D800 and E-M5, can you tell the difference?

Started Mar 25, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP acahaya Senior Member • Posts: 1,164
Re: Second image is D800

marike6 wrote:

My guess, due to the more shallow DOF as seen in the model's hair, is that the second image is the Nikon.  The first image a better pose, and is lit much better. The longer and darker nose shadow in the D800 image is not flattering, and the lack of catchlights in her eyes make the D800 image far less successful, IMHO.

The more shallow DOF of the D800 image is due to the fact that the light was set to shoot with ISO100, F5.6 and 1/125s with the D800. I noticed AF problems though and snapped some images with the E-M5 in between without adjusting the strobe power and had to use F8. I mentioned before that i never intended to shoot images for comparison, because in that case i might not only have powered down and used the E-M5 at F2.8 but also asked the model to keep the pose and position.

Owners of the Af-S 24-70/2.8 might have recognised the characteristic bokeh of the lens though.

The D800 renders her skin in a more flattering, natural way. The EM5 image is almost too sharp, which show a tightness of the model's skin under her eyes.

The D800 image is slightly oof (focus was on the eye) because i had to use the middle AF field and recompose and the model moved a bit. The E-M5 image is the 45/1.8 at F8.

I like both cams but have to admit that i was not at all happy with the AF performance of the D800 with all AF fields except the middle one being off. Actually none of my photographer friends with a D800 got a model where all AF fields were Ok or at least usable out of the box, furthermore out of eight D800s only one was Ok after AF calibration service. Makes me wonder ....

But what this comparison demonstrates is that in controlled lighting situations most quality cameras will produce similar (setting aside differences in DOF) results and that lighting is key to making images stand out.

I fully agree. But this whole guessing game was supposed to be fun, not a real comparison

Where a camera like the D800 / D800E (and to a lesser extent the EM5) shines is in situations when you cannot control the lighting, for example, in low-light at a wedding or when you need to lift shadows or pull highlights in post.  Here the excellent D4-level high ISO ability, and high 14 EV DR are too big advantages for a FF camera like the D800.

I rarely shoot high iso so to me this is not as important. But the D800 also shines at base ISO once you start to pp. I can live very well with E-M5 raw files but the D800 simply offers a lot more lattitude when working on shadow details and colour changes.

And aside from printing large, for sheer resolving power, it's been proven by Lensrentals (and DxOMark) that the D800 / D800E / 24-70 2.8 combo is one of, if not the highest resolving combos currently available (note that I'm not included MF cameras like the 645D or Phase One IQ180).  So clearly a studio photographer not shooting MF, would do well in choosing a D800E.

True if  he wants the best possible quality available and/or the job requires it.

But both the D800 and EM5 are fine cameras for sure.  Thanks for the comparison.

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