D3 - Daytime - Test Drive

Started Sep 9, 2007 | Discussions thread
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edbetz
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D3 - Daytime - Test Drive
Sep 9, 2007

When I got to work on Saturday at Shea Stadium in NY, I was surprised to see the Nikon Rep back for a Day Game.

He had with him the D3 again and a 600mm lens to go along with the 400mm lens I shot the night before.

Now keep in mind, most of the conversations I had with him were between innings, or pitcher changes. So there were a short series of conversations.

I expressed interest in using the camera again in the daylight. He happily agreed.

I will say, I was prepared to be less impressed with the daytime images. I fully expect an image that is shot at 100 iso or 200 iso to look great with any camera.

In my hand the camera felt really good again. I spent a little more time messing around with the focus, tracking moving people, trying to lock on to something and something else passed by, turning and locking on something else quickly (as in – fly ball, go from batter to shortstop – and nail him, no jumping around).

The Nikon performed flawlessly in every instance. The autofocus was outstanding in daylight.

The 600 lens was sharp, and it was nice to be able to shoot a pitcher with a 600 again. Shooting him with a 400 just doesn’t look the same. For those who don’t understand the difference, its really about depth of field and compression. The 600 looks much nicer, but I digress.

So, after shooting, I put the card into my laptop and the fun began

Let me stress that the lighting was HARSH. There was bright sunlight, not a cloud in the sky and heavy shadows - ball players wearing white uniforms, and black hats with heavy shadows over their eyes. This can be a real nightmare; you are between a rock and a hard place. If you shoot for the shadow the whites are blown out and if you shoot for the whites the shadows turn almost black.

Man was I surprised by two things. First, the white were never hot or blown out and the shadows had plenty of detail. It confirmed what I had heard about the dynamic range of the camera. I can say for certain, My Mark II doesn’t handle that lighting condition well.

The images had a really nice creamy quality to the out of focus background, and the images were tack sharp. How sharp? Like nothing I have ever seen before.

Every hair on the back of a players neck (yes those little almost white hairs) can be seen and counted. Every eyelash, perfectly defined in a way I have never experienced before.

One of the things I have to do from time to time is upsize a photo. The place I was shooting for has minimum requirements for file size. So every now and then I have to take an image in photoshop and res it up a little.

Not all images (cameras) handles this the same way. In some instances, it becomes clear right away that while the file is bigger, the images looks like hell.

Just for fun, I took a photo, cropped it to about 900 pixels in one direction and then res’ed it up to 2000 pixels (nothing fancy, just did it in four steps – 1100 – 1300 – 1600 – 2000) like I always would.

The D3 handled that better then anything I had ever seen.

WOW – I could not only count every eyelash, but I noticed – I can see the veins in the pitchers eyes… Very unexpected!

Just for fun, I also shot into the fans (the upper section) and there were about 30 people in the frame. I zoomed in, and sure enough I could tell what time it said on one man’s watch. UNREAL…

The level of detail (I’ve come to understand pixels aren’t everything – it’s about detail) is extraordinary.

So, as with my night time shooting, the daytime shooting left me very impressed with the D3.

I wish I spent more time with it. I’d loved to get my hands on one for a week or two and really put it through some paces.

If I could afford it, I would probably switch back for this camera. I never wanted to leave Nikon. In fact – Like Ronald Reagan said about becoming a Republican, he never left the Democrat party, they left him. I feel that way about Nikon, I didn’t leave them, they left me. Perhaps it’s time to return… There are other issues for me now (pool glass etc) but who knows.

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Ed Betz

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