Sometimes even when something is right in front of you you don't realize how good it is. In this case I am NOT talking about my model @KillerXQueenX. I almost immediately upon meeting her knew how good she was going to be.
I am talking about the Nikon D5's little brother the D500. Almost immediately after it came out I loaned mine out to a pro contemplating a purchase. That comes with the territory for my day job. Before I was able really test it I went to the Olympics. I came home and I did a few shoots for my upcoming Nikon School Portrait & Lighting Class (hands on workshop where I'll teach you everything I know in 8 hours - it's really that easy unfortunately) so that there would be plenty of new content for anyone that had seen me teach in the past. The D5 was in my hands almost constantly because it's the D5 and because it is compatible with the Advanced Wireless System which is fancy talk for Nikon's Radio controlled flash system. As much as I LOVE my D810 i just couldn't get myself to give up the added flexibility of the radio control so I was doing a bunch of shoots with the D5. That elitist full frame lover in me just couldn't get me to take the D500 out and test it for portraits. I'd used it for a few mets games, I shot some 4K UHD video with it. I shot Zoe running around. It was stellar. But as a portrait guy i kept saying - full frame. I kept saying FX lens. I kept hauling out the big guy. Two things came together to help push me to trying the D500 for a portrait/fashion shoot. First I loaned out my D5. then an opportunity to capture three amazing subjects in the course of a week came up. (another post this week for number 2 and then a third post in mid-September showing some nifty rear curtain work).
I packed my D810 and my D500 in my Think Tank roller along with lenses and other gear. I got to the first shoot and picked up the D810 and started to pack my shoulder bag with my shoot essentials that i actually carry as I walk around to shoot. I put in three SB-5000's (i generally only use one or two but the number one thing that separates pro's from amateurs is redundancy - the ability to carry on a shoot even if batteries run out, flashes crash into ponds or sidewalks, etc, etc) As I started to take two steps away a little voice in the back of my head said "Radio...you need the radio". I knew I didn't NEED the radio. Up until the last 6 weeks I'd been using line of sight based Nikon Creative Lighting System with solid results. I never felt like it stopped me. But now that I had a taste of radio freedom it was hard to give it up. I turned. Opened my trunk and switched it out. I picked up the D500 and the Nikon 16-80. I felt a bit out of sorts as i generally shoot primes. Since 2007 i'd been shooting full frame. I was used to 1.4 apertures and large sensors and here i was walking away from my car carrying enough gear, over enough distance, with a woman rocking high enough heels over hilly enough terrain. Going back to the car in the middle of the shoot wasn't going to be a consideration. I decided if Zoe could learn to swim by being dropped in grandma's pool then I could do something cool with a zoom and a dx camera.
The lens is sharp. Stupid sharp. Not a "kit lens" at all. The ISO on the camera is amazing. The focus points allow me to place the subject anywhere in the frame from far left to far right and have them in a cross type AF sensor ensuring fast accurate focus so i don't have to recompose which at wide apertures leads to losing maximum sharpness in images. And it's compatible with the WR-10 and SB-5000. Once I put the shortcut into the camera to quickly access the flash controls via Fn1 I was in flash geek nirvana. All images in this post are shot with the D500 and 16-80 except for the "mustache shots" where KillerXQueenX channels her inner Freddy Mercury. For those i broke out the Nikkor 35 1.4.
Light in the images comes from two SB-5000's (one is some cases) mostly bare. As usual the wind stopped me from using the umbrella after a few shots and one nearly broken flash so i decided to move the flashes in as close as possible to give me the softest light a speedlight can muster on a human sized subject and made the most of it. To say i was pleased is an understatement. Great subject combined with great gear gave me images I'm really happy about. More importantly - the subject likes them.
Enjoy. Come see me for the workshop if you like this and want to know how to do it. Lots of hands on shooting. Behind the scenes and process shots and images you create to serve as a diving board to jump into the world of Nikon off camera flash.