Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nikon D800, the Game Changer

D800 f9 iso100  24-70 f2.8 @ 24mm

4/30/12   after about a month and  thousands of  shots with the new D800, my gut feelings is that,  any  experienced DSLR shooter that puts this D800 to the test and says they don’t like it , is probably lying. :) 

Will I  buy "another"  D800 for my second body? … YES, probably the D800e (or D600 if 8fps with grip in DX, 6fps in FF 24mp) 
Is it perfect?   No.  Is it issue free? probably not.    Is it a Keeper?  Hell YES !

All the great things about  the D800 and D800e  has probably all been said.  And I agree, with some of my fav reveiw  links below.  

This is just a few things, I  think could be improved.

The Custom Memory Banks ,  I am really surprised that few Nikon shooters complain about this.  So, it was surprising when I read the Luminous Landscapes  Review  (two of them)  that mention this.  There is so many great new features in the D800 (Auto ISO improvement being one of them) , but “Custom Memory Banks” is NOT one of them.   How old is this feature?

The Grip seem strangely smaller vs the D700.  That was the first thing I noticed on a long shoot.

The fps is not the same as the “all around”  D700  at 8fps FF.   I really did not think I would miss the 8fps.  Because I  only fire off 3 frames in a row at most.   But, the difference from 8fps to 4fps  is  more than I thought.   Even on a sand trap shot ,  that second shot of the ball coming out of the sand is sometimes too far away (and maybe not even” in” the frame).   But, the detail is amazing.

Sometimes  on a news event you are basically in a Dog Fight. And what happens is not in your control.  And worse, it might not be about getting something different, or creative (there is like 12 of you “PROs”  shooting in the same location), it’s about  not being the “only” one that did NOT get “the moment”.   That’s like a  reoccurring  Nightmare!     And when all those shutters are going off… and then,  it gets quiet … You BETTER have the shot ! LOL.      (refuse to bring a scalpel to a Gun Fight, no matter how great (sharp) it is … so , far  I still am using my D700 with grip at 8fps)   … when Nikon  ships a  D800 at 8fps with Grip ,  that would be a wow, and a must buy.   My guess, 3 years from now. :)
D700 shot at 8fps in a burst of 3 frames
6/8/12 update on working with the D800:  Yes, you will need a Fast computer with a lot of memory and SSD Hard drives and a large fast 3TB image drive at least.  I use a Seagate Barracuda XT 3TB SATA 6Gbps, 4ms, 7,200rpm, 64mb cache buffer , 5 years warrentee. and a 256gb SSD M4.   (also have a M4 Adrenaline SSD cache drive, for my laptop) ... will eventually get a SSD cache drive for my 3TB spinning drive too, when they make a reliable one.
fyi: if you want better performance in Lightroom v4 , there is no substitute for a  Very Fast i7.  Yes, ram and SSD are important , but processor speed is your best friend across all things you do.
And I do notice that the D800 is making me handhold more careful than before.  The high res will expose weakness. :)    Lens and Technique.
But, when you get it right it is a thing of beauty packed with detail !   (and I feel I can even lower my sharpening settings vs any camera I had before)

My favorite  Reviews or Blogs on the D800
3/16/13 Update:  DxO Reviews Which LENS for the D800  four parts

Nikon D800  DxOMark    Best Sensor Analyzed on DxOMark  (as of April 2012)

D800 vs 5D mkIII  DxOMark
What I like about the Rob Galbraith review is the Rollover and specific  100% crops

Luminous Landscape D800 review  by Michael Reichmann

Luminous Landscape D800e review

Luminous Landscape D800e  by Mark Dubovoy

Fred Miranda  D800 vs 5d MkIII  ...  with DR test

Nikon D800 wins Camera Grand Prix 2012 award and public 'best camera' vote

DPR D800 review

LensRentals , What Lens to use on the D800   ..  
Zeiss 25mm f2 (f4, f5.6), Zeiss 21mm f2.8 (f2.8,f4), zeiss 50mm f2 and the f1.4 (f5.6) , Nikon 24mm f1.4 (f4, f5.6, f8) ... Zooms 14-24 f2.8 (f5.6), 16-35 f4 VR (f5.6), 24-70 f2.8 (f8) , and my fav 70-200mm f2.8 VRII (f4 , with corner sharpness as a strength)
Many more on the below LINK:


Digital Rev  Utube  on D800

The Camera Store TV  D800 vs  5D mkIII   part 1

The Camera Store TV part 2   (action)

Funny  CrisisLab  D800 vs 5d mkIII shootout

CrisisLab part II review

D800 vs 5D mkIII  video

I AM D800

D800  Issues blog

7/27/12  My D800 does not have the Left AF issue, but there has been some blogging working PROs that have seen this issue in there own D800.
"Seems"  like the Nikon Fix is in on new shipments.
Lot of info about the issue here: http://www.bythom.com/D800autofocus.htm
6/27/12 update   am now certain I have a  D800 CLS triggering issue to the sb900's.
It is unreliable.  As shown in this Video: http://lumenatic.com/2012/03/25/d800-and-wireless-flash-photography-problems/
When I need to do a quick and dirty product shoot,  I almost always use the D800/D700 internal flash to trigger sb900's.  So, when I do a 12 to 24 shot shoot in studio I may only see it not trigger once.
But, it seems the worst issues is when you are on location , on a paid shoot. :)
It happen to me when I used the D800 to trigger strobes and sb900's on at AD shoot FW1.00
Then it happened to me again just this weekend on a paid job in a Hotel triggering 4 sb900 and a few manual flashes with my RadioPopper Radio trigger PX  , which uses the D800 internal flash for CLS.  This was with FW1.02 installed on B.
The Big issue on this shoot was it started NOT triggering the flashes two times in a row.  And did it on 2 times within a  few minuites  at the beginning of the shoot.    I had to use one of my sb900 on the Hot Shoe of the D800 to trigger CLS reliably.
* I need to mention, on the D700 this NEVER happened, Ever!
So,  as of    6/27/12    with FW 1.02 on B ...   I still Hang when I review with Blinkys. AND the CLS trigger with the internal flash is unreliable.  What is really irritating is that it is not consistant.  Sometimes it works , and then all of a sudden it does not.  Usually on a paid job. :)

Would also add that I had a issue with my new Sandisk Extreme PRO 64gb 95mb/s SD cardand  Sandisk Extreme PRO 90mb/s on the CF back up slot.  Had Hangs on aprox. 100 to 200 shots. And had to Re-start by taking out the Battery.   
5/4/2012  Update:  Looks like Nikon is working on a FIX.  For the Hang issue.  NOTE: Turning OFF the Highlights , and RGB review is a temporary FIX.
6/8/12  Nikon FW update 1.01 B is in  ...  and it helps.  But, it does not completly kill the issue.  I still got a hang on review (after the update). using Sandisk Extreme PRO 90mps and 95mps  64gb  CF and SD cards.  CF as the main, SD as the backup.  Highlight blinky review.
7/26/12  This issue is NOT fixed.

* Important to mention this issue with the AF points , particularly the Left AF  ... Center seems fine. This does not seem like it effects everyone,  but it does seem to be a problem that a few PROs have noticed in there D800.
I normally use the Center , and Right AF points (portrait)  ... in normal work use, I have not noticed any problems with my D800. But, note I rarely use the Left AF points. (do notice that my "next click" Up and Down AF points are better vs the Left and Right AF points in studio type low light) 
A Very Good video on the D800 left AF  point issue:

* Another way to check (the way I did it) is to  mount D800 on tripod, shoot wide open with a sharp lens. My choice is f2.8 24-70 (my most used lens, but not my fav) @ f2.8.  Get a target right under the Left AF point you are testing.  Then flip to Live View and using Live View AF on that same target, take the shot.  This shot will always be dead on (because it is using the sensor to AF).  Now flip to the Optical VF and use that left AF point to AFS on the same target (remember to always use the focus ring to bring "out" the focus before each test).   Now, if that AF point is off  ... when you take the shot it will be soft vs your Live View shot being tack sharp.  (note: the differance is Live View AF vs AFS)  because if you are using a lens that the edges are not sharp to begin with (the spot under the AF point tested)  you can only get as sharp as what your lens can do.  And Live View AF can give you that baseline.
imho,  if your Live View AF is pretty sharp on your left AF point.  And using  AFS on that same AF point gives you the same results,  That's good enough.    On a D800 at 100% on a 36mp file, you know when you missed a AF.  And when you Hit It with a  sharp fast lens stopped down to say  f4 or f8 , that is also obvious.

Green LCD issue: http://www.learningdslrvideo.com/nikon-d800-greenish-lcd-tint/
This link is not specifically about the D800  ... but it is an important fact to know when using the D800 at 36mp ... it's not all about printing big.  Clarity and Noise is improved with downsizing.

Hope this helps someone,
Ross D. Hamamura
The Tourist of Light