P7800 by Bill Frakes

I'm lucky that my vocation and avocation are one in the same. I almost always haves a DSLR close by, but there are just some times when I want an extremely lightweight, very small, but full featured camera that I can take everywhere.

The P7800 is a camera I can comfortably share with my 12 year old daughter Havana, and that's a real joy.

Small enough to fit in her pocket and easy for her to handle, it has features and files good enough for me to use for art prints.

These rich, contrasty, luscious black and white images essentially came out of the camera that way. The top image I lightened to bring out the clouds, the other three images are straight from the camera, nothing was done in post production. I configured the camera to shoot b/w and using the built in ND filter, I shot these during the middle of a bright South Florida day.

One Year by Bill Frakes


One year ago, I made this image.

It's that point in time yearly when I spend a few minutes thinking about where I've been, what I've seen, and what I've done.

When art director extraordinaire Gen Umei asked me to shoot one of the ads for the international release of the Nikon D4 I was thrilled. The chance to work with Gen is a photographer's dream. Not only he is the best at what he does, he's a cherished friend.

To be one of the first photographers in the world to use the latest of a long line of Nikon imaging machines is another dream. I leapt at the chance.

One of the things Gen wanted me to demonstrate was the high ISO capability of the camera, and the superb autofocus functions.

So, what subject matter to select? It wasn't hard to figure out.

2012 was an Olympic year. I love track and field. Laura is a Florida Gator. And we wanted to do part of the shoot at home in Jacksonville.

How do these things work together?

Christian Taylor. Florida Gator. World Champion and soon to be Olympic Champion was happy to jump for us.

Joel Lamp in an act of superb kindness made Jacksonville University's track and field facilities available.

The natural temptation was to shoot the image in beautiful light. Either late afternoon direct sun, or some filtered artificial light. But that would defeat the purpose. We had to show the jump in low, flat light in order to demonstrate just what this camera could do.

We set up and waited. The sun crept lower, and lower in the sky. When it hit the horizon, we started to shoot.

I was shooting with a Nikkor 600 f4 head on with a D4 set at 12,800 ISO. Laura was slightly to my left side and closer to the pit shooting with a Nikkor 400 f 2.8. Andy Hancock was just to my right and was shooting a little looser with a Nikkor 300 f 2.8. We had our bases covered.

Christian was extremely gracious. I expected him to jump a half a dozen times. He did a dozen and would have kept going if I needed him to.

But 12 leaps was more than enough. We had plenty of options. The camera did it's job. We did ours. And Nikon had their ad.

A few hundred thousand air miles later we were in London fully devoted to covering Track and Field for Sports Illustrated.

We had a remote camera high above the triple jump pit. Laura was firing it with specially configured Pocket Wizards.

Christian Taylor jumped brilliantly claiming the gold with a performance of 17.81m, .19 meters better than his fellow teammate Will Claye who finished with a bronze.

I was at the finish line head-on moat, across the stadium from Christian, but I was watching the video streaming. When he won I couldn't help a small exclamation, and a quick text to Gen at home in Tokyo.

Christian and Florida Gator teammate Will Claye took a lap of honor, and when Christian saw me he came over and put out his hand.

An excellent memory for sure.

Manfrotto's SYMPLA Announcement and More from NAB by Bill Frakes


NAB is great fun. For gear heads, it just doesn't get any better than this. Every corner you turn there is something exciting and intriguing to play with. Over the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to help design and test Manfrotto’s new supports range, the SYMPLA.

The SYMPLA is the perfect match for the flexibility provided by HDSLR filmmaking. It provides multiple supports for your camera and lens, making it well-balanced and stable. It is easy to adjust, easy to pack, and easy to customize.

Comfortable and convertible, the SYMPLA expands creative potential by allowing you to shoot where you want.

In our exclusive behind the scenes video, you can watch many of the different ways we utilized the SYMPLA.

I’m honored to get to introduce the SYMPLA at NAB today, April 17 at 11:30. I’ll be discussing the design and the SYMPLA’s special features.

Yesterday was even better. I got to just roam the floor and visit my friends.

Before I entered the hall, I bumped into Tim David from Apple, who really need to watch where he is going, but that turned into the best surprise of the day. While I was talking to Tim, Garrett Rice - also from Apple came by and made me laugh for 30 minutes. A very nice way to start the day.

Inside, my first stop was Eileen Healey at Chimera -- if there is a nicer person alive I don't know who it is.

Next Dennis Wood at Cinevate. Their new jib is really cool, and I haven't told Laura yet, but we will have one soon. If Dennis only had a little more energy...

Then to Chris Kearns from Small HD Monitors. I love their products. The new D7 monitor is sweet. Incredibly lightweight. It's going to be a huge help with handheld cameras.

I went by Nikon's booth, but the crowd was too big, and so I'll head back today and visit with all of them. There is never enough time with those guys. Kris Bosworth, Scott Diussa, Mark Kettenhoffen, Sara Moosbrugger, Mark Suban, and if I have enough time I'll talk to Mr. Silverman, but that usually requires a few hours and an instruction manual.

A huge bonus for me is the Manfrotto booth where Stacy Pearsall -- check out her new book -- and Andy Dunaway are doing demos and helping explain things. Really fine folks that I am lucky to have as close friends.