Nikon D800

My D800 photographic exhibition

I have had my Nikon D800 for 1 year now. This anniversary of getting my D800 falls quite nicely with my 1st photographic exhibition that features photos taken with the camera over the last year.  The exhibition will showcase images from the Peak District and surrounding area.  I have printed the photos on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Paper and some are enlarged to 65cm wide showing the true potential of the large megapixel sensor on the Nikon D800.  Most of the photos are taken with two lenses;

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Lens

and

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Lens

I would say that 70% of the images are using the 24-70mm lens (at the 24mm end).  For the wider shots the 16-35mm Nikkor is awesome.  I really struggled with the decision over that and the 14-24mm Nikkor but decided on the 16-35mm as I wanted to use my Lee filters.  I am really pleased with my decision on this and have never thought I need the extra 2mm or that any of the images are soft.

Winter Sunrise, Nr, RainowWinter Sunrise, Nr Rainow –  Nikon D800 and Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8 VR.  F/9 1/60s ISO 100 (48mm)

Landscape Photographic Exhibition in the Peak District

Details of the Nikon D800 exhibition of photos in the Peak District can be found here >>

Here are some of the stats from the last year.

    • 16,000 images taken
    • 400 GB of storage required (95% of the images were taken at full res in RAW)
    • Average of around 25Mb per image

Storm clouds over hutStorm clouds over hut, Goyt Valley Nikon D800 and Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 VR.  F/8 1/400s ISO 400 (70mm)

A couple of the tools that I have found really useful with the Nikon D800.

MB-D12 for Nikon D800 - the official Nikon grip and battery holder is really expensive.  This replacement is a 1/3 of the price and does exactly the same job.

Battery Grip Holder Pack Replace MB-D12 for Nikon D800 D800E Camera EL15

Lightroom 4.3 - I have moved from Aperture to Lightroom 4.3 and found that I now on rarely use photoshop.  80% of the images that I edited and printed for my up coming exhibition were created in Lightroom.  I would encourage anybody to use Lightroom as it is a great way of categorising your photos.

Details of the Nikon D800 exhibition of photos in the Peak District can be found here >>

Amazing views from Bosley Cloud

The Cloud or Bosley Cloud is described by Wikipedia as a prominent hill which lies on the border between Cheshire and Staffordshire a couple of miles to the west of the Peak district national park boundary.  The hill was shaped in the ice age by the passage of ice. In the past I have walked up it many times with my kids but never done much photography up there.  Getting to the top is really simple though and it can be accessed easily on the North East side from Red lane.  The images below are a couple of the shots I have taken over the last few weeks on a number of visits.

Bosley_cloud

Sunrise over "The Cloud" – Nikon D800 and Nikkor 24-70mm F22  1/60s ISO 160 (70mm)

Bosley Cloud itself is difficult to photograph and I have tried lots of different angles but not really found an image that works.  The above image was a grab online casino shot taken recently from the A34 on the way to work and shows the geographical contours of The Cloud.

After a casino online couple of visits at both sunrise and sunset I decided that the morning light created the best compositional opportunities.

Golden Light - Bosley Cloud

Golden light, Bosley Cloud – Nikon D800 and Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8  F/9 1/60s ISO 100 (48mm)

Morning rays - Bosley Cloud

Morning rays, Bosley Cloud -  Nikon D800 and Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 VR.  F/9 1/200s ISO 100 (130mm)

Another amazing morning mist in the peaks. The rays of light were stunning - it was a shame I couldn"t have spent more time up here.  Often landscape photographers forget about isolating areas of the image with a long lens.  In misty conditions like "morning rays" above this can be really effective.  In rays in this photo weren"t as obvious in the wider image and even by the naked eye but are accentuated in the tight crop 130mm focal length gives.

These and many other images of the peak district and surrounding areas can be seen at my exhibition next year at Bollington Arts Centre entitled Peak Discovery.

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.

D800 Diary - Day 4

I didn't get much chance to shoot with my D800 today as I was sat in the office for most of the day.  Here are a couple of the images I did get on my brief trip to Dunham Massey after work.

Squirrel ISO 800 - 585Squirrel - ISO 800 - Nikon D800 - 1/1250s F/3.5

Time to walk up - D800Time to walk up - ISO 500 - Nikon D800 - 1/800s F/7.1

I have taken a lot of handheld shots with the D800 and not had too much problem.  However I have been stick to around 1/1.5 x focal length as a rule.

I wanted to do another test comparing the high ISO performance of the D800 with the D200 as I have been asked by a lot of D200 users how they compare in real life.  So I took a few photos of a bottle of Bud - is that real life enough :)

Both the shots below are taken using a Sigma 50mm F/1.4 lens (this lens is really great for only £360!) at F/5 on a tripod.  Obviously the D200 was a bit further away to take into account the 1.5x DX factor. The D200 crop is at full pixel resolution (big enough to print at A3).  I downsized the D800 to the exact size of the D200.  Decide for yourself the improvement below.  I have also included a D800 at full resolution at the bottom.

D200 ISO1600D200 full crop @ ISO 1600

bud d800 ISO1600D800 downsized to D200 @ ISO 1600

D800 ISO 1600 - full cropD800 full crop @ ISO 1600

D800 Diary - Day 3

I didn't manage to do as much with my D800 today as I was out in the garden enjoying playing football with my kids and generally loving the Spring sunshine.  Us Brits love to talk about the weather and at the moment we are having a great spell of blue sky and warm weather for March.  Being a landscape photographer though, I don"t want blue sky as it doesn't really lend itself to dramatic light and I still haven"t managed to get any landscapes that are worthy of uploading.  What I did do was a few studio photos with my very (un) willing kids.  Why anybody goes into portrait photography I will never know! The results are simply amazing- the detail in the image and the tonal range is breathtaking.  The series of images below give some idea of this.  What I was struck with was the colour in the images and the sharpness of the RAW images.

Emily b&w with D800 at ISO 50Emily - ISO 50 - Nikon 70 - 200mm (crop of main image below)

Emily crop - d800

Emily 100% image on D800 at ISO 50

The colour image of Emily below is a large crop of the original image - again showing the crop potential of the D800.  I know I have gone on about it - but it is so useful to be able to do this.

Emily colour D800 at ISO 50Emily - ISO 50 - Nikon 70-200mm Lens (sorry about the 2 catchlights for the portrait pros out there!)

After using the D800 for 3 days now here are the main highlights and a few lowlights.

  • The resolution is amazing - it is so useful to have this resolution
  • Editing the images in Aperture isn"t a problem - I have not experienced any speed issues as people were worried about. I am using 2.8Ghz iMac with 12GB of RAM.
  • The focusing is quick and accurate.  The focusing modes available in the D800 are really useful.  The image of Thomas below was taken with face priority AD on - it worked very well and of the 20 images I took only 2 were not spot on.
  • The ergonomics are good - the front AF and Fn (Function) buttons really work well and allow you to quickly change settings when you need to
  • The movie mode produces amazing 1080 HD movies and the focusing is very quick.  However it is difficult to produce a movie with moving subjects - I have tried to take movies of people running and it was difficult to keep them in focus.
  • Having 2 memory cards has proved useful for a number of reasons.  I have set all movies to record to the SD card and used the CF card for photos.  The other main reason having 2 cards slots is great though is that I aways forget to put a card back in the camera - this way there is less chance of doing that!  In terms of the cards and write speeds - I have a SanDisk 32GB SDHC Extreme Pro 95MB/S card (from Amazon) and a SanDisk CF 16GB Extreme Pro 90 MB/s card (from Amazon).  I have seen no difference in performance between the SD and CF cards - so if you are only going to buy one go for the cheaper SD card.
  • The DX crop mode is useful if you want to have a faster frame rate or want to save space.  I haven"t really used it after the 1st day though and don"t think I will use it much going forward.
  • My DX lenses are useless in FX mode (as expected)  See below for the performance of the 17-55mm Lens in FX mode.
  • The battery life is good - I think I will be averaging around 1200 images per charge with lots of viewing of the screen.
  • The time lapse function will be useful and the fact it makes a movie is great.
  • The exposure is good - however I have been under exposing my shots by -0.3EV as it has tended to burn out some highlights.  I prefer that it exposes to the right though and for most of my work I will manually expose photos.  The image below shows how good it is with people - here it didn"t under expose Thomas"s face.
  • The rear screen is exceptional
  • The viewfinder is exceptional

Here is an image I took whilst messing with the AF focus modes on the D800 - this was with face priority AF - it worked amazingly well - even at a strange angle like this.

Thomas - D800 - ISO 1600Thomas - ISO 1600 - Sigma 50mm @ f/1.4