Camera Upgrade: What’s the Big Deal? Part 2

I’ve been very pleased with the quality of the images from the new Nikon D4 and have been thinking about what a long way digital cameras have come. Below, I reproduced and compared sample images from the new Nikon D4 and the original D1x. To be fair, I choose two images that were taken under similar conditions: and that is the particularly challenging situation of a school gym! School gyms are a nightmare to photograph in because of two reasons. First, they are often lit with metal halide or other cost-saving lamps that have unusual color temperatures. This means one gets weird color casts; skin, in particular, tends to look ghastly in this lighting. Second, gyms are such huge, vacuous spaces that they are difficult to light. An on-camera flash doesn’t have much of a chance of getting decent results. Or – didn’t used to have a chance.  .  .  .  .

The first image was taken in 2002. I worked on this image a LOT to get the color this close to “normal”. There are now whites (sort of) where there used to be saturated mustard tones. The whites are totally blown out in places because the image had to be lightened so much; the image was so dull and dark because I couldn’t get enough light to do any better. The second image is a blow up of a section of the photo so you can see the ghastly, fuzzy grain we had to put up with back then.

Ethnic young child (girl, 5) in physical education class with large ball

Photograph of pre-K girl in gym class taken on older digital camera

Ok, ten years later. Back in a gym with the Nikon D4. Automatic white balance on the camera got the correct settings – I did not adjust the color temperature on this image. I only had to adjust the exposure by -.05. To be honest, it’s not just the cameras that got better. The flash units are better (much more powerful) and can be used with other flash units. This image was lit with two units: one on my camera and a remote unit held by an assistant. And then there is the beauty of increased clarity and decreased grain! I shot this at ISO 1600. Take a look at the closeup and compare it to the D1x closeup.

Kindergarten teacher and her students in school gym; photo taken on Nikon D4

young children stand in a line in close up photo taken on Nikon D4 camera

Wow, what a difference! I can’t wait to see what changes the next decade brings in camera evolution!