In 1978, my parents brought me to Manhattan to buy a camera. Having utterly no idea whatsoever, I convinced my dad to spring for a Nikon FE. Why?, because even though I was clueless back then, I knew the name Nikon was synonymous with excellence in the photography world. For the past 34 years- 30 now as a professional- I’ve felt as though I’ve had Nikon hands, and Nikkor eyes. My relationship with the Nikon Corporation has been an enormous honor. I’m incredibly grateful and honored to have been hired by Nikon to shoot this camera for the Nikon brochure. For more information on the D800, click on the Nikon Corporate site for more information and specifics on the D800.
I know, you want me to cut to the chase. Lets jump to May of 2011. I was approached by my friend Gen Umei at K&L in Tokyo, the Nikon Corp’s ad agency. I’d had the privilege of working with them on a few projects. I took great pride in participating in a Nikkor lens campaign, a Nikon speedlight campaign, and a few other assignments as well. However, those campaigns didn’t require secrecy for 7 months! After the box arrived, I ripped it open like a kid on Christmas morning. After shooting just a few frames in my studio with it, I ran upstairs to our digital lab and viewed a file on my 30 ACD. My first reaction was primal. With my jaw open, and after few superlatives left my mouth, I kept checking the monitor to confirm that I was looking at the file at 100%. 36MP. Wow. The image quality was astounding. I couldn’t wait to get started.
My assignment was very clear: Incorporate the D800 into my typical wedding day workflow while demonstrating the various features and functions of this new technology. Below, you’ll find a few images that clearly demonstrate a few things the D800 can do. I had it in my hands for only a month or so before I had to kiss it goodbye and send it back to Tokyo. I assure you, that was not an easy thing to do. Some of the images are from actual weddings, and some are from our location shoots with various models, but were shot in real world situations under the same conditions I’d encounter for a wedding.
Now, obviously, the impact of these files will be diminished when viewing them as low resolution web images. For those who want to view full size files, feel free to stop by the WPPI booth in Las Vegas. They’ll have some gorgeous prints on display there. And, for those fans of nikonrumors.com, I’m sure you’ll find some ways to speculate on the next piece of technology. In the meantime, lets enjoy this one. I really believe it’s going to help me produce images I haven’t made before. These observations are based on my few weeks with the camera, and these are my opinions.
In every wedding day scenario, I’ll spend a few minutes making a few beautiful portraits of the bride with a little window light with my Nikkor 85mm 1.4G. I posted a similar image a while back, but that was taken with my D3S. This was from an actual wedding. For those interested- I put my D700 strap on the D800 body and nobody gave it a second look!
D800 ISO 640 Nikkor 85mm 1/250th @1.4
This image is obviously sized for web. It’s impossible for me to show full resolution images. This is a crop from the image at 100%. Remarkable detail
One of our models, Rachel Johnston in my studio. Window light only.
D800, Nikkor 85mm 1.4G, ISO 200, 1/320 @ 1.4
On a typical wedding day, it’s impossible to choose our time of day to shoot portraits of our couples. On a bright sunny day in the summer here in the Northeastern U.S., it’s either run for the open shade, or embrace the bright sun. I love the texture, dimension, and mood that the mid-day sun can give me. With my style of shooting, it was important for me to incorporate a bride in harsh lighting conditions. Nikon wanted me to put this camera to the test in these conditions. Here, our model Rachel Johnston was photographed in Philadelphia at around 3pm in July in very harsh back light. Absolutely no fill flash or reflectors were used. The dynamic range speaks for itself&. Detail in the veil, detail in the gown, and her face is well exposed. In my eyes, there is absolutely improved dynamic range with this camera. I’ll be able to maintain more detail in these conditions that ever before.
Our model Veronica Lane on location at one of the most beautiful wedding venues in the region- Ashford Estate in Allentown NJ.
Some of the more interesting technology introduced in this camera is the face recognition for auto exposure. The idea here is that the 3D color matrix meter III uses the face recognition information and exposes for the face- rather than the other elements in the frame. This is a real advantage in backlit situations. This image was shot in Aperture priority with absolutely ZERO compensation. The advantages here are obvious. Even in a challenging lighting scenario, if the camera can recognize the human face, it’ll expose for that face without the need to adjust, thus, nailing exposure consistently without the need to compensate.
Face recognition for I-TTL flash is another feature that allows us to produce images without much adjustment. There is no flash compensation whatsoever in this image.
For now, I need to give a huge thank you to K&L’s creative director Gen Umei and art director Aoyagi Toshiaki- affectionately known as Mr. Blue. Ken-san, our Nikon engineer on hand to answer any and all questions, was an absolutely invaluable asset as well. Also, mi amigo Mike Corrado from Nikon USA. Mike always adds the perfect balance of serious work and comic relief to whatever we do. The fact that everyone involved trusted me to demonstrate what your newest technology can do in the real world is an incredible honor. Thank you so much for the privilege. I’ll be posting a few more images in the next few days that highlight other features from the D800. Stop back soon. Also, please check out my friend, Rob Van Petten’s site. Rob was also involved with this campaign and he’s an amazing photographer.