Former Canon User with D800 First Impressions

Started Apr 4, 2012 | Discussions thread
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FractalMan Junior Member • Posts: 46
Former Canon User with D800 First Impressions

D800 First Impressions (got it this morning)

Having been a Canon 1Ds Series user for many years, switching to Nikon has been an interesting move. My intent here is to describe the positives and negatives of my experience. Up front I will have to admit that I have not taken any serious photos yet – the weather is a snow and rain mix and the mountains in this beautiful Boulder Colorado area are covered with clouds. Fortunately this gives me a chance to learn all those things which come from hands-on discovery and reading user manuals.

User Interaction

In the computer industry, there is a tendency for competitors to copy each other, especially regarding the user interface and user interaction methods. There is a general standardization of how to do things. Not so between Nikon and Canon. Cripes, the first thing I did was try to take the lens cap off and found that the on/off direction is opposite! How does that happen? I grew up with “Righty Tighty” and “Lefty Loosey”. Maybe Nikon is the only “Righty Loosey” and “Lefty Tighty” company in the world. I am sure I will get used to it – not a big deal.

What is a big deal is the great accessibility of functions on the D800 compared to the 1DS. For example, to setup Bracketing, Image Quality and Mirror Up on the D800 there is a nice multi-function dial; whereas on the Canon you need to go into the Menus on the LCD and wander around for a while. In fact, Mirror Up and Bracketing settings are Custom Functions which take up to 17 steps in the menus to get to the settings.

Nose Screen

The D800 comes with a plastic monitor cover which at first I didn’t like so I took it off. However, as soon as I looked through the eyepiece, I left nose prints on the LCD. Oh, how I hate that! No amount of rubbing it with my shirt helps because every time I look through the eyepiece again it leaves another nose print. I put the Nose Screen back on and found that not only does it protect the monitor from nose prints; it also has a magical anti-nose print capability! Marvelous!

Eye Cover

The 1Ds comes with a comfortable and effective eye cover. The D800 does not. What’s with that? I suppose they had to cut back on something in order to price it for less than half of the 1Ds.


Of course the D800 is a much smaller camera than the 1Ds since it doesn’t have the built-in battery grip. I can compare the grip to the 5D II however. The D800 grip has sharper edges and provides a better place for my thumb on the back. My initial impression was not so good; but after holding and shooting a bit, I must say I like the D800 grip better.


Being primarily a landscape and cityscape photographer, I haven’t used a flash very much. Especially with the 5D and 1Ds, the lack of a built-in flash means I would never use a flash because I really didn’t want to carry one around with me. Ok, I am a bit lazy here, please forgive me. Having a built-in flash on the D800 means that I now have one available for those rare moments when it is needed.

Hand Strap

The 1Ds comes with a really nice hand strap that conveniently wraps around my wrist while I hold the grip. It is now on my D800 and will remain until I can find one with a Nikon logo on it. Wow, does this mean I can’t sell my 1Ds until if find a replacement hand strap?


I found the menus on the D800 to be generally intuitive with one exception. The Shooting Menu Bank (A thru D) is a good idea; however, if you try to rename one of them and misspell a word, it is apparently impossible to correct. You have to exit the menus and start over. Even that is not sufficient all the time. To remove a letter that you don’t want, the only thing I could figure out was to add spaces before the undesired letter until it fell off the edge of the screen. Maybe there is a better way to do this; but it certainly is not intuitive (nor is it described in the User’s Manual).


LOVE this feature – on one shutter release it takes two images with a + and – exposure (user defined) then merges them into one file. I did a quick test by taking an HDR image of a window to the outside. It did quite well not overexposing the outside and it also allowed for seeing the inside of the room without underexposure. I will have to try this with different settings, but to easily expand the dynamic range, it looks really nice.


That’s all for now folks. I am pleased with my D800 and can’t way to get out and take some photos!

Canon EOS 5D Canon EOS-1Ds Nikon D800
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