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Shooting The Presidents of the United States With Nikon as a Canon Shooter

by Chris Gampat on 03/12/2011

Concerts are where you go to see some artists truly just be themselves, and capture it on camera if you’re allowed to. I’ve shot concerts before, mostly with Canon gear. However, I’ve also used the Nikon D300s and D3s: but this was a while ago. To keep my knowledge of the other system fresh, I borrowed a co-worker’s D700and 24-70mm F/2.8 ED for a week. Here are some of the experiences I had while shooting the Presidents of the United States promote their new song for the Pokemon Black and White release.

Admittedly, the title of this posting could very well be, “Why you should use Nikon over Canon for Concert Photography.” However, I consider the Canon 1D Mk IV to be as close to the perfect camera out there as possible. You can read why here.

Ultimately, remember that it’s the photographer that creates the images and that the camera is just the tool. With that said though, some tools are better for the job than others—you wouldn’t use a hammer to chop a tree down.

Autofocus

The 3D tracking in the Nikon D700 set to continuous focusing mode kept up with the fast moving musicians on stage like it was cake. However, it did sometimes get thrown off. In situations like that, I’d simply take my finger off the shutter release so that the pre-selected point would go back to the original spot, re-compose and then focus.

The fact that all of the focusing points are grouped towards the center help to have the D700 have another advantage: all the focusing points are usable in the sensor area selection switch. What’s this you ask: users can set the Nikon D700 to either use the full 36mm sensor (FX), or just the center of it (DX). The DX mode gave my 24-70mm some extra reach so that I’d be able to get the photo of the drummer above.

For most users sitting there waiting for the D700 successor: the D700 can conquer most problems that most photographers would encounter. This was all shot in daylight and there was cloud cover for more diffused natural lighting.

With all this said, autofocusing isn’t all easy. The switch on the front of the camera around the lens mount isn’t always the easiest to access. Additionally, changing the focusing type (full area, expansion or single point) is controlled by a switch on the back right of the camera.

With ergonomics like this, you’ll spend more time with the eye out of the viewfinder. I’ve learned the hard way that those are the moments when you’ll perhaps miss some of the best photo opportunities.

RAW File Versatility

I often talk about how versatile Canon’s RAW files are: Nikon’s are even more so. Would you have thought that this image was originally overexposed about two stops? Dealing with the images in Lightroom 3 was a breeze though, and they took quite a bit less tweaking than my Canon’s would. In post-production, I brought down the exposure levels, raised the recovery, edited the contrast and vibrance, and that was really about it.

That’s not to say that Canon can’t do a great job either though: one female photographer I got to talk to was using a 7D and 5D Mk II (my combo).

The big difference with Canon, though is that what you see on the back of the camera’s LCD screen is a decent approximation of what you’ll get in post-production. With Nikon—I dare to say that it’s not even close. In fact, it threw me off quite a bit. In cases like this, it’s best that you learn how to read Histograms.

High ISOs

Though I didn’t shoot at BBQ-on-the-4th-of-July levels of ISOs, I did use a fairly high setting for such great lighting as it was. The reason for this was to keep up with the musicians’ fast movements. While it may not be so apparent in these photos, check out this last photo that I shot later that night.

This photo was shot at 6400: the exposure was brought down, contrast was added, and some extra recovery was done. Otherwise though, no noise reduction was applied to this photo. Though sized down to the web, whatever noise that you do see is considered acceptable by many.

More to come on using Nikon as a Canon user!

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