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 1

I have had a D200 for 6 years now and it has been an amazing camera. I have been tempted by the D700 for the last couple of years but always wanted to wait for the next generation camera (this wait went on a little longer than I expected!).

When the D800 was announced I decided to take the plunge and over the next few weeks I am going to write a blog about my experiences with the D800. This is day 1.

Blue Tit - D800 - Sigma 100-300mm F4 LensBlue Tit - ISO 1600 - Sigma 100-300 @ 300mm in DX (effectively 450mm) f/5.6 1/1600s (RAW - processed in Aperture). 

The main type of photography that I do is

  • Landscape Photography - this is my main area of interest
  • People photography (mainly my kids)
  • Sports photography
  • Starting to do more natural history photography

What I do with my photography when I have spent hours editing it!

  • Share on Flickr
  • Enter competitions
  • Print it (up to A2 on Espon printer) and hang it at home / exhibit it

First of all I wanted to address the main reasons that I bought a D800 and why I wanted to upgrade from a D200.

  • I wanted better noise performance – the D200 isn’t great above around ISO 400
  • I wanted to take videos
  • I wanted slightly more resolution as I often crop my photos (however never thought I needed 36 MP)
  • I wanted better dynamic range for landscapes

There are also quite a few things that I haven"t liked about the D200 (this list was difficult to compile as most things have been brilliant!)

  • Dust on the sensor – I have to get it cleaned every 4 months
  • Screen - it is poor quality and makes it difficult to review images
  • Focus problems - I have had a few focus problems on fast moving subjects and in low light
  • Battery life – it is poor and only good for 250 photos

Finally a few points to note

  • This test isn’t an absolute test of the D800 – for that go to dpreview"s great d800 review 
  • This is my opinion as a keen photographer – I maybe wrong – but it is how I see it!

The D800 arrived from Park Cameras at 9:30am.  What I had completely forgotten was that I needed to charge the battery - so 1 hour later (and about 65% charged) I started shooting.  What is immediately obvious is how clear the view finder is and how good the screen is (Very good colour rendition, brightness and sharpness).  You can use it to actually review your images accurately.  So I put on the only normal length lens I had that would have any chance of performing with the D800 and started shooting - the Sigma 50mm F1.4!  All images were shot in RAW (not RAW ).

Some of the images link to Flickr higher resolution versions - so click away!

Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG Lens

This is one of the first few images from the camera.

sigma50emilyISO1000Emily - ISO 400 - Sigma 50mm F/1.4 1/1600s (RAW) - click the image for full resolution image access on Flickr

I then decided to have a run out with the camera.  I left the Sigma 50mm lens on and snapped away

Sigma 50mm and D800 100% crop centreTwo Trees - ISO 50 - Sigma 50mm f6.3 1/640s (RAW - No processing) - CENTRE OF IMAGE

Sigma 50mm and D800 100% crop Top leftTwo Trees - ISO 50 - Sigma 50mm f6.3 1/640s (RAW - No processing) - TOP LEFT

These photos show the performance of the Sigma from centre to edge.  As you can see there is some Chromatic Aberration towards the edge of the shot.

I also wanted to compare the D200 to the D800 even though it is comparing a 6 year old camera to a camera that is just released I wanted to see how much impact the 32 Mp had.

Cheshire Wall - Sigma 50mm D800

Cheshire Wall to Shutlingsloe - ISO 50 - Sigma 50mm f/16 1/6s (RAW)

I took this shot on the D800 with Sigma 50mm and used the 17-55mm Nikkor on the D200 @ 34mm.  The Nikkor lens is far superior - so it isn"t by any means a scientific test.  What it does show though is the level of detail (even with a £400 sigma lens) the D800 can produce.


Cheshire Wall to Shutlingsloe - D200 (TOP) vs D800 (BOTTOM) D200 is upsized

Ok - the boring stuff over with - onto creating some great images.  I decided to take some natural history shots and where better than the garden!

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Lens

The 70-200mm lens is a great lens - it is pin sharp and produces great Bokeh.

The first thing I tried was shooting in DX mode which you can force the D800 to do.  The photo below is shot in DX mode.  The highlighted crop below is taken from this 15 MP DX image.

Coal Tit Large D800 DX


nikon70-200 D800 DX modeGreat Tit - ISO 640 - Nikon 70-200mm @ 200mm in DX so effectively 300mm f/5 1/1250s 

100% crop of D800 DX on 70-200 NikkorGreat Tit - ISO 640 - Nikon 70-200mm @ 200mm in DX so effectively 300mm f/5 1/1250s  (100% crop)

A lot of people have said that hand holding the camera would prove difficult - however here is a snap I took with the 70-200mm lens.  The detail when blown up on screen is stunning!

nikon70-200 D800 testBull! @ ISO 400 Nikon 70-200 @ 200mm f/4 1/2500s

Bull! @ ISO 400 Nikon 70-200 @ 200mm f/4 1/2500s (100% crop)

Sigma 100 - 300 F4 EX DG HSM

I then switched to the Sigma 100 - 300 f4 EX DG HSM and decided to take some video.  I shot this @ 50fps and then created this 50% slow motion video @25fps.  I will investigate the video function a little more tomorrow.

View this video in 720P HD >>

The blue tit image at the start of this post is actually a fairly small crop of the original DX image.

Blue tit crop

Blue Tit - D800 - Sigma 100-300mm F4 Lens Blue Tit - ISO 1600 - Sigma 100-300 @ 300mm in DX (effectively 450mm) f/5.6 1/1600s (RAW - processed in Aperture). 

I also managed to capture a nut hatch!

Nuthatch Sigma 300mm F4 D800Nuthatch - ISO 1250 - Sigma 100-300 @ 300mm in DX (effectively 450mm) f/5 1/1600s (RAW - processed in Aperture). 

Before I invest in a new wide angle landscape lens (probably the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor Wide Angle Zoom Lens and the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G ED VR II AF-S IF SWM Nikkor Wide Angle Zoom Lens) I wanted to see how the Nikon 17-55mm F2.8G\AF-S DX IF-ED lens lens and Tokina ATX 116 PRO DX AF11-16mm F/2.8 that I currently have operates (obviously I can"t use it at 36.2 MP)

I have got some interesting results on both these lenses - but that will have wait for tomorrow as it is getting a bit late now!  Need sleep!

Oh - the battery went down to 32% (from 65%) and I took around 400 photos, 10 videos and used the viewer lots!

Finally - I found a list of lenses that Nikon recommends on the D800 (should anybody be interested in spending a lot of money!)

[table id=1 /]


Why I haven't upgraded from D200 to D300s or D700 but will upgrade to Nikon D800

If anybody reads www.nikonrumours.com then they will have also heard that Nikon is probably going to launch the D800 anytime soon.  It is expected to have some amazing features a lot of which I have been wanting in my D200 for the last 6 years.  But the D200 is an amazing camera and I have produced some great photos – many of which are on this site or can be found on my gallery on 500px and flickr There have been so many rumours about the Nikon D800 and many sites have reported that it will be a 38MP monster.  I don"t know if any of this is true but there are some things that are certain if Nikon are to keep up with Canon.  It will definitely have a high Megapixel count, it will be fast, it will have good low light performance and it will have a HD movie mode.

So why do I think that the D800 will be the camera that will move me away from my trusty D200? The photography that I mainly undertake is Landscape Photography and this needs

  • Megapixel count
  • Good dynamic range
  • Excellent colour range
  • Robust camera – as often work in difficult conditions
  • Wide angle!

However – I also want more flexibility in my next camera and also want to start to take high quality video diaries of my landscape photography trips in the UK. Things that my next camera must do is

  • Be able to take movies
  • Have better low light performance
  • Better autofocus

The D200 has been a trusty camera since I bought it in December 2005 and I have created many amazing photos.

There are quite a few things I don"t like about the D200 though.

  • Dust on the sensor - I have to get it cleaned every 4 months
  • Screen - it is poor quality and makes it difficult to review images
  • Focus problems - I have had a few focus problems on fast moving subjects and in low light
  • Battery life - it is poor and only good for 250 photos

The key area though is the sensor.  I have been looking to move to a full frame sensor as this has many added advantages to a landscape photographer.  I have never consider this a must though and have looked at other camera over the last few years including

The D300s – Not a great improvement for my type of photography

  • ASP sensor
  • Poor movie mode
  • Not a significant increase in megapixel count - only 12.3 MP

The  D700 – Great low noise but one main problem

  • Doesn’t offer Movie mode – so that was ruled out
  • Not a significant increase in megapixel count - only 12.1 MP

The D7000 – Amazing camera, good 16.2 MP

  • ASP sensor
  • Didn't feel robust when I tried it

The D7000 is an amazing camera.  It has great low noise and is priced very competitively.

This is a great site - http://snapsort.com/compare - where you can compare 2 cameras – take a look for yourself – it has all the important specifications for each camera.

The big issue from going to ASP to full frame is the lens issue. I have a lot of lenses and bought these to match the 1.5x magnification factor.  The lenses that I have are

Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 DX (A problem as designed for 1.5x sensor)

Sigma EX 50mm f.4 DG (OK for Full frame)

Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 G DX ((A problem as designed for 1.5x sensor)

Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR (OK for Full frame)

So I will have to invest in 2 new lenses with the D800 for landscape photography.  They will need to be excellent quality lenses too if the megapixel count the D800 is to have is to be believed!

In addition to all this I just like new tech! I have had my D200 now for 6 years and can’t wait to try something new.

So I keep searching google for Nikon D800 in the hope that sometime very soon they will release this much anticipated camera.