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New Image, New Camera

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Standing Stones near Hawnby, North York Moors.As some readers of this blog may be aware I'm a big fan of Large Format photography. The whole essence of the process from setup to taking the image has always been an art in itself - and in the most part a very enjoyable one.

However, in recent months the demise of Quickload film has meant having to prepare sheets of film into a holder using a dark tent and subsequently emptying exposed film into boxes ready for processing. For me this long-winded process has taken the shine off this otherwise great experience. So for a while now I've been looking for a digital alternative.

Standing Stones near Hawnby, North York Moors.Having looked into all the options including digital backs, cameras and cost I ultimately decided to purchase the Nikon D800E DSLR and three lenses. I have to say from the start that I really wished I could have justified the cost of a Linhof Techno/Phase One bundle (and was very close to purchasing such). This is because I just know that I would have enjoyed the experience of the whole photo taking process of such equipment. However, I decided to go down the D800E route not because of the difference in price entirely but because I just couldn't ignore the results from numerous tests that were conducted on this camera.

Today's image is hopefully the first of many to be taken with the D800E using Nikon's 45mm Tilt/Shift lens (although on this image no tilt or shift was necessary). I have to say that the Nikon is a dream to use and is so simple and quick to set up - although I'm conscious that this could result in poor compositional decisions which I will have to keep reminding myself of!

As you will see from the gallery, I already have an image from this spot taken with the Ebony and it's interesting to compare the two, but I thought this image warranted being there with the rest.

It's early days with the Nikon D800E but so far I'm impressed. My main concern after buying it was my choice of lenses largely due to the mixed reviews of the resolution with certain types. I decided to purchase the aforementioned 45mm PCE, a Carl Zeiss Distagon 25mm and Nikon's 70-200mm all of which have so far proved very sharp - in particular the 70-200 which is astonishing. The only issue I have had to address so far is a tiny bit of Chromatic Aberration on one or two images which is easily removed using one button in Lightroom 4.

Using the Live view screen works like a dream and is easy to check sharpness using the Zoom tool throughout the image. One or two photographer friends have expressed concern over the low light capabilities of the screen and I have to agree it becomes very grainy or pixelated even in moderately low light. However, I find the viewfinder takes over this role when in such circumstances.

I still plan on taking the Ebony out occasionally - particularly as I feel it will help with reminding myself about composition. As the image is upside down and laterally reversed it means your brain is divorced from the view and allows you to concentrate on elements within the image, allowing for better compositional decisions (my view!). I just wish Nikon would add this as a feature to the D800/E!

I'll be adding more information and findings on the D800E in future blogs so feel free to check back regularly.

As usual this image and more can be seen in the Landscapes area of the gallery.


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