Review First impressions with the D800

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Fortunately, I had the chance to play a bit with a D800 demo model at a local camera dealer. I used the Nikkor AF-S 24 f/ 1,4 G which I had brought with me. My first impressions with this camera:

• Shooting a camera with such a high pixel density handheld is not a problem as many have feared. I shot quite some images in the 1/ 30, 1/ 40 range, and had no problems with unsharp pictures at all.
• The camera fits very well in the hand – no surprises if you are used to a D700.
• Manual focussing is a breeze. I tried out Zeiss lenses, and I had no unwanted out of focus shots when using the focus indicator.
• Video quality is OK – but there are flickering lights and lots of noise if you use high ISO.
• Live view is a real improvement, and the monitor on the back is also better.
• In good light, at low ISO values, the camera is doing fine. What I really liked was the ability to pull out the shadows in post processing – that comes in very handy.
• But as soon as you rise the ISO, you are getting into trouble. ISO 800 was still very good, 1600 in my opinion only good, but I would really not use anything above for serious shooting with a 36 MP camera.

So, in the end, I really liked the handling of the camera. But I was also disappointed because I did not expect that much noise. To be sure, you can use noise reduction software, and you can also downsample the images. But then I end up with an image size that I already have, and for that small plus of IQ I would not spend that much money, honestly. But if this is your “daytime landscape camera”, or “nighttime camera with a tripod”, you will get great results as long as you keep the ISO down.

Best wishes from Germany,
 
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Hi Jonathan,

if you are shooting the D800 at 36 Megapixels, the D700 will be much better. If you are downsampling the D800 files, things will be different, but I would not get rid of the D700 due to the high ISO capabilities of the D800 :smile:.
In my eyes, the D800 really is a "speciality camera" for low ISO shooting if you need the high resolution. Image processing is also much faster with the D700 files. Just run a filter (e.g. noice reduction) over a 16-Bit TIFF for the D700 and the D800, and you will immediately see the difference.

Best,
 
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MMPG1, I find your analysis right on target.
In every image comparison I've done using available images from the D800, it has looked to me like the D800 is about 1/2 ~ 3/4 stop better than the D300, but still behind the D3/D700 in the high ISO range. Some say that down-sampling will make up the difference, but why would one want to shoot at 36Mp, save off a 70Mb NEF, just to down sample enough to get a good image? Too much work for something the D700/D3 do with ease.

I'm also not convinced that down-sampling will give as good results as web pundits would have us believe. If 5% of your ISO 3200 image is noise, down-sampling should leave some % of the noise in the resulting image, if the process is numerically accurate. Given that down-sampling is returning pixel averages based on multiple original pixel values, (good + noise related pixel values), I understand how the noise can be canceled out some in the process. However the process is still very dependent on the imaging program used and it can incur its own errors. A very noisy image isn't going to magically become noise free when down sampled.

I still intend to buy a D800 in the future, because if it is a 1/2 ~ 3/4 stop better than the D300, with 15Mp in the DX area and 36 Mp in FX, I see plenty of opportunity to use it in the below ISO 1600 range, replacing my D300. At 1600+ my D3, Nikon speedlights, or studio strobes, will resolve all other lighting problems.
 
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From seeing both my own and a friend's D700 files and the D800, i'll say the D800 definately has the edge. Even in full res. In downsizing they're close to my D3s.
 
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• But as soon as you rise the ISO, you are getting into trouble. ISO 800 was still very good, 1600 in my opinion only good, but I would really not use anything above for serious shooting with a 36 MP camera.
That is exactly my experience with D7000- ISO800 is good, ISO 1600 is ok, ISO 3200 is not an option.
 
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I am not sure why I am getting totally opposite findings here -

ISO 6400 on the D800 if exposed properly looks better than my D3s <-- fact and ill post samples later to prove it.

The files are so rich and dynamic - I have never shot a camera like this before, ever.

Its leaps and bounds a breakthrough in DSLR technology.

By the way I use real world samples to make my conclusions...not dumb *** ken and barbie figures propped up on a bookshelf with a jar of applesauce on the side...

Really none of you can make a conclusion based on web samples and you shouldn't - also shooting in the store doesn't count either...get the camera outdoors and apply the settings you are most comfortable with...then you will see how this thing shines...
 
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I am not sure why I am getting totally opposite findings here -

ISO 6400 on the D800 if exposed properly looks better than my D3s <-- fact and ill post samples later to prove it.

The files are so rich and dynamic - I have never shot a camera like this before, ever.

Its leaps and bounds a breakthrough in DSLR technology.

By the way I use real world samples to make my conclusions...not dumb *** ken and barbie figures propped up on a bookshelf with a jar of applesauce on the side...

Really none of you can make a conclusion based on web samples and you shouldn't - also shooting in the store doesn't count either...get the camera outdoors and apply the settings you are most comfortable with...then you will see how this thing shines...
The DxOMark tests seem to confirm your findings Dom...
 
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if you are shooting the D800 at 36 Megapixels, the D700 will be much better. If you are downsampling the D800 files, things will be different
I don't understand this. What do you usually do with your pictures - take the shot in raw edit then create a jpeg for the web, or for printing. Let's take the latter, say you edit and then create a 10"x8" jpeg at 300 pixels per inch. In that example I assume it will down-sample for both the D700 & D800, but let's not worry about the geeky stuff - which 10" print will be better?

In every image comparison I've done using available images from the D800, it has looked to me like the D800 is about 1/2 ~ 3/4 stop better than the D300, but still behind the D3/D700 in the high ISO range.
Have you been looking at prints, or finished internet jpegs? Or have you been looking at 100% crops, which are irrelevant?

why would one want to shoot at 36Mp, save off a 70Mb NEF, just to down sample enough to get a good image? Too much work for something the D700/D3 do with ease.
Either I'm not understanding all this down-sampling, or you're all mad :cool: Assuming it's the former, somebody please explain :confused: (ie, why can't you take a picture in raw, edit as usual, and export a jpeg for printing, and that be it?)
 
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Either I'm not understanding all this down-sampling, or you're all mad :cool: Assuming it's the former, somebody please explain :confused: (ie, why can't you take a picture in raw, edit as usual, and export a jpeg for printing, and that be it?)
Same question - and what would happen if instead of taking it at the 36 MP FX view you took the photo with the Medium settings instead - still in FX mode. (p. 87 of the manual). Would that be the same as down sampling or would it be better to down sample in Lightroom/Photoshop?
 
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I am not sure why I am getting totally opposite findings here -

ISO 6400 on the D800 if exposed properly looks better than my D3s <-- fact and ill post samples later to prove it.

The files are so rich and dynamic - I have never shot a camera like this before, ever.

Its leaps and bounds a breakthrough in DSLR technology.

By the way I use real world samples to make my conclusions...not dumb *** ken and barbie figures propped up on a bookshelf with a jar of applesauce on the side...

Really none of you can make a conclusion based on web samples and you shouldn't - also shooting in the store doesn't count either...get the camera outdoors and apply the settings you are most comfortable with...then you will see how this thing shines...
We're on the same page.
 
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MMPG1, I find your analysis right on target.
In every image comparison I've done using available images from the D800, it has looked to me like the D800 is about 1/2 ~ 3/4 stop better than the D300, but still behind the D3/D700 in the high ISO range. Some say that down-sampling will make up the difference, but why would one want to shoot at 36Mp, save off a 70Mb NEF, just to down sample enough to get a good image? Too much work for something the D700/D3 do with ease.

I'm also not convinced that down-sampling will give as good results as web pundits would have us believe. If 5% of your ISO 3200 image is noise, down-sampling should leave some % of the noise in the resulting image, if the process is numerically accurate. Given that down-sampling is returning pixel averages based on multiple original pixel values, (good + noise related pixel values), I understand how the noise can be canceled out some in the process. However the process is still very dependent on the imaging program used and it can incur its own errors. A very noisy image isn't going to magically become noise free when down sampled.
Thank you Mike, I see it like you do!

Real world shots from inside a big store with a mixture of artificial and window lighting have led me to that conclusion.

I don`t know whom Dom is referring to, but he should accept that not everyone is shooting with a camera in good light only. For sure, if you are shooting with the D800 in daylight outside, or even inside in daylight conditions, the camera will be fine. But as soon as the lighting conditions are getting worse, there will be quite an amount of grain in the dark areas. But maybe he got just too excited with his new camera that he does not want to see its downsides yet :biggrin:.

Best,
 
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Thank you Mike, I see it like you do!

Real world shots from inside a big store with a mixture of artificial and window lighting have led me to that conclusion.

I don`t know whom Dom is referring to, but he should accept that not everyone is shooting with a camera in good light only. For sure, if you are shooting with the D800 in daylight outside, or even inside in daylight conditions, the camera will be fine. But as soon as the lighting conditions are getting worse, there will be quite an amount of grain in the dark areas. But maybe he got just too excited with his new camera that he does not want to see its downsides yet :biggrin:.

Best,
http://www.aidavproductions.com/articles/D3svsD800.html


^ these conditions are pretty bad and are showing what Dom and I are referring to.
 
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Thank you Mike, I see it like you do!

Real world shots from inside a big store with a mixture of artificial and window lighting have led me to that conclusion.

I don`t know whom Dom is referring to, but he should accept that not everyone is shooting with a camera in good light only. For sure, if you are shooting with the D800 in daylight outside, or even inside in daylight conditions, the camera will be fine. But as soon as the lighting conditions are getting worse, there will be quite an amount of grain in the dark areas. But maybe he got just too excited with his new camera that he does not want to see its downsides yet :biggrin:.

Best,
Markus,

The D800 is not being marketed like the D4 or D3s - if your sole purpose is to tell me everything the D800 can't do...I would save your energy.

I do admit I may be in the honeymoon stages, but at least I had a chance to take it outside - let me know when you have your full review up...I look forward to it...and I think you may change your mind a tad :wink:
 
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Markus,

The D800 is not being marketed like the D4 or D3s - if your sole purpose is to tell me everything the D800 can't do...I would save your energy.

I do admit I may be in the honeymoon stages, but at least I had a chance to take it outside - let me know when you have your full review up...I look forward to it...and I think you may change your mind a tad :wink:
Hi Dom,

to be honest I don`t think we are too far apart :smile:. I was outside with the camera for about half an hour, and I really like the results I got. Especially at base ISO you can push the shadows quite a bit, which is a big advantage in my opinion. The pictures you posted in your thread also show this very well, and thanks for your review which I really like to read. The D800 is a fine camera, and I am quite sure I will get one for landscape/ cityscape shooting and macro where cropping is a huge advantage. But I am not really convinced by its low light capabilities, as the noise levels (in a new camera, launch 2012) are too high for my personal taste. But we are dealing with a 36 MP camera here, right? It was to be expected.

Best,
 
Joined
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Hi Dom,

to be honest I don`t think we are too far apart :smile:. I was outside with the camera for about half an hour, and I really like the results I got. Especially at base ISO you can push the shadows quite a bit, which is a big advantage in my opinion. The pictures you posted in your thread also show this very well, and thanks for your review which I really like to read. The D800 is a fine camera, and I am quite sure I will get one for landscape/ cityscape shooting and macro where cropping is a huge advantage. But I am not really convinced by its low light capabilities, as the noise levels (in a new camera, launch 2012) are too high for my personal taste. But we are dealing with a 36 MP camera here, right? It was to be expected.

Best,
Your correct I misunderstood your experience with the camera...thanks for looking at the thread!

I do think the noise levels are acceptable from my short lived time with it - then again I do not have the experience testing and looking at these sort of things as you do. I will take your word and hold Nikon to a higher standard in that the high MP count is fine and dandy but we need to exceed the last generations noise characteristics at the same time....I agree there for sure.
 

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