Wednesday, September 26, 2012

First Impressions

I've got my new Nikon D600 and I'll share some first impressions here. But first...

Announcing Photo Mini-Tours
On the weekends of October 7 and 14, I'll be running some what I call "mini-tours". The intention is to take some people out to shoot photos of the fall colours up here in the Highlands, at venues I've scouted and perhaps give them some tips on how to take better shots. These are not full teaching workshops, just a 3-hour session that should give them some great ideas and if the weather cooperates, probably some "keeper" images. There will be 3 sessions each Sunday, depending on demand: loosely termed "morning", "noon" and "night".

If you're interested in attending or if you know someone who might be, visit http://www.photography.to for more information, but don't delay! The colours are coming, the colours are coming!

As I mentioned earlier, I've written a guide to taking better fall pictures. It's included in the registration for the mini-tours, but it's also available for separate download here.

They're Baaack...
Yes they are. The alien bunny-rabbit like creatures from a planet far, far away, have come back under cover of darkness and placed another caché of carrots for their forthcoming invasion of the Earth. I have proof, captured on digital film:



Some of the alien bunnies must be colour blind because they threw in a few parsnips this year. Also some onions and turnips...
perhaps we're destined for a stew in a giant crock-pot! 
Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

iPhone Picture
I have to admit, it isn't bad!


I built this little fence to block the elements so barbequeing  will be easier in the winter. I do that year-round.

OK, OK. You're waiting for the D600 impressions. Here we are.

Nikon D600 first impressions
Some good, some not-so-good, but I'm glad I bought it. I wrote most of this up on the TIF forum last night as well, so if you're on there, this might be a repeat. Here's what I wrote:
I have an overall positive feeling about the camera but there is a learning curve and a few glitches that take the shine off it a little for me. Some of it is just me but I thought I'd share anyway. 
Negatives

  • Without Lightroom/ACR support, it's a bitch to post-process images. The only software I have that will handle the NEF files is NikonView NX2. Remember when LR4 was creepy-crawly slow? NX2 is worse. Adjust the white balance and wait 20 seconds before the screen refreshes. Exporting one file to TIFF is a 60-90 second process. The controls in NX2 suck compared with LR (or maybe it's just me). I initially set it up to output RAW+JPG(fine) and chose "vivid" toning. That looked horrible so I switched to "Neutral". That's also awful, I'll try a different setting tomorrow. Images are really flat. When you overexpose (eg. bird in flight) there's nothing you can do to recover.

  • You can only do 3 shot bracketing. 1 stop increments are too small, 2 stop are too big. Or maybe it's because I'm stuck with JPEGS for now... 

  • I used to walk around all day with my D300/70-200 in my right hand. The middle finger on the right hand sat comfortably under the little ledge on the front of the camera. With the D600, they reshaped the ledge and my finger hurts. I suppose I'll get used to it.

  • None of my old accessories fit. Batteries, CF cards (the D600 uses 2 x SD cards), the cable release, even the AC power supply.
Positives

  • The autofocus is super fast and tack sharp. I wasn't sure because it was hard to tell on the LCD but I went out yesterday and practiced on birds in flight and 80% of my shots were bang on. Learning curve, though: I have to figure out which settings work best. There's "AF-A" mode that takes some getting used to, but I can see using it as a default when 'walking about'.

  • High ISO performance is OUTSTANDING. I did a forest scene at 1/200 sec, f/4, ISO 6400 and after a little noise reduction in LR (on a JPEG!) it looked like an ISO 800 shot from the D300.

  • You can blow up/crop images to 200% and they look like 100% crops on the D300. Tons of detail on that 24Mp sensor!

I picked up the camera on Friday, and shot this test image that afternoon:


This is cropped from a larger image. The significant fact is, I shot it at ISO 25,600. Yes, I said 25,600.  I did apply a little noise reduction in Lightroom, but this blows my mind. ISO 25,600.
On the way home to Minden, Rosa and I stopped at a cool pine forest and I took these shots:



Rosa's taking an iPhone picture up in the trees.
We're probably going back to this spot on one of the mini-tours, by the way. 


On Sunday, I stopped at the landfill (OK, the "garbage dump"!) with the intention of testing the autofocus as I said above.




On the way home, I came across this wild turkey (the one above is a "turkey vulture". Different beast).


This was shot with the 400mm, quite far away so I had to crop. I used shutter speed priority, 1/640 at f/5.6, ISO 800. 


Heartwarming little dog picture

My neighbours, the Sweets, have a couple of little dogs. Marty walked by while I was shooting some fall colours and the dog stopped yapping long enough for me to get a photo:


I used the oil paint filter on the fur, and painted some catchlights in the eyes. It's cropped quite tightly.

That's it for now. More to come soon!

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