My thoughts about the d800 a few months on

Started Oct 29, 2012 | Discussions thread
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u007 Senior Member • Posts: 1,681
My thoughts about the d800 a few months on

I just put my 10,000th click on my d800 and thought I should briefly reflect about what I've learned.

The Good:

raw image quality. Detail and dynamic range of raw files is amazing

high ISO. Certainly a two stop improvement on my Sony a850. I don't hesitate to shoot ISO6400 with the d800.

autofocus. Accuracy and tracking still impress me. No left AF problems for me and everything has been as consistent as I could reasonable expect. No AF system will ever be perfect at f1.4 every single time. The d800 is certainly good enough.

durability. I've been in heavy rain and snow a few times now and I feel confident enough to keep shooting.

video. I didn't care about video until getting my d800. But I started experimenting with shooting and editing simple videos and it's been a great learning and creative experience. It's a whole different process to still photography and thoroughly worth learning imo.

The Bad:

colours. damn green/yellow cast to a lot of shots that needs tweaking in lightroom to get rid of it. Compared to my Fuji X100 and Sony a580/850, the d800 is certainly the worst colours straight out of camera. My girlfriends d90 has this same "issue" so I guess it's just a Nikon thing. Setting auto white balance to A1 and M2 bias helps, but the magenta cast is sometimes noticeable and not desirable.

live view mode is too slow. The screen going off and not being able to take another photo until the card is written is incredibly annoying. Why can't it be the same speed as when using the viewfinder?

live view mode when viewing at high magnification is very poor, which we all knew already. However, I have felt this limitation a few times when using small apertures or in low light.

battery door. I know it's designed to come off easily to avoid breaking it, but it feels very flimsy. Compared to my Sony a850, the d800 door is like a toy. Very thin plastic, with a weak little catch that never feels particularly tight. With a battery in the camera, the door can still be pushed and compresses a little bit. It doesn't go with the excellent construction of the rest of the camera.

battery life. I've had as low as 100 shots from a full battery, depending on usage. Live view, video and VR all seem to eat battery. I really think the d800 could have benefit from a newer, higher capacity battery. The most shots I've ever had from one charge was about 1100 where I did mostly shooting with very little live view, video or reviewing.

No quick settings banks. I hate to agree with ken rockwell here, but this is quite annoying to not be able to recall some "normal" settings quickly. If you're shooting 10s shutter speed with the self timer, live view and f22 with a custom WB of 2800K, it will take a lot of clicking, scrolling and fiddling to get back to a "normal" setting to snap a quick picture. With the d600 it would be one click of the mode dial, then you can go back to what you were doing.

Rumor busting:

Large files haven't been a problem. I have a decent computer and I don't really notice any difference. Besides, next year computers will be even better.

Camera shake/motion blur. Hasn't really been an issue. Perhaps I was already well adapted due to using the 24.6mp Sony a850.


I'm very happy with the d800. It's a highly versatile camera with amazing image quality. It has a few quirks and annoying habits though, and you definitely need to shoot raw to get the most out of it. I would definitely buy one again, although I might consider the d800E, since warnings of aliasing and moire seem largely overstated. I would use the d800 for most things - landscapes, portraits (great for retouching and dealing with difficult light), weddings (AF, flexibility of raw files, cropping potential), travel, adventure etc. The only instances the d800 wouldn't be optimal are sports or where higher turnaround times are needed, mainly because I don't like the jpeg output.

Just my 0.02c anyway.

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My travel photography blog -

Fujifilm FinePix X100 Nikon D600 Nikon D800 Nikon D800E Nikon D90 Sony Alpha DSLR-A850 Sony SLT-A58
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