D800 Review

D800 Diary - 2 Months

I have now used my D800 for 2 months.  Well actually that isn't quite correct.  I have owned my D800 for 2 months, 1 week of which Nikon had it.  It all started after I had shot some portraits of my kids and noticed that when using the edge focus points they weren't  as pin sharp as the central point.  I had read about this online and didn"t think my camera had the same problem.  After some ad-hoch tests (see below) I emailed Nikon NPS in the UK and they asked me to send it in. My focus tests were performed on a Sigma F1.4 50mm lens (This exhibited the strongest focus problem)

Left edge - Was around 10cm out Right edge - Was around 6cm out

Nikon NPS UK were brilliant and 1 week later I got it back and the problem has been improved but not solved but does seem to be exaggerated on the Sigma 50mm F1.4 lens.

I have decided to work around the problem until Nikon has admitted the issue and rolled out a permanent fix.  It doesn't impact on most of my photography and actually can be avoided most of the time.  The only instance that I find it problematic is if I am shooting fast moving action that I want to be in the LHS of the frame.  I will have to make sure that all my footballers are running from right to left!

The Great Ridge
The Great Ridge

The Great Ridge, Mam Tor - Nikon D800 and a Nikon 16-35mm F4 and Lee 0.9ND

This wasn"t the only problem I has with my D800.  I had one of the explosive batteries and my camera locks up!  That is what happens if you get one of the first D800 cameras I suppose and Nikon have acted extremely well in helping me solve these issues.

On a more positive note I have taken some stunning landscape shots on the D800 over the last month and the results don"t fail to amaze me.  For me it is 3 areas of the D800 that really stand out as a landscape photographer

The resolution - The images printed big are simply breathtaking.  The resolution also allows you a lot of room for creating images from images.

The dynamic range - Something that isn"t spoken about too much is the dynamic range the D800 has.  The level of detail is amazing - especially out of the shadows.

The usability - I am going to write my next blog on 10 things you must do with your D800.  The tools that are available are great and the ergonomics of the design really helps access them quickly.  The view finder is bright and the live view with horizon is an invaluable tool.  It really does all add to an all round package.

Evening at Mam Tor
Evening at Mam Tor

Evening light at Mam Tor - Nikon D800 and Nikkor 16-35mm F4 VR.  F/16 1/20s ISO 200 16mm

One of the big decisions I had to make was around a ultra-wide angle lens.  It came down to 3 choices

Options for a sub 20mm ultra-wide lens for D800 FX format camera

Obviously the Nikon 12-24 is an amazing class leading lens.  But you can't fit a Lee filter system to it without a seriously expensive add-on from Lee.  The Tokina really appealed to me as I loved the 11-16mm DX Tokina I used on my D200.  Again though you can"t fit filters on the front.  I really don"t understand why these 2 lenses haven"t been designed with this in mind.  They will be used by landscape photographers and they always use ND Grads.

View more of my images taken with the D800 and Nikon 16-35mm F4 VR lens on Flickr >>

So I went for a Nikon 16-35mm Lens and love it.  The 2 images above are taken with this lens and the prints of these look stunning.  I really can"t see why you need to pay more and go for the Nikon 12-24mm.  Obviously you get 4mm more at the wide end which is a lot and if you think you need that then go for it.  For me, 16mm is wide enough and any wider would result in difficult to correct distortion.

Rapeseed
Rapeseed

Rapeseed at Tidnock - Nikon D800 and Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8.  F/8 1/640s ISO 200 24mm

D800 Diary - Week 2

I have had the D800 for 2 weeks now and it is a week since my last post.  I have managed to do some landscape photography - but not managed to get the light necessary for any amazing shots.  You can click on most of the images for a high res photo in Flickr (you need to go to the size view in Flickr though)

Twisted Tree
Twisted Tree

Twisted Tree - Nikkor 24-70 @ 24mm - ISO 125 F/8 1/500s (Handheld)

I still love the D800 - after 1 week here are some of the things I have found.

It is ok to handhold and shoot.  The twisted tree is handheld (albeit 1/500s @ 24mm).  The are a lot of people saying you get blurred shots and it is unforgiving.  Basically - it is the same as any other camera - but you may not get the absolute best resolution and may struggle if you print to A2 and look at the photo from 6" away!  You do need to be careful though when shooting at around 1/60s and slower on a tripod and always used mirror lock up and a remote shutter release.  The mirror does create a lot of vibration that does lead to a lose of high resolution detail.

The battery life is really really good.  I used the camera for 3 days and shot over 1000 images and about 10 movies continuously using the screen and still had 15% left.

So far I haven"t got any dirt on the sensor (a massive problem with the onlinecasinocanada1 D200).  I have been counting the number of times I have changed lenses - it now stands at 159 (sad I know!).

The auto image rotation doesn"t seem to work correctly - I have noticed when taking in portrait mode on a tripod it is fine when first comes up on view finder - then shows in landscape rather than portrait.

Editing the photos isn"t too bad - I have used a ipad (see my blog from a few weeks ago on the iPad apps I use >>) and Aperture and not had any issues at all.  Yes, it takes a while to transfer them to the iPad and they take a lot of room - but I have mostly shot RAW and never had a problem.  For reference , I have an iPad 3.

Morning light on Derwent
Morning light on Derwent

Morning light in Borrowdale - Nikkor 24-70mm f/8 1/20s ISO 50 (Heavy crop from original - edited on iPad)

I don"t care what anybody says - having the resolution (as long as you have good lenses) means you can crop more and compose different shots.  The shot below is a heavy crop of an original I took.  The sky wasn"t great and the image that was interesting was this crop.  You could still print this at a push at A3.

Buttermere Trees
Buttermere Trees

Buttermere Trees - Nikkor 24-70mm

View_to_keswick_585
View_to_keswick_585

View towards Keswick - Nikkor 24-70 @ 50mm ISO 50 1/15s F/8

Finally - here is a fun shot I spotted whilst walking up Catbells - again handheld.  The full resolution shot is crisp and you can actually see a lot of detail in the people.  View more shots from my Lakes trip on Flickr >>

ridge_walkers_585
ridge_walkers_585

Ridge walkers - Nikkor 24-70mm @70mm 1/800s 

D800 Diary - Day 7

Ok - this is going to be my last daily update on the D800.  I will still post updates but they are more likely to be on a weekly basis.  Over the weekend I am going to do a lot of landscape photography - in the Lake District which is close by in the NW of England. I wanted to thank everyone for the kind emails and comments on my blog.  It has actually been fun writing - but I am running out of things to photograph on a daily basis!  My blog has attracted over 7,000 hits a day which is amazing - I thought if I got anybody reading it would be miracle.

Sunset TreeSunset Tree - Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm F/2.8 Lens

I thought for my final daily post I would list a few sites that have caught my eye over the last week.  All the sites below have some amazing images and information about the Nikon D800.

My Best Nikon D800 sites >>

Ming Thein First Impressions review - Some amazing street photography using the D800 - and probably some of the first real life images

Flickr Nikon D800 User Group  - Some of the latest images from D800 photographers and a great discussion group

500px D800 photos - A selection of photos with the tag D800 on the amazing 500px website

Some great street photography from Bill Mcdad - great b&w photos in this dpreview forum

The dpreview.com production samples - great site with studio photos

D800 first impressions - Richard Wright talks about his first impression of the D800 - some good photos (keep the posts coming Richard!)

Aurora reflection - One of my favourite photos so far taken with the D800

I am sure other people have spotted great sites as well - please post these as comments on my blog and I will take a look and add them to the list

I hope to post again in a few days time - in the meantime happy shooting!

 

D800 Diary - Day 6

Today I had some time in London to do a bit of street photography.  It isn"t something I have done a lot of before and I found it quite difficult to spot opportunities for creating some good images.  I started shooting around 5pm and finished around 9pm (with a stop for some food and beer!). I used 2 lenses - the Nikon 70-200mm VR I and the Sigma 50mm F/1.4 although the Sigma was on 80% of the time as I felt the longer lens was too intrusive  and obvious for capturing the images I wanted.  In fact I think all the final images I choose for this entry bar one where taken on the Sigma 50mm which is fast becoming my favourite lens.

Eye on youEye on you - ISO 2000 - Sigma 50mm @ F/1.4 1/200s (Heavy crop of the original - see below - click to see larger image in Flickr)

The original image for image - eye on you

I am not sure about the next photo - I like the shadow but could get the crop correct - it seems as though there may too much of the actual women.

Shadow D800Shadow - ISO 500 - Sigma 50mm (I forgot to lower the ISO for this)

I waited ages to get the next image - the lighting was good and the women were heavily lit by the light from the shop window.  I took 100 photos at this location to get this image.  As with all the photos I took today this was hand held.

Opposite DirectionsOpposite Directions - ISO 1600 and Sigma 50mm lens

The next image is actually my favourite of the shots I took today - It was a quick shot that I saw and I managed to focus correctly - which did prove difficult with the tolerance that you have with F/1.4.  It wasn't the fault of the D800 - just the operator.  I do wish I had used face focus more though.

SmileSmile - ISO 2000 and Sigma 50mm at F/1.4

I have also included a few more of the images I took below.

In total I took 450 RAW images and 5 videos.  I also used the screen on the back of the camera a lot.  My battery went to its lowest yet of 53% left.  One thing that I have noticed more and more with the D800 is that it does over expose photos.  This isn"t a problem as I set -0.3EV to compensate.  I just don"t understand why Nikon would do that?  It is very good practice to expose to the RHS of the histogram though as this great article from Luminous Landscape illustrates 

3 People - Sigma 50mm and D800

Cafe - Sigma 50mm and D800

D800 Diary - Day 5

Again I have struggled to get time with my D800 today.  I did get an exciting package through the post though - A Nikon AF-S 24-70mm F2.8 lens to replace my trusty 17-55mm DX lens (which I am now selling if anybody is interested - check out eBay in the next few weeks).   I managed to get the 24-70 on eBay for around £350 cheaper than a new one and first inspection shows it to be in mint condition.  This will be put through its paces this weekend as I am doing some photography in the Lake District. A positive consequence of not having a full frame wide angle lens is that I have spend a lot more time using the Sigma 50mm F1.4 lens. For those of you who like a bit of Bokeh (the blobby out of focus highlights that you get with F1.4 lenses!!) this is such a bargain.  For £360 it is amazing how sharp the images are.

Daffodils - Sigma 50mm and D800

Daffodils - Taken with Sigma 50mm at F5

I decided tonight to see how the focusing performed in low light.  Focusing was always accurate and quick.  In fact I had to go into a room with no lights on at all (It was really dark!) and still it managed to focus quickly.  I took this image in reasonable room light (but it wasn"t bright).  Click on it to see a larger version in Flickr

ABC D800 - ISO 5000High ISO and focusing in the dark with the D800 is as easy as ABC - Sigma 50mm - F/1.4 ISO 5000

I don't think looking at the full size image is the best way to judge images like this - I think if they look perfect at around 1000 pixels wide then they are fine for the web.  Anything bigger than that and they will be printed.  I printed this image off at A3 and it was again brilliant.  I am trying to find fault with the D800 but just can't in terms of image quality.