New Nikon Video: 154 Minutes of CLS Goodness

[UPDATE: There has been a lot of teeth gnashing about this DVD not being available outside the US. But I just found a source in Dubai (UAE), where you can get just about anything on the planet. Pretty sure they ship anywhere, too...]

EDITOR'S NOTE: With all apologies to the Canon shooters who frequent this site: You really shouldn't even read this post. Seriously. Move it along. Nothing to see here...


I have just finished watching an advance copy of Nikon's new DVD, Nikon School: A Hands-On Guide to Creative Lighting.

Short version: It is far and away the best resource available for those of you who want to better learn how to use your Nikon system strobes (SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, etc.) and Nikon's Creative Lighting System (CLS).

I am told they will be hitting the shelves shortly. Nikon Mall is up, but showing out of stock right now. I will post another note when they pop up everywhere. But I wanted to give the CLS-shooting readers an early heads-up that this is exactly the video they have been waiting for.

More info, and a brief trailer, after the jump.

(Uploaded with permission from Nikon.)

The 2 1/2-hour DVD starts off with photographer Bob Krist taking you step-by-step through both basic lighting principles and showing you how to work the CLS settings on the various Nikon flash system components.

Even CLS beginners will feel right at home starting with this portion of the DVD. He shows you how to set up the various flashes and gets you comfortable with the way the system works.

Bob then walks you through a couple of straightforward shoots in the studio to show you how easy it is to get rolling. He does a progressively lit portrait session and a quick, two-flash macro close-up of a pocket watch. This is basic stuff that will be remedial to some of you CLS studs. But is important to include the basics so as not to leave anyone behind.

As expected, it is pretty much a continuous Nikongasm. The gear is explained thoroughly, and they are here to show you how to use the specific components. But they go above and beyond the corporate video/commercial genre, especially when they get to the second part of the video.

A Grande-Sized Cuppa Joe

In Part Two, Bob assumes the role of color man to Joe McNally's lead as they work together to produce a series of increasingly complex location shoots. They progress from simple, one-light potraits to a classic, McNally-esque speedlight orgy.

They shoot dancers at a ballet school, a home bridal portrait series and a sequence of photos at a harbor. Each of these locations include a series of different setups -- they work a lot of different looks from each scene, too. Joe is thinking out loud, explaining what he is doing and keeping a steady stream of BS rapport going with his subjects.

Bob becomes your stand-in, making sure nothing gets glossed over. They shoot, see the problems, work through them and get to the look that they want. Plenty of time is spent on the process, and no "magic black boxes" obscure the path from start to finish.

They do edit down the final shoot on the boat (13 speedlights, fer chrissakes) for what I can only assume to be time limitations on the single DVD. Or maybe that is where the fight scene happened. (Was that a butterfly Band-Aid on McNally's forehead afterwards?)

I cannot stress enough how pleased I am to see such attention to detail for the lighting processes in the video. It is not just a gear tease -- they are showing you exactly how to use the flashes to get beautiful results. This is everything the Speed of Light video (watch it here) left you wanting. That video felt more like an extended commercial. This one is a legitimate course in small-flash lighting.

If you are a Nikon CLS shooter (or hope to be) this DVD is an absolute no-brainer at $39.95. Grab it as soon as it becomes available. I'll post on that as soon as it starts popping up in stock, too.

Congrats to Bob, Joe and the powers that be at Nikon for looking past the obvious extended commercial to create something of value that will be helpful to so many people.

And Canon, if you are reading this I am calling you out right here and now. Make a DVD like this for the Canon flash system. No point in building in all those bells and whistles and not showing people how to use them. And this site will be happy to help spread the word if you do.

I happen to shoot Nikon, but I would love to see every photo manufacturer doing this kind of thing. Eventually, I would love to see manufacturers skipping the DVD process altogether and streaming this stuff online for free.

When they amortize the production costs over the extra gear that would sell, they would come out ahead. And so would their customers.


New to Strobist? Start here | Or jump right to Lighting 101
Connect w/Strobist readers via: Words | Photos
Got a question? Hit me on Twitter: @Strobist
Grab your passport: Strobist Destination Workshops