Twitter: coreyrich

Ask Corey: Do I Go Mirrorless Now?

Hey Corey.

I’m primarily a still photographer, but I occasionally shoot video with my D850 if that’s what my clients want. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of Nikon’s full-frame mirrorless cameras, and now that new Z cameras are here, I’m not sure what to do. I’m wondering what your opinion is, now that you’ve shot with the Z7 and Z6 for a few months. Should I stick with my trusty DSLR or do I make the switch and go mirrorless with the Z7 or Z6?

—Ben, Rhode Island

Hey, Ben in Rhode Island (BTW, my mother is from Rhode Island)! Thanks for the question. It’s one that I’ve been getting all the time since the Nikon Z cameras dropped. I’m not going to bury the lead here, and I’ll just be upfront with my answer.

I’m still torn. That said, I’ve got good news and even better news for you.

The good news for you is that your D850 is still an absolutely amazing, brilliant piece of equipment—it continues to have a place in my kit as well. The even better news is that you don’t have to “switch,” per se. This is a situation in which you can have your cake and eat it too. All of your existing Nikkor lenses will work perfectly with the Z cameras fitted with an adaptor. This means that there’s less of a commitment for you in terms of checking out a Z camera and seeing if going mirrorless is right for you.

Although most of my work now involves directing films, I still consider myself to wear both hats: I’m a filmmaker and a still photographer.

I own both the Nikon Z7 and Z6, and I’ve found that these mirrorless cameras have some real advantages—and a few disadvantages—for shooting both still and video.

For stills, I love the ability to utilize the silent shooting mode of these mirrorless cameras. The opportunity to make pictures without anyone hearing that distracting shutter click is huuuuuuuuge. Silent shooting just creates the opportunity to capture more authentic and natural moments, whether you’re shooting wildlife you don’t want to disturb, a climber who is trying her hardest to send a route, or if you’re just trying to capture candid moments of family and friends. The ability to really become that “fly on the wall” has helped me create more compelling work.

Another advantage of the Z cameras is how sharp they are. There’s something about the shorter flange distance between the rear element of the lens and the camera’s sensor that has allowed me to produce, no joke, the sharpest still photographs I’ve ever seen. I’m getting this sharpness even with an adaptor and an older Nikkor lens, but it’s even more noticeable with one of the new Z lenses specifically designed for the Z7 and Z6. I’ve been utterly blown away by the edge to edge sharpness of these cameras.

Now for the limitations: I think a Nikon D5, for example, still has a major advantage over the Z cameras in terms of its speed, power, autofocus accuracy, and ability to focus in low light. This really makes a difference depending on what you’re shooting. If you’re shooting action sports—in which you may need the ability to fire off motor-driven bursts—the D5 remains in a class of its own.

On the video side, I have a hard time seeing myself ever going back to a DSLR for video. (But, hey, never say never.) The Z cameras have a huge advantage due to the super-sharp electronic viewfinder, which allows you easily find critical focus even in mid-day light. For video, mirrorless cameras just make much more sense.

This is the first generation of full-frame mirrorless cameras from Nikon. I’m not typically an early adopter of technology, so I won’t be that guy telling you to sell your DSLR right away and run out and buy a Z camera. It just comes down to your needs, because both tools have advantages.

However, I will say this. Ever since I got my Z7 and Z6, I’ve found myself using them almost exclusively. In fact, I have to admit that my D850 hasn’t come off the shelf since the day these cameras arrived. I suspect that if you add a Z camera into your kit, the same would quickly become true for you, too.

Corey Rich’s 2018 Year in Review

After years of spending Christmas in Brazil, some of my wife’s family has moved to Portugal, which is where I am as I write this. Brazil is amazing, but I have to say, Portugal is a nice change of pace. And, as my friend Chris Sharma mentioned to me today, there’s some great coastal climbing potential here as well. Even Leila is getting psyched about it.

This week in Portugal has been great for decompressing and reflecting after one of the busiest and most productive years of my career. How we spend our time is all that matters, which is why I find it valuable to hit pause around this time of year and review how I’ve been spending my time in order to make sure I’m doing it wisely. When I consider where my time goes, I realize it gets divided into three categories: being a partner in a business, being creative as a filmmaker/photographer, and being a good husband/dad.

Each of those three things are full-time commitments unto themselves, and yet somehow I know I can do all of them better when I make time for myself to get outside and just go climbing, biking, and skiing. So that needs to get squeezed in as well.

Over time, anything worth doing grows, which also means that your relationship to that thing will change over time as well. You may find that your time and attention is suddenly in more demand than it was the year before. That has certainly been the case for me. But when I look at how trying to be a good business partner, trying to be a creative filmmaker and photographer, and trying to be a good father / husband stretches my time in often competing directions, I also see just how much more meaningful and rewarding each of those things becomes. I get to see our business grow, I get to push my creativity harder and harder, and I get the privilege of raising a young girl, giving her the tools she needs to become a good person and showing my wife the love and compassion she deserves.

In any case, here are some highlights from 2018, and a bit about what made them so special. And here’s to a 2019 that is as filled with as many meaningful and rewarding projects.

The Big Stuff I Can’t Talk About

Most of the work I do is for some of the biggest companies in the world. Ironically, I can’t share it and I can’t talk about it. …. But it’s been work that has resulted in exponential creative growth and opportunities for Novus. I could be glib and just say this is just the stuff we do to pay the bills and fund our other passion projects. There’s certainly some truth to that, but I actually do find a lot of meaning and satisfaction in this secret work, from the dear friends I’ve made at the companies I work for, to the opportunities to tell stories I wouldn’t have otherwise had. Really, when you get to this level of producing work for Fortune 100 companies who demand nothing short of excellence, that means that you have to elevate your entire skillset and that just raises the bar for all your creative work.

Nose Speed Record

As much time as I spend working on productions that I can’t talk about, I know I need to make time to return to my roots, which is shooting photos of my friends climbing on the biggest and best rock faces on the planet. This summer, I headed down to Yosemite Valley to spend a day shooting photos of my friends Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold setting the speed record on the Nose of El Capitan. Read more here.

Shooting Chris Burkard in New Zealand

One of my favorite projects is profiling my colleagues and unpacking their unique approaches to creativity, not only because I think so many other photographers will find that information inspiring and useful, but often because I myself find it useful. I got to profile Chris Burkard for Adobe, and we shot him chasing light in New Zealand. Read more about this project here.

The Dawn Wall Film

This year was a banner year for climbing films as two climbing films enjoyed international mainstream theatrical releases: “The Dawn Wall” and “Free Solo.” Anyone who has shot climbing photos and films for more than a decade could appreciate what a rare, surreal moment in time this was. I got to play a role in documenting Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson’s 2015 historic ascent of the Dawn Wall on El Capitan alongside a team at Sender Films and Big Up Productions. Additionally I provided a ton of early footage of Beth Rodden and Tommy from back in the day. I have to say finally seeing the film stirred up a ton of wonderful memories with dear friends. This work ultimately became The Dawn Wall film, which you can read about here.

Climbing in Siberia

I spent a month in Siberia alongside one of my best friends and consistent Novus DPs and editors Dane Henry. We battled mosquitos, trudged through tundra and shot a small crew of European climbers on some of the most striking and unique rock formations I’ve ever seen. We’ve been working on cutting together a short film about this trip for Red Bull. Stay tuned for more about this project in the new year!

Novus Grows … and We Got A New Server!

How can you tell your business is getting bigger? You need to invest in a massive new state-of-the-art G-Tech server just to keep up with all of your work! Although getting a server isn’t the most meaningful (or sexiest) thing in the world, it is a sign that you’re doing good work—and that is what’s meaningful. Further, we were also honored that G-Tech decided to profile Novus in this video:

Dave Matthews in Kenya

One of the big changes for me this year is that not all of the projects I worked on involved me being a director. As a partner at Novus, I occasionally got to step into something akin to a co-director / executive producer role, in which I helped guide the creative direction and build a kick-ass team. One memorable project was for Conservation International, in which my dear friend and fellow Nikon Ambassador Ami Vitale directed a film featuring the one and only Dave Matthews, giving a call-to-action to save elephants in Kenya. Read more about this project here.

Photo: Ami Vitale

Morning

To help usher in Nikon’s historic entry into the world of mirrorless cameras, I got to shoot a fun project using the new Nikon Z7. My film, “Morning,” got a pretty great reception, including a Vimeo Staff Pick. Read more here and please watch the film below.

“Morning”—Shot on the Nikon Z7 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera with S Lenses from Corey Rich Productions on Vimeo.

Book Project Wrapped

I finally completed my most recent book project that I’ve been working on for several years, and I’m happy to say that The Mountaineers will be publishing this book in the Fall! I’ll be talking about this more in the months to come, but completing a book is certainly one of 2018’s big highlights.

Tom Frost RIP

I also lost one of my dear friends, biggest inspirations, and most important mentors, Tom Frost. It was a painful loss, but it’s hard not to feel anything other than inspiration for what a magnificent, wonderful life this man led. He was a true business leader, one of the most creative photographers I’ve ever met, and an amazing human. And as I head into 2019, I could do no better than using Tom as inspiration for how to best spend my time. Here’s to another great year!

News: CES Nikon Speaking Schedule


It’s that time of year, and the Nikon family is gearing for the CES show with a packed schedule that include 44 unique programs and 10 powerful panel discussions.

As a Nikon Ambassador, I’m honored to be partaking in a few of these presentations on Thursday, January 10th. First, I’ll be giving a presentation on my experience with shooting the new mirrorless Nikon Z7 full-frame camera and how I used this to create “Morning,” (which won a Vimeo Staff Pick).

Right after that, I’ll be doing a live shooting demonstration with the Z7, and giving away some tips and tricks for how I shoot video.

Directly after that, I’ll be joining a panel discussion alongside three good friends and fellow Nikon Ambassadors: Keith Ladzinski, Chris Hershmann, and Deanne Fitzmaurice. Our topic will be “Storytelling with Motion.” The ever-entertaining Mike Corrado will be leading the panel discussion, ensuring this will be one you won’t want to miss.

As always, you can catch all of this at the Nikon Stage at CES, or stream it online from the comfort of wherever you are at www.nikonusa.com/live

Looking forward to seeing everyone at CES! Let’s go!

Cool Stuff: The RunOut Podcast

With all of the traveling I do, I’m always on the hunt for good podcasts. Lucky for me, there are a ton of really great ones out there! Even the niche climbing world has many great podcasts … and for a climbing podcast, one of my new favorites is The RunOut.

This show is hosted by my good friend Andrew Bisharat and Chris Kalous, who you may know as the host of the Enormocast, one of the climbing world’s OG podcasts. (Don’t worry, the Enormocast is still going strong!)

The RunOut is a great addition to my podcast library. Episodes are only about 30 minutes, which makes them pretty digestible. So far all the episodes have been really interesting, but one of my favorites was the one about climbing becoming an Olympic event. I didn’t know shit about speed climbing—fortunately, this episode got me up to speed! (Excuse the pun). Another good episode was the interview with Adam Ondra after his near onsight of the Salathé, and I also really liked the interview with Mikey Schaeffer about what it was like to work as the DP on Free Solo.

It’s great to see some passionate climbers and friends succeeding with a new show! Keep up the good work, fellas! Looking forward to using this podcast to accompany me on future travel and bike rides!

Check out their website, their Facebook page, and subscribe to the show. I’m sure Chris and Andrew would appreciate a nice review on iTunes.

Latest Work: The Dawn Wall film

One of the best parts of being an adventure photographer/filmmaker is you get a front-row seat to some of the most inspiring moments in our sport. For me, being up on El Capitan and document ing some of this generation’s best climbers, that front-row seat was one the great privileges I’ve had over the past two decades.

The memories of all those days and weeks spent shooting with climbers like Tommy Caldwell, Kevin Jorgeson, and Beth Rodden really came flooding back when I sat down in a theater in Los Angeles for the premiere of The Dawn Wall.

This incredible film tells the story of one of my best friends, Tommy Caldwell, and his passion-turned-obsession with free climbing the hardest section of El Capitan, known as the Dawn Wall. But the story is much richer and goes much deeper than just being a film about climbing—it’s a story about Tommy’s life, including his marriage and partnership with Beth Rodden, which led to many incredible accomplishments by these two, as well as his unlikely partnership with Kevin Jorgeson, which ultimately culminated in the historic first free ascent of the Dawn Wall that rocked the mainstream media unlike any climb has before or since.

Many of my photos and video clips of these three climbers were used to support this film and tell this story. To see the film on a big screen alongside a stoked, live audience was a chance to not only reflect on the past two decades of my own career, but more importantly celebrate the people around me who I respect and call friends.

I can still remember being up there, 1,500 feet up El Capitan alongside Brett Lowell, my friend and super talented DP, spending days and days watching Tommy absolutely crush pitch after pitch, as well as the moment Kevin overcame all the doubt and circumstances and sent pitch 15 to catch up with Tommy. What an incredible story!

One weird thing about watching the film was that I often couldn’t remember which shots I had created. Scenes I thought I had captured as stills were actually video clips; or vice versa, scenes I thought I had shot as video clips in fact I’d actually shot as stills. After 10 years of shooting stills and motion in tandem, I guess the two have become almost inseparable in my brain.

Josh Lowell of Big Up Productions and Peter Mortimer of Sender Films shot, directed, and produced this film for Red Bull Media House. It was a project that took years, but their efforts have been well worth the wait. This is a stunning and timeless film that everyone should make sure they go see! Thanks to Josh and Pete for everything, and huge congrats and admiration to you guys for your hard work here. You deserve all the accolades and much more!

Check out dawnwallfilm.com to find screenings. Don’t miss the chance to see this film in theaters!

News: “Can South Lake Tahoe Become Outdoor Capital of the World?”

Over the past few years, my friend Chris McNamara and I—as well as many others who share our passion—recognized a sleepy street in South Lake Tahoe that had a lot of potential to become one of the most unique bits of roadway in the world. Ski Run Blvd is about a 1.5-mile long straight shot from mountain to lake, providing easy access to Heavenly Mountain ski resort and Lake Tahoe.

This easy access to all styles and genres of outdoor adventure is the reason that we chose to move our offices to 1111 Ski Run Blvd. We believe that this corner of South Lake Tahoe holds one of the most exciting real-estate opportunities in South Lake Tahoe, and we want to see this street become an emblem of a place where you can do the best work of your life while still enjoying a healthy mountain lifestyle.

Over the past couple of years, Chris and I and many other friends have been working to build more of a community in this area of Lake Tahoe, hosting community events and farmer’s markets, starting up a speaker’s series, and also spending our weekends developing new biking trails and moderate rock-climbing routes that all families can enjoy.

It was really cool to see that the San Francisco Chronicle picked up on this story and featured us in a recent edition of their newspaper. What an honor to be featured here! Read the story here.

I have a lot of friends in the Bay Area, many of whom I work closely with. I always hear the horror stories of sitting in three hours of traffic each day to commute 10 miles across the Bay. All I have to say is, you guys are welcome here in South Lake!

At the end of the day, we’re not city planners, and all we can really do is share the stoke we feel for this neck of the woods and entice like-minded souls to follow this vision. Hope you enjoy this article, and it sparks some dreams of joining us on Ski Run Blvd.!

Speaking of which, Novus is hiring! We’re looking for a Photo Editor / Assignment Coordinator. Check out our job listing and hope to hear from you soon!