d90

Nikon D750 - Unboxing and first impressions

After 4 great years, my Nikon D90 and I have finally said goodbye. It was tough, it was emotional, but it was time. Ok, maybe it wasn't as dramatic as that, but it was a big milestone in my photography experience so far - upgrading to full frame. Of course, this meant sticking with Nikon as I already had lenses, remote releases etc. Also, Canon weren't really offering (in my opinion) anything great enough to jump ship for. I mean, yes, the Canon 5DIII is amazing with a price tag to match, but that itself is ageing and I'm sure will soon be replaced with the Mark IV (I'm ignoring the 5Ds and 5Dsr, ridiculous megapixel count!). So, staying with Nikon left me with a few options. The Nikon D610 - cheapest of them all, quality seems to be under control now after the pretty disappointing issues with early copies, and contains a lot of features suitable for most shooters (2 card slots, big LCD, fair autofocus system). But, something was off with me. It seemed (and felt in the shop) a little underspec, a little too entry-level (hopefully that doesn't make me sound like a gear snob, really I'm not!). That left the D8xx series and the D750. The D8xx cameras really are beautiful, GREAT ergonomics, absolutely packed full of features and of course that MP count. All the images I have seen from these bodies are amazing, and I've read many articles from photographers moving to the cameras from medium format. However, the price and the megapixels eventually stopped me from pulling the trigger. My computer purely wouldn't cope, which would mean further expense after purchase. Same thing with lenses too - I would absolutely have to buy new glass for that sensor. D750 front

So, it had to be the D750 for me. Two card slots, magnesium-carbon monocoque, same AF system as the D810/D4 (Multi-CAM 3500II), GREAT sensor (24.3 MP), slightly smaller and lighter than the other Nikon FF bodies (750g with no battery), it seemed like a winner.

Nikon have really worked hard with their packaging, to make it more environmentally friendly and streamlined - so, more cardboard, less plastic, easier to re-package the gear. Great. There's not an awful lot in the box, which is fine as you get everything you need (giant manual, naff strap, charger and cable - disappointed there was no wall adaptor here, USB cable).

D750 box triptych

And then there was the body. Initial impressions were that it was surprisingly weighty (obviously not as heavy as the D810, that is a beast) but it feels reassuringly heavy and it feels very well built. Much has been made of the skinnier LCD on the top of the body, but all the information is laid out sensibly and actually it seems a little bit more streamlined. The back of the body contains that fantastic 1.2 million pixel RGBW screen out of the D810, which can also tilt. This was the one thing that actually made me apprehensive about this body - I was worried about catching the screen and tilting it when getting it in and out of the bag. We will see how this goes with more use...

D750 back

Finally, one of my favourite features of Nikon's new range of cameras, is the improved ergonomics. Specifically, the grip on the D750 is fantastic! Deep, curved so that your middle finger can rest under the shutter, and the thumb grip has also been beefed up. Coming from the good ol' D90, this grip is a revelation.

D750 side

Final thoughts? The Nikon D750 is a great looking camera, with fantastic ergonomics and a great feature set with a weather sealed sturdy metal composite body. Yes it is pretty heavy, but not "I need a splint for my wrist" heavy. Loads of pro features and in my opinion the sweet spot of megapixel count. Initial shooting impressions will be coming soon, when I took the camera out for the first time to a local air show. Stay tuned, thanks for reading.

Cokin filters at the seaside

hunstanton-wide-3450.jpg

Hunstanton-wide-3450 When I went up to Hunstanton, I knew one of the things I wanted to practice was using filters more to achieve some interesting effects. Now, I know a lot of people go down the route of blurring the incoming seas, but I like the effect and wanted to try it for myself!

One problem - I don't currently own a "big stopper". The darkest ND filter I own is a 1.2, so I could only reduce shutter speed to about 1/2 a second. Even so, I still got some pleasing blur of the tide.

Oh, another problem - the hitech filter was great, nice tones with little colour cast. The cokin filter however; this produced a huge magenta colour cast that had to be removed in Lightroom. So, the tint slider for this image is actually way over to the left in the greens! This is the problem with filters, and the reason I guess why so many people go for the Lee resins. Maybe one day...

[Nikon D90, Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 @ f/22, 1/5 sec, ISO 200]

Rough Seas

Hunstanton-mono-3427 The joy (and sometimes, frustration) of shooting outdoors is competing with the British climate!

The north Norfolk coast is almost infamous for the high winds and sudden downpours, and on Monday I experienced a bit of everything! However, this made for a more interesting backdrop to the North Sea. I felt this image was best suited to a mono conversion, with all the white horses in the sea and the clouds behind. [Nikon D90, 50 mm f/1.8 @ f/16, ISO 200, 1/80th sec]

On this trip, I also played around with my ND filters and got some interesting effects. More to come.

Lightroom 5 - power of the new process

I've had Lightroom 5 for some time now, and I have been hearing and reading many comments from people commenting on the power of the updated and improved sliders. As I haven't had much time (or the right weather) to go out and shoot, I thought I'd go back through my images and try to rescue some files that on first glance looked (basically) rubbish!

Now, these images aren't necessarily fantastic, but they do show just how much Lightroom (and Adobe Camera Raw) can now deal with. I've included jpegs of the original file and the edited final image.

Lake district new process original-0285 Lake district new process-0285

In the original image (top) I had lost a lot of detail in the shadows. I had originally intended this to be part of a bracketed exposure, but it didn't look quite right. Putting it through Lightroom 5 (second image), I was able to pull back the shadows whilst keeping detail in the sky. This just went to show how forgiving Lightroom really is!

Lake district new process original-0357 Lake district new process-0357

This next file is a good example of how the software can help fix overexposure and harsh highlights. The sky was so bright that day, and I didn't have my filters with me. My camera sometimes struggles to meter properly, as the D90 has not got the best dynamic range (in my opinion!) - a lesson in why I should use manual more often.

Due to the flat sky, I decided a black and white edit was probably the most appropriate. It worked out ok, but I think a storm rolling in over the hills would make this image stand out and "pop" more.

Lake district new process original-0441 Lake district new process-0441

I chose this final image to (hopefully) demonstrate how good LR5 is at helping a flat image look more dynamic and interesting. The vibrance, saturation and clarity sliders in particular do a great job of making things look more real and full of texture. I managed to get more detail and contrast from the trees throughout the forest - which I think makes the image much stronger.

Of course, this would have been much more difficult to do if I had shot in jpeg and not RAW...