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D800E ... sharp & not-so-sharp

Gator Bob

SANTA FE, US
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Gator Bob Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Jul 2006
Mon 05-Nov-12 10:52 PM

A brief excerpt from Ming Thein on why it can be hard to get sharp snapshots from the D800E ... but why the D800E is his camera of choice for controlled images:

"... in practical shooting ... you’ll need ... a higher shutter speed than you expect, which lowers your shooting envelope by a corresponding number of stops as noise increases as you ramp up the sensitivity to keep shutter speeds high. Perceptually, if you’re going to be shooting under already borderline conditions to get a critically sharp image with a 12MP camera, you’re not going to get one with a 36MP one ...

"... (So) bottom line: don’t use more pixels than you are capable of handling properly for a given situation. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t shoot the D800E for casual work … but it’s also the reason it’s my camera of choice when I have full control of the execution."

Gator Bob Santa Fe New Mexico
*D800E *D700 *SB800 *RRS 24L & BH-55
Nikkors: *14-24 *24-70 *70-200 VRII *T-20E III *50 f/1.8 *PC-E 85 *28-300 & Tamron 90mm Macro

klrbee25

Naples, US
1386 posts

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#1. "RE: D800E ... sharp & not-so-sharp" | In response to Reply # 0

klrbee25 Silver Member Nikonian since 03rd Jun 2006
Mon 05-Nov-12 11:42 PM | edited Mon 05-Nov-12 11:45 PM by klrbee25

I partially agree with his statements. I do notice that I shoot faster shutter speeds to get razor sharp images with my D800 (or use a tripod). But if you shoot the D800 identically to how you'd shoot a 12MP camera, then any apparent loss of sharpness would be equivalent to the 12MP camera if you downres the image to 12MP. Just don't expect to get super sharp 36MP images with anything short of super fast shutter speeds or strict adherence to proper shooting techniques. The D800 magnifies errors, so what looks acceptable with a 12MP camera may not look OK when you have 3x the pixels magnifying your shortcomings during shooting.

-Alex Rosen
www.flickr.com/photos/klrbee25/

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

Gator Bob

SANTA FE, US
582 posts

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#2. "RE: D800E ... sharp & not-so-sharp" | In response to Reply # 1

Gator Bob Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Jul 2006
Mon 05-Nov-12 11:53 PM

One reason I am keeping my D700 and nikkor 28-300mm VRII is as a carry around kit.
It's also why I said the D800E was "born for a tripod" although it also is excellent when properly hand held.

Gator Bob Santa Fe New Mexico
*D800E *D700 *SB800 *RRS 24L & BH-55
Nikkors: *14-24 *24-70 *70-200 VRII *T-20E III *50 f/1.8 *PC-E 85 *28-300 & Tamron 90mm Macro

philipl

Oxford, US
1784 posts

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#3. "RE: D800E ... sharp & not-so-sharp" | In response to Reply # 0

philipl Gold Member Nikonian since 31st May 2007
Tue 06-Nov-12 01:09 AM

I am a dermatologist and do a lot of medical / skin photography. OMG the D800 is very difficult to hand hold for close ups of skin lesions. I use a R1C1 and 60 mm AFS macro. No problems with the D700 but I definately need to knock down the megapixels with this unit.

Philip

Do not settle for mediocrity. Rather strive for excellence for even in that attempt lies a measure of success.

https://images.nikonians.org/galleries/showgallery.php/cat/500/ppuser/139567[br />"]My Gallery

InsaneO

Encino, US
395 posts

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#4. "RE: D800E ... sharp & not-so-sharp" | In response to Reply # 1

InsaneO Registered since 09th May 2012
Wed 07-Nov-12 05:52 PM | edited Wed 07-Nov-12 05:55 PM by InsaneO

>I partially agree with his statements. I do notice that I
>shoot faster shutter speeds to get razor sharp images with my
>D800 (or use a tripod). But if you shoot the D800 identically
>to how you'd shoot a 12MP camera, then any apparent loss of
>sharpness would be equivalent to the 12MP camera if you
>downres the image to 12MP. Just don't expect to get super
>sharp 36MP images with anything short of super fast shutter
>speeds or strict adherence to proper shooting techniques. The
>D800 magnifies errors, so what looks acceptable with a 12MP
>camera may not look OK when you have 3x the pixels magnifying
>your shortcomings during shooting.

What I am saying here applies to noise too.
Now, let's compare a mouse to an elephant.
If we have super-duper electronic microscope and be able to go on atomic level we would find out that mouse's atoms are exactly the same as elephant's. Yet one is many thousands times larger.
Same thing here applied to the cameras. If you have a minute camera shake on 36mp you will see it a little more than on 12mp if you zoom in to pixel level but the beauty of it is that if you look at 12mp photo @ 100% you only be looking 2.5x smaller size from 36mp and thus will Not see the same minute camera shake because you are not looking @ 100% but only about 50%. And no, my calculations are not wrong.

Johndaniel

CA
3 posts

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#5. "RE: D800E ... sharp & not-so-sharp" | In response to Reply # 1

Johndaniel Registered since 28th Oct 2012
Wed 07-Nov-12 09:35 PM

>I partially agree with his statements. I do notice that I
>shoot faster shutter speeds to get razor sharp images with my
>D800 (or use a tripod). But if you shoot the D800 identically
>to how you'd shoot a 12MP camera, then any apparent loss of
>sharpness would be equivalent to the 12MP camera if you
>downres the image to 12MP. Just don't expect to get super
>sharp 36MP images with anything short of super fast shutter
>speeds or strict adherence to proper shooting techniques. The
>D800 magnifies errors, so what looks acceptable with a 12MP
>camera may not look OK when you have 3x the pixels magnifying
>your shortcomings during shooting.
>
>-Alex Rosen
>www.flickr.com/photos/klrbee25/

Visit
>my
>Nikonians gallery>.



In my previous life, I was using Canon cameras and I did experience the same thing when I upgraded from an 8mpix camera like the 1D II to the 1DS III at 21 mpix. My full frame shots were, all things being equal, less sharp. Then you work on your technique to adapt.

I now have 2 D800e and 0 Canon, and I am used to this kind of trade off and and I manage. I guess other users will get used to it as well.

JD

ericbowles

Atlanta, US
10633 posts

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#6. "RE: D800E ... sharp & not-so-sharp" | In response to Reply # 0

ericbowles Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level skills in various areas, especially Landscape and Wildlife Photoghraphy Writer Ribbon awarded for for his article contributions to the community Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 25th Nov 2005
Thu 08-Nov-12 12:51 AM

I'm not seeing a material difference using the D800E and normal shutter speeds. Yes - if you miss focus, have inadequate DOF, or have motion the images will be soft. But I don't really agree that it requires special technique or settings. I think it is also a matter of looking at a more highly magnified image - as Alex and others suggest. I'm finding the D800E far sharper than than any other camera. It is much easier to get a sharp image than with a D7000 for example.

One other factor to keep in mind. When you have lots of detail, it is easy to have detail beyond the capability of your monitor. I find that zooming in to 50% usually reveals sharp detail that may be obscured at normal viewing. The same can be true with prints.


Eric Bowles
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Gator Bob

SANTA FE, US
582 posts

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#7. "RE: D800E ... sharp & not-so-sharp" | In response to Reply # 6

Gator Bob Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Jul 2006
Thu 08-Nov-12 01:38 AM | edited Thu 08-Nov-12 01:44 AM by Gator Bob

I too find handheld shots are very do-able if i just use the same careful technique that' makes sense for my d700. However, serious work benefits big time from a quality tripod.
Gator Bob Santa Fe New Mexico
*D800E *D700 *SB800 *RRS 24L & BH-55
Nikkors: *14-24 *24-70 *70-200 VRII *T-20E III *50 f/1.8 *PC-E 85 *28-300 & Tamron 90mm Macro

smtyoda

Ithaca, US
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#8. "RE: D800E ... sharp & not-so-sharp" | In response to Reply # 0

smtyoda Silver Member Nikonian since 16th Jul 2010
Thu 08-Nov-12 02:03 AM

I'm not sure that I would describe the D800/E as harder to get sharp shots with (although that may be the end result). I think it is that the D800/E exposes shortcomings (whether it be in equipment, technique, or subject) sooner than with a lower resolving camera.

Ming Thein brings up very good points. Also, imagine a line that is a several pixels wide (on the D800) that has slight variances in black/grey shades across it's width. The resolving power and the ability to distinguish subtle changes in shades across the line will be exposed on the D800 and the line may not appear as a sharp black or grey line...because it isn't. On a lower resolution camera, there will be fewer pixels used to render the line and they may all be represented as a single dark grey or black shade. This will come across as a nice hard edge.

I find that when I expand a tack sharp image from the D800/E to 100%, the image is so impressive that I try to expand the view farther to see more detail. Obviously that is not possible, but what I want to convey is that the pixel level sharpness or acuity (not sure if that is an appropriate term to define a pixel) fools me into thinking that there is more to see. Images loose this characteristic as the ISO increases due to noise (or blur), however.

On the other hand, I think what Ming Thein is saying is that there really is not an advantage of the D800 for photographers who are not maxing out (or cannot optimize) technique in the type of situations that they shoot. If the D800 is your only camera or your other camera is a point-and-shoot, I think the D800 is an excellent tool for nearly any type of photography...just don't expect razor sharp pixel-level viewing on all photos because in almost all environments outside of a studio, there will be "pixel-robbing" conditions conspiring against you.

Shawn

ljordan316

Inverness, US
830 posts

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#9. "RE: D800E ... sharp & not-so-sharp" | In response to Reply # 6

ljordan316 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Feb 2010
Thu 08-Nov-12 02:32 PM

I agree with you Eric.

I have been shooting D800/e now since March, and I never shot in a studio with controlled lighting. I have shot landscapes as well as birds in flight...the full spectrum of demands on a camera body.

When I am processing the images, I am still amazed at the level of details compared with my D300 and D700 bodies that I used to shoot that full spectrum.

When I see a note from someone saying they cannot shoot the D800/e in situations that they can with a D700 or D300, I just smile...because I know it can be done. I do it every week. Did it take me a while to master the D800? Yes. And it is worth every second of that time.

The first 14 birds in flight images you see at the following link were shot hand held:
http://larryjordan.smugmug.com/Animals/Florida-Wildlife/13940239_x8VjnW#!i=2203004109&k=BrTxXmt

You cannot match the details you see there with lesser Nikon camera bodies.

Larry Jordan

D800E, D500, 14-24, 16-35, 24-70, 70-180 Micro, 80-400mm AF-S, 500mm AF-S II

Website:
http://larryjordan.smugmug.com/

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CaptainYooh

Calgary, CA
377 posts

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#10. "RE: D800E ... sharp & not-so-sharp" | In response to Reply # 9

CaptainYooh Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Oct 2011
Thu 08-Nov-12 07:13 PM

>...
>The first 14 birds in flight images you see at the following
>link were shot hand held:
>http://larryjordan.smugmug.com/Animals/Florida-Wildlife/13940239_x8VjnW#!i=2203004109&k=BrTxXmt
>.
Great shots, Larry! So far I could only achieve this kind of sharpness off a tripod. How do you do it handheld??? Please share.

Of those 14, I really loved this particular shot.

http://larryjordan.smugmug.com/Animals/Florida-Wildlife/13940239_x8VjnW#!i=2007867219&k=kBNtXL6&lb=1&s=XL

What a beauty! Which lens was it and from what distance?

Please and thanks.

My Flickr Photostream: https://www.flickr.com/photos/51693447@N06/albums

ljordan316

Inverness, US
830 posts

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#11. "RE: D800E ... sharp & not-so-sharp" | In response to Reply # 10

ljordan316 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Feb 2010
Thu 08-Nov-12 08:17 PM | edited Thu 08-Nov-12 08:58 PM by ljordan316

Hmmmm...the 14 that I reference may not be same as the 14 that you see first. I guess the user can select the order in which you see the images. I have the gallery set to automatically sort based on the date I posted the images...last in, first in the viewing order.

If you can change the viewing order, that is the sorting you will want to see my last 14 images that I mentioned. I shot them within the last two weeks.

The hawk shot you reference was shot with my D800e, but I did use a tripod for that one. I took that one in August.

My hand held shots were all done with the 200-400mm lens, and I was literally supporting the lens with my hand or with a BushHawk grip. The BushHawk has a stock that allows you to pull the grip back against your shoulder. It does add some stability, but it also allows you to track a bird more easily and fire bursts while keeping the center focus point on the bird. I keep the device on one of my D800e bodies now all the time. I started using it on October 29th.

For handheld shots, my ISO ranged from 400 to 1250 with most images shot at 1000 or less. I used aperture priority for all shots even though I was advised to try manual in order to get a more precise meter reading and exposure (using exposure compensation when required). I found that the dynamic range of the D800e was so wide that I did not have to go to manual and spot metering. That is one of the beauties of the D800/e...you can get away from exposure compensation for most BIF shots.

I used matrix metering for most shots.

I did not use VR. It was turned off for all shots.

I started off on my last bird trek shooting wide open, but I found I could stop down to f/6.3 to get more DOF and still get enough shutter speed. My shutter speeds ranged from 1/1250 to 1/5000, with an average of 1/2500.

By the way, I found that I could not get the rate of keepers that I wanted with AF activation set to AF-ON as I do for all other shooting. I had to switch to Shutter/AF-ON because I could not move my fingers fast enough to use AF-On only. With the BushHawk, you have no choice but to do that because the trigger uses your cable release connection. It acts just like a cable release but with a shutter button-like travel and feel.

I suspect that a lot of hand held problems that people have with the D800/e is too much jambing down on the shutter button when shooting. I found that using the shutter button the same way I was trained to shoot an M-14 in the US Marines works best. Gently push the button down until it fires while I am exhaling. You get a bulls eye (tack sharp image) with no blur every time if the camera settings are right.

Larry Jordan

D800E, D500, 14-24, 16-35, 24-70, 70-180 Micro, 80-400mm AF-S, 500mm AF-S II

Website:
http://larryjordan.smugmug.com/

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

CaptainYooh

Calgary, CA
377 posts

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#12. "RE: D800E ... sharp & not-so-sharp" | In response to Reply # 11

CaptainYooh Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Oct 2011
Thu 08-Nov-12 09:52 PM

Thanks for such a detail reply, Larry. OK, I see what you mean. When I scrolled forward to the last page, I saw the images you're referring to. There was one there that I also found simply spectacular:

http://larryjordan.smugmug.com/Animals/Florida-Wildlife/13940239_x8VjnW#!i=1025148940&k=mg6tCHB&lb=1&s=XL

I don't have BushHawk but I did try using a similar shoulder support brace made by Leica for their Telyt f/6.4 400mm and 560mm lenses that I had "leitaxed" to mount on my D800E. They are quite a bit lighter than the 200-400 Nikkor and designed to be handheld. This is as sharp as I was able to get it handheld using manual sliding focus on the 400mm lens at maximum aperture:






I am still not fully happy with the results though, so I'll have to keep playing with various ISO/shutter speed combinations.

My Flickr Photostream: https://www.flickr.com/photos/51693447@N06/albums

ljordan316

Inverness, US
830 posts

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#13. "RE: D800E ... sharp & not-so-sharp" | In response to Reply # 12

ljordan316 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Feb 2010
Thu 08-Nov-12 10:50 PM

These look pretty sharp to me...but then they are small and low ppi. Hard to judge without a full image and zooming to 100%.

Larry Jordan

D800E, D500, 14-24, 16-35, 24-70, 70-180 Micro, 80-400mm AF-S, 500mm AF-S II

Website:
http://larryjordan.smugmug.com/

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

Gator Bob

SANTA FE, US
582 posts

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#14. "RE: D800E ... sharp & not-so-sharp" | In response to Reply # 8

Gator Bob Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Jul 2006
Thu 08-Nov-12 11:28 PM

What you said is precisely why I said the D800E is "born for a tripod". Yes, I use it regularly to obtain very good hand held images ... but ... IMHO, the D800 E really is born for a tripod.

Gator Bob Santa Fe New Mexico
*D800E *D700 *SB800 *RRS 24L & BH-55
Nikkors: *14-24 *24-70 *70-200 VRII *T-20E III *50 f/1.8 *PC-E 85 *28-300 & Tamron 90mm Macro

ljordan316

Inverness, US
830 posts

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#15. "RE: D800E ... sharp & not-so-sharp" | In response to Reply # 14

ljordan316 Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Feb 2010
Fri 09-Nov-12 06:31 PM

If these things are now reproducing by themselves (born), I wasted my money buying the second body. I coulda just waited for the next one to be born! Bummer!

Larry Jordan

D800E, D500, 14-24, 16-35, 24-70, 70-180 Micro, 80-400mm AF-S, 500mm AF-S II

Website:
http://larryjordan.smugmug.com/

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

Clint S

Chula Vista, US
460 posts

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#16. "RE: D800E ... sharp & not-so-sharp" | In response to Reply # 0

Clint S Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Jan 2011
Sat 10-Nov-12 06:56 PM

I'm not so sure I agree with Ming Thein. For me, handholding the d800/E is much easier to get as sharp or sharper images than from the D7000 under any conditions.

One has to press and release the shutter button without moving the camera to get the best result. So the timing and how one releases the shutter button, is as important as the pressing action. I do not think the shutter button release is discussed often enough when talking about technique.

If I want very large prints critically sharp I'm not going to be handholding unless there is no other option. I cannot think of a camera that a tripod, when possible to use one, would not provide at least some minor photo acuity benefit when making large prints.

Smaller prints and computer based images can help hide issues and I think even more so with 36mp.

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G