In Focus, Bangkok Photography Blog September 19th, 2009

Kruger Trip Report Part I/5 Years Old and ISO 3200

Indonesia Hotel Guide
Aston Palembang Hotel Convention Center
Horison Palembang Hotel
Novotel Palembang Hotel & Residence
Indra Toraja Hotel

Thank you for your generous contributions. We're slowly collecting enough images to make the mosaics. We are still accepting (and pleading for) images of children from SEA. No matter how terrible you think they are, please send them in anyway. These images will be used to complete a set of 3 high quality mosaics which will be sold to benefit the Karen and Burmese Orphans living in the orphanages and refugee camps. The more images the better, I can use all you have. Please take the time to go through your images for anything you think might help. If you missed the "No Place to Call Home" special, you can click on the link and read more about this. Thank you! [email protected]

I want to start off this week's column by letting you know that from now on ALL images displayed in the column will be watermarked with the "Bangkok Images ©2009" watermark. This watermark will go on my images and any images sent in as readers' submissions, outings, articles, anything at all. This DOES NOT mean I'm trying to say I own images you as the readers have generously shared. It only means I'm trying to stop other sites from using your images without your permission, and my images without my permission. The issue of unauthorized use really is quite extensive, and the reality is that you can't stop someone determined to steal. However, we can make our intent known and a watermark does this.

Feature Photograph

Angkor Vat 2006

It's been several years since my last trip to Angkor Vat and currently I'm busy planning my next trip. This time I'm going to drive and I hope to turn it into a very unusual and interesting workshop. If you're interested please email me at [email protected].

Looking back through my images I vividly remember each step taken through the Angkor park. I can still smell the mustiness, feel the cold of the stone walls as I venture deep inside further from the sun, and feel the fine dust that collects on my clothes and gear. Angkor Vat is a photographer's treasure chest of opportunity. Opportunity to be explored at an easy and relaxed pace. Opportunity which manifests only with careful thought and purpose.

While scouting out the image above I almost regretted carrying along my tripod. Almost. Others with cameras looked at my tripod, turned and checked out the bright sunshine, and then shook their heads whispering to each other. These people lacked creativity and imagination. More, they lacked the desire to make a capture not already seen 1001 times on postcards and restaurant menus. As I carefully stepped or climbed over loose stones my gear grew heavier and heavier and I noticed I was totally soaked with sweat. So as I stopped I'm not sure if it was because my subconscious was screaming silently in my mind "LOOK AT THIS DUMMY", or if it was because I was just so knackered I needed a rest.

I stopped moving forward and squatted. This was when I saw this scene. Multiple door frames illuminated with random streaks of light making their way through cracks hundreds of years old. Different thicknesses of green moss on the walls and stones. And the rugged pile of stones in the frames center gently and precisely illuminated as if for my pleasure only. After all, with all the thousands of tourists in the park I was the only one right here at this moment.

Besides for the streaks of light I was in total darkness, at times using the LCD from my mobile phone to illuminate my way. By feel I set up my tripod, mounted the camera, and connected the external shutter release. Using the cameras illuminated LCD's I adjusted my settings. The tripod allowed ISO 100, the highest quality setting. By now sweat was streaming down my face and my back like small rivers. For some reason I imagined clouds covering the sun and my scene ruined and a cold chill ran down my spine. The sort of chill that makes you momentarily shiver. With a renewed urgency I completed my settings and made the capture. Quickly packing my equipment I moved on not knowing then that two years hence I'd rediscover this frame, nor how happy it would make me. Lost memories found. This is why this image is significant.

Angkor Vat 2006

Another sample using near the same technique. A balance of the light that falls on the walls and arches, with the light filling the interior chamber. These scenes certainly aren't rare in the Angkor Park, so why is it I see so few images of them? I think this image would have been significantly better if I had sat on the ground for a different perspective than this one I captured standing.

Kruger Trip Report Part I

Rob is a good friend and a very serious amateur photographer with the resources to travel and vacation in some really exotic places. He hails from New Zealand and has lived or traveled through much of Asia and wherever his extraordinary IT skills are required. Nary a day off from work is wasted as Rob and his wife Sao pack up camera equipment and hit the road looking for new and rewarding locations to photograph. He publishes www.1ds.com where you can always find lots of great photography and interesting blog entries. If there is a great place to photograph in Thailand you can bet Rob and Sao have already been there and documented it.

Part 1 will contain a unique look at trip preparation for an African Photo Safari. What kit to pack, cameras, clothes, bags, and all the little things you might not think of the first time out. Part 1 will also contain the first three days of the trip. I hope you enjoy Rob's contribution as much as I did.

Preparation:

Destination

Kruger Park, South Africa

Lower Sable Sunset

The Gear

This time we have opted for simplicity. Many times we travel to a Safari destination with too much gear. Sometimes you have to make do and let the creative juices flow. So this time we’ve gone with a comprehensive but limited amount of gear to make sure we capture the moments and capture the close ups that we’ve always enjoyed.

We have our staple diet of Canon 500/4’s with 1D Mark 3’s which give us about 650mm of standard coverage and with the 1.4x teleconverter it becomes a pretty powerful and light alternative to a 600/4, for example. Experience has proved that we also need alternative body and lens for those many instances where the action comes up really close and personal, without warning. For these circumstances we’ve chosen the 1Ds Mark 3 and 5D Mark 2, both full frame bodies, with a 100-400/5.6-6.3 IS on one and a 70-200/2.8 IS on the other.

The “In camp” lenses are the 24-105/4 and the 24-70/2.8. We use these for the candid pictures around the “brai” and landscapes etc.

We carry all this around in two “Kiboko” Bags purchased from Andy Biggs Safari’s bag manufacturing unit (www.guragear.com). Also in the bags are a Flash, two 1.4x teleconverters and two 2x teleconverters. Sounds like a bucket load, and it is. My arms will be a little longer for sure but the end of the trip. The Kiboko bags are standard size for carry on which make them perfect. Andy’s looking to put wheels on them and this would make them nothing short of perfect in the camera bag arena for this much gear. I also use the backpacking straps when I am lugging around the big guns. Makes life easier!!

Along with chargers for the 1D’s and 5D, we have a MacBook Air, 2 x Colorspace Data storage units (Each at 500GB) and a BGAN Satellite system for a daily Blog update. The BGAN is wireless and will make using it so easy!! We have a 1000W power inverter for charging the cameras and accessories on the road. On a “Self drive” Safari, most of the day is spend in the car, so it’s sensible to charge as you go. We’ll load the pictures onto both Colorspace devices daily and on one of them I’ll check them with “Adobe Lightroom 2” (Which is our digital workflow of choice) to pick a shot and post it with a short blurb from the days events.

There’s some miscellaneous cables and things, like the Canon G9 for snapping in the airport and in the plane. But in general this is a light load. Oh yeah, there’s a Gitzo Tripod too. We agonised over this, but decided we wanted more landscapes and night shots. Lets see if this works!!!

We omitted the Kirk Window mount and the Wimberley head this time. Major weight savings. I’ll use a bean bag in the front seat this time, similar to what we’ve been practicing in Australia for the last 4 months. All spurious lenses like Macros and wider angles are left at home, as are spare flashes, flash extenders etc. We’ve probably saved a complete bag of stuff this time.

OMG! A leopard.

The Trip


With Kruger park, it really pays to book well in advance. The usual trick (According to our friend Janine who is the expert and who does it for us) is to pick a routing and set of lodges you’d like to stay at and the Kruger booking team will come back with a booking proposal that may or may not include your wishes. There’s some back and forth action and an agreement is made. This is then given a booking number and you’re ready to go.

Driving around Kruger, a 4WD is not required, so any type of car suffices and this can help with the budget. Fully decked out units are expensive! This time we’ve chosen a Toyota Hilux, with the others choosing the Hyundai Tucson. We like the height of the 4WD’s and the extra Room we have when getting into shooting position. Our modus when shooting is one person in the back seat and one in the front. This means we can shoot side to side easily. And unless the subject is high in a tree, the driver can get as many shots as the passenger

More Little Bubbles

Day Zero – BKK-JHB to Orpen.

Bangkok (Day Zero minus two)

The trip to JHB was eventful to say the least. Our initial flight was canceled due to “technical” difficulties and at 3am, three hours after boarding, we were shunted to a Hotel for the rest of the night. Not knowing the outcome of the technical issue, we were up after about four hours looking for answers. No answers came until around 11am stating we’d be picked up and delivered to the airport at 4pm for a 7:30 flight.

The time came and the seven of us lucky enough to be in the hotel (We learned much later the fate of the economy class passengers who were shunted way across town, an hour on a bus to a hotel near the old Don Muang Airport. They are probably still there) jumped the shuttle to the Airport to try and check in or get through immigration. This was a hassle also and the staff finally showed up, only to tell us the flight was again in doubt (technical error still not fixed) and that we should return to the hotel and await news. We stood our collective grounds and hassled them until we were endorsed through Dubai to Nairobi to JHB.

Hello?

This trip begun on Bangkok “Day Zero minus one” at 9pm. We were now off on a new A380 (“wow!!!”) to Dubai, a short stop and then to Nairobi and then finally Johannesburg, South Africa. Little of consequence happened on the trip apart from some stretched arms carrying the carry on bags from Terminal three to Terminal one in Dubai’s huge airport!

It’s day zero, we’re quickly through immigration and we are waiting for our bags, knowing nothing else could go wrong. Bag one is through quickly and we’re pumped. There’s a pause in the off loading and we wait patiently. We’re called about 15 minutes later.. “Nairobi bags finished, come over here!!”. Yes, you guessed it, our main bag had not arrived, It was in Dubai!! Well, we fill in the forms, get our Dual Cab Hilux and join up with Ian, Janine and Struan and head for Hazyview where we are going to stay the night (should have been a day also!!)

The little lodge is awesome and we settle in for some well need sleep after the five hour drive. We had purchased some new clothes in JHB so were looking forward to the shower and rest after basically no sleep or rest for the last 48 hours. (Although two of the flights had not bad lay flat beds). We were finally here!! Beautiful skies, coolish yet pleasant and the Kruger National Park (KNP) is only 100kms away!!

Small Lodge

Day One – Hazyview to Orpen Gate

We’re not in a hurry to get up and a good sleep is had. Breakfast of Toast and Vegemite (Imported from Australia) is well received, and a few cups of tea have us rearing to go. Orpen next stop. I must add here, that the country driving style of South Africa is akin to lunacy. We take it easy and navigate our way safely as chaos reigned around us.

Orpen gate has been shifted from the camp and is a wonderful design, Africa style, with thatched roof and wooden uprights. Really nice. There’s a day visitor area next door for breakfast and lunch for day visitors. We used this the next day to wait for our bags…

At this stage there’s just two vehicles in the safari. A third is arriving later today, but we decide to head out and see what there is on offer. We had a great afternoon photographing birds, buck and various other flora and fauna. It’s sooooo good to be in Kruger again! Our bag is due at 5:30 so we head in early to see if it has arrived.

Alas, no, the bag is not here. But a flurry of phone calls assures us that it’ll be in camp at 10am. No t assured, we had back to the cabins for our first Brai (Barbeque) of the trip. A Meat fest it will be!! The Third group arrives and we all introduce, grab some beers and prepare to begin the journey (albeit without one bag) in earnest the next morning, sweet and early at 6:15am.

Fly With The Catch

Day Two – Orpen Gate to Olifants Camp

6:20am, we gather and hit the road. Three car loads of keen safari goers. We plan to be back around 9am to wait for the bag, then head out to Olifants camp. A nice mornings viewing is had, with plenty of wildlife about, warming in the early sun. It’s cold out, and the animals will be enjoying the sun (with us) and readying for the day. It was a great morning. We head back into camp.

Yes, you guessed it, there’s no bag!! We again call the baggage guy and he agrees to send it on to Olifants so we can leave and get going. Our clothes are getting a little gamey at this point, but we’re here to shoot photos and have fun, so off we go. Before we do, we have a hearty cooked breakfast at the day visitors area. They provide gas and facilities for a smallish fee, and clean up afterwards. Sated, we head out on the 100kms Journey through KNP to Olifants camp.

It’s an eventful afternoon. We get our first taste of Lion and Rhino, along with Buffalo, Elephant and scores of birds and buck. We’re in camp in time to check for our bag….. Alas, not here!! We call again and are informed it’s there. Between the walk to and fro form the reception to our Chalet it had arrived, well molested by customs, in Olifants reception!! A happy day!!

After a great feed, we head over to the view area overlooking the Olifants river. The KNP staff have a light setup that allows you to see way down there. Ollie and I have a Cigar and share a beer with Paul and Shari. We totter back to the Chalets and collapse into a blissful sleep!!! Sao has beaten me to it and is snoring (he he) peacefully when I get back.

Hummphhh!

Day Three – Olifants

Our second “Full day” in the Kruger. As usual we’re up at 05:31 and at the gate around 06:21. The mornings seem to be getting lighter. On the 1st of August, the Gates will close later at 6pm! (18:00) rather than the current, rather pedestrian 5:30pm. We need more time to get the elusive animals!!

Brunch Buffet.

Our typical modus operandi is to head out on the morning drive with a breakfast destination in mind. This dictates our route and we change it daily. This mornings breakfast is at Letaba Camp. This camp has the Elephant Museum with many examples of the huge tusks from some of Krugers’ legendary “Tuskers”. We’ve done it a few times, so we breeze through it after another hearty breakfast. The rest of the crew is heading back to camp and we’re thinking about heading up to some other places to check them out.

Rhino

From Letaba we head north and almost to the Mozambique border. There’s a breakfast /day camp there and we’d heard there might be Wild Dog there. So Sao and I head out for what was to be a “rest of the day” excursion and a six hour trawl around all sorts of roads and tracks in and around Letaba and Olifants. We scored some great shots and generally had a pleasant afternoon.

Vultures Lamet

The night ended, as usual, with a Brai and some great food cooked and prepared by Ollie and Janine. Sleep is getting deeper as we kick in to our full on 16 hour days.

Five Years Old and ISO 3200

After experiencing the intoxicating allure of a new Nikon D3 this week I was left wondering if my current camera, my Canon 1ds Mark II, was really over the hill. All washed up. Certainly it's done an admirable job supporting my family over the last five years and still produces stunning images in good light, but can it still measure up to the low light performance we've come to expect from the most modern DSLRs like the Nikon D3 or the Canon 5d Mark II? We shall see..

I was going out in some very low light areas so I took the 1ds Mark II along for the ride. My objective was to see how well it would perform with and without modern noise reduction software in such conditions at its maximum ISO. Newer cameras can operate up to ISO 25,600.

Typical Bar Patron (85mm F1.2L @1.2 ISO 3200)

This image of a fine English gentleman was taken in a pub (ISO 3200) with a light level much below how it appears. No noise reduction. The room was very dim so I exposed a bit longer to bring out this image. At first glance the image appears sound. Nice color which is usually the first thing to go at higher ISO's and a good amount of detail which is the second thing to go.

100% Crop

But when we zoom in for a closer look we can see there is a significant amount of noise present. The best way to minimize noise from an DSLR is to nail the exposure and I did. Still, there is enough detail to see the pattern in the iris of his eyes and the individual eyebrow hairs that fall within the DOF of this lens. This image, with noise reduction, could be used for many valid photographic purposes.

Dark Closet (24-70mm F2.8L F4 ISO 3200)

This image was from my archives. ISO 3200 in program mode where I was shooting the inside of a house to show a client what it was like for rental purposes. Perfectly usable and no noise reduction. At the sizes I sent him you can't see any noise or other signs the camera was at the very limits of its design.

Thai Teak House (24-70mm F2.8L F4 ISO 3200)

Another spec that tends to fall off at higher ISO's is dynamic range. No noise reduction. Yet, there is dynamic range galore with this ISO 3200 image from my 1ds Mark II. Nailing the exposure properly is the key.

Coffee Machine in Dark Pub (85mm F1.2L F1.2 ISO 3200

From the same dark bar above we have their coffee machine. It was so dark in the bar I really wasn't sure what this thing was until I saw the back of my LCD. No noise reduction used. When you zoom in to the text on the side you'll see the text is very well focused and crisp.

Microbus Bar (70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5.6 ISO 3200)

This image of this old microbus is a great example using noise reduction software. It was much darker than this image was exposed to show. Red is the first color to go when pushing high ISO limits, yet this red is perfect. the only time we could see this red with our eyes is when a car drove past and it's headlights illuminated the paint. At ISO 3200 this image was captured from about 30 meters and the colors and detail are very good. Noise reduction software was used.

100% crop of Microbus

Here is a crop of the same image. Notice the detail on the ladies face and the booze bottles? My noise removal software did an admirable job of reducing the grain.

Soi Food Vendor (70-200mm F2.8L @F4.0 ISO 3200

This is the same dark street but exposed to show what our eyes were truly seeing. Overall the image quality is very good and until you zoom in very close you can't see any grain at all. No noise reduction was used.

Soi Cowboy Signage (70-200mm F2.8L @F5.6 ISO 3200)

Most of you will recognize this location, but do you recognize the perspective? Have you ever seen this shot from this angle? I haven't. This is the first. A fine noise free ISO 3200 image thanks to proper exposure and a good noise removal software package.

Of course modern DSLRs will perform better in low light but I shared these shots with you this week to illustrate that even if you're shooting a five year old camera, you can still make very good images if you nail the exposure and effectively use a good noise removal program.

Photography News of Interest

With the hoards of farang private investigators in the Kingdom you just know they'll be happy to know they can buy a night vision lens for their Nikon.. ;o) You can read about it here.

Canon lacks for really quality wide glass and for years camera enthusiasts have been on eBay and in pawn shops looking for deals on the Carl Zeiss lenses to be used with a lens adapter on their specific camera. The drawbacks of a Carl Zeiss lens is they're always manual focus and with an adapter you must manually stop down the aperture. However, the optics are generally superb which makes them a viable choice for landscape photography or anything that doesn't move. Carl Zeiss recognized the need for quality glass on all camera brands and now makes some of their best primes to fit your Nikon or Canon. This week Carl Zeiss announces it's 18mm F3.5 "ZE" mount (Canon) Distagon. I'm sure this will be a great len, but probably a bit pricey. You can read more about it here.

Are you a Pentax fan? Or perhaps you just like your DSLR in a very bright orange or green? Pentax announces their new K-x entry level DSLR. Read about ithere.

Lightroom has just put version 2.5 up for download. This adds support for the new Nikon D3000 and Olympus E-P1. A PC version can be downloadedhere. A Mac version here. And Adobe Camera RAW v5.5 for PC'shere. And for MAC's here.

WOO HOO!!! SanDisk unveils its new Extreme Pro Compact Flash cards with speeds of up to 90mbps and capacities up to 64gb! SanDisk has long been my choice for flash memory cards and these new ones are just.. well.. EXTREME!!! With capacities of 8, 16, 32, and 64gb there is sure to be one for every budget. Read about them here.

Some new "trends" I'll never understand. How would you like to be the Father paying big bucks for his daughters fancy wedding dress only to have her rip it to shreds during a photo shoot just for the fun of it? Uh huh… read about this new "trend"here.

Readers' Submissions

Steve,

Just for giggles, I thought I'd resize a few of the pics from today's trip to Wat Sothon in Chachoengsao Province. Wat Sothon, is situated on the west bank of the Bang Pakong River, 2 Kms. south of the city hall.

Enshrined in a new gigantic hall is Phra Phutthasothon, or "Luang Pho Sothon" regarded as one of the most revered Buddha images in Thailand. The image, in the attitude of meditation, measuring 1.65 metres wide at the lap and 1.98 metres high, is always seen entirely pasted with gold leaves by worshipers.

According to legend, Luang Pho Sothon (left picture) floated down the Bang Pakong River to the site of the temple. Efforts to retrieve it were unsuccessful until a villager had a small shrine erected on the site and performed a ceremony welcoming the image to the community.

After 15 years in construction, the graceful and huge ubosoth (don't ask me what a ubosoth is because when I looked it up the word apparently does not exist however, it was used in an on-line description of the WAT and the building) is nearly complete.

The peak is 84 metres high. It is decorated with five golden umbrellas weighing a total of 77 kilogrammes. This is probably the world's largest ubosoth. Thai dancers are on hand every day to perform for a small donation.

MTS International

MTS International –

It's always great to get more submissions from you and to see the images from your travels.

Thank you!

Steve

I suspect the readers' submissions will be a highly anticipated section of this column and I encourage anyone with photographs and travel accounts they'd like to share to please send them to me at: [email protected]

Readers' Questions

Hi Steve,

I've been practicing HDR photography and would like to know if you think this photo is good or is it over-done.

I used Photomatrix Pro version 3 to process the images.

I have attached all the photos used to make this HRD image.

I started at 1/125; f7.1, 1/200; f7.1, 1/320; f7.1, 1/500; f7.1,

Charles

Hi Charles –

How are you? I think some of your readers subs are coming out this Saturday. The summer was really hectic with my son here and I tried to get all my columns out ahead. Now I'm back on a normal schedule.

Looking at your HDR shot I do think it had too much color saturation. The dynamic range seems just about right which is really the reason you should use HDR.. with the color adjusted a bit you'd have a very realistic image.

For sure you're getting better at this.

Take care


Steve

Steve

By the way on he same day I photographed Democracy Monument and here are two photos, one is a HDR and the other just normal.


Both of them were taken with the use of a tripod.
photo was 1/320, f9, iso 100

Charles

Hi Charles –

I like the non-HDR one better.. the color casts on the HDR sample were distracting. The non-HDR one showed sufficient dynamic range for the scene, so really no need to HDR it anyway.. though there are some other image processing steps you could have used to clean it up some.

Yes, as you can see in your HDR version the camera moved significantly between exposures, more than Photomatix could compensate for.

We'll be having a review of PhotoMatix coming out soon. We're working with the software developers to make sure we're up to date on the latest version and using it to its maximum potential, and then we'll write the review. I'm hoping this review will help everyone using HDR..


Steve

Steve

thank you, you are right after looking at the final image I went back and re-did the image, this time using Dynamic Photo HDR 4.

By the way I am looking for a better tripod, I want one that can be about 1.8 metre high without extending the center column, can you advise me where the best place to go look for one.

Charles

Charles –

Much better! The colors are still a big saturated, but well within the realm of personal taste.

I think you're getting the hang of this.


Steve

Please submit your questions to [email protected] All questions will be answered and most will show up in the weekly column.

A Snapshot of Bangkok Images Week in Review

This has been a relatively slow week. The workshop in the entertainment district went well and then later in the week we did a abbreviated outdoor portrait shoot where the client was able to shoot his own family. I liked doing this as the family was involved and the rewards for the client are immediate and satisfying.

Infocus Blog

A Spin Around the Block

It's been nearly five years to the month since I moved from Nikon to Canon. After years of loyal use Nikon had made clear a full frame sensor DSLR or anything at all with lower noise wasn't part of their business plan. A grand exodus of professionals leaving Nikon took place during a 2-3 year period as they moved to their main competitor Canon. I was a holdout, but I eventually made the journey as well.

I went on-line to B&H Photography and carefully placed an on-line order that totaled over $60,000.00 USD's. I replaced every piece of Nikon gear I had with the Canon equivalent. Immediately I went on E-bay and within 10 days had shipped out the last of my Nikon gear. The bottom line was that switching brands cost me roughly $18,400.00 USD's. Looking back I think I made out well on the used market because I made sound purchases. Top quality lenses rarely lose much value and often increase in value. Still, $18,400.00 was a significant amount of money so I'm not in a hurry to do that again any time soon.

With that said I really loved my 4mp D2h's. They were fast, handled well, and the ergonomics wonderful. Moving to my Canon 1d Mark II and 1ds Mark II in contrast felt like moving from a sports car to a very nice and capable utility truck. Bigger, bulkier, slower handling, and built like a tank. Today I'm still using that very first 1ds Mark II and it still performs as it did when new. It's 16.1mp full frame sensor produces images which are even better than when new thanks to advances in software. In the entire 5 years I've shot Canon I've never once had a client tell me the image wasn't big enough (not enough pixels), which was a big problem with the Nikon depending on my client.

Today things are different. Nikon makes a superb 12mp D3 and an even more superb 24mp D3x, both full frame DSLRs. I hadn't had a good chance to try either in the field until this last week. My new client showed up with a wicked grin on his face and said "you've gotta see this" and pulls from his bag a brand new Nikon D3 with zero miles on the shutter.

Holding it in my hands I immediately felt a huge difference from my Canon. It felt great, not too small and not too large, not too light and not too heavy. All the controls were in their proper places, the 'skin' felt great, and then I asked if I might turn it on. My client smiled and gave his permission and seconds later I was looking through that beautiful big view finder watching the exposure and AF systems do their thing as I bracketed different subjects.

I knew this was a fast camera just from that. But I had no idea how fast a camera could really be until I cracked the shutter release and just milliseconds later the camera was machine gunning exposures at the rate of 11fps!!! Over the course of our next two outings I had additional opportunities to try his D3 back to back with my Canon 1ds Mark II with different subjects and my experiences only improved. The Nikon D3 is one very fast handing camera!

But how is the image quality you ask? And can you live with only 12mp after living with 16.1mp for the last five years? The image quality is superb! I don't think there is a great difference between the two cameras in image quality as there is in handing as the Canon 1ds Mark II's images are really good. But the D3 images are really good and the lower the light, the better than the Canon they are.

Other factors like a wonderfully huge and detailed 920,000 pixel LCD also makes a huge difference. For the first time in the field I was making worthwhile evaluations on an images sharpness. I could actually SEE what I'd shot, I no longer had to guess.

I've used the Canon 5d Mark II with it's 21mp images and when it comes to low light capability the 5d Mark II and the D3 are very close. Too close to choose one camera over the other. Overall image quality I'd give the edge to the 5d Mark II. Overall speed and handling there is no edge, the D3 is hands down the better camera. I've also used the Canon 1ds Mark III. My comparisons apply accurately here as well. I can just imagine the 24mp D3x image quality would steal the show.

Will I be moving back to Nikon? Yes, I've thought about this quite a bit. But it will depend. Canon is due to update both their 1d series cameras and the new 1d Mark IV and 1ds Mark IV should be announced very soon. If these are 'light' upgrades I might very well move back to Nikon. It's no wonder Nikon has won back a good portion of their professional base who left them 5 years earlier. If Canon doesn't hit a pair of home runs with the 1d Mark IV and 1ds Mark IV I'm afraid the pendulum will swing the other way and you'll be seeing a sea of black lenses at professional coverage's and not the sea of white we've been used to for a long time now.

But Nikon shouldn't rest on its laurel's. There are still some serious holes in its lens line up, notably a 35/1.4, 24/1.4, 85/1.2-4, 135/2 ALL with AFS motors. Nikon has no fast wide glass at all, and their 85mm F1.4D and 135 F2DC lenses are both super slow screw drives of a 15 or more year ago design.

I suspect the next 2-3 years will see both Canon and Nikon close any holes in their product coverage, update their current models, and be as innovative as possible. They'd better, we now have Sony nipping at their heals with some very capable gear and then there's the Leica M9 full frame rangefinder and S2 professional DSLR..

Until next time…