Nikon D810 Review

This week I had the chance to give the Nikon D810 a test drive on a portrait photoshoot with Actor Toby Jones. Normally a Canon 5DMKIII chap, it took me a few moments to get used to the Nikon’s functionality once again. The camera boasts some very impressive features. With a simple idea in mind, Nikon set out to challenge its previous model the D800 with the impressive specifications of the D810; with a welcome one-stop boost in ISO sensitivity; an added frame-per-second in continuous shooting modes; full HD 1080/60p video recording, up from 30p; extended battery life; a RAW SIZE S format; and other improvements to AF performance, colour balancing, and overall handling. Nikon D810 ReviewThe overall shape and weight of the D810 is similar compared to its predecessor the D800, but slight updates to how some of the rear and top buttons were set within the control scheme was a bit confusing at first. The AF and AE Lock button and AF On button now protrude slightly more from the body, and the AE metering area selector has been moved to the top of the left-hand dial, as opposed to surrounding the AE/AF Lock button.

Nikon D810 Review

I grew to appreciate how certain controls were more easily accessible. Additionally, I should point out that the rear LCD monitor, which remains a 3.2” screen, has an improved resolution of 1,229,000 dots, and can now be color-configured to your own preferences. In comparison to the D800/D800E, it’s quite a noticeable difference. The imagery appears sharper and brighter for more precise evaluation and live view monitoring.


The D810 also features a slightly deeper grip and a bit more tack to the rubberised covering, which seemed to make it a somewhat easier to handle and comfortably switch between vertical and horizontal shooting modes. This new model also felt a bit tighter; the shutter noise is a little softer, switching between settings and navigating throughout the menu was faster, image processing took less time, and things just feel better all-around.

Actor Toby Jones, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Actor Toby Jones, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

After adapting to the slightly modified layout of the new body, I set out to photograph Toby, even without viewing my imagery on a computer, I felt that same excitement I did the first time I worked with a Canon 5DMKIII. The large 36.3MP stills offer a great sense of visual depth and edge acutance that is immediately visible on the rear screen, and still holds true when finally viewing on a good computer monitor. The new OLPF-less design certainly adds to this increased sense of sharpness, but at a minute level that isn’t immediately detectable.


Actor Toby Jones, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Actor Toby Jones, London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Colour and tonal representation, along with the ability to boast such a wide dynamic range, was also a strong point of the initial D800-series. Again, the D810 seems to edge out its predecessors in the way it handles a broad color gamut and scenes with increased contrast. Aided by tools such as the highlight-weighted metering, the D810 is able to preserve greater detail in both the highlights and shadows. When working with this metering mode, though, I noticed that my JPEGs all appeared slightly underexposed by about 1/3 to 2/3 a stop; seemingly to ensure highlight detail is retained in the RAW files.


When the Nikon D800 dropped two years ago it instantly became known for its absurdly high-resolution sensor and excellent image quality. The ability to crop zoom or downsample and retain a high-resolution final image is still something that is unrivaled among full-frame DSLRs. The D810 doesn’t alter what has proven to be a winning formula, but enhances it with improved processing and some updated hardware. Like other recent full-frame cameras like the D610 and D4S, Nikon isn’t out to fix what isn’t broken. The D810 still offers a very high-resolution sensor, but it shores up some of the weakest parts of the D800’s resume. It’s swifter, it has better high ISO image quality, and it offers a better all-around feature set to videographers who want to shoot video with a wonderful 36-megapixel sensor.

Intermediate Portrait Lighting

This week I have put together a collection of helpful portrait lighting diagrams; along with all the equipment used to capture them. Choosing the right equipment for your photoshoots can make your life much easier.  Don’t forget a good light meter is essential, you will be surprised, I have taught a great deal of budding photographers in my workshops, and many have never used a light meter. I recommend the Sekonic L-308S , it’s simple to use and will ensure accuracy in your metering.


Black Backdrop Rim Lighting:

Rim Lighting Portrait London Portrait Photographer Rory Lewis

Equipment List:

Camera Fuji XT1 & 18-135mm Lens Kit 

Lighting X3 Bowens 400 RX Strobes

Backdrop Black 2.72M Seamless Backdrop Paper

X2 Strip 100 Softboxes 

x1 21″ White Beauty Dish

X2 Matthews Flags 18×24″

Location Portrait:

Location Portrait Lighting Rory Lewis London Portrait Photographer

Equipment List:

Camera Mamiya Leaf Credo 40 Digital back with Mamiya 645DF

Backdrop Lastolite 5′ x 6′ (1.5mx1.8m) Collapsible Backdrop Grey/White 

Lighting Profoto B2 250 AirTTL To-Go Kit 

Profoto Off Camera Flash Softbox 2″ Octa (60 cm) 

Profoto 80cm Reflector – Black/White

Profoto 80cm Reflector – White/Silver

Contour Lighting

Body Contour Portrait Lighting

Equipment List:

Camera Nikon D750 Digital SLR Camera with 24-120mm f/4G ED VR

Backdrop Mandarin 2.72m x 11m Seamless 

Lighting x3 Bowens Gemini 500 Pro Flash Heads

x1 21″ White Beauty Dish

x2 Bowens 100 Lumiair Softboxes  x2 Egg Crates


Portraiture Lighting Techniques

Often I receive emails from photographers asking about portraiture lighting techniques especially from celebrity portrait sittings. I have put together a simple helpful guide to portraiture with equipment recommendations, lighting diagrams and the kit used for each setup.


Choosing the right equipment for your photoshoots can make your life much easier. For myself portability is key, with more than half of my Portrait Sittings taking place on location, at clients offices or in their homes. Collapsable and easy to carry equipment is essential for my work. Lastolite supply a wonderful selection of Collapsable/Reversible Backdrops. For the portrait photographer on the move they are an ideal solution, folding down to a manageable size.

Sir Patrick Stewart Rory Lewis

Looking at Lenses I prefer fixed prime’s for all my portraiture. Prime Lenses for DSLR Camera’s are highly affordable, at the beginning of my career I started with a 50mm F1.8 Nikon Lens. Costing just over £100 you can create wonderful results, canon’s equivalent 50mm F1.8 Canon Lens is only £99.89. Nowadays I shoot Medium Format, opting for the Mamiya 80mm f/2.8 D or the Hasselblad 100mm F2.2


Lighting wise you have many options from Bowens, to Neewer, Elinchrom, Lastolite and Profoto. I myself prefer Profoto for their durability; as a professional photographer on the move, I have found the more lower end lighting less durable, needing regular repairs and maintenance.


A good light meter is essential, you will be surprised, I have taught a great deal of budding photographers in my workshops, and many have never used a light meter. I recommend the Sekonic L-308S, its simple to use and will ensure accuracy in your metering.


For beginner portrait photographers learning a simple one light setup is essential. Rembrandt lighting can help you achieve professional quality portraits with a minimal amount of equipment. Named for the artist Rembrandt who used the lighting method in his paintings, Rembrandt lighting is a style of studio lighting in which the subjects face is well lit on one side with only a small triangle of light appearing on the opposite cheek, as you can see in the photograph below.

Portrait Lighting Diagrams One Light Setup Rory Lewis Photographer

Camera Settings F6.3, ISO 100

Equipment List


Creating dramatic portraits can be achieved with the below two light setup, I prefer silver or Deep Silver Umbrella’s for their sharpness. Using a Black Foam/Poly Board to add contrast and help sculpt the detail and character of the face.

Celebrity Portrait Lighting Setup Patrick Stewart Rory Lewis Photographer

Camera Settings F7.1, ISO 200

Equipment List


Making an adjustment to the above setup, you can backlight your subject separating them form the backdrop. Using lastolite’s Wyoming backdrop really makes the subject stand out.

Celebrity Portrait Lighting Setup Patrick Stewart Rory Lewis Photographer

Camera Settings F6.3, ISO 200

Equipment List


I hope these setups, help you to create some wonderful portraiture. If you are interested in my workshops, I have a full programme of Portraiture Workshops throughout 2015. All courses are practical tuition sessions giving you plenty of time to learn hands on the skills taught. Enabling you to work with professional models on the day and capture amazing photography for your portfolio.

Kit Model Test

Your Portfolio is the most important asset to any model, photographer, fashion stylist, hair stylist and makeup artist. To be competitive you must update your portfolio regularly with new work taking the opportunity to learn new skills, helping to provide your future clients with the best photography possible.


Religiously I test twice a month; either working on my own projects or collaborating with other creatives on theirs. In 2012 I will be doing a great deal of Testing, if you are a model, designer, fashion stylist, makeup artist, hair stylist or retoucher please get in touch.


This week I arranged a test with Kit from Nemesis Models at the Liverpool Studio. Kit was looking for some Topshop style edgy photography for her book and we spent half a day working on several looks. The images look great and I’m looking forward to working with Kit again the near future. Nita Malata did a wonderful job with hair & makeup.

 (Rory Lewis)

 (Rory Lewis)

 (Rory Lewis)

 (Rory Lewis)

 (Rory Lewis)

Portfolio Update

April is nearly here and its time to update my blog with my latest work. I have been shooting a great deal of model portfolio work this month so I decided to sneak in some testing. I contacted some London Agencies and found Chloe images below from the shoot. These new shots are fab and will make a great addition to My Portfolio.

 (Rory Lewis) (Rory Lewis)

Revolution Fashion

Itching to shoot some editorial fashion, the opportunity came when Lifestyle Monthly gave me the chance to shoot the magazines January fashion feature. Researching a theme, I thought I would use my history degree and add an element of historical significance.


The concept I came up with was Military Revolution; and Steven Spencer Stylist went to work putting together some amazing outfits for our models; including some great props from the Army.


Michelle Proctor did an excellent job with the models hair and makeup, and we shot on location at the Malmaison Liverpool and the Liverpool Central Library. Please pick up a copy of Lifestyle Monthly for the full feature.

Fashion Photography Liverpool

Fashion Photography Liverpool