All I can say is…Wow!

Obviously, I’m going to say a lot more. After going back and forth for a long while and sitting on the waiting list for almost two months, I finally got my new camera—The Nikon D800.  You might recall that way back in February I started thinking about this major upgrade.  After Roger got his D4, I started to rethink my choice of the D800, because I was so impressed with the low light shooting abilities of that camera. After talking with my friends, and the Nikon sales rep at my local camera store, I decided that the improvements in the D800 were right for what I like to shoot. The first thing I noticed about shooting the camera is the incredible resolution.  It has an amazing 36 Megapixel sensor.  Here is an image of a Lo-biscus I shot this week while at an offsite for work. (Hey, we had a 30 minute break before the dinner session started.)

Hibiscus, Yellow

It’s a pretty boring shot.  But, with that many pixels you can really zoom in and crop it to get a much more interesting image. Yellow, Hibiscus  I was impressed with the level of detail I could pull out, so I wanted to see just how far I could push it.  You can just see the little box from the LR Navigator panel showing the fraction of the image I was looking at.  Look at the hairs on the stamen—oh, and this was all shot hand held.

I walked around the front of the inn and saw a nice little rabbit nibbling away at the clover.  I knew I wanted to shoot it as well, but all I had was the camera.  Here is the untouched image and here is what I could zoom in on.  This never would have worked with the old camera. 

When you do take advantage of all the pixels you also get stunning depth in the dynamic range the camera can pick up.Iron Tractor, Wheel  This old farm tractor is interesting in both natural color and as a Sepia tone. In the end, the right camera for you depends on what kinds of things you intend to shoot.


Now it’s decision time…

Today Nikon announced the camera I’ve been waiting for—well, almost.  The New D800 looks to be an incredible machine.

It has a 36MP resolution and will be perfect for my landscape and portrait work.  It’s the equivalent of many medium format cameras like the Mamiya or even the Hasselblad, which cost thousands of dollars more.

Although significantly improved over my reliable D300, its low light potential is nowhere near its new big brother the D4.  The ISO now covers up to ISO 6400 and can go up to 25,600.  That is a long way from the ISO 204,000 advertised for the D4.

It is also going to be slower in burst mode with only a 4 frames per second (fps) rate.  Is that bad?  Well the D300 has an 8 fps rate and I think I’ve needed that only a few times when shooting. 

One of the features that it has over the D4 is the built in flash unit.  Now I never actually use it as a flash, but as the commander for my remote units.  I don’t always need to get out my wireless xmitters for that, so that is a good thing. 

Nikon has been really pushing the video capabilities of their new cameras and this one is no exception.  It can record full 1080p HD video and full stereo sound.  I’ve never really explored video, but I guess I will have the chance to learn.   On the Nikon Website, they have an incredible video move called “Joy Ride” shot entirely with the camera.

I filed my taxes this last weekend and guess what—Photoshop World is only a month away.  My friends the Applebaums, at Midwest Photo Exchange will probably be seeing me drop by.   That is if I can convince my wife….  

To Upgrade or Not?

This past week marked a critical milestone for Nikon lovers everywhere. As Roger pointed out, the long awaited, much anticipated, Nikon D4 has finally been announced.  He has already pre-ordered his.  As their press release says, The D4 is equipped with a new Nikon FX-format CMOS image sensor (imaging size of 36.0 x 23.9 mm) and EXPEED 3, the latest image-processing engine specifically optimized for digital-SLR cameras, making it the next-generation flagship Nikon digital-SLR camera with the ultimate in versatility and functionality that offers superior image quality rich in detail along with excellent high-speed performance. It has an effective pixel count of 16.2-million pixels, and offers superior image quality under a broad range of lighting conditions with its image sensor supporting an incredible range of sensitivities from ISO 50 to ISO 204800. Yes, you read that right, up to ISO 204800—that is practically shooting in the dark.

Now my current camera is definitely out of date. I shoot with a D300, which was outstanding 5 years ago, but when the ISO goes above 800 gets really, really grainy.  It is also only a ¾ frame, which means I don’t get the full advantage from the lenses I like to shoot best.  All this leads you to believe that I am ready to sign up for the D4 as well.  Well, not so fast—I actually am not planning on buying it because I don’t believe my photography skills will make use of it.  I never have been one to go out and purchase the latest technology just because it is the latest, and that is especially true with camera equipment. When I get to the point where the equipment gets in the way of what I want to do, it is time to get new equipment.  I have reached that point with my current camera body so, don’t get me wrong, I am going to get a new camera, and soon, but am waiting for the D800.

The D800 shares a lot of the technology found in the D4, but things like a solid, nearly watertight magnesium frame are not that big a deal for me.  I don’t shoot a lot of pro sports events so the ability to shoot a sustained 11 frames per second is interesting, but not what I need.  The low light capability is something I want, and guess what?  The D800 will have close to that. Besides with the money I save, I can also buy that 14-24 lens I still want for shooting more landscapes.

Cameras are an extremely personal choice, and there is no right answer.  It is a tool, albeit a powerful one, which helps you hopefully capture the vision you have in your head. Don’t be swayed by hype, but match your needs versus the range of capabilities the manufacturers are building.