First impressions of the Nikon D750

After yesterday’s post was linked to by nikonrumors.com I received some emails and comments about the D750. So I decided to make another short video giving you my first impressions of the camera. Note that I only focus on the exterior of the camera since I had no time trying it out thoroughly yet :-/ But there is more to come soon :-)

The Nikon D750 has arrived

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Hooray, the Nikon D750 has arrived ! Since I was crazy enough to pre-order it two weeks prior to the official announcement, based only upon rumors, my speed has paid off today as I got the very first camera which was shipped to my local store.

Who needs another unboxing video ? ABSOLUTELY NOBODY !
Who made another unboxing video ? ME !

 

Flower wallpaper in soothing colors

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Recently I made this image of a yellow flower. It popped up quite high above the bush it protruded from so I was able to get the flower nicely sharp with a pleasantly blurred background. Also I like the colors, so I decided to make a 2560×1440 desktop wallpaper.

Click on the image below to get the hi-res version, then right-click and choose “Save image as…” . Feel free to download and distribute.

Also please note that I added a wallpaper section in the top menu bar. From time to time I will publish new free wallpapers and add them to the collection.

Photokina

Attention camera geeks ! Today I am at Photokina in Cologne. I will post live from there, so like my Facebook page to follow me through the day:

https://m.facebook.com/lumenaticphotography

Gas and Gearporn – A Confession

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“I do not need all those lenses, flashes, full frame bodies, camera bags, tripods etc. to be a good photographer.”

 

There, I said it, it’s out. I felt that this statement had to be made since many photographers (me absof**kinglutely included) are crazy about hi-tech gear, about the newest lenses and bodies, about all those wonderful things the camera industry produces. That is called “gas” – Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Monkey see, monkey buy. And again, yes ! I am totally infected with gear acquisition syndrome.

In today’s post I want to express that a.) I stand by this, no denial here and b.) that I still know that all this gear is not what makes me a (supposedly passable) photographer.

The phrase “it is not the gear that makes the image, it is the photographer” is repeated by many photographers like a mantra to counter the statement “You have a good camera. It must make really good images”. And to a certain degree I agree that gear is not important. It does not matter whether you have a full-frame DSLR or a mirrorless system camera or a bridge camera. With all those cameras stunning images can be (and are being !) created on a daily basis. But more (or more expensive) gear adds possibilities. Too dark ? A pro body with outstanding high ISO performance is your best buddy. Want to photograph that spider ? Better have a macro lens. Shooting a soccer game ? High framerate and a tele lens help.

Let me illustrate this with an example. A few years ago I did a trip to Iceland. We booked a whale watching tour and headed out to see humpback whales. I had a D300s, the guy standing next to me an entry-level DSLR with a lower framerate. As the whale surfaced and shortly popped his fin out of the water I could go clickclickclickclickclickclick and select the best image from the series. The guy next to me had to wait for the best moment and only then press the shutter. Where I took ten images he made two perhaps. Who is the better photographer ? Can’t say. What my “better” gear managed to achieve was to merely heighten the chances, that a good image was among the ones I took.

So certain situations require special gear. As mentioned above, close-ups of insects are not possible without something that enables you to get close, be that a macro lens, a lens reversing ring or a conversion lens. That stuff simply makes the macro photo possible in the first place. But even with the best macro lens one can take a crappy photo. It is still the photographer who makes the composition, chooses the lighting parameters and presses the shutter in the decisive moment.

But since I had this epiphany, why do I still drool about new camera bodies and lenses and whatnot ? Simple. Because I am a guy, a geek, an engineer. I am interested in technology. It’s just as plain as that. I have a lot of fun reading about new equipment, comparing it to my current gear, selling old, buying new gear. I just love it. New gear will always have something that your current gear does not have. Why did I transition to full frame for example ? To have a good high-ISO performance. And indeed: Suddenly I could take pictures in situations where I previously had put my D300s away. Suddenly I discovered that Auto-ISO is a very practical thing and that it gives you more flexibility. I could extend this list endlessly, but I think the message has been delivered.

Bottom line: High-end gear means that you have appropriate and good tools to work with. In most cases you can take the same images with the same quality also with entry-level gear. But this will require more skill, patience and perhaps some luck (e.g. catching fast-moving objects). Knowing this one should sometimes step back and take less or simpler gear when shooting in order to learn, improve and hone your skills.

Summertime insects

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Insects never fail to mesmerize. They are everywhere around us and nobody realizes them (if they are not of the bloodsucking kind). But once a macro lens is pointed at them the intricate beauty is revealed. Here are some macro shots I took with my Nikon D610 and the Nikkor 105mm f2.8 macro lens. Nothing special to report about the shoot. I worked handheld with a fast shutter speed (bee and moth/butterfly: 1/1250s) to avoid motion blur. The insects were resting on grass and flowers which moved in the wind, so a quick shutter speed, continuous autofocus (AF-C) and stabilization at the lens turned on was a must.

Getting a sharp shot in a situation like this is a mixture of luck and patience. The insects move quickly and don’t stay at one place very long. Especially bees usually only present their rear to the camera since they dive into the flowers head first while gathering pollen. Only when arriving or leaving at a blossom they can be photographed from the front. I went into a stable position (I kneeled down and rested one elbow on my knee) and did my best  to get the focus on the insect’s eye.

Enjoy and comment/like/share this post as you wish.

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The making of “Hau-B”

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I listen to an excellent German photo podcast called “Happy Shooting“. The podcast is hosted by Chris Marquardt and Boris Nienke, two photographers who are very active in the podosphere and blogosphere. The Happy Shooting podcast is published weekly (for over nine year snow, the show number is in the 370s…) and every two weeks Chris and Boris hand out a new photo task. The task always consists of one word and one is free to participate and interpret the task as far-stretched as you like. The winner of the contest is determined by the dice, the image critiqued during the show.

This week’s topic is “Haube”, which is German for “hood”, “cap” or “bonnet”. I took the challenge and made my own version. The image you see above is titled “Hau-B”. That is a play on words (in German, therefore quite cheesy to write about in in English…) and means “Ich haue das B” – “I strike the B note”.

I shot the images in my studio against a white backdrop. The camera was on a tripod and I triggered it using a remote control which I held in my left hand. That way I could hide the remote easily behind the neck of the bass guitar. Then it was just a question of fooling around heavily and triggering the camera at the right moment. It was a fun, yet odd experience. Jumping, making faces and acting as if you were rocking like hell while standing on a stage with a wild crowd in front of you….

The rough workflow to create this image was as follows:

  • studio setup (camera on tripod, manual, 36 mm, f3.2, 1/160s, ISO 100). Unfortunately I can’t sync faster than 1/160s with the studio flashes I have.
  • shooting, triggered with this wireless remote control
  • importing and sorting in Lightroom
  • edit in Lightroom: Brush tool set to maximum exposure and maximum lights
  • edit in Photoshop: erasing the last contours, which could not be removed with Lightroom’s brush tool
  • creating the collage in Photoshop

And here is the making-of-video:

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