D4 or D800E for birds?

Started May 7, 2014 | Discussions
jamesg28 Junior Member • Posts: 31
D4 or D800E for birds?

Hi all

A question for the bird photographers amongst us.
If money is no object and you needed/wanted a second body for birding (primarily), would the D4 ot D800 be your choice? And why?
I have and continue to heavily weigh up the obvious pros and cons of each.y conclusion is that both are awesome in their own way, and both require compromises in some areas.

As background: I currently shoot D7100 and 500vr. I love this body for its pixels on subject.
But I've always wanted a FX body to use side by side. The D800 appeals with its resolution. less of a compromise compared to dropping back to 16mp on fx with a D4. But the speed of the D4 is obviously highly appealing. Approx 50-70% of my shooting is BIF.

The D4 fps and buffer would be sensational (especially as the d7100 is also limited there).
The D800(e) resolution etc is also very appealing on the other hand. IQ is very important for me.

Is the D4 worth an extra $3000?

What would you do? All opinions gratefully received

maljo@inreach.com Veteran Member • Posts: 7,581
For BIF get the D4S

For its AF and buffer.

Personally I use a D800 and D800E for birding, but mostly not in flight.

maljo

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T O Shooter Veteran Member • Posts: 8,654
Re: D4 or D800E for birds?

D4s. I have D4, 800e, 700 and just got a 7100. My opinion most consistent focus is 7100. But you need buffer and fps and only d4 and 4s has that. If specs of 800s are true than that will likely replace all my bodies for BIF
--
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larrywilson
larrywilson Veteran Member • Posts: 6,365
Re: D4 or D800E for birds?

I agree 100% with T O Shooter.  I have owned the d4, d7100 and now the d800e.  I actually sold the d4 and purchased a used d800e.  Here's the scoop based on my experience with the three cameras.

The d4 has the fastest frame speed and buffer, but if a person has to crop much the 16 mp sensor doesn't do very well.  I think the camera is excellent for sports and is a good reportage camera used by many professionals.

I bought a d7100 to go along with the d4 and with the 24 mp dx sensor I could crop really well.  The auto focus was excellent, as good as the d4.  The disadvantage was that the tiny buffer was not very good for bif and the camera had a lot more noise than the d4 shooting at an iso of 1600 and over reducing the image quality.

I sold the d7100 and purchased a used d800e in excellent condition with only 13,000 activations.  The detail of the images is amazing and for still subjects it is also excellent.  The d800e enables me to crop quite a lot and the noise control is really good especially if down sampling the image.  Shooting bif is ok, but from what I have seen probably not as good as with the d4 or d7100.

In the end I am keeping the d800e since most of my photography is still or slow moving subjects and the camera can be used for bif but probably not as good as the d4 or d7100 in af acquisition.  The d800e is far above any slr 35mm camera in detail if the subject is in sharp focus, this is what is selling me concerning the d800e.

I sold my d4 since it was going to sit on the shelf after buying the d800e!!!!  I used the extra money for purchasing a Zeiss 100mm f2.0 used lens in e+ shape, then banking the rest to be used for an updated d800e when it comes out and if they improve the auto focus.

Larry

I see you, you thought I was asleep!!!!

Hey George, move over

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glo Senior Member • Posts: 1,752
Re: For BIF get the D4S

Holy crap, look at the detail on that bird. Nice. You've got to love that body.

glo

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JohnDE Junior Member • Posts: 37
Re: D4 or D800E for birds?

jamesg28 wrote:

Hi all

A question for the bird photographers amongst us.
If money is no object and you needed/wanted a second body for birding (primarily), would the D4 ot D800 be your choice? And why?
I have and continue to heavily weigh up the obvious pros and cons of each.y conclusion is that both are awesome in their own way, and both require compromises in some areas.

As background: I currently shoot D7100 and 500vr. I love this body for its pixels on subject.
But I've always wanted a FX body to use side by side. The D800 appeals with its resolution. less of a compromise compared to dropping back to 16mp on fx with a D4. But the speed of the D4 is obviously highly appealing. Approx 50-70% of my shooting is BIF.

The D4 fps and buffer would be sensational (especially as the d7100 is also limited there).
The D800(e) resolution etc is also very appealing on the other hand. IQ is very important for me.

Is the D4 worth an extra $3000?

What would you do? All opinions gratefully received

I have both a D800 and a D3s. For BIF, I want a shutter speed of at least 1/1000 and prefer 1/1250 sec. Most of my bird photographs are done with a Nikon 500mm f/4, often with a TC-1.4. With the need for a high shutter speed and high frame rate (often at a high ISO in prime morning/afternoon light), the D3s gives me many more "keepers."

I don't know if you will find the D4 a huge improvement over your D7100...

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OP jamesg28 Junior Member • Posts: 31
Re: D4 or D800E for birds?

That's my main concern John. Whether I would find the D4 to be $5000 better than the D7100! I would love it for bif, and in very low light.
For me the only downside I see to the D800 for my needs is the frame rate. But low light ability would surely kick the butt of the 7100.....

Ferguson
Ferguson Senior Member • Posts: 1,357
Re: D4 or D800E for birds?

jamesg28 wrote:

Is the D4 worth an extra $3000?

What would you do? All opinions gratefully received

Ignore the cost, you started off saying money was no object, right?  

So get one of each!

On a more serious note, I DO have one of each, I used to do a fair amount of birding and now sports. If I'm headed to any kind of sports, the D800 is my backup camera, the D4 by no question is the primary.  Same with very low light work (e.g. concerts).

If I'm going on vacation and want to take general photos, landscape, architecture, people - the D800 is my camera.  Also no question (and I've gone on two since having both, took both along, and the D4 didn't take one shot on either trip). The D800 just plain takes better photos - better dynamic range, more detail.  And don't minimize the popup flash for being handy in unexpected situations (ok, not for birding).

If I were heading out to the swamp for birding I'd also take the D800, for all the same reasons.  If I were going after very challanging birds in flight, say swallows, or trying to catch fishing raptors just at the right moment, yeah, I might take the D4 for the frame rate. I remain unconvinced the focus is all that much better on the D4, but maybe also for a bit of focus speed. And I can't think of when I've shot birds at the kind of high ISO where the D4 is better than the D800 (say above 3200 -- at low ISO the D800 is better).

But really that's it -- larger birds in flight, like Spoonbills, absolutely the D800.  The feature detail you get, and ability to raise shadows under the wings, is just better.

So if I had to pick one - D800.

PS. I have not tried a D4s, but I already know it doesn't have the resolution.

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OP jamesg28 Junior Member • Posts: 31
Re: D4 or D800E for birds?

Thank you Ferguson and thank you everyone else for the wonderful comments!

Well I am not rich so money is SOME object
I can only get one and if I think I will be happy with the D800 I will happily pocket the 3k difference...... I may curse at the slow fps when I'm missing some flight shots... but I already do that now with the buffer on the D7100... but sounds like the D800 could make up for it in other areas.

larrywilson
larrywilson Veteran Member • Posts: 6,365
Re: D4 or D800E for birds?

If you want to photograph in low light at iso's of 1600 or more then the d7100 is not the camera and the buffer sucks.

If you buy the Nikon camera grip for the d800 you can use aa batteries or the same battery as the d4.  With this setup you can get 6 frames a second.

If you haven't read my first comments in this thread, please do because I have owned the d4, d7100 and now the d800e.  If your going to buy the d800, then get the d800e.  With the d800e you will not have to post sharpen as much as the d800 and sometimes not at all.  With less sharpening and down sampling the noise is very low.

Larry

 larrywilson's gear list:larrywilson's gear list
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Ferguson
Ferguson Senior Member • Posts: 1,357
Re: D4 or D800E for birds?

jamesg28 wrote:

Thank you Ferguson and thank you everyone else for the wonderful comments!

Well I am not rich so money is SOME object
I can only get one and if I think I will be happy with the D800 I will happily pocket the 3k difference......

Not at all.  Buying the D800 (or D4) after the D7x00 will mean you will get more, faster, sharper glass. Yes, you have the 500, but unless you are already a glass addict, you'll find a "need" for more.  The 14-24 for example is stellar with the D800 -- it holds up nicely to the resolution for really WIDE landscapes.

Don't let that money get into the pocket and get dusty.

And yes, as mentioned, get the "E".  I didn't, I wish I had.

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Comments welcomed on photos: http://www.captivephotons.com

A Owens Veteran Member • Posts: 3,316
Re: D4 or D800E for birds?

jamesg28 wrote:

Hi all

A question for the bird photographers amongst us.
If money is no object and you needed/wanted a second body for birding (primarily), would the D4 ot D800 be your choice? And why?
I have and continue to heavily weigh up the obvious pros and cons of each.y conclusion is that both are awesome in their own way, and both require compromises in some areas.

As background: I currently shoot D7100 and 500vr. I love this body for its pixels on subject.
But I've always wanted a FX body to use side by side. The D800 appeals with its resolution. less of a compromise compared to dropping back to 16mp on fx with a D4. But the speed of the D4 is obviously highly appealing. Approx 50-70% of my shooting is BIF.

The D4 fps and buffer would be sensational (especially as the d7100 is also limited there).
The D800(e) resolution etc is also very appealing on the other hand. IQ is very important for me.

Is the D4 worth an extra $3000?

What would you do? All opinions gratefully received

I do quite a lot of small bird photography and do not feel that the pixel density of the D4 is enough to get sufficient pixels over the subject. Different story for larger mammals (humanoid included).

I use an 800e with a 600mm/F4 and 70-200/F4 and find this to be a very good (though heavy) combo. The pixel density of the 800e seems to be in the sweet spot for decent high ISO and I find the AF to be superb. See the crop of the gannet below and then see the further crop of the eye/beak area for AF accuracy. The North Island Robin in the next photo was shot at ISO 6400 and the wee Bellbird, Tui and Dotterel are various crops at mid ISO's.

I am considering picking up a D7100 as a second body and the only thing that is stopping me is the high ISO performance. But they are great value as a good light camera and I have seen some very good IQ from them at lower ISO's. I hope the 800s comes out soon as ideally I would rather pick up another 800e used. Good luck with your decision!

OP jamesg28 Junior Member • Posts: 31
Re: D4 or D800E for birds?

larrywilson wrote:


If you haven't read my first comments in this thread, please do because I have owned the d4, d7100 and now the d800e. If your going to buy the d800, then get the d800e. With the d800e you will not have to post sharpen as much as the d800 and sometimes not at all. With less sharpening and down sampling the noise is very low.

Larry

I did read your post and appreciate it Larry. Also appreciate all the excellent sample images people have posted!

If I was going for an 800 it would be an 800e, no question. My time with the D7100 has convinced me that there is no reason to have the aa filter there. I do very little sharpening with the D7100 as is!

OP jamesg28 Junior Member • Posts: 31
Re: D4 or D800E for birds?

Alistair, I imagine the 7100 would be a noticeable step backwards for you in regards to high ISO performance. I guess you simply would not use it in the lowest light situations. But it holds its own very well at ISO 1600, no problem (just expose well). I have taken some shots at ISO 3200 and they are usable at web size at least, but depends on the subject, exposure and so on. Feather detail obviously takes a big hit. I'm just saying in desperate situations I will up the ISO on the 7100 but would simply love to have an FX body to do the heavy lifting there in particular.

As for the D4 not having the pixel density you/we would like. Funny how so many got by with a D3 for years... Yet here we are wanting more now than 16mp on an FX. Spoiled for choice I say. I think once you have had 24mp on a DX it's quite difficult to settle for much less.

OP jamesg28 Junior Member • Posts: 31
Re: D4 or D800E for birds?

Ferguson wrote:

jamesg28 wrote:

Thank you Ferguson and thank you everyone else for the wonderful comments!

Well I am not rich so money is SOME object
I can only get one and if I think I will be happy with the D800 I will happily pocket the 3k difference......

Not at all. Buying the D800 (or D4) after the D7x00 will mean you will get more, faster, sharper glass. Yes, you have the 500, but unless you are already a glass addict, you'll find a "need" for more. The 14-24 for example is stellar with the D800 -- it holds up nicely to the resolution for really WIDE landscapes.

Don't let that money get into the pocket and get dusty.

And yes, as mentioned, get the "E". I didn't, I wish I had.

Landscapes make up approximately 2% of my shooting. But perhaps that would change if I had a killer combo like the D800e and 14-24. Then I would need something in the mid range, perhaps a 70-200.... then a smaller tele for when I don't feel like lugging the 500 around. Maybe a 300/4 VR if it ever sees light of day. Or I could just get the D4 and forget the rest.

T O Shooter Veteran Member • Posts: 8,654
800 is not what you need

jamesg28 wrote:

Or I could just get the D4 and forget the rest.

Add an "s" after 4 and you are all the way there. 2% landscape - you don't need 800

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OP jamesg28 Junior Member • Posts: 31
Re: 800 is not what you need

T O Shooter wrote:

jamesg28 wrote:

Or I could just get the D4 and forget the rest.

Add an "s" after 4 and you are all the way there. 2% landscape - you don't need 800

Good point

But I might be using teleconverters more than I'd like to with a D4s. I mean purely from that perspective and ignoring all other clear benefits of the D4/s, 16mp on FX compared to 24mp on the D7100 is going to be something i will notice (and potentially be frustrated with)? That is really my only dilemma here!

T O Shooter Veteran Member • Posts: 8,654
Re: 800 is not what you need

jamesg28 wrote:

T O Shooter wrote:

jamesg28 wrote:

Or I could just get the D4 and forget the rest.

Add an "s" after 4 and you are all the way there. 2% landscape - you don't need 800

Good point

But I might be using teleconverters more than I'd like to with a D4s. I mean purely from that perspective and ignoring all other clear benefits of the D4/s, 16mp on FX compared to 24mp on the D7100 is going to be something i will notice (and potentially be frustrated with)? That is really my only dilemma here!

Well I have D4, 800e, 700 and 7100. Af wise best to worse. D4 D7100 D700 D800e.  And if you're shooting birds that's important.  And in my limited use of the 7100 I would give the nod to the D4 for image quality.  More than just the number of pixels at play here.  But I thought you were comparing 800 to D4?  Why is your D7100 back in the mix?  Yoo can't get around poor buffer with BIF. And D800/e maxes out pretty quickly too

Just sayin' and it's obviously your choice, but for BIF and money not being a problem, the D4S is the one with D4 next.

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OP jamesg28 Junior Member • Posts: 31
Re: 800 is not what you need

T O Shooter wrote:

Well I have D4, 800e, 700 and 7100. Af wise best to worse. D4 D7100 D700 D800e. And if you're shooting birds that's important. And in my limited use of the 7100 I would give the nod to the D4 for image quality. More than just the number of pixels at play here. But I thought you were comparing 800 to D4? Why is your D7100 back in the mix? Yoo can't get around poor buffer with BIF. And D800/e maxes out pretty quickly too

Just sayin' and it's obviously your choice, but for BIF and money not being a problem, the D4S is the one with D4 next.

I speak of the D7100 because it is what I'm used to. So, naturally I will compare that to whichever body I pick up next (and I'm sure I will still use the 7100 at times, well that's what i say now).

Yes, there is more to photography than pixels that's for certain. I'm just thinking from the perspective of what I have now, and not wanting to go "backwards" in any regard (laughable to think a D4 would be moving backwards though!).

Interesting you put the D800e last for AF, i have read of people saying it is excellent, some saying its better than the D4. All very close i imagine. The D7100 is certainly excellent in the AF department, but i have nothing else to compare it to.

For still birds I think the D800e would be the go, the detail I see people get is exceptional. For BIF the D4s is the obvious winner.... flipping a coin might be the ideal solution.

Donald Chin
Donald Chin Veteran Member • Posts: 5,757
Re: D4 or D800E for birds?

jamesg28 wrote:

Hi all

A question for the bird photographers amongst us.
If money is no object and you needed/wanted a second body for birding (primarily), would the D4 ot D800 be your choice? And why?
I have and continue to heavily weigh up the obvious pros and cons of each.y conclusion is that both are awesome in their own way, and both require compromises in some areas.

As background: I currently shoot D7100 and 500vr. I love this body for its pixels on subject.
But I've always wanted a FX body to use side by side. The D800 appeals with its resolution. less of a compromise compared to dropping back to 16mp on fx with a D4. But the speed of the D4 is obviously highly appealing. Approx 50-70% of my shooting is BIF.

The D4 fps and buffer would be sensational (especially as the d7100 is also limited there).
The D800(e) resolution etc is also very appealing on the other hand. IQ is very important for me.

Is the D4 worth an extra $3000?

What would you do? All opinions gratefully received

More than 90% of my wildlife pics are BIF, and most of them were shot with D3x or D800E, high frame rate and large buffer isn't my priority, I only use D4/D4s for sports.

http://www.dpreview.com/members/9004478352/forums/recent?forum=1051

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