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CELEBRITIES, CHICKENS, CLOWNS… A glimpse into the crazy world of Perou
HOW TO MAKE YOUR SITE STAND OUT
Got a website? You need to read these tips
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WELCOME We’re up to Issue 100 no less, and we’ve got a real feast of features to celebrate. Have a read and remind yourself of all that’s changed over the past eight years
Thanks for joining us as we celebrate our 100th issue, and it’s a special one that includes a huge ten-page feature that looks back at the past eight years and some of the momentous events that have taken place in the world of professional photography during that time. For example, it’s astonishing to consider the price you were paying per megapixel back in 2006, and we’ve estimated that this has fallen from around £250 (D2x) to £66 (D810) in that time. We’ve seen the arrival of Twitter, the smartphone, the iPad and ISO 100,000 as well, and sometimes you just need to stand back and consider what’s happened to take it all in. We’ve also got a terrific interview with the outstanding Perou, (who sat through the whole thing made up as a clown – turn to Portfolio to find out why), and we’ve caught up with the legend that is Troy Paiva to discover how the man who started the light painting craze learned his craft. The prom season may have finished a few months ago, but also in this issue we finding out why this is the time to start touting for work next summer, and why it can be so lucrative, and we’re also taking a long hard look at Nikon’s latest full-frame camera, the D750. Thank you for joining us and I do hope you enjoy our centenary issue!
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From shoots to launches, we’ve got it covered, plus the chance to win Nikon kit.
014 PORTFOLIO: PEROU
COVER It’s no 365 project, but as Perou takes a photo every day, that’s a helluva lot of celebrity portraits!
020 PROJECT: ARTIST AT WORK
Anthony Lycett on photographing Parisian artists in their studios.
026 PENTAX HOT SHOTS
Five photographers go on location with the Pentax 645Z.
031 100 NOT OUT!
COVER Can you believe Photo Professional is 100? We don’t look that old, do we?! So what’s changed since issue 1 in 2006?
046 RAINY WEDDING DAYS
COVER What exactly do you do when the tail end of a hurricane is forecast to hit your wedding venue? We find out from storm-defying photographer Jon Dennis.
052 LIGHTING MASTERCLASS COVER Shooting the shooters, commercial photographer Matt Davis shares the secrets behind his portraits.
060 NIGHT RIDER
Criss-crossing the country to light paint ghost towns and urban decay with pioneer Troy Paiva. 026
069 BUSINESS MATTERS
090 NIKON D750
072 MASTER MARKETING
077 YOU WILL GO TO THE PROM
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Forget learning the three Rs; it’s the three Cs that you really need to know all about. And they’ll be copyright, coaching and contracts. COVER Beautiful to look at and simple to navigate. That’s exactly how your website should be, and it will be with help and advice from Donal Doherty. Do your homework now and you could find yourself turning a pretty penny at next summer’s school proms.
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The 20 must-read tips to set you on the road to showreel success. Plus the latest news to keep you abreast of all the moviemaking developments before the next issue on 5 February. 004 PHOTO PROFESSIONAL ISSUE 100
Gear COVER Nikon’s third DSLR so far this year, but has this so-called high-end enthusiast model got what it takes to go professional? Image-editing software doesn’t yet rule the roost. There is still room in the hen coop for a filter or two, including this highflying pair. We have lift off – the tale of one snapper’s plan to go into orbit, plus fashion, lighting
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Inbox THE BIG PICTURE
BLOWING UP THE DREAM
For shock value Tyler Shield’s Luxury series takes some beating. In his time he’s destroyed a whole series of invaluable objects for the sake of art, the latest ‘victim’ being his beloved Rolls Royce PICTURE TYLER SHIELDS
Whatever you might think of luxury items, it can’t help but make you wince when you encounter one being cold-heartedly destroyed. Tyler Shields bases his art around such reactions, and in the past has shocked his public with pictures of a $100,000 Birkin handbag being dismembered by a chainsaw, while another was pictured being devoured by an alligator. The resulting fine art prints of the carnage are sold in galleries around the world, and collectively they make up Tyler’s Luxury series. The latest object to meet its fate at the hands of the Los Angeles-based photographer is a Rolls Royce. It was ceremoniously blown up in the desert, an event that was recorded by a 6K Red Dragon camera. Why did he do it? “When I was a kid I wanted a Rolls Royce,” says Tyler. “It was my dream car, but again when I was a kid I used to dream of blowing one up, so I suppose that was my fantasy. What it came down to is the fact that a Rolls Royce is the ultimate and supreme luxury item, and after driving a few of them in my time I understand why they are incredible machines.” Red were approached and agreed to come on board, and the entire scene was filmed using the Dragon, footage and stills being on display in a London Gallery within four days. “It was important to me to get it out fast because I didn’t want anything to leak,” says Tyler. “I just wanted people to see it. It was my single fastest turnaround, and it took 37 hours straight to get it done, with five people working on it.” www.tylershields.com
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PENTAX HOT SHOTS
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HOT SHOTS P E N TA X 6 4 5 Z S H O O T
What could be better than the opportunity to be a Pentax Hot Shot on a location shoot with the medium-format digital 645Z? WORDS WILL CHEUNG PICTURES VARIOUS
PENTAX HOT SHOTS ell, a dry day out with the competitively priced Pentax medium-format DSLR, was what we were hoping for. When Photo Professional offered readers the chance to win one of five places on an exclusive Pentax Hot Shots location shoot with the 645Z, all fingers were crossed for the weather. All to no avail. The chosen five found themselves in the Lake District – with me, Will Cheung, editor of Photo Pro’s sister title Advanced Photographer; Mark Cheetham, Ricoh Imaging’s national accounts manager; and Matt Emmett, Pentax ambassador and expert urban photographer – in a downpour. There was no going back though; a selection of the Lake District’s most picturesque spots and the 645Z awaited. Thankfully, the Pentax 645Z has 76 seals to keep the weather out, so fitting the standard 55mm f/2.8 lens to the loaned cameras, the intrepid shooters set out despite the rain. There was also a good selection of other lenses to try, covering a range from 25mm to 300mm including the new 28-45mm f/4 wide-angle zoom. Also on offer were loaned Manfrotto MTCXPRO055 tripods with X-PRO three-way heads, plus Lee Filters ND grads, polarisers and the Big Stopper – basically, everything you could want for a day’s photography in the Lakes, given some half decent weather. Luckily, the skies cleared up (well, apart from a few rain clouds later on) and the cameras proved their reliability in the face of a serious drenching. So turn over to see a selection of the images our five photographers produced with the Pentax 645Z.
ABOUT THE PENTAX 645Z A fully featured medium-format DSLR, the 645Z counts a 51.4-megapixel CMOS sensor, a top ISO of 204,800, articulating monitor and Full HD video capability among its headline features. Shoot medium-format and you expect great quality images and the Pentax’s 44x33mm dimensions give files of 8256x6192 pixels, which translates to 27.5x20.6in prints without interpolation. And you get this top quality in a camera that is equally at home on location and in the studio. Handling is slick, AF responsive and accurate. The exposure system uses a 86,000 pixel RGB sensor and the battery is capable of up to 650 shots. MORE INFORMATION
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SPECIAL FEATURE 100TH ISSUE REVIEW
NEW TECHNOLOGY MARCHES ON The professional world was a different place eight years ago, with digital capture not yet universal, the price of gear sky high and most photographers on a steep learning curve. How have we moved from there to here?
Given the speed that technology advances with these days, eight years is a positive lifetime and, sure enough, the landscape for the professional now, compared to what it was like when Issue 1 of Photo Professional – then known as Digital Photo Pro – hit the bookshelves, has changed almost beyond recognition. Back then the majority of those in the business had cut their teeth on silver halide, even if by this point many of them, grudgingly in some instances, had taken on board the fact that the case for digital capture was so compelling that it couldn’t be ignored any longer. Compare that to now, when an entire generation has never encountered film, and it’s easy to see how working practices and the skill set required of a working photographer have fundamentally changed. The price of digital gear and the feature set considered essential for professional use has also changed dramatically, while new options, such as HD Video production, have become available, opening the door for some photographers to change the nature of their businesses around completely. We’ve also seen the medium-format arena, considered by some to be heading for the buffers eight years ago, enjoy a renaissance, with some really innovative new products that celebrate the difference between this sector and the smaller format DSLR, and the potential to enjoy the benefit of CMOS technology. So, where were we eight years ago, what were the key professional products and how much did they cost? Looking back at Issue 1 of the magazine, published in November 2006, there are some interesting products being offered. The very first back cover, for example, was an ad for the Nikon D200, which cost £1019 body only. The replacement for the Nikon D100, which had carried the mid-range professional flag for Nikon for a period, offered a 10.2-megapixel DX sensor (‘able to deliver sharp images even under high enlargement’), 5fps continuous shooting and an 11-area or seven-wide area flexible autofocus system. I bought one of these cameras myself, and it performed really well, and was rightly seen as something of a breakthrough model for the price. The price of a second-hand D200 body
IMAGES What hasn’t changed in the last eight years on the kit market? The manufacturers dominating the top end, maybe.
Twitter is launched – called twttr and with green branding. How things have changed! @PhotoProUK joined in June 2009.
Originally for students only, Facebook is opened up to everyone aged 13 and over, complete with Al Pacino’s face for the logo.
Hasselblad announces the H3D product line at Photokina, its “full-frame DSLR camera system”, with two models, the 22- and 39-megapixel cameras.
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SPECIAL FEATURE 100TH ISSUE REVIEW
The price of digital gear and the feature set considered essential for pro use has changed dramatically
on eBay today is around £145, so it still has a value, and it can still take decent pictures. The flagship model for Nikon at that time was the 12-megapixel D2x, selling at around £3000 body only and favourably reviewed by John Clements in Issue 1: compare that to the £2399 price tag for the 36.6-megapixel D810 currently being quoted by Jessops. Consider that the D810 is a full-frame model, offering a top ISO speed of 51,200 compared with the somewhat paltry nominal top ISO speed of 800 on the D2x (although there were two Hi settings available as well), and you get some idea of how far we’ve come in eight years. A decent D2x body on eBay would still go for around £300 today. Back in those long off days Canon was something of a frontrunner on the professional DSLR front, its EOS 5D being a bit of a breakthrough model: full-frame and relatively affordable. Jacobs was offering it body only for £2129.99 in Issue 1, spookily close to the current price tag – £100 less at Wex – for the latest 5D Mark III. Meanwhile the 16.7-megapixel Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, likewise a full-frame model and launched two years earlier, was available for £4600 body only in Issue 1: top ISO speed was 1600, though there was an option to extend this to ISO 3200. At the time it was the highest priced professional DSLR on the market, and second-hand it can now be bought on eBay for between £450-500. Hand in hand with the falling price of the megapixel – very roughly £250 a megapixel in D2x terms in 2008 against £66 in D810 terms today – the price of memory to record the images has likewise been falling. The price of a SanDisk 1GB SD card at the time Photo Professional launched was almost £60: an incredible amount, although if you shopped around online there were deals, such as £23.99 for a 4GB Datawrite CF card, to be had. Compare that with a price of £69.99 for a 64GB SanDisk Extreme Pro card that you can currently find online, and you get some idea of how things have moved on. We can’t leave the technology section without at least a passing mention of one of the key launches of the past eight years, the camera that started a complete movement virtually on its own. Step forward the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, launched in September 2008. From the moment the 5D Mark II appeared photographers were mesmerised by its ability to shoot full-frame video at a price previously unheard of. Our sister title Pro MovieMaker is testament to what that particular launch spawned, and it has to be one of the most game changing introductions in the lifetime of this magazine.
Canon announces the 10.1-megapixel EOS-1D Mark III APS-H DSLR, describing it as the “world’s fastest DSLR”.
Apple launches the iPhone, “a revolutionary mobile phone”. You couldn’t get your hands on it in Europe though until later in the year; Asian Apple fans had to wait until 2008.
Nikon launches the D3. The company’s first fullframe DSLR, it offered ISO 25,600 – an eyebrowraisingly high figure.
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FROM POUNDS TO PORTRAITS LIGHTING MASTERCLASS
Had he stayed true to his original career path Matt Davis would have become a banker, but instead photography found him and he gave in to his creative urges, becoming an expert at shooting portraits WORDS CHRISTIAN HOUGH IMAGES MATT DAVIS
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IN SEARCH OF MODERN
Troy Paiva is a true legend, the man who pioneered the iconic style of colourfully lit night photography of urban decay so widespread today. We catch up to find out more about his technique and what got it all started WORDS TERRY HOPE PICTURES TROY PAIVA
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ATTRACT YOUR MASTER MARKETING
IDEAL CLIENT Your website is the first impression many clients will have of you, and it’s every bit as important as your portfolio. Donal Doherty looks at how to boost your appeal, make your site easy to navigate and engage your visitors WORDS & PICTURES DONAL DOHERTY
e all know what a portfolio is, though the form it takes these days has altered radically from the time when it involved carrying around a physical folder that showcased your best images. Now it’s far more likely to be online
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and to form a crucial part of your website offering, and you have the flexibility to adapt it and to tailor it precisely to suit the taste of the audience that you’re looking to attract. We all know how quickly you have to make an impression when someone alights on your
site, and the portfolio is very often the first place they will visit so it’s crucial that this makes an instant impression. Consistency is key, and every shot on display should be a killer, since weaker images will drag the stronger ones down. Less is definitely
IMAGES There’s a fine line between giving away too much information and not saying enough. Either way, make sure your contact information is easy to access and visible from any point on your website.
more when selecting images for your online portfolio: only showcase the type of work you wish to shoot, since this will act as a visual guide for clients and it should inspire those who will appreciate your style while deterring others who are looking for something else. For example, my portfolio mainly consists of photography that’s fun, natural and has an editorial edge. My goal is to shoot more of this type of work, and by showcasing these pictures it encourages the visitor to think along these lines as well. While I predominantly showcase weddings, viewers can explore engagement and portrait galleries too. The presentation of your portfolio is as important as the images you include. Before the customer has even looked at the pictures you’re displaying they will have formed an opinion on the quality of your product, based on the aesthetics of your website. A well-thought through, user-friendly and aesthetically appealing web design adds value to your brand and will enhance the experience of those who view your portfolio online. Even if it’s subliminal, they will have a better impression of you if they encounter a site that appears to have a strong professional feel. As you develop as a photographer you’ll see your work evolve, and it’s important to curate your portfolio at regular intervals to ensure it stays fresh. You may even wish to change the images to match the season. My website was designed on Showit, a drag
and drop website builder, which means that it’s easy for me to log on and make changes as I go. Make sure your website is content managed with a content management system (CMS) that gives you the ability to update it and the galleries when you want to. Set your pricing There are a number of schools of thought regarding how much information on pricing you should divulge on your website. Provide no information at all and potentially clients might think you’re too expensive, or you could open yourself up to enquires from couples with a budget you wouldn’t even get out of bed for! On the other hand, provide too much pricing information and, while you’ll inform potential clients, you may scare away others who misunderstand the value of what you’re offering. You’re commoditising yourself, and potential customers will be able to scrutinise your prices against those of your competitors. While you may be able to fully justify what you’re charging you’ve effectively lost the chance to sell yourself and to explain what makes you unique.
By supplying a price range, however, you can avoid this situation and effectively make yourself, and your vision, eye and heart, the thing they should be valuing. You should then ask clients to contact you for more detailed information, and in this way you’re filtering out those who cannot afford you while not scaring away others who might consider stretching their budget. When a client contacts you it’s your opportunity to start a conversation and to highlight the value of your services. If they provide a telephone number you can call them to start to build a connection, or you may wish to do this all by email. This will also enable you to determine if that enquiry is a good fit for you and your brand. I used to offer clients a PDF brochure with all my pricing information, but I found that many didn’t see the attachment or had problems opening it. I’ve recently developed a bespoke web page that has all the information required by a bride-to-be: it’s dynamic, the images and albums look gorgeous and it’s really easy to navigate. As a bonus it’s also enabled me to increase conversions since it went live last month!
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PRO MOVIEMAKER PRODUCING A SHOWREEL
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PRO MOVIEMAKER PRODUCING A SHOWREEL
Create a successful demo reel
If you want to increase your chances of success in the filmmaking business, follow these 20 tips from Danny Greer, CMO of the Premiumbeat website, to create an engaging demo reel
WORDS DANNY GREER
well-constructed demo reel with exceptional work examples can be the key to getting employment in the production and post business. Although they tend to come in a myriad of variations, there are crucial things to consider that will help you to get your message across and maximise your potential job opportunities.
1. Keep it short. A demo reel should highlight your best work, and thus should probably not be a sampling of everything you’ve ever done. Around 60 to 90 seconds should be enough, and certainly less than two minutes. One of the main tasks of a video editor is to be able to tell a clear story in a condensed amount of time: underscore this by showing off your work with brevity. 2. Make it specific. It seems that many folks have multiple skill sets. When applying for a position, ensure that your demo reel is targeted specifically to an individual skill or job function (director, editor, director of photography, animator). You may have to create multiple reels, but you will appear more focused. 3. Collages or samples? Demo reels seem to be divided into two types – the rapid fire ‘collage’ type that shows quick shots cut to music or the segmented ‘scene’ based reel that shows short samples of clips cut together in some context. Which is right for you? Typically, the collage type reels work best with spot/commercial/short-form work while the scene reels might be more appropriate to spotlight narrative/documentary/journalism based projects. As a general rule of thumb, for whatever style reel you make, ensure that the clips are digestible by the viewer. Can they take in what’s happening in the footage? Does it appropriately highlight your abilities? 4. Best foot forward. Although the old saying ‘save the best for last’ may be true in some situations, for demo reels this is simply not the case. Make sure you lead with your strongest work: you only have a few seconds to grab the viewer’s attention. 5. Your work only. Whatever footage you show in your reel, make sure that you had some part in it. If you don’t have the body of work that the job requires, don’t apply for it! Dishonesty may not only cost you one job,
but in small production markets (where word travels fast) it could mean the end of a career. 6. Slate it. This may sound like a nobrainer, but include your name and contact information on a quick slate at the start and end of your reel. Your reel’s worthless if the viewer has no way to contact you. 7. Showcase your involvement. One way to convey the specific roles you had in your showcased clips is to include short descriptions in your reel. This will not only keep you honest about your involvement but it will give the viewer a better sense of your abilities. You can also include the software or tools that you used – ‘Final Cut Pro editor’ or ‘Steadicam operator’. 8. Highlight impressive clients. If you’ve got an impressive client list, use it to your advantage! Major corporations, popular films or network television programmes are impressive and can be noted in your reel. 9. Emphasise technical ability. You may want to use your demo reel to show off your work process. I’ve seen many colourists show before and after shots, and to great effect. In such instances, do a split-screen or quick shot sequence to show the different stages. 10. Be mindful of aspect ratios. As a full-time editor, one pet peeve I’ve developed is seeing different aspect ratios on the same timeline without regard for how it looks. Yes, you may have done some projects in both 4x3 and in 16x9. And yes, you should showcase both if they are examples of quality work. But when you combine aspect ratios be cognisant of it! 11. Say no to copyrighted music. Not only is the unauthorised use of copyrighted music illegal, it will likely turn off potential employers. Instead, use an energetic royalty-free music track to make your reel lively and spirited: Premiumbeat has thousands of high-quality royalty-free tracks. 12. Cut to the beat. A common rookie mistake is just slapping music under a video track. Instead, present yourself as a professional by cutting to the music and use it to give your demo reel energy and drive. 13. Don’t repeat footage. Repeating footage in your demo reel may lead others to believe you have a very limited body of work. Instead, err on the side of brevity by leaving the viewer wanting to see more.
14. Quality control. Check spelling, check for technical errors (glitches, noise) and audio mistakes and then check again! Nothing will have your reel headed for the wastepaper basket faster than a few misspellings or an unintentional jump in the video. 15. Online all the time. Your demo reel should be online and easily accessible. I would suggest uploading it to a video sharing site like Vimeo, a process made even easier with the built-in uploading tools in Final Cut Pro X. Hosting on Vimeo insures that it’s viewable by the overwhelming majority of computer users, whereas sending a specific file type (like WMV or MOV) may prove troublesome if the viewer doesn’t have the right software installed on their computer. 16. DVDs for delivery. Some employers may request demo reels be delivered on DVD. With a DVD, you may also want to create a simple menu that highlights the main demo reel as well as an option to view additional footage or work examples. 17. Label with contact info. Aside from marking the beginning and end of the video, be sure to include your contact information on the physical DVD or website (Vimeo) as well. 18. Active and accessible. One of the benefits of keeping your reel(s) online is the ability to keep it active. Make sure you revisit it every so often, especially after you’ve completed a round of new jobs. 19. Show your personality. Use your reel to showcase you. Are you a little edgy? Got a wild sense of humour? Don’t be afraid to put a bit of you into your body of work: it will give employers a better sense of who you are as a person. 20. Ask a critic. Before showing your showreel to a potential employer give it a few rounds of critique with your acquaintances. What does your reel say about you? Would they hire you based on what they saw? Where are areas for improvement/what’s missing? Now, take their feedback and improve! MORE INFORMATION www.premiumbeat.com is a curated, royalty-free music website that provides high-quality royalty music tracks and sound effects for use in new and traditional media projects.
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What many have been asking for is the natural descendant of the D700â€Ś Finally, Nikon seems to have listened. The result is a camera lots of people have been waiting for
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Although Nikon’s latest DSLR is aimed at the high-end enthusiast, its features will appeal to professionals. Adam Duckworth takes a closer look WORDS & PICTURES ADAM DUCKWORTH
or a camera that Nikon claims is targeted at the aspirational, enthusiast photographer, the new D750 ticks a surprising number of boxes in terms of features that professionals have been begging Nikon for. What we have here is a relatively well-priced and compact full-frame camera, with twin card slots, great low-light performance, fantastic autofocus and – crucially for some – not too many megapixels. Not everybody wants or needs the 36 megapixels of the D810 clogging up their hard drive. And certainly lots of pros either don’t want or can’t justify the mammoth 11fps, full-size D4s, which initially cost almost three times the D750’s asking price. What many have been asking for is the natural descendant of the D700 – a camera that revolutionised wedding photography. Featuring the amazing low-light sensor of the pro-bodied D3 but less bulky and a fraction of the price, the D700 was definitely the wedding pro favourite that even persuaded more than a few Canon users to jump ship. So when Nikon announced the 36-megapixel D800 as its successor, there was an outcry at the new camera’s monster file sizes and its unimproved low-light conditions (over the D700’s). Many claimed it was worse, in fact. So much so that the D700 began to attract a premium as a used buy. Finally, Nikon seems to have listened. The result is a camera lots of people have been waiting for. The only
caveat is that while the D700 was officially a semi-pro offering, the D750 has now been relegated to the status of a serious amateur spec camera. That’s not to say it won’t have masses of appeal to a professional audience, but it does mean that alongside the latest features of the pro-spec D4s and D810, you’ll find a few of the more consumer-style controls of Nikon’s lesser offerings. Professional features Let’s begin by analysing the pro-style features the D750 boasts, kicking off with a look at the component that’s at the heart of any digital camera, namely the sensor. While the D810 has a 36-megapixel monster sensor with no anti-aliasing filter for ultimate detail at the expense of some high ISO performance, the range-topping D4s has a 16-megapixel sensor with an anti-aliasing filter that’s the low-light king. Well, the D750 sits right in the middle of those two, with a 24.3-megapixel sensor with an antialiasing filter, which many will see as a positive move as the implementation of this reduces the effect of moiré on repetitive patterns, such as fabric. The sensor has the same pixel rating as the lesser D610, but Nikon claims it’s new and we believe them. It has the perfect mix of more resolution than the D4s, with a fantastic dynamic range that’s close to the D810, and it’s better at controlling noise than the D610. OK, it might not beat the D4s for low light, but it’s still an amazing IMAGE A 24.3-megapixel sensor is plenty of resolution for even the most demanding clients and the full-frame D750 delivers quality files.
NIKON D750 SPECIFICATIONS CONTACT www.nikon.co.uk PRICE £1799 body only SENSOR 24.3 megapixels, 36.0x23.9mm FX CMOS with anti-aliasing filter IMAGE DIMENSIONS 6016x4016 pixels ISO RANGE 100-12,800 (expandable to ISO 50-51,200) AUTOFOCUS 51 points with 15 cross-type SHUTTER 30secs-1/4000sec, flash sync 1/200sec EXPOSURE COMPENSATION ±5EV, in steps of 1/3 or 1/2EV METERING PATTERNS Multi, centre-weighted, spot, highlight-weighted SHOOTING SPEED 6.5fps LCD SCREEN 3.2in tiltable, 1229k dots STORAGE MEDIA Twin SD, SDHC, SDXC DIMENSIONS (WXHXD) 140.5x113x78mm WEIGHT 980g (including battery and memory card)
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GEAR P RO F I LT E R S
Filters for the pro
Even in this high-tech digital age there is still a need for the time-honoured filter, particularly NDs and polarisers. We test two of the latest products from Hoya and B&W that are designed to offer a pro-spec performance WORDS WILL CHEUNG & KINGSLEY SINGLETON
e’ve become accustomed these days to being able to carry out a wide range of adjustments to our images at the post-processing stage, and many of the tasks that physical filters once performed can now be undertaken in this way.
However, there are still some specialist areas that software is incapable of tackling, such as enabling exposures to be extended or reflections to be suppressed, and for these the filter remains king. Here we take a look at two of the latest high-spec products available for the professional.
B+W 77MM XS-PRO KSM MRC-NANO CIRCULAR POLARISER When you can get a 77mm polariser from as little as £10, why would you go for a £140 model like the 77mm XS-PRO KSM MRCNANO from B+W? Picking up the filter and screwing it on, the first reason we found is build. Unlike cheaper filters that are often made of aluminium, the B+W’s XS-PRO has a very solid-feeling brass construction, and it attaches with an assured smoothness. The added strength also means, down the line, the thread should remain uncompromised and while it weighs a little more than some, at around 40g, it’s not like you’ll notice when it’s attached. For added durability, the polarising film in this Käsemann-type filter is sealed between high-grade optical glass and then edge-sealed to protect from humidity and any build up of mould, and the MRC nano coating is waterrepellent and scratch resistant, so cleaning is easier and free from smearing. The filter also extends only half as far as most, meaning that it’s less likely to vignette at wide-angle. It’s rated useable at a minimum of 17mm on full-frame cameras, and 10mm on APS-C version, but with a Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 on a D800 we saw no problems at the edges even at the maximum angle-of-view. Although the filter is thin, there’s no issue in locating or
turning the bezel while in a shooting position, thanks to its ridged front edge which sits well away from the main screw, and the turning action is very smooth. Conclusion In terms of the all-important image quality, the filter doesn’t disappoint. During shooting we saw no discernible loss of sharpness, and while colours didn’t remain truly neutral at the polariser’s full effect, the slight warming was entirely pleasing for landscape work. Inevitably, this means loss of light to the sensor, and depending on the angle of use and subject you’re aiming at we saw anything from 21/3EV to 1 2/3EV in the test image on this page – the very minimum was 1EV. Coverage of the polarising effect, which is easy to see against a clear blue sky, is very good, though as is normal at wider settings it doesn’t quite fill the frame. Overall this B+W XS-Pro circular polariser is a top-class filter that, treated respectfully, will last a lifetime. RIGHT Using a tripod-mounted Nikon D800 with Nikkor 16-35mm f/4, we shot the same scene with and without the B+W XS-Pro KSM MRC-Nano circular polariser. There’s no loss of sharpness evident and the gentle warming works well with our landscape test image.
CONTACT www.schneideroptics.com STREET PRICE 77mm £140 SIZES 49mm to 86mm (£75-£185) CONSTRUCTION Brass, scratch and waterresistant coating WEIGHT 40g
RATING FEATURES..................................9/10 PERFORMANCE......................9/10 HANDLING.................................8/10 VALUE FOR MONEY..............8/10
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GEAR P RO F I LT E R S
HOYA PRO ND FILTERS Extreme long exposure filters are often referred to as extreme neutral density (ND) filters, but they’re generally not neutral. To be fair, most (but not all) makers of extreme NDs make it perfectly clear that a correction is needed. The Lee Filters Big Stopper, for example, is cool and needs a Kelvin white-balance setting of 10,000K, while the B+W 110 is warm and 4000K is a good setting. Shoot Raw, of course, and corrections can be made in software during post-processing. For sheer convenience, having an extreme ND that is genuinely neutral is handy and will save you time. The camera, for example, can be left on auto white-balance as you switch from normal photography to shooting long exposures. Step forward the Hoya PRO ND range, which features nine strengths of filters from 4x to 1000x. We tested the three strongest ones on offer: the ND200 absorbs 7.6EV, the ND500 9EV and the ND1000 reduces light by 10EV. All strengths are available in screw-in sizes from 49mm to 82mm. The neutrality provided by the PRO ND range of filters is thanks to Hoya’s ACCU-ND technology, and the coating used also means that there’s no colour shift between filter strengths. We tested the three filters using a tripod-mounted Nikon D800 first set to NO FILTER, AWB, 1/320SEC AT F/8
ABOVE A series of images taken with Hoya PRO ND filters on a tripod-mounted Nikon D800 starting with an unfiltered AWB shot as a control. Then the filter was added and AWB used again, followed by a sequence of manual Kelvin images from 4000K through to 10,000K using the camera’s presets. We’ve only shown the 5560K result here. The base unfiltered exposure was 1/320sec at f/8 and ISO 100, and the filter factor was then applied to give the exposure for each ND filter. Processing settings in Lightroom 5 were the same for each image. There are minor variations in the results, which are probably due to changing cloud cover, although all shots were taken when the sun was shining over a seven-minute spell. From these results, you can see that each Hoya PRO ND filter can confidently be used with AWB knowing that a neutral outcome will be the result.
RATING FEATURES................................................ 9/10 PERFORMANCE..................................10/10 HANDLING............................................... 9/10 VALUE FOR MONEY............................8/10
AWB and then at individual Kelvin settings, and light absorption was measured using a Gossen Digipro F light meter. The Raw files were processed in Lightroom 5 with the whitebalance slider set to As Shot. The results, as you can see, are impressive and are indeed neutral, as claimed by Hoya. They are also consistent from strength to strength. We anticipated that there could be a colour shift issue with the strongest filter, but in the event it worked fine and proved to be just as neutral as its siblings. Conclusion Hoya has long been known as a filter manufacturer of high integrity and it certainly shows here. It claims its ND range is neutral and indeed that’s what we found: neutral and optically excellent too, with minimal flare when shooting towards the light. The filters are also easy to clean using either a LensPen Filter or a microfibre cloth; finger grease and other nasties both came off without leaving any residue or marks. Price-wise the Hoya PRO ND competes strongly with other screw-fit brands and so can be highly recommended. We found one UK dealer selling the 77mm 1000x filter at £79; its guide price is £165, so that seems an exceptionally good deal.
CONTACT www.intro2020.co.uk STREET PRICE 77mm £165 SIZES 49-82mm STRENGTHS ND 4x, 8x, 16x, 32x, 64x, 100x, 200x, 500x, 1000x WEIGHT 33g (77mm fit)
PRO ND 200X, AWB
PRO ND 200X, 5560K
PRO ND 500X, AWB
PRO ND 500X, 5560K
PRO ND 1000X, AWB
PRO ND 1000X, 5560K
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