As you have seen I have been acquiring new photo gear at an alarming rate. Cameras, lenses, and other stuff I have mentioned in posts ain't even the half of it. Don't worry - don't call the men in white coats to lock me up. I have a plan. I'll go through a list of all my recently acquired paraphernalia sometime soon. A lot of it hasn't been expensive - downright cheap and worth it's weight in gold.
One of the more expensive purchases of late has been the Nikon D600. I didn't get the insanely good deal with free lens that I linked above but this thing is fantastic and a genuine leap forward for me. Great value from my perspective. I have mentioned the dynamic range a couple of times. I was excited when I shot with a few D800's with what I was seeing this year and it had nothing to do with how big the files were. It had everything to do with highlight rendition. I am sure some will appreciate the ability to pull back highlights and push up shadows to do all sorts of HDR-y things with high contrast scenes - not me.
The reason I am excited is that this bit of extra dynamic range seems to somehow be all in the highlight rendering. Who knows, who cares. I can shoot things they way that I want to shoot them with not a lot of fussing around and they will look the way I want them to look. I may have mentioned I am a highlight fetishist. This is not the same thing as a highlight Nazi. Two completely different ailments. A highlight Nazi is someone that doesn't let one single pixel get anywhere near the infamous and terrifying right side of the histogram. I on the other hand am a highlight fetishist - I love to pile up insane amounts of pixels over there on the right side. I like to smash them into that wall and keep on going with one caveat… as long as they look good.
For the first time in my digital shooting career I have to say that when you do this it's actually looking half way decent. For the last month I have tortured the living daylights out of the D600 pixels. It's one of those things that I must know exactly how the camera reacts and what it looks like in just about every circumstance. I won't drone on and on about why this is important to me and the way I like to shoot as well as what I plan on doing with it (more important and more on that later). I will briefly describe the conditions for the StupidCrap™ shot at the top. Hopefully my girls won't kill me for photographing them like this - buy hey it's all in the name of science or something.
The shot at the top is something that is usually epic fail with my previous digital cameras. Not because the detail disappears but because the edges of the highlight break up looked like shit. This shot is the culmination of insanity that I have been testing on StupidCrap™. Sun streaming directly into my lens from behind the girls but at a high enough angle not to be reflected back off a wall that is a number of feet behind my position. That wall is mostly a bunch of very dark brown and black furniture and some off-white above that furniture.
I quite literally couldn't even see the girls through the viewfinder under these conditions. They looked like black outlines with a bunch of very bright flare around them. This exposure is ISO 1600 1/200 at f4.0. That was 4 and one half stops over the intelligent meter's suggestion. I only made two shots one at two stops over and this one. If I had known it would actually look good I would have kept on going for a bit to actually make a nice image of my daughters.
Reasonably decent rendering where the highlights fall apart without all the normal digi-nastiness. Call me pleasantly surprised. I cannot wait to shoot some of the things I have set up for January 2013.