D800 Virtual Horizon Question

Started May 1, 2013 | Discussions thread
davidstock Regular Member • Posts: 398
Re: D800 Virtual Horizon Question

The camera's virtual horizon feature is not always that accurate, and may not be suitable for very critical use without some tweaking. It has a small amount of play in it, even when it is properly calibrated. Especially when the camera is tilted sharply up or down. If calibration is really bad, which I have heard of happening, Nikon should be willing to recalibrate it. Otherwise, you may need to make a small compensating adjustment.

On the other hand, hot shoe bubble levels can also be inaccurate. And so can the finder and its grid lines. (The finder image may not be lined up perfectly with the sensor.) The real question is how the final images turn out.

I would suggest testing all the possibilities, starting with the accuracy of the finder image. If your live view preview and your final files look exactly like the finder image, then I would move on to test the virtual horizon feature against a perfect, known target. It might be easiest to photograph a hanging string with a weight, centered in the finder. Although this would obviously be be a vertical subject, it would still work for testing purposes. And it would avoid the problems involved in finding a perfectly horizontal subject and getting it perfectly squared up to the camera. Test files can be judged using grid lines or guide lines in an image editing program.

On a tripod, live view with a grid is probably more accurate than the virtual horizon indicator. Hand held, I find that the virtual horizon feature works quite well as a guide, but I expect to have to straighten some of my images slightly.

Good luck!

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