Even though we ARE Nikon lovers,we are NOT affiliated with Nikon Corp. in any way.

English German French

Sign up Login
Home Forums Articles Galleries Recent Photos Contest Help Search News Workshops Shop Upgrade Membership Recommended
members
All members Wiki Contests Vouchers Apps Newsletter THE NIKONIAN™ Magazines Podcasts Fundraising

first Wedding with the D3/D300

DVDMike

Metro Atlanta, US
2225 posts

Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author
DVDMike Registered since 25th Mar 2003
Fri 15-Feb-08 12:51 AM


Last Saturday, I had my first wedding of the year and was able to use both the D3 and D300 for the first time for a wedding shoot. The ceremony was late afternoon inside a relatively well lit church. Lots of church restrictions kept us in the back and without strobes. The reception was in a converted house at night. Outside shots before the ceremony were under clear and sunny skies. All of these conditions provided a fair challenge to me and the cameras. The church was not as dark as many are. Nor was the reception in a cavernous hall with 30 foot ceilings. So it was not a worst case scenario by any means.

Along with my D3 and D300, I had my D2X and D200 with me, as well as my Canon 30D. I set up the D200 to use wirelessly at the front of the church. But the wireless set-up failed to work. So other than trying to use the D200 wirelessly, I did not even attempt to use any other camera the entire day. I had already had enough experience with the D300 at events that I knew that I could use it and only it if I needed to.

For virtually the entire day, I had either the 14-24 or 24-70 f/2.8 lenses on the D3. I cannot recall using any other lens on the D3. Other than the ceremony when I used the 70-200vr on the D300, it had either the 50 f/1.4 or the 105vr lens mounted on it. I had wanted to use the 85 f/1.8, but I never had a good opportunity to use it.

Since I was shooting with another photographer, we had assigned shooting roles for the portrait shots. I was mostly shooting off angle and wide shots. I am really better at framing medium range to close-up shots, so I was a bit challenged by all of the wide shots at this gig.

Mostly because I was shooting more mid-range to close-ups and because I was shooting with a prime lens where I could better control DOF, my D300 shots were definitely better than my D3 shots, from an artistic perspective.

Both cameras performed well. I had not shot a lot of people in sunshine with either camera. Up until now, I would shoot most of my brides and grooms outside with my D2X. I was pretty good at knowing what to expect as far as metering goes with the D2X. I never quite got the handle with the D200 when shooting black tuxedos and white wedding dresses in full sun before. And its obvious that I still have a good bit to learn about the D3 in this regard.

I do not recall ever shooting bridesmaids in all black dresses for an afternoon wedding before. But their dresses were black. And as is typical, the groomsmen were in black tuxes too. What proved to be especially challenging for the D3 was metering when there was a preponderance of black in the scene. I am used to using center weighted average metering. And I try to meter on faces and not on the clothing (easier said than done). But there are a lot of D3 shots that are way over exposed. Even with an on camera exposure comp of -1 and a flash exposure comp (for fill) of -1.3, I would sometimes get blown highlights on the faces. I caught some of this while shooting and looking at my LCD and re-shot, but I did not catch all of these shots. I must have metered on the clothes when this happened. But I am used to shooting in a similar fashion with the D2X and not experiencing this problem. Can anyone offer some advice here? Should I start shooting in full matrix metering mode? Obviously, the worst possible exposure for a wedding photographer is one where the faces are blown out. I can live with a white dress being blown from time to time. And I can live with a black tux showing little detail if I have to. But not blown faces. The scene really required some fill flash too. It was difficult for me to balance the flash from the SB-800 with the D3 metering.

This brings me to another issue, contrast. Overall, it really appears that the default JPG settings and even RAW conversions have too much contrast for D3 images. Both dark blacks and light whites appear to really loose a lot of their detail without lowering the default contrast settings in ACR, NX, and camera JPG. The detail is there when the I lower the contrast in the RAW converter. But I really felt that my in-camera +JPG files were not usable as I shot them.

While in the church, I shot with Auto ISO turned on. Mostly, I would shoot in manual mode with a specific shutter speed and aperture and let the camera decide what ISO to shoot at. Most of my church shots were between 2000 and 2500 ISO and were well exposed. I shot everything handheld and I was using fast enough shutter speeds that there is little or no camera shake in these photos. There are a few photos when the bridal party is leaving where I really needed a faster shutter speed to stop their motion. But I was a bit nervous about letting the camera go too high on the ISO. I do not think that I will make that mistake again. The D3 is clearly the best high ISO performing camera that I have ever used (at a wedding or otherwise). I have used the 1DMIII and it is good at ISO 2000-2500, but the D3 is absolutely fine above this range with a proper exposure. And the D3 is so much better than the D2X in this regard that I cannot express my joy enough at now being able to shoot a church ceremony with the D3.

Now onto the church portraits of the wedding party and family. With the D2X, I am used to shooting with 3 lights, on camera SB-800 (just for some fill) and two much more powerful lights with umbrellas (for big groups) or soft-boxes (for smaller groups). Given ample time, shooting with the external lights allows you to sculpt the light and avoid the flat light associated with on camera flash. It also allowed me to shoot at much lower ISO's for studio quality sharpness and DR with no noise. But at the end of the day, most wedding photographers are not allowed nearly enough time to shoot these portraits and set up lights as if they are in a studio. Brides and families do not want to wait for you to set up lights. And when you are shooting in a church, the background light is often dim. So in order to get good balanced light, you need to use slow shutter speeds and a tripod. So I hate shooting with a tripod and would always compromise by shooting at higher ISO's (400-500) with my D2X. So the extra time to set up external lights and position the for each size group shot and then break down the lights and pack them up became an obvious hindrance to shooting a wedding the way most brides want it shot today. Weddings are just on a fast paced schedule.

In comes the D3. For this wedding, I shot all of the group shots at ISO 800 with an on-camera SB-800 facing strait at the subjects. No equipment set-up required. No breakdown and packing up of the extra equipment required either. Based on what I was able to shoot with the D3 at ISO 800, I think that I would not hesitate to shoot group portraits at 1600 in a darker church. Sure, the light is flat and I can get some shadows when shooting strait on. But if someone ever wants a 20x30" print, I can spend the time to make the light more dynamic in photoshop (shadows are tougher to fix in post). Shooting portraits at higher ISO allows for fast hand held shots with good balanced lighting. If anything, I need to adjust my exposure comp on the flash down when shooting at this ISO (and higher) with the SB-800 and D3.

On to the reception. The most challenging part of this reception was getting good shots in such a cramped space. I mostly had to use the 14-24 lens for all people shots. I hate shooting close to my subjects. But with the small rooms and tight quarters, I was forced to. I much rather enjoyed shooting with the D300 and the 50mm lens during the reception. But since this is equivalent to a 75mm lens on a D3, this shooting was relegated for close-ups and details.

Now on to my next issue with my D3, focusing of moving subjects in AF-S single or dynamic modes. I cannot tell you how many shots that I missed that I feel that I would have had if I had been shooting with my D2X (with my external strobes firing wirelessly. Yes, being able to shoot at much higher ISO's with the D3 makes the entire SB-800 flash system work so much more effectively. But if the camera cannot lock in on focus quickly of a person dancing, even slow dancing, all of the high ISO performance in the world does not mean a thing. Changing to AF-C with Focus+Release did not help much. Here I just got a lot of way OOF shots. Other people are not complaining about this issue as I am. So I am again hoping that someone can set me strait on what to do or I am to believe that my D3 is defective in this regard. Focusing speed of moving people with a SB-800 mounted on my D2x was hardly ever an issue, even in dimly lit environments. So as a sports camera, I was really expecting MUCH better action focusing results from my D3. And thus far, I just have not experienced acceptable results out of the D3 in this regard.

Overall, the D3 appears to be a dream camera for a wedding shooter. I need to learn more about how it meters so that I can expect what expect what exposure comp to use on a given scene. So there is still a lot to learn. The only "flaw" that I can find from a wedding photographer's perspective is my D3's inability to focus on moving subjects with any consistency. I really hope that my camera is simply faulty and can be fixed (or there is a setting/technique issue) or this one limitation will prove devastating for my continued use of the D3.

http://www.BigDigital.us

Subject
ID
Reply message ks for you mini reviewRE: first Wedding with the D3/D30...
1
Reply message Focus lock-on
2
Reply message RE: Focus lock-on
4
     Reply message RE: Focus lock-on
8
          Reply message RE: Focus lock-on
9
               Reply message RE: Focus Assist and Wide lenses with the D3
10
                    Reply message RE: Focus Assist and Wide lenses with the D3
11
                         Reply message RE: Focus Assist and Wide lenses with the D3
12
                              Reply message RE: Basketball AF-C focus
13
                                   Reply message RE: Basketball AF-C focus
14
                                   Reply message RE: Basketball AF-C focus
17
                                   Reply message RE: Basketball AF-C focus
20
                                        Reply message deleted
21
                                             Reply message RE: Basketball AF-C focus
22
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
3
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
5
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
6
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
7
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
15
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
16
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
23
          Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
24
               Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
25
                    Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
27
                         Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
29
                              Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
30
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
18
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
19
Reply message Auto ISO settings, other exposure info?
26
Reply message RE: Auto ISO settings, other exposure info?
28
     Reply message RE: Auto ISO settings, other exposure info?
33
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
31
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
32
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
34
Reply message RE: Second Wedding with the D3/D300
35
Reply message RE: Second Wedding with the D3/D300
36
Reply message RE: Second Wedding with the D3/D300
39
     Reply message RE: Second Wedding with the D3/D300
40
Reply message Mixed results iwth D3 focusing
37
Reply message RE: Mixed results with D3 focusing
38
     Reply message RE: Mixed results with D3 focusing
41
Reply message RE: 3rd Wedding with the D3/D300
53
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
42
Reply message AF Assist in the dark
43
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
44
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
45
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
46
          Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
47
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
48
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
49
          Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
50
          Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
51
               Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
52
                    Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
54
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
55
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
56
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
57
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
58
          Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
59
          Reply message RE: Video questions
63
          Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
60
               Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
61
                    Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
62
                         Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
64
                              Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
65
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300 -Update on AF
66
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300 -Update on AF
67
          Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300 -Update on AF
68
               Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300 -Update on AF
69
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
70
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
71
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
72
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
73
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
74
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300 - think before you p...
75
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300 - think before you p...
76
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300 - think before you p...
77
          Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300 -
78
               Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300 -
79
               Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300 -
80
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300 - think before you p...
81
          Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300 - think before you p...
84
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
82
Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
83
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
85
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
86
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
87
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
88
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
92
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
91
     Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
89
          Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
90
               Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
93
               Reply message RE: first Wedding with the D3/D300
94
               Reply message RE: D3 Focus since firmware update
95
                    Reply message RE: D3 Focus since firmware update
96
                         Reply message RE: D3 Focus since firmware update
97
                              Reply message RE: D3 Focus since firmware update
98

G