Archive for September, 2012

More about the Nikon D600

Posted in Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Studio Portraiture, Video on September 26, 2012 by William Hooks

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I’m happy to report that this camera has some useful, practical features I don’t find much advertised.

First: Looped HDMI out. This means that one can retain the camera’s monitor image while sending it simultaneously to a second monitor- allowing a DP or other director to evaluate files, at the same time or after they’re shot by the camera operator. I’ve made the adjustments on my Marshall 5″ monitors so that the displays match those on the camera.

Second: The amount of additional image detail in video attainable with uncompressed HDMI on an Atomos Ninja is significant! (I can’t fork out the $1K for one yet)

Third: A major side benefit to headphone monitoring of sound on-camera is the ease with which you can assign optimal microphone settings, especially for ENG.

Fourth: The beep function has been expanded greatly since D7000, allowing audio cues for self-timer countdown and remote control actuation among other items.

Fifth: Adding the lock for the left top function wheel is much appreciated. This greatly reduces settings errors in actual use of the camera. I do miss the absense of exposure setting lock which has not been around since the D3s…..PLEASE put these in a firmware update if possible??

Lowe Pro 250 AW DSLR Video backpack and Manfrotto 502A video tripod/head

Posted in Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Studio Portraiture, Travel, Video on September 26, 2012 by William Hooks

These will help me when doing ENG/location interviews and studio/location cinema rig work, respectively.

The backpack is optimal for traveling with a D600 and up to 70-200 VR, compact microphone set, ZOom H4N audio recorder, shoulder rig, cables, SB-700 flash, headphones and some small lenses. The all-weather cover WILL be used!

The Manfrotto is designed to hold my RedRock cinema rig with provision to directly attach short monitor arms, freeing up the hot shoe on the camera for a light or other accessory. It’s very stable especially for its size and weight, and allows for Dutch angles by actually tilting the rig on it.
There’s a pan lock; I like the large size of the quick-release plate and that it can’t accidentally fall off- it attaches with 2 screws to the rig base, so there is no torque on the rig. The XY, pan/tilt friction controls are excellent. It’s a good fit with my smooth floor dolly which is mostly used indoors.

This way, I’ll use my smaller Weifeng 718 tripod/head for a camera with no rig (such as tutorial videos) or for a B camera.

First day working with the Nikon D600 system, Rode Stereo Videomic Pro microphone

Posted in Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Studio Portraiture, Travel, Video on September 24, 2012 by William Hooks

I’m very impressed with the capability of the D600 and of the Stereo VMP, after setting them up for defaults in video and still work…. MUCH more to come as I gain more experience with them.

Unfortunately, I had to sell my coveted 200 mm f/2 VR Nikkor in the process. Maybe some day I’ll rent or obtain another if the need arises, but I hope that the low-ISO ability of this camera helps obviate that need since I still use a 70-200 f/2.8.

It is wonderful to be able to closely monitor audio directly from the camera with headphones!!! This should be a boon for remote field videography and run-gun interviews.

Nikon D600: Hands-on Preview

Posted in Photography, Reviews, Video on September 21, 2012 by William Hooks

I had the camera for initial evaluation at Samys Camera, Pasadena this morning and was able to work with its AV and photo settings, with these impressions:

1-Audio capability seems very similar to that of the D800/D4 including-important to me- the ability to closely monitor sound levels with headphones directly from the camera. It appeared that the 20 level graph had a somewhat steep volume ‘cliff’ between the 2 highest and all other levels, at least with the on-camera microphone; I was not able to test with an off-camera mic yet. To access this function it seems necessary to get into menus, as with the other cameras. Playback volume was adequate through headphones relative to ‘optimized’ level settings for capture.

2- Aperture cannot be changed in Live View, unlike the D800/D4. Otherwise, similar capability including uncompressed HDMI (!!). I prefer the LV button setup to that of the D7000, it’s the same as on the D800/D4.

3-Build quality seemed very good by comparison, at least on a par with the D800.

4-Similar layout of left dial atop camera to D7000 but upgraded in appearance. Includes 2 user-defined banks (!) which I typically set to video and sports/PJ on the D7000. Frame rate similar to D7000, faster than D800- I consider it borderline adequate for typical sports at 5.5 FPS.

5-Overall ergonomics: Very easy to learn this camera from a D7000; controls generally intuitive. I would have added the battery pack if it were available- probably within a few weeks.

In summary: I believe that if you shoot Nikon for video and want to keep your camera budget under $2500 (body and battery grip), the D600 is a revolutionary camera- because of its combination of price and overall feature set. A bonus is its 24 mp
still resolution- which would allow me to do a great deal of cropping for sports and pj images.

Nikon D600 for $2100 announced: FX format and full HD video in a very small body

Posted in Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, Video on September 13, 2012 by William Hooks

This is an exciting prospect for my own work, as I travel and often shoot in field/remote locations. The form factor is important and especially at this price, I’m going to take a serious look at the D600. [Wish it had more high ISO performance, above nominal 6400!]

This camera is supposedly going to be available later in Sept 2012.

On my 60th birthday..

Posted in Photography, Travel, Video on September 11, 2012 by William Hooks

Ready to return to the Sierra -tomorrow-?

I’ve already had the pleasure of a phone call from my friend Wa, and my mother who’s recovering from a knee replacement. Many friends have written on FB, thanks!

Today, I’ll continue editing my rough cut for the newest documentary BACKPACKING AND MOUNTAINEERING IN THE SIERRA NEVADA (BMSN) and will be adding some music. I’ve selected excerpts from Ken Burn’s LEWIS AND CLARK: THE JOURNEY OF THE CORPS OF DISCOVERY and from W. Snuffy Walden’s score for THE STAND.

Here’s a shot of my loaded Black Diamond Predator 50 from last night’s training hike

New page: Alpine Mountaineering Equipment list

Posted in Photography, Reviews, Travel, Video on September 9, 2012 by William Hooks

Please take a look, if you’re exploring your options for participating in this wonderful sport!
I will amend it over time as my needs may change….


Enjoyed returning to the Bear Creek Spire area of Little Lakes Valley, eastern Sierra

Posted in Photography, Travel, Video on September 6, 2012 by William Hooks

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We shot video and stills in the wonderful setting of 13,000 foot peaks and many lakes, including a great high camp above a lake facing south toward the Spire. I did a segment with 2 crew members on basic alpine mountaineering, and we had a chance to do timelapse scenes in the evening.

In late October-November we’ll plan to head to the west side in SEKI (Sequoia/Kings Canyon,) and then do some snow camping and possibly an alpine climb in the Spire region in Nov-December to finish shooting for the documentary.

Special thanks to Ross Rivera and Joann Loo, for the nice job shooting video in the field.