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.
During the last 24 hours, I’ve put it through a pretty good representative sample of outdoor photography situations including:
– 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.
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
– SIGMA 50mm f1.4 ART lens was incorrectly identified as Zeiss Milvus 50mm f1.4
– 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.