Sunday, May 16, 2010


I'm not looking forward to tonight's long flight from LA to Manila. A coach seat isn't exactly what you'd call comfortable, especially with an expected fly-time of about 17 hours. But that doesn't have to be time wasted..not when I have a new "novel" to read!

With the arrival of the new Nikon D3s's, it's time for me to really familiarize myself with these new tools. Having shot Canon for the past 6 years, I'm actually looking forward to learning something new, and getting my hands back on some Nikons. If there's one thing Nikon excels at, it's ergonomics. Nothing feels quite as good in your hand as that sculpted Nikon grip and the way the shutter release button is canted at just the right angle to meet your finger. Ahhhhh!
Time to RTFM (read the * manual) gosh, it's three quarters of an inch thick and contains over 430 pages! Today's camera manuals are a whole different story from what we were used to seeing back in the film days.

Upon arrival in Manila, I'm meeting freelance Filipino journalist, Red Santos. We're heading  north of town to shoot the Obando Fertility Festival, so tonight will be my last chance to have an in-depth look and the D3s manual and make any last minor tweaks.
On Friday, I shot the D3s's in Los Angeles during an assignment for an old friend, Dan Tobin. Dan previously headed up the communications department at Education Development Center, an NGO with prorams world wide. Dan now runs Stenhouse Publishers and he needed photos of high school students reading, learning and interacting with teachers. One of the classrooms I was photographing in, lacked a window, so I shot most of it at ISOs over and above what I could have, with my 6 year old Canon Mark II's. Everything with the D3s's was great, except that I felt like the focus was a bit slow. I think I'm going to have a look at reducing the number of available focus points, and see if that speeds things up.

So, on the plane tonight, it looks like I'm going to get a chance to test the effectiveness of the D3s owners manual. Let's see if it is as potent as an Ambien and a Bud Light.

Sweet dreams all.




Heber Vega said...

Hi Karl,
Check out the guides/manuals from Thom Hogans. ( Most of the serious nikon shooters that I know, don't read the manual and instead they/we buy Thom's guides. Are very well done, with a booklet, a cd, and other stuff to carry with you on the field. Those are by far the best nikon's guides to get to know what you camera is capable of.
All the Best,
Heber Vega

Karl Grobl said...

Thanks Heber, I'll check those out!

Jacob Maentz said...


Will you be heading to Cebu at all on your trip to the Philippines? If you are and want to meet let me know. Have a safe trip and enjoy the new cameras.

Best, Jacob

Anonymous said...

Hey Karl

Great stuff on the new Nikons - you are very fortunate to have such great gear? I love my D700 and the beautiful shots I get from them.

May I take the liberty of asking one question?

Why did you choose the Ds instead of the Dx?

Everybody seems to be chasing more pixels these days but a few switched on photographers don't worry about this (Ken Rockwell for one). I thought the higher pixels of the D3x may have kept you more up with current trends (your cameras will be 'older' soon being only 12 megapixels). The D3x would be equivalent with some of the higher DSLR cameras like the Canon 5MKll.

You obviously don't put a lot of emphasis on pixels which is very refreshing these days.

Loved your story I read of the NGO rep and Pharmaceutical company rep having a conversation in the back of your 4x4 and you realising you had the best job in the world. You are very blessed to be able to say that - very few can.


NET-Photography said...

Apart from reverse zoom direction and focus.
I miss the exposure compensation button.
There ain't any on the vertical grip.

Oh and weirdly, exposure compensation still in-effect when shooting in manual.

I also found that I keep accidentally hitting the LV (live view ) button and activate it when carry a camera with a strap and walking or running around.

AF-On button on the vertical grip is also in a wrong place. When I hold a camera, I keep hitting this button and deactivate AF without knowing it. (I set AF-on to disable AF) After a month, I just lock the controls on vertical grip and use the main grip almost exclusively.

On a plus side, I also use AF-C most of the time. Even for static object. I just point the focus point on a subject then hold AF-ON(set to disable AF), recompose, then shoot. If a subject moves, the camera will track focus and I can make sharp picture. I have never been able to use this method with Canon Mark II, Mark III, 5D Mark II and satisfy with the result. Nikon AF-C works!

delphine said...

Looking forward to seeing what you'll get with your new toy :)
I always enjoy your images and I'm very inspired by you to go and photograph in Laos next week while backpacking!

Karl Grobl said...

Hi Jacob,
Nope, not this time but thanks for the invitation...hope to meet you on another trip.

Karl Grobl said...

Thanks Phil, good question, I chose the S because I think the X is overkill for my needs...and the additional cost is, for me, prohibitive.

Anonymous said...

Great advice. I feel as though so many people underestimate the value of being able to operate their cameras effortlessly.

Are you still using your Spider Holster and Upstrap combo with the Nikons?