Nikon D4 Firmware Update Tip

The process to update the firmware on the D4 is straightforward, but if you are unfamiliar with it, Nikon has a PDF document on their website to assist you. However, it fails to mention a critical piece of information that may affect you. If you have been shooting tethered to a computer, you must turn off the the Network connection. Otherwise, the camera will not recognize the update file on the CF card or the XQD card and you will not be able to finish the install. If you have not enabled a network connection or you have already turned it off, you should not have a problem.

When you go to install the update, you should see the following window with “Update” as an option:

Nikon D4 Menu - Firmware Update

[Read more...]

Nikon D800 vs D700 FPS and Buffer Comparison

Many of our readers have been asking me to provide some information on how the new Nikon D800 (see our review) compares to the Nikon D700 (see our review) in terms of speed (“fps” or “frames per second”) and camera buffer. In the below video, I show the performance of both cameras side by side when shooting 14-bit Lossless Compressed RAW images with very fast SanDisk Extreme Pro 16GB compact flash memory:

As you can see, the Nikon D800 is slower than the Nikon D700 with its 4 fps speed versus 5 fps on the D700. It also lasts about half a second shorter than the D700 before its buffer gets full at around the 4 second mark. Nikon’s estimates for the D800 and D700 are 17 images for the D800 and 20 images for the D700 before memory buffer gets full and fps slows down. My tests are a little off, because the D800 should be a little faster according to Nikon – 17 / 4 fps is 4.25 and 20 / 5 fps is 4. Interestingly, the same thing happens when both cameras are set to 12-bit RAW – the D700 still lasts longer. Note how much longer it takes for the D800 to complete its write from the camera buffer into the memory card – now that’s one huge buffer! I bet it is at least 4 times larger than the one on the D700. Lastly, note that the D800 shutter sounds very different than the one on the D700.

Some people have been reporting memory compatibility issues with the D800. I have not seen any issues so far with any of the SanDisk & Lexar cards I have (I have been using SanDisk and Lexar cards for my cameras exclusively), so I believe memory card issues are happening with cheap third party memory cards only. Hopefully we will see a firmware update from Nikon soon – the D800 seems to have occasional slowdowns when writing to and reading from CF and SD memory cards, as reported in my Nikon D800 Review.

How to Store Memory Cards

After losing a memory card with the best pictures from a trip I took across the western USA, I decided to write a quick article on how to store memory cards and how not to lose photographs during long trips. It was a lesson learned the hard and painful way, so a couple of days after the loss, I came up with a plan to protect my data going forward and try not to lose it any more in the field. Below you will find my plan and my recommendations.

Losing images from a long-planned and expensive trip can be very painful. After it happens, you realize that it is not the financial aspect of it, but the effort you put into creating those images instead that hurts the most. We as photographers have to work with the best light during the day, which happens at sunrise and sunset times, no matter where you are located. In Glacier National Park, the sunset times in summer can be as late as 10 PM and as early as 5 AM in the morning. Northern Canada and Alaska are even worse, with sunset times close to midnight in July and sunrise in less than 5 hours. Add +1 hour after sunset and -1 hour for sunrise to get back and to the location, and we are talking about less than 3 hours of sleep at night. In addition, those late hours are also the peak and active time for wildlife, making it dangerous to hike to get to a good spot. And I am not even talking about the weather, which can go against you in those twilight hours. In addition, you carry the heavy weight with you and spent a lot of time tweaking your equipment and composing your shots using different spots and angles. So with so much effort put into making those images, the last thing you want is to lose them. What’s worse is, if you have been shooting for a while, you know if you got a great photo right at the time you take it. You take a look at the camera LCD and you know it is a keeper, a potential for your showcase portfolio. Once you lose photographs, you start to remember those keepers and deep regret hurts even more. So, why even take the chance? Take all the steps you can to protect your photographs when traveling and working on the field.

[Read more...]

Lost SanDisk 16GB CF Card

SanDisk Extreme Pro 16 GB I know that the chances of recovering a lost or stolen memory card are close to zero, but I still want to try it. As I have pointed out in my post earlier this week, I lost a 16GB Compact Flash card in Yosemite National Park. The bad news for me, is that I had the best pictures from the trip on that card. Since I did not backup the contents of the card on a daily basis (rookie mistake #1), I do not have a copy of the photographs. The card contained the full first week of the trip, along with some images from the second week. Why do I have the best images on that card? Because I periodically deleted some blurry/out of focus wildlife images from the first card on my D3s to empty some space (rookie mistake #2) and most next day sunrise images went on that card instead of the second one. In addition, the 16GB CF card I was using was brand new and I forgot to put my name and my contact information on the back of it (rookie mistake #3). When both CF cards on my camera got full, I inserted a new 16GB card into my camera and because I was busy shooting a waterfall in Yosemite, I temporarily put the CF card into my pocket instead of putting it away into my camera bag (rookie mistake #4). The card somehow fell out of my pocket the same day somewhere in Yosemite.

My only hope is that whoever finds the card reports it to the “Lost and Found” office, or if a photographer finds it, he/she will look through the EXIF information on Nikon RAW files, which contains my copyright information, along with my website address.

So why didn’t I back up my cards on a daily basis like I typically do? Because due to space constraints I did not take my laptop with me and took my 3G iPad instead. Now I am thinking about getting something like this for future travel needs.

Either way, losing the card was my fault and I do not know why I made so many rookie errors. I have once lost images due to a hard drive failure – now I backup my backups and my data resides on mirrored drives, plus I have offline storage. But I never lost a memory card before. Going forward, I will be backing up my images from memory cards as well, the same day I take pictures.

REWARD

If you found my card and return it back to me with my images, I will send you a $500 check or gift certificate from any store you want, along with a large 20×30 framed print of one of the images from the card (there are many great images of Yellowstone and Glacier on it).