Trying out a Nikon D800 - Part 1: Video
I recently had the opportunity to borrow a friend’s Nikon D800. While the D800 is an older camera now at this stage, I was keen to try it out, as I love my D700 and I wanted to see how it performed. I had borrowed it before, but not for as long. The lat time I had it I had shot a very short sequence of video, and I was impressed. This time I wanted to shoot a bit more video and see how good it was, more for curiosity than anything.
I haven’t done a properly planned shoot. I just shot some footage while out and about. This isn’t an attempt at doing a scientific test. I just want to make that clear, because usually, someone will complain that I haven’t done this or that, or it’s not a proper test. I know it’s not. It’s not supposed to be. I just wanted to see what it would be like shooting wth, in an informal setting.
For shooting purposes, I had a Zacuto Z-finder on the back so I could see the screen close up and I was using the Nikon 24-120mm lens. I ended up with 3 short videos. One on the Tram on the way in, one of all the construction work around the place, and the other of a Swan cleaning itself in the local park.
Generally, the video quality on the D800 is very good. Sure, it’s not 4K but it’s still of a pretty high quality. The image is clean and generally aliasing free, although you can see a bit on fine patterns like brickwork. The one thing I did notice is that there is no headroom in the video. On other systems, there will be a little bit of detail above white and below black that you can recover in post, but on this, it’s a flat cut off at 100%. This is probably more to do with the codec than the actual camera.
Speaking of which, the only real issue I had is the low bit rate. It was fine for most things, but on a sequence, with a lot of movement in the water (The Swan sequence) the video started to show a degree of compression artefacts, which is to be expected. I could have recorded the uncompressed output to get around this issue, but I didn’t have access to an external recorder. Having said that, the codec does do pretty well considering the low bit rate.
Overall though, I liked the video quality. There is something to be said for the full frame look. It’s smooth and the bokeh is lovely. There’s just a quality to it, that I can’t quite describe. I was using a good lens too so that helped. I have shot lots of stills with the camera too, and I’ll cover them in another post soon.
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