G, and now the DX 85mm F3.5G VR Micro. Some might say, why put VR in this lens, but keep in mind that this is effectivly a 127mm lens on a 1.5x crop body. Reactions to this lens seem to be negative, but most of that is coming from people who either want to switch to full frame soon or already have. As a person who does not feel the need to switch to FX any time soon, this lens is almost perfect, reasonably fast, with Nikon's VRII system, and macro. So it has the potential to be a good portrait and macro lens, which to me seems like a great combo!