Tue 08-Jan-13 04:42 AM | edited Tue 08-Jan-13 04:50 AM by jamesvoortman
>The images I took with the new camera and 80-400 were blurry, >OOF a lot of the time, and just basically bad in comparison. >The lens seemed very slow to focus on the D800 compared to the >D7000. Slow focus is bad when you are birding. Plus I >really noticed the lesser reach.
I use the same combination. There is no advantage changing to DX...all it does is crop some pixels away. the FX and DX cameras have exactly the same reach with the same lens, it is just that FX gives a wider field of view.
Compared to your D7000, the D800 has same pixel pitch so it puts the same number of pixels onto the target. However, compared to D7000 the AF systems are different and this may be where the problem is coming in.
Photographing birds in trees you always have the problem of branches and twigs in front of the subject so in this case I like to use single point AF-S. If the bird is clearly out in the open then AF-C with 9 or 21 point will track it effectively.
An advantage of the D800 is its advanced AUTO ISO and high ISO capability so you can set this up to get high shutter speeds. I like to get at least 1/1000 sec with this lens . In the Shooting menu choose Auto ISO and then for the minimum shutter speed option choose Auto again, go into that menu and choose +1. Then choose Aperture priority on the MODE button and select the aperture you want. I like to stop the 80-400 down a bit to f7.1 or f8 for sharpest results but in poor light, shoot it wide open. On a monopod try it with and without VR. It may work better with VR
The Auto ISO settings above will increase ISO to ensure your shutter speed is always twice the inverse of focal length or faster. e.g. at least 1/800 at 400mm.
Final thing : on both my D300 and D800 I am finding that my 80-400 focuses slightly in front of the subject. Both of these cameras have a lens calibration adjustment that applies a corrective offset to the autofocus system. You can either adjust this manually or use software like Reikan Fo-Cal to do it for you.
I am also hunting for a longer sharper alternative so will be watching this thread with interest.
Edited to add - just saw your two bird shots. The heron shot is beautiful -love the composition. In both cases I think you can afford to use much higher ISO in order to increase shutter speed and maybe reduce aperture. the D800 can easily shoot ISO 2000 or so without intrusive levels of noise and ISO 3200 is still very good.