Telephoto Lens Cap for Canon & Nikon Camera Lenses

Spirit-N-Light

light photographyA few weeks ago I ran my first workshop here in the US. Different than my safaris and photo tours, in Africa, where we are racing from one location to the next, I wanted to offer a workshop with an emphasis on dramatic lighting.  When I started developing my tribal work in Africa, I began studying photojournalist, humanitarian, and fashion photographers. I studied the trends, but mostly their use of light. This is when I started using reflectors, modifiers, and off camera flash. It opened up a whole new exciting creative world. What I also noticed is that I began seeking out this more dramatic lighting when shooting wildlife. I would take the safe shot but then wanted something more over the top; golden light on a subject just wasn’t enough anymore.

 morning light

I have always enjoyed photographing horses and a real working cattle ranch with cowboys/girls seem to fit my brand; mixing animals and people.  I wanted to help photographers think differently about the subjects there were shooting, by thinking more about how they were using the light. From the very first shoot we worked on side lighting and rim lighting.  We continued to up it by adding moody elements like dust and water and by the end of the workshop it was so exciting to see everyone stretch themselves trying to capture more dynamic images.

Here are a few images from the participants. We would take a few images in normal golden light but then take a risk by shooting into the light. The first two images both show the wranglers galloping horses through water, but the second is shot with the sun at a 45 degree angle from the subject.

Continue reading this post by clicking this link.

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PiperMackayPiper Mackay is a world, wildlife and cultural photographer, based in Long Beach, California. She believes compelling visual images help to protect what is right in the world. Her work takes her to very remote locations, living cross culturally in the villages and environments that she is documenting.

Her work is heavily concentrated on the African continent, a land she fell in love with when she first touched foot on it’s rich red soil. Her passion for the natural world has grown into a lifelong commitment to inspire others to explore, respect and preserve the beauty of our fragile planet.

She believes compelling work comes when you invest time, living the stories you are trying to tell. It is important to interact and gain the trust of those whose stories you are telling, especially when sensitive and complicated. The world has enough images of poverty, pain and disaster, much more needful is imagery that reveals the beauty and dignity of the communities that are, except by their geography and circumstances, very similar to our own. Powerful images help shape the view of the world and play an important role in disseminating how cultures and wildlife are coping with the rapid changes happening in the developing world.

Piper’s images have been displayed at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, The Museum of History and industry, and  The Art Wolfe gallery, as well as local galleries.  Her work has been featured in Nature and travel publication through representation of several photo agencies, including Rangefinder, Nature’s Best, Birders, and the World Wildlife Fund.  She is an independent photographer and available for assignment work.

Her prior career in the fashion industry, where she was deeply involved with combing color and texture, has greatly enhanced her approach to the unique look and feel of each culture and photographic subject. This also gave her a strong background in business and marketing.   Please visit Piper’s website at www.pipermackayphotography.com. 

 

 

Posted in: General, Photography Workshops

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Behind the Lens – Howler Monkey

It’s not often that we get to combine dramatic light and an eye level view of a monkey in the rainforest. But that’s exactly what my workshop participants and I were treated to on my latest photo workshop tour here in Costa Rica! I actually don’t shoot much at all when I’m out leading a trip but since everyone was set up and working well, I decided to sneak in a few shots of my own and came away with the image below. I love mysterious light so I think this is already becoming a favorite of mine.

This late afternoon encounter with strong light streaming through the forest canopy was a great lesson in the importance of spot metering. This is something we had been talking about during the workshop, so this was a perfect opportunity to put the technique into practice. Precise metering, along with a tiny bit of fill-flash and attention to composition, is what made the image a success for me.    

Howler Behind the Lens

 

Click here to go to Greg’s website and continue reading.

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 MEET THE AUTHOR

Greg Basco

Like many nature photographers, I started my career doing something else. A political scientist by training, my research focused on the politics of the environment in Latin America. I researched environmental politics and ecotourism in Costa Rica and worked here for a number of years as a conservation professional, having first come to the country in 1992 as a Peace Corps volunteer. I now dedicate myself full-time to my own photography and my Costa Rica photo tour company. I work out of my home office in Costa Rica’s central highlands, where I live with my wife, twin boys, our dogs and cats, and various hummingbirds and songbirds that visit our backyard feeders.  

 

 

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Photo Friday: Dawn Over the Sandhills

Windmill SunriseCrescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge is one of the largest Wildlife Refuges in the lower 48 states and fairly remote. The landscape is dominated with rolling sandhills with nestled lakes, animals of all type, and many, many windmills. These windmills play an important part with delivering water for ranching in this region. They dot the scenery all over the sandhills, and in fact, they identify where you are on a map. Each one is adorned with a number and if you get lost, you can look at the number and correlate the location on a map. Luckily, I didn’t have to do that, but it’s nice to know they are there in case I did. I did take this beautiful morning to capture one of these remote windmills under the morning clouds and the sloping sandhills in the background.

Technical Details:
Canon SL110-22 ef-s, f/8, 1/200 sec.
Crescent Lake National Wildlife RefugeNebraska

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 MEET THE AUTHOR

Derrald_Farnsworth-Livingston

While growing up, Derrald’s parents took him on several trips across the United States to numerous national parks. It was on these trips that Derrald grew a love for the outdoors which we wished to explore and share with others. Photography was a natural result, an endeavor that Derrald began at a young age and continued to explore in years to come.

While pursuing a Bachelors degree at Creighton University, he enrolled in all of the photography courses. With these courses he learned the fundamentals of chemical darkrooms, light, balance, and exposure. After college he continued to explore the art and develop his own technique and style and choose to focus on nature and scenic photography as his primary subjects, although he is not hesitant to point the lens at anything.

Amongst the images of majestic mountains and the crashing waves of the ocean, one can find photographs of the prairies, lakes, and wetlands of the American Great Plains and Midwest. Some of these images are the artist’s favorites as they show the expansive heartland of the United States and the subtle beauty of the area surrounding his home. Through the right balance of subject, composition, and light, Derrald strives to transport the viewer into the composition.

Derrald has won numerous awards and exhibited in several solo and group shows regionally. His work has also appeared in several regional and national magazines, calendars, websites, and postcards. He continues to live and work in Omaha with his family.

Visit Derrald’s website Journey Of Light Photography http://www.journeyoflight.com/blog/ to read his other articles.   His images may be ordered from his store at http://store.journeyoflight.com.

Posted in: General, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography

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Kushiro River Winter Sunrise 1

Japan, Hokkaido, Lake Kussharo, A cold winter sunrise along the Kushiro River
Does this image look cold? Well, that is because it was -20°C when I photographed this tranquil scene during my Japan Wildlife Photography Tour. As recently as a few years ago, I probably would not have taken this image. I was either too focused on dramatic light or incapable of visualizing something like this. Eitherway, I am pleased that I am able to push myself in new creative directions. What I like most about this image is the delicate frost patterns along the riverbank. I took care not to disturb them, since while approaching these trees I had already brushed past several branches whose chilly feathers immediately fell into the fresh snow at my feet. I created this image using my Canon 5DmkIII, Carl Zeiss 28mm f2 ZE lens, and Singh-Ray LB Warming polarizer. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3, Photoshop CS6, and Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Jon Cornforth photographing surf on the North Shore of OahuJon Cornforth is an award-winning wilderness photographer whose images have been recognized internationally for their masterful composition and incredible detail. He’s compelled to express the beauty of the natural world through his photography, traveling all year, challenging himself in new locations and documenting the unique creatures who live there. All of his images are captured in the wild. He believes in supporting environmental groups and raising awareness through photography. He lives in Seattle, WA with his wife, Daisy, daughters, Maddy and Chloe, and Boston terrier, Buni.   

Click here to visit Jon’s website.   

Cornforth Images are copyright protected. Cornforth Images are available to be licensed for a fee and can not be used without permission.

Posted in: General, Photography

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Sources Of Inspiration

capitol-reef-leaf-mud1a

For the second instalment of “Sources Of Inspiration” I’m excited to feature Greg Russell and share with you his beautiful images and thought provoking writing. Greg is a landscape photographer based out of California who specializes in images of the American West. I first met Greg online a couple of years ago and was immediately drawn to his images. Soon after, I was introduced to his blog and found another side of his work that was equally as impressive. 

In a day where the majority of photography related articles are technical related, Greg chooses to focus mainly on the why over the how. His words showcase a strong connection with the land and always leave me thinking deeply about my own work and how I interpret the environment around me. His philosophical style of writing touches on not only image making, but also creativity, life and the personal decisions that are so important in creating unique works of art. Greg does a brilliant job delivering his message and his words always leave me with a strong sense of place.  His images are extremely well crafted and display a contemplative thought process that ultimately defines his personal style. I know that whenever I see one of Greg’s new images that it has been created through a love, appreciation and understanding of his subject. His intimate compositions of the world are refreshing on the eyes and provide a truly unique experience for the viewer.

As artists, we all go through high points and low points. I know that the times I’m lacking inspiration I can turn to work such as Greg’s to remind myself about how beautiful the simple things in life are. I certainly recommend visiting Greg’s website and blog to view more of his images and writing. I’ve included links to a few select posts below to get you started. While you’re there, make sure to subscribe to his blog, you will be glad that you did!

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 MEET THE AUTHOR

Kyle McDougallKyle McDougall is a landscape photographer/workshop leader based out of Ontario, Canada.  He specializes in creating fine art images that touch on both a visual and emotional level.  When not outside exploring the land you can find Kyle online sharing his images and helping others through his instructional articles.  In 2012 Kyle was chosen by Photolife Magazine as one of Canada’s Emerging Photographers.  To view more of his work please visit his website: www.kylemcdougallphoto.com

 

Posted in: General, Landscape Photography

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Japanese Macaque 3

Japanese Macaque

A little over one week ago, I returned from co-leading my Japan Wildlife Photography Tour and have been busy editing my images. This is one of my favorites of a Japanese macaque, also known as a snow monkey, taken at Jigokudani Monkey Park near Nagano. We spent 3 days photographing the monkeys at the famous hot springs where they enjoy soaking in the man-made hot tub. It was a beautiful experience to spend so much time so close to these photogenic animals, but it was definitely not a remote, wildernessexperience like I am used to. Fresh snow would have enhanced the photography, but none fell during our visit. So, I spent my time observing and waiting for something interesting to happen. This female was one of the only macaques that dipped her head below the water’s surface while swimming in the pool. When she popped back up, she had this crazy hair dew which I found very compelling to photograph. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkIII and 300mm f2.8 IS II lens with a 1.4X Tele-Converter III. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3, Photoshop CS6, and Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Don Zeck Lens Cap

 MEET THE AUTHOR

Jon Cornforth photographing surf on the North Shore of OahuJon Cornforth is an award-winning wilderness photographer whose images have been recognized internationally for their masterful composition and incredible detail. He’s compelled to express the beauty of the natural world through his photography, traveling all year, challenging himself in new locations and documenting the unique creatures who live there. All of his images are captured in the wild. He believes in supporting environmental groups and raising awareness through photography. He lives in Seattle, WA with his wife, Daisy, daughters, Maddy and Chloe, and Boston terrier, Buni.

Click here to visit Jon’s website. 

Cornforth Images are copyright protected. Cornforth Images are available to be licensed for a fee and can not be used without permission. 

 

 

Posted in: Nature Photography

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Why I like the Nikon 300mm f/4 0D ED-IF AF-S Lens and the D800 Camera

My last two weeks have been about testing lenses because in just seven weeks I will be off to Kenya for 10 days of safari shooting. So, I have been out practicing for the trip.

Nikon 300mm
One big change has been the availability of the Nikon D800 camera. One can switch between FX and DX shooting quite easily, which means if you have a 300mm lens, by shooting in DX mode, one is now shooting at 450mm! But, of course, in so doing one is giving up lots of resolution.

The settings yield different resolutions.

  • FX format (36 x 24): 7,360 x 4,912 (L), 5,520 x 3,680 (M), 3,680 x 2,456 (S)
  • 1.2x (30 x 20): 6,144 x 4,080 (L), 4,608 x 3,056 (M), 3,072 x 2,040 (S)
  • DX format (24 x 16): 4,800 x 3,200 (L), 3,600 x 2,400 (M), 2,400 x 1,600 (S)
  • 5:4 (30 x 24): 6,144 x 4,912 (L), 4,608 x 3,680 (M), 3,072 x 2,456 (S)

So, a DX format shot will yield a 15.3 Megapixel image, as compared to a FX format shot which will yield a 35.1 Megapixel image. The DX format is a tradeoff, but it is there for those of us who simply cannot afford to buy a 400mm lens.

There are other choices as well. One can choose the 1.2x mode, shoot in FX format, and get a 25 Megapixel image. This means that a 300mm lens becomes a 360mm lens.

Or, if you really need reach you can shoot in 1.2x mode, FX format, use a 1.4x extender, and wind up with a 882mm lens! (300mm X 1.2x X 1.5x X 1.4x = 882mm). Cool, huh?

In sum, the D800 and 300mm f/4 Lens along with a 1.4x extender is one heck of a great combination. And, what I like about it, is that the combination is thousands of dollars less than buying a Nikon 400mm lens alone.

So, how good is the 300mm f/4 lens? Well, I gotta tell you, it is simply awesome, one of the sharpest lenses I have ever used. It is simply superb.

Read The Full Article Here

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 MEET THE AUTHOR

Bill LockhartBill is a retired Courts Administrator of one of the largest trial courts in the United States. He is also a retired Lieutenant Colonel, US Army National Guard, in which he served for 30 years.  He holds a BSJ from the University of Florida School of Journalism, is a Fellow of the Institute for Court Management, a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College, and the US Army Inspector General School.  His photographic experience spans four decades; his photographic awards are too numerous to list, but include well over 100 photographs of the day, photographs of the week, and photographs of the month, at many Internet forums.  He travels extensively throughout the world, his most recent trips include journeys to South Africa, Tanzania, Alaska, Scotland, the Farne Islands, Poland, the American North West, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Slovenia, and Orkney.  From the jungles of Panama and Honduras, to the mountains of Europe, to the awesome islands of Scotland, to the islands of the Galapagos, from the coastal regions of Alaska,  to the intense heat of tropical Africa, Bill constantly searches for the “light that dances.”

Click here to visit Bill’s website. 

All photos and content Copyright © 2013 Bill Lockhart Photography, all rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication of photos and content is strictly prohibited.

Posted in: Photography Gear

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How to save enough money to buy a Canon 5D Mark III (or a Nikon D800)

Canon 5D Mark IIIThe Canon 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800 are two of the hottest cameras of 2012 for professional and serious amateur nature photographers; many serious amateurs and pros in other fields of photography would love to have one too. While not outrageously expensive in terms of camera bodies, they’re not cheap — the $3000 you’ll spend for the Nikon D800 and the $3500 you’ll spend for the Canon 5D Mark III is hardly chump change. If you’re a budget-minded hobbyist or aspiring pro or if you are simply a budget-savvy full-time pro, there are some easy ways to save money on key gear and software choices.

Please note that I’m well-aware that trying to buy cheap can sometimes end up costing more money in the long-run. Believe me, I’ve been down that road many times when I was starting out in photography. I’ve learned, however, that there are times when buying the most expensive option may not be necessary.

Here’s why I don’t always buy the latest and greatest and most expensive gadget or service. As a full-time working pro photographer, I look at new gear and software as a business expense. That means three questions for me. Does this new gadget/product allow me to do things I couldn’t do without it? Are those things I could now do going to make a difference in the quality of my work and thus my income? And is there a cheaper but equally or sufficiently good alternative to the new gadget/product that would still allow me to do what I want now and in the future?

In this little article, I offer a few digital photography-related purchase choices that could add up to enough savings for one of these beautiful new camera bodies from Canon or Nikon and perhaps even leave you with enough cash left over for dinner.

 Read the full article here

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 MEET THE AUTHOR

Greg Basco

Like many nature photographers, I started my career doing something else. A political scientist by training, my research focused on the politics of the environment in Latin America. I researched environmental politics and ecotourism in Costa Rica and worked here for a number of years as a conservation professional, having first come to the country in 1992 as a Peace Corps volunteer. I now dedicate myself full-time to my own photographyand my Costa Rica photo tour company. I work out of my home office in Costa Rica’s central highlands, where I live with my wife, twin boys, our dogs and cats, and various hummingbirds and songbirds that visit our backyard feeders.  

 

 

Posted in: Photography Gear

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My D800E Story (And I’m Sticking to It)

I received my Nikon D800E camera body in July of last year, so I’ve had it for nearly nine months now and I think I’ve used it enough at this point to share my thoughts.  Just to be clear, this isn’t meant to be a formal review or a recitation of the camera’s features; there are plenty of both of these scattered all over the Internet (a search engine is your friend).  My intent is simply to muse on my thoughts about how well the camera has met my expectations and perhaps discuss some of the anticipated (and unanticipated) consequences of moving to this camera body.

Nikon Camera D800E

The Nikon D800E Camera Body

The Back Story

First, some background.  My primary camera body prior to purchasing the D800E was the Nikon D700, which I had used since late 2008.  (The D700 remains in my camera bag as a backup body.)  The most important difference between the two cameras is found in the sensors, principally the number of pixels.  The D700 sensor had 12 (and change) megapixels; the D800E has 36 (and change) megapixels.  That’s a big difference.  The D800E also does an end run around the anti-aliasing filter that the vast, vast majority of digital SLRs possess, as a means to reduce digital artifacts that are inherent in the capture process with cameras using Bayer sensors.

Illinois Canyon

Autumn’s Remains, Illinois Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

The camera cost me more than $3000; I had to think very long and very hard about whether to commit that kind of money to replace a camera (the D700) that I was basically satisfied with.  What was the new camera giving me that I didn’t already have?  Pixels, mostly, and a whole lot of them.  And a breathtaking amount of dynamic range.  (The D700′s DR is impressive; the D800 series is even better.)  I print quite large, at times; I’ve had orders up to 24×36″ for conventionally oriented images (i.e. those with a 2:3 ratio).  For images with a lot of detail, that’s beginning to really push it for the D700′s files.  (In fairness, though, I had a commercial client who was thrilled with 20×30″ prints that were produced from shots I took with the D200 and its 10 MP (and generations old) sensor.  To some degree, this how-large-can-you-print matter is very much in the eye of the beholder.) I also often occasionally push the envelope in terms of dynamic range with my shooting.  I knew I’d use every bit of the alleged 14 stops of DR that the 800 series has at base ISO, and then some, from time to time.

I was ultimately able to get myself to pull the trigger by telling myself that the D800E might well be my “last camera.”  Let me briefly explain what I mean by that.  It doesn’t mean that I’d committed myself to never buying another camera, ever.  What it meant was that, barring some incredible path breaking new capability that I can’t even imagine coming down the pike some day, I saw nothing in the way of incremental improvements that would have me lusting over another camera if the D800E lived up to its billing.  Not more pixels; not more dynamic range, not any other features.  This was it…and it was, without question, the first time I had ever thought this since I first started shooting with a DSLR back in 2003.  With the purchases of each of my previous cameras–the D100 in 2003; the D200 in the spring of 2006; and the D700 at the tail end of 2008–I’d bought in fully knowing that there were existing cameras (sometimes produced by Nikon, sometimes by other manufacturers) that had capabilities that I wanted myself.  I’d never purchased a digital camera thinking “this is it.”  But this time was different.  Had I not felt that this very well could be “the last camera,” I wouldn’t have pulled the trigger.

The $64,000 question was–would I still feel that way after actually using the camera?

Matthiessen State Park

Giant’s Bathtub, Matthiessen Sate Park, Illinois

Camera In Hand

When I received the D800E last summer, I immediately conducted some controlled (but relatively informal) tests with the camera and my lens lineup, and compared the results with images shot with the D700.  What I expected–and discovered–was that, when pixel-peeping (looking at images at 100% magnification in Photoshop), the effects of diffraction barely became visible at f/8, and were increasingly visible as I stopped lenses down further.  By f/16 they were quite apparent when pixel peeping.  In other words, all other things being equal (which they rarely are, but I digress), it was best to shoot the camera at f/7.1 or below.  (This is not always practical, to put it mildly, in the real world; more on this below.)

I also noted that–again, when pixel peeping–the camera revealed every optical flaw in my lens lineup.  As a refresher, I shoot almost entirely with high(ish) end zoom lenses–the Nikkor 14-24/2.8; the Nikkor 24-70/2.8; the Sigma 70-200/2.8; the Nikkor 80-400/4-5.6.  I also shoot with one prime lens, the Nikkor 200mm micro.  The 80-400 is the weakest optic in my quiver; the 200mm micro is the sharpest, by far.  I saw no obvious flaws with the prime lens, even when I was scouring around looking for them.  With the others, there was some corner softness visible in all of them, with the 80-400 being the worst offender (as expected).  Without careful viewing, all were perfectly acceptable, but images shot with this camera and these lenses, if upsized enough, would reveal the flaws, even at fairly reasonable viewing distances.  How much of an upsizing was “enough”?  That depends, both on the lens in question and the personal opinion of the viewer.

Sunset Volcano

Sunflowers, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Arizona

Reviews of the camera that I’d read prior to pulling the trigger on the purchase consistently discussed what needed to be done “to get the most out of the sensor,” including avoiding shooting at f/8 or above and exclusively using high end prime lenses.  I pretty much knew that I wasn’t going to do either of these things, particularly the latter.  Maybe it’s laziness on my part, but I really like the convenience of carrying an assortment of zoom lenses that cover all of the focal lengths I’m likely to shoot; I like being able to minimize the amount of lens changing I engage in as well.  I’ve already touched on the aperture part of the matter above.  So I was pretty much acknowledging that I wasn’t going to be getting “everything” there was to squeeze out of the sensor in terms of image quality.  The operative question was whether I was going to be getting enough out of it to justify the purchase of the camera.  My speculation was that the answer was yes, but the proof would be in the pudding.

And what about the huge files that the camera produced?  I was looking at 1/3 as many shots per memory card compared with the D700, not to mention (obviously) longer write times.  The D800E has two card slots, one for CF cards and one for SD cards.  I’d never had a camera that accepted SD cards, but given the file sizes I was looking for, I felt that a card upgrade was in order.  I found a sale at Amazon and picked up a 32 GB SD card and a 16 GB CF card which allowed me approximately 600 shots without card swapping (significantly more than I’d ever had with the D700–my biggest card for that camera was an 8 GB CF).  I also spent some time experimenting with file downloads and image processing.  Needless to say, both were significantly slower than what I was used to with the D700 files.  This, too, was anticipated, but could I deal with the added wait times when I had a bulk of files, from multiple days worth of shooting?  I would soon find out.

In the Field/On the Road

I shot with the camera outside in the field a couple of times, and at a botanical garden in Indianapolis, before taking the camera on its first “road trip” to northern Arizona for a workshop in August (which was chronicled at length beginning here).  This was when the pedal hit the metal, so to speak.  I would be dealing with the camera (and the resulting images) all day, every day.

Banana Tree Leaf

Banana Tree Leaf, White River Gardens, Indiana

As an aside, it’s worth pointing out, I suppose, that I shoot off a tripod at least 99.99% of the time.  (Literally every one of my images that has appeared on this blog was produced with a tripod-mounted camera.)  As a result, handheld ergonomics have never been a particularly important issue to me.  Also, as followers of this blog know, roughly 95% of my imagery can be classified as landscapes/scenics, with almost all of the remaining 5% closeup work (mostly of plants and flowers).  In other words, I’m rarely shooting moving subjects (other than running water and blowing foliage), so a camera’s operational quickness isn’t a prime consideration for me either, particularly given my circumspect (some would say “plodding” or “sluggish”) photographic style in the field.

So, how did the camera perform?

The answer was quite well, thank you.  There were a few differences in the camera’s controls, compared to the D700, and with the menus as well, but the similarities greatly outweighed the discriminating points.  It wasn’t a difficult adjustment to go from one camera to the other, particularly given the sloth-like nature of my in-the-field workflow.  I did notice that the D800E was, on occasion, a bit slower to complete the card-writing process than the D700, but that was to be expected and it really wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated.  And the dynamic range was absolutely breathtaking.  Even with scenes possessing an exceptionally wide contrast, it was often necessary to underexpose images–often by several stops–to produce silhouettes of objects against bright dawn or dusk skies.  In fact, I stopped trying, with the full knowledge that the effect could easily be teased out in postprocessing.  So using the camera wasn’t a problem.

Monument Valley

Mittens Dawn Silhouette, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona

What about the image quality?  That was always the main issue.  Was I seeing a meaningful, real world improvement over shots from the D700?  The short answer is, yes.  Regardless of the lenses I used, apples-to-apples comparisons of images (i.e. when D700 images were up-sized to the equivalent of D800E shots or D800E images were binned to the same size as D700 photos) revealed that the shots from the D800E held more detail–period, end of report.  And they should; 36 MP really ought to trump 12 MP, particularly when the former is of a newer generation than the latter.  The point of obtaining the D800E was to up the ante when it came to printing large, and based on some tests I did after returning from Arizona, that holds up.  I up-sized a detail-filled D800E shot to the equivalent of 24×36″ and printed a cropped 8×10 section of it; I did the same with a D700 shot.  (Both were taken with the same 24-70 lens.)  The D700 version was actually pretty decent; not phenomenal, but quite good.  But the D800E shot…it was almost as though it hadn’t been interpolated at all.

What about the lenses?  Given my options, how had images held up?  It was essentially as expected.  Shots with the 200mm macro (i.e. micro, in Nikon-speak) held up from corner to corner, even when pixel peeping.  Shots with the other lenses still held up very nicely, even when enlarged.  Yes, the corner degradation could be spotted when pixel peeping, but large prints, seen at a normal viewing distance, were immaculate.

Grand Canyon

Wildflowers, Grand Canyon National Park North Rim, Arizona

And the aperture issue?  I had decided to shoot for the needed depth of field and live with the incumbent diffraction, even if that meant f/16 (though I didn’t often need to go beyond f/11).  This paid off, in my opinion.  With adjustments made to postprocessing sharpening techniques, the effects of diffraction were mitigated to the point of effective irrelevance.

Final Thoughts

In the end, I concluded that this may very well, in fact, be my “last camera” (in the sense described above).  I’m extremely happy with the performance; I’m completely satisfied with image quality, even with the limits of my current lenses (though I may end up replacing the 80-400 with Nikon’s recently announced new version of that lens, if it pans out in real world tests and if I can get past the price!), and I didn’t even have to compromise my in-field shooting choices with regard to aperture selection.  File sizes and computer requirements will become non-issues as I naturally upgrade hardware over time (though I hasten to add that, despite shooting with the camera for the better part of a year now, I’m still using computers that are 3-5 years old).

This is more camera than most people need; if you don’t have the intention to print large, you really have no need for it, in my view.   It’s arguably more camera than I need myself.  If the D3X had come with the same price tag as the D800 when the former was released four-odd years ago (instead, it cost $8000!), I might well have bought one and, if I had, I’d almost certainly still be using it, even though that would mean leaving 12 MP on the table.  (The D3X has a 24.5 MP sensor.)  But if you’re going to buy your “last camera,” you may as well give yourself some headroom, I think, and that’s what the D800E gives me.  Would have I been satisfied with the non-”E” version of the D800?  Almost certainly, yes.  But again, I gave myself a bit of extra sharpness, particularly when I use my macro lens.

Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon, Arizona

I look forward to having the camera with me during a planned trip to the Smoky Mountains in mid-April.  During my last extended trip there, six years ago, I was still shooting with the D200.

The D800E won’t make me a better photographer–that was never part of the consideration–but it will allow me to print larger with considerably more effectiveness.  Since that was my hope when I bought the camera, I couldn’t be more satisfied with the purchase.
Don Zeck Lens Cap 

Kerry-LeibowitzHi, my name is Kerry Leibowitz.  I’m a Midwest-based (I split my time between the Chicago and Indianapolis areas) photographer with a particular propensity for the landscape.  

You can read my other blog posts at my website Lightscapes Nature Photography Blog and see my photo galleries at Lightscapes Nature Photography

The entire contents of my web site, images and text, are the copyrighted property of Kerry Leibowitz and may not be duplicated or reproduced in any form without express consent.  Image rights may be purchased; please contact me to make arrangements.  Images may not be hot linked.

copyright Kerry

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Canon or Nikon?

Canon and Nikon CamerasI guess I kind of left you all hanging on what I decided; staying a Canon girl or crossing to the dark-side? Life has just been moving right along and then someone brought it up on FB a few weeks ago…. I giggled and said, “ Oh yeah, I forgot to tell everyone.” If you have missed the debate of my long agonizing quandary about switching systems, take a moment to read through this past post.

I used the Nikon D4 in the Mara this past August, thanks to Borrowlenses; so I know I can take sharp images! I loved the D4 and the low light capabilities and it felt great in my hands. As a woman, I find the Nikon lenses are a little sleeker, making them easier to hold.  The desire to possibly make the shift has been there for many years. However, the practical side of me needs a huge reason to make both the investment of time and money.

When the 1DX was released the reviews were good. A few wildlife photographers that I highly respect were raving over it. I wisely decided it would be foolish not to test the 1DX before making the jump.  Once again, Barrowlenses, came through for me and I took the 1DX for a spin. My prayers were answered, giving me the perfect horrible shooting conditions for the ultimate test. I went to Bolsa Chica wetlands to photograph the lightening speed, grey, pelicans, diving into the grey water, on a grey day. I thought to myself, it will never get sharp images in this scenario and I can make the switch guilt free. I was wrong.

When I saw the below images on my computer, my jaw dropped open! Sharp images of a moving subject from a canon camera …revolutionary!! I had not experienced this since my 1DMark II and my 20D… yes that means about 5 years ago. Well…. not exactly true, my 5DMark II is great, but I use this mostly for people and not wildlife.

I am not one that gets super technical. I don’t get into the mico-technical issues of why one brand is better than the other. My philosophy about photography that is that it should be an expression of how you experience and see the world. The creativity of that vision is what makes a compelling image. Of coarse you must have the technical knowledge to correctly capture your vision, but without the artistic side, you are just turning dials and pushing buttons.  Almost everyone can study long enough to technically master photography, but it is the photographer that creates a stunning image, not the gear.

I share this because someone will make the comment wanting a list of all the technical comparisons, but I did not have a long list of technical problems and there are plenty of these type reviews already available. My biggest complaint over the past several years is the flawed AF system and the way Canon did not stand behind their products.

I have heard enough, to believe Canon is getting back in the professional game. However, if this new camera creates soft images when I have technically done everything right…..lets just say I will roar loud and clear until Canon does right by me this time. Then I will switch with no regrets, but for now, I will remain a Canon girl.

My 1DX canon body arrived yesterday :)

Purchased from Hunts Photo – give Gary a call if you need anything photographically, you will get the best service worldwide!

All images were shot at F8 and a shutter speed over 1,000

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wildlife-photography
1DMark II
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professional photographers
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don zeck lens cap

 

PiperMackayPiper Mackay is a world, wildlife and cultural photographer, based in Long Beach, California. She believes compelling visual images help to protect what is right in the world. Her work takes her to very remote locations, living cross culturally in the villages and environments that she is documenting.

Her work is heavily concentrated on the African continent, a land she fell in love with when she first touched foot on it’s rich red soil. Her passion for the natural world has grown into a lifelong commitment to inspire others to explore, respect and preserve the beauty of our fragile planet.

She believes compelling work comes when you invest time, living the stories you are trying to tell. It is important to interact and gain the trust of those whose stories you are telling, especially when sensitive and complicated. The world has enough images of poverty, pain and disaster, much more needful is imagery that reveals the beauty and dignity of the communities that are, except by their geography and circumstances, very similar to our own. Powerful images help shape the view of the world and play an important role in disseminating how cultures and wildlife are coping with the rapid changes happening in the developing world.

Piper’s images have been displayed at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, The Museum of History and industry, and  The Art Wolfe gallery, as well as local galleries.  Her work has been featured in Nature and travel publication through representation of several photo agencies, including Rangefinder, Nature’s Best, Birders, and the World Wildlife Fund.  She is an independent photographer and available for assignment work.

Her prior career in the fashion industry, where she was deeply involved with combing color and texture, has greatly enhanced her approach to the unique look and feel of each culture and photographic subject. This also gave her a strong background in business and marketing.   Please visit Piper’s website at www.pipermackayphotography.com. 

 

 

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