Fri 06-Apr-12 04:23 AM | edited Fri 06-Apr-12 04:27 AM by David D Busch
>But now I am not clear on any benefits to be attained through >using the crop mode in camera, except perhaps to save a little >time in post, with the disadvantage that you no longer have an >image from which you could make arbitrary crops after the >fact. It's a done deal. >
I can think of roughly a dozen advantages to using the crop mode on the D800, versus not using the crop mode and spending "a little time in post" to crop it there. Clearly, if someone is just going out to take a few photographs, the scenario is exactly as you suggest: crop later and get the same results. However, a tool like the D800's crop mode is likely to be used in applications where it has specific advantages. Here are a few that are most important to me:
* If you're using the D800 in crop mode to get a little extra reach when shooting field sports, then cropping in post involves a great deal more than just a little time. At a typical football or soccer game, I'll shoot 1200-1500 pictures. For motor sports, I might shoot even more. The last thing I need for photos that need to be turned around quickly is to have to crop the ones I select in Photoshop. Certainly, I'm not going to use hundreds and hundreds of pictures, but the ones I do use, I want composed the way I took the time to compose them in the first place, and not have to fiddle around in post processing.
* On a related note, many people have a very strong preference, a mania, if you will, for composing in the camera. That's how we ended up with so many prints with the sprocket holes showing. For those whose creative vision is focused on the viewfinder and who, for whatever reason choose to work in DX mode, having the camera crop to the frame that was composed is preferable to trying to recapture the original composition, or come up with a new one in post. I personally am not a big fan of arbitrary crops after the fact.
* If you're using a DX lens on a D800, there's a definite advantage to using crop mode, especially if you're fussy about image quality at the edges. Granted, certain DX lenses do have an image circle that covers more than the DX frame at certain focal lengths. But if I'm using my 10-24mm Nikkor on my D800 for some reason, I'm a lot happier if the camera crops the image down to the area that the lens was designed for.
* I've always loved one aspect of crop mode for shooting sports. While I got used to shooting sports with both eyes open so I can see when a fast-moving subject is approaching the frame, if I'm working in crop mode I can actually see that wide receiver in the FX-area of the optical viewfinder before he works his way into the DX frame and I ultimately snap the picture(s). Yeah, I could crop in post and could even take the photo before he's centered in the DX frame, but that's not why I'm using crop mode.
* Etc. I've got other crop mode advantages, and the one's I've listed won't apply to everyone. Cropping in post is always an option, especially if the number of pictures involved is relatively small. But the D800 is a sophisticated tool and by all indications a wildly popular camera right now, and I expect it will be used in many situations where crop mode's advantages will shine.