The Switch – Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part III

The Switch – Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part III

This is Part III of a series on moving from an all-Canon setup to an all-Nikon setup for four weeks. Will I go back to Canon at the end of four weeks? I have no idea… Previously, in the Switch series: Part 1: I talk our marketing VP into letting me go Nikon for a while. Part 1.5: which was mislabeled Part 0.5, in which I gawk at a violin. Part II: The Nikon gets abusive. In this part, I’m going to focus on just one thing: Nikon’s external flash system. CLS, you’re pretty cool Nikon’s CLS, or Creative Lighting System, is pretty well-known for its simplicity and reliability. On the Canon side, I’m used to working in ratios to set exposure between groups. This is a tad… unwieldy, to say the least. For example, if I want three groups for my external speedlites, I have to jump through some… convolutions. First, I have to have my friend Syl Arena’s book, The Speedliter’s Handbook handy, because Canon’s manual doesn’t really do even a halfway decent job of explaining this.  I have to set the ratio for my first two groups (A and B), then go into the master speedlite’s menu to set FEC (Flash Exposure Compensation) for my third light. Uh… wha? For a better explanation, go to page 144 of Syl’s Speedliter’s Handbook. With Nikon, on the other hand, you get this: This is if you’re using the on-board camera to control your remote speedlights (which are in two other groups, A and B). But you can, of course, control external speedlights with a master on-camera. Here’s what that...
The Switch: Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part II

The Switch: Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part II

This is Part II of a series on moving from an all-Canon setup to an all-Nikon setup for four weeks. Will I go back to Canon at the end of four weeks? I have no idea… I’ve had the D800 for about 2 weeks now, and have shot with it in the studio, out in the Marin Headlands, and a variety of other spots. In this article, I’ll focus on my initial experiences with the Nikon setup, a few of the challenges I faced, and some observations along the way. In the studio I spent two days in the studio, working through lighting setups. The idea was to see if I could replicate the lighting setup I have when I use my Canon gear with the Nikon stuff instead. My setup on the Canon side is simple. I use two Paul C. Buff Einstein monolights, a 580EX and a 580EXII. I use PocketWizard’s ControlTL products to trigger everything; PowerMC2 modules for the Einsteins, FlexTT5s for the speedlights. On-camera, I use a PocketWizard MiniTT1 and an AC3 ZoneController. Fortunately for me, the exact same setup is available for Nikon. The SB-910’s go onto the Nikon version of the FlexTT5, and I actually used one FlexTT5 on-camera instead of the MiniTT1. There’s also a Nikon version of the AC3 Zone Controller, The goal this time around was to try some selective lighting techniques to get a silhouette portrait, for one, and to have the option of selectively lighting a section of it. Here’s what the setup looked like. What you’re seeing there are two collapsible black backdrops being used as flags to cut...
The Switch: Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part 0.5

The Switch: Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part 0.5

This is a quick ‘n dirty post that’s part of my “Switch” series. Part 1 of the series can be found here. I was in the studio, working on a quick lighting test. The subject was a violin positioned on a tall chair, and I was moving in and out, shooting the whole thing, then switching to some detail work. I had two SB-910′s on stands, with gels and, occasionally, a Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe on one of them. The shot you see below was taken with the D800 I currently have for testing, with a Nikon 105mm f/2.8G Micro lens. The SB-910 shining on it has the aforementioned Lastolite softbox on it, as well as a chocolate gel. There is absolutely no post-production on the shot. I am really, really liking the tones coming off that Nikon. They are, in a word, luscious. What blew me away was when I zoomed in at 100% to look at the object in focus, the second knob from the left. Click on the image below to embiggen; the smaller size won’t show you what I’m talking about. Wow. I mean, yeah, I’m going to have to repeat this experiment with a Canon 5D Mark III and the famed 100mm f/2.8L macro as well, but, well, wow. I’ve always known that this would a rough experiment. I knew I’d have my preconceptions challenged. I guess I was hoping it wouldn’t be this...
The Switch: Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part I

The Switch: Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part I

This is Part I of a series on moving from an all-Canon setup to an all-Nikon setup for four weeks. Will I go back to Canon at the end of four weeks? I have no idea… “I’m going to check out a bunch of Nikon gear and go shoot with it for four weeks. Then I’ll write a series of articles about it.” I grinned at Jim Goldstein, BorrowLenses.com’s VP of marketing, and my nominal boss. He stared back at me, first with a blank expression, then with a knowing glint in his eye. “You’re looking to switch, aren’t you?” he asked. “And you want to use this idea for a series to test the waters on the other side, dontcha?” He kinda had me there. I’d been eyeing that D800 ever since it was announced, and was eager to give it a try. More importantly, I really was thinking of switching sides. Two of my idols, David Hobby and Joe McNally, both shoot Nikon. Nikon’s CLS (Creative Lighting System) for their external flashes is world-renowned, and is a traditional area of strength for that brand. As someone who uses lighting a lot these days, I had seen what all the fuss was about and wanted to put it through its paces for my own shoots. “Well, no, I’m not looking to switch,” I told Jim. “But if it happens as a result of my experiment, well…” Jim’s a good sport, and we both agreed that it would be worth it to see what a Canon shooter with an open mind would feel about moving wholesale to Nikon gear. So,...
The Leica Diary, Part V – Final Thoughts

The Leica Diary, Part V – Final Thoughts

This is Part V of a series. The previous four parts are listed below: The Leica Diary, Part 1: Introduction The Leica Diary, Part II – Coming To Grips The Leica Diary, Part III – Focus The Leica Diary, Part IV – An Unexpected Thing or Two After about four weeks of shooting with the Leica M9 and various lenses, I came to a dismaying conclusion. I am not a street photographer. I don’t like street photography. I get nervous, am unsure, and take terrible street photos. And, for most of the time that I had the M9, I was trying to be a street photographer.  What we have here, folks, is a classic case of a photographer trying to mold himself into the image of his camera gear. The Leica is the classic street photographer’s camera; therefore, my thinking went, in order to truly use it and get the hang of it, I MUST shoot on the street. Occasionally, that resulted in a decent image. The portrait below of my friend and colleague, Ben Salomon, was taken with the M9. Every so often, I’d come across an image I’d like. But more often than not, my efforts would be a wash. But this was a really amazing camera. Surely, the fault lay with me if I couldn’t get good images out of it. Well, yeah, kinda. The fault was with me – to a point. The trap that I fell into was allowing the Leica to dictate not just the my technique, but also my style and genre. Since it was supposed to be a great street camera, I...