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Nikon D800 - From A Canon Users Perspective.

Nikon D800 - From A Canon Users Perspective. - A Canon users review of the new Nikon D800. Paul Ward found that Nikon's latest camera, the D800 was enough to tempt even a die hard Canon user.

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Category : Digital SLRs
Product : Nikon D800
Price : £1,999
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36 Million Pixels
Controls
Focusing
Video
Image Quality
Conclusion
Specification

Nikon D800 - Coming from a Canon users perspective.


Nikon D800 With Lens
Nikon D800 With Lens

I’ve been ‘Canon’ for the past 10 years since buying a ‘film’ EOS 10.

After that I moved digital with the 10D, and since then I’ve owned a 300D, 20D, 40D, 1Ds, 1Dsmk2, 7D, and finally a 5D Mk2. Very rarely in all that time have I ever even picked up a Nikon... not for any specific reason, I suppose the main issue keeping photographers ‘brand loyal’ is the price and hassle of switching to a different system with regards to the price of lenses and accessories, and so, mainly because of that, I’ve just never really felt the need.

But when Nikon announced the D800 specs I just couldn’t resist. These were the type of specs and figures that I’d been waiting for Canon to put out for the last year or so, but unfortunately they were on a Nikon. I couldn’t resist!

So, in my limited time so far with the D800, here’s a few of my thoughts. Please note that this is not an ‘in depth’ full review, but more like a few initial impressions.

36 Million Pixels

There it is... I said it! 36 million pixels! Yep, pixel envy got the better of me I’m afraid, and I’m sorry to say I succumbed. Up until now Nikon have really been behind Canon in the ‘pixel race’ but here, finally, was a sudden leap that I just couldn’t ignore. So does having those extra pixels actually matter in the real world? Well, yes and no. For most jobs my 5D Mk2 is more than adequate, in fact a lot of my clients often moan about the images being too big especially if they are primarily aimed at website usage. However, I have done a few images that could have really done with being shot on a larger format, like one of the digital medium format systems, and this is where the Nikon could really have been useful.

So my aim isn’t to actually replace my Canon gear, but just to run a different system for those shoots that require that little extra resolution.

Controls

Obviously it’s going to take a while to get used to some of the controls. My biggest problem with them so far is where the zoom buttons are placed, I’m used to having them next to my right thumb on the 5D Mk2 and it’s very frustrating to have to keep reminding yourself that it isn’t there anymore. Also I’ve found that the zoom function itself that aids with focusing when using the live view mode is pretty awful compared to Canon's system. It seems to really push up the ISO when zooming and makes the image go really grainy and fuzzy, making it difficult so see anything, let alone focus properly.

Nikon D800 Rear Card
Nikon D800 Rear Controls

However, what I do really like is that they’ve included a dedicated switch for the video and live view modes similar to the one on the Canon EOS 7D, which makes switching from picture to video mode an absolute breeze. General controls are always going to take a while to get used to with any new camera, especially with things like the zoom and focus rings on the lenses being the opposite way from the canon lenses, but this type of difference is really all about getting used to a new camera and I’m sure it won’t take long to become accustomed to it.

Focusing

Focusing seems to be way better than my 5D Mk2, although that wouldn’t be difficult, as it was pretty poor at the best of times. However, my new 24-70 lens is way out with the camera body (or maybe it’s vice versa)... I’ve had to set my focus micro-adjustment to ‘-15’ just to get an accurate focus out of it, but now that’s done I can really get the benefit from the 51 point focus system. I know a lot of you will want to know about the ‘tracking focus’ abilities but unfortunately I don’t do a lot of shoots that require that type of focusing so I can’t really comment on that aspect of the camera, but certainly for shooting portraits or fashion the focus seems very good.

Video Performance

Now this is something that really interests me as I’ve shot several music videos and even a short sci-fi film using my 5D Mk2.

There are limitations with using any DSLR for video, for instance, using the auto focus is generally a no-no, and to get the best use out of that beautiful narrow depth of field that’s possible with these cameras, you really have to use them like a professional film crew would, which involves lots of preparation, and various skills such as ‘focus-pulling’, so if you just want to take some fun shots of your kids playing in the pool, then really you should be looking to shoot on one of the many handheld camcorders on the market... not a DSLR. However if you are into making low budget films or music videos then a DSLR can really give you some amazing images that just aren’t possible with your basic home camcorders.

When the Canon 5D Mk2 first came out it was considered a real ‘game changer’ because of its video capabilities. Indie filmmakers, small production houses and even big Hollywood blockbusters started using the 5D Mk2 to get shots with, and even with its many quirks and limitations, the Canon was widely adopted as a video tool simply because of the beautiful images that could be created with it's large sensor and huge range of lenses.

Ironically, it was actually Nikon who first came out with a video mode on their cameras, but unfortunately, due to various factors, the Nikon cameras didn’t seem to take off in the video department like the Canons did and have been lagging behind a little ever since. And so now, I was really hoping that the D800 may have leaped past these ‘teething problems’ and would give the 5D Mk2 and Mk3 a run for their money.


Well I’m happy to say that my initial experiments with the D800 video mode seem to be holding up well compared to my 5D Mk2. I recently shot a complete music video on the D800 which looks pretty good and even did some test footage at ISO640 with the D800 and the 5D Mk2 side by side, and both cameras seemed pretty evenly matched on both image quality and ISO noise levels.

The Nikon also has some very useful new features that include better audio monitoring with a built in headphone socket, and the ‘holy grail’ of video recording - a full HDMI uncompressed output, allowing very high bitrates to be recorded (when using an external recorder), something that people have been wanting Canon to include on their cameras ever since the 5D Mk2 was launched.


Image Quality

Up to now I’ve only spent a few days working with the camera, I’ve had one commercial shoot, a few portrait sessions and a lot of messing about doing test shots in the studio and the back garden, and so far the results have been pretty good.

I have been shooting handheld quite a lot which is something that even Nikon have a disclaimer about doing! I think they are worried that people who ‘pixel peep’ will start to notice things like camera shake on their images because of the high pixel count.

Sensor Size Comparison

I have to say that I’ve not noticed any particular problems myself, or maybe I just have steady hands! The image size is lovely, when you overlay an image from the 5D Mk2 you can really see the difference in size that the Nikon gives you, so it’s going to be invaluable when doing jobs that require a very large print size or work that may need cropping etc.

1 7D 1600iso | 0.6 sec | f/9.0 | 17.0 mm | ISO 1600 D800 | 0.6 sec | f/9.0 | 35.0 mm | ISO 1600
7D | 0.6 sec | f/9.0 | 17.0 mm | ISO 1600 D800 | 0.6 sec | f/9.0 | 35.0 mm | ISO 1600

ISO seems pretty good too, I had expected (due to the large pixel count) that it was going to be very noisy at high ISO settings, but I’ve found it’s about on a par with my old 5D Mk2, which is pretty good itself. Yes, I know it’s not going to do the very high ISOs particularly well, but to be honest I’ve never really found the need to shoot anything much above ISO1600 anyway, so it’s probably not going to be huge problem for me in that respect.

Nikon D800 Other sample images



Conclusion

To me, this camera is essentially the one I’d been hoping Canon would release for over a year now! Good image size, decent ISO performance, nice video capabilities and at a very reasonable price for the specs, it just happens to be a different manufacturer.

What’s interesting is that now I own one, I’ve found that I’m not shooting with the Nikon all the time... I did a shoot for a web based fashion label yesterday and because they were going to use the images in a smaller format, and taking into account the longer processing times for the large Nikon files, I actually decided to use my old Canon for the job instead. I think in the future I’ll probably end up using the Nikon more like I would if I owned a medium format system, and only shoot when I’m doing a special project or when large files are particularly necessary, which means that, at least at the moment, I won’t be selling off all my Canon equipment just yet.

Paul Ward
www.paulward.net

Read our full Nikon D800 Digital SLR Review for more sample photos and test information.

Nikon D800 Specifications

ManufacturerNikon
Lens
Effective Magnification1x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels36.3Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)7360
Pixels (H)4912
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeFull Frame
Sensor Size (width)36.5mm
Sensor Size (height)24mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3.2in
Screen resolution910,000 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Manual
  • AF Fine Tuning
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/8000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
Metering
  • Multi Pattern
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity50 - 25600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Bracket
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-5
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting4fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
  • 1280x720 720p
Video FPS50,30,24
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 3
Storage
Card Type
  • CF1
  • CF2
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • CF
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • TIFF
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeAA, EN-EL15, EN-EL18 and EP-B5
CIPA Rating900
Box Contents
Box ContentsEN-EL15 rechargeable Li-ion battery with terminal cover, MH-25 battery charger (AC wall adapter supplied only in countries or regions where required), Strap (AN-DC6 for D800, AN-DC6E for D800E), UC-E14 USB cable, USB cable clip, BF-1B body cap, BS-1 Captu
Dimensions
Weight1000g
Width146mm
Height123mm
Depth81.5mm

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Photographs taken using the Nikon D800

The Glamour of SantoriniHERBARIUM BMajestyFarne Isles.Red AdmiralGarlicUp CloseSilent WaveLaura - Long Beach, Long Island, New York - 2THe Bridge at Ashbridge.Southern HawkerA Happy Girl.012The WindowThe spotted Dove
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Comments


parallax e2
5 114 United Kingdom
10 Apr 2012 12:54PM
The D800 will definitely be a game changer. You get one hell of a camera for the money.
As a Canon user, my biggest complaint is the paucity of trickle down features from the top end pro lines to the enthusiast cameras. Only now has the 5D series got a sophisticated focusing system and decent weather sealing. But where is the built-in wireless flash operation of the 7D? The pricing of the 5D3 is definitely way over the top too. If Canon pitched the price nearer it's predecessor, it would fly off the shelves.
It will be interesting following the fortunes of the D800 and 5D3 over the coming months.

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robs 11 660 2 United Kingdom
10 Apr 2012 10:36PM
Great write up - I am just going through the same process myself (well, a wee bit behind you as I am still waiting for my camera to arrive). Coming from Canon though it was interesting to read your thoughts and observations... really looking forward to making the switch.

I am going in completely though and will not be keeping any Canon kit, if things go well I may get a second body of some sort as a back up (possibly a D7000 if I can stretch to it)
chris_c1 5 9 United Kingdom
12 Apr 2012 7:47PM
have you tried a long exposure with the D800 at night time, try it and let us know if it's still getting the white spots on the image think its around the 5 mins it shows up

hear is the link to it

http://emmanuelcoupe.wordpress.com/2012/04/04/nikon-d800-long-exposures-issues/
zmohie 5
12 Apr 2012 8:53PM
the d800 sensor is cemos not ccd as mentioned up in Specifications.plz correct me if Iam wrong!
redsnappa 11 1.9k United Kingdom
13 Apr 2012 8:18AM
Great shots, tested in Birmingham I've noticed.
25 Apr 2012 10:30AM
Great to hear a camera review that's about how the camera actually delivers images and how it copes with a user under pressure to deliver. It's also great to hear that I'm not the only one who's eye's popped when I heard it has 36 million pixels!

I also own a Canon but only the APS-C sensor, so a change to Nikon for me would only make sense if I went for the FX or full frame sensor where I would be buying a full lens kit for either the Canon or the Nikon.

Time to save up the pennies and persuade my wife that it makes sense I think! Wink
Scottelly 2 35 United States
22 Aug 2012 6:49PM
I have a Sony A55. Before that I bought a Sigma SD14 to evaluate the image quality from a Foveon sensor and the usability of the camera. I had decided to get the Sony A65 and eventually a Sigma SD1. Now that the Nikon D800 is on the market, and I see that the resolution and noise levels at high ISO are so good, I am re-evaluating my thought process a little. Right now I am waiting for the D5200 to come out. If it is good enough, I will sell my other two cameras and buy it. Then I will start collecting lenses to use with both that camera and the D800, which I hope to buy next year. If the D5200 is a disappointment, I will buy the Sony A65 and eventually the Sigma SD1 Merrill. Then some day, if I strike it rich, I will buy a D800 and some really good Nikon lenses, such as the 14-24mm f2.8 G (for $1,700) and the 24-120mm f4 G (for $1,200). The Sigma is cheaper, and so are the lenses for it, so this will definitely influence my decision heavily. I believe they both perform about as well at low ISO levels, but the Nikon wins for usability, speed, and for ISO 1600 and above. One more thing . . . there is nothing like the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 G. It is worth the money, and I would love to have a D800 with that lens on it.

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