Nikon’s D600 & Other News from Kenmore Digital Photo Expo

Posted Nov. 6th, 2012 by Daniel J. Cox

I recently took part in the Kenmore Camera Digital Photo Expo in Seattle and it was fun to get out and meet so many digital photo enthusiasts. Nikon’s booth was extremely busy with people lining up to checkout the D4, D800 and especially the new D600 FX camera bodies. Rose Whitaker, the Nikon Super Rep who was responsible for bringing me to Seattle to talk about my work with the ADP and recent experiences with the new Nikon cameras was up to her neck in D600 questions. Every trade show I attend the Nikon booth is always swamped and this show was no exception.  People were able to get their hands on the D600 along with the recently released Nikon P7700 and also the lenses in the Nikon lineup you might not see in anything other than a major camera superstore. For many people the 600 F/4 is something they rarely (if ever) see, let alone get the chance to hold and personally take a look at.

Rose Whitaker on the far left, talks all things Nikon at the Nikon booth.

Panasonic continues to drive the mirrorless, micro 4/3’s camera line with the introduction of the GH3. It has impressive specs with Panasonic saying its autofocus capabilities are as fast as the Nikon D4 and supposedly with better accuracy. Quite frankly that’s hard to believe, and if it’s true it will be an amazing feat for such a young product line. I’m currently working on a blog post, soon to be released, on the Predictive AF capabilities of the Nikon D4, D800 and D600 cameras and I can tell you ahead of the final writeup that the D4 is the most spectacular camera I’ve ever shot in regards to Predictive AF.

Jim Lewis takes a look at the new, unreleased Lumix GH3 at the Digital Photo Expo in Seattle.

I  had a chance to hold a prototype of the new GH3 at the show and it is impressive. More importantly I saw some prints as large as 16×20 inches that were shot with the new camera, coupled with the also new 35-100 F/2.8 lens. The details and sharpness of the images were spectacular. Panasonic is really making substantial strides in their quest to be a major player in the world of cameras that do both video and stills equally well.

Another product I was really, really impressed with was the Ninja-2 10-bit HDMI Smart Production Weapon. This a piece of external equipment made for the Nikon D800 that allows for direct recording of the D800’s super high quality video to an external hard drive with no compression of the video footage. We’re getting into technical jargon here but in short, all video cameras including the ones Nikon and others are making have to compress video files to get them stuffed onto an SD or CF card. That reduces the quality of the video in a way something similar to what we expect when we shoot either RAW or JPEG. JPEGs are a type of image compression as well. The Ninja-2 allows the camera to bypass the cameras compression utilities, sending the footage directly out to the Ninja-2’s built-in hard drive, giving the user even a higher quality video to work with. There are other major benefits to this device, including the ability to use Focus Peaking, a touch screen interface that allows the user to select specific chunks of footage, and in and out points in video production language – all right from the back of the Ninja LCD screen. This would be beneficial for the photographer to highlight parts of a shoot by marking them even before moving the footage into a video editor such as Final Cut Pro X.

Heather Williams of Atomos shows off their Ninja LCD screen and hard drive enclosure at the Nikon booth at the Digital Photo Expo in Seattle.

Here’s a list of major points for this awesome new video tool.

  • AtomOS 3.0 – The real power of the Ninja-2 comes from AtomOS, our innovative and intuitive operating system.
  • Easy-to-use Touchscreen Operating System – Access all of the Ninja-2’s operations via the fast, responsive touch interface.
  • One-touch Navigation – Allows for simple operation – everything is one touch away.
  • Audio Input Level Meters + Headphone Line Out Volume – Touch audio meters to adjust 4 channels of audio.
  • ProRes Codec – select the variety of ProRes® you are recording to: HQ (220Mbps), 422 (150Mbps) or LT (100Mbps)
  • Timecode – Choose between On board, time of day, record run or auto restart time code modes or utilise external timecode from camera or any source input
  • Continuous Power – Atomos Continuous Dual Battery Technology
  • Affordable Storage – Infinite affordable 2.5″ HDD/SSD storage capability
  • Unit Name – Name your Ninja-2 by project or camera. Media drives and recorded files are subsequently named with the unit name upon formatting.
UPDATE:
Heather Williams contacted me about the above information regarding the Ninja 2 recording and LCD device and clarified a few things for me. Below are the a  couple of points she briefed me on.
Daniel, 
Thank you again for the rave review in your blog! You nailed the main points of the product perfectly.
The only thing is the HDD is not built-in to the unit. It actually is removable, which is better because the customer can buy extra drives and change them himself. We give the customer two empty caddies in the kit, and the HDD/SDD is the only thing the customer has to provide. 
 
We’ve had an announcement since your blog was written too! The AtomOS 4.0 was just released this past week, and this new firmware gives the customer the ability to record to Avid DNxHD in addition to ProRes. This is big!
Thanks for the update Heather.
 
Canon was displaying their new highend desktop, inkjet printer the Pixima Pro 1. It’s quite large but still small enough to sit on a decent sized desk. I was impressed with the large sized ink tanks which is almost always an issue on any of the printers that aren’t targeted to the professional or serious enthusiast market. I’m still a big fan of the HP large format printers such as the Z3200 we use for really large prints. For smaller projects we’ve had to look elsewhere and the Pixima Pro looks like a great piece of equipment for images up to 13×19 inches.

Janet takes a look at prints coming off of Canon’s Pixima Pro 1 printer.

Another exhibitor I’ve become familiar with due to their ads was Borrowlenses.com. They had a booth showing off the big glass by Nikon and Canon and a great brochure highlighting their lens and camera line as well as a list of larger cities around the country they have a physical presence in, so you can pick the gear up in person. These guys are invaluable for those that travel with us on our Natural Exposures Invitational Photo Tours, since buying new cameras and lenses can be expensive. Why not try the camera out before you buy or rent a piece of gear you may only use on one trip. Check out their website for future photogrpahy equipment needs. It’s a great way to save yourself some money.

The Nikon/Canon team from borrowlenses.com on the job at Kenmore’s Digital Photo Expo in Seattle.

The world renown photojournalist Harry Benson was there talking about his life’s work. He’s a legendary shooter. Unfortunately, I was only able to catch the last little bit of his presentation since I was also presenting on the subject of photographers making sure they retain all contact information in their photographs to protect their photographic rights. He had a good crowd and signed lots of autographs after his talk.

Noted photojournalist Harry Benson speaks to crowd of photographers at Digital Photo Expo in Seattle.

Harry signs autographs at Digital Photo Expo in Seattle.

Finally, there were a lot of great seminars – all of them free like the one Nikon superstar Paul VanAllen gave on using small flashes for studio-like lighting in your living room. Paul is a terrific photographer and knows the Nikon SB system inside and out. I learned a lot and was inspired to try some of his techniques. That’s what these shows are all about. To get you in the door to view lots of great images and leave inspired to try it yourself. It worked for me. Hope to see any of you reading this at a Digital Photo Expo near you in the future.

Paul VanAllen talks about Nikon’s SB line of small, powerful strobes for studio like lighting.

 

 

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