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D800 first impressions, what a piece of...... !

Phil Pound

Co Cork, IE
211 posts

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Phil Pound Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning a Nikonians Annual Photo Contest Laureate Ribbon awarded for his second win of a Nikonians Annual Photo Contest Registered since 31st Oct 2011
Wed 03-Oct-12 06:35 PM | edited Thu 04-Oct-12 06:12 PM by Phil Pound

I got my D800 a week or so ago, the first time I took it out with my 600mm, I took it to a local estuary at a place called Rosscarbery. One of my favourite locations, I have managed to get lots of great shots down there in the past.
As I arrived the sun went behind a cloud, so I thought lets see what the ISO is like, I set it up the same as I would my D3 or D3x (autofocus etc), on a Gimbal head on a sturdy tripod. I got the shock of my life, out of focus, noisy, horrible, horrible photos, when I got home to look at them on my computer screen, I kept 3 out of 400! I thought the autofocus was off and I was not impressed with the camera at all, seagulls in flight, dipping in and out of the water should not be that hard to photo. And to add insult to injury a brand new 32gb SD card failed, never have I had a card fail on me before, I was severly disillusioned.

The next day I tested the D800 in the studio with all my other lenses, perfect autofocus, sharp images, excellant high ISO performance. What had I done wrong the day before ? So, anyway, I came to a few conclusions, I am used to a much heavier camera (D3 / D3x) on my 600mm lens, I just needed to tweak my technique and I have ordered the battery grip to add some physical weight to the camera (its far to light and too small without a grip). I went out this afternoon in my hide, a sunnier day, the light was much nicer and I got some great shots with the gimbal head properly tensioned and the camera / lens combo balanced correctly. I am certainly happier today than I was a few days ago. I put most of the problems down to poor technique, or I was just having a really, really bad day.

As for the SD card, I never usually buy cheap cards so why on earth I bought the ones I did this time I do not know, they were not the cheapest but half the price of the sandisks I was looking at. To solve that a handfull of 16 and 32Gb sandisks arrived in the post today, the costly ones, as reccomended in the D800 manual. So that should solve that problem.

The two shots below of a Great Tit were done at the following settings:- D800, 600mm VR, Gimbal head on a sturdy tripod, f16, 1/1000 sec, ISO 1400, -1EV, fine weather WB, Continuous High Shooting, AF-C, 21 point Dynamic, Matrix meter, Raw written to 32 GB Sandisk extreme CF card and 32GB Sandisk extreme pro SD card. I used the camera in DX crop mode 600mm = 900mm and a 15.4 megapixel file. And for the first time I tried out Auto ISO and was pleased with the result in Aperture priority.

To conclude, the D800 is not anything like shooting a D3x, but it will do nicely (as soon as I get the grip, or else attach a lump of lead to add some weight!).

Hope you enjoy the shots.

Cheers

Phil

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Click on image to view larger version


Attachment#1 (jpg file)
Attachment#2 (jpg file)

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ericbowles

Atlanta, US
10631 posts

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#1. "RE: D800 first impressions, what a piece of...... !" | 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 04-Oct-12 05:26 PM

Phil

Congrats on your D800 now that you have it managed. It is a bit different from other cameras - but your bird images show the potential. I did some similar testing on birds when mine arrived and was blown away by the detail. I could even read the numbers on the band on the leg of one small bird. These images show both the wonderful dynamic range and the level of detail.

You might try opening up a bit from f/16 for more sharpness. Above f/9 you are in the range where there is increasing impact of diffraction. A little diffraction is completely acceptable, but by f/16 or f/22 it can be a problem. Of course, it's your call on the tradeoff with DOF.

Eric Bowles
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Phil Pound

Co Cork, IE
211 posts

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#2. "RE: D800 first impressions, what a piece of...... !" | In response to Reply # 1

Phil Pound Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning a Nikonians Annual Photo Contest Laureate Ribbon awarded for his second win of a Nikonians Annual Photo Contest Registered since 31st Oct 2011
Thu 04-Oct-12 08:43 PM

Thanks Eric, I would normally shoot f8 (if light levels permit) and sometimes f11 but was just pushing it a little to see how the higher ISO would look. Now I have pinned down my technique with a much lighter camera, I am a lot happier. As you say the detail in the shots is impressive.
The grip should be in the camera store tomorrow, but having said that it was supposed to come with the camera, then it was supposed to arrive last monday, I am not holding my breath, it will get here when it gets here. I just hope he has gotten in the spare batteries I need, one of those little batteries does not last very long at all.

I have a group of friends coming around one evening next week to do some headshots, my headshot is at least ten years old and needs updating, so we shall see how the D800 performs under proper studio conditions. If my headshot turns out half decent I will post it.

Thanks again.
Phil

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MEMcD

US
31603 posts

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#3. "RE: D800 first impressions, what a piece of...... !" | In response to Reply # 0

MEMcD Moderator In depth knowledge in various areas Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007
Thu 04-Oct-12 09:04 PM

Hi Phil,

Glad to hear you have the problem sorted out.
As for SD cards, I can't bring myself to put one in the camera.
I am using only CF cards and don't see a reason to change.
Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!

Best Regards,
Marty

Phil Pound

Co Cork, IE
211 posts

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#4. "RE: D800 first impressions, what a piece of...... !" | In response to Reply # 3

Phil Pound Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning a Nikonians Annual Photo Contest Laureate Ribbon awarded for his second win of a Nikonians Annual Photo Contest Registered since 31st Oct 2011
Fri 05-Oct-12 05:41 AM

Thanks Marty, the only reason I have started to use the SD cards is because I like to use the second card as a backup. For commercial jobs that i undertake it would be a disaster if a card failed, I do a particular job about every couple of months, the days shoot is about 60Gb shooting raw and fine jpeg on my D3x. I would not want to repeat that days work should a card fail. I did start shooting Jpeg to one card and Raw to the other, until that card failed on me and now I am back to shooting jpeg and raw to the same card with the second as a backup, it maybe me being a bit paranoid, but its not a nice feeling having a card fail. Personally I would prefer using a camera with 2 compactflash slots, but it looks like things are set to change in that respect, it probably won't be many years before the compactflash is phased out with newer camera models. I just sold off all my 4gb cards as they are pretty much useless in the D800, taking only 47 raw and fine jpegs. Its all 8, 16 and 32gb cards now, I am not brave enough to buy a 64 or 128gb card as yet, actually I couldn't afford them, they are very, very pricey over here.
Cheers
Phil

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Ferguson

Cape Coral, US
5751 posts

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#5. "RE: D800 first impressions, what a piece of...... !" | In response to Reply # 0

Ferguson Silver Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for the generous sharing of his high level expertise in the spirit of Nikonians Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004
Fri 05-Oct-12 11:19 AM | edited Fri 05-Oct-12 11:20 AM by Ferguson

I'm interested in why you think the camera weight is an issue. Are you locked down or is the gimbal floating (sorry, I use a ballhead, so I am not even sure if you CAN lock it down). If locked down, have you tried the delay mode to give it a couple seconds for mirror shake to settle?

While nothing like the 600mm, I've used the D800 on a ballhead with a 200-400/F4 both the D4 weight and the D800, and in both cases with the added length and weight (and mechanical slop) of a 1.4x TC, and never noticed a difference in blur due to shake. Now you have me wondering though.

The D3X is 1220g vs. 900, so there's about a third more weight. I do not have a D3X, but I wonder if it is the mirror slap more than weight -- the D4 at least is a lot quieter than the D800, at least in principle that may mean less vibration, and while I've never noticed, this question came up in another thread. With really long lenses...?

I did some experiments with the 200-400 + D800 with stars, mostly looking at focus, but point sources make a great way to see any shake as they show a distorted dot or jagged line. I didn't notice any. But i was always shooting locked down. If you get curious and want to see the shape of any motion, shoot star trails for a few seconds (wider = longer time) and blow up to see pixels, and you can see nicely if there's vibration during the long exposure. It's actually a very cool way to see the affect of VR on long exposures (last time I looked it was not pretty by the way).

As to CF + SD, I do the same, shoot in backup mode as early in my D800 I had a card fail - mine was an expensive Lexar 1000x CF though. I've since switched back to Sandisk (that was my first Lexar) and had no more failures. I'm using a 128G SD card; it is slow, but makes a great backup as if I unexpectedly fill up and move to a new CF, it has a lot of extra capacity (I am generally using a 64G CF).


Linwood

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Phil Pound

Co Cork, IE
211 posts

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#6. "RE: D800 first impressions, what a piece of...... !" | In response to Reply # 5

Phil Pound Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning a Nikonians Annual Photo Contest Laureate Ribbon awarded for his second win of a Nikonians Annual Photo Contest Registered since 31st Oct 2011
Fri 05-Oct-12 12:22 PM

Hi Linwood, you can lock a Gimbal head down if you wish, but the whole point of using one is to allow free and easy following of subjects in motion and flight, you can adjust the tension to make it stiff or smooth. I prefer a lighter tension with my D3x but now use a stiffer tension with the D800, until I get the grip in which case i hope to be back to the looser tension.

I used to use a ball head and even a three way head with my 600mm, I just could not get on with them, the weight of the lens was a real issue, thats why I bought the Gimbal, my hit rate improved massively.
My D3x, with battery and 2 cards comes in at 1405g and the D800 1005g so as you say roughly a third less weight. Also the camera is physically smaller, I do not have big hands, but coming from the body of a D3x I was finding it diificuclt / strange to hold the D800. I really need to get a grip. No news from the camera shop as yet, hopefully monday, or tuesday, or wednesday, Oh hell, I just hope it comes in soon.

I do not know if it is the mirror, if anything I would say the mirror slap is less on the D800 than a D3 or D3x, there is a definite difference in the sound generated by them with the D800 sounding less.

If I was shooting a motionless subject with a long lens and was using a slow shutter speed then yes I would lock the mirror up, but I was trying to shoot seagulls diving in and out of water so not really an option. Thanks for the tip about the stars and VR, the next time we have a clear night I will try that out, I may be waiting a while this is Ireland and yes its dull and overcast as usual !

Thanks for the questions and tips.
Phil

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Ferguson

Cape Coral, US
5751 posts

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#7. "RE: D800 first impressions, what a piece of...... !" | In response to Reply # 6

Ferguson Silver Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for the generous sharing of his high level expertise in the spirit of Nikonians Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004
Fri 05-Oct-12 05:34 PM


>I used to use a ball head and even a three way head with my
>600mm, I just could not get on with them, the weight of the
>lens was a real issue, thats why I bought the Gimbal, my hit
>rate improved massively.

Interesting, and inspires me to do some more testing myself. Clearly more mass for some shock = less vibration.

As to seagulls moving, down here in Florida we have them better trained, we just ask them to stop and wait while we get the lens and camera just right.


Linwood

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Robman3

West of Santa Monica, US
1842 posts

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#8. "RE: D800 first impressions, what a piece of...... !" | In response to Reply # 6

Robman3 Registered since 12th Apr 2010
Fri 05-Oct-12 05:44 PM

Sounds like golf clubs, baseball bats, fly rods in a sense. Comfort and usability. Glad its working in your favor.

My cat wanted to attack that bird (kidding).

RM

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Phil Pound

Co Cork, IE
211 posts

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#9. "RE: D800 first impressions, what a piece of...... !" | In response to Reply # 7

Phil Pound Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning a Nikonians Annual Photo Contest Laureate Ribbon awarded for his second win of a Nikonians Annual Photo Contest Registered since 31st Oct 2011
Fri 05-Oct-12 05:56 PM

Ha Ha, wish I could train these gulls, even bribing them with loads of food does no good !

One thing I have done when photographing foxes late at night by tungsten lamp, using slow shutter speeds is to place a heavy bean bag ontop of the lens, just above the pivot point of the Gimbal head. rather than using mirror lock and missing a shot, this has helped alot in damping the vibrations.

This fox was shot using 4 x 500 watt lamps, he was 21 metres from me, well away from the main pool of light.
D3, 600mmVR, Gimbal head on Tripod, Beanbag ontop of lens, f4, 1/15 sec, ISO 3200, -1.5EV.
The first shot he was moving and is blurred, second he froze to look at me in my hide, third shot he slowly moved off.

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Will try out the D800 and same setup with this years batch of adolescent foxes that are around by friends business premises.
Phil

Attachment#1 (jpg file)

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Phil Pound

Co Cork, IE
211 posts

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#10. "RE: D800 first impressions, what a piece of...... !" | In response to Reply # 8

Phil Pound Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning a Nikonians Annual Photo Contest Laureate Ribbon awarded for his second win of a Nikonians Annual Photo Contest Registered since 31st Oct 2011
Fri 05-Oct-12 06:01 PM

Comfort and usability is a very good way of summing it all up. I am out of my comfort zone and have had trouble using it, time patience and a few hundred practice shots will bring it all back into my comfort zone.

I have the same problem with my own cats, best to feed them a big meal before going out in the hide, otherwise they just come and try to join in, in a not too helpful way !

Cheers
Phil

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