Nikon D800 Tips

Not really much to show at the moment.  Sunday it was raining all day and that night we went to the movies (The Avengers) so not much chance to shoot.

A shot taken outside the mall while grabbing a smoke, a momentary break in the clouds.

Here’s a shot taken through the shopping mall window of something new being built.

Shooting through a distant window may (or may not) be why the image isn’t tack sharp.

The Megabox mall in Hong Kong features one of the city’s few ice skating rinks.  If you’re on the same floor as the rink, you’re observing it through a dirty plastic protective barrier.  If you’re on a floor above, then there’s this huge net that gets in the way.

Just for the heck of it, a few crops from the above picture.

I’m reading everything I can get my hands on about the D800.  It’s interesting to see other peoples’ perspectives (almost universally positive, of course) as well as pick up some hints and tips.

I’d previously linked to this review on the Luminous Landscape site.  There’s a few things worth repeating from that review:

… do spend some time with the manual to familiarize yourself with what the camera can and can’t do. This is probably the most feature-rich camera that I’ve ever used.

– Use the optimum aperture. Apertures above about f/11 introduce diffraction which effectively acts as an unintentional AA filter

– When shooting hand-held use lenses with VR when possible, and also a high shutter speed… 2X or 3 X the reciprocal of the focal length, not the 1/focal length of olden days

– Use the lowest possible ISO, though as we’ll see the camera is very clean up to and including ISO 1600

He’s also got a bit about performing lens alignment that makes sense and I think I might invest in the Datacolor DC SLC100 SpyderLensCal Calibration System (get it from Amazon or from B&H Photo) or the LensAlign MkII Focus Calibration System (get it from Amazon or from B&H Photo).  They’re not that expensive and it looks as if they’ll be helpful.

There’s another new post on Luminous Landscape called An Embarrassment of Riches. Mark Dubovoy’s starting point is that there are some amazing cameras out there in the market now and I agree.  Along with the Nikon D800 I have the Sony NEX-7 and the Fuji X100 and these are easily the three best cameras I have ever owned.  (Do check Dubovoy’s post to see some amazing shots taken with the NEX-7 in Machu Picchu.)

Dubovoy starts by saying that he never liked the film SLR format, that he always thought of it as a low resolution, cheaper approach than medium format cameras.  So why does he like the D800?

For me the Nikon D800/D800E is a game changer.  Why?  Because it is the first 35 mm size camera that exceeds my threshold of image quality for exhibition prints. I have shot hundreds of tests, and in test after test the image quality is surprisingly good. The D800 delivers not just high resolution, but also outstanding dynamic range, extremely low noise and world class color accuracy and sensitivity. I would not hesitate to make 40 or even 50 inch wide exhibition prints from D800 files. Believe me, to go from a large format film view camera to a D800/800E for exhibition prints in a little over a decade is a bit shocking, but such is the incredible pace of innovation in our medium.

I believe that this camera represents the first product of a new era in digital photography.

He also repeats some of the advice from Reichmann’s review:

Shooting at the reciprocal of the focal length of the lens is not good enough-even with a VRII lens.  I would recommend multiplying the focal length of the lens times 3X and using the reciprocal of this number as the minimum shutter speed for maximum handheld quality.

And he’s noticed the same thing that I have about the auto-focus.

The autofocus in the camera is excellent (also the best I have used to date) but it is still not as good as manual focusing using Live View.  I would recommend using manual focus at high magnification in Live View mode whenever circumstances permit.

And he concludes:

The Nikon D800/D800E is an instrument that commands respect and needs to be used with utter care and flawless technique in order to extract all it has to offer.  Those that use the camera in this manner, will be rewarded with superb image quality;  image quality that was heretofore unthinkable from such a small camera.

In financing my D800 purchase, I have to sell off my D700.  (Please ping me if interested.)  This is not an easy thing for me to do.  The camera is fabulous and I had two years of taking (what I think are) great shots with it.  I’d prefer to hold onto it but financially it’s just not feasible.  Nevertheless, I had a difficult time hitting the “publish” button when I posted an ad over on DCFever.

I also momentarily contemplated selling off my Fuji X100.  I don’t absolutely need it.  I could get by with just the NEX-7 as a daily walking around camera.  But the X100 is a very different beast from the NEX-7 and I decided that I can’t part with it just now.



One Comment

  1. UII May 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Or for AF calibration, you could use this for free:

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