Archives For David Wright

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Nikon just announced three  1″sensored premium compacts: the Nikon DL18-50, DL24-85 and DL-24-500. They have all the bases covered and at a great price. The two smaller cameras promise to produce great images and still fit in a pocket, so a great option for expedition and travel. The big brother is still relatively compact but offers an amazing zoom range. One huge benefit of these types of cameras is no dirty sensors as they never get exposed to the elements. A big bonus when on the road

The  electronics of all three models appear to be very similar (sensor, processor, AF system), and what attracts me as a filmmaker is that they all support for 4K video. Add to that, they have a clean HDMI output so I can use an external recorder if I want to up the recording quality even more. I  often use a monitor like the SmallHD 502, which will also be great with these cameras, but for unobtrusive street shooting, just stick with the built-in tilting screens.

All have  3″ touchscreen OLED displays, the 18-50 and 24-85 offer just tilting options but the screen on the 24-500 is  fully articulating. I am also keen to try the improved capabilities of  ‘SnapBridge’. This allows a more robust connection to a smartphone so you can control the camera or instantly share images through social networking.

I am about to test a Nikon D500 and will be pushing the new AF system to the limits as I shoot a wildlife story, it is good to see the DL range also sports an updated system which combines 105 phase-detect points with 171 contrast-detect points. The specifications say this will allow for continuous shooting at 20 fps!

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I am most interested in the 18-50 version as it is equipped with a ND filter that will be of great assistance when shooting video, while maintaining suitable shutter speeds in outdoor conditions (1/50-1/60 sec to mirror the look of a film camera). The lens is also fast f1.8-f2.8, so should be good in low light. I can see this being a really useful camera for shooting from the waist when you want to capture street scenes and stay low profile. Also good for us video shooters is the fact that the camera has full manual control. Along side this it also offers  Raw support for stills. I would love to see a 42mp sensor as seen in a competing camera, but for the price, this is a great feature set.

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The DL24-85 is perhaps more suited to those of us who shoot more stills than video, although the quality fo the images would be great from this or its wider lensed sister. It lacks the ND filter, which makes it less handy for video, but adds macro capabilities. I guess you need one each of these cameras and grab the one most appropriate for the task in hand.

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Less pocketable but superbly equipped for travel is the DL 24-500. The 24-500mm equivalent lens offers a great range for travel and anyone interested in wildlife shooting.

These cameras should  be available in early summer. For more information go to the Nikon site

 

Pre-orders

 

As you know, I am a dedicated Nikon shooter, but also work as cinematographer, so have moved into the world of shooting 4K video in the last two years. While it is still more of an acquisition format than a delivery format, that is rapidly changing thanks to streaming video delivery through services like Curiosity Stream.  They will be delivering a 20 part 4K series in the next few months that I shot, along with colleague Darryl Czuchra, and features iconic landmarks around the world from Stone Henge to Petra. Produced by Compass Light, the same company that delivered the hit series Sunrise Earth, I will keep you posted once it goes to air. Now back to cameras….

I have not had chance to do a hands on test of the new Nikon 4k cameras, the D5 or D500, and there are plenty of other reviews online, but look forward to some real world field tests very soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the last few years I have been lucky enough to work with Mark Soares of the Nikon marketing team and he was just featured in a video talking about the D500 and its exciting new features including Snapbridge, a great new technology to allow photographs to be transferred to your smart device.

 

 

While the D5 is aimed at the professional photo-journalist market, I think the D500 will have a much wider appeal, especially with those of us that take wildlife or sports images. The DX format is ideal for that extra reach from a telephoto lens and the new senosr promises stunning imagery.    Welcome to the 4K world Nikon….

PS  More to come on a third 4K camera also just announced by Nikon, their 360 degree action camera… very exciting news!

For information you can get the latest news at Nikonrumors.com

 

Cotton Coulson

January 16, 2016 — Leave a comment
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Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson on assignment in the Arctic

Apologies in the long gap since I last posted a story. We took an unscheduled break after the tragic loss of colleague and close friend Cotton Coulson , who helped establish this blog. It is still hard to process the loss and perhaps the best tribute to our wonderful friend and  talented photographer is to post a selection of his images. In a following post I will link to a article about Cotton, which wife Sisse Brimberg helped to write and is a great tribute to our much loved friend and colleague.  God speed Cotton…

 

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Cotton Coulson died May 27, 2015, while on a diving expedition off the coast of northern Norway. See more of his and Sisse Brimberg’s photography at keenpress.com.

 

Traveling to location is not getting any easier, especially if you have to fly. To help you prepare for your next shoot, I just wrote a blog piece for Nikon Cinema

Although it would be great, my dog Rosie does not travel with me. She doesn’t like me to leave and hates to see the bags being packed but she stays by my side until the very last minute.

I will be heading to Photo Plus in New York at the end of the month to do some presentations for Nikon. Its the US’s biggest gear expo for equipment, so should be a lot of fun!

To help demo the Nikon gear that I have been using (primarily a D800, 17-35mm & 28-300mm lenses), I spent a day shooting with friends that operate a schooner, the J&E Riggin, here on the Maine coast.

Using a very simple kit that included one DSLR body, two lenses and a great microphone from MyMyk, I ran the video signal into an Atomos Samurai Blade recorder to capture broadcast quality images. The external recorder also gave me the advantage of having a monitor giving me a small and ergonomically useful hand-held rig. The recorder is equipped with a 240Gb SSD drive also giving me extended record times and 10 bit Apple ProRes files ready to drop into Final Cut for editing.

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The Blade is equipped with SDI inputs, so to interface with the camera, I also used the Connect from Atomos. This takes the HDMI signal from the camera and converts it to SDI, it also is brilliantly designed to piggy-back on the recorder to keep the system compact and simple.

Equipment definitely has moved on in the last few years. I am looking forward to upgrading to a Nikon D810 very soon with increased video functionality, this should make a great combination with the Blade and the Atomos Star. The Star another recorder produced by Atomos, there is no monitor screen but the tiny form factor more than makes up for this design decision. Sitting on the DSLR hot-shoe, this amazing device also records Apple Pro Res files at a much higher quality than your camera is able to do internally. At less than $300, it has to be the best camera accessory you can buy!

Exploring the Kamchatka coast

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I just returned from exploring the rugged coastlines of Chukotka and Kamchatka to photograph native villages, wildlife and the region’s landscapes in this far outpost of the former Soviet Union. Based on board an expedition ship, life is easy, but each day, trips ashore meant transferring into a zodiac and braving the turbulent oceans, relentless salt spray and waves crashing over the bow. This is followed by a ‘wet landing’ on a beach, dodging the surf and attempting to get onto dry land as soon as possible.

On shore, we then faced the uncertain weather conditions that the wilds of Siberia would send our way. There to take photographs, it meant keeping camera equipment safe in these challenging conditions, one mistake could mean it is swamped by salt water and ruined. I watched this very thing happen a year ago while making a landing at Gold Harbor in South Georgia. It is a truly spectacular wildlife location as the beach is home to hundreds of thousands of king penguins. Eager to get a shot, a fellow traveler has his new digital camera around his neck and ready to shoot as we approached the beach. Six foot swells pounded the landing site and as the zodiac hit the beach, it was pushed sideways by the powerful swell and a wave dumped right on top of us. In an instant, $6000 of camera equipment was lost and to make matters worse, the photographer no longer had his camera to use and we still had two weeks to go, visiting some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife locations on the planet. This must have been heart-breaking.

 

 

D24wXeds_000140Over the years of doing this kind of expedition D24wXeds_000139everywhere from the heat of the Kimberley coast in Australia, Antarctica and now the Russian coast of the Bering Sea, I have tried many different combinations of cases, dry bags and packs. The pile of packs in my office closet tells the story of never finding quite the right solution. Then on a recent trip to start shooting a story on the water crisis in the Owens of Valley of California, I decided to take a look in an outdoor equipment shop in the town of Bishop. A pack immediately caught my eye. Light weight, waterproof and made of a very durable material it looked ideal for my ship borne adventures. Produced by Hyperlite Mountain Gear, I researched the company and to my surprise found out that is based in my home state of Maine. Its great to see such a well made product that is made locally. Their innovative product line is ideal for everyone from hikers wanting to keep the weight of their packs to a minimum, to adventure sports fans that play around the water as the roll top closures make the bags waterproof.

During my trip to the Russian Far East, we visited villages like Tymlat and Lorino where I shot a portraits of the villagers, we also hiked in the mountains of Kamchatka experiencing everything from sun to torrential rain. My new Hyperlite 2400 accompanied me on all these adventures, providing a ideal way to get my camera gear ashore safely, as well as giving quick access through the roll top when I needed to quickly change lenses or a battery. Although the model I have is designed for ice climbing, the outside pockets and straps also provided an ideal place to keep a can of bear spray handy, essential as we passed dozens of brown bears on our shore trips.

I have more adventure planned that include sailing around the coast of New Zealand and Macquarie Island, back to the Kimberley and also exploring the coast of Chile. The Hyperlite pack will be with me all the way.

 

Special thanks for the photographs go to fellow adventurer Luca De Santis. A talented photographer & graphic designer, he also helps produce the Italian travel magazine Meraviglia Paper

Dawn Aug 27

Dawn on Appleton Ridge

 

Good morning from the Ridge here is Appleton, Maine. There was a beautiful sunrise this morning, so ran outside to shoot a photograph capturing the late summer season. Fall feels like it is just around the corner….

The sun was just a little too high in the sky for an open shot of the St George valley, plus I wanted to include the turning grass and wildflowers to better capture the feel of summer coming to an end. This was a great opportunity to use the dew covered grass as foreground. Not only does this help capture the mood, but on a practical note, cuts the brightness of the sun, while allowing me to see the textures of the vegetation.

To ensure a wide dynamic range (seeing details all the way from the shadows to highlights), I set the camera to continuous high, or burst rate, and shot five frames with one stop differences in exposure and then blended them with HDR Efex Pro.

I also chose to have a relatively large depth of field, bot not push this too far, as the out of focus elements would help add depth to the photograph.

Shot at 1/200th sec at f8   17mm lens on a Nikon D800

 

PS  I also grabbed a quick shot of my trusty camera assistant using the same technique

 

Trusty camera assistant- Rosie

Trusty camera assistant- Rosie