Top positive review
9 November 2012
I discovered early on in life that I am not the greatest at capturing the decisive moment, so Henri Cartier-Bresson can rest in peace knowing my work does not compete with his! He could pre-visualise the shot and secure that critical instant in time with no need for any cropping and produce a masterpiece. All of this without the benefit of instant review aka a digital or Polaroid proof. You might ask yourself what does this have to do with a review of the Nikon D800. Well readers, the less talented amongst us do have the luxury of instant review, the ability to crop and do all manner of manipulations on the computer. Now this could easily apply to all digital cameras, but a well advertised feature of the Nikon D800 is the massive number of pixels. A by product of this feature means you can crop the hell out of the captured shot to get what you want without any discernible loss of quality.
For some reason I find it difficult to frame exactly what I want in camera but given the luxury of my studio (garage) I can see the end result much more clearly. I can hear the purists tittering "it's because you're a crap photographer and it isn't cricket", but if I get what I want onto print, who cares how I achieved it.
Many reviewers have commented on the slow capture rate, possible high ISO noise or difficulty getting pin sharp shots while hand holding, but so far I haven't found any of these a problem. I previously used a Nikon D300 and I thought it was and still think it is a wonderful camera, but I always wanted full frame. So when it was time to finally buy one I managed to get a second hand D700 which fairly blew me away, with its handling and quality of shots. I convinced myself I did the right thing saving myself about £1000 instead of going for the D800 and then Amazon did the dirty on me and reduced the price of the D800 by another £100. In a fit of teenage irresponsibility I bought it and now I have the luxury of two full frame cameras. Time will tell which one I'll sell, but I suspect I'll keep both provided my wee wifey doesn't notice.
I won't bore you with all the technical stuff as it's been covered eloquently elsewhere, but the features I like best about the D800 are, well just about everything really. Huge pixel count is the most obvious and for me it is a godsend and not a liability. Images when captured properly are simply stunning in clarity and allow aggressive cropping without loss of sharpness. ISO performance as far as I can determine is perfectly adequate as images taken at up to 6400 are still useable, but not in the same class as the documented professional D4. Shooting rate is not a problem for me either as I take mostly landscape pictures and that in a nutshell is what this camera is all about, unless you are a studio photographer. I also find the LCD display is clearer and easier to view in bright light than both the D300 and D700.
I always hankered after medium format quality when I used 35mm film many years ago and now at the age of 55 I can achieve that quality digitally with the Nikon D800. As an important side note I must be one of the lucky people who don't appear to suffer from the dreaded LF problem or green tinted LCD. This did deter me from buying for a while not knowing how widespread this problem was, but I'm sure glad I waited as the camera cost me £700 less than the launch price.
It's hard to give a camera a wholehearted 5 star rating after such a short review period of 1 week, but I haven't found anything negative to say about it. If pushed, it annoys me that the zoom in and out buttons are reversed from the D300 and they removed the focus area switch but that's just nitpicking. I'm not the slightest bit interested in video so I can't comment but I do wish Nikon had replaced it with built in GPS. The £350 list price for the vertical grip is just shocking but I've seen them selling new for £230.
So 5 stars it is then and hopefully I don't have cause to amend this rating after more rigorous use.