D800 Live View Problem?

Started Feb 11, 2014 | Discussions
Jerry Gardner Regular Member • Posts: 127
D800 Live View Problem?

I'm thinking of upgrading to a D800, but I've heard that there are some issues with the Live View implementation on this camera.

I'm primarily a landscape photographer and use Live View zoomed in to 10x magnification to manually focus the lens for maximum sharpness. I often shoot right before sunrise and after sunset, so light levels are often low.

I've heard that the D800 implementation of Live View is very noisy (especially in low light) and skips every other scan line on the display and this causes artifacts and makes it difficult to critically focus.

How much a factor is this? Is this enough to make Live View useless (or close to useless) for landscape photographers shooting in low light? I'd like to hear from other landscape photographers regarding their experiences with LV on the D800.

Any chance these issues can be fixed by a firmware update? (Although since the D800 has been out for several years now, I'm assuming that Nikon would have fixed these issues by now if they were fixable with a FW update).

Nikon D800
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Horshack Veteran Member • Posts: 5,997
Re: D800 Live View Problem?
JoEick Regular Member • Posts: 175
Re: D800 Live View Problem?

I got rid of my D800 because of this very reason.

I shoot 100% landscapes on a professional level, so the D800 sensor was pretty sweet on paper. I'm also 6'4" tall and do a lot of low angle photography where it hurts too much to use the viewfinder for more than a few seconds. I also don't like laying down in mud and other crap.

Live view helps me tremendously to get shots I would otherwise pass on.

I had to get rid of the D800 because of the very high levels of noise in the LV screen even at indoor lighting levels with a 60 watt lamp, along with the funky line skipping aliasing when trying to manual focus at full zoom.

I went with a Canon 6D instead and the Live View is about as good as it gets in a DSLR. Even with a 10 stop filter on the camera, I can focus and compose using Live View. It was way more than enough to not make me mind the lesser dynamic range and resolution. I exposure bracket and stitch all the time, so those things really don't make as much of a difference as I would have thought. The 6D has 2 shot bracketing, which is great for instances when 3 shot bracketing is overkill and wastes memory and time. Factor in that I can also stream live view to my iPhone, and the 6D has quite an advantage when the viewfinder and screen are impossible/difficult to see.

I wonder if the Sony A7R 36MP sensor has solved the Live View issues?

rgolub Senior Member • Posts: 2,061
Re: D800 Live View Problem?

The d800 Live View implementation is probably the biggest failing of the camera.  In low light, it is so noisy as to be of little utility when focusing.

Using a larger screen such as a CamRanger / iPad helps considerably.   This also allows you to perform a focus bracket using very fine lens movements.  The viewfinder is also perfectly cromulent.

I'll bet the D800s fixes that issue - it's a big sticking point for an otherwise incredible camera.

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OP Jerry Gardner Regular Member • Posts: 127
Re: D800 Live View Problem?

rgolub wrote:

I'll bet the D800s fixes that issue - it's a big sticking point for an otherwise incredible camera.

Is the D800s anything other than a rumor at this point? I haven't heard anything about it.

I had a chance to handle a D800 today at a local camera store and I must say that the LV issues don't appear to be as bad as I originally thought. Sure, the noise is there, but didn't seem as bad as some of the YouTube videos I've seen. The store was fairly low-light, but even under those conditions I was able to focus manually using LV.

I also tried the 5Dmk3 and yes, its LV is better than the D800's, but overall I liked the feel and handling of the D800 better.

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