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Archive 2012 · First time with a Nikon...
  
 
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · First time with a Nikon...


Officially, I just purchased my first Nikon camera ever. The only other time I have used one was at PMA/CES when I tried out the D700, D4, D3x briefly. The AF system was the main thing I was interested in, because I am a long-time frustrated Canon AF user.

So now I bought a D800 (pictureline, arrived in 2 days) and 85 f/1.8g. People say Nikon doesn't focus as fast as Canon...my experience between this and my 5d2 is that the 85 f/1.8g seems to focus about at the pace of the 50L. It's not slow, it's not lightning fast.

I wanted accuracy. I was doubtful, I am still a little doubtful of certain points on the outside, I will probably try to research or test them further. After many shots in bright, medium and dim light from various sources, I would say that the center point is more accurate than my 5d2. The outer points are also generally quite accurate so far, though I have fooled them with certain subjects...the front of a microwave, for example.

It focuses in the dark, pretty much complete darkness, as long as the af assist lamp can reach and throw some light on the subject. Obviously this was impossible without a flash on-camera, and there was more delay on my 5d2, 5d, 40d, 1ds II, etc...always that trademark Canon pause while it "switched" into dim-light mode or something. I wonder if the 5d3 has removed that.

Viewfinder isn't significantly different for me. I like the dot confirming focus with arrows pointing to either side, telling which direction it thinks it's off. I wonder if it's right.

I like that when the AF does miss something, it seems to behave in a specific way that I can identify as it "not being confident." By this, it makes it easier for me to tell when to expect an OOF image so I can try the focus again before taking the shot.

Auto ISO is wonderful...really, really nice...I mean REALLY nice, coming from having a worthless version on the 5d2. I hear the 5d3 has it but lacks EV adjustment with auto ISO. Such a convenience, it would/will perform similarly to having Av or Tv only without having to expect either of them to change when I don't want.

The metering system seems very good, I have limited comparison for this since I rarely used any auto modes that involved in-camera metering judgment actually changing exposures for me.

I liked the focus point re-centering button and selected-point-spot-metering features on the 1ds ii, nice to have them on the d800.

I don't see anything wrong with the preview/playback, seems to be fine for analyzing focus and doesn't seem to have any unnatural tints - although I wouldn't know from comparing with other Nikons. I like that sideways/vertical scrolling within a zoomed image is much faster than the 5d2, wonder if that is different with newer Canons.

Live view's issue for me is the much slower frame rate when zoomed in, which is unpleasant but tolerable.

LCD cover is nice, always liked that idea.

I am looking at an ISO12800 image with LR's default noise reduction, and I don't see any color noise or banding. The detail is noisy, but it's definitely usable as a last resort for weddings with limited light available...25600 actually makes a very workable b&w, though color noise confuses LR noise reduction in fine detail areas. BW ISO25600 here (15 luminance noise reduction LR, 400/0.2 unsharp mask PS):






Detail resized to 4368x2912, 12.8 megapixels, what I typically give clients:







Pretty happy with it overall, I think I might end up keeping it...it seems to outperform my 5d2s in every way I can see, except that I have many more lenses for my 5d2s. I haven't really tested "dynamic range" yet...



Jul 26, 2012 at 04:00 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · First time with a Nikon...


I've read about your troubles on the Canon forum. Happy to see your first experiences with the D800 have been good so far. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask - I shoot both systems so I can help, from a Canon perspective if necessary ;-)


Jul 26, 2012 at 04:25 AM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · First time with a Nikon...


Yes you were in vegas temporarily and I was interested in trying it out, but you weren't free when I was...

It will be a while before I can really give the camera much use for work, since I have only one battery, one lens, and limited memory for it. It will have to be my "for play" camera I take on engagement shoots, since they are less demanding, and non-one-time-only occasions (unlike weddings).

I am sure all the people who said I whined about insignificant things like having a reliable AF system would be thrilled if I had trouble with the AF on this camera. So far, it's working pretty well for me...



Jul 26, 2012 at 04:38 AM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · First time with a Nikon...


We bought a pair of D700s this spring and have enjoyed using them on several weddings. The D800 seems like another ace FF camera. Enjoy.


Jul 26, 2012 at 04:48 AM
 

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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · First time with a Nikon...


One update...under daylit conditions just this afternoon, I set the camera to af-continuous setting hurriedly and locked on the face of someone about 10 feet away as they were walking towards me. I snapped 4 photos tracking them using center point AF-C with 9-point expansion, and every one of them is in focus. Needless to say, I was pretty happy with that performance (as limited as it was). BTW, this was 85mm f/1.8g at f/1.8, ISO100.

Also, since these shots had lots of dynamic range, I played around in lightroom to see the details. It really is a very nice sensor...pretty much everything was retained in both shadow and highlight detail, and shadows of course lift very cleanly. I suppose every d800 user has to try that at least once...but what this means to me is, with this camera I really can get those daylit shots and recover them so they are neither messy in shadows nor completely blown out in highlights. In other words...I have complained for a long time about my 5d2s having bad shadow noise when lifting in order to try to preserve highlight detail in such bright daylit scenes...and this camera really does solve that problem.

It's a really nice sensor.



Jul 26, 2012 at 07:17 PM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · First time with a Nikon...


**Update 7-28-12** First engagement shoot using the Nikon. First things first...the LCD does seem to have some "greenish" tinge that I didn't see before, so I think I understand what people are talking about. However, I think white looks white and the parts that show a tint are the images themselves. It is probably inaccurate as far as apparent WB is concerned, and is a kind of discrepancy one has to consider later...however, since I shoot RAW, it's easy to adjust WB later if the LCD gives an inaccurate interpretation.

Autofocus single shot seems pretty accurate, but I will need to break some bad habits before I can verify this. For instance, focus-recompose is probably not the best idea for the 85 f/1.8g wide open, but I'm so used to using center point only on Canon it has become a habit. The other bad habit is focusing on an especially high-contrast target near the focal plane I need and recomposing (again, for Canon). These two habits are probably responsible for a few front-focused images. In pretty much all cases, focus locked on quickly, and it was very consistent.

Focus tracking...very accurate, OVERALL...meaning when the guy's ears were being blazed bright by a backlight and the face was low contrast and in complete shadow, it seemed to focus more on the ears. In other backlit or front-lit situations, as long as I kept the AF points on target it didn't really miss. This was using AF-C with 9-point expansion.

Image review...slower than the 5d2. That's all I can say. The review doesn't instantly swap between images, there is a delay. I would rather there was no delay. Note, I am shooting RAW Lossless Compressed, 14-bit.

For the record, ISO4500 looks really good and fully usable in color. This was the ISO the camera picked for one image since I left it in manual mode with auto ISO, when I pushed shutter and aperture to avoid camera shake blur and get both persons' eyes in focus in this image:





- I picked this crop to show shadow noise, dynamic range, grain, detail retention, etc.

The camera is extremely responsive and quick in everything else that I didn't note it was slower in (image review, for example).

Battery life seems fine, possibly about on par with my 5d2 - 78% life after 427 images taken with some LCD reviewing. That translates to well over 1k shots per charge, probably 1500 is a reasonable bet. Much better than the reports I was hearing about 700-800 shots per charge.

These are the main impressions I got after working with it on this first shoot. I think I would definitely like another one...



Jul 28, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Adam Bavier
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · First time with a Nikon...


form, try shooting RAW + JPG to fix the delay in image review. On my D300S there is a delay when I shoot just RAW, but that goes away with RAW + JPG.

Edit: You can delete the JPGs later. Don't transfer them, delete after review, etc.



Jul 28, 2012 at 08:00 PM
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · First time with a Nikon...


Thanks for the note. Will have to set JPG to the lowest resolution possible to avoid taking up much extra space.

On another note...the 85L is a better lens than the 85 f/1.8g (at least at 21mp vs 36mp). Mostly because of fringing and the resulting effect of diminished contrast from f/1.8 through f/2.2 at least. Tsk, guess that means f/1.4 lenses will have to be the order of the day if I get a full Nikon setup.



Jul 28, 2012 at 08:08 PM





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