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- Extreme resolution 36.3-megapixel FX-format (35.9 x 24.0mm) CMOS sensor
- Full 1080p HD broadcast quality video and minimized rolling shutter
- View simultaneous Live View output on external monitors and record uncompressed video via HDMI terminal
- Multi-Area Full HD D-Movie Video Recording Mode
- Comprehensive high fidelity audio recording and playback control
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Hold in your hands an HD-DSLR able to capture images rivaled only by that produced by a medium-format camera: extremely low noise, incredible dynamic range, the most faithful colors, the broadest tonal range. Meet the Nikon D800, a 36.3 megapixel FX-format D-SLR for professional photographers who require end results of the highest quality; who demand superior performance, speed, handling and a fully integrated imaging system. For multimedia professionals, 36.3MP means true 1080p HD cinematic quality video. The essential tool for today’s still and video professional, every photo will astound, every video will dazzle.
Nikon D800 Body Only Review
I know that the D800 is not really the replacement model over the D700. Nevertheless, it did replace my old D700 and the D800 is, I believe, better suited for my photographic needs than the D700, i.e., studio, portraits, and landscape.
The D700 was and still is an outstanding DSLR. The D800 is of course better, but in a very perceptible way, which was quite a surprise to me.
I have done over 5000 shots since my purchase on 24 March. So far, no issues to report: no green cast from the LCD and no problems with the CLS system.
Nikon has really outperformed with this new DSLR and the clear improvements are:
- Much improved Dynamic Range, which was my main problem since my first DSLR
- Better colors straight off the camera: deeper and richer
- Better AF in low light
- Highly detailed photographs at full res, 100% magnification and also when down-scaling the photos.
Let's not forget a proper and useable HD video feature at broadcasting quality.
On the negative side (there has to be some):
- The zoom in and zoom out buttons are reversed from the old models, which is now more logical, but I am used to the old wrong way! it's a minor problem of course.
- D4 has backlit buttons, why not on the D800? This can't be that expensive to include.
- Very expensive Battery pack, this is a major drawback for me. But yes, the D800 is well priced at $3000. I just hate ridiculously priced accessories.
- still wonder the point of having 1 CF slot and 1 SD slot. 2 CF slots would have been superb. But I guess if you come from a SD card DSLR, that would be practical for you.
One crucial point that has to be considered when acquiring a 36MP DSLR: storage will be an issue. I just purchased a 4TB ext hard drive. A 14-bit RAW file (uncompressed) coming from the D800 will average 75MB.
I just shot a wedding, and I consider the D800 to be an excellent choice for the job. All the complains about shots being more blurry at 100% magnification are irrelevant. One has to be precise with his/her settings, at the right exposure and optimal shutter speed, results can be absolutely mind-blowing. And since most won't need 36MP for wedding photographs, down-scaling images will certainly eliminate slight camera-shake or noise.
One particular aspect that I appreciate is that my Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G is now tack-sharp at f/1.4. I had a front focusing issue with my old D700 even with the fine-tune option set to max. Since I'm no techie geek, I still don't understand why the D700 gave me problems with the 85mm.
Anyway, I used to be one of those people saying that digital photography will never replace film photography. The D800 body has changed all that.
See that my purchase is verified by Amazon. Below are my observations after one month of ownership.
My Nikon D800 Body Only review
+ Resolution: With the right lenses and on the right settings the detail astonishing.
+ Dynamic Range: Incredible, when shooting in lower ISO's it is near impossible to ruin a photo. Do an internet search for: "fred miranda d800 review Yosemite" to see real life comparisons.
+ Color: Adobe profiles in LR and ACR are horrible, create custom profiles using a QPCard 203 (Avail directly from manufacture) or use a MacBeth chart with Adobe DNG profiler for great colors.
+ AutoWB: Works well in about 70% of lighting scenarios, much better than the D3/D700. *** See Tip Below ***
+ Low ISO: Having a true 100 ISO is godsend for on-location studio lighting setups.
+ High ISO: The D800 and LR4 do an excellent job in controlling noise. Using PS plugins a properly exposed image can print acceptable 6x9's at 12800 ISO (max for D3/D700's is 6400).
+ LiveView: The live exposure preview is a new and pleasant feature.
+ Build and Weatherproofing: I shot three weddings with this camera and all three had slight to heavy rain. The camera performed excellent in all occasions, as did my D3.
+ Tonality: With a good camera profile in LR4, the tonal range rivals Fujifilm 400H Film. This is incredibly useful on portraits with 3-1 or 4-1 lighting ratios. Posterization in the shadows (the DSLRs Achilles' heel) is only noticeable on highly manipulated images.
+ Handling: The auto ISO is easy to engage and the new position of the ISO button is more intuitive when looking through the viewfinder than on the D700. Like the D700, the D800 is extremely customizable.
+ Autofocus modes: S(ingle) AF point is very good for stationary subjects at close and far distances; 9 point AF: works well with close range subjects that move, but in long distance shots it may select a contrasty pattern on the shoulder and throw the eyes a bit out of focus; 3-D: tries to follow the subject based on color and it works quite well; Auto: looks for what it thinks it the closest face. It comes in handy when taking action photos with the camera overhead.
~ Handling: I prefer the AF switches of the D700. The magnification + - are opposite from the D700, a small irritation.
~ Exposure: Better than D3/D700, but far from perfect. Contrary to Nikon's literature, it struggles with backlit scenes.
~ Frames per second: I rarely shoot in continuous, and when I do, I have my D3/D700 set to CL (continuous low-speed) of 3 FPS.
~ Battery Performance: It can get me through a full day's shoot if I avoid extensive LiveView or WiFi use, otherwise I need to use a backup battery.
~ Autofocus: The AF is very similar to the D3/D700, good but could have been better. The center sensors are quick and reliable, the extreme corners work well, but they are not as quick and require high contrast subjects. For example, when shooting with the razor-thin DOF of the 85mm 1.4, slight rocking back and forth movements will cause plenty of out of focus shots. Set the camera on a tripod and the outer sensor works perfect on subjects with contrast. The center sensors are quicker at micro adjustments and compensates quickly for movements.
- Software: Nikon software can produce excellent results, but it is clunky and slow.
- Handling: The mode selector button is awkwardly placed. I prefer the D7000 U1/U2 style custom banks.
- JPEG: Nikon has the worst jpeg engine; competitors like Olympus, Panasonic, and Canon put it to shame. Although I would never shoot JPG, there are those that do, and this camera will be a letdown.
- Autofocus: 1.) All 51 points are still too centrally located 2.) No increase in cross-type sensors over the D3/D700 3.) All the cross-type AF sensors are in the middle. 4.) Like the D3/700, the outer sensors are near useless in low lit, low contrast situations.
- LiveView: There is a well reported bug when using LiveView at 100% viewing, although I am still able to focus, I heard that is a deal-breaker for many landscape shooters. I have no idea how people survived 100 years of film or shoot $20k+ Hasselblad's.
D800 resolution on tested lenses:
* Nikon 24-70 2.8 G: Center good f/4-5, excellent from 5.6-9; Corners good from f/5.6-9
* Nikon 35mm 1.4 G: Center good F/1.4-2.0, excellent from F/2.2-11; Corners good at F/2.0-3.5, excellent from F/4-11
* Nikon 50mm 1.8 G: Center excellent from F/1.8-11; Corners good at F/1.8-2.8, excellent from F/3.2-11 >> 1st lens sample fared slightly worse wide open, but still good
* Nikon 85mm 1.4 G: Center excellent from F/1.4-11; Corners good at F/1.4-2.5, excellent from F/2.8-11
* Nikon 85mm 1.8 G: Center excellent from F/1.8-11; Corners good at F/1.8-2.5, excellent from F/2.8-9
* Nikon 70mm-200mm 2.8 G: Center excellent from F/2.8-11; Corners good at F/2.8-4, excellent from F/4.5-9
*** TIP *** Remove the dreaded Nikon green cast by shifting the WB Fine-Tune (pg. 149) 1 or 2 points toward Magenta on each (AutoWB, Custom, Shade, Daylight, etc..) WB settings and get much better results short of using a QP Card 202/203 or X-Rite Passport for every scene change.
Using proper technique, the images this camera produces are superior to the D3/D700 in every measurable aspect. Would I jump systems for this camera? If I owned a large collection of top-tier gear, NO! Otherwise, I would consider it if I was not too invested into another system. Does it equal or better Medium Format? There are differences in perspective, defraction limits, DOF, FOV, and CANNOT BE COMPARED.
Having shot Canon (FD, 630, A2, Elan II, 20D, 40D, 5D I &II, 1D's) Nikon (FM, F4, F100, D200, D300s, D7000, D700, D800, D3), Fuji (S3, S5), Mamiya (645, RB67), and Hasselblad (H4D-40), I know that they are excellent tools that are capable of creating amazing images. Pick the one that best fits your needs and enjoy the fine art of photography and avoid online forum squabbles. :)
********* 07/11/12 Update: *********
For some strange reason Adobe does a great job rendering WB with Canon and struggles with Nikon. The WB looks great in Nikon Software; unfortunately the Nikon's workflow is clumsy and substantially slower than Adobe LR, which kills the usefulness of AutoWB for large projects. For Adobe LR, it is best to use a WB target, which kind of stinks when working in fast pace environments. I may consider trying out Phase Ones's Capture ONE to see if it looks closer to Nikon's Capture NX, but I am waiting on QP Card to add support for TIFF files so I can create icc profiles.
Other than a few ergonomics shortfalls (compared to D700) this camera continues to amaze. The best $3k I ever spent.
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