Nikon D810 Sample Photos


Those who read this site for photography know that I recently upgraded from my Nikon D600 to a Nikon D810. In my Nikon D810 Review, I wasn’t short on praise for the camera, calling it “possibly the most well-rounded DSLR ever” and saying that “it’s a camera that exceeded my high expectations and I feel is a very worthy upgrade for many serious photographers, even at its price-point. I can already tell that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Well, I’ve had the camera for a couple of months now, so I thought I’d report back on how I feel about it. First, the bad. The files are huge. There are ways to deal with this and use some of the smaller size settings (as I touch upon in the review), but I’ve been afraid to use them. They would be perfect for mundane photo tasks like taking photos of food (don’t exactly need a 36MP photo of a churro), but I’m scared that I’ll forget to switch back when I have to take “important” landscape photos.

The only other downside, if you want to call it that, is that Nikon recently announced the Nikon D750, a “lower” level full frame DSLR that has a tilt screen, which would be great for me since I take a lot of photos at ground level. Looking at that feature plus the more conservative MP count, plus lower price actually makes me want to try out that camera. (Why couldn’t Nikon include the tilt screen in the D810?!) On the other hand, the controls on the Nikon D810 are better plus dynamic range, image quality, durability, and a number of other things are all better on the Nikon D810. Even though I love the Nikon D810, if both were announced at the same time, I think I would have opted for the Nikon D750 and $1,000 in my pocket. It would be a tough call.

The upsides? Literally everything else. Dynamic range is great, the controls are great, image quality is exceptional, and, in addition to several other things, the camera just flat out performs and is fun to use. Maybe it’s a good thing both the Nikon D750 and D810 weren’t announced at the same time, because I have no regrets about buying this camera, and it’s probably a good thing I didn’t go the cheaper route. Your mileage may vary on whether it’s worth the money–for many people the D750 (or models even lower than that) will be more than enough camera. I understand that most people do not need a professional-grade DSLR, so this post is relevant to only like 2% of you, but hopefully it’s helpful to that 2%!

Since that first post only really had boring photos of my pets, the city of Indianapolis, and random junk around my house, I thought I’d follow up on that post with some real world images that I captured at Walt Disney World to demonstrate what the camera is truly capable of accomplishing. Keep in mind that–for the most part–since I’m trying to show how the camera performs when pushed to the limits, these aren’t going to be your standard “pretty” photos (most of my tripod night shots don’t really challenge the camera). Below each photo I’ll provide some technical details.

If you are not a photographer but are a Walt Disney World fan looking for some photos, you can scroll past all of the jargon and simply enjoy the pictures… (more…)

Guide to Halloween Time at Disneyland

Halloween Time at Disneyland occurs in 2014 from September 12 until October 31, 2014. During HalloweenTime, the hard ticket Mickey’s Halloween Party will be held most Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays in October, and two dates in September. Mickey’s Halloween Party tickets range in price from $56 to $77, depending upon the night and whether you qualify for an Annual Passholder discount. Click here for the full party schedule for 2014. Besides this party, entertainment during the Halloween Time at Disneyland season is included in the cost of regular theme park admission.

For those considering visiting during Halloween Time at Disneyland, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the standard offerings during the Halloween season in Disneyland are superior to those in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. The decorations are better, the entertainment is superior, the seasonal snacks are more plentiful (and most are absolutely delicious), and there are two attractions at Disneyland that receive Halloween overlays (plus extra entertainment in Big Thunder Ranch), versus zero at Walt Disney World.

The bad news is that hard ticket Disneyland’s Mickey’s Halloween Party is inferior to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, crowds are not light (still better than summer) during Halloween Time at Disneyland like they are in the fall at Walt Disney World, and there are no other fall offerings justifying a visit to Disneyland Resort specifically during the Halloween season, versus Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, which is also a big draw during the fall at Walt Disney World.

With all of that said, we think Halloween Time at Disneyland is an incredible time to visit Disneyland. In fact, after Christmas at Disneyland, Halloween Time at Disneyland is our absolute favorite time of the year to visit. The only reason Christmas gets the edge is because all of its entertainment is included with the normal cost of admission, and Disney California Adventure gets into the fun during the Christmas season, too.

We attended the first weekend of Halloween Time at Disneyland 2014 (September 12-15), and had an awesome time. We’ve updated this post with some new photos and thoughts from this year’s festivities, so let’s take a look at Halloween Time at Disneyland, sharing some of our tips and reviews for the various offerings… (more…)

Tips for Buying Discount Disney World Tickets

Money-saving Tips for Buying Discount Walt Disney World Tickets (from authorized sellers!)

Walt Disney World offers a wide array of tickets. These tickets are expensive, but luckily, if you shop right, you can find good discounts on Disney tickets to save money. When it comes to a Disney vacation, the tickets are likely going to be your second-most expensive expenditure after your hotel room and perhaps airfare. For some people, they might actually be the most costly portion of the trip! Disney raises its ticket prices about once or twice per year with the last increase occurring in February 2014, so it’s best to buy your tickets as early as possible, before your trip.

Given their cost, and the myriad of different ticket options, it’s important to know as much as you can about the different types of tickets, and what your family will probably need. Purchasing Walt Disney World tickets can be overwhelming, as there are many different choices and add-ons. If you’re willing to do a little homework, all of the options are a good thing, as you can buy exactly what you need and not waste money on unnecessary extras.

In this article we sort through the different options and give you recommendations on what types of tickets are best for you, plus where you can save money on Walt Disney World tickets. (If you’ve come looking for info on discount Disneyland tickets, you’ve come to the wrong place–but we do have an article on that, too.)

If all you’re looking for is where to safely buy cheap, legitimate Walt Disney World tickets from an authorized reseller and don’t need to read this entire article, click here.

Ready to get started? Here are our tips and tricks for saving money on 2014 Disney World tickets! (more…)

Visiting Disney World in October 2014 (+GIVEAWAY)

Many people view October as the best month of the year to visit Walt Disney World due to temperate weather, low crowds, and its seasonal events. If you ask Disney Vacation Club members, it’s often their favorite month of the year for the reasons above plus Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival (scoring an Epcot Resort Area DVC room at the 7 month mark is a serious achievement!), and the runDisney Tower of Terror 10-Miler. While we don’t agree that October is the best month of the year (sorry, but you cannot beat the Christmas season at Walt Disney World!), we can’t really argue with those who favor it–October is a great month to visit. This post will take a look at why October is such a great month to visit, and will wrap up with our latest Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotel Stay Giveaway at the end!

As for crowds, they dropped off after Labor Day and remain incredibly light for the first half of the month before trending slightly upwards for the Columbus Day holiday in the middle of the month, and remaining slightly elevated thereafter. It’s still a very good month in terms of crowds (check out our When To Visit Walt Disney World post for the best and worst months of the year), although weekends at Epcot will be packed for the Food & Wine Festival and the Magic Kingdom’s Halloween Parties will get busier closer to Halloween. Still, with a little planning, you can easily avoid crowds during October in Walt Disney World. Keep in mind that lower crowds also means park hours are short in October, but that’s a small sacrifice given considerably shorter wait times and better weather than those unbearable summer months.

Weather at Walt Disney World continues to improve in October, with temperatures cooling even further from September, humidity dropping, and the tail end of hurricane and storm season concluding. Afternoon showers and torrential downpours are still possible, as is really hot and really cool weather, so remember to pack for a wide range of weather conditions. You can view day-by-day temperature and weather forecasts plus historical averages for Walt Disney World weather in October here. As you can see, average highs are still in the 80s every day of the month, so it’s not that much cooler…although those 60 degree lows can make a big difference.

That’s the crowd and weather forecast in Walt Disney World’s neck of the woods, now let’s take a look at the events going on around the Resort! (more…)

When To Visit Disneyland

Yeah, we're in a bit of a Christmas mood...Isn't Disneyland beautiful at Christmas-time?!Would anyone be interested in a comprehensive Disneyland Christmas Guide like the one we did for Walt Disney World? http://www.disneytouristblog.com/disney-world-christmas-ultimate-guide/

“When will it be busy at Disneyland?” Ahh, the age old question. With Cars Land, Buena Vista Street, and other new areas of Disney California Adventure, there is no better time to start planning a trip to Disneyland for late 2014 or 2015. Disney California Adventure, a park with many unique attractions, and Walt Disney’s original theme park, Disneyland, justify taking a trip to Disneyland Resort–even if it means putting off your annual Walt Disney World trip! Heck, Radiator Springs Racers, one of the most impressive attractions Disney has ever built, might be worth the trip alone!

Plus, Walt Disney World (click here for Walt Disney World crowd information) fans owe it to themselves to see Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom and the amazing new Cars Land. Just like when planning a Walt Disney World vacation, some days and times of year are better than others for Disneyland trips. Since Disneyland has a high Annual Passholder-base and is a popular destination for convention attendees, times when Disneyland will be crowded are less intuitive than Walt Disney World. Obviously, the big holidays are all busy. Spring break, Easter week, Christmas week, and Summer vacation are good times to avoid visiting Disneyland if you want to avoid crowds. For some of the less-intuitive times that might be busy, consult our resources and tips below. (more…)

Epcot ‘Frozen’ Over – Wish List

UPDATE: Disney has officially announced that Maelstrom will be replaced by a Frozen attraction, with Maelstrom closing September 5, 2014 and the new attraction opening in early 2016. The new ‘Frozen’ attraction will take our guests to Arendelle and immerse them in many of their favorite moments and music from the film. The pavilion will also include a royal greeting location where Anna and Elsa can meet our guests. With that, here’s our original post written prior to the announcement that predicted a Frozen attraction coming to Norway, and what we’d like to see happen if one came…

There was a time when Disney characters in World Showcase seemed less likely than pigs flying or…uh…certain ‘things’ freezing over. Well, it seems Epcot’s Norway is about to be Frozen over. Rumors are indicating that Maelstrom will close on September 28, 2014 to make way for a Frozen attraction, which would essentially be a quick conversion of Maelstrom into a Frozen attraction, rather than an entirely new attraction in its place. These possible plans have already proven quite divisive among Disney fans. The consensus among EPCOT Center fans is that Maelstrom should not be replaced by anything-Frozen, which is not set in Norway and is disrespectful to World Showcase. Fans of the addition are generally excited about anything coming to World Showcase, which has had plenty of restaurants and shops added over the years, but hasn’t seen a new attraction since Maelstrom in 1988.

I’m a big fan of movies, and one thing that really fascinates may is how the critical consensus of a film can radically differ from the audience consensus. In terms of Disney attractions, I think the same often happens in terms of the fan consensus versus the average guest consensus. If I had to guess, I would say Maelstrom is in the top 5 in terms of the differential (sadly, it’s probably right there with other favorites of mine like Country Bear Jamboree, Carousel of Progress, and the TTA) between the hardcore fans and the average guests. For many Disney fans, Maelstrom is quotable, campy fun–even a classic attraction. For average guests, it’s a puzzling look into a land inhabited by trolls, anorexic polar bears, and oil rigs.

I love Maelstrom, but I also don’t think it’s a well-done attraction. For me, it’s so bad it’s good. Perhaps I’m not winning any friends with this sentiment, but if you’re a fan of Maelstrom, why do you like it? Do you really think that it’s a well done attraction, or is it just nostalgic fun?

Since I already am not making friends with this blog post, I’ll go a step further: I don’t mind Frozen being added to Norway in World Showcase. Before you throw your shoe at your computer screen, there are some caveats to this, so hear me out… (more…)

Legend of Mythica Tribute

Over the weekend, The Legend of Mythica concluded its long run at Tokyo DisneySea. Having been shown for 8 years, it far outlasted just about any other show at Tokyo Disney Resort, which typically swaps out its entertainment after a few years at most. It lasted this long for good reason: it was one of the best pieces of live entertainment ever produced by Disney. Well, at least that’s my opinion. The Legend of Mythica is slightly divisive, at its abstract storyline leads many guests, especially non-Japanese speakers, to say “HUH?!” after viewing it. (By the way, while you read this post and look at these photos, I encourage you to listen to the Legend of Mythica soundtrack on YouTube.)

For me, the greatness of the Legend of Mythica has little to do with my understanding of its plot, and everything to do with its beauty and pageantry. I don’t even begin to understand the story, although what I’ve read makes it sound fairly interesting. Per that page, and what I’ve managed to cobble together based on my viewings of the show in person, the premise involves the relation of the human and mythical worlds, and how we now live in harmony after years of conflict.

The Disney characters are essentially shoe-horned into the show, but in a very workable way, as they represent the spirit of various things (laughter, adventure, etc.) and help bridge the gap between mythical and human worlds. There are also four spirits that are portrayed as humans, and a lot of dancers and other performers. This water show probably had more performers than most Disney parades.

There are few experiences at Tokyo Disney Resort that are impacted by the language barrier, but this was definitely one of them. Or maybe it wasn’t at all. When I read the plot after having seen the show, I find myself saying, “oh yeah, that makes some sense, I guess,” but I wonder if the Japanese struggled with the premise of the show just as much, and by not understanding the language, I was free to ignore any semblance of a story and just focus on the beauty of the show.

It may seem like I’m really reaching here, but the story is the type of abstraction that reminds me a lot of Illuminations at Epcot. Both are spectaculars that are simply stunning, and feature deeper messages than the general “magic and happiness” found elsewhere in Disney productions. The overarching message of harmony found in Legend of Mythica works regardless of Disney characters or even the mythical element. Yet, both shows can be difficult to fully grasp unless you’re paying careful attention or have some background knowledge. I find that Illuminations is best enjoyed with knowledge of the high-level message to help inform as to why it’s so beautiful, but not going so far as to try to parse every little detail.

What’s truly special about the Legend of Mythica is the lavish fanfare, insane amount of detail, and high production values. The Legend of Mythica is essentially a parade (with show stops) on the water, yet the level of detail in it puts to shame any other parade or production of this sort (I’m not even sure what would qualify as “of this sort”) that I’ve ever seen.

Rather than trying to “explain” the Legend of Mythica (after conceding that I don’t really understand it!), I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves. (more…)

When To Visit Disney World

People often ask, “when is the best time to visit Disney World?” Some days and times of year are better to plan your trip to Walt Disney World. The least crowded times of the year are typically after Labor Day until the week before Thanksgiving, early December, the entire month of January and early February, and late April. That said, nowadays especially in 2014 now that New Fantasyland is complete and ‘Frozen Frenzy’ is at its peak, there really is no “slow season” at Walt Disney World.

Crowds should not be your only consideration when planning when to visit Walt Disney World. There are some great seasonal events, such as the Halloween and Christmas seasons, Food & Wine Festival, runDisney, and other fun events. You may also be constrained as to when you can visit by school schedules, vacation time, and other factors. Add to that weather and various other considerations, and when to visit Walt Disney World isn’t as cut and dry as visiting in late September, early December, or February when crowds are low.

Of course, choosing which days to visit Walt Disney World is just one aspect of planning a trip. To make sure you tackle everything, make sure you read our Guide to Planning a Walt Disney World Trip, which covers all of the essentials.

With that said, let’s take a look at when you should and shouldn’t visit Walt Disney World… (more…)