Nikon Training With Passion Review

Stuart Fawcett attends Nikon's training school in London, and reports back on the day of learning.

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Nikon Training With Passion - Stuart Fawcett (JackAllTog)

Nikon Photo School

It was a lucky day indeed last week when I got to go along to a day's Nikon training with a Nikon D600 DSLR and I want to share their passion and the enthusiasm which they have passed on to me about their courses.

This particular course was called "Getting started with DSLR film making" and as I'd unsuccessfully tried a few attempts at video on my camera a year back I wasn’t initially too hopeful about taking much away from the course. However, as the day progressed, I realised how wrong I was.

Nikon is certainly friendly and a warm greeting always awaits you, even when you are very early before the course start time. All members of staff are helpful and Wi-Fi, beverages and a place to relax and chat is provided giving a chilled and informal place where it's easy to chat to other visitors and the members of staff.

The 11 other people turning up for this course varied from keen amateurs, to wedding videographers, games designers, camera resellers, commercial professional photographers and those from industrial businesses who work as full time photographers being trained for video. There really was a wide mix of people that all seemed to just get on and all seemed to be actively asking questions and learning from the days experience. At no point did anyone feel out of place on this course which is brilliant and this was facilitated by our host and trainer Mark Higgins, he managed the day and the attendees excellently.

Now Mark and the team is where the Nikon passion can be seen, as the day unfolded so did the energy and experience of the course. It was both theoretical, practical and completely aimed at equipping you with the skills and knowledge to use the equipment well to actually produce real results. It soon became clear that I was learning a firm framework that would allow me to actually go out and use the knowledge learned on the course. The day was completely about keeping it real. You could see that Mark had loads of experience in actual film making as well as the technical Nikon skills to produce films as well.

As the course progressed from the terminology used in the film business through to the theory of how and why various approaches and settings are used, there were frequent references to TV, film and the web where effects are applied and what other options might have been better. Mark's enthusiasm really peaked when talking about the industry BVE show (Broadcast Video Expo is what "Focus on Imaging" was to photographers).

We talked about DSLR add-on items used in film making and even briefly discussed the software that might be suitable for the different uses of film clips and the laptops you might use. We also discussed how the DIY and low end accessory market is making DSLR video more available to all and the ways to apply it to you. The cosy environment of the course classroom worked well for these discussions and the presentations provided ample opportunity to take notes for use after the course.

Nikon Photo School

The training also covered the types of movie output used, the resolutions, the recording frame rates and the recording settings to be used in each circumstance. Plenty of professionals and amateurs alike were asking questions throughout proving that the course content was useful and relevant.

I saw that each of the camera settings, details were being demystified as we covered each of them in turn. But as well as the individual camera technical areas, we saw how the logistics of multiple cameras could be used together and how music is used to actually make video more relevant and easier to produce. These were covered with plenty of on-screen real life examples being deconstructed and explained.

By now I was asking myself how I could upload a small clip to ePHOTOzine or YouTube for review by other ePHOTOzine members and why more people are not doing this as well. After an example video of the well-known photographer Bill Frakes where he mixed stills with video I was yearning to produce some clips of my own.

What tempered me down a bit is that almost all film making is done with manual focus and this needs to be considered first, but with plenty of hints on how to make MF work well for my video I was much less concerned.

Exposing your clip was actually quite interesting with shutter speeds playing an unexpected effect in the presentation of the final movie. It was also made clear that the DSLR is much better with low light sensitivity and available depth of field than a camcorder so you can be much more creative if you wish.

But just as we thought 'OK, that's it', we got into perhaps the most important part of the course - making it work. Yes, this was a film making course so let's talk film making. We reviewed the different shot styles that could be used to make a movie, the different angles and the different movements we could make with the camera. Suddenly it was all coming together. Then lunch was provided and it was a great time to socialise and ask more questions specific to each of our cameras and ideas.
  One of the best courses available. Nikon has made it possible for me to do what I thought I couldn't.  

The training and examples continued into the afternoon with constant tips and tricks in all areas being given out to save us hours of individual learning. Recommended books and practicals to bed down the skills we were learning were shared as well.

I can honestly say I now feel confident that I know where to start from and what to avoid. In fact, this could be one of the best courses I've ever been on. It's just down to us now to use the skills we've learnt and go out there and do our own projects for real.

This idea to keep learning to stay up there was something I’d recently noticed elsewhere outside of photography and is now obviously the edge that the trainer Mark and the other attendees knew as they discussed when and how to use ideas and what other options are relevant to videographers.

I can't recommend the Nikon training team enough at the moment and this course in particular was really great. Thanks go to Nikon for showing me how to do what I'd decided I couldn't. 5 out of 5 stars, Superb.

By Stuart Fawcett (JackAllTog)

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