I had the opportunity to rent a Nikon D800 from Camera Rental Centre recently, thinking that I could use a quality boost and ISO advantage in poor lighting situations. This, of course, is a pretty poor review, with limited technical specifications mentioned, no videography, no comparisons between its competitors, and lastly, no pictures. Okay, maybe I’ll put some in. I’ll be writing purely from my own experience of using it, almost all day in a wedding setting – preparations, ceremony, photoshoot, and reception.
So I brought it home on a Thursday night and went immediately to comparing with my D300S. There was very little difference between the two, but while the D800 is just a tiny bit taller, it was also slightly lighter than the D300S. Which was amazing – this is, after all, a full frame camera. A quick Google search produced the following results: D300s at 932.2g, D700 at 995g and the D800 at 900g. I mean, it’s not exactly mind-blowing, but it is, in some way, psychologically nicer when you know that it’s somewhat lighter than its predecessors. 🙂
Some random test shots at high ISOs confirmed and also resulted in some jaw-dropping. At 5000 ISO my shots were still somewhat useable. Ok, I’ve never shot with the D3S nor the new D4, but come on, 5000 is really really good.
Fast forward to Saturday. This was pretty much my main camera on that day, and performance-wise, I really couldn’t be happier. I was getting shots that I never would/could have gotten, plus the colour reproduction and tonal range was really good. The church was dark, and of course, so was the reception, but this was one time where I was pretty confident in the D800 to shoot through the challenges.
This was a shot of the reception at Fenix – I didn’t have a tripod with me, so I balanced the camera on the bridge. ISO 1000, f3.5, 0.5 second exposure, no noise reduction. By the way, if I zoom in, I can still see of the guests’ faces. That’s how useful a 36-megapixel camera can be.
The first dance. Every photographer knows how dark the dance floors can be. I was lucky enough to have video light side-lighting the bride, but still. Shot at ISO 2500, f4.0, 1/50 second, no noise reduction. And I bumped up the exposure just to let you see the noise in the background.
So. If this was a camera dream come true, should I have purchased it?
I’m not sure.
It’s a mixed bag for me I must say. Firstly the quality coming out from the D800 is phenomenal, but the price I must pay for it is also daunting. A single RAW file (which I usually shoot) is around 60-70 Mb. On a 16GB card, I can shot 200 images before I have to change cards, and that’s really not quite nice. To shoot a 14-hour wedding, I’d have had to bring around 8-10 cards. And don’t forget the need for me to upgrade the computer to probably one of the newer Core i7 with 16GB RAM and 6TB hard disk (and more every year). Note: I shot in high-res 15 megapixel JPEGs for this wedding, which wasn’t what I’d have preferred, but I was still pleased with the results. Creamy images, but still one 16GB card full.
Two. Nikon’s rumoured to be releasing one last full frame DSLR this year, and I’m curious as to what it would be. Hoping really hard it’s a low-ISO winner with a not-so-high megapixel machine. D4 in a D800 body at sub-$3000 price anybody?