Some Thoughts on Shooting with a D800
As I mentioned last week, I had recently borrowed a friends Nikon D800 to try it out. I’ve long had a D700 and it is one of my favourite cameras of all time. While the D800 is getting old now, and a generation behind, I was still curious to use it. Shooting it was an interesting experience and I thought I would share a few random thoughts on using it. So, in no particular order, here are some of my findings.
The biggest difference that I noticed, surprisingly wasn’t the resolution, but the dynamic range. The dynamic range was always a bit limiting n the D700, especially compared to modern cameras, and you really notice it on the D800. While the resolution is great to have, especially for making large prints, the extra dynamic range stood out to me. Colours are also more vibrant, but it does look similar to the D700.
The camera controls are similar, but different enough to be a little frustrating when one is used to the D700. The one thing that I found particularly annoying was the newer autofocus mode switch. I much prefer the older method that Nikon used on the D700. With that, you could switch between modes with one hand, but now you have to push a button and turn a dial. It’s not a huge deal, but the older method was better, in my opinion.
Another interesting thing that I found was, that it’s quite hard on certain lenses. Lenses that were good on my D700 weren’t good enough on the D800. The surprising thing about this was that it wasn’t the lenses that I was expecting. My Sigma 70-200 f2.8 for example, which is great on my D700 seemed to show much more optical artifacts on the D800. You can see the optical limitations. On the other hand, the Nikon 28-300, which I always found ok, but not brilliant on the D700 actually shines on the D800. It’s weird. I wasn’t expecting that at all.
The camera does appear a little buggy too. I can see why the D810 came out so quickly afterwards, but that kind of screwed D800 users. It’s not major thing, just little issues. The autofocus seems a little off at times. Not hugely, but it seems to have issues with subjects that are fine on my D700. It seemed slower too in some respects than my D700, but only in certain conditions. It’s possible that there was just a problem with my friend’s camera. I also found that the buffer seemed to fill really quickly. I was trying to shoot some boat racing wth it, and, while I know it’s not a sports camera, and I wasn’t shooting high speed sequences, but it still locked up after a surprisingly short period.
Overall though, I did really like the images that I was getting form it. The colours are bright, vivid and natural. There is still the lovely full frame look, especially with the right lenses. The 36mp resolution is great for both cropping, and for printing large (A problem I have run into on files from my D700). Would I buy a D810, or used D800? I don’t think so. I think I would wait to see what comes next, although I would also strongly consider the Sony alternative (A7RII). I do love my X-Pro2, but I still like the look a full frame camera gives you. I would like to consider the Fuji GF-X at some point, but it’s a bit out of my price range.
Here are some of the images that I’ve taken with it while I had the camera on loan. It’s a pretty random collection, but it gives you an idea. Enjoy.
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