What I Think of the D3x (Not a review)

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Well… I’m not a camera reviewer, and I don’t claim to totally understand quite what happens to the light once it’s gone through the lens. I could probably learn but I’d be worried about boring people at dinner parties. Just picture it… not only do I turn up with the mother of all cameras and try to capture the guests in 24.5 mega pixel glory whilst they’re eating spaghetti, I then proceed to bore them with information on pixel density and other long words I won’t even pretend to understand. Nope. No more invites for me. Not ever.

I am however, a photographer. And as such, I take a lot of pictures with my camera and therefore know a bit about it and whether or not it’s good. In addition to the D3x, I have used or owned at some point the D3, D700 and D90. I’ve never really used Canons in a professional capacity, just a 300D when I was learning to use an SLR.

The images that come out of the D3x are unbelievable… providing you don’t screw the focus up (and you really do want to be tack sharp at this resolution), the files show you things you can’t even see with your eyes. If you happen to be shooting in a studio, tethered to a mac and a cinema display, just let the file make its way to the computer (more on that later), zoom in to the eyes (or a sharp bit) at 100% and just listen to the art director / stylist / model / tea monkey gasp and say things like “my god, look at that” or “incredible”. It is very impressive. And great if you should in fact want to make a print the size of your house.

What all this actually means if you are a photographer…

Well first of all, it really depends on what sort of photographer you are. If you shoot sports or regularly travel to warzones and then upload your images via satellite, forget it. You’ll still be there long after the invasion is over. The file sizes are really kinda big. If you’re used to working with medium format, this won’t be relevant, but this camera does give you a 50mb RAW file, which is then processed into something like a 140mb TIFF when you chuck it into photoshop. You’ll basically need a powerful computer and a lot of hard disk space. Having said that, I do a lot of work on a macbook pro as I move about and although sometimes it does get a bit painful, it generally holds up fairly well… just don’t run any other apps at the same time! It’s also not a fast camera in terms of FPS. But then, if you’re a pro sports shooter, you won’t have this camera, you’ll have the D3. This ain’t made for sports, it’s made for commercial stuff… fashion, products. The lower ISO range (100-1600) is also a reason you won’t be doing your reportage piece on “Russia’s Nightlife”… 6400 on the D3 / D700 would seem to be a much better option.

The other thing it means is… get a good makeup artist. If you don’t, you’ll spend the rest of your days working in photoshop and you’ll never have the chance to do the commercial jobs that’ll pay for the bloody thing.

That all said, this is a brilliant camera. I combine it with the D700 and I reckon that covers all possibilities. The noise levels are fine up to 1600. It really isn’t built to go over that, I don’t know why Nikon bother saying otherwise. You’ll need very fast memory cards, lots of storage, a fast computer and very good lenses. Like the D3, it is a beast and people will cower when you point it at them, but so what? The images are soooo good. I like it, I like it  lot and if you shoot commercial stuff, so will you.

Cheers, Mark

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Golf Shoot Preview

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Here’s a preview from the shoot mentioned in the last post. I’m able to show this image so soon after I’ve shot it because it is essentially personal work rather that for a client, so I have no non-disclosure to worry about.

This image is not quite finished, still a bit of photoshop to do, but I’m pleased anyway. It was shot with a Nikon D3x and a 14-24mm F/2.8. Bowens softboxes either side give the nice even light.

To see some more images shot using this setup, check out the commercial section of my site (www.taylorassignments.com)

Video to follow shortly.

Behind THE Scenes: Golf Photoshoot

IMG_1114We’ve recently been shooting on location, at a large Golf Driving range and I thought it might be nice to give you a little behind the scenes tour via some pictures / documents. There’s also a behind the scenes video in the works, which will hopefully be online in a few weeks time…

This was a portfolio shoot, so didn’t have the budget that one might have on a commercial shoot. Sure, it cost money, but the models were new and looking for images for their portfolio and the driving range is getting some nice publicity shots in return, so all in all, the costs were kept to a minimum as there was no immediate return on it for us.

We shot 3 models (two girls and a guy) and had one makeup artist and one tech assistant / producer who also shot the behind the scenes material… and one photographer. Me.

The kit that went with us was 2 Nikon Bodies (D3x and D700) and a range of lenses, including the 14-24mm f/2.8 which is a fantastic lens. I used this glass for most of the shoot, I like the ever so slightly warped effect you get when the models are very close to camera. Makes things a bit different than just shooting with the 85 all the time. We also had 3 x Bowens 750+ monoblocs and all the usual gear including softboxes and umbrellas.

A lighting technique I use a lot is the sandwich technique, which utilizes a softbox either side of the talent, one slightly in front and the other slightly behind.

We aim to shoot tethered into aperture on a macbook pro where possible, but there were various restrictions on this location, so we shot onto memory cards. We also had a ton of other stuff that goes into a photoshoot… batteries, chargers, laptops, tripods, video gear etc etc etc…

Follow us on Twitter (@tayassignments) or check out the website. The first image that appears is from this shoot and there will be more to follow soon, in the commercial portfolio.

That’s all for now… out x

Here’s a few shots from the day:

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Taylor Assignments: Shoots Film

I tried it and I liked it. Wondered the streets of London with a Hasselblad 500c/m and shot a few rolls of 120. My first experiences on shooting anything but digital since I was a kid. I sent the rolls off to be processed, half expecting them to come back with nothing but black squares… or white squares… or something bad. But to my surprise they came out OK… better than ok, I love the colours, I love the texture that you can never get on a digital still… well you can but it takes hours in photoshop.

So go and have a look… http://www.taylorassignments.com. We made a little video… of me wondering with the hassie… more soon.

Out x

Having a go with Film

503cxThe problem with photographers of my generation, and I’m the first to agree, is that our digital photography is not based on the theory of shooting with film… it’s based purely in a digital world. And that’s fine. It gets the job done, but would a film background have helped make us better digital photographers?

I have no idea…

…but on the off chance that I’m onto something, I’ve decided to spend a little time in the world of film, developing, scanning and never really being sure if you even got the shot you wanted.

I currently shoot with pro Nikon gear, namely the D3x for commercial stuff and the D700 for gigs, action, documentary and low light stuff. All digital, no danger, no edge. I can shoot 3000 frames in one day on a commercial shoot and just delete the stuff I don’t like. Maybe that’s lazy?

I have a feeling that film will make me think much more about the shot before I click that shutter release. Get the settings right, compose the shot, think about what it means and what I will get back from the lab. And I think that better discipline in that regard will help to improve the digital side of my work, which is what the  client gets.

So, an old Hassie 500cm, a wander round the streets of London, maybe blackfriers on a sunday, or borough market… maybe shooting some personal work on film will help to develop my professional content. We shall see… keep an eye on the blog to find out.

Wish me luck

The Smithfield Nocturne

DSC_5136 A crowd of over 10,000 spectators enjoyed a packed evening of fast and furious cycle entertainment at the third Smithfield Nocturne, held on Saturday 6th June.

Folding bike enthusiasts, amateur city cyclists, corporate businesses and elite professional riders joined forces to offer a unique free night out in the capital. The ever-popular Le-Mans style start to the folding bike race kicked off proceedings, with competitors battling it out in two heats to take a chance to race in the final.

We decided to photograph some of the events, not for a client, but just for fun! We used a d3x and single Nikon sb-900 speedilight. We used a variety of lenses including the 14-24mm f/2.8, a Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8. There were a few really really long lenses on display around the place that day, and maybe next time we’ll hire something for the occasion! The photo above is one of my favourites…. very close to camera, I thought the D3x was going to get run over at one point.. thankfully no cameras were harmed in the making of this picture

Check out the website at www.taylorassignments.com to see some more… hopefully they’ll be up in the next few days!

Out x

Taylor Assignments: In The Studio

A little behind the scenes vid for y’all. We threw this together really quickly, but nevertheless, hope that you like it.

For the geeks out there, we shot with the Nikon D3x tethered to a mac book pro with aperture. We went for the highest file sizes we could, which were 14bit uncompressed raw files, which are about 50mb.

Check out some of the finished pics in the Studio section of my the website (www.taylorassignments.com)

Goodnight all x