Nikon D800 Revue

Nikon D800 Revue de Lukas Gisbert-Mora en Anglais (Mars 2013)

Most new cameras are evolutionary. They push a few specs forward, make some tweaks, and hopefully make it a little easier to take photos that are a little better. But every once in a while, a camera comes out that disrupts the natural order, that surprises you and may even allow for big changes in the way you take photos. The Nikon D3 was like this — most people expected the first Nikon full-frame camera to be a megapixel monster, but instead it focused on high-ISO quality unsurpassed at the time. Now Nikon has disrupted the market in reverse: The headline spec of the D800 is the resolution, 36.3 megapixels, which had only been the domain of medium format cameras. But what made it truly disruptive is the price — £2500, £500 less than the Canon 5D Mark III and just over half the price of Nikon’s own D4. It seems that at first glance you’re getting a lot more camera for a lot less. But there are trade-offs, most notably shooting at only four frames-per-second. And then, of course, there are the files, which depending on your settings range from very large to incredibly massive. So how does it stack up overall?

Nikon D800

Build and ergonomics:

When I received the camera, I was expecting to get something like my D700 in regard to size and ergonomics. But when I took it out of the box, it felt bigger, heavier and more robust.

They have also spent a lot of time designing this camera and it shows, it really is a good looking body which shows a 2012 design. Beautiful lines with no hard edges, even the logo follow the lines which shows high attention to details.

The camera is obviously weather seal with a full magnesium body so you can pretty much put the camera through hell and it will survive, good to know as I have not always been the most delicate person with my cameras. I dropped the camera with a 50mm lens from 2m high a month after having it and the only thing that broke was the lens wood sight….

If you are a Nikon user, you’ll have no issues with the buttons as it’s the same as all the semi-pro Nikon bodies, this was one of the reasons why I choose Nikon over Canon in my early days; I just loved those big buttons and not to have to go inside the menu to access the “every day” setup. You also get a pop up flash which I will not recommend if you want to use it as a light source but great for CLS (Creative Lighting System) which is the wireless system to control your Nikon speedlights.

 

The Sensor

A lot of people don’t really understand how megapixel works, let’s just say that most TV this day can have their best resolution at 1080p and you can find TV the size of a billboard projecting 1080p videos through it. Now look below when 36mp is put in to perspective next to it.

 D800 RESOLUTION

So what does this mean, well first you’ll be able to print in mega large prints and keep an amazing resolution, this could be great for advertising, fashion and Wedding fairs if like me you like to print large to show your clients. The other thing is that it gives you such a beautiful and clean image. It now also becomes much easier to crop your image and re-frame keeping a high resolution image, great for macro work.

This below is a crop at 200%

Nikon D800 crop at 200%

Here you can see the reflection of her mum in her eye, trying to make her smile

DXo mark class the sensor as the best ever made, on top of the entire line of medium format cameras that cost 10 times the price of the D800, the Canon 5D mk III only came at the 19th position.

Nikon D800 DXO marks

 

Now having that big resolution comes with a down fall which is important that you take in to consideration when shooting, it’s easier to get blurry images if you’re not careful. The pixels are so compressed together that a slight shake when shooting at low ISO could make your photo blurry. I tend to try to increase my speed by 1/3 to ½ stop to make sure that I get a sharp image, I have good technique to shoot at low speed but this will only apply if my subject stay still which is rarely the case.

The ISO performance

You would expect a camera with this kind of sensor to be bad at high ISO (like medium format cameras are) but you’ll be very wrong, this camera is no exception to the Nikon range of pro and semi pro camera capability in low light, I have had no issue using the camera at ISO 3200, I could have push it even more but decided not to, You can easily reduce noise by reducing the size of the images if it’s too bad. But trust me on this, I was using the D800 along with my D3 at my last Wedding and the D800 handled high ISO better than the D3, wow!!! as I was going through the photos on a big screen after the Wedding.

ISO test Nikon D800

ISO 3200                                                                                                                                    ISO 1600

 

Dynamic Range

I think that that the size of your files will have a lot to do with it, the old Fuji S5 pro which was only 6mp could easily take 20mb+ RAW files which is massive for a 6mp sensor. The Nikon D800 when shooting in RAW 14 bit will take images with size over 75mb, shooting in certain conditions could take this up to 80-90mb. The camera is able to capture so many details in shadows and highlights, it’s really impressive. I was able in some circumstances to bring my shadows  by 5 stop up and have no issues with it. The best performance is at ISO 100 without a doubt and this makes it a dream camera for any landscape photographers or environmental portrait photographers.

The Dynamic range of films always had the edge but I think that with the Nikon D800, performance will be heaven if not better. I’ll probably have the film shooter knocking at my door once they see this…

This photo below had very little work done to it, taken at ISO 100 in RAW 14 bits, the bottom left corner was black, I was able to bring those shadows as high as this and keep all of details.

Nikon D800 DR test

 

Videos

This camera has had a good improvement over the previous Nikon models like the D3s and D7000, The quality is very good and you’re able to shoot at 1080p 30/25 and 24 fps. You can also shoot at 60fps in 720p which is good for slow motions. You have full control over exposure and audio which is great and you also have headphone output to monitor the audio.

I do a lots of videos, personal and professional and this camera is by far the best I’ve used so far. Unfortunately it’s not the best in low light and Canon has definitely the edge there. Any serious videographer should really go for Canon, Nikon is slowly getting there but it’s not perfect yet. The auto focus is atrocious and so it should be, no good videographer uses auto focus and developing your skills with manual focus is a most.

Videos example coming soon

The file size

I never had to cover this subject in any other reviews before, but I think that it’s important that if you are looking to buy this camera you understand the implications attached to it.

So it’s true that the camera at £2500 sounds like an amazing deal and it definitely is for what you are getting. But you will have to spend serious cash in memories and possibly computer upgrades if you want to work with it. I was shooting with 8gb CF and SD cards in my D3s as it only had a 12mb sensor, I know shoots with 32gb CF and SD Extreme cards, I have a total of 3 32gb CF and 6 32gb SD cards; the cost for that? Around £400 as I had to purchase some fast cards. The memory for your computer will also most likely need to be increase if like me you work with raid system and make sure your files are safe, another few hundreds pound investment.

Now, the performance of your computer could determine, first, the time you will spend working on your photos and albums, second, the frustration you will go through when zooming in to the photos to check sharpness and have to wait several second for the computer to load the details. Mine wasn’t too bad but I could clearly see a difference in my editing work tme. I couldn’t do anything with RAM as I already increased this to the max (8GB) so the only other (problem free) option was to change the drive from HHD to SSD. So I got 2 SSD drive, one of them will be running all my photography software (+ITunes as music is important when working) and the other one will old my live work and catalogue for lightroom. I can only now say that I have no longer any frustration when working on my photos but a large investment had to be made. So is it worth it? Absolutely!

Final word

Nikon has released something fantastic with a technology that blows me away. The Nikon D800 quality is breath taking and using this smaller body at Weddings really makes a difference compare to my D3s/D3. I still use them as back up and secondary camera when I need but the D800 is my camera of choice for 95% of the time, those 5% will be link to a fast fps when I need it as the D800 only goes up to 4fps. This camera is future proof with this technology and the sensor quality will last you for many years without looking outdated. One important thing to consider when buying this camera is that you should have pro optics to take full potential of that exceptional sensor, you will kill it by putting some cheap lens on front of it.

As a Wedding photographer, I would highly recommend this camera. I don’t believe that there is anything else on the market now that can offer the same quality. Medium format would be the next step, but believe me when I say that you don’t want to use a medium format camera for a Wedding, or make sure you have possibly a second and maybe a third shooter to take care of the reportage/documentary shots.

In all honesty, if quality of the work you do is your top priority and you already are a Nikon user, go for it, you’ll be very impress.

So who’s this camera for:


Lukas Gisbert Photographie Nikon D800 review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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