Inspirations from older cameras: the Nikon D3, part two

Part two of of this series. Part one was here.

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Exclamation mark. D3, 300/2.8 VR

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Untitled. D3, 24-70

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Rest. D3, 105VR

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Satay man. D3, 14-24

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Suggestions of a watch. D3, 105VR

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Tour de Langkawi 2009. D3, 24-70

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The ‘hollywood’ shot. D3, 24-70

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Virtual buildings. D3, 24-70

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Blending in with nature. D3, 24-70

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The proverbial rose. D3, 24-70

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It can only be Fuji. D3, 24-70

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Sunset. D3, 50/1.4 AFS

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Children, Bangkok. D3, 14-24.

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Live retouching. D3, 24-70.


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  1. Hi Ming

    Fantastic website. Your shots are inspiring. Wealth of info here, much appreciate your hard work.

    If you have the time to reply, I would be interested to hear your thoughts on a couple of issuesI currently use a D300 with grip (which has given me some wonderful photos in good light) but am looking for something with better low light capability up to around 6400 and better af acquisition and accuracy. D300, although great, not cutting it in the high iso department. The D3 could fit the bill as I have also been thinking of moving to FX for some time now.

    Have also considered a D610 but might get frustrated with its auto focus capabilities if it can’t keep up with the action (mostly trying to keep up with two very active kids!).. I know its image quality is excellent though and 24mp could be useful from time to time (especially for landscapes).

    As regards image quality, is the D3 that much better than the D300? And if printing A4/A3 sizes, would I see noticeable IQ differences between the D3 and D610?

    What I’m trying to balance here is my need for speed, low light capability, great af and excellent IQ without breaking the bank.

    Any constructive feedback and insight much appreciated. Keep up the good work!

  2. Ming, I would interested to know what your thought processes are when you bring a particular camera up to your eye to look for an image. How does your thinking differ from camera to camera? And what thought processes stay the same regardless of the camera? Do you go through a mental checklist as you compose a shot?

  3. The “Rest” of the story is beautiful. Now I see where “Stamens” originated. This website really inspires me to get out and shoot and see the world in a different way. I like the gear reviews but you also talk and write about the art of photography as well. And that is very important. Keep up the good work, Ming.

    • Thanks Tami! Gear is just a tool. The important part is how you see, and how you communicate that vision to your audience.

      • absolutely! I totally agree!

        I am letting my photography friends know of your site. Something this good should be shared!

  4. bxrobinson says:

    Really liking this series!

    • Thanks! I’m just running out of old cameras though 😛

      • bxrobinson says:

        hmmm…maybe you could do a series with a new camera with older lenses (through an adapter). Some old lenses like Minolta can be bought on the cheap.

        • Sorry, I can’t afford to buy something just to create content. My gear purchases have to make sense from a commercial photography point of view – that’s my only source of income. I think a lot of people don’t realize that this site not only requires a huge amount of time to keep running (easily 4+ hours per day, and at the cost of commercial work) but money too! At some point in future, if the site does generate enough revenue to cover costs and equipment – I’ll buy stuff to review. But until then, unfortunately I’ve still got bills to pay.

  5. Another great topic of inspirations from older cameras!
    I always heard and read about how the D3/D700 were(are) good compared to other brands same level cameras but they have a weak point considering the color. Lot’s of wedding photographers went to 5d2 or 1D series instead D700 just because of what they call “natural skin tones”. One of them (that it’s famous) when argued said that he used both brands but the nikon ones required more post production work to give the skin look he wanted (and his work is really good). I’m not starting a brand figth, just want to know your opinion about it!

    • I always found the Canon skin tones very plasticky and pink, personally – however, I don’t think any camera of that generation got them really right. In the end my solution was to have a custom profile for each camera, so output would look the same regardless.

    • On the flip side, there are a lot of wedding photographers who chose the D700/D3 over the 5d2 because of what they call “awful low light focusing issues” with the 5d2. One well-known editorial photographer/blogger who shoots with the 5d2 said that if he were shooting weddings, he would without a doubt choose Nikon. (Not sure if he would still say that with the improved 5d3 now out.)

      Point being: “Horses for courses.”

      (BTW, Ming — Awesome images as usual!)

      • Thanks Don.

        I felt the D700/D3 generation definitely had the edge in AF; I’m not sure about the D800/D4 having experienced the whole range of issues recently. that said, I don’t know if the Canons are any better because I haven’t used those yet, either.

      • It would be great if you could get 5D3 loaner and a few lenses to test. I’m sure Canon users and those considering the 5D3 would be interested in your take on the new camera.

        • Except, a) Canon isn’t interested in lending me one; b) I wouldn’t be able to make the most out of it because I’m not a Canon shooter and don’t have time to learn an entire new camera system from scratch; c) I only review gear I actually use, because I’m a commercial photographer not an equipment review site.

      • Haha. Yes, we readers tend to forget your scope of equipment review is restricted as a working commercial photographer. In that case, file it as a reader wishlist item then. 🙂

        • 🙂 I have no idea how the other ‘review sites’ make money – certainly not from Amazon/ B&H referrals, I think I got all of $50 last month! 😛

      • Indeed. But a lot of those review sites are plastered with ad banners; $50 here, $50 there can eventually add up through sheer volume if you have enough advertisers who like your site traffic. (Strobist said he has a waiting list of advertisers due to his enormous site traffic, although his isn’t a “review site” either.) Not sure if that’s the route you’re contemplating for this site. Personally, I think you’ve hit upon a great idea with the monthly photo contest. 30% of entry fees to cover your expenses can really add up. Plus, it’s an invaluable educational service you’re providing to your readers, whether they participate in the contests or not — few photo contests offer the pro-level critique that you provide. Looking forward to seeing how this all evolves.

        • To be honest, I’m unsure about advertisers – I think they would affect my credibility and ability to write a properly objective and honest review, which would definitely reduce the appeal of the site overall. Then there’s the whole other issue of advertisers not wanting to work with people outside the US; even getting review samples is near impossible. It seems there’s a huge xenophobia going on here.

          The last contest took a month to complete, several days to administer and made all of $180. Not exactly economically sensible either. I’ll sell workshops tuition etc in which I feel I can genuinely provide a useful and unique service to photographers, but I’m not going to start hawking crap.

      • Actually, I originally acknowledged the fact that administrative time costs in running a monthly photo contest would probably take away from your own photography in my response but edited it out prior to posting. $180 isn’t much, true, but given that it was the first contest and readership is still building, there’s still lots of potential. You can still play around with the numbers. The current $5 entry fee (dirt cheap, actually, when compared to other photo contests) can be adjusted upwards later as popularity of the site and your contests grow; 30% for expenses can also be adjusted. And who knows? If the volume of entries ever reaches a point where you can no longer handle the administration (imagine how popular the site will be then!), you can always outsource the drudgery and focus on just the judging and critique. The contests aren’t a major revenue stream as much as they are useful tools to build site traffic, solidify readership loyalty, and build your brand (as a photo educator).

        Agreed. Please do not tarnish your reputation/brand by hawking crap and making readers feel like they’re being sold something. The quality of your photography and pedagogy stand on their own and are the reason your readers come to your site, as will others. As to advertisers, you choose the ones you feel comfortable in forming partnerships with; if you become popular enough (like Strobist), you will dictate the terms. And as for the non-US xenophobia, consider yourself the trailblazer for Asia — somebody has to be first and show those close-minded advertising guys that there are talented people based in the world’s largest continent, and it might as well be you who will show them. You have a worldwide audience. And advertisers will take notice. Eventually.

        Sorry for the verbose response, Ming. I just see the cup as being half full…

        • Oh, I’m very conscious of the time cost – there’s only one of me, and I can’t be writing, meeting clients, shooting and retouching at the same time (though sometimes I’ll do the first and last items in tandem on two computers). The reality is that to run a site like this properly – writing new content, shooting, testing, replying comments and email (there’s nothing ruder than a blogger who can’t be bothered to take a few minutes to talk to the people who are giving him their attention in the first place) – it’s easily 4-5+ hours per day, if not more. Let’s just say I don’t sleep very much.

          The cup is definitely filling – the question is whether it fills first, or financial reality strikes…let us hope it’s the former.

  6. Reblogged this on Reblog This One.

    • Slaven Smolchich says:

      Bought it from friend 2 years ago with “friendly” price,otherwise I would still be without such a gem.Stlii great today.There are some things that money cant and can buy.I like its viewfinder and grip.2 good reasons not to buy D800. Oh! I forget the shuttersound

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