It’s here, officially. Which I’m sure is bringing a smile to the face of many just as wide as Little Joe Lastie’s here in this picture. Shot in Preservation Hall, with the Nikon D4, 24-70mm lens, ISO 200, and several speed lights. We’ve been involved with the prep for this camera for several months, and been shooting with it for the last few weeks. And, man are we happy to be able to finally talk about it.
Whew! Done. It’s out. We can officially say that letter and numeral together. Out in the field, as a team, we just referred to our cameras as the Millennium Falcons, One and Two. It’s come through rain, wind, weather and all manner of natural calamities to be real, and here, on our doorstep. Here’s one of my first questions. What are those wonderful fellas over at Nikon Rumors gonna do now? I mean, how to fill up the time? They’ve been bulldogging this camera now for months. I suggest they all go out, have a nice meal, and get hammered. Their work is done. At least until the D5. Which is a helluva camera, by the way. I’ve been shooting the prototype.
I have no need of a D5. When the D3 came out, honestly, I thought I was done. Okay, I thought, this is the camera they gently fold my lifeless fingers around when they dress me in a nice suit and send me away for a long nap. There were plenty of pixels in that camera to keep me company, and they all seemed to behave quite well. I was raised on transparency film, and the D3 settled forever any nostalgic issues about going back to slides. But this camera makes the reverential memories of Kodachrome 25 fade like an old color print.
The D4 is an entirely new chapter in the history of the pixels. It arrived in a nondescript box. We all stared at it, like it was something that got sent from a sci-fi movie, and if we opened it, we would find the still beating heart of an alien life form.
We were, of course, expecting the box, having been involved in the discussion of the camera for over six months. We knew it was on the way. We knew it was gonna be cool. We just didn’t know how cool.
We hammered our prototypes, honestly. Showed them no reverence whatsoever. First stop was the swamps of Florida. About a day into that adventure, I told Drew that if I ever mentioned working in the swamps again, he could just go ahead and shoot me—with a gun. First location we showed up at was highly desirable from a photo point of view. Less so after we noticed the large water moccasin curled up right about where I would have put a tripod. The ranger commented, “They’re pretty territorial, and aggressive. He probably thinks this is his location.”
I thought about giving the snake the camera and having him shoot the job, but, seeing as I’m the one with the opposable thumbs, and (theoretically) a larger brain, we continued our search.
We found our way to a picture, through the muck and the mud. And, right off the bat, I was impressed with the file. It was, in a word, smooth. I know that’s not a techy description, and there’s some folks out there right now counting every pixel, but I was impressed by the detail and the creaminess of the pictures. No sharpness of contrast, and harshly defined lines of demarcation between highlights and shadows. Smooth, in a word, and great skin tone.
We had a ball, quite frankly. We took the camera from the swamps of Jacksonville to the studios of New York, and back down again to a circus in Florida, and then to the music scene in New Orleans. Through it all, I was continuously impressed with:
File detail and forgiveness in the shadows.
Responsiveness of the camera in terms of intuitively good exposures and autofocus.
Video quality and new features. Wow. We’re in the final stages of post right now for what we shot. Check back sometime next week for the full scoop. It’s a game changer.
New rocker buttons for moving the auto-focus cursor.
Ease of shifting the auto-focus modes.
Size and clarity of the lcd.
The fact that I dropped one and it kept working.
Plus, none of us had tried to light an elephant with an SB-910 and a Lastolite tri-grip before.
Cora, our wonderful elephant, is 9600 pounds. Mike Grippi is back there trying to put a catch light in her eye. Awesome!
For the next couple of weeks, we’ll be reporting on field adventures with the D4. Stay tuned for stills, video and BTS stuff. For now, I think I’m going to get some sleep. More tk….