The DSLR that took on medium format
Okay, okay, I am sure I am going to get a bashing from the medium format fans, I agree, the Nikon D800 is not quite there as far as being a medium format camera… but it isn’t $20k to own either. Just like they advertise a price per 100 grams in the supermarket, if you were to price the Nikon D800 at price per pixel I am sure it would come out in front… but it’s not just the pixles that make this camera so good!
Before I go any further I have to say I am not endorsed by, or paid by Nikon for this review, if you can even call it a review. This is just a page of me giving you my thoughts, a guy that has a passion for photography and has put a few miles on the Nikon D800 (it is my main body at the moment). I am guessing the reason you’re here reading this page is you want to know is it worth the extra coin to own one of these bad boys? The good news is there is a stack of reviews and videos for you to spend your days (and nights) watching and reading… I am sure you will be able to make an informed decision. By the way, this page is a work in progress, I shoot with my Nikon D800 every week and as I learn more about it I will continue to add to this page so feel free to drop by often.
Why the Nikon D800?
So what made me go with the D800? After all, I had a full frame D700 so why did I upgrade? I loved my D700 except one annoyance that when I bought it, I shrugged and said “that’s not a deal breaker!”… and I am talking about 95% viewfinder coverage. I would quite often get back home and load my pics up and find annoying little distractions on the edge of my frame and drive myself nuts thinking “there is no way I would have included that in the shot” only to remember that I forgot I only had 95% coverage… so I became a full time chimper! Checking every photo as I took it, and sometimes I had to take the same image 2 or 3 times to get what I wanted.. otherwise I would have to start cropping my shots when I got home. It got kind of annoying! I also love Panoramic ratios, especially 2:1 and 3:1… If I cropped a D700 file to 3:1 I would have a fairly small file left over that I would have to grow in photoshop should I want to print it large… the Nikon D800 allows me to crop to my hearts content and I still end up with more pixels than I would from 100% of a D700 frame. This is not to say the D700 is a bad camera… If I were a wedding photog, I would have a D700… as the D800 has it’s shortfalls too! I will cover them soon…
Why not the D800E?
I have been asked why I picked the Nikon D800 over the D800E… Firstly, Nikon takes something out of the camera and charges you more for it… and secondly, and most importantly, I was lucky to find a Nikon D800 in stock, and that is all they had so the decision was easy. If they did have the D800E in stock at the time I may have considered it but to be truthful, I don’t see the need. The filter that it is missing is something that creates a sharper file, but you run the risk of moire in your image… with the ability to sharpen in post processing it doesn’t really bother me and it shouldn’t bother you either. Spend the few hundred you save on a better tripod or another lens… or more importantly use it to upgrade your PC to cope with the larger files!
The Nikon D800 and HDR
The Nikon D800 has a great auto-bracketing feature making it easier to use for HDR. They still only let you space the exposures by 1EV but know it is easy to use the timer rather than the secret “cheat mode” needed for older Nikon DSLR’s.
Watch the video below to see how I take multiple exposures so I can create a HDR image… I am using my Nikon D800 and you will see what settings I use and how easy it is to set up a D800 for auto bracketing.
Megapixels = Megabytes… Managing the files
Just be warned that if you are planning on upgrading to a Nikon D800 you will need to consider what else needs upgrading… my hard drive and Apple iMac struggled with the new gigantic RAW files… sometimes they hit the scales at 50MB! This is something I overlooked and it wasn’t until I started working with my first SD card full of pixel goodness that I realized my current set up was not going to work… I now have a Solid State Drive and 20GB Ram in the iMac to cope…