For the past year, I have been shooting primarily with a Nikon D800e and a Hasselblad H4D-40.  Both of these cameras are relatively high megapixel cameras (36 and 40 respectively) and allow for large beautiful prints.  The "problem" with making large prints is not only are they expensive, but imperfections in the source image become more apparent.  You also start thinking more critically about brightness and color as you spend more money on larger prints (for yourself of for clients).  

I've always liked the Cinema Displays from Apple.  I have two older 20" Cinema Displays, one 24" LED Cinema display, and one 27" Thunderbolt Display (NOT to be confused with the 27" Cinema display, which connects via mini-display port ant lacks thunderbolt).  The monitors themselves look sharp from a form factor perspective and always display rich, vivid, colors.  There are a couple issues I have with them though.  Lately my issues with them are growing and growing.  First, they are expensive.  Second, they lack modern connectivity.  The Thunderbolt display does in fact have a thunderbolt port which is nice (and I believe at the time of writing is the only thunderbolt monitor on the market....LG announced one at CES back in January but it has not been released yet) and allows for the monitor to function as a dock so to speak, but the inclusion of USB 2.0 ports vs USB 3.0 ports is ridiculous.  Third, I always find that they have a slightly yellow/greenish tint to them.  The 24" Cinema Display I have I even had Apple replace the display because of the tint issue at a cost of >$600 (thankfully it was under Applecare and I didn't pay a dime).  Last, they are very reflective...I find it hard to do some things in lab with my 24" because of how reflective they are.  

For all of the above reasons I looked into different monitors for my new 2013 Mac Pro.  I wanted wide color gamut monitors with a matte display and even backlighting that were amenable to calibration.  I found two that really peaked my interest: the NEC PA272-BK-SV and the Eizo CG277.  In the end I went with the NEC simply because it was cheaper (and on sale when I bought it...the Eizo is BRAND new but I expect prices to come down in the future).  Unlike the Eizo, it has an external calibration sensor (basically an NEC-branded X-Rite i1display pro from what I can tell), but otherwise shares similar specs.  So far I really like the monitor.  It plugs in to the Mac Pro with a [supplied] mini-display port to display port cable (mini-display port plugs in to thunderbolt port on mac, display port plugs in to monitor).  After plugging it in, installing the supplied SpectraView II software, and plugging in the [supplied] colorimeter, I had it up and running and calibrated in about 5 mins.  Very quick and painless.  So far I'm a big fan!  I was hoping I could use the supplied software and colorimeter to also calibrate my other displays, but unfortunately only certain NEC displays are supported (minor bummer).  The only other downside is that I imagine I will have to run a USB cable from the monitor to the computer if I want to use any of the USB ports (also USB 2.0 unfortunately) on the monitor itself.  I will amend my thoughts in the future if I experience any issues.  

I bought my NEC monitor here

Disclaimer:  I'm not endorsed by any companies or websites mentioned herein.  All equipment was purchased by me personally and I received no compensation from anyone for writing this post.  

Nikon D4

The Nikon D4 was officially announced today (along with the WT-5 wireless transmitter and 85mm F1.8G) as the new Nikon FX flagship.  From the spec sheet, this thing looks like it's a boss and a worthy D3S successor.  I'll do a more comprehensive rundown of the feature set that I'm most excited about shortly.    Press release can be found here.

Nikon D800

I bought my Nikon D300 almost exactly 3 years ago.  It's been a great camera and I'm still shooting great images with it.  From a commercial standpoint, people are still paying me to shoot with it.  So here's a big "thumbs up" to you D300.  That being said, it is 3 years old (ancient by tech standards) and I have been looking to upgrade for some time now.  Upgrade??  Wait, hold just said it's a great camera shooting great images getting great use?  Why would you want to upgrade? Nikon has several sensor sizes in dSLR bodies: DX (APS-C, a "cropped" sensor) and FX (full frame).  The main difference between the two is size.  According to Wikipedia, Nikon DX sensors come in around 23.6 x 15.8 MM (give or take) whereas full-frame FX sensors come in around 36 x 24 MM (about the size of a 35mm film negative, sensor size comparison here).  The main advantage of the larger FX sensor is better low light performance and dynamic range under certain conditions.  The "crop" factor of the DX sensor can come in handy sometimes too, especially for telephoto.  Having around a 1.5x crop factor means that 24mm lenses act like 36mm on DX, 200mm acts like 300mm, etc.

So when I first bought into dSLRs, I got the D300, a DX camera.  I shot a lot of pictures.  I also started getting paid for jobs.  After awhile, I wanted to upgrade to FX as well as get a back-up camera (I think its stupid to go into jobs without a backup cam).  Last year I had money to do this.  My plan was to buy an FX camera and use the DX D300 for backup.  Big problem.  The FX cameras in Nikons lineup.  The D3x and D3s were too expensive for my needs at the time.  The only other FX option, the D700, was over two years old at that point.  I didn't want to drop $2500+ on a two year old piece of tech gear.  So what did I do?  Bought another DX camera that was cheaper that the D300 (the D7000) that actually has better specs on paper than the D300.  The D7000 has been great (esp the 16MP resolution vs 12MP of the D300) but it just wasn't exactly what I was looking for.  The D700 replacement was really what I wanted.

There have been a lot of rumors about a D700 replacement lately.  Supposedly it will be called the D800.  Nikon Rumors posted purported pics here.  The specs of the camera have generated a lot of buzz on the web, and here are my two cents:

1) If those pictures are to believed, the body size and control layout represents a departure from current prosumer and pro bodies.  It more resembles the D7000.  I'm not too crazy about this.  While this will make the D800 smaller and lighter, I like having all the buttons at my finger tips and am not a huge fan of the D7000 layout.  Smaller and lighter is great, I guess, but the lenses I've got weigh a ton in my bag.  Shaving a couple ounces off the size/weight of the camera won't make a huge difference to my back or Really Right Stuff tripod/ball head I will be ordering in the coming weeks.

2) 36MP would be awesome!  A lot of people argue you don't need that many MPs.  I disagree.  The lenses that I have bought for my DX cameras (24-70 2.8G, 70-200 2.8G, 24 f1.4G, 105mm 2.8G) easily out-resolve the DX sensors.  I'm more than happy to see FX sensors with more MPs that are going to be able to take advantage of the resolving power of the lenses I've already spent thousands of dollars on.  Also, with more MPs comes a greater ability to crop.  It's not always possible to get the composition you want and sometimes you have to crop.  Cropping a larger file will give higher resolution crops.  That is good.  Bigger files also mean I better start buying higher capacity memory cards and hard drives.

3) Price...a little high but certainly doable esp with those specs.  For the haters: granted the sensor is larger, the Leica S2 is currently the only weather-sealed camera in a dSLR form factor that can deliver that high MP images (37.5MP).  The problem?  It is $23k.  The lenses are all in the $5k-9k range each.  So 300,000 yen ($3900) for a D800 when I've already got some kick-ass Nikon F-mount lenses seems like a bargain.  If you think it's too expensive, you don't need one: buy a $1200 D7000.  I have one, it rocks for DX.  16MP, useable images at ISO6400, and 1080P 24FPS video for a fraction of the cost.  Or buy a used D700 for FX.  People will be selling lots of them when the D800 comes out.

4) A lot of people are complaining about AF and FPS.  I don't think Nikon is going for the sports or bird-watching market with this camera.  This is not the camera for you if you care about shooting fast moving things at high FPS.

5) Video: good video specs, hopefully an 1/8" mini-jack for mic in (for connecting external mics/audio devices).  If true, it will do 1080P at 24/25/30FPS and 720P at 24/25/30/60FPS.  Just remember, if you're new to dSLR video you are going to need stabilization gear and continuous lighting.  Don't expect to re-create Reverie just because you bought a dSLR that does video.

6) Memory cards: if it's got a CF and SD slot that'd be great.  I shoot JPEG+RAW.  JPEGs for quick client deliverables (or for delivery with no editing if they're good enough) and RAW for post.  CF+SD would allow me to do RAW to CF, JPEG to SD at the same time.  I'd be happy.

7) ISO: gonna have to wait to see samples to see how ISO stacks up to current FX and DX shooters.

Anyway, that's all I've got.  If those specs and pics are too believed then sports and wildlife shooters may be disappointed but I'm pretty pumped.  You can't make a camera for everyone but this looks like the next camera for me.  Time to start raising money and all I've got to say to Nikon is: bring it on!