Nikon D4S / SHOOTING REPORT vol.1 vol.2

The last report was a little brief because I didn't have enough time to shoot and write. So, this time, I went to Kyoto and spent three days with the D4S. I wanted to shoot ume (Japanese apricots), but it snowed unexpectedly. So, I decided to shoot ume with some snow, but then it became sunny. And, as soon as I started to shoot the city it snowed again. Life is hard, isn't it? It should be warmer in March, but recently we have longer hot and cold season, or shorter spring and fall. This weather condition dulls leaves' color. I hope this year we can have beautiful cherry blossoms and fall leaves... Anyway, let's talk about the D4S.

( Photography & Text : K )

Even though it was about the middle of March, it was a snowy day. The shop curtain was swinging nicely, so I focused on the falling snow. The D3's successor D4S is a camera that realizes shooting the darkness. When I set ISO AUTO, I also set the highest and the lowest ISO as well as the slowest shutter speed. Except when I use fast lenses, I basically shoot with this ISO AUTO settings. This shot is ISO1100 and it looks great. The body and the lens are heavy enough to bite my shoulder, but this is the weight of reliability. And, even if I said it's heavy, I could still shoot hand-held without a tripod. How sweet!

I feel the D4S generates sharper images than the D4, and it captures the air with serenity. The light is diffused in the space and the tonality range is continuous. In order to capture it, the higher the ability to trace the tonality is, the better it would be. And, this ability to realize tonality contributes to sharpness. Digital cameras have advanced by improving the ability to sample scenes. If this scene were shot with a film, the picture would have a different appeal. Maybe, digital photography is about minute capturing of scenes, while film photography is about deforming them. And, they are both fun. Anyway, even though I'm so accustomed to films, I'm happy because now I can use digital camera without hesitation.

The location is Jonangu shrine near Kyoto South IC of the Meishin Highway. They have a beautiful apricot garden and it was extremely clouded. I had also brought the 70-200mm F2.8, but I switched to the 80-400mm because I thought 200mm isn't long enough to shoot in the cloud. Of course, the 80-400mm cannot produce large bokeh like the 70-200mm, but this new version is sharper and clearer than the former version. So, I think it's an all-round lens for auto traveling. And, I felt the weight was almost the same and the great weight balance with the massive D4S secures holding, too.

The location is Entokuin in Kodaiji Temple. This is where Hideyoshi Toyotomi's legal wife spent her last days. I recommend this spot because it's less crowded than the Kodaiji itself. They light up in the fall, so it would look gorgeous in the same framing. And, it closes at 10PM, so you can get a shot without people if you wait until the closing time. Although I shot way under not to whiten the outside view, the shadow part has enough tonality. This richness in tonality is another improvement.

I shot with the 58mm F1.4 under and at the minimum focus distance. The depth of focus was ultra-thin, but I shot handheld. No matter how hard I tried to keep still, I lose focus easily because I moved slightly forward and backward. But, the viewfinder discriminates focus peak. In addition, the finder black-out time is short and the release time lag is also shot. Yes, there's a case when the shooting is assisted by the body's capability. I set all compensation settings off (incl. vignetting). Cameras in the former age would cause tone jumping when they were used with a lens that has significant vignetting. But now, I can shoot with confidence.

This is like getting the best of slide and negative film. It's so smooth yet sharp. And, the 58mm is a masterpiece. The focus distance is almost the nearest, but the sharpness of the focus peak is ultra-sharp.

Grab this absolute workhorse. Get absorbed in shooting.

What I noticed this time is the thoroughly fine-tuned images. And, I felt it's best to shoot with the best exposure at the scene. Of course, thanks to the wide dynamic range, I can compensate it with software after shooting, but I still think it's best to develop straight with the parameters at the scene. I often hear that it's OK to overexpose negative films, but monochrome negative films have narrower range to be best exposed. The best picture is attained by the black shadow, white highlight, and the gray point generated in accordance with the film's potential. I realized, to get the best results, I should respect this old rule for films when using the D4S as well. Of course, I'm talking about getting the best of the best, and we can always rely on flexible post-processing to get the second best. Remember, we didn't even have this choice without the advancement in digital camera technology. Anyway, the picture quality of this camera is distinctive, not to mention the make of the body. Now, it's about how you use it.

( 13.03.2014 )