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Here’s a shot from this morning’s dawn shoot (click for a larger version). We only had that light for about 10 minutes (at best), and then the sun tucked behind a cloud bank never to return (it started raining shortly thereafter for the rest of the day. You can’t tell from the photo shown above (taken with a Nikon D200), but it was freezing cold (so cold I could barely concentrate on shooting). But, even as cold as it was, I had a blast shooting alongside my workshop class, and the world class Bill Fortney.

We spent the rest of the day in the classroom, learning Lightroom, and that went really great (almost everyone in the workshop was already using Lightroom to some extent, and two of the students had even been to my Lightroom Live Tour).

Although I didn’t get a chance to shoot with the Nikon D3 during the morning shoot, I spent hours with it tonight at our dusk shoot, and I have to say; not only does it live up to it’s hype, I’d have to say it actually exceeds it. There are a lot of things to love about the D3, but the lack of noise is far beyond what I had ever imagined (and I had heard stories of people raving about the low noise, but you’ve really got to see it in person to believe it).

I haven’t done any lab research on this, just some field shooting yesterday and today, but when I look at images shot at 1600 ISO on the D3, they look like images taken on my D2x at 400 ISO. You just can’t believe what you’re seeing. Bill did a demo for the class last night, and even showed images shot at 6400 ISO and there were literally gasps in the room at the low levels of noise. You’ve gotta understand; this isn’t just an improvement in the noise and detail—this is way beyond that. Without sounding corny (though it still will), this is like a new dawn in the digital camera era, and now I can see where noise will soon be a non-issue. I was fully expecting to be impressed with the D3′s low noise, but I honestly wasn’t prepared for this. I was blown away. We all were.

Some other things I quickly fell in love with was (of course), the huge 3″ LCD panel, which is the crispest and brightest I’ve never seen (even the menus looked great), and the full frame View Finder is just fantastic. During the day I kept uncovering new features, and everybody was ooohh and ahhhing over it, and the more I shot it, the more I fell in love. It’s got more slick, well-thought out features, than you can imagine, and I know I’m gushing, but….I’m just gushing!!! Bravo to Nikon for making a camera that is just a joy to shoot (the feel of the shutter is amazing), that is smart (it holds two memory cards at once; and has a double battery charger as well), and takes some amazingly sharp, crisp, low noise photos.

As for the rest fo the day, really—who cares—I was playing with a D3!!!! :-) Actually, we had a really great day; I’ve met some just wonderful people, and we’ve had a blast getting to know each other, learning, shooting, and sitting around a roaring fire tonight at the Lodge. Life is good. :)

Hopefully I’ll be able to post some D3 images soon (there’s no way to decode the Raw photos yet, since it hasn’t been released yet, so I shot Raw + JPEG and I got a quick glance at a few of my JPEGs, and the quality is just off the charts).