Well it finally arrived: the new Nikon D800. The smile is still on my face and after a weekend of playing around with it I thought I would share a few insights that I’ve found.
Please note that these views and experiences are my own and are only my first impressions. My opinions might change over time.
First of all, I’ll cover the bits I don’t like:
My D700 kept going for days. Even when shooting a wedding I still had charge in it the next day! (Maybe it was a fluke getting such a great battery, but I’ve only ever used my spare battery once.) I could quite happily shoot 2,000 photographs without charging. The D800’s battery, on the other hand, failed miserably. I’m hoping now that after a few more charges it will keep its power for longer, but I will definitely need another battery, maybe two.
- Memory Card
Well in advance of getting the D800, I bought a Kingston 32Gb Ultimate memory card (the best Kingston do) as there was no way an 8Gb card was going to cut it for me with this new level of detail, and my 4Gb cards would be a joke. Bad idea! I really should have waited until the camera had arrived as Kingston does not work in this camera! They work fine in the D700, which I would never use such a high-capacity card in as I wouldn’t want to risk losing a couple of thousand pictures on one card if it failed. Kingston don’t care (by phone); Nikon don’t care (by phone). So I will have to order a SanDisk card at a cost of around £100 more than the Kingston. OMG! Personally, I have never had a problem with Kingston and have stuck with them because I trusted them, but all that will have to change now. Ah well, gripe over.
- Chromatic Aberration (fringing)
Yes, I’ve seen it on certain pictures using a 24-70 2.8G Nikon Lens. (Not tested 70-200 yet.)Now, while this is a bit annoying, it’s not on every picture and it’s not that noticeable unless you zoom right into your picture. That being said, I would never want an image printed with fringing like that on it. But Adobe Lightroom 4 has a lens correction feature which has a Chromatic Aberration tick box and so far this has worked perfectly every time on all the pictures affected.Now I’m no expert and haven’t bothered reading all the reviews and technical reasons as to why this happens. But unless Nikon are going to release some new Pro lenses, I’m not going to get better than the lens that I have got, as that is one thing I invested my money in – decent lenses! Saying that, my 60mm 2.8 Micro lens does not produce it at all. So time will tell if I just have to click that button in Lightroom when needed or whether Nikon will provide a firmware update, but it could just be that to get optimum quality in the images these fringes sometimes happen in certain conditions. If that is all it is, I’m happy to live with it and just remove via software when needed as I REALLY love the quality it provides.
- Adobe Lightroom 4
Why is Lightroom on this list? Well, it’s because Adobe haven’t made it compatible with the D800 for tethered shooting yet! No biggie really, but when I do product photography I tend to shoot tethered. I’m sure Adobe will get around to adding this feature but as yet there is no word as to when.
Now I didn’t bring my D700 home to test with me (I know, I know) but I’m sure the D800 is slightly noisier. Either that or it was just that the kids weren’t in the house.
- Auto Focus
I’m sort of thinking that the D800’s autofocus is not as quick as the D700’s, but I will need to check that out on some other review site that uses a more technical approach than relying on my brain. I will look into this.
- Hmmm, that’s it (for now).
The layout of the camera’s function/buttons. This is really nice and not much different from the D700, but those few little changes will make it a pleasure to work with. One little feature I found which I really, really like, and which may well have been there on the D700 (I haven’t checked yet), is the ability to quickly change to Auto-ISO. I made this my preset on the D700 as when shooting weddings it’s really nice to flick between fixed and auto. Now I only discovered this because I actually read the manual and I’m thinking that it’s probably good practice to do this every year or so, as habits and requirements change and there are probably other ways of doing things that might be better / quicker.
- Picture quality / size
Okay, if I was just using this for weddings then I wouldn’t. The extra file size would make it a nightmare to edit (I know I can reduce the file size to help matters, but when you have the ability to shoot high resolution, you use it!). But it does fit in there nicely and will certainly be used. That said, for the tests I did over the weekend which were macro and landscape based – WOW!Below are some macro shots I took quickly and then I show it zoomed in. This sort of work is excellent for the amount of pixels available. The detail is sublime – I love it! It gives you great flexibility when playing with editing the shots to pick and choose, but it will also pick up any imperfections, so it might be a bit of a pain when photographing jewellery, for instance. However, being able to print that at 30″ and keep pin-sharp details will pay for itself in no time whatsoever. (I haven’t actually printed anything off this camera yet; that’ll happen this week though.)Landscapes – this is where I noticed the Chromatic Aberration but it was also easily removed. This is where it got surreal – being able to get that much detail into a picture is amazing and I can’t wait to take a landscape and have it printed on a 30″ frame (or I may even try a 50″). Unfortunately we didn’t have any decent sunsets over the weekend (apart from last night and I was all settled by then) so I haven’t really got a killer shot to show you.
So, in summary, there are a few more cons than pros but don’t let that fool you – the cons are very heavily waited are worth several more cons before you start to wonder about this camera. So my first impression is that I LOVE it, and I’ll not be giving it back!
Macro using Nikon 60mm Micro, 1/4 sec, f11, ISO 100, 0EV, Aperture Priority, D800
Full Resolution (Top Left): 7360 x 4912 – Full high-resolution version is available here 18.9Mb
Cropped (Top Right): 5697 x 3766 – Full high-resolution version is available here 11.2Mb
Selected Detail (Bottom): 3300 x 1173 – Full high-resolution version is available here 1.7Mb
Update as of 29 June 2012
- The Kingston Memory Card Issue
Well it seems that Kingston do care and after taking it further and sending a support email, perseverance pays off (not really sure I can take credit for any of it). I have had a very nice email back from Kingston to say they have now developed a new card which does indeed work with the D800 and that they will be shipping into the UK in a week or two and that they will notify me when in so that they can swap my card for me. It’s not here yet but I’m pleased by the customer service part of Kingston and their response to the situation. Thank you Kingston.
- Battery power
Okay so I spent a full day shooting the other day and the battery lasted just fine (lucky really as I still had not taken delivery of my second battery! backorder). Could be the fact that I never used flash or live view, but either way; result. Patience is a virtue (not sure I’ll ever get it though).