D4 or D800E for birds?

Started May 7, 2014 | Discussions thread
Dr Bob
Dr Bob Senior Member • Posts: 1,319
Re: D4 or D800E for birds?

jamesg28 wrote:

I'm leaning heavily towards the D800E. As much as I would LOVE a D4s for the sheer speed of the thing there is something about D800 images that have something special about them (in the right hands of course).


I am coming at this question a little biased as I have only shot birds using a D600 and a D800E so no experience of the D4. However, I take a different view to T O Shooter and Larry above. I have only been shooting birds for a year but am up to 35,000 shots with many BIF (maybe 25%). For me, the biggest issue in shooting birds is reach. Reach, Reach and more Reach. Sure I have missed some BIF shots due to not so accurate AF and only a few times constrained by the buffer, but the biggest thing is being close enough. The 800E then has to be the optimum as you can crop so much. I started with the D600 and bought the 800E to get that extra reach (ie the extra croppability). It was worth it. The extra ability to crop helps me get those shots that were too far away with the 600. The fastest buffer in the world or the best AF will not help if the bird is just that bit too far away.

I am not that over enamoured with the AF on the 800E however. I think the AF on the D600 is better. When the AF locks, it is super sharp but it's what it locks onto is the problem. Most of this is down to my ability to point it in the right place (viz handholding a 500mm F4), but it seems like the 'focus rectangle' is bigger in the 800E so there is more choice for the AF to lock onto the wrong thing. Focussing on a small brown bird buried in a tree is more of a challenge on the 800E than the D600. I am sure the D4 would be better - but the extra reach of the 800E is so much more important to me.

There is a link below to some bif. I guess my bif sharp shots success rate are circa 80% with 800E so the buffer and AF can't be that bad.

I am avoiding the 7100 for although it gives extra reach, my testing with a 7100 showed that the D600 could give equivalent shots by cropping when isos are up at 800+, which is pretty typical of winter shooting in the UK (low light).

 Dr Bob's gear list:Dr Bob's gear list
Nikon D800E Nikon D600 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm F4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G +1 more
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