Hi, I got a D800 last November and have purchased several new lenses. I am most definitely a prime lens shooter and I do a lot of manual focus. I always had manual cameras until the D200 - Contax, Bronica, Hasselblad, Cambo, Shen-Hao... and have been spoiled by Zeiss, Goerz, Rodenstock, Schneider, Nikkor, Wollensak, and even Zenzanon (cannot figure out why Bronica became the red-headed stepchild of medium format - great lenses and I couldn't their prints apart from Blad shots). So, it's never been a big deal for me to have AF and as you can see I have no particular loyalty to Nikkor. Sure, there are times when it is great but as a studio and landscape man I rarely need AF. My brother, also a D800 shooter, does a lot of travel and wildlife in remote areas (Northwest Coast of Vancouver Island)- he has the zooms. Here is my current line up - married men may want to stop reading here (as the late Fred Picker used to say):
Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 (awesome and slays the 14-24 @ 14mm!) Voitlander 20mm Color-Skopar (welded on f/8 - helluva fun lens and great on the F6) Nikkor 24mm AI f/2.8 (surprisingly good but may get Zeissed) Zeiss T* 28mm Distagon f/2.0 (awesome-oh! First Class Glass) Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 (splendid and very fun lens) Voigtlander 40mm Ultron (I am in love... even the close-up attachment rocks!) Nikkor AF-D 50mm f/1.8 (As Nigel might say.. none more sharp!) Tokina 100mm f/2.8 ATX Pro D (Beauty,eh? Lives up to its rep - best kept secret lens..)
Nikon D800 Nikon D200 (converted for IR by LifePixel and calibrated for my Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G AF-S DX) Nikon F6
All are wonderful lenses and are capable of excellent results with the D800. My biggest complaint with the D800 (and please correct me if I am wrong) is that I cannot change focus screens. For MF, I have installed the magnifying eyepiece and as all of my MF lenses are chipped and so I have focus assist dot and all the metering etc. I always try to shoot in the sweet spot of my lenses and have them all done in a little table that is my wallpaper on my iPhone. The excellent higher ISO on the D800 is great as I can range from 100 to about 1250 (too chicken to go farther unless necessary) - I usually keep the shutter speed at 160th or higher. I do not use live view as I like to handhold (after 30 years of view cameras I finally can get that quality without a tripod... sign me up!) but I do have my camera set to zoom the screen image to 100% with only one click. With several of the shorter lenses, my theory is that lens shake will be minimized - the Voigtlanders in particular. I also have a 3rd party grip which gives my big hands a lot of leverage and I think this helps minimize lens movement. All of these things help keep my IQ where I want it to be. I also recommend ditching USM for smart sharpen if you use PS.
I also would recommend to pixel-peepers that they get a good photo printer and judge the print results and not the screen results. I have a Canon i9900 that does 13x19 prints.
Of all my lenses, the Zeiss resolves best. I used to take shots of a brass object at close-ish focus for new lenses - no other lens picked up my fingerprints all over the brass but the Zeiss did. Reminds me of looking at 4x5 negs and seeing nails in the roof on the house across the streets (that was a Symmar 210 though...).
Blah, blah, blah Thorney - let's see some images:
Top: Zeiss 28mm full shot @ f/5.6 Mid: 100% crop of top Low: Fun shot handheld wide open Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 with available light in a candy shop. Wafer thin, that DOF when wide open.