24 Hours With a Nikon D850

Posted September 9th, 2017 by   |  Photography, sports, Wildlife  |  Permalink

I received my Nikon D850 24 hours ago and can comfortably state that this is the best all-around camera Nikon has ever produced. It excelled at every single situation I threw at it. Nikon makes other cameras that specialize at specific aspects like frame rate (D5/D500), high ISO performance (D5). But nothing combines all the features (resolution, dynamic range, high ISO performance, frame rate, autofocus, buffer depth, ergonomics, image quality) like the D850.

Nikon D850 focus

Macro photo using the Nikon D850 focus stacking utility. 1/640 sec, f/5.6, ISO 560, 24-70mm f/2.8

During the last 24 hours, I’ve put it through a pretty good representative sample of outdoor photography situations including:

– Birds

– Macro (focus stacking)

– High dynamic range panoramas

– Black and white conversions

– Architecture at sunset

– Night football at ISO 25,600

– Cross country meet

Here are photos with captions to show some background information and exposure details.

D850 panorama

Panorama of Gig Harbor with high dynamic range. Nikon D850, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/11, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8.

D850 pano

One of the original RAW files for the above panorama. Panorama of Gig Harbor with high dynamic range. Nikon D850, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/11, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8.

Night football

Night football game. Nikon D850, 1/1250 sec, f/4, ISO 25600, 300mm, Nikon 200-400mm f/4.

100 percent crop

100% crop from above photograph. Night football game. Nikon D850, 1/1250 sec, f/4, ISO 25600, 300mm, Nikon 200-400mm f/4.

Great blue heron Nikon D850

Great blue heron. Nikon D850, Nikon 200-500mm, 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 500, 460mm.

100% crop

100% crop from above photo. Great blue heron. Nikon D850, Nikon 200-500mm, 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 500, 460mm.

blue heron

The D850 shoots at 7 FPS out of the box enabling you to get shots like this. Great blue heron. Nikon D850, Nikon 200-500mm, 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 500, 460mm.

D850 black and white

Black and white conversions are beautiful from the D850. 1/200 sec, f/9, ISO 125, 200mm, Nikon 200-500mm

X-C Runner

Cross country athlete. Nikon D850, 70-200mm f/2.8, 1/1000 sec, ISO 125, f/2.8.

Lincoln X-C

This is one of the state’s best runners. The D850 handled the high contrast scene just fine. 1/2000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100, 120mm, 70-200mm f/2.8

female X-C

1/1000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 125, 200mm, 70-200mm f/2.8

Night football

Autofocus performance was stellar, even in this dark high school football stadium. 1/1000 sec, f/4, ISO 25600, 300mm, Nikon 200-400mm f/4.

St Anthony's Hospital

The Nikon D850 makes an excellent architectural photography camera. 1/125 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 14mm, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8.


This is a very tight crop of a sparrow from a long ways away. The amount of detail in the 46 MP file is stunning. 1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 1000, 500mm, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6


There’s lots of detail in those feathers with the Nikon D850. See below for 100% crop. 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400, 500mm, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6.


Here’s the 100% crop of the above crow photograph. 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400, 500mm, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6.




Lightroom CC Update – Boundary Warp and Nikon Tethering

Posted January 27th, 2016 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink
Boundary Warp

Here’s the new Lightroom CC Boundary Warp control window. A great new addition for Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW.

Adobe released a new version of Lightroom today for the Creative Cloud and stand-alone versions. Lightroom CC 2015.4 and Lightroom 6.4 address a number of bugs while also updating the software for new cameras and lenses.

As far as I’m concerned though, the two most important things about this release are the Boundary Warp feature in Lightroom CC and the ability to tether Nikon cameras for photographers using the newest Mac OSX 10.11 (El Capitan).

Here’s the link to the press release at the Adobe website: Lightroom CC 2015.4 Press Release

1. Panorama Boundary Warp

Boundary warp is a brand-new feature available in the Lightroom CC version aimed at improving panorama merging. It is designed to warp the corners and edges of the panorama so you don’t lose those areas of the image.

This slider works exceptionally well when merging photos taken with extreme wide-angle lenses. You don’t typically get much distortion with focal lengths of 50mm or longer, but you get quite a bit with 14mm and 20mm lenses. Boundary Warp helps solve this problem in a very easy-to-use interface.

Check out this video I created to help further explain the tool.

YouTube Link: Boundary Warp (https://youtu.be/2yt-A6OoZuc)


2. Tethering with OS X 10.11 (El Capitan).

Another great fix with this release of Lightroom CC/6 is the ability to tether Nikon cameras in Mac OSX 10.11 (El Capitan). Finally!

Unfortunately, operating system updates can be very troublesome for us photographers. We heavily rely on software for our businesses, so any hiccup in the operation of our computers is a major deal. The most recent update to the Macintosh operating system, El Capitan, broke the ability of Lightroom CC/6 to tether with Nikon cameras.

For me, that was a deal breaker to upgrading to El Capitan since I use Lightroom tethering for my portrait and commercial work. Tethering really helps when shooting with clients on set as it allows them to immediately collaborate on images.

The newest version of Lightroom CC/6 now fixes the tethering issue for us Nikon shooters and represents my last obstacle to upgrading my Mac to El Capitan.

List of Changes/Additions in Lightroom CC/6

Fixed Bugs

– Auto Sync of some settings failed when using smart previews

– Lightroom would ignore model-specific custom default settings for some cameras, including some Leica and Sony models.

– Crop resets to image bounds when adjusting rotation via slider

– In Lights Out mode, an image would “disappear” if a customer uses the Undo functionality

– SIGMA 50mm f1.4 ART lens was incorrectly identified as Zeiss Milvus 50mm f1.4

– Soft Proofing RGB readout values differed for same file between 5.7.1 and 6.x

– Import from iPhoto would result in all photos receiving a “pick” flag

– Comments from Lightroom web come in to Lightroom on the desktop as already “read.”

– Lightroom would not display the correct EXIF metadata for some video files generated by Canon, Fuji and Panasonic cameras

– Vertical panoramas created using Merge could appear with the wrong orientation

– The video cache did not respect the maximum size specified in the preferences

– Customers experienced issues importing video files in some scenarios

– Tethering Nikon cameras on Mac OS X 10.11(El Capitan) did not work properly

New Camera Support in Lightroom CC 2015.4 / 6.4

– Fujifilm X70

– Fujifilm X-E2S

– Fujifilm X-Pro2

– Leica M (Typ 262)

– Leica X-U (Typ 113)

– Panasonic DMC-ZS60 (DMC-TZ80, DMC-TZ81, DMC-TZ85)

– Phase One IQ150

– Sony ILCA-68 (A68)

Additional Updates in Lightroom CC 2015.4 / 6.4

– Nikon 1 J4 Camera Matching Profile added

– The panorama merging process should complete roughly twice as fast as Lightroom 6.3

– Improved quality when applying Auto Straighten and Upright “Level” mode

– A preference was added to the Mac to prevent accidental “speed swiping”

– Metadata is added to merged panoramas to support Photoshop’s Adaptive Wide Angle filter

– Customers can now set the location of where photos are stored when downloaded from Lightroom mobile or Lightroom web in the preference panel or – contextually in the folder panel

– Thumbnails update much quicker when copying and pasting settings in the grid view

– Images load faster in the Library module when you are zoomed in and navigating images

– Tethered support added for the Nikon D5500 and Nikon D7200

Autofocus Tip – AF for Panoramas

Posted October 29th, 2015 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink



Eimskip ferry boat in Westman Islands, Iceland.

Creating panoramas with digital cameras is easier than ever these days. Since most image editing software packages have panorama stitching utilities built in, building the final image is often as simple as selecting the photograph sequence and then clicking “merge to panorama.” Even though the software side of things is fairly simple, making sure your camera’s focus settings are configured properly will make a big difference in the final quality of your panorama.


New York City skyline panorama from the Staten Island ferry.

As most of you know, the process of taking a panorama with a camera requires you to capture a sequence of photos horizontally or vertically. In other words, take a photo on the left side of the scene, then pan the camera to the right a little bit and take another image. Repeat this sequence until you’ve captured the entire scene in front of you. You’ll use these photos in your software program to stitch together the final single image.

With respect to autofocus, the most important thing to consider is to make sure the focus distance remains constant from picture to picture in the panorama sequence. If the focus changes from shot to shot, then the software will have a difficult time merging photos. Even if the software is able to merge together images with different focus values, the final image will look weird because one section might be blurry while another section next to it looks sharp.

New York post office

Post Office Building, New York City, NY.

So, the solution is to make sure that you lock focus distance for the entire sequence of shots. Here are four ways to lock focus:

1. Set focus manually. I like using autofocus to acquire focus initially, then I switch off autofocus on my camera body for the entire image sequence. This ensures focus remains constant from picture to picture.

Focus switch

Setting the AF switch on your camera to Manual focus will prevent refocusing before each shot.

2. Use the AF-L (autofocus lock) button on your camera. Press and hold the AF-L button on the back of your camera to lock focus during the sequence.


The AF-L button can be programmed to lock focus.

3. Use back-button AF. If you’ve programmed your camera to operate with back-button autofocus, then you don’t need to change any other settings on the camera. Basically, take the photographs and the camera won’t re-focus from the shutter release button.

AF-ON button

If you use the AF-ON button on your camera, then release your thumb from the button while shooting. This will lock AF.

4. Press and hold the shutter release button in AF-S (single servo) mode. If you focus your camera the traditional way with the shutter release button, then you’ll need to press and hold the shutter release button for the duration of the photo sequence. This is difficult to do since you’ll be panning your camera between shots and you might accidentally lift your finger from the shutter release button at some point. Then, when you go back to press the shutter release button, the camera will re-focus. The easiest thing to do if you focus with the shutter release button is to switch your camera to manual focus.

Cheney Stadium

Cheney Stadium at dusk. Tacoma, Washington


Want to learn more about autofocus on Nikon cameras? Check out our brand new book titled The Nikon Autofocus System, Mastering Focus for Sharp Images Every Time.


The Nikon Autofocus System eBook at Rocky Nook


The Nikon Autofocus System at Rocky Nook

The Nikon Autofocus System at Amazon

Autographed Copies

The Nikon Autofocus System – Autographed Copies

Nikon AF cover


Rainbow in Galapagos

Posted June 4th, 2015 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink
Rainbow panorama

Rainbow panorama in the Galapagos. Image captured with a Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8. Panorama stitched together using Photoshop.

Everyone loves a good rainbow shot. On the day of this photo, we were finishing up our epic Galapagos photo trip and getting ready to disembark our expedition yacht for the long flight back home. As we were packing our bags in the early morning, I poked my head out the window and saw a rainbow forming over the bay, just as the sun crested the eastern horizon. Always the photographer, I grabbed my camera and began shooting.

As our expedition yacht twisted around its mooring, different compositions came into play in the scene in front of us. First, the Ecuadorian Navy ammunition supply ship BAE Calicuchima steamed into perfect position at the base of the rainbow. I can only assume the sailors on board were looking for their own pot of gold. Then, some small fishing boats flitted through the scene on their way to shore to pick up bait. Finally, our own small pangas floated out from our expedition yacht into position in front of a double rainbow.

Like most things in photography, the scene quickly came and went. This rainbow stuck around for about ten minutes and changed in intensity as the sky went from a deep purple, to blue and then to pink. A few minutes later, at the peak of intensity, the rainbow formed into a double rainbow, then quickly disappeared along with the light mist.

Ecoventura Flamingo

Our expedition yacht, the Flamingo.

Pangas and rainbow.

Pangas and a double rainbow at sunrise in the Galapagos Islands.


Large Prints From the Nikon D800

Posted March 28th, 2012 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink

I’ve been using the Nikon D800 for less than a week now and wanted to create some large prints from the camera to assess its overall quality. I sent off four different files to a large-format Epson inkjet printer and was very impressed with the resulting images. They are truly beautiful and are giving my best efforts from my other cameras a run for the money. The more I work with this camera, the more I feel it is truly a game-changer.

Here’s a short video I produced today showing off the prints and comparing some black & whites, color, and panoramas from the D800 and the D7000.

Nikon-D800-Prints from Mike Hagen on Vimeo.

Nikon D800’s Wonderful Ability to Crop

Posted March 24th, 2012 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink

One of the things I’m loving about the Nikon D800 is the ability to frame the photo relatively loosely and then crop to what I need. I went out last evening to photograph the Tacoma Narrows Bridge at dusk. I shot the image at a wide-angle and then cropped it in Photoshop to a 12″ x 36″ panorama at 240ppi.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge 12"x36". Single shot from Nikon D800.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge 12"x36". Single shot from Nikon D800.

After this, I brought it into Nik Color Efex Pro 4 to add a graduated filter effect to the sky and then a filter called Monday Morning to give it a bit of an old-school effect.

Incredible VR Panoramas from Luc Villeneuve

Posted December 17th, 2011 by   |  Uncategorized  |  Permalink

Luc Villeneuve is a colleague of mine and shoots some of the best 360 degree VR panoramas I’ve seen. His work is incredible and he’s posted his “Christmas Card” from Quebec City over at his website:

Luc tells me, “These images are done with 72 different HDR images, merged then stitched together. I use a Nikon D3s and a shaved 10,5mm lens. I work with many panoramic heads, including a NN5 from NodalNinja and an Absolute from 360 Precision. I also regularly use a 20 foot long pole to give a different perspective.”

When you visit the website, be sure to click on the map to see all nine VR panos from around the city.

Luc Villeneuve's Holiday Greeting 360 degree VR panoramas of Quebec City.

Luc Villeneuve's Holiday Greeting 360 degree VR panoramas of Quebec City.

Luc Villeneuve’s Images of Hotel de Glace

Posted April 20th, 2011 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink

Last month, I showed some of Luc Villeneuve’s 360 degree VR work with Red Bull. This month, he sent me a link to some work he did for the Hotel de Glace in Quebec, Canada. The images are stunning and I’m proud to share the page with all of you.


Luc Villeneuve's 360 VR images are incredible.

Luc Villeneuve's 360 VR images are incredible.

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