I am D800

Started May 6, 2012 | Discussions thread
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PhotoByRichard Regular Member • Posts: 387
I am D800

After a long long wait, I have finally received my D800 about a week ago. While i'm still adapting to the changes and learning about this new camera, I'm absolutely loving it so far.

D800's spec was leaked way before it's official announcement. but Nikon was still managed to surprised us at the last minute with a much lower than expected price.

It's pretty obvious there will be a huge demand and low supply for this latest full frame camera. So after it's announcement, I went and pre-ordered one from a local camera shop immediately.

Unfortunately because of the new Japanese regulations, the ENEL3 and the ENEL4A battery that were used on the D200,D300,D700,D2,D3..etc are now replaced by the new ENEL15 and ENEL18 batteries.

To prepare myself for the new camera, I got ourselves some ENEL15 batteries and large memory cards. And waiting for the camera to arrive.

One day, the NZ Nikon distributor (who has always been great and very helpful!) has suddenly contacted me and asked me to call the camera shop the following day. They didn't say clearly why so I hope it has something to do with the D800!

I called the shop the next morning and confirmed my D800 was already on the way to the shop. Hooray!! I rushed to the shop and picked up our D800 when the shop told me the camera has arrived the shop.

Nikon claims the D800 is now able to autofocus down to -2EV. So one of the first thing I tested was the low light autofocus performance. I turned off almost all the lights and mounted a Nikon AFS 50mm f/1.4G lens on the camera. I put the lens cap on the floor as the AF target. Because it was so dark, it actually took me a long long time before I can see where the lens cap is through the viewfinder, and to be honest i can not actually see the lens cap, I can only tell there is something there! I thought there is no way the camera's autofocus system can see anything.

But surprisingly, the camera can do a AF lock successfully on the lens cap (even though a bit slow), I set the aperture to f/1.4 and the metering system tells me at ISO25600 my shutter speed still has to be around 1/30s. I took a photo with that setting, and examine the photo on screen, at f/1.4 and close shooting distance the DOF is very shallow, but the autofocus is spot on!

Then I mounted the same lens on the D700. The D700's AF system just can't even see the target even after 15 tries. I don't really blame it as my eyes can barely see where i should aim!

So, yes D800's improved 3500FX AF system's low light performance is definitely improved and quite amazing!

At 36MP, the pixels on D800's full frame sensor are a lot smaller than the one on the D3/D700. So I was quite worried about if D800's high ISO performance could be worse than the previous Nikon FX cameras. Amazingly I found the 36MP D800's high ISO performance is just as good as the 12MP D3/D700. Actually by looking at the real world photos I've shot so far, I believe D800's high ISO performance is at least 1 stop better than the D700. Even at the maximum ISO 25600, while the photo is a bit noisy but it retains tonnes of details if you look at the full size image and the colour and contrast still remain reasonably good! Nikon could have push the max ISO to 51200 or above if they want.

D800 has the dual-axis electronic virtual horizon that tells you your camera's pitch and roll angle. This is very useful for landscape or architectural photographer. While D3/D700 also has the virtual horizon feature, it was single axis only and the implementation (especially the viewfinder mode) isn't as good as the D800. Oh and please don't throw your D800 out the window, it can't really fly!

I did a little test to test D800's dynamic range. Iset the camera to aperture priority mode and took a photo. Checked the photo on the LCD screen, even though there was a bright light source in the scene the exposure seems pretty much perfect, so that's good! Next, I set a -5 EV exposure compensation on the camera, yes 5 stop underexposed the photo and took another photo. Now the photo looks very dark (of course, it's 5 stop underexposed!). Then I loaded the photo in Lightroom, pushed the exposure up by +5 stop. Amazingly the photo still look very nice! The colours are still there, there is very limited noise and there are still lots of shadow details. I then did some quick editing in photoshop and created this photo. I think it's hard to believe the original photo was underexposed by 5 stop, what do you think?

I went to the Zoo with the D800 and a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens. I quickly took a photo of this giraffe when it was walking past us. But even at 200mm I still can't get the close up shot I want. Fortunately the D800's 36 megapixel output means we can crop a lot and still have a lot of pixels left. I cropped the photo so the output is prertty much what I would got if I was shooting with a 300mm lens. The cropped photo still have more resolution than a D700 can output and virtually I have a 1.5x teleconverter I can use anytime. When shooting with the D800, be very careful with your shutter speed and remember to keep your hands and body very steady if you want to capture sharp images.


I will keep update this thread and add more photos if you guys like it, or you can check the full screen and latest photos on my fb page:

 PhotoByRichard's gear list:PhotoByRichard's gear list
Nikon D800 Sony Alpha 7 Nikon Df Nikon PC-E Nikkor 45mm f/2.8D ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G +4 more
Nikon D200 Nikon D3 Nikon D700 Nikon D800
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