New D800 First Impressions from D300 user

Started Aug 3, 2012 | Discussions thread
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New D800 First Impressions from D300 user
Aug 3, 2012

No doubt there have been a lot of these posts over the last few months, but for those, like me, that are just getting caught up on all things D800, I thought I'd share a few first impressions from the perspective of a D300 user. Nothing exhaustive - DPR and other reviewers have done that - just things that struck in the first few hours after opening the box. I literally just got the camera today. Ordered it from Green Mountain Camera in Vermont this past weekend. They had more in stock, but I don't know how many (and no D800Es).

First off, it is really very similar in size, feel and layout to the D300. I felt immediately at home and was able to start shooting right away. MOST of the buttons were in similar locations, But one of the changes was surprising, and so far, very annoying.

That is, the pair of buttons that zoom the play back images in and out were reversed from their layout on the D200 and D300. The zoom-in button is now ABOVE the zoom-out button. Go figure. It's driving me nuts in playing back images. I'll live, but don't know why that would have been done.

The small lever on the front that controls AF and Manual models is much tighter, so it harder to accidentally dislodge. I seemed to do all the time on the D300, so I consider that an improvement. Also, the continuous focus setting is a push button on the lever.

I read that someone had complained about the built-in grip not being comfortable for large hands. I wouldn't have thought twice about it if I hadn't read that. But I do think the front grip is every so slightly smaller (more shallow) than the D300, and the space on the back for the thumb grip is now less pronounced. Overall, I see this as a negative.

I like the two memory card slots. There are lots more editing functions, which will be fun to use, as well as the movie mode.

Unlike the D300, the D800 has several image format settings from DX (1.5:1 ), to an intermediate 1.2:1 to full FX at 1:1. There's also a 5:4 format. The default setting on the camera is set to automatically go to DX when a DX lens is attached, but you can override that in the menus and use the other settings, keeping in mind that you will see various levels of vignetting depending on the focal length of the lens.

Live view is improved and there is a new button on the back instead of having to use the turning button on the top left. Also, you can shoot photos from Live view - a big improvement.

Of course the big deal is the sensor size, along with increased dynamic range and improved low light performance. I'm impressed. Here a couple photos I shot to get the feel of the camera. Haven't checked the AF - don't know how at this point, but will do within the 30-day return period.

Everything is great so far. Here's a couple shots with 300mm f/4.

Exposure Time: 0.0031s (1/320)
Aperture: f/4
ISO: 640
Focal Length: 300mm (300mm in 35mm)

Exposure Time: 0.0025s (1/400)
Aperture: f/5.6
ISO: 1250
Focal Length: 300mm (300mm in 35mm)

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 ARClark's gear list:ARClark's gear list
Nikon D300 Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF +11 more
Nikon D200 Nikon D300 Nikon D800 Nikon D800E
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