My Current Nikon D5 & D-850 Thoughts … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

My Current Nikon D5 & D-850 Thoughts ...


I got a lot accomplished on Saturday though I am not sure what. I did swim more than a half mile on Friday and Saturday in a fairly cold pool. On Sunday I will be micro-adjusting my Nikon gear and continue working on the Gatorland and DeSoto IPT announcements. On Friday, I sent out the advance Master Class info to those who requested it. It looks as if three of the eight slots are spoken for. Please shoot me an e-mail if you are interested.

There are two openings on the spoonbill IPT. Click here for complete info. If anyone would like to join me shooting spoonbills for 1 1/2 days, February 19 (full day) and February 20 (morning session only), please get in touch via e-mail.

Thanks to the many who commented on yesterday’s Ethigul Questions blog post. I spent more than an hour responding to comments there. I have decided that I will no longer be feeding bread to ducks or gulls but in the future will bait some photographic subjects with more suitable food choices. You might say that that post opened up a big can of worms, or a big loaf of bread …

The Streak

Today makes one hundred eighty-eight days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took about 45 minutes to prepare. With all of my upcoming free time (or not …), the plan right now is to break the current record streak of 480 … Good health and good internet connections and my continuing insanity willing.


Booking.Com came through for me twice again recently with both the DeSoto Fall IPT and next July’s UK Puffins, Gannets, and Bempton Pre-trip room reservations. And all the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

This image was created on January 20 at La Jolla, CA with the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens (at 500mm) and the blazingly fast professional digital camera body, the Nikon D5 DSLR camera body with dual XQD slots). ISO 800. Matrix metering probably +1 stop: 1/2500 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. Cloudy WB at 8:25am on a cloudy morning.

Center Group (grp)/Shutter Button AF. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Brown Pelican, Pacific race landing

Nikon D5 or D-850?

Thanks to Ivan Kuraev for this e-mail:

Hi Artie, It’s been fun reading some of your impressions of your new Nikon gear. Now that you’ve had a week or two with both bodies, how do you feel the AF performance compares between the D5 and D850? Do you find yourself getting as many keepers with the D850, or is the D5 a noticeable cut above? Ivan

I had the D5 first and shot with it until I got my D-850. Those first few days were great fun. I was blown away by the ability of the AF to lock onto subjects flying against backgrounds other than sky and stay locked on effortlessly. And almost all of the images were sharp on the eye no matter where I had the center grp AF points. As with today’s image. How did it get the eyes sharp when the four Group AF points were on the ocean. When I got the D-850 we had fewer pelican flight chances. And though I had the battery grip then, I did not have the hard to find BL-5 battery door to get up to 9 fps. The image files of the D-850 are far superior to those of the D5.

Comparing AF on the two bodies is hard to do because of the difference in frame rate. The 12 fps of the D5 gives me supreme confidence when photographing birds in flight. I was often able to frame the subject and create some 10-15 frame sequences with the birds in the frame and sharp on the eye. With the slower 7 fps of the D-850 I have been unable to do that. Thus, the flight images with the D5 are a bit sharper overall than those made with the D-850. How much of that is because of my somewhat lack of confidence in the D-850, how much is due to the difference in frame rate, and how much might be due to slight differences in the AF systems? I do not know.

Once I got my hands on the D-850 I used it a lot more than I used the D5, captivated by those high quality image files and my desire to learn more about the camera. I was able to get a BL-5 battery door last week so the next time I use my D-850 it will be at 8 fps. I am bringing both bodies on my Cayman Brac trip and should have lots of flight action with the Brown Boobies. I will use both bodies for flight photography and will try to get a better handle on things.

Note: the image of the landing adult gull featured in the Splash Landing blog post here was created with the D-850. It was quite popular and some folks commented on the amazing sharpness. In fact, however, sharp focus on the eye was just a bit off. The Eye Doctor work that I did made the image look super sharp. (I lightened the iris, darkened the pupil, and sharpened the eye and face with a Contrast Mask. See more on that stuff below.

Right now I am leaning towards keeping the D5 though I will have the option to return it as a loaner when I get back from Cayman Brac; time will tell …

The ACR Screen Capture for Today’s Featured Image

Do click on the image so that you can read the fine print.

The ACR Screen Capture for Today’s Featured Image

Above is the The ACR screen capture for today’s featured image after I made my adjustments. Note that in most case I am fine going with higher RGB values for the WHITEs with Nikon than I did with Canon. And note that the four center group AF points were nowhere near the bird at the moment of exposure. But that the image is super-sharp on the bird’s eyes.

The bird was a bit dark before the adjustments. I brought the converted image into Photoshop and executed the crop to center the bird in the frame. Then I selected the bird with the Quick Selection Tool, put that on a layer, and applied my NIK Color Efex Pro 30/30 recipe. As usual, I lightened the irises and blackened the pupils using Tim Grey Dodge and Burn and selectively applied a Contrast Mask to the face and the bill.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II) will teach you an efficient Mac or PC/Photo Mechanic/Photoshop workflow that will make it easy for you to make your images better in Photoshop (rather than worse). That true whether you convert your images in DPP 4 or ACR. See the blog post here to learn lots more and to read a free excerpt.

You can order your copy from the BAA Online Store here, by sending a Paypal for $40 here, or by calling Jim or Jennifer weekdays at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II)

Your guessed it, everything mentioned above including making ACR conversions (and tons more) is covered in detail in the BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. Learn more and check out the free excerpt in the blog post here. While the new e-Guide reflects my Macbook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow, folks using a PC and/or BreezeBrowser will also benefit greatly by studying the material on DB II. Do note that you will find the RGB Curves Adjustment Color Balancing tutorial only in the new e-guide. Note: folks working on a PC and/or those who do not want to miss anything Photoshop may wish to purchase the original Digital Basics along with DB II while saving $15 by clicking here to buy the DB Bundle.

The two most recent and many of the older MP4 Photoshop Tutorial videos releases go hand and hand with the information in DB II):

  • The Wingtip Repairs MP4 Video here.
  • The MP4 Crow Cleanup Video here.

Folks who learn well by following along rather than by reading can check out the complete collection of MP 4 Photoshop Tutorial Videos by clicking here.

You can learn how and why I and other discerning Canon shooters convert nearly all of their Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 using Canon Digital Photo Professional in the DPP 4 RAW conversion Guide here. Yes, I still have many Canon images to work on. πŸ™‚ And you can learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair. Folks can learn sophisticated sharpening and (NeatImage) Noise Reduction techniques in the The Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly.

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To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

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22 comments to My Current Nikon D5 & D-850 Thoughts …

  • Artie – just wondering if you have tried Nikon’s Capture NX-D – the Nikon version of Canon DPP? Thoughts?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Have not. I’ve heard from many that it sucks … I may need to download it so that I can see the AF points and such …

      with love, artie

  • Good morning Guru. Hope you are fine.

    Am thanks and ditto.

    In fact, I was anticipating that if you try Nikon systems just out of curiosity; an exciting news might follow sooner than later. That’s what happened in reality.

    Here in Bangladesh, majority of my fellow Enthusiast Bird Photographers picked up Nikon D500 + Nikkor 200-500mm combo during the last two years and producing great images.

    That is great.

    The hapless Canon users including myself are watching the scenario with agony and frustration.

    Those are choices. You’ve seen the amazing flight images made by folks using Canon gear with a bunch more coming from me as well soon πŸ™‚

    I’m sure it won’t be long before the rest also jumps to the other ship.

    Nobody is believing me that Canon is way better at lots of things. I need time to cover all of those on the blog though I have mentioned a few. The outer AF points in the Nikon array can be useless at times. The position of the button you need to press to change the AF patterns is horrific unless you have three arms and three hands. And lots, lots more.

    The main reasons are:

    1. Nikon flagship crop body D500 is vastly superior to the Canon counterpart 7D II in multiple areas.

    I suggest that you might wish to revisit that statement after doing a search in the little white box at the top right of each page for “Cadieux” to see the great images that Dan makes consistently with the 7D II (and the original 7D). I have no plans to use the D-500.

    2. At this moment Canon has nothing to match that great Nikon super telezoom which very affordable as well.

    The 100-400 II is far better in many areas …

    May I request your comments on the above?

    Not any longer πŸ™‚

    with love, artie

    • Thank you Guru for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer the questions of a novice follower of yours.

      Hope to meet u some day if I get a chance to visit the US.

      Best regards.


  • Beautiful Image. I hope to capture incoming bird with this pose someday ( I suck at flight photography ). I agree the image does look a bit bright (over exposed), I thought it was issue with my laptop. I also calibrate my laptop/desktop with SpyderPro, it does a good job.

  • avatar Marco

    Hi Artie,

    when I mentioned “fanboy” I was referring to the comments I read in some online forums about you switching, some were quite dismissive and I would say disrespectful to a photographer like you that has produced consistently great images for so long.
    I shot Nikon for wildlife and I was finding your articles in this blog useful when you were shooting Canon the same way I find them useful now that you are using Nikon.
    This is what I meant.
    Keep the great stuff coming.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for the explanation. Me getting trashed online? Happens every day. Lots of jealous folks out there πŸ™‚

      with love, artie

  • avatar David Policansky

    Artie: Another great image. Does Nikon AF have a way to focus on eyes? Seems to me one could program that into an AF system, like the face-recognition almost all new cameras have. Maybe that face-recognition system is just what I’m wondering about and Nikon’s works better than Canon’s.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks David, Not sure how they do it but it does.

      with love, artie

      ps: it is actually scary …

      • avatar David Policansky

        Thanks, Artie. I’m still in awe about how a dumb machine can be so amazing at AF as my Canon 7D2 is….Maybe using the Nikon would so up-end my worldview that I’d go crazy. πŸ™‚

        Obviously I’ll have to try one at some point. And wait for the Canon 7D3.

  • avatar Dave Smith


    I don’t know if it is just me or what, but the images you are posting with the Nikon gear all seem to me to be over-exposed , as compared to your other images taken with the Canon gear, especially the pelican images… JMHO

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Dave,

      That may have something to do with my laptop. I calibrated it with the Color Munki device a while back and the calibration was much darker than it had been. I spoke with Arash and he recommended the SpyderPro. I have one sitting on my counter and will run it in a day or two. So, I have been processing my images slightly lighter so that they look okay on my laptop … I am hoping that when I re-calibrate with the Spyder Pro to get back somewhere near the brightness that I was used to. If that makes sense πŸ™‚

      with love, artie

  • avatar David


    What might be helpful would be a side by side comparison of where the Nikon excels and where the Canon excels.

  • Hi Artie
    My full name Kenneth Edward Lewis but I was told by a artist friend that using my full name is too pretentious so I shorted it to Ken Lewis, but to my special photo friends I use Kel. Here in the UK I sell my Wildlife and Sceanic prints and I always sign them Kel. Is this a avenue you have explored? with the standard of your images I am sure you could sell them you have a massive market in the US. If you want any help on what media to use to market them on your website, send me a email I will give you the Info.


  • Hi Marco

    When you are shooting for bucks, it is a serious business , and if Nikon has got the edge
    and cuts the ice then that is what Artie will use, he would be fool not to. You are right Artie is is great photographer and he wants to stay that way.

    Best wishes

  • avatar Andre Nel

    Well said, Marco – agreed.

  • avatar Marco

    Great stuff Artie,

    let’s stop this Nikon vs Canon fanboy stuff and let’s go back to the basics…having fun with our photography, is it not what it is all about ?
    Keep these great images coming…you are a great photographer with Nikon like you were when shooting Canon !

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Marco but I am a bit confused by your fanboy comments. As I said here several days ago, all that I am doing is letting folks know what I am doing and thinking. I could give a rat’s ass what gear anyone uses but comparing the two systems as I see them is a necessity of folks are to stay informed. Same as when you get divorced or when a life partner dies, it is hard to avoid comparing πŸ™‚ I’ve done both of those!

      with love, artie