African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?

Started 10 months ago | Discussions
Dean Baird
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African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?
10 months ago

Thom Hogan says the D800 comes off as fragile in the field (especially on safari). I don't know what--if any--reputation the D610 has getting knocked around. Same size battery is a plus.

I plan to rent a second body for the trip. Not looking for the bulk of a D4.

Am I missing any standouts for a backup body contender?

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Devendra
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Re: African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?
In reply to Dean Baird, 10 months ago

Dean Baird wrote:

Thom Hogan says the D800 comes off as fragile in the field (especially on safari).

I am baffled at the "fragile" comment. It is a rugged body. In fact unless your safari consists of literally banging your gear around, D800 will be an excellent camera. I took mine to India and it did just fine.

some 100% crops

I don't know what--if any--reputation the D610 has getting knocked around. Same size battery is a plus.

I plan to rent a second body for the trip. Not looking for the bulk of a D4.

You can certainly take advantage of D7100 - for extra cropping and lighter weight. As a second body it will be more than enough - may even become the primary if you are shooting wildlife in decent light.

Am I missing any standouts for a backup body contender?

Having VR in your lenses will be my advise though.

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enjoy your trip and please post pictures!!

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MPA1
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Re: African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?
In reply to Dean Baird, 10 months ago

D3x

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Dean Baird
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Re: African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?
In reply to Devendra, 10 months ago

Thanks for the practical info, Devendra. Great shots!

Here's the note where Thom drills deep in his assessment of D800 structural fragility:

http://www.bythom.com/photographic-travel/africa/botswana-2013-workshop-blog/

"I need to repeat something I've written elsewhere about D800's: don't drop them. Ever. The number of "beyond repair" D800's I know about continues to grow every week. Personally, I regard this a design fault—especially on a camera regarded as "pro" by its maker. What happens is this: if the camera falls and any strong pressure is put on the lens mount, the rear of the metal alloy frame breaks just in front of the rear LCD. The frame can apparently also crack if impact stress is put on it from the back or edges of the camera. Unfortunately, this cracking of the chassis then makes "alignment" impossible. The frame would have to be replaced, and to replace a frame means complete (and I mean complete) disassembly and reassembly, which Nikon won't undertake because it is not financially viable. You're better off buying a new camera when that happens to you."

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IainD
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Re: African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?
In reply to MPA1, 10 months ago

D3x is extremely robust and reliable. However most of my best images from the wild have been taken with my D3s and my D800.

The D3s is probably tougher than the D800 but I have had great reliability from the D800!

IainD

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ScottRH
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Re: African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?
In reply to Dean Baird, 10 months ago

D300

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vincent__l
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Re: African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?
In reply to Dean Baird, 10 months ago

I'm not sure if Thom's lens mount "design flaw" comment is true or not. However, if it is, it would seem like a worse case issue for a safari. Given the amount of dust in the field you want to minimize lens changes. That means your bodies will often remain attached to the different lenses while riding around all day in a very bumpy vehicle. This type of stress would be worse for heavier bodies vs light ones.

Dean Baird wrote:

Thom Hogan says the D800 comes off as fragile in the field (especially on safari). I don't know what--if any--reputation the D610 has getting knocked around. Same size battery is a plus.

I plan to rent a second body for the trip. Not looking for the bulk of a D4.

Am I missing any standouts for a backup body contender?

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JJ168
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Re: African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?
In reply to Dean Baird, 10 months ago

Thanks for the practical info, Devendra. Great shots!

Here's the note where Thom drills deep in his assessment of D800 structural fragility:

http://www.bythom.com/photographic-travel/africa/botswana-2013-workshop-blog/

"I need to repeat something I've written elsewhere about D800's: don't drop them. Ever. The number of "beyond repair" D800's I know about continues to grow every week. Personally, I regard this a design fault—especially on a camera regarded as "pro" by its maker. What happens is this: if the camera falls and any strong pressure is put on the lens mount, the rear of the metal alloy frame breaks just in front of the rear LCD. The frame can apparently also crack if impact stress is put on it from the back or edges of the camera. Unfortunately, this cracking of the chassis then makes "alignment" impossible. The frame would have to be replaced, and to replace a frame means complete (and I mean complete) disassembly and reassembly, which Nikon won't undertake because it is not financially viable. You're better off buying a new camera when that happens to you."

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I am not a pro, but common sense tell me when you have a heavy lense attached to a camera (regardless of the camera) and drop the combo, its not gonna end good.

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Robin Casady
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Re: African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?
In reply to Dean Baird, 10 months ago

A D800E would be a better backup than a D610. If you are going to carry a DSLR from a strap while attached to a long lens, attach the strap to the lens foot. If the lens has a foot it means it should not be attached to a tripod by the body. Same goes for a strap.

Don't drop a DSLR with a long lens attached, ever!

Other than mentioning the two D800 that broke when dropped on safari, Thom doesn't give the statistics. He says it more as though it is an impression than a statistical analysis. On that safari there were 13 D800 bodies. That is almost half the DSLRs on that trip.

In How to Think About Equipment for Safari he chooses the D800 as the best body for safari.

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vincent__l
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Re: African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?
In reply to Robin Casady, 10 months ago

Roger, of Lens Rentals, is my go to guy for these stats. Hard to find someone more qualified than Roger given that he personally analyzes and compiles the failure mechanisms for many copies of a given piece of gear.

Robin Casady wrote:

Other than mentioning the two D800 that broke when dropped on safari, Thom doesn't give the statistics. He says it more as though it is an impression than a statistical analysis. On that safari there were 13 D800 bodies. That is almost half the DSLRs on that trip.

Robin Casady
http://www.robincasady.com/Photo/index.html
"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please."
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Robin Casady
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Re: African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?
In reply to vincent__l, 10 months ago

vincent__l wrote:

Roger, of Lens Rentals, is my go to guy for these stats. Hard to find someone more qualified than Roger given that he personally analyzes and compiles the failure mechanisms for many copies of a given piece of gear.

Looks like the D800 had problems with the battery door breaking on early copies, and AF problems. Roger makes no mention of frame breakage.

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Robin Casady
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Hugo First
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Re: African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?
In reply to vincent__l, 10 months ago

someone on one of these forums not too long ago was arguing that some of the more "plastic-y" bodies were less susceptible to this sort of breakage since the plastic, while very strong, has more "give" than metal -- meaning that it would flex more before breaking, as well as retaining its shape if stressed.

what a shame it is to break one's camera! but it happens, sometimes due to carelessness, or else... well, what can you say? i'm sure some photographic safaris have come to a premature end when the gear was run over by a vehicle, or else dropped into the water (although this seems more a hazard for people who insist upon setting up their tripod's in the rushing surf).

in the event that some unforeseen tragedy brings your D800 to an untimely end, it almost defies statistical odds that a D600 wouldn't be robust enough to allow one to carry on -- unless, of course, it was run over with a vehicle as well!

in that case, perhaps photography would have been the wrong choice for a hobby in the first place.

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Stacey_K
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D700 [nt]
In reply to Dean Baird, 10 months ago
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Stacey

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mfouks
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Re: African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?
In reply to Dean Baird, 10 months ago

I took a D800 and a D800e to Kenya and had no problems.  Each camera had a different lens attached so I rarely needed to change lenses.  I kept the cameras covered with a towel at all times when they weren't in use  and made sure nothing fell.   The more experienced photographers left the gear they weren't using on the floor sitting on bean bags to protect their gear  but there were only 2 people per van so there was lots of room.   It was nice to go back and forth quickly between the two identical cameras.    I found that I was often shooting in low light at high ISO's so whatever body you rent it is important for it to do well at higher ISO's.

I absolutely loved Kenya and can't wait to get back some day.  Have a great trip.

Marsha

Dean Baird wrote:

Thom Hogan says the D800 comes off as fragile in the field (especially on safari). I don't know what--if any--reputation the D610 has getting knocked around. Same size battery is a plus.

I plan to rent a second body for the trip. Not looking for the bulk of a D4.

Am I missing any standouts for a backup body contender?

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Rexgig0
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Two D800 bodies, and do not drop them!
In reply to Dean Baird, 10 months ago

Thom Hogan did not say to avoid the D800; he said "do not drop" a D800. Simple enough. Let's not over-complicate what was said.

When working fast, and may be switching quickly between two cameras, I want the bodies to be the same, or at least have the same controls. If working with camera at a time, and "back-up" means a spare body to be kept packed until wanted or needed, identical bodies are  less important, as there will be time for the mind to adjust to different ergonomics and controls.

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I wear a badge and pistol, and, primarily with 7D cameras, with 10-22mm and 100mm Macro L lenses, shoot evidentiary images at night, which incorporates elements of portrait, macro, still life, landscape, architecture, PJ, and occasional action. During personal time, I enjoy using both Canons and Nikons.

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sjprg
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Re: African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?
In reply to Dean Baird, 10 months ago

Sony A7 / A7R with an adapter for all of your Nikon lenses.

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Paul

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mikew
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In reply to sjprg, 10 months ago

I use a D4, D800 and now a D7100. Unless you are doing a lot of bird in flight shooting ( for which you need the D4 ), the D7100 is a perfect second body for a safari. I just spent a month in Africa with that setup. The D7100 is light weight, small, it gives you the crop advantage with dense pixels for distant subjects. You can never have enough "magnification" in Africa, and the D7100 has the equivalent of a 56mp full frame sensor.

It focuses very fast and accurately ( AF fine tune youe bodies/lenses ). The downside is the buffer size. You run out in 1 second. But this is not a limitation if you are not doing long strings of shots, like a cheetah running after prey ( you should be so lucky! ). It is noiser than the D800, but very useable in well lit situations. Uses same battery as D800. A real winner for safari. I would take it over the D4, except for BIFs.

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calson
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Re: African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?
In reply to Dean Baird, 10 months ago

I would go with the D7100 that uses the same battery type as the D800e and actually autofocuses better than the D800e with long lenses. It also provides the option of turning a 200-400mm lens into effectively a 300-600mm lens or the 70-200mm into a 105-300mm f2.8 lens in terms of the picture angles provided. The D7100 has dual SDXC card slots so one can be used as an overflow buffer so lower capacity cards can be used.

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Mitrajoon
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Re: African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?
In reply to Dean Baird, 10 months ago

That "D800 is fragile" comment is just silly. If you drop any camera you risk damage. And you don't need to be a PhD to know that the force of impact will be greater the heavier the lens attached.

Diatribe aside, I just returned from Safari. I took a D800e with a 24-70 attached and a D7100 with a 80-400 attached. That covered my needs pretty well and was quite manageable to carry.

FYI, at one point we were 4 wheeling it on the Serengeti Plain when our driver slammed on the brakes to avoid a gully. Both cameras, which were sitting on the Land Cruiser's seats fell to the floor.  After my heart re-started, I was relieved to find absolutely no problems.

You can see my images from Tanzania here:

http://jmlphotography.smugmug.com/Travel/Tanzania-1

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ChapelThrill23
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Re: African safari D800E backup: anything better than D610?
In reply to Mitrajoon, 10 months ago

So long as you aren't bashing your camera or dropping it on to things, a D610 or a D800 ought to do well in a variety of environments. Both are well made cameras that should be able to take a lot of use.

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