compare sensors on Nikon D4 vs D800E

Started Sep 3, 2012 | Discussions
mrpevets
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compare sensors on Nikon D4 vs D800E
Sep 3, 2012

So, good day one & all!!

I have just returned from 3 months running a residential children's camp in northern Ontario & am ready to make that commitment of a new camera.

I have been shooting with a D2Xs for the past 6 years and use it a lot during the summers, where I take pictures of kids doing water skiing, canoeing, playing tennis, climbing a climbing wall, playing baseball, basketball, ball hockey, biking, or just standing in front of the camera asking me to take a picture of the group to put it into the slide show at the end of the summer. I shoot about 5,500 pics per summer.

I would also shoot kids at an evening program in a rec hall (indoors) having a game where the lighting is not great, or shooting them in a play performing a musical on stage before the entire camp.

After camp, I try to capture the beauty of camp, which is on a lake, where landscapes become my focus.

During the rest of the year, I shoot street people, grandchildren doing a little of everything, this past April I went to Death Valley with a buddy just to shoot the beauty of the place.

I purchased an Epson 4900 camera & hope to start printing during the cold months of winter.

As one can see, I do a little of everything. I am looking for the best camera for me & am not able to decide which one to get.

From my digging into the main differences of these 2 awesome cameras, the pro body & fps of the D4 become apparent where the D800E shines with 36 mp.

What about the sensor on the D4, how good is it? Will the 36 mp on the D800E put it to shame?

I do have a number of great lenses (Nikkor 14 - 24 2.8; 24 - 70 2.8; 70 - 200 VR II 2.8; 85G 1.4; and a Sigma 50 1.4)

If you were in my shoes, which one would you get? I know that this question has been asked a number of times & it has been suggested to me to get the D800, but I am used to a bigger body and I am not sure how I will like the "E". even with the grip.

Waiting to hear from you as I hope to get before the end of September

eternal camper

Nikon D2Xs Nikon D4 Nikon D800 Nikon D800E
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inasir1971
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Re: compare sensors on Nikon D4 vs D800E
In reply to mrpevets, Sep 3, 2012

Up to a certain ISO, the D800 (especially the E) will produce a better image than the D4 at any given size.

I have both and if not for the high ISO (I mean very high ISO, above 5000) and weather sealing the D800E is better. If I could only keep one it would be that.

A key to understanding why is that downsampling produces better images. You don't output a 36MP image but a 36MP image downsampled to 16MP is much better than a 16MP image captured by a 16MP sensor.

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corneaboy
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Re: compare sensors on Nikon D4 vs D800E
In reply to inasir1971, Sep 3, 2012

Its all a matter of needs and yours certainly favor the D800E. If you were into sports action it would be different.

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RBFresno
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Not just about the sensors
In reply to mrpevets, Sep 3, 2012

Hi

Unless you have a burning need for 36 mp's, consider the D4.

It has the body size you're used to with theD2x.

When shooting at or near base ISO with yiu D2x, how often did you really need more MP's?

In a camp environment I'd prefer the D4's build.

Reminds me of when I was shooting with a 4 MP body (D2h) and was often getting better pics than most others with higher MP DSLR's (as long as I wasn't cropping or making big prints )

RB

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mrpevets
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Re: Not just about the sensors
In reply to RBFresno, Sep 4, 2012

THANX TO THE THREE OF YOU WHO DID TAKE THE TIME TO RESPOND

My dilemma is that I am looking for the sharpness & richness in colour to be above average in the pics that I take.

I want to be able to print a few keepers & want these pictures to hang on my walls.

As RB said in his response, I am used to the body of my D2Xs but have held (not tried) a D800 with extra battery pack & it does not feel that bad (not as balanced as a D2Xs).

The response from inasir 1971 suggests that downsampling from a 36 mp camera is so much better than a pic from a 16 mp camera.

Can one really see the difference in these 2 pics?

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Ferguson
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Re: compare sensors on Nikon D4 vs D800E
In reply to mrpevets, Sep 4, 2012

I have both.

The biggest difference to me is the frame rate. If you are trying to capture action there is a huge difference in 4fps and 10fps. Sports I grab the D4.

Almost anything else I grab the D800.

The D4 is cleaner at high ISO's, without a doubt. But the extra pixels on the D800 make this a complex comparison for most shooting. If you take a full frame image from either and look at the same distance, the D800 makes quite a credible showing due to its dynamic range and spreading the noise over more pixels.

Sealing, ruggedness I think are mostly moot -- both are well built, both have decent weather seals.

The D4 has lots more bells and whistles, but unless one really matters to you they aren't a deciding factor (example: voice memos).

To me though, the real deciding factor is frame rate. If 4fps is fine, get the D800. If not, get the D4.

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TOF guy
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Re: compare sensors on Nikon D4 vs D800E
In reply to corneaboy, Sep 4, 2012

corneaboy wrote:

If you were into sports action it would be different.

That's arguable. Some sport photographers try to anticipate and capture the right moment instead of the spray and pray approach. It all depends on how the O/P proceeds.

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Thierry

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TOF guy
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Re: compare sensors on Nikon D4 vs D800E
In reply to Ferguson, Sep 4, 2012

Ferguson wrote:

I have both.

The biggest difference to me is the frame rate. If you are trying to capture action there is a huge difference in 4fps and 10fps. Sports I grab the D4.

Considering the O/P stable of lens (he does not have anything longer than 200 mm), there is something to be said for the D800. He can crop 1.5x the image - basically using the 70-200 mm as a 70-300 mm - and still get at least 16 MP

He can get 6 fps in 1.2x mode. Not so long ago many sports photographers had only praise for the 1D series 1.3x crop sensors. 1.2 is not so far from 1.3x

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Thierry

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inasir1971
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Re: compare sensors on Nikon D4 vs D800E
In reply to TOF guy, Sep 4, 2012

Partly prompted by OP's post and after reading something by Lloyd Chamberlain on his site, I went back and had a look at some of my D800 images. Lloyd is an advocate of no NR - I wouldn't go as far as him and do something like the default 25 chroma NR in LR.

When D800 images are downsampled* to D4 resolution and you just apply the chroma NR, the resulting image has more detail than the D4 image. The noise is a very fine grain - which I find quite pleasing. Luma NR is always destructive, it's just a matter of how much you can bring back with sharpening.

(*I do downsampling in Lightroom as follows: turn off everything including default sharpening and chroma NR - so no NR before downsampling, select color profile, WB, CA correction, lens distortion - if desired, then export to TIFF at D4 resolution without sharpening. I then reimport the image into Lightroom. I find it requires little if anything else)

Here is a 100% crop of an ISO 4500 D800 image downsampled to D4 resolution - only chroma NR 25, highlights and shadows, no sharpening.

With the D800, from ISO 6400 there is a magenta cast but up to and including ISO 5000, there are no issues.

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inasir1971
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downsampled D800 vs D4 crop comparison
In reply to inasir1971, Sep 4, 2012

In reference to downsampled images. Here are two 100% crops. Both using the same lens (24-70 2.8), the D800 output downsampled to D4 resolution and then both files sharpened using Topaz InFocus with the same settings. Same tone settings in LR.

The 16MP D800 image has considerably more detail than the 16MP D4 image and it is very obvious in images like this which contain a lot of detail.

The browser does some strange scaling which ruins details like this so best to click original.

The difference is quite amazing - I was expecting less. To get a better D4 image you would have to downsample the D4, but then you would downsample the D800 image even further and it too would improve.

I would love to say the D4 has a much better image than the D800 since I paid twice as much for it - but it doesn't unless you get into very high ISO's. (above 5000 IMO)

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Ferguson
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Re: downsampled D800 vs D4 crop comparison
In reply to inasir1971, Sep 4, 2012

inasir1971 wrote:

The difference is quite amazing - I was expecting less. To get a better D4 image you would have to downsample the D4, but then you would downsample the D800 image even further and it too would improve.

I would love to say the D4 has a much better image than the D800 since I paid twice as much for it - but it doesn't unless you get into very high ISO's. (above 5000 IMO)

I agree with that, but someone contemplating a choice between the two also needs to consider scale. Your images do show significant difference but are small crops. At normal viewing distance ...? Not sure they would be the same, but I bet if you took a reasonable and equal crop from both cameras (say a half frame), made a 16x20 print, and viewed it in a gallery setting you couldn't tell the difference.

Now take a tiny crop... well, the D800 is heaven for the "croppers" of the world. Here is a 2.2% crop (i.e. 2.2% of the pixels in the D800 image) shown first for perspective over the whole frame, then at original size. While there's some "grain" there... did I mention that's 2% of the frame?

The D800 is definitely what I grab when I don't need frame rate, as you have huge detail in each image to chose from, downsample, crop, etc.

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RBFresno
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Yep, D800 for droppers and huge prints
In reply to Ferguson, Sep 4, 2012

D800 is heaven for the "croppers" of the world.

Yep.

If you find yourself heavily cropping and/or making huge prints, those 36 MP's come in handy!

Now myself, I've never made a huge print and try to avoid the major cropping (easier to do since I got the 200VR and 500VR lenses and a few TC's! )

But as regards, sharpness, colors, etc, I'm pretty happy with the D4:

Nikon D4 ,Nikkor 200mm f/2G IF-ED AF-S VR
1/640s f/6.3 at 200.0mm iso400

Nikon D4 ,Nikkor 200mm f/2G IF-ED AF-S VR
1/2500s f/2.0 at 200.0mm iso125

Nikon D4 ,Nikkor AF-S 500mm f/4G ED VR
1/800s f/5.6 at 500.0mm iso1600

The D4 is ridiculous with high ISO; and I'm pretty sure that it does a better job with color balance with difficult lighting than my D3, especially when the light is low.
This picture was take at night, in Times Square with mixed artificial lighting:

Nikon D4 ,Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 2/100 ZF
1/500s f/4.0 at 100.0mm iso6400

Another one from Times Square at night:
Nikon D4 ,Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 2/100 ZF
1/500s f/2.8 at 100.0mm iso6400

ISO 4000 :
Nikon D4 ,Nikkor AF-S 500mm f/4G ED VR ,SB-900
1/500s f/4.0 at 500.0mm iso4000

A landscape:

Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater at daybreak:
Nikon D4 ,Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 2/100 ZF
1/640s f/11.0 at 100.0mm iso800

Then again, I was pretty happy with the D3:
Nikon D3 ,Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 2/100 ZF
1/500s f/5.6 at 100.0mm iso1600

Nikon D3 ,Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 2/100 ZF
1/400s f/8.0 at 100.0mm iso200

(Higher res picture here):
http://www.pbase.com/rbfresno/image/142779074/original

Best Regards,

RB

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http://www.pbase.com/rbfresno/profile

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joejack951
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Re: compare sensors on Nikon D4 vs D800E
In reply to TOF guy, Sep 4, 2012

TOF guy wrote:

corneaboy wrote:

If you were into sports action it would be different.

That's arguable. Some sport photographers try to anticipate and capture the right moment instead of the spray and pray approach. It all depends on how the O/P proceeds.

Yes, one can try. But if the right moment happens 0.10" before or after they anticipated, it sure is nice to get the image with the D4 (or D3s, D3, D700, or D300 even) as opposed to missing it by 0.15" with the D800 even if it means being labeled a "spray and pray" photographer.

There are plenty of reasons to want a D800 but shooting sports/action isn't one of them.

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joejack951
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Re: Not just about the sensors
In reply to mrpevets, Sep 4, 2012

mrpevets wrote:

My dilemma is that I am looking for the sharpness & richness in colour to be above average in the pics that I take.

Then buy the camera that feels better to you. Both the D800 and D4 are miles above average so the rest comes down to lenses and technique.

Money no object, for me the choice would be easy to get the D4 as I feel it's the better all around camera. If I was on a stricter budget, I'd consider the D800. As it were, I ended up with a used D3s instead of the D800 as I felt it better met my needs for about the same overall cost (once you a grip, spare batteries, charger). Pictures from that camera continue to amaze me (and I wasn't shooting with crap beforehand either using a D300s).

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Teleboy
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No text
In reply to TOF guy, Sep 4, 2012

No text

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Teleboy
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Re: compare sensors on Nikon D4 vs D800E
In reply to TOF guy, Sep 4, 2012

I've never met a sports photographer that doesn't try to 'capture the right moment.' Nor have I ever come across one that simply presses the shutter button and "prays." We need to eliminate these concepts from our photographic vocabulary on this forum when discussing D800 vs Dx bodies IMHO. The higher frame rate merely means you get more shots for your money to choose from and no sports or action photographer doesn't want that.

T.

TOF guy wrote:

corneaboy wrote:

If you were into sports action it would be different.

That's arguable. Some sport photographers try to anticipate and capture the right moment instead of the spray and pray approach. It all depends on how the O/P proceeds.

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Thierry

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Robin Casady
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Re: Yep, D800 for Croppers and huge prints
In reply to RBFresno, Sep 4, 2012

Epson printers are said to give optimum results at 360 and 240 ppi. I find the difference to be subtle and mostly use 240 ppi. At that resolution, the D4 would produce a print that is 13.7x20.5." A 17x25" print would be at around 193 ppi.

A D800E produces a 20x30" print at 240 ppi. A 17x25" print would be 289 ppi.

So, with your Epson 4900, the D800E would give you highly detailed prints with some cropping room.

On the other hand, the D4 file size is more suitable for volume shooting and processing. If the majority or your pints are 12x18" and smaller, the D4 will produce excellent prints.

The D800E has about a stop more dynamic range at base ISO, but they are about even at 400 and above. Both are vast improvements on your D2Xs.
http://home.comcast.net/~NikonD70/Charts/PDR.htm#D2Xs,D800E,D4
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Ferguson
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Re: Yep, D800 for Croppers and huge prints
In reply to Robin Casady, Sep 4, 2012

Robin Casady wrote:

Epson printers are said to give optimum results at 360 and 240 ppi. I find the difference to be subtle and mostly use 240 ppi. At that resolution, the D4 would produce a print that is 13.7x20.5." A 17x25" print would be at around 193 ppi.

A D800E produces a 20x30" print at 240 ppi. A 17x25" print would be 289 ppi.

So, with your Epson 4900, the D800E would give you highly detailed prints with some cropping room.

True statements, but bear in mind larger prints are generally viewed at distances further away. Here's a decent discussion on resolution need by viewing distance (link below), which suggests the 240dpi would be needed at 3' or so, but that someone at 6' would need only 100dpi or so.

Now it doesn't have to follow that one views the 17x25" image closer than the 20x30". But I suspect that's more normally the case, and would think the D4 or the D800 would both be fine for a billboard viewed from your car, for example.

Really - I think enthusiasts are more demanding today because of computers and ability to zoom in to the lowest possible level. Actual prints on paper displayed normally very rarely require the resolution we demand of web images (for no good reason other than zoom is but a mouse click).

http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/article_pages/print_viewing_distance.html

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Mustangy
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Re: Yep, D800 for Croppers and huge prints
In reply to Ferguson, Sep 4, 2012

RBFresno eagle's eyes is tac sharp congrats i can't do that with d800 and 70-200 vr ii this wonderful after long long hours fine tuning still cant get that sharp and almost always i m going to manual focus

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RBFresno
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Re: Yep, D800 for Croppers and huge prints
In reply to Mustangy, Sep 4, 2012

RBFresno eagle's eyes is tac sharp congrats i can't do that with d800 and 70-200 vr ii emoticon - sad this wonderful after long long hours fine tuning still cant get that sharp and almost always i m going to manual focus

Thanks!

Here's a higher res picture to see even more eye detail:

RB

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