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D800 and photo trek leaders

ljordan316

Inverness, US
830 posts

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ljordan316 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Feb 2010
Fri 02-Nov-12 11:35 AM

If you like to go on photo treks/workshops like I do, the first question you should ask is whether the trip leader owns or knows the D800. I am finding that many photo trek leaders shoot Canon and can barely spell Nikon. If you are totally proficient with your D800 such a trek leader will not be an issue. If you still have a lot to learn with your D800, you will not learn it from a trek leader who only knows Canon.

I recently evaluated two treks and selected one run by David Hemmings for birds in flight. Neither of the trek leaders I evaluated were Nikon shooters, but David committed to understanding the D800 by the time I got to the trek...and he did. The other trek leader said he "considered the D800 a great camera." That was not enough for me.

When I got to Fort Myers to shoot with David this past Sunday, I found that he had indeed studied the D800. He could transfer all but one of his favorite Canon settings to my D800e bodies. Together we figured out AF Dynamic Area focus points by reading the manuals and experimenting in the field. In the end, we both learned some valuable lessons...and I got some great shots.

Having the right camera settings is not all there is to shooting birds in flight...just as having the right settings is not all there is to shooting landscape HDR sets. However, not having the right camera settings will definitely result in fewer great shots. I am finding that having the right settings for the D800 is far more critical than it was for the D300 bodies that I had before.

Now that I know I have the best D800 settings for BIF, I will feel comfortable going on any BIF trek. However, I will still lean towards David's treks because I learned the right settings by working with him...and he is a great guy with really good BIF skills and knowledge.

Are any of you going on treks or workshops and finding the leaders do not know the D800?

Larry Jordan

D800E, D500, 14-24, 16-35, 24-70, 70-180 Micro, 80-400mm AF-S, 500mm AF-S II

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mklass

Tacoma, US
7421 posts

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#1. "RE: D800 and photo trek leaders" | In response to Reply # 0

mklass Platinum Member As a semi-professional involved in all manner of photographic genres including portraiture, sports, commercial, and events coverage, Mick is always ready to help Nikonians by sharing his deep knowledge of photography and printing. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 08th Dec 2006
Fri 02-Nov-12 11:22 AM | edited Fri 02-Nov-12 12:14 PM by mklass

I tend to think it is my responsibility to know my own camera, and the leaders to show me how to compose/frame/capture.

If I am going to a D800 workshop, the leader better know the camera.

If I am going to a BIF workshop, the leader better know about birds and their behavior.

If I am going to a BIF for D800 workshop, the leader better know both.

That you got a leader that was willing to go the extra mile to be able to assist you is a credit to him, and I can see why you would want to stick with him.

Mick
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or
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DAJolley

US
1300 posts

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#2. "RE: D800 and photo trek leaders" | In response to Reply # 0

DAJolley Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Dec 2007
Fri 02-Nov-12 01:55 PM

I tend to agree with Mick on this, if you want assistance with your Nikon camera, find a Nikon workshop. I have noticed over the past two years when I go to a location that is popular for workshops, about 80-90% of the participants are using Canon, including the instructors. When I was in Yellowstone last month I started asking if there were any Nikon shooters around when workshop groups showed up and seldom got a response. Same thing last week in the Smokies.
Dave Jolley

David Jolley
Pickerington, Ohio
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jherrel

Elgin, US
683 posts

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#3. "RE: D800 and photo trek leaders" | In response to Reply # 2

jherrel Silver Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 08th Apr 2007
Fri 02-Nov-12 05:10 PM

Over the last year or two I have noticed a real jump in the number of Nikon shooters even if the leader is still Canon.

John Herrel
Nikonian from South Carolina
See the light, capture the essence!

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ericbowles

Atlanta, US
10537 posts

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#4. "RE: D800 and photo trek leaders" | In response to Reply # 0

ericbowles Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level skills in various areas, especially Landscape and Wildlife Photoghraphy Writer Ribbon awarded for for his article contributions to the community Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 25th Nov 2005
Fri 02-Nov-12 05:12 PM

At my peril I'll weigh in. I run a number of workshops. It's just about impossible to have the latest gear from multiple manufacturers or to be familiar with the specific camera settings without working for a camera store. And the cost of mastering different cameras would be prohibitive.

I do agree it is helpful for the instructor to be familiar with both Nikon and Canon gear, the general features and settings, and the limitations. For example, the Canon system offers a histogram with Live View that really helps to nail the exposure in difficult situations.

The good news is most of the capabilities are similar. Both Canon and Nikon use the same technologies for AF. The ability to choose camera settings is similar on both Nikon and Canon cameras - just different locations of the buttons. It's pretty easy for me to talk about a setting and know that it does exist on most current cameras.

If I know that a certain group of settings is going to be used extensively - I want to know how to guide photographers in that area. For example, I frequently follow other forums which are not Nikon specific just to understand the pros and cons of Canon and Sony gear, and how users respond to questions.

The same thing is true for software and post processing. Lightroom is a basic program used by a lot of people. Photoshop is also commonly used. But the most important thing is to be able to describe the strategy for processing or editing. Many of the photographers I see are unsure of their real objective for an image and the strategies that can be used. If we can talk clearly about the approach to an image, the specific steps are going to be relatively easy.

And tripod and ballheads are always an issue. I've had two workshops where ballheads malfunctioned. One had a ballhead lock up and the other had a ballhead stop holding firmly. It's a near disaster if someone has proprietary plates rather than Arca Swiss. If they have Arca Swiss plates, I can loan them a tripod head or even a tripod. I don't want someone's workshop experience to end because of a gear failure.

Eric Bowles
Nikonians Team
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dhmiller

US
899 posts

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#5. "RE: D800 and photo trek leaders" | In response to Reply # 0

dhmiller Silver Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 19th May 2009
Fri 02-Nov-12 05:32 PM

"
Now that I know I have the best D800 settings for BIF"
that you post your favorite settings for BIF?
thanks,
Dennis

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ljordan316

Inverness, US
830 posts

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#6. "RE: D800 and photo trek leaders" | In response to Reply # 5

ljordan316 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Feb 2010
Fri 02-Nov-12 05:58 PM

See the discussion at:
https://www.nikonians.org/forums/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=430&topic_id=18709&mesg_id=18709&page=

Larry Jordan

D800E, D500, 14-24, 16-35, 24-70, 70-180 Micro, 80-400mm AF-S, 500mm AF-S II

Website:
http://larryjordan.smugmug.com/

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ljordan316

Inverness, US
830 posts

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#7. "RE: D800 and photo trek leaders" | In response to Reply # 4

ljordan316 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Feb 2010
Fri 02-Nov-12 07:00 PM

Excellent points Eric. Maybe I am expecting too much from trek leaders.

I guess I should expect more from someone who claims to be a workshop leader than just a trek leader. In my mind, a trek leader puts you on the right scenes at the right times of day. A workshop leader does the same, but also helps you capture the scenes from both a composition and lighting standpoint. An excellent workshop leader would know my equipment and be able to tell me nuances that lesser humans could not tell me.

I should also expect the fee for a trip to reflect what type of trip leader I have with trek leader at the low end and excellent workshop leader at the top end.

I will have to fine tune my trip evaluation criteria and my pre-commitment questions for the leader.

Larry Jordan

D800E, D500, 14-24, 16-35, 24-70, 70-180 Micro, 80-400mm AF-S, 500mm AF-S II

Website:
http://larryjordan.smugmug.com/

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

ljordan316

Inverness, US
830 posts

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#8. "RE: D800 and photo trek leaders" | In response to Reply # 4

ljordan316 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Feb 2010
Sat 03-Nov-12 12:17 AM

I was just looking at the spreadsheet that I use for evaluating/comparing photo treks and shooting workshops, and it occurred to me that I typically spend as much or more on each trip as I spent on one D800e. With that much money at stake and the fact that the trip only happens once, I really should spend as much time and effort selecting a trip as I spent evaluating and selecting the D800e in the first place.

Many professional photographers are turning to treks and workshops as a way to make money since the market for images has started to dry up. I believe that trend will continue, and will put pressure on trek/workshop leaders to improve the quality of their trips or reduce costs or both.

I also believe someone somewhere will eventually put together a published report on treks and workshops just like we see for camera bodies. Think of it as a DxOMark for treks. Each trek and workshop will be compared head-to-head.

Now that would be a forward thinking service for D800 and all Nikon camera owners. What do you folks think? Anyone up for the task?

Larry Jordan

D800E, D500, 14-24, 16-35, 24-70, 70-180 Micro, 80-400mm AF-S, 500mm AF-S II

Website:
http://larryjordan.smugmug.com/

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

mklass

Tacoma, US
7421 posts

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#9. "RE: D800 and photo trek leaders" | In response to Reply # 8

mklass Platinum Member As a semi-professional involved in all manner of photographic genres including portraiture, sports, commercial, and events coverage, Mick is always ready to help Nikonians by sharing his deep knowledge of photography and printing. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 08th Dec 2006
Sat 03-Nov-12 01:04 AM

Larry,

It sounds like you are!

Mick
http://www.mickklassphoto.com
or
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ericbowles

Atlanta, US
10537 posts

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#10. "RE: D800 and photo trek leaders" | In response to Reply # 8

ericbowles Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level skills in various areas, especially Landscape and Wildlife Photoghraphy Writer Ribbon awarded for for his article contributions to the community Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 25th Nov 2005
Sat 03-Nov-12 05:27 PM

Larry

I don't disagree with what you are saying. And perhaps a version of that approach is to only pick workshops where the leader(s) use your camera or at least use the same manufacturer and generation of technology.

There are some types of workshops that place greater emphasis on gear than others. Birds in flight, video, and night photography might emphasize the camera body. Macro might emphasize the lens and accessories. Portraits might emphasize lighting and post processing tools but not care too much about the camera body.

One of the techniques used with some groups is to have multiple instructors that use different systems. It makes for a larger group of students, but ensures a high level of relevant gear knowledge.

The DxOMark idea is a good one - especially if you have objective criteria. Even something as simple as an Amazon type rating system could be very useful.


Eric Bowles
Nikonians Team
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SirPuttsAlot

Poughquag, US
354 posts

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#11. "RE: D800 and photo trek leaders" | In response to Reply # 0

SirPuttsAlot Registered since 26th Sep 2011
Sat 03-Nov-12 07:16 PM | edited Sat 03-Nov-12 07:31 PM by SirPuttsAlot

Having never attending a Photo Trek, I might be looking at this the wrong way and I'm not trying to be a jerk about this (but I'm sure it will come across that way). When I compare this too other "outings" in other hobbies I had, this seems like an unrealistic expectation.

When I rode motorcycles, there was no expectation that on a track day, the organizers would be subject matter experts on my particular motorcycle and could help me dial in my suspension for that particular track, weather, tires, weight and riding style. Instead, be SME's on safety and motorcycle prep (safety wire hydraulics, tape lights, etc)

For golf, if I were to travel to a place like the Leadbetter Academy, I would have no expectation that the instructors would also be a club fitters and point out the incorrect profile of shaft on my driver for my swing (Kick point, torque, etc) vs working through the mechanics of lessons.

For a Workshop / Photo Trek, unless it was a brand sponsored or specifically advertised as such, I would expect the person to be brand agnostic and describe the settings in the abstract. Discuss the techniques used to capture the images, and be more about "If your camera can do this or that (9 points dynamic, etc). Expecting the person to be an SME in your specific camera model would also be like expecting them to be an SME in your particular choice of post processing software and then being disappointed that they are in fact not.

Now, I will say that because David Hemmings took the time to work with you, read the manual with you, experiment with you, he appears to be about customer service / satisfaction with his product, and that's a very good thing. Provided he was able to balance that with the others on the trek, b/c then instead of having one disappointed trekkie (couldn't help it, it just came out) he may have 1 happy and 9 PO'ed trekkies (sorry, there it is again...)

Or maybe I'm just easy to please.

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ljordan316

Inverness, US
830 posts

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#12. "RE: D800 and photo trek leaders" | In response to Reply # 11

ljordan316 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Feb 2010
Sat 03-Nov-12 07:36 PM

I understand your point.

However, I have seen a full spectrum of trek and workshop leaders over the past three years on the eight photo treks I have taken (trips that I had to pay a fee to attend). I also compare them to guides with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT); my wife and I have been on five international trips with them over the past five years.

I keep a spreadsheet of costs per trip, and I compare it with costs of prospective trips...yes, I am anal about costs. Why not...once spent, it does not come back.

Anyway, I came up with a rating system today that will normalize my spreadsheet based on the leader/guide and the quality of photo experience I have had or expect to have based on my experience with guides.

My spreadsheet calculates cost per day for a trip. I then divide that by the quality of the leader on a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 as highest quality. I can then look at the bottom line to see what trips cost the least per day and which trips give me the lowest cost with quality factored in.

So far I like what I am getting from the spreadsheet. It will help me pick future trips better than I have done in past years.

Larry Jordan

D800E, D500, 14-24, 16-35, 24-70, 70-180 Micro, 80-400mm AF-S, 500mm AF-S II

Website:
http://larryjordan.smugmug.com/

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SirPuttsAlot

Poughquag, US
354 posts

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#13. "RE: D800 and photo trek leaders" | In response to Reply # 12

SirPuttsAlot Registered since 26th Sep 2011
Sat 03-Nov-12 08:05 PM

Larry,
Your view is completely valid and I respect it, I was not trying to prove you wrong or convince you of anything. Just providing a differing opinion/point of view.

Also your HDR Photo's under Old Historic are fantastic. I very much enjoyed "Silent But Not Forgotten" and "Hideaway Cabin".

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ljordan316

Inverness, US
830 posts

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#14. "RE: D800 and photo trek leaders" | In response to Reply # 13

ljordan316 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Feb 2010
Sat 03-Nov-12 08:49 PM

No offense taken.

Thanks re Old Historic!

I love to shoot HDR. By the way, the only trek leader I have been with who truly understands and does HDR is a Nikonians named Winston Hall. All of the other trek leaders I have traveled with have a general understanding of HDR, but do not shoot it.

Lately, I have found that the D800e has such a wide dynamic range that I can dispense with multiple images for over 40% of what used to be mandatory HDR with a D300. Great stuff!

Larry Jordan

D800E, D500, 14-24, 16-35, 24-70, 70-180 Micro, 80-400mm AF-S, 500mm AF-S II

Website:
http://larryjordan.smugmug.com/

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

ljordan316

Inverness, US
830 posts

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#15. "RE: D800 and photo trek leaders" | In response to Reply # 13

ljordan316 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Feb 2010
Sat 03-Nov-12 09:23 PM

By the way, the following is my take on trek leaders based on my limited exposure (sorry Eric, I have never been on one of your treks):
Lowest cost per click for international trek: Overseas Adventure Travel
Best nature trek with experts: NANPA
Best HDR advice: Nikonians, Winston Hall
Best D800 advice: Winston Hall
Most personable Nikonians trek leader: Jim Stamates
Best birds in flight trek leader: David Hemmings
Best overall Nikon gear advice: Mentor Series and Nikonians treks
Best Mentor Series guides: Layne Kennedy and Peter Simon
Best night photography leader: Kevin Adams
Best waterfall photography leader: Kevin Adams
Best animal photography: Bill Lea

Larry Jordan

D800E, D500, 14-24, 16-35, 24-70, 70-180 Micro, 80-400mm AF-S, 500mm AF-S II

Website:
http://larryjordan.smugmug.com/

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

G