Behind the scenes at BH: Rocking the Nikon

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Having just come back from a day of behind-the-scenes coverage of Specialized’s HQ in Morgan Hill CA, I’m reflecting on what makes for a successful public image and how much work goes into something that’s just enjoyable on the surface. I thought it might be nice to talk for a second about what goes on behind the scenes at Bike Hugger when we cover something.

As a long-time photographer and photographic writer I get to spend a lot of time with camera equipment from all of the major manufacturers. Recently our good friends at Nikon loaned us a Nikon D3x and some lenses to evaluate, which complement the pile of high-end bodies and lenses that I use as part of my work with MacCreate.com and the Aperture Users Network. The Nikon D3x is a 24.5 megapixel SLR that represents the culmination of the company’s decades of experience and combined with the lenses and strobe gear (I only took the 50mm f/1.4G and 35-70 f/2.8 as well as the SB 900 strobe on this particular shoot) and the Mac makes a perfect working photojournalist’s kit..

Combined with the 13” MacBook Unibody, spare battery and various card readers and the like my “go kit” weighs between twenty and thirty pounds, depending on how many lenses I’m brining. Aside from the computer and battery this all goes with me on every ride in a Crumpler camera bag.

Generally I’ll shoot on the bike (and off it too) one handed with the main SLR while Byron handles iPhone video and quick stills to Twitter. Back at the hotel room I do a quick evaluation and edit of my images using Aperture and the upload them to Flickr and Byron’s iDisk.

The Nikon D3x has been an amazing workhorse. Fast, incredibly accurate (the 51-point autofocus system is as precise and amazing as any other I’ve reviewed), and vastly customizable. The color vibrancy and accuracy on the D3x is better than anything Nikon’s made before, check out the colors on these tubes–it’s very hard to get both the tonality and vibrancy right on things with such intense specular highlights.

A tour of the Specialized bicycle company headquarters in Morgan Hill, California.

I have tweaked just about every custom setting on the camera and that gives me the power to make the D3x do things that are very difficult to do on other systems. For example, I’ve set the function button to tell the strobe to not fire. That’s a huge benefit when you’re taking photos from a moving bike with only one hand available.

If you’d like to evaluate images, they’re up on my Flickr site. I’ve got a gallery of shots from the D3x while riding with the Globe team and behind the scenes at the headquarters.

(Keep in mind that the images on Flickr are compressed, so they’re not perfect for evaluation of critical sharpness.)