Question to owners of both D800 and D4 or D3s->D4 upgraders or

Started Sep 7, 2012 | Discussions thread
michaeleclark Regular Member • Posts: 301
D4 and D800 owner

First, yes I own both a D4 and a D800, so I am basing my comments on experience with both bodies.

In general, my experience with my D800 makes me very pleased that I also bought a D4! I too have had intermittant focus inconsistencies with 4 different Nikon lenses in both AF-S and AF-C modes. Some of these images have been totally OOF (nothing in focus), despite shooting with a SS at 3X the effective focal length.

I sent several pairs of shots taken no more than 1 or 2 seconds apart to Nikon where one image is totally OOF, and the next is in focus. Yet both were shot under identical lighting conditions, no settings were changed between shots, using AF-S, single center focus point, apertures from 8 to 11, a2 (and a1 for that matter) set to focus priority, and where focus was confirmed by the green indicator in the viewfinder. I spoke with a Nikon tech (Melville) about the images I sent Nikon, and he agreed there is definitely something wrong but he had no idea what. I have been unable to find any clear pattern to it, as it happens in poor and great light, at low and high ISOs, and with all types of subjects. But since the problem is intermittant I have little faith that Melville will be able to repair it. So I am still using my D800 but only for landscapes at this point, and I make certain to take at least 3 or 4 shots of everything to try to increase the likelihood that at least 1 will be in decent focus. Note that MF is fine; the camera works perfectly, and images are all in focus.

My D4, in contrast, has been outstanding! It focuses so fast (and yes, AF clearly is faster than in my D800), it is almost like it is anticipating focus before I even press the shutter or the AF-On button. I rarely have any OOF images, even though I use my D4 primarily to shoot BIF or BIM ("birds-in-motion"!).

I also dislike the "muddiness" of D800 images shot at higher ISOs. This was similar to the difference between my D300 and D700, where I grew intolerant of the D300 images at higher ISOs after being spoiled by the D700. And downsizing the D800 images, while improving noise, still does not resolve this difference.

But I LOVE the D800 detail at low ISOs and when the dang thing focuses!

1) How many stops better D4 over D800 when it comes to high ISO

In terms of quality, in my opinion it is 2-3 stops better. If just noise and you downsize the D800's images, maybe 1 to 1.5.

2) Do you notice any difference in AF performance?

As above, a world of difference. MUCH faster, way more accurate, no OOF images even when shooting with a f8 combo, and, more than anything, consistent. Nails just about anything I shoot frame after very fast frame.

3) Any differences in AWB performance?
None that has been significant enough to be evident.

4) Does D4 have exact same LCD as D800? Colors/tint looks the same?

As far as I know, but then again I rarely use the LCD other than to examine histograms.

5) Does D4's DR feel the same as D800?

When I have D800 shots that are in focus at relatively low ISOs, DR is fantastic and better than my D4. Clean shadow details are unreal. But start pumping up the ISO, and that changes. While noise is relatively well-handled, image quality begins to become muddier.

Note that the above is based on my experience with MY bodies, one of which clearly has some AF consistency problems. And, assuming Nikon can fix the erratic focus in my D800 soon, my impressions of it probably will improve. But my D4 likley will remain my "go to" camera with the D800 reserved almost exclusively for landscapes, similar to how I used MF and LF cameras in the past.

Michael E. Clark

 michaeleclark's gear list:michaeleclark's gear list
Nikon Coolpix AW100 Nikon D300 Nikon D700 Nikon 1 V1 Nikon D4 +11 more
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