sRAW Format Explained

With the release of the D4s and D810 cameras, Nikon has introduced a new format to store images – sRAW, or “RAW Size Small”, as referred to by Nikon. Although Canon has had this format available in its DSLRs for years, this is Nikon’s first time introducing it. As a result, a lot of Nikon users are wondering what this format is, how it works and how it compares to standard RAW files. Personally, I had very limited knowledge of this format and thought it would be an exciting feature, until I dug deeper and found out what it was all about. After a few hours of research (and some input from Iliah Borg, I decided to summarize my findings in this article, which I hope our readers will find useful. Let’s start with the basics first.

sRAW vs RAW Format

1) What is sRAW?

sRAW, which stands for “Small RAW” or “Small Resolution RAW” is a file format that was introduced by Kodak to allow photographers to capture images at smaller size in order to allow more images to be stored on memory cards and allow for faster workflow when full resolution files are not needed (since computers were slow for processing RAW data). The sRAW format was created as a bridge between full resolution RAW files and JPEG images. Since JPEG images are already processed, compressed and only contain 8-bit data, sRAW allowed more flexibility with more bit depth (Kodak’s original design of the sRAW format was 10-bit). The advantage was noticeably smaller file size, but at the expense of resolution – the resulting images contained either twice, or four times less megapixels. Still, these images contained more data than JPEG files for later post-processing, which increased the popularity of the format.

[Read more...]

Nikon D810 Pre-Order Options

If you are excited about the new Nikon D810 and want to pre-order it via our trusted affiliates B&H Photo Video and Adorama, please use the below links. Detailed information about the newly announced D810 is provided earlier here and you can find the announcement, along with promotional information and videos in this post. The release date of the Nikon D810 is scheduled for July 17th, 2014 in the USA, so it is a relatively short waiting window. Please note that both B&H Photo Video and Adorama will serve orders on a first come, first serve basis depending on your spot in the pre-order queue. If you want to get the camera on the day of the announcement, I would recommend to place the pre-order as soon as possible. Those that pre-ordered the D800 / D800E probably remember that they had to wait for months for availability.

Nikon D810

Nikon D810 Pre-Order Links

The Nikon D810 will be available for pre-order in two configurations – body only and a “film maker kit” that contains three Nikkor lenses. The three lenses will be: Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G and Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G – all superb prime lenses for both photography and videography. In addition, Nikon will bundle the Nikon ME-1 microphone, Tiffen ND filters, extra EN-EL15 batteries and Atomos Ninja 2 video recorder. All this for $4,996.95 is actually a good deal, that’s almost $1K in savings there.

Here is an image of the film maker’s kit, showing everything that is included (click to expand):

Nikon D810 Film Maker's Kit

Nikon D810 High Resolution Image Samples

If you are interested in seeing what the Nikon D810 is capable of in terms of image quality and ISO performance, take a look at the below high resolution image samples. These images demonstrate the sensor performance from ISO 64 all the way to ISO 3200. EXIF information is included with each shot.

Nikon D810 Image Sample (1)

Judging by the Sample Image #4 below, ISO 3200 looks pretty clean and impressively detailed. And ISO 64 images (which there are a bunch of, look quite detailed and rich in colors. Please note that these sample images are straight out of camera JPEGs, with no post-processing applied.

[Read more...]

Nikon D810 Announcement

As we have reported earlier today, the Nikon D810 has now been officially announced. While we are still working on providing more information and comparisons, below you will find the official press release, along with detailed specifications for this new camera. Since more information will be revealed by Nikon in the next few days, we would recommend to come back to this page to see more information, videos and other exciting material related to the D810. Everything we have already revealed in our earlier post is accurate, but there are a few missing bits here and there that you can find in the detailed specifications, as well as the official announcement below.

Nikon D810

[Read more...]

Nikon D810 Release Tonight

Looks like the Internet is already buzzing with some information from the upcoming release of the Nikon D810 tonight. According to our friends at Nikon Rumors, a UK website “Expertreviews” published information on the Nikon D810 pre-maturely, along with some photos of the camera. Although we’ve made the decision to stay away from the rumor talks (we’ll leave it all to rumor sites), I decided to post this information, because it is verified and we know that the D810 is coming tonight.

Nikon D810

It has been over two years since the Nikon D800 and D800E cameras were announced, so a refresh of the D800 line was expected sometime this year. Although Nikon is not doing anything revolutionary this time, some of the updates and changes to the D810 when compared to the D800/D800E are pretty attractive. First of all, the sensor has been replaced with a different, more advanced unit with no optical low pass filter (OLPF). This means that both the Nikon D800 and D800E are being merged into a single camera, the D810. Despite the fact that the resolution remains the same at 36.3 MP, the base ISO of the sensor has been lowered to ISO 64, with boost level going down to ISO 32! This is a significant change, because the lower ISO value most likely translates to much higher dynamic range. As you know, the Nikon D800/D800E have been dominating in dynamic range when compared to other cameras for a while now and it looks like the Nikon D810 will take that spot from now on. High ISO range has been expanded by one stop to ISO 51,200, which probably means that we should see some improvements in noise performance. I don’t expect to see much difference at low ISO values, but there should be visible differences at ISO 1600 and above. And with the integrated sRAW format support, you will be able to make images at 3680×2456 resolution, which is equivalent to 9 MP of very clean, noise-free images, even at very high ISO levels!

[Read more...]

Up Close and Personal at the Zoo with the Nikon 1 V2

Recently a Photography Life contributor, Alpha Whiskey, posted a great article here on some techniques that we can use to challenge ourselves as photographers. Finding ways to grow and stimulate our individual creativity is one of the most important things we can do to advance our skill level. I gave myself one such challenge this week and I thought I would share the results of it with you with images taken at the Metro Toronto Zoo.

Zoo Sample Images (1)

[Read more...]

D800 vs D4s For Wildlife in Low Light & Long Lenses

For whatever reason most of the wildlife photography I do ends up being in less than desirable conditions. Its rare that I get that perfect light, with the animal perfectly posed and the weather just right and me in the right place and time to capture it. A lot of times I am in the right place, but all the other elements needed seem like they are on the extreme limits of what is needed for quality photography.  I recently had the opportunity to photograph black bears here in New Hampshire and one thing that a person not from NH must understand is that this is not like going to Yellowstone or some similar place where the bears are more receptive to humans. Here in NH they are the ghosts of the woods, the animal you never hear while hiking or rarely see unless its by accident and then its for seconds before they disappear. I was able to use both the D800 and D4s during this time and I found out some disappointing things about the D800 which has me regretting purchasing it.

Beautiful Wet Female Black Bear

[Read more...]

Nikon D800/D800E Firmware and NEF Codec Updates

If you shoot with the Nikon D800 or the D800E DSLR cameras, you might want to check what firmware you are currently running in order to make sure that you are running the most recent version of the firmware v1.10. A couple of weeks ago Nikon released the firmware update that deals with the most annoying bug that has existed since both cameras were announced, where the camera will occasionally freeze, keeping the memory card access light lit for a very long time. The only workaround was to either wait it out or remove and re-insert the battery. To be honest, I am surprised that it took Nikon so long to fix this issue, as it was one of my personal pains with using my D800E. With the new firmware v1.10, Nikon has made a number of changes to the camera and its menu system, and has added support for larger than 128 GB CompactFlash cards.

Nikon D800

[Read more...]

Nikon TC-14E III Announcement

Along with the 400mm f/2.8E VR lens, Nikon has also announced the TC-14E III 1.4x teleconverter. The older TC-14E II version has been out since 2001 and Nikon finally decided to update it, most likely to match the performance of the new generation super telephoto lenses like the new Nikon 400mm f/2.8E VR and Nikon 800mm f/5.6E VR. The now previous-generation TC-14E II has always been praised by our team at Photography Life, thanks to its superb performance and very little performance degradation that is almost unnoticeable to the eye when using with most super telephoto lenses (see our article on how teleconverters impact image quality). In fact, my copy of the TC-14E II stays glued to my wildlife travel companion, the Nikkor 300mm f/4D AF-S (see my in-depth review) and I only detach it when I need to use the teleconverter with the 70-200mm f/2.8G VR, 200-400mm f/4G VR or other telephoto lenses.

Nikon TC-14E III

[Read more...]

Nikon 400mm f/2.8E VR Announcement

Nikon has announced a new Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens which will be loved by wildlife and sports photographers. As you know from Nasim’s review of the previous version of the Nikkor 400mm f/2.8G lens, this is one sharp lens but weight was a big drawback. Nikon has taken action to reduce the weight by almost 2 pounds and is now actually 3 ounces lighter than the 500mm f/4G, making it hand-holdable for many of us! Some of the weight savings is from using 2 Flourite lens elements. The new 400mm f/2.8E is also lighter than the legendary Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II.

Nikon 400mm f/2.8E VR

In addition to saving weight, the minimum focusing distance of the new lens is approximately 12 inches less than the old version. There are 16 lens elements in 12 groups in the new lens, compared to 14 elements in 11 groups in the old lens. The front element diameter of the lens remains the same while the overall length of the lens is slightly shorter by 10 mm. Speaking of the front element, it is the first Nikkor lens to receive the fluorine coating, which Nikon claims will “effectively repel dust, water droplets, grease or dirt, ensuring easy removal even when they adhere to the lens surface“. This new fluorine coating will also be used in the new AF-S teleconverter TC-14E III which was also just announced.

[Read more...]