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 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 /]