D300 to D800: initial impressions

Started Sep 30, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Ajayharsh Varikat Regular Member • Posts: 109
D300 to D800: initial impressions

I have been using a D300 for over 4 years, and recently got a D800. I shoot mainly landscape, with a little bit of people photography, at times in low light where flash is not an option. I don’t really need 36MP. I don’t print very big. I don’t like carrying bigger or heavier lenses than I absolutely have to. 16MP is sufficient for most of my needs, and I was waiting for the D300 replacement to give me a bit more dynamic range. However, after carefully thinking about this, I realized that the D800 would give me a lot more flexibility.

I see that many others are in a similar situation, and are asking the same kinds of questions that I have had to answer. My reasons for choosing the D800 include:

- Bigger viewfinder for composing images. I have used DX cameras since 2004, but have always been longing to go back to the larger FX viewfinders from my film days.

- More flexibility in the lenses I have to carry. Since the DX crop on the D800 gives me more pixels and a higher quality image than my D300, carrying fewer lenses and cropping when needed becomes a viable option. Of course that would mean losing the larger viewfinder, but I hope I will have to do this for only a few images. More on this later in my post.

- When photographing predominantly red or blue subjects, I have at times found 12MP to be insufficient. Bayer sensors have only 25% of the total pixels in each of the red and blue channels, and I believe this reduces available resolution. It also affects B&W conversions, especially when I need to significantly increase the contribution from one color channel, usually the red.

- Increased dynamic range. Till now, I have been using multiple exposures to get higher DR, but this works only when objects in the picture are not moving.

- Better low light performance from the bigger and improved sensor. This is important for maybe 5% of my photography. Unfortunately, in those situations the D300 has been rather limiting. With the D800, it looks like I can gain roughly a 3-stop advantage (D800+50/1.8 vs D300+35/1.8, for example).

- I did consider the D600, and decided against it for 3 reasons. One, 24MP gives me slightly less lens flexibility. Two, the ergonomics and UI of the D800 are very similar to that of the D300 I have been using – so much so I have not had to open the D800 manual till now. And three, the price difference between the two where I live is only about US$600, which I don’t believe is sufficient incentive to give up the other advantages of the D800.

Continued in the next post.

Nikon D300 Nikon D600 Nikon D800
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