Loving the D800
Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 by Reed Hoffmann
I’ve had a D800 for about a month now, and I’ve got to say, I’m loving it. As a lifelong Nikon shooter, I expected the camera to be good. But I also figured that with such high resolution (36MP) it would be slow to shoot, not good at high ISOs, have to work on a tripod or use high shutter speeds (to avoid seeing motion blur from hand-holding the camera) and that the file sizes would kill me.
I’m happy to say I was wrong about everything but the file sizes. And I’m learning to live with those. With good technique, I’ve shot very slowly hand-held and made extremely sharp photos. And I’m often using VR (Vibration Reduction, also known as Image Stabilization), which helps a great deal.
The high ISO performance is very nice, better in my opinion than the D7000. I’m very pleased with the noise up to 2000 ISO, and could easily live with up to 4000. For one test, I shot Machu Picchu at 2000 ISO, and the lack of objectionable noise, particularly in the shadows, was impressive.
While the file sizes are BIG, the pay-off is amazingly fine detail. In portraits I can often zoom in on the eyeball and see the reflection of myself. I recently shot a wide-angle landscape shot where I thought there was spot on my computer monitor, but it turned out to be a fly. At 100% magnification, I could even see the wings.
The camera fits my hands extremely well. Nikon’s re-designed their classic pro body to be a bit rounder, and it feels good. I’m also having a lot of fun with the new features and added ways to customize the camera. The two-axis virtual horizon, visible in the viewfinder, is one of my favorites. I’ve always had a hard time shooting images that aren’t crooked, and this really helps. Particularly if I’m lying down, or in some other awkward position.
And they’ve made it possible to program different features for one-button access. I’ve got the depth-of-field preview button set to turn on that two-axis horizon, the Function button programmed to let me dial Auto ISO on and off (which can be set to change based on focal length), and the AE-L/AE-F button set to allow me to cycle through the different crop modes.
Those crop modes let me switch from 36MP FX frame to 25MP (1.2X crop) or 15MP (1.5X DX crop) and others. Why do that? Two big reasons. One, there are times where I want a tighter framing than the lens will give me. Rather than capture the shot loose, I can turn on the DX framing and get it right in camera. And that smaller frame is a smaller file size than the FX frame. If I do shoot full frame (FX), the added benefit of 36MP is that I can make serious crops and still have loads of information.
Of course, I’m not the only photographer to fall big-time for this camera. Jim Brandenburg, best known for his decades-long career with National Geographic, gave an interview on his experiences beta testing the D800. Here’s the link: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid86584601001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAAF14d-I~,3OR_xWwP7ALkx0kbYvq3Ur-F_4g9Indb&bctid=1513837339001.
So, yes, I’m sold on this camera. Now I can’t wait to try the D4!