Some reader comments and my commentary/response.
Donald R writes:
Thanks for your timely and very "real world" review of the D800. After seeing your examples I have to ask, what more could the D800E really offer?
Ye Gods! Nothing short of phenomenal. Now they need anD800 "EX" which would have the D4 build quality. C'mon Nikon. REALLY!
DIGLLOYD: I have not yet assessed all the qualities of the D800, such as high ISO performance. But at ISO 100 is is stunning.
The D800E will add greater micro contrast on the finest details, and moiré. Whether moiré is an issue depends greatly on the intended usage. I intend to make a detailed study of the D800 versus the D800E when I have both in hand.
I would prefer the D800 sensor in a D4x body with a grip that feels good. I like shooting the larger cameras, even if I do not like carrying them.
Adrian S writes:
Hi Lloyd, I re-subscribed to your site last night and I am glad I did since you were able to get a D800 for review. I currently have a D800 and 85mm 1.8G lens.
I have two questions for you. What would be be the best software for processing the D800 files. Currently, I have Capture NX2, Lightroom 4, Capture One Pro, and Photoshop CS5.
My use for the D800 will be as a walk-around camera and for travel. Would you recommend the 24-70 2.8 as a good lens for the D800 or should I get the 35 1.4 to go with the 85mm. Please let me know I would like to order these through your site.
DIGLLOYD: I’m a prime (fixed focal length) shooter. I rarely use zooms, though I have all the top Nikon and Canon zooms, and they are indispensable for some types of shooting (one cannot back behind a wall or walk over a cliff or control the flow of people or crowds).
From my perspective, the 35/1.4G and 85/1.8G are excellent choices, fill in with the 50/1.8G or 50/1.4G and/or the excellent 60/2.8G macro, and perhaps the 24/1.4G. Those f/1.4 lenses will deliver near optimal quality by f/2.8, which the zoom cannot do, and they also offer low-light shooting/viewing/focusing capability benefits.
Michael S writes:
Lloyd, you say that you are using Camera Raw in PS, do you use the Adobe Standard as your camera profile or do you start with one of the Nikon Look emulations?
Just curious as I've noticed very good skin tone rendering in your review on the NEX series cameras and I would assume that you would have to use Adobe Standard as Sony isn't supported in the camera calibration with any of their specific looks.
DIGLLOYD: The NEX examples are straight up with no special processing, which is true of all examples I present.
I use Adobe Camera Raw in CS5 with standard settings. For my reviews and Guides, and in general, no lens correction of any kind, no custom profiles, no noise reduction. I always convert to 16-bit TIF ProPhotoRGB from best quality RAW for maximum quality and color gamut.
Such things would distort the assessment of lens + camera when reviewing many types of gear, so I avoid them, and keep the examples largely as they come from the camera, using sharpening that I document, and sometimes as demanded by the lighting, a tonal curve or contrast adjustment, which I generally note.
Pete M writes:
I am firmly struck by the impact that the D800 will make on the market. A week ago, a high-megapixel camera was $25K or so. This week, it is $3K.
It reminds me of how the iPad just STOPPED computer sales the moment it came out. Poof! There is always good, bad and ugly when you have such a game changer.
Certainly we as photographers have completely run out of excuses for the quality of work. So now it is down to the art, and in many cases, people's good luck.
DIGLLOYD: Indeed, the D800 is $3000 camera to rival most of medium format. While its results are not the same as the Leica S2 (for example), it is not far off, and I’d suggest that is is better in some ways. Though nothing matches the quality of Leica S lenses, one can have a very nice DSLR kit for ~$11K instead of $50k (e.g. D800 + Zeiss 15/2.8, 21/2.8, 35/1.4, 50/2, 100/2)
Many expensive medium format systems have marginal lenses in terms of delivering a sharp image over the large sensor, especially in the wide angle realm, where precious few choices even exist (try getting the equivalent of the Zeiss 15/Distagon!). Add in restricted depth of field of medium format, and there is a strong argument that the D800 eviscerates the low end of the MF market. The D800E only accentuates that idea.
The Nikon D800 has color rendition and dynamic range which I think will be shown to be better than many medium format cameras. The D800 is a very serious threat to medium format, because it moves the buyer of low-to-mid MF to the DSLR realm. Who the heck wants to lug around a huge MF camera anyway? The Leica S2 is the only MF camera I’d want to shoot, simply because of form factor. But Leica fiddles while its megapixels are now matched by the D800/D800E; an S2 with 70 megapixels is the answer.
Andrew H writes:
Had to email on this one, that stained-glass image looks amazing even as a JPEG.
Did the camera manage to keep the highlights on the Halos round the infants head in the full res image?
The tones look great.
This camera or the 800E is going to make me jump ship, I chose Canon because of the tilt and shift lenses long time ago (film days) but with PS and digital this matters a lot less and I do a lot .
Less Architectural work than I thought I would. I still use the 90 TS a lot mainly for macro (tilted). Lenses, new investment will be Zeiss ( your fault! ha ha)
Will have to renew my DAP subs to see the rest of this great info.
DIGLLOYD: Indeed, that image is simply amazing in terms of color rendition and detail. The D800 RAW file has all the detail present in that stained glass window. From what I see, it has ample dynamic range and headroom.
I avoid manipulating example images, so I must choose an exposure that works as a whole and is consistent with the mood of the subject (so I might “push” or “pull” the overall exposure— simple exposure compensation during RAW conversion).
Bookmark my Nikon gear page for D800 availability status.