Don Blair Goes Digital
Renowned portrait photographer Don Blair test drives
Text by Jen Bidner — Images by Don Blair
"Secretly, we wanted to know if this veteran of classic portraiture
It is no surprise that Blair was enamored with the camera, and loved the instant feedback of digital. He quickly embraced the DC4800 as a new tool in his creative armory.
During the two-day shoot, Blair made strong use of the preview function and large 1.8-inch LCD monitor to quickly compose the images, without the need to squint into a viewfinder. He quickly became accustomed to clicking the picture, reviewing the result, and then adjusting the model's pose or the framing accordingly. When it was time to take a break, the images were quickly downloaded onto a laptop, and a "slide show" was presented for the photographer, models, and stylist's benefit. This nearly instant feedback sent a rush of excitement through everyone involved.
Of course, Blair was concerned about quality. Not only must the image be enlarged for framed portraits, but also the subtle qualities of tone, hue, and contrast must be captured. The DC4800's new 3.3-megapixel CCD was able to create high-resolution (2160 x 1440-pixel) images for large photo-quality prints. For fast or low resolution needs, the camera also can shoot 1800 x 1200-, 1536 x 1024- and 1080 x 720-pixel images.
In the beginning, the shoot was paused, the image downloaded, and then opened in Adobe Photoshop software. Using the magnification tool, Blair and the crew enlarged a full body shot until the model's face filled the screen.
"I didn't believe it until I saw the enlargements for myself-the quality was there," said Blair. "I really loved the instant feedback that digital affords. There's no guessing, because almost instantly you can find out if it's there or not." The DC4800 looks, feels, and acts so much like its film-exposing cousins. And it's loaded with features that give shooters extensive creative control, with familiar features in familiar places. Compact and lightweight, it's a perfect companion for travel photography .
The autofocus DC4800 takes high-resolution (3.1-megapixel, 2160 x 1440-pixel) pictures. It features a 3X optical zoom lens (28 to 84mm equivalent) with a 2X digital zoom extender, and a minimum focus distance of 12 inches. An adapter threaded to accept 43mm optional lenses is available. This means the zoom range can be substantially increased with simple, inexpensive attachments.
Although Blair shoots many of his portraits in available light, being able to sync the camera to portable flash units with softboxes or umbrellas is imperative for professional results in dimly lit locations.
The many pro features-aperture control and flash sync, as well as auxiliary lenses-gave Blair the versatility he needed to create great shots. "I enjoyed the opportunity to dip my toes in the digital waters, and was thoroughly pleased with the results!" reported Blair. This coming from a man who holds the Master of Photography, Photographic Craftsman, Fellow of Photography with the American Society of Photography. He is also a member of the British Institute of Professional Photographers, Honorary Master of Photography of the Japanese Professional Photographers, and a member of Camera Craftsmen of America, which limits its ranks to 40 members. "And now Blair can add 'Digital Master' to his long list of credentials!" added Skip Cohen.
Jen Bidner is editor of PhotoAlley.com and author of The Lighting Cookbook and the new Kodak Workshop Series: Digital Photography.PhotoAlley.com-which, together with Kodak orchestrated the DC4800 test drive-is a leading online store for photography, digital, and related equipment. What sets PhotoAlley.com apart from its competition is its continued commitment to education and information. Photographers can surf its free Community and Learning sections, which have over 350 how-to articles and independent user reports on conventional and digital photography. The PhotoFeedback section lets shooters post their images so peers can critique them-yet another way to improve their artistry. Frequent chats with top-name photographers offer visitors direct access to their expertise. PhotoAlley.com is about to launch a Professional Photographer Referral system for pro shooters to post their businesses. Check out their Web site at http://www.photoalley.com.