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2 years, 8 months ago 12

Being in the Superdome all week and seeing the players come and go, I was reminded again just how big these guys are!  A typical tackle on an NFL team is somewhere around 6′ 4″ tall and the average weight is around 310 pounds. Why so big?  Because the opposing players are just a big!! You won’t see any 5′ 9″ 165 pound tackles in pro football, because they couldn’t get the job done!   You need what it takes to get the job done!!!!!



So in photography the question is; “What is the job??!!”



I think you can break down what we do, and how we approach our photography in three catagories;



Work for hire.  You must compete, must succeed, the best, or nothing!!!  Do you want to eat, live under a roof, and support a family?  You are making a living or important extra income with this, and it’s serious, it’s work, it’s a job, and their are others out there that want your share of the pie you have to fight to keep your slice!


Satisfy your Pixel Peeper Obsessions?  Details are the most important thing to you!  Noise, resolution, dynamic range, D Max, shutter accuracy, frames per second, buffer size, shutter lag, auto focus speed at 10 below zero!!!  You look at every image and 100% and 200% crop factors, you read every test report, you know exactly what the dimensions of a pixel is in any camera, you know what pixel density means, you care and worry about pixel pitch, and micro lenses.  You how may aspherical elements and low dispersion elements you have in each of your lenses and you know exactly what f stops diffraction starts and in what amounts.


Girls just wanna have fun! Boys too! You shoot for fun, for the sheer joy of being out there, holding a camera in your hands, finding something that trips your trigger to shoot!!  You do this for the sheer Joy of it!!!!!  You love the sound of a camera firing, can’t wait to see it on the LCD!!! You care about quality, but you are more interested in making the statement, and having a blast!!!!  Photography is a passion for you……


We’re all a combination of the three, or at least two of the three:


You will have to decide what your percentages are.   Currently, ( because a person evolving, is always a moving target!!!).  I’m probably  20% work, 20% Pixel Peeper, and 60% For Fun!  Warning, if you know you’re more than 90% Pixel Peeper!  You’re not a photographer but a scientist!  Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok to be a tech freak, just don’t think that it has a lot to do with actually making photographs!


So if you want to make great images,  this experiment is for you!


First things first!   This entry will not offer conclusions, only information to allow you to make your own conclusions!  I learned some valuable things as it relates to me, you will have to take what I share and see how it applies to you!  I will share my personal conclusions for my own work.


Here are the full details of the experiment.  I went out to the French Quarter during the last hour of daylight and into the early evening.  I took two cameras; a Nikon D600 outfitted with the 24-85 AF-S VR f, no tripod, no polarizers.  I set that camera on Auto ISO with a high end limit of 3,200 and a minimum shutter of 1/125th.  Why the D600, it is, in my humble opinion, the best all round Nikon DSLR.  At 24.3 mega pixels it has plenty of resolution, it has very low noise at Hi ISO and it has wonderful ergonomics and sounds an shoots so sweet!  The other camera was the Fuji X10 premium compact camera.  The X10 has something that few other compact cameras have, a zoom lens that goes from 28mm @ f 2 to 112 mm @ f 2.8.  It is built like a tank and has the feel and style of the early Leicas.  For an old guy like me it just feels right.  One last great feature is a 2/3 inch (larger than the typical 1/1.7 sensors) which yields lower high ISO noise and better resolution.  I have, and use many of Nikon’s great compact cameras like the P7100, P7700, and the Nikon 1 V and J series, but this one just suits my style of shooting.  The X10 was set on auto ISO with a high end of 1600 (the practical limit of it’s noise capabilities), and it sets the shutter speed based on lens focal length, which normally works fine. The Fuji has Optical Image Stabilization as well.


The mission was as follows, walk, look, find things I liked and, in most cases, hand hold a frame or two with each camera, with approx. the same compositions.  Then process with minimal correcting for color and compare, so let’s get at it!


*** To see each example panel larger and more clearly simply clock on it.



So what did I learn?  Here are some observations, you need to draw your own conclusions, though I will share some of my own just for the record:


1.  The D600 is very, very capable of tack sharp imaging,even hand held in poor light.  With the exception of the D800, I’ve never seen sharper images from any of my Nikons!  I also find it outstanding to operate!


2.  The X10 is also capable of tack sharp results, but it struggles more as the light goes down.


3.  The color of each camera has it’s own tendencies and the user will have to work with the menus to dial in the kind of color they prefer, X10 is warmer out the box, D600 tends to be more neutral or cooler.


4.  For just walking around, relaxing, the X10 sure is nice and light, and is hardly noticed by your subject, great for candids.


5.  The D600 is not a heavy camera, but, it is not as comfortable for long walks as the little X10.


6.  While the X10 is capable of making stunning images, it is not match for the D600 in terms of resolution, and low noise at Higher ISOs!


7.  If you put both cameras on a steady tripod, which I have done, though not on this trip, they both make very sharp images, the D600 still is far superior when the ISO goes above 800.


* Caveat:  You know whether you are a DSLR person, or a rangefinder/Mirror less kind of shooter, or maybe you are comfortable with either, but this will be the deciding factor in what you will enjoy using in the field and will also decide just how good you can perform with your camera of choice!


My personal conclusions:


A.  Weight matters.  If you are going to be walking around and carrying all you need to shoot, you want the lightest and most capable camera that you can use.  The X10, Nikon J2 and V2, P7700 and many others are great when weight is key.  You can make wonderful images with all of them, you just have to know what their limitations are, and live within those boundries.  If I was looking for a light weight DSLR, I would start with the D7000 or D90.  Both are very capable and with a small lens system can do fantastic work without a bulging, back breaking bag or pack!  The 16-85 AF-S VR lens is one of my favorites for it’s light weight and sharpness.


B. When all out quality matters, and weight is not a de-terming factor. The D600 and D800/800e are as good as it gets.  All three cameras can make files that have almost no limits to what they can do.  The D600 proved that here in New Orleans.  Obviously, the fast and tough D4 is the choice for sports and photojournalism pros.  One other note, buy fewer, but better lenses, always buy the sharpest, highest quality, lenses you an afford, it will pay major dividends in your files!


C. For fun shooting is paramount, and all out quality, can take one small step back. Go for a light compact camera, and just treat it like a real camera!  Use a mini or small tripod, or carefully brace the camera for slower shutter speeds, and it will reward you with wonderful images and a back that doesn’t ache near as much!


D.  I am leaning toward the following kind of systems;   For serious work where I don’t mind carrying more gear, I think a D800 and D600 with the 16-35 AF-S VR, 24-120 AF-S VR, and the 70-300 AF-S VR would be my three lens stable (I’m thinking hard about replacing the 70-300 with the new and wonderful 70-200 AF-S VR f4 lens).  I always provide myself with a way to do close-up and that could be a 105 Micro, 200 Micro or Diopters, or sometimes automatic extension tubes.


E.  When I really want to get away from it all, but still want to be prepared to capture images of a high order!    I am now more prone to consider one of the many great choices in the Mirror less camera arena.  The Nikon 1 series of the J2 and V2  (also the older J1 and V1) joined by the P7700, and P7100 and the X1o tested here all are great cameras that can give you wonderful results with the a little extra care!


F.  So, hopefully as I head into the sunset from Nikon in July, I will have two main bags packed, one light and one a little heavier, but both prepared to help me make the images I’m so looking forward to making in the years to come!  Hope some of this information helps you work on you own conclusions!


One last note, while it would appear the D600, took top honors, don’t think you can’t do well with the great current crop of compact cameras, these two parting shots really show of the possibilities of the smaller cameras!


Great shooting and blessings from,


the pilgrim




2 years, 8 months ago 4


As the Super Bowl draws nearer, the traffic is getting worse and we are having to get in earlier, so no shooting this morning, and it was raining last night.  Hope to do some shooting this evening, but this morning I need to answer a request from an emailer.  I got an email asking what we were going to teach about digital filter programs at the Old Car City Workshop,  actually a lot, but I thought I would walk everyone through one short lesson.


Above you will see 5 shots I made of one of my favorite trucks at Old Car City.  The old Dodge has a great rusted mirror which will be the subject in this image.  I shot five shots one stop apart to do an HDR image.


The image below is Step One.  All five combined in Photomatix and processed into a HDR leaning very slightly to the HDR look side.  (This is accomplished by running the first five sliders back and forth until you get the look you want, and then processing with those settings.)  This is my quick method to do the HDR look without all the gymnastics.



Step Two: Below,  crop, use dodge and  urn to control highlights and adjust exposure with levels.



Step Three: Below, take the image into NIK Efex Pro 3 or 4 and apply Tonal Contrast, adjust the sliders to get the look and feel you want.



Step 4: Below, Take the image back into NIK Efex Pro 3 or 4 and apply Glamour Glow.  Finished!!!  Takes less than 5 minutes!


These are the kinds of techniques and processing tips that Jim and I will share at Old Car City. Hope this helped!




the pilgrim


Just for grins, Brien just shared this with me, pretty accurate Weather Forecasting stone!



2 years, 8 months ago 13


Got up this morning to pouring rain, as a big storm front has moved over New Orleans.  Probably won’t  get to shoot today, so I thought you might like to see what an NPS set-up for a major event is like.  We finally got all the banners and tables covered, un packed the cases, they shipped in four large rolling cases for the event.  We went some of yesterday doing a complete inventory that includes checking the serial number on every piece of equipment!  So, pictured below, this is what we have to loan to credentialed shooters at the Super Bowl!


16 D4 camera bodies

8 D3s camera bodies

4 D800 camera bodies

4 D600 camera bodies

2 D700 camera bodies

8- 24-70 lenses

3- 14-24 lenses

8- 70-200 lenses

4- 300mm f2.8 lenses

6- 200-400 f 4 lenses

6-400mm f 2.8 lenses

4- 500mm f4 lenses


Plus a bunch of other lenses including;  16mm fisheyes, 10.5mm fisheyes, 16-35s, 17-35s, 85mm f 1.4, 35mm f1.4, 50mm f 1.4s and 4 – SB-910 flashes.



* Just in ase you were wondering, this is a relatively small consignment!!!  The Kentucky Derby for example gets about four times the gear!!  The Olympics?  Don’t even ask!!!!! 


We will have two repair technicians starting later today to do sensor cleaning and minor repairs all complimentary, and we maintain  a table with snacks for our shooters, with soft drinks and snacks.  We will have the depot open form 9:00 to 5:00 each day until Sunday, Game Day when we will operate from 12:00 noon until after all the gear is turned in post game, everything in inventoried and packed for pick up on Monday, we usually get back to our hotel around 3:00 a.m.



So that is what it’s like to run and event, the best part is seeing lots of old friends from Sports Illustrated, USA Today, the AP, EPA, and many of the papers and magazines we cover.  It’s fun to see all the sports personalities we enjoy in person!  Yesterday, while walking in the French Quarter, Brien, quiet literally, ran into, Mike Greenberg of Mike & Mike In The Morning, on ESPN, almost knocked him down leaving a restaurant.  he was very nice and cordial, we got a chance to tell him it was nice to meet a guys we spent a lot mornings with!



So for those of you that have asked that’s what this gig is like!





the pilgrim


2 years, 8 months ago 5

Day one in the Super Dome, doesn’t look “Super” to  you???  Well this is usually what our facilities look like, somewhere under the stands, the pipes, and heating ducts!  Such is the life of a lowly tech rep!  Oh whoa is me!!  O.K. just having fun with you!!  No that really is our room, but hey, it’s not and Afghan prison!  Before the day was out we had all our equipment cases and started to get things organized, I’ll show you that tomorrow after we put the finishing touches on it.  After the work was done we went back to our hotel to pick up some cases that had not been delivered.  We stopped in the French Quarter for some lunch and I did the first attempt at my DSLR vs Compact Camera Shoot-out.  Today it was the compact cameras turn!   In the restaurant we had some nice opportunities and the quiet small camera served it’s function well and did not attract attention to itself!  The shot below of a young lady using her camera was easy to make and she was never aware that she had been captured.



This image below was little different, this young lady offered Brien and I a sample of some Praline and I just had to ask if I could take a photograph of her, said, “I love your hair can I make picture of you??!!”  She said sure and then posed for me!  My little unassuming camera didn’t cause any problems at all, she was off guard and natural and I think the image bares that out!



The images below were a piece of cake with the small camera;



I’ll let you be the judge, but I think the little fellow, did right well on it’s first time out!




the pilgrim