Nikon’s New Flagship

Nikon’s New FlagshipDSLR: D4 We recently sat down with PPC Wedding Photographer of the year (and frequent contributor to Pro Photo West) Troy Miller to talk about the newest ”in his camera bag, a Nikon D4. Pro Photo West: So Troy, you got the D4 as soon as it became available, were you that excited about the improvements over your last body that you had to have it now? Troy Miller: Yea, I was very excited about the high ISO, and the improvement to focus in low light and new video capabilities and built in HDR processing. Plus new bodies always have improvements, so I was looking forward to better exposure accuracy and improved tonal range. PPW: You were honored this year as PPC Wedding Photographer of the Year, does that mean you primarily shoot weddings? TM: Yes, I also do family, maternity and sometimes seniors from referrals of my wedding clients. PPW: Ok, lettalk about some of those improvements as you have observed, has the focus speed in low light im-- proved?

Nikon’s New FlagshipTM: Yea it has improved massively over my D3s and all previous models, plus the exposure accuracy at the focus point is much better.

PPW: Can you explain what you mean when you say the exposure accuracy at the focus point is better? TM: The camera appears to bias the exposure more tightly around the focus bracket than before, so if I move my focus bracket on the subjectface, and the background is very dark or light, it gives me a better exposure on their face and I find myself not having to use exposure compensation as much as I used to with my older bodies. It is dramatically better with flash. In the past, the flash seemed to try to light the whole room, while now the flash exposure is much more accurate on my subject, based on where I place my focus bracket. PPW: So would you say that the D4 has made your job easier? TM: I do, I donhave to out think the camera as much, it is much more accurate now. I donhave to pay attention to the camera settings as much and make compensation, especially with flash. PPW: What about noise at high ISOs, can you use even higher ISOs than before? TM: The noise is about a stop better, but the color and tonal range in high ISO is probably even more significantly improved. I guess what I mean by that is normally when you shoot at high ISO, the tonal range and color balance seems to fall apart, it just doesnlook right. But with the D4, this has been dramatically improved by probably two stops at least. It gives me more creative latitude in my shooting.
PPW: What else have you noticed is better with the new body? TM: The dynamic range has improved and Icapturing more detail in extremes, like the black tux and white dress than I ever have before. Itgiving me even more to work with when I do my post processing. I have found that if I want to purposely blow out a background, I have to overexpose by one additional stop because of the improved dynamic range. PPW: What else do you like about the new D4? TM: First of all, they added a little thumb grip for when you are shooting vertically and it may seem small, but itawesome, I love it. The D3 didnhave it and when you rotated the body, you have to grip really hard, with the D4 you donhave to do that. Everything is much more configurable and customizable than in the past. They added two toggle buttons that you can configure to do just about anything. I use them for controlling my focus brackets. For me, someone who lives with this camera in his hand, those little changes are huge. Nikon’s New FlagshipPPW: Anything else about the body that is new that you like? TM: Yea, they changed the auto focus mode selector. They improved it. I used to constantly bump it into manual mode. And now you have to press a button and turn the switch to change from AF-S to AF-C and back, which I used to always find in the wrong position because it was so easily moved.
PPW: At wedding receptions, you probably use flash a lot, have they changed anything as far as flash exposure control? TM: Yes, they have in a big way. I can now control the flash and ambient light right from the camera, instead of having to turn a dial on the flash back, and make a change on the body. The exposure compensation button on the body can now be changed to only affect ambient light when using a flash instead of the whole frame. With this setting, the exposure compensation leaves the flash alone. PPW: All of that sounds really great; do you have any images you can share that would demonstrate some of these new features? TM: Yea, take a look at the sunset image. (opposite page) It demonstrates a high iso shot with lots of color and tonal range. To be able to hold all that detail is just amazing. I was able to with a bit of post processing really brighten up the couple and hold all that detail. For me, that is something that the D4 has made possible. With the D3s, I would not have been able to pull out that much detail without some image degradation. The image of the bride against the white wall (above) shows subtleties and details in the highlights that I have never been able to create before. PPW: Sounds like the D4 is an incredible piece of equipment, are you finally done buying new bodies? TM: Yea, until the D5! For now, I am looking at lenses.

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