The Nikon D800 Field Review
If you’ve read one of my reviews, you know the deal on how I approach the reviews. If you haven’t, I’ll go ahead and let you know that this is a practical field impression review, there are plenty of dependable resources online like Dpreview.com and the like that are much better at full technical reviews. I take these cameras out into the field, use them for my personal style of shooting, and then relay those experiences here in these reviews. While it is great knowing all of the technical qualities of a camera and it’s capabilities, if I don’t like the way it responds in the field then it’s essentially worthless to me. I think this is how a lot of photographers feel too, so that is why I write these kinds of reviews for your perusal. Enjoy.
First off, the thing most of you are primarily concerned with: the best part about this camera is the images. I know that the question “how could 36 megapixels not be amazing?” is probably already running through your head. That’s not even the point on this one, as the image is just rendered wonderfully with a great dynamic range and wonderful color representation. Zooming in 100% on your favorite image editing program will blow you away when you are processing your files, but the output without any tweaking is just spectacular.
I used the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G Lens with the D800 on this shoot, and that is a truly beautiful lens deserving of a whole separate review. I also had a Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Lens which is an equally great lens, but it stayed in my bag for the most part on this particular review. I was shooting a lot of images from a ways away, and so the 85mm was a much more useful focal length for what I was doing.
when shooting, and you can definitely tell that Nikon’s famed Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro (he designed some of Nikon’s most popular cameras dating back to the F3 and also designed the D4) really put some good time into thinking out how the Nikon D800 Digital SLR Camera was going to respond in the photographer’s hands. A truly solid feel, and easy to hold in portrait, you can really swing the camera around without any concern of losing your grip on the body.
The autofocus was fast and responsive, and even with the 85mm at f/2 and lots of subject movement, I had a ton of images that were held in perfect focus. Nikon’s front and back dials for aperture/shutter speed adjustment made exposure adjustment a snap. (EDIT: as a note, I only used the center focus point during this shoot, so I had no issues with focus shifts at all) All in all, this camera made me think less about fiddling with settings (I was shooting in all manual however) and more about just shooting, which I love.
I was able to notice the “green casts” on the rear LCD that everyone online has been talking about, but the LCD images are not your final images, and if you shoot in RAW and normally adjust your white balance in post, then this issue really is not an issue for you.
From customers that I have talked to about this camera like Christian Stogner, they have all had rave reviews about the camera’s perfomance too: “The difference between my D700 to this D800 is night and day, I am loving this thing! Thank you so much!!”
Bayou Cafe by Christian Stogner of www.hdrphotography.net
Republished with Permission
Really, the camera was a major step in the right direction for Nikon’s lineup, and from here the offerings should only get better. My only complaint with this camera is really not a complaint at all:
The RAW files are massive.
You must be aware that if you intend to purchase this camera and have a 5 year old computer, you will be needing to upgrade your computer system alongside your camera upgrade. Lightroom 3 will not process these RAW files either. With every major new advance in digital technology you must also advance the rest of your related electronic technology, this is part of the inherent nature of the beast that is digital photography. The only reason I felt like this must be mentioned is I have talked to customers who complained about this and while they understood this principle, it was not a full system upgrade they were expecting to buy into alongside the camera. I feel for them too, because when I was processing the files for this review my computer (only a year old, by the way) took nearly 2 hours to process 200 files into Lightroom 4. I ended up just cleaning up around the house while I waited.
This camera is for serious professionals. It is not even an upgrade from the Nikon D700, this is a full fledged new camera technology that Nikon has developed that truly rivals medium format in a (relatively) affordable and more (again, relatively) compact package. If you are looking to upgrade your Nikon D700 or Nikon D7000/D300/D300s, you might want to wait to see what the rumored Nikon D600 has to offer.
Bottom line: this camera is plain awesome, and some serious bang for your buck. Do be prepared to process your files with equipment and time that is normally required only for medium format shooters.