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 >>

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, Mam Tor

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 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, Cheshire

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

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 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.

d800vsd200

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 /]