The Hamptons

When asked to go to The Hamptons, one naturally thinks of getting on an aeroplane and heading off to Long Island New York.  In this case however, interior designer Judith Hendry transformed an ordinary Sea Point apartment in the ideal Hamptons apartment, just across the road from the promenade. I love the way the space has been redesigned adding huge value to every part of the apartment. The colours and textures used in the decor provide a calm and peaceful place of comfort.

Behind the Scenes

Ever wandered what happens behind the scenes of a shoot? While on a shoot for House and Leisure Magazine, I decided to try out a time laps function that I had on my iPhone.  The shot seems simple enough, but every little detail has to be accounted for, as post production text has to be put on to the images.

Shot at Wembley Studios in Cape Town, our day looked a bit like this.

Nikon D800 Vs Canon MKIII

It has been a long road to get to this comparison between these two cameras.
Once again, a big thank you to ORMS for all the camera equipment used to make this post possible.

You can go to the previous post on the D800 Vs 5DMKII here, but on this epic journey, I have shot in studio and on location, with and without clients. I’ve shot and re-shot to make sure that I’m making as good assessment as I possibly can.

The rules have stayed the same unless indicated otherwise:
– Both cameras were set to the same ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture.
– Lenses used were Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM, Nikon 105mm f/2.8G AF-S VR Micro Nikkor, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM and Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR.
– Images are viewed and processed using Capture One Pro.
– The white balance and exposure, was the same as the previous test. Nikon and Canon have slightly different ways of interpreting the data, so there was always a discrepancy between readings, i.e, exposure readings were a third to a half a stop different for the same reading in Capture One Pro.
– Genre’s of photography were food and decor.

So, lets get started. First up was a shoot I did with House & Leisure Magazine where we shot an advertorial for Simonberg Cheese. Here I’m using a combination of the zoom lens or the macro for the close-up.

On screen size or A4, there is not much difference. It is when you start enlarging that things start to change. The D800 pics up more information, especially in the finer textures of the fabric. It also sees more detail on the leaves. But, there must be a but, there is a certain softness to the images which makes the Canon images, though smaller, appear sharper.

The next shot was basically the same as the test with the 5DMKII. This time I had a controlled light source, tungsten light diffused through a soft box. Another change I made was to make use of a AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II for the first shot (004). Canon’s first shot was done with a EF 70-200mm f/4L USM (017). The second shot with the Nikon was done with a AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR (014). The Canon’s second shot was done on the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM (012).

Here was the start of something I discovered. Remembering that this is my opinion to which some may agree and others disagree, I found that the D800 is lens specific. What that means to me, is that certain lenses work better on the D800 than others, the 24-85mm f3.5 lens to my mind is not ideal for the D800. I could not get a sharp image using this lens on this shot. Also, the same “softness” on the D800 or the “sharpness” of the 5DMKIII occurs here too and this seemed to continue to be the trend of these two cameras throughout the testing.

I did this next shot including the 5DMKII into the test to see what the difference will be. All three cameras are set the same. ISO 100, 1sec, f11. None gave the same exposure. The 5DMKII had to be set to – 0.3, the 5DMKIII set to 0, and the D800 set to + 0.3 to give the same result.

The aim of this test was to show what happens in the shadows. The 5DMKII on the left has poor shadow detail compared to the other two cameras. Here, the D800 (on the right), shows clean shadows, but again, the camera is paired with the 24-85mm f3.5-f4.5 lens producing soft images. So, I decided to not use this lens again and used the 24-120mm f4 for future testing.

While I was swopping the lenses, the Nikon D600 arrived and I was given it for a few hours. Unfortunately, the software I use did not recognize the D600’s RAW files, (being brand new), so I did the shot on JPEG mode on both the D600 and the 5DMKIII. Using the macro lenses, shooting into the light, having the same ISO and aperture. I had different shutter speeds for the exposure as the light was daylight, diffused through a perspex sheet. What is immediately obvious, is the colour difference between these cameras. The Canon producing more saturated colours. Once you’ve looked past the colour, you also notice that the depth of field differs even-though both cameras are on f8. The Nikon 105mm macro producing less depth than the 100mm macro from Canon.

I can’t say that I had tested the D600 properly as I only had it for a short time. The test above was a quick test and it may not be a fair representation.

Comparisons are always subjective. The best thing in all this is to find what works best for you. The questions you need to ask are:  What do you need?  What is the primary work that your camera will be doing? Once these are answered, you can make a decision that is the right one for you.

Nikon D800 Vs Canon 5D MKII

I, like a lot of other photographers or photographic enthusiast, have been asking the same question. Is the Nikon D800 the camera to buy. If you are like me and own a whole Canon system, the question is whether to replace an entire kit for a new breed of camera.

Within my photographic journey of ± 20 years, I’ve worked with various cameras from 35mm to large format.
Even though I am presently a Canon user, one of my favorite cameras is a Nikon FM2. When Canon launched their auto focus system in the late 1980’s, I was there, buying a Canon EOS 620 for myself, while using a Nikon FM2 at work.

Later in 1996, I became an in-house photographer for a Magazine group. It was Nikon all the way till 2003. Canon brought out the EOS 1Ds. It wasn’t long before I was one of two photographers that had a Canon system. Up until now, I felt Canon suited me better in the work I am doing.

Nikon have upped the “game” a lot this time, so I asked ORMS for a Nikon D800 to test against my Canon 5D MKII. When the Canon 5D MKIII arrives, I’ll do another test.

Some of the things you should know about my test:
– Both cameras were set to the same ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture.
– Lenses used were Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM, Nikon 105mm f/2.8G AF-S VR Micro Nikkor, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM and Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR.
– Images are viewed and processed using Capture One Pro. All settings are the same except for the white balance which is explained below.
– Three genre’s of photography were used namely food, decor and portraits.

The first shoot was a food shoot with food editor Arina Du Plessis of Landbouweekblad magazine. This is where I’m still trying to get used to the Nikon and its “language”. Being South African, I am bilingual, but it still meant I had to learn Nikon terminology on the go.

My first impressions were not one of awe, but rather, it works. I have to say that I shoot tethered 90% of the time and Capture One Pro did not support tethered shooting for the D800. What I did notice though, was all the food shots taken on the zoom lens with the Nikon had to be pushed half a stop to render the same exposure as the Canon images. When setting a colour profile for the images, what Canon calls “daylight” Nikon calls “sunny”. Those of us that remember using film or who still use film will know that “Daylight” means 5500Kelvin as it stands on the box. Canon’s default is 5380K and Nikon’s is 5231K when pulled into Capture One Pro. Enough of the technical.

Besides the file size 36Mp vs 21Mp, There wasn’t much in it for me when viewing full screen, as I know that these images will be used as a maximum size of A4 for a the magazine. However, when looking at the images a bit closer, the D800 does see more. More texture in the food. More texture in the fabric used as the table cloth. More sharpness. On the down side there was more magenta in the Nikon images as a whole.

Here are the images seen together.

Here are the same images in a close up look at what is going on inside the image. Nikon images are set to 50% of the image and the Canon images are set to 67% to give the same size in the window.

On to the next challenge. Decor. Styled by my wife Janine, the shots were deliberately set up wanting highlights and shadows in the image. I’ve tried to get the colours as close as possible. Once again, I used the zoom lenses and found that here too the Nikon lenses were a half stop darker than the Canon. So, all settings the same on camera, but not the same when viewed in the software. Nikon images were pushed a 1/3rd of a stop and Canon images were pulled 2/10ths to make up for the half stop difference.

There were three set ups for the decor. The first did not reveal much difference. There is however more detail in the wood carvings in the room divider used at the back. So if one feels that this is the main feature, which I do not, then that would be the difference. I did however feel that the Canon image was slightly sharper.

The next image starts to tell a story of “detail matters”. The Nikon shows more detail on the cushion as well as the glass bell and plant on the library cabinet. Both cameras are set to ISO – 100, Shutter- 2sec, Aperture – f11.

On the last set up, the D800 has more edge to edge sharpness than the 5D MKII which can be seen on the door hinges. I think both cameras did a great capture of this scene. Even though the image looks fairly light, this is a 4 second exposure at f11, shot with natural light on a rainy day.

The shoot would not have been complete without putting some smiley faces in. So while our boys were being boys drinking hot chocolate, I got them to sit on a step outside in the shade. Both cameras now had the macro lenses on. I also put the drives to continuous drive to see how it handled a few rapid bursts. Continuous drive was fine on both cameras, but the D800 takes the photo-count on the cards down quickly due to its file size. Both cameras had to have the exposures tweaked a little bit for images to be similar.

The Nikon images also seemed to be “warmer” and the Canon’s “cooler”. The D800 images have a white balance of 5231K. To get the 5D MKII images to look the same, I had to push the Canon shots by between 400K and 600K. Skin tones are good and for me, I preferred those of the D800. Areas to watch out for are the ones between skin and clothing and the way the shadows form in these areas.

All in all, I was and am impressed with the Nikon D800 and from my perspective, it is worth having a serious look at. I have not done any video footage to compare and have strictly stayed within the photographic environment. It is obvious that Nikon have made this huge improvement. The question for me still lies ahead. Will it out perform the Canon 5D MKIII. I eagerly await to do the test between the D800 and the 5D MKIII, and when I do, you will find me testing them in a similar way.

Will size matter as it has here? We will have to wait and see.

You can review the D800 Vs 5D MKIII here.

Beautiful Home

I went to photograph interior designer Judith Hendry’s home in Stellenbosch. It is a beautiful home where each area has its own story and focal point.

The whole shoot was shot with daylight and when needed, one fill-in flash was used to fill the shadows. The flash was put through a white umbrella to help diffuse the light to still have soft shadows. This technique was mainly used in the bedrooms.

Also used was around reflector, using either the white or silver side to push some light into the shadows where the space was to tight to fit the flash.

The daylight and flash combination was also used for the portrait of Judith. Although the daylight was quite low and I needed to have a long exposure for the interior, the flash helped to “freeze” her and the dog, so that there is no movement on either of them.

Special thanks to Danny Toua for putting the shoot together as well as the styling.

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