Two brief D800 observations from our traditional Wigilia at Mary and Ed Noyszewski's beautiful brick bungalow in Berwyn:
1. I'm rather astonished at how badly it autofocused. Clearly operator idiocy (er, error) is not ruled out, but it seems that with a single focus point activated the camera isn't very happy in low light. A number of times I half-pressed the shutter button only to be met with—nothing; only a cretinous quietude, as the camera waited passively for me to ask it to do something it could actually do. Granted, the lights were low. But am I right in suspecting that the new mid-level Nikons need all their focus points up and working to work their best?
2. In the Stealth/Blatancy Dept., a new wrinkle: my relatives found the D800 not intimidating in the least (probably because they find me not intimidating in the least) but something amazing and new happened: when I pointed ye Big Dragoon at people they magically composed themselves into groups for a picture. When I pointed it at small groups, people voluntarily added themselves without being asked, or with just slight encouragement. This is a new one on me. It would not have happened with small, less serious-looking cameras; I speak from experience.
The results, when I managed to successfully mimic someone competent and the camera managed to focus, were outstanding.
(By the way, if I ever build a dream house—I won't, because if you build a dream house it ceases to be one—it's going to have slaved flash units in all the light fixtures. An experienced pro correspondent who goes by the handle "extrasalt" tells me these are called "practicals" in British professional lighting parlance, and also that "Roger Deakins is a master of practicals.")
If you celebrated over the past several days, I hope you had a nice time too.
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Richard Alan Fox: "I use one point, center, focus and recompose on the D800E and all my other cameras. I keep the focus assist light on and have no problems in low light and my almost always used lens is the 24–120mm ƒ/4. With the 28mm ƒ/1.8 I would think focus would be better, but maybe you have the little light turned off. I don't use flash. Prefer ISO 6400 ambient light to the little built in strobe."
Mike replies: Ach, forgot about the little light. And to think, last time I needed help figuring out how to turn it off....
Tom V: "'Practical' is a film (cinema) term. I.e. light that appears to be coming from a light fixture or other 'natural' source, even though the bulb has been replaced by a 300W photo-flood, augmented by off-frame spot, etc."
Bruce Alan Greene: "Just to clarify Tom's comment: A 'practical lamp' is any lamp that is part of the set and photographed in the scene. Usually they do little to light the scene beyond the immediate area of the lamp. Sometimes it works out to be able to use the light coming from the lamp that appears in the shot to illuminate a more significant area of the frame. I believe this is what the quote about Mr. Deakins is referring to. I suspect that Mr. Deakins does this less often than it seems. He may be just very good at making the movie lights look convincing. :-) "
[Bruce is a Director of Photography and Camera Operator for film and television —Ed.]
robert quiet photographer: "Skin tones, light and focus...what I like in this photo is that they all are happy!"