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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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