Lovin' the D3, but still loving the S5

I've had a Nikon D3 for a few weeks now, and just submitted my review to B&H about my experiences with it. Watch for that on their website.

As much as I love the D3, I do find that there are plenty of times when I really am glad I have my Fuji S5 along, because the sensor in the S5 does amazing things. To elaborate on this, I have to make a confession:

I screw up sometimes.

Once in a while I blow an exposure. Occasionally this is due to the gear itself (like when i-ttl reaches its limits) and sometimes it's because I just have the camera set on the wrong damned settings.

At a wedding a couple weeks back, I had my assistant off to one side with an SB-800 while the couple did their first dance. This was one of those situations where lots of stuff happened in a quick sequence, and I didn't have a lot of time to set up and be sure I was ready. So the first frame that I fired off as the couple started to dance was waaaaaay overblown.

The highlights are so hot I am surprised the bride and groom didn't just burst in to flames right there on the parquet floor. Good thing I put a copyright stamp on there, or that prized image would end up getting used by photographers everywhere as their own work. Fortunately I caught this mistake quickly and the rest of my dance exposures were fine. I'm proud to be accused of chimping!

Rather than just deleting this, though, as I looked through everything after the wedding, I decided to just see if there was anything that could be done to bring it closer to a usable image. It didn't take long to get it mighty close.

This is dialed down FOUR stops in Lightroom, with a bit of fill light dialed back in to keep the people in the back from falling in to a black hole. And while it may not be a contest winner, it's one image that I'm not ashamed to tuck in to the big pile of proofs that the couple will get from me.

I'm quite confident that I never could have saved this photo if I had shot it with the D3, or with the D200. How do I know? Ummmmm, I've screwed up with those cameras plenty of times. And when I came across something like this, I just had to send it to the trash.

For Lightroom users, by the way, I've found that the way to really take advantage of the "bright light gatherers" (sounds like a movie that should have, oh, Farrah Fawcett in it) on the Super CCD sensor is to NOT use the Highlight Recovery slider. If you've got an image where the highlights are too bright, dial back the Exposure slider instead, and then use the Fill Light slider to add back in to the lower tonal range. Same principle works with Adobe Camera Raw, and I presume other apps for handling raw files.

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