My D800 & Birding dilemma came to an end…

Started May 11, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Dileep Kumar
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My D800 & Birding dilemma came to an end…
May 11, 2012

My 800 arrived last Sunday but due to family commitments I couldn’t take it to the field for the much awaited real life testing for a while. So, all my shootings were limited to some home test shots and had noticed the problem with extreme left and right focus points (with 50mm f/1.4). I was more keen on how it will go with my most used 500mm f/4 VR.

At last I got the opportunity and went to a farm located around 60kms from Doha on Wednesday afternoon. Temperature was around 45ºC and therefore couldn’t find a single visitor in the open fields for a proper test. Next attempt was to find something under the foliage before the light goes.

Managed to find two nightjars and took several shots with various settings supported with bean bag. All became worthless as most of them were OOF. I was shooting with reasonable shutter speeds (1/200 to 1/400). It should have been ok for the shots with a bean bag.

I couldn’t figure out what caused the problem (whether me or due to its 36mp unforgiving sensor or focusing issues reported by many here). All I know is that I lost more shots than I got (my keeper ratio with D300/s with bean bag used to be 99% and for hand held shots something like 80%). Outcome of this trip was nowhere near to my minimum expectations. This is the point I really started to think whether I should keep this camera or not.

Having said all these, I have to admit the fact that I fell in love with this camera from first outing. Its ability to capture details and colours make you wonder, so the high ISO performance. I was shooting at ISO-2000 without any concerns (they all looked great in terms of noise and colour performance). In short those images were as good as or better than ISO-400 shots from my D300s. What more one can expect from a camera in this regard. Moreover, focusing speed was lightning fast and shutter sound was damn quiet compared to D300/s. So, I knew I can’t let this camera go in any circumstances.

Today I took it out for the second trip hoping things will improve as I get used to the equipment. But unfortunately, things went from bad to worst. 99% shots were OOF. I knew no way I can keep this camera this way. In order to take final decision, we decided to do some tests using my friends “focus test equipment”.

I couldn’t believe the outcome. Front focusing issue of my 500mm f/4 was the villain here (more than +20).

Now, I need to sort out the problem with my lens. Don’t how to go about it. It was taken from US (less than 4 years ago) thru a friend of mine. If repair costs are not likely to be high, I will check the possibilities of getting it done here itself. Again I’m not sure whether the local Nikon dealer does these kind of repairs in Qatar or send it to Japan.

Here is the image of my first birding trip, a night jar with 100% head-crop. I probably got this shot because taken hand-held See the reflection in its eye. You can see my outline along with one of the trees.

So, at the end D800 helped me to identify the biggest problem I have been facing for almost a year. And no surprise why there are so many complaints about its focusing problems.

Kind regards,
Dileep

1) European Nightjar - 1/320, f/7.1, ISO-1250 & hand-held. (sharpening, saturation & no nice reduction)

2) 100% head-crop

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