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.

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

D800 Diary - Day 2

First of all - thanks to all the people that viewed and commented on my day 1 diary. A lot of the photos I post in this blog have higher resolution images in Flickr (Some are full resolution) - I have created a D800 gallery in Flickr >>

Today I have had chance to take a look at the auto focus performance as I photographed my son"s football match.  In the D800 you can set various dynamic area AF modes (9-point, 21-point and 51-point).  I set it to 21-point dynamic auto-focus during the whole of the match and the results were amazing.  Almost all my photos were perfectly in focus using the 70-200mm Nikon VR I lens.  What is really good is when you are in DX mode (which I used for half the match to get 5fps) the tracking points fill a larger part of the final image.

Football Match (1) Shot with D800Saturday Under 8s - ISO 500 - Nikon 70-200 VR I @ 200mm F/3.5 1/8000s

Most of the shots I ended up using for the game where shot in FX mode as I found that the DX mode meant I accidently cropped parts of the images I wanted.  I could sacrifice the 1FPS for the extra area this gave me to play with.  The image below shows the amazing resolving power of the D800.  Click it to open the full resolution image in Flickr.

Football D800 - open full res image in Flickr

Football - D800 - Image 2

 The main benefit of the camera I am finding is the versitility. The resolution means that you can shoot and have the ability to crop later.  The photo below again shows this.

Football Nikon D800 - ISO 500

Football 3 crop Nikon D800 - ISO 500Crop of FX image on Nikon D800 taken with Nikon 70-200mm @ 190mm F/3.5 1/6000s

The detail in the image above is amazing - here is a further crop at 100%.  You have to remember that I am at F/3.5 here - so not all ball is in focus.

100% crop D800

I also played with the HD video during the match - it is obvious though that this will need some practice.  The auto-focus in live view is quick but on moving subjects you need to have a lot of skill.

Early that morning my son had spotted some canadian geese that had landed in the field about 100m from our house.  So I put on the 100-300mm Sigma and took the shot below at ISO 1600 and heavily cropped to get this image.

Canadian Goose - Nikon D800Canadian Goose - ISO 1600 - Nikon D800 with Sigma 100-300mm lens at 300mm f/4 1/4000s (In DX mode)

One things that I have been emailed about by many people is the performance 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 use for most of my landscape photography.  I haven"t used then too much yet as I haven"t had the time to go on a morning landscape shoot.  But I can show you some of the results I have got from various trials in DX and FX mode.  The results aren"t great and it is clear I will have to swap these lenses for new FX landscape lenses.

This is the Tokina 11-16mm lens at 11mm.  You have to go down to 15mm before you see no black vignetting - however the corners are unusable.  I did some test and for the Tokina you have to use the 1.5x DX crop mode to get good results.

Tokina 11mm D800 Heavy Vignetting on Tokina 11-16mm wide angle lens at 11mm

Daffs Nikon D800 with Tokina 11mmDaffs - ISO 50 - Nikon D800 with Tokina 11-16mm Lens f/5 1/400s DX mode

The corners on the DX crop are still soft (actually slightly softer than on my D200!) - but the central detail is very good.

Daffs_tokina_585_cropDaffs - ISO 50 - Nikon D800 with Tokina 11-16mm Lens f/5 1/400s DX mode (Central crop)

Finally as the sun set rather than going out and taking landscape photos I decided to take a time lapse movie with the D800.  One thing that is great about this is that it produces a 1080P full HD time lapse automatically.  The results are amazing.  However - one word of caution - the video speeds up at the end as the longer exposures kicked in and the 15s interval was less than the exposure.

For the full 1080P HD version click here >>

Tomorrow I am going to test the D800 out with some studio shots.