My First ‘Real’ Shoot with the Nikon D4: The Tavistock Pro Golf Tournament

OK, well…technically it was my second. I did a car detail shoot (based on Tim Wallace’s online class) right before I left for Photoshop World, and I posted those shots over on Google+ (here’s the link), but since it was just me in my garage (well, and Brad)…it didn’t feel very “official.”

These are from the Tavistock Golf Tournament in Orlando, Florida which I shot with my buddy Mike Olivella (who is an absolutely ace golf photographer).

I shot two lenses primarily: a 300mm f/2.8 (sometimes with a 1.4 tele-extender on it to get in tighter), and a 14-24mm f/2.8 on my 2nd body, which was a Nikon D3s (that’s one of those wide shots above).

I took a handful of 10.5mm fisheye shots on the 18th tee as the last flight (Tiger’s group) was headed in toward the club house to finish the match, but that’s about it.

I shot in Aperture Priority mode all day, but the sun was in/out of the clouds, so I bounced between 100 and 200 ISO a few times during the day. Even at that, I had shutter speeds up around 1/6400 of a second, so freezing the turf Tiger was digging up was not a problem.

The post-processing was all done in the new Lightroom 4 (no plug-ins or other stuff). It’s pretty amazing how much you can do in LR4 these days.

Here’s another wide angle shot on the 18th green, with some Clarity applied and I desaturated the sky a bit for a bleach bypass look.

As for the D4 — I love it!!!!
The exposure acts a little differently than my D3s, and that took a little getting used to, but I love the overall smoothness and quality of the gradations in tone and color. Plus, it’s just fast as anything, cranking off Raw shots at JPEG speed (and the buffer must be insane, because I never got near filling it).

I also uncovered lots of other little tweaks and improvements to the camera that I hadn’t heard much about in the press, which was a nice surprise. Since these were taken, I also shot at the Sun n’ Fun fly-in, and shot my first D4 Hockey Game, and it performed like a champ. I know this isn’t a full review — just my first impressions, but so far I’m totally digging it. :)

A big thanks to my buddy Mike Olivella for putting up with me (and Braddo) for the day. The weather was perfect (lunch was yummy), and I got to tease Mike endlessly about his totally old-fashioned D3. ;-)

      1. Hi Scott

        The shots are amazing how did you expose the sky and keep detail in the shadow?

      2. The camera has a high dynamic range and LR’s shadow slider does a great job of recovering detail in the shadows.

    1. Once they come out of their backswing, you can shoot. However, if you shoot during their backswing, their caddy (and course officials), will pick of a five iron and beat you to death (or at the very least, they’ll maybe give you one warning before they toss you off the course. I’m not kidding about the 2nd part). 

    1. I lowered the Highlights, increased the amount of shadows, and increased the Clarity quite a bit. That tended to make the photo a bit too colorful, so I backed off the Vibrance on a few of the photos. That’s it. :)

      1. Wow, seems so simple but looks so amazing. Clearly, the D4 in your hands is a lethal combination…

        Thanks for the reply!

  1. Non-heavy post processed images would be nice to see. These are cool, but most of us working journalists would be fired for processing an image like these,, lol

      1. For my editors…absolutely. They would consider these nice images for a pictorial, but wouldn’t be able to use them as straight-forward news mages. They have a magazine manipulated look to them. Not saying I don’t like them. Just saying that this type of processing (regardless of how many sliders) is just too obvious to be accepted with many agencies.

  2. Very, very nice, Scott. Glad you are enjoying your new D4.
     As an aside, have you noticed too that the Clarity slider in LR 4 is far more “sensitive” than previous versions? It appears Adobe has tweaked Clarity to create a faux HDR look.

  3. They look great, but  I wish I had mine already.  The worst part about the D4 shortages (and D800) is Nikon and the stores can’t even tell us when they are coming.  Totally frustrating.  Even though  I shoot Nikon, I would not recommend them going forward.  If anyone asks (which, they normally do), due to poor customer service, I have to tell them to shoot Canon.  What’s so hard about being truthful to your customers?

  4. “Putting up” with Scott and Brad for an entire day on a golf course is one of the most enjoyable, entertaining experiences one can have. The folks at the Tavistock Group put on an amazing event and I was hoping Scott wouldn’t be able to pass it up, especially after I received my shooting assignment and learned that Tavistock had assigned me to Tiger’s group the entire 2nd day. Looking at Scott’s D4 images, you can see what an amazing eye he has when it comes to not only sports but golf photography. With 6 images he captured the essence of a pro golf event even though it was essentially the first time he has shot golf. Scott thinks I was doing him a favor by inviting him to come, but it was me who got the better end of the deal. Imagine what a treat it was for me to be able to have a two hour lunch with the God of Photography (as I like to call Scott) and the Demi God of Photography (Brad) and pick their brains about software, processing, composition and all things photography. It doesn’t get any better than that..

  5. Brilliant HDR work Scott!!! Ive had my d4 and d800 for two weeks now and love them both, although a grip less d800 with heavy glass is no fun :(.

  6. Did you (or other pros) try Silent Mode? Only 2 MP but it’s silent.  I remember reading about Dave Black (I think) using a Canon point and shoot to get some shots during golfer’s swings that no one else could because of the silent shutter.  I was thinking about this when they announced D4 specs.

    1. I didn’t try it (it’s definitely quieter, but I dot think it’s silent enough to keep you from getting thrown off the course, but I’ll have to test it). However, I did try to borrow a Nikon V1, which shoots 60 fps and is absolutely silent, but the one guy who had a loaner had just sent it back the day before. I would have loved to try that out! (especially since now you can get an adapter to let you use regular Nikon DLSR lenses. :)

      1. Hey Scott, I have the J1 (gift from a friend who won it) and have to say that the 60 FPS is amazing and OH SO Silent….

  7. Very nice Scott.  Wish I could afford to shoot with 2 camera systems.  This looks like a really great tool in the hands of professional.  

  8. Wow… I am jealous !! I would love to hear more sbout the specific way you processed these in LR 4. Some almost have a HDR look to them. Beautiful !!!

  9. Scott, what where your other settings  i.e. white balance…I have a d4 and find the in-camera pic
    to be different from d3 to d4, what do you think.  

  10. Love the shots, and the LR processing (especially the smooth illustrative feeling of the wide angle ones)!
    I can’t believe that was your first time shooting golf (it cannot get more different then shooting “crazy” action hockey), You surely had a great mentor!!:-)
    Looking forward to read more about the D4!

  11. Cool stuff Scott.  I follow both you and Mike on a regular basis and can only imagine the banter that went on between the two of you (and Brad).

  12. I got my D4 yesterday and it’s as good as i knew it would be, and then some. I’ve mostly tried the film-function, it’s a new medium for me with new possibilities. And it’s pretty amazing how this camera can literally see in a dark room.
    These are exciting times for sure.
    Great shots by the way, i like the silky feeling in some of them. I’m gonna put my D4 pictures to the test in LR4 tomorrow.

  13. The second shot has very narrow DOF, so the subject is very much separated from the background.  Due either to the conditions or processing, the subject and background seem to be lit slightly differently.

    There also seems to be a slight halo along the lower part of the right (our left) sleeve of Tiger’s shirt.

    This causes the image to look slightly fake / overprocessed

  14. Awesome shots Scott! I find it funny how people think it’s HDR or heavily processed. Lightroom 4 has definitely gotten better and I feel I can just finish the process just in Lightroom 4 and don’t have to bother with any further edits in Photoshop. 

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