Archives For Video

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!


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.


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.


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




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While some critics have said Nikon is behind compared to Panasonic and Sony, I would consider the new features of the D810 to be a great step in the right direction. I personally don’t need 4K for the type of work I do with a DSLR and this camera does a great job of being a still & video camera. Great job Nikon!


For more information, head over to – Nikon D810


During the summer of 2013 we sailed from Trinidad to Buenos Aires on board the National Geographic Explorer. Named the “Epic South America” voyage, we explored seven different countries and traveled more than 6500 miles. Along the way we taught a digital story telling workshop….

Lindblad just posted a short video about the program. Stay tuned for 2014 date and locations

In the summer of 2012 we ran an expedition video workshop on board the National Geographic Explorer and made landfall in Lerwick, the main port in Scotland’s beautiful Shetland Islands. Today Cotton made it to South Shetland, literally the other end of the globe.

Cotton’s post

“On our first landing on Half-Moon Island of the South Shetland Islands, I chose to bring along the Genustech Variable ND filter to use with my Carl Zeiss 16-35mm to take stills with my Sony A99. It turns out to be a very nice package, allowing me to maintain shallow depth of field and still retain full aperture control. The black and white conversion was made using Nik Software’s plug-in for Apple Aperture called Silver Efex Pro using High-Structure. The motif was a chinstrap rookery on a very beautiful rock formation. Lucky for me, Sisse was there to take a nice shot of me working.”


Photo credit: Sisse Brimberg (on of me at the rookery) and Doug
Gualtieri for the close-up of me shooting with the Variable ND.

We just completed shooting a series of video tutorials that will be a kick-starter for the workshops we will be running on board the National Geographic Explorer during 2013. While shooting for broadcast clients, I generally shoot with a video cameras that are equipped with neutral density (ND) filters. These are internal to the camera and allow you to control a wide range of exposures that can handle from being in full sun to inside a darkened room.

We made a decision to shoot the tutorials with the cameras that will be featured prominently in the workshops, for me that is the Nikon D800. As we discussed in a previous post, the challenge is getting the correct exposure when you are restricted to 1/50sec shutter speed and a minimum sensitivity of 100 ISO, but still want to maintain that shallow depth of field that makes shooting with a large sensor camera so attractive. Without an ND, you are going to be over-exposed….

Of course the other advantage of using ND filters is taking longer exposures to allow moving elements in a picture to take on a soft moving effect. While taking a sunrise time-lapse sequence with the D800, this allowed me to use this effect sunrise across the ocean. Here is a frame from that scene.

We also discovered another quirk while shooting with the DSLR’s. The D800 allows you to make on the fly aperture changes while in video mode but my back-up camera, the Nikon D600, locks in the aperture once you start recording. If the lighting changes, you have to go out of live-view, re-adjust exposure and start again, not great when you are missing a shot. I was stunned to discover this choice made by the Nikon designers while we were out shooting and my immediate reaction was similar to many new users of this camera…. “what were they thinking when disabled this function!”. Then it suddenly dawned on me, this doesn’t matter as the variable ND saves the day for both helping with general exposure control on any camera, and in particular when faced with a dilemma like using the D600. You can simply dial in an exposure change by a twist of the filter.

I had been searching for the ideal filter as there are a wide variety of prices / quality combinations on the market. After reading reviews, I settled on the new Genustech Eclipse ND Fader. After testing the unit, we discovered it delivers good color reproduction, great optical quality and they produce the sharpest of pictures.

In the past I had made my own variable ND by stacking polarizers, it basically will do a similar job but the image sharpness was not as good, and perhaps more importantly, this answer did not give the low profile of the Genustech.  It works great on my Nikon 17-35mm lens without vignetting. Something my homemade ND failed to do.

Changing aperture during a shot while shooting video with a DSLR can present another challenge, even with a D800. Older style stills lenses that are fitted with click-stops at each prescribed aperture settings. Many newer lenses, don’t even have aperture rings as the adjustments are made through dials on the camera body. On professional video / film lenses there are no click stops and an ‘on the fly’ adjustment can be made smoothly to compensate for changing light levels.

For the professional film-maker or cinematographer, one great solution is to have your older stills lenses ‘declicked’ by companies like Duclos Lenses. But this means sending every lens to be adapted, plus any new ones that you purchase in the future. The cost is just not justified for many of us and guess what, the variable ND comes to the rescue once again! No preset clicks, just a smooth adjustment that will decrease your light levels by 2 to 8 stops.

Variable ND opened up

Variable ND closed down

So despite the fact that I mentioned this in a previous post, I will say it again, the variable ND is a must have item in your camera bag and would recommend the new Genustech Eclipse ND Fader!

PS (From my frugal Scottish ancestors) Buy the filter that covers your largest diameter lens, as well as some step up rings so that the same filter will fit smaller lenses in your kit.

Photo credit: Barbara Krauss

Epic South America

December 6, 2012 — Leave a comment

The brochure is out for the “Epic South America” trip we will be making on board the National Geographic Explorer in September 2013. We will be teaching a series of expedition video workshops in an amazing selection of locations from Trinidad, all the way to Buenos Aires. Places sell fast, so check out the details at the Nat Geo/Lindblad website


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