D800 & its amazing AF performance for BIF at Night

Started Jul 22, 2012 | Discussions thread
Shop cameras & lenses ▾
Flat view
Dileep Kumar
Dileep Kumar Contributing Member • Posts: 697
D800 & its amazing AF performance for BIF at Night

We have been reading a lot about D800’s AF problems. Even I went thru same issue and had to return my first body. By then I had already experienced its AF capabilities compared to all other current Nikon pro bodies.

From my experience I can assure that no matter what we read in the net or reviews, it got stunning AF performance when going get really tough.

I had the opportunity to test D800’s AF limits in various BIF situations (see images). I always wanted to try it at night as well, especially for nocturnal birds. At last, while birding at yesterday night, I got the opportunity to test D800's AF limits in dark.

We spotted some tiny Bats flying around a pond after the nightfall. It was pitch dark (no moon light) and therefore photography was almost impossible. Moreover, these Bats were so tiny (much smaller than a sparrow).

This was my first sighting of this species and wanted to get some shots for ID purpose.

I know tracking these erratically flying bats will test any camera's focusing system even in best lighting conditions, so I couldn't think of shooting them at night just with the help of a flash light.

But see what happened when we decided to put some extra efforts.

It was really tough compared to daylight flight shoots. Always there was a delay in initial focus acquisition. If I’m able to keep track the subject during this period (I reckon roughly 4 seconds), then camera is able to lock focus and smoothly track from there onwards. It was unbelievable and I enjoyed it like anything.

I know these are poor quality photos. My lack of shooting experience at night could be the main cause for that. Moreover, I had been birding whole afternoon in high temperature (49ºC & humidity). By evening I was physically tired.

I plan to revisit this location in two weeks’ time (with full moon). So, I'm sure with the help of experts here, probably I will be able to improve.

I have tried this camera against all sort tough birds we get here including fast flying Swifts and Swallows. Always it had been spot on with subjects no matter how fast or erratically flying they are.

Now I just can’t wait for the season and arrival of migratory birds.

So far we have been testing the limits of the cameras, now I'm sure it gonna be other way around.

Kind regards,

1) Naked-bellied Tomb Bat (Nikon D800, 500mm VR f/4, 1/400, f/4, ISO-2000, SB-900 and Hand-held. A flash light was used to spot and track the bird as visibility was zero.

I though SB-900 will be able to freeze the motion but it seems D800 demands higher shutter speed. Probably better luck next time.


3) Nightjar on Wings (it was such a rarest opportunity and D800 did amazingly well. It's a dream come true for me).

A few from earlier posts:

4) Pallid Swift (one of the fastest, non-stop and erratically flying bird).


Flat view
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow