Nikon D4s: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review

Nikon D4s: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review

Court Leve is a sports, wedding, portrait, and pet photographer. His work has been published in National Geographic Adventure, Powder, Ski, Skiing, Freeskier, Parade Magazine, ForbesLife Mountain Time, Spirit Magazine, Southwest Art, and more. He is a regular contributor to the BL Blog. Nikon D4s: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review by Court Leve Like most new iterations of Nikon’s pro bodies, the D4s is yet another leap forward in imaging. In my case, coming from a D3s to a D4s ,the improvements are quite noticeable. If you are a current D4 user, the differences will be more subtle but still noteworthy especially for those shooting video. It’s hard to believe a camera can make the D3s feel somewhat antiquated but the D4s does just that. While the D3s is more than capable for just about any situation, the D4s ups the ante yet again. The main areas of improvement are autofocus, low light capabilities, faster frames per second, and better handling. First is the handling of the camera. The added sub buttons are a welcome addition. The reach is shortened and response time quicker when selecting autofocus points.  The body has a few different tweaks and has a great solid feel. The new autofocus is simply amazing, extremely fast and accurate. While shooting a free skiing event I was capturing athletes coming towards me blind over a jump. I was able to instantly capture the skier in mid air while traveling towards me using my 80-400mm at 400mm and achieve nearly a 100% focus accuracy rate. Also helpful was the improved frame rate of 11fps and a nearly non-existent blackout time while...
The Bokeh Effect: How Sensor Size Affects Background Blur

The Bokeh Effect: How Sensor Size Affects Background Blur

Of all the things that photographers argue about in our secret monthly meetings, sensor size and its impact on our work is perhaps one of the most heated topics that can come up. From the true “bigger is better” snobs (“Sensors? Bah! 8X10 film is where it’s at!”) to the ones who prize portability above all (“Micro-Four-Thirds rules!”), the debate between advocates of MFT, APS-C, and full-frame sensors often reaches religious fervor. Contentious topics related to sensor size include resolution, high-ISO performance, and dynamic range, but the quality and characteristic of bokeh, or out-of-focus backgrounds, is perhaps the most fiercely contentious. While there’s no contest that the bigger sensors can clearly produce much smoother and, well, blurier (not a word, I know), it’s also an unfair statement that the smaller sensors like the ones in Olympus and Panasonic Micro-Four-Thirds cameras can’t produce good bokeh. The Prerequisites Now, before you get into this article, if you have questions about what crop sensors are, how they work, etc., you want to read a few of these articles: Tip of the Week: Understanding Sensor Crop Factors, Part 1 Transitioning from Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Understanding Full Frame vs Crop Frame Sensors Best Wide Angle for a Crop Sensor Camera These articles will give you a good understanding of what crop sensors are, and what using a crop sensor camera implies, for the most part. In this article, we’re going to drill down to one specific thing. We will take a look at just how the size of your camera’s sensor affects the bokeh characteristics of your image. To do this, we devised a pretty...
The Beginner Videographer’s Guide to Frequency Blocks

The Beginner Videographer’s Guide to Frequency Blocks

Wireless mics are an essential part of documentary filmmaking. The mics are small and easily hidden from view and the wires are minimal. If you’ve seen a reality show (if so, my condolences), sometimes you get a peek at the metal mound protruding out of the backs of people’s clothes. Those are lavaliers and they are handy. They are used often by wedding videographers since shotgun mics aren’t super awesome at picking up the vows from clear across a church. You don’t see them as often in movies because people have to actually wear them (and that is distracting) but for sit-down interviews, or most TV applications, they’re great. If you’re just starting to get into any of these fields, read up on frequency blocks – you’ll impress (if mildly) your sound tech. What are Frequency Blocks? There are a finite number of frequencies that are allowed to be used in different parts of the world. The frequencies are a range of hertz units that are divided into “blocks” and certain countries cover certain blocks and not others. For a quick refresher, hertz measurement is the number of waves that pass/vibrate per second. So different blocks cover different ranges of frequencies. For example, Block 22 is universally understood to cover 563200000Hz – 588700000Hz (or, more commonly denoted in MHz: 563.200 – 588.700). Why Do Frequency Blocks Matter? There are a lot of people out there trying to use wireless systems. There has to be a certain amount of organization and regulation to keep everything from interfering with each other all of the time. So a certain number of blocks have...
The Elegant Simplicity of Building a MyPublisher Photo Album

The Elegant Simplicity of Building a MyPublisher Photo Album

For professionals and hobbyists alike, photo books are usually on our to-do list and get postponed because they’re often expensive, take time to build, and the quality is unpredictable. They are worth making because they can be awesome keepsakes or portfolios. There is something about the tactile experience of flipping through the pages of a real book. Swiping on an iPad just isn’t the same. I am on the hunt for a great photo book company. Here are my personal observations after trying out MyPublisher. The Elegant Simplicity of Building a MyPublisher Photo Book by Alex Huff Photo books often fall into two camps: kitschy scrapbook or modern minimalist. When tasked with a MyPublisher review, I was hesitant at first. I didn’t want to take the time to learn the ins and outs of building a good portfolio book and I also didn’t want to be limited to decorative “themes” for events I don’t have pictures for (think “baby shower” embellishments). I’m relieved to say that MyPublisher does it all, to one’s taste, and easily. Workflow: MyPublisher Book Maker To get started, you will need to download the MyPublisher Book Maker for either PC and Mac. Here is my quick takeaway on using it: The Pros: Drag and drop functionality. Integrates with your local files and folders (and, in their recent update, with your Facebook account if you opt for it). “Check Price” button to make sure you aren’t going over your personal budget (I LOVE this). Ability to share your finished project with others for review. Small program that doesn’t take up a lot of space (around 32MB)....
BorrowLenses’ Guide to Lighting Sync Cables

BorrowLenses’ Guide to Lighting Sync Cables

Strobes are triggered from your camera to fire every time you hit the shutter button in the following ways: Transmitters designed specifically for that strobe that you connect to the camera, usually via your camera’s hot shoe. Radio transmitters that you connect, usually with small sync cables, to the strobe and to the camera. Long sync cables that physically connect your strobe to your camera. Your camera must have a sync-in port, located usually near the mount or on the side of the body. The following kits come with their own transmitters: Elinchrom BX-Ri 2 500Ws Monolight Kit with Skyport EL Transceiver Profoto D1 Air 500Ws 2 Monolight Studio Kit with Air Remote Bowens Gemini 500R 2 Light Umbrella Kit with Pulsar TX Radio Remote Elinchrom Ranger Quadra Head A Pro Set with Skyport EL Transceiver Broncolor 1200Ws Two Litos Monolight 22 Kit and Senso Power Pack with RFS 2 Transmitter Broncolor 2400Ws Two Litos Monolight 42 Kit and Senso Power Pack RFS 2 Transmitter Otherwise, your strobe or monolight will come with its own 1/8 (or 1/4)-PC sync cable to use with your camera. Small flashes do not come with sync cables. The following kits/strobes do not come with their own transmitters nor do they come with their own sync cables: Profoto B1 500W/s AirTTL Battery Powered Flash Profoto B1 500W/s AirTTL Location Kit Profoto B2 250W/s AirTTL Location Kit They accept 1/8 sync cables but operate best with their own transmitter, which much be rented separately: Profoto Air Remote TTL-C Transmitter for Canon Profoto Air Remote TTL-N Transmitter for Nikon Connecting Strobe and Camera All kits and strobes will come with...