I am using a D300 for birds mostly. I am not liking the slow shutter speed with the d800. Does anyone have an opinion or experience with this camera and birds? I am taking a hard look at the D4 as well. I would like to buy the cheaper version if possible. I just don't know if all of those megapixels will benefit me. Thanks..
#3. "RE: Birds" In response to Reply # 2 Thu 15-Nov-12 01:14 AM by MotoMannequin
Livermore, CA, US
In DX crop mode, the D800 will give basically similar performance to your D300 in low light/high ISO. Possibly slight advantage goes to D800 but I wouldn't expect more than 1 stop better performance. Shutter speed shouldn't be different but frame rate will be. The pixel count doesn't matter; in fact it's a red herring.
I think if you get a grip which allows 6fps in DX mode, you should be in a similar performance range. If you can get a 1.5x longer lens and shoot in FX mode then you should get better low light performance but you'll be limited to 4fps. For birders, longer lens generally isn't a realistic option.
Ultimately, if you're focal length limited and cropping deeper than DX already, then there really is still nothing that beats a D300/s right now, which is why I still use my D300s for birding, despite owning D7000 and D800. D5200 may prove to be an interesting package, but I still believe we won't see any camera thoroughly beat the D300 at this game, until there's a D400.
First, I'll say I have never used a D300. I have used a D7000 for two years, and since August, a D800. I shoot mostly wildlife also.
You said you don't like the slow shutter speed of the D800. Do you mean the frame rate? The camera will shoot 4 fps in FX mode, 5 fps in either 1.2 crop or 1.5 crop (DX).
I think there have only been a few times I wished for more fps. I figure if a bird moves fast enough that I can't capture a few good shots with 4 or 5 fps, chances are I'm not going to have time to lock focus on it anyways.
There is so much more to gain from the D800 that fps should not be the only factor to look at. I think the AF system is fantastic. I use AF-C 21 points for birds in flight and get great results. I use a AF S 300mm f4 with a 2X converter (f8 max aperture) and the AF system works great. My D7000 struggles to focus this setup.
Thanks for the feedback. I guess I am used to my d300 in
7fps. Am I right in thinking I can crop a better picture with
more megapixels? I would like to buy a longer lens, but right
now I am having to get by with the newest version of the 300mm
and teleconverters. I also have thought about the D4. I don't
know if I qualify for the D4. my photography skills are
intermediate at best. I really like shooting the small birds,
but reach is a problem. Any opinions or suggestions?
Birds and wildlife are my main interest to which I am returning after a 2 year detour and I've been working the D800 for this subject more lately. The CH frame rate is a disadvantage for birds in action but it's not that bad. The AF improvements are definitely nice. The problem with the D800 is mainly when you plan to use it as a crutch to avoid getting closer. LOTS of wasted disk space if you don't get the shot you're looking for in camera. It adds up quickly.
But if you can get closer... then the D800 is excellent. The D4 has some advantages in low light and frame rate over the D800 but the D800 can still serve you just fine with some practice and accepting its limitations.
>Thanks for the feedback. I guess I am used to my d300 in >7fps. Am I right in thinking I can crop a better picture with >more megapixels? I would like to buy a longer lens, but right >now I am having to get by with the newest version of the 300mm >and teleconverters. I also have thought about the D4. I don't >know if I qualify for the D4. my photography skills are >intermediate at best. I really like shooting the small birds, >but reach is a problem. Any opinions or suggestions?
I had a D300. I have a D800, and a D4. I haven't shot a lot of birds lately but living in Florida that's just kind of required. So my 2 cents (worth at most 3 cents less than that):
I shot the D300 in 14 bit so it had a very slow frame rate. If you are shooting at 7FPS if my memory is correct you are shooting JPG. If that's true, I'd reconsider that first before worrying about the rest. With JPG you are losing at least a stop if not two of quality at high ISO and/or low light. At 12 vs. 14 bit you are losing a tiny amount of detail in shadows as well.
Neither of these problems occur on the D800, the 14 vs. 12 bit is the same frame rate. And yes, it's a tiny bit slower than the D300 in JPG.
The D4 is a large step up in frame rate, but is double the price, and a completely different camera. I'd use the D4 only if I were shooting birds in flight in a serious way (not just the occasional "oh look, the spoonbills are landing"). I vastly prefer the detail on the D800 with birds, especially as you never have a long enough lens, and you can crop significantly more with the D800. The slightly better low light performance of the D4 is going to very rarely be an benefit for birds (though not never).
Either one makes a great birding camera, but I would personally go with the D800, not just for cost reasons but all those pixels. And be $3000 to the good toward that next lens.
The D800 will give you 15mp in DX mode (4800 x 3200 pixels), compared to 12mp from your D300. IMO, the D800 in DX mode, has the same resolution as a D7000 but with better ISO quality.
Your 300mm with the TC20E III would be a very nice 600mm lens. Getting more reach than this will cost a lot more money. Getting close to small birds is difficult and for me is more luck than skill. I often find a place with a lot of bird activity and then stand still and wait for them to come to me rather than trying to pursue the birds. If you don't move much you'll be surprised how well this works.
The D4 is 16mp in FX mode, so you would need a really long lens to be able to fill the frame with a small bird. It would not give you as many pixels to crop into as the D800. Probably less than your D300.
Here's a good example of the high ISO capabilities of the D800. This was shot in FX mode, ISO 3200.
Oh yes, I do understand. 1st - I also went from a D300 to a D800, 2nd - for small birds there is not a lens long enough, and 3rd – I’m defiantly at best an intermediate amateur. I have both the 200-400 f/4 and a 300 f/2.8 so with a TC-2-III I have 600mm @ f/5.6 (IQ very good) or 800mm @ f/8 (IQ not so good). I can hand hold the 300mm with or without a TC for a very few frames. With the D800's resolution high shutter speed is imperative for sharp images – 1.5 to 2 times the inverse of the lens length. Thus 300mm f/2.8 or (if your strong and don't need a new car anytime soon) consider the 400mm f/2.8. It loves TCs and with a 1.4 you're at 560mm @ f/4 with the option of a very fast 400mm. Brad Hill loooves his 400mm. His work justifies his love.
I have used the 600mm f/4 (rented for a trip to Yellowstone) with my D300 and found the lens a bit much for me. I'm not a big man. Remembering my intermediate amateur long lens technique, even on a good tripod using a TC-2 with the 600mm (1200mm) my shots were #### but at 600mm I got some nice shots. My point is, 600mm @ f5.6 using a D800 is a nice solution and not much of a compromise. I do not miss the frame rate, maybe because I've never had it as I shot 14bit RAW with my D300.
Another thought; RRS and the Nikonian store have long lens supports. I have the RRS version and it does make a difference.
#11. "RE: Birds" In response to Reply # 4 Sat 17-Nov-12 04:29 AM by dm1dave
This is because that that low light performance is always best in an uncropped image. Anytime you crop an image to enlarge your subject you are also enlarging any visible noise. This is true of any camera.
Now, you will not see a difference when looking at the image at 100% on the computer screen. The difference will be seen in the final output.
Dave Summers Lowden, Iowa Nikonians Photo Contest Director
Nikonians membership - "My most important photographic investment, after the camera"
I have been shooting raptors during the fall migration, since 2009, this year using a D800E. Previously I have used the D3 and D3X. The shooting can be fast and furious. Light is generally problematic. Part of my results are a product of experience but also the hi-res and speed (relative term) of the 800E. I now own 2.
Thanks Linwood, I find that the 400 is not always long enough for small birds and I have had to crop severely and the noise and quality of the cropped image is pretty good. I know the dx mode would give a larger image but would the noise level be manageable? I will certainly follow your excellent advice and try both. Attached is a cropped image of a White-crowned Sparrow from the D800.
>Thanks Linwood, I find that the 400 is not always long enough >for small birds and I have had to crop severely and the noise >and quality of the cropped image is pretty good. I know the dx >mode would give a larger image but would the noise level be >manageable?
I believe (and it is more belief than science as I have not tried as I sold my D300) that the noise level will be lower in the D800 for an equivalent number of pixels with all other things being equal. It's a 6 year (+/-) newer sensor, and about the same pixel density. My guess is you will see almost a stop less noise.
I notice the above image is at ISO 1400 but at 1/8000th of a second, so bringing down the ISO will get rid of the vast majority of that noise. Even a quickly moving sparrow probably doesn't need 1/8000th (that's assuming my exif viewer is right, it's giving me an add fstop so maybe it wasn't).