When you've been taking pictures for as long as I have (cough), you can't help but marvel at how far some things have come. I started with a manual everything film camera in around 1984... and look what I've got to work with now. And yet the obvious technological advances - autofocus, decent autoexposure and all that stuff - aren't what impresses me most.
Nope, what really gets my head boggling is when I have to crank up the ISO on my D3 just to get a shot... and then end up with something that'll happily run over a spread. I mean, how bonkers is that? As little as 5 or 6 years ago ISO1000 was realistically the upper limit for decent quality, regardless of whether you were still shooting film (as I was back then) or digi.
The thing is, when I bought my D3 I was already really happy with the performance of my D300, which turned in better results at ISO800 than I could have dreamed possible. Years of shooting with that kind of upper limit in mind meant I automatically filtered out images that were, technically speaking, literally impossible to shoot. I mean, what's the point of framing up a shot that you can't capture?
But now I can. Here's a B-roll shot from a shoot I did earlier this week, which involved bivvying out in the woods overnight (if you look carefully you can see the improvised bike / tarp shelter we slept under in the background):
Nikon D3, 80-200mm f/2.8, 1/30sec f/2.8 @ ISO6400
Don't be fooled by the light in the sky. It's dusk, and the only illumination is any remaining daylight filtering through the tree canopy, plus a single headtorch and the light from the fire. It was dark enough that I was having real trouble focussing, and at 1/30sec wide open, right out at 200mm, I was relying on a convenient tree stump for support. You won't be able to see at this small size, but this pic would happily run over a full page or even larger.
Of course, I can't shoot action at 1/30sec and f/2.8. But it's incredibly liberating being able to record incidental images in available light way below what was possible just a few short years ago. I love it!