Nikon D4 & D800 are they game-changers? - part 4 of 1 2 3 4 5 6

by Mike McNamee Published 01/08/2012


Delegates at the Aspect2i Epson Print Academy get to work assessing test prints.

Nikon D800....First Impressions

(from Bob Bridges)

Let me start by explaining that I am a retired professional photographer (including stills, video and high speed specialities.

Ed.) and therefore something of an amateur these days. But having been brought up on large-format film cameras and owned a Nikon F and many more Nikons, since the early '70s, I do feel qualified to express an opinion about progressing to a Nikon D800. Mine was on pre-order for three and a half months, which I believe is an unprecedented delay, even for Nikon. This is, however, due to the twin disasters of the tsunami in Japan and the floods in Thailand, which destroyed many of the legacy production lines that would have been used to produce a lesser camera in the meanwhile. With a completely fresh start and newly built production lines the D800 is a major step forward after that enforced delay, which explains the unprecedented international demand and the current shortage of supply.

So what are my first impressions and the plus points that matter most to me...


The total amount of sharpening increases from top left to bottom right. The pre-sharpening in RAW is normally applied using the 'D700' settings from the table opposite.

1. Despite all the hype.. The D800 does not disappoint.

2. It really is a game-changing medium-format digital camera in a 35mm body.

3. It makes the most of Nikon's best new optics, yet remains fully backward compatible.

4. It has variable crop modes...not least 5:4 (Olsen's folly) the file sizes are huge but will be commonplace in a few years' time. (So don't blame Nikon for being ahead of the game.)

5. The ergonomics are right. Anyone who has a Nikon can use a D800 straight out of the box.

6. Image quality versus speed is always a compromise. The D800 is pure quality so live with it. (Although I suspect the mechanics could be driven faster, at low resolution).

7. Faults and scare stories... There are always bad apples. But my D800 appears perfect.

8. Video is a bonus for me, not a priority.

9. O.K. So I've always been a Nikon man but this one in particular, makes me very happy indeed.

On the down side there will always be a wish list....So here's mine.

1. Size and weight? An all carbon-fibre body please? But the D800 is smaller and lighter than the D700.

2. Two or three simple user defined mode buttons please.

(Just like the Canon 5Mklll)

3. A better and bigger buffer, ie faster fps...if only in low resolution JPEG.

4. A cheap and cheerful IR remote like 'all' consumers cameras (activated optionally)

5. Oh.... and a major price reduction....This is a wish list after all.

Summing up then.....The Nikon D800 is quite perfect for me.

The image quality is as good or better than any 35mm film and camera combination that was ever available to me, when I was a working photographer. There is of course a question mark over the longevity of any digital file format but I suspect that existing NEF and DNG files will remain readable from the 'clouds' that gather over photography all for a very long time to come.

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1st Published 01/08/2012
last update 26/03/2020 16:04:55

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