Thursday, July 11, 2013

Nikon India Bengaluru Blogger Meet

Nikon India Bengaluru Blogger Meet

When I walked into Skyye lounge, I wasn’t quite sure on what to expect. Would it be a session where Nikon would talk about photo experiences, or would it be a session on the technicalities on using a Nikon camera to get certain photo effects? I decided that I should probably do, what I do with travel- Go with an open mind and absorb what’s shown there.

When we walked in on the 16th floor of UB City, the view from the top was killing! I could see a panorama of Bangalore from that height and with the breeze and the cushy seating that the Skyye lounge had, I could have almost stopped and taken in the view, but I knew, something better would be on offer inside for the session. As we sat in our seats, we saw a couple of TV sets dedicated to showing tweets with the hash tag #ThroughTheLens. It was pleasant to see Nikon welcome each of us who had registered with a tweet that had our name in a JPG image, from their twitter handle.

The session started with funny_leone entertaining the audiences with his humor, and it moved to Nikon giving us a brief on what’s expected in the day. The surprise package unfolded then and there, when they announced that Raghu Rai, the eminent photojournalist, was present amidst the audience. I had been admiring a lot of Raghu Rai’s photographs, whenever I used to get to book shops, and here there was the opportunity to listen in to the man himself. Raghu spoke on how digital has had him hooked, and he’s never quite had the opportunity to work on film post the digital era. Raghu did briefly speak about how he started Magnum publishing, and answered a couple of questions from the audience.

Post Raghu Rai’s talk, we had Nikon’s technical team introduce themselves to us, and they divided the session into some of the basics involving Nikon’s camera’s features. They delved into the history of Nikon, and then spoke on the importance behind the Guide mode. Couple  of my ‘take aways’ from this session was the fact that bokeh effect, could be used by the advanced options in the guide mode, by softening backgrounds. I thought it depended on a lens earlier, so I had got these effects after purchasing a 50 mm 1.8F lens.

A few other interesting pointers that was spoken about was around were

Quality of Images-Due to advancement in the megapixels in modern day camera models, the level of detail, when an image is cropped is wonderful to examine. What would constitute a good crop factor? Would the details still be preserved even after a 50% crop? Maybe that’s a good test of how good the image is. So next time you have a 16 MP mobile photograph, you should stop raving about the 16 number, and check for the quality of detail in the images when you crop it. The image shown in the meet was that of the dome of the Vithala Temple in Hampi, on which they were trying to crop it and observe the detail and the quality of the image then.

High Speed Continuous Focussing- One of Nikon’s staff was showing the photographs taken of fighter planes. While taking such photographs, he added that being able to quickly adapt to the fast moving object in the frame, by keeping focus on it, is the key differentiator in great images. Based on the speed of the object moving in the frame, once can decide on the number of focal points we require. For a moving fighter plane or animal, one could use high end Nikon cameras that provide 39-51 Autofocus points, while for an object that doesn’t move as fast, we could use lesser autofocus points like the 11 Autofocus points, or just the 1 autofocus points for an object that would remain static. To show how the Nikon D4 does continous focusing, the Nikon team put a mike to the motor of the camera, and it very quickly took 200 shots in a very short frame of time(15-20 seconds maybe), while the sound off the mike resembled bullets being fired in the air.

Other Features – Nikon’s SLR cameras come with ISO as high as 12800, where the quality of the output has very high clarity and very less grains, which is generally expected as ISO levels increase. The quality of the ISO was showcased with some night shots taken in Ladakh. The Nikon crew also touched upon some of the other features that the Guide mode has like In Camera editing, Active D lighting and video features. The Active D lighting feature’s use was explained with an example of a silouhette shot on a beach with sunlight behind the object. In most cases the object(person) would be underexposed, and the probem that the Active D lighting solves is to reduce the underexposure in such instances.

Trends in Imaging-
a)      The Nikon team spoke about HDR photography that’s routinely now being used by Landscape photographers, European Fashion photography and architecture photography. My take way from the session was that the human eyesight is the best when it comes to viewing High Dyanmic range, and that’s what True HDR imaging aims to achieve, where there is a balance in the exposure’s of all objects in the frame.
b)      The other fast catching up trends of panoramic photography and timelapse photography were explained, with quick introductions on the models in the Nikon stable that are best suited for these genres.

Note on Lenses
Nikon spoke on the type of lenses, and the kind of pictures one can click with them. This was useful from the point where, I figured out that there was a type of lense called special purpose lenses.  The team added that one could also feel and test these lenses post the session.  An interesting video on how the Nikkor lenses are manufactured, was shown to the audience.

My Thoughts
While I learnt from the session that Nikon has its own school for imaging, I thought it would be useful if Nikon School invests in the following
a)      Online High quality Training courses in specific subjects. This helps a lot of amateur photographers to learn the right lessons and have a quick learning curve. A duller learning curve means consumers lose interest and never upgrade their camera accessories.
b)      Applications to learn photography without travelling to a place- Like CameraSim on iOS. Basically SLR simulators for specific models.Some one having a D3100, wanting to upgrade to a D7100 can test out the simulator for test shots and then make a purchase decision more quickly.

c)       Entry into the marketplace segment. A lot of photography shops/schools have an informal marketplace to trade lenses/bodies. If Nikon enters this segment, it could solve a great consumer pain point in getting the right prices for pieces to be sold, and Nikon could up sell some of the other newer models to photographers looking to upgrade.

Other Images from the event
Audience at the event. Mr Raghu Rai is seen sitting on the sofa lounge.

Hrish Thota having a look at the Nikkor 600 mm lens.

At the end of the workshop, folks had fun with some free portfolio shoots.

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