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Customer Review

79 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning 35mm format camera, 22 Mar. 2012
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This review is from: Nikon D800 Digital SLR Camera (Body Only) (Electronics)
Update since owning camera longer:

I think the camera is a magnificant piece of engineering, the feel of it is great - to me it feels as comfortable as the 700 which I've not held for a few months now. The buttons and dials all feel good and comfortable. The only annoying thing is the MODE button is totally too far to reach easily unless you have a witches index finger! I'll work around it, to be honest I shoot in either aperture priority or manual all the time and i'm either in one or the other for a long period so should be able to get over this.

I've been testing autofocus and doing alot of portraits, will see how landscape shooting goes in a few days. Glad to note that testing at 24mm @ f/2.8 both lateral AF points look bang on to me, along with centre. Autofocus is a bit of a learning curve due to the sensor resolution. I'm finding with long lenses and f/1.4 I'm sometimes needing to use AF-C (usually I stick to AF-S most of the time and did with the 700). But if you breathe at the wrong time or the subject moves even a litter your done for. So I am using the AF-ON button much more regularly, and AF-C, focus point on the eye. It feels right.

I've had on lockups, no AF problems (that aren't my own doing) and the screen doensn't look green to me and I am a WB stickler to be honest. It looks all very accurate to my eyes.

Metering is even better than the 700, that's all I'll say (and the 700 was excellent). I am noticing the extra 2.5 stops dynamic range too. I'll use filters less when I am in "landscape" mode which is great. Colour performance from this sensor is just amazing. I have the camera picture controls set to Neutral (only affects the JPGS but means the previews on the back of the camera are nice and plain for edit in raw later).

Regarding shutter speed you need to be a little careful. Let's take a 50mm prime lens and say we are using the full FX area. I'm finding to handhold I can get sharp shots at 1/60 if I breathe carefully and I am really steady and the subject is still but it's more hit or miss than the 700. I'm around 2-3 times the focal length in terms of shutter now (high ISO is great anyway). 1/160 definately looks good when you nail it on a 50mm prime. Infact i'm noticing for hand holding 2-3 times the focal length is a ball park figure and obviously will change depending on the speed of your subject and there distance from your camera.

Crop modes are excellent. As someone who sticks to (mainly) primes, having this option is great, it's like having a zoom that has a f/1.4 aperture. I have assigned the FN button + dial to scroll through the modes. So I have an 85mm prime on the lens, I can quickly go 1.2x zoomed in, - 1.5 x zoomed in and even select 5:4 mode which is just great (just loving that 5:4 mode to nail the composition for portraiture). And still having almost 16MP in DX mode is just brilliant as you can compose your picture better than just shooting FX initially and cropping in post.

Movie mode is surprizingly good for me, as it's a function I didn't think I'd use much. Granted I have not tested out a long prime yet but a 24mm is easy to focus with manually, I'm betting the 85mm f/1.4 ain't gonna be that easy but still - if I where making the next blockbuster I'd buy all the rig and focus pulling systems. However, I'm finding with a basic focus puller around the focus ring you can get some beautiful movies and some great subject isolation. It really looks cinematic and again there is the choice to select 1.2x or DX mode to do this in which is an advantage. Power aperture works when recording to a card which is nice.

100% viewfinder is a great welcome compared to the 700, especially when shooting wide angle landscapes. It's more accurate, it feels brighter somehow.

Camera is 10% lighter than the 700 but to be honest I don't notice it, feels the same to me. It's definately taller too, the ergonomics are great apart from the mode button which I will get used to. Quiet shutter mode doesn't sound much quieter to me, but doesn't bother me anyway. Don't take my word for it, I tested this quickly. Believe it or not, I've not even fired off the 4-5FPS motor yet (don't tend to shoot this way - I don't even care about the FPS stuff that's discussed on here ad-nauseum).

High ISO is incredible. Even at 100% the detail is just amazing, there is so much more than the 700 and the 800's files clean up even better with lightroom. Infact, as with the 700 I have NR (for high iso) turned off completely (I urge you to do this to retain detail and you can decide later if you want to clean up). This means it will only activiate above 1600 (camera does not allow this to be turned off). Even at 6400 files are beautiful and when grain does appear it's such a beautiful textured display like the 700 - I loved this about the 700 as it just looked like shooting film again.

WB is good despite some of the stuff I have been reading. I think people forget that white balance might not be consistant in some of their shots because stuff like TV's will cast different light into a room / subject that will mean it will look blue, then red etc. Shooting in raw it's all a non-issue. I think it handles difficult lighting really well, but I like the option to move to a warmer or colder setting later via RAW and lightroom 4.1.

Files are big. Alot of JPG's I have here after processing are 20-30MB sometimes more depending on the complexity of the scene. RAW file sizes are massive. I have a 16GB extreme pro sandisk card in here and full RAW with lossless compressed it reads 200 shots remaining. However, likely will get 250-300. I have not put an SD card in yet but certainly will. Beauty of that is SD cards are cheap for a slow one and if you want to shoot in "slow mode" you can simply fire the shots into the slower card. (I say slow, will still be a class 10 card!) Files are big and handle differently on a pc, but to give you a laugh I ran lightroom 4.1 on a samsung NC 10 netbook today - I kid you not it ran slowly, I couldn't do it all day but it worked (has 2GB ram and a slow single core ATOM processor). Don't worry too much about the PC upgrade misinformation, you can simply buy another big 2TB HD which is cheap if you want down the line.

Electronic rangefinder is great, as with D700 manual focus is easy if required.

Biggest thing I am noticing is the upped detail even when you are further from your subjects. If I compare to the 700, if I was say 2 metres away and took a shot with a 50mm prime textures and eyelashes aren't really seen. With the 800, there is so much extra resolution overlaying these areas they just pop so much more. I'm noticing it, and I'm very happy with it. Even my wife pointed it out!

It's a bit of a learning curve all in all. It reminds me of when I started using the 135mm f/2 DC lens on the 700, it takes awhile before it "sings". I feel focusing is a little harder than before but when you get it right your jaw literally drops. On summary, this is definately not a camera for the faint of heart and it's not for people who like to pray and spray. I do believe it's much better suited to the guy that keeps his camera out of drive mode for the most part and considers each photograph individually. You know what I mean? The kind of "Jeff Ascough" approach.

I recommend if you do buy to spend 15 minutes going through every menu and configure are to how you want / need. Some of the defaults aren't what I'd expect (e.g. I do not really shoot jpg but when I checked this menu it was set to optimal compression to optimal quality). High ISO NR was on, etc etc. I also like to take the AF recompose time to off so when I am using AF-C the camera gets a quicker, more live focus feed and the hit rate of in focus photos duely increases. Set the camera to clean the sensor on start or shutdown. You'll notice your sensor won't need cleaning half as much as usual to. All in all I am very pleased and would recommend.

The best 35mm format camera I have ever used. My jaw literally dropped when I checked and printed these images. Huge base ISO 100 dynamic range. ISO sensitivity to 6400 and from looking at the images less noise than the D700 even at 6400 and 12800 ISO! I have shot with a 700 for over 2 years now and I have always loved the small amount of 'film' like grain you get around 1600-3200. The 800's ISO performance is a little better to my eyes (especially consider that when you look at 100% on your monitor your really looking at an image several feet wide!) The only small area of note is there is a little more colour noise around 3200 than on the 700, but consider with photoshop and lightroom, this is the easiest area to clean up. Add into this your extra resolution: you are starting with more detail so in the end a better result is had. Also remember that downsizing separates these cameras even further. I am a landscape and portrait photographer and I have been blown away by how creamy ISO 100 is. The tones are beautiful, the colour separation incredible and the dynamic range improved over the D700 and D3s/D3. I often use high ISO, with the 700 I went right up to 6400 for events and to be honest I'll go the same or further with the 800. Heck even 12800 is useable downsized for the web, especially in B/w!.

This camera has improved AF over the D700 and D3s which where are already incredible IMO. It has the same AF system as the D4! Just incredible that Nikon give you this in a camera of this cost.

It has a full HD video function which many will use either professionally or for fun; either way you cannot deny it is nice to have this all in one multimedia device.

Full dust and weather sealing.

Built in AF motor so AF-D primes will autofocus as with the 700.

100% view finder! This is big. We can compose exactly how we see without this 95% guessing.

Large bright image review screen that adjusts depending on ambient light for better viewing conditions.

Improved liveview.

A resolution of 7360 x 4912 = 36 Megapixels! Great for huge prints or cropping. Now I can hear many about to scoff when I say the word 'crop'. But its ridiculous when people make comments like you should never crop. Like every image you have ever taken should fit perfectly and be composed perfectly in the standard 35mm box? That is madness! The rules of composition withstanding, set yourself free! Sometimes images work as squares, widescreen or other cropped shapes. Strong compositions sometimes do not always lend themselves to a 35mm fx box. That aside 36mp is welcome, very welcome.

Expeed 3 image processor and improved colour matrix metering. This is huge. The camera has face detection also and can meter backlit scenes more accurately with no or less exposure compensation.

Variety of output modes = full fx, 5:4, 3:2, 1.2 crop mode.

900 grams body only. Nearly 100 grams lighter than the D700.

I am lucky to be one of the first to get this camera and cannot wait to test it fully over the summer.

Oh, just for reference, all lenses show gains with a larger MP sensor. But you should try and shoot with good glass. My favs are an 85mm f/1.4 and a 135mm f/2.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 20 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Mar 2012 17:03:11 GMT
Evan says:
First review! Well done ;)

Posted on 22 Mar 2012 17:29:18 GMT
Caduceus says:
Good review. Did you get yours from amazon.co.uk?

Posted on 22 Mar 2012 18:14:37 GMT
thanks useful.
1. how are your zooms on it (e.g. 24-120mm f4)
2. did youi buy from amazon.co.uk ?

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Mar 2012 18:19:25 GMT
To tell you the truth I don't have any zooms, it's only 1.4 primes I own. But I am sure pro zooms, will be stellar, especially the holy trinity of 2.8 zooms. The 14-24 is a lens I may purchase down the line as I think that for landscapes it will be an amazing combination! I got it in the UK, not from amazon though, small local store.

Posted on 22 Mar 2012 21:04:51 GMT
Literally the only thing stopping me from getting this was early reports that it would be very hard to use handheld. Is this at all true or would it be ok for wedding togs (ie low light and handheld). Or is it just too sensitive due to the large number of MPs?

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Mar 2012 21:17:05 GMT
Last edited by the author on 22 Mar 2012 21:24:30 GMT
This is nonsense sorry, go to http://bythom.com/ and read the march 22 entry. The D800 can be hand held of course it can. But, with higher resolution sensors you cannot just rely on 1/focal length to give you shutter speed. Ie, get out of the habit of pushing an 85mm lens at 1/80. Go to 1/160 or a little more, depending on subject motion of course. Remember a 36MP image is much larger, but if you printed a D700 image and a D800 image 8x10 you would likely not see the minor bit of camera shake the D800 would produce if you where too sloppy with your shutter speed. If you want to print A3 images with the D800 i'd be at least doubling the shutter speed compared to the focal length of the lens, maybe even 3 times. So an 85mm prime, shoot at 1/320 if you want a huge print (example only).

The D7000 has the exact same density on it's sensor. Are people not able to hand hold that? Of course they can. Does it require a little more thought: perhaps, but this is good. Focuses the mind doesn't it?

The reason Nikon wrote the '101 of photography' into the first few pages of the D800 manual is to stop newbies sending it back because theyre shots aren't very slightly blurred. If you do not know how ISO, shutter and aperture interelate you will likely have problems (at least until you learn it).

The D700 was more forgiving than the 800 and the 7000 are. But as long as you watch shutter speeds you will be perfectly fine. Good technique is something many need to get back to, this will force you into it.

Posted on 23 Mar 2012 09:41:49 GMT
François says:
Thanks for your review!

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Mar 2012 09:47:38 GMT
Thanks very much for that. I thought it was a bit of scare mongering. I think the same sort of stories went about when 20+ MP came about. I think i will take the dive, i just need to figure out which lens' to get now :)

Thanks again!

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Mar 2012 11:08:35 GMT
Monty says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Mar 2012 17:01:18 GMT
Last edited by the author on 23 Mar 2012 17:02:32 GMT
Talk about a sweeping statement! For a start, what focal length are we talking about here shooting at 1/125? If you are using a 70-200 and are at 200 with VR off and shoot at 1/125 expect blur! Seriously, your comment is misleading to other users who may consider buying this camera.

I could hand hold a 50mm prime at 1/125 and get a sharp shot. Duff technique is something YOU need to look into. Don't blame the camera.
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