We had the opportunity to sit down with acclaimed sports photographer and Nikon Ambassador Mark Watson for a quick Q&A session to find out his first impressions of the new full frame DSLR, the Nikon D750.
Q. Now that you’ve had more time with the new Nikon D750 how are you finding it?
I am loving the Nikon D750! Believe it or not I actually left my ‘big camera’ at home on this last assignment as I knew I wouldn’t need the fast frame rate and super low light capabilities of my Nikon D4s. The Nikon D750 allowed me to save on size and weight without compromising image quality. It’s equipped with so many pro features including the 24 Megapixel full frame sensor, 6.5 FPS continuous shooting and built-in Wi-Fi, all in a small robust body. Often, the pro-sumer DSLR’s on the market lack a few of the features that I demand for shooting on the go and in some pretty harsh environments or they don’t include some of the unique specifications I might require for a particular outcome… However, I am yet to find any limitations of the Nikon D750. Honestly it is a little weapon and I am stoked with it.
Q. What’s been your favourite feature?
That’s easy- the size & weight. Having just recently been through the usual ‘what not to pack’ on a winter sport project, I am psyched to be able to pack a smaller professional quality camera body when I need to carry a pack full of survival gear. This will now make room for such luxuries as an extra freeze dried meal or maybe I’ll get crazy and take a block of chocolate.
Q. The tilting screen is a first for a Nikon full frame DSLR. How are you finding it?
I have to admit, I originally doubted the usability and potential fragility of the tilting monitor. What’s surprised me the most though was how much I found myself using the tilting screen. I never actually realised how often I spend shooting lying on the ground. I was just at The Pinnacles in WA and was shooting like I used to with my old Mamiya RB67 and it’s been a revelation to find the tilting screen not only very usable, but now one of my favourite features.
Q: It seems like you’ve really taken to using the built-in Instant Photo Sharing. How have you found it?
This is actually a feature my clients have been wanting for a long time. A number of jobs I do require immediately delivery of photos. For my clients to be able to login and get images straight away is a huge benefit.
For personal use, I would never have guessed it would be such an enjoyable feature. The ability to download and share instantly to social sites is such a great feature.. but most importantly, it’s so easy to use. With more emphasis nowadays on delivering photos to my clients instantly, in-built Wi-Fi in a pro level camera is now a necessity rather than a luxury.
Q. How do you think this new model will impact your style of photography?
What many people don’t realise is often my camera gear might only consist of 10-15% of the gear I need to carry on assignments. The rest of my pack is filled with essentials such as a tent, sleeping bags, stoves, food, fuel, solar rechargers and specialty biking or snow gear. The Nikon D750 will now certainly become my go-to camera for these assignments as it packs such a punch in a super small and lightweight package.
Q: Who would you recommend a D750 to, what style of photographer?
The Nikon D750 is actually a camera that can be used anywhere, from enthusiast to pro photographers. It’s the perfect camera for those stepping up into the world of pro photography who require a high end capable DSLR or alternatively, a professional photographer looking for a second body. Given how compact and lightweight it is, I can definitely see the benefits for sports and water photographers, wildlife and especially travel photographers. It has the features inspired by professional level cameras, but at a reasonable price point – it’s a no brainer.
Q. That landscape photo looks amazing. Where were you and how did you capture this shot?
Recently, I was fortunate enough to be sent on assignment to the majestic landscape of “The Pinnacles” in Western Australia. I arrived a day early to recce the location and in the process I took some time to tap into my hidden passion for taking the occasional landscape photo. Wanting to try and find a slightly varied perspective from the well viewed blue sky/red earth images of the unique landscape, I chose to wait until after sunset when the afterglow in the West silhouetted the obscure forms of The Pinnacles and then use the off camera flashes to illuminate the rock formations in the foreground. Often I use radio slaves for advance lighting but funnily enough they didn’t want to work around the rock structures and so I simply popped up the inbuilt flash on the Nikon D750, set it to master and then programmed the remote flashes to fill the scene using Nikon’s advanced Creative Lighting System (which I love and use regularly). The system worked flawlessly and created a rarely seen vision of The Pinnacles, illuminated with artificial light.
Q: Would you mind talking us through this shot as well..? Did you have to wait a long time for the sun to be in the right position?
The mountain biking photo is of a location I have had in mind to shoot for many years as I used to live right near here many years ago. Then a few other photographers photographed the location so I chose not to pursue the image as I didn’t want to replicate others. However with an ability to shoot with the D750 a week before its release, I thought it was time to revisit the location and get the image I always had in mind. We had to arrive predawn and it was a brand new bike so the rider had to ride the line a few times to see how the bike behaved – the location can actually be quite dangerous even though it looks quite mellow. The challenge in this image was to align the rider and the sun in the correct position mid-air and also to ensure the riders style was natural. Sometimes it’s easy to force a shot only to end up with unnatural results due to pushing an athlete to do something unnatural. Often I find it’s best to get the athlete to do their own thing and then to work your own way into the right spot to secure you capture the image you picture in your head.
Q: If you had one tip for emerging photographers looking to get in to sports photography, what would that be?
Aim for excellence! Nowadays, everyone has the possibility to shoot good quality images with products like the D750 becoming more attainable, so you really need to stand out by finding a point of difference. You really have to raise the bar and be unique. Gone are the days where it was just about pressing a button or copying what’s been done before. You need to be passionate and think through your images, You have to find your own flavor and excel at it!
I’m a fanatic of ensuring every image is the best it can be. 10 Great images are much better than having 50 good images.