Aug 15, 2008

Wading through New Gear

Nikon D300 front view

Whether you shoot Canon or Nikon, there can be a vicious learning cycle.  You need a technical edge in the fast-paced, ever changing digital world.
For example, Nikon's just released the D700 - an FX prosumer DSLR with full sensor.  Your new D700 just arrived by FedEx, with a paper manual (my D300 had 421 pages).  Along with a new set of functions, it's time to wade into a new, complex manual, hoping there are not obfuscations.
Because your freezing fingertips don't need to think when you're in one of those fast-changing perfect lighting situations where you're about to capture a National Geographic quality snow image.

Is there a better way?
Yes, there are actually several of them.
1.    Download that camera manual as a PDF from your camera maker and do a word search.  It's way faster than reading the paper version.
2.    Buy Thom Hogan's Nikon D300 guide.  At 769 pages in PDF format, it's much bigger than Nikon's manual, and much more clearly presented.  Besides that, Thom's experience as a Nikon shooter adds a lot of value to observations in his thoughtful guide.
3.    Get on the net and look at videos provided by Nikon and other Nikon shooters; a bunch of them are eager to be first to discuss a gearhead's delight.  I have found some of those videos mislead me; try the tip.  If you don't like it, or if it conflicts with another special setting, chunk it.
4.    See if there is a description of new functions on Nikonians forum.
5.    You may have thought of an approach I don't use...

I've got some buddies who shoot Canon 40 D's.  I imagine they'd like to know about Thom Hogan's tip for why and when you shoot 14 bit on the D300/D700.  In a Texas nutshell, "At Magic Hour, whether shooting regular or HDR, set your camera to 14 bit.  You get four times the data in shadows and highlights.  At other times, set it to 12 bit.  You don't use up as much of your CF card shooting raw files!"
My apologies to Canon shooters; as Canon is a language I don't speak, I don't know where to get specifics.  But, ask your Canon buddies; I'll bet they do...

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