Ungraded Vacation Footage from Nikon D5300 + Sigma 30mm HSM F1.4 + Tamron 90mm Macro

I hear people talk about cheap vacations to Mexico, so when my buddy asked if I’m down for a quick getaway, I respond…sure Bro, lets do it. A bit later we are on a three-way call with a travel agent going over details and I have to say, the cost quickly put those cheap vacation rumors to rest. No turning back now, the thought’s already seeded and the excitement’s taken flight. I reach into my pocket for a credit card and like a good likkle-boi eager to belt out nursery rhymes, I release the information required to seal the deal.

Decisions, decisions, decisions. This part I hate. What camera gear to bring??? Considerations are size, weight, and if stolen or destroyed, I won’t be jumping over a bridge out of grief. I’m thinking one camera and two lenses max and finally decide on the Nikon D5300, Sigma 30mm HSM F1.4 and the Tamron 90mm Macro F2.8. Both lenses I’ve used on several gigs so I know what they are capable of, but the D5300 is new. I traded my D5200 for this clicker only for its ability to shoot 1080P video at 60fps. The D5200 is a very capable walk around camera so naturally I have high expectations from its successor.

Day one in Mexico is a downer. Right from the airport, I’m struggling with indigestion. My stomach’s been weird all day and I’m feeling like I shouldn’t have come. The prospect of a good time…..ruined! Then something happens that changes everything. Mark explains a ritual he does on vacations before seeing his room. Right after the colored band is put on his wrist at check-in, he goes straight to the closest bar and does a shot. Only then is he ready to see the room. Agreeing to indulge in this ritual, we hit the bar together. This is how I discover a magical, medicinal liquid you my friends, may know as ‘tequila’. Three shots of this thing before and after every meal, no more stomach issues! Something about the warmth as it travels down untangles my stomach. I’m all new and ready go about clicking my shutter. Medicine and good times all in the same bottle! Wicked.

After spending sometime with a camera, I get over appraising the quality of its images and enjoy a newly found license-to-explore. For a small DSLR, the D5300 packs a lot of punch that will drive you to tell stories visually. Although beginners will enjoy using it, you still need to know your photography to get the best out of this camera. Yes everything’s dumbed down for ease of use, nonetheless having a sound knowledge of photography helps when choosing which presets to use. One feature not available on this camera that bothers me is the option to shoot in Kelvin. But hey, Nikon has to give you a reason to hold on to your D7100s or D610s.

Auto White Balance works really well on the D5300. However, I prefer to use one of the presets to avoid sudden changes in the middle of filming. A big advantage photographers that become videographers have is the ability to judge exposure, white balance and color well enough without specific tools. My judgment of exposure for most scenes usually produces a well balanced foundation to build on in post. That being said, I still find the D5300 video footage sensitive. You have to be gentle when grading or correcting otherwise it can fall apart quickly, revealing some annoying artifacts. To be fair, this is common with many DSLRs. Lets not forget they are photo cameras that also shoot video and not the other way around. With the price of 4K cameras dropping, I’m soon to grab one with hopes that the footage will be more receptive to being pushed in post. Presently I shoot 1080P and scale down to 720P, so shooting 4k and scaling down to 1080P will be a worthwhile step up.

Despite the tequila in my system, I manage to keep shots stable using a monopod. Handholding for video is simply not an option after so many shots (for medicinal purposes…wink wink). Guys, never go on a trip without a monopod or tripod. Get one that’s travel-size and the investment will prove worthy every time you check out your footage. In this montage of video and stills, I’ve tried to keep everything as shot in camera. I used a neutral picture profile with saturation, contrast and other options dialed down completely. In post, I pushed the contrast and saturation for some scenes and that’s it. No video sharpening or color grading. The Sigma 30mm accounts for 90% of this video, while the Tamron 90mm Macro handled the close-ups. To test each lens + camera combo; I shot a variety of scenes going from lots of light to very little light. Overall, they all held up pretty well considering this is gear that won’t break the bank for most enthusiasts.

Now here’s the story behind the golf ball being tossed around in the video. Walking through Centennial Park in Etobicoke one afternoon, almost hidden in the grass I see a golf ball. People come here to practice their golf swing so the park is full of them. Anyway, I pick it up as something to play with it while walking. Weeks later I’m going through customs, and while emptying my pockets into the plastic bin for the scanner, I find the golf ball. For whatever reason, I didn’t toss it back into the grass, now it’s on route with me to Mexico. I figured this ball’s destined for adventure and has to be part of the video. On my last day at the resort, I walk to the golf course and leave the ball there. Unlike me, it can afford to stay but my time’s up. Hope you enjoy the video and leave a comment if there’s anything you will like to share. Below is the color graded version. Cheers.