Legendary National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg was given unique access to the Nikon D800 ahead of its launch. In this exclusive interview with WDC he shares his first impressions of the new camera
That was terrifically informative. Everyone should watch it. This fellow indisputably knows what he's talking about. A truly great photographer who had more than a month with the camera, and shooting constantly, and interacting with the Nikon engineers.
Key points for me: He states absolutely that the ISO performance is better than the D700. Interesting that he most often shoots in auto mode.
Thanks for the link! I enjoyed the interview very much, it's authentic and inspiring. If he could only have one camera, it would be this one he says. When a guy with such background gives a statement like that, it's pretty convincing.
Not to dwell on "no excuses" but the D800 seems to be a tool he's going to use, along with the D4 for some time.
I especially enjoy his approach, in anticipating the moment and that his style is using the automatic settings hand held, and that serves him well because of "serendipity" which would pass by if managing all of the technique in manual mode.
Good info, and frankly, refreshing to note given the plethora of detailed professional idiom which pervades, in a positive and negative way here in the Nikonian (and other) forums.
Not to be dismissive of the technical, but, at some point, one needs to engage the craft as an art-form and allow the superior ability of the camera to do it's calculations, which he mentioned as "the camera is smarter than I am".
I also was surprised about the use of D-lighting, as not having a detrimental impact on the raw files, which is contrary to what I was told when setting up my cameras, well worth the watching
>I also was surprised about the use of D-lighting, as not >having a detrimental impact on the raw files, which is >contrary to what I was told when setting up my cameras,
Be careful to distinguish between "D-lighting" which is a post-processing tool (and therefore doesn't effect raw files) and "Active D-Lighting" which combines (sometimes) exposure adjustment with D-lighting in post processing, of which the former certainly does alter the raw data.
Active D lighting applies a small adjustment to reduce exposure at Medium, High, and Extra High Settings. ON Low there is no exposure adjustment. In addition, it applies a bit of a curve to recover shadows and protect highlights. And it does this in a manner that protects midtones and colors - which I found difficult in post processing. If you select ADL Low, you can use the curves for other settings in post if you use Capture - including removing the effect completely. You also have the ability to use D-Lighting as an editing tool which can be applied selectively. If you do not use ADL Low, all the options are unavailable. If you do not use Capture, most software ignores the D-Lighting application of a curve so only the exposure adjustment (if any) is applied.
I don't use D-Lighting in the camera or in View as I find it a bit coarse, but I like the option of ADL on Low which maintains exposure and increases flexibility for editing. I've done testing to reach this conclusion. I avoid ADL Medium and High as I don't like the exposure adjustments without my specific control.
Very interesting. I visited his gallery in Minnesota last year and he does have a lot of large prints with incredible dynamic range and detail.
I interpreted his reference to automatic settings as using Aperture priority. He said he selects specific F stops for images. Aperture Priority is automatic - it simply controls one of the variables.
We've had some discussion in other threads about D-Lighting. In the interview he did not specify whether he was referring to Active D-Lighting as an in-camera tool, or D-lighting as an in camera processing choice. My guess is it was ADL. I've done some recent testing of ADL and concluded that using ADL on Low improved dynamic range without changing exposure and left the opportunity to further adjust ADL in post processing with Capture NX2. ADL medium and High affect exposure.
I also found his reference to the D800E interesting - that he intends to get two D800E models rather than one of each. I think that makes sense for pure nature and wildlife photographers but for general use and for portrait/wedding photographers might not be the right answer. I thought his reference to the role of the D4 also fits the consensus developing here at Nikonians - that the D4 is the choice for high frame rate photography.
I like the idea of shooting ADL on low, especially since I am an NX2 user. I think I'll give it a shot in 3 of 4 of my usage modes on my cameras (just not Theatre where I feel like I can't give noise a chance to creep in, and in which the shadows tend to be quite unimportant). Thanks for mentioning that.
Sun 18-Mar-12 01:30 PM | edited Sun 18-Mar-12 01:31 PM by richardd300
Brilliant and thought provoking. I'm in a dilema as he says for my style of shooting I need probably the D4 for the fps! No chance of that, but he's enabled me to finally (I've said that before to make a reasonable decision. That is wait for the D300s replacement as I need both reach and more fps.
I was really interested in his comment re: noise v high ISO's being improved from the D700, that was very reassuring and if he had talked about the camera in DX mode with regards to noise with high ISO's that would have been extremely helpful. In any event it's one hell of a camera.
Anyway, I bought my first iPad yesterday and Jim Brandenburg is the first to receive a slice of an app sale as I bought his book "Chased By The Light". Fantastic.
<I am extremely interested in the theory of downsizing to improve the nosie effects. May I ask is there any reference you can point me towards please that would it expalin it fully?>
We've got several threads about the downsizing impact. The best reference is DxOMark which uses a standardized image size in it's testing. The idea is that if you put everything in terms of a standardized print size, you can compare cameras with different numbers of pixels and different performance. The main article on the topic dates to 2008.
The concept is that if you have a 36 mp image from a D800, and want to print for an 8 inch by 12 inch print at a single DPI, you have to downsize the 36 mp image to about 8 mp. That means for every 4 pixels on the D800, you end up with one in your final print. Through the resizing algorithms, you end up combining 3 pixels with no noise with one that has noise - and that makes most of the noise disappear. If you went the other direction - upsizing a smaller image to 36 mp the impact is similar - every noisy pixel on the small sensor is multiplied 4 times. It does not matter whether you are upsizing or downsizing - think of it as common sizing. The relative rank is the same.
Now if you end up having to crop the large image to DX format, a lot of that advantage goes away. But compared with a D700 or other FX sensor, you have to crop them all the same amount so again the relative impact is the same.
In addition to DxOMark, member Bill Claff has several posts on Photographic Dynamic Range that incorporate the same ideas.
Thanks Eric, I shall take a look. I do understand the interpolation theory etc. to a degree. This was limited to CS image resize such as bi-cubic smoother/sharper and nearest neighbour etc, but know little or nothing about the advantages of downsizing from a noise reduction perspective.
I saw this interview via a link on Nikon Rumours. I was very impressed, seemed like a top guy. However, I am always very suspicious about reviews from people who have close relationships with manufacturers. He was never going to say anything negative...
One thing which caught my attention was that he was using this camera last summer!
I can't wat to try out the d800 in hopes of replacing my MFDB system, I have found the samples online to underwhelming if you are comparing to a MFDB - but according the interview the images shown in the samples have no post production at all ....if that is the case I would love to see them with proper sharpening and adj done ...can't wait to try !!
IF I can get close to MFDB with Nikon dslr usability I am so there !
Mon 19-Mar-12 11:59 AM | edited Mon 19-Mar-12 12:11 PM by DMCdigitalmedia
I think in camera sharpening only applies to Jpegs, does it apply to Raw as well ? At any rate I leave in camera sharpening and Noise reduction off and do it all in post production. Usually a light sharpen at import then after adjustments I use a luminosity mask sharpening technique, if image is going to print maybe even one additional light print sharpen on export from lightroom.
At 100% the samples look soft to me, but that makes sense if they were not sharpened in post.
edit:let me clarify...the samples do look good -they look soft if the standard you are judging against is a Medium Format Digital Back. That is setting the bar pretty darn high since Medium Format Glass is insanely sharp AND costly !
I can understand why Nikon would want to demonstrate images straight from the camera. It does open a host of questions about post processing if you start down that road.
Sharpening, contrast, brightness, and saturation can be set in the camera - and noise reduction can be turned off or set on low for sharpest images. The settings are applied to JPEGs, but they are also applied to RAW files using Nikon software such as View NX2 or Capture NX2. Even if you don't use the software for edits, you can easily use it for creation of JPEG's directly from RAW files.
I do agree you can do some light editing and improve the images. In Camera settings are applied globally and may not offer enough fine tuning for a great image. But the images are good enough to show that in camera processing is quite good.