And the new camera is…

Nikon D800. Not the easiest camera I have ever used. Watch out for interesting comparisons coming soon.
Nikon D800. Not the easiest camera I have ever used. Watch out for some interesting comparisons coming soon.

Big and heavy. It’s a Nikon D800.

But don’t hit the unsubscribe button just yet, there are some valid reasons for this and some really interesting results.

Firstly, this was an absolute bargain. It’s like new and was a fraction of the cost of the new camera. I don’t know about you but I just can’t resist a bargain.

Secondly I was curious. Not a little but a lot. You see I keep hearing that Micro 43 is not a real camera and that you can’t shoot serious landscapes with it. If you want to shoot landscapes you need a great camera with lots of high quality pixels in full frame. In short you need something like a D800.

So I bought one and want to use it as a benchmark against which to compare and judge my Olympus EM5 and the even smaller sensor of the RX10. Whilst I have only had two outings with the D800 I promise you the results are interesting and will surprise. I will also own up that I am struggling a little with the D800. I think shooting with Micro 43 has made me a little lazy; but more on that in future posts.

So now you know, I will be posting some interesting comparisons over the coming months.

46 thoughts on “And the new camera is…

  1. Robin, you had me excited for a moment. I thought maybe you’d got your hands on a pre-release sample of the LX100! Oh well, I don’t suppose I’ll have long to wait until you get one! 😉

  2. Very interested to hear about your findings. I’ve heard about how much more deliberate one must be with a camera like the D800 to maximize it’s capabilities. I’m suspect there are many shots that I may have missed if not for my OMD’s ability (largely image stabilization) to save me from less than perfect technique.

  3. No worries Robin, I have a Nikon D7000 which I thoroughly enjoy using along with my Olympus EM5, EP5 and Panasonic G5…it’s all good..!!

  4. Interesting that you feel the E-M5 has made you lazy. I moved to micro 4/3 from a D700, and I feel exactly the opposite; that camera allowed me to get away with a lot, especially wrt composition and ISO settings. I could just crop it later!

    Unfortunately, while I love my E-M1, there’s no question that there’s much less latitude for me to work with, so I have to be much more careful about composition and ISO, and of course focusing as well.

    While I’m still on the fence about sticking with m4/3 (APS-C is calling me), I do think that if I’m not a better photographer, I’m at least a more thoughtful and prepared photographer. And that will help me in the long run no matter what I’m using.

    1. You make some interesting points. Whilst I will have more to say about why it’s made me lazy it’s basically because I can get away with all sorts when shooting with M43 but I need to be more disciplined with the D800. Interesting that you feel the opposite.

  5. I’ve been going through the same internal tussles, but I’m too wedded now to small cameras. So my latest acquisition is the Sony A7R – lots of megapixels and full frame, but smaller than the E-M1! So far I have only one Sony lens but I also bought a Metabones Canon to Sony adapter so that I can still use my old Canon lenses (that pre-date my four thirds lenses). I’ll be very interested to compare my findings with yours. Watch this space…

    1. I have to admit that I considered a Sony but what put me off was some bad experiences in the past with soft lenses and poor image quality. This I now realise was a mistake but that’s a post in the very near future. I look forward to hearing about your experiences as it would be good to compare.

  6. Well, where will you be exhibiting the 8-foot x 10-foot prints? It’s an odd one; moving to full frame I’ve benefited from wafer-thin depth of field which has its attractions, but her I need big dof I now need focus stacking. So fascinated to follow the rationale for a landscape photographer.

  7. That’s the combination that I have and love. Recently in NZ, the E-M1 saw most of the action as we were walking around a lot. It’s a great combo to have. One challenge that you are likely to face is lens choice. I own zero Nikon lenses. I have a combination of adapted Leica R ad Zeiss which are excellent. I was concerned about which Nikon lenses were uo to the task so went elsewhere. I trust that you will be investing in the mandatory tripod and L bracket soon.

      1. Essentially, you are shooting MF when you get to that size sensor. All the rules of technique apply, good tripod, mirror up, shooting delay … Coming from a MF background, this is second nature. The E-M1 and D800 are a magic combo. In NZ, I got lots of images with the Oly, that I would never get with the D800. I’m far too old to lug big gear and a tripod but I could carry 12-35, 60 and 35-100 in a small bag all day.

      2. Hi Jeff, Thanks for all the tips. I also hail from a Medium Format background then went full frame before converting to Micro 43 – it used to be that photographers went in the opposite direction and lusted after 5×4 or larger. I am doing all the things you mention but the hit rate is disappointing at present but then it does take time to get used to a new system. I also don’t like the Nikon lenses but I will have more to say on that subject.
        I dropped by your site earlier and noticed you have some very nice work. The seascapes struck a particular chord with me.

      3. Thanks Robin. The other challenge is front/back focus on modern AF lenses. My D800 lenses are all MF. I’m quite happy with the way that it works using focus confirmation. Coming from digital Hasselblad, I found the viewfinder simply awful. It took quite a while to get used to that feature.

      4. I know what you mean about the focussing. I have been focussing manually and using live view zoomed in to pick my spot. I found the number of focus points quite limiting and trying to get used to all this DOF again is tricky.

      5. A good hunt on the Nikon forum at GetDPI would be rewarding. D800 Focus Screen would be a good search. I am currently contemplating a Zacuto finder but am using the viewfinder focus confirmation which works well for me.

  8. Robin, I did exactly the same, but have just sold the D800 to fund a EM1. The D800 is a great camera but too heavy to carry when trekking, especially with the f2.8 lenses. I must confess that I did get some great shots at sunset across the Solway firth one evening on the beach at Maryport.
    Best wishes

  9. It would be interesting if comparison between the d800 and some of the other small cameras where they where equal in quality in print size

  10. As one also who likes the portability of M43, but one who owns several full frame Nikon mount lenses, I have considered purchasing a used or reconditioned D600 or D800 to see how it would perform exclusively for landscape photography. But sites like yours, that demonstrate the real quality of M43, have made me skeptical as to any real benefit in these heavy more cumbersome rigs. I would be very interested to see how photos compare (and not pixel peeking) between these systems. Glad that you’re spending the money and not me!

  11. I tried the D800 but the size and cost (especially for an underwater shooter) was too much to bear. My traveling uw kit went from 69lbs (35k) to 27lbs (13k) using the Oly EM1. The 800 is sweet, but, for me, not practical. Look forward to your comparisons

  12. I wasn’t to far out guessing what it might be, you need a good sturdy tripod to mount the camera on to minimize vibration I use a RRS & ball head . Also to get the best image quality you need the best lenses either prime 35 mm2.8 85mm 2.8 etc, zooms I use 24-70 2.8 14-24 2.8 70-200 2.8 etc. don,t use to smaller aperture I get very good images around F8 to F16, and try and keep the shutter speed as high as one can if hand held, in view of the high pixel count it does need a bit more care in adjustments, I must admit that sometimes I forget about. I have given up trying to use Lightroom for image processing it does not work for me and are now using Capture On Pro I find that I am getting better images from my D800 nef files, I still use nikon capture NX2 on some images it might be an old piece of software now but still works fine it has all of the camera settings built into the software.I have just traded my D800 in for the D810, but once you have used the camera for a while I am shure you will be very pleased with the results image wise, I also forgot to mention that I have recently switched to back button focusing with the AF on button and are getting better images in focus worth a try.
    Happy Days.

  13. Too funny, you often seem to go in the same direction as I do, so I suddenly remembered I hadn’t looked at your blog for quite some time and was curious if you still lived by the “lightweight’ standard. And there is the Nikon:-)

    I still love my Nikon 1 and often prefer it over the OMD EM10, which surprises some people. I can only try to explain this by saying the RAW files of the OMD always look a bit more digital, and often have artifacts like very ugly blocky skies. I never see this on the NIkon, even though it has more noise the files look very good.

    I also use Nikon lenses with adapter on my 1, and there are good prime lenses, for a lot lower price than the ones for the micro four thirds. So I figured if I like the Nikon look so much, I must like a bigger Nikon more:-) Now since size never mattered to me all that much, just weight, and the Nikons have shed a lot of that, the 3300 and 5300 are starting to be very appealing to me and affordable…..

    1. Good to hear from you Petra. I was wondering only the other day how you were getting on and what camera you were now using. I have read lots of great comments about the Nikon 1 but it’s not a camera I have any experience with. In respect of the D800 I am still in two minds over it. I haven’t used it very much at all and I still need to report back on it properly – but it’s coming soon.

      1. You did? That’s amazing and part of the fun of internet I find!
        There are also a lot of bad comments about the Nikon 1, but those often come from people who have never used it, or complain it has a small sensor. It’s not as if this is kept a secret you are surprised with later, so it’s not a valid complain to me, you should just buy a camera with a larger sensor then.
        This camera certainly has its flaws, but it is just such fun for me to use: the incredibly fast and accurate shooting rate, and the macro capabilities because of the larger depth of field, plus using the regular Nikon lenses with the adapter, so an 85 1.8mm suddenly becomes a 230mm 1.8. Add a teleconverter and you can go even further with still a reasonably fast aperture. For me this camera is a keeper, even with flaws, and that’s saying something:-) Oh, and I just got a Mark of Excellence on I SHOT IT with a flower shot made with it:-)
        But the search for the ideal match between perfection and comfort continues of course:-)
        I read you don’t like Nikon lenses, why is that?

      2. Sorry for the slow reply. I have been shooting over in Wales.
        I’m not too keen on the Nikon lenses that I have been using. They are not really as sharp as my Micro 43 lenses (but then I use Primes and Pro Zooms). They are also heavy and a little bulky. I also have a dislike for any soft corners although I am finding I can overcome this problem with careful focusing and selection of the aperture. Overall the camera just doesn’t feel like fund and isn’t enjoyable to use – not like the EM5 or Sony RX10 (which I love). I’m always interested to hear your thoughts about equipment although you usually have me spending more money.

        Congratulations on the award. Let me know which image it is. I had a look but couldn’t find any way to search for you on their site.

      3. Well, as you can see, not all that fast myself with the responses:-) I’m sick so many times, and then behind with everything, and then the times there is, or actually not, is taken up by photography of course:-) We had some sunny days here, so I went out as much as possible.

        That’s the first time I’ve heard that about the Nikon lenses. I thought the primes were excellent. But I can imagine a full frame not being as fun to use. The problem is indeed when the quality is great, so is the weight. And that sounds like a slogan:-)

        I don’t think you need me to push you into spending money, you seem to be quite capable yourself:-) And funny enough you gave me the best reason ever to buy stuff by writing that ‘at least you got it out of your system’:-) And therefor I now bought the Fujifilm X- A1 as a double lens kit. I know it has flaws, and I can return it, but I so badly wanted to see how I like the files from that camera.

        Problem is I like everything, from macro, to shooting birds ( which I haven’t been sucessful at yet:-), my very fast moving chihuahuas, flowers, etc, so to get the right stuff for it all; a good long zoom for instance, tracking possibility, low light capacity, DOF, etc, etc, and still having fun walking around with it, is truly hard.

        Here’s the photo I made with the Nikon 1:

      4. Hi Petra. First off, I have to agree that Full Frame is not as fun to use as Micro 43 and other small sensor cameras. They are much lighter, easier to manouver and more forgiving. I don’t blame you for being seduced by the Fujifilm Fujifilm X- A1. They make great cameras – high quality and superb colours. Speaking of which, I love the colour rendering and light in your flower shot. Do let me know how you like the Fuji once you have had chance to use it. Actually that might be dangerous as I usually end up buying it myself.

  14. Then this must really tempt you…..

    Thank you for the compliment about my flower shot.

    I have had a couple of fuji compacts, like the F30, and I loved them at the time. The X cameras I had my eye on for a while and this was a really good deal, the two lens kit for 450 euros, but still a lot of money to spend just like that. It kept me awake last night, and till 5.00 I thought about cancelling the order. That would have been too late anyway, since it already arrived this morning:-)

    So the plan was to try it out, and make sure it can be send back. Now I’m worried I like it:-) I tried it out just a little today, and expected the worse from the autofocus after all the reviews, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as expected. With the kit lenses of course. Now it’s too bad the lens I find most interesting, the 35mm 1.4, happens to be the worst focusser. Just like the Panasonic 20mm that I’m putting up for sale soon…
    In that case I think you’re better off with the Olympus 25mm 1.8 on the OMD.

    The screen is good, but I’d rather have a viewfinder, so an option would be to sell the body and get an X-E1, but I’ve read all kinds of contradictions about the sensors. Some say the Bayer is the best, some say the X- trans is better but more difficult to process well. So what to do…. And then there are the first shots… and indeed the color is very good. I shot these pics in JPEG, and turned the noise reduction to -2 ( I know Fuji always applies some noise reduction still, but it seems less than Sony) and it all looked pretty clear to me.
    The camera is also nice to use, the lenses not the prime zoom version but therefore very lightweight. Just the card sloth is the worst ever:-)
    But… now I have a camera for better low noise performance, but still not one for shooting the fast moving dogs… sigh… so perhaps that Nikon D3300 would be the better choice….

    Now I wonder what settings do you use on your OMD? Just today I read an article about the noise and oversharpening the Olympus do, so I turned down the sharpness in camera to -2 and this seems to help?

    1. Ha ha. I don’t think the Fuji is going back is it? And why have you sent me that link to the Sony – you know what will happen next don’t you.

      To your question about the OMD, it doesn’t really matter for me as I shoot in RAW so the sharpening settings don’t have any impact. What I can say though is that some of the lenses I have litterally don’t need any sharpening. If you sharpen them they start to look unnatural. The Olympus 25mm and the Olympus 12-40 fall into this category. The Olympus 17mm f/1.8 isn’t quite as sharp but has a lovely feel to it as a result.

      1. I’ve sent you that link because I’m a horrible sadist?;-) Except then you’ll buy it and I can only drool and wait a couple of years for the price to drop:-)

        The Fuji IS going back! But I did just buy the X- E1 second hand:-) I read reviews till my eyes popped out, some say the bayer sensor is the best, other swear by the X trans, but it the end it was the lack of viewfinder on the X- A1 that sealed its fate.

        I tried to sell the camera without the lenses, but nobody seems to want it, so that didn’t work either. Now I have to figure out how to get some lenses.

        I shoot in RAW and JPEG and to me it looked like the sharpness setting also affected RAW, but I guess I’m wrong about that. It is true that I like the sharpness to come from the lens, and I do want that 25mm. I was experimenting today around sun set with my 14mm 2.5 and the 40- 150. Both 0.7 exposure compensation, F 6.3 on the 14mm and F4 on the 40- 150, both 200 ISO and the 14 mm seemed to produce less noise. It’s crazy making all these variables.

      2. Your making me smile now. I have spent countless hours testing my kit to get the sharpest most natural settings. It looks great and then I make a print and the image is just too sharp. Half the time I end up adding in some soft noise to break it up a little. God digital cameras are good. I am also trying hard to resist looking at new kit.

      3. I have not seen God digital cameras yet, but make sure you send me the link. They must be really good;-)

  15. But seriously, it IS crazy making. A new kit also needs new lenses and at this time I really don’t know which way to go. I am starting to like the OMD, should i buy more lenses for it, but then the Fuji seems to be better at low light. And then there’s the Nikon D3300, lightweight, better for tracking and more resolution. But worst of all, then there is the processing that nowadays affects your photos in a big way, and I am ill prepared for that in many ways. So more reading on the internet, articles like these, to make you even more frustrated:-)

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